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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-02-20

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, February 20, 1998


  • [01] Akel and Diko reject government invitation
  • [02] Euro bourses to meet in Cyprus as shares climb to a new high
  • [03] Missiles are basic element of demilitarisation plan
  • [04] Quiet diplomacy to engage Turkish Cypriots in EU process
  • [05] Denktash remains adamant on sovereignty issue
  • [06] Turkish officer willing to come to testify on 74
  • [07] We did nothing wrong says Astra boss
  • [08] It won't make any difference
  • [09] Cyprus to extradite Russian wanted for murder
  • [10] Greenpeace appeal to new government

  • [01] Akel and Diko reject government invitation

    By Martin Hellicar

    SOCIALIST Edek and the United Democrats yesterday officially accepted an invitation from President Clerides to participate in a government of national unity.

    Communist Akel and centre-right Diko, which backed Clerides' challenger George Iacovou in last Sunday's elections, rejected the invitation.

    Clerides won re-election by a margin of some 6,000 votes, and has since invited all parties to take part in a government of national unity.

    Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides said his party would join the government but he would not seek a cabinet post himself.

    "We have provisionally said that we will participate, how is yet to be discussed." He said Edek would take part in government even if Diko and Akel did not, but added that he would still try to convince the two parties to come on board.

    United Democrats leader George Vassiliou said his party would be participating and would submit "suggestions" to Clerides today. He did not say which party members were being proposed for government posts.

    Akel said it would not join a national unity government because of "differences on fundamental issues" with the president.

    Diko said it was spurning the invitation because Clerides has also asked Diko rebel Alexis Galanos to take part. Galanos stood as an independent candidate in the first round of elections, polling some four per cent of the vote. He and other Diko members who openly opposed the party decision to back Iacovou have since been expelled from the party.

    The issue of the exact form Clerides's unity government will take was also high on the political agenda yesterday.

    In a pre-election promise to Edek, Clerides pledged to form an all-party government, with the parties deciding cabinet make-up. But in his invitations to parties earlier this week, Clerides spoke of a national unity government, in which he would appoint cabinet members from various parties.

    Lyssarides said he would be seeking "clarifications" on the issue.

    Diko, despite declining to participate in government, charged Clerides with breaking his promise to Edek.

    Government spokesman Manolis Christofides rejected the charges, saying the president had every intention of keeping his promises.

    He also said there appeared to be no constitutional block to the president appointing deputy ministers, although the House would have to approve a relevant bill.

    Deputy ministries are seen as a possible way for Clerides to gratify all his election backers with government posts.

    Meanwhile, six expelled Diko members, including vice-chairman Dinos Michaelides and deputy Katerina Pantelides-Paschalides, yesterday lodged an appeal at the Nicosia District court against their expulsion. They are seeking an injunction against Diko on the basis that their banishment was illegal and unconstitutional.

    Also yesterday, Diko parliamentary spokesman Tassos Papadopoulos launched an initiative to re-unite the party.

    He stopped short of condemning the party decision to show rebels the door but suggested "political methods" of solving disputes were better.

    "The party may take what action it wishes, but we cannot ignore the thousands of people who in one way or another have distanced themselves from party decisions and policies," Papadopoulos said.

    He did not reveal the content of his unity initiative.

    Diko General-secretary Stathis Kittis welcomed Papadopoulos' efforts but said there was no way the rebels would be let back into the fold.

    [02] Euro bourses to meet in Cyprus as shares climb to a new high

    By Hamza Hendawi

    REPRESENTATIVES of 24 foreign bourses will gather on the island next month for a meeting hailed by the Cyprus Stock Exchange as an event that will boost its image internationally.

    The March 6 meeting of the Federation of European Stock Exchanges will bring together officials from 19 member bourses, including such heavyweights as London, Frankfurt, Zurich and Brussels, together with emerging markets such as Warsaw, Prague and Athens.

    Representatives from five markets - Cairo, Moscow, Amman, Yerevan and Beirut - will attend the one-day meeting as observers.

