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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-09-25

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

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

Friday, September 25, 1998


  • [01] Christou promises thorough investigation
  • [02] Cem 'should learn to read'
  • [03] Heart attack kills bishop's lawyer
  • [04] Hellenic profits up
  • [05] Banks urged to cut down on credit
  • [06] Rolandis targets US trade
  • [07] Occupation could bar Cyprus from quarantine repeal
  • [08] Long weekend for primary schools
  • [09] Essex girl power lands tourists in court
  • [10] Oncology centre pay discrepancies ironed out
  • [11] Local manufacturer says Defence Ministry buying parts from Turkey
  • [12] Take your classic car for a spin

  • [01] Christou promises thorough investigation

    By Charlie Charalambous

    AUDITOR-GENERAL Spyros Christou yesterday pledged that his probe into corruption allegations against Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides would leave no stone upturned.

    "The report will be objective, fair and thorough, and based on the facts of the case," Christou said after briefing his colleagues on how the investigation would proceed.

    He said he had appointed three teams of investigators to start collecting the evidence.

    "There are three areas of investigation: one team will collect evidence from the Inland Revenue department and the Land Registry Office, the other team will investigate the Immigration department and a third team will check the Companies Registration office."

    But the Auditor-general pointed out that his enquiry could not demand access to bank accounts or take statements from individuals.

    "This will need the assistance of the Attorney-general," said Christou.

    He agreed it would be a lengthy and complicated process, but believed the investigation would be completed in weeks rather than months.

    "It will take one month maximum to collect the evidence."

    Christou's findings will be handed over to President Clerides and Attorney- general Alecos Markides for further action.

    The probe will get under way in earnest today following Michaelides' submission of a written response to the 14 allegations of corruption made by Disy deputy Christos Pourgourides.

    Michaelides was in defiant mood yesterday after his one-hour meeting with presidential secretary Pantelis Kouros.

    "If unfounded, false and fantastic allegations are allowed to create a cloud over a politician, who has a history of decades of service, so that he should resign... then Cyprus would be a jungle."

    The minister suggested Pourgourides was trying to hound him out of office with such "hatred" because he had failed to join his "plot" to overthrow Clerides during his re-election campaign.

    And Michaelides turned the tables on his accuser, describing Pourgourides as the "professor of nepotism", claiming he possessed letters from the deputy asking for "favours".

    The deputy accuses the minister of amassing millions from kickbacks and from his collusion with big business in the distribution of lucrative government contracts.

    Pourgourides voiced fears on Wednesday that Michaelides was involved in a deliberate effort to destroy incriminating evidence, and should therefore resign, at least temporarily.

    This suggestion was given short-shrift by Michaelides yesterday. The minister said he would stay in office to "fight" the allegations.

    "For reasons of political and personal sensitivity a public figure or minister should respond to his obligations to his government, to his family and to his friends."

    Furthermore, Michaelides denied he had any outside "financial interests" other than the hard work he put in at his ministry office.

    "I work from seven in the morning until eleven at night."

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [02] Cem 'should learn to read'

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Foreign Minister Ismail Cem has lost the plot when it comes to UN resolutions on Cyprus, the government said yesterday.

    "It seems Mr Cem understands things his own way or it seems he does not know how to read, as he should do, certain words which are very well known, both in the framework of international law and of common sense," government spokesman Christos Stylianides said in New York.

    He was responding to comments by Cem that the confederation proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was constructive because "it is for unity, not separation".

    "When we talk about UN resolutions, we should not see them as a very rigid set-up but we should look into their essence, the essence of UN resolutions, " Cem told reporters in the US.

    "And when I look at them, I think it would be much more wiser, instead of insisting on the words of some resolutions which have proved to be ineffective, inoperative since 25 years, I think it should be much wiser if we were to consider the essence."

    Cem said he believed what Denktash was proposing in a confederation "goes in line with the essence of what supposedly all parties are advocating and (confederation) is in line with the essence of UN resolutions."

