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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-01-31

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

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


Friday, January 31, 2003

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Papandreou: we can have an agreement 'very soon'
  • [02] The cost of peacekeeping
  • [03] UN gets back to normal after Anthrax scare
  • [04] Pro-solution group blasts politicians
  • [05] Ahead of the rest: Cyprus pigs take to football
  • [06] DISY rejects Tasos victory claim
  • [07] Refugees warn of street action if government fails to give them compensation
  • [08] Cabinet releases cash for storm damage
  • [09] Orphanides: our staff don't want to join a union
  • [10] Engineers add up damage from storms

  • [01] Papandreou: we can have an agreement 'very soon'

    GREEK Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday he believed a political settlement in Cyprus could be achieved "very soon" if the political will existed in Turkey.

    "I believe we can settle the Cyprus problem. We are very close, but political resolve is needed. If this resolve is there, this region will become a region of stability and Turkish Cypriots will also join the EU," he said during an official visit to Ankara.

    He also said a solution in Cyprus would serve everybody's interests and strengthen Turkey's European course, but he questioned claims by Ankara that Cyprus was of paramount importance to Turkey for its security.

    The issue would be discussed at his meetings with Turkish government officials in the context of the UN peace plan, he said.

    "A deal on this specific issue would be a very important development and to a certain degree this issue is somehow autonomous in that it concerns our two countries, within the framework of the UN plan," the minister added.

    Papandreou said he was not quite sure what Turkish government officials meant when they kept repeating Cyprus was extremely important for their country's security.

    "I wonder where is the threat? Why does Cyprus pose a security issue for Turkey? I have often said that both Greece and Turkey have made mistakes with regard to Cyprus, so let go of Cyprus, let it be free and we should just be there to support the Cypriots," he said.

    In Ankara, Papandreou is due to meet the President, Prime Minister, and Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the ruling Justice and Development party AKP, to discuss Cyprus, Turkey's accession partnership and other related issues.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday that UN the special adviser Alvaro de Soto would brief President Glafcos Clerides about his meetings in Ankara earlier this week.

    "I expect that De Soto will clarify his statement that he discussed the territorial issue of the Cyprus question with the Turkish leadership," Papapetrou said after yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

    Asked to comment on the possibility of having to negotiate on a new peace plan, the spokesman said the government did not wish to express its views on such matters in public.

    "First of all we have not been told by anybody that there will be a new document and secondly public remarks could make the work of the UN more difficult," he added.

    Talks between the two leaders aiming at reaching a settlement by February 28, will continue this afternoon.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [02] The cost of peacekeeping

    PEACEKEEPING operations in Cyprus cost over $41 million last year, it was reported yesterday.

    Expenditure for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for the period July 1, 2001 - June 30, 2002 reached $41,644,500, according to the latest UN performance report on the Cyprus peacekeeping force budget.

    The expenditure includes $1.3 million from the government of Cyprus.

    The report contended that bicommunal contact had increased last year, with 7,300 Cypriots from both sides participating in the largest-ever celebration of United Nations Day, as well as some 4,300 young people from the two communities participating in a youth event.

    Meetings with civilian authorities on both sides also took place at various levels.

    Regarding progress towards normalisation of the buffer zone, the report noted there had been an increase in co-operation between the communities in the mixed village of Pyla and across the ceasefire line. Cypriots from both sides, for example, came together in an agreement to resume repairs to a section of the Nicosia city wall at Roccas Bastion.

    The Civilian Police's reprioritisation of resources led to support in direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. They provided press and police liaison officers at each session of the talks from December 2001 until the end of the reporting period.

    As for security, the goal to ensure maintenance of the ceasefire in Cyprus was met with a calm situation reported both within the buffer zone and 1, 000 meters adjacent to both ceasefire lines.

    UNFICYP's mandate in Cyprus was established by Security Council resolution 186 of March 4, 1964.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [03] UN gets back to normal after Anthrax scare

    By Jean Christou

    UNITED Nations offices in Cyprus returned to normal yesterday after it was determined that an envelope of white powder which triggered an anthrax scare on Wednesday was harmless.

    An announcement from the UN said they had received official confirmation from the Cypriot authorities that tests conducted on the substance showed it was harmless and posed no danger to anyone.

    A senior official at the Veterinary Department, where the substance was tested, told the Cyprus Mail that microscopic examinations had revealed the substance to be grainy rather than powdery.

    It was neither salt nor sugar, the official said. "It seems to be of vegetable origin," he added. "It was not a fine powder. It was a coarse substance."

    Further tests were to be carried out yesterday to determine if there was any bacterial content, but all probability of danger was ruled out, both the authorities and the UN said.

