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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-05-20

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, May 20, 2003


  • [01] Cyprus hails Turkish travel move
  • [02] Police step up security in wake of terrorist strikes
  • [03] Minister optimistic about tourist prospects
  • [04] Verheugen eyes Cyprus deal before accession
  • [05] Government slams Denktash’s ‘Tassos wanted me killed’ claim
  • [06] 20,000 Turkish Cypriots apply for passports
  • [07] Welcome to the north… as long as you’re not called Andreas Constantinou
  • [08] Asbestos waste to be buried at old mine
  • [09] Cyprus Airways trade unions threatened strike measures next week
  • [10] Cyprus missing out on EU trade potential
  • [11] Fog closes Larnaca airport for three hours

  • [01] Cyprus hails Turkish travel move

    By George Psyllides

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday hailed Turkey’s lifting of the ban on Greek Cypriots visiting the country, but said it was nothing less than Turkey had to do to meet its international and especially EU obligations.

    Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday that Turkey would allow Greek Cypriots free access to visit the country, and that anyone travelling from Cyprus could go through the occupied north. Cypriots could, however, also fly via Greece to avoid travelling through an illegal port of entry.

    “Starting May 22, Greek Cypriot citizens can enter Turkey without visas,” Erdogan said in a speech in Antalya. “Turkey’s doors are open to Greek Cypriots... for the first time in 40 years.”

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday the announcement was “a step by Turkey to comply with international legality”.

    “Each measure bringing Turkey back to international legality is good,” the spokesman said.

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday that Greek Cypriots visiting Turkey would be given automatic one-month tourist visas.

    The visas would be available for free if obtained in advance at the Turkish chief consulate in Athens-Piraeus, the statement said. Greek Cypriots living outside Cyprus could obtain the visas at the relevant Turkish embassy. They could also be obtained at Turkish ports of entry at a cost of 10 euros.

    Chrysostomides yesterday warned Greek Cypriots it would be illegal for them to get the visa from the Turkish embassy in occupied Nicosia - though the Turkish foreign ministry statement made no mention of the embassy, saying Greek Cypriots ought to pick up their visas in Athens or on arrival.

    Chrysostomides added the move meant Ankara was indirectly recognising passports issued by the Republic of Cyprus.

    Turkey is the only country that recognises the Turkish Cypriot breakaway state and does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, a position that complicates its EU accession bid with the Republic set to join the bloc next May.

    Chrysostomides pointed out Cyprus had always allowed Turkish nationals on its territory.

    “Erdogan’s declarations are the lifting of a restriction imposed by Turkey in the past, but there is a compliance with international legality,” Chrysostomides said.

    He added: “It is not a measure hailed as a good will measure or a confidence-building measure.”

    Chrysostomides warned Greek Cypriots they were not allowed to use illegal points of entry at ports or airports in the north.

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry said yesterday Greek Cypriot private yachts would be allowed to visit Turkish ports, but only if they sailed from ports in the occupied areas. Turkey also said at the weekend that Greek Cypriots would be free to travel direct to Turkey from the occupied area’s airport, instead of taking the round trip via Athens.

    President Tassos Papadopoulos on Sunday said Erdogan’s declarations were an empty gesture of no significance. Papadopoulos said the move was designed to impress but was of no significance whatsoever.

    Erdogan on Saturday appealed to Athens to reciprocate by allowing Turkish Cypriots unrestricted access to Greece. “Right now, we expect Greece to take the same steps for Turkish Cypriots,” Erdogan said.

    Greece - like the rest of the world - does not recognise travel documents issued by the authorities in the north.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    [02] Police step up security in wake of terrorist strikes

    By a Staff Reporter

    POLICE are stepping up security at all ports of entry and off the island’s coast following the recent wave of terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

    Police spokesman Demetris Demetriou confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that extra security measures were being taken at the airports and harbours; these included, but were not limited to, increased patrols by police and the Coast Guard.

    The measures would remain in effect for “as long as considered necessary,” Demetriou said.

