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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-09-04

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

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


Friday, September 04, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Annan insists on bi-communal platform for talks
  • [02] Police question bishop over Portuguese scam
  • [03] Popular Bank profits rise
  • [04] Fee dispute threatens postgraduate programme
  • [05] Teaching offshore competitors some tricks
  • [06] August was the hottest this century
  • [07] Potato prices expected to fall 30 per cent
  • [08] EU screening ready on seven chapters
  • [09] Cyprus could be Middle-East go-between
  • [10] Hotels braced for Sunday strike
  • [11] Bar owners to appeal SBA move to close them down
  • [12] Stricken ship towed to Latsi coast
  • [13] Man remanded for rape of Russian teenagers

  • [01] Annan insists on bi-communal platform for talks

    By Charlie Charalambous

    U.N. SECRETARY-general Kofi Annan yesterday confirmed that the Security Council would not waiver from its stance of insisting that Cyprus peace talks be held on a bi-communal basis.

    He was commenting on the Turkish Cypriot confederation plan, which aims to initiate peace talks between "two equal states".

    "I think this issue has been already raised and brought to the attention of the UN Security Council, which has already given its response," Annan said after a 20-minute meeting with President Glafcos Clerides in Durban yesterday.

    "And I think this is the position of the UN and this is the position of the UN Secretary-general."

    Clerides and Annan met on the sidelines of the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in South Africa to discuss the situation in Cyprus and UN efforts to reduce tension.

    Clerides said he was satisfied with the brief meeting and suggested there were prospects for a new UN initiative to kick-start the peace process.

    Addressing delegates in Durban earlier in the day, Clerides had repeated his condemnation of the confederation proposal and stressed that demilitarisation was the only way to secure a peaceful solution.

    He described Rauf Denktash's confederation proposal as "totally unacceptable", saying it aimed at "destroying Cyprus as a sovereign and independent state and becoming a Turkish protectorate."

    The Turkish Cypriot leader said on Monday that his idea of two separate states within a Cyprus confederation was his final offer to revive stalled peace talks.

    "I should emphasis that such preconditions and such demands or objectives cannot be accommodated, nor can they be considered, for they run contrary to UN resolutions," Clerides told the NAM conference.

    Moscow yesterday joined the most of the international community by dismissing Denktash's confederation proposal, saying it contradicted UN resolutions on Cyprus.

    Clerides said that Turkey's only real interest was to create and maintain a climate of tension, intimidation and blackmail, using the S-300 missile controversy as a pretext.

    "We remain committed to seeking a peaceful solution to the problem through means and processes conducive to lessening tension and the reduction of forces and armaments which would eventually lead to final demilitarisation."

    NAM delegates were reassured that the government would continue to find ways and means to secure the withdrawal of all forces on Cyprus.

    In a letter to the UN secretary-general, Clerides has proposed the disbanding of the National Guard and handing over its weapons to the UN, in the event that the Turkish Cypriots do likewise and Turkish troops carried out an unequivocal withdrawal.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [02] Police question bishop over Portuguese scam

    By Elias Hazou

    CID YESTERDAY met for the first time with Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos to question the cleric over specific charges of fraudulent business activities.

    The controversial bishop was questioned at his home in Limassol, and investigators of the Economic Crimes Division also attended the meeting.

    Reports indicated that questioning was expected to cover the cleric's alleged input into a $1.5 million scam, after a group of Portuguese businessmen claimed Chrysanthos had failed to invest the money in US bonds and shares as promised.

    The businessmen filed their complaint with CID last July during a short visit to the island. Police reports suggest the investigators will travel to Portugal to collect further evidence on the case.

    Chrysanthos has already been termed a "suspect" in another high-profile fraud case originating in Britain. But Attorney-general Alecos Markides explained this week that, though the Cyprus angle of the investigation was complete, key testimony from the plaintiff in Britain was required if court action was to be taken against the bishop.