    "As a result staff are now returning to their offices," the UN announcement said.

    Spokesman Brian Kelly said that the joint Greek and Turkish Cypriot technical committee working on a new Cyprus constitution would resume work yesterday afternoon.

    He also said that the talks between the two Cypriot leaders, which were moved to the UN-controlled Ledra Palace Hotel as a precaution on Wednesday, would resume at the UN Nicosia Airport base today.

    Fifty people, including the Greek and Turkish Cypriot legal experts taking part in a technical committee meeting at the time of the scare, had to undergo "preliminary decontamination procedures" before leaving the UN base on Wednesday afternoon.

    The envelope was mailed from abroad addressed to the "De Soto Office" at the airport. Alvaro de Soto, the Peruvian diplomat who has been overseeing talks between the two sides for more than a year was returning from Ankara at the time.

    The UN would not reveal where the envelope was posted but all indications are that it was from the US.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [04] Pro-solution group blasts politicians

    By Jean Christou and Tania Khadder

    A NEW organisation called 'Platform for a Solution: Reunification Now' yesterday accused Greek Cypriot politicians of not being interested in solving the Cyprus problem.

    The group, which has planned a series of events for tomorrow in Nicosia, is led by prominent psychiatrist Yiangos Mikellides and other professionals and believes that the Annan plan is a good stepping-stone to a solution.

    "We're meeting to say it's high time to solve this problem," said Philipos Patouras, a member of the secretariat for the coalition.

    But Mikellides told the Cyprus Mail that politicians were not interested in a solution.

    "All they are interested in is electing themselves as presidents and they are messing up the Cyprus problem," he said. "On top of that they are reinforcing the phobias and the fears of the Cypriot people about the Annan plan by telling them it is no good."

    Mikellides said none of the Greek Cypriot politicians was objective on the plan and although he admitted the government might be a little more positive, "even they didn't bother to get down and explain to people".

    He said presidential runner Alecos Markides had tried, but his approach was too intellectual. "It didn't really explain to people that they have nothing to fear," he said.

    "All these politicians in Cyprus have been making a living out of the Cyprus problem since 1960.

    "If the Cyprus problem didn't exist they would need another problem."

    "We don't want to say that this is the last chance for a solution," Patouras said, "but we've missed so many good opportunities in the past and we don't want to see this happen again."

    The Platform will be organising a talk at the International Conference Centre in Nicosia tomorrow afternoon and afterwards the group will head to the Roccas bastion at Paphos Gate for a cultural programme and a tree- planting ceremony, Mikellides said. The organisers are expecting an attendance of up to 1,000 people.

    "The event is non political. The group does not belong to one party. They are from all parties from left to right and they want to express their bitterness about the Cyprus problem not getting as much attention as it ought to be," he said.

    "Cypriots are more mature about making sacrifices than they were in the 1960s," Mikellides said. "We already went through hell and I think now we will be ready to negotiate.

    "The Annan solution is a stepping-stone. We believe that we will find a way to communicate with the Turks and improve the Annan plan between us and create an independent Cyprus. We want to show the Turkish Cypriots that we support their movement and try to let them know that in the south there are people who feel for them and are prepared to help them in their cause."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [05] Ahead of the rest: Cyprus pigs take to football

    By Sofia Kannas

    PIG farmers in Cyprus are already keeping their pigs happy with toys and straw, in line with a new EU directive.

    The ruling by the European Commission, which was passed as law in the UK on Wednesday, aims to stop pigs getting bored and becoming aggressive.

    Klitos Andreou at the government's Veterinary Department told the Cyprus Mail the government was well aware of the new regulation.

    "Of course we've heard of it, and based on the EU directive we have already amended the old legislation and replaced it with new legislation.

    "The legislation has now been passed onto the Legal Service for checks and then it will go onto the House of Representatives for approval."

    Andreou said the EU directive had come into effect in January, "but of course it takes time for a new law to be introduced".

    "The Legal Service office is obviously very busy at the moment with the Annan Plan so I would guess it might be delayed a bit.

    "In any case there is a 'breathing space' period of two or three years to give us time to introduce the changes gradually."

    The law passed in Cyprus will not be identical to that passed in the UK, however.

    "EU directives can be tailored to suit the individual country. For example, straw isn't as necessary here as it is in northern Europe because our climate is milder and drier. But on the other hand we need better ventilation in summer to keep our pigs happy in the hot weather."

    Asked how pig farmers in Cyprus would react to the new happiness directive Andreou said: "Of course some farmers will take it more seriously than others. Actually there are already Cypriot pig farmers who give their pigs balls to play with in their sty, to keep them entertained.

    "Toys can prevent pigs from biting each others tails and other problems.

