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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-02-13

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

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


Friday, February 13, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Edek goes for free vote in run-off
  • [02] Clerides rewards Vassiliou with offer of EU post
  • [03] Parties spending 'huge amount' to fly in voters
  • [04] Rallies are a thing of the past
  • [05] Results to be known by midnight
  • [06] Payment imminent for aggrieved UN staff
  • [07] Government accused of spreading chaos on airwaves in the north
  • [08] New bi-communal magazine seeks to breach the divide

  • [01] Edek goes for free vote in run-off

    By Martin Hellicar

    SPURNING the flirtations of both presidential hopefuls, Edek yesterday declined to back a candidate in Sunday's second round of elections, urging its supporters to vote as they wished.

    Both incumbent Glafcos Clerides and challenger George Iacovou have been falling over backwards to win favour with Edek ever since socialist leader Vassos Lyssarides polled an impressive 10.6 per cent in the first round last Sunday. With Clerides, backed by Disy, and Iacovou, backed by Akel and Diko, both securing a fraction over 40 per cent in round one, Lyssarides' haul cast him in the role of kingmaker for round two.

    The Edek decision was announced by Lyssarides just after midnight, after a marathon two-day party meeting which had begun at 4pm on Wednesday.

    Ninety of the party central committee members voted for a free vote option, 16 voted for backing one of the candidates, and three abstained.

    The socialist party's decision threw the election race wide open, although Clerides has the edge over Iacovou, having already secured the backing of the four other candidates beaten in round one.

    Clerides enjoys the backing of Diko rebel Alexis Galanos, who secured 4 per cent in round one, United Democrat George Vassiliou, who polled 3 per cent, New Horizons candidate Nicos Koutsou, with 0.9 per cent, and Liberals leader Nicos Rolandis, with 0.8 per cent.

    Earlier this week, Iacovou and Clerides both agreed to a 7-page Edek wish- list in the hope of securing the party's backing for Sunday. Edek asked for the next president to include in his government members of all parties, and also called for future foreign policy decisions to be taken collectively by an upgraded National Council made up of the president, party leaders and former presidents.

    After both candidates had signed the document, pledging to implement its provisions if elected, Lyssarides said he had achieved his goal of "inoculating" both candidates' programmes with a socialist agenda.

    Lyssarides said after last night's decision that he still considered the candidates' pledges binding, even though Edek had backed neither of them.

    [02] Clerides rewards Vassiliou with offer of EU post

    By Martin Hellicar

    GEORGE Vassiliou and his United Democrats (UD) party yesterday pledged their support to President Clerides for Sunday's second round of presidential elections.

    Clerides responded by promising to make the former President head of the government's EU accession talks team, should he return to office after Sunday.

    Vassiliou, who secured a disappointing three per cent of the vote in last Sunday's first round of polling, became the fourth beaten candidate to back the incumbent, giving Clerides the edge over challenger George Iacovou.

    Diko rebel Alexis Galanos, who garnered 4 per cent on February 8, New Horizons leader Nicos Koutsou, who got 0.9 per cent, and Liberals leader Nicos Rolandis, who won just 0.8 per cent, have already backed Clerides.

    If voters follow the advice of their first round choices, and the 40.1 per cent who voted for Clerides in the first round do so again, this would give Clerides 48.8 per cent of the vote on Sunday - just 1.3 per cent short of the simple majority he needs to win.

    Iacovou, with the backing of communist Akel and centre-right Diko, secured 40.6 per cent in round one.

    But socialist Edek, cast as power brokers by the impressive 10.6 per cent their veteran leader Vassos Lyssarides won in round one, have been involved in endless internal talks to decide who they would back, if anyone. Having initially been promised for Wednesday, the Edek decision was expected later yesterday.

    The UD decision was announced in the early hours yesterday, after a marathon eight-hour meeting of the party central council. One-hundred-and- eleven of the 200 council members voted for backing Clerides, Iacovou won the support of 74 members and the remaining 25 opted for allowing party followers to vote "according to conscience."

    Vassiliou said the "crucial period" the Cyprus problem was entering after the elections had been the deciding factor in plumbing for Clerides. International initiatives towards a settlement are in the pipeline for March, EU accession talks are set to start on March 31 and UN-led settlement talks are also expected to resume after the elections.

    The UD leader blamed his poor showing on Sunday on a "rumour campaign" orchestrated against him by Akel.

    Vassiliou also said party members who disagreed with the decision to back Clerides were free to vote otherwise.

    Iacovou's immediate response to the UD decision was to refuse to believe UD voters would back Clerides. They would vote overwhelmingly for him, Iacovou maintained.

    Akel spokesman Nicos Katsourides echoed this, saying he believed UD voters would break from the official party line. Akel leader Dimitris Christofias went on the war path, charging Vassiliou with backing Clerides for reasons of personal ambition.

    Vassiliou vehemently denied this, claiming Akel favourite Iacovou had offered him "greater rewards" in exchange for UD support.

    Clerides's response was one of gratitude. "I will assign to Vassiliou the role of the head of negotiations with the EU," he publicly declared.

