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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-05-31

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, May 31, 2003


  • [01] Gul sees Cyprus settlement by end of next year
  • [02] We don’t need any more helicopters, government insists
  • [03] Perdikis calls for more regulations over city billboards
  • [04] Mitsotakis lashes out at Papadolpoulos ‘inexperience’
  • [05] High tech foreign trawlers muscling in on local fishermen
  • [06] More frogs to feed endangered water snakes
  • [07] Ankara announces massive aid package to the north on eve of EU measures

  • [01] Gul sees Cyprus settlement by end of next year

    By a Staff Reporter

    TURKISH Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said yesterday he believed a settlement in Cyprus was possible by the end of next year, when Turkey hopes to launch its European Union accession talks.

    The EU is prepared to admit a divided Cyprus next May if a deal with Turkish Cypriots to end the island’s division cannot be reached.

    That could cement Cyprus’ partition, isolate Turkish Cypriots and wreck Muslim Turkey’s own hopes of joining the European Union.

    “I am of the opinion a settlement can be reached by the end of 2004,” Gul said in a live interview with news channel NTV.

    UN-backed peace talks on the island collapsed in March.

    Turkey faces mounting diplomatic pressure to push the Turkish Cypriot side towards a settlement. Only Ankara recognises the Turkish Cypriot statelet, which it maintains with 30,000 troops.

    Gul also said he believed parliament would pass a raft of reform legislation aimed at boosting political and human rights in time for an EU summit next month in Greece.

    “Our goal is for the EU’s report on Turkey to appear in the best form, therefore we will not miss this opportunity.”

    Turkey became a candidate in 1999, but is the only aspirant not yet negotiating its entry because it has failed to fulfil basic political and human rights criteria required by the bloc.

    Brussels has offered a conditional date for talks to begin at the end of 2004 if Turkey can implement reforms.

    Asked if 2011 or 2012 was a realistic date for Turkey’s EU accession, Gul said: “If we begin accession talks at the end of 2004, and I believe that is when we need to start, it is a realistic date.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, May 31, 2003

    [02] We don’t need any more helicopters, government insists

    By a Staff Reporter

    IN THE latest twist on the procurement of helicopters for the military and the police, the government confirmed yesterday it was scrapping the tenders process and initiating another one “no later than 12 months from now”.

    Earlier this week the Cabinet decided to terminate the tenders competition for the purchase of three “multiple-use choppers”, effectively bringing to an end this phase of an affair that has been in the news for as long as memory serves.

    To date there have been at least another two such cancellations, as the previous administration was rocked by allegations of discrepancies in the tenders process that allegedly favoured some bidders over others. The Clerides government finally decided to purchase three Bell choppers, to be used in fire fighting, coastal surveillance, search and rescue operations and transport of military personnel.

    Justice Minister Doros Theodorou yesterday defended the new government’s decision to postpone purchasing additional choppers, saying “right now, there is no reason whatsoever to do that”. Theodorou argued that the two main reasons for buying the choppers had ceased to exist.

    “First, over the past couple of years we have adopted the practice of renting helicopters for fire fighting, and I might add that this method turns out to be less expensive; second, quite simply the National Guard now has no need for any additional personnel carriers.”

    According to Theodorou, buying the helicopters would cost “no less than £20 million,” while the cost of renting for the summer months, when the fire hazard is especially high, works out to £1.1 million a year.

    “Things have changed since the past administration’s decision to buy the Bell helicopters, so it is no longer necessary to maintain that tenders process,” said Theodorou.

    The National Guard’s air transport needs are currently being serviced by Russian MI-35 gunships; Theodorou said these were “more than enough for the time being”.

    Although pledging that the government was already planning to initiate another competition over the next year, Theodorou did not go into specifics. And for his part, Defence Minister Koullis Mavronikolas urged the media not to provide gratuitous coverage to national security matters.

    While the Defence Minister stressed that the National Guard was not being neglected, he did not explain why the military did not need the helicopters any more.

    Criticism of the government’s decision was swift, as Mavronikolas’ predecessor Socrates Hasikos wondered why “the need for personnel-carrying helicopters has suddenly ceased to exist?”

    “The previous administration based its decision to purchase the helicopters purely on operational, not political criteria,” added Hasikos.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, May 31, 2003

    [03] Perdikis calls for more regulations over city billboards

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    GREEN Party deputy George Perdikis yesterday urged parliament to study the Town Planning law that regulates the use of billboards as soon as possible.

    Speaking at a news conference, Perdikis said the regulations would complement the bill passed a day earlier by parliament curbing the use of roadside billboards by banning boards closer than three metres from the streets in the cities and 40 metres from the highway.

    The new rules will regulate the form of the billboards, their content, and their relationship with the natural or urban environment, such as buildings or monuments.

    He highlighted the need for the government to implement the regulations and for municipalities to come to an understanding with the advertising companies for the removal or pulling back of billboards. Advertisers have until October 1, 2003, to meet the criteria of the new legislation or face having their boards torn down.

