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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-01-10

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, January 10, 1998


  • [01] Bank of Cyprus plans London listing
  • [02] Kyprianou breaks wrist
  • [03] House postpones budget vote
  • [04] Lining up before the voters
  • [05] 'A dangerous game'
  • [06] UN seek to visit captured Greek
  • [07] Turkish Cypriots held for theft
  • [08] No Othello in 1998
  • [09] Darker summer spuds could bypass pesticides
  • [10] Alpha in the balance
  • [11] Police search for missing Frenchwoman
  • [12] Higher loan ceilings announced
  • [13] Murder suspect sent for psychiatric observation
  • [14] British Minister flown out of Cyprus after wife's death
  • [15] Improvement plan for airport car park ticketing
  • [16] Land consecrated for Russian church
  • [17] Petrol dispute solved
  • [18] Anorthosis hope to re-discover form

  • [01] Bank of Cyprus plans London listing

    By Hamza Hendawi

    THE BANK of Cyprus, the island's largest, broke new ground yesterday with a surprise announcement that it plans to offer up to 15 per cent of its share capital in global depository receipts (GDRs) for listing on the London Stock Exchange.

    Addressing a news conference at the bank's Nicosia headquarters, Group Chairman Solon Triantafyllides said the GDRs will be created from existing bank shares traded on the Cyprus Stock Exchange, rather than from a new share issue. Preparations are under way, he added, for the GDRs to be traded later on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Bank officials said the GDRs were expected to be on the London Stock Exchange by April and market analysts said the move to Athens could materialise six months later.

    The issuing of the GDRs will be handled by the London financial house Salomon Smith Barney and the Cyprus Investment and Securities Corporation (CISCO), the Bank of Cyprus's investment and brokerage arm.

    A London listing will make the Bank of Cyprus the first Cypriot business to have a listing anywhere outside the island. Two Shacolas Group companies - Woolworth and Cyprus Trading Corporation - have begun the process of obtaining a listing on the Athens bourse.

    "The Central Bank of Cyprus has given approval for up to 15 per cent of the share capital of the Bank of Cyprus... to be acquired in the form of GDRs by non-resident investors, Cypriots and foreigners," Triantafyllides said.

    The issuing of the GDRs, he added, ushers in a "new era" for the bank and gives the group "a new direction which will take it beyond the narrow boundaries of Cyprus."

    The Central Bank permit for the GDRs was in addition to existing limitations set by the Central Bank on foreign investments in Cyprus, he said. Under existing rules, Cypriots in the diaspora and foreigners can only own up to 15 per cent of a bank's capital.

    News of the GDRs had an immediate impact on the bank's shares, pushing them up by nine cents to close at £3.12 in yesterday's trading. Nearly 200,000 Bank of Cyprus shares changed hands, about 65 per cent of yesterday's total volume.

    "It was an exciting but confusing day on the market," said Nicos Efrem, a market broker, referring to the share's erratic movements yesterday following news of the GDRs.

    Another trader, Andreas Loinzou of the Larnaca-based AL Pro Choice brokerage said he expected the bank's shares to surge next week to up £2.30 apiece.

    "The bank's prospects are very bright. Profits are expected to rise by 20 per cent in 1998 and 25 per cent in 1999," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    "The Cyprus stock market is not big enough for the Bank of Cyprus," he said.

    The bank posted operating profits of £37.1 million in the third quarter of last year, an 11.6 per cent increase on the same period of 1996. The bank's operations in Greece have in recent years contributed significantly to its increasing profits.

    At 48 per cent, it has the lion's share of the retail banking market in Cyprus. The Popular Bank, its main rival, comes a distant second with 27 per cent of the local market.

    [02] Kyprianou breaks wrist

    DIKO leader Spyros Kyprianou fractured his left wrist last night after tripping and falling on his way down from a podium.

    The accident happened at Nicosia's International Conference Centre during a political gathering on the candidacy of Akel-backed George Iacovou, which Kyprianou's party is also supporting.

    Kyprianou, 66, had just finished his speech and was descending from the podium when he fell.

