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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-02-14

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, February 14, 1998


  • [01] Rivals make final appeals
  • [02] Police hail huge drugs haul
  • [03] Galanos urged to apologise for 'Kaffirs' remark
  • [04] Lyssarides defends his 'wise' decision
  • [05] Calls for Astra to be shut down after phone-in
  • [06] The biggest dilemma
  • [07] Market consolidates over election uncertainties
  • [08] US pressing Turkey on Cyprus - Albright
  • [09] Cash goes missing on CA flight to Heathrow
  • [10] Two sought for mugging Limassol man
  • [11] Two charged with protection racket
  • [12] Washed-up body identified

  • [01] Rivals make final appeals

    By Jean Christou

    INCUMBENT president Glafcos Clerides last night urged voters to choose his "steady policy" over "dangerous experimentation".

    In a televised address to the nation 36 hours before Cypriots go to the polls, Clerides reiterated his pledge to form a government of national unity if he is re-elected tomorrow.

    Later, main challenger George Iacovou gave a similar promise in a final pre- election address which was also televised.

    Stressing the importance of the times ahead, Clerides said the strategy he had followed for the past five years "leads to a just, viable and lasting solution of the Cyprus problem and towards the European Union. It reinforces Cyprus's security within the framework of the joint defence pact with Greece and co-operation with Athens."

    He added that his policy would lead to "national unity, which will open the door to the future".

    But if Iacovou was elected, it would lead to "dangerous experimentation which will jeopardise everything important we have achieved and undermine the opportunities before us," Clerides said.

    "My proposal is straightforward: a government of national unity that will tackle future challenges with determination, patriotism and experience."

    Iacovou urged voters to oppose the present government and look to the future of Cyprus. He also promised a national unity government and a presidency "for all the people".

    He said his government would fight for refugees and the withdrawal of Turkish troops, strengthen the defence dogma with Greece, improve the economy and take EU accession forward.

    [02] Police hail huge drugs haul

    By Charlie Charalambous

    POLICE yesterday claimed they had smashed a European drugs ring after uncovering 115 kilos of cannabis and securing the remand of three local men.

    Larnaca district court remanded Stelios Georgiou, 57, from Ormidia, Antonio Antoniou, 27, from Xylophagou and Eleni Frangou, 58, from Aradippou, for eight days.

    They are suspected of importing large quantities of cannabis from Bulgaria between January and October last year.

    Police believe they imported the drug in containers of charcoal, and then sent it on to other countries from Cyprus.

    Investigating officer Onisiforos Iaonnou told the court that the three were suspected of trying to launder the money they earned from drug-trafficking.

    Police issued warrants against three other suspects, one of whom is Eleni Frangou's 32-year-old son Demetris; he has now been arrested in Greece. The other two - also Cypriots - are believed to be in Bulgaria.

    Procedures are now under way to get Demetris Frangou extradited.

    Police believe he is the ring leader who handled operations from Bulgaria, using his employment agency, which sent foreign workers to Cyprus, as a cover.

    Demetris Frangou left the island in 1993, when he was wanted by police in connection with the circulation of false documents.

    Police say the first batch of cannabis, weighing 15 kilos, was brought in by Antoniou through Georgiou, who used cabaret artists as carriers.

    They are thought to have paid Eleni Frangou 20,000 for the drugs.

    Last December, the drug squad uncovered 80 kilos of cannabis from Bulgaria, but kept the find a secret until investigations were complete.

    The drugs were found at a farm in Dherynia belonging to Stavros Kourouniades, who later confessed to police that the drugs came from Demetris Frangou.

    Kourouniades told police he had borrowed 15,000 to invest in the drug operation with Frangou once his farm began losing money.

    Police said they had smashed the drug ring with the co-operation of Bulgarian, Greek and British Interpol.

    The investigation continues.

    [03] Galanos urged to apologise for 'Kaffirs' remark

    THE PANCYPRIAN Repatriate Association and Friends yesterday called for a public apology from Diko rebel Alexis Galanos after he allegedly referred to black Africans as "kaffirs" in a televised public statement.

    According to the association, Galanos's statement also insinuated that Africans were "of the lowest mentality".

    In a press release yesterday, Paphos Representative Christallo Costi said the association had been deluged with "hundreds of telephone calls" from South African Cypriots who were "completely disgusted by this racist and derogatory statement".

    Many Cypriots, she added, had also called in to reassure the association that Galanos's opinions were not shared by the general public.

    Galanos was not available for comment last night.

