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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-05-15

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, May 15, 2003


  • [01] Cyprus steps up SARS measures
  • [02] Successful launch for Hellas Sat
  • [03] Cabinet pledges to slash inflated VIP list
  • [04] Women’s position will improve will EU - survey
  • [05] A tale of buried treasure with a happy ending
  • [06] Bitter exchanges as rival bishops fight it out
  • [07] Greek Cypriots released pending ‘trial’ for taking bell
  • [08] BoC announces increased core profit
  • [09] Markides expected to make full recovery after successful heart op
  • [10] Moon eclipse tomorrow
  • [11] Animal shelter vehicle stolen
  • [12] Government relaxed over prospect of Turkish Cypriots claiming properties

  • [01] Cyprus steps up SARS measures

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE HEALTH Ministry announced yesterday it was creating special SARS wards in all general hospitals, which would be isolated and designed to deal with any possible cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

    Passengers from affected areas will also now be given temperature screenings, on top of completing questionnaires on their state of health, Health Services head Constantinos Mallis said yesterday. Anyone displaying a temperature of 38 degrees centigrade or more would be examined further, he said.

    The special sections to be set up at general hospitals are based on WHO suggestions. Although adjacent to the emergency departments, they will have separate entrances, separate drainage systems and special lamps to sterilise the area, said Mallis.

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday the Cabinet had decided to suspend new licences to foreign workers from high-risk areas until September. This follows a government decision to put off registration of foreign students from SARS-affected countries at local colleges, due this June, until the autumn.

    The new measures come as the government is still trying to locate all 93 passengers who got off a plane carrying Greece’s first suspected SARS case at Larnaca airport on Saturday.

    The 23-year-old airline stewardess, who transited in Larnaca for over an hour from Dubai before taking off for Athens, developed severe acute respiratory symptoms on Sunday night. Fears grew when it was determined the young woman had been flying back from Hong Kong.

    But Greek authorities reported yesterday that tests on the South African air stewardess showed she probably did not have the flu-like virus.

    “The molecular test is negative,” said Greek Health Minister Costas Stefanis. “This result reduces the chances of her being a possible SARS victim even more, but does not exclude it.” Greek doctors said it would take at least 10 days to provide a final diagnosis.

    Nevertheless the Cypriot Health Ministry’s Dr. Chrystalla Hadjianastasiou said the 93 passengers who disembarked in Cyprus should confine themselves for a period of 10 days – until May 20 – and should monitor whether or not they develop a fever, cough or respiratory difficulties.

    Meanwhile the Filipina housemaid who on Tuesday was rushed with suspected SARS symptoms to Limassol hospital – where a SARS unit has been set up – was yesterday discharged. The young woman had been returning from a month’s holiday in the Philippines and showed signs of fever after a flight from Bahrain. But following a series of clinical tests, doctors concluded the 32- year-old did not display symptoms of the virus and should be released from hospital in the afternoon.

    In a separate development, Limassol port workers yesterday accused the government of failing to take active measures to protect the public from the flu-like virus at the port.

    Four ships from Singapore docked in Limassol on Monday and Tuesday, without the Health Services ensuring there were no SARS cases on board, workers said.

    DISY municipal councillor Michalis Vassiliou claimed port authorities had boarded the four ships without taking any precautions. And he said the Health Ministry should send someone to investigate the ships and not merely rely on the ship captain’s SARS all clear concerning his crew.

    But the Health Ministry’s Mallis pointed out that these ships took 20-25 days to reach Cyprus, “so there is no need for concern”, since the SARS incubation period is 10 days and a captain would be able to determine if his crew had developed any symptoms.

    Fears have risen of the highly contagious virus, which has so far infected an estimated 7,548 people in 32 countries and left 573 dead, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics. This includes Singapore, with 205 cases and 28 deaths so far. The WHO said there was exit screening for international travellers leaving Singapore and that it was not a destination to which travellers should postpone all but essential travel, unlike Hong Kong and China, the hardest-hit areas.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [02] Successful launch for Hellas Sat

    By Jean Christou

    THE FIRST Greco-Cypriot telecommunications satellite Hellas Sat was launched into space from Cape Canaveral in Florida in the early hours of yesterday, following a 24-hour delay.

