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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-02-11

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Wednesday, February 11, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Rivals accept Edek's terms
  • [02] Kyprianou proposes Diko-Edek merger
  • [03] Police avert car-bombing
  • [04] Galanos backs Clerides
  • [05] Edek's comprehensive set of conditions
  • [06] France plays down murder as 'isolated crime'
  • [07] Body to be identified with DNA
  • [08] 'Experience counts for a final settlement'
  • [09] Could getaway bike go over 200km/h?
  • [10] Two medium-size brokerages merge
  • [11] Consumers want free sales

  • [01] Rivals accept Edek's terms

    By Charlie Charalambous

    PRESIDENTIAL contenders Glafcos Clerides and George Iacovou last night accepted Edek's proposal to form an all-party government if elected.

    Edek's central committee will decide this evening which candidate to endorse.

    Its decision could be decisive in determining who will be Cyprus's next president.

    Iacovou, backed by Akel and Diko, handed his acceptance of Edek's terms in writing to party chief Vassos Lyssarides, while President Clerides gave his verbal consent in an earlier meeting.

    Clerides will send written confirmation to Edek early today.

    After meeting Clerides, Lyssarides said the president asked for some minor clarifications but had conveyed his satisfaction with the Edek document.

    "He (Clerides) agreed in principle and substance," said Lyssarides.

    Iacovou said his positive response should have come as no surprise seeing as his positions were "duplicated" by Edek's proposals.

    "We agree to an all-party government provided no coupists or anybody involved in Eoka B are included," said Iacovou.

    Lyssarides agreed to the stipulation but said a large part of the population could not be excluded from government simply because it was disapproved of by another.

    "I'm satisfied the document has been accepted in its entirety," said Lyssarides.

    But Iacovou expressed surprise that Clerides had accepted the conditions, claiming that the president had "snubbed" party leaders during his five- year tenure.

    Although Akel gave the green light to Edek's proposal for a government of national unity, it voiced serious reservations.

    "We believe that it would be difficult to see it functioning properly, especially if Clerides is president," said Akel General-secretary Demetris Christofias.

    Christofias made it clear Akel would take no part in an all-party government headed by Clerides.

    "If it's going to be Mr Clerides we cannot trust him to keep his promises," he said.

    Edek's blueprint caused a storm of activity yesterday as the various parties familiarised themselves with its details.

    There were positive overtures from Disy, and Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou said he had no objections whatsoever to the blueprint.

    "Not even a comma or full stop was removed," he said after the Diko leadership had examined the document.

    But Kyprianou also had reservations over the Clerides factor in any rainbow alliance.

    Asked whether Diko would participate in a national unity government led by Clerides, Kyprianou said:

    "No... the main reason being that the president can handle the national issue any way he wants, unfortunately."

    In an attempt to woo Edek voters, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said he and Clerides viewed the Lyssarides blueprint "in a favourable light".

    He added that the gap between Clerides and Lyssarides on all the issues in the document was insignificant.

    "In principle I do not think there is any substantive divergence of views," said Anastassiades.

    Describing Lyssarides as a "historic leader", Anastassiades said if anybody could achieve national unity it was the Edek chief.

    Disy said Clerides had always supported a government of national unity if it was practically possible.

    Anastassiades added that his party "was not allergic to Diko and Akel participating in such a government".

    Although Lyssarides held the centre of attention yesterday, the Clerides camp was securing vital support elsewhere.

    Diko rebel Alexis Galanos and New Horizon's leader Nicos Koutsou both put their weight behind the president's bid for a second term in office.

    It is believed Liberal leader Nicos Rolandis will also endorse Clerides today.

    [02] Kyprianou proposes Diko-Edek merger

    By Charlie Charalambous

    LOOKING to secure his political future, Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou made a surprise proposal yesterday for a merger with Edek to create a new social democratic party.

    The unexpected development arose during yesterday's meeting between Kyprianou and Edek chief Vassos Lyssarides on the latter's blueprint for an all-party government.

    Kyprianou said afterwards he had submitted in writing a proposal to Lyssarides that the two parties co-operate to establish a new movement.

    "Our aim is to establish a strong party of the centre, a social democratic party in the European mould which can play a greater role on the national issue," Kyprianou told journalists.

    Lyssarides responded warmly to the creation of a social democratic party in the European tradition, saying it had always been his vision to be part of such a political force.

    Helping to create the new party would be one of his last political acts, he said.

    Kyprianou suggested that Lyssarides should be at the helm when the new party is formed.

