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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-05-08

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

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


Friday, May 8, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] US tones down criticism of EU
  • [02] Russia revives 1997 ideas
  • [03] 'A distortion of Orwellian proportions'
  • [04] Market regains more ground
  • [05] Crackdown on water wasters
  • [06] EAC gets multi-million loan from Euro bank
  • [07] Cyta to offer regional communications hub
  • [08] Confusion over consumer protection plan
  • [09] Israeli jailed for theft
  • [10] Officer selection under scrutiny
  • [11] Court orders hotel to pay sewage bill
  • [12] Teenagers held for internet credit fraud
  • [13] Postal unions threaten more action
  • [14] Swedish tourist says she was raped
  • [15] Europe's largest raft ride

  • [01] US tones down criticism of EU

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE U.S. government has backtracked on controversial statements made by its envoy Richard Holbrooke on Cyprus and the EU.

    State Department spokesman Jim Foley said Washington did not blame the EU's stance on Turkey for the Cyprus deadlock.

    Asked whether the US believed that Turkey being ruled out from the EU enlargement process was responsible for the stalemate, Foley said: "No we do not."

    "We believe that primary responsibility lies with the parties most directly involved. That said, we have never disguised our views concerning the importance of Turkey's relationship to the EU."

    Foley said the US could only offer friendly advice to the EU on Turkey, not judge its decisions.

    "We've encouraged both Turkey and the EU to work constructively with each other."

    In an effort to smooth over the row over recognition which Holbrooke's statement's caused earlier this week, Foley made clear: "We only recognise, of course, the government of Cyprus, in Nicosia. That is a fact, but it is also a fact that the two peoples on the island are isolated from each other, alienated from each other."

    But Foley qualified this by saying; "It is also a fact though that not all the people of Cyprus see themselves reflected in that government."

    This was acknowledged as a shift by the Cyprus government yesterday after Holbrooke had said on Monday that President Clerides "does not represent or have control of the people of northern Cyprus."

    Government Spokesman Christos Stylianides did not go as far as to say Foley was trying to repair the damage made by Holbrooke's statements, but said he did notice a "differentiation" in the wording.

    However, the government was still not entirely satisfied with Foley's "two peoples" quote.

    "The Cyprus government recognises that there is only one people, represented by the President of the Republic, Glafcos Clerides," said Stylianides.

    Despite Holbrooke's failed attempt to kick-start the peace process, Foley said the US was "willing to keep at it."

    [02] Russia revives 1997 ideas

    Russia, days after US envoy Richard Holbrooke's failure to break the impasse, has revived its proposal for the demilitarisation of Cyprus.

    In statements in Moscow carried by Inter-Tass yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Valery Nesterushkin said Russia was seeking a solution that would be fair to the two communities in Cyprus.

    "We believe Russian proposals advanced in April 1997 for basic principles of the Cyprus settlement and the recent proposal for demilitarisation of the Republic of Cyprus and safeguard of its citizens' security are highly topical in the present complicated situation in and around Cyprus," he said.

    He added that Russia vigorously supported the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-general on Cyprus.

    Russia's 1997 proposals set out the basic principles for a settlement. They stipulated that a comprehensive settlement should be based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation, should ensure the existence of an independent and territorial integral state with a single sovereignty, single international legal personality and a single citizenship. The federation should reflect the political equality of the island's two communities.

    [03] 'A distortion of Orwellian proportions'

    THE U.S. administration's position on the S-300s is "a distortion of Orwellian proportions", according to a letter sent to US President Bill Clinton by the American Hellenic Institute.

    The letter, sent to protest recent statements made by White House Spokesman Mike McCurry in which he criticised the decision to buy the missiles, says every country has a right to self-defence under international law and the UN Charter.

    It points out that the missiles are defensive, and pose no offensive threat to anyone, least of all Turkey.

    Turkey, the letter adds, has an "overwhelmingly large population, maintains the areas' largest land army and represents the largest defence expenditure in Nato as a percentage of its GDP."

    The Institute also stressed that unless the US administration recognised that Cyprus was the victim and Turkey the belligerent aggressor, "there will be no progress on the Cyprus problem."

    [04] Market regains more ground

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARE prices, badly dented by two steep drops at the start of the week, took another step on the road back to full recovery yesterday when the official all-share index rose by 1.20 per cent to close at 91.11.

