|Tuesday, 28 November 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-06-02
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Tuesday, June 2, 1998
 Share prices hit by evacuation reportBy Hamza Hendawi
SHARE prices racked up more losses yesterday when the market was hit anew by nervous selling caused by a report in London's Sunday Times on a British contingency plan to evacuate 250,000 people from Cyprus in the event of a war.
The fall, by 2.08 per cent to 83.24, was on a thin volume of £1.07 million and hit all seven sectors of the bourse.
"The market was very nervous," said John Pitsillos of Share Link securities. "The (Sunday Times) report will certainly have an impact on tourism and there will certainly be cancellations in the next few weeks," he told the Cyprus Mail. "Would you come to Cyprus if you read that report?"
The Cyprus economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which earns the island nearly £1 billion every year. The industry, the biggest single employer, accounts for some 20 per cent of GDP.
"The story had a clearly negative impact on sentiment," said investment consultant Panos Panayiotou of AAA United Stockbrokers. "It will affect tourism and this will filter down to the fundamentals of the economy," he said.
Cyprus is a particularly popular destination with British tourists, at least 800,000 of whom are expected to visit the island in 1998. Tourism authorities expect 1998 to be a record year for the industry with a rise of up to 10 per cent in arrivals on 1997's 2.06 million.
This forecast has in turn led to projections of a GDP growth of 4.0-4.50 per cent in 1998, up from 2.5 per cent last year and a meagre 1.9 per cent in 1996.
"We are in for a very bumpy ride this summer," said Share Link's Pitsillos. He was referring to the increasing publicity in the local and foreign media over the scheduled arrival late this summer of Russian-made S-300 anti- aircraft missiles. The missiles have a range of up to 150 kilometres, and Turkey has threatened to prevent their deployment on the island, by military means if necessary.
Government ministers have repeatedly warned that the extensive media coverage given to the missiles, whose purchase was first announced in January 1997, was harming the economy.
Heightening the tension, US envoy Thomas Miller said last week in Nicosia that things could get worse on the island before they can get better, and that their deployment could trigger Turkish hostilities rather than serve as a deterrent.
Since May the market has accumulated losses of more than 10 per cent of its value, or half the gains it had made in the first four months of the year.
The decline in share prices has not spared the bourse's blue-chips. Bank of Cyprus shares closed yesterday down by six cents at £3.44, completing a 12 per cent decline since the start of May. Popular Bank and Hellenic Bank shares have registered even more losses since last month - 13 per cent and 13.7 per cent respectively.
Stocks of the three banks account for nearly 65 per cent of the market's capitalisation - £1.33 billion in April - and are widely viewed as the engine of the bourse.
In a separate development yesterday, two of the top five stock brokerages in the island - Severis & Athienitis Securities Ltd and the smaller AL Pro Choice Stockbrokers -- announced their merger. The two have a combined market share of about 20 per cent.
Severis & Athienitis said in a statement that as a result of the agreement, it would execute all the Cyprus Stock Exchange transactions of AL, which will retain its client base and continue to market its products and those of SAS to its customers.
AL's senior broker Andreas Leonidou will join Severis as director of marketing, and the name of Severis & Athienitis Securities will change to reflect the incorporation of AL.
 Britain accused of using spoiling tacticsBy Jean Christou
CYPRUS yesterday accused Britain of leaking damaging information in an effort to prevent the deployment of Russian S-300 missiles on the island.
Commenting on an article in the Sunday Times which revealed a contingency plan by Britain to evacuate up to 250,000 tourists from the island, the government warned of a cooling of relations between the two countries.
"The leaking of information by the British Ministry of defence about the plan they have developed in the event of a crisis in Cyprus is unusual," government spokesman Christos Stylianides said.
"The Cyprus government believes this step was taken as leverage for the cancellation or non-delivery of the missiles to Cyprus. The action does not make us change our position, nor does it contribute to the good relations between Cyprus and the United Kingdom."
Russia and Greece also criticised Britain over the article.
Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said the report aimed to exert pressure on he Cyprus government to cancel the missile deal.