    A number of countries - including the United States and the United Kingdom - have issued warnings against travel to Saudi Arabia and Kenya after last Monday’s bombings in Riyadh, which killed at least 34 people. British Airways has suspended direct flights to Saudi Arabia, and is now flying via Larnaca.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    [03] Minister optimistic about tourist prospects

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE TOURIST season could be on the mend and might even close on a positive note after getting off to a shaky start, with arrivals well below average in April, Tourism Minister George Lillikas said yesterday

    Numbers were down by 10 to 12 per cent last month, he said. “As long as there is no other negative development or external factor,” however, there was no reason why the season should not end well, he said. The US-led attack on Iraq in March hammered the island’s main industry with dozens of tour operators cancelling their trips at the last minute.

    “It looks like there are good prospects for our winter period, in other words October-December. (And) by the end of May, when all the reservations for the summer period are complete, we will have a much clearer picture of the overall annual results,” he said.

    Lillikas dismissed fears the easing of travel restrictions to the north might affect domestic tourism, saying only a limited number of Greek Cypriots had booked hotels in the occupied areas for their summer holidays.

    “We must not exaggerate the numbers and then, without meaning to, cause problems with our foreign tourists,” he said.

    As for foreign tour operators trying to secure package deals in the occupied areas, Lillikas said: “On the contrary, the response from foreign tour operators has been positive and respectful of the Cyprus government’s decision.” The government does not allow foreigners to stay in the occupied areas overnight.

    The Minister added that the CTO, in collaboration with the Attorney- general’s office, had prepared a document to inform foreign tour operators that they would be fully responsible for any crossings to the occupied north; he said that due to Turkey’s occupation, the government could not guarantee visitors’ safety in the north.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    [04] Verheugen eyes Cyprus deal before accession

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE EUROPEAN Union's top enlargement official yesterday expressed cautious optimism that a peace settlement for Cyprus was still possible before the divided island joins the bloc next May.

    UN-led talks aimed at ending Cyprus' decades-old division collapsed in March, raising the prospect that only the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot half of the island would join the wealthy EU on May 1, 2004.

    But last month, veteran Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash -- widely blamed for the failure of the UN talks -- eased tensions by allowing the opening of checkpoints between the two halves of the island for the first time in nearly 30 years.

    "I believe a window of opportunity will present itself before May 1, 2004, but I can't exclude that this is too optimistic and that the window will open only before the end of October 2004," said Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen.

    The European Commission is due to complete a report at that time on Turkey's readiness to begin accession negotiations.

    EU leaders will decide whether to take that step, on the basis of the Commission report, in December 2004. Turkey, the only country to recognise Denktash's Turkish Cypriot statelet in northern Cyprus, is very keen to start EU accession talks.

    Verheugen, speaking to reporters after talks with Foreign Minister George Iakovou, said he would visit both halves of the island next month.

    The EU is expected to ease economic restrictions against the Turkish Cypriots and unveil an aid package for their region.

    A divided Cyprus in the EU could cement the partition and would certainly undermine Turkey's own efforts to join the bloc.

    Verheugen praised the recent flurry of border crossings by Greek and Turkish Cypriots as proof that the two communities had the "capacity, the will, to live in peace".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    [05] Government slams Denktash’s ‘Tassos wanted me killed’ claim

    By George Psyllides

    GOVERNMENT Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides yesterday slammed the allegations made by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in an interview with Politis, describing it as more proof of the occupation’s sinister face.

    In the interview, Denktash again laboured the past, going back to events that took place 40 years ago, and claiming Greek Cypriots still wanted union (Enosis) with Greece.

    Denktash even claimed President Tassos Papadopoulos had called for his execution when he was caught trying to land on the island in October 1967.

    Chrysostomides said Denktash had convinced himself of “the lies he is spreading, and as happens in similar regimes, and he is mainly repressing the Turkish Cypriots and twisting historical facts”.

    He added that Denktash’s claim that Papadopoulos had ordered his execution was a “slanderous distortion of historical facts”.

    Papadopoulos on Sunday rejected the allegations, describing them as a “tasteless fable”.

    Denktash claimed that at the time of his arrest, the Cabinet, which was in session had received word that he was being held and that then President Makarios was wondering what to do with him.

    Papadopoulos and the late Spyros Kyprianou had said “shoot him like a dog”, Denktash alleged.

    He went on to say that if Papadopoulos had been in power he would have been dead and Papadopoulos would have been especially happy.