    Although the Diko leader said such a move did not depend on the presidential election result, the two parties have agreed to enter into negotiations after the second round.

    Both leaders see the merger as going beyond Diko and Edek, encompassing disaffected elements from other quarters and becoming one of the largest parties on the island.

    This ambition received added credibility when United Democrat leader George Vassiliou expressed his readiness to join the experiment.

    "I'm prepared to enter into a co-operation to create such a movement which is necessary to bring Cyprus closer to Europe," Vassiliou said.

    With Kyprianou in charge of a disgruntled party, which could further disintegrate during an acrimonious leadership battle, many Diko-watchers see his shock manoeuvre as intended purely to ensure his political survival.

    [03] Police avert car-bombing

    A TIMELY police operation prevented two men from planting a car bomb in Limassol last night.

    Police said that Savvas Nikiforou, 27, and George Charalambous, 25, were arrested after they were seen trying to plant a bomb.

    The police swoop came after the two were seen acting suspiciously near a parked car which they approached on a motorbike.

    Nikiforou was seen getting off the bike and preparing to detonate a bomb under the car. He ran from the scene when a policeman tried to stop him, said a police announcement.

    Shots were fired in the air as the police gave chase and finally arrested the suspect.

    Charalambous, on the motorbike, also fled the scene but was halted when he collided with a police car.

    Warning shots were also fired at him during the chase.

    The Omonia district in Limassol was cordoned off during the operation. Explosives experts were sent in to investigate.

    The two men are expected to appear in court today for a remand order.

    [04] Galanos backs Clerides

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    ALEXIS Galanos yesterday threw his lot in with Glafcos Clerides for Sunday's run-off of the presidential elections and urged those who voted for him to do the same.

    Galanos, who polled a sizeable 4 per cent in the first round, said he had received assurances from Clerides he would form a government of national unity. But he clarified he had never sought and would not accept any position for himself.

    Present at his press conference were Diko vice president Dinos Michaelides, Diko Kyrenia deputy Katerina Pantelides, former Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas and former government spokesman Petros Voskarides.

    All had broken with their party to back Galanos over Iacovou, and their presence yesterday aimed to show they too would support Clerides.

    Michaelides, a former Interior Minister in the Clerides government, did not leave it at that. He praised Clerides as the only man who could lead Cyprus at the critical times ahead and urged Diko supporters to vote for him en masse. He had felt the need to make his statement in view of his five year co-operation with the president, he added.

    Galanos indicated re-electing Clerides would be best for Cyprus and for Diko. He said the incumbent president had given a pledge to form a government of national unity, and, if other parties refused, a government of wider acceptance. He expressed support for Clerides' handling of the Cyprus issue and said the president had given assurances that he adopted Galanos' positions on fair government, improving education and the environment and other issues.

    In taking his decision, Galanos said he had also been swayed by the fact a large majority of Diko sympathisers had voted against the Diko leadership's choice - George Iacovou - in the first round.

    Iacovou received only 5 to 6 per cent of the Diko vote, and Galanos could not ignore the wish of the majority of Diko to work for Clerides, he said. And he added that he was certain Iacovou would receive even fewer Diko votes in the run-off.

    Galanos expressed the conviction that his decision was shared by the vast majority of those who had voted for him, but clarified that he neither could nor wanted to commit anyone with his choice.

    He was also at pains to stress that he would not take up any post in a future Clerides administration in line with his pre-election pledge to run on principle, not for a trade-off.

    A reporter asked whether the others present shared this pledge; Michaelides replied diplomatically: "Let's leave it up to the president to decide who will be minister."

    Asked about Edek's terms, Galanos said they were very close to his positions. On the proposal by Diko president Spyros Kyprianou that Edek and Diko form a social democratic party, Galanos said many wanted to see this but dismissed Kyprianou's proposal as "tactics" - particularly since the Diko president had turned down a similar proposal a little before the elections.

    [05] Edek's comprehensive set of conditions

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    EDEK, a key power broker in next Sunday's run-off, has drawn up a list of political conditions for the two presidential hopefuls, and will decide who to back according to their response.

    The comprehensive document has been described by some observers as an entire election programme covering the national issue as well as educational, economic and other issues.

    Two main points stand out - establishing an all-party government and turning the National Council into a Council of National Policy whose decisions will be binding on the president. If he disagrees, he will have to take the issue to a referendum.

    Edek president Vassos Lyssarides, who personally delivered the document to Glafcos Clerides and George Iacovou on Monday night, said there were "difficult terms" for both duellists.

    But he clarified that the document was not an ultimatum; candidates may decide to sign it, or may choose to make counter-proposals.

