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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-10-23

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Thursday, October 23, 1997

CONTENTS

  • [01] Holbrooke slams State Department's equivocal stance
  • [02] Government and University in change of heart over Islam seminar
  • [03] `You're the worst in the family'
  • [04] There is no third candidate
  • [05] Bases probe fight between soldiers and wedding revellers
  • [06] Minister approves loan to bail out Limassol municipality
  • [07] CA pilots demand 2.5 per cent rise
  • [08] Controversy over planned election changes
  • [09] E-mail chaos as internet server on the verge of collapse
  • [10] EU harmonisation 'will cost'
  • [11] Social workers to strike
  • [12] Farmers moved for sports complex on Turkish Cypriot land
  • [13] Romantica crew 'forced to sign no-claims form'
  • [14] Loophole over club names
  • [15] Russia denies reports on scrapping of missile deal
  • [16] Contaminated potatoes seized
  • [17] Arab Bank $ capital guaranteed fund said to be big success

  • [01] Holbrooke slams State Department's equivocal stance

    By Jean Christou

    US PRESIDENTIAL emissary for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke has sharply criticised the State Department for its negative comments on Turkish harassment of the Greek Defence Minister's plane last Thursday.

    State Department spokesman James Rubin had said on Monday he had no independent confirmation of the incident surrounding Minister Akis Tzohatzopoulos's plane.

    But Holbrooke's rebuke last night provoked a clear condemnation of Turkey from Rubin and an admission that he had made a mistake.

    Turkish warplanes twice buzzed the C-130 Hercules plane carrying Tzohatzopoulos to and from the island last week.

    Holbrooke - who was on a visit to Ankara at the time of the incident - was strongly critical of Monday's official US response.

    "I have no doubt that the provocative action of the harassment of the aircraft by Turkish fighters indeed happened and I consider it a mistake on the part of the State Department that it doesn't accept this reality," the Athens News Agency quoted Holbrooke as telling its Washington correspondent.

    Last night's comments from Rubin at his daily press briefing clearly reflected the US envoy's intervention:

    "In the last 24 hours, very senior American officials have raised these events with the Turkish government," Rubin said.

    "We have made clear to our Turkish allies the seriousness with which we view the information we have received and the need to ensure that any future Turkish activities do not contribute to an atmosphere of tension between Turkey and its neighbours," Rubin said.

    Rubin said accounts of the incident - and a previous one as Tzohatzopoulos was flying to Cyprus - were "indeed disturbing".

    "It's clear that flying provocatively close to the Greek defense minister's aircraft would not be consistent with Turkey's stated desire to reduce tension with Greece," he said.

    On Monday, Rubin had said he considered Tzohatzopoulos' flight to the island as an overflight in itself.

    But yesterday he conceded that the plane on which the Greek defense minister was flying was not a combat aircraft and he acknowledged that he had made a mistake Monday when he said the incident had taken place over Cypriot territory.

    "Obviously I didn't do my job as well as I should," he said.

    Greece lodged official protests over the incident Turkey initially denied the charges, but later said its planes had approached the C-130. But Ankara insisted it did not know Tzohatzopoulos was a passenger.

    Holbrooke, however, dismissed, the argument: "Even if the Greek Defence Minister wasn't in the plane it's an unacceptable act which

    does not help in defusing tension between Greece and Turkey. It (the buzzing) is a very serious incident in which human lives were put in danger."

    Athens yesterday welcomed Holbrooke's stance: "Holbrooke is close to reality and confirms his reliability as a mediator," Tzohatzopoulos said.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also lauded Holbrooke's statement but said Athens would not ignore Rubin's.

    "We accepted the positive statement but made a note of the negative one," Reppas said.

    He had earlier characterised the State Department spokesman's remarks as "unprecedented and unacceptable and ignoring or distorting true facts".

    "The Defence Minister was flying in Greek air space. He wasn't flying over Cyprus," Reppas said.

    Tzohatzopoulos, also earlier quoted by the Athens News Agency, said Washington's initial stance diminished its credibility.

    "When the US government spokesman confuses the overflight of a military aircraft with the official visit of the Greek Defence Minister to Cyprus in a C-130 transport plane, there is a problem."

    [02] Government and University in change of heart over Islam seminar

    By Hamza Hendawi

    The Foreign Ministry and the University of Cyprus have had a change of heart over a seminar on Islam to be held later this month in Nicosia, stating their support for the high-powered international gathering.

