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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-10-26

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

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


Thursday, October 26, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Papapetrou to Denktash: you will not aggravate us
  • [02] Gaza like “a city of the dead”
  • [03] Rock bottom euro leads call for grant increase
  • [04] Unfit drivers watch out
  • [05] Compensation awarded on a peel
  • [06] Hands off our allowance, say unions
  • [07] The vaccines finally flu…
  • [08] Meningitis boy fights for his life
  • [09] Neophytou blames NIMBY factor for motorway opposition
  • [10] Speed cameras will have mistress erasure mode
  • [11] Bases seek to expel refugees
  • [12] Man killed
  • [13] Chrysostomos on course to quash ‘gay Bishop’ claims

  • [01] Papapetrou to Denktash: you will not aggravate us

    By Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS WILL do everything in its power to prevent Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash from creating tensions on the island ahead of the next round of proximity talks.

    Outlining the Government’s official reaction to recent aggressions by Turkish air fighters spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday pointed out that any Turkish intrusion into the free areas was a causus belli.

    Papapetrou also expressed government’s willingness to cooperate with Turkey in efforts to ease off tensions.

    Turkey was quick to react to Papapetrou’s statements, with Prime Minister Bullet Ecevit saying he would table the issue of Greek Cypriot radars locking on to two Turkish air fighters over Paphos military base at the talks, set to take place in Geneva next week,

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Jem said he agreed with everything Denktash had said about “the National Army’s provocative action” and Coast Defense Minister, Abdullah Tsai described the action as unfriendly.

    Papapetrou repeated his statement that the joint military exercise was aimed at reinforcing National Guard’s ability to defend the country considering the Turkish troops on the island, explaining that if Turkey accepted the government’s proposal to demilitarise the island there would not be any need for such exercises to take place.

    Meanwhile, UN envoy Alvaro de Soto met with two Turkish Cypriot party leaders in occupied Nicosia.

    After his meeting with National Unity Party leader and so-called Prime Minister of the Turkish Cypriot regime, Dervis Eroglu, de Soto said there was common ground for talks between the two sides

    Communal Liberation Party leader, Mustafa Akidji, said after his meeting with De Soto that he was amazed at Greek Cypriot side’s reaction to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan statement calling for political equality of the two communities in Cyprus.

    Akidji claimed that without political equality of the two communities, a permanent solution to the Cyprus problem cannot be achieved.

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [02] Gaza like “a city of the dead”

    By Athena Karsera

    THE CYPRIOT members of the Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres-MSF) yesterday described the carnage they saw during their recent trip to Gaza.

    Nicosia’s Makarios Hospital’s paediatric surgery unit chief Dr Eleni Theocharous, paediatrician Haris Stylianou and nurse Demetris Papasavvas flew to Israel last week.

    Theocharous explained how the doctors had their supplies kept in Israeli custody at the airport and often worked day and night to tend the many casualties.

    Financial aid from the Health Ministry and goods donated from pharmaceutical companies helped a lot, Theocharous said adding, “Gaza Strip was like a city of the dead.”

    She described the war as “illogical in the sense that the mostly very young Palestinians were throwing stones at Israeli soldiers who used guns to shoot back.”

    Helping Palestinian doctors with emergencies, the team saw 30 to 40 mostly teenage patients a day and carried out 30 complicated surgeries over their six-day visit.

    Outlining one of the more difficult procedures, Stylianou said they had operated on a nine-year-old boy who had been shot in the head but survived following surgery.

    Theocharous added that the plastic bullets used by the Israeli soldiers were more dangerous than they seemed “causing very serious injuries to all parts of the body.”

    According to the MSF web page, the organisation bolstered its medical teams and sent a charter of medical supplies to the region in response to requests from health authorities in the Palestinian territories.

    The MSF teams already present in the region provided support to medical centres in Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron, and Ramallah while medical supplies, primarily surgical, were also sent to Nablus and Hebron.

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [03] Rock bottom euro leads call for grant increase

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE EURO sank to a record low against the US dollar yesterday, exacerbating inflationary pressure and sparking new calls for the government to increase student grants for those studying in the US and the UK.