    He was immediately brought to the Nicosia General hospital where his wrist was set. Kyprianou left the hospital at around 10.30 p.m. telling reporters he was "fine".

    However, he was forced to cancel his participation in an election programme on Antenna TV.

    [03] House postpones budget vote

    By Martin Hellicar

    AFTER three days of marathon debate, the House plenum yesterday postponed voting on the 1998 budget until Monday.

    Just after 7 p.m., following another all-day discussion, House president Spyros Kyprianou announced that parliamentary party leaders had unanimously decided to put off proceedings.

    An hour earlier, with the list of deputies to speak showing no sign of nearing its end, Kyprianou had called party leaders to an extraordinary back-room meeting to discuss the situation.

    With presidential elections less than a month away, yesterday's debate assumed the same pre-election character as on the two previous days.

    Disy deputy Ouranios Ioanides - whose party is backing President Clerides's February re-election bid - said the budget "met and exceeded" the public's expectations.

    Deputies from Akel, which supports former Foreign Minister George Iacovou's candidacy, again went on the war-path against the Clerides government. "It is no exaggeration to say that 70 per cent of police promotions in the five years of Clerides's government have gone to Disy supporters," Akel deputy Costas Papacostas said.

    Disy deputy Christos Pourgourides, not known as an admirer of Clerides, paid a back-handed compliment to the president. "It would be preferable to have a president with leadership qualities - even if he does behave like a Roman emperor - than to have someone without personality or leadership qualities, like Iacovou," he said.

    Disy's Antonis Karas slammed Akel, claiming the communist party had always opposed the 'joint defence dogma' with Greece, a military pact which he said had "given hope to the populace." Akel deputy Aristofanis Georgiou charged the government with doing nothing to help refugees.

    In an emotional address, Diko deputy Nicos Moushioutas - whose party is also backing Iacovou - called for a government of national unity.

    He painted a picture of social degradation: "Once we were friends with each other but now we are just acquaintances, lonely people seeking comfort in tourist resorts."

    "If we do not return to our old values and ways and stop fighting among ourselves the Turks will wipe us out," he said. He called for the "honourable co-operation" of all parties in the face of "national, social and moral problems."

    Last on the podium was Akel deputy Kikis Kazamias. He gave an exhaustive analysis of the government's economic record, claiming all indicators showed a worse picture now than when Clerides took over. "This government will be remembered as the one that offered least and talked the most," the opposition deputy said.

    The £1.6 billion budget seems certain to gain passage on Monday, with Disy, Diko and the United Democrats having already declared their intention to vote for it and Akel saying it will only vote against certain provisions. Edek has said it will vote against all but the defence provisions.

    [04] Lining up before the voters

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE BATTLE lines were yesterday drawn for the February elections when the seven hopefuls officially registered as presidential candidates.

    All seven were on their best behaviour at the Conference Centre in Nicosia as they put their names forward for polling-day on February 8.

    Despite the frantic mud-slinging of the past few days, the hopefuls yesterday appealed for unity and calm.

    The candidates arrived separately to submit their £1,000 deposit and were accompanied by the appropriate number of nominees.

    First to arrive was Akel and Diko backed independent candidate George Iacovou.

    He said he was fully aware of the responsibilities he was taking on and would "struggle with prudence, determination and assertion to promote the interests of Cyprus and its people."

    Outlining his pro-Hellenic credentials, Iacovou said he would strengthen ties with Greece, both culturally and military.

    On his strategy for a likely second round, Iacovou said "all doors were open for co-operation."

    Iacovou also promoted himself as the man who would create the conditions for the right kind of initiatives.

    This was a veiled dig at President Clerides, who has trumpeted the readiness of America to provide a peace formula for Cyprus - a view Iacovou treats with scepticism.

    Clerides' candidature yesterday received backing from employer's federation boss Andreas Pittas and Sek union chief Michalakis Iaonnou.

    Exuding confidence, Clerides declared: "I have complete faith in the judgment of the Cypriot people."

    Clerides also announced his readiness to come face-to-face with his opponents in a TV debate.