    Papadopoulos categorically denied the allegation, saying he had never taken part in any Cabinet or other meeting where there had been any discussion of Denktash’s execution after his arrest in the Karpas peninsula.

    “Neither I, nor Kyprianou, nor anyone else ever contemplated such a criminal, illegal and deplorable act,” Papadopoulos said in a statement.

    Papadopoulos said Denktash was arrested in the early morning hours and it would have been impossible for the Cabinet to be meeting at that time.

    “I was informed of his arrest 24 hours later at a time when Denktash was already in custody at the police headquarters,” Papadopoulos said.

    Chrysostomides yesterday urged Denktash to contemplate his responsibilities and stop altering history.

    Commenting on Denktash’s claims about his “established state”, Chrysostomides said the administration in the north was “a subordinate of the occupation force and a puppet state”.

    Denktash claimed that his “established state” was operating properly in the territory abandoned by the Greek Cypriots in1974.

    The spokesman stressed that Greek Cypriots did not abandon their land but were driven out through systematic ethnic cleansing.

    Chrysostomides rejected Denktash’s claims that the Turkish Cypriots would become a minority in case of a solution, noting that the UN plan contained specific parts concerning their rights, which were rejected by the Turkish Cypriot leader.

    The spokesman stressed that no party or political movement wanted union with Greece and pointed to the EU accession treaty to counter Denktash’s claims that Cyprus could not become a member of the Union.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader also said in the interview that by imposing passport checks at crossing points he wanted Greek Cypriots to realise they were entering a new state.

    “Recognition is something else; we want them to realise they are entering a second state, not the Cypriot state,” Denktash said.

    On the thousands of Turkish Cypriots trying to secure a Republic of Cyprus passport, however, Denktash said they were not getting Greek Cypriot passports but Cypriot passports, which they were rightfully allowed to have until 1963.

    “They are using that right; by applying for these passports they are not relinquishing the TRNC passports and their nationality.

    “They are not rejecting them.

    “They use the right to get something, which was theirs up until 1963,” Denktash said.

    A few years back, Denktash had made it a criminal offence punishable by jail for Turkish Cypriots to obtain Cyprus passports. The Interior Ministry said yesterday that 20,000 Turkish Cypriots had applied for Cyprus passports and other identity documents since the restrictions on freedom of movement were eased on April 23.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    [06] 20,000 Turkish Cypriots apply for passports

    By a Staff Reporter

    BY THE end of last week, around 20,000 Turkish Cypriots had visited District Offices around the island to apply for passports, identity cards and birth certificates, Interior Minister Andreas Christou said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with the mayors of nine municipalities in the occupied north, Christou confirmed that some Turkish Cypriots also wanted to apply to change their names.

    “It is the right of every Turkish Cypriot citizen of the Republic, as it is the right of every Greek Cypriot citizen, to decide to change his surname; and there are thousands of Greek Cypriots who also want to alter their surnames,” he said. “In other words, whatever is allowed to Greek Cypriots is also allowed to Turkish Cypriots.”

    He acknowledged that two Turkish Cypriots had complained that the authorities in the south had refused to allow them to apply for a name change, perhaps out of ignorance.

    Regarding schools for Turkish Cypriots, the minister said that due to low numbers, it had so far not been possible to open a Turkish Cypriot school in the south. Instead, Christou said, Turkish Cypriots tended to send their children to English-speaking schools, just as the Armenian, Maronite and Catholic communities did.

    Christou added that a Turkish Cypriot school in Limassol was, however, being prepared for use.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    [07] Welcome to the north… as long as you’re not called Andreas Constantinou

    By George Psyllides

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday warned it could not provide security to citizens visiting the north, while denouncing the Turkish Cypriot regime’s blacklist of unwanted Greek Cypriots as illegal.

    On Sunday, a Greek Cypriot man was prevented from crossing to the occupied north after his name showed up on a blacklist by the Turkish Cypriot regime.

    Refugee Andreas Constantinou from Lapithos, accompanied by friends who had come over from Canada, was planning to visit the Apostolos Andreas monastery on the island’s eastern tip.

    But Turkish Cypriot ‘police’ at the Ayios Dhometios checkpoint in Nicosia refused to let him through, saying his name had been placed on a blacklist due to his actions against Turkish Cypriots in 1974.

