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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-02-26

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, February 26, 1998


  • [01] Cabinet bows out
  • [02] Diko crisis deepens
  • [03] Pressure is on for EU formula on Turkish Cypriots
  • [04] Officials blame 'misleading figures' in maths fiasco
  • [05] No early release for jailed baby
  • [06] Denktash defends Ledra Palace 'visa' measures
  • [07] Praying for rain
  • [08] Uproar as paper names politicians in passport row
  • [09] Police considers reducing politicians' guards
  • [10] Paphos man sues developers
  • [11] State grant for widow of drowned fisherman
  • [12] Police hunt armed bank robbers
  • [13] New 40-tank arms deal reported
  • [14] Boy 'chained to pole for wanting to skip school'
  • [15] Anorthosis take slender lead over cup holders

  • [01] Cabinet bows out

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday bade farewell to his ministers as speculation ran rife on who would make up the new government which takes office on Saturday.

    As ministers left the presidential palace after the last meeting of the current Council of Ministers, the consensus was that four, perhaps five, would be back on Saturday to be sworn in to the new cabinet.

    Barring last minute surprises, four of the ministers - Yiannakis Cassoulides (Foreign Affairs), Christodoulos Christodoulou (Finance), Leontios Ierodiaconou (Communications) and Nicos Koshis (Public Order), will be in the government which Clerides will announce today.

    Government spokesman Manolis Christofides is expected to retain a role - probably in a new post as head of a revamped office to the presidency.

    Two ministries will go to Diko rebels. In all likelihood Dinos Michaelides will return to the Interior Ministry and Andreas Moushiouttas to the Labour Ministry - portfolios they resigned when Diko left the government in November.

    United Democrats' general secretary Costas Themistocleous is expected to go to the Agriculture Ministry. Liberal party president Nicos Rolandis is tipped to take over the Ministry of Commerce and Industry - representing Disy with which his party has agreed to merge.

    Christos Stylianides of the movement for political renewal is seen as replacing Christofides as government spokesman.

    Christos Solomis, a former Disy deputy, could retain the Health Ministry - unless Clerides gives a cabinet post to New Horizons president Nicos Koutsou. Alternatively, Koutsou may be offered one of the new positions of undersecretary - for which legal advice is still pending from Attorney- general Alecos Markides. If Markides gives the green light, special legislation will be pushed through the House of Representatives - a process likely to take a few weeks.

    The Defence Ministry is expected to go to Edek, most probably to the party's first vice president Yiannakis Omirou, although its final decision was due to be ratified by the party last night.

    It was Edek's meeting that was holding up announcement of the new government. Informed sources said the Education Ministry could also go to the socialist party, if it asks for it; alternatively it would go to someone acceptable to Disy, Edek and Archbishop Chrysostomos.

    Officially the government yesterday kept its lips sealed. Government spokesman Manolis Christofides said the president, at yesterday's last meeting of the cabinet, had thanked all the ministers for their work. The ministers expressed their gratitude for the confidence Clerides had shown in them and placed their resignations at the disposal of the president.

    Asked whether Clerides had informed the ministers of his intentions as to the make-up of the government, Christofides said there had been no opportunity "for an exchange of views" on this issue during the meeting.

    "No-one has been informed and the situation is pending," the spokesman said. But he said that in all likelihood the new government would be announced today.

    [02] Diko crisis deepens

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A CALL by Diko's parliamentary team for consensus and unity within the divided party has fallen on deaf ears and caused a new rift.

    Diko deputies expressed "shock" and "surprise" yesterday after their general-secretary Stathis Kittis revealed he had not conveyed their written appeal for unity to party chief Spyros Kyprianou.

    In a bold initiative, the parliamentary party agreed on a statement which appealed for unity and voiced certain opinions about Diko's current crisis.

    It was understood this document would be submitted to Kyprianou by Kittis.

    But Kittis went on CyBC radio yesterday to confess he had not shown Kyprianou the document, arguing the content was not a true reflection of what was said or even a final draft.

    "The written proposal did not reflect what was agreed on or at least what I understood to be agreed on at the time," said Kittis.

    But parliamentary spokesman Tassos Papadopoulos said the proposals put down had been decided upon collectively.

    "I wrote down the proposals accurately and there has been no response or suggestion by my colleagues that these views were incorrect."

    Papadopoulos said the feeling within the party now was that the expulsions issue was over, but that the Diko leadership had not begun to address its failure in the presidential elections and apportion blame where necessary.