    The October 30-31 seminar is entitled "Political Islam and the West" and is organised by the Nicosia-based World Centre for Dialogue, a non-profit organisation promoting better understanding of global issues.

    Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto will deliver the keynote address at the seminar's inaugural session. The event will attract leading scholars and experts from the Middle East, Europe and the United States. They include renowned columnist and former French ambassador to Turkey and Tunisia Eric Rouleau, A'zam Taleghani, the only woman candidate in Iran's presidential election last May, and senior Shiite Muslim scholars from Iran.

    Iranian-born businessman Hossein Alikhani, president of the Centre for World Dialogue, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that he had just received a call from the university's rector, Miltiades Chaholiades, in which Chaholiades communicated to him that the university had dropped its objections to its name being mentioned in the seminar's program.

    "He told me that there had been a misunderstanding which is now cleared and that members of the university's academic staff will participate in the seminar," said Alikhani, explaining that none of the speakers during the two-day gathering would be from the university.

    "We never asked for speakers from the university," he added.

    Alikhani, a naturalised Cypriot who has been living on the island since 1980, said that he also learned yesterday that Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides had given instructions to senior ministry officials to help the seminar's organisers in any way possible.

    "Senior ministry officials will also attend the seminar, but the minister himself will not be able to attend because of his previously agreed engagements," said Alikhani.

    A statement by the organisers last week appealed to the university and the Foreign Ministry to reconsider their positions after a "misunderstanding" led them to distance themselves from the seminar.

    It said the misunderstanding had arisen from the "erroneous impression" that the seminar would deal with the Cyprus problem.

    "The seminar will in fact analyse the global phenomenon of the West having to come to terms with the growing involvement of Islamic groups, in the Middle East and elsewhere, in politics," the statement said.

    [03] `You're the worst in the family'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    ATTEMPTED murder suspect Panicos Aeroporos incurred the wrath of his older brother for failing to kill Larnaca club owner Antonis Fanieros, a court heard yesterday.

    Tassos Simellides, chief prosecution witness in the Fanieros trial, told Nicosia Assizes how the younger Aeroporos was denounced by brother Hambis for bungling the hit on Fanieros on May 29.

    The witness revealed to the court what was said by 35-year-old Hambis when he and Panicos were picked up hours after the drive-by shooting.

    According to Simellides, Hambis told Panicos in the car:

    "You didn't do anything to Fanieros, he's still alive. You are the worst one in the family and you've always been like that."

    Three Aeroporos brothers - Hambis, Andros, 30 and Panicos, 25 - are charged with conspiracy and the attempted murder of Antonis Fanieros.

    All three deny the charges.

    Father of three Simellides has already been sentenced to nine years in prison for his part in the shooting.

    During his second day of testimony, Simellides detailed how the Kalashnikov, motorbike, crash helmets and items of clothing used during the attack were disposed of.

    All items were submitted as evidence yesterday and the courtroom had to move to the corridors for Simellides to identify the Suzuki superbike allegedly used in the shooting.

    The court also heard how Simellides and Panicos were in mobile phone contact with the other Aeroporos brothers who helped them to give police the slip.

    Earlier, Simellides described how after they had evaded police in their escape following the shooting, Hambis took him to a relative's house to shower and instructed him to tell his wife to put together three sets of trousers and tops in a move to fool the police.

    "I told her to do it and said someone would pick them up... we got dressed in the new clothes and got rid of the old ones," said Simellides.

    The day after the Larnaca shooting, Simellides said he met up with Andros and Panicos to discuss how to dispose the crash helmets.

    Later that day, all three met to eat souvlakia and discuss their next move. Hambis was also present.

    Hambis told them that he'd phoned the Antenna correspondent in Limassol who said "Fanieros wasn't going to die and the police were ready to make arrests," the court heard.

    Simellides added: "I went home and soon as I got there I was arrested for the attempted murder of Fanieros."

    Asked by the prosecution why it took him two weeks after his arrest to give a statement against the brothers, Simellides said: "Because it (the attempted murder) was something I didn't want to do but did so under force and blackmail."

    He explained that the son of Fanieros, Loukas, was a close friend and that Antonis himself had lent him money to start a pub.

    Simellides also said that the safety of his family had been a major concern.

    "On the second court remand I heard from my wife that she was receiving calls from someone. It was Andros Aeroporos, who told her to keep her mouth shut.

    "After this, I started to worry about my family and it troubled me daily."

    Simellides said he agreed to give a statement implicating the Aeroporos brothers after the police assured him his family would be completely safe.