    Meanwhile, the controversial land deal between the Limassol bishopric and the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) yesterday created new waves on the political level, with Minister of Tourism and Commerce Nicos Rolandis seeming determined to pursue the question of tighter ministry controls over semi-government organisations.

    On Tuesday, Rolandis told reporters he had information that the EAC had payed the bishopric some 300,000 more than the land's real value, adding that he had not been informed of the transaction.

    His comments sparked a flurry of speculation on possible fraud by the bishopric and whether middlemen in the EAC had received commissions in the 1.4 million deal.

    Asked yesterday by CyBC radio whether tighter controls might jeopardise semi-government organisations' autonomy, Rolandis replied that there should be "a distinction between autonomy and responsibility."

    He said that as minister he was responsible to the government for spending by semi-government organisations that come under his ministry, but conceded that these organisations should enjoy a certain degree of autonomy.

    But Rolandis questioned whether semi-government organisations should be spending millions in constructing office buildings rather than investing in production.

    "It is just as well that this case (the bishopric land sale) came up," said Rolandis, "because now we will be able to determine who is responsible for what."

    "Should a semi-government organisation spend millions in building offices, when this involves the taxpayer's money?" asked Rolandis. He also hinted that these organisations competed over "who would build the most luxurious offices. Is this what autonomy is all about?"

    Rolandis' comments invited a swift response from Akel deputy Andreas Chistou, who questioned the minister's "hegemonistic tendencies towards excessive control of semi-government organisations, to the point of becoming completely dependent on the ministries."

    Christou also referred to suggestions that ministerial representatives be appointed to exercise control over spending by these organisations, saying that if implemented, this would contravene the "spirit and the regulations of laws governing their autonomy."

    Christou went on to say that his party was "categorically opposed to moves that would turn semi-government organisations into government departments," adding that such policy was out of line with EU policies on liberalisation.

    The controversy over the land deal began last week, following an off-hand comment by the chairman of a Limassol parish church committee that the bishopric had made a substantial profit on the transaction. The comments were apparently made to allay the parishioners' objections to the land sale, which they claim was carried out without their consent.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [03] Popular Bank profits rise

    By Hamza Hendawi

    THE CYPRUS Popular Bank yesterday announced a 12.9 per cent rise in pre-tax profits for the first six months of 1998 and urged the government to take immediate action to plug the gaping fiscal deficit.

    The shortfall, together with the persistent "talk" of the Russian S-300 missiles were curtailing investment and creating liquidity problems, the bank's chairman and chief executive, Kikis Lazarides, told a news conference.

    They would also pose problems for the planned liberalisation of interest rates and the island's course of accession to the European Union, which began in late March, he added.

    The fiscal deficit is set to grow to about seven per cent of GDP by the end of this year, up from about 5.5 per cent in 1997. Government's proposals for tax hikes to narrow the shortfall were rejected or put on ice by the House in May, but sections of the package are due to be reconsidered by deputies next month.

    Already, the House last month approved a one per cent increase in the defence levy to take it to three per cent, a move which should help narrow the deficit, and Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou spoke this week with optimism about 110 million expected to come to the treasury as a result of more efficient collection of back taxes.

    The Finance Minister has also recently contradicted reports of an economic slowdown, citing significant increases in the export of manufactured goods and agricultural products in the first five months of the year.

    In a letter to the Cyprus Mail published last week, Christodoulou also cited signs of recovery in the construction sector and lower unemployment.

    "We consider that the latest statistics portray the Cyprus economy as advancing at a healthy rate and that the sources of growth are broadly based," he wrote.

    But the issue of the missiles, which has attracted intense media coverage since the announcement of their purchase was made in January 1997, is blamed by economists and analysts for negatively affecting investor confidence in view of the heightened tension caused by Turkey's repeated threats to prevent their deployment, by military means if necessary.

    Their arrival on the island, originally scheduled for this summer, is now due in November, but further delays cannot be ruled out.