    He said the experience Vassiliou had gained as President between 1988 and 1993 would stand him in good stead in talks with the EU.

    Cyprus's application to the EU was filed during Vassiliou's term.

    "Our co-operation is based on honest foundations and the interest of Cyprus should be placed above any party considerations," Clerides said.

    Vassiliou said he looked forward to "a full, sincere and effective co- operation for the benefit of Cyprus."

    [03] Parties spending 'huge amount' to fly in voters

    By Jean Christou

    RIVAL camps in Sunday's presidential run-off are having to dig deep into party coffers to secure the vote of overseas Cypriots.

    The cost of flying in a little over 10,000 students and other Cypriots from the UK and Greece is estimated to run into at least six figures for each side, if the numbers are equally divided.

    A wall of secrecy surrounds exactly how much the Clerides and the Iacovou camps are shelling out, but based on figures from various sources it is calculated at at least 100,000 each.

    Put to a reluctant Disy source, an estimate of 50,000 to 80,000 per party was laughed off as "way too low".

    "We are spending a huge amount and bringing in a big number," he said, hinting the result would be well worth the investment.

    Spokesmen at the Iacovou camp gave away nothing. "It would not be wise at this moment to disclose anything," one said. "But the figures are substantial."

    Cyprus Airways (CY) has laid on 35 extra return flights from London, Athens and Salonica for the two rounds of the elections.

    Some 3,000 of the 10,000 overseas voters have already arrived on the island, with the remainder due over the next few days. They will pay anything from 50 return for students, to around 80 for non-students from London.

    Athens is slightly cheaper, and the price is understood to vary depending on which party sponsors the ticket.

    The regular student fare from London is 361 and from Athens 89. Standard fares from both these destinations are around 400 and 144 respectively.

    A CY source said the airline was offering special rates to the two parties, but stressed it would not be subsidising any part of the operation itself. "We are not going to lose, but we are not likely to make a huge profit either," the source said.

    CY officials declined to assist the Cyprus Mail in its calculations, but a leading travel agency said that at this time of the year - off season - chartering a plane for a round trip to the UK would cost some 18,000, plus 6,000 in airport taxes.

    Athens and Salonica would be slightly cheaper, the travel agent said.

    Under these circumstances, the entire cost of the 35 round trips to the three destinations would total in the region of somewhere over 600,000.

    A lot, however, depends on the exact conditions set by Cyprus Airways to charter the planes, and how much the parties recoup from the cheap fares charged to the 10,000 voters.

    In 1993, Clerides brought in some 1,500 overseas Cypriots at a cost to Disy of 45,000. It was suggested at the time that this may have contributed to then incumbent George Vassiliou losing the second round by 2,000 votes; he had only brought in a few hundred supporters from abroad.

    This time it appears neither side is taking any chances.

    [04] Rallies are a thing of the past

    By Charlie Charalambous

    IF THIS election has signalled any winds of change it's that the rabble- rousing political rally has been consigned to the dustbin of history as a vote winner.

    For decades, the mass flag-waving rally has been an integral part of any candidate's election campaign and has worked as a focal point for the party activists.

    Gatherings in which thousands would chant party slogans and brave the outdoor chill have now been superseded by the dominance of sophisticated mass media strategies.

    No longer are the party faithful willing to be herded like sheep to cheer for their leader on cue; they would rather stay at home and follow the elections on television.

    "I think we've seen the end of political rallies and I don't expect any more in the future," said Dr Pambos Papageorgiou of the Applied Research Centre.

    He argues that not only are the number of rallies down during this election, but people are just not interested in attending them.

    "All rallies make references to the past, which are extremely traumatic for people who want to leave such things behind."

    Social trends also play a part, the researcher said:

    "Our society has become more individualistic and they don't want to be one of the crowd and lose their identity."

    According to Papageorgiou, politicians have suddenly realised that the electorate is better educated and more sophisticated than ever before.

    "The candidates have discovered that clever marketing is more effective than knocking on doors."

    Scenes of politicians pressing the flesh have also been on the wane this time round.

    This is explained by the dominance of television as the major reference point for the voter.

    "TV has replaced face-to-face contact with the public and the old style of patronage politics. Psychologically, seeing a candidate on TV makes them part of your everyday life," Papageorgiou said.

    Cyprus University lecturer Joseph S. Joseph says that media management has become so important in modern Cypriot politics that rallies are only organised for the benefit of the cameras.

    "Rallies are very much a controlled event packaged for TV."

    Joseph said that politicians are more comfortable in a studio because the environment can be controlled and they relate to the public on a more general level.

    He argues that the only purpose a rally serves is "showing that the party has active followers and supporters."

    But the lecturer laments the disappearance of the personal touch among politicians:

    "In my personal opinion, meeting people has a symbolic significance and it's good for the political process for leaders to seem down to earth."

    A rally organiser confirmed that party gatherings were all about brand image and presentation.

    "They are organised for party members rather than voters, and it's very important to get the lights and the music right."

