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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-01-18

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

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


Saturday, January 18, 2003

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Weston: US seeking settlement very soon
  • [02] Candidates upstaged by the love machine
  • [03] Papadopoulos insists he wants to solve the Cyprus problem
  • [04] Athens Mayor hails Cyprus' place in Europe
  • [05] Cyprus to ban female circumcision
  • [06] Call to split CyTA fixed and mobile operations
  • [07] Dockers join pan-European strike
  • [08] What's all the fuss about: BBC journalist defends comments on Papadopoulos

  • [01] Weston: US seeking settlement very soon

    By a Staff Reporter

    PRESIDENT Clerides met US State Department Special Co-ordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston yesterday following the US envoy's arrival on the island on Thursday.

    Speaking after his latest meeting with Clerides, Weston said the United States was anxious to see a settlement to the Cyprus Problem achieved in the near future.

    "This is another one of our very productive conversations, but this one comes at a very crucial time in negotiations.

    "I think once again we found that we have an incredibly co-operative relationship and are trying to meet the common goal of a settlement to the division of the island, a settlement which is just and durable and a settlement which we very much want to see reached in a very short period of time", he added.

    According to Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, Clerides and Weston reviewed the latest developments in the Cyprus Problem during their meeting.

    "From Mr. Weston's statements, it is clear that not only are developments expected, but also that we are at a very crucial point in the Cyprus problem," he added.

    Weston briefed President Clerides on the latest US assessment on Cyprus following the envoy's recent visits to Ankara an Athens.

    Asked if Weston had revealed any new developments in his talks with the President, Papapetrou declined to give details of the meeting, saying, "I am neither confirming nor rejecting this".

    President Clerides met Rauf Denktash again yesterday in the UN-controlled area of Nicosia, this time in the presence of the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto.

    There were no statements after the meeting.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [02] Candidates upstaged by the love machine

    By George Psyllides

    TEN presidential hopefuls yesterday submitted their candidacies, but the highlight of the day was a colourful 48-year-old man who was turned away because he was not a Cypriot national.

    The elections are due to take place on Sunday, February 16, with a runoff, if necessary, the following Sunday, February 23.

    Eight of the candidates, including President Glafcos Clerides, registered as independents, while the other two stood as leaders of their political parties.

    First to submit his candidacy at the Hilton Hotel was Paphos businessman Andreas Efstathiou, a member of the large families association.

    Efstathiou said his ambition was not to get glory or power but to pursue justice for the people and prolific families, which were always sidelined.

    Lawyer Christos Iosifides, who followed, called upon the media to treat all candidacies equally in accordance with the law.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides said he was optimistic he would get through to the second round but declined to comment on who would be his opponent.

    Markides, who was third in line to submit his candidacy, said he was offering a "continuation of the right policy on Cyprus, proper preparation of the economy in light of the great European challenge, and a firm administration on all big domestic issues".

    DIKO chief Tassos Papadopoulos, who is supported by AKEL and KISOS, submitted his candidacy at 10am.

    "The candidacy of the forces of change is officially before the people," Papadopoulos said.

    He addressed all Cypriots -- Greek and Turkish -- sending a message of "unity, change and progress".

    "We bind for peace, a solution and hope that victory will be with us; the vision is common and awaits to be put into practice," Papadopoulos said.

    Next came composer Adamos Katsantonis who described his candidacy as a "vision of civilisation".

    "As a vision of civilisation we submit today a really unique and special proposal to our society.

    "Times change, and citizens and societies search for solutions, which come through the spirit and the heart," Katasantonis said.

    Civil engineer Pantelis Sophocleous promised to get rid of the establishment, and implementation a programme of viable development.

    Clerides repeated his candidacy was only for a limited time not because he wanted to stay in power but "because I believe that 2003 will be a historic year with regard to both the completion of the island's accession to the European Union and striking a deal on the Cyprus problem.

    "I believe it was my duty to offer my services to my country," he added.

    On a lighter note and commenting about the 1,000 fee needed to submit a candidacy, Clerides quipped: "If I knew this before I would have had second thoughts".

    The President was followed by artist George Mavrogenis who said he had entered the race to safeguard the constitution and the Republic of Cyprus.

    He added it had been 10 years since he last submitted his candidacy and that the climate now was more civilised.

    New Horizons leader Nicos Koutsou said he would pursue a high percentage in the elections in order to become the force, which would keep the executive in check.

    "We are pursuing a strong percentage in the first round to become a political force with a prospect, a prospect that has the depth to last the five years," Koutsou said.

    Until then, everything had gone without a glitch.

    Farmer and writer Costas Kyriacou, alias Utopos, was the last presidential hopeful to submit his candidacy, albeit just in the nick of time.

