|Monday, 11 December 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-04
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Tuesday, August 4, 1998
 Parties set for compromise on defence levyBy Martin Hellicar
A CONTROVERSIAL bill raising the defence levy looks set to gain passage through the House plenum tomorrow after parties moved closer to consensus yesterday.
Opposition parties Akel and the United Democrats would appear to have dropped their outright opposition to the bill, but still disagree with the plenum majority (Disy, Diko and Edek) on how defence contributions should be increased.
With deputies loathe to pass the contentious bill, pending since 1996, without unanimity, party leaders are to hold an eleventh hour meeting tomorrow, just before the plenum session, in a bid to iron out these differences.
Members of the House Defence and Finance committees interrupted their Summer break yesterday to hold an extraordinary joint meeting to consider the bill - which would hike contributions to the defence fund from the current three to four per cent.
"No specific proposals were put to the committee today; it was left to party leaders to see if they can find a common basis for unanimous approval, " the chairman of the House defence committee, Takis Hadjidemetriou, said after the behind-closed-doors session.
He said two or three different proposals might be put before the plenum.
Akel, while not rejecting the bill outright, are insisting the defence levy should not be a blanket charge, but should rather be income-related.
"Akel has its own position," Akel deputy Avraam Antoniou said after the meeting. "We believe a scaled contribution is both fair and necessary, considering the problems the economy is facing. Akel will submit a specific proposal both to parties and to the planum on Wednesday," Antoniou said.
The United Democrats are proposing the levy hike be abandoned in favour of a 1 per cent increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), which would then be channelled to defence. But Hadjidemetriou said the Finance Ministry was unhappy with this idea, citing the additional administrative cost it would entail.
There were signs within the ranks of the other opposition party, Diko - who have backed the bill all along - that compromise might be possible.
Diko deputy Nicos Moushiouttas said his party always supported increased defence spending. But he added that Diko were "ready to discuss any proposal that might be put forward that would in the end provide what defence needs."
The Disy position, an expressed by deputy Panayiotis Demetriou, is that the bill should be passed as is and fine tuning left till the House re-convenes in the Autumn.
Last month, President Clerides chaired an extraordinary meeting of the country's political and military leadership to discuss a bill for an increase in the levy.
The meeting had been agreed earlier in the month during the last scheduled session of the plenum, after long hours of back-room wrangling failed to secure party unanimity for approval the bill.
 Bourse up in unexpected August rallyBy Hamza Hendawi
SHARES yesterday made their biggest one-day gain since July 3, pleasantly surprising investors on the first day of trade in the usually slow month of August.
The all-share index of the Cyprus Stock Exchange rose by 1.19 per cent to close at 85.27, with all seven sub-indices making gains, particularly blue- chip bank shares. A thin volume of under £900,000, however, suggested that yesterday's rally lacked sufficient depth and could prove short-lived.
Traders said yesterday's recovery, which followed small ups and downs in the index for most of July, was inspired largely by unconfirmed media reports that Washington might be finalising new proposals to defuse the crisis over the deployment later this year of the S-300 missiles and end Greek and Turkish military flights over Cyprus.
"These reports have made the political climate look better than it did a week ago," said Neofytos Neofytou of AAA United Stockbrokers.
The issue of the Russian-made, anti-aircraft missiles have dogged the market since the announcement of their purchase in January last year. The political uncertainty caused by the missiles deal and the failure of foreign mediators to restart talks on a settlement has frequently beset the bourse, depressing prices and undermining investors' confidence.
Turkey has repeatedly insisted that it would not shy away from military action if necessary to prevent the deployment of the missiles.
Of the blue-chip bank stocks, those of the Bank of Cyprus made the most gains in yesterday's trade, rising by seven cents to close at £3.6 apiece and help the sub-index of the lucrative sector to climb 1.54 per cent to 100.67 points. Trade in the sector -- £453,403 -- accounted for more than half of yesterday's volume.
 Bishop tells police he got no cash from dealBy Elias Hazou
CONTROVERSIAL Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos yesterday finally spoke to police officers over his alleged part in a £3.7 million fraud being investigated by Scotland Yard.
With Chrysanthos back on the island, investigations are expected to shed light on the backlog of rumours that accumulated about the bishop during his mysterious two-week absence from the island.
Chrysanthos and his lawyers yesterday met for the first time with police investigators at the Limassol bishopric. The bishop denied that he had been the beneficiary of a shady business transaction originating in Britain.
The police are investigating the cleric's alleged involvement in a £3.7 million fraud case, after four suspects arrested in Britain named him as their accomplice. They are being aided by two Scotland Yard detectives.
The British police officers arrived in Cyprus on July 20, but
were kept waiting by the bishop, who had left the island on the 16th and only returned last Friday after two weeks of fevered speculation as to his whereabouts.