    The deputy pointed out that the 51 billboards on a 33-kilometre stretch of the highway would have to be reduced to 12 under the new law, translating to a 76 per cent reduction.

    AdBoard manager Michail Kyriakides yesterday hailed the regulations as a positive thing, saying billboards would finally be given legitimacy. However, he said the legislation was complicated and would require further study before he could say how it would affect his business.

    Currently, most billboards within the city do not meet the three-metre criteria and will have to be knocked down before October.

    One advertising officer said that they would pursue the matter of compensation if the municipality tore down their ads, given that it was the municipality that told them where to place the boards.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, May 31, 2003

    [04] Mitsotakis lashes out at Papadolpoulos ‘inexperience’

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE HONORARY President of Greece’s right-wing Nea Dimocratia, Constantinos Mitsotakis, yesterday blasted President Tassos Papadopoulos for being “the first Cypriot President to meddle with Greek domestic politics.”

    Mitsotakis was commenting on the President’s participation at a Socialist Party (PASOK) meeting in Athens on Tuesday.

    Speaking to Greek television channel NET yesterday, Mitsotakis described Papadopoulos’ participation as clumsy and wrong meddling in domestic politics.

    “Mr Papadopoulos made a mistake,” Mitsotakis said.

    “He was the first President of the Republic of Cyprus to meddle in Greece’s domestic politics and he did it in a clumsy manner.

    By his presence as President of the Republic at the PASOK meeting endorsed one-sided presentation of Greece’s problems by (Greek Prime Minister) Costas Simitis.

    “It was an error that could be put down to inexperience,” Mitsotakis added. “We are not making a big deal out of it.

    “We are hopeful of a substantial handling of the Cyprus problem and that he does not repeat such mistakes. He should be more careful.”

    The government yesterday refused to comment on Mitsotakis’ verbal attack on the President. Speaking from St Petersburg, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said Papadopoulos would not comment.

    “The President will not comment further than what he said at the PASOK meeting,” Chrysostomides said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, May 31, 2003

    [05] High tech foreign trawlers muscling in on local fishermen

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE LARNACA Fishermen’s Organisation yesterday warned the ecosystem was heading for disaster due to excessive tuna and swordfish fishing by foreign fishing trawlers.

    Using high-tech equipment, Italian, French and Spanish fishermen have started catching hundreds of tonnes of tuna and swordfish in eastern Mediterranean waters, Petros Andrianou told the Cyprus Mail. This is the first time the foreign fishermen have muscled in on locals’ traditional territory, he said.

    During this period, these fish travel towards Cyprus, where the water is warmer, in order to lay their eggs, he said. “So there are schools of 100- 600 kilo fish in the area,” he pointed out, “which they want to catch.”

    Andrianou said unlike Cypriot fishermen who used “correct methods” to catch tuna and sword fish, which did not affect the ecosystem, foreign fishing ships used large nets and sophisticated tracking devices.

    “When we go fishing we throw about 500 baited hooks into the water and wait for the fish to bite. Up until now each fishing boat would maybe catch an average of five fish a day using this method,” he said. Five fish, weighing 20-50 kilos each, were enough for a family to survive well. “Now we throw in our hooks and are lucky to catch one fish.”

    The problem is local fishermen are unable to compete with the modern, high tech foreign fishing trawlers.

    “They use new technology involving satellites and planes and helicopters to track the fish. Then they come here and drop water from the planes and trick the fish into thinking it’s food from above and so they rise to surface to feed. However, instead, their fishing ships are waiting, with huge six mile long nets that they used to circle the entire school of fish, and lift them all out of the water,” said Andrianou. “Not one manages to get away.”

    He said two French and one Spanish ship had recently sailed into Larnaca harbour with 380 tonnes of large fish, which they’d caught over four days. The catch is then exported abroad, particularly to Japan where tuna is an expensive delicacy.

    “The way they work really worries us. It’s unorthodox and if it continues for two or three years it will affect the ecosystem because not only do they catch tuna and swordfish using this method of fishing, but also whales.”

    Andrianou said we were looking at an ecological disaster waiting to happen. “Small fish will start to grow into large fish, because there will be no fish to eat them.”

    But the government cannot stop foreigners from fishing tuna in the Mediterranean, an industry source, who wished to remain anonymous, said yesterday.

    “There’s nothing that can be done, because these fishermen are fishing in international waters, and do not need another country’s permission to do so, ” he said.

    “Until now our fishermen had no competitors in the tuna and swordfish market. Now that they are losing money, it has become a problem that is not easy to solve.”

    Tuna is primarily exported to Japan, where it can fetch $100 per kilo. But locals are losing out on this profitable business because the French and Spaniards have better fishing boats. The only way for fishermen to compete is if they buy ships and equipment that match those of the foreigners.