    The Hellas Sat spacecraft lifted off at ten minutes past midnight Cyprus time and threw the satellite into orbit 31 minutes later, according to the Cyprus News Agency’s American-based correspondent Apostolis Zoupaniotis, who was at the scene. The launch went without a hitch, controllers said.

    Hellas Sat, which is an Astrium Eurostar E2000+ model, was originally set for take-off at midnight local time on Monday, but the flight was called off due to technical problems.

    It is the first domestic satellite for Greece and Cyprus and will be used to provide voice, Internet, video and broadcast services to both European and Balkan markets. The satellite will also be used to broadcast the Olympics from Athens in 2004.

    Former Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou, who was involved in the project under the previous government, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that he felt “very proud” that the dream had become a reality. “It has put Cyprus and Greece on the satellite map,” he said.

    Five companies are part of the Hellas-Sat Consortium, including the Cypriot Company Avacom Net, the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation, the Cyprus Bank of Development, the Hellenic Aerospace Industry and Canada’s Telesat.

    “We appreciate the confidence Hellas Sat has placed in ILS and Atlas to deliver this important satellite,” said International Launch Services (ILS) president Mark Albrecht. “We congratulate the Atlas team for its dedication to 100 per cent mission success, making this the 65th flawless launch in a row.”

    “Our thanks to ILS and the very reliable Atlas for placing our satellite into orbit,” added Christodoulos Protopapas, CEO of Hellas Sat Consortium Ltd Nicosia.

    George Argyropoulos, Chairman and CEO of Hellas Sat S.A. of Athens, Greece, said: “We look forward to using this satellite to broadcast next year’s Summer Olympic events from Athens.”

    ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. in the United States, with Russian companies Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre and RSC Energia. ILS provides launch services on the Atlas and the Russian Proton vehicles to customers worldwide. The company is based in McLean, Virginia., near Washington, D.C.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [03] Cabinet pledges to slash inflated VIP list

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE FOREIGN Ministry is drafting a proposal to present before Cabinet next week, which will drastically cut the list of VIPs that are awarded special privileges at the island’s airports.

    The issue has come up in the media again as to how an island so small can have so many very important people, compared to the smaller group of individuals given privileges at airports in Europe.

    A government source told the Cyprus Mail that President Tassos Papadopoulos and the Foreign Ministry had instructed the Protocol Department to study the problem of excessive numbers of VIPs with privileged access to Cyprus’ airports and to provide a solution to it. The result is a new category of VIPs, which provides for a much shorter list of names that will have access to luxuries such as easy passage to the plane, special waiting rooms with drinks, passport stamp service, private transport to plane, luggage collection and many more. Another aspect of the proposal will be a focus on stricter enforcement of the new list.

    The current list has been the subject of much criticism in the past. It includes, as you would expect, the President and his family, the Archbishop, Cabinet Ministers, visiting heads of state and ministers and the heads of foreign diplomatic delegations. But the list then goes on, and on, and on.

    It includes all senior government officials, all House of Representatives deputies, foreign personalities? given the OK by the Foreign Ministry, party leaders, former Presidents and former House presidents, senior judges and former senior judges, church leaders? and the directors-general of all Ministries. There is an approved list of company directors entitled to VIP treatment when travelling on state business. There is even another category covering special personalities? whose names are put on the list by the Cabinet, which extended the list in 1994, 1996 and early this year under the previous government.

    It gets worse when reports surface that local VIPs are routinely demanding, and getting, similar preferential treatment for their family members, taking up more staff at the airports to cater for these extra? VIPs-by- association.

    All this is in stark contrast to arrangements at European airports, where a select few are afforded the said privileges. The source insisted that the new list would remain small, following the example of other European countries. However, this is not the first time a government has suggested dealing with the problem of very many important people in Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides announced yesterday that the Cabinet had decided drastically to cut the number of holders of diplomatic passports. He said the decision was taken for reasons of substance but also to provide a good image for Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [04] Women’s position will improve will EU - survey

    By Sofia Kannas

    MORE than two-thirds of Cypriots believe that the island’s accession to the European Union will improve the role and position of women in Cyprus, a survey has revealed.

    The survey, which focuses on the role of women in Cyprus, was conducted by research company Synovate in March, and involved 1,291 people of both sexes.