    Its key premise is the conviction that there will be critical developments on the Cyprus issue after the elections. Another premise is consensus that there are "weaknesses and gaps" as regards the democratic institutions and the quality of life of the people.

    The political conditions set by Edek as a precondition for support are based on four main principles:

    1. Meet popular demand for unity and collective agreements on the Cyprus issue through the establishment of an ecumenical government

    2. Ensure a course for a just settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    3. Help strengthen democratic institutions.

    4. Lead to the improvement of quality of life.

    On the Cyprus issue, the document would bind the president elect not to accept, negotiate or discuss the issue of separate sovereignty. Any settlement must be based on the unity of state and ensure respect for human rights and basic freedoms of all citizens.

    Cyprus' course towards Europe will be boosted in every way possible. Any link between a settlement prior to EU accession will be rejected. Turkish Cypriot participation in accession talks must be within the framework of the official Cypriot delegation and must not constitute direct or indirect recognition of a separate entity. Turkish troops and settlers must be withdrawn. The policy of bringing settlers is a war crime.

    The president-elect must fully agree with the joint defence dogma with Greece and work to speed it up. A legal framework is unnecessary. Close relations with Greece will be boosted.

    On the strengthening of democratic institutions, the Edek document calls for a plan of action to ensure meritocracy, to be submitted six months after the elections setting out legal and other measures to wipe out favouritism. Basic aspects would be new procedures for appointments and promotions in the civil service and transparent procedures in appointing quango boards.

    It notes efforts to "forge history and vindicate the coup and reward its protagonists" damaged unity. There must be national conciliation, but vindication of the guilty and handing coup protagonists leading positions "constitutes a provocation."

    All trade unions will have equal rights - such as Deok (the socialist leaning union which currently does not have a say in the consultative Labour Committee).

    On the improvement of the quality of life, the document calls for a commitment not to impose new taxes (unless required as part of harmonisation efforts with the EU) and to protect the cost of living allowance. Funds will come from improved productivity in the civil service and a tough campaign against tax evasion.

    Special priority must go to a state which guarantees dignified living standards for all. There will be incentives to bring more women in the labour force. Spending on education should rise slowly, and there must be education reforms including all-day schools, academic freedom and economic independence for the university and a strategic plan to boost research to account for 1.5 per cent of GDP.

    Edek wants a commitment to introduce a national health scheme within two years, to establish a National Office on the Environment and push through new legislation to restrict the right of Council of Ministers to grant building relaxations. Akamas will be declared a national park on the basis of international specifications. Culture, youth

    issues, agricultural development, better technology for industry, quality improvements in tourism and boosting local authorities will be priorities for the new government.

    The political conditions come with two specific guarantees for the implementation of the programme.

    They are the formation of an ecumenical government with the participation of all parties. The parties will be called to give the ministers they propose for specific ministries.

    The National Council will be turned into a Council of National Policy to be made up of the president, the leaders of parliamentary parties, and the former presidents of Cyprus. Efforts will be made to reach unanimous decisions. if this is impossible decisions will be taken by reinforced majority. These decisions will be binding on the president unless he disagrees and vetoes them, in which case he will be obliged to take the issue to a referendum. The council will be aided by a secretariat and a research team.

    [06] France plays down murder as 'isolated crime'

    By Jean Christou

    FRENCH ambassador to Nicosia Henri Jacolin yesterday said the murder of Jacqueline Françoise Chomik was an isolated incident.

    Chomik, 49, a French tourist, was shot four times with a hunting rifle before being dumped in a 100ft well near a small village in the Larnaca district.

    According to forensic pathologist Marios Matsakis, the post mortem revealed she had been shot in the chest, abdomen and head.

    "There were no other external injuries to the body and no indication of rape was found," Matsakis said.

    He added that the motive according to all indications appeared to be robbery. Around £190 in cash that Chomik was carrying was stolen.

    A taxi driver, Kyriacos Zanas, 36, has been arrested and remanded for eight days in connection with the case.

    Jacolin yesterday visited Nicosia police headquarters and met police chief Panicos Hadjiloizou.

    The police chief expressed his sorrow at the murder, while Jacolin congratulated the force for solving the case speedily and showing a high level of professionalism

    "The view of Cyprus as a tourist destination should not be affected by this, " Jacolin said. "It was an isolated crime."

    Police say Zanas has confessed to shooting Chomik near the village of Moni in Limassol shortly after her arrival in Cyprus on Christmas Day en route to her hotel.