    [04] Lyssarides defends his 'wise' decision

    By Martin Hellicar

    VASSOS Lyssarides yesterday said his party's decision to sit on the fence for tomorrow's presidential run-off would help ensure that the next government was a multi-party one.

    "I believe neither candidate would now refuse to form a government of national unity," the veteran Edek leader said at a morning press conference.

    Wielding the power granted him by the impressive 10.6 per cent he polled in last Sundays's first round of elections, Lyssarides has got both incumbent Glafcos Clerides and pretender George Iacovou to sign a pledge to form a multi-party government if elected. Both Clerides, backed by Disy, and Iacovou, backed by Akel and Diko, secured a fraction over 40 per cent in round one, making Lyssarides's backing crucial for round two.

    After keeping them on tenterhooks by debating it's second round stance for two solid days, the socialist party disappointed both hopefuls by announcing in the early hours yesterday that it was urging its voters to cast their ballots "by conscience".

    "I believe this was a wise decision. It gives Edek the right to insist that whoever wins the elections keeps his pledge," Lyssarides said. Had the party decided to back one or other of the candidates, he said, it would have lost "the determining role given it by the electorate."

    Lyssarides, 77, said Edek had realised its goal of fostering national unity by "inoculating" the programs of both candidates.

    In their determination to woo Edek, both Iacovou and Clerides also promised Lyssarides that future foreign policy decisions would be taken collectively by an upgraded National Council made up of the President, party leaders and former Presidents.

    Both the Iacovou and Clerides camps have welcomed the Edek decision, but there were some signs of dissent from within the party yesterday, with Edek deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou publicly stating his support for Iacovou.

    Lyssarides did not comment directly on Hadjidemetriou's stance. He said party members were free to voice their opinions, but not to take part in either candidate's campaigns.

    Akel leader Dimitris Christofias called on Edek voters to "join the common battle against fascism" and back Iacovou. Akel have, throughout the election campaign, charged Disy with harbouring coupists within its ranks.

    The Iacovou camp also reiterated that Lyssarides would be made Foreign Minister if Iacovou won. Diko also pleaded with Edek followers to back Iacovou.

    Edek's non-committal stand threw the election race wide open, though 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 got 3 per cent, New Horizons candidate Nicos Koutsou, with 0.9 per cent, and Liberals leader Nicos Rolandis, with 0.8 per cent.

    Clerides yesterday sought to reward his backers by promising them places in his government if he triumphed on Sunday.

    He told Galanos, whom he met in the morning, he would use him as an advisor. "I want to stress that Galanos did not ask for a government post. Despite this, I intend, if elected, to use him as an advisor on various issues," Clerides said.

    The President also promised Galanos he would find room for Diko members in a new government.

    Galanos stood as a candidate representing Diko members who disagreed with the party decision to back Iacovou. Diko had, till late last year, been government coalition partners with Disy, with five cabinet ministers.

    Clerides promised Rolandis that he would "use" him in his government, but did not specify in what capacity.

    The President has already offered to make Vassiliou head of the government team for EU accession talks.

    Meanwhile, the Green party also announced yesterday that they were sitting on the fence for Sunday and telling their estimated 2,000 followers to "judge for themselves who to vote for."

    Both Clerides and Iacovou have angled for the green vote by pledging to promote the establishment of an Akamas National Park and to end British army exercises in the same area.

    The election campaign was expected to wind down at midnight last night, when a blanket ban on electioneering came into force.

    [05] Calls for Astra to be shut down after phone-in

    By Charlie Charalambous

    AKEL-RUN Astra radio remained at the centre of controversy yesterday after it allowed callers to launch bitter attacks on United Democrats leader George Vassiliou for his decision to back President Clerides in the elections.

    Following the United Democrats' decision to back Clerides on Sunday, the radio station held a phone-in, which hosted a number of very personal slights against the former president.

    Beyond the taunts of "traitor", withering curses were made against his immediate family and his dead parents.

    Vassiliou called for the radio station to be shut down for allowing a "sewer of accusations" against him and violating journalistic ethics.

    He also accused Akel and the Astra management of acquiescing in the personal attacks against his character.

    Government spokesman Manolis Christofides seemed to suggest yesterday that the broadcast would not go unpunished.

    Though not naming names, he said the Attorney-general was taking "legal steps against a specific media outlet".

    He would neither confirm nor deny whether Astra was at the centre of the investigation.

    Although some Akel party officials have condemned the phone-in as being way over the top, Astra has continued to push for party favourite George Iacovou.