One of the British detectives attended yesterday's meeting as an observer.
The meeting is understood to have been more of an introductory briefing by Chrysanthos, with further sessions expected to follow. Police sources say the investigation will take considerable time, as the accounts of a number of banks still have to be examined.
Speaking to reporters following the meeting, the controversial cleric quoted from the laconic written statement he had read out to the police.
The statement said the bishop had not received any of the £3.7 million, nor did he have any "access" to the money. But Chrysanthos did not deny knowledge of the business deal.
The statement ended with the phrase: "I regret that I cannot be of further assistance to you in this matter."
Attention now shifts to the question of the bishop's position in the Church, with the Holy Synod expected to convene in extraordinary session today. The Church's governing body normally convenes three times a year, but the Archbishop has the authority to call for special sessions at any time.
The Synod has the authority to defrock any member of the Church who has broken ecclesiastical law. In such cases, the matter is resolved by a vote. There are seven members sitting on the Synod, with the Archbishop presiding over proceedings. The members are the bishops of Paphos, Kiti, Kyrenia, Limassol, Salamis, Trimithounda and Arsinoe.
In case of an impasse, the Archbishop has the authority to cast the deciding vote.
After meeting with Chrysanthos on Saturday, the Archbishop appeared to swing behind the bishop's side of the story, saying there was "nothing incriminating" against him.
"Usually the Archbishop's intervention (in the voting procedure) is not necessary," a spokesman at the Archbishopric told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. "We always try to pass unanimous decisions," he added.
As well as the criminal allegations against Chrysanthos, the Church has been troubled by accusations made by Limassol parishioners that the bishop withheld charity money intended for community projects. There are also allegations that he intended to buy a hotel in Larnaca, with a Larnaca couple telling reporters that they were left out in the cold when the deal fell through, despite an alleged guarantee that Chrysanthos would provide the money.
The Church strictly forbids any of its members to use Church funds for private purposes.
 Don't blame the missiles for the tension, Russian envoy saysVISITING Russian envoy Vladimir Tchizhov yesterday expressed concern about rising tension on the island, but said Russia's deal to sell S-300 missiles to Cyprus was not to blame for this.
The Russian Foreign Ministry's envoy, speaking after meeting President Clerides yesterday morning, blamed the tension on the deadlock in settlement talks.
"Tension will exist for as long as the impasse continues and it is possible that it will increase," he said.
"The S-300s are not the reason for which the dialogue stopped and there is no movement towards a solution."
Turkey has threatened to strike the ground-to-air missiles if they are deployed, and the US and EU have made their opposition to the deal clear. The government insists the missiles will come, but has put back delivery till October.
Tchizhov played down international opposition to the deal. He said his country was not under any pressure to cancel the delivery. There had been much "talk" about the missiles, but everyone now acknowledged Russia's right to sell arms and Cyprus's right to defend herself, Tchizhov argued.
Tchizhov rued the collapse of UN-led peace talks between Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
"Today we are one step behind where we were a year ago when we had talks in Troutbeck and Glion."
Denktash is refusing to return to settlement talks unless the so-called 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' (TRNC) is granted international recognition.
Tchizhov also met with Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides later yesterday and is expected to meet Denktash today.
 Cyprus protests Turkish air-space violationsTHE GOVERNMENT has protested to the UN over violations of its air space by Turkish warplanes, an official statement said yesterday.
According to the statement, the culprits were six fighter jets which accompanied the aircraft of Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on July 25 to the occupied areas, where he inaugurated a project to bring water from Turkey in balloons.
The government's protest was lodged with UN Secretary general Kofi Annan on July 28 by Cyprus's permanent representative to the UN, Akis Loizou.
This was the government's third protest over air violations in as many weeks.
 Israel admits it was consulted on no-fly zoneTHE ISRAELI embassy in Nicosia did an about-turn yesterday and stated the US had in fact discussed the possibility of a no-fly zone over Cyprus with Israel.
Last week, an embassy spokesman refuted a Pentagon statement that Israel had been among the countries with which the US had discussed the idea of a moratorium of flights by Greek and Turkish fighter jets over the island.
But Israeli ambassador Semi Tzur said otherwise yesterday.
"Yes they (the US) spoke to Israel concerning a moratorium," the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) quoted Tzur as saying. "But these kinds of talks are held between governments and countries," Tzur added in an apparent effort to play down the significance of these US-Israeli contacts.
The US has backed a Greek proposal for the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Cyprus in exchange for the government reconsidering its controversial order for Russian S-300 missiles.
Tzur said Israel, which has a military pact with Turkey, would welcome such a measure.
"Israel will support any idea, any measure, any activity to calm things down here, to defuse tension and slowly bring things to a stage where you reach an agreement (between the Greek and Turkish sides)," he said.