    According to the study, 53 per cent of men never involve themselves with child-rearing, as opposed to 27 per cent of women participating in the study. Twenty-four per cent of men said they never got involved in household chores, as opposed to just one per cent of women.

    The findings show that 30 per cent of those surveyed believe the number of women in prominent career positions in Cyprus is satisfactory, while 70 per cent felt the percentage was dissatisfactory.

    The survey reveals that more men than women believe they will get a promotion in the next five years. Indeed, two-thirds of women above the age of 35 envisage that they will not have received a promotion in five years’ time.

    However, asked whether they envisaged a more prominent role for women in Cypriot society in five years time, 85 per cent of those participating in the survey responded positively, with just 15 per cent foreseeing a worse role for women in Cyprus five years.

    Sixty-six per cent of participants said they would have equal trust in a man or woman deputy, 19 per cent said they would trust a woman deputy more, and 15 per cent indicated that they would have more trust in a male deputy. In addition, just one third of those asked knew how many women deputies sat in the House of Representatives; the remainder either did not know the correct number or believed there were fewer than there are at present.

    The survey also shows that women in Cyprus are on the whole less involved in politics than men, with the percentage of women belonging to a political parties being smaller than the number of men affiliated to political parties – 27 per cent of men participating in the survey were party members, as opposed to just 15 per cent of women.

    Asked whether the Cypriot woman was equal to her counterparts in other developed countries, most of those surveyed replied in the negative. Indeed, the majority believe that Cypriot women lag behind the western woman in terms of political advancement, employment opportunities, job and social equality.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [05] A tale of buried treasure with a happy ending

    By Sofia Kannas

    DEMETRA Christodoulou never dared imagine she would see her village, Palekythro, again after the Turkish invasion; nor did she ever dream she would be reunited with some of her most treasured possessions, hastily buried in carrier bags under a fig tree in her garden almost 30 years ago.

    Yet, on Sunday, the impossible happened: Demetra, her husband Andreas and their three children, Kyriakos, Christakis and Katerina, found themselves standing outside the house they were forced to abandon in 1974.

    It all started on Sunday, just after 65-year-old Demetra and her family had cleared away the lunch table at their refugee house in Strovolos, where they have lived since 1977.

    “We decided on the spur of the moment that we would go to the north and see our village. My siblings had already been back but I didn’t want to go up until then: ‘I’m not ready yet,’ I told them. But then we went on Sunday, just like that.”

    After queuing for two hours in the hot afternoon sun at the Ayios Dometios checkpoint, Demetra, Andreas, their sons, daughter and three grandchildren, crossed the Green Line and set off to find the house that even 29 years on, they call home.

    On arrival at Palekythro, it did not take long for Demetra to lead the family towards the house she and her husband had built by hand in 1957. And to her great relief, the house was standing strong, just as they had left it, lovingly maintained over the years by a Turkish Cypriot couple, Yuksel, Emine and their two daughters.

    Stepping inside the house with its familiar rooms, Demetra could not believe her eyes – it was just as she remembered it. “The house was very well kept, it was so clean and tidy – it moved me to see that the people living in it were worthy of being there,” says Demetra.

    As they entered the back garden, Demetra saw the fig tree where she had buried the family’s valuables nearly three decades ago, and wondered if she dared hope the treasure could still be there. And, as though she was telepathic, Yuksel and Emine’s daughter, Simge, turned to the Christodoulous and asked: “ Are you looking for something. Did you leave something in the garden?”

    To Demetra’s amazement, the two Turkish Cypriot girls ran inside the house and brought out three bags: and there was the treasure after all these years, just as she and her family had left it.

    “You can’t imagine my emotion as I saw our bags of treasure. The girls’ father (Yuksel) had come across it while digging in the garden last October and they kept it safe.”

    Still stunned, Demetra opened the three bags. It was all there: her dowry; a set of silver spoons and forks; the 200-year-old earrings and cross handed down to Katerina by her grandmother; and last but not least, her precious pendant of the Virgin Mary.

    She wept as she recalled the moment: “As soon as I saw the Virgin Mary, my knees started trembling. I could hardly stand up, and they (the Turkish Cypriot family) brought me water and held me up,” she says. “We all cried. And they cried with us – they felt my pain too.”

    The experience has also shown Demetra that the two communities can still live together: “There is still humanity and love out there,” she says.

