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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-02-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, February 25, 1998


  • [01] Liberals to merge with Disy
  • [02] Veil of secrecy surrounds party funding
  • [03] Blair adds to pressure on S-300s
  • [04] Cyprus students again fail international maths test
  • [05] Children sleeping in the corridors at Makarios hospital
  • [06] Antenna FM promises hard news and top tunes
  • [07] Full Alpha transmissions hit the air next week
  • [08] Police remain on alert despite Iraq deal
  • [09] Police still can't find murder weapon
  • [10] Oil spill seminar in Larnaca
  • [11] Who will break Apoel's cup hold?
  • [12] Ship's owners to sue Cyprus
  • [13] Kranidiotis arrives for talks on EU

  • [01] Liberals to merge with Disy

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE LIBERAL party conceded yesterday that small was no longer beautiful following its decision to merge with right-wing Disy.

    One of the island's smallest parties finally drew the curtain on its 12- year history after deciding to forgo its independence to become part of biggest party on the political scene.

    Liberal boss Nicos Rolandis was given carte blanche by his political office to handle the merger proposal as he saw fit.

    Disy president Nicos Anastassiades has welcomed the move and proposed that a committee from each party be set up to process the details of the merger.

    Once a framework for the merger has been established, the two parties will pass a decree to finalise the move.

    Although the Liberals contributed to the political landscape, Rolandis acknowledged his party performed "poorly in attracting voters".

    The demise of the Liberals has come as no surprise, seeing Rolandis failed to hold his seat in the 1996 parliamentary elections and his presidential candidacy only garnered 0.8 per cent of the vote in the first round of the elections -

    an awkward fall from grace for the one-time foreign minister.

    "The result was disappointing for me, whatever the reasons which led to it, " said Rolandis of his weak showing on the first Sunday.

    Ironically, in 1996 he had lost his parliamentary seat on the Disy ticket and Rolandis confessed that relations with Disy have "not always run smoothly" but believed the merger would be "highly productive".

    Before the presidential elections, Rolandis had already pledged to reconsider his political future if his party failed to gain two per cent of the vote.

    In his five-page "requiem letter" for his dead party, Rolandis said: "I decided that as a party we should leave the small and ineffective political scene."

    His account concluded: "democracy in Cyprus lacks the ability to give life to smaller parties... voters are attracted to the bigger parties, crushing the existence of smaller ones."

    But despite the gloomy picture, Rolandis said he had been persuaded by President Clerides to remain in public life and participate in the new government.

    Rolandis is being hotly tipped as the next commerce and tourism minister.

    [02] Veil of secrecy surrounds party funding

    By Martin Hellicar

    IT IS time the veil of secrecy surrounding sources of party funding was lifted, political observers agree.

    The huge sums of money spent on campaigns for this month's presidential elections brought the issue to the fore, and analysts agree it is time a law forced parties to disclose their funding sources.

    Market researchers Amer calculate that a total of £1.36 million was spent on advertising for the elections and observers agree not all this cash can have come from government subsidies and door-to-door collections.

    In the absence of a law obliging political parties to do so, parties are loathe to volunteer the sources of their funding.

    Observers fear this secrecy allows funders freely to secure favouritism from parties.

    "I do not think there is a big problem with actual pre-election deals, but it is natural that if a businessman gives so much he will expect something in return," a political observer, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

    He said parties were bound, not so much by back-room deals as by "emotional obligations", to grant nepotistic favours to their major financial backers.

    "Big businessmen give to all parties to ensure they will get something whoever gets elected," he said.

    Analysts believe a law forcing parties to reveal their sources would put a stop to favouritism for big donors.

    The two big parties, Disy and Akel, deny there is a problem with funders securing favours.

    A spokesman for communist Akel said his party did receive money from "sister" companies, which he did not name, but said these were not significant. "Most money comes from government subsidies and door-to-door collections," he insisted.

