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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-12-15

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, December 15, 1999


  • [01] Proximity talks to continue in January
  • [02] Simitis wants new era in Greek-Turkish ties
  • [03] New tests prompt minister to seek closure of foundry
  • [04] New listing fails to dent the slide
  • [05] Suspect remanded after murder confession
  • [06] Christodoulou says earthquake teams will be ready by March
  • [07] Four accused of abducting and beating Iranians
  • [08] English woman critical after struck down by car

  • [01] Proximity talks to continue in January

    By Anthony Goodman

    THE LEADERS of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, who adjourned indirect talks in New York yesterday aimed at reuniting their divided island, have been invited to return at the end of January for another round, UN Secretary- general Kofi Annan said.

    The talks would be "on the same basis" as the current round, which began on December 3, he said. That means Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would again hold so-called ‘proximity talks’, involving separate meetings with UN officials but not face-to-face negotiations, Reuters reported.

    Denktash, asked earlier by reporters after a final meeting with Annan whether he would be coming back for another round, replied: "Yes, late January I will see you again." Clerides made no comment after meeting Annan separately.

    "After 12 days during which both parties have engaged very seriously with the whole range of issues that divided them, I have invited the parties to resume the talks on the same basis next year, and the date will be announced in due course." Annan told a news conference. He later spoke of "the end of January".

    "We have all agreed not to engage in public discussion of the substance of these talks," Annan said, continuing a news blackout imposed when the talks began.

    "But I can at least say that the new dynamic between Turkey and the European Union, and between Greece and Turkey, provides a hopeful context in which to continue them," he said.

    He was referring to the EU decision last Friday to offer Turkey candidacy for membership, with certain conditions, and improved relations between long-time adversaries Greece and Turkey, partly as a result of the assistance they provided each other in the wake of deadly earthquakes earlier this year.

    Agreement to continue the proximity talks, if not move on to face-to-face negotiations, marked at least a minimal achievement of the latest round of separate meetings that Annan conducted with the aid of his special adviser on Cyprus, Under-Secretary-general Alvaro de Soto.

    Annan was asked about indications by both Clerides and Denktash that a decision to return in the new year could be influenced by the wording of a resolution to be adopted by the Security Council today approving another six-month renewal of the UN peacekeeping force stationed in Cyprus since 1963.

    Previous renewal resolutions have included language that Denktash has objected to, such as references to "the government of Cyprus", which he does not recognise as the government of the whole island but only of the Greek Cypriots.

    At the same time Clerides, in a letter to the Security Council president last week, expressed unhappiness over any move to eliminate that wording to placate Denktash.

    "I am aware of those two positions... I am aware of the council's discussions and the resolution on the table," Annan said.

    "But I am not discouraged. I am still hopeful that we will meet at the end of January... I just met both of them today and I am looking forward to seeing them at the end of January. I hope we will make it," he added.

    Clerides was thought to have focused during his meetings with Annan and de Soto on ways of reuniting Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, in accordance with a prescription laid down in Security Council resolutions.

    Annan, in a report last June, listed the core issues to be settled between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots as security, the distribution of powers, property, and territory.

    Denktash has been calling for recognition of a Turkish Cypriot state in the north of the island with himself as president.

    He has also pressed for the establishment of a confederation -- a much looser form of union than a federation. It would be formed through the linking of two independent nations and involve recognition of a Turkish Cypriot state -- something totally unacceptable to the Greek Cypriots. (R)

    Wednesday, December 15, 1999

    [02] Simitis wants new era in Greek-Turkish ties

    GREEK Prime Minister Costas Simitis called yesterday for a new era in relations between Athens and Ankara after Turkey was granted European Union candidate status at last weekend's Helsinki's Summit.

    "For the first time after many years I can see the prospect of true co- operation with Turkey," Simitis told a news conference of foreign correspondents in Athens, Reuters news agency reported.

    "There will be difficulties encountered on the way and there will be friction. But I believe that the theory that here we have two countries and two peoples who constantly battle each other is a theory of the past," he said.

    Greece joined its fellow EU members to give the green light at the Helsinki summit for Turkey to become a candidate state.

    In return, Ankara agreed to bring any territorial disputes with Greece to the International Court of Justice at The Hague and not block EU candidacy for Cyprus despite the island's current division.