 Hercus puts mines back on the agendaTHE U.N.'s resident representative in Cyprus, Dame Ann Hercus, has put clearing the estimated 16,000 mines buried in and around the buffer-zone back on the agenda.
Hercus said a demining initiative was high up on a list of issues she discussed with President Clerides during a morning meeting yesterday.
"I took the opportunity, before the President goes on his holidays, to brief him about some Unficyp matters. In particular, we have been talking about the possibility of a demining initiative," Hercus stated after the meeting.
She made no further comment, but the UN has repeatedly asked for the mines buried along the 180km buffer zone dividing the island to be dug up.
There are 38 minefields and booby-trapped areas within the buffer zone, and a further 73 minefields located within 500 metres of it. In January, after Cyprus signed a treaty for a global ban on landmines, Canada offered its help to clear mines in the buffer-zone area.
The offer has so far not been taken up.
 Diko divided over return of rebelsBy Charlie Charalambous
IN A move to close an unpleasant chapter in Diko's past, deputy Marcos Kyprianou is trying to clear the way for party rebels to return to the fold.
However, Kyprianou's personal crusade has been opposed at the first hurdle by executive party member Nicos Pittokopitis, and has met a half-hearted response from the rebels themselves.
Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides and deputy Katerina Pantelidou, as well as Alexis Galanos and Petros Voskarides were expelled from the party for opposing Diko's backing for George Iacovou in February's presidential election.
Galanos has split from the party permanently by establishing his own political movement, Michaelides - though appointed minister in the Clerides government - refuses to accept the party's expulsion order, and Pantelidou says she is contemplating a return to the fold under certain conditions.
Pantelidou wants a complete amnesty for the all the rebels and the expulsion order revoked before she considers embracing the party once again.
"There needs to be a democratic dialogue in good spirit with preconditions concerning the rebels," said Pantelidou yesterday.
But both Pittokopitis and Kyprianou say this is unlikely to happen.
Kyprianou said his initiative was about "turning over a new leaf", not admonishing the dissenters of any guilt.
"This proposal does not mean the party is admitting it made a mistake or is prepared to make an apology... their actions have not been vindicated and the majority of the party doesn't want them back," said Kyprianou.
Pittokopitis brushed aside the proposal in characteristically forceful manner:
"Pantelidou and Michaelides attempt a coup against their own party, and now they want to set out conditions: this cannot be done."
He added that in Michaelides' case, the issue was more complicated, because as a minister he served other interests, which were not in line with party policy.
 Cheap rates keep Cypriots hooked on mobile phonesBy Athena Karsera
CYPRIOTS talk more on their mobile phones than most Europeans.
According to Cyta Supervisor of the Mobile Telephone Services Unit, Aristos Riris, Cypriots spend twice as much time talking on their mobiles than Greeks.
And they also have longer conversations than most other European mobile users, Riris told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
This is probably because the Cypriot service is relatively cheap. A mobile telephone conversation in Cyprus costs around 5.7 cents per minute, while in Greece the same conversation would cost between 18 and 25 cents per minute, depending on the service used. Using a mobile in Britain would set you back between 16 and 30 cents per minute, while talk definitely isn't cheap in Germany at 45 cents per minute.
And the Cypriot subscription fee is only ten pounds a month, compared to Greece's £24.
And the system is now so overloaded that Cyta believes it would have been preferable to start with higher charges, so the reduced amount of users would have allowed the system time to develop. Costs could then have been lowered later, allowing more people to subscribe.
Riris added that if Cypriots cut down their conversation time by half, the common problem of system overload would be a thing of the past. Cyta could then use more time and manpower to create additional service stations in rural areas, where connections are often difficult if not impossible. This would solve the "blind spot" problem that mobile phone users often experience in rural areas.
As things stand, the service is continually being adapted. The number of service stations has more than doubled in 1998, and Cyta expects more improvement by the end of the year.
The demand for mobile phones has remained high since they were first introduced. At first they were used mainly by independent businessmen and large companies using the facility to keep track of their employees. Now all kinds of people have incorporated mobile phones into their lives, either as a business or personal necessity, or, as a fashion accessory and status symbol.
 British soldier charged with punching policemanBy Charlie Charalambous
A BRITISH soldier accused of assaulting a police officer outside a Larnaca bar was yesterday charged with causing actual bodily harm and released from custody.
Police said Jamie Whithley, 28, stationed at Dhekelia base, was arrested following a confrontation outside the Boozy Rouge at around 1am today.
"It appears the soldier was drunk when he left the Boozy Rouge and assaulted an on-duty police officer by punching him and then tearing his shirt," a Larnaca police spokesman said yesterday.
However, the policeman's injuries were not considered serious enough to warrant hospital treatment.