    She feels no bitterness towards the Turkish Cypriot family who are living in her house: “What can you say to them – get out of our house? Their children were born there too,” she said.

    In fact, now that she has been home once, Demetra wants to go back.

    “I want to go back and thank them when I’m calmer – it was like a dream the other day. I want to say thank you for looking after our things. They could have sold them -- there were some valuable things there -- but they didn’t. It was all there, just as we left it…”

    “We were lucky.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [06] Bitter exchanges as rival bishops fight it out

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE Holy Synod’s majority decision not do declare the throne of the Archbishop vacant has sparked a bitter war of words among the Church’s bishops, who yesterday accused each other of corruption and vested interests.

    On Tuesday, the Holy Synod voted five to four, not to declare the Archbishop’s throne vacant and hold elections for the replacement of the ailing Archbishop.

    This exposed the rift within the Church, with bishops divided into two camps – those who want the elections and those who do not.

    Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos, who supported having elections, accused Bishop Neophytos of Morphou of voting against declaring the throne vacant after he realised he would lose the elections.

    “When he realised that a big (political) party – the biggest in Cyprus – supported someone else he withdrew,” Chrysostomos said.

    He added: “When AKEL didn’t support him, and it looked like it would support Nikiforos of Kykkos, he realised he was not getting elected and withdrew; now they’re shedding crocodile tears for the Archbishop who has to remain in his position – a man who does not communicate.”

    Chrysostomos charged that some of the bishops had the backing of shipping magnates and that the election would not have been honest because bishops would have paid television and radio stations as well as newspapers, magazines and journalists to support them.

    The Bishop of Paphos declined to name names, noting however that he would make revelations if necessary.

    Neophytos defended his vote, arguing the Synod was operating normally even without the Archbishop.

    He charged that the elections suited those with huge ambitions who were eager to take the throne, and urged them to wait if they were worthy of it.

    “The horrible truth is that there are so many vested interests and money, that all this time the gold was doing the talking; they should give time to Christ to speak now,” Neophytos said.

    Bishop Chrysostomos of Kiti, who also opposed the elections, maintained that Archbishops were only removed from their thrones by heretics and conquerors.

    “The history of the Church of Cyprus teaches that archbishops and bishops die either in exile, or on the gallows or on their throne and only heretics and conquerors remove them,” Chrysostomos said.

    He stressed that the Archbishop should remain on his throne and that matters should be left to God’s will, urging the clergy to stop the bitter struggle for succession.

    Chrysostomos of Kiti said the Synod’s decision was taken to stop the Church from being dragged in the mud by the actions of clerics who go from door to door bearing gifts and promises to win votes.

    Commenting on the events, prominent psychiatrist Takis Evdokas slammed the bishops’ behaviour and wondered if the people governing the country were self-centred and narcissistic, driven only by their personal interest.

    He especially criticised Nikiforos, thought to be the favourite to succeed the archbishop, for comments he made following Tuesday’s meeting.

    Nikiforos said: “Certain clerics gave the impression that, even if the Archbishop died, they would suggest embalming him and placing him on the throne to avoid elections for a new primate.”

    Evdokas commented: “If these kinds of thoughts are in the minds of his colleagues, what can one think of the person making such accusations,” Evdokas said.

    “I realise his passion for wanting to become archbishop but he could simply have said that he disagreed with those having a different opinion.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [07] Greek Cypriots released pending ‘trial’ for taking bell

    By a Staff Reporter

    TWO Greek Cypriots detained in the north on Tuesday were yesterday released pending ‘trial’ for trying to take back the bell from their occupied village church.

    The pair had crossed over into the occupied areas through the Ayios Dhometios checkpoint in Nicosia, planning to retrieve their village church bell. According to police, the Turkish Cypriot mukhtar of Skylloura had agreed to hand them the bell, which was in his possession. However, upon leaving the area, the two were arrested by Turkish Cypriot ‘police’ for having the bell in their possession.

    Yesterday, the two Greek Cypriots were taken before a ‘court’ in the occupied areas and released. They were told to present themselves for trial at a later date. The ‘court’ retained their car as ‘bail’ pending their return for trial.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [08] BoC announces increased core profit

    By Jean Christou

    BANK of Cyprus (BOC) yesterday announced it had made a core group profit in the first quarter of the year of £21.6 million, a 20.4 per cent increase over the same period last year. Profit before tax for the quarter reached £8.7 million, a drop of £17.5 million over 2002.

