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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-10-31

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

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


Friday, October 31, 1997

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU commissioner in Turkey
  • [02] The Islamic and Western worlds - Is a clash inevitable?
  • [03] Commerce Minister puts brakes on bi-communal business enthusiasm
  • [04] Opposition moves to block issue of title deeds for refugees
  • [05] Fury at water going to golf course
  • [06] Date set for Cordovez visit
  • [07] US urges more security talks
  • [08] Talat and Vassiliou meet
  • [09] Clerides sets deadline for decision, as Diko and Edek talk
  • [10] Simellides challenged over killing
  • [11] Koshis 'covering up for police'
  • [12] Bill could allow CyBC to show copyright events
  • [13] Man crushed by tractor
  • [14] Drought help for small farmers
  • [15] Parents' fury at electricity sub-station
  • [16] Who should deal with heavy fines?
  • [17] Popular Bank to open representative office in New York

  • [01] EU commissioner in Turkey

    EUROPEAN Union commissioner Hans van den Broek arrived in Ankara yesterday ahead of a day of talks on the tensions between Greece and Turkey that have blighted Turkey's hopes for full EU membership.

    "We are working very hard to make further progress... on important questions around Cyprus and questions about the relationship with Greece," Foreign Affairs Commissioner van den Broek told reporters at Ankara airport.

    Van den Broek is to meet senior members of Turkey's conservative-led coalition, including Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.

    "There is quite a lot to discuss," he said.

    As well as the status of small islands in the Aegean, Greece and Turkey are also at odds over Cyprus, which is in the running for early membership of the EU - a prospect which Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots in the occupied north oppose.

    Turkey says that Cypriot EU membership would only represent half of the island and would entrench the divisions in place since Turkey invaded in 1974 in response to a Greek-backed coup.

    Turkey also wants to join the EU but the rows with Greece, economic problems and a poor human rights record have all hampered its membership bid.

    [02] The Islamic and Western worlds - Is a clash inevitable?

    By Hamza Hendawi

    FORMER Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, treading a fine line so as not to offend local sensitivities, spoke yesterday of the West's "selective" application of moral values and warned that compromise and tolerance were needed if a clash between the Western and Islamic worlds was to be averted.

    "Many in the West would like to think of us as terrorists and fanatics. We are neither," Bhutto told hundreds of participants in a two-day seminar on Political Islam and the West which opened in Nicosia yesterday. "Muslims expect nothing from the West but respect. Mine is a religion that sanctifies Abraham, Moses and Jesus as prophets," said the Oxford-educated Bhutto.

    The Pakistani opposition leader was among several speakers who addressed the seminar, organised by the Nicosia-based Centre for World Dialogue.

    The centre is led by Iranian-born Hossein Alikhani, A Shiite Muslim who gained Cypriot citizenship in 1992. Beside Bhutto, the seminar has attracted several prominent experts and academics from Europe, the Middle East and the United States. A large number of participants, however, came from Iran, an energy-rich country ruled by Muslim clergymen since 1979, and organisers provided them with simultaneous Farsi translation. A similar service in Greek was not available.

    In a keynote address, Bhutto warned of the "madness" which exists in both the Islamic and Western worlds, the mutual misconceptions held by members of the Islamic and Western communities, and accused the West of applying double standards in regard to human rights while exploiting the free market and deregulation adopted by Muslim nations to dictate policies.

    "Many Muslim countries view global values such as child labour, human rights, the environment as attempts by the West to erect invisible barriers to prevent free competition," she said. "But when they see a West selective in its application of global values, they wonder whether the West wishes to promote a new global partnership or use these values as a tool to tame markets."

    "I believe the tension prints for a clash are there, but that a clash is not inevitable," she declared. "Building bridges of understanding will lead to peace, harmony and stability. One billion Muslims stand at the crossroads today. One road leads to intolerance. Another leads to accommodation."

    Speaking to reporters later, Bhutto declined to comment on the Cyprus problem and earlier in her address dropped a reference to former Turkish prime minister Tansu Ciller which appeared in an advance text of her speech.

    "Pakistan is very close to Turkey, so asking me to comment on the Cyprus issue is very difficult, because I am your guest and I don't want to hurt any hearts here," said Bhutto, whose husband faces corruption charges while she herself left office amid a flurry of allegations of wrongdoing.

