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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-07-03

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, July 3, 1998


  • [01] Pessimism as Cordovez talks get under way
  • [02] CyBC defiant over World Cup ad blitz
  • [03] Don't write off Holbrooke yet
  • [04] Russia confirms missiles will not come till Autumn
  • [05] New law gives Markides chance to appeal Aeroporos acquittal
  • [06] Attorney-general called in on police sleaze claims
  • [07] Green light for private marinas
  • [08] Larnaca crane dispute is back
  • [09] Crisis at the blood bank
  • [10] Bahamas bank gets offshore license
  • [11] Gift of life
  • [12] US donates crime-busting van to customs

  • [01] Pessimism as Cordovez talks get under way

    By Martin Hellicar

    DIEGO Cordovez, the UN Secretary-General's special advisor for Cyprus, arrived on the island yesterday and began contacts aimed at breaking the current deadlock in settlement talks.

    But the government expressed pessimism about the prospects for resuming talks stalled since last Summer.

    Cordovez, who arrived in the early hours, had a 3pm meeting with President Clerides before crossing to the north for a 5pm rendez-vous with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    He declined to make any statements after his meeting with Clerides. "I will speak to you on Saturday," Cordovez said, referring to a news conference scheduled for Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides was cagey about what had been discussed during the meeting with Clerides. He said only that talks had been "on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions."

    Speaking earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said the talks would be no more than "useful".

    "We believe the talks will be useful but are not anticipating any significant outcome," he said.

    Denktash is refusing to return to face-to-face talks with Clerides unless the EU reverses its decision to begin accession talks with Cyprus and his breakaway occupation regime is granted international recognition.

    Cordovez, whose last visit in March brought no tangible results, is scheduled to have breakfast with Clerides and dinner with Denktash today.

    In London meanwhile, British Foreign Minister Douglas Henderson yesterday called on the government to do more to break the talks deadlock.

    "The EU is looking for Cyprus to take measures to try to build a better climate to get the UN process moving again," Henderson said after a meeting with the head of Cyprus's EU accession talks team, George Vassiliou.

    "It is crucial that progress is made and we all hope and pray that there will be progress in the coming months," Henderson said.

    Vassiliou described the meeting as "useful and positive" but added that he had rebuffed Henderson's repetition of Britain's demand that Cyprus cancel a controversial order for Russian-made S-300 missiles.

    "We also put our position forward, pointing out that our side has sent messages that it is ready to move forward, provided Cypriots' feeling of security is boosted," Vassiliou said.

    [02] CyBC defiant over World Cup ad blitz

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYBC CAME out fighting yesterday to dismiss growing criticism over its ad- driven World Cup coverage.

    "There is a difference of opinion, but personally I don't think it's that bad. Is it better to have no interruptions, but not have all the matches shown live?" a defiant CyBC chairman Antonis Drakos told the Cyprus Mail.

    Drakos was replying to outraged deputies and soccer fans, who had called on the state broadcaster to put the breaks on the commercials.

    "We will continue to show adverts," he insisted.

    Earlier this week, the House Finance Committee told CyBC management to reconsider its approach, and pointed out they were violating newly-approved broadcasting regulations.

    But the CyBC chairman is of the opinion that the row was over the number of adverts, not about scrapping them altogether.

    "The House did not say we should stop, but that we should not have so many, and that we should limit interruptions to two segments in each half."

    Drakos also questioned whether splitting the screen between advertisements and football could at all be termed an interruption.

    "It's not exactly an interruption of the game, but there is a difference of opinion about what this means."

    It is now clear that the CyBC is not going to break advertising contracts, simply to please the viewers whose license fees keep the corporation afloat.

    According to Drakos, CyBC expects to collect a tidy 240,000 from World Cup advertising revenue -- not bad for six weeks' work.

    "We will make a substantial profit on the World Cup," he said.

    And the chairman was surprisingly upbeat about the corporation's much- maligned World Cup commentators.

    "I'm not saying we are doing the best coverage in the world, but we are doing the best anybody's seen in Cyprus, despite the criticism," said Drakos.

    CyBC's chief denies that the advertising blitz contravenes FIFA regulations and was sanguine about claims that the breaks were a breach of the local broadcasting law.

    "I don't believe we are going against FIFA regulations. There are no restrictions in the contract.

    "On the question of whether there should be ads or not, the House is not the appropriate authority. The Interior Ministry is, and it hasn't said anything."

    And despite threats by politicians to veto CyBC's finances over the issue, the House yesterday approved the corporation's 17.5 million budget in full.