    Kittis rejected suggestions the Diko leadership might be more concerned about a witch-hunt than a serious discussion on where things went wrong.

    Diko deputy Marios Matsakis also expressed his dismay at the parliamentary group being snubbed.

    "It is unacceptable, because at the meeting everybody understood the issues and agreed on the content."

    He said the parliamentary party was being punished for trying to reduce the climate of tension at a time when the Diko leadership should be taking responsibility for a "heavy defeat".

    "We are now told over the radio that this viewpoint was not conveyed to the party leader, which indicates there is a problem," said Matsakis.

    The Diko general secretary was meanwhile involved in another damage limitation exercise by having to deny the party was trying to oust rebel deputies Alexis Galanos and Katerina Pantelidou from their relevant House committees.

    Kittis said it was up to the House to decide, as a matter of course, because the two deputies no longer officially represented Diko.

    [03] Pressure is on for EU formula on Turkish Cypriots

    By Martin Hellicar

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday admitted the government was facing strong pressure from the EU to include Turkish Cypriots in accession talks.

    "I do not feel I am in a dry-cleaners press... but it must be obvious to you that there is an intense desire on the part of the EU to see Turkish Cypriots in the negotiating team," Cassoulides told journalists at a joint press conference with visiting Greek deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis.

    Formulating a proposal for Turkish Cypriot participation in EU accession talks - set to start on March 31 - is high on the agenda during Kranidiotis's six-day visit.

    Neither Kranidiotis nor Cassoulides were giving anything away about what a proposal might include.

    "I believe Turkish Cypriot participation can be substantive and particularly useful. But, for their part, Turkish Cypriots must work with good faith towards a mutually beneficial goal in a procedure that will respect them but which they cannot undermine," Kranidiotis said.

    He repeated the Greek and Cypriot position that Turkish Cypriot participation must not in any way imply recognition of the occupation regime.

    The two ministers declined to comment on reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had called on President Clerides to make an offer which bears in mind the "legitimate desire" of Turkish Cypriots to be treated as political equals.

    Greek papers on Tuesday leaked what they said was a confidential letter from Blair to Clerides. Cassoulides said it would not be "correct" to comment on a document that should never have been publicised.

    According to the leaked letter, Blair also asked Clerides to cancel the order for Russian-made S-300 ground-to-air missiles.

    Cassoulides did not comment on this, but did say the US had never officially asked Cyprus to cancel the order.

    "There was no demarche to our consul in Washington," he said in response to journalists' suggestions there had been. Kranidiotis backed up Cassoulides: "Our information is there is no chance the US made representations."

    "It is well-known the British and Americans disagree with the deployment of the S-300s, they tell us this and we tell them our position," Kranidiotis said. He said this position was that Cyprus had a right to defend itself.

    Turkey has threatened a military strike against the missiles should they arrive.

    "As far as I know the Americans have said they do not approve of the Turks striking if the missiles are delivered," Kranidiotis said.

    The missiles are due for delivery in September.

    Kranidiotis, who met with Clerides earlier yesterday, said the Greek and Cypriot governments had decided "tactics and strategy" for the "highly crucial" Cyprus problem developments ahead. He listed these developments as international initiatives, EU accession and UN-led negotiations, but declined to detail what decisions had been taken.

    [04] Officials blame 'misleading figures' in maths fiasco

    By Andrew Adamides

    EDUCATION officials yesterday hit back at the international study which ranked the island's secondary pupils among the world's worst in maths and science.

    The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) placed Cyprus second from bottom, above only South Africa.

    Andreas Skotinos, First Education Officer of the Secondary Education department, described the figures as "misleading".

    He cited Cyprus' position in individual parts of the overall study, such as the advanced maths section, where it was placed among the countries out- performing the international average. It was necessary to consider the whole report, he said, "as the highlights are misleading".

    However, Skotinos admitted that "major efforts have to be made on the weaker areas". He added, though, that this would be done as part of the government's continuing drive to improve education, rather than as a knee- jerk reaction to the study's findings.

    The final official position on the findings has not yet been decided, as the government's copy of the report has not yet arrived. No concrete decisions will be made until it has been studied, Skotinos concluded.

    In the United States, reaction to American pupils' low placing - just two ahead of Cyprus - has been swift, with President Clinton calling into question the quality of teaching being offered; the US Education Secretary condemned students' performance as "unacceptable", and called for pupils to be made to aspire to higher standards.

    Some 500,000 Lyceum-level students participated in the study, taking an exam on various maths and science topics in 1995. The resulting league table was topped by students from Sweden and the Netherlands.

