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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-06-11

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, June 11, 1998


  • [01] Cyprus to test missiles 'this month'
  • [02] World Cup betting boom
  • [03] Government aims to allow casinos by the Autumn
  • [04] MPs told of charity bingo fraud
  • [05] Cyprus Airways quashes new Airbus rumours
  • [06] Villagers appeal to save church floor
  • [07] Greens go to war on the government
  • [08] Arab anger at Jewish anniversary festivities
  • [09] All together for Limassol clean-up
  • [10] Mystery body
  • [11] Never play with matches

  • [01] Cyprus to test missiles 'this month'

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS will test fire the S-300 missile system in Russia later this month, it was revealed yesterday.

    Russian news agencies yesterday quoted Russia's airforce commander Anatoly Kornukov as saying the missile system would be tested at a base near Astrakhan, a city on the Caspian Sea.

    "At the end of June, representatives of the Cypriot army... will conduct test launches on the firing range near Astrakhan," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

    Kornukov made it clear the anti-aircraft missile system had not yet been delivered to the island, contrary to reports on Tuesday that they had.

    Itar-Tass news agency quoted Kornukov as saying the means of delivering the missiles to Cyprus would be decided in August or September, and that the Russian air force would help out if necessary.

    "If there is a government order, the military transport aviation is ready to deliver the anti-aircraft complexes to Cyprus," he said.

    Itar-Tass said the system was ready for shipment and that Cyprus had already made advance payments.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday warned he would open the occupied areas to settlement by mainland Turks if the Russian missiles were deployed on the island.

    Denktash was responding to Tuesday's article in a Moscow newspaper, which said the missiles were already on the island, and to the government's failure to deny the report.

    "Should S-300 missiles arrive in Cyprus... we will invite Turkey for a complete settlement in the north," Turkey's Anatolian news agency quoted Denktash as saying in Istanbul.

    Turkey and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime already have several joint declarations for economic co-operation and have repeatedly threatened that the north would be integrated with Turkey.

    According to yesterday's Turkish Cypriot press, Denktash told Anatolian the Russian newspaper report in the daily Segodnya was "fabricated".

    "Developments on the Greek Cypriot side are being closely followed step by step," Denktash said. "We hear everything. Maybe the report was issued to test out reaction."

    He said counter measures against the missiles were being taken and that Turkey would never allow the missiles to be deployed on the island.

    Denktash said the issue did not only concern Turkey alone.

    "The operation is a matter of bringing Russia to Cyprus," he said. "And therefore I think everyone will get together to prevent this and they will prevent it."

    Turkey and Greece have denied that the missiles are on the island, but the Cyprus government and the Russian Foreign Ministry both remained tight- lipped on Tuesday, neither confirming nor denying the report.

    Ankara on Tuesday threatened to increase its military presence in the north if the missiles were deployed.

    The S-300, capable of shooting down aircraft and missiles, is the Russian equivalent of the US Patriot missiles which gained fame during the Gulf War.

    The Cyprus government has repeatedly said it is ready to cancel the missile deal if there is substantial progress toward the reunification of the island and if Turkey accepts its proposal for demilitarisation.

    [02] World Cup betting boom

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRIOT punters, from housewives to serial gamblers, will wager a staggering 8 million plus on the World Cup finals this Summer.

    As France '98 kicked off with the Brazil v Scotland game yesterday, the betting industry braced itself for a record number of bets during the six- week tournament.

    "We expect huge interest in the World Cup and we are seeing a big increase in the number of first-time punters placing bets," said Nassos Ktorides, managing director of Glory betting.

    Cypriot gamblers placed a total of 4.3 million during USA '94 but betting firms are confident that this figure will double for the 16th World Cup.

    "The industry as a whole should see a total turnover in football bets of around 8 million," said Ktorides.

    The proof that Cyprus is gripped by World Cup mania is underlined by the fact that Glory betting shops expect their business to increase by 300 per cent during the planet's greatest sporting event.

