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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-06-18

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


June 18 , 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Think-tank says military option could lead to a solution
  • [02] The calm after the firestorm
  • [03] De Soto visit dogged by fury in the north
  • [04] Diver fails in world record attempt
  • [05] CY losing market share

  • [01] Think-tank says military option could lead to a solution

    AN AMERICAN think-tank has suggested more emphasis to be placed on the military element of diplomacy so that security aspects of the Cyprus problem can be dealt with in a positive and conclusive manner, thereby helping in settling its political and social aspects.

    The Senior Policy Adviser of the Washington-based Western Policy Centre, retired Colonel Stephen Norton, asserted in a paper that a new security architecture concerning the Cyprus issue could be built now.

    "It could expand Greek-Turkish rapprochement to the military arena, and it could be the needed impetus to move forward on the political and other dimensions of the problem," Norton said.

    This architecture should focus on eliminating the indigenous Cypriot forces altogether, equalising Greek and Turkish units at brigade level -- 4,000 to 5,000 personnel -- and replacing Unficyp with European-NATO forces.

    All the forces on the island should be under a single commander from a Nato country, he said..

    The new architecture, Norton claimed, would eliminate on-island offensive military capability on both sides.

    It would make Greek and Turkish militaries part of the ongoing rapprochement process, and eliminate a major obstacle to full Turkish membership in the European Union.

    The military approach would also promote and ease the solution to the political, social, and economic aspects of the Cyprus problem, and provide the same level of protection for Turkish Cypriots that they now have.

    It would also give Greek Cypriots strategic security not enjoyed since 1974 when Turkey invaded the island.

    "If all sides agree on this issue, it would be a major step and the most positive for Cyprus since 1974," Norton said.

    "Knowing in advance that their security would be addressed, populations on both sides of the Green Line would be less sceptical and more supportive of building a future for all Cypriots." President Glafcos Clerides has repeatedly offered to disband the National Guard if the Turkish occupying forces left the island.

    Clerides has also suggested that a multinational force could be deployed on the island to oversee a potential solution.

    This would eliminate Turkish concerns about the security of the Turkish Cypriots, but despite these offers, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots insist that Turkish forces remain on the island.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    June 18 , 2000

    [02] The calm after the firestorm

    By George Psyllides

    AN EERIE calm prevailed yesterday in the southeast Troodos foothills after four days of raging fires reduced around 50 square kilometres of vegetation to ash and charred tree trunks. The blaze broke out between Tochni and Kalavassos on Tuesday.

    Firemen thought they had it under control later that day, only for it to erupt again on Wednesday, and fanned by strong winds it rapidly spread to Vavla, Layia and Ora.

    No one was injured during the blaze, although several soldiers were treated in Limassol hospital for smoke inhalation.

    Yesterday two small fires re-ignited in the Vavla area and near Ayios Minas monastery, but they were promptly put out by the emergency units still in the area.

    Senior Forestry Department Official George Pattichis said patrols would continue in the area in case of further outbreaks.

    Senior Fire Service Officer Andreas Vladimirou said the situation appeared to be calm and under control but it would be five days before they could be sure all was well.

    "Some old tree trunks are still burning inside, and that could be dangerous because of high temperatures and strong winds," he said.

    Yesterday President Glafcos Clerides thanked Greece and Israel for their support in helping to extinguish the blaze from land and air.

    "A gigantic effort was made by the services of the Republic but it was necessary to fight the fires from the air, so we asked Greece and Israel for help," he said.

    Water-bombing planes and helicopters from Greece, Israel, Cyprus, and the British Bases on the island fought the flames which destroyed 50 square kilometres of pine, olive, carob, and shrub-covered mountains in the Limassol and Larnaca districts.

    The fire was described as the worst ecological disaster to hit the island since the 1974 invasion.

    On Friday the government pledged to provide all necessary aid to those affected by the fire.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    June 18 , 2000

    [03] De Soto visit dogged by fury in the north

    By Jennie Matthew

    A NEWS conference due to have been held yesterday afternoon by the UN special envoy for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, was postponed amid speculation over severe difficulties with the Turkish Cypriot side.

    De Soto’s visit to the island, ahead of next month’s planned proximity talks in Geneva, has been dogged by fury in the north over the exclusion of an addendum to the renewal of the Unficyp mandate, which would have given Turkish Cypriot permission for the force’s continued presence on the island.

    The addendum was dropped on Wednesday after the government branded it as tantamount to recognition, and threatened to block the renewal altogether unless it was removed.

    De Soto arrived in Cyprus on Thursday evening, less than an hour after Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash announced that he could not rule out withdrawing from the proximity talks, due to start on July 5.

    The UN envoy and Denktash met for on Friday afternoon. No statement was issued afterwards. Denktash then met with party leaders in the north. Unconfirmed reports in the Turkish press said that De Soto tried in vain to console him over the addendum’s exclusion.

    De Soto had another meeting with Denktash at noon yesterday – just four hours before the news conference was due to begin. At 1pm Unficyp issued an announcement, postponing the conference until 2pm today.

    "Mr de Soto is to have some additional, previously unscheduled meetings and will give the press conference after he has completed his contacts in Cyprus," said the UN statement.