    A spokesman for right-wing Disy said his party got round the problem of donors demanding favours by securing funding from a variety of sources to avoid becoming indebted to one in particular.

    But a source within the small New Horizons party said "big interests" were hidden behind bigger parties. "Openness about funding would remove the current (political) influence of secret funders," she said.

    A source from socialist Edek said some parties had become dependant on contributions from businessmen. One observer doubted whether a legal requirement for openness would change things.

    "Even if there was a law it would not be implemented in practice. It would only be observed by the small fry, the big fish would find a way round it," he said. "In the US there are laws stipulating openness but they don't always work," he added.

    Parties are also cagey about revealing how much they spent on electioneering. When questioned about sums spent, the reply is along the same lines, irrespective of which party the spokesman was for. "I can't tell you that," or "The sum spent has not been calculated yet," were typical responses.

    All parties agreed that the Amer estimate of how much had been spent on election campaigns was a huge exaggeration.

    A Disy spokesman said the Amer figure was based on nominal costs of media advertising "but in reality the cost depended on the deals each party secured with advertisers." He said TV channels offered huge reductions to some parties, an observation echoed by Edek.

    [03] Blair adds to pressure on S-300s

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    THE S-300 missiles are back to haunt President Clerides with signs of mounting international opposition to their deployment.

    A day after the Athens weekly To Vima reported on a blunt warning from the US, the mainland Greek press yesterday ran a letter from Britain's Tony Blair urging Clerides to find a way not to bring the missiles to Cyprus.

    And reports in the Turkish press suggest France will try to block Cyprus' EU course unless the missile deal is frozen and a formula found to bring Turkish Cypriots into the accession talks.

    Both the missiles and Turkish Cypriot participation feature prominently in Prime Minister Tony Blair's congratulatory letter to Clerides, leaked to the mainland Greek press.

    In the letter, Blair says it is urgent to include Turkish Cypriots in the EU delegation. And he says Clerides should make an offer which bears in mind the "legitimate desire" of Turkish Cypriots to be considered politically equal.

    Blair is even blunter on the missiles. Britain, other European countries and the US are convinced deployment of the missiles will lead to tension in the region and damage prospects for a settlement, he says. Clerides, Blair hoped, would find a way to avoid deployment at the earliest possible date.

    There is reference too to a conversation between Blair and Clerides last October - again on the missiles. Here Blair says he had recognised Clerides' wish to avoid any action during the election period, but this was now in the past.

    Government spokesman Manolis Christofides yesterday would not confirm the press reports - insisting he could not comment on the contents of a confidential document.

    But he repeated that Cyprus had every right to self-defence. And he said the international community could contribute so that UN peace talks expected to start in March lead to progress, thus making it unnecessary to deploy the missiles.

    Asked specifically whether Clerides had asked Blair not to raise the issue of the missiles during the election period, Christofides replied: "The president did ask for support for his election campaign from an outsider."

    On the participation of the Turkish Cypriots, Christofides said this was desirable, but was not a condition for accession talks to go ahead. Any proposal for Turkish Cypriot participation must be in line with UN resolutions which prohibit recognition, direct or indirect, of the breakaway north.

    On Blair's call for a clever proposal for Turkish Cypriot participation, he said: "The desire of the British Prime Minister for something logical to be proposed to Turkish Cypriots is in line with all the positions put forward so far."

    Christofides said Cyprus had responded to the EU's wish for Turkish Cypriot participation and had explained how it saw participation of the two communities under the umbrella of the delegation of the Republic of Cyprus.

    "We believe our proposals are perfectly logical. If there are other ideas, other proposals, other plans they want to put to us, then we are ready to discuss them as long as they are within the parameters we have set - that is respect for UN resolutions," he said

    Asked about reports from Paris suggesting France would set conditions for accession talks, he said there was as yet no official briefing, but added that Paris had made clear that the talks would start as agreed.