    Lazarides, the Popular Bank's boss, habitually uses news conferences called to announce bank results to air his usually outspoken views on the economy. In yesterday's news conference, he spoke of what he called serious structural problems facing the island's economy.

    "Productivity is low and corrodes the economy's ability to compete internationally," he said. He, however, declared himself cautiously optimistic about prospects for the remainder of 1998.

    Cyprus, he said, must be more open, more receptive and more flexible toward relevant regional and international developments.

    Turning to the Popular Bank Group, the island's second biggest financial institution after the Bank of Cyprus, Lazarides said: "A subdued economic climate and the subsequent slowdown in investment activity had an impact on the credit expansion of the local market, thus containing the profitability of the Group.

    "Under the circumstances, I believe the results are excellent."

    Pre-tax profits for the January 1-June 30 period rose to 18.01 million from 15.9 million in the first half of 1997, while operating profits rose by 15.8 per cent to 24.08 million compared to 20.8 million last year. The bank also increased bad debt provisions by 25.5 per cent to 6.07 million.

    Shareholders will be paid an interim dividend of eight per cent and earnings per share rose to 16.4 cents from 14.5 cents last year, according to the results.

    As often the case, market traders had already discounted the results after the bank's stock rose in recent weeks on the back of expectations that the results would be good.

    The stock lost two cents in heavy trading yesterday, closing at 3.77 apiece.

    Trading in the share accounted for 29.9 per cent of total dealings in the bourse, with nearly 132,000 stocks changing hands.

    Share prices yesterday fell by 0.37 per cent, the fifth successive dip, shaving 2.17 per cent off the official all-share index.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [04] Fee dispute threatens postgraduate programme

    By Elias Hazou

    COME the start of this academic year, the Cyprus University may run without its postgraduate programme, unless the students and the university's authorities reach an accommodation over tuition fees.

    This was the grim warning given yesterday by University rector Miltiades Haholiades, as time runs out before the start of the new year.

    Postgraduate students are asking that their 2,000 a year tuition fees be abolished so that they can also enjoy the free education offered to undergraduates at the university.

    They are proposing to pay a "symbolic" registration fee of 5 as a compromise settlement.

    Their demands have been rejected by the university's board, which states that students who do not submit tuition fees will not be allowed to register.

    Haholiades told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the university might not have a postgraduate programme this year if a solution was not found in time: "it is still too early to say, but this is possible," he warned.

    Students and the Board have until Monday - start of classes - to reach some agreement.

    The rector also said the university's board had suggested that postgraduates with financial difficulties could submit a "small down payment" on tuition and pay the remainder in instalments.

    And Haholiades added that a number of last year's postgraduates still owed fees for one semester, since at the time the question of tuition fees was still pending House approval.

    The university's administrative and financial affairs are regulated by the House of Representatives, which has twice already denied postgraduates' demands for free tuition.

    The university teaches some 2,300 undergraduates - on free tuition - and about 100 postgraduates.

    Meanwhile, the university's administrative staff has warned it will take "further measures" if its demands for participation in the elections for the university's deans is denied.

    On Tuesday, staff staged a one-day warning strike that prevented third-year undergraduates from registering.

    Education Minister Lycourgos Kappas has promised administrative staff that he would pass their request to the Cabinet next Wednesday.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [05] Teaching offshore competitors some tricks

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS is to play host to an unusual international conference next month, which will advise other countries on how to compete with the island as a successful offshore business centre.

    The leaders of the main local industrial and business organisations have combined their resources to stage the event, which will look at the challenges of deciding where in the world the major business centres of the future should be located - and what they will require to succeed.

    Antonis Pierides, Chairman of the Employers and Industrialists Federation, one of the organisers of the conference said: "That's right. We're providing the opportunity for others to learn to compete with us. But the whole point is to enable everyone to exchange views and ideas as we all try coming to terms with fast-moving technological advances, the globalisation of the world economy and the intensified corporate competition."