    He is now being kept at a secure house and his every movement is accompanied by a team of bodyguards.

    The trial continues today.

    [04] There is no third candidate

    By Charlie Charalambous

    FINANCE Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday dismissed reports that Disy and Diko were looking for a third option in the presidential elections.

    With the rift between President Clerides and Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou threatening to dissolve the alliance government, it is claimed a third candidate is being sought.

    But Christodoulou brushed aside such claims, saying Disy was behind Clerides one hundred per cent.

    "The whole of Disy wants Clerides to stand, but he's not being pressured into doing so. The decision is entirely up to him."

    Diko also issued a press announcement to douse the whispering campaign on a new Disy-Diko presidential candidate.

    The minister made it clear that Clerides was not under strong pressure from close colleagues to announce his candidature for a second term in office.

    "The conference has announced its support for Clerides as president, based on the fact that he will stand again. The option of a third candidate has not been discussed nor will it be discussed in the future," said Christodoulou.

    However, Christodoulou expressed the government's hope that Diko would not pull its ministers out.

    Disy president Nicos Anastassiades echoed this wish and suggested it wasn't beyond the two parties to agree on common policies and principles to allow the alliance to continue.

    But Diko fired a broadside at Anastassiades and his party for suggesting that Kyprianou pulled the rug from under the government's feet for purely personal reasons.

    "The decisions of the Democratic Party are based on clear political reasons, " said yesterday's Diko statement.

    Tassos Papadopoulos, Diko's parliamentary spokesman, said the current situation now meant that no single party could bring a candidate of its choosing to power.

    "No single party can bring a president to power, it is now up to the electorate to decide."

    [05] Bases probe fight between soldiers and wedding revellers

    BRITISH bases authorities yesterday confirmed that they were investigating an incident in which three squaddies and two Cypriots ended up in hospital.

    "There was an incident in the Dhekelia Garrison area in the early hours of Saturday morning. The SBA police are investigating and taking statements from witnesses," Bases spokesman Mervyn Wynne Jones told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Although information surrounding the incident is sketchy, it seems the incident happened when a group of locals were returning from a wedding reception in nearby Ormidhia and stopped at the crossroads inside the garrison.

    "As a result of the incident three British soldiers were taken to a military medical centre and two Cypriots were taken to Larnaca General hospital for routine check-ups," said Wynne Jones.

    He said there had been no serious injuries and bases police were still trying to ascertain the cause of incident and which party was to blame.

    It is understood the bases authorities are treating it as a "low-key bust- up" and have yet to confirm which regiment the soldiers belong to.

    Wynne Jones said any arrests would depend on whether there were sufficient grounds to bring charges and any legal proceedings would be the jurisdiction of the bases court.

    [06] Minister approves loan to bail out Limassol municipality

    By Aline Davidian

    AN 8,000 loan to Limassol Municipality was approved yesterday by Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou after an appeal by Limassol Mayor, Demetris Kontides.

    The loan had been secured by the Municipality from the Limassol Co- operative bank, but remained pending due to a delay in formal government approval.

    Christodoulou said he had informed the Interior Ministry that the loan had been approved by the Finance Ministry and was to go through. He expressed his sympathy for Kontides, whose Municipality faced grave financial difficulties generated by long-standing road problems from the laying of sewage pipes. He further stated that an accumulation of loans secured by the Municipality was also contributing to its financial problems.

    Kontides, who had earlier criticised the hitherto "unjustified" delay in approval of the loan, said his comments had not been indicative of an anti- governmental stance. Despite earlier statements that the delay demonstrated a "lack of respect for local government", he said yesterday that he was "fully satisfied" with Christodoulou's response to his appeal.

    "If we can solve the economic problems of Limassol, I will personally congratulate the Finance Minister and the government" said Kontides.

    [07] CA pilots demand 2.5 per cent rise

    CYPRUS Airways (CA) pilots are seeking a 2.5 per cent pay increase as part of their next collective agreement.

    The claim was put forward by the pilots' union Pasipy at a meeting with the company earlier this week at which both sides submitted their views.

    The two sides are expected to meet again in two weeks following consideration of the other side's demands for the renewal of the collective agreement which expires at the end of this year.

    The pilots want a 2.5 per cent pay increase in line with raises given to semi-government bodies. CA however is asking for a wage freeze in line with the contents of the proposed new strategic plan together with another 18 demands relating to benefits, flight operations and promotions.

    Morale at CA is at an all-time low. Only two weeks ago Pasipy confirmed that several pilots had already applied for better-paid jobs abroad.