    News of the meeting, which a statement from the Cyprus Stock Exchange said would primarily discuss emerging markets, came as the official all-share index inched to a new 1998 high yesterday.

    Yesterday's close of 81.97 points was the third successive 1998 high. Only the stocks of bank and commercial companies rose in yesterday's trade, by a marginal 0.30 and 0.10 per cent respectively. The rest of the stocks were down, with investment companies the worst losers. They shed 1.72 per cent of their value.

    Shares on the Cyprus market, which trades in just over 100 securities from nearly 50 listed companies, have been slowly making their way up since the impressive showing by President Glafcos Clerides in the first round of the presidential election on February 8. The right-wing Clerides, who won the second round a week later, is popular with the island's business community and his second five-year term in office is favourably viewed by investors.

    Clerides is currently in the process of forming a new 'national unity' government, but his outgoing cabinet on Wednesday ratified a package of incentives to boost the bourse.

    The measures include generous tax breaks for companies seeking a market listing and for investors buying newly-listed shares. They also allow offshore companies registered on the island to invest in listed companies without losing their tax privileges.

    [03] Missiles are basic element of demilitarisation plan

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    MOSCOW is sending an envoy to Cyprus with ideas which could include the issue of demilitarisation, Russian ambassador Georgi Muratov indicated yesterday.

    The statements came as government spokesman Manolis Christofides reiterated that deployment of the S-300 missiles would be abandoned if there was agreement on demilitarisation or progress on the Cyprus problem.

    Muratov told reporters after visiting President Clerides that the Russian Foreign Ministry's special co-ordinator on Cyprus, Vladimir Tzizov, was due in Nicosia, probably in March.

    He said Russia was working on ideas, which would not be revealed now. But he did indicate that these ideas could relate specifically to demilitarisation.

    He did not elaborate, but said the S-300 missiles, expected to be deployed later this year, were a "basic ingredient of the whole issue of demilitarisation."

    Muratov said the contract which regulates Cyprus' purchase of the missiles was "already being implemented and was progressing." But he said he could not give details on technical matters because it pertained to the security of the Republic of Cyprus.

    For his part, government spokesman Manolis Christofides said the position on the S-300 missiles remained firm.

    Cyprus has an undisputed right to deploy S-300 missiles, but is ready to call off the deal if there is progress on the Cyprus issue or agreement on demilitarisation, he said.

    Christofides was also asked to comment on statements attributed to US State Department special co-ordinator on Cyprus Tom Miller that the US would do everything to avert deployment of the missiles.

    Christofides said there was time for well intentioned mediators to help towards a settlement. And he said the United States had the power to help ensure the deployment of the missiles was unnecessary.

    British High Commissioner David Madden also commented on the issue yesterday following a meeting with President Clerides.

    Madden said his government's position was that it "regrets anything that would increase tensions or the level of military hardware on the island".

    "We have repeatedly called for the reduction of armaments and weapons and armed forces on the island, and we would also regret anything which gets in the way of what we are trying to do, which is trying to make real progress towards finding a solution to the Cyprus problem in a negotiated way."

    Madden said Britain saw a danger that developments of that kind would add "a new difficulty to the negotiating effort."

    [04] Quiet diplomacy to engage Turkish Cypriots in EU process

    By Jean Christou

    BRITAIN will use quiet diplomacy in an effort to have Turkish Cypriots involved in the Cyprus-EU accession process, British High Commissioner David Madden said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with President Clerides, Madden said Britain would fulfil its mandate from the EU summit in Luxembourg in December.

    He was responding to questions on the upcoming visit of Britain's special envoy Sir David Hannay.

    EU External Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek, who will arrive early next month, is expected to pursue a similar line during his two-day visit.

    The mandate commits the EU presidency to "pursue ideas for the involvement of Turkish Cypriots in the EU accession process".

    "This is what the presidency will do," Madden said.