    The man pleaded mistaken identity, saying he had never taken part in any fighting, but to no avail.

    It transpired that Constantinou happened to share a name with a man who earlier this month narrowly escaped a lynching when he visited his home village in the north.

    He had been fingered by a Turkish Cypriot woman as the man who allegedly killed her husband in 1974.

    The Turkish Cypriots manning the checkpoint said they could not confirm Constantinou’s plea of mistaken identity, so his trip to Apostolos Andreas was cancelled.

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides yesterday denounced the blacklist, and warned the government could not provide any security to its citizens visiting the north.

    Chrysostomides said the government was not planning to ask for the lists through the United Nations because it was not customary to ask for details and explanations of measures applied by the breakaway regime.

    “We think the list constitutes one more illegal measure by the occupying regime; the threat that people on the list could disappear if they go to the occupied areas is the same with other regimes,” Chrysostomides said.

    But in the absence of more detailed information on banned persons, the Turkish Cypriot bar on Andreas Constantinou - a very common name - could mean hundreds of Greek Cypriots cannot cross to the north. The Nicosia phone book alone lists around 115 people under the name Andreas Constantinou.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    [08] Asbestos waste to be buried at old mine

    By Sofia Kannas

    MORE than 30 containers of asbestos waste will be buried near the old Amiantos mine, an Environment Services official said yesterday.

    The move follows the announcement by the government in March of an asbestos removal programme worth several million pounds.

    Environment Officer Costas Papastavrou said yesterday the policy had been decided some months ago by the government and stressed that there was “an urgent need to find a place for these materials.”

    According to Papastavrou, between 30 and 35 containers of asbestos waste will be disposed of in the next few months, providing all health and safety requirements are met.

    “Over the last four or five years we demolished roofs made from asbestos material on some public buildings, and so far we have about 30-35 containers of asbestos waste,” he said. “We will dispose of the containers near the asbestos mines at Troodos, once we carry out an environmental impact assessment study and management plan, and the rest of the requirements.”

    In parallel, the government has decided to demolish asbestos roofs on all public buildings -- including schools, which were not previously covered -- as well as private sector buildings.

    Papastavrou reassured that the disposal programme would not pose any health risk to the public.

    “There is no problem at all as regards public health and environment issues, ” he said. “We shall take into account all the international recommendations and guidelines of the United Nations and European Commission.

    “This (waste) material is not in fibre form, it’s in special plates, which is one more reason why there is no risk at all,” he added.

    Parliament passed a law last December introducing strict regulations for the management of solids and hazardous waste: “It’s a new law and we try to follow it strictly in compliance with the acquis communautaire. There are also other special laws regarding the demolition works, involving the safety inspectorate,” Papastavrou said.

    The disposal programme is currently being discussed with local authorities in the Amiantos area.

    Tenders will also be invited for a series of special disposal sites to be built across the country. The sites, which will be designed for the disposal of asbestos and other chemical substances, will be located mostly at or near abandoned quarries and mines.

    Leader of the Greens, George Perdikis, yesterday welcomed the news.

    “We had information some months ago that they (the government) were going to create a place in an old asbestos mine and build a waste field there,” he said. “It’s good news as long as…the preconditions put forward by the United Nations and European standards are fulfilled.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    [09] Cyprus Airways trade unions threatened strike measures next week

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS Airways trade unions have threatened strike measures at the beginning of next week if their new collective agreement demands are not met.

    Union demands include 10.5 per cent pay rises and an extension of the age of retirement from 60 to 63 as part of their renewed collective agreements, which expired on December 31 last year.

    But because the national carrier is going through a transitional period with no chairman and expecting a new board to be appointed by the beginning of next month, decisions concerning staff issues cannot be taken.

    Cyprus Airways spokesman Tassos Angelis said: “The company will announce its official position with the next few days after the return of the acting chairman, general manager and members of top management (from Los Angeles, where they have gone to secure a deal with a US leasing company for the sale of four planes).”

    In spite of this, union representatives reached deadlock with Labour Ministry mediators in discussions on May 8, calling a six-hour warning strike from 6am to midday on Monday, May 26.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    [10] Cyprus missing out on EU trade potential

    By Alexia Saoulli

    CYPRUS has failed to take advantage of its natural financial resources, with a large untapped trade potential to the European Union of over $60 million, the findings of a UN-funded study revealed yesterday.