    The deadline for submission was midday but police guarding the entrance reportedly obstructed Utopos from entering the hotel.

    He managed to get through just a couple of minutes before the deadline and after someone suggested that failure to allow him in could be a breach of the constitution.

    Utopos said his aim was the construction of "new cities, with order, shape and a comprehensive plan before the first stone was set".

    "The space you live in is a chaos, a labyrinth, and you are far from being citizens.

    "You will be real citizens in my city," Utopos said.

    But an Australian Cypriot, Tony Spanos, was not allowed in because he was not a Cypriot national.

    Spanos arrived at the Hilton in a pink and baby blue camper van called the Love Machine.

    Spanos danced to the tunes of music from the Love Machine while his dog strolled around the area.

    He said he liked children and that he was the champion of the world, something police cared little for when they stopped him from entering the hotel.

    Election Officer Kyriacos Tryantafillides said Spanos was not allowed to submit his candidacy because he was not a Cypriot citizen and he was forcibly ejected from the premises.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [03] Papadopoulos insists he wants to solve the Cyprus problem

    By George Psyllides

    DIKO chief and presidential hopeful Tassos Papadopoulos insisted yesterday he was committed to solving the Cyprus problem through negotiations, which would not aim to bury the United Nations plan for a settlement.

    Speaking at a news conference, Papadopoulos, who is backed by AKEL and KISOS, said the forces of change had the political will and vision to achieve a solution, adding his candidacy promoted unity and offered the potential for a solution of the problem.

    He said his was for Greek and Turkish Cypriots to be able to prosper and enjoy the benefits of a re-unified island in the European Union.

    Papadopoulos accused candidates President Glafcos Clerides and Attorney- general Alecos Markides of being "two sides of the same coin". He said their's was a recipe for continuing the current failed administration.

    Papadopoulos admitted he was not speaking about a "fair" solution, adding it was difficult for any solution to be fair.

    "But it should at least be functional."

    "There is space for changes to the UN plan without taking away rights from the Turkish Cypriots," Papadopoulos said.

    He suggested Turkey would be forced into changing its policy when it became aware that the Turkish Cypriots had realised that the invasion and continuing occupation of Cyprus was not for their protection but to serve Ankara's strategic interests.

    Papadopoulos said he did not understand why Clerides would stay in office for 16 months and wondered why it was not a 20 or 22-month term.

    Clerides reiterated yesterday that he would resign after 16 months if he got re-elected.

    In a statement read by Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, Clerides said it was his "final and irrevocable" decision to step down after the 16 months.

    Clerides said he felt he had to clear the issue because there was an attempt to give the wrong impression concerning his intentions.

    "The decision to ask for a renewal of the people's mandate is for a very limited time and has a rigid maximum limit of 16 months," Clerides said.

    He added: "After this period or even before, I will resign."

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the President expected developments in the next few months.

    Asked whether there had been any developments behind the scenes, Papapetrou said anyone who claimed there had been no developments was voluntarily blind. "I do not think I need to even add a small argument to reinforce the obvious position, which is even understood by little children."

    AKEL leader Demetris Christofias said yesterday that Papadopoulos' candidacy was one of unity, aimed at changing and modernising society.

    Christofias said a news conference by Clerides on Thursday night was a "regurgitation of known positions".

    "I am very sorry, he is getting into the wrong adventure," Christofias said.

    He said he felt Clerides would stay on beyond the 16 months if elected, adding that "the President's term should not have been for even a month".

    "(From the moment) he enters the game they will pressure him into going as far as he can."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [04] Athens Mayor hails Cyprus' place in Europe

    By Tania Khadder

    ATHENS Mayor Dora Bakoyianni met with president Glafcos Clerides yesterday morning and signed a Friendship and Co-operation Protocol with Nicosia Mayor Michalakis Zampelas covering cultural, social and economic exchanges between the two capitals.

    "Cypriots and Greeks will stand united and continue their struggle for a free and independent Cyprus," Bakoyianni said.

    She looked forward to Cyprus becoming part of the European Union and discussed plans to hold an exhibition in Athens showing the history of Cyprus in April, when the accession agreement formally inviting Cyprus to join the EU would be signed.

    "Cyprus deserves her place in Europe. She has won it with the warmth and industriousness of her people. She has won her place with the sacrifices, tears, and blood that has been spilled in the past."

    Bakoyianni also discussed plans for the Olympics in Athens in 2004, for which many Cypriots have volunteered their services.

    She also invited Zampelas and the members of his municipal council to visit Athens, and said she hoped that the next mayor of Athens to visit Cyprus would return to a united Nicosia.

