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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-19

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

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


Thursday, December 19, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Turkey spurns EU plan
  • [02] Cassoulides: Security Council statement will have no bearing on EU
  • [03] Bouncing cheques law postponed
  • [04] Tester kits so far show no drug use in schools
  • [05] Presidentials back to the fore amid Cyprus problem uncertainty
  • [06] Pipeline plans abandoned in favour of shipping natural gas
  • [07] Salt Lake fears over sewage pipe

  • [01] Turkey spurns EU plan

    By George Psyllides

    THE TURKISH Foreign Ministry said yesterday it did not accept the European Union decision to invite Cyprus to join the bloc, issued last week at the Copenhagen Summit.

    In a written statement, the ministry said Cyprus was being accepted as an EU member through the "unilateral application of the Greek Cypriot administration" and that under that decision, "de facto membership of only the Greek Cypriot administration was in question".

    The statement is being seen as a return to Turkey's hard line on Cyprus after a series of conciliatory remarks earlier in the week by members of Turkey's new AKP administration. It was issued after a meeting between AKP minister and Turkey's top general, Hilmi Ozkok.

    The government had come under fire on Tuesday for comments by the foreign minister that if a solution was not found by February 28, Turkey would be seen as an occupying force on EU member soil.

    Yesterday's Foreign Ministry statement said that "a single state, government and parliament authorised to represent the whole of the island has not existed since the dissolution of the partnership state by the Greek Cypriots" in 1963.

    It repeated the standard Turkish positions about the existence of two separate nations, and political systems in Cyprus and said the Turkish Cypriot breakaway state continued to exist as a sovereign state.

    Turkey nevertheless continued to support efforts to find a permanent and fair solution to the Cyprus issue as part of the United Nations goodwill mission, the statement said.

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry claimed that the direct talks between the two sides had begun at the initiative of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who was ready to negotiate the UN plan with Turkey's support. Denktash stayed away from Copenhagen citing medical reasons, and his consistent stalling in the run-up to the summit is widely seen as wrecking UN efforts to keep to the Copenhagen deadline.

    But Turkey yesterday sought to shake off any responsibility for not resolving the Cyprus problem at the EU summit.

    "The Turkish side confirmed to (UN special envoy Alvaro) de Soto during the negotiations carried out on the sidelines of the Copenhagen summit that it was ready to negotiate the proposals.

    "In return, De Soto could not confirm to the Turkish side that the Greek Cypriot side had accepted the UN Secretary-general's proposals.

    "Therefore the Turkish side is not liable for not reaching a solution," the statement said.

    The Foreign Ministry charged that the EU had no right to take unilateral decisions concerning the future of Cyprus.

    Yesterday's statement came after a top-level meeting involving Turkey's Chief of General Staff at the Presidential Palace in Akara yesterday. The meeting involved President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis, Chief of General Staff General Hilmi Ozkok and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal.

    A later meeting was scheduled to take place with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, and reports yesterday said that the breakaway state's number two, Dervis Eroglu had been summoned to Turkey for talks with Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul on Saturday. It was not clear why Eroglu was being summoned.

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday the Greek side wanted a solution before February 28, but if the "other side refuses to negotiate then there won't be any negotiation".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Cassoulides: Security Council statement will have no bearing on EU

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday insisted the United Nations Security Council would not link Cyprus' EU accession with the solution of the island's political problem.

    "A Security Council declaration cannot legally connect anything," Cassoulides said.

    He added: "The things that concerned us won't be in because after our efforts and actions they won't be present."

    Asked whether there was concern over attempts to link the Cyprus problem with the island's EU accession, Cassoulides repeated that the Security Council's declaration was not legally binding.

    "Simply put, some unrelated issues will be avoided," the minister said.

    "And those who drafted the declaration agreed to remove these things because they understand that they do not really matter," he added.

    Cassoulides said that he had never had any concerns, adding that the Security Council would declare its support for the solution plan and Secretary-general Kofi Annan, as well as the set timeframes.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday that the Security Council would try to maintain the momentum in the procedure to solve the Cyprus problem while reaffirming its support for Annan.