    [03] Don't write off Holbrooke yet

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE U.S. has not taken any steps to appoint a possible new presidential envoy for Cyprus, ambassador Kenneth Brill said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with President Clerides yesterday, Brill said that Richard Holbrooke would remain presidential emissary until "he is not". Holbrooke was recently appointed US ambassador to the UN. but the posting will not be official until US senate confirmation hearings are over.

    Brill said this was a long and complicated process.

    "I don't think that we can assume or should assume that anybody is going to take over from Dick," Brill said.

    He said Holbrooke intended to remain very much involved in the Cyprus problem.

    This week, Holbrooke chaired the second ever-meeting of Greek and Turkish businessmen and their Cypriot counterparts in Oslo.

    Brill called the meeting "a useful step forward".

    "It was an opportunity for people to have the chance to talk directly to one another," he said.

    Contact between the two sides was cut by the Turkish Cypriot side last December following the EU's Luxembourg decision to open accession talks with Cyprus.

    The severing of ties was condemned by Holbrooke when he visited the island in May. He left empty-handed after failing to persuade the Turkish Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table.

    Now hopes for progress on the UN-led intercommunal talks are now pinned on the UN secretary-general's special envoy, Diego Cordovez, who arrived on the island yesterday and met both leaders.

    Brill said the US was hopeful that this visit would help move the process forward towards direct negotiations.

    [04] Russia confirms missiles will not come till Autumn

    RUSSIA yesterday confirmed that its controversial S-300 missiles would not arrive in Cyprus before the Autumn.

    Government sources have already stated that delivery of the Russian-made ground-to-air missiles - originally set for August - had been put back till October.

    The Russian ambassador in Ankara, Vadim Kuznetsov, told Agence France Presse (AFP) yesterday that delivery had been put back at the request of the Cyprus House of Representatives.

    "Delivery of the S-300 systems has been postponed until late Autumn under a decision by the Cypriot parliament," Kuznetsov stated.

    Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou, responding to the Russian official's statement, said he knew of no such request from the House.

    "I cannot comment on when the missiles will be delivered, but I can say the House never made such a request," Omirou said.

    The government decision to spend $420 million on the S-300s has raised tensions on the island, with Turkey threatening to use force to prevent their deployment. The EU and the US have both called for the deal to be shelved, but the government remains adamant the missiles will arrive.

    Kuznetsov defended the planned missile sale. "This is an entirely economic matter and has nothing to do with politics. Had we not agreed to sell the missiles, Cyprus would have bought them from another supplier," he said.

    "We don't believe that those missiles will threaten Turkey's security," he added.

    [05] New law gives Markides chance to appeal Aeroporos acquittal

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE HOUSE plenum yesterday gave the green light to Attorney-general Alecos Markides to challenge an Assizes court decision to acquit three Aeroporos brothers of attempted murder charges.

    A bill empowering the Attorney-general to appeal to the Supreme Court against Assizes court decisions was passed unanimously and without debate yesterday afternoon.

    Markides is now expected to lodge today an eleventh-hour challenge of the June 19 decision acquitting Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25, of involvement in the shooting of gambling club owner Antonis Fanieros in Larnaca on May 29 last year.

    The bill stipulates THAT any appeal must be made within 14 days of the original decision - by today in the case of the Aeroporos decision.

    Markides has described the acquittal as "wrong", and had asked the House to pass the bill, pending since January last year, as a matter of urgency. Until now, the Attorney-general could only challenge District Court decisions.

    Faced with a long list of bills to consider yesterday, deputies decided to pass the bill unanimously, even though differences of opinion had been registered during debate of the legislation at the House legal affairs committee last week.

    The acquittal of the Aeroporos brothers sparked a row between Markides and well-known lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou, who defended the brothers. Efstathiou charged Markides with undermining the Assizes by criticising the acquittal. Markides attacked Efstathiou for attending a party thrown by the Aeroporos family on Sunday to celebrate the brothers' court victory, saying his presence at a party given wide media coverage gave the "wrong messages".

    The Assizes acquitted the three Aeroporos brothers after dismissing the testimony of chief Prosecution witness Tassos Simellides, who is serving a nine-year sentence for acting as get-away driver for the hit. Simellides, 28, named Hambis as instigator, Andros as architect and Panicos as hit-man for the machine-gun attack.

    In their decision, the judges stated that police and Justice Minister Nicos Koshis had "made promises" to Simellides to get him to testify against the suspects.