    "But of course toys are not the answer to all behavioural problems. We have to be proactive not just to implement short-term measures but to ensure the long-term happiness of our animals."

    Farmers breaking the law may face stiff fines or even imprisonment.

    "The exact details have not been announced but the basic law for the protection of animals states that if you are convicted of violating regulations you can be fined 1,000 or be jailed for six months. Sentences and amounts will be doubled for those committing a second offence," he added.

    Kyriacos Charalambous at the Agriculture Ministry said steps had already been taken to meet EU criteria regarding pig welfare.

    "We have recently passed some regulations concerning pigs and EU inspectors will be here in the spring to ensure we are progressing at a satisfactory rate."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [06] DISY rejects Tasos victory claim

    DISY chief Nicos Anastassiades yesterday rejected claims a survey by his party showed DIKO leader Tasos Papadopoulos would win the Presidential election, while Papadopoulos complained that ministers acted as "highly paid propagandists" for President Glafcos Clerides.

    Meanwhile third presidential hopeful, Attorney-general Alecos Markides, accused Papadopoulos of avoiding public dialogue with him, preferring instead to use "big words" before recruited applauders.

    Anastassiades rubbished Papadopoulos' claims concerning the existence of a survey showing him winning the elections and put such beliefs down to the DIKO chief's "pious desires".

    "I want to deny in a categorical way, Mr. Papadopoulos' pious desires that we supposedly carried out a survey, that we have a survey, and that he is supposedly elected from the 'third round'," Anastassiades said.

    Papadopoulos yesterday visited the disaster-stricken areas in Limassol from where he accused Clerides of "not honouring the people by presenting his positions" and using his ministers to campaign for him.

    "They say that there is no election campaigning, while he has several of the most highly-paid and able propagandists, like the cabinet, which uses the authority of its position to carry out the pre-election struggle," Papadopoulos said.

    Clerides said, when he announced he was seeking re-election that he would not carry out an election campaign.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou countered that ministers, whom Papadopoulos wanted to remain silent, have the right and the obligation to restore the truth, which was twisted by Papadopoulos and his comrades in arms, in order to promote the government's work in its full dimension.

    But while Papadopoulos accused Clerides of shying away from publicity, Markides yesterday charged that the DIKO leader was avoiding public dialogue with him on the issues concerning the people.

    In a written statement, Markides said his opponent used 1960's tactics and mentalities, preferring "monologues and big words from election balconies before recruited applauders".

    Markides' wish for a public debate could become true though Valentine's Day could scupper his chances of scoring some points over his opponent.

    The four big television stations had agreed to co-host a public debate with the four main contenders - Clerides, Papadopoulos, Markides and New Horizons chief Nicos Koutsou -- just two days before the election.

    It is almost sure however that Clerides will not participate, but the main problem with hosting such a debate, even without the President, is the failure to find a venue.

    It was initially planned for the debate to be held on February 14 - Valentine's Day -- at the Hilton Hotel or some other main hotel in Nicosia.

    The problem however was that hotels seemed unwilling to host such a debate because of the expected business they expected on the specific day.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [07] Refugees warn of street action if government fails to give them compensation

    By Alexia Saoulli

    GREEK Cypriot property owners said yesterday the government could never afford fully to compensate them for what they had lost during the 1974 Turkish invasion, but said payments should start somewhere, warning they would take to the streets if they did not obtain satisfaction.

    During 1995-2000, property owners had lost 4.5 billion in potential income, an association for property owners of occupied lands (SITOP) said yesterday.

    "The University of Cyprus carried out a study that estimated property owners' lost revenue during a five-year period," said Lysandros Flourendzou. The estimated amount did not include the remaining 24 years the properties had been occupied, he said.

    "We are demanding that the government starts to pay back some of the money that is due to us," added SITOP vice president, Andreas Lagoudes. "There is no way it can afford billions, but it can start somewhere and make payments in stages."

    If these demands were not met, the association warned it would be forced to take to the streets. "Other people, such as potato farmers, frequently demand that they be compensated and use various means to see that they are. We will do the same," said Flourendzou.

    "We have never been compensated for what we lost. It's time our problem was solved or everyone will have to take responsibility and face the consequences."

    The money that owners lost was not only based on the value of lands lost, but also on rents they would have collected over the years or income from farming their fields.

    "If I owned a field and it used to make 100 profit a year, I've lost nearly 30 times that profit," explained Lagoudes. "The government has never taken that into consideration. Therefore the compensation we are demanding is 29 years of lost income."

    Not everyone would be compensated equally, because not everyone had lost the same amount of property. However, 90 per cent of refugees had owned property of some sort and had a right to compensation, said Lagoudes.