    But the government said Denktash's proposal "speaks bluntly" about the creation of two states, which would lead "without any doubt" to the partition of Cyprus.

    "If Mr Cem believes that Mr Denktash's' proposal falls within the framework of the resolutions, he must have distanced himself from common sense as the resolutions speak very specifically about the territorial integrity, independence and unity of Cyprus," Stylianides said.

    Both Cem and President Clerides were yesterday due to have separate meetings in New York with UN presidential emissary for Cyprus Richard Holbrooke.

    According to sources, the UN is attempting to set in motion moves to establish some form of negotiations between the two sides after Denktash said he would only talk on the basis of confederation.

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [03] Heart attack kills bishop's lawyer

    SOTIRIS Karapatakis, the lawyer representing embattled Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos, died of a heart attack yesterday afternoon.

    The 54-year-old died at his home in Nicosia. Efforts to revive him by Dr Savvas Christodoulou, who was with him at the time, were in vain.

    An ambulance took Karapatakis to Nicosia General Hospital at 6.15 pm, but doctors there could only confirm his death.

    Karapatakis had spent four hours at Limassol Police Headquarters earlier in the day, presenting a statement by his client in response to latest developments in the case against him.

    The bishop is entangled in a multi-million pound web of fraud allegations.

    Karapatakis had been complaining of chest pains in the last few days, and visited Limassol Hospital yesterday. He had also been to Nicosia General Hospital on Tuesday.

    Earlier in the day, Karapatakis had repeated his belief in Chrysanthos innocence. Speaking on State radio, he said he had submitted to the special committee investigating the allegations "the necessary evidence that I had in my possession, which prove his innocence in specific allegations."

    Continuing in his defence of the Bishop, Karapatakis said several people had promised money to the Chrysanthos, "which would help in his charity work," but that these promised funds never became a reality.

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [04] Hellenic profits up

    By Hamza Hendawi

    HELLENIC BANK, a distant third behind the island's two largest financial institutions, yesterday announced pre-tax profits of 3.61 million in the first six months of 1998, a 5.4 per cent increase over the same period last year.

    Traders and analysts said the increase in profits exceeded expectations in view of the vast costs incurred by the bank as a result of its drive to full computerisation, the start of operations in Greece and redundancy payments arising from the 1996 acquisition of the Cyprus onshore operations of Barclays.

    They, however, blamed what they described as the conservative and excessively cautious policies of Hellenic's top management for the bank's slow evolution and apparent lack of direction.

    "The level of the profits in absolute terms is not huge. But they are not bad and, in fact, they are very healthy," said Yiannos Andronikou of Suphire Stockbrokers. "We were expecting three to four per cent."

    The results, which included a six per cent interim dividend and after-tax profits of 2.37 million, were announced by Chairman and Chief Executive Panos Ghalanos in a news conference.

    Results for the whole of 1998 were expected to match those of the first six months, said Ghalanos, whose announcement came after the end of trade in the Cyprus bourse. Hellenic shares closed down at 2.80 apiece.

    "The management of Hellenic Bank is too conservative," said Neofytos Neofytou of AAA United Stockbrokers. "It is still looking for direction and they have not shown the necessary management skills to expand."

    The 22-year-old Hellenic, once allied with Bank of America, saw its assets rise by 90 per cent and its staff and branch network leap by 50 per cent when it acquired Barclays in Cyprus in April 1996.

    But while the much larger Bank of Cyprus and Cyprus Popular Bank realised early on the limitations of the domestic market and moved overseas in search of fresh pastures, Hellenic is yet to see the start of its operations in Greece, a country where the two other banks have already established lucrative niches for themselves.

    Hellenic is believed to be only days or weeks away from starting operations in Greece. It already has a representative office in South Africa and plans two more, one in Moscow and one in London.