    Senior New York Times writer Judith Miller gave a hard hitting address at the seminar, using facts and figures to illustrate the inability of the Arab Middle East to catch up with a globalised and more free world.

    "Not well, not well at all and it is getting worse," was how she replied to her own rhetorical question on how the area was coping with the latest world political and economic trends. "Muslims lead the world in almost nothing," she declared, before she went on to illustrate her point by citing falling GDP per capita income in several Arab countries and runaway inflation in Islamic-ruled Sudan, Africa's largest country.

    Attempting to disprove the controversial argument made several years ago by Harvard University Professor Samuel Huntington that a clash between the Islamic and Western civilizations was inevitable, John L. Esposito of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding in Washington said:

    "Those who speak of civilisational conflict have been conditioned by a perspective that sees history in terms of sources of conflict... In the post Cold War, they focus on future conflicts, emphasising differences in beliefs and values. But this is only part of the reality," said Esposito.

    [03] Commerce Minister puts brakes on bi-communal business enthusiasm

    By Jean Christou

    COMMERCE and Industry Minister Kyriacos Christofi believes the 20-point plan for rapprochement drawn up by prominent businessman Constantinos Lordos will never be realised.

    The Minister also believes that a businessmen's seminar organised by the US in Brussels next month to help relations between the two sides will also prove a futile exercise.

    Speaking on state radio yesterday, Christofi said the Cyprus problem could not be solved by trading with the Turkish Cypriots.

    He said that both the Lordos points - agreed at a meeting between Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen in Athens last week - and any results from next month's Brussels meeting set up by US Presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke could not be implemented.

    "In my opinion these proposals cannot be realised under the current climate, " Christofi said. "Because the policy of the Denktash regime and Ankara is not to allow any freedom of movement and communications."

    He said the Turkish Cypriot side did not want any approaches to begin because communications between Greek and Turkish Cypriots at any level would bring a wish for the two sides to be reunited.

    At the same time, Christofi said that as along as the island remained divided, small trade exchanges of any kind would not bring people closer together.

    "First the political problem must be solved and afterwards (we can have) the close co-operation between the residents of Cyprus - Greek and Turkish, " Christofi said.

    However, those who support a federal solution believe a groundwork of trust and co-operation must be laid before a solution is finalised.

    Dr Andreas Theophanous, Director of Intercollege's Research and Development Centre, told the Athens meeting the challenge would be to work towards constructing a system which would be the least costly and most efficient.

    "Naturally on the day after a solution there will be, among other things, a battle between the forces of integration on the one hand and the forces of disintegration on the other, within each community and within Cyprus as a whole," Theophanous said. "It is important that we take steps that will enable the forces of integration to carry the day."

    The Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen who met in Athens unanimously adopted the 20-point plan to kick start rapprochement.

    The proposals aim for free and unhindered communication leading to a climate of elementary trust which would in turn be followed by a series of joint activities and programmes.

    The businessmen agreed, however, that progress on these issues should be parallel with progress on the Cyprus problem.

    The adopted proposals are expected to be put forward at the seminar in Brussels.

    Christofi said the Brussels meeting was a US initiative, organised in the hope that this type of contact would bring the two sides together. "We are of the opinion it will not bring any results," he said.

    [04] Opposition moves to block issue of title deeds for refugees

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    OPPOSITION parties - adding substance to their verbal protests - yesterday tabled a packet of bills in the House of Representatives to block government moves to issue title deeds to refugees.

    The six bills - submitted by Akel, Diko, Edek and the United Democrats - came as the House wound up its protracted debate on the issue.

    Edek's Demetris Eliades told the plenary that through the bills the four parties wanted to show their "political reaction to a government policy they consider negative for the cause of the refugees and dangerous for the future of the Cyprus problem."

    Eliades' brief statement came only minutes after Disy deputy Stelios Stylianou - the last speaker in the debate over the past three weeks - joined the chorus of protests against the government's move.

    He told the plenary that issuing title deeds to refugees for houses built on Turkish Cypriot land belonging either to individuals or to the Turkish Cypriot religious foundation Efkaf would send the wrong message.

    He said such action could be interpreted abroad as an exchange of property with Turkish Cypriots for property in the Turkish-occupied north.

