|Thursday, 21 January 2021|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-02-17
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Tuesday, February 17, 1998
 Search for unity beginsBy Charlie Charalambous
PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides today starts the process of forming a government of national unity after his re-election on Sunday but the two major opposition parties, Diko and Akel, are likely to stay on the sidelines.
Government Spokesman Manolis Christofides said Clerides will today issue invitations to all parties that helped get him re-elected.
Akel and Edek will also be invited to participate.
But he was less than clear on whether the Diko leadership under Spyros Kyprianou would also get the nod. Christofides did say that Alexis Galanos, in the Diko rebel camp, would be asked to participate.
Hinting that the official Diko party could be excluded from the seat of power, Christofides said the split over whether to back Clerides could prove the determining factor.
Asked why Kyprianou's Diko may be excluded when Akel also worked to defeat Clerides, the spokesman said: "Akel did not present the same phenomenon which existed in Diko. There was not a part of Akel which was with us and another part which sided with others."
Christofides said that Clerides would decide whether to allow Kyprianou a voice in government. "The people have placed their hopes on the shoulders of President Clerides," he said.
Judging by statements made immediately before and after the elections, Diko and Akel are not receptive to participating in a unity government under the guidance of Clerides.
In statements made yesterday afternoon, Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou called on Clerides not to include the Diko dissidents in his new cabinet, and announced that the party's executive committee had decided to expel Dinos Michaelides, Katerina Pantelides Paschalides, George Lycourgos and three other party members for backing rebel Galanos.
Kyprianou added that Clerides' intention to include members of the Diko rebel team in his administration amounted to a `political coup.'
He added that the position taken by Edek on the second round of elections had been the wrong one, and had been largely responsible for the final result.
On their part, Galanos, Michaelides and Paschalides have called on Diko to hold a party conference in order to analyse the election result.
Clerides is expected to choose his new cabinet by the time he is due to be sworn in as president before the House of Representatives on Saturday, February 28.
Later that same day his new ministers will also take the oath.
Those already ensured of a voice in the Clerides administration are Edek, the Liberals, United Democrats, New Horizons and the Diko rebels (although Galanos has said he would personally decline a ministerial post).
It remains to be seen whether the man Clerides defeated, George Iacovou, will be taken on board.
Christofides yesterday congratulated Iacovou for taking defeat "in a dignified manner".
But the tone was not so cordial between Edek and Akel in the aftermath of Iacovou's failure.
At a press conference Edek's Vassos Lyssarides turned on Akel general secretary Demetris Christofias for trying to blame his party for helping Clerides win.
On Sunday night, Christofias criticised the Edek leadership for allowing a free vote in the election run-off which, he said, proved decisive.
Visibly angered by this slight, Lyssarides blamed Akel's bungled election strategy for being the real culprit in handing Clerides his victory on a plate.
"Akel had chances to choose a progressive leader (of the left) four times. I find it inconceivable that a party leader should pass the blame for his own choices to another leader," said Lyssarides, explaining why he thought Akel had helped elect Clerides by insisting on the Iacovou candidacy.
"I was shocked when I didn't hear Clerides warmly congratulate Akel for electing him," he added.
Lyssarides was adamant that if Akel had backed a common candidate, such as himself or Marios Eliades, "there is no doubt that Clerides wouldn't be president today."
The Edek leader said it was time for Akel to apologise to the Cypriot people and not seek to blame others.
In reply, Akel questioned why Lyssarides was trying to "excuse" his party's non-committal approach.
"Is it maybe because he feels this approach conflicted with the feelings of a large majority of Edek supporters?" asked an Akel statement yesterday.
 Jubilant victors and sore losersBy Bouli Hadjioannou
ENTHUSIASTIC supporters took to the streets, horns blaring, as Glafcos Clerides and his campaign team proclaimed it a victory for unity. So did the motley coalition which came out in his support in the week leading up to Sunday's run-off.
Clerides, re-elected to a second term with a narrow majority, was visibly moved - but clearly determined to make clear a commitment to work for unity.
He told cheering crowds he would press ahead with the formation of an all- party government, and would be inviting Akel to join - a remark greeted with boos from his supporters. Clerides waved them down, and ended an emotional speech with the words "unity, unity, unity".