    United Democrat George Vassiliou wasted no time in criticising Clerides for using the apparatus of state as his personal campaign machine.

    Vassiliou had former ministers George Syrimis and Renos Stavrakis among his high-profile backers.

    "Voters must realise the challenges of the next years and choose according to their experience and not party instructions."

    Although still a popular figure, Vassiliou lacks the support of a major party and would therefore benefit if voters strayed from the party line.

    The other four candidates are given little hope of reaching the second round, but could play a significant role when Clerides or Iacovou go fishing for those extra votes.

    Liberal leader Nicos Rolandis touted himself as offering the "candidacy of truth" and as the only contender representing the middle ground.

    He dubbed 1998 as the "year for Cyprus".

    Edek boss Vassos Lyssarides called his candidature, "a true alternative proposal to Cypriot Hellenism."

    Fresh voice on the right, New Horizons president Nicos Koutsou, said he represented a change from the old guard to the younger generation.

    "The new generation in politics is claiming a role."

    Koutsou made sure he was flanked by his wife and two children to help send the message home.

    Diko rebel Alexis Galanos said he represented the silent majority within his party and fresh political ideas.

    "I represent those in Diko who don't have a voice."

    To mark his rebel credentials, Galanos accused Diko of organising a witch hunt against those who supported him within the party.

    [05] 'A dangerous game'

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday urged Western countries to halt the opening of the Paphos air base, according to the Turkish Cypriot news agency TAK.

    It said The Turkish Cypriot leader had warned UN Permanent Representative Gustave Feissel and US and British ambassadors in a meeting in Nicosia that Turkish Cypriots would take immediate steps if the Greek Cypriot side did not desist from opening the base.

    "Otherwise the necessary steps will be taken along with Turkey in response to the Greek Cypriot administration's joint move with Greece," Denktash said.

    The Turkish Cypriot side has previously threatened to open an air base in the occupied areas in response to the Paphos base.

    Denktash was responding to statements by President Clerides on a TV talk show late on Thursday that the Paphos air base would be ready as early as January 24, a statement which came as a surprise.

    During the programme, the President also warned Turkey against any attack on the island.

    Western diplomats yesterday played down the effects of what they termed such "pre-election rhetoric" might have on efforts to solve the island's political problem.

    However, one diplomatic source said President Clerides was playing a "dangerous game".

    Clerides said the S-300 missiles, which the government has ordered from Russia and which are expected to be deployed this year, "will cause such damage to the enemy's air force that they will think twice before attacking again".

    Together with the air base to facilitate Greek military aircraft, Clerides said the missiles would provide what he called "persuasive air coverage against enemy jets

    He said the main reason for boosting Cyprus' practically non-existent air defences was to protect vulnerable tanks on the ground.

    "This is part of the strategic plan," he said. "If we don't implement it, then the only use for our tanks is to show them off at parades, knowing that if we go to battle they will be destroyed."

    But Western diplomatic sources on the island said that, according to their information, the base was not due for completion until later in the year.

    This was backed up by a statement from Limassol deputy Marios Matsakis at the House budgets debate yesterday.

    Matsakis said he had recently visited the Paphos air base with the House Defence Committee. "There is no way that the base I visited, unless it was a different one, would be ready this month," Matsakis said.

    One diplomatic source said there was "a big difference between the completion of a job and the establishment of a base". "It's not just about installations," the source said.

    The same source said, however, that a large part of Clerides' campaign appeared based on the island's armaments programme.

    The source added that Clerides' was implying: "We are strong. We can fight the Turks" - apparently aiming for the vote of a certain faction of the population. "It's all a game but it's a dangerous game," the source said. "There will never be a balance of power here."

    According to a poll published last year, 90 per cent of the population supports the missile deal.

    A second diplomatic source, while agreeing Clerides' comments were clearly election-related, played down the effects it might have on the Cyprus problem.

    The diplomat said all international efforts were on hold until after the elections on February 8.

    "These comments are to be expected in an election period," the diplomatic source said.

    Referring to the creation of the Paphos air base, the source said this "was expected to happen anyway".

    "It's just getting a higher profile now."