    Early morning trade plunged the euro to 82.88 cents, before a mini-rebound to the 83-cent mark. The Swiss-Franc also hit an 11-year low against the dollar, brought up with Sterling as safe currency, against the depleting euro and yen.

    Dollar hikes and oil prices have sent inflation soaring to 4.4 per cent this year, compared to a target rate of two per cent set by the European Central.

    While the shock inflicted by oil price increases has already been absorbed, if the dollar continues to climb, the Central Bank will be hard pushed to harmonise inflation in 2001, as promised.

    Although dollar dominance wreaks havoc on the country’s import bill from dollar-pegged economies, the biggest consumer nightmare continues to be the cost of higher education.

    Some 1,200 Cypriots are studying in the US at an annual cost of between £12, 000 to £15,000 sterling. The Fulbright Commission makes about 50 scholarships available each year, island-wide and all qualify for a government grant of £1,500.

    The Parents’ Association of Overseas Students (PAOS) have called on the government to fund a subsidy to meet 25 to 30 per cent of the fees, the amount given to those who stay in Cyprus or go to Greece.

    “I’m going to try to do more, but first we must call a general assembly of members and have elections,” PAOS president Panayiotis Papazachariou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    The meeting will meet in three weeks time.

    “If the current trend continues then it will create inflationary problems, which will have to be dealt with. But we have to look at a basket of influences, not just the performance of the dollar on the Cyprus economy alone. It will have to be assessed by our research department,” Marinos Lambrinides of the Central Bank told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    But the mood amongst Nicosia analysts yesterday was one of sit tight and wait. Long-term economic fundamentals are good. Undervalued at nearly 30 per cent now, the euro has been too weak for too long, for inevitable recovery not to be a beacon on the horizon.

    The million-dollar question is just “when”?

    In September, the US, Japan, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England brought huge numbers of euros to try and boost the sagging currency.

    Further intervention is unlikely. ECB President, Wim Duisenbuerg has made it clear there will be no intervention with war in the Middle East on the cards, and less than two weeks before the Presidential Elections, the US would be unwilling collaborators.

    But some economists predict the euro could fall as low as 80 cents without intervention.

    “Nobody knows when it will change; whether it will be one month after the elections or in the New Year, when the reconstructing of portfolios take place,” said Lambrinides.

    Nonetheless, the weak euro does bring advantages. Exports are increasingly competitive to the UK and the US. Tourism has been a major winner.

    The Cyprus Tourism Organisation is predicting a 10 per cent growth for 2000, as Brits, and increasingly Americans cash in on their currency power to holiday abroad.

    With the dollar so high and a GDP growth of 5 per cent in the US this year, the Euro-zone is seen as an increasingly attractive opening for US companies. The Cypriot economy has grown by 4.8 per cent since January – compared to an EU average of 3.7. Stockbrokers often point out that foreign institutional investment would stabilise the stock market crash. Cheap stocks and bonds could prove very enticing indeed.

    “It does make a lot of sense and has happened in the past when the dollar was strong. If I was a US entrepreneur, I would be interested,” one analyst said.

    On Tuesday, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said the government was “not panicked but worried” about the impacts on the economy, adding that if things continue it will only get worse.

    Cyprus is a minnow in the international markets. The best recourse now, can only be, wait and see.

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [04] Unfit drivers watch out

    By Melina Demetriou

    TAXI DRIVERS serving in the Limassol port district will have their license confiscated if they are seen to be unfit, announced Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday chairing a meeting with the Police, the Port Authority and the Road Transport Department.

    Averoff told the Cyprus Mail that there is a number of taxi drivers working in the Port area who behave badly and must be banned from working as taxi drivers.

    “There was even a case last week when one driver got into a fight with one of his colleagues and tried to run over him,” said the minister.

    “Some overcharge clients, others are dressed improperly and some drive dangerously,” complained Neophytou.

    “We are determined to put an end to this unacceptable behavior which blackens the image of all taxi drivers. In a couple of weeks, in cooperation with the Police and the License Authority we will ban those few ones from the streets. We are not kidding.”