    Bakoyianni, Athens' first female mayor, was the target of an assassination last month. The bullet destined for her narrowly missed her when she bent over to reach for her handkerchief, severely injuring her driver instead.

    Bakoyianni returns to Athens this morning.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [05] Cyprus to ban female circumcision

    By Alexia Saoulli

    The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) will be punishable by eight years imprisonment according to a bill being drawn up to bring Cyprus into line with Euopean legislation, a senior Justice Ministry official said yesterday.

    Moves to draw up the bill were made after a Council of Europe decision called on its members to forbid the practice.

    "Although no case has ever been reported in Cyprus, the United Nations called on all countries to unite and categorically forbid FGM," said the Ministry's National Machinery for Women's Rights Secretary-general, Maro Varnavidou. "Today, it is not an issue, but tomorrow it might be."

    An increase in multiculturalism could, perhaps one day, result in someone used to the practice in their own country carrying it out here, she said.

    FGM, also known as female circumcision, is the excision of the clitoris and part or all of the labia minora. One hundred and thirty-five million girls and women worldwide are estimated to have undergone genital mutilation, with two million girls a year, aged between four and eight, at risk of the practice - approximately 6,000 per day, according to a Human Rights information pack. It is practised in parts of Africa and the Middle East. It also occurs, mainly among immigrant communities, in parts of Asia and the Pacific, North and Latin America and Europe.

    "The practice is damaging to the physical and psychological health of girls, and is performed without true consent," maintains Sudanese physician and surgeon, Dr. Nahid Toubia. "From now on, the question should never be whether the practice should be abolished or not, but how it can be abolished sensitively and effectively, without hurting those who already suffer from it."

    Varnavidou agreed with Toubia. "FGM needs to be stamped out. It is inhumane and painful and there is no excuse for the person who executes it," she said. "It is the most serious form of violence against women and all countries have to work together to eradicate its practice. I don't care if it done in the name of culture or tradition. Bad aspects of cultures should be stopped and women protected."

    There are many different justifications for FGM by cultures that practice it, according to the Human Rights pack. Custom and tradition are just two of them, as well as initiation into adulthood; defining a woman's role in society and marriage; enhancing femininity, obedience and docility; reducing desire for sex and therefore infidelity; cleanliness and hygiene; aesthetic purposes; increasing a husband's sexual pleasure; religion; and even safety (the clitoris is deemed by some to be dangerous for a man's penis or a child's head during childbirth).

    According to the Cyprus law, anyone found guilty of carrying out FGM - whether Cypriot or foreign - will be prosecuted. If the procedure was carried out in another country and it was reported to the Republic's authorities, the person would still face charges under the new law, she said.

    "This is to drive the message home that the practice of FGM is completely unacceptable and will not go unpunished, even if someone living here has gone abroad to carry out the procedure."

    Female consent could not be used for defence or mitigation purposes either, she said. "What is consent? The girls are normally minors and forced into it. Also social pressures might coerce them into saying they consent. It's like saying women trafficked for prostitution did so of their own free will, when in fact they were vulnerable and trapped. If she were truly free, do you think she would consent?"

    A 1959 medical journal highlighted how American medicine condoned female circumcision in an effort to bring about proper enjoyment of sexual relations, cure psychosomatic illness and prevent divorce.

    "That is just disgusting and stupid," said Varnavidou. "It is a way of preventing women from enjoying lovemaking and turning them into mere objects for men, not increasing their enjoyment."

    The only time the procedure could be performed legally was if there were extenuating medical grounds, she said. Two doctors would then have to agree on the diagnosis and obtain court permission.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [06] Call to split CyTA fixed and mobile operations

    By Jean Christou

    CYTA could be split up if the government takes on board suggestions made by respondents to a public consultation paper on the liberalisation of the sector, due to take place later this year.

    The government received 18 responses to the public consultation paper issued in 2002, where interested investors and other telecoms experts suggest the best way forward for liberalisation.

    Those who submitted responses to the public consultation paper include Vodafone, Ericsson, Telestet and Greece's CosmOTE, which are interested in GSM licences. The list also includes companies from France, Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and Russia. CyTA and the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), later barred from competing for a licence, also submitted expressions of interest.

    The 28-page consultation paper sought the advice of interested parties on the technical, commercial, economic and regulatory issues associated with the licensing of additional providers to compete with the semi-government CyTA.

    According to the Ministry of Communications and Works, some commentators indicated there should be structural separation of CyTA fixed and mobile operations to prevent cross-subsidisation.

    "Cost separation and transparency are key pillars of the EU Access Directive," the Ministry said. "Cost separation is also needed for a variety of related purposes including universal service obligations."

    It added there was general agreement that CyTA should be treated equitably with regards to the new entrant and should pay the same licence fees.