    The organiser admitted that the rally had undergone drastic changes to survive as a morale booster for the party rank-and-file.

    "Successful party rallies are all about total branding of the environment, like selling a product. It's not about changing opinions."

    [05] Results to be known by midnight

    THE NAME of the next president of the Republic will be announced by midnight on Sunday, Chief Returning Officer Thanos Michael said yesterday.

    Speaking at a press conference, he said that ballot centres would open at 7am, and close ten hours later, with a 60-minute break from midday to 1pm. The final result will be known at around 11pm, and the winner will be announced at Nicosia's Eleftheria Stadium at around midnight.

    Certain minor problems with the voting, he added, have also been ironed out; posters advising the correct way to mark the ballot are being put up in order to minimise the number of invalid votes.

    Meanwhile, Police Chief Panicos Hadjiloizou announced yesterday that there would be 3,380 police officers on patrol throughout the island on Sunday.

    The announcement was made after a meeting of police chiefs to co-ordinate Sunday's police action.

    [06] Payment imminent for aggrieved UN staff

    By Jean Christou

    A GROUP of around 125 former UN employees, who had not received benefits for more than a year after their contracts were renegotiated, have now been told that payment is imminent.

    Just six days before the second round of the presidential elections, the Foreign Ministry issued an announcement to the employees assuring them they were on the case.

    A day later, the Ministry issued a second announcement saying the employees would have the money by the end of this week.

    Late last year, one of the 125, a Nicosia man who retired almost a year ago from the UN after 33 years of work as a driver, told the Cyprus Mail how he was living on 140 a month because he hadn't been paid his benefits.

    Charalambos Avraam, 63, from Ayios Dhometios estimates the UN owes him and the other employees terminal benefits of up to 30,000 each.

    One hundred of these are still employed at the UN, and the other 25 are retired. At least one has died since retiring.

    The UN employees fell foul of changes in the system of payments in the early 'nineties, when they were recategorised as United Nations local staff.

    Previously, a complicated system existed that involved part payment by the British army through the bases administration, and part payment by the UN.

    When the system changed, all employees were entitled to terminal benefits before beginning anew as full UN local staff in 1995.

    After negotiations, some 300 received their benefits, but the remaining 125 did not, and are still waiting.

    Yesterday, Avraam said they had been told they would be paid in ten days' time.

    Informed sources told the Cyprus Mail everything was in place for payment, and that cheques would be issued very soon, "but probably not before the weekend".

    [07] Government accused of spreading chaos on airwaves in the north

    THE CYPRUS government is allocating broadcast frequencies used by channels in the occupied areas to private radios and televisions in the south, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibris has charged.

    This is affecting broadcasting frequencies in the occupied areas, sparking off unease among Turkish Cypriot radio and TV station officials.

    According to Kibris, officials have warned that, "unless measures are taken, soon there will be no properly audible and viewable Turkish radio and television broadcasts in northern Cyprus."

    A spokesman for Turkish channels Show TV and Cine 5, Ersin Tatar, reportedly proposed that broadcasting transmitters for Channel 63 should jam an unnamed Greek Cypriot television channel currently using the same frequency.

    Cine 5, which is broadcast from Istanbul, reaching the occupied areas via the Bayrak Radio, Television Broadcasting Corporation (BRTK), was apparently the first affected by the alleged frequency allocations in the government-controlled area.

    Kibris said Tatar wrote to BRTK director Ismet Kotak, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and 'foreign minister' Taner Etkin, stressing the harm caused if "Greek Cypriots are allowed to seize Channel 23 on which Cine 5 broadcasts to the TRNC."

    The paper also said the same situation had affected ES-FM broadcasting in the Nicosia region, compelling it to shift its broadcasts from 104.7 MHz to 87.5 MHz.

    There are currently ten local and mainland Turkish radio stations broadcasting in the occupied areas, with 10 television broadcasts on some 20 frequencies.

    Kibris said none of these frequencies were "officially" registered, unlike radio and television broadcasts from the south, giving these a major advantage as they are in line with international agreements.

    [08] New bi-communal magazine seeks to breach the divide

    THE ISLAND'S first bi-communal magazine has been launched, aiming to bridge the gap between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.

    "The aim of the magazine is to give Greek and Turkish Cypriot citizens the chance to establish a continuous constructive dialogue, share concerns and visions and dispel the ghosts of the past," the magazine's editorial team state.

    "The publishing effort belongs exclusively to Greek and Turkish Cypriot citizens who believe that a solution to the Cyprus problem can be found through rapprochement," they add.

    The ten-member team consists of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, with Turkish Cypriot poet Nese Yasin prominent among these.

    "The magazine also aims to give a voice to those who desire and choose a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem," the editors add.

    The January issue of the magazine, under the Turkish-Greek title Hade- Chate (Come on), is available in selected newsagents and bookshops now. The first 45-page pilot issue is in English, but future bi-monthly issues will be in Greek and Turkish.

    Contributions can be sent to PO box 9561 in Nicosia or through the Internet at

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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