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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-01-01
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Thursday, January 1, 1998
 Aids lover freedBy Martin Hellicar
AN AYIA Napa fisherman convicted of knowingly infecting his British lover with the Aids virus was yesterday granted a presidential pardon and released after serving a third of his 15- month sentence.
President Clerides pardoned 40-year-old Pavlos Georgiou along with seven other convicts in keeping with a New Year's custom. No explanation was given for the pardon, but it came only days after a public show of forgiveness by Georgiou's ex-lover, 45-year-old Janette Pink.
"I wish to thank everybody who had anything to do with my release and I wish to thank Janette for her recent statements," Georgiou told reporters outside the gates of Nicosia central prison following his release. "It feels wonderful to be free," he added.
Pink, who was infected with the Aids virus during a two-year affair with Georgiou in Cyprus, which ended in 1996, told the British tabloid The Daily Mail that she saw no reason for his continued imprisonment. "I think justice was served when he was found guilty and sent to prison, but it doesn't bother me if he is released sooner," she said.
"I think it would be nice for his children," she added.
Georgiou, who was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment on July 31 this year, appealed for a presidential pardon three months ago on the grounds that his health was being affected by incarceration and that his four children needed their father.
The fisherman's wife died of Aids-related diseases in August 1994, leaving Georgiou as the sole supporter for four children, one of whom, a five-year- old boy, is HIV-positive.
Georgiou said he believed his conviction must have weighed heavily on his former lover's conscience. "I think she was probably unable to sleep during the last few months," he said.
"My message to her is that I hope we can meet soon," Georgiou, who has always maintained he still loved Pink, added.
Under normal circumstances, Georgiou could not have expected a release till next May.
Pink, a gaunt and fragile figure during Georgiou's trial this Summer, has reportedly since made a strong recovery, which she attributes to Aids drugs and a positive attitude.
 Kyprianou fury at new 'conspiracy'By Martin Hellicar
DIKO leader Spyros Kyprianou yesterday claimed the intelligence services (Kyp) were working to get President Clerides re-elected.
Kyprianou's allegations were sparked by the chief of Kyp, Nicos Ioannou, publicly assuring Clerides - during his morning visit to the Kyp headquarters - that he would return to office after the February elections.
The Diko leader said Ioannou's statements only confirmed the "information" he already had about Kyp: that the service was working behind the scenes to help Clerides win the presidentials.
The House president said the situation was "unacceptable" and that he would call party leaders and representatives to the House on Monday to discuss the matter.
This is not the first time Kyprianou has spoken of "conspiracies" to get Clerides re-elected. Earlier in the year, the Diko leader claimed foreign embassies on the island were "plotting" to secure his rival's re-election.
Diko's chosen candidate for the elections, George Iacovou, also condemned what he called Ioannou's "blatant, provocative and unacceptable" support for Clerides. Iacovou said he would like to know what Justice Minister Nicos Koshis - who had promised the police would steer clear of involvement in election issues - intended to do about the matter.
Edek vice-chairman Yiannakis Omirou added his voice to the condemnation of the Kyp chief's stance.
Right-wing Diko forged a pact with left-wing Akel to back former Foreign Minister Iacovou after abandoning the alliance with Disy which got Clerides elected in 1993. Disy remain faithful to Clerides, but Diko's support makes Iacovou a serious threat to the President's aspirations.
Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades meanwhile launched into a fresh attack on Iacovou yesterday, claiming he had "adjusted" his election program to secure Diko's support.
He was echoed by United Democrats leader George Vassiliou, also a presidential candidate, who questioned how Akel and Diko could form an alliance. The former President said the two parties had never agreed on any policy issues.
Akel leader Dimitris Christofias repeated his pleas to Edek and the United Democrats to throw their lot behind Iacovou's candidacy.
Omirou responded by saying Edek found Christofias' "insistent" advances "tiresome". He said Akel were responsible for scuppering an Akel-Edek- United Democrats alliance to back Marios Iliades for President and called on Akel to drop Iacovou in favour of the candidacy of veteran Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides.
Meanwhile, Clerides stated every candidate was free to distribute his manifesto to National Guard camps, but said it would "not be correct" for candidates to visit camps in the pre-election period.
The President made his statements during a tour of Green Line sentry posts.
Later in the day, the President used his traditional New Year's day address to the nation to stake his claims for re-election.