    "The issue is not legal, but clearly political... we cannot take someone's property and then protest because someone has taken ours," he said.

    He urged the government to look for other ways to help refugees' credit worthiness.

    Akel's Kikis Yiangou said the move opened the way to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to give title deeds for Greek Cypriot land in the occupied north. Yiangou said he feared President Clerides had agreed on a population exchange with Denktash at Montreux and was hiding it from the public.

    The government has hotly defended its decision to issue title deeds and refused to reconsider or suspend the process. It has also underlined that the title deeds was a long time pre-election pledge of the president.

    Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides, who is Diko vice president, has come out openly in support of the move despite his party's strong opposition.

    Yesterday's packet of measures aims to place legal and financial obstacles in the government's way.

    The explanatory report accompanying all six notes that the bills aim to "obstruct the mass transfer of state, common, expropriated Greek or Turkish Cypriot property to refugees who now hold immovable property under housing schemes for the displaced."

    They include proposals to prohibit the compulsory purchase of land if the ultimate aim is to issue title deeds to refugees and to prevent the government from using funds saved from other budget provisions to cover the cost - direct or indirect of issuing title deeds.

    [05] Fury at water going to golf course

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    GOVERNMENT policy is not to supply new golf courses with a single drop of water from the island's dams and any such project will have to rely on water from sewage treatment plants, Agriculture Minister Costas Petrides said yesterday.

    A planned 18-hole golf course near Petra tou Romiou will, however, be entitled to water from Asprokremmos dam under an earlier 1993 agreement, but only once the water needs of Paphos district are met. This means that supply will be cut off in times of drought.

    Petrides was responding to a barrage of criticism in the House Agriculture Committee that precious water was being wasted on golf courses at a time when Cyprus was going through a severe drought.

    The issue was raised by Committee chairman Christos Mavrokordatos of Akel who urged the government to revoke the 1993 agreement.

    "At a time when we are forced to make water cuts, when we keep saying we do not even have water to drink, huge amounts of water will go to a golf course," he said.

    The Akel deputy was more specific.

    "This agreement provides for two million tons of water a year for an 18- hole golf course which belongs to a private company. That is the amount of water all the island's potato growers are being given this year in order to cultivate their crop," he said.

    Mavrokordatos, backed by agricultural organisations, said the government should declare the agreement null and void on the grounds that the company in question had been slow to get the project under way.

    Petrides countered it was the Vassiliou and not the Clerides government which had signed the deal in the first place, two weeks before the February 1993 elections.

    "We inherited the situation. We nevertheless asked the Attorney-general whether the agreement could be revoked. The legal advice we received was that if we did there was a possibility the company could sue for sizeable compensation," Petrides said.

    But the minister added that it was wrong to create the impression that farmers were being deprived of precious water in order to irrigate a golf course.

    "The project has not started, therefore no water is being supplied. Moreover, the agreement clearly states that water will be supplied only after the water needs of Paphos are met. This means that, had the golf course been operating now when we have a drought, it would have dried up," he said.

    On the more general issue of golf courses, the government has made clear it would not give any water from the island's dams. Projects will have to make do with water from sewage treatment plants. A planned golf course east of Limassol will be irrigated with water from the Limassol plant, the Dromolaxia project will rely on the Larnaca sewage treatment plant, while the Ayia Napa course will only be allowed once the Ayia Napa-Paralimni sewage project is complete, he said.

    On the more specific issue of whether the government could cancel the agreement for the Asprokremmos water citing delay in the project, government officials said the whole issue had been referred to the Attorney- general's office for legal advice.

    But they said that the company had long submitted proposals and other plans to the town planning department for approval, and these were in the process of being considered.

    The proposed project includes tourist villas, shops, a three-star hotel and a golf club with a club house.

    [06] Date set for Cordovez visit

    THE UN Secretary-general's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Diego Cordovez, will arrive on the island on November 18, it was confirmed yesterday.

    According to a Cyprus News Agency (CNA) report from New York, Nicosia will be the first stop on a visit which is also expected to include Ankara, Athens, London and possibly Brussels.

    Speaking from Ecuador, Cordovez said his visit would be a "fact-finding" trip and "will of course include consultations with the two leaders to determine the possible nature and timing of future steps."

    Cordovez said he and Secretary-general Kofi Annan "had decided some time ago that I should go to Cyprus".

