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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-03-18

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Cordovez arrives for talks with both sides
  • [02] Environmentalists oppose nuclear reactors sale to Turkey
  • [03] Grossman on US relations with Turkey
  • [04] Another side of Cyprus aired at UN
  • [05] Relatives of missing urge big "5" help determine their fate

  • 0945:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Cordovez arrives for talks with both sides

    Nicosia, Mar 18 (CNA) -- The UN chief's top envoy for Cyprus arrived here early Wednesday for a six-day visit in a bid to bring the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities back to the negotiating table.

    Speaking on arrival, UN Secretary-General's special advisor for Cyprus, Diego Cordovez, said the UN is "seriously concerned" about the situation in Cyprus.

    He warned that international interest could wane if rival sides do not show political will for a settlement.

    Cordovez's visit follows a Security Council decision last week calling upon "both parties to take the practical steps necessary to move the negotiating process forward in an effective manner."

    The UN Security Council had expressed concern over the "high level of tension" in Cyprus.

    At noon today, the UN envoy will have a working lunch with former President George Vassiliou, who will head Cyprus'

    delegation that will negotiate the island's accession to the European Union (EU).

    He will also have a private meeting with Britain's High Commissioner to Cyprus David Madden.

    On arrival, Cordovez expressed the view that outsiders were more interested in solving the long-standing Cyprus problem than the Cypriots themselves.

    "They are the ones that have to come up with the formulas that they both can accept," he noted.

    "It seems we are more interested, we the outsiders. The two community leaders are the ones that have the responsibility to work out a settlement. We can help them," Cordovez said.

    It is obvious that Cordovez will try to curb Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's negative stand on Cyprus and his refusal for future direct negotiations with President Glafcos Clerides.

    "The international community is extremely concerned, but you know, there may be a moment when they may simply give up and that would be tragic. I am trying to avoid that," he said.

    Tomorrow, the former Ecuadorean Foreign Minister will have a working lunch with Denktash, after a meeting with the ambassadors of the Security Council five permanent members, at the French ambassador's residence.

    On Friday, he will have a working lunch with President Clerides, after a private meeting with US ambassador to Cyprus, Kenneth Brill. Later the same day he will again meet with Denktash.

    On Saturday afternoon, the UN official will give a press conference at the Ledra Palace hotel, situated in the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia.

    UN resident spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski told CNA today that the UN envoy would have more meetings with the two leaders during his stay if needed.

    Cordovez leaves on Sunday for Athens. He will end his trip in the region with a visit to Ankara.

    Turkish troops have been occupying 37 per cent of Cyprus territory since 1974, in violation of repeated UN resolutions calling for their withdrawal.

    CNA AP/GP/1998

    [02] Environmentalists oppose nuclear reactors sale to Turkey

    by Menelaos Hadjicostis

    Toronto, Mar 18 (CNA) -- Canadian environmentalist groups have thrown down the gauntlet in their opposition to Canada's bid to sell nuclear reactors to Turkey, by refuting arguments put forth by the country's atomic energy agency as to the reactors' safety and economic viability.

    They have also joined forces with their counterparts in Turkey to raise public awareness in that country of what they say are the inherent dangers of nuclear energy.

    "I think we've been very successful in making people in Turkey and in Canada aware that this is a bad deal for both countries", Nuclear Awareness Project Spokesperson Dave Martin told CNA from Constantinople (Istanbul).

    Martin, who was in Turkey with other Canadian, German and Turkish activists, for a 12-day tour sponsored by Greenpeace, spoke out against the export of Canadian nuclear reactors, called CANDU, to Turkey.

    Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) has submitted a bid for two reactors and the Canadian government has already agreed to provide 1.5 billion Canadian dollars in financing for the project.

    Nuclear Power International, owned jointly by Siemens of Germany and Framatome of France, has put in the lowest bid for construction of the nuclear power plant. AECL has put in the next lowest bid, followed by the American-Japanese consortium of Westinghouse and Mitsubishi.

    The Turkish government is expected to select a nuclear vendor in June, with finalization of the contract by January 1999.

    Martin said it is ironic that Canada wants to export CANDU reactors now, when the reactors in Canada have had their share of safety problems in the last few years.