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [05] Compensation awarded on a peel

    By Jennie Matthew

    A MAN has been awarded £8,000 compensation for slipping on a banana peel at the Nicosia racecourse, after the Supreme Court of Appeal unanimously threw out an appeal by the club.

    Andreas Nikitas took the racecourse to court for bodily harm after he stepped on a banana peel hidden underneath waste paper on the floor of the large betting room on March 8 1992.

    His injuries were so severe that he required surgery.

    The prosecution lawyer, Antonis Papantoniou, told the court the main betting room was filthy, with old newspapers, betting tickets and litter all over the floor.

    The three Supreme Court judges slammed the racecourse for misconduct and neglect, pointing out that it was the management’s “essential duty” to keep the area permanently clean. They advised them to invest in cleaners and proper equipment to do so.

    Nicosia District Court originally awarded Nikitas £8,000 compensation plus interest, but the racecourse appealed against the verdict.

    On Tuesday, Supreme Court Judges Frixos Nicolaides, Minos Kronides and Andreas Kramvis ordered the racecourse to pay compensation immediately.

    “The club has a duty to upkeep the race course for all its rightful visitors, whether these people are invited or members,” the verdict said.

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [06] Hands off our allowance, say unions

    By Athena Karsera

    ELEVEN unions have staged a three-hour work stoppage and mass marches in all towns in protest at government changes to the Cost of Living Allowance.

    More than 1,000 construction workers, government contract workers and local government employees in Nicosia marched to the Presidential Palace to hand in a petition listing their demands.

    Carrying banners saying ‘Hands off CoLA’ and ‘Leave CoLA alone’ accompanied by labour anthems blaring from a crackling PA system, the workers said they wanted CoLA to back at what it was before the government decided to stop taking into account consumer tax increases when calculating the amount.

    Only SEK and public servants’ union PASIDY did not take part in the strike and marches, saying they were concerned the action would spark off new talks on CoLA which might have an even less favourable outcome.

    Pambis Kiritsis, PEO Secretary-general, said: “We choose mass demonstrations almost a year and a half after the one-sided and, in our opinion, thoughtless government decision to erode CoLA, because we have been given no choice.”

    He said the government had gone ahead with the change in the knowledge that most of the unions were against it, and that not taking into account consumer tax rises had “already caused serious consequences on workers’ lifestyles, with CoLA depleted by two per cent so far”.

    Kiritsis said that the prime concern of the organisations taking part in yesterday’s protest was that the change was the beginning of the end for CoLA.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides said that SEK and PASIDY, two of the unions taking part in the negotiations with PEO, and the employers’ organisations had accepted the change.

    “President Clerides found a compromise with the unions that consumer taxes would not be taken into account but that Value Added Tax (VAT) would. This fact alone should assure the institution’s long-term welfare,” he added.

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [07] The vaccines finally flu…

    By Staff Reporter

    BRITISH AIRWAYS kept its promise yesterday to fly 20,000 doses of flu vaccine to Cyprus from London, where it had been languishing in cold storage, despite the threat of a major outbreak of two new strains of flu this winter.

    As soon as the vaccine’s manufacturer cultures the remaining 3,000 doses of the drug, they too will be flown to Cyprus, George Mavrogiorgos, accountant for the vaccine’s local importer, Xanthos-Lyssiotis & Sons of Nicosia, told the Cyprus Mail.

    Repeated broken-pledge delays in flying the drugs in had played havoc with Health Ministry plans to immunise as many ‘at risk’ people as soon as possible, after last year’s flu broke out on December 1, nearly a month earlier than usual.

    But ministry and importer complaints, and a phone call to London by Marianna Trokoudes, British Airways sales manager for Cyprus, cut the knot, and the vaccine arrived shortly after 2am yesterday in Larnaca, Mavrogiorgos said.

    Panayiota Kokkinou, Acting Director of Pharmaceutical Services at the Health Ministry, said the vaccine would be available throughout the island’s public hospital system by tomorrow.

    Those most in need of it include all people over 65, as well as those of any age with chronic bronchitis, asthma, chest infections, diabetes mellitus, cardiac problems, coronary artery disease or kidney failure, Dr Michalis Voniatis said.