    In the same lunchtime slot, Astra yesterday went out of its way to dig out United Democrat party members prepared to pour cold water on the Clerides endorsement and publicly announce their backing for Iacovou.

    "We will vote for Iacovou," said United Democrat Stavros Menelaou on yesterday's show.

    As was to be expected, Disy have rallied round Vassiliou, calling the Astra programme "unacceptable" and plumbing the depths of "low standards" of journalism.

    Vassiliou has blamed Akel troublemakers for reducing his first round vote to three per cent, when he expected at six per cent.

    He believes it's these same United Democrat deserters who yesterday slammed him on Astra.

    [06] The biggest dilemma

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    WITH battle lines drawn, presidential rivals Glafcos Clerides and George Iacovou are assessing their strength and praying for Edek votes in Sunday's run-off.

    Clerides' candidacy, boosted by an impressive 40.1 per cent in the first round, gained momentum this week as smaller parties and candidates came out in his support, or - as in the case of Edek and the Greens - opted for a free vote.

    His supporters argue that with the 8.7 per cent of the vote pledged from Alexis Galanos, the United Democrats, the Liberals and the New Horizons, the incumbent needs only a fraction of the 10.6 per cent Edek vote to clinch victory.

    In the rival camp the picture seems - at first glance - less rosy. Iacovou, though edging Clerides by some 2,000 votes last Sunday, failed to break ahead and take on the mantle of the undisputed first round winner.

    No new candidate or party have endorsed him. Blanket appeals for unity among democratic forces, and references to the Makarios legacy, failed to sway Edek into official support.

    Relations with the United Democrats soured when George Vassiliou's party opted for Clerides - and the exchanges turned nasty. In contrast, Clerides' promise to give Vassiliou the prestigious post as head of Cyprus' accession talks team seemed certain to flatter his supporters.

    Edek and the United Democrats had rejected the idea of an Iacovou candidacy last autumn and memories of the acrimonious collapse of the Coalition of Hope hammered together with Akel still appear to rankle.

    This means Iacovou, who faces the run-off with only Akel and a divided Diko behind him, will need more of Edek voters if he is to unseat Clerides.

    Many, not just Iacovou supporters, reject such a scenario as oversimplified. The shifting sands of politics and the experience of 1993 could give credence to their argument.

    The odds may now appear to be in Clerides' favour. Yet forecasts are never safe. In 1993, Vassiliou, though riding high on a 44 per cent showing in the first round, lost narrowly to Clerides. That shock result has instilled both sides with caution, and, despite the optimistic talk, students are being flown in and every last vote rounded up.

    There have been no new opinion polls, but an analysis of earlier polls carried out before the first round would suggest a close fight ahead. Diko general secretary Stathis Kittis indicated victory would go to Iacovou but with a narrow majority, perhaps as few as 1,000 votes.

    The Iacovou camp has been at pains to stress Clerides may have received endorsements from candidates - but this would not translate into votes in the ballot box.

    Support from the Liberals and New Horizons may be clear cut, but their joint strength is a bare 1.7 per cent. The 3 per cent who voted for Vassiliou will defy the party's majority decision to back Clerides, they add. Akel and Iacovou have appealed directly to United Democrat voters to break party ranks. There were harsh words for Vassiliou - and an outburst of insults from "enraged supporters" on Akel-run Astra radio.

    Vassiliou hit back at the insults. Spokesmen from his party said the 3 per cent polled would go to Clerides: all those who had qualms about the incumbent voted for Iacovou from the first round and were not in the 3 per cent, they argue.

    The Iacovou campaign is also claiming much of the 4 per cent polled by Alexis Galanos and other Diko voters they lost in the first round. Diko says as many as 90 per cent of those who voted for Galanos were either confused - because he had campaigned as the party candidate - or wanted to send a signal to the party leadership.

    Now that Diko has committed itself to a party congress and the misunderstanding is "cleared up", the party faithful will heed Diko calls, vote for Iacovou, and leave internal party issues to the congress, they argue.

    The party machine has been working for Iacovou - Diko was instrumental in helping Clerides come up 7.5 per cent from behind to beat Vassiliou in 1993. And party president Spyros Kyprianou knows his own future and credibility could hinge on an Iacovou victory.

    Galanos and his Diko rebels, including the former Interior Minister and party vice president Dinos Michaelides say most of the Diko vote will go to Clerides. They have actively angled for the Diko vote, insisting Clerides would appoint Diko members to his government.

    But the main question mark in Sunday's run-off is what Edek voters will do. After two marathon meetings and with a commitment from both candidates to set up an all-party government, Edek decided by a large majority to allow sympathisers a free vote.