    [04] Cyprus students again fail international maths test

    CYPRIOT Lyceum students have again come bottom on an international maths and science test.

    According to information released in the United States yesterday, Cyprus was second from the bottom, just ahead of South Africa and just behind Lithuania.

    The US came fourth from the bottom with Sweden and the Netherlands top of the 21 countries tested.

    The results followed up those released after similar studies in November 1996, for 41 countries for students at Gymnasium level, and in June 1997, for 26 countries for primary school levels three and four. The tests were carried out by the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

    Cyprus also came bottom in both the previous tests.

    When the earlier results were published, the Education Ministry argued that methods in different countries could not be compared and that the test had not been an "international horse race".

    Some 500,000 students of different grades participated in the three studies, taking an exam in 1995.

    "In most countries there was a substantial gender difference favouring males on all three tests," TIMSS director and Boston College Professor Albert Beaton said yesterday.

    Males outperformed females in all but one - South Africa - of the 21 countries tested in maths and science literacy.

    Despite different educational approaches, structures and organisations, "it is clear that parents' education is positively related to students' mathematics and science literacy," the study said.

    "As was the case for eighth graders, in every country final-year students whose parents had more education had higher mathematics and science literacy," the study said.

    In Iceland, which ranked third overall, "students start school later and finish it later," said TIMSS Deputy Director Michael Martin. "It's kind of hopeful really. I mean they start school later in life, but yet are obviously able to master the subjects."

    Students in most countries reported spending between two and three hours a day on homework on average. However 25 per cent or more of final-year students in Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the US reported studying for less than a hour a day.

    [05] Children sleeping in the corridors at Makarios hospital

    By Aline Davidian

    THE MAKARIOS Hospital Paediatric unit has had to admit so many children for treatment over the last few weeks that there is no more room for them in the wards.

    As a result, many children are having to sleep in beds set up in the corridors - a situation which is causing many additional problems.

    Makarios hospital Paediatrician Dr. Eleni Tofarides said yesterday the unit only had beds for 24 children; 39 are currently being treated.

    Although each of the unit's four-bed wards have had an extra bed put in, she said, there was simply no alternative but to place some children in the corridors.

    This was creating difficulties for doctors needing to carry out examinations, Tofarides explained: patients requiring closer check-ups are having to be moved to other rooms, whereas in a ward it would simply be enough to draw a curtain round the patient's bed.

    "It is also difficult for the children because it isn't quiet," she went on, adding "parents wishing to be near them are spending the night in chairs since we cannot put armchairs out for them."

    The patients range from 15-day-old infants to 14-year-old teenagers, coming to Makarios hospital from towns across the island as well as from other hospitals.

    Tofarides attributed the overload of patients to viruses and respiratory tract illnesses, pointing out, however, that the unit was usually full and that such conditions were normal for the winter period.

    She said a dedicated group of four nurses and one sister were working round the clock to tend to the children, sometimes becoming ill themselves from the more contagious patients.

    And although there was another children's ward in the hospital, added Tofarides, there was not enough staff to run it.

    [06] Antenna FM promises hard news and top tunes

    ANTENNA TV is planning to launch its own brand of news and entertainment on the airwaves next month.

    Antenna FM will start operating on a 24-hour basis, nationwide, by the end of March.

    The new station is being touted as primarily a news-orientated venture, with emphasis on live coverage and a continual update on the events that matter.

    Antenna FM claims it will tread boldly to expose the truth and will bring to radio the same dynamic character as its successful TV namesake.

    Antenna is predicting that its mix of hard news and top tunes will establish the radio station as a market leader.

    [07] Full Alpha transmissions hit the air next week

    MULTICHOICE yesterday officially launched its second TV channel, Alpha, which will run as a pay-TV channel alongside Lumiere.

    Alpha, which has been running test transmissions for the past month, begins proper transmission early next week.

    Viewers are being offered the two channels either as a package costing £15.77, or separately at £14.60 each. Subscribers who want to include Lumiere's Adult Zone must pay an extra £1.84.