    The Ministry and the Commissioner of Telecommunications and Postal Regulation expect to begin the process of public hearings over the next few months. This will be followed by a tender document inviting applications from interested parties for the licensing of additional GSM (2G) and new UMTS (3G) networks in Cyprus.

    CyTA, which has enjoyed a decades-long monopoly in Cyprus, recently slashed its rates across the board in preparation for competition.

    The Ministry has decided that new entrants must have no direct or indirect agreement related to any form of co-operation in the field of telecommunications with the incumbent operator in Cyprus or any other government or semi-government organisation of the Republic of Cyprus.

    "Respondents were in agreement with a licence term in the range of 20 years, " the Ministry said, adding that the renewal of the licence would be held at least two years prior to the end of the 20-year licence term.

    "There was also a general agreement that operators should be encouraged to share towers to minimise the proliferation of towers. Most of the reasons cited were aesthetic; however some made a point that having duplicate facilities could be beneficial for reasons of national security," the Ministry said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [07] Dockers join pan-European strike

    By Alexia Saoulli

    LIMASSOL and Larnaca dockworkers staged a 24-hour strike yesterday in a pan- European protest against a restructuring plan that could threaten their jobs.

    Vessels docked at both ports waiting to be loaded and unloaded were told that they would have to wait until the strike ended this morning.

    European port workers are upset at EU proposals to inject competition into handling that would allow shipping lines to arrange their own port handling without having to use local workers.

    Local port employees in Limassol and Larnaca called a full stoppage starting from 7.30am yesterday.

    "We have three ships docked at the moment that won't be operating due to the strike and more ships arriving tomorrow will also be affected," said Limassol harbour master, Pambis Vassiliou.

    Dockers said they feared they would be sidelined and left jobless if the EU was allowed to proceed with its plans.

    "The EU is trying to break up the dockers' law that we struggled to create, " said Evangellos Evangellides. "We will automatically be left on one side and unemployed."

    "Dozens of dock workers in Cyprus will lose their jobs, as will hundreds in other European countries," added SEK unionist Pantelis Stavrou.

    The angry harbour workers warned they would step up strike action if the EU continued to try and change the status quo and that other European ports would do the same.

    "We are determined to continue if they insist on dissolving the port workers' law," said port employee Andreas Paphitis.

    Although several European ports staged strikes yesterday, it had only a limited impact at the world's largest port in Rotterdam, Holland, where only 200 out of 6,000 workers joined the action.

    The European Transport Workers Federation said all container ports in both Belgium and Finland were shut down and German port workers would be making a four-hour stoppage. Action was also expected in Spain. Dockers in some British ports are expected to strike on Monday, and Swedish dockers plan to follow suit next Friday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [08] What's all the fuss about: BBC journalist defends comments on Papadopoulos

    By Sofia Kannas

    THE BBC journalist who found herself at the centre of an election campaign spat yesterday stood by her description of opposition candidate Tassos Papadopoulos as a hardliner.

    The furore arose earlier this week when Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou cited the report, which appeared on the BBC website on Monday, as evidence of the low esteem in which the international community held Papadopoulos.

    Papadopoulos hit back, claiming Morgan had actually been quoting political analyst Sofronis Sofroniou and that the view was not her own.

    Papapetrou offered to resign if it could be proved that it was Sofroniou, not the BBC, that had branded Papadopoulos a hardliner.

    Morgan was yesterday surprised by the fuss surrounding the article.

    "The article on the BBC website is based on a radio feature which was broadcast on the World Service programme The World Today at the weekend.

    "It was an analysis piece which I wrote, and in which I did quote Mr. Sofroniou.

    "However, it is quite clear from reading the article that it was not Mr. Sofroniou who described Papadopoulos as a hardliner. Those were my words and I stand by them," she told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    "In the context of a search for a solution, if you are trying to compare President Clerides and Tassos Papadopoulos I think it's fair to say Clerides is more conciliatory and that Papadopoulos takes a tougher stance.

    "I cannot really see what all the fuss is about and I don't really have anything more to say on the matter - the article speaks for itself and is self-explanatory," she added.

    The contentious quote read: "The choice is between the current president - the more conciliatory Glafcos Clerides and hardliner Tassos Papadopoulos."

    Sofroniou was also surprised at the controversy surrounding the article.

    "The whole issue was blown way out of proportion, not so much because of what was said but because of who reportedly said it.

    "This is the view of a BBC correspondent, but at the same time it is the view of many other people. Almost everyone sees Mr. Papadopoulos a hardliner.

    "However, Papadopoulos' allegations that I branded him a hardliner in an article in Alithia newspaper are untrue," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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