    All of the market's indices, save that of tourism and miscellaneous, gained in yesterday's trade, with the banks index rising the most, by 1.72 per cent.

    A frenzy of panic selling, partly caused by the latest impasse in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, rattled the market on Monday and Tuesday, bringing down prices by a whooping 5.42 per cent.

    The market began to rally on Wednesday with a 0.93 per cent rise in prices.

    "The market has been steadily gaining for four months and it desperately needed a consolidation," said John Pitsilis, a market analyst with Share Link Securities. "But what happened on Tuesday was too much for one day."

    Turning to the market's immediate prospects, Pitsilis warned that if the upward trend of yesterday and Wednesday was to continue, the market would take a fresh beating.

    His view was echoed by Stavros Agrotis of Cisco, the investment and securities arm of the Bank of Cyprus. "I would be glad if the market stuck to its present level for some time rather than rise more."

    Cisco, the island's biggest brokerage, was targeted for some of the blame apportioned this week over Tuesday's drop of 3.59 per cent, with some brokers accusing it of starting off the panic by its substantial offloading of shares.

    Cisco denies the charges and counters that smaller brokerages closely monitor and often copy its trading tactics in an exaggerated fashion.

    The market had gained about 20 per cent since the start of the year, with bank shares the main beneficiaries. The rally from a disastrous 1997 had been on the back of positive sentiment created by impressive profits posted by banks, the pillars of the bourse, and generous forecasts for tourism, the economy's backbone.

    "It is not a secret that Cisco wants to buy Bank of Cyprus shares cheaply for the GDRs," said one market analyst who did not wish to be named. "So, they sold a lot at a vast profit and bought back cheaply."

    The Bank of Cyprus Group said in January it was turning 15 per cent of its share capital into Global Depository Receipts. The GDRs were listed on the London Stock Exchange last month.

    "We don't have the depth of other markets overseas, which can go down by five and 10 per cent and still survive," commented the analyst on this week's upheavals. "But we don't have their volatility either."

    [05] Crackdown on water wasters

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    PEOPLE caught wasting water on hosing their cars or their gardens will pay double the current fine, and more public staff will be put on the look-out for such water restriction violations.

    The House of Representatives' Agriculture Committee yesterday approved a new bill that will see a doubling of the fine for water wastage and give more public servants the authority to enforce on-the-spot fines.

    The fine for people caught wasting water on washing cars or hosing gardens will rise from 15 to 30.

    The new bill comes in the wake of fresh warnings by Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Costas Themistocleous, who earlier this week stressed the island's dire water situation.

    Water Development Department official, Nicos Tsiourtis, yesterday warned that dams were practically empty and underwater resources were depleted. Assuming water saving measures continue to be implemented, he stressed, there will be enough water to last until the end of the year. But if people continue to violate the restrictions, the Water Development Department will have to enforce even stricter cuts.

    Tsiourtis highlighted to the Committee that a few people were causing a great deal of damage. It is these people that the new bill -- aimed as a deterrent -- hopes to target.

    The issuing of fines is currently a local council matter, but the Committee noted that few councils actually enforced fines. The new bill will thus extend the number of officials on the prowl for water violations.

    Cyprus' water crisis has intensified since last year, with water reserves falling from 23.6 per cent of dam capacity in 1997 to 15.1 per cent this year.

    In a separate development, the Water Board yesterday called for an increase in what it described as "unreasonably low" water charges.

    Water Board officials claim that while the government is charging them more for water, the House of Representatives -- with party expediencies in mind - - keeps blocking moves to pass on the cost to consumers.

    The Water Board has been calling for the increase since 1994. In that period, the price the board pays the Agriculture Ministry for water has risen by 24 per cent.

    [06] EAC gets multi-million loan from Euro bank

    THE ELECTRICITY Authority (EAC) yesterday secured a 30 million ECU (17.5 Million) loan to boost the island's power supply into the next century.

    The loan was received from the European Investment Bank, and made available under the "Euro-Med" partnership to increase the capacity of the transmission grid.

    The repayment period for the loan is 15 years, with the interest rate set at around 4.5 per cent.

    The project is part of a capital investment programme started in 1994 to meet increasing demand, and completion is expected in 2002.