    "It is not just a question of opening a branch in Greece that will change things," said Neofytou. "It will take Hellenic at least a couple of years to see results from entering the Greek market."

    Others, however, believe that Hellenic's late move into Greece may prove costly and that conditions there may not be as favourable now as they were when the Bank of Cyprus and the Popular Bank started there in the early 1990s.

    "They may be moving to Greece too late and there may even be problems," said one market analyst who did not wish to be named.

    Stavros Agrotis, a senior broker with CISCO, the Bank of Cyprus' investment and brokerage arm, agrees with the assessment of Hellenic's management offered by Andronikou and Neophytou.

    "One of their problems is that they don't have enough strong people in top management positions," he said. "They've also lost some of their best managers to other banks on the island."

    Hellenic's shortcomings inevitably bring analogies with its rival big brothers.

    "I will not be exaggerating if I say that the Bank of Cyprus and Popular Bank have two flamboyant chairmen (Solon Triantafyllides and Kikis Lazarides respectively) who are not afraid to take risks, and they made the right decision when they moved to Greece," said Suphire's Andronikou.

    "In contrast, Hellenic's (chairman) Ghalanos is a very conservative individual."

    Ghalanos yesterday appeared to counter criticism of the delay in the bank's overseas expansion. "I believe that the important and well planned expansion out of Cyprus and the new restructuring of the group will be accomplished over a good length of time," he said.

    Widely viewed as the poor relation of the two larger banks, Hellenic has had a roller-coaster existence on the stock market. Because its shares are in short supply, they often shoot up when there is sudden demand, only to come down fast later, according to market traders.

    The bank's shares accounted for under six per cent of the stock market's capitalisation, or 73.1 million, at the end of August, compared to 34.34 per cent and 22.70 per cent for the Bank of Cyprus and Popular Bank respectively.

    While shares of the two larger banks gained between 20 and 25 per cent in value in the first eight months of 1998, Hellenic's have had no such luck. They closed at 2.90 on December 30, 1997, 10 cents more than their price at the end of trade yesterday.

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [05] Banks urged to cut down on credit

    THE CENTRAL BANK has instructed the island's commercial banks drastically to reduce consumer loans to their clients and expand credit for investment purposes in order to help the economy.

    "With a circular letter I sent to the banks dated September 9, I called on the banks to limit the extent of their loan and credit in general because the latest statistical evidence shows that there has been an exclusion of the goals we have set," Central Bank Governor Afxentios Afxentiou said yesterday in a radio interview.

    "... It is not a plea, it is an order," he said.

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [06] Rolandis targets US trade

    By Jean Christou

    TOTAL trade with the US reached over $700 million (350 million) in 1997 but there is still room for improvement, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Rolandis was speaking at the opening of the new Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce in New York, which was inaugurated by President Clerides.

    "As far as trade with the US is concerned, there is still considerable room for improvement," Rolandis said. "Though the total trade reached $735 million and the US became the number one exporter to Cyprus with annual exports reaching $720 million, Cyprus' total exports to the United States were $15 million, leaving us with a trade deficit."

    The Minister said that 75 per cent of the US exports to Cyprus were re- exported to other countries. "This highlights Cyprus' unique position as an important transshipment centre in the Eastern Mediterranean," Rolandis said.

    He said the main products re-exported from the island were tobacco, processed foodstuffs, beverages, textiles and chemical products.

    "Attracting foreign investment and for that matter US investment is amongst the primary objectives of Cyprus' development policy...," Rolandis said.

    "The new investment policy creates a more liberal regulatory and administrative regime with simplified procedures for approval."

    The Minister said the main aim of his visit to the US was to explore the possibility of high technology and other large investments by US corporations in Cyprus.

    "We have started working on a number of incentives, and if the interest exists, we shall try to make it materialise," Rolandis said. "The wide knowledge of the markets of Eastern Europe and the Middle East by the Cypriot entrepreneurs combined with the existence of a large number of offshore companies in Cyprus constitutes a substantial advantage for those who wish to use Cyprus as a base for penetrating the markets in the area."