"Immediately after the presidential elections, the culmination of a new initiative to solve the Cyprus problem is expected. This initiative is seen as the most significant in Cyprus history," he said, adding that EU accession talks would begin during this same period.
"These highly significant developments are the result of the daring, dynamic and responsible Cyprus problem strategy we have followed over the past five years," Clerides said.
 Hunter killed as car plunges down cliffA 35-YEAR-old hunter was killed in the Akamas area yesterday when the car he was in plunged down a 180-foot cliff.
Stelios Nicolaou, from Kato Paphos, was out shooting in the Aspros Potamos area with his friend Yiorgos Christodoulou yesterday morning when the accident occurred.
The vehicle, driven by Christodoulou, careered off a dirt track and plummeted down a cliff, police said. Nicolaou, who had apparently not been wearing a seat-belt, was flung from the car and then crushed by the falling vehicle.
Police said he was killed instantly.
His 36-year-old friend, who had been wearing a seat-belt, was seriously injured in the accident. He managed to drag himself from the wreckage of the car and crawl up to the track and attract the attention of other hunters.
Christodoulou, a furniture-maker from Paphos, was taken to Paphos General hospital and kept in for treatment.
Nicolaou leaves behind three young children and a wife who is seven months pregnant.
Police are investigating.
 Cabin crew strikeTWENTY-seven Cyprus Airways cabin staff go on strike today to demand a right to permanent employment from the airline.
The strike could delay a number of Cyprus Airways flights, though no details have yet been issued.
A representative of CA union Synika told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the company had misunderstood the union's claim. The cabin crew, he said, were only asking for the right to permanent status after a two-year contract, in line with other CA workers, and not after just nine months as the company claims they are demanding.
But CA spokesman Tassos Angelis condemned the strike as a violation of the Industrial Code, causing unnecessary delays to flights and negatively affecting the Cypriot economy.
 Deadline pushed back for information on missingBy Aline Davidian
UN SPOKESMAN Waldemar Rokoszewski said yesterday information on the location of the graves of Greek Cypriot missing persons was now likely to be handed over by the Turkish Cypriots in the New Year.
Earlier in December, UN resident representative Gustave Feissel had expressed hopes such information would be provided by the Turkish Cypriot side by the end of the year.
Rokoszewski said yesterday he was "not aware" of any such information having been handed over and that the matter was a very "delicate, complicated and difficult issue".
He advised all concerned "to wait quietly and patiently", adding he expected the information on Greek Cypriot missing persons to "come in the New Year".
The Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides had agreed in a UN-sponsored meeting last July to exchange the information by the end of September, and to arrange for the return of the remains of missing persons from either side.
But although the Greek Cypriot side met the deadline, informing the UN it was ready to hand over the information, the Turkish Cypriot side asked for more time.
Feissel had hoped the exchange of information would take place by the end of 1997. He said Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had indicated the process was taking "a little longer than expected".
 Higher growth widely seen in 1998By Hamza Hendawi
BARRING the unexpected, the economy and the stock market are virtually certain to show an improvement this year compared to 1997, according to bankers, economists and market traders. Some of them, however, appeared to suggest that a better performance in 1998 should not be seen as an impressive feat, given 1997's overall poor showing.
Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, they were unwilling or reluctant to agree with the government's recent forecast that the economy would grow by 4.5 per cent this year, but were careful not to dismiss it as a pipe dream.
February's presidential election will have little or no impact on the economy, they said, save a temporary boost in investors' confidence and spending which had traditionally followed similar events in the past.
The year 1998 is widely viewed in Cyprus as a crunch year, and that has little to do with the presidential polls. In fact, it has more to do with the psychologically significant opening in April of accession talks with the European Union, and the potentially explosive arrival in the summer of Russian anti-aircraft missiles whose deployment, if Ankara's threats are to be taken seriously, will trigger a preemptive military strike by Turkey.
The year 1998 is also important because many believe that a major revival in international interest led by the UN and the United States to solve the 23-year-old Cyprus problem will peak in the months which immediately follow the presidential election with an agreement - or indeed a final breakdown in negotiations - possibly in place before the year is out.
"1998 is going to be a better year than 1997, driven mainly by improved tourism," according to economist Marios Clerides, Senior Manager, Planning & Research, at the Hellenic Bank. "There will be better growth, inflation will be maintained at 1997 levels and unemployment will become slightly lower."
"Agriculture is too small to matter," he said, alluding to the persistent drought which has badly hit the sector and the resultant fall in farm exports.