    The government spokesman could not be reached for comment yesterday.

    [06] UN seek to visit captured Greek

    By Jean Christou

    UNFICYP was yesterday waiting for permission from the Turkish Cypriot side to visit a Greek national arrested by Turkish forces on Thursday.

    Spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski said: "Our team is up there waiting for the possibility to see him."

    The UN team consists of two Irish civilian police and a UN doctor. A visit to anyone arrested in the occupied areas is routine.

    Turkish forces in the north arrested George Constantinou Kantarakis, 32, from the Greek island of Santorini, on Thursday afternoon in the buffer zone on the outskirts of Nicosia, Cyprus police said.

    Rokoszewski said it was not known why Kantarakis had crossed into the north, though reports suggest it was a deliberate rather than an accidental move.

    Kantarakis was staying with a friend, Dinos Achilleos, in Nicosia.

    It is the second arrest of a Greek national in the buffer zone in less than three weeks.

    Another Greek national Spyros Lilles, 24, has been held by the Turks since December 20, when he wandered over to the north in the early hours.

    The Turks claim Lilles had entered a first degree military zone. His case is expected to be heard on Tuesday.

    [07] Turkish Cypriots held for theft

    FOUR Turkish Cypriots, one of them a minor, were remanded yesterday on suspicion of stealing materials from an Electricity Authority (EAC) depot in Paphos.

    The suspects are Kourciounis Salih Ramatan, 28, Suleiman Kemal Mendez, 33, 39-year-old Raif Hassan - re-named Andreas Efstathiou when christened - and a 16-year-old whose name was not released by police.

    The four were arrested late on Thursday night in connection with the theft of cables and other materials from EAC stores earlier in the day. All four are resident in Limassol's Turkish quarter.

    They were brought up before Paphos District Court yesterday morning and remanded for five days.

    [08] No Othello in 1998

    By Jean Christou

    THE OTHELLOS Festival will not be held again this year, Commerce Minister Michalakis Michaelides said yesterday.

    Speaking after a visit to Paphos to discuss various problems in the town, the Minister said there was insufficient time to organise the lavish opera festival by September.

    The decision comes only a month after the Education Ministry formally asked the Council of Ministers to reinstate the festival, which was a huge success when staged in 1996.

    Michaelides, who is also minister for tourism, said: "The Ministry welcomes the idea of reinstating the festival and creating a local agent to organise it, but for 1998 there is not enough time to organise it."

    He added that efforts would be made to have the festival staged properly in 1999.

    The Minster said that the government would contribute to the expenses for staging the festival.

    The festival was scheduled for a second run in September 1997, but was abruptly cancelled two months before.

    The Education Ministry's Cultural Service said at the time it had no forewarning of the cancellation, while the German organisers blamed the cancellation on a lack of government interest.

    Thousands of specialist tour operators, which had billed the Othellos in their brochures, found themselves out of pocket due to cancellations by opera buffs prepared to travel to the island from as far away as Australia and Japan.

    German organiser Rudolph Sauser said recently he was still willing to bring the festival back to Paphos, but was waiting for a response from the government.

    In the meantime, the Turkish Cypriot side has arranged with another German organiser to put on a festival in occupied Salamis in August, also calling it Othellos.

    [09] Darker summer spuds could bypass pesticides

    By Aline Davidian

    COLD storage units could be introduced to avoid the use of potato pesticides, according to Potato Marketing Board general manager Panayiotis Stavrou.

    Stavrou said yesterday a recent meeting between the Board and the Ministries of Commerce, Health and Agriculture had raised the issue of potato pesticides, which preserve potatoes bound "for the local market during the summer months".

    Different proposals to avoid the use of pesticides were broached, said Stavrou, centring in particular around the building of large cold storage units.

    "The Board had already approved a plan to create such facilities in Larnaca, " he said, adding that: "we put this idea to the government, which is now considering it."

    Despite consumers' reservations about buying cold-stored potatoes - "because when you fry them they become more dark" - Stavrou pointed out that only potatoes grown in July, August and September would be affected.