    “Those who are immuno-compromised, in particular HIV-positive people” should also get flu shots with their treating doctor’s approval, he said.

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [08] Meningitis boy fights for his life

    By Staff Reporter

    A NICOSIA schoolboy was yesterday fighting for his life after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

    Classmates and friends of the child, who has not been publicly named, rushed to Nicosia General Hospital for tests after hearing about the boy’s illness on Tuesday. The patient was yesterday being kept in an isolation ward.

    Health Ministry officials informed the child’s Technical School classmates as soon as he was diagnosed and tests on them and his family members began immediately. The tests show that no one else has been afflicted.

    Chief Medical Officer Chrystalla Hadjianastassiou yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the 16-year-old’s illness was an isolated case. “We have taken all the necessary action, including antibiotic prophylactic measures for his family and friends,” she said.

    Hadjianastassiou said the boy was in a “serious but stable condition” which does not seem to be worsening. But she said it was too soon to say whether he would recover.

    “We always hope for a full recovery,” she said.

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [09] Neophytou blames NIMBY factor for motorway opposition

    By Jenny Curtis

    THE government says it will not rule out altering its plans to build a motorway between Paphos and Polis, after protests by residents living along the proposed route.

    More than 100 people have shown their support at a rally designed to raise awareness about the devastating affect they say the construction will have on the environment.

    The main objectors to the plans live in four villages – Armou, Konia, Mesa- Chorio and Marathounta, which are located along a line of what they say are unspoilt valleys lying within the Paphos green belt.

    One of their main complaints is that this particular section of road has yet to be officially approved, and that the government has failed to carry out either a feasibility study or an Environmental Impact Assessment.

    They also argue that it is not in accordance with EU procedures and that there has been an absence of consultation with local residents.

    Georgos Phedonos, from Armou, told the Cyprus Mail: “To justify a cheap section of motorway the road should take approximately 15,000 vehicles each day. In the case of an expensive one such as this, where the route cuts through hills and valleys, there should be 20,000. At the moment the level of traffic is estimated to be less than 500 – so how can they get away with spending so much money on a section currently taking so few cars?”

    Averof Neophytou, Minister of Communications and Works, insists nothing has been finalised as yet, and that the protestors’ objections will be taken into account.

    “We will consider everything local residents are saying and their views will have an influence on our final plan,” he said. “It will be some time before we have all the information we need and there are many other factors to consider, some of which are environmental and others economic.”

    But Neophytou also points out whichever route they choose someone will be upset.

    “We are considering people’s concerns, but we do need a highway. Changes to the infrastructure always prompt resistance, but I am afraid to an extent it’s a classic case of NIMBY – not in my back yard.”

    Protesters say upgrading the road between Paphos and Polis would cost many millions less than building a completely new motorway, as well as taking less time and causing less disturbance to residents.

    They also argue the new section will not improve the route for Paphos-bound traffic and claim it could lead to the degeneration of the business sector in some areas of the town, as the new route would encourage traffic to by- pass it.

    Neophytou insists the new highway must go ahead, but says he is confident the department will find ways to achieve social approval, and promises they will consider alternative proposals.

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [10] Speed cameras will have mistress erasure mode

    By Athena Karsera

    WHILE speed cameras may get you into court it shouldn’t be for a divorce if you’re caught speeding while under the influence of adultery -- since the photographic evidence will be electronically altered to look as if the driver was alone.

    Police Traffic Branch chief George Voutounos has told the House Communications Committee that computer technology will be used to remove any front-seat passenger’s presence from the photographs.

    The Council of Ministers on December 22 last year approved a bill for the installation of the cameras. At the time some members of the Cabinet and House expressed half-joking concern that the cameras might catch out drivers with their mistresses in the car.

    But the ‘erasure’ compromise option seems to have gone down well with the deputies. One Committee member, who preferred to remain nameless, joked yesterday: “I know some of my colleagues will be relieved -- just don’t tell them I told you that.”

    Accepting Voutounos’ proposal on Tuesday, the Committee also heard that the Traffic Branch had already been testing the cameras with good results.