Russian ambassador to Cyprus Georgi Muratov called the report "malicious".
The Sunday Times article, by its defence correspondent Hugh McManners, said Britain was planning the biggest airlift since the second world war because of mounting fears over war in Cyprus.
The paper said that civilian as well as RAF planes supported by the Royal Navy and a brigade of soldiers are earmarked to airlift holidaymakers from "the hotspot that is now the government's chief concern".
Quoting Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources, the paper said tented evacuation camps at the RAF airbase at Akrotiri and at Episkopi base would house people until they could be flown out at a rate of 2,000 to 3,000 people every 24 hours.
According to the paper's sources the missiles are due in July, the height of the summer season, but the MoD is hoping that their delivery can be delayed.
"As the crisis develops the Foreign Office will issue warnings not to travel to Cyprus," the paper said.
Stylianides said that those who leaked the information on the plan had underestimated the intelligence and determination of the Cypriot people and insulted their dignity.
He said the government is aware of Britain's position on the missiles and that Britain has been informed about the reasons for the purchase.
As the government and sections of the tourist industry on the island yesterday expressed disquiet, British officials quickly moved to initiate a damage-limitation exercise.
British High Commissioner David Madden had a meeting with Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides after which he said it is his government's right to prepare contingency plans on the basis of a worst-case scenario.
Madden also said there was no ulterior motive to the article, and that the UK has not issued a travel advisory on Cyprus.
Kate O'Connor, spokeswoman for the MoD, told the Cyprus Mail the article in the Sunday Times was "extremely sensational".
"It was making news where there is none," O'Connor said.
"We are constantly monitoring the situation all over the world and at the moment Cyprus is one of those. The situation is changing and the plan reflects that. Just because we have a plan doesn't mean we have to use it."
In Nicosia British High Commission spokesman Piers Cazalet said it was not a deliberate leak by the British government.
He said the High Commission had received some "panicky calls" because of the article, "but we are stressing there is no reason to panic."
Similar sentiments were expressed by the British bases authorities yesterday, which denied that the recent upgrading of Kingsfield airstrip at Dhekelia had anything to do with the contingency plan. Ten days ago a Hercules aircraft landed and took off twice at the airstrip, transporting some 120 soldiers in a parachuting exercise.
"Things like the upgrading of airfields are all forecast and budgeted for years ahead," a bases spokesman said. "It is just a coincidence."
 Pilots and airline fail to solve promotion problemsBy Andrew Adamides
CYPRUS Airways (CY) pilots and management will meet again today to continue with attempts to thrash out a solution to their collective agreement problems.
The pilots are demanding that as part of their renewed collective agreement, they be promoted to top Eurocypria jobs if they have been in service longer than their Eurocypria counterparts who might otherwise take up the posts.
The airline's spokesman Tassos Angelis told the Cyprus Mail last night that the negotiations had so far not led to a solution, so talks would continue in a 6pm meeting today. Neither side issued any official statement.
Meanwhile, the CY stewards' union Cynika said yesterday no meeting had yet been arranged with management to discuss its grievances, and their planned 24-hour strike this Friday will go ahead as planned.
The stewards are demanding an overall 4.5 per cent pay increase. A statement issued by the union added that anyone wishing to apportion blame for the strike should find the airline at fault - not the stewards.
A CY spokesman confirmed that no meeting had yet been arranged with Cynika, and said it did not look as if there would be one before Friday.
 Government in fresh blow over taxesBy Hamza Hendawi
IN A FRESH dent to government prestige, the House's powerful Finance Committee yesterday decided to shelve for five months proposals submitted last week by Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou to raise taxes.
Members of the committee met behind closed doors to debate four sections of a five-part package of steep tax increases designed to close a growing fiscal deficit.
The meeting ended with a decision to look at the proposals again in October, when the House reconvenes after the summer break.
The decision, announced to reporters by Committee Chairman and government supporter Alexis Galanos, came four days after the House dealt the government a humiliating defeat when it threw out the fifth part of that package.