    "All types of people are expected to have a flutter and we estimate a minimum turnover of 800,000 but we are aiming for a total turnover of over 1 million," said Ktorides.

    The largest bet received by the 16-outlet Glory chain is a 5,000 bet from a local punter on Brazil to win the Jules Rimet trophy.

    George Pyrishis, managing director of the islandwide Sportsman betting outlets, also said business was booming with a 30 per cent rise in custom.

    He also believes that, with the number of betting franchises increasing to 12 from just five in 1994, the total number of bets should surpass 8 million.

    "There is always feverish activity when the World Cup comes around and we are seeing hundreds of new customers and a daily turnover of up to 40,000, " said Pyrishis.

    The biggest flutter received by the Sportsman 15-branch chain is 2,000, again on favourites Brazil, but Pyrishis said the betting was evenly spread between France, Argentina and Holland.

    As the government coffers receives 25 per cent in tax on every football bet, it stands to make a nice little earner from World Cup fever.

    But the heavy tax deductions have a downside, as punters don't like paying it and look for lucrative under-the-counter deals.

    "If punters are placing 5,000 for a relatively small return they don't want to pay 1,250 in tax. So we expect 30 to 35 per cent of the total turnover to go on illegal bets, that's the reality," an industry insider told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Although Brazil and France are the hot favourites among local punters, there is little money going on England.

    "England are priced at 10-1, but maybe we will drop the price to 13-1 after all that drinking," said Ktorides.

    Pyrishis also gave the thumbs down on England's chances.

    "Nobody is banking on England because they haven't played well in the friendlies. Personally I don't think they've got a chance."

    The island's 15,000-strong British expat community might beg to differ, but it remains to be seen whether they will vote with their pockets.

    Those looking to chance their arm on a high risk, high return wager could place a few quid on Scotland to meet Mexico in the final at 2000-1.

    [03] Government aims to allow casinos by the Autumn

    UNDAUNTED by opposition within the House, the government is aiming to get approval for the building of casinos by the Autumn.

    Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides said yesterday the government was involved in negotiations with parliamentary parties in the hope of securing passage of a casino bill when the House re-convenes in September after its Summer break.

    "Our negotiations with the House are continuing. But I hope they will be concluded this month with the aim that in September, after the House has studied the bill, it will pass it," Michaelides said.

    The cabinet-approved casino bill does not currently enjoy the support of a majority of the 56 House deputies, but Michaelides said yesterday casinos would be good news for Cyprus.

    "The government's opinion is that they would be useful for the country, both because it would upgrade and revamp our tourism product, and because they will attract certain incomes, which will certainly be for a specific purpose and are certainly necessary," the minister said.

    He did not specify what use the government would make of casino levies.

    Michaelides also declined to say how many casinos would be built, saying such decisions would only be taken once the legal framework for casinos was in place.

    [04] MPs told of charity bingo fraud

    UNSCRUPULOUS bingo organisers offered cash to charities to use their names as fronts for illegal gambling, the House Interior committee heard yesterday.

    By law, bingo games can only be organised by charities or sports clubs. To get round this, some gambling organisers have offered money to charity members in exchange for being allowed to say their bingo games were in aid of the charities, the committee heard.

    Yianna Vathiadou, of the multiple sclerosis association, told the committee members that the charity had been offered 2,000 a year to allow bingo organisers to use the association's name.

    She said the same gamblers had approached six other charities in the Limassol area, proposing similar scams.

    Some charities were "innocently" taken in by the gambling organisers, Vathiadou said. An intervention by the Attorney-general's office had halted the illegal bingo games, she said.

    The issue came up yesterday as the committee again considered a bill to allow commercial bingo. Committee chairman Nicos Katsourides said the information placed before deputies yesterday had hardened their opposition to the bill.

    Katsourides said the committee would invite Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou and Attorney-general Alecos Markides to a behind-closed-doors meeting to consider the possibilities of action against the "unscrupulous" bingo organisers.