    The listings magazine for the two channels costs a further £0.55 a month.

    The original multichoice plan, which had viewers up in arms, was to give all Lumiere subscribers the new channel regardless of whether or not they wanted it, while increasing subscription fees. A Multichoice spokeswoman explained yesterday that this had been planned as it was then thought impossible for technical reasons to offer the two channels separately.

    The new channel will show films, sporting events, financial programmes, drama series, children's programmes, news and musical programmes.

    [08] Police remain on alert despite Iraq deal

    DESPITE a UN-brokered deal taking the heat out of the Iraq crisis, police remained on alert for terrorist attacks on US interests on the island yesterday.

    On Sunday, UN Secretary general Kofi Annan hammered out a deal with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to allow weapons inspectors back into Iraq. US President Bill Clinton has said he will hold off on threatened military action against Iraq over the issue to give the eleventh hour agreement a chance.

    Security around all US interests in Cyprus was stepped up last week as the war clouds gathered over Iraq. Police said yesterday they had not yet relaxed these measures.

    A spokesman for the British bases declined to comment on whether the Annan deal had meant any change in readiness status for British forces on the island. "We do not comment on security matters," spokesman Mervyn Wynne Jones said.

    [09] Police still can't find murder weapon

    By Martin Hellicar

    A LARNACA airport taxi driver suspected of murdering a French tourist and dumping her body down a 100-foot well was yesterday remanded for a further eight days.

    Police say 36-year-old Zanas, from Kiti outside Larnaca, has confessed to shooting 49-year-old Jacqueline Françoise Chomik on the way to her Limassol hotel after picking her up from Larnaca airport on Christmas day.

    Zanas was arrested on February 7 after the DNA blueprint of blood stains discovered on his cab was found closely to match that of Chomik's relatives. Police say that on February 8, a month after Chomik's disappearance, Zanas led them to a well near Xylotymbou where the victim's body was discovered - 60 km away from the alleged site of the killing at Moni.

    Limassol District court heard yesterday that police where still searching in the Mosfiloti area for parts of the shotgun they believe Zanas used in the attack. Police say the murder suspect has said he dumped the disassembled weapon near the Larnaca district village as he drove to Xylotymbou from Moni with the victim's body in the boot of his car.

    The court also heard that case investigators were to travel to Chomik's home-town of Lyon today.

    Another Larnaca airport taxi driver has been charged with helping Zanas dispose of the body. Larnaca District court has heard that Zanas rang Panicos Andreou, 38, alias Shioferos, right after the attack to tell him he had a body in the boot of his car and Shioferos led Zanas to the dry well outside his village, Xylotymbou, and then helped him dump the body, the court heard.

    Shioferos pleaded not guilty to charges of being a accessory after the fact and the court set the date for the first hearing in his trial for March 24.

    The taxi driver was released on £5,000 bail on condition he surrender his travel documents and report to his local police station daily.

    Police say the motive for the killing was theft, Zanas having stolen about £190 in cash from his alleged victim. Zanas's lawyer has told the court his client suffers from psychological problems.

    Later in the day, police announced that Interpol had officially congratulated Cyprus police for their "speedy" solution of the crime.

    [10] Oil spill seminar in Larnaca

    A TWO-DAY international seminar on combating oil-spills at sea kicks off in Larnaca today.

    The seminar, held at the Golden Bay hotel, is organised by the Mediterranean Oil Industry Group (MOIG), a member of the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA). Delegates from Egypt, France, Greece, Libya, Malta, Tunisia, Britain and Israel are expected to attend. The local representative will be George Petrou, management consultant of BP Cyprus, who are hosting the seminar.

    The focus for the two-day meeting will be an oil-spill emergency exercise off the Dhekelia refinery.

    The exercise scenario involves a crude oil slick caused by a spill from a tanker during delivery to the refinery. Taking part in the exercise will be refinery workers, the Fisheries department and personnel from petrol companies BP, Mobil, Petrolina and Esso.