    The system, already widely employed overseas, photographs vehicles speeding past specific concealed points or going through red lights.

    Tickets and a photograph of the car committing the offence are sent to its owner within 45 days and the offender is then given the choice of paying a fine or taking the matter to court.

    While the system’s introduction is expected to be approved by the House Plenum shortly, it will only be introduced at the start of 2002 since the 2001 Budget has not provided for its costs.

    Voutounos, meanwhile, is confident the new system will have an impact on dangerous drivers: “You vote in the law and leave the rest to us,” he told the deputies.

    A Traffic Branch spokemsan told the Cyprus Mail yesterday: “We can’t be everywhere, but at least the presence of these cameras will make people think twice before committing an offence.”

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [11] Bases seek to expel refugees

    By Jenny Curtis

    DEPORTATION orders for 33 illegal immigrants costing British forces an annual six-figure sum to support are being sought by military authorities.

    “The Bases are not an appropriate place for this sort of community but we are committed to dealing with problems in a humane way and treating members in accordance with their rights,” Administrative Secretary for the SBAs responsible for the policy of handling boat people, Gavin Barlow, says.

    The immigrants currently live in Richmond Village in Dhekelia, and with 19 refugees have established a temporary community. Some have mobile phones, others have cars and a small school is now in operation for the children. They have been held on the island for the past two years.

    They are all that remain from the 75 people who landed at Akrotori in October 1998, on a boat which was believed to have travelled to Cyprus from Lebanon. The British forces moved them to a makeshift detention camp at Episkopi Garrison, from where those with family connections in parts of Europe left to relocate in other countries.

    He explains that many of the boat people claim to be Iraqis or Iraqi Kurds, but the fact that the life they had left behind was very unpleasant and impoverished and that they were discriminated against, was not a strong enough reason to grant refugee status. To achieve this they must show a well-founded fear of persecution. However Barlow admits simply because many of them left home illegally it is enough to put them at risk.

    The refugees and illegal immigrants are currently receiving rent- free accommodation, free utilities and a welfare allowance comparable to what they would receive in the Republic. A full-time teacher has been employed by the British to educate the ten children of school age and the forces say the total cost of supporting them is a six-figure sum annually.

    The situation, Barlow confesses is far from ideal, “We are doing our best to deport the illegal immigrants but at the moment there’s nowhere else to put them. We had never envisaged running a welfare system and it has been difficult to make the special arrangements we have had to make.”

    He insists the vast majority of the boat people would prefer to be elsewhere, with all 33 remaining in Cyprus illegally. One or two of the refugees have applied for entry to the UK.

    The degree to which they’re settled depends on the individual, but a lot have aspirations to live within Europe. A considerable number with relatives in Germany and Holland were either deported there or made their own way independently.

    Barlow is however adamant the British should not be seen as a pushover. “I think our response alone indicates we are anything but a soft touch – after all most were kept in detention for a very long period of time. Those not granted refugee status were only released this May, and even those who were, were kept there for the best part of a year.”

    He adds that the detention experience was far from pleasant. A block of junior ranks accommodation was used, with a few extra facilities and a tall wire fence was placed around it. The refugees were only allowed out for supervised activities from time to time and he describes the security level as being higher than that in an open prison.

    The refugees have created a further problem for the military here who had planned to demolish Richmond Village before the their arrival. The houses there were brought over from Suez in 1957, and are by no means luxury accommodation.

    However, Barlow admits they are unable to set a date for the refugees’ departure but insists the British are doing their best to resolve the situation. “We’re not ignoring the problem and are currently trying to organise the safe deportation of all the illegal immigrants to Lebanon, as the government in the Republic managed to do recently with the boat people who landed in Paphos. We are at a difficult stage – and yes, I would say those granted refugee status, will remain in Dhekelia for the foreseeable future.”

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [12] Man killed

    By Staff Reporter

    A 73-YEAR-OLD Arediou villager was knocked over and killed by a car just outside his village at dawn yesterday, police reported.

    Petros Thoma had been trying to cross the main road through the Nicosia area village when he was run over.