    "We will fulfil our mandate from Luxembourg to try and take discussion on that forward," he added.

    Asked what would constitute a good proposal from the government, Madden stressed the need for "quiet diplomacy on this matter".

    "And that's exactly what we are going to engage in," he added.

    The Cyprus government has said it will accept Turkish Cypriot participation in the accession talks as part of the Republic's delegation.

    However, the Turkish Cypriot side says it will never recognise the Cyprus government as its representative.

    Replying to questions, Madden said he had discussed the resumption of UN- led intercommunal talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and the importance of "making the best use of the opportunities in 1998 for making progress".

    Asked how Britain intends to overcome this problem, Madden said: "We all have to be very patient, very imaginative and work very hard, and that is what is happening at the moment.

    The big push on Cyprus is expected to begin next month with a host of international representatives arriving on the island.

    UN Permanent Representative Gustave Feissel left yesterday for contacts in New York ahead of the proposed visit to the island of Secretary-general Kofi Annan's Cyprus envoy Diego Cordovez.

    [05] Denktash remains adamant on sovereignty issue

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, digging in his heels, is insisting talks can only resume on the basis of two states.

    His statements came days before the anticipated arrival in Ankara of Britain's envoy to Cyprus and Turkey, Sir David Hannay. Hannay is also due in Nicosia next week with the agenda expected to concentrate on kick- starting UN-led inter-communal talks and finding a formula bring Turkish Cypriots into EU accession talks.

    Yesterday, government spokesman Manolis Christofides was quizzed on press reports that Hannay had drafted a formula also dealing with the vexed issue of sovereignty. According to these reports, excerpts from this "sovereign umbrella formula" will be used by EU foreign ministers at the launch of EU accession talks.

    Christofides said he had no such information. "We are expecting Sir David Hannay to come to Cyprus to discuss all issues. As already stated, the matter of the formula will be decided in March."

    Reports from the Turkish press suggest Hannay faces a difficult mission. The Ankara Turkish Daily News yesterday quoted Denktash as saying his breakaway state would implement a long-term programme to achieve international recognition.

    He again declared the UN sponsored bi-communal talks "dead" ever since the EU had invited the government of Cyprus to start accession talks, and said his breakaway state would only resume talks if they were held on the basis of "equal states."

    "We should have done this right after 1974. Then we did not insist on separate states but federation, and it was a mistake. It is late, but we are at a good point now and we are very determined," he was quoted as saying.

    The Turkish Daily News said Hannay's Ankara talks were expected to focus on Turkey's relations with the European Union, the Iraqi crisis and Cyprus.

    "He is expected to call for a dialogue between the two sides under the auspices of the United Nations," the paper quoted a British Foreign Office spokesman as saying.

    "We still believe that the UN peace process is the right one and should be taken further. Sir David made it very clear that the UK supports the UN process and it should be given priority among other mediation efforts," the official added.

    Asked how optimistic London was about the resumption of talks - in view of Turkish Cypriots' demand they first be recognised as a state - the official said London was aware of the objections but maintained faith in the process.

    "Sir David made it clear that the UN sponsored peace process should restart, and that the UN's efforts should be taken further. We still believe that the UN peace process is the right one under which the dialogue between the two sides should continue."

    On the possibility of Turkish Cypriots joining the Cyprus negotiation team for EU accession talks, the official said the invitation was there for the taking.

    "If they wish to do so they are very welcome. If, on the other hand, they refuse to, nobody can force them to change their mind. It would be in everybody's interest if the Turkish Cypriots attended the meetings," he said.

    Sir David's attempt to revitalise UN sponsored peace process is "seen as futile at a time when Turkish Cypriots insist they were treated unfairly by the EU and the international community," the paper - which usually reflects the views of the Turkish Foreign Ministry - added.

    It quotes Hakki Muftuzade, representative of the breakaway regime in London as saying that Britain must first recognise the occupied north and then try to restart the talks.