    [08] Controversy over planned election changes

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    A MOVE to scrap limits on how much candidates can spend campaigning ran into trouble in the House Interior Committee yesterday, with deputies expressing concern it would only give the rich an unfair advantage.

    There were doubts also on whether plans to replace the current single ballot paper with one for each party could compromise voters' right to a secret vote.

    Both proposals are part of a package submitted by the Interior Ministry's election service in a bid to modernise the law and simplify electoral procedures.

    They include suggestions to reduce voting hours, carry out the count on the spot and abolish provisions allowing the chief returning officer to ban the sale of alcohol in the run-up to general elections. The latter only confuses the public, since the ban has not been imposed for five years with no adverse results.

    On the presidential elections, candidates must register 20 and not the current 10 days before the vote (deputies suggested this be extended to one month).

    And presidential candidates who withdraw before the vote would lose their 1,000 deposit - a move officials said aimed to deter fringe elements from running just to exploit the publicity.

    Procedures will also be changed to smooth out difficulties in the count of preference votes for deputies. All preference crosses will be verified by returning officials while in the event that two candidates from the same party poll an equal number of votes, the seat will be decided by draw.

    George Theodorou of the ministry's election service said many of the proposals were technical aiming to resolve problems encountered in the past.

    But two key provisions are likely to prove a stumbling block.

    There was considerable debate over the ministry's proposal to scrap the current 300 limit a parliamentary candidate can spend on his election campaign.

    Deputies acknowledged 300 was too little, but said scrapping the limit altogether would give the rich an unfair edge over others.

    United Democrats deputy Androulla Vassiliou said that the Inter- Parliamentary Union (IPU) had recently proposed tough regulations on campaign spending. "The IPU wants controls and we are suggesting abolishing them?" she queried.

    There was debate on how a ceiling could be enforced. Deputies noted most countries had some kind of limit, while some insisted that candidates publicise what they spent.

    Edek's Doros Theodorou proposed an increase in the ceiling, stipulations on how the money was spent and follow-up action to ensure compliance. There were calls from independent deputy Marios Matsakis that campaign spending limits also be slapped on parties.

    The proposal to introduce separate ballots papers for each party or electoral alliance proved equally controversial, with deputies concerned this could undermine secrecy.

    Theodorou, who heads the election service, said the proposal made technical sense - it would make the count easier and eliminate disputed ballots. "The only ballots that will be void will be those voters want to spoil. It will not be a mistake," he said.

    It was also dictated by necessity - there is no room left on the ballot papers for new parties or coalitions, and authorities cannot find larger paper elsewhere.

    But there was scepticism from deputies that the system may not be foolproof. Fears were expressed that a voter may slip more than one ballot in the ballot box, or that officials and party representatives present in the room could spot how he voted. And what would happen to all the wasted ballots?

    Other deputies and Theodorou countered that the system was used in many countries, including Greece, with no problems.

    [09] E-mail chaos as internet server on the verge of collapse

    E-MAIL messages sent to Cypriot addresses may not arrive, or may suffer delays as the existing mail delivery server is being overstretched.

    The server, housed at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia, was originally designed for a much smaller number of internet users. However, the lure of the internet for Cypriots has seen over 10,000 computers connected up to the web and the server is now on the verge of collapse.

    The whole system is in the process of being upgraded, but until this work is completed, interruption is likely to continue.

    At present there is no backup server and although local providers have offered to supply this service, it has yet to be implemented.

    As an interim measure, urgent e-mail can be sent without using the .cy suffix, but this should not be used under normal circumstances.

    [10] EU harmonisation 'will cost'

    CYPRUS must achieve high harmonisation levels with the European Union acquis communautaire by April 1998, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday.

    Speaking to senior government officials responsible for promoting the harmonisation process, Christodoulou said that by the end of the year two main goals should be achieved. First, he said, divergences between the acquis communautaire and Cypriot realities should be established and minimised; and secondly the issues on which the island would seek special agreements or a transitional period should be identified.

    Christodoulou said that harmonisation would "cost", and referred to Cyprus' Customs Union process: by its second stage, he said, this had cost the island 170 million. Christodoulou also urged officials to accelerate the harmonisation process in order to dilute any EU scepticism about Cyprus' accession abilities.

    He said he felt sure the ministers could achieve the goals, which he described as being of great importance to Cyprus.

    Accession talks are expected to begin in spring of next year.

