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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-12-09

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, December 09, 1999


  • [01] Denktash in news blackout breach
  • [02] Civil aviation strike grounds 37 flights
  • [03] Turkish Cypriots claim 'policeman' shot by Greek Cypriot hunters
  • [04] Leaded petrol to be phased out by 2005
  • [05] Health Minister goes back on tenders probe condemnation
  • [06] 'Army volunteer was spying for the Turks from jail'
  • [07] Paphos claims record cake bid as Limassol pulls out
  • [08] Police fail to dissuade German tourist from suicide leap

  • [01] Denktash in news blackout breach

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday again broke a news blackout on the UN-sponsored Cyprus talks to declare that the shooting of a Turkish Cypriot `policeman' by Greek Cypriot hunters shows why his breakaway regime needs "state" recognition. "This is most unfortunate. It shows why we insist on our rights being placed on the basis of sovereignty, so that this thing doesn't happen again," Denktash said on arriving at UN headquarters in New York for the fourth session of the "proximity talks."

    An apparently irked UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on returning to New York from Montreal, repeated his plea to both sides not to speak to the media during the talks.

    Annan did not comment on Denktash's remarks about the shooting, but again asked "the parties and all the countries concerned (to) refrain from making any statements that may inflame tensions, complicate the talks."

    Annan said he would refrain from "finger pointing" when asked about Denktash's comments to the press on Monday, adding tersely: "I think I have said all I have to say" about the matter.

    President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash - who refuses to meet Clerides face- to-face - have been talking separately with top UN officials to try to pave the way towards ending the 25-year Turkish occupation of the northern 37 per cent of Cyprus.

    Now that he is back from Montreal, Annan said he would be "seeing the (two principal) parties again" and "make a serious effort to move the process forward, and I think we should focus on that."

    Turkish Cypriot officials reported yesterday that two Greek Cypriot hunters strayed into Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus and shot and wounded a Turkish Cypriot 'policeman'.

    Major Paul Kolken, spokesman for UN Peacekeeping Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP), confirmed the shooting occurred. Cyprus police, while investigating the incident with UNFICYP personnel, said their investigation so far does not link any Greek Cypriot hunter to the allegation about the shooting.

    "I hope Mr Clerides will say something to show that this is not the way to settle the Cyprus problem," Denktash said, adding he hoped the Greek Cypriot side could prove the shooting was an accident.

    Clerides made no comments to reporters on leaving UN headquarters about either the shooting or his two-hour meeting with Alvaro de Soto, Annan's adviser on Cyprus.

    Denktash met de Soto right after Clerides left.

    UN Spokesman Fred Eckhard separately urged both sides "to strictly adhere" to their pledges to Annan not to speak to the press on issues relevant to the talks.

    Eckhard has said the United Nations would keep the talks going beyond the expected 10-day duration, if both sides wanted to.

    Continuing the talks through their expected December 14-15 term, however, could be affected by the outcome of the European Union's two-day summit in Helsinki, which opens tomorrow.

    Greece has warned it might veto the acceptance of Turkey as a formal candidate for EU membership if Ankara fails to make a gesture either about Cyprus or other festering Greco-Turkish problems, such as territorial disputes in the Aegean.

    A Greek EU veto would anger Turkey, and some fear it might spark a Denktash pullout from the proximity talks. Denktash was ambiguous on the point.

    He said that, since coming to New York last week, he had not spoken to Ankara about Turkey's EU candidacy prospects at the Helsinki summit.

    "Ankara can deal with the Helsinki prospect by itself," he said. "No one asked me to make any gestures. I don't think Ankara needs gestures from me. Ankara can look after itself."

    He added a recent meeting he had with Henry Kissinger, US Secretary of State when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, "was a friendly call, and it was a friendly talk." He did not elaborate.

    Thursday, December 09, 1999

    [02] Civil aviation strike grounds 37 flights

    By Jean Christou

    A FOUR-HOUR strike by 200 civil aviation workers went ahead yesterday causing flight delays and inconveniencing passengers at Larnaca and Paphos Airports.

    Thirty-seven flights were affected, some leaving before the beginning of the strike at 2pm and others when it ended at 6pm.

    Cyprus Airways (CY) reported delays ranging from 30 minutes to two and a half hours, while some like Gulf Air left at 12.30pm instead of 3pm.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said the airline had not been too badly affected by the strike and had managed to reschedule with a minimum of fuss.

    Seven arrivals and 10 departures at Larnaca Airport and nine arrivals and 11 departures at Paphos Airport were affected.

    Passengers from most of the affected airlines had been informed of the changes to the schedule, but reports from Larnaca said dozens of tourists showed up for flights knowing nothing about the strike.

    Renewed efforts early yesterday morning to avert the strike failed, according to civil aviation official Stelios Vassiliou.

    "We had a number of meetings, but we have not managed to bridge the gap," he said. "There are no flights and there are delays. Some have left earlier and some will leave later."