    After shooting her, police said he put her body in the boot of the car and drove to Xylotymbou 60 kilometres away where he threw her body in the well. The murder weapon has not yet been found.

    Chomik, a public relations officer from Lyon, was reported missing by her family when she failed to catch her flight home on January 1.

    [07] Body to be identified with DNA

    THE MAN taken from the sea off Paphos on Monday died from drowning, a post mortem revealed yesterday.

    There were no signs of external injuries on the body and foul play is not suspected.

    State Pathologist Panicos Stavrianos said DNA samples have been taken from the body, but results will not be known for a couple of days.

    However, it appears certain the body is that of Yeroskipou architect Loizos Askanis, missing believed drowned since last year.

    Reports from Limassol suggested that members of the Askanis family recognised items of clothing on the body, which is in an advanced state of decomposition and unidentifiable.

    Askanis 39 went missing and was feared drowned during a boating accident in which 12-year-old Marios Kyriacou drowned while accompanying his father and Askanis on a late-night fishing trip. The boy's father, Michalis Kyriacou, survived.

    [08] 'Experience counts for a final settlement'

    By Jean Christou

    A GOVERNMENT of national unity could provide a last chance to right the wrongs of the past, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.

    Speaking to visiting foreign journalists in Nicosia yesterday, Cassoulides also said that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would be the preferred choice for whom to conclude negotiations with on a Cyprus settlement.

    Commenting on President Clerides' first-round score and his pledge to form a national unity government, Cassoulides said even communist Akel, which with Diko has backed challenger George Iacovou, could have a place in a unified government.

    In response to questions, Cassoulides dismissed suggestions that such a leadership, involving all the old guard, would be past its prime.

    He said polling on Sunday had showed that the experience of the older generation still counted in Cyprus.

    "Also they (the veteran leaders) see it as a chance to put back in order the mess that was created (in their time) before they leave the way open for the younger generation," Cassoulides said.

    In the same way, Cassoulides said that Clerides and Denktash were the most suitable leaders to continue negotiations on the Cyprus question.

    "Denktash himself is an historic figure. If he decides it's time for a solution he will be the best one to pass it through," Cassoulides said.

    "Clerides and Denktash know each other. Perhaps it will be their last duty to make an agreement to do something for their country."

    Cassoulides believes Denktash will agree to resume UN-led intercommunal talks after March.

    "Denktash has miscalculated. Things are not as good as he might wish. He has his fiefdom but its beginning to erode," Cassoulides said. "He doesn't feel as comfortable as he used to."

    The Clerides camp is confident of a win in next Sunday's run-off. The incumbent has already secured the votes of Sunday's also-rans Alexis Galanos, Nicos Koutsou and Nicos Rolandis.

    "With the support of Galanos, Rolandis and Koutsou, we are up to 46 per cent already," Cassoulides said.

    He also said there was also a certain optimism about the 10.6 per cent from Edek's Vassos Lyssarides - still undecided - and the three per cent from former President George Vassiliou.

    Even half of their support would give Clerides "a comfortable lead".

    But no matter who the President is, the government's foreign policy will not be affected, Cassoulides said.

    "There may not be a great difference in how it will be handled but there is a difference in who can handle it," Cassoulides said.

    He added he was optimistic that in less than five years there would be a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriot side is waiting to see what choice Lyssarides will make.

    Denktash on Monday dismissed the Edek leader as an enemy of the Turkish Cypriots.

    He expressed the hope that foreign diplomats knew who Kyprianou and Lyssarides were and would evaluate carefully where a Greek Cypriot leadership backed by these two "inveterate enemies of Turkish Cypriots" would take Cyprus.

    [09] Could getaway bike go over 200km/h?

    By Aline Davidian

    THE TRIAL of the Aeroporos brothers charged with the attempted murder of Antonis Fanieros continued yesterday with prosecution witness Andreas Effe denying he had changed his testimony to tally with that of chief prosecution witness Tassos Simellides.

    Simellides has testified that the Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25, were, respectively, instigator, architect and hit-man for the May 29 attack on 57-year-old Fanieros. All three deny the charges. Father-of-three Simellides is serving a nine-year sentence for acting as get-away driver for the machine-gun attack at Fanieros' Larnaca gambling club.

    Effe, who, as police technician, carried out tests on the getaway bike found abandoned after the shooting, maintained it was capable of reaching speeds of over 200km per hour, in accordance with Simellides' testimony.

    But defence lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou challenged this on the basis of police radar recordings during Effe's re-enactment of the getaway ride using the original bike and a mechanically equivalent police motorbike, on June 2 and 25.