    Edek says this decision is in line with the spirit of national reconciliation contained in the programme both candidates had accepted. But there have been calls from Edek members - among them deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou - for voters to back Iacovou.

    Edek voted on conscience in 1993, and that race saw some of their vote going to Clerides, but two deputies who came out in support of Clerides later lost their seats. Edek has been in clear opposition over the past five years, but on the other hand its leadership is also angry at Akel over the collapse of the Coalition of Hope, and has made no attempt to hide it.

    Traditional Edek voters opposed to anything connected with the 1974 coup have been wooed by the Iacovou campaign team, which has focused on Clerides reappointment of 62 civil servants allegedly connected to the coup and referred to Clerides as the "candidate of the right."

    But these arguments could make less headway than in the past. Iacovou's second main backer is Diko - which spent nearly five years in government with Clerides, and failed to pull out when the 62 were reinstated.

    Lyssarides has spoken eloquently about the need for national reconciliation. He says the coup cannot be forgotten, but Cypriots must now focus on the future.

    Yet anti-coup organisations have made appeals in support of Iacovou. Many Edek voters would admit to a quandary. How they cast their vote could decide the day.

    [07] Market consolidates over election uncertainties

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARES of insurance and commercial companies finished sharply higher yesterday in hectic trading, but profit-taking hit the bluechips of the banking sector allowing the official all-share index to close slightly lower, traders said.

    The Cyprus Stock Exchange index closed at 81.74 points, a mere 0.09 per cent lower than Thursday's close. Volume was an impressive 1.39 million.

    "It has not been a great day on the whole, but it has been a good day for the size of transactions," said Christos Samaras of Starinvest (Brokers) Ltd.

    "There was a lot of consolidation and that was largely due to the uncertainties over Sunday's election," he said, alluding to tomorrow's run- off between President Glafcos Clerides, the incumbent, and George Iacovou after both men failed to win an absolute majority in last Sunday's vote.

    Despite yesterday's slight fall, the index has risen by 1.86 per cent in the Monday-Friday period. Banking shares, the most-sought after among the 98 securities traded in the bourse, shed 0.58 per cent yesterday, but finished the week up by 1.67 per cent.

    "There was a lot of profit-taking there by those who enter and exit the market on short-term basis," explained Samaras. Bank of Cyprus shares shed off two cents to close at 3.36-3.37, while Popular Bank stocks were three cents slimmer to finish the day at 3.37-3.38 apiece.

    The insurance sector, however, had a field day with its stocks rising by an impressive 4.37 per cent, largely on the back of trade in Universal Life stocks which rose a staggering 0.52.5 to finish at 5.70-5.90 apiece. Strangely, only 600 Universal shares changed hands yesterday.

    "The only reason I can think of for the rise of Universal Life is that there is such a limited supply of that share," said Stavros Agrotis of CISCO, the investment arm of the Bank of Cyprus Group.

    Universal Life is currently owned by the Bank of Cyprus, Popular Bank and its general manager, Andreas Georgiou, but this will soon have to change to comply with the exchange's regulations on ownership of public companies.

    Another sector which gained in value yesterday was the commercial companies and Samaras of Starinvest said companies of the Shacolas Group did particularly well on the day.

    The sector rose by 2.78 per cent yesterday to finish the week up by a staggering 8.33 per cent.

    "The Shacolas Group shares have been undervalued for a long time but they are getting better now," said Samaras.

    "The market has had a good week," said Haris Savvides of Laiki Investments, the Popular Bank's brokerage. "A lot will now depend on the outcome of Sunday's election," he added.

    Savvides and other traders, however, said the market was likely to remain active in the foreseeable future because of signs that public companies would announce better-than-expected 1997 results in the coming weeks.

    The Bank of Cyprus is scheduled to announce its results on February 20 and although the Popular Bank has yet to announce a date, its results are expected in the following week.

    [08] US pressing Turkey on Cyprus - Albright

    By Jean Christou

    THE UNITED States is pressing Turkey to be of greater assistance on Cyprus, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has said.

    Replying to questions on Cyprus before the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, Albright said Washington had spent a great deal of time with Turkey in trying to deal with the Cyprus issue, "which is the longest (dispute) and a source of great problems to all of us."

    Commenting on Turkey and its possible role, both as a part of the European Union and in the context of the Cyprus problem, Albright said it was a very "complex" issue.

    "Turkey is very important, I believe for all of us, to have Turkey look Westward rather than East or South," she said.