    Cyprus came bottom in two previous TIMSS studies, of Gymnasium-level students in 1996 and primary level pupils in 1997.

    [05] No early release for jailed baby

    A MOTHER imprisoned with her one-month-old baby earlier this week has failed in her attempt to secure a presidential pardon.

    In rejecting her appeal yesterday afternoon, Attorney-general Alecos Markides stated that imprisonment did not represent a risk for the infant. He also noted that mother Maria Sotiriadou, 27, was "heavily pregnant" when she carried out the last of 73 burglaries she and her partner were convicted for.

    Sotiriadou and the baby's father, 23-year-old Avraam Kyriacou, were sentenced to two years' imprisonment on Friday. Mother and baby were given a room of their own in the women's wing of Nicosia Central Prisons. Prison director George Anastassiades said at the time it was the first time in his seven years in the post that a child had accompanied its mother to jail.

    Sotiriadou's lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou appealed for a pardon on humanitarian grounds shortly after the imprisonment.

    Government spokesman Manolis Christofides said earlier yesterday that President Clerides would be granting a number of pardons to mark his recent re-election. But Sotiriadou is not to be one of the lucky ones.

    "The conditions of incarceration of the mother and the care both she and the infant will receive from prison officials are such that there is no cause for concern for the infant," Markides stated in a letter to Efstathiou released yesterday.

    He added that in sentencing the mother, the Assizes noted that she had coerced her partner into a spate of burglaries which netted 31,000.

    "In your letter concerning the granting of a pardon there is no mention of what Sotiriadou proposes to do to compensate her victims," Markides added.

    "In view of all the above I have arrived at the decision not to advise the president to grant a pardon," Markides concluded.

    [06] Denktash defends Ledra Palace 'visa' measures

    SIR DAVID Hannay arrives in Cyprus today, but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is adamantly insisting he will not meet him in protest at London's decision to impose visas for Turkish Cypriots travelling on his regime's documents.

    Denktash's remarks were carried by the Turkish Cypriot press yesterday. The report coincided with fresh statements by Denktash to the Ankara Turkish Daily News defending a recent decision to impose visa restrictions at the Ledra Palace checkpoint in order to show there are two states on the island.

    According to the paper, foreign diplomats in Nicosia have been pressing Denktash to lift the restrictions, but were told Greek Cypriots must first concede that his breakaway state is equal to theirs.

    "We are ready to strike an agreement with the Greek Cypriot administration on entries and exits from one country to the other," Denktash said.

    This is contingent on the Cyprus government lifting restrictions on tourists and diplomats who enter through the Turkish-occupied north and wish to cross south. It would also entail the government allowing tourists to stay in the north, he said.

    Denktash also said he would not meet any British official until London calls off visa requirements, recently imposed on Turkish Cypriots travelling to Britain.

    He said that there were two equal communities in Cyprus, and to demand visas from one and not the other meant not recognising this equality.

    London imposed the measure after a large number of Turkish Cypriots applying for asylum were found to be bogus claims.

    [07] Praying for rain

    By Andrew Adamides

    CONGREGATIONS at churches across the country are to pray for rain on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to bring to an end to the three-year drought.

    According to church spokesmen, Archbishop Chrysostomos has been deluged with requests for rain-making prayers as the island braces itself for a summer of sever water shortages.

    Rainfall has decreased drastically over the past three years, with the result that this February could go down as the second driest this century.

    Meteorological Department director Cleanthis Philaniotis said yesterday that average rainfall this month has been 15 millimetres, just 18 per cent of the normal 82, an amount he described as "minimal".

    The outlook is not good, Philaniotis added, with only a slight possibility of isolated showers on Friday and Saturday.

    "This is one occasion," he said, "when we hope our weather forecasts will be wrong."

    Last time the Archbishop prayed for rain, in January last year, his entreaties were answered with a downpour.

    Meanwhile, environmentalists have attacked the government over the Larnaca desalination plant - designed to address the island's chronic water shortage - and the planning of a second plant.

    "With proper water conservation we can save as much as these plants produce, " said Green party spokeswoman Evi Theopemptou.

    The Greens claims that the desalination plant is "taking the easy way out" and contributes to global warming. They have also said the water distribution system is inefficient, claiming it leaks up to 25 per cent of its water, and criticised the government for over-subsidising agriculture and encouraging golf courses which require enormous amounts of water.

    The government, however, has hit back, with Water Development department chief Lakis Christodoulou claiming desalination would "solve Cyprus' water problem for the foreseeable future".