    De Soto was said to be in yet another meeting with Denktash yesterday afternoon.

    Foreign diplomats were not surprised by the sudden postponement, given the Turkish Cypriot reaction to the addendum being thrown out. Instead speculation was last night focused on the potential repercussions of the setback.

    "I really don’t know what he (Rauf Denktash) is thinking. He’s kept it in very close, but there is genuine anger there," said one official.

    While his long silence may elicit a measured response, the threat is that Denktash may pull out of the proximity talks altogether.

    Observers pointed out, however, that the current Turkish Cypriot anger was levelled against Unficyp and bore no direct relation to the Geneva talks on the Cyprus problem.

    But the root of the problem is the Turkish Cypriot demand for recognition which will also cloud the UN-sponsored proximity talks.

    Diplomatic sources told The Sunday Mail that the most likely attack would be a two-pronged offensive against the United Nations. "What they might well do is suspend the North Wind Patrol (to enclaved Greek Cypriots), which would really hit home on this side (the Republic) and they could also possibly deny UN personnel social access to the north."

    Diplomatic quarters also levelled some criticism against the government for its perceived heavy handing over the addendum clause, wanted so desperately by the Turkish Cypriots, yet in practice immaterial to the status quo in the Republic.

    "They could have been very statesmanlike. As it is they’ve really picked a battle, really used up an awful lot of credit, and I’m not sure they’re really going to get anything out of it", said one observer.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    June 18 , 2000

    [04] Diver fails in world record attempt

    SOUTH AFRICAN diver Trevor Hutton yesterday failed to break the world free diving record to the disappointment of about 100 supporters who had gathered in Limassol to cheer him on.

    Hutton, 29, and his 30-member support team had been practising for the 72- metre dive since last week.

    To break the world record, currently held by Moroccan Pierre Frolla, Hutton had to pass the 72-metre mark on official attempt days, June 16, 17, and 18.

    The event was watched on the beach on large television screens while a crowd of supporters also packed on a boat to be close to the action.

    During the dive, Hutton managed to reach the mark, but he blacked out six metres from the surface on the return.

    His girlfriend immediately plunged into the sea in her dress to save him but Hutton had already been rescued by a member of the support team.

    He recovered immediately to the delight of the crowd, but decided to scrap today's attempts.

    "The dive was very good and I felt very strong," Hutton said. "I could feel a lot of support and felt human beings were wishing me well."

    Hutton, who had managed to equal the record during one of the practice sessions, said he was thinking of trying again in October.

    The diver signed posters and thanked all those who had contributed to the record attempt.

    He also thanked the people of Cyprus whom he thought were "fantastic".

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    June 18 , 2000

    [05] CY losing market share

    By Jennie Matthew

    CYPRUS Airways has lost its market share of total air traffic to and from Cyprus, and its profit growth has stagnated, according to the company’s 1999 annual report. In 1999 the airline had 25.2 per cent of incoming and outgoing air traffic on the island, whereas in 1998 its share was 27.8 per cent.

    Eurocypria, CY’s sister company, also lost ground slightly, bringing the conglomerate’s share of all scheduled and chartered flights down by 3.2 per cent to 31.8 per cent.

    Eurocypria managed a pre-tax profit of £2.2 million in 1998, but clocked up only £1.3 million in 1999.

    Cyprus Airways’ profit also fell. What had been a £10 million consolidated profit in 1998 weighed in at only £8.8 million in 1999, buoyed up by £4.6 million’s worth of sold shares.

    The revenue earned from both charter and scheduled passengers fell by 1.7 per cent, from £93.6 million in 1998 to £92 million in 1999. The number of passengers flown by the company also dropped by 0.7 per cent over the same period.

    Dwindling performance was put down to increased competition and a "record" performance in 1998, bound to make any comparison seem less favourable.

    The report pointed out that passenger tallies for 1998 were bumped up by the flock of Cypriots who flew back to the island to vote in the elections. By discounting these passengers, the number of customers for 1999 would have been up by 0.5 per cent.

    But the real dent to the profit margin was the huge hike in operating costs -- up £10.3 million, from £117.1 million in 1998 to £127.4 million in 1999.

    CY staff costs, the company’s biggest outlay, also increased because of the 3.6 per cent rise in the cost of living and a one per cent pay increase granted after the renewal of the Collective Agreement. Maintenance and fuel costs also grew – the latter a reflection of the sharp hike in petroleum prices on the international market in the second half of 1999.

    But there were some areas of company growth. Income from freight and mail increased by 7.6 per cent – up to £8.5 million from a trailing £7.9 million in 1998.

    Cyprus Airways Duty-Free Shops Ltd was the best performing branch of the group. It grew by 20 per cent – up from £31.2 million in 1998 to a healthy £37.4 million.

    Eurocypria passenger revenue saw a 4.6 per cent increase and, although the total number of flights and passengers declined marginally, the number of flights operated to the UK and Ireland rose by 7.3 per cent.

    The Greek market, the group’s main server, grew for the fifth consecutive year, notching up to 29.7 per cent of all routes, from a 28.2 per cent share in 1998.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail


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