British bases spokesman Captain Jon Brown confirmed that a soldier from Dhekelia Garrison had been arrested and charged by Cyprus police but was unable to confirm his name or regiment.
"There seems to be some confusion as to the details of what happened, but the whole incident is being thoroughly investigated," Brown told the Cyprus Mail.
Nevertheless, Brown added: "if indeed there is a case to answer, the individual concerned will be dealt with severely."
Larnaca police said Whithley was arrested during the incident, then charged and released at around lunchtime yesterday.
He was charged with assaulting a police officer, causing actual bodily harm, damaging a uniform and breach of the peace, police said.
The soldier is expected to appear in court to answer the charges, but police couldn't say when.
 Forget kids and husband, the Full Monty's in townBy Charlie Charalambous
LARNACA'S Stars and Garters club is staking its claim as a centre for female entertainment with its own live version of the Full Monty.
On Friday, the members club is redressing the balance in the entertainment market by encouraging women to leave their partners at home and watch a top class male stripper.
"It's a great opportunity for women to let the hair down, forget their kids and husbands, and have a giggle," club owner Nicos Koutsoudes told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
Koutsoudes assures that it's all good clean fun and just a little bit raunchy.
"Up to 12, it's girls-only night so they can get together and gossip and watch the drag show. After 12, we let the husbands and boyfriends in."
Koutsoudes says his one-off nights have grown from strength to strength since the first male strip show two years ago.
"Our first show attracted about 30 women, but the last time we had one it was a brilliant night with over 200 women just letting loose, we just couldn't meet the demand."
Koutsoudes was quick to point out that Stars and Garters wasn't "that sort of club", but one firmly dedicated to family entertainment, 95 per cent of the time.
Although the club's 700 members are mainly from the nearby Dhekelia British base, there are a few Cypriot women who are brave enough to buck traditional values.
"We do have Cypriot women coming and their boyfriends and husbands know they are here because it's a fun thing to do," said Koutsoudes.
 Rise in number of Israeli touristsTOURISTS from Israel are coming to Cyprus in increasing numbers, Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis and Israeli ambassador Semi Tzur said in Nicosia yesterday.
There has been a fourfold increase in Israeli tourists this year and an influx of 80-90,000 is expected over the coming months.
Israeli ambassador Tzur noted that Israeli tourists were impressed with Cyprus and its hospitality. And he even admitted to receiving phone calls from Israelis calling the embassy to help them find rooms in coastal towns.
Tourism was discussed in a meeting held between Rolandis and Tzur, along with possible business and technological co-operation between Cyprus and Israel.
Rolandis after the meeting said Israeli businesses dealing in the high technology sector were interested in investing in Cyprus because of Cyprus' ties with the European Union.
Rolandis will attend a business summit in Jerusalem on 13-15 October at the invitation of the Israeli Prime Minister and the Trade Minister. Meanwhile, an invitation has been extended to Rolandis' Israeli counterpart to visit the island in November.
 Plans for new Pediaeos damA 400,000 square metre dam will be built in the Tamasos area, between the villages of Kampia and Pera, on the Pediaeos river, it was announced yesterday.
The dam will not directly provide water for use, but rather slow down the fast flowing river allowing it to recharge underground deposits.
Water Board Supervisor of Research Services Christodoulos Artemis said yesterday that work on the dam would be completed in 2001.
The development study has been completed and is expected to be approved by the Programming Office within the next few days. Work will begin once a contractor is chosen in six to seven months.
The dam will be 30 metres high and will hold 2.8 million square metres of water when full.
 Army exit permits to be available from district commandsALL those eligible for military service can now obtain permits to travel abroad from the district military headquarters, the Ministry of Defence announced yesterday.
In the past, the permits were issued only at the Defence Ministry's offices in Nicosia. Now they may obtained from the district military commands in Limassol, Paphos and Larnaca-Famagusta.
The new law will come into effect from August 10, and will apply to all citizens eligible for military service, and to all men between the ages 15 and 50 whose fathers are Cypriot citizens, irrespective of their own citizenship.
 Man caught trying to smuggle cash out of the countryA LARNACA tour agent was caught trying to smuggle $73,000 out of the country on Sunday, police reported yesterday.
Larnaca airport officials searched the 42-year-old's luggage as he prepared to leave the country and found the stash of dollars and 5,170 Deutschmarks, police said.
The travel agent did not have a Central Bank licence to export the money so it was confiscated.
 Teenager killed in bike crashA TEENAGER was fatally injured last night when his moped hit a traffic sign on the Paralimni to Protaras road.
Police said 16-year-old Andreas Papatryphonos, from Engomi, smashed into a traffic sign warning of a sharp right turn. The accident happened at about 6pm.
The victim was seriously injured and was taken to Paralimni hospital, where he later died of his injuries.
Famagusta police believe the accident was caused by excessive speed.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998