    The driver of the car was breathalysed and found to be sober. Police are investigating the death.

    Thursday, October 26, 2000

    [13] Chrysostomos on course to quash ‘gay Bishop’ claims

    By Martin Hellicar

    HAVING overseen the suspension of the principal detractor, Archbishop Chrysostomos yesterday moved to quash completely the gay allegations plaguing Bishop Athanassios of Limassol and rocking the Church for the past few months.

    On Tuesday, after a marathon -- and reportedly stormy -- session, the Holy Synod, chaired by Chrysostomos, indefinitely suspended Archimandrite Constantinides of Limassol, the cleric who has led a highly public campaign to have Athanassios ousted for being a homosexual.

    Yesterday, the Archbishop said a Major Holy Synod – made up of local Bishops plus a representation for their peers from the wider Orthodox Church – would be called to examine the claims against Athanassios “by the end of the month”.

    Archbishop Chrysostomos - who has publicly backed Athanassios’s claims that the gay allegations are fabricated - hopes the Major Synod will clear the Limassol Bishop. The Synod is evidently not convinced of Athanassios’s innocence, having ordered a lengthy probe into the claims which last month led to the Limassol Bishop being called to answer before a Church committee of inquiry.

    Reports yesterday suggested the Archbishop had had a hard time convincing the Synod to suspend Constantinides and was having an even more difficult time persuading Bishops to sanction the Major Synod idea.

    His response to these reports was blunt. “It is the Archbishop’s right to call a Major Holy Synod,” he said, adding that only such a body could take decisions concerning Bishops.

    Chrysostomos said the inquiry into Athanassios’ alleged misdemeanours would submit its report to the Synod “by the end of the week”.

    The Archbishop also clarified why Constantinides had been suspended, information not made public after Tuesday’s all-day Synod meeting.

    “Because he was accusing Bishops and not operating properly,” Chrysostomos said. He added that the Synod had found claims that Constantinides had fathered the two illegitimate children of his former shop worker to be true. “It could have been a defrocking,” the Church leader added.

    Constantinides denies having had an affair with his employee.

    The shamed archimandrite yesterday insisted he had no idea why he had been suspended. But he also said the punishment suited him just fine as he had been unhappy serving under Athanassios.

    “It kind of suits me because it gets me out of a tight spot, what with not wanting to practise under a Bishop I do not have good relations with,” the cleric said. Athanassios had already temporarily suspended Constantinides before the Synod stepped in.

    “I totally respect the Synod’s decision,” he added, saying it was every cleric’s duty to respect the Church’s governing body.

    On Monday, Constantinides had threatened to “reveal all” about two men who had withdrawn testimonies against Athanassios they made before the church probe into the gay claims.

    The two witnesses said they had been bribed to say they had been the Bishop’s lovers. The bribery claims are the subject of a police investigation.

    Yesterday, the archimandrite said he would not be exposing the “repentant” witnesses after all, at least not for the time being, because police investigators had unearthed fresh evidence concerning one of the men. He did not say what this evidence was.

    The lurid saga of the homosexuality allegations has further reduced the public standing of a local church already struggling for popular approval.

    Yesterday, the leader of main opposition party AKEL, Demetris Christofias, expressed his disgust at the Church’s “sorry state”.

    “I would have hoped, at these times when our society is suffering from serious degradation, that Bishops would be working hard on spiritual matters, but instead we see only infighting. It is shameful; I will not say more because I would have to get a bit ‘heavy’,” Christofias added.

    Constantinides’ claims against the popular Limassol Bishop have included repeatedly accusing him of turning the Limassol Bishopric into a “den of homosexuals”.

    The banished archimandrite’s biggest ally and backer has been the Bishop of Paphos, Chrysostomos. The Paphos Bishop has spared no blushes with the lurid claims of “sexual deviancy” he has aimed at Athansios.

    Church observers suggest Chrysostomos of Paphos is trying to undermine Athanassios because the Limassol man has ousted him from the position of favourite to succeed the Archbishop.

    The Paphos Bishop first called Athanassios a homosexual when he opposed his candidacy for the Limassol seat two years ago.


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