"But we are worried about the growing budget deficit," Clerides said, referring to the staggering £550.3 million shortfall projected by the government in the 1998 budget.
Another economist, Maria Zambarloukou, deputy manager of the Bank of Cyprus' Planning Division, agreed that 1998 would see an improvement on 1997.
"Our forecast for GDP growth in 1998 is slightly lower (than the government's), but we do know that it is going to be a better year.
"We reckon 3.5 per cent, but then we do have to be conservative as a bank. We are not saying that 4.5 per cent cannot be reached, what we are saying is that this depends on a lot of factors which we cannot forecast at the moment."
Zambarloukou also dismissed the widespread notion that economic activity during the months of January and February would be slow in the run-up to the election and then the wait-and-see period which would follow.
"The presidential elections will not put things on hold since January and February are very slow months in terms of tourism and spending. So, if the economy slows down in those two months it would be due to seasonal factors rather than the election," she said.
A slightly different view on the possible impact of the election is held by Ioannis Andronikos, a broker at Nicosia-based Suphire Stockbrokers Ltd.
"At least 1998 is an election year and the picture will become clearer," he said. "Usually in Cyprus a boom follows an election and I hope that 1998 will not be an exception."
But Clerides, the Hellenic Bank's senior economist, believes the island's economic policies are largely charted by the civil service, rather than politicians, thus allowing new political leaderships room for only cosmetic changes in how the economy is run.
But if there is some uncertainty about economic growth in 1998, everyone seems to agree that the Cyprus stock market will have a good year in 1998.
"It was a bad year (1997) in the market, but we believe that we'll have a considerably better year in 1998," said Nicos Efrem, a prominent stockbroker and a 14-year veteran of the market. Efrem's positive forecast for 1998, however, is made against a backdrop of serious complaints about how the bourse is being run.
"Neither the government nor the Chamber of Commerce are doing enough to encourage more companies to seek a listing," he said.
"It is also a very expensive market. The Cyprus Stock Exchange charges brokerages a lot and brokers charge customers a lot. There is also a great deal of bureaucracy involved in buying and selling."
Echoing similarly upbeat sentiments on the market's 1998 prospects is Nicos Severis, chairman of Sigma-Severis & Athienitis Securities Ltd, one of the island's top brokerages.
In an article published in the September issue of Accountancy Cyprus, Severis predicts 4 per cent GDP growth in 1998 and tourism to break the record set in 1995, when an unprecedented 2.2 million foreign tourists came to Cyprus.
"The political developments are far from negative and even though Cypriot investors do not sound positive on this front, we have very strong indications from foreign investors that they feel comfortable with the political risk," he wrote, alluding to the Cyprus problem.
He said the bourse was set to recover in 1998, adding that the road to recovery began with the introduction in early 1997 of government debts into the market.
"This will draw institutional funds into the market and, importantly, attract foreign investors. on the one hand, the Cyprus government debt carries an enviable AA rating from the international rating agencies," he said.
"The third factor that will propel the CSE is that by the year's end or by the first quarter (of 1998) at the latest, Cyprus will most probably be part of the International Finance Corporation Worldwide Emerging Markets Index.
"It is difficult to quantify what this will mean, but our estimate is that in excess of £250 million will, over a short period of time, find their way to the CSE," he wrote.
The article by Severis, one of the island's top financiers, does not touch on some of the bureaucratic problems bedeviling the market since it became official in March 1996.
Some of these problems are expected to be solved when a joint committee comprising representatives from the bourse, brokers and the government meet on January 15 to adopt recommendations to inject life into the market.
"The legislation which came into force in March 1996 made the market a bureaucratic nightmare with charges made very high and investors having to pay high fees. That, in turn, pushed investors away," he said.
"We need drastic measures to encourage companies to list on the market; I don't think there will be much goings-on in 1998, but hopefully the (EU) accession talks will encourage some," he said.
"We've attracted no foreign investments to speak of.
"I cannot generalise here, but the foreign investors who approached us (Suphire Ltd) eventually decided not to enter the market because it is small and closed. They were not worried about getting into the market, but were worried about the exit routes."
 New stretch of highway openedA NEW section of the multi-million pound Limassol to Paphos highway was opened to traffic yesterday.
The Communications and Works Ministry announced the Avdimou to Pissouri stretch of the island's biggest ever road-building project was ready.
The new motorway is now complete from Limassol to approximately half-way to Paphos.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998