    [11] Who will break Apoel's cup hold?

    By George Christou

    LEAGUE champions Anorthosis will try to break Apoel's three-year hold on the cup when they meet in a quarter-final clash at Antonis Papadopoulos stadium today.

    It is no secret that the Famagusta club's objective this season is the league and cup double and beating the club which has monopolised the competition over the last three years would a boost to their quest.

    Anorthosis captain Nicos Panayiotou knows that the league leaders will have a very difficult game on their hands. "We face very difficult opponents, who, despite their lowly league position remain one of the best sides in Cyprus," he said.

    Indifferent league form had never stopped Apoel from taking the cup in the past. They did it in 1995 when they were struggling and again last year. In 1996 they were invincible, taking the league and cup double.

    Apoel have built their unrivalled cup tradition thanks to their ability to raise their game drastically for cup games. They did last season when they managed to knock out Anorthosis in the semi-finals.

    Then as now, they played the first leg away and, despite losing 2-1, they levelled the aggregate in the return in Nicosia and clinched victory in extra-time. Few teams, going through a poor season, would have had the belief as well as the big match temperament to turn around a first leg deficit against the strongest side in the league.

    Apoel are having yet another disappointing season. They have been left with just one foreign players on their books, after the departure of Hertnagl and top scorer Kozniku, their Austrian coach was sacked a few months ago and they are currently languishing in mid-table in the league without a chance of even a UEFA Cup place.

    Things were pretty much the same last season, but did not prevent Apoel from taking the cup. The Nicosia side seem to thrive on adversity and respond very well when the odds are stacked against them.

    Perhaps this was why coach Andreas Mouskallis was not too harsh on his players after Sunday's 2-0 home defeat by Aek. He knows that when circumstances dictate it, they will raise their game.

    "In a way it (defeat) was understandable as the players had the cup clash on their minds and wanted to save their energy," said Mouskallis, who had suffered his first defeat since taking over as coach.

    Things could not be more different at Anorthosis, whose coach, Dusan Mitosevic, not only criticised his players after Saturday's 2-1 win over bottom club Ethnikos Ashias, he also fined them for lack of effort. The foreigners were fined £300 and Cypriots £100.

    Fining the players even when they have won is quite a novel way to eliminate complacency. Even the players admitted that the performance against Ashia was well below par.

    Anorthosis welcome back Pounas and Tomic who missed Saturday's game through suspension. Tomic is arguably their most important player as he holds the side together. Engomitis also played on Saturday after a very long absence, but was obvious not match fit and might not be used tonight.

    For Apoel, Fasouliotis and Timotheou are expected to return today after missing the weekend match. Soteriou and Ioannou though are doubtful.

    Ethnikos Achnas entertain neighbours Anagennisis Dherynia whom they beat 1- 0 in a league tie three weeks ago. In that match relegation-threatened Anagennisis were desperately unlucky not to take at least a point as they bombard the Ethnikos goal and wasted a host of good chances.

    Anagennisis will know that they cannot afford to do this against the most in-form side in the first division, who have shown that one chance is enough for them to win games. Over two legs it is difficult to see Anagennisis defeating the boys from Achna.

    Apollonas should have no trouble defeating a demoralised and struggling Salamina side whom they meet in Limassol today. The absences of Papavassiliou and Mladenovic could affect Apollonas, but Salamina's recent performances have not been inspiring.

    Having said this Salamina knocked out Omonia from the previous round and, like Apoel, could raise their game for the cup.

    Finally, the first division's bottom club Ethnikos Ashias have the opportunity to advance to the semi-finals for the first time in their history if they get a good result in the first leg against Apop in Paphos.

    [12] Ship's owners to sue Cyprus

    By Jean Christou

    THE OWNERS of a ship registered under the flag of Equatorial Guinea are to sue the Cyprus government for allegedly detaining their vessel illegally, lawyers said yesterday.