    Vassiliou said efforts would continue to try to resolve the differences with the union to avoid any further measures.

    Savvas Alexandrou, a representative of the civil aviation branch of public servants union Pasidy said they were ready to escalate the measures if necessary.

    Pasidy called the strike over the government's plans to privatise the airports. The union is also complaining that the government has been stalling for years over the restructuring of the civil aviation department.

    Alexandrou said the workers' demands had been pending since 1987. "We have been 200 employees since 1970, and this has stayed the same event though tourism has increased tenfold since then," he said. "Our demand is for more personnel but the other side doesn't want to know."

    He said that nothing had happened despite a two-hour warning strike on the issue in May this year.

    Privatisation is also a thorny issue. "This is a profitable business and we don't know of any other business selling off a profitable concern," he said.

    The Ministry of Communications and Works has already tabled a proposal to the House of Representatives to bring in consultants at a cost of 900,000 to draw up a plan to attract strategic investors for the restructuring and management of the two airports.

    Communications and Works Minister Averof Neophytou yesterday said he had asked Pasidy to postpone their action until the Finance Minister returned from abroad, but the union had refused.

    Thursday, December 09, 1999

    [03] Turkish Cypriots claim 'policeman' shot by Greek Cypriot hunters

    By Jean Christou

    A TURKISH Cypriot 'police' officer was shot and injured just inside the occupied areas yesterday, allegedly by Greek Cypriot hunters.

    The incident comes at a crucial time for the Cyprus problem as the leaders of the two communities attend UN-backed proximity talks in New York.

    A 'police' spokesman in the north said the shooting happened after officers went to investigate reports that a group of Greek Cypriot men had crossed into the north.

    "A police team went to... near Lefka and it was noticed that three men in camouflage gear carrying rifles had crossed through the buffer zone. When they were confronted, they fled but one of them fired at police officer Huseyin Bahce," he said.

    A Greek Cypriot police spokesman said: "We are investigating the circumstances of an alleged shooting conveyed to us by the UN."

    According to reports from the north, Bahce was seriously wounded but in a stable condition. The UN said Bahce had sustained a flesh wound. "It is not critical or serious but it is painful," said Unficyp spokesman Major Paul Kolken.

    The alleged shooting took place in a hilly area cut through by a dried up riverbed and overlooked by watchtowers around 70 kilometres east of Nicosia.

    Kolken told the Cyprus Mail the incident had occurred 200 metres north of the buffer zone south west of Lefka.

    He said peacekeepers had not witnessed the shooting, which was reported to have taken place at 7.10am. The area is patrolled by Argentinean soldiers.

    "Our observation sentry noticed Greek Cypriot hunters in the buffer zone in the same area at 7.45am," Kolken said. "Whether there is a link between these two incidents has yet to be established."

    Kolken said the UN was investigating the case along with the authorities on both sides. "We have asked Cypol (Cyprus Police) to help make sure hunters don't leave the area under investigation," he said.

    The area along the 180km-long buffer zone on both sides is popular with hunters, who have been warned on dozens of occasions not to enter the area. The latest report on Cyprus by UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan on Cyprus mentions the issue again in relation to violations by Greek Cypriot hunters.

    Thursday, December 09, 1999

    [04] Leaded petrol to be phased out by 2005

    By Martin Hellicar

    AN EU directive banning leaded petrol could spell the end of the road for older vehicles that cannot run on unleaded fuel.

    The directive gives European countries five years in which to phase out leaded petrol altogether, stating that only unleaded petrol must be available at pumps from the end of 2005.

    Costas Papastavros, of the Agriculture Ministry's Environment Service, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that this directive was part of the EU aquis communitaire and that Cyprus would have to comply.

    He said the issue had not yet been looked at in detail, but if Cyprus wanted to join the EU then she would "have to dance to the same tune" as Europe.

    Implementation of the directive would mean owners of older cars would no longer be able to find petrol. Commerce Ministry statistics show that about a fifth of all cars on the island today cannot run on unleaded fuel.

    Papastavros said other European countries were giving incentives, in the form of subsidies, for owners of older cars to replace them with newer vehicles that run on unleaded.

    The government scientist said this option was being considered by the government, but had not yet been seen in detail.

    The directive is good news for the environment, and air quality in particular.

    Not only will vehicle emissions of toxic lead be cut out, but cars running on unleaded petrol require catalytic converters, which reduce releases of other pollutants.

    In fact, vehicle emissions in Cyprus could already be much lower, were it not for the fact that many importers remove the catalytic converters from the cars they bring in. The converters get the chop because they slightly reduce engine performance.

    Sotiris Kolletas, a senior officer in the Commerce Ministry's road transport department, said that almost all cars currently imported from Europe and Japan were designed to run on unleaded, and therefore had converters.

    He said that 80 per cent of cars on Cyprus roads could run on unleaded - but only between 15 and 20 per cent did so (even if this proportion is rising fast).