    "So I agree that it is an unusual conference. Most such events concentrate exclusively on selling their own locations. But we're bringing together both the international experts on what the future requires and the representatives from numerous countries who want to develop their own business centres."

    Pierides said a conference of the sort was in great demand, and that organisation here had received numerous enquiries from abroad on what makes a successful business centre.

    "The fact is that Cyprus itself cannot expect to continue to prosper automatically as a recognised international offshore centre if it doesn't learn the realities of what the new century will bring. So, just like other current business centres, we have to face the challenge too," Pierides said.

    Delegates are expected from the Far East, as well as from Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

    Some will represent their various governments, while others will be from major legal, accounting and financial management firms. Exact numbers are not yet available, organisers said.

    Topics at the two-day conference starting in Nicosia on October 8 cover everything that a country might require to become a successful business centre.

    Visiting experts will give their opinions on international, legal, financial and fiscal issues, while Cypriot speakers will concentrate on their own island's experiences as a globally-accepted offshore centre.

    "It's important to bear in mind that a centre has to be acceptable not only to the world's various regulatory bodies with their ever-changing rules, but to the business it is trying to entice," Pierides said. "That means having all the latest business, banking, transport and communication facilities, as well as a financially attractive taxation scheme and a good living environment for the family. And it all has to come together as a good package. At the end of the day, it's the client who makes the final decision."

    The conference entitled 'Business Centres of the Future' is being organised by the Central Bank, the Bar Association, Offshore Enterprises Association, the Institute of certified Public accountants and the Employers Federation.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [06] August was the hottest this century

    THE SCALDING temperatures which roasted Cyprus in August month made it the warmest month this century in all parts of the island.

    A total of 59 deaths were recorded as a result of the heat. On the central plain temperatures went above 40 degrees between August 2 and 9, and again from August 14 to 15. The maximum temperature was above 38 degrees -- official heatwave level -- for a total of 24 days in the month.

    In Nicosia, the highest recorded temperature was 43.6 degrees, the third highest since 1881, when a temperature of 43.9 was recorded. The highest ever temperature recorded in the capital was 44.4 degrees in 1956.

    The mean daily Nicosia maximum was 39.3 degrees, and the mean daily minimum 24.5 degrees, again the highest this century.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [07] Potato prices expected to fall 30 per cent

    GOOD news for french fries aficionados - the price of potatoes on the market is expected to fall sharply this coming autumn.

    According to the Cyprus Potato Growers' Commerce Board, the price of the popular commodity will be reduced by some 30 per cent following a good year for the crop. Some 800 tons of the vegetable are currently available on the market. The Board has also announced it expects income from potato exports to rise significantly.

    The potato picking season begins towards the end of October and the beginning of November, which means potato lovers might have to wait just a little longer for that grand feast.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [08] EU screening ready on seven chapters

    CYPRUS will on Monday present to the EU its negotiating positions on the seven chapters of the acquis communautaire for which the screening process has already been concluded.

    Speaking in Brussels after a series of meetings with senior EU officials, Chief Negotiator and former president George Vassiliou said Cyprus was committed to adopting fully the acquis communautaire on the seven chapters, which include those on research and technology, education, culture and telecommunications.

    He added though, that the EU rules and regulations governing telecommunications would only come into effect after Cyprus' envisaged accession date of 2003.

    The presentation of the Cypriot position will take place before the start of substantial negotiations.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [09] Cyprus could be Middle-East go-between

    CYPRUS could be an exciting centrepoint for the promotion of dialogue between Israel and neighbouring countries, and could also be invaluable in setting up joint projects among Middle Eastern countries, a top Israeli businessman said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis, Dan Gillerman, President of the Israeli Federation of Trade Chambers, also suggested that Cyprus should host the next Middle East and North Africa Summit, as Israel would be unable to do so.

    "We also would very much like to see Cyprus help us embark on an ongoing dialogue with our neighbours and especially with business leaders," he added.