Gloom descended on the rival camp. George Iacovou put on a brave face and spoke of an honourable result; he congratulated Clerides and called for consensus. But he said the fight had been uneven, and added that his campaign had concentrated on issues.
His backers Akel and Diko were less magnanimous in defeat.
Akel general secretary Demetris Christofias blamed the election result on Edek and the United Democrats. He said his party would remain in opposition - refusing to serve in an all-party government under a man he said had governed autocratically.
A glum-looking Christofias said Clerides may have won the election, but the moral victory lay with those who had supported change. The narrow lead (some 6,500 votes) meant the Clerides' administration had not been crowned with laurels, he added.
Diko president Spyros Kyprianou, who had staked his personal reputation on Iacovou's candidacy, was even more downcast. He spoke of actions on behalf of the winners which had "damaged" democracy and promised to come back with specifics.
"We lost a fight, we did not lose the battle," Kyprianou added, pledging to continue to struggle for democracy and justice for Cyprus. The Diko leader said he had telephoned to congratulate Clerides. The Phileleftheros correspondent at the Presidential Palace said the two men - coalition partners for nearly five years - had exchanged all of 11 words.
Kyprianou also hit out at the Diko rebels, saying they had injured the party. They had chosen to distance themselves from Diko and would therefore not be welcome at the party congress in March. Kyprianou said there would be elections for a new party leadership, including the chairmanship, but gave no hint of whether he would seek re-election.
His son Markos, a Diko deputy, was equally blunt. He said it was sad that officials who claimed to be faithful to Diko were carousing with the rival camp.
The reply from the rebels was instant. Alexis Galanos, given a rousing welcome from the crowds who packed the Eleftheria stadium for the proclamation ceremony, said Kyprianou had clearly not heeded the message from the polls.
With a string of mistakes behind him, Kyprianou should have resigned from the party leadership, Galanos said. He hoped wiser thoughts would prevail and that Kyprianou would invite all the party faithful to the congress.
Galanos, who analysts said had given some 3 per cent of the vote to Clerides, said the electorate had voted in support of unity.
Dinos Michaelides, Diko vice president and former Interior Minister, was even more forthright. He said he believed most Diko supporters had voted for Clerides, and the Diko leadership had to answer for its mistakes.
He went on to throw the gauntlet at Kyprianou: if the Diko rebels were not welcome at the party congress then they would hold their own, and it was the leadership which would be responsible.
A jubilant Disy camp, though delighted with the result, was at pains to stress unity. Party president Nicos Anatassiades said he extended a hand of friendship to everyone; the election campaign was in the past, and all should join together for the future. He urged Clerides supporters to treat the rival camp with respect - and said Clerides' win was a "victory for Cyprus".
George Vassiliou, president of the United Democrats, though absent from the Eleftheria indoor stadium celebrations, said the result was a victory for unity.
Liberal party president Nicos Rolandis and New Horizons president Nicos Koutsou, both of whom had backed Clerides in the run-off, spoke in a similar vein.
And Edek president Vassos Lyssarides, who had kept both candidates at arm's length after his party decided to allow a free vote, said his role would be to persuade political parties to join an all-party government. Other Edek officials brushed off Akel criticism, saying the communist party only had itself to blame for the election of a conservative president because it had scuttled efforts to find a joint candidate.
 Akel and Diko pay the ultimate priceBy Bouli Hadjioannou
AKEL and Diko paid the ultimate price for running an election campaign out of step with a changing electoral mood.
Analysts say that by harping on the past, particularly the 1974 coup, both parties had misjudged public sentiment and failed to attract the all- important youth vote.
The verdict was particularly harsh for Diko president Spyros Kyprianou. Having pushed his party into backing George Iacovou, he could face mutiny from the ranks, half of whom have already opted for Glafcos Clerides, some analysts believe.
Akel, blamed by Edek and the United Democrats for wrecking the 'Coalition of Hope', will also have some explaining to do.
But the close result means the party can turn the tables on critics and argue that a decision from Edek and/or the United Democrats to back Iacovou would have meant an end to the Clerides government.