    The radars had recorded maximum speeds of 186 and 158 km per hour, Efstathiou pointed out, drawing attention to the poor condition of the original bike, which, he said, would have affected its performance.

    "Could you read the speedometer when the condition of the bike was so poor?" he asked.

    Effe replied the bike had operated normally on the road.

    "I was not aware the front brakes were worn through on the original bike," he said, adding police officer Michalis Fantis, who had ridden pillion with him, was responsible for such matters.

    Asked by Efstathiou if he had personally seen the bike's speedometer measure speeds over 200km, Effe said it was possible to estimate such a speed after the needle moved past the 180 km mark.

    Also taking the stand yesterday was prosecution witness Andreas Georgiou, owner of the Limassol night-spot Show Palace, where Simellides allegedly met with Andros and Panicos Aeroporos.

    He said that at around 11.30pm on the evening of May 29, he had gone to the club and seen some unsuitably dressed customers claiming they were friends of Andros Aeroporos.

    They were then joined by Simellides, Andros Aeroporos and his brother Panicos, Georgiou said, adding Simellides was not a regular customer.

    Asked by Efstathiou if Panicos Aeroporos was wearing odd shoes that night, including a boot similar to a court exhibit, Georgiou said he didn't know.

    "I would have noticed if he had," he said, adding: "it's not common to wear different shoes."

    The trial is set to continue on February 18.

    [10] Two medium-size brokerages merge

    Hamza Hendawi

    NICOSIA-based, medium-size brokerages Share Link Securities and AAA United Stockbrokers have decided to merge their operations in a bid to secure a bigger share of the market, their chief executives said yesterday.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Share Link's Christodoulos Ellinas and Neophytos Neophytou of United said their companies would continue to operate under their existing names, but that both would be fully owned by Share Link Financial Services Ltd, a new holding company that would be set up.

    Ellinas will be the president of the holding company, whose purchase of United and Share Link Securities is expected to receive the green light from the Cyprus Stock Exchange later this month.

    "The exchange's approval is only a technicality," said Neophytou.

    The merger, believed to be the first of its kind since the Cyprus Stock Exchange began to operate officially nearly two years ago, will not result in any job losses among Share Link's 15 employees and United's team of eight.

    "On the contrary, we plan to hire more people," said Neophytou, who added that the two companies would operate from the same building when the merger of their operations was completed.

    Explaining the merits of the merger, Share Link's Ellinas said: "United has a great ability in marketing, while Share link has a good setup in research, investment banking services and new products."

    Share Link currently has 3.6 to 4.0 per cent of the market, while United has 4.0 to 4.5 per cent. Their combined share would place them among the top seven brokerages on the island.

    "We aim to be among the top three by the end of the year," said Neophytou.

    News of the merger came as profit-taking hit share prices yesterday, with the official all-share index shedding 0.69 per cent to close at 80.78 points.

    The fall followed two successive sessions during which the index rose by more than two per cent, to come within a whisker of its all-time high of 82.46 points recorded on January 2, 1997.

    Except for "miscellaneous" stocks, everything else fell yesterday with the usually lucrative banking shares losing 0.71 per cent of their value.

    Tourism-related stocks, which rose on Monday by a spectacular 4.05 per cent, shed more than half of these gains yesterday.

    "It was profit-taking combined with the uncertainty and anxiety over Sunday's election," explained on broker, alluding to the run-off election between President Glafcos Clerides, seeking a second five-year term in office, and former Foreign Minister George Iacovou. Both men failed to win an absolute majority in last Sunday's vote.

    [11] Consumers want free sales

    CONSUMERS are in favour of the liberalisation of sales, according to a recent study carried out by the Cyprus Consumer Association.

    The Association conducted the study in the light of a bill setting specific periods for sales being ruled unconstitutional before it could come before the House.

    According to the study, which asked consumers their preferences regarding sales, 55 per cent said they were in favour of liberalisation, 42 per cent preferred fixed sale periods and 3 per cent offered no opinion.

    Consumer Association director-general Christoforos Ioannides pointed out legislation on the matter had been pending for four years and a House debate on the latest amendment to the bill had been set for December 18.

    "It was, however, deemed unconstitutional in November," he said, whereupon the Attorney-General had promised to look into the matter. "Up to now there has been nothing," he added.

    Ioannides said the results of the study would come before the Association's Board of Directors, which would then draw conclusions and possibly rule on further investigation.

    The issue has been ongoing for the last ten years, with bigger businesses lobbying for liberalisation and Workers Union Povek wanting restricted sales periods to protect smaller businesses.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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