    Cordovez was the main mediator in the two rounds of face-to-face talks between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in New York and Glion which took place over the summer.

    This will be Cordovez's first official trip to Cyprus, though he has visited the island before.

    Cordovez said the UN had a duty to keep knocking at the door of parties in dispute.

    "Obviously the knocking has to be such that the doors will open and you will be listened to," he added.

    [07] US urges more security talks

    THE US has called for more talks on security between the leaders of the two communities because the situation on the island and in the Aegean is "too dangerous".

    Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Marc Grossman described recent security talks between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash as a "good start".

    "We think it was a good thing that these talks took place," Grossman said. "We want more of these security talks to take place and our assessment was that it was a good start but we need to do more."

    He said one of the most important ways to improve the situation in the region was for Clerides and Denktash to talk to each other.

    "The situation in the Aegean and Cyprus is too dangerous to allow it to be untended," Grossman said.

    Asked if there was progress in the talks, Grossman said: "The fact that they have the conversation without anybody else there was progress. And secondly, the fact that they have begun a conversation on security I believe is progress. Our message to them is to go back to these talks, make them face to face, work on issues of security, get this job accomplished."

    The initial meeting between the two leaders failed to produce any results, but the UN is attempting to set up a further meeting.

    [08] Talat and Vassiliou meet

    NEGOTIATION and a solution based on UN decisions were the key to the Cyprus problem, said leaders of two Cypriot parties, meeting yesterday in Nicosia. A settlement would have to take into account UN ideas on crucial aspects of the problem.

    United Democrat leader George Vassiliou and Republican Turkish Party leader Mehmet Ali Talat also agreed that Cyprus should look forward to its accession to the European Union. They diverged, however, on the timing of such accession.

    Talat felt EU membership should follow a political solution for the island and supported Turkish Cypriot participation in the process. He hoped the international community would find a way of accommodating the Turkish Cypriot side.

    Vassiliou responded saying accession talks would go ahead, calling on Turkish Cypriots to recognise that the EU's interlocutor in the talks would be the Republic of Cyprus.

    "I do not expect an agreement on these matters at present, but we agree on the goals we are aiming at," said Vassiliou.

    [09] Clerides sets deadline for decision, as Diko and Edek talk

    By Aline Davidian

    PRESIDENT Clerides said yesterday he would announce whether he was standing for re-election by November 15.

    He was speaking on arrival at Larnaca airport on his return from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Edinburgh.

    The reason for the delay in announcing his candidacy was due to developments in the Cyprus problem, he said. But other factors such as his health and popularity remained favourable, he added.

    Clerides said that he would be meeting soon with Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou to put forward his intentions. When asked what he thought of the possible candidacy of Alecos Markides, he replied it did not bother him as it was within the latter's rights.

    Meanwhile, a Diko-Edek alliance may yet be possible according to statements made yesterday by spokesmen of both parties.

    The alliance had been proposed on Wednesday by Diko deputy, Nicos Moushiouttas, who had called on both party leaders to start negotiations during the count-down for the presidential elections.

    Andreas Costantinou, Diko Press officer, said yesterday that an "open dialogue" with Edek did not mean Diko would drop the candidacy of Spyros Kyprianou.

    The aim was to "generate an alliance leading to a national solution", he said.

    "It was not impossible for things to show, things such as... a referendum," that either leader could "embody the aims of both parties," thereby attracting the vote of those previously with other political loyalties, said Costantinou.

    Edek General Secretary, Marinos Sizopoulos expressed his party's readiness "to receive a formal proposal for an alliance by Diko". Time, however, was running out, he said and dialogue would only be worthwhile if it could give results.

    "Proposals for a dialogue should not be on terms clearly unacceptable to Edek - such as the sole candidacy of Kyprianou," said Sizopoulos.

    Asked whether Edek might abandon the candidacy of Lyssarides, Sizopoulos said his party had already made large compromises and would aim for a successful collaboration.

    [10] Simellides challenged over killing

    By Charlie Charalambous

    ANDROS Aeroporos was yesterday accused of having masterminded the failed hit on Larnaca gambling club owner Antonios Fanieros.

    Tassos Simellides, chief prosecution witness in the Fanieros trial, told Nicosia Assizes that 30-year-old Andros hatched the plot for the drive-by shooting in Larnaca on May 29.