That part proposed fuel price hikes and an increase in taxes on all-terrain vehicles, together with changes in laws governing the import of second-hand cars.
If the government wanted the House to look at the four remaining parts urgently, it would have said so, said Galanos. "The Finance Minister never said the rest were urgent... We'll look at the issue at the right time."
Citing lack of adequate advance consultations and an election promise not to raise taxes, junior coalition partners in President Glafcos Clerides' administration added to the government's embarrassment by joining the opposition in voting down the proposals last Thursday night.
The defeat left Christodoulou the target of harsh attacks by political parties, including his own Disy party - the coalition's senior partner - and cast serious doubts on his political judgment and career.
But the minister appeared unperturbed by the crisis, displaying defiance and bravado in the face of the storm he caused.
"The government accepted the proportion of responsibility due to it for the trouble which has been created," government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday in his daily briefing.
President Clerides himself has so far remained aloof, maintaining a public silence on the crisis which, among other things, strained relations between his administration's coalition partners and raised fundamental questions about his style of government.
Yesterday's decision to put the remainder of the package on a back burner also meant that Cypriots have won a temporary reprieve from some of the higher taxation proposed. These would have included an immediate increase in VAT from eight per cent to 12 per cent, an additional five-pound monthly tax on mobile phones, and five per cent VAT on services and goods currently exempt.
Christodoulou has argued that the measures were needed to rein in a spiralling deficit and to give the European Union a convincing sign that the island was introducing serious reform.
 Man 'lit airport fire to avoid deportation'A JORDANIAN man married to a Cypriot lit a fire in the detention room of Larnaca airport on Sunday night to avoid deportation, a court heard yesterday.
The fire broke out at around 8pm in the men's detention room at the airport where seven illegal immigrants were being kept in police custody awaiting deportation.
Six of the men suffered breathing problems and were taken to Larnaca Hospital for treatment. They were released into police custody.
A Kurdish asylum seeker, Abdullah Azal Hammas, whose claim that he will be executed if he is sent back to Iraq is being investigated by Attorney- general Alecos Markides, was also in the detention room and he raised the fire alarm.
A 32-year-old Jordanian, Mohamed Neruat, appeared before Larnaca District Court yesterday and was remanded for five days on suspicion of lighting the fire.
Neruat has married to a Cypriot woman since 1992 and has one child. He was deported in 1996 and has since then attempted to re-enter the island nine times in order to see his six-year-old son.
Sergeant Charalambos Evdokiou told the court that the Immigration Department has denied residency to the Jordanian national, deporting him on all nine of his attempts to return to the island.
Neruat admitted to lighting the fire and did not contest his remand. He said "I did it so they can let me see my baby. Why do they send me away when I am married in Cyprus?"
The fire caused damage estimated at £1,000, destroying ten beds.
 Two killed in road accidentsTWO MORE people died yesterday as a result of traffic accidents on Cyprus roads.
A 60-year-old Nicosia woman was killed yesterday in a crash on the Nicosia- Limassol Road.
Athanasia Michael died at around 4am, when a car driven by Stavros Hadjitheoharous, 20, from Athienou, crashed into
her vehicle, which was travelling in front of his at the time. Her car then caught fire. Michael was killed instantly.
Meanwhile, Kyriacos Zacharias, 22, died at Limassol General Hospital from injuries he received in a crash on the Limassol-Platres road on Sunday.
The accidents came as police are desperately trying to reduce the number of road deaths after six people were killed in accidents last week alone.
So far this year, there have been a total of 38 fatal accidents, resulting in the deaths of 43 people.
 Soldier drowns off DhekeliaA 20-year-old British soldier drowned while swimming in the sea off the Dhekelia Sovereign Base area (SBA) on Sunday afternoon.
Bases spokesman Captain Jon Brown named the victim yesterday as Private Tony Massingham, from Lincoln.
Massingham was rushed to Larnaca hospital after losing consciousness in the water at about 2pm on Sunday, but he was declared dead on arrival.
State pathologist Panicos Stavrianos, who carried out an autopsy yesterday, confirmed death was caused by "asphyxiation caused by drowning".