    Not only does the island have export potential in fresh foods, agro- processes, textiles and manufacturing, but there is also a large gap between the competitiveness of its manufacturing sector and that of the EU.

    The study, entitled ‘Competitiveness and Market Opportunities in the EU for Products and Services’, was funded by the UNDP/UNOPS programme ‘Partnership for the Future’, and aims to promote networking and partnership between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot business communities, to strengthen small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) competitiveness through targeted capacity- building activities and grant schemes, and to enhance awareness on the acquis communautaire and business-oriented topics.

    UNOPS consultant Paul Baker said: “The main finding that came out of this study is that there is a huge amount of potential out there which Cypriot companies, especially small and medium enterprises, are not taking advantage of.”

    Based on its findings, the programme plans to design and implement a number of projects to assist small businesses in achieving better access to international markets, as well as improving their competitiveness.

    “We came out with a figure of minimum $60 million that could be taken advantage of,” said Baker.

    There is also large potential in expanding the offer of services from Cyprus to the EU, he added, pointing out there was a large competitiveness gap between Cypriot and EU manufacturing sectors.

    For instance in 2001, Cyprus had high comparative advantages in fresh foods, processed foods, clothing and leather products, moderate comparative advantages in light manufacturing, and comparative advantages in wood products, heavy manufacturing and machinery.

    But when compared with other countries in the world, the island’s trade performance between they years 1997-2001 was only above average in fresh foods, said Baker.

    “In all the other products it has been performing below the average standard and this is one of the aspects that we think needs to be tackled for Cyprus to remain competitive,” he said.

    As far as EU export opportunities are concerned, the study showed that Cyprus’ highest export potential lies in fresh foods such as vegetables, fish, cheese and fruits, as well as agro-processed goods like fruit juices, wine and beer. Its EU markets could therefore be France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and Austria.

    The island also shows highest export potential in terms of textiles (pullovers, trousers, dresses and shirts) and in manufacturing (pharmaceuticals, sanitary articles, electrical plugs and motorboats).

    Although tourism is the island’s main source of income, the study showed 80 per cent of tourism receipts only represented $2 billion of the EU’s average $70 billion spent on tourism in a year.

    “We think that Cyprus could bring in services maybe by enhancing its hotels. It could try to tap into that (higher end tourism) market,” said Baker.

    As regards transportation, he noted that Cyprus spent $3.5 billion on transport services per year as compared to the EU, which spends an average of $62 billion. It should also try to improve its marketing strategy, and promote its modes of passenger transport to different EU destinations. This includes non- traditional markets in particular, who would spend a lot of money in Cyprus but do not have direct flights to the island, said Baker.

    Baker also noted that Cyprus has a comparative advantage in sea and air transportation, in tourism and in telecommunication services because of its location, and said it had the potential to become a regional hub for transportation services, but needed to develop its network of sea and air freight services and exploit competitive advantage in telecommunications and off-shore banking services.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    [11] Fog closes Larnaca airport for three hours

    By a Staff Reporter

    ZERO visibility over Larnaca yesterday morning forced 15 planes to be redirected to Paphos, until dense fog began to clear up around 8am.

    Larnaca airport closed down for three hours; the weather service said fog conditions were normal for this time of the year.

    The redirected planes caused some congestion at Paphos airport, but other than that authorities said no major problems occurred.

    Meanwhile the Kato Paphos area had some fog of its own, but visibility there was good enough to allow 15 planes to land at the airport. Andreas Opsimos, Paphos airport inspector, said that all 15 planes landing during this time were serviced normally and then headed out to their final destinations.

    In addition to the weather conditions, national carrier Cyprus Airways (CY) also had to deal with a 24-hour strike by air traffic controllers in Greece. CY spokesman Tassos Angeli told the Cyprus Mail they had been notified days earlier that Olympic Airways would operate only one flight for its international destinations, so the flights to Greece were rescheduled.

    Angeli said just two CY flights to Greece took place yesterday, instead of the regular five during the summer season. The last CY flight to Greece departed shortly after midnight.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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