    "These developments will allow us to bring peace, stability, co-operation and friendship to this part of the world," Simitis said.

    "When a country becomes part of the EU then it cannot use violence or the threat of violence (against member states)... I firmly believe that Turkey wants to follow the road of the EU," he added.

    Greece and Turkey have long been at odds over territorial differences in the Aegean Sea and over Cyprus, .

    Prior to the Helsinki summit, Ankara wanted direct talks with Athens on territorial disputes and had ruled out any accession by Cyprus to the EU as long as the island remained divided.

    Wednesday, December 15, 1999

    [03] New tests prompt minister to seek closure of foundry

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE LATEST emissions figures from the Ergates foundry have prompted the Labour Minister, Andreas Moushiouttas, to again ask for a closure order to be served on the metal works.

    The figures showed that the foundry - which has been blamed for the high cancer levels in the nearby village - was vastly exceeding emissions limits imposed by the Labour Ministry.

    Three separate measurements of foundry smoke show particulate levels of 366, 500 and 399 mg per cubic metre of air. The limit set by the ministry is 300 mg.

    The readings were presented to the House Environment Committee yesterday, bringing a shocked reaction from deputies. Committee chairman Demetris Eliades repeated his call for operations at the controversial foundry to be suspended pending investigation of its effects on the health of nearby residents.

    Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas made no secret of his displeasure at the new figures.

    He vowed the state would again file for prosecution of the foundry owners for their failure to stick to emissions limits. Moushiouttas also said he had sent a letter to the Attorney-general's office seeking a temporary closure order for the foundry.

    This is the second time the Ministry has sought a closure order for the Marios & Andreas foundry outside Ergates village, about 20km south of Nicosia, after measurements carried out by its officers showed it was exceeding legal emissions limits.

    Last month, Attorney-general Alecos Markides decided not to approve a Ministry request for a closure order, saying the foundry was making efforts to clean up its act and that the results of new measurements should be awaited.

    But the new measurements released yesterday suggest the foundry has failed to mend its ways.

    Ergates residents blame lead and cadmium in foundry smoke for the high incidence of cancer and breathing problems in their village. Studies by epidemiologist Dr Michalis Voniatis have lent weight to their claims. Voniatis found alarmingly high levels of cancer and breathing complaints among village residents and high concentrations of lead and cadmium in Ergates soil. More recently, Voniatis has found blood lead levels and blood cadmium levels in Ergates residents to be two-and-a-half and five times higher than the national average respectively.

    The villagers want the foundry to be shut down immediately.

    Eliades said the new figures released yesterday lent weight to these calls. "The new scientific findings create new circumstances and should force us to act, both as a House and as a government, to protect the health of the residents and the environment," the committee chairman said.

    The committee also considered Dr Voniatis' latest findings, with representatives of the Health and Labour Ministries sticking to the government line that they were unreliable.

    Labour Minister Moushiouttas and Health Minister Frixos Savvides want the cabinet to approve funds for a foreign expert to be brought in to study the Ergates situation.

    The Labour Ministry representative told deputies Voniatis had not proved a link between the foundry and the villagers' poor health.

    "There were, in the past, other sources of very heavy pollution in the area, such as the uncontrolled burning of rubber tyres and rubbish to retrieve metals. This has not been considered or given the proper emphasis (in Voniatis' study)," he said.

    Moushiouttas and Savvides want a foreign expert to also look into emissions from the island's other foundry, the Nemitsas works in Zakaki, Limassol.

    Residents near the Nemitsas foundry also claim it is poisoning their air. The foundry insists otherwise, but also faces state prosecution for exceeding the 300mg per cubic metre emissions limit.

    Moushiouttas has pledged to force both foundries to comply with the tougher EU emissions limits of 50 mg per cubic metre by the end of the year.

    Wednesday, December 15, 1999

    [04] New listing fails to dent the slide

    By Hamza Hendawi

    MISERY on the Cyprus Stock Exchange persisted yesterday for the fourth consecutive session and not even the debut splash of Athienitis & Severis, one of the island's top investment houses, could stop prices from sliding further.

    Athienitis & Severis shares have a nominal value of £0.50 and were sold through private placement and IPO at £2 apiece. The share hit the market yesterday at £20 but closed at £18.50 on a decent volume of £1.79 million.