    In a fourth day of cross-examination by defence lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou, it was again put to Simellides that he was in fact the architect of the murder plan and nobody else.

    Simellides categorically denies defence allegations that he organised the attack and then tried to pin it on the Aeroporos brothers.

    He said it was Andros Aeroporos who ordered and planned the hit, and sent his younger brother Panicos to carry out the contract.

    Apparently the hit on Fanieros was planned as revenge for the shooting of Hambis Aeroporos, who narrowly escaped death two years ago.

    The court has heard that the Aeroporos family believed Fanieros was responsible.

    The witness previously told the court that he had been forced to take part (as a driver) in the attempted murder of Fanieros after he and his family were threatened by the Aeroporos brothers.

    Three Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30 and Panicos, 25, are charged with conspiracy and the attempted murder of Fanieros.

    When Efstathiou implied that Simellides had a vendetta against Fanieros, Simellides repeated his story that on several occasions he had warned the club owner that his life was in danger.

    Simellides has also said he was good friends with Fanieros' son Loukas and had no reason to want his father dead.

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

    On Monday, the Assizes court will shift to Larnaca when it visits the scene of the crime following an appeal by Efstathiou.

    The court agreed at the request of Efstathiou to visit all the places connected to the shooting.

    [11] Koshis 'covering up for police'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    AKEL deputy Kikis Yiangou has launched a fierce attack on Justice Minister Nicos Koshis for ignoring what he says is the breakdown of law and order within the police.

    The outspoken politician is furious with Koshis for ignoring him and failing to answer questions concerning rotten apples in the police force.

    Yiangou accused Koshis of declaring war on corrupt police officers but not actually doing anything about it.

    "There is a great chasm between your words and actions. We have seen nothing put into practice and no link whatsoever between your words and actions," Yiangou said in a letter to Koshis yesterday.

    Koshis, who has been heralded as an effective crime Tsar, was criticised by Yiangou for allowing serious crime to increase. Drugs were now available everywhere, Yiangou claimed.

    The deputy also claims that Koshis is involved in a cover-up concerning allegations that police officers imported drugs from Lebanon to entrap a suspect.

    His letter said the investigation was an exercise in police finding themselves innocent.

    "I am in a position to know that the report circumvents the essence of the problem and the exclusive aim of the investigation was to find the officers innocent as usual."

    Yiangou accused Koshis of covering up for senior policemen in the name of party interests.

    He called on the minister publicly to state whether it was true or not that the "police imported a quantity of drugs from Lebanon with the aim of trapping a supposed suspect?"

    "I say 'yes'," he added, citing a ruling on the case from the Supreme Court.

    Koshis was also challenged to admit that Disy party officials were on the police payroll.

    "Do not dare to deny this because there are official announcements which exist on this matter. So what measures are you going to take?"

    Yiangou is no stranger to confrontational politics. This latest outburst is seen as a personal attack on Koshis who has in the past suggested the deputy was prone to shooting his mouth off.

    [12] Bill could allow CyBC to show copyright events

    THE CYPRUS Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) could secure the right to cover events of general interest for which broadcasting rights have been granted to another television channel.

    The proposal, tabled in the House of Representatives yesterday, does not specify what these events may be, but football matches are widely seen as possible candidates.

    A brief explanatory report from Attorney-general Alecos Markides which accompanies the bill says it aims to "regulate transmission by the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation of events of general interest for which the organiser has given exclusive broadcasting rights to another television network."

    The bill would amend the basic law on CyBC to give the corporation the right to free coverage of events of general interest for which another channel has the rights.

    If CyBC has been contracted to transmit an event, it will be obliged to offer it to other stations not allowed access in return for a "logical fee."

    The organiser or sponsor of an event which has given exclusive rights to CybC will be obliged to allow one more station to cover the event - and that station can pass it on to other stations interested.

    Material not used must be destroyed within a month. Material used may be kept as archives and used only when there is a direct link with another event.

    Coverage cannot precede completion of the broadcast of the event. When coverage is from material given by a TV station which has exclusive rights, the station's logo must appear during the brief coverage.

    The bill is subject to the approval of the House.

    [13] Man crushed by tractor

    A FARMER was found crushed to death beneath the wheels of his overturned tractor yesterday.