    "This will pave the way for stronger co-operation with the EAC," said EIB director for the Mediterranean Jean-Louis Biancarelli.

    He has also expressed the bank's willingness to provide financing for the island's EU accession process.

    "We will provide some financing to improve the infrastructure and the environment for small-scale enterprises' investment in Cyprus."

    [07] Cyta to offer regional communications hub

    THE CYPRUS Telecommunication Authority (Cyta) has won a prestigious contract to install and operate a communications-satellite control station for the European Organisation of Satellite Services, Eutelsat.

    The 'DAMA' service provided by the station allows for communication from any point within the catchment area -- in this case Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and North Africa -- by transferring the signal from station to station.

    Calls will now be routed via satellite to the Cyprus station then through the Cyta network to the call recipient.

    The service is expected to come into operation in the second half of this year. Contracts for the establishment of the DAMA station have already been signed.

    [08] Confusion over consumer protection plan

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    NEW REGULATIONS to protect consumers from dangerous household electrical appliances are on track, but there is disagreement on who should enforce them and how.

    The issue came before the House Commerce Committee yesterday, with George Mitides, director of the government's consumer protection service, warning that the danger was very real.

    According to Mitides, a large number of electrical appliances imported from the Far East are "blatantly dangerous." So far, authorities have relied on obliging importers to issue announcements about dangerous appliances and recall them from the market.

    The consumer protection service has also come out with warnings of its own - - as in the case of some brands of Christmas tree lights.

    But the new regulations -- in line with the comprehensive consumer protection law approved by the House of Representatives four years ago -- sets clearer requirements.

    Electrical appliances should bear the CE hallmark -- a guarantee that the appliance has been checked and conforms to EU safety requirements. Importers must stock details on every model they import, which authorities will be able to check.

    But there were discrepancies in the proposal, which importers and other officials were quick to point out.

    Importers said they recognised and welcomed the regulations, but said that a CE sign should be adequate. Obliging importers to keep records on every single appliance would be a complicated procedure.

    The Chamber of Commerce noted that it was unclear whether locally made refrigerators would be covered. Local manufacturers may not be in a position to abide by EU requirements, and the regulations might close them down.

    The Technical Chamber for its part queried who should be responsible for checking that the regulations were being adhered to -- particularly since there was provision for non-CE stamped appliances to be vetted. Did the consumer protection service have the knowledge, equipment and expertise to carry out these checks, they wondered?

    The department has a staff of 29, but under the new regulations the Minister of Commerce can assign responsibility for inspection as he sees fit.

    The government's engineering department -- entrusted with inspecting all electrical goods so far -- also had reservations about the regulations. It said the provisions of the bill did not comply fully with European Union directives, and questioned the validity of giving the job of inspection to the consumer protection service.

    The committee decided to give interested parties three weeks to try to reach a compromise formula.

    [09] Israeli jailed for theft

    AN ISRAELI national found guilty on three counts of theft was jailed for six months yesterday by a Paphos District Court.

    David Cicinachvili, 51, received concurrent six-month sentences for breaking into three jewellery shops in the Paphos area.

    The offences took place between April 21-22.

    [10] Officer selection under scrutiny

    THE HOUSE Defence Committee is again looking for foolproof procedures to select cadet officers -- just two months before new recruits join up for their compulsory military service.

    The aim is for an established procedure that would scotch rumours that only those with contacts become officers.

    Disy deputy Averof Neophytou, one of two deputies to bring the issue to the committee yesterday, was explicit:

    "I come from the smallest district of Cyprus. We are still only in May. Yet I have already received telephone calls from 70 parents insisting their sons should become officers. Try telling them that there are objective criteria," he said.

    He proposed that candidates take examinations taken by school leavers who want to study at military schools in Greece, once they have satisfied physical tests.

    But Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou and other officials said there could be problems with the proposal, particularly since the exams are taken before conscription starts. He suggested the matter be referred to the Attorney-general.

    The committee decided to continue its discussion at future meetings.

    [11] Court orders hotel to pay sewage bill

    THE ELIAS Beach Hotel in Limassol was ordered to pay 25,000 pounds in local sewerage fees yesterday after the Limassol district court resolved against its claim that the fees were unfair.

    The Elias Beach is the first Limassol hotel to be fined and 400 other hotels, facing a total fine of 4.5 million, appear to be facing the same fate.