This argument has already been put forward, only to be angrily rejected by Edek. It has led to an increasingly angry spat between the two parties, with Vassos Lyssarides blaming Akel for turning down four candidates who could have united the 'progressive forces' and trounced Clerides.
An even nastier row has broken out between the Diko mainstream and its pro- Clerides rebels. Angry insults were exchanged on TV only hours after the election result, indicating turbulent times ahead.
For Glafcos Clerides, victory must be particularly sweet. Though he beat George Iacovou by less than 2% (some 6,600 votes), the veteran politician has just cause to celebrate.
Practically banished to the political wilderness in the late 1970s, Clerides led his Democratic Rally party to become the largest on the island, haunted all along by opponents' jibes that Disy harboured 'coupists'.
That ghost may finally be laid to rest. Diko helped break the taboo in 1993 when it threw its weight behind Clerides, helping him to secure the presidency by an even narrower majority.
Diko's sudden break with the Clerides government, a few months before the elections, was dismissed by some observers as either mean spirited (because Kyprianou's candidacy was not endorsed by the president) or just plain political opportunism.
Kyprianou rejected these charges, but the strong showing of Diko rebel Alexis Galanos indicated one in four of the Diko faithful was ready to defy the party president.
Akel tried hard to capitalise on the divisive coup issue in order to build up support for Iacovou, particularly among Edek supporters. It broadcast special radio programmes on the coup (on Akel-owned Astra) and when the United Democrats voted to back Clerides they gave air time to "enraged citizens" - many of whom spouted curses and insults against party leader George Vassiliou and his family, including his dead parents.
Vassiliou objected. But he believed that the Astra programmes had backfired, and that many decided to opt for Clerides in protest.
Opinion polls, exit polls and pollsters on the night showed Clerides had managed to build up a broader base; half of Diko, perhaps as much as 40 per cent of Edek and between a third and a half of the United Democrats had given him their vote. He had attracted most of the youth vote drawn by his emphasis on the future, rather than the past, analysts said.
The Clerides campaign team was quick to interpret this as an endorsement of his pledge to build unity.
Iacovou came close to victory, despite much of the print media being against him and Clerides having the advantage of being in government already. Iacovou said his team did not have the resources Clerides could draw on. Akel and Diko spoke cryptically of activities which "damaged democracy" and promised more information. There were complaints of pressure and promises in a battle which Clerides finally won.
For Akel this is the second consecutive defeat in a presidential election. If it sticks to its decision not to join an all-party government Clerides is committed to forming, the left-wing party will remain in opposition for another five years.
Diko faces a rough ride ahead. Clerides has promised it representation in the government, but signs are the posts will go to the rebels.
As a consequence it too could end up away from the corridors of power, while observers expect a witch-hunt to erupt within the party.
 Denktash calls for UN-led talksBy Jean Christou
TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday issued barbed congratulations to President Clerides on his re-election on Sunday.
"Mr Clerides is not the president of Cyprus, he is the president of the Greek Cypriots... he does not represent all Cypriots," Denktash told reporters in the occupied north.
Reuters reported that in a written statement Denktash had called for the resumption of UN-led intercommunal talks.
"Now is the time to... open the way to direct talks between two peoples who have been ruling themselves separately since the wilful destruction of the partnership state back in 1963," Denktash said.
"This is the time to face the future with realism and not hide under a false title that Mr Clerides well knows will not enhance the chance of a settlement."
After casting his vote in Nicosia early on Sunday Clerides issued a message of reconciliation to the Turkish Cypriots.
"I think that we must look to the future and not to the past, and I am willing together with the Turkish Cypriot leadership to examine the future and find a solution which will be of the benefit of both communities," Clerides said.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Necati Utkan said in Ankara the reelection of Clerides "to the presidency of the Greek Cypriots is an internal event, but we can expect a resumption of efforts aimed at resolving the dispute".
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook was the first to congratulate Clerides and to refer to the international community's interest in seeing the talks resume as soon as possible.
"Now we need to get down to work," Cook said in a written statement, adding that Britain would be talking soon to the new government "to set out our approach to the important events facing us in the weeks to come".