    His body was found by his uncle, when passing through the area by chance.

    Yiorgos Yiorgallou, 24, from Achna, was killed while ploughing a family- owned field near the village.

    Without Yiorgallou's knowledge, a metre of earth from the field had been removed, causing a metre difference in level. The loosely packed top-level collapsed when the rear wheels of the tractor passed over it. The tractor overturned, crushing Yiorgallou's chest under the wheels.

    His uncle, Charalambos Senekis from Achna, found the body after spotting an overturned tractor s he was travelling on the Avgorou to Ormidia road.

    Attempts to revive Yiorgallou failed, and he was taken to the Dhekelia Medical Centre, where he was pronounced dead.

    Yiorgallou leaves behind his wife Xenia Kokkinou from Ayia Napa. The couple married last July and had no children.

    [14] Drought help for small farmers

    PROFESSIONAL "small farmers" who depend on the land for their living will be given priority help if the drought continues, Agriculture Minister Costas Petrides said yesterday.

    He told the House Agriculture Committee that a list was being compiled and that such farmers would enjoy state help - water, perhaps even subsidies, if the drought continues next year.

    "We have warned those who farm part-time that they are planting at their own risk," he said.

    Petrides was briefing the committee on measures being taken by the government to help farmers and livestock breeders ride out one of the worst droughts this century.

    Farmers' associations said state aid had still not been distributed. As a result, farmers did not have the cash to cultivate for the next season. Livestock breeders said the sums given to them as aid were low - about 1 for each animal.

    [15] Parents' fury at electricity sub-station

    PARENTS are threatening to withdraw children from a Limassol school if the electricity authority goes ahead with plans to build a sub-station inside the premises.

    A work team from the electricity authority was forced to retreat yesterday when it went along to begin work on the sub-station.

    Rumour spread of the workmen's presence and parents rushed to the Omonia elementary school to vent their anger.

    Once the engineers had left, parents held a meeting and decided unanimously to protest any further moves to install a sub-station in the school yard.

    Parents believe the presence of a high-voltage installation near small children is a health hazard and have vowed to oppose such moves by any means possible.

    [16] Who should deal with heavy fines?

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    SHOULD the powers of district courts be expanded to cover offences carrying stiff fines of up to 50,000?

    Authorities - backed by some deputies on the House Legal Affairs Committee - say yes. Such a move would help decongest the Assizes, they said. It would also establish a distinction between financial and other crimes, which are punishable primarily by a heavy fine rather than a long period in jail.

    Other deputies were not so sure. Their concern - voiced in the committee yesterday - was that the proposal, though well-intentioned, could send the wrong message that serious crimes such as employing illegal foreign workers or polluting the atmosphere, were not particularly serious and were therefore being transferred from the Assizes to the district courts.

    At issue is a government bill to expand the brief of district court judges to cover offences punishable up to 50,000. They can currently cover crimes which carry penalties of up to three years in jail and/or a fine up to 2, 000.

    Crimes which carry stiffer fines - yet less than three years in jail - are referred to the Assizes. Alternatively, the Attorney-general can send them to the district court - which cannot, however, impose fines above 2,000.

    If approved, the new proposal would cover offences such as violations of the banking law, running gambling clubs, breaking safety at work laws, polluting water and the atmosphere and employing illegal foreign workers.

    The issue remains before the committee with political parties expected to decide next week whether to back the proposal or not.

    [17] Popular Bank to open representative office in New York

    THE FEDERAL Reserve Board, the United States' central bank, has granted the Popular Bank a licence to operate a representative office in New York, a move described by Kikis Lazarides, chairman of the Popular Bank Group, as a step toward further cementing ties between the Greek and Cypriot communities in the United States with their homelands.

    "It opens up new horizons and possibilities for our Group, as New York is undoubtedly the leading financial centre in the world," Lazarides said in a statement.

    In a separate statement, the Popular Bank said the New York licence complemented the bank's operations in Canada, where the bank has two representatives offices in Toronto and Montreal.

    "No doubt the new representative office in New York... will open up significant opportunities for the group," it said.

    The Popular Bank and the Bank of Cyprus - the island's two biggest financial institutions - have increasingly been looking abroad for new business opportunities, with operations in Greece alone accounting for a rising slice of their profits.

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