    The bank, which defines core profit as “profit before provisions for bad and doubtful debts and before tax”, said the improvement was mainly attributed to the increase in net interest income as a result of the revision of the Group’s pricing policy and the profitable expansion of the Group’s operations in Greece.

    BOC’s Greek operations continued their significant contribution to total Group profitability and represented 36.8 per cent of Group core profit for the first quarter of 2003, the bank said in a statement.

    The core profit generated by the Greek operations in the first quarter of 2003 reached ?7.9 million recording an increase of 37.6 per cent against the corresponding quarter of 2002.

    The provision for bad and doubtful debts for the first quarter of 2003 reached ?12.2 million compared to ?7.4 million for the first quarter of 2002.

    “The protracted slowdown and uncertainty in the global and Cyprus economies, as well as the continuing decline in the Cyprus and international stock markets, led the Group to increase significantly the provision charge for bad and doubtful debts for 2002, mainly during the last quarter of the year, ” BOC said

    The bank said that its aim was to increase profitability, maintain its leading market position and further strengthen its market share in its other areas of activity.

    In Greece, the main driver of BOC’s expansion is increasing its market share to around five per cent by the end of 2007, maintaining its high ranking amongst the commercial banks operating in Greece, and containing its growth, whilst maintaining satisfactory profitability and liquidity.

    “The accession of Cyprus to the European Union creates excellent prospects for the Group,” the announcement said, adding that the Bank of Cyprus would have an established presence in three European countries.

    “There is no doubt that, in the medium term, the economy of Cyprus will be favourably influenced by the accession to the European Union as well as by a possible viable solution of the Cyprus problem, a development that will also have a positive impact on the Group’s operations and profitability,” the statement added.

    In February BOC reported a 70.1 per cent drop in pre-tax profit in 2002 to £17.5 million due to higher provisions and investment write-downs. Its core profits, before provisions for bad debts, write-downs and before a one-off charge for retirement benefits, reached £97.6 million for the year, a 6.6 per cent increase over 2001.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [09] Markides expected to make full recovery after successful heart op

    By Alexia Saoulli

    FORMER Attorney-general Alecos Markides’ coronary by-pass surgery at the American Heart Institute in Nicosia was successful, his cardiac surgeon said yesterday. He is expected to make a full recovery from the operation.

    However, his long-term prognosis and life expectancy depends entirely on his own commitment to secondary prevention guidelines, said Dr Marinos Soteriou.

    The surgical procedure began at 8.15am and took three and a half hours to complete. It involved opening two of his arteries, which were partially blocked.

    The 60-year-old was diagnosed for his condition only last week. Because the problem had been detected early, there was no damage to his heart muscle, which is very important in his recovery.

    However, Soteriou said Markides’ long-term prognosis would be defined by secondary prevention, which depended on the patient.

    Lifestyle changes are very important after this kind of surgery. “The operation doesn’t cure coronary artery disease. It only improves the symptoms,” he said. “The patient feels better immediately because the heart is getting more oxygen than before. But this is not a cure. The arteries still have a tendency to form narrowly and so secondary prevention is very important.”

    Exercise, a healthy diet and limiting the impact of possible risk factors are all examples of secondary prevention.

    “Controlling blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar, depending on each case, is vital,” said Soteriou. In short, “patients’ lifestyle will determine patients’ life expectancy,” he said.

    Soteriou said Markides had been in a “good mood” in the morning and was “psychologically ready for the procedure, which is very important”.

    This is the first time a high profile public figure has undergone surgery of this magnitude in Cyprus. Markides had initially been scheduled to have the by-pass in London, but cancelled his trip and opted to have it done here. And yesterday, minutes before going into the operating theatre, “he was at ease with his decision,” said Soteriou.

    By-pass surgery is well tolerated from a pain of view, said the cardiac surgeon. “Some children that have this operation are up and running about within three or four days, taking only mild painkillers,” he said.

    Markides would remain in the American Heart Institute’s Intensive Care Unit for 24 to 36 hours. He would then be transferred to a step-down unit, where the acuity of care was not as high as in the ICU, for four to five days.