    [11] Social workers to strike

    SOCIAL workers yesterday announced a 24-hour strike to take place on October 30. The strike will mark a protest over vacancies generated by retiring employees, who have failed to be replaced.

    The President of the Social Services of Pasydy, Christos Papadopoulos, stated that although the "quantity of work has multiplied" by 200 per cent, staff numbers had fallen by 18 per cent. He said the decision for the strike had been taken on Monday and would include a march to the House of Representatives.

    "We have been trying for years," Papadopoulos said, "to secure an increase in the number of employees." Various laws and House procedures had obstructed such attempts, he added.

    Exacerbating the problem has been new legislation which, despite tackling issues from domestic violence to adoption procedures, failed to provide an increase in personnel to implement those measures.

    Papadopoulos said it was a hopeless situation which had "taxed the patience of the social worker... to its limit". The strike was intended to show Cypriot society that welfare services "required the same respect and response as that commanded by the Ministries of Education and Health".

    [12] Farmers moved for sports complex on Turkish Cypriot land

    SPARKS flew in the House Refugee Committee yesterday over plans to build a sports complex on Turkish Cypriot owned land in Dromolaxia.

    The land - initially allotted to refugee farmers - has now been leased to a refugee businessman to build a sports complex to boost winter tourism in Larnaca.

    Akel deputy Doros Christodoulides said the five refugee farmers and Dromolaxia council had objected to the decision by the custodian of Turkish Cypriot properties but minutes from the committee meeting which approved the exchange said the five had agreed.

    The farmers had not been given alternative land nor had they received a reply to their objections. And he said procedures had been flawed.

    But government officials - and the businessman who leased the land - denied any wrong doing. They said procedures had been applied to the letter. Three of the farmers had been leased equivalent land, and a decision would be taken on the other two over the next few weeks.

    "It is wrong to give the impression poor refugees were thrown off their land. All the farmers were allowed to harvest their crop and will be given equivalent land to cultivate their fields," Iacovos Rouvim of Larnaca's district office told the committee.

    Sotiris Sizinos, who was leased the land for the complex, said he had submitted applications and kept strictly to the rules. Sizinos said his applications had been approved through the normal channels.

    He had given the farmers time to harvest, even though his lease started in spring, and had still not started the project pending approval from town planning and other departments.

    Yesterday's meeting saw bitter exchanges between Akel's Christodoulides and Disy deputy Lefteris Christoforou who said the inquiry had shown nothing wrong. The issue remains before the committee.

    [13] Romantica crew 'forced to sign no-claims form'

    By Jean Christou

    A CREW member from the gutted cruise ship Romantica has alleged that she was forced to sign forms saying she would not make claims against the ship's owners over and above the allotted compensation offer.

    According to Lloyds List the Romantica's crew were offered $1,000 in compensation for personal possessions lost in the fire and were paid back wages owed and one month's severance pay.

    Patricia Pettinger, who with her daughter Zoe was on the Romantica when the fire broke out on October 4, said that the behaviour of the owners, Med Duchess Lines, and the company which markets the vessel, New Paradise Group, towards her daughter - who was a dancer aboard the Romantica - and her fellow passengers, had been appalling.

    Pettinger told Lloyds List: "They coerced the girls into signing a form saying they would not make any further claims against them. My daughter did not want to and said she only wanted to sign a form for their wages. They refused to give her her wages unless she signed the form."

    Zoe Pettinger said there were several clauses she didn't agree with and wouldn't sign. "Basically I had seven people shouting at me and saying `Oh well don't sign and you won't have a fight, you won't have your wages and somewhere to stay', so I ended up signing because otherwise I wouldn't have anything."

    Pettinger said there had been no contact from the company until representatives appeared with the contracts.

    She said she was considering making a claim against the company for compensation for the conditions in which she and her fellow crew were obliged to work, but also for the "trauma we have suffered, not only from the disaster but over three months, and for putting my life at risk on a ship that I consider to be unseaworthy".

    Akis Montanios, a partner in the firm representing Med Duchess said the documents presented to the crew had been customary "release and quit" claims.

    Montanios dismissed as "totally false" claims that pressure was brought to bear on crew to sign the documents and that they had no access to legal representation.

    He said a number of seamen accepted the first four items in the documents, but reserved their rights in respect of their personal effects.

    However, according to Ken Peters of the Missions to Seamen, the offer of an initial $1,000 compensation for personal effects was inadequate.

    "People in the band had lost their instruments and entertainment staff lost the tools of their job," Peters told Lloyds List.