    During the year-long trial, Efstathiou labelled Simellides a liar who had cut a deal with police to help secure the conviction of the Aeroporos brothers in exchange for seeing out his sentence at a country estate and passage abroad afterwards.

    Last year's attack was described as a gangland hit, part of an ongoing feud between Limassol and Larnaca gangs vying for control of lucrative gambling, prostitution and drugs rings.

    Fanieros, 57, survived despite being hit in the neck as he came under a hail of machine-gun fire.

    No finger-prints belonging to any of the suspects were found on the motorbike, machine-gun or any of the other items found by police after the hit, the Assizes noted.

    [06] Attorney-general called in on police sleaze claims

    ALLEGATIONS that a high ranking police officer had dealings with gambling club and cabaret owners and often visited artistes continued to trouble deputies yesterday.

    The claims first surfaced at Wednesday's House Ad-hoc committee on crime.

    Akel deputy Kikis Yiangou yesterday again demanded that the accused police officer be suspended from duty while an investigation was conducted by the Attorney-general.

    Senior police officer, Stelios Parpas, had claimed before the committee that former Larnaca police chief, Andreas Minas, protected illegal gambling club and cabaret owners and was repeatedly seen by other officers being escorted by artistes.

    Parpas further alleged that on one occasion Minas had been involved in an accident while driving a police car, and had abandoned the scene with his Romanian passenger. No report was filed on the accident and damage to the car was ignored.

    The Committee's chairman, Marcos Kyprianou, announced yesterday that the committee had sent a letter to the Attorney-general, calling for an investigation into claims by Parpas that a detailed report on Minas' dealings and a video tape and photos showing him accompanying artistes had gone missing from police archives.

    Deputy police chief Andreas Stephanou said the internal investigation begun by police last month would be completed within a week.

    [07] Green light for private marinas

    THE HOUSE of Representatives has given the green light to the private sector to build and run new marinas on the island.

    The House Commerce and Tourism Committee yesterday backed the pet project of Commerce and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis, which seeks to promote the construction of privatised marinas.

    A bill defining exactly how privately-owned marinas will be constructed and operated will go to parliament before the summer recess later this month. The committee's discussion on the matter was completed yesterday.

    Deputies assured the minister that the bill would be approved. Rolandis said this would allow his ministry to accept tenders for the construction of the marinas in autumn.

    "The appropriate bill will be presented to the House next week, and I'd like to hope that it will be passed," Rolandis said after the meeting. "This means that the road will open so we can proceed with the marinas."

    Four new marinas -- in Limassol, Paphos, Ayia Napa and Protaras -- are expected to be privately built, while two existing marinas -- in Larnaca and at the Limassol Sheraton -- will be privatised.

    Rolandis said he was working together with Limassol Mayor Demetris Kontidis to decide on an appropriate location for the new Limassol marina.

    [08] Larnaca crane dispute is back

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE CRANE dispute at Larnaca marina, which grounded hundreds of yachts earlier this year, has come back to haunt the CTO following a court decision yesterday.

    In March, the Cyprus Mail exposed the chaos at the marina, which involved the owners of two cranes locked in a tender row with the CTO.

    For two months, boats were stranded on dry land and in the water when the previous crane contractor, Manolis Kranidiotis, failed to make way for the new one who had been due to take over the contract on January 1, 1998.

    Prompted by the Cyprus Mail report on the situation, newly-appointed Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis personally intervened and called in the police to remove the offending crane.

    But the thorny issue of crane tenders came back to haunt the marina yesterday, when a Larnaca court issued a temporary order for Kranidiotis to return to the fray.

    Although the CTO said that Kranidiotis' tender had expired at the end of last year, he contested the decision to award the contract to someone else.

    In an attempt to solve the issue, the CTO filed for a temporary order to have the old crane removed to allow the new contractor to sort out the backlog.

    However, Kranidiotis also filed for a court order against the CTO to allow him to continue at the marina until the legal complications were resolved.

    Judge Marios Georgiou decided in favour of Kranidiotis, criticising the behaviour of the CTO, for calling in the police before securing an injunction order, and said that all pre-conditions under the law had been met by the plaintiff.

    What happens next in this sorry saga is anybody's guess.

    [09] Crisis at the blood bank

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    THE NICOSIA General Hospital's Blood Bank is cramped for space, has no specialised doctors and wastes money on buying faulty equipment.

    These dire problems, along with reports that staff refuse to work night shifts when the one worker who works nights is on sick leave, were discussed at the House Health Committee yesterday.

    While applauding the work of Blood Bank employees, Diko deputy Katerina Pantelidou, who tabled the issue, argued that the Nicosia Blood Bank was burdened by operational problems due to a lack of specialist doctors and space.