    “After that he goes home,” said Soteriou. The Institute will then provide aftercare for about a month, ensuring Markides’ wounds have healed and he suffers no post-operative complications. This will be done in collaboration with his referring physician, cardiologist Dr Pambis Nicolaides, who will then advise Markides on secondary prevention.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [10] Moon eclipse tomorrow

    By a Staff Reporter

    THERE will be a total eclipse of the moon very early on Friday morning, but it will only be partially visible from Cyprus, Ioannis Fakas, director of the Fakas Astronomical Institute, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    If the weather is clear, those interested will be able to see the beginnings of the phenomenon at 5.03am, continuing through to 5.45am, when the moon will begin to set and the sun will begin to rise in Cyprus.

    The eclipse will also be visible from North and South America as well as Europe, Africa, and Antarctica.

    A lunar eclipse occurs when a full moon passes completely through the Umbral shadow of the Earth. The Umbra is the portion of the Earth’s shadow that blocks all of the sun’s rays.

    Fakas said there was a lunar eclipse every year, and that last year’s total eclipse was visible from Cyprus in its entirety. While the Fakas Institute is not inviting people to come and watch the eclipse through its high-tech equipment this time around, it will open its facilities for the solar eclipse that is to take place on May 31.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [11] Animal shelter vehicle stolen

    By a Staff Reporter

    A LARGE vehicle used for towing horses and donkeys has been stolen from the Paphiakos Animal Shelter.

    Volunteers noticed that the red Daihatsu 4x4 was missing on Monday afternoon when they needed it for an emergency pick-up.

    The car was used for the rescue of abandoned horses and donkeys and also for the transportation trailer, which took away accumulated rubbish from the shelter.

    Christine Panayiotou, a volunteer from the shelter, said police speculated it may have been stolen and used as a getaway car then dumped somewhere; she joked it would have been far too slow to be used as such.

    The officer in charge of the case was not available for comment.

    Panayiotou said that the stolen vehicle was the only one large enough to perform such tasks, and that its theft has “caused great hardship” for the volunteers.

    “I’m asking anyone who sees a car that matches the description please to contact me immediately so that I can inform the police, and we can get back to work,” she said.

    She also said that the charity would be delighted to hear from any individual company willing to sponsor either a new or second hand vehicle.

    Anyone with any information should contact the Paphiakos Animal Shelter on Tel. 26-946461, Fax. 26-222236, E-mail.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    [12] Government relaxed over prospect of Turkish Cypriots claiming properties

    By George Psyllides

    GOVERNMENT Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides yesterday denied there were any indications that the Turkish Cypriot regime was planning to send waves of Turkish Cypriots to the government-controlled areas to claim their properties and put the government on the spot.

    Daily Politis yesterday reported that Ankara and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash were planning to send people to the free areas to claim their properties or compensation, aiming at forcing the government to restore their properties or pay up.

    After the Turkish invasion, abandoned Turkish Cypriot properties were taken over by the Guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties, which will return them upon a solution of the political problem.

    Chrysostomides yesterday said: “Until today, no such phenomena have emerged.”

    He reiterated the government line that Turkish Cypriots could claim their property if they permanently settled in the free areas.

    “If there are any difficulties or disagreements they could appeal in court against any decision made by the Guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties,” the spokesman said.

    Chrysostomides said the Republic provided shelter to all Turkish Cypriots intending to stay.

    “As it happens with the Gypsies, some come with the intention to stay but suddenly decide that they have to return or that living here does not suit them so they return.

    “So the issue of permanent settlement is examined according to each case,” Chrysostomides said.

    Commenting on Turkish actions to bypass the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the issue of properties, Chrysostomides said there was no possibility the ECHR would accept such an arrangement.

    Foreign Minister George Iacovou, who flew to Strasbourg yesterday, confirmed that the Turkish side was trying hard to bypass the ECHR.

    “They have an extensive activity in the area; they have sent a large group of experts who had contacts with the Court and European Council Secretariat, concerning the Titina Loizidou case, and they have made various supposedly compromise proposals,” Iakovou said.

    In 1998, the ECHR ordered Turkey to pay Loizidou, a refugee from Kyrenia, £457,000 for depriving her the right to enjoy her property in the Turkish occupied north of the island.

    “The Council of Europe is important for us because it is the guardian of the convention on the protection of human rights and it is also the home of the ECHR,” Iacovou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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