    "Turkey should be aware that nuclear power in Canada has been a disaster," Martin remarked.

    He explained that last August, Canada's largest utility, Ontario Hydro, had to shut down seven nuclear reactors in the province for repairs and to bring them up to safe operation.

    "The reality is however, that many observers believe that at least some of those reactors will never be re-started for both technical and economic reasons," he said.

    Martin noted that last year, the performance of CANDU reactors in Canada sank to an all-time low, with reactors having to shut down and generating no electricity for 40 per cent of the time.

    "What that means is that those reactors are that much more expensive and it means that AECL's estimate of the cost of nuclear power is wrong," he said.

    Another problem faced by CANDU reactors, as Martin explained, is as a result of their design, they have to be rebuilt anywhere from 12 to 15 years of operation, considerably less that the utility's estimate of 20 years.

    The AECL however, counters by saying the CANDU reactors' safety record in unmatched.

    Spokesperson Larry Shewchuk told CNA the AECL takes safety and environmental concerns into consideration in the design of every CANDU reactor, something which is the AECL's "highest priority".

    "That is why CANDU reactors have one of the best safety records in the world," Shewchuk said.

    Another concern addressed by Shewchuk, is that of the possibility of an earthquake hitting the Akkuyu site where Turkey plans to build the nuclear reactors. The Akkuyu site is located on Turkey's southern coast. Cyprus is situated just 80 kilometres off Turkey's southern coast.

    "Although Turkey is known to have two seismically active areas, neither of them extend to the Akkuyu site", Shewchuk said. "In fact, the Akkuyu site is located in one of the least seismically active areas of Turkey".

    This was flatly disputed by Martin, who stressed that there is independent geological research "which has shown that there is an active submarine fault line off shore from the Akkuyu site".

    Akkuyu is situated west of the junction three tectonic plates and is also near the Ecemis fault. A 1991 report by Turkish seismologists states that "Ecemis complex is an active fault". Further, a 1993 report "Seismic Hazard in Turkey" states that earthquakes with an intensity of greater than 8 are possible in that region. The effects of a magnitude 8 earthquake are described as "heavily damaging, 25 per cent of all houses destroyed".

    Although Shewchuk argues that CANDU reactors are designed to withstand earthquakes, Martin counters by saying that the seismic rating of the CANDU reactor "is not as good as some of the other reactor designs".

    Asked to respond to concerns that Turkey might use the spent fuel from the reactors to build nuclear weapons, Martin said "this is always a possibility".

    He explained that it is simpler to produce nuclear weapons with plutonium rather than enriched uranium, and the CANDU reactor design "is particularly good at making plutonium".

    "It was designed as a plutonium production reactor, and it's very effective at making plutonium, more so than other reactors," Martin said.

    But, the AECL spokesperson made it clear that Canada sells its CANDU technology only to foreign countries that sign the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT).

    "Under the NPT, a country's commitment not to develop nuclear weapons is subject to independent safeguards by the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    Safeguards mean countries that purchase CANDU reactors must submit their facilities to strictly adhered-to regular inspections by IAEA officials to ensure the CANDU reactors are being used for the peaceful purposes they are intended for", Shewchuk said.

    But these safeguards do not allay the activists' fears of the very real threat of sabotage. According to Greenpeace, the Kurdish Workers' Party (PPK), a rebel group fighting for an independent homeland within Turkey, has already used sabotage of energy infrastructure in its campaign against the Turkish government, targeting pipeline facilities and hydroelectric projects.

    "A future attack against a nuclear power plant leading to a catastrophic release of radioactivity is certainly possible", Greenpeace warns.

    Martin explained that if there was a serious accident with a radiation release over the Akkuyu area, the environmental and health impact on people would depend largely on wind and precipitation patterns.

    "The worst situation though, is if there's precipitation, so if there's rain or snow occurring in the radiation plume, it brings it down to earth. If that happens to occur over a populated zone, it results in serious contamination", Martin said.

    Opposition to the sale of the reactors is growing in Turkey. People residing around Akkuyu Bay have been protesting since 1992 when the Turkish government announced it would reopen bids for the project.