    “But they are very costly and not worth the expense for only three months,” he said. French and Spanish companies on the other hand are huge enterprises that also fish in the Atlantic, and so can spend the extra money.

    Nevertheless, Andrianou said he hoped the foreign fishing ships would adhere to EU regulations forbidding such methods during the entire month of June, when the fish eggs were hatching, while allowing traditional methods of fishing to continue.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, May 31, 2003

    [06] More frogs to feed endangered water snakes

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE FISHERIES department said yesterday it planned to construct small ponds around a Nicosia district dam in order to provide an endangered water snake with its predominant food source of frogs.

    The Xyliatos dam in the Nicosia district is the natural habitat of the endemic water snake, natrix natrix cypriaca. However, the harmless reptile - protected under EU nature protection laws - is in danger of extinction.

    The main problem at Xyliatos dam is the presence of the Largemouth Bass fish, which feed on frogs, the water snakes’ main food source, a fisheries department official told the Cyprus Mail.

    “Because of this phenomenon the natrix natrix population has dwindled drastically and unless direct measures are taken to protect it, it will become extinct.”

    The natrix natrix can also be found around Paralimni Lake and a few other smaller wetlands. Although the fisheries department has plans to increase the snake population in those areas as well, it said the dam was a priority since it was the snake’s major habitat.

    The reason the fish are present in the dam is because someone, unknown to the department, threw a few in there and over the years they’ve bred. The problem is the Largemouth Bass is a “hunter” and feeds on the frogs, leaving no food for the water snakes, and thus leading to their rapidly dwindling population.

    Now, the fisheries department, along with the Interior Ministry, the games fund, the environment service, the forestry department, the water development department and Paralimni municipality have decided to work together to fight the problem.

    “A German expert, Dr. Brigit Blosat, prepared a series of measures which would help protect the water snake. These included stopping fishing at the dam in order to protect the natural habitat, and the construction of small lakes around the dam to attract frogs,” she said.

    She added: “We plan to construct five lakes around the dam and to create frogs’ natural environment so that they are attracted to the area. We might place four or five frogs there initially, but it won’t be necessary eventually since we have plenty of frogs in Cyprus and they will flourish naturally.” The aim is to ensure there is plenty of food to go round for both the snakes and the fish.

    Asked when the project would begin construction, she said: “As soon as possible. We’ve picked out the location on each lake and agreed on their design. Now we are waiting for the money to go ahead to try and save the water snake before they decrease in number even more.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, May 31, 2003

    [07] Ankara announces massive aid package to the north on eve of EU measures

    By a Staff Reporter

    IN AN apparent bid to deflate the impact of a planned EU financial aid package to Turkish Cypriots, Ankara has announced it will be pumping some $450 million dollars into the breakaway regime’s flagging economy.

    Sources in the north observed that the huge amounts poured into the occupied area’s economy were aimed at giving the international community the message that Turkey and the ‘TRNC’ could better provide for Turkish Cypriots than the EU, whose offer of 12 million euros pales in comparison. The message was also directed at Turkish Cypriots, showing them that accession to the EU via reunification of the island is not the panacea it was made out to be.

    The EU’s enlargement commissioner Gunter Verheugen recently announced an aid package was in the works, but the Turkish government lost no time in promising some measures of its own.

    Pundits agreed that the timing of Ankara’s move was suspect at best. Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the opposition Republican Turkish Party, said Ankara’s measures were clearly aimed at “keeping Turkish Cypriots away from the EU”. Talat added it is well known that “Denktash is opposed to the EU,” and that the move was aimed at “disorienting the public in the north”.

    Turkey will be providing two aid packages. The first, worth a total of $450 million, will be in the form of a loan. It will be part of a “three-year” programme and is provided over and above Ankara’s annual $250 million to the breakaway regime. The package is broken into two parts: $160 million goes to investment incentives for small and medium-sized businesses, while the rest is available to anyone wishing to invest in the occupied area - clearly meaning mainland Turks. According to reports, a well-known university in Turkey has already expressed interest in investing.

    The second package of 40 billion Turkish lira (around £14 million) will be provided as direct aid, and is targeted at low-income groups for investment and housing purposes.

    But there may be another interpretation for Ankara’s economic countermeasures. Observers pointed out that half of the EU’s 12 million euro package would be channelled to the occupied municipalities of Nicosia, Kyrenia and Famagusta; these are constituencies that have traditionally been a bastion for Talat’s Republican Party, the regime’s greatest detractor. Recently ‘Prime Minister’ Dervis Eroglu suggested this was a clear sign that the EU was helping the opposition and interfering in the upcoming ‘parliamentary’ elections.

    The rest of the EU capital will go toward infrastructure projects, encouraging investments by small and medium-sized businesses and sponsoring bi-communal activities.

    In a related development, the Turkish parliament recently approved a law that speeds up procedures for Turkish Cypriots wishing to acquire Turkish nationality. And Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibris reported that those wishing to apply for Turkish citizenship should visit the diplomatic delegations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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