    He added the desalination plant's contributions to global warming were minimal, and said using alternative forms of energy to power the plant was "unrealistic", as the technology did not yet exist to make it efficient.

    [08] Uproar as paper names politicians in passport row

    SEVERAL prominent Turkish Cypriot politicians said yesterday they would sue the mass-circulation daily newspaper Kibris for claiming they held Cyprus Republic passports.

    Kibris reported yesterday that 13 'deputies' - three of them 'ministers' - were among hundreds of Turkish Cypriots who had obtained Cyprus Republic passports after applying to authorities in the free areas, London and other European capitals.

    The paper based its claims on what it said was a top secret intelligence report it had obtained, which named those involved and listed the passport numbers of all but two.

    Those named included the 'ministers' of the Economy, of Public Works and of Education, as well as prominent members of both governing and opposition parties, including former Republican Turkish Party leader Ozker Ozgur, Communal Liberation Party leader Mustafa Akinci and Democratic Party secretary-general Onur Borman.

    Reports from the north yesterday said the allegations had caused an uproar; all those named by the paper have publicly denied the claims and are threatening legal action against Kibris.

    [09] Police considers reducing politicians' guards

    "PROBLEMATIC" members of the police force may be offered incentives to retire early, Police chief Panicos Hadjiloizou said yesterday.

    Speaking during a tour of inspection of Nicosia police headquarters, Hadjiloizou said some officers were finding it "hard to adapt" as the force sought to revamp itself.

    "We have a number in our force who have problems of health or are unable to perform satisfactorily," he said. He said ways of relieving them of their duties were being studied.

    Frequent charges of corruption and ineptitude have forced the police to promise an overhaul of personnel.

    The police chief also said a reduction in the size of politicians' personal guards was being considered, and Nicosia police might be re-housed at national police headquarters.

    [10] Paphos man sues developers

    A PAPHOS man is suing Aristo Developers for 400,000, claiming he never received title deeds for property the company sold him six years ago.

    Christakis Georgiou says he bought a house and two shops in Kato Paphos from Aristo in 1992, but when he went to sell them he found he had no title deeds.

    "I asked them for the deeds and they said it would take a month, but that was a year ago," Georgiou said yesterday.

    He said the house and two shops cost him just under 180,000 and he was now taking the developers to court to seek compensation and damages.

    [11] State grant for widow of drowned fisherman

    THE WIDOW of Loizos Askanis, Astero, will receive 10,000 state aid in recognition of his altruism, government spokesman Manolis Christofides said yesterday.

    Askanis, a forty-year-old civil engineer was drowned after a boating accident off Paphos last year, in which 12-year-old Marios Kyriakou drowned while accompanying his father and Askanis on a late night

    Christofides said the grant was in recognition of the fact that Askanis had lost his life trying to save others.

    His widow has since been employed by Yeroskipou municipality as a sign of the respect he had in the community. The state had earlier given the family 20,000 in humanitarian aid. The couple have two children aged two and four.

    [12] Police hunt armed bank robbers

    By Aline Davidian

    POLICE are hunting for two armed and masked robbers who stole 33,680 from a Nicosia bank yesterday and escaped on a powerful motorbike.

    A police helicopter and plane from the Police Air Wing at Larnaca were used in the search for the men who raided

    the Strovolos branch of the Bank of Cyprus on Stavrou Street at 10.40am.

    Two armed and hooded men in dark tracksuits entered the bank and demanded money from a cashier. Witnesses said one of them hit the cashier when she at first refused to hand over the money, and the second man fired a warning shot into the air.

    Police said the man who fired the shot then picked up the empty shell case from the ground, removing ballistic evidence which might have identified the gun, believed to be a nine millimetre calibre pistol.

    The robbers put the cash in blue and green travel bags and made off on a motorbike with 33,680 - 16,000 of which they stole from a woman in the bank to deposit the proceeds of selling her flat.

    Unconfirmed reports suggest both men were Greek Cypriots, and one spoke broken English.

    Police believe one of the men to be a powerfully built 30-year-old with blue eyes who is about 1.80 metres tall.

    The other is described as a lightly built 27-year-old of about the same height.

    Loizos Hadjicostis, general-secretary of the bank employees' union Etyk, yesterday urged all banks to install security cameras as a deterrent.

    [13] New 40-tank arms deal reported

    A RUSSIAN news agency reported yesterday that Cyprus has signed a $20 million deal to buy 40 new T-80U tanks from an arms factory in the Siberian city of Omsk.