The British High Commission in Nicosia said yesterday it had nothing further to add to Cook's statement, but German ambassador Dr Gabrielle von Malfen-Tilborch told the Cyprus Mail her government has "great expectations".
"We have great respect for President Clerides' efforts on the Cyprus problem, and that's why we have great expectations that a new impetus will be given to solving the problem, and that the government will co-operate with a new vigour with the UN to this goal," the ambassador said.
She added that her government remains committed to supporting "as best it can" efforts on the Cyprus problem.
UN Permanent Representative Gustave Feissel yesterday called on Clerides and congratulated him.
Speaking after the hour-long meeting, Feissel said: "Now that the elections are over we have to get into high gear, and I'm sure this is what's going to happen."
Feissel said he has no date yet for the proposed visit by UN Secretary- general Kofi Annan's special emissary Diego Cordovez, who is expected to attempt to kick-start the resumption of the intercommunal talks.
A statement from the US State Department in Washington said it plans to work closely with Clerides on bringing about a solution in Cyprus.
 ELECTION '98
Second round: overall final results
Candidate Votes Percentage
Second round: final results, votes recieved by district
Voting statistics by District
 A million spent on flying votersBy Jean Christou
RIVAL camps in Sunday's presidential run-off spent a total of one million pounds to bring Cypriots from Greece and the UK in to vote, it was revealed yesterday.
Informed sources told the Cyprus Mail, which last week estimated the cost of bringing in 10,000 voters with Cyprus Airways (CY) to be in the region of £600,000, that the entire CY operation had cost a total of one million pounds.
The sources said that the Clerides camp had also brought in hundreds of students from the US on Royal Jordanian Airlines.
Both sides in Sunday's run-off between Disy-backed incumbent Glafcos Clerides and Akel- and Diko-backed George Iacovou had remained tight-lipped on how many people they shipped in and on how much it cost.
It is believed that of the 10,000 brought in on 35 CY flights, 7,000 were Clerides supporters and 3,000 Iacovou's.
Disy still declined to reveal exact figures yesterday, but a source there said they had brought in "more than what the difference was between Iacovou and Clerides in the election". Iacovou lost by some 6,600 votes.
"I'm not authorised to say what the cost is," the source said.
He repeated, however, that already-published estimates of at least £100,000 per camp, taking into account revenue from the sale of the low-priced tickets, were "way too low".
"It's more than that (£100,000) but less than half a million," the source added.
More than half of those who flew in for the elections have already left the island.
According to a CY spokesman 2,000 left on Sunday morning on flights to London, Athens and Salonica, and another 3,500 flew out yesterday.
 Pistol-packing Turk was 'ministry press officer'By Jean Christou
A TURK detained and sent back to the occupied areas on Sunday for carrying a pistol was a 'Labour Ministry' press officer in the north, Turkish Cypriot press reported yesterday.
Habil Yilmaz, 42, from Turkey who is married to a Turkish Cypriot, was sent back to the occupied areas at around lunchtime after being questioned by police.
He had admitted to carrying a pistol while passing through the Ledra Palace checkpoint with a group of 30 Turkish Cypriot journalists crossing to cover the presidential election.
Police chief Panicos Hadjiloizou said on Sunday Yilmaz had claimed he was a journalist and was legally in possession of the gun in the north.
When he reached the checkpoint Yilmaz declared that he was carrying a gun and handed it over along with three bullets to Cyprus police at the checkpoint.
Following a decision by the Attorney-general, Yilmaz was released and allowed to cover part of the election before being handed over to the UN for return to the north.
Hadjiloizou said Yilmaz had claimed to be a journalist but was unable to say which newspaper he worked for or if was accredited at the PIO to cover the elections.
According to Turkish Cypriot newspapers Yilmaz simply forgot to leave behind his "licensed" weapon when he crossed.
"When he discovered the gun in his camera case on the bus he sought the advice of his colleagues and accordingly informed the Greek Cypriot information officer," the papers said.
"The forgetful journalist was then taken to the police station where he made his deposition and was interrogated for four and a half hours before being returned to the TRNC at about 2pm."