    Andreas Georghajis, one of the legal advisers representing the Pinner's owner, a Syrian with Cypriot citizenship, said he expected the suit would be filed "within the week".

    The Merchant Shipping Department impounded the Pinner last month after claiming that both its safety certificates and its flag-registration were not in order.

    The Cypriot authorities then announced that a possible international racket in ship certification had been uncovered, possibly involving up to 40 vessels trading under the Equatoguinean flag.

    But Georghajis said the Pinner's papers were in order and that she had been detained illegally. The story was given extensive coverage in Lloyds List on Monday.

    The Pinner's safety certificates were issued by a company called IRS, part of the International Shipping Bureau group owned by brothers Robert and Julian Padilla, Lloyds List said.

    The Pinner's flag-registration papers were issued by the Limassol-based Renage Cyprus, one of two overseas companies that were authorised to issue ship registrations under the flag of Equatorial Guinea.

    Both Renage and the second company, based in Miami and run by a man named Viktor Jimeno, had their authorisations suspended in July last year.

    "However, it seems Miami continued to register," Georghajis said. He added, however, that the Pinner's registration had been issued before the date in question and was therefore perfectly valid.

    Georghajis said Renage was then contacted on February 20 by the authorities of Equatorial Guinea questioning why the Miami-based company was still issuing registrations.

    He believes that Jimeno, who he said was the one continuing to issue registrations, might have misled the Cypriot authorities, leading them to impound the Pinner.

    Renage's US lawyers filed a lawsuit in December against Jimeno for alleged unfair competition, libel and slander by deliberately spreading false information about the status of ships registered by Renage under the flag of Equatorial Guinea.

    The Shipping Department for its part said it had allowed the Pinner to sail last week after switching its flag to Belize.

    Merchant Shipping Department Director Serghios Serghiou told the Cyprus Mail: "We communicated with the government of Equatorial Guinea and confirmed that the documents were not in order."

    "We are neither the police nor the fraud squad," Serghiou said. "Our part, if we have documents which are not in order, is to check with the flag state."

    However, Georghajis said the Department had actually spoken with the ambassador of Equatorial Guinea in the US, and not with the government itself.

    Yesterday Serghiou said he was "not quite sure" of the situation.

    He said the case was being dealt with by Captain Andreas Constantinou, the department's chief surveyor, who is currently in Egypt.

    Asked if the Pinner's papers were issued before last July, as claimed by the lawyers, Serghiou said "I think so".

    He said the ship had been impounded while the issue of the papers was being sorted out.

    [13] Kranidiotis arrives for talks on EU

    By Charlie Charalambous

    GREECE'S deputy foreign minister Yiannis Kranidiotis arrived yesterday to help Cyprus deal with new challenges on the road to Europe.

    He described the coming weeks - in which European Union accession and peace talks are on the agenda - as a "critical period" for the island.

    "Ahead are opportunities and challenges which need to be faced with vision, " he said after arriving at Larnaca airport.

    His six-day visit will prepare the ground for Cyprus's EU accession talks and President Clerides's visit to Athens on March 10.

    Nicosia and Athens must also tackle the thorny issue of Turkish Cypriot participation in EU membership negotiations.

    Voices within the union, including Britain as EU president, have urged that the Turkish Cypriots be accommodated.

    Kranidiotis said Cyprus's EU entry would "benefit the whole island, Greeks and Turkish Cypriots."

    He added: "The prospect of accession and a solution will strengthen stability, peace and co-operation in Cyprus. It will improve Greco-Turkish relations and assist Turkey's European prospects."

    When pressed on Turkish Cypriot participation, he said it would be welcome on two conditions. First, there must be no recognition of the Denktash regime; second, the Turkish Cypriot side must be in full agreement about joining the EU.

    Kranidiotis will begin discussing EU strategy with President Clerides early today.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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