    Thomas Mottley, International Trade Director at the US Chamber of Commerce, said Cyprus has proved to be an excellent base for US companies to conduct their offshore business in the region.

    "The feedback we receive from these companies is very positive about the business environment in Cyprus, our government has consistently encouraged US companies to view Cyprus as a good place for their regional presence," Mottley said.

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [07] Occupation could bar Cyprus from quarantine repeal

    By Andrew Adamides

    IN A HEART-RENDING twist to the UK quarantine saga, pets taken to the UK from Cyprus may still have to endure six months in quarantine, even if plans to scrap the system for rabies-free countries go ahead.

    The reason is because of the connection of the occupied areas - themselves free of rabies - to Turkey, where rabies is still common.

    The plans announced on Wednesday by the British government suggest that, within the next few years, the outdated quarantine system will be replaced by 'pet passports': tiny microchips injected into the animals' necks certifying them as coming from rabies-free countries.

    When entering the UK, animals would go through a separate channel at customs, where their chips would be scanned and papers checked. If they fail the checks, they would then either be sent back where they came from or compelled to six months in quarantine.

    The proposals, drawn up by an advisory committee, will include a list of places covered by the new rulings. As well as European Union nations, these are expected to include Australia, New Zealand, Malta, the Falklands and Hawaii, which are all rabies-free. The US and Canada would not be covered, as it is feared that if they were, animals travelling from these countries might swamp the system.

    It is estimated the numbers of animals entering the UK will rise from 8,000 a year to 250,000 under the proposed new laws.

    No decision has yet been taken on Cyprus, but the issue has been described as tricky, since many British servicemen take animals with them when they return to the UK.

    Pavlos Economides, head of the Veterinary Department told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the point had been raised before, and that the UK had nothing to worry about as there was co-operation between the Greek and Turkish sides on animal control.

    There have been no reported cases of rabies in the north, he said, and certainly no cases in the free areas, which have now abandoned quarantine in favour of a six-month observation period, where the animal remains at home.

    Coincidentally, he said that after talks with Sweden, he had yesterday received a letter from the Swedish veterinary department accepting Cyprus as rabies free and informing him that animals travelling to Sweden from Cyprus would not have to go through quarantine.

    Economides warned that if Cyprus were to be excluded from any new British ruling, it would protest very strongly.

    But even if the ruling does come into force, animals returning to the UK in the near future will still have to face quarantine, as the new laws won't come into effect for at least four years.

    And British Agriculture Minister Nick Brown has admitted that there is no money in his budget to pay for the implementation of the hardware necessary for the scheme, or the training of animal inspectors, and that no estimates have even been made of the cost involved.

    According to recent studies, dog owners pay 1,387 Sterling to consign their pets to the misery of quarantine for six months. Cat owners pay 1, 279. Since 1975, 3,000 animals have died in quarantine in the UK, and the RSPCA says many pet owners try to smuggle animals in, fearful they may not survive the quarantine.

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [08] Long weekend for primary schools

    STATE primary and kindergarten teachers were yesterday given a long-weekend break by the government.

    An announcement by the Education Ministry declared October 2 a holiday in order for graduates to go to Greece to pick up their degrees.

    October 1 is also a public holiday, which conveniently gives teachers a four-day weekend break.

    The Ministry said schools in Nicosia and Paphos districts would be closed on October 2, a working day for the remainder of the population. Larnaca and Famagusta districts will not be affected. Schools in Limassol will be closed the following Friday, October 9.

    "We call on parents to leave their children at home or to make other arrangements," the announcement said.

    The Ministry said the date for the degree ceremonies could not be changed, though it had tried to arrange another date with the Greek universities.

    Officials at the Ministry were not available to clarify how many teachers of the hundreds of primary school teachers on the island were due to receive degrees, nor who would fund the trip.