    SITOP has also created a 'Central Agency for the Equal Distribution of Burden'. This is a fund that deals with refugee applications for loans based on the value of their occupied inheritance, he said. The government financed the agency and then handed out loans to refugees.

    "The maximum loan property owners can obtain is 50,000. This is the value of the land back in 1974. With inflation that land is now worth 100,000 and we want maximum loans extended to that amount," Lagoudes told the Cyprus Mail. The loans should also be paid back over 20 years and not 10 years, he said, because loan instalment payments made over 10 years were too high for borrowers.

    SITOP also wants the government to increase the agency's budget so it can satisfy its increasing annual needs. "Every year, the government reduces the agency's budget and yet our needs are greater. We want the annual budget to satisfy its yearly needs," said Flourendzou. The group also argued for the Agency to be made into a banking institution and for the government to reintroduce refugee tax rebates of 500.

    "If they can't give us money, they can at least not take it from us," said Lagoudes.

    On a political level, SITOP highlighted the urgency of a Cyprus problem solution

    "Partition will be catastrophic and is nationally unacceptable," said Lagoudes "Once the Republic joins the EU, the occupied areas will become Turkish and Turkish Cypriots will come across to the government controlled areas."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [08] Cabinet releases cash for storm damage

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday released 700,000 in initial relief funding for properties damaged after three tornadoes ripped through Limassol on Monday morning.

    A separate tornado also caused damage in the Kiti area of Larnaca.

    One man was killed and 30 people were injured during the freak storms that battered the island's coastal towns on Monday morning.

    Fifty Limassol families were forced to spend the night at hotels due to the severity of the damage to their homes.

    Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said the cost of the damage in Limassol had so far been estimated at 2.1 million, with 60,000 for Kiti.

    The minister said those affected would initially receive 700,000 from the government's relief fund for damage to buildings, but not merchandise.

    The minister said the Limassol tornadoes had damaged 1,019 homes, 272 business premises and around 700 cars.

    Eighty-eight residences were damaged in Kiti and 22 in the Pervolia area, Panayiotou said.

    "Registration of damage to buildings has been completed while the recording of damage to stocks and merchandise continues," Panayiotou said.

    He added that the Cabinet had decided to give an initial 500 to all those whose homes were damaged and 1,000 for shop damages.

    "This measure is temporary until next Thursday when damage evaluation to merchandise is completed and criteria are set so the Cabinet can decide on the final compensation," Panayiotou said.

    Compensation for merchandise will incorporate damages to Limassol's port, where containers were torn off trucks and newly imported vehicles were destroyed during the freak storm.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [09] Orphanides: our staff don't want to join a union

    CHRISTOS Orphanides, owner of Orphanides Supermarkets, yesterday denied allegations that his company forbade its employees from joining trade unions.

    "The truth is that out of 800 company employees there are just three people who expressed a desire to have a union represent them.

    "We have even invited the Labour Ministry to conduct a survey of their own if they want further proof."

    Orphanides also expressed his anger at the behaviour of the unions towards his employees.

    "We are in the twenty-first century and entering Europe and yet our unions are behaving as they did 50 years go. They're visiting my employees' homes and disturbing them. Even when the employees ask the unions to stop they don't -- it's been going on for three months now.

    "Our employees are not stupid, they would join a union if their interests weren't represented by us. But the benefits our company offers them mean they don't want to join," Orphanides said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [10] Engineers add up damage from storms

    OVER 900 properties were damaged in Monday's tornadoes in Limassol, authorities said yesterday. Four hundred and twenty cars, a boat and several greenhouses were also wrecked.

    On Tuesday, Interior Ministry clean up crews struggled to calculate the total damage caused by three tornadoes that ripped through Limassol's town centre during rush hour on Monday morning.

    By last night, civil defence and district officer engineers and technicians were expected to present the Ministry with a preliminary evaluation of the cost of damages to homes, so that a full report could be prepared for the Cabinet meeting today. By yesterday afternoon, the tally stood at 400 buildings damaged in the Polemedia district and a further 500 in central Limassol.

    Today, Ministers plan to discuss compensation for families that lost their homes. Priority will be given to houses damaged in the centre of Limassol town, which was hardest hit, and to a Turkish Cypriot community, who were temporarily being housed in hotels or with relatives, said Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou.

    Officials are then expected to try and calculate the cost of damage to merchandise, which should be more complicated. This would include damage to Limassol's new port, which saw metal transport containers torn off trucks and newly imported vehicles destroyed in the freak storm.

    President Glafcos Clerides has already said the government will compensate victims from the state's natural disaster budget, until the full cost of the damage can be calculated and approved by the House.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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