    Papapetrou said, however, that the UN should name the side that had been responsible for the delays in the procedure.

    "Our side's disposition has been known for a long time, so we will wait and see what will happen in practice.

    "I think everybody is waiting for the Security Council's action before there is a new move," Papapetrou said.

    Concerning alleged British backstage moves to get the Security Council to adopt a declaration linking the Cyprus problem with the island's accession treaty, Papapetrou said that - though he was the last person to describe British diplomacy as angelic - he got the impression that all evils were blamed on British special envoy Lord David Hannay.

    "I do not think this is the right approach.

    "Where there are specific British actions in these talks, we can attribute them to him and make our complaint," Papapetrou said.

    But the he said the media had portrayed Hannay as a "dragon who wants to devour" Cyprus.

    "This does not respond to reality," the spokesman said.

    Papapetrou said Lord Hannay did not represent himself but was the representative of Great Britain, which is a "very important player in this game".

    "I think we should be more careful, at least some times, with the way we handle things if we want to do our jobs better," Papapetrou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Bouncing cheques law postponed

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE HOUSE Finance Committee yesterday decided to postpone the new Central Bank regulations on bounced cheques for one month. They will now come into effect on February 1, 2003. Also, enforcement of the rules on post-dated cheques has been postponed for six months from January 1, 2003, to July 1 of next year.

    The regulations provide for the creation of a Central Archive (KAP) aimed at preventing and ending the significant problem of bounced cheques. In an effort to make cheques a safer method of transaction, the KAP is designed to remove the right to issue cheques from those who create problems in the economy by bouncing them.

    According to the Cyprus News Agency, Central Bank governor, Christodoulos Christodoulou, said yesterday after the decision to postpone the implementation of the regulations that it would be illogical "not to accept this postponement, in an effort to bring about some small changes which will make the system more acceptable without changing its character". He said the 30-page regulations of the Central Bank have as their aim, "to give the right dimension to the cheque as one of the four methods of payment". He referred to cheques being used as a means of credit and becoming an insecure means of transaction.

    Deputies called on the Central Bank to use the extended time of postponement to increase public awareness of KAP and the new regulations on post-dated cheques so as to prepare the public. DISY deputy, Jonas Nicolaou, asked that the new measures ensure that citizens were not humiliated and that they have a chance to voice their opinion before measures are taken against them. Deputy Panayotis Demetriou, also DISY, asked that the Central Bank have the discreet authority to remove someone from the list when it is proved his financial situation has improved and he has the ability to pay.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Tester kits so far show no drug use in schools

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE EDUCATION Ministry has not found any indication of drug use within secondary schools, a senior official said yesterday.

    Following rumours that schools were awash with drugs, the Ministry ordered a series of drug tester kits several months ago to uncover whether or not these fears had any grounding, Education Ministry permanent secretary Petros Kareklas said yesterday.

    "When suspicions are reported to us that there are users within a particular school we use these special kits to discover whether there is any basis to these suspicions."

    He said the kits were made up of strips of sticky tape that were rubbed on objects suspected of having come in contact with drugs. These could be a school table, chair or even in the student bathrooms. A solution placed on the tape changes colour, depending on what drug traces are found, he said.

    "This is merely an indication of whether or not drugs are being abused on school grounds," said Kareklas. "Students are in no way accused or called forward to face any charges. If, however, we do find traces of drugs, we alert the police and it is up to them to carry out an investigation into the matter and place people under arrest if necessary."

    Until that point, the drug squad does not involve itself in internal school investigations. That was up to the Ministry, confirmed drug enforcement agency deputy commander, Haritos Yiangou. "We are in no way involved in this matter. We have our own kits to check drugs, but they are not used in these school investigations," he said.

    Kareklas said the procedure was completely legal. "We referred to the Protection of Personal Data committee and were given the go-ahead to use these kits. This is because it's only an indication of drug use, not an accusation."

    The Ministry was in no way replacing the police force, government or other anti-drug law enforcement agencies, he stressed. And it did not use the weight of the law on its side. "We merely sound the warning bell if something is amiss and leave the rest up to the authorities."

