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Cyprus PIO: News Update in English, 97-10-16

Cyprus Press and Information Office: News Updates in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <>

News Update

Thursday, 16/10/97


  • [01] Greece and Cyprus want peace, says Greek Minister
  • [02] Swedish Foreign Minister says Cyprus solution is responsibility of parties concerned
  • [03] We shall not relinquish our rights to our art treasures, says Attorney- General
  • [04] Finance Minister presents 1998 Budgets
  • [05] EU Council of Ministers approves Cyprus-EU bilateral agreements
  • [06] CEMAT conference opens in Limassol

[01] Greece and Cyprus want peace, says Greek Minister

Greece wants peace with Turkey but not at the cost of its own survival and rights, Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Cypriot counterpart Costas Eliades in Nicosia at the end of his three-day visit to the island, Tzohatzopoulos accused Turkey of deliberately escalating tension in the region.

Referring to the dozens of Turkish violations of Greek and Cypriot airspace during the "Nikiforos" military exercises this week, Tsohatzopoulos said the violations were "part of the Turkish policy of threats to make us yield to its illegal demands".

The fact that "Greece and Cyprus have agreements on defence matters to face external threats together" does not create tension in the area, Tzohatzopoulos said. Greece, he said, wants peace but not at the cost of its own survival and rights.

Mr Tsohatzopoulos said that if the United States or any other country was interested in reducing tension in the region "they have to turn to the sole source of that tension, which is none other than Turkey".

He said Greece and Cyprus were peaceful countries which only wished for their right to exist and defend their own sovereignty.

Tsohatzopoulos said the fuss created by Turkey over the missile deal was "artificial and intentional".

He said the S-300 system was clearly defensive and that Turkey cannot speak about danger to its safety from its deployment.

"There will be no danger for Turkey unless it attacks Cyprus by air," Tsohatzopoulos said.

Cyprus Defence Minister Costas Eliades on his part said the island was "ready and determined to face any situation or threat posed by Turkey".

He said Cyprus' defence programme and its co-operation with Greece are irreversible, "unless the demilitarisation of the island is agreed upon or the Cyprus problem is solved".

[02] Swedish Foreign Minister says Cyprus solution is responsibility of parties concerned

The Swedish Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallen, currently visiting Cyprus, had meetings yesterday with President Clerides, House of Representatives President Spyros Kyprianou, and Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

In statements to the press, Ms Hjelm-Wallen stressed the need for a solution to the Cyprus problem, which she described as important to both the people of Cyprus and to Europe

She said that it is the responsibility of the parties concerned to come to a solution, adding that Sweden "can facilitate it in some way, and that is our promise."

Expressing concern about overflights and military actions, she said "this is something we are worried about. It can hamper the whole peace process".

She called upon all sides, both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island, as well as Greece and Turkey to "refrain from military actions and work in a constructive way towards a solution" of the Cyprus problem and added that Greece and Turkey should perhaps again consider banning flights of their warplanes over Cyprus.

Asked to comment on Cyprus' prospects to become a European Union (EU) member before a political solution was reached, Ms Hjelm-Wallen said: "We want to see Cyprus in the EU but there must be a solution. The two should be parallel."

She added, however, she was not happy with Ankara's threats of annexing the northern Turkish-occupied part of the island if the EU proceeded with the accession of Cyprus to the Union, an attitude she described as "not constructive".

She said that more work should be done to convince the Turkish Cypriots of the benefits they will gain from the island's accession to the EU.

[03] We shall not relinquish our rights to our art treasures, says Attorney- General

The Cyprus government will do all it can to retrieve any archaeological or church treasures stolen from the area of the island occupied by Turkey since 1974, no matter how much time elapses.

"We shall not relinquish our rights to these treasures", Attorney-General, Alecos Markides, said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference in Nicosia on the discovery by German police of stolen art treasures from churches in the occupied part of Cyprus, Mr Markides said this had been a joint operation between German and Cypriot police. He said that Archbishop Chrysostomos and Cyprus' Honorary Consul in the Hague, Tasoula Georgiou Hadjitofi, had played a crucial role in the investigation, which had taken weeks of painstaking and meticulous work.

