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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-01-24

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] President grants pardon to Israeli convicts
  • [02] British Labour Party pledges to help Cyprus
  • [03] Environmentalists: End Akamas military exercises now
  • [04] Germany honours Cypriot Ambassador

  • 1150:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] President grants pardon to Israeli convicts

    Nicosia, Jan 24 (CNA) -- Three Israeli convicts, involved in a daring escape bid from police custody, were granted a presidential pardon and have already left for their country.

    Confirming their release Friday, Central Prison Director, George Anastasiades, said a total of thirteen prisoners of various nationalities had been granted pardon.

    Some of them, including the three Israelis David Biton, 24, Shimon Amor, 28, and Avi Biton, 21, have already left for their countries, he added.

    David Biton and Amor had been sentenced to four years' imprisonment, last November 6, for planning and helping to free Shuki Samana, 24, and Avi Biton from police custody, last September in Nicosia.

    Samana and Avi Biton were being transferred in a police car to the Larnaca District Court to face counterfeit charges, when David Biton and Amor intercepted the vehicle with rented motorbikes and at gun point they freed their compatriots.

    All four Israelis escaped and crossed the UN buffer zone into the capital's Turkish-occupied part but later, same day, they were handed over to the Republic's legal authorities via the UN.

    Samana walked free after the trial while Avi was sentenced by the Larnaca Court to 30 months' imprisonment for possessing and exchanging fake US bills in the Ayia Napa southern coastal resort.

    Asked on what grounds these convicts had been pardoned, less than three months into their sentence and after committing such a serious crime in Cyprus, Anastasiades noted ''this is not up to the jurisdiction of the Central Prison Director.''

    Under Cyprus' constitution, only the President of the Republic is allowed to grant pardons, following recommendations from the Attorney- General.

    The three were the only Israelis at the prison, which also houses around 150 Arab convicts.

    CNA AP/GP/1997

    [02] British Labour Party pledges to help Cyprus

    London, Jan 24 (CNA) -- The British presidency of the European Union (EU), under a Labour government, will use its influence in the UN and elsewhere for an end to the Cyprus division.

    This was said at a public gathering of the Cypriot community in London last night, by the deputy leader of the Labour John Prescott, who described the dividing line in Cyprus as an ''appalling stain for democracy which eventually will be torn down as it happened with the Berlin Wall''.

    Prescott said from January 1998, ''Britain with a Labour government, will be presiding over the EU. We will use our influence in the EU, in the UN as well as elsewhere, to bring about an end to the division of Cyprus.''

    ''We in the Labour party, have consistently said that accession to the EU should act as a catalyst for progress towards a settlement, but accession should not depend on a solution'', the Labour leader said.

    Such a solution, he added, ''must be consistent with international law and the terms of the UN resolutions.''

    In a message to the gathering, read by the Shadow Foreign Minister, Joyce Quin, the Shadow Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who is currently visiting Nicosia, said the application of the Republic of Cyprus for membership to the EU, if handled properly, ''could act as a catalyst for a solution which would unite Greek and Turkish Cypriots in a common European destiny.''

    He said although all want Cyprus to join the EU as a united country, the Labour Party has always made it clear that ''the application of the Republic of Cyprus will be considered on its own merits and that no third party should be granted a veto.''

    The meeting was organised by the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood and the London branches of AKEL, DIKO and EDEK political parties, under the aegis of the National Federation of Cypriots in Great Britain.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.

    CNA KT/EC/GP/1997

    [03] Environmentalists: End Akamas military exercises now

    Nicosia, Jan 24 (CNA) -- British military exercises in the environmentally fragile Akamas region, in the western end of this East Mediterranean island, must end now, the House Environment Committee has said.

    ''The continuing British exercises on the Akamas peninsula, an area of rare beauty and of the utmost ecological importance, constitute a continuing provocation against the environmental conscience of all Cypriots, '' a statement by the Committee read before the House of Representatives said.

    The Committee, made up of MPs from all Cypriot parties, urged the Cyprus government to take immediate measures to stop the military exercises, citing the environmental peculiarity of the region.

    At the same time, the Committee called upon House President Spyros Kyprianou to lodge objections to the exercises with various international bodies.

    The House unanimously endorsed the statement.

    Foreign Ministry official Leonidas Pantelides however, told the Committee his Ministry will try to negotiate an end to the exercises without infringing upon the Treaty of Establishment under which the British Sovereign Bases on the Cyprus have the right to use the area to conduct military exercises.

    Talks to seek alternative sites have stumbled recently because no other suitable sites exist.

    Discussion of the issue in the House was tabled by socialist party EDEK MP, Yiannakis Omirou, after the Committee received a copy of a British request to conduct a military exercise with 129 men in the Akamas region over three days at the end of this month.

    Omirou referred to Forestry Department statistics, which calculate that at least 100 or more years were needed to restore the Akamas region at great financial cost.

    He accused the government of ''politely dragging its feet'' in approaching the British government on the issue.

    United Democrat MP Androulla Vassiliou also urged that the government must move on environmental grounds, since it ''already has the right to refuse such use under certain conditions.''

    MP Ouranios Ioannides, of the ruling rightwing Democratic Rally party, added the Akamas region should be declared a national forest in order to safeguard its uniqueness.

    Meanwhile, Cyprus environmentalists plan to protest the British exercise set to take place between January 27-31.

    Cyprus Ecological Movement spokesman, George Perdikis said the aim of the protest is to force the cancellation of the exercise.

    He added ''we believe reaction to the British military exercises is universal as is participation in the protest against the destruction of Akamas.''

    CNA MH/GP/1997

    [04] Germany honours Cypriot Ambassador

    Washington, Jan 24 (CNA) -- Germany has honoured Cyprus Ambassador Andros Nicolaides with the ''Knight Commander's Cross (Badge and Star) of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany'', in recognition of his contribution to the development of German-Cypriot relations.

    Before moving to Washington, Nicolaides was Ambassador of Cyprus to Germany. The ceremony took place at the German Embassy in Washington.

    Representing President Roman Herzog, German Ambassador to the US Jurgen Chrobog, said Ambassador Nicolaides, during the four years of his service in Bonn, ''acquired a reputation for furthering Cypriot interests with great political finesse and enormous personal commitment''.

    Referring to the Cyprus issue, the German Ambassador said ''the division of the country, which is painful to all Cypriots, is still a long way from being overcome. Indeed, the violent incidents which occurred last summer and fall have shown that tensions are increasing between the two ethnic groups on the island.

    This clearly brings to bear how urgent a peaceful settlement to the Cyprus question is,'' he added.

    On the issue of Cyprus' accession to the European Union, the German diplomat said ''we all very much would like to have a unified Cyprus as a new member of the European Union''.

    Presenting the reasons why the President of Germany honoured Ambassador Nicolaides with this award, Chrobog quoted the German President:

    ''Ambassador Nicolaides has represented the interests of his country in Germany with tremendous success. Moreover, he devoted his special attention to the development of German - Cypriot relations, working tirelessly and faithfully in their behalf.

    ''Ambassador Nicolaides deserves immense credit for all he has done for the good of German - Cypriot relations. For this reason I hereby award him with the Knight Commander's Cross (Badge and Star) of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany''.

    The ceremony was attended by Senator Paul Sarbanes, Congressman Lee Hamilton, the head of USAID Brian Atwood, the Deputy assistant Secretary for European Affairs Marshall Adair, and US Ambassador to Luxembourg of Cypriot origin Clay Constantinou.

    CNA DA/GP/1997

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