    "We need to have it be a part of the new European community. "It's because of all the things that are going on there and my dealings with Prime Minister Yilmaz and Foreign Minister Cem who are trying hard to turn Turkey Westward."

    She added the US was "pressing on them to be of greater assistance in Cyprus" and that US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke. is not trying to carry on those negotiations.

    Albright promised that as soon as the elections were over the US would "pay even more attention to it as soon as everybody's settled".

    The government has welcomed Albright's new statements, saying they show that the US is pressing for a settlement in Cyprus.

    Government spokesman Manolis Christofides said there was an unprecedented effort on Cyprus by the US, while Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said Cyprus must make maximum use of the great interest being shown by the international community.

    "We must safeguard the strategy which has been moulded over the last five years, which is expected in the coming year or years to bear fruit," Cassoulides said.

    Cassoulides said that if President Clerides was re-elected on Sunday, he would pursue a meeting with Britain's special envoy Sir David Hannay, who is currently in Ankara in his capacity as Prime Minister Tony Blair's emissary and as the British EU presidency's representative.

    Commenting on statements by French President Jacques Chirac on Turkish Cypriot participation in the Cyprus-EU negotiations due to being after March 31, Cassoulides reiterated that the government wanted to have Turkish Cypriots taking part in the Cyprus delegation, but that the responsibility to join the team lay with the Turkish Cypriots themselves.

    Christofides said work had been done to ensure Turkish Cypriot participation and that the details would be made public in March.

    He stressed, however, that the Cyprus-EU process would go ahead with or without their participation.

    Turkish Cypriot Communal Liberation Party leader Mustafa Akinci was quoted in yesterday's Turkish Cypriot press as saying avoiding the EU negotiations would be a big mistake.

    He warned that if the process advanced without them and the Greek Cypriot side joined the EU, "there would not be a single Turkish Cypriot left without a Cyprus Republic passport."

    [09] Cash goes missing on CA flight to Heathrow

    Thirty-six thousand pounds have gone missing from a bag originally containing 90,000 after delivery to London's Heathrow airport on a Cyprus Airways (CA) flight, police said yesterday.

    The money was part of a two-bag consignment bearing 100,000 from the Bank of Cyprus and delivered to Heathrow on flight CY 326 from Larnaca on Wednesday.

    Upon arrival, a four-inch tear was reportedly discovered in one of the bags originally containing 90,000, with 36,000 in 10 and 20-pound denominations missing.

    CA spokesman Tassos Angelis said British police were investigating the matter.

    [10] Two sought for mugging Limassol man

    POLICE are seeking two foreigners thought to be of Russian Greek origin in connection with a mugging.

    According to reports yesterday, Limassol resident Antranik Eodjerian was attacked on February 8 by two unidentified assailants at the Aphrodite Hotel apartments in Limassol's Amathounta area.

    They then tied him up with adhesive tape and made off with 4,000 in Cypriot and foreign money.

    The first suspect is believed to be a man aged between 30 and 35, of average build and about 1.80 metres in height. He is thought to have short black hair and was reportedly wearing a dark-coloured T-shirt and trousers at the time of the attack.

    The second suspect is described as a 20-year-old man of light build and about 1.80 metres in height. He is believed to have dark chestnut hair and is thought to have been wearing a dark-coloured jacket and trousers.

    Anyone with information as to their whereabouts is requested to report to Limassol police or the nearest police station.

    [11] Two charged with protection racket

    AN AYIA Napa club owner was subjected to a campaign of bomb and shooting attacks because he refused to pay "protection money", Famagusta District court heard yesterday.

    The court decided restaurant owner Simos Charalambous, 34, and security guard Dimitris Dimitriou, known as Jimmy, 30, both from Ayia Napa, should go on trial before the Assizes on suspicion of conspiring to terrorise Pieris Chrystofi.

    Jimmy is charged with planting a bomb which wrecked Chrystofi's night club on August 28 last year. Charalambous is charged with firing his shot-gun at the club owner's home a few days later, and both suspects are charged with conspiring to plant a bomb at Chrystofi's home on September 4.

    The device left outside Chrystofi's home was discovered and defused before it went off.

    The court heard that Jimmy and Chrystofi were trying to force the club owner to pay them a cut of his takings in exchange for "protection".

    The suspects' trial before the Assizes was set for February 27.

    [12] Washed-up body identified

    THE MAN taken from the sea off Paphos on Monday has been positively identified as missing architect Loizos Askanis.

    Askanis, 39, from Yeroskipou in Paphos, was identified through DNA testing.

    He went missing in May last year and was feared drowned during a late-night 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.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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