He said that in all, 14 boxes were recovered, hidden in apartments in Munich owned by a Turk, Aydin Dikmen, who claims to be an archaeologist. They included a fresco from the church of Antiphonitis, two 14th century icons from the Monastery of Ayios Ioannis Chrysostomos in the village of Koutsoventis and a 6th century mosaic depicting St Thomas from the church of Kanakaria in Lythrangomi village. The mosaic alone is worth L4.3 million.

He added that unfortunately one of the finds, the 16th century icon depicting the Virgin with St John, from the Ayios Ioannis Monastery in Koutsoventis, was damaged, the eyes of the Virgin had been scratched out with a sharp instrument.

The government, he said, would now concentrate on having the artefacts returned to the island.

Since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, scores of priceless artefacts were located in overseas markets. Some were retrieved through legal means, others bought.

In the 'eighties one case which attracted widespread international attention was that of four 6th century mosaics from the church of Kanakaria, found in the hands of an American art dealer, Peg Goldberg. After a long legal battle in the US, she was ordered in 1989 to return the mosaics to their rightful owner, the Church of Cyprus.

[04] Finance Minister presents 1998 Budgets

Minister of Finance Christodoulos Christodoulou presented yesterday to the House Finance and Budgets Committee the state budgets for 1998.

In his introductory address Mr Christodoulou said that the government's basic strategic aim in the economic sector is the creation of a strong economy able to survive competitively in the EU and the further promotion of Cyprus as an important regional business centre.

The Minister said that in 1997 the rate of growth showed a recovery, reaching a rate of 2,5 per cent compared to 1,9 per cent in 1996, mainly due to the recovery in the services sector, particularly tourism.

Unemployment will show a slight increase reaching 3,3 per cent of the economically active population (compared to 3,1 per cent in 1996) but compared to European standards, he said, it is still low.

As regards inflation this will be around 3,3 per cent. On the external account, the current account deficit is anticipated to show a drastic reduction from 228 million Cyprus pounds (5,5 per cent of GDP) to 166 million Cyprus pounds (3,8 per cent of GDP).

The Minister pointed out that the deficit in the three budgets (Ordinary, Development and Refugee Relief Fund) will reach 766 million Cyprus pounds.

Mr Christodoulou said that special emphasis will be given to the Development Budget, which is expected to reach 261 million Cyprus pounds compared to 233 million Cyprus pounds in 1997. The most important schemes to be undertaken will be the completion of large infrastructural projects, especially irrigation projects, as well as the development of the road network.

Cyprus' participation in various EU programmes will be encouraged in order to promote the harmonisation process and the professional training of the civil service, he said.

The fiscal deficit will show a divergence from the Maastricht criteria and will reach 5,2 per cent of GDP compared to 4,1 per cent in 1997. The Minister explained that this is due to the expansionary fiscal policy which the government is pursuing for the stimulation of economic activity.

[05] EU Council of Ministers approves Cyprus-EU bilateral agreements

The EU Council of Ministers approved on 6.10.97 the Cyprus - EU bilateral agreements relating to Cyprus' participation in the programmes "Leonardo da Vinci`", "Socrates" and "Youth for Europe" which were signed on 25.7.97. As from November 1, 1997, Cyprus will be able to cooperate with EU countries in the fields of education (Socrates), professional training (Leonardo da Vinci) and youth (Youth for Europe).

[06] CEMAT conference opens in Limassol

The 11th European Conference of Ministers Responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT) started in the southern coastal town of Limassol this morning.

The theme of the Conference, in which all Council of Europe member-states are participating is "Sustainable regional/spatial planning in Europe and the protection of water resources".

The Conference was opened by Council of Europe Deputy Secretary-General, Hans Christian Kruger and Cyprus Minister of the Interior, Dinos Michaelides.

A total of 120 delegates from 42 countries, including Swiss President Arnold Koller, will attempt to work out the European strategy in regional planning for the first decades of the 21st century.

From the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office (PIO) Server at

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