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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-12-01

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Socialist party leader - Greek government
  • [02] Apostle Andreas Monastery - Pilgrimage
  • [03] Health Minister - AIDS awareness campaign

  • 1740:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Socialist party leader - Greek government

    Larnaca, Dec 1 (CNA) -- Greece will back any decision the political leaders of Cyprus will take regarding the S300 surface-to-air missile system ordered by Nicosia, Socialist EDEK party leader Vasos Lyssarides underlined today.

    Speaking on his return from Athens where he met ruling socialist PASOK party leaders, Lyssarides also said that a joint defence pact agreed between Greece and Cyprus in 1993 will be reinforced.

    The EDEK leader went to Athens yesterday at the invitation of PASOK, extended after a meeting held Friday in the Greek capital chaired by Premier Costas Simitis and Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides.

    Lyssarides said during his talks with PASOK leaders earlier today they discussed various scenarios concerning the Russian-made S300, some of which have not been proposed by Athens or Nicosia, but refrained from elaborating.

    "The Greek side has decided to back any decision taken by the National Council" (the top advisory body to the President on the Cyprus problem), Lyssarides said.

    He added that Athens "will keep the promises and obligations it has undertaken towards Cypriot Hellenism."

    Lyssarides also underlined that the two governments must take joint decisions on issues of major importance and said that Athens is not trying to impose its opinion.

    The socialist leader, a partner of the Clerides government, said the President will brief the National Council on the Athens meeting.

    The government has said that any decision on the missile system, ordered in a bid to boost its air defence, will be taken by the National Council.

    The National Council has said it would reconsider the deployment of the missiles if there is substantive progress for a settlement in Cyprus or efforts to reduce tension and arms, leading to demilitarisation.

    So far efforts to reach a settlement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory in 1974, have stumbled on the Turkish side's intransigence.

    UN Resident Representative, Dame Ann Hercus has undertaken a fresh effort to this effect, through meetings with both sides.

    CNA RG/MA/EC/1998

    [02] Apostle Andreas Monastery - Pilgrimage

    by Emilia Christofi

    Nicosia, Dec 1 (CNA) -- As the bus made a left turning, her look became even more persistent. "Where is the gate," she asked, clearly sounding impatient after her long journey from Nicosia to the eastern tip of the divided island.

    The bus finally entered through a rusted iron gate, still standing despite 24 years of utter neglect. She rose, and so did most of the passengers; their wait was over.

    There was the monastery of Apostle Andreas, situated in the Turkish occupied Karpass peninsula in the eastern edge of the island, a symbol of the Greek Orthodox faith in Cyprus.

    "Thank you Lord for bringing us back," she said, and hurriedly climbed down the bus holding candles to light in the name of the Apostle, basil and flowers to place on his icon.

    Fifty-eight year old Androula Christou was one of the 1483 Greek Cypriots who crossed yesterday into the Turkish occupied north of the island to pay their first visit to the monastery since the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of the island's northern third.

    To her and all other pilgrims, this was not a usual day trip. It was a pilgrimage to a monastery that nearly a quarter of a century ago was one of the most popular places of worship, especially for the sick.

    Yesterday was also a special day as it was Apostle Andreas' feast day, celebrated throughout the island.

    It was the fourth visit to the monastery, as part of a recent arrangement by the office of the Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner, Takis Christopoulos, the UN and the Turkish occupation regime.

    The pilgrims, clutching candles of all sizes and shapes representing their wishes to the apostle, had arrived at the site of the Nicosia courts at six in the morning as instructed by Christopoulos' office. Police presence was heavy to avert clashes with members of the Pancyprian Anti- occupation Movement who opposed the pilgrimage.

    Men, women with infants and small children and elderly people walked without any incidents to the Ledra Palace checkpoint and patiently waited for more than two hours to pass through the Cyprus Police checkpoint.

    As they crossed into the occupied north, they were went confronted with a huge sign saying "TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) forever".

    A refugee from the Karpass peninsula cried as he saw the provocative sign. His wife comforted him saying "patience, we are going to the Apostle. That's what matters now."