    [05] Cyprus Airways quashes new Airbus rumours

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) said yesterday that although its long-term strategic plan did include a proposal to buy smaller planes, there was no such move currently in the pipeline.

    A company spokesman denied reports published yesterday that CY would replace the Airbus A310 part of its fleet with the new Airbus A319.

    The A310 is the largest plane in the fleet and has the capacity to carry over 200 passengers. The new A319 has only around 100 seats.

    The reports yesterday said a decision to move to the A319 had already been taken by the CY Board of Directors and would go to the Council of Ministers.

    The CY spokesman said there was indeed a suggestion in the strategic plan -- which is yet to be implemented -- to sell off one of the large planes and replace it with smaller ones for shorter haul flights.

    "But no decision has been taken on the planes," he said.

    CY has eight Airbus A320s and four Airbus A310s. Its charter firm Eurocypria leases and operates three of the eight A320s under its own name and colours. The average age of the fleet is close to eight years.

    The A310 is mainly used on the British and other Western European destinations while the smaller A320s are used on Greek, shorter-haul European, Middle East and Gulf routes.

    [06] Villagers appeal to save church floor

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    THE ARCHBISHOP will be asked to account for the digging up of a Dhali village church's old floor to replace it with a concrete slab.

    Construction work at the Panayias tis Evangelistrias church in the Nicosia district village of Dhali has been temporarily halted while local priest, Father Andreas Vorkas, meets Archbishop Chrysostomos on Saturday to try and stop the concreting of the church floor.

    Angry village residents have been protesting against the destruction of the church's floor since construction workers entered the church and removed its mosaic designs a week ago.

    The workers, authorised by the Archbishopric, removed a strip of the mosaic floor to replace it with a concrete platform for weddings and christenings, without the approval of the local authorities.

    Dhali mayor, Nicos Nicolaou, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the Archbishopric had been discussing the reconstruction of the church's floor for years but the plans had not been approved by the local Council. He called an emergency meeting of the local culture committee and church leaders on Tuesday because, as he said, "the Council could not ignore the intense protests of the villagers."

    Nicolaou stressed, however, that local councillors did not want to tread on the Archbishop's toes. "The upgrading of churches is the Archbishopric's business," he explained; "but Dhali church-goers have made their opposition clear."

    The Cultural committee gave Father Vorkas the task of taking the residents' complaints to the Archbishopric in a last-ditch attempt to stop the concreting.

    "We reached a unanimous conclusion," Nicolaou said, "to push for the restoration of the original floor, and Father Vorkas was chosen to try and convince the Archbishopric to undo the damage."

    "It is possible to find the mosaics that have been destroyed and reassemble them, if not 100 per cent the same, then at least 90 per cent."

    Panayia tis Evangelistrias church was built gradually over the years between 1908 and 1943. The prized mosaic floor was placed in the church in the year of its completion.

    According to the mayor, it is not the age of the mosaics that is important but rather their religious significance. "The floor has received the tears of the faithful and has been an important part of an important church in the village," he said.

    [07] Greens go to war on the government

    THE GREEN party yesterday declared political war on the government, saying President Clerides had failed to keep to his pre-election pledges.

    "We do not feel cheated by the President because he had no obligation towards us, he made no promises to us, he just positioned himself on certain issues of concern to us," George Perdikis, leader of the Ecologists and Environmentalists party, said at a press conference. "If he cheated anyone it was himself, his associates, the political leadership and, especially, the people," Perdikis said.

    In the run-up to the February Presidential elections, the greens called on Clerides to position himself on environmental, social and national issues which concerned them. The party did not, in the end, back anyone in the polls.

    Perdikis yesterday described Clerides's government as lacking in both environmental consciousness and conscience.

    The greens were drawing up a plan of action to tackle the government on environmental issues, he added. Their first demand, Perdikis said, was that the government make information on matters environmental freely available, as it is in the EU.