    Pantelidou's claims were confirmed by Health Ministry and Blood Bank representatives, who nonetheless described the Blood Bank as the "pride of our services".

    Health Ministry representative, Androulla Agrotou, admitted that there was a serious shortage of space for storing medical equipment, but said "we must be patient".

    She pointed out that the problem would be solved in three years' time with the opening of the new Nicosia General Hospital.

    In the meantime, the only comfort she could offer the Blood Bank was the assurance that the matter of additional space would be investigated.

    Agrotou said that there had been a doctor on site at the Blood Bank for the last three years, but he was not a blood specialist.

    Pantelidou further claimed that government services approved the purchase of medical equipment, but that the Blood Bank did not have staff with the relevant training to maintain the equipment. In one case, new equipment was bought and was found to be faulty on arrival. Pantelidou condemned this "waste of money" as the equipment was left unused for three years and now the Health Ministry was planning to purchase more of the same.

    After outlining the importance of the Blood Bank, its representative, Christakis Tamakoudis confirmed that the faulty equipment had been bought in 1995 at a cost of 11,500. He told the Committee that Blood Bank staff had asked for more reliable machinery, but that the funding committee opted for the cheaper equipment.

    Staff attending the meeting complained of the pressures and many demands on them, telling the committee that there were cases when they worked until 2am, and then had to be back at work again by 7.30am. They asked that a second worker be employed to cover night shifts so that they would not be called to cover for the single night shift worker whenever he was sick.

    [10] Bahamas bank gets offshore license

    SAFRA Bank (Cyprus), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Banco Safra (Bahamas) Ltd of the Bahamas, was yesterday granted a banking business license to operate on an offshore basis on the island.

    The Safra Group is a US-based banking group, which operates through several subsidiary banks internationally. It already maintains an offshore presence in Cyprus, in the form of two administered banking units.

    Safra Bank (Cyprus) Ltd will operate as an administered banking unit. The Bank of Cyprus Ltd will be acting as the administering bank and will carry out the day-to-day operations.

    Safra Bank (Cyprus) Ltd will only deal in foreign currencies and with other offshore companies and non-residents of Cyprus. It will be subject to the supervision and inspection of the Central Bank of Cyprus, as well as the supervision of the Central Bank of the Bahamas.

    There are currently 28 offshore banking units on the island, as well as three administered banking units and five representative offices, which are licensed to operate from Cyprus on an offshore basis.

    Despite the prospect of EU accession, which could threaten the island's offshore regime, the island's policy of promoting the sector remains as determined as ever.

    The government argues that an EU provision allows certain members a grace period to keep their offshore business for a fixed length of time.

    Cyprus' offshore sector -- with more than 30,000 registered companies -- accounts for four per cent of GDP and employs hundreds of local staff.

    [11] Gift of life

    THE TRAGIC death of a young mother yesterday gave hope for people on the transplant list.

    Yioulla Georgiou Pittaki (Strati) succumbed on Wednesday to injuries sustained in a road accident. But her body was transferred to the Paraskevaideio Transplant Centre in Nicosia, where her organs were removed early yesterday morning.

    The 33 year-old mother of two had donated all organs suitable for transplant. A specialised team of doctors from the Tel Hashiome hospital in Tel Aviv came to the island for the removal of the heart, which was transplanted yesterday into a young Israeli, judged the most urgent case.

    Pittaki's liver had originally been earmarked for a Cypriot woman at King's College hospital in London, but was later judged unusable. Her kidney's were transplanted to Alecos Alexandrou, 60, from Dhali and Eleni Christaki, 50, from Larnaca.

    Pittaki, a teacher at Larnaca's American Academy, was knocked down by a car last Thursday on a pavement in Paralimni. Her funeral was held yesterday at the Agios Giorgios Church in Paralimni. Yioulla Pittaki is survived by her husband, who consented to the transplant of her organs, and by two young children, Avraam and Flora.

    [12] US donates crime-busting van to customs

    IN A GESTURE of good will and in recognition of joint efforts to combat international crime, the United States has donated an x-ray van to the Cypriot Customs Authority.

    A special ceremony took place yesterday afternoon, at which Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou received the van from US Ambassador Kenneth Brill.

    The vehicle is worth $250,000, including spare parts and training costs, and this particular model has been used extensively by the US Customs Service for over ten years.

    The van contains the most advanced detection equipment available, and has been successfully used in many seizures of drugs, fake currency, weapons, and other undeclared items.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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