    There was no comment on the report from the government.

    According to the RIA news agency, the deal was disclosed by the speaker of the Omsk national assembly, Vladimir Varnavsky. He reportedly said the factory had already received a down payment of $3 million for the tanks.

    The National Guard already has Russian-made T-80U tanks and BMP-3 armoured vehicles in its arsenal.

    Any new arms deal would heighten tensions in Cyprus, with delivery of Russian-made S-300 missiles set for late summer. The government and Russia have insisted the missiles will arrive despite threats of military strikes against them by Turkey and opposition to the deal from the US and Britain.

    [14] Boy 'chained to pole for wanting to skip school'

    By Martin Hellicar

    A 44-YEAR-OLD Nicosia man attacked two policemen who went to his home to ask him to unchain his son from an electricity pole, police said yesterday.

    At about 10.45pm on Tuesday, police found a 14-year-old boy manacled to a pole on Elpidos Street in Anthoupolis. The youth told police his father had chained him to the pole because he had said he would not go to school the next day.

    Two officers then visited the home of the father, Andreas Vikentiou, to tell him to release his son. Vikentiou reportedly then attacked one of the officers. His 17-year-old son joined in the attack, police said.

    Father and son were apprehended and taken to the local police station, where they complained they had been hit by the arresting officers, police said.

    Both were taken to Nicosia general hospital, where the son was given first aid and the father was kept in for treatment. One of the officers was also treated.

    Meanwhile, the younger son was untied from the electricity pole.

    Vikentiou and his older son were yesterday charged with assaulting police officers and released.

    [15] Anorthosis take slender lead over cup holders

    By George Christou

    A VESCO Michailovic goal, early in the second half, gave Anorthosis a 1-0 home victory over holders Apoel in a Coca-Cola cup quarter-final, first leg tie last night.

    None of the teams involved in yesterday's quarter-final matches, which produced three missed penalties, could feel confident about advancing to the semis as the results left all ties wide open.

    Apollonas were spared a major embarrassment thanks to Spoliaric's injury- time equaliser, from the penalty spot, which earned them a home 1-1 draw against nine-man Salamina.

    In Paphos, Apop and Ethnikos Ashias missed a penalty each, as the home side won 1-0. Finally, in Achna, Ethnikos were held to a 1-1 draw by Anagennisis, as another penalty kick was wasted.

    Holders Apoel must have been well-pleased with their first half performance against Anorthosis at Antonis Papadopoulos. They closed down the midfield and kept the home players, who never threatened, at a safe distance from Marangos' goal.

    The one and only chance of the goalless first half, fell to Hadjiloucas, but his shot from a difficult angle was stopped by Anorthosis keeper Panayiotou.

    The second half was a different story, with Anorthosis throwing everything at the visitors from the word go. Within three minutes Marangos had blocked shots by Melanarkitis and Okkas. Next, Krismarevic beat Marangos but Christodoulou cleared the ball off the line.

    The breakthrough came 10 minutes into the second half, when Okkas headed the ball against the post and Vesco Michailovic was on hand to slot it into the net of his former club. Apoel seemed content avoiding conceding another goal.

    Salamina, reduced to nine men, looked to be heading for the upset of the quarter-finals as they led Apollonas 1-0 at the completion of the 90 minutes. Two minutes into injury-time, Kovasevic, inexplicably, handled the ball inside the area and Spoliaric got the equaliser from the spot.

    Salamina, who had taken the lead midway through the first half, after Ioannides' shot was deflected past Michael, were down to 10 men after just 35 minutes. Keeper Ioannou was sent off for bringing down Tsolakis on the edge of the area. Seven minutes from time, Nicos Nicolaou also received his marching orders for a second yellow card offence.

    Although most of the second half was played in the Salamina half of the field, their players defended resolutely. The away goal still give hopes to Salamina, who knocked out Omonia in the previous round.

    In Paphos, Radmilo Michailovic headed Apop in front in the 28th minute, but Ashia had the chance to level when Pavlides was brought down by Apop keeper Papaioannou, on the stroke of half-time. Pavlides' spot-kick went wide.

    Goalie Ioannou kept alive Ashia's hopes of reaching the semi-finals for the first time, saving a penalty kick by Radmilo early in the second half.

    Finally, a well struck goal by Nicos Nicolaou in the 65th minute earned Anagennisis a 1-1 draw at Achna. Mousic had put the home side in front in the first half and could have extended Achna's lead, but aimed the post from a penalty kick.

    Second leg ties will be played on March 11.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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