    A secretary at the Ministry said the Director of Primary Education was "too busy" to comment.

    The announcement said that the schools would be open on May 20 next year, Ascension Thursday, which is normally a school holiday.

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [09] Essex girl power lands tourists in court

    By Charlie Charalambous

    FOUR YOUNG British women were charged yesterday with causing actual bodily harm after attacking a Cypriot man and his wife in Ayia Napa on Wednesday night.

    British tourists Georgina Mookings, 24, Zoe Thompson, 22, Melanie Swain, 25, and Jennie O'Sullivan, 24, all from Essex, were charged with assault and causing actual bodily harm and released from custody.

    According to police, the incident happened at around 11.30pm on Wednesday when one of the girls is thought to have thrown a bottle at a car driven by 35-year-old Pavlos Kyriakou from Liopetri.

    And it seems the women took girl power a little too far when the Cypriot couple got out of the car to confront them.

    "When the driver and his wife got out to ask why the girls had damaged the car it seems they were attacked," a police spokesman told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    In the ensuing scuffle, the driver received light injuries, mainly scratches to the face, but his 30-year-old wife Chrystalla suffered more serious injury.

    "His wife Chrystalla was hit in the genitals and began to bleed. She was later taken to a private clinic, treated by a gynaecologist and released," police said.

    The tourists were charged and released later yesterday and are expected to appear in court to answer the charges within the next few days.

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [10] Oncology centre pay discrepancies ironed out

    PUBLIC Sector Doctors are to be paid the same as private doctors at the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre. Representatives from the Oncology Centre yesterday met with the House of Representatives' Health Committee to discuss the issue and other changes in its guidelines.

    The Bank of Cyprus provided the seven million pounds for the creation of the Centre, which opened on September 1 this year, while the government caters for running costs.

    The initial discrepancy in pay between public and private doctors working at the clinic resulted in government doctors refusing to provide their services.

    After the meeting, the General Secretary of the Health Ministry, Achilleas Panjinakos, said those hired from the public sector would retain their civil service status but would receive the same salary as private sector doctors.

    But the general secretary of civil service union Pasydy said yesterday that additional problems will be caused by this arrangement, and that the only way to overcome the difficulty would be for the Centre to be run exclusively by the government.

    His views were echoed by the vice-president of the Pancyprian Doctors' Association, Andreas Dimitriou, and the President of the Government Doctors Association, Stavros Stavrou.

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [11] Local manufacturer says Defence Ministry buying parts from Turkey

    A LOCAL auto-parts maker yesterday met Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou to complain that the army is allegedly favouring foreign - especially Turkish - manufacturers when purchasing parts for military vehicles.

    Antonis Petrides, who owns the local Titan Power company which makes shock absorbers, said he had been telling the Ministry of Defence since 1996 that some of the shock absorbers it was buying were either made by Turkish companies or by companies that have interests in Turkey.

    According to the Statistics Department, the deals have a value of around 1 million a year.

    But Petrides said that because government processes take so long, nothing has been done about his complaints.

    After his meeting with Omirou, he said the minister "realised there was a problem" and had opened channels for a solution.

    Petrides said his products were of equally high quality as the imported parts and that the Cyprus government should support Cypriot industry by buying locally-made items whenever possible.

    Titan Power exports its products to Russia, and Petrides says there has been interest in his parts from the UK, in spite of the fact that the company has shrunk over the past year from 30 employees to just two.

    Friday, September 25, 1998

    [12] Take your classic car for a spin

    ANY classic car owners in the mood for a Sunday drive on October 11 can sign up for the Friends of the Historic and Old Cars of Cyprus (FIPA) Autumn run.

    Application forms, which must be returned by 5pm on October 7, are available from the FIPA offices at 12 Chrysanthou Mylonas Street in Nicosia, Tel: 02-313233.

    The tour kicks off at the Mobil central offices at 10am,

    and ends at Asgata three hours later.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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