Brown said Massingham's regiment, the 7th Royal Anglian, was on a training exercise visit to the island, but the drowning did not occur during an exercise.
He said the incident is being investigated by the SBA police and the Cyprus joint police unit.
 Stabbed RAF man recoveringAN RAF serviceman who was stabbed on Friday morning in Dhekelia is recovering, but military police still have no leads regarding the attack.
Corporal Christopher Sweeney, 28, has recovered consciousness after having part of his intestine removed during emergency surgery soon after attack.
"The serviceman is in a stable condition and conscious but is still in some pain. His mother has flown out from the UK to be by his bedside," bases spokesman Captain Jon Brown said yesterday.
He said the military police investigation was continuing but so far there was no hard evidence of a motive for the attack and who the possible culprit may be.
It is understood that Sweeney has given a statement to investigators.
Sweeney, based with the RAF in Germany, was on leave visiting his brother Martin, who is also in the RAF, when the assault took place.
"There are no developments towards arresting a suspect," said Brown,
Sweeney said he was stabbed outside the Orange Grove restaurant in Vryssoules, where he had been drinking.
 Soldiers charged after four naked men went swimmingTWO BRITISH soldiers were yesterday charged with indecent exposure and disturbing the peace after allegedly going skinny dipping at a public beach in Paphos on Sunday.
When police arrived at the beach two men managed to escape their attention, but brothers Alan, 24, and Jeffrey Boak, 22, both British stationed at Episkopi, were later arrested.
The brothers were charged in writing yesterday and released to the British military police.
A Paphos police spokesman said the search is continuing for two more soldiers suspected of baring all in public and then running off.
Two men were shamed-faced on Sunday evening after they were caught in nothing more than their birthday suits by Paphos police.
Shocked bystanders at a public beach in Kato Paphos didn't know where to look when four men shed their clothes to go into the water.
But local police were promptly called in.
"Someone saw them and made a complaint," said Paphos police yesterday.
A spokesman for the British bases said yesterday: "We can confirm the bases authorities are fully co-operating with the Cyprus police investigation into the alleged incident on Sunday. There are no further details."
 Five face charges after harbour drugs haulFIVE people were yesterday charged with involvement in a drug ring thought to have smuggled well over 100 kilos of cannabis into the country.
The suspects did not answer to the charges yesterday and the Larnaca District Court decided to refer the case to the Larnaca Assizes, to convene on June 26.
Dimitris Frangos, 33, his 59-year-old mother Eleni, both from Aradippou, Stelios Kattis, 58, from Ormidhia, Antonis Antoniou, 28, from Xylophagou, and Stavros Kourouniades, 45, from Dherynia, were arrested following a major drug bust at Limassol harbour on November 14 last year.
Police said they found 115 kilos of cannabis hidden among sacks of charcoal imported from Bulgaria.
Frangos was charged with conspiring with Kourouniades to import the 115 kilos of cannabis from Bulgaria and with Antoniou to smuggle 10kg of the same drug between January and April last year.
Frangos's mother was charged with possession, in November and December 1997, of £5,000 she knew was drug money.
Kattis was charged with possession of 10 kilos of cannabis and supplying this to Kourouniades. Antoniou was charged with conspiring with Frangos and Kourouniades to smuggle cannabis and Kourouniades was charged with conspiring with Frangos and Antoniou to smuggle drugs and with receiving drugs from Kattis.
The court ordered that Frangos, who police suspect of masterminding the smuggling operation, should remain in custody until June 26.
The other four suspects were released on £5,000 bail each on condition that they surrender their travel documents.
 Anti-CyBC fee campaign gathers momentumBy Andrea Sophocleous
A NICOSIA businessman's crusade against the CyBC is no longer a one-man battle, according to Cyprus Mail reader Knut Gudbrandsen.
Saturday's Mail story on businessman Michael Paul who refuses to pay the CyBC levy, which is calculated on electricity consumption and not viewing preference, sparked a reaction from Gudbrandsen who claims there are "many of us... possibly a couple of hundred who feel the same".