    [08] Arab anger at Jewish anniversary festivities

    ARAB Missions in Cyprus are angry at festivities surrounding a visit to the island by Jewish leaders commemorating the 50th anniversary of the state of Israel.

    For the anniversary, more than 150 Jewish community leaders from around the world are visiting Cyprus to thank Cypriots who helped Jews detained in British camps here after World War Two.

    To commemorate the visit, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis will today unveil a testimonial plaque at Larnaca Port passengers' hall, while the Jewish representatives will also visit the site of one of the detention camps.

    But in a letter to the Cyprus Mail, the missions of Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and the Palestinian Authority say that Israel, whose founding anniversary is being commemorated in this week's events, was once the state of Palestine, and was annexed by force.

    The Arab missions add that at the time of the detention camps, Cyprus was under British rule, and it was the British colonial authorities that set up and maintained the two camps.

    The letter also states that the Arab nations have "always shown their solidarity with Cyprus", often at the expense of their relations with powerful countries in the region, and calls for attention to be drawn to the fact that residents of Palestine lost their homes to the influx of Jewish settlers.

    But in a speech at a dinner for the Jewish community leaders last night, President Glafcos Clerides was careful to appease the Arab world, saying he wished to make clear that further development of Cyprus-Israel relations "will not in any way change our friendly feelings and close relations with our Arab neighbours".

    In the aftermath of the Second World War, the first Jewish refugees arrived in Cyprus in August 1946, and the last departed in February 1949. Two camps were set up, one in Dhekelia, and the other on the outskirts of Famagusta, now in the occupied areas.

    [09] All together for Limassol clean-up

    LIMASSOL Council is sick of living in garbage and has embarked on a big clean-up campaign, urging the city's residents to join in.

    The Council concedes that Limassol produces large quantities of garbage and is in urgent need of a good clean up, so yesterday it launched a clean up campaign under the catchy slogan of "All Together". The cleaning expedition will end on July 5 and will involve a series of organised attempts to improve the visual and hygienic standards of the city.

    At a press conference announcing the big clean up, Limassol Mayor Dimitris Kontidis called on residents to embrace cleanliness and "prove 'all together' that we love Limassol".

    "It is important that this campaign be embraced by all our fellow Limassol residents," he said.

    "Everyone in his way, and depending on his capabilities, can and must contribute to the campaign."

    The mayor said the campaign had already drawn a good response from professional groups, youth groups, women's associations, schools and the public service, including Limassol police and the Communication and Works Department.

    On the Council's plans for the duration of the campaign are the removal of garbage and dried weeds from open spaces, the collection of waste from houses and the painting and renovating of public spaces and buildings.

    [10] Mystery body

    A WOMAN was found dead in her apartment yesterday after her neighbour noticed blood oozing from under the door.

    CID Nicosia received a call at around 4.30 pm yesterday from Michalis Komodikis who lives in the adjoining apartment. He told police that blood was trickling from under his neighbour's door.

    Police sent to the scene discovered the body of 35-year-old English Cypriot Linda Georgiou lying face down. An autopsy carried out by pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous did not find any signs of external wounds, but confirmed that Georgiou had been dead for three or four days.

    The apartment, in which Georgiou lived alone, was in a tidy state and police have ruled out any criminal connection. Investigations continue.

    [11] Never play with matches

    A FIVE-YEAR-OLD boy nearly burnt his parents house down yesterday after playing with matches in the yard.

    Panicos Savva set fire to a wooden bench and a sack of old clothes after playing with matches outside his home.

    Parents Andreas and Chrystalla did not notice the blaze, which started in the yard, as they left for a trip to Larnaca.

    Neighbours at the Kofinou housing estate alerted the fire brigade when the flames began to spread towards the family home.

    Fire fighters managed to contain the blaze, but furniture was damaged to the tune of 1,500.

    Kofinou police are investigating.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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