    The illegal regime in the occupied north is recognised only by Ankara. Awaiting the pilgrims on the seats of the buses, that were covered with stickers of the illegal state, were brochures referring to the holiday sites of the eastern occupied areas of Cyprus and a map with the names of Greek villages written in Turkish.

    The brochures also contained a declaration entitled "Our honourable guests". It called on Greek Cypriots to urge the Cyprus government to abandon plans to increase its armaments threatening that such actions will "lead you to other misadventures" (indirectly referring to the 1974 Turkish invasion).

    Two so called "policemen" of the illegal regime, dressed in civilian clothing, were sitting at both ends of each bus that was to transport the pilgrims.

    The pilgrims were ordered not to take any photographs during the journey. Photography was only allowed at the coastal resort of Bogazi, where the convoy of 35 buses stopped for refreshments, and at the monastery.

    During the two and a half hour drive from the occupied part of the capital Nicosia, the pilgrims identified a number of derelict villages including Kythrea, Agios Sergios, Agios Theodoros, Leonariso and others.

    The most disturbing site along the journey were the looted churches in the villages. Their crosses were removed, as well as their doors, icons and furniture. Covered in Turkish graffiti, the churches depicted signs of 24 years of abandonment.

    Only the church of Rizokarpaso, where some Greek Cypriot enclaved remain, had a cross.

    Turkish Cypriots, however, were glad to see the 35 buses. Men and women, children and elderly, waved to the Greek Cypriot pilgrims who in turned smiled, despite a feeling of overwhelming indignation which culminated at the site of the monastery.

    For many years now reports in both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot press refer to the danger of the monastery collapsing. The section overlooking the sea, where the holy water spring is situated, as well its upper floor look set to collapse at any moment.

    The illegal Turkish Cypriot regime has so far turned down a Cyprus government proposal for the restoration of the monastery. It has also denied access to the monastery by a team of Greek Cypriot experts to study the damage the building has sustained over the years.

    The destruction of Cyprus' cultural heritage in the Turkish occupied areas is an ongoing issue.

    It is estimated that about 500 churches, some of which dating back to the 12th century, have been desecrated, completely destroyed or used for other purposes.

    Father Spyridon Demosthenous of the Acropolis church in Nicosia officiated the service for the apostle's feast day.

    The church was virtually asphyxiated by the throng of pilgrims, eager to worship the apostle's icon. Elderly people, some in their late 90s were helped inside the church. The strain to their health was beyond description but they persisted.

    Hundreds of pilgrims converged at the holy water spring, often pushing to fill up as many bottles as possible to take back home.

    Others cut small branches of myrtle or collected stones or some earth to take back home.

    The departure from the monastery came abruptly. As soon as the service ended, the Turkish Cypriot drivers sounded the bus horns, loudly declaring the pilgrimage was over.

    The monastery's priest stood outside the church, solemnly watching the hurried departure of the pilgrims.

    He waved goodbye, hoping that next year's service will be for all and not just 1483 pilgrims.

    CNA EC/MA/1998

    [03] Health Minister - AIDS awareness campaign

    Nicosia, Dec 1 (CNA) -- Health Minister Christos Solomis today announced a campaign to raise youngsters' awareness on AIDS-related issues.

    In a message on the occasion of today's World AIDS Day, Solomis underlined that young people must become more active in efforts to contain the spread of AIDS and to support people who have been tested HIV positive and their families.

    He said that his ministry together with the official youth organisation and non-governmental organisations, will begin a campaign on Saturday.

    They will visit places frequented by youngsters to hand out brochures on the issue and talk to youngsters.

    "Our aim is to enlighten youngsters so that the have a correct attitude and stance towards AIDS," Solomis says in his message, adding that this year's campaign will consolidate the government's long-term policy on health and youth development.

    Noting that there is no medicine to cure AIDS but only expensive medicine which can only offer a better quality of life, Solomis stressed that "there is no doubt that prevention is the best weapon" against the disease.

    In Cyprus, official figures put the number of persons infected by HIV to 297, 178 of which are Cypriots, 153 men and 25 women, most of them aged between 20-40 years old.

    CNA MA/EC/1998
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