    Kolletas said this was because many cars had had their catalytic converters sawed off.

    Thursday, December 09, 1999

    [05] Health Minister goes back on tenders probe condemnation

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE HEALTH Minister yesterday blamed an "emotional overload" for his outspoken condemnation of an Attorney-general's office ruling on the kidney drugs scandal.

    On Tuesday, Frixos Savvides had described the ruling as akin to being handed "hot coals." He said the report - which found there was no criminal case to answer concerning tenders for the supply of Erythropoetine kidney drugs to state stores - prevented him from probing the matter further.

    Yesterday, the minister said he agreed with almost all of the report's findings.

    The report's author, assistant Attorney-general Nicos Charalambous, said Savvides was wrong to think his findings meant the issue would be investigated no further.

    "I fully understand the Minister's sensitivities, but he has misunderstood, " Charalambous said.

    He said his ruling had only concerned one aspect of the Erythropoetine scandal: the procedures followed by the ministry to secure supplies from private companies.

    Police were still investigating why hospitals had been allowed to run out of the vital kidney drug, he said.

    "The investigation on the other aspect - the most serious one, concerning the shortage of Erythropoetine - is still being carried out by police," Charalambous said.

    The investigation was launched after an uproar over the disappearance of large quantities of the kidney drugs from ministry stores and revelations of huge delays in replacing them.

    An earlier investigation by the Auditor-general's office found the Ministry had been too slow in procuring fresh Erythropoetine stocks, even though it was aware of the urgent need.

    Part of the ongoing police probe is looking into information that the drugs found their way to the Nicosia racetrack, where they were allegedly used to dope racehorses.

    Thursday, December 09, 1999

    [06] 'Army volunteer was spying for the Turks from jail'

    THE INTELLIGENCE Service (KYP) believes an imprisoned army volunteer has been involved in efforts to spy against the National Guard, the Defence Ministry stated yesterday.

    The Ministry issued a statement confirming television reports of an "EPY" - the acronym for a five-year service volunteer with the National Guard - caught spying for the Turks.

    The announcement stated that the soldier in question had been incarcerated in Nicosia Central Prison between July 12 and August 31 this year "for a series of misdemeanours."

    "The Intelligence Service, in a letter sent to the National Guard, said the aforementioned EPY was trying, during his incarceration, to get involved in spying against the National Guard," the Ministry stated.

    The Ministry said it was investigating the matter and promised that "all necessary measures" were being taken to protect the army from espionage activities.

    The volunteer National Guardsman was being discharged from the army because of his "series of misdemeanours," the Ministry stated.

    Thursday, December 09, 1999

    [07] Paphos claims record cake bid as Limassol pulls out

    LIMASSOL'S plans to bake the world's largest Christmas cake have fallen flat after Paphos claimed yesterday it had been chewing on the idea for months.

    The world largest Christmas cake was to have been started on Sunday and completed at Limassol's Tsirion Stadium on December 15.

    The cake was to weigh 80 tons in an attempt to break the current Guinness record of 58.08 tons - held by a city in Mexico - and would have been cut into 25,000 pieces with the recipe calling for 250,000 eggs, 17 tons of flour, three tons of sugar and five tons of honey.

    Now Limassol has moved over to let Paphos take the glory after the town's Mayor Phidias Sarikas said they had had the cake idea on the back burner for months.

    The Paphos cake is set to weigh around 60 tons.

    "We at Paphos Municipality have been studying the idea for the past four months," Sarikas said yesterday. "We even called a consultant in from Greece."

    The Paphos attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records will take place on New Year's Eve. Sarikas said the Municipality had been assured by the Guinness organisation that the "Vasilopitta" (Traditional Greek New Year's Cake) qualifies as a Christmas cake.

    Sarikas said he had not expected Limassol to take up the same challenge, but would not rule out the possibility that "great minds thinking alike".

    An announcement from the Limassol organisers yesterday afternoon said they had stopped all plans and preparations for making the cake.

    It said the initial idea had been to break the current Guinness record. "We believe the initial idea will be accomplished and it's unnecessary for such a small country to produce two similar products in such a short time," the announcement said.

    "We wish the Paphos Municipality the best of luck."

    Limassol Municipality representative Kleo Alexandrou admitted to the Cyprus Mail that they were a bit disappointed. "But we don't want a confrontation with Paphos. It wouldn't be right to bicker over this," he said.

    Thursday, December 09, 1999

    [08] Police fail to dissuade German tourist from suicide leap

    A 23-YEAR-OLD German tourist killed himself by leaping from the fourth floor of the Pefkos hotel in Limassol in the early hours yesterday, police reported.

    Police rushed to the hotel at around 12.35am after being informed by a hotel employee that a guest was standing on a fourth floor ledge and threatening to jump.

    Police officers spent 35 minutes trying to convince him not to leap, but he did, landing on the concrete pavement below.

    The 23-year-old was rushed to Limassol hospital but died there of his injuries just before 3am.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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