    Fifteen similar lawsuits are expected to appear come before the court today.

    Limassol Court overruled the hotel's arguments, stressing that the enforcement of the sewerage fees as well as the assessment method of the Limassol Sewerage Council was legal and justified.

    The main point of contention was the assessment method, which charges hotels more than households, shops and other categories.

    The case goes back to 1993, when the Sewerage Council sued the hotels for refusing to pay sewerage fees that they described as exorbitant. Hotels had previously taken their case to the High Court, which also ruled against them, finding that the rate of the fees was fair.

    [12] Teenagers held for internet credit fraud

    THREE minors were yesterday arrested in Paphos after a spate of credit card frauds.

    The three boys -- one South African Cypriot and one British, both 17, and a Russian aged 15 -- were arrested on suspicion of illegally using a credit card to buy goods over the internet. Police began investigations after the card's owner made a complaint to the bank.

    The culprits all attend school together and were apprehended there yesterday morning after trying to use the same credit card to make purchases at a Paphos supermarket and a petrol station.

    The three, who cannot be named because of their age, were remanded in custody by Paphos District Court for two days.

    [13] Postal unions threaten more action

    By Charlie Charalambous

    FOLLOWING yesterday's crippling postal strike, unions are threatening further disruption if the government fails to resolve the dispute over hourly-paid employment.

    Postal workers backed by the Pasydy civil service union claim the government has gone back on an agreement to abolish hourly-pay in the public service.

    "There is no more room for manoeuvre. In 1995, the Council of Ministers decided that hourly-paid workers would not be used in civil service positions, but this is not being heeded in the postal service," Pasydy general secretary Glafcos Hadjipetrou said yesterday.

    He warned that strike action could spread from the postal service to other parts of the public sector where staff are also paid by the hour.

    "There will be strikes elsewhere where the same practice is going on. According to our investigations, the customs service has 57 hourly-paid workers in civil service posts."

    Postal union boss Makis Pelikanos said an overtime ban would remain in force and further national strikes could follow if the government did not act to rectify a situation it claimed to oppose.

    But Hadjipetrou believes there is a more sinister reason why the government has not moved to phase out hourly-paid workers in favour of permanent posts.

    "We have shown good will on our side, but the situation has not changed because the government is determined to privatise the postal service."

    The Finance Ministry said yesterday it was not prepared to discuss any of the issues as long as Pasydy supported industrial action.

    It claimed that all the demands were being dealt with at the negotiating table and said no deadlock had been declared to warrant yesterday's disruption.

    [14] Swedish tourist says she was raped

    A 29-YEAR-OLD Swedish tourist claims she was raped after accepting a ride with a stranger she thinks she will not be able to identify.

    The incident allegedly occurred at 1 am on Thursday morning while the woman was walking to her hotel in Ayia Napa. According to police, the woman accepted a ride in the car of a stranger, who took her to an obscure place where they had sex, using a condom and without the man resorting to violence.

    The tourist reported the incident to the police once the man returned her to her hotel, claiming she was raped and that she consented to sex because she was afraid the man would otherwise harm her.

    Famagusta CID are investigating the case.

    [15] Europe's largest raft ride

    WATERWORLD waterpark in Ayia Napa launched the largest raft ride in Europe on May 1. 'Apollo's Plunge', named after the mythological sun god, opened ahead of three other attractions to be launched at the park in June.

    These will also derive their names from Greek mythology, bearing such titles as 'Poseidon's Wave Pool', the adult-only pool 'Aphrodite's Baths' and the 'Children's Trojan Adventure'.

    Although catering for children, the Trojan Adventure guarantees loads of fun for the entire family. It is an interactive play structure with multi- level platforms and many games and activities including a giant tipping bucket to soak the whole family in matter of seconds.

    The Waterworld Waterpark is in its third season and boasts existing attractions such as the two high-speed, high-thrill 'Kamikaze Rides', the three 'Serpentine Slides', which take punters through 100 metres of twists and turns, the 'Chariot Chase' with a 70-metre drop into the 'Atlantis Activity Pool' and 'River Odyssey for those who prefer a more relaxing ride.

    Along with the rides, Waterworld also boasts pleasant bars and restaurants for the enjoyment of their guests, which last year reached hundreds of thousands.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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