    "We made it clear before that the international community had to accept our existence as a legitimate state and then we can sit down at the negotiation table with the Greek side," he said.

    [06] Turkish officer willing to come to testify on 74

    A RETIRED Turkish army captain who served in Cyprus in 1974 is willing to come to the island to answer questions on atrocities he witnessed.

    In further television interviews, the man, Yalcin Kucuk, 60, said he was willing to respond to an invitation from the Cyprus government or the committees for relatives of missing persons.

    Authorities are looking into claims by Kucuk that he witnessed atrocities committed against Greek Cypriots during the 1974 invasion, but have cast some doubts on his testimony, saying it does not correspond with their information.

    Kucuk, who lives in self-imposed exile in Paris, said in interviews aired on Monday and Tuesday that when he was posted to Cyprus he was told he would be taking part in a "clean-up" operation.

    In the third part of the interview, aired on Wednesday, Kucuk expressed the view that the Turkish army was not experienced at the time.

    "Soldiers, Kurds or Turks were eager to kill, but I didn't have the same impression about the officers, except for some fascists," Kucuk said. "I don't think the Turkish army wanted to invade Cyprus."

    He added: "At the time, the Turkish army was not sure of itself... despite the fact that the generals of Turkey were always giving the impression that they were ready to go to Cyprus."

    Kucuk, who on Tuesday told the horrific story of the shooting of a woman with Down's Syndrome, said that in another incident he had convinced his soldiers not to kill two Greek Cypriots, a man in his seventies and a small boy of 11 whom he described as "very brave".

    "My soldiers were ready to kill them as they were the enemy," Kucuk said. He added he convinced them to keep the two alive so they could be exchanged for Turkish soldiers being held by Greek Cypriots.

    [07] We did nothing wrong says Astra boss

    By Charlie Charalambous

    RADIO Astra boss Takis Hadjigeorgiou went on the offensive yesterday to shout down critics who accused the station of orchestrating a hate campaign against United Democrat George Vassiliou.

    The Akel-run station caused a howl of protests last week when it held a phone-in just before the second round of presidential elections, encouraging listeners to vent their anger against Vassiliou's decision to back President Clerides' candidacy.

    Vassiliou has called for the station to be shut down for broadcasting insults and expletives against his family.

    But Hadjigeorgiou yesterday described the attack against Astra as unwarranted and misinformed.

    "I can only describe what happened as a social phenomenon, no other station had ever received so many calls," said the Akel deputy and Astra boss at a press conference yesterday.

    He was at pains to explain that the station was just the messenger and in no way encouraged people to blaspheme on the air.

    "We were there to register the social earthquake, we were just recording the shock (people felt about Vassiliou's decision)."

    Hadjigeorgiou disagreed that there was any abuse of journalistic ethics and believed the station was criticised by people who had not listened to the programmes.

    "I don't think anything extreme was going on, or that people threatened to kill him (Vassiliou)."

    Astra would be prepared to argue its case before any regulatory body, the radio chief said.

    Hadjigeorgiou was unapologetic in the face of criticisms that Astra had tried to stir up bad feelings from the past by playing music reminding listeners of the 1974 coup.

    "I don't think it stirred any bitter feelings, but we do need to remind people that supporters of the government were involved in the coup."

    The election result also proved that Astra was only conveying how the voters felt about Vassiliou's decision, Hadjigeorgiou said.

    "The result showed that only 30 per cent of the United Democrats voted for Clerides."

    "All those who cried for Vassiliou when was defeated in 1993 were bitter about him going with Clerides," he added.

    However, there was one surprising spin-off from Astra's election coverage: listeners started offering pledges to start a people's TV station.

    Hadjigeorgiou said the pledges were spontaneous and had not been a set-up by the radio station. "As soon as one person came on to pledge money many others followed."

    Astra supporters have pledged around 260,000 towards establishing a TV station, but this is still way short of the 2 million the board believe is necessary to start such a venture.

    "There is still a long way to go. We've always thought about going into TV, but the financial aspect has always been a problem."