    Besides, just because there was confirmation of drug use within a particular school, it did not necessarily mean students were responsible, he said.

    "Sometimes addicts break into school grounds after hours. All they have to do is climb over the gates and they're in. They know that the premises will be completely empty late at night and that it will be quiet enough for them to use drugs uninterrupted," Kareklas said.

    However, if that were the case, the police could then take the necessary measure to ensure the school was put under surveillance, he said. So far this had not been necessary, because none of the investigations carried out using the tester kits had been positive, he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Presidentials back to the fore amid Cyprus problem uncertainty

    By George Psyllides

    WITH efforts to solve the Cyprus problem on hold pending a new United Nations initiative, the issue of presidential elections has regained prominence, though the scene yesterday remained confused amid rumours that President Glafcos Clerides would seek re-election to see the Cyprus problem settled and then step down.

    Legal procedures concerning the elections, however, are still on track: Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday that Clerides would proceed to declare the elections on January 3, 2003 in line with the constitution.

    The elections are scheduled for Sunday February 16 and a second round, if necessary, will be held the following Sunday, February 23.

    Clerides' term end on February 28, the date set by the United Nations as a deadline for a deal to be struck on the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking after the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Papapetrou said Clerides had asked the interior minister if his ministry was ready for the declaration of the elections on January 3.

    The reply was positive and the President is going ahead with the declaration as scheduled, Papapetrou said.

    The Government Spokesman said he had not spoken with the President about the possibility of him being a candidate.

    AKEL leader Demetris Christofias, whose party is supporting DIKO chief Tassos Papadopoulos for the presidency yesterday said the elections would go ahead as scheduled.

    Speaking in Athens after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Christofias was not optimistic about an agreement on the Cyprus problem before the date set by the UN.

    "A solution is highly unlikely if the Turkish Cypriot community does not show any signs of flexibility," Christofias said.

    "Therefore the presidential elections in Cyprus will take place as scheduled," he added.

    The other presidential hopeful, KISOS chairman Yiannakis Omirou, said yesterday his party would not be an obstacle should developments necessitate a short extension of Clerides' term in office.

    Omirou, who is backed by ruling DISY, added that such an extension should be decided by all the parties or the "overwhelming majority" at the National Council.

    Earlier yesterday, after meeting DISY chief Nicos Anastassiades, Omirou said he did not notice any deviation from DISY's decision to support him in the presidential elections.

    Concerning rumours that DISY members were preparing the ground for the party to support Attorney-general Alecos Markides, Omirou said such a possibility did not concern him.

    "Mr. Markides is a citizen of the Republic and is allowed to be a candidate, or not," Omirou said.

    Markides has not thrown his name in the hat and has repeatedly refused to comment whether he was considering standing as candidate.

    But according to reports, 83-year-old Clerides, is deeply concerned about contesting the elections; he would only agree if his term was short - a few months or a year maximum - something that is opposed by AKEL and DIKO.

    According to yesterday's Politis, one of the concerns is the deadline set by the UN, which coincides with the end of Clerides' term.

    Clerides does not want to negotiate a settlement with his term "effectively expired", while the President is also concerned by AKEL's rejection of the idea of him staying on for a while, a scenario not provided for by the constitution.

    Papadopoulos said yesterday that there was no issue of Clerides' term being extended, adding "those who want to remain in power know that the only way is not to have the elections".

    "There is no issue since the President himself said that he was not interested in extending his term, while it is known that it is unconstitutional not to have elections, and to change the constitution two- thirds of the House need to agree," Papadopoulos said.

    On Tuesday, Papadopoulos challenged Clerides to stand as candidate if he wanted to remain president.

    Papadopoulos added that it was the people who would decide on who was suitable to handle the Cyprus problem.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Pipeline plans abandoned in favour of shipping natural gas

    By Alex Mita

    COMMERCE and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday confirmed the government was close to making a decision on whether to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Algeria by 2007.