The CyBC levy is currently worked out on electricity consumption averages and added to a customer's electricity bill, including shops and offices and irrespective of whether they have a television. This has angered Paul, now backed by Gudbrandsen, who claims it is an unfair method of calculating the fee and suggests a fixed licence fee instead.
Gudbrandsen, an Ayia Napa resident, also advocates a fixed yearly fee saying that at the moment he pays 80 pounds a year to CyBC and merely watches the news in English a few nights a week.
"The fair thing would be if we paid 20 pounds a year and that was it," he told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. "Everybody should pay the same."
Gudbrandsen claims to have spoken to many Famagusta residents who share this view, and has called on Paul to begin a petition because "we would like to support it and there are hundreds who would sign it".
He added that as a state-run organisation funded by the public, CyBC should not run commercials. "The other stations do because we do not pay for them."
Although Paul is refusing to pay the levy saying "I'm willing to go to jail because I'm fed up of being ripped off by the CyBC," Gudbrandsen said he will continue to pay the fee but will join the fight to ensure it is calculated in a fairer manner.
CyBC concedes that the present system is not perfect but at the same time has expressed its willingness to take legal action against those who refuse to pay.
 Cut-back on embassy police on the cardsFOLLOWING last month's cut-back in the number of police bodyguards for politicians, the Foreign Ministry is now thinking of reducing guards at foreign embassies.
It is reported as considering that the number of police assigned to diplomatic protection duties is unnecessarily high.
Justice Minister Nicos Koshis has also confirmed that his ministry will examine a further slash in the numbers of political bodyguards if it is deemed that there is no longer any threat to the lives of politicians.
The ranks of police on political guard duty have already been slashed by about 50 per cent, saving the government some two million pounds a year. Seventy of the former guards have been redeployed to the police traffic division to join a renewed road safety campaign.
 Crusader's psalm book to be auctionedA BOOK of psalms belonging to a grand Knight of the Crusades who died in Cyprus is to go on sale after spending 700 years in private collections in Britain.
The Burdett Book of Psalms is believed to have been made for Jean de Villiers, Grand Prior of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St John, who died in Cyprus after escaping badly wounded from the siege of Acre in 1291.
The illustrated psalter dating from the early 1280s features paintings by the Meliacin Master, a court artist in Paris. It is believed to have been taken by de Villiers on his return to Palestine in August 1286.
Christopher de Hamel of Sotheby's in London believes it was then taken to East Anglia after the knight's death in Cyprus, the Times reported yesterday.
After centuries of being passed on privately from owner to owner, the Burdett Psalter will be auctioned by Sotheby's on June 23 when it is expected to fetch between £1.5 million pounds and £2 million sterling, the paper said.
 Warning shot fired at touristsTURKISH Cypriot soldiers fired a warning shot at two Ukrainian tourists on motorbikes who mistakenly went into the occupied areas on Saturday, the UN confirmed yesterday.
Unficyp spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski said that at around 2.30pm on Saturday, on the link road separating the British bases from the Turkish- controlled areas, a shot was fired by Turkish Cypriot soldiers near Achna.
"The two men on the bikes then turned back and returned to the link road," Rokoszewski said.
He said the Turkish Cypriot security forces had admitted to firing one warning shot, not two as reported to Cyprus police by the two Ukrainians. The Turkish side lodged a protest with the UN.
The Turkish Cypriot press yesterday reported the two bikers had been Greek Cypriots and had ignored the warning shot.
 A fair turn-outTHE 23rd International State Fair closed its doors on Sunday after being visited by 155,000 people.
This year, the annual fair displayed products and services from 1,528 Cypriot companies, as well as those from 33 other countries, down on last year's 40.
For 1998, special emphasis was placed on European connections, with the start of Cyprus' EU accession process, and road safety, with accident- damaged vehicles on display at the police stand.
The State Fairs Authority said yesterday that as always, the fair had been a huge success, adding that most overseas-based exhibitors had expressed satisfaction with the fair and pledged to return in 1999.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998