    The station chief said discrete negotiations with the business community were under way to look into ways of raising the necessary cash, but conceded TV reality was at least two years down the road.

    "If we had Astra TV, Clerides wouldn't have won the election," said Hadjigeorgiou, pondering on what might have been.

    [08] It won't make any difference

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE MAJORITY of people do not appear to share the government's optimism about progress towards a settlement this year.

    The Cyprus Mail went out onto the streets of Nicosia yesterday afternoon to discover what the public thought of government promises that international initiatives would act to give a new impetus to the settlement process in 1998.

    "Nothing will happen, the same as last year and all the years before that," said accountant Philon Hadjicostas. His response was typical.

    Neither history nor the attitudes of those involved in settlement talks boded well for a settlement, another respondent said.

    "I don't think there will be progress, based on the evidence so far and the characters of the people involved," the middle-aged woman said.

    Others doubted the genuineness of international interest in finding a solution.

    "Other countries - the UK and the US - are concerned only with their own problems," a National Guardsman said.

    "Only if we take up arms to fight for our freedoms will we solve the Cyprus problem," he added.

    The result of last Sunday's presidential election - in which Clerides returned to office at the expense of challenger George Iacovou - was a reason for pessimism for a young businessman.

    "If we had had Iacovou, then yes, we would have had progress, but not with Clerides we won't," he said.

    A Cypriot visiting the island from his adopted US homeland bucked the trend by expressing hopefulness.

    "I probably agree with the government that there will be progress," Panayiotis Menikou said. He based his optimism on the strength of Greek and Cypriot lobbies in the US forcing US President Bill Clinton to act on Cyprus.

    "Cypriots offer many donations to the US government so promises have been secured," Menikou said.

    Another respondent, who wished to remain anonymous, was also optimistic about US involvement, but for different reasons.

    He said the sex scandals plaguing Clinton would lead him to search for another scapegoat once the Iraq crisis was over.

    "Once Iraq is over Clinton will be bugged about sex scandals so he will turn to Cyprus in an effort to shift the American public's attention from the scandals," he said.

    A British expatriate commented that a new approach was needed if progress was to come.

    "You do not make progress on problems, you change the situation. For as long as people try to solve the problem they will fail because people have such different opinions about what the problem actually is," he said.

    [09] Cyprus to extradite Russian wanted for murder

    LARNACA District court yesterday approved an extradition order for a Russian national wanted in Belgium for murder.

    Twenty-eight-year-old Oleg Diakonenkov was arrested on August 28 last year when he arrived on the Island for a holiday with his wife and child.

    Diakonenkov is wanted for the murder of fellow Russian Vladimir Missiourin in Belgium on December 18, 1994, the court heard.

    [10] Greenpeace appeal to new government

    GREENPEACE yesterday appealed to a new Cyprus government to stop further development in the Akamas.

    An announcement from the international environmental group said the appeal would be pressed home over the next few days through meetings with the Director of the Department of Environment at the Agriculture Ministry, the head of the House Environment Committee and House President Spyros Kyprianou.

    The call came as the environmental group's Executive Director, Dr Thilo Bode, begins a visit to the region. He is due in Cyprus tomorrow after visiting Malta, Turkey and Lebanon. After Cyprus, Bode will continue on to Israel.

    "I will insist to all officials that the new Cypriot government should fulfil promises made by previous governments to stop tourist development in the Akamas, end all military exercises there and finally declare this peninsula a national park," said Greenpeace's Mediterranean Director Mario Damato.

    "We are very concerned about the damage that is being done to the natural habitat of the Akamas. British army exercises there must be terminated. No army, British or Cypriot, should be allowed to bomb and shoot in an area that must be protected against any sort of destruction."

    Greenpeace supports a 1996 report by the World Bank on Akamas, which asks for the protection of the peninsula. The report was last year accepted by the House Environment Committee but must still go though parliament and then the Council of Ministers.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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