    There was no question of storing the potatoes in the winter, he said, as the crop went "from the field directly to the market".

    Anna Kouparis, Chief Chemist at the Agriculture Ministry's Pesticide Residue department, said yesterday strict pre- and post-harvest examinations of potatoes were handled by inspectors at the Agriculture and Health Ministries respectively.

    "The problem is mainly confined to the summer period to control insects and pests," she said, adding that a ministerial committee was indeed considering "large freezers" as an alternative to chemicals.

    "They must be very near a decision," said Kouparis, who attributed the delay to the "high cost" of the units.

    Stavrou said the facilities were likely to cost about a million pounds.

    He stressed, however, that export-bound potatoes had never raised similar pesticide concerns, and that the Board "accommodated all the EU export guidelines".

    The Potato Marketing Board ships between 140,000 and 160,000 tonnes of the root vegetable abroad each year.

    [10] Alpha in the balance

    THE APPEARANCE on our screens of new subscription channel Alpha TV is in the balance after the cabinet postponed a discussion on approving a license.

    Wednesday's Council of Ministers meeting was expected to approve, or at least to discuss, awarding Alpha an operational license.

    There had been previous delays over the license issue when the government requested a ruling from the Attorney-general as to whether Alpha could transmit in open and closed zones.

    Although the Attorney-general gave the go-ahead, the cabinet still decided to defer the issue.

    Sources within Alpha put the blame on private TV owners worried about squeezed profit margins with another channel competing for advertising revenue.

    Alpha is still planning to send out a test card sometime this month, and hopes to broadcast a full service after the elections.

    Alpha will be available through the Lumiere decoder and will show a mixture of new films and live sport.

    Subscribers will have a choice of paying for the two-channel package or just sticking to one station.

    [11] Police search for missing Frenchwoman

    POLICE were yesterday none the wiser as to the whereabouts of a French visitor missing since she failed to catch her flight home on January 1.

    Forty-nine-year-old Jacqueline Françoise Chomic, from St. Vallier, arrived on the island for a holiday on December 25. Police said she had not contacted her mother in France or her travel agent's office since missing her return flight.

    "We had some information that she might have gone to the north, but we checked it out and it seems not to be the case," police spokesman Glafcos Xenos said yesterday.

    "We have nothing new to report except to say that investigations are continuing," Xenos said.

    Police announced they were searching for Chomic late on Thursday night. She is described as 1.70m tall, slim, with red hair and blue-green eyes.

    [12] Higher loan ceilings announced

    NEW rules governing mortgages were yesterday announced by the Administrative Council of the Housing Fund Association.

    Under the new rulings, the ceiling for the percentage of interest charged, based on the borrower's salary, will rise by £1,000. The highest amount available will also rise from £45,000 to £50,000.

    The amount borrowed may not, however, exceed more than three times the combined salaries of a married couple wishing to obtain the loan. Similarly, the new regulations say that the amount should not be in excess of 75 per cent of the value of any immovable property offered as collateral.

    Payback time on loans is up to 20 years.

    [13] Murder suspect sent for psychiatric observation

    LARNACA District Court yesterday ordered that patricide suspect Athos Neocleous be held at the Athalassa Psychiatric Unit for two months for observation.

    He is accused of stabbing his father Archimides to death on Christmas Day.

    During his court appearance, night club employee Neocleous, 26, smiled at the court and greeted his grandfather and other relatives who were present.

    When asked if he wanted a lawyer, Neocleous told the judge he wished to defend himself. "I don't know if I need a lawyer," he informed the court, "as a lawyer is only for people who want to get off."

    Neocleous was told that if he wished to defend himself, he would have to wait until he was officially charged. The case is currently awaiting a decision by the Attorney-general as to exactly what charges should be brought.

    The suspect, who also tried to kill his 52-year-old mother Despo, has claimed that his real parents were killed in England years ago and were replaced by impostors. He has a history of psychological problems and drug abuse.

    The attack at the parental home followed an argument between Athos and his 53-year-old father over the truncation of his music studies in America.

    [14] British Minister flown out of Cyprus after wife's death

    BRITISH armed forces minister Dr John Reid arrived back in England from Cyprus early yesterday, after the death of his wife.