 Market turns its attention to Iraq-US showdownBy Hamza Hendawi
IN A WIDELY anticipated reaction, the stock market yesterday greeted President Glafcos Clerides' re-election with an indifferent performance - and immediately turned its attention to the potential dangers of the current US-Iraq 'High Noon' in the Gulf.
The official all-share index of the Cyprus Stock Exchange was down by 0.15 per cent to close at 81.62 points on across the board profit-taking.
Stockbrokers and analysts said yesterday's showing was a typical case of "buy the rumour, sell the fact".
They explained that the market had already responded to Clerides' re- election in last week's trade, when the index ended the week up by more than two per cent to show its preference for the conservative 78-year-old politician to remain at the helm.
Clerides' chances of re-election began looking up when he finished neck and neck with independent candidate George Iacovou in the first round of voting on February 8. He won the second-round on Sunday with 50.8 per cent of the vote.
"The market reflected the result of the election last week when it rose every day except for Tuesday*," said Koullis Panayiotou of CLR, one of the island's top brokerages.
"We had an active day, but without any major changes," said Neophytos Neophytou of AAA United Stockbrokers Ltd. "It was a case of buying the rumour and selling the fact," he said, referring to the market's performance last week in response to Clerides' re-election chances.
Yesterday's marginal fall in the index reflected a slight decline of 0.20 per cent in the value of the much sought-after banking shares and a 1.99 per cent fall in insurance stocks. Only industrial and commercial companies finished up on Friday's close - 0.70 and 0.49 per cent respectively.
Volume was £958,337 with Bank of Cyprus and Popular Bank stocks dominating trade.
With Clerides now re-elected for a second five-year term, the market is turning its attention away from domestic politics and to the potentially damaging stand-off between Iraq and the United Nations over arms inspections.
Evros Constantinou, a market analyst with Hellenic Bank Investments, said the market was anxiously monitoring the situation in the Gulf with the island's vital tourism industry in mind.
"We are absolutely worried about what might happen in the Gulf," said Neophytou of AAA United, reflecting the mood on the bourse.
Tourism, which currently accounts for about 20 per cent of GDP, suffered considerably during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis over Kuwait.
Tourism stocks have sharply risen last week in a belated reaction to last month's announcement by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation that there will be a further increase in tourist arrivals this year. A total of 2.06 million tourists came to Cyprus in 1997, an increase by 5 per cent over the previous year.
The brokers and analysts said they were also anxiously awaiting the much- heralded US initiative to settle the 23-year-old Cyprus problem and a string of 1997 banks' results, beginning with those of the Bank of Cyprus on Friday.
 Two more taxi drivers held in murder caseBy Jean Christou
TWO MORE taxi drivers have been arrested and remanded in connection with the murder of a French tourist on Christmas Day.
Police said one of the two suspects, Panicos Andreou, 38, alias Shoferos, allegedly helped the taxi driver arrested for the murder, Kyriacos Andreas Zanas, 36, dispose of the body of Jacqueline Françoise Chomik, 49.
Shoferos was remanded on Sunday by the Limassol District Court for eight days.
The third suspect, Andreas Nicolaou, 30, allegedly supplied Zanas with a stolen shotgun used in the killing one month beforehand, police said.
The murder weapon has not yet been found. Nicolaou was remanded by the Larnaca District court on Sunday for three days.
Chomik was shot four times with a hunting rifle before being dumped in a 30- metre well near the village of Xylotymbou in the Larnaca district.
She had been shot in the chest, abdomen and in the head, a post mortem revealed. The motive appeared to be robbery. Around £190 in cash which Chomik was carrying was stolen.
According to police Zanas has confessed to shooting Chomik en route to her Limassol hotel from Larnaca Airport.
"At some stage Zanas told Shoferos he had a body in the boot of his car and asked him what he should do," said CID chief and investigating officer Nathaniel Papageorgiou.
"Shoferos led Zanas to Xylotymbou and showed him the well and together they dropped the body in."
Police were led to the well by Zanas who was arrested after a DNA test on blood discovered in his taxi closely matched that of Chomik's mother and brother.
Her brother and uncle came to Cyprus last week to identify Chomik body and make arrangements to have her flown back to France.
Chomik, a public relations officer from Lyon, was reported missing by her family when she failed to catch her flight home on January 1.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998