    Enhanced bilateral co-operation in the fields of technology, tourism and trade had "very great potential", he concluded.

    Doron Tamir, Vice President of the Israeli Industrialists' Association, said businessmen from the two countries could look for ways to develop ties both in Cyprus and in Israel. Israeli high-tech achievements could, he continued, help Cypriots trying to start similar businesses here.

    Israeli ambassador to Cyprus Shemi Tzur said he was "very pleased" to have the leading lights of Israeli industry visiting Cyprus, and added that Rolandis has been invited to visit Jerusalem's trade summit between October 13 and 16.

    For his part, Rolandis said Cyprus had many regional advantages when it came to the business world, including its proximity and ties to Europe.

    Cyprus ties with Israel have been strengthened over the past five years, since the opening of the Cypriot embassy in Tel Aviv. Israel's President, Ezer Weizman is scheduled to visit the island before the end of the year.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [10] Hotels braced for Sunday strike

    THE HOTEL industry is bracing itself for a damaging strike from Sunday, with workers unions refusing to back down until their demands for better pay and conditions are met.

    Negotiations between the Sek and Peo unions, and hoteliers association Pasyxe over the renewal of collective agreements remain deadlocked.

    But general secretary Andreas Tollas said yesterday his union would "be on standby this weekend," in case Pasyxe decided to change its stance.

    The general secretary of Sek's hotel sector, Nicos Epistathiou, echoed Tollas' opinion, adding that nothing was final in such disputed until actual strike action began.

    Hotel workers are demanding alterations to their collective bargains with hoteliers. Changes include more pay, longer maternity leave and higher contributions to medical funds. Pasyxe's proposals on the issue have so far been rejected, and the hoteliers association now claims that since the previous collective bargain has expired, an entirely new contract would need to be drawn up.

    Both Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas and Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Nicos Rolandis have condemned the potentially disastrous strike action and have appealed to both parties to seek a compromise.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [11] Bar owners to appeal SBA move to close them down

    THE OWNERS of a popular beach bar closed down by the British Bases are to appeal the decision and seek compensation.

    According to reports yesterday, they are seeking around 150,000 in compensation for revocation of their licence and for lost business.

    Last Sunday, SBA police confiscated alcohol stocks, disco equipment and cash registers at the fashionable Jumpin' Jacks, an establishment just inside the bases.

    According to bases authorities, the establishment was being run as a disco when it only had a restaurant licence and was packing in thousands of clients when it had the capacity for only 600. The bases said this constituted a fire hazard.

    Yesterday's reports said that the owners denied the charges levelled against them by the bases, and said none of the contentious issues had been mentioned in a letter sent to them earlier by the bases, which they say referred mainly to a violation of their liquor licence by selling alcohol after hours.

    A bases spokesman said yesterday the issue would be sorted out by the court.

    "They were in blatant breach of the liquor laws and the general licensing laws and in contravention of the fire safety laws," the spokesman said.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [12] Stricken ship towed to Latsi coast

    THE Belize-flagged ship Fyser 1, which ran into difficulties off the coast of Akrotiri on Monday night, was yesterday towed to the Latsi coast.

    The ten-man crew who were rescued by helicopter after the ship developed engine trouble and started listing, are still at a Paphos hotel awaiting instructions from the ship's owners. Repairs on the Fyser 1 are expected to begin soon.

    The ship, which was empty, was bound for Turkey from Limassol.

    Friday, September 04, 1998

    [13] Man remanded for rape of Russian teenagers

    A 22-YEAR-OLD Limassol man was yesterday remanded in custody as a suspected double rapist.

    The suspect is being questioned by police in connection with the abduction and rape of two teenage Russian girls from Yermasoyia.

    According to separate complaints made to Limassol police, the man has been implicated in the abduction and rape at knife-point of a 15-year-old Russian girl on June 25, and with a similar offence against another teenage Russian on August 4.

    A Limassol district court remanded the suspect for four days yesterday. The proceedings took place in camera.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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