    In 1995, 24 mayors from the area publicly opposed the plan on the grounds the project may imperil the local tourist and agriculture industry.

    "It's a community that is dependent on agriculture and tourism largely. It's a very big tourist area and having a nuclear plant built there is going to have a serious impact on both of those industries", Martin stressed.

    Melda Keskin, Greenpeace representative in Turkey and an outspoken critic of the Turkish government's plans to build nuclear reactors, stated: "If the Canadian and German governments really want to help Turkey, they should promote efficiency improvements and renewable energies such as solar, wind and biomass".

    Asked whether his and other activists' petitions to the Turkish government have had any effect, Martin said that he has written to Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, the Energy Minister as well as the Turkish Ambassador to Canada, but had received no response from any of them.

    "But, we have been successful in making the issue a higher profile one in Turkey. A joint declaration from 40 major environmental groups in Canada opposing the sale received widespread publicity in Turkey and the Turkish press...

    The reality is that nuclear power simply costs too much, it's not competitive and there are other energy technologies which are cheaper and safer", Martin added.

    CNA MHC/GP/1998

    [03] Grossman on US relations with Turkey

    Washington, Mar 18 (CNA) -- The United States hopes that, through its special relationship with Turkey, it can be helpful for progress to be made on issues like human rights in Turkey, its relations with Greece, the Aegean and Cyprus.

    This was stated by US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Marc Grossman, in an interview with "Europe" magazine, published in Washington by the European Union (EU) Delegation.

    Commenting on what is going to happen in Cyprus this year, he said "you will see the UN, the EU, the US, all working energetically to see if there's something that can be done in 1998 to move this process forward."

    Asked if the US administration considers Turkey a European or an Asian nation, Grossman said "we strongly believe that Turkey should be part of Europe and ought to have the highest quality relationship possible with Europe."

    He expressed the view that "someday Turkey really ought to be a member of the EU" and noted "so we certainly consider Turkey to be a European nation."

    Invited to comment on human rights violations by Turkey and if it can overcome problems to meet EU requirements, Grossman divided the two issues.

    "First, it's absolutely right on the part of the EU, it seems to me, just as the US does, to have concerns and have a dialogue with Turkey about issues such as human rights, Cyprus, the Aegean, their relations with Greece. Those are very important issues that Turkey needs to deal with," he said.

    The US official noted that those are the kinds of challenges that ought to be in relationships between countries.

    "What shouldn't be in these relationships, though, are obstacles about race and religion. And if we can keep those things separated, then it's up to the Turks to decide whether they wish to pursue solutions to some of their challenges," he added.

    The US official said both the Americans and Europeans have to open "to welcoming Turkey even further into this transatlantic partnership."

    Asked about the strategic value of Turkey, Grossman said it is "very important to the US, absolutely, for all kinds of reasons."

    They are NATO members, they are in Bosnia, they participated in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and Somalia, he explained.

    "So their partnership on the security side goes back, actually, all the way to Korea," he said.

    He also noted Turkey is an increasingly important market for US firms, especially in the energy area.

    "It's very important that the US has the right kind of relationship with Turkey, because we are interested in Turks making progress on human rights, their relations with Greece and Cyprus," he noted.

    Commenting on Turkey's future towards the 21st century, Ambassador Grossman said "solutions for Turkey really belong to Turks" and said the US considers Turkey a very important country with an historical and important relationship with the US.

    He said President Bill Clinton and Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz had reviewed all issues between the two countries, during Yilmaz's visit to Washington last December.

    "We want this to be a successful relationship," he said and expressed hope that through this relationship "we can make progress on human rights, relations with Greece, the Aegean, and Cyprus."

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

    CNA DA/AP/GP/1998

    [04] Another side of Cyprus aired at UN

    United Nations, Mar 18 (CNA) -- A UN audience Tuesday evening listened with rapt interest as a visitor from Cyprus spoke for an hour about the island and the Cyprus problem.

    The speaker touched an issue that has been bedeviling experts for 40 centuries, the problem of deciphering the ancient Cypro-Minoan script.

    Eminent Cypriot archaeologist and scholar Vassos Karageorghis led his listeners through 8,000 years of the art, archaeology and cultural history of Cyprus.