    Dr Reid was visiting British soldiers stationed on the island when he received the news that his wife Cathie, 49, had suffered a heart attack. Mrs Reid died on the way to hospital in Lanuck, a defence ministry announcement said in London.

    The couple, who married in 1969, have two sons.

    Dr Reid also served as advisor to Neil Kinnock from 1983 to 1985.

    [15] Improvement plan for airport car park ticketing

    THE clock is ticking for the automated paying system installed in the Larnaca Airport parking area.

    A recent Civil Aviation and Electromechanical Authority survey weighed up the system in the eyes of the public and found it lacking.

    The electronic payment system has mystified and confused people wishing to use the parking area for several months now, and authorities now plan to make definite improvements.

    These will include a programme boosting public awareness on how to use the system, two extra automated machines at the airport exit and two additional parking area exits.

    The improvements are aimed to be in place by Easter, which is the next period of peak activity for the airport.

    [16] Land consecrated for Russian church

    LAND given to build the first Russian Orthodox Church in Cyprus was marked out in a special ceremony yesterday with the placing of a symbol of the Holy Cross.

    The church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, will be built on land given to the Russian Orthodox Church by its Greek Orthodox brethren in Cyprus in a gesture of friendship.

    Speaking at the ceremony, Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Georgi Muratov described it as a historic event, drawing attention to the hospitality and friendship shown by Cypriots to Russians on the island.

    [17] Petrol dispute solved

    THE president of the petrol station owners association, Bambinos Charalambous, said yesterday that he was entirely satisfied with the deal signed by station owners and petrol suppliers.

    The deal, which officially ends the commission dispute between the two, gives stations 0.16 cents commission per litre sold.

    It was negotiated by Commerce Minister Michalakis Michaelides in December, after station owners threatened to strike over the dispute.

    The agreement, retroactive to January 1, 1997, will last three years, ending on December 1, 1999. It covers diesel, leaded and unleaded petrol and kerosene.

    The commission increase will not affect consumers.

    [18] Anorthosis hope to re-discover form

    LEAGUE champions Anorthosis will try to end the slide that has seen them lose their last two home games, when they take on Aek in the first leg of their Cup second round tie.

    After an unbeaten run at Antonis Papadopoulos stadium which lasted more than four years, Anorthosis suffered two consecutive league defeats, by Achna and Omonia.

    They desperately need a confidence-boosting victory that will also help them in the league. However Aek, who were unlucky not to have beaten Anorthosis when the two played a 1-1 draw in the league in Larnaca, could cause an upset.

    Anorthosis will be without the injured Engomitis and Mihailovic, while Markou and Larkou will be missing from Aek, who have a tradition of doing well in the cup.

    In another all-first division clash, league leaders Omonia take on struggling Salamina, who sacked their coach Slobodan Karalic earlier in the week.

    Karalic's assistant, Loucas Kotrophos, will be in charge of the Famagusta side until a new coach is appointed. To make matters worse, Salamina will be without three key players - Psaras, Angeli and Nicolaou.

    Last weekend Salamina crashed to a 5-0 defeat by Apoel while in the league they were beaten 6-1 by Omonia. The omens are not good.

    Paphos will be certain to have a representative in the draw for the quarter- finals as the town's two clubs, Evagoras and Apop, have been pitted against each other in the second round. When the two sides met in the league a few weeks ago, Evagoras won 1-0.

    Apollonas, who have been favoured by the draw, should have no trouble overcoming third division Apep in Limassol today.

    Four ties will be played on Sunday. Cup holders Apoel are at home to out of sorts, Paralimni, whose board this week gave a vote of confidence to coach Stavros Papadopoulos, despite the side's poor league form.

    In Sunday's two other all-first division clashes, Alki are at home to Achna while Anagennisis travel to Limassol to play Ael.

    Finally the only other third division side in the cup, Yermasoyia, are at home to Ashia, the bottom club of the first division. Both clubs will consider reaching the third round of the cup a major success.

    Matches kick off at 2.30pm .

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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