    Initial plans to have natural gas transported to the island from the Middle East through underwater pipes have proved to be too expensive and Rolandis was yesterday expected to prepare a report on importing LNG to Cyprus with special ships.

    The move comes after Rolandis' visit to Algeria last week, during which he struck a deal with the country's Energy Minister Chalib Khelil for closer co-operation between the two countries in the oil sector.

    With Cyprus' accession to the EU, the use of environmentally-friendly natural gas becomes compulsory; Algeria is the second biggest natural gas producer in the world, an official statement said yesterday.

    The decision on the import of LNG was expected later yesterday after consultations with the Electricity Authority, who would be the main users of LNG.

    Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that if a decision to import LNG to Cyprus was reached, a terminal would have to be constructed near the EAC plant at Vasiliko, which would be used to turned the liquefied product back into gas.

    With accession to the European Union, the government is expected to spend up to $500 million on restructuring the fuel sector by 2008.

    "The cost of constructing the terminal has been estimated at around $200- $250 million, while the construction of a tank farm for the import of petroleum products in preparation for the closing of the Petroleum Refinery in Larnaca is estimated at $300 million," Rolandis said.

    "We will invite tenders for the construction of the tank farm in 2004 and construction will start on 2005 and will be completed by 2008.

    "As for the terminal, it will be used for turning the liquid back in to gas, and it will be completed in time to start importing LNG by 2007. The two projects will be carried out simultaneously."

    Asked how the project would be funded, Rolandis said the terminal would be constructed on a BOT basis, inviting private investors to carry out the project and operate it for a set number of years before turning it over to the state.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Salt Lake fears over sewage pipe

    By Alex Mita

    LARNACA Mayor Andreas Moyseos yesterday slammed an article by Politis accusing the municipality of not caring for the environment, after a decision was taken to install two sewage pipes through the Larnaca Salt Lake.

    The Salt Lake is a part of the Ramsar Convention for the protection of wetlands of international importance and, according to experts, over 100 species depend on it or use it as a stopover and over-wintering area. One of the species is the flamingo.

    But a decision to install the pipes through the Salt Lake came under heavy criticism in Politis, which claimed the ecosystem of the lake could be destroyed should the pipes leak effluent should seep into the lake.

    Larnaca Mayor Andreas Moyseos yesterday branded Politis' article as irresponsible and exaggerated.

    "There will only be one temporary pipe and not two," he said, "and it will be constructed in order to take care of Zinonos village, whose people are facing a serious problem with their sewage system.

    "The pipe will pass from areas around the lake and not through it and it will not have an effect on the flamingos," Moyseos said.

    "Of course the pipe will be constructed within the area of the Salt Lake and I wish there was a way to avoid placing it there, but you have to understand that the situation in Zinonos village is critical."

    Moyseos said the pipe would remain in the area for up to five years, until the Municipality completed a project that would connect the village's sewage system to the central sewage processing plant.

    Moyseos brushed aside fears that the pipes might have dire consequences on the ecosystem.

    "The life expectancy of the pipe is longer than the time it will be installed," he said. "We have to install the pipe, we have no other option.

    "There is no chance that the effluent will seep into the Salt Lake, and even in event that something like that should happen, the Municipality will repair the damage in record time and prevent any pollution to the lake."

    A bird expert told the Cyprus Mail yesterday he was doubtful there would be a major leak from the pipes but confirmed that leakage of effluent into the Salt Lake would be catastrophic.

    "The risk is probably small that there would not be a leakage at the pipe, but obviously if something should happen then that could be a disaster for the Salt Lake," the expert said.

    "And if it happened during the summer and it wasn't cleaned up in time that could cause algal blooms that would then cause bacterial growth that would wipe out the shrimps that the birds rely on to feed. The whole ecosystem would be affected quite drastically."

    The expert said he was more concerned about the disruption that might be caused to the site from actually putting in the pipes and whether an environmental impact study was being carried out by the Municipality.

    "The Salt Lake is a very important site not just for Cyprus but also for Europe," he said.

    "Wetlands are used by migratory birds as stop off points and are recognised sites that should be protected throughout the world."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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