    In the audience at the UN's Dag Hammarskjold Audiotorium were foreign diplomats, UN officials and staff members, journalists and leading members of the Cypriot and Greek communities here.

    Professor Karageorghis talked first about the prehistoric era, when pygmy hippopotami roamed the Mesaoria plain.

    He showed artifacts from the Neolithic and Bronze ages, through the era when Cyprus fell under the influence of Mycenaean Greek civilization.

    Although his speech was apolitical and certainly not polemic, unavoidably the fact of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus intruded itself into the lecture.

    Professor Karageorghis presented slides of the archaeological excavations he had conducted at the Salamis ruins, situated 5 kilometres north of the eastern Turkish-occupied coastal town of Famagusta.

    He explained he is "unable to return because it is inaccessible to Greek Cypriots."

    "Salamis was a city that, for 1,000 years was the capital of Cyprus," he added.

    One of the great finds of recent times was the ancient ship brought up off the waters of Kyrenia, another occupied coastal town, north of Nicosia.

    The ship was to be inaugurated in October 1974, but three months earlier Turkey invaded Cyprus. Kyrenia was the first to fall.

    Likewise, the Monastery of Apostolos Barnabas, near Salamis, where the Saint is entombed and which is associated with the very origins of the Christianity and the early preaching of both himself and St. Paul, is situated in the Turkish-occupied area and therefore closed to Greek Cypriots.

    After listening for an hour to the travails, triumphs and endurance of Cyprus through the centuries, it comes as a bracing tonic to realise that Cyprus has been through it all before, but managed to survive.

    Professor Karageorghis' lecture was held under the auspices of the Cyprus Mission to the UN and Ambassador Sotos Zackheos, and organised by the Hellenic "Kyklos" Club of the UN.

    CNA JD/AP/GP/1998

    [05] Relatives of missing urge big "5" help determine their fate

    Nicosia, Mar 18 (CNA) -- Relatives of missing persons have called on the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to end their drama by securing evidence about the whereabouts of their beloved ones.

    The relatives' appeal was included in a petition, which was delivered here today to the embassies of the big "5", by representatives of the Coordinating Council of the Committees of Relatives of Missing Persons in Cyprus.

    "We appeal to you once again in order to emphasise the bitterness and the agony of the thousands of relatives of missing persons in Cyprus, due to the standstill for 24 years, on the purely humanitarian problem of missing persons," it said.

    The relatives of the missing said the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have a duty "to perform a serious role in putting an end at long last, securing the restoration of the human rights of the missing persons and their relatives."

    It said this can only be accomplished by the determination of the fate of all missing, through a thorough and an in-depth investigation into each case, "completed by a strengthened and effective Investigatory Committee (CMP) under the auspices of the UN."

    It also noted that every possible influence must be exercised on the Turkish side to persuade it leave its inhuman attitude and sincerely cooperate.

    A total of 1619 Greek Cypriots and Greeks were listed as missing after the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of 37 per cent of the island's territory.

    The CMP was set up by the UN in 1981, and consists of a Greek Cypriot representative, a Turkish Cypriot representative and a third member appointed by the UN Secretary-General.

    It had been inactive for the past three years, since the retirement of Paul Wurth, of the International Red Cross Society.

    Earlier this month it was announced that Swiss Jean Pierre Ritter will replace Wurth in the CMP.

    Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides today said the government did not consider "serious" information reported by local media, alleging that 14 Greek Cypriots listed as missing were living in a neighbouring country.

    The Minister appealed for an end to public statements on this tragic issue.

    A Greek Cypriot businessman in Canada, Michalis Kyprianou, had informed Reverend Christoforos, head of a committee of relatives of missing persons, that 14 missing persons, were alive in a country, near to Cyprus. He did not name the country and did not reveal the names of the 14 missing.

    Meanwhile, Acting President of the Republic, House President Spyros Kyprianou had a meeting today with representatives of the committees of missing persons.

    He said afterwards that he had a telephone conversation with Michalis Kyprianou, who is in Canada, adding that the issue should be further examined.

    The Acting President said that all agreed that there should be a "black- out" because public statements on the matter create problems.

    CNA AP/GP/1998
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