    The much-heralded arrival of the share, whose tiny IPO was oversubscribed several hundred times, was something of a welcome relief on an exchange floor where prices have fallen by nearly 16 per cent since last Thursday in what many now believe to be the once-dreaded correction to the massive gains of the past six months.

    There were at least 16 people in the Athienitis & Severis cubicle on the trading floor, of whom only six were seated. Beside the 16, senior company employees hovered around brokers, while partners Nicos Severis and Stavros Athienitis, after whom the company is named, looked on with obvious contentment.

    The jubilation over the new share, which may have made a few instant millionaires yesterday, was not enough to arrest the market's downward trend.

    The exchange's all-share index bled 18.49 points, or 2.53 per cent, to close at 713.29. The latest skid takes up to nearly 100 points the market's losses since it reopened a week ago today after a three-day closure.

    Volume yesterday was £25.89 million, of which more than £9 million went to the blue-chips of the banks.

    All seven sectors of the market finished in negative territory yesterday, with manufacturing the biggest loser for the second day in a row. The sector's sub-index was down 8.85 per cent yesterday, adding to the woes of a 11.39 per cent drop on Monday. The sub-index dropped by more than six per cent each day of Thursday and Friday last week.

    Banks yesterday continued their losing streak, with the Bank of Cyprus -- the market's giant and darling in one -- was down £0.25 at £10.44, while the Popular Bank was off by £0.66 at £13.94.

    Hellenic made a partial recovery from the mauling it received on Monday, finishing the day up by only 11 cents to close at £4.52.

    Only Orphanides in the three-company trade sector made any gains -- sister companies Woolworth and CTC were down 29 and 19 cents respectively.

    Libra Holidays Group yesterday announced that it had taken a majority stake in British-based tour operator Goldenjoy, but that did not stop the share from sliding by £0.17 to close at £6.8. Goldenjoy specialises in package holidays from Britain to Egypt, according to a statement issued by Libra.

    Wednesday, December 15, 1999

    [05] Suspect remanded after murder confession

    By Athena Karsera

    LIMASSOL district court yesterday remanded a man for eight days after he confessed on Monday to murdering his supervisor.

    Investigating officer George Aristidou told the court that Kyriacos Theodoulos Papaconstantinou, 59, from Pyrgos near Limassol, had already confessed to killing 58 year-old Adamos George Christophis.

    Papaconstantinou faces charges of premeditated murder. He had initially told police he was not involved.

    Later on Monday, however, he led police to his brother's home where he had hidden an automatic weapon believed to be the one used in the killing, the clothes he had worn and unused shells.

    The court heard that Christophis was found in a pool of blood at approximately 7.20am on Monday when another colleague heard the sound of gunfire.

    He had been shot twice at close range in an office next to the car-park of Limassol's Thera Complex, where both men had worked as gardeners.

    Police said the victim, originally from Larnaca, had been shot once in the chest while sitting at his desk and again in the right eye once he had fallen to the ground.

    In his confession, Papaconstantinou told police he had killed Christophis because he believed him to be personally responsible for a letter of dismissal he had received a few days ago, informing him he would lose his job at the end of the year.

    Aristidou also told the court that the police had testimony that Papaconstantinou had threatened Christophis in the past and that the two men had not had a good relationship.

    The officer said that the evidence had been sent to Nicosia for scientific examination.

    Christophis, a married father of three, is to be buried in Larnaca this morning.

    Wednesday, December 15, 1999

    [06] Christodoulou says earthquake teams will be ready by March

    By Anthony O. Miller

    INTERIOR Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday that he planned to set up earthquake rescue teams of volunteers to help police and fire fighters pull victims from collapsed buildings.

    The teams, which will include doctors, engineers and architects, should be ready by March for scheduled initial drills with the police and the fire brigade, he said.

    "We've already found the first core people, 15-20 individuals in all districts, and we're looking at the issue of training and finding centres where they will be based, and out of which they'll operate," Christodoulou said.

    After the March drill, exercises will be held in May and June in all districts, involving the teams and all the state services, Christodoulou said, adding that in September there would be an island-wide earthquake rescue exercise.

