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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-03-01

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Foreign Minister will meet European counterparts
  • [02] Former Attorney General dies
  • [03] Cyprus dismisses US claims about money laundering
  • [04] Cypriot on hunger strike for missing brother

  • 1115:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Foreign Minister will meet European counterparts

    Nicosia, Mar 1 (CNA) -- Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alecos Michaelides, will fly to Athens tomorrow, for meetings with his counterparts from six European countries.

    Michaelides talks will focus on the European Union (EU) role in efforts to reach a solution to the protracted Cyprus problem, as well as efforts by some EU to include Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus' accession talks.

    On Monday, Michaelides will meet with Greek Deputy Foreign Minister, Georgios Papandreou, in Athens, whereas on Tuesday he will hold talks in London with Foreign Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, and Shadow Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook.

    On Wednesday, the Foreign Minister will discuss the Cyprus issue with his French counterpart, Michel Barnier, in Paris, and the following day he will meet Italian Foreign Minister, Lamberto Dini, in Rome.

    Next Monday, March 10, Michaelides will be in Bonn, where he is scheduled to meet German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Klaus Kinkel, and next Tuesday he will see his Dutch counterpart, Hans Van Mierlo.

    Michaelides returns to Cyprus next Tuesday, after his meeting in the Hague.

    CNA RG/MA/1997

    [02] Former Attorney General dies

    Nicosia, Mar 1 (CNA) -- Former Attorney General of the Cyprus Republic Kriton Tornaritis died in hospital today at the age of 95.

    His funeral will take place on Tuesday (March 4). The funeral service will be held at Panagia Evangelistria Church in Nicosia's eastern suburb of Pallouriotissa.

    Tornaritis was Attorney General from 1952 to 1960, when Cyprus gained independence from Britain, and Attorney General of the Cyprus Republic from 1960 to 1984, when he was appointed Special Advisor to the President on Constitutional Policy, International Legal Relations and related matters.

    Tornaritis had represented Cyprus in many legal conferences, international meetings and European councils.

    He wrote 65 books and more than 5.000 studies, mostly legal. Many of his works can be found in universities and libraries abroad.

    CNA RG/GP/1997

    [03] Cyprus dismisses US claims about money laundering

    Washington, Mar 1 (CNA) -- The US State Department considers Cyprus "a high risk area for money laundering", and in particular of funds controlled by what it describes as the "Russian mafia".

    However, the Governor of Cyprus' Central Bank, Afxentis Afxentiou, has strongly rejected the American claims, stressing Cyprus has introduced a new law regarding money laundering, and has stepped up measures to enforce it.

    Afxentiou called on anybody, including the State Department, that has any information on money laundering in Cyprus "to give us concrete facts, if they have any, so that we can take specific measures".

    In its Annual International Narcotics Control Report, the State Department moves Cyprus from a medium-high to a high priority country, in the money laundering section.

    "Despite passage of new laws, the priority for Cyprus is being raised from Medium-High to High, reflecting the US belief that Cyprus is a high risk area for money laundering", the report notes.

    It says, however, that "the money laundering of most concern is not related primarily to narcotics; narcotics-related money laundering has been a crime in Cyprus since 1992".

    Invited to comment on the report, the Central Bank Governor told CNA today that Cyprus has already taken many measures and is in the process of "issuing additional and detailed directives" to enforce it as effectively as possible.

    Afxentiou recalled that Cyprus approved in 1996 a new law to combat money laundering, and stressed "the Central Bank has already begun enforcing its provisions".

    He added local banks have been instructed to be more strict in the identification of prospective customers, before opening an account or transferring money through accounts.

    The US report supports that, "once only a locale where Middle East groups of various persuasions met and sometimes exchanged funds, Cyprus today is receiver and conduit for funds generated by an array of crimes, in particular funds controlled by Russian 'mafia' and other criminals."

    The State Department believes "Cyprus has also been a conduit for moving funds in violation of United Nations sanctions."

    In the money laundering section the report recognizes that Cyprus' "new anti-money laundering law represents one of the first steps taken by a government in the Middle East."

    It adds "it remains to be seen how strongly Cyprus means to implement the law, and whether it has the determination to set up the financial intelligence unit called for in the new law".

    Afxentiou expressed surprise with this reference, noting that Cyprus has already set up a unit, to enforce the law.

    He noted the establishment of a unit, comprising of a representative from the Attorney General's office, the Customs Department and the Police, to whom banks are compelled to refer any suspicious cases.

    The Central Bank Governor pointed out that the local banks had been instructed to be careful, even before the relevant law was approved by the House of Representatives.

    In the country section, the State Department's Report on Narcotics says that "Cypriots do not produce or consume significant amounts of narcotics, but hashish use by young Cypriots and tourists is growing".

    It also claims that "drug traffickers use Cyprus as a meeting place to broker deals, taking advantage of its relatively sophisticated business and communications infrastructure".

    The Report acknowledges that, "Cyprus, strictly enforces tough anti- drug laws, and police and customs authorities maintain excellent relations with US and other foreign government officials".

    On the issue of corruption in the authorities, the Report points out that "corruption in Cyprus is limited" and that "there is no evidence of senior or other officials facilitating the production, processing or shipment of drugs."

    With regard to the law enforcement effort, the Report says that "Cyprus aggressively pursues drug seizures, arrests, and prosecutions for drug violations" and "focuses on major traffickers when the opportunities are available, and readily supports the international community in its efforts."

    CNA DA/MA/GP/1997

    [04] Cypriot on hunger strike for missing brother

    Nicosia, Mar 1 (CNA) -- A Greek Cypriot in his forties, father of two, who began a hunger strike last Sunday in a bid to draw attention to the fact that his brother has been missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, is determined to carry on as long as he can.

    Speaking to CNA today, Michalis Mina, a refugee from the Turkish- occupied village of Lefkoniko, said he decided to go on a hunger strike after he dreamt of his brother, for three consecutive nights.

    Since last Sunday, Mina has been sitting at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace checkpoint, in Nicosia, the only point through which one can cross into the Turkish-occupied part of the island, holding a picture of his missing brother, who was only 19 at the time of the Turkish invasion.

    His brother was listed as missing together with another 1618 people soon after the Turkish invasion, almost 23 years ago, and the occupation of 37 per cent of the island's territory.

    Mina has not taken any solids for a week and has only been drinking water.

    Despite the fact that he is semi-paralysed, after sustaining injuries during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Mina is determined to continue his hunger strike.

    Mina said his initial decision was to go on a hunger strike for one week, but will now carry on "for as long as I can. Until the whole world hears of the problem of the missing".

    He cannot believe his brother is dead. "I keep on hoping, because I believe many of our missing are alive," a run-down Mina says, while his wife was standing by offering him her full support and encouragement.

    Mina has joined other Greek Cypriots at the Ledra Palace checkpoint, where a sit-in is held every weekend since the end of last year.

    Among those participating are relatives of the people missing since the Turkish invasion.

    The demonstration aims to inform foreign tourists and diplomats, who intend to cross into the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island, about Turkish atrocities in Cyprus.

    Last summer, four unarmed Greek Cypriots were murdered in cold blood, by the Turkish occupation forces and Turkish extremists.

    CNA MK/MA/GP/1997
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