    The document presented to crew does allow additional claims above the $1, 000 figure for personal items lost in the fire can be made, but payment is put off to an unspecified date in the future.

    Peters who was on the island to attend Maritime Cyprus, said the Romantica's multinational crew arrived at Limassol port aboard the Princessa Victoria with only the clothes on their back.

    Peters said all the concentration during the accident had been aimed at the passengers. "The passengers were on holiday on the short-term cruise, so to say they lost everything is nonsense. The seafarers literally lost everything," Peters said.

    The day after the fire, it was Missions which clothed 120 crew including many women and provided them with toiletries, not the company, Lloyds said.

    The charity also provided phone cards for the crew to ring home to reassure their families.

    "It was utter chaos when we arrived," Peters said. He said traumatised passengers had TV cameras thrust in the faces and it appeared the company did not have a plan that looked beyond the ship arriving at port.

    [14] Loophole over club names

    CLUBS and associations can call themselves whatever they like - and authorities are legally bound to approve them if they meet basic requirements.

    This means that in theory they can pick any name they like - irrespective of whether it offends or if another club already has that name.

    To close the loophole, the Interior Ministry is proposing amendments to the basic law. The ministry's Costas Hadjipavlou told the House Interior Committee yesterday that the proposal would prevent a club from adopting a name another club already had.

    The second amendment would give the ministry the authority to reject names. Deputies said the request was logical - provided guidelines were introduced to prevent abuse of privilege.

    [15] Russia denies reports on scrapping of missile deal

    RUSSIA has officially rejected reports that it had committed itself to the US to cancel delivery of its S-300 missiles to Cyprus.

    According to the Athens News Agency (ANA), Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Avdeyev assured Greek Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis in Kiev that his country had not committed itself to the US to cancel the delivery.

    Kranidiotis said Avdeyev assured him that Russia would honour the arms deal and that there would be no change in the scheduled delivery date of the missiles - expected here next year - unless President Clerides' proposal for the demilitarisation of the island became a reality.

    On Monday, Clerides dismissed reports that the purchase of the missiles had been cancelled after US intervention.

    Clerides was commenting on reports published in the American magazine Military Procurement International (MPI) and quoted by the BBC Greek service.

    MPI said the US had obtained agreement from President Boris Yeltsin to scrap the Russian contract for the sale of advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles.

    According to MPI sources, "the US threatened to reduce or cut off its substantial aid to Russian unless it agreed to terminate the contract".

    ANA reported that Kranidiotis and Avdeyev had agreed that Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin would visit Greece early next year following an Athens visit by the country's Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov.

    Avdeyev will travel to Athens to arrange details of the two Russian officials' visits to Greece.

    According to press reports, Primakov might also visit Nicosia and Ankara to have talks on the protracted Cyprus issue.

    [16] Contaminated potatoes seized

    LARGE quantities of potatoes, illegally on sale on the local market, were discovered yesterday.

    The potatoes had been imported from Austria and were found to be coated with dangerous levels of pesticide.

    Eighty to 100 tonnes of potatoes were seized, but a some of the batch is still thought to be available on the market. Sanctions are to be taken against the importer of the potatoes, who said yesterday he would not place the produce back on the market until results of safety tests were released.

    The potatoes seized will either be destroyed or sent back, or used as potato seed in the future.

    The Council for Potato Export told the public to prefer Cypriot potatoes as these are never sprayed with pesticides before being refrigerated.

    [17] Arab Bank $ capital guaranteed fund said to be big success

    THE ARAB Bank's Capital Guaranteed Fund has been met with huge success and the bank plans to launch an investment bond fund next month, its investment executive Kyriacos Kyriacou said yesterday.

    The fund, available in US dollars and restricted to residents not affected by the island's exchange control law, is the first by the Arab Bank in Cyprus.

    "We've had a very good response even though the fund was available to only a segment of the population," Kyriacou told the Cyprus Mail.

    The two-year term fund guarantees the return of the principal investment and is pegged to Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index, giving investors the opportunity to share in the growth of the index.

    The fund's deadline for applicants expires today.

    The market for such funds and similar investment products is very competitive in Cyprus with the two leading commercial banks - the Bank of Cyprus and the Popular Bank in their capacity as representatives of foreign banks - vying for business with offshore banks operating in the island.

    The Arab Bank was established 67 years ago in Jerusalem and now has a network of 300 branches throughout the world. Total assets of the Arab Bank Group are around $16 billion. Deposits stand at around $14 billion.

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