    Christodoulou first broached the idea of establishing earthquake-response teams in September, following a moderate earthquake in the Limassol area in mid-August and destructive and deadly quakes thereafter in Turkey and Greece.

    At the time, many Western countries airlifted their special quake-rescue teams to Greece and Turkey, which also exchanged rescue teams with one another after quakes rocked each country.

    Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Andreas Panayiotou said in September that he would have a proposal about the rescue teams ready for the Council of Ministers to act on in October, because "we don't have these special rescue teams" in Cyprus.

    With the proper political will, the government could equip and staff the Civil Defence Department to be earthquake-ready to rescue victims in "a few months," Panayiotou said, adding he expected to have all the needed equipment "by the end of this year."

    Phemos Demetriou, a civil engineer and first vice-chairman of ETEK, the Technical Chamber of Cyprus, said ETEK had long "been critical" of the fact that the earthquake "preparedness of the Civil Defence (Department) is next to nil."

    Demetriou said creating the rescue teams Christodoulou envisioned was "a huge project."

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, on September 24, said creating the rescue teams was such a "priority issue" that the government could not "proceed on the basis of a budget," but had to "spend whatever is necessary" on them.

    He said there was no spending ceiling on them, but rather that Christodoulou's ministry had been given "a green light" by the Council of Ministers to proceed irrespective of the cost."

    In discussing the rescue teams yesterday, Christodoulou made no mention of spending any government money on them.

    In a display of uncommon official candour, Papapetrou conceded in September that "Cyprus is not ready to face a big earthquake... There are gaps. There were mishandlings (of the Civil Defence Department) since the establishment of the Republic."

    One Civil Defence officer conceded that, while his department had lists of heavy equipment owners - who could be drafted by law into lifting crushed buildings off victims - the government had no plan ready actually to commandeer the heavy equipment or coordinate moving it where it might be needed.

    At the time, Papapetrou admitted it was not so much foresight as shock at the quakes in Cyprus, Turkey and Greece that had jolted the government into action to improve its Civil Defence quake-rescue abilities.

    Wednesday, December 15, 1999

    [07] Four accused of abducting and beating Iranians

    FOUR Limassol men were yesterday arrested on suspicion of abducting and assaulting three Iranian men in Limassol.

    According to a police announcement, the alleged attack came to light after Limassol brothers Marios and Stelios Charalambous, 33 and 27 respectively, complained to police that the three Iranians had broken into their car repair shop.

    The brothers told police that they and Stelios Iliades, a 27-year-old furniture preserver from Pano Platres, and Panos Petrides, a 25-year-old private employee from Kellaki, had caught the three Iranians red-handed in the repair shop at 2am yesterday.

    But police said further investigations suggested the brothers' claims were false.

    Iliades and Petrides were questioned at Limassol police headquarters and confessed that they and the Charalambous brothers had abducted the Iranians, police said.

    The four of them told Ebrahim Esmeeil Ebrahim, 28, Sevet Ali Reza Moozani, 24, and Houssein Delfar, 26, that they were police officers with the Immigration department, police said.

    They took them to the Charalambous brothers' workshop and beat them up, trying to get them to reveal the whereabouts of a fourth Iranian that the brothers had "differences" with, Iliades and Petrides allegedly confessed.

    The four Cypriot men were arrested on suspicion of abduction, assault and impersonating police officers. They are expected to appear before the Limassol District Court today.

    But the three Iranians are not off the hook.

    Police said they suspected they had been residing in Cyprus illegally.

    Wednesday, December 15, 1999

    [08] English woman critical after struck down by car

    A 61-YEAR-OLD English woman was in a critical condition yesterday after she was hit by a car in Paphos on Monday.

    Police yesterday were still looking for the driver who hit Noreen Watkinson and fled the scene of the accident, abandoning her in a critical condition on the tarmac.

    Watkinson, a temporary resident of Paphos with her husband, was hit by a car while trying to cross the Tomb of the Kings Avenue in Kato Paphos on Monday, at around 5.30 in the afternoon.

    She was rushed to Paphos hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery.

    Police yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that Watkinson was still in a critical condition.

    The circumstances of the accident are still unknown.

    Police found on the scene the left rear view mirror of the car, which apparently broke during the accident.

    According to police reports, the mirror belongs to a European-made car, possibly of German make.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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