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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-11-12

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, November 12, 1998


  • [01] Israel tries to mend fences
  • [02] Bishops draw up indictment against Chrysanthos
  • [03] Turkey says EU talks not binding on the north
  • [04] Pyla man fires at Turkish post after verbal abuse
  • [05] Nothing can stop us now
  • [06] Five-star hotels must focus on repeat guests
  • [07] Ministers put off Hilton announcement
  • [08] New appointments to EAC board
  • [09] National Council to consider recourse... again
  • [10] Harassment lecturer could be expelled
  • [11] Budget constraints cap local government subsidies
  • [12] Naomi Campbell arrives for Metaxas show
  • [13] Hard times ahead
  • [14] Veterans remember world wars

  • [01] Israel tries to mend fences

    By Charlie Charalambous

    ISRAEL said yesterday that two of its nationals detained on suspicion of espionage were not spying against Cyprus or for Turkey.

    "The claim that Israel had been spying on Turkey's behalf in Cyprus are not based on fact," said yesterday's statement by Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Aviv Shir-on.

    "Following a thorough investigation and clarification conducted since the arrests, I can declare that the two Israelis arrested in Cyprus, did not act against Cyprus nor on behalf of Turkey, in any manner."

    However, the carefully worded statement does not deny that the two might be Mossad agents or explain exactly what Udi Argov, 37, and Ig'al Damari, 49, were doing with high-tech surveillance equipment near sensitive military sites in Zygi, Larnaca.

    The duo deny they are spies; they are being kept at separate police stations in Nicosia and are refusing to answer any questions, police said.

    Mossad-watchers told the Cyprus Mail that the statement coming out of Jerusalem was a "clear admission by the Israeli government" that the two were spying for Israel.

    "It is very clear they are Mossad agents, otherwise why the fuss? The Israeli government never intervenes on behalf of its nationals if they are just common criminals," one Israeli analyst told the Cyprus Mail.

    Informed sources told the Cyprus Mail that an Israeli lawyer usually employed by Tel Aviv to "fix" Mossad bungles was in Cyprus earlier this week.

    It is understood that lawyer Reuven Bachar, a specialist in secret service affairs, spent two days in Nicosia to "assist" Costas Demetriades who represents the two suspects.

    Bachar is thought to have arrived on Monday with Arieh Shumer, Israeli president Ezer Weizman's right-hand man and official fence-mender.

    Understanding that the "spying" incident had seriously damaged close links between the two countries, and had heightened Cyprus' sensitivity over military espionage, the Israeli statement said:

    "The friendly relations expressed in many ways, and in the recent visit of the President of the State of Israel to Cyprus, will continue to be strengthened."

    But the government's reaction to the ministry statement was muted.

    "It's a statement on behalf of the Israeli foreign ministry," said government spokesman Christos Stylianides yesterday.

    "The Cyprus government is sticking to the legal procedures which come within the framework of the law and the constitution."

    Stylianides said that Israel could say what it liked, but the government had a "duty" to see the investigation through and then comment.

    According to Reuters, two more Cypriot lawyers and one Israeli lawyer have been hired to defend the suspects.

    Local media, quoting security sources,claim the two "spies" were interested in whether any parts of the S-300 missile system had arrived on the island, especially the radar.

    Security sources said Israel was worried about the radar because it could monitor Israeli army movements.

    Other reports have suggested that the suspects had contacts with two Turks in Limassol, and had visited Cyprus six times in the last two years on different passports.

    Argov and Damari were arrested last Saturday, only days after Weizman tried to assure Cyprus that his country's military alliance with Turkey did not pose a threat.

    Their previous visit to Cyprus was between October 15 and 22, coinciding almost exactly with the Nikiforos exercises, elements of which were carried out in Zygi.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [02] Bishops draw up indictment against Chrysanthos

    By Jean Christou

    DETAILS of Tuesday's indictment against the Bishop of Limassol, drawn up by an episcopal committee of the Holy Synod, were leaked yesterday.

    The three-page document drafted by the bishops of Morphou, Kitium and Kyrenia cites eight breaches of ecclesiastical law against Bishop Chrysanthos of Limassol, who has been connected to a string of allegations of financial fraud, both at home and abroad.

    The three-bishop committee has the authority to bring Bishop Chrysanthos before an ecclesiastical court, where he could be defrocked if found guilty of breaches of Church law.

    In the indictment, the Bishops say that Chrysanthos, professing philanthropic motives, had taken advantage of his ecclesiastical position and put in danger his moral standing by associating with suspect persons for his own gain.

    Likewise, he acted for his own benefit to secure profits through currency speculation, the indictment said.

    The Bishops also accuse Chrysanthos of compromising the good name of the Limassol Bishopric and of the Church as a whole by using the holy seal on unauthorised financial deals and loan guarantees.

    The indictment also refers to a trip that Chrysanthos took to the Philippines several months ago, in which he allegedly suddenly became the owner of assets worth $170 million. The bishops criticise him for accepting at face value the word of a man in the Philippines that he was a priest.

    He also damaged relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, the document said, by using for his own purposes the best part of $719,000 donated for the building of a Russian Church in Limassol.

    The Bishops also say Chrysanthos failed to inform the Holy Synod about a series of financial deals involving millions of dollars.

    The publicity generated by his activities, both in Cyprus and abroad, and the resulting scandal, has damaged the name of the Church, the indictment concludes.

    The three Bishops who were appointed by the Holy Synod on October 1, met Archbishop Chrysostomos and Chrysanthos yesterday.

    No comments were made after the meeting, apart from an announcement that Chrysanthos would appear before the Committee again early today.

    The bishop has maintained his innocence throughout the scandal.

    Criminal investigations are also under way, with investigators examining Chrysanthos' overseas dealings.

    Late last month, Attorney-general Alecos Markides said investigations had been completed in Greece and would soon be starting in England and a possible third country.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [03] Turkey says EU talks not binding on the north

    TURKEY said yesterday that Cyprus membership talks with the European Union did not bind the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north, with which Ankara would continue to integrate.

    Cyprus officially began membership talks with the EU on Tuesday along with five other candidate countries.

    "Results of the negotiations will not be binding at all for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said.

    "There is no government which can take decisions on behalf of the two communities and for the future of the island's unity. The Greek Cypriot administration represents only the Greek community in the south," it said.

    Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots have began an integration process to merge Turkish Cypriot economic, defence and foreign policy with Turkey's in response to an EU decision last year to launch the membership talks.

    "Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots have declared that they would bring about a similar integration to that being realised between Greece and the Greek Cypriots through the EU," the statement said. "Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are determined to press ahead with that policy."

    The Turkish Cypriot regime has refused invitations to join the EU negotiations with the Cyprus government. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has said he will not renew bi-communal settlement talks unless EU negotiations are suspended.

    The 15-nation bloc last year excluded Turkey from a list of prospective members, citing its disputes with member Greece, including Cyprus.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [04] Pyla man fires at Turkish post after verbal abuse

    By Charlie Charalambous

    SHOTS WERE fired at a Turkish army post in Pyla on Tuesday, when a Greek Cypriot builder took exception to some rude remarks addressed to his wife, the UN said yesterday.

    "A Greek Cypriot civilian admitted to a Cyprus police officer to have fired two shots towards a Turkish Cypriot observation post in retaliation for verbal harassment of his wife," UN spokesman major Paul Kolken told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    He added: "this morning UN military police were not allowed to check the Turkish observation post that looks out on the premises of the Greek Cypriot civilian."

    The closeness of the Turkish army post suggests that any lewd comments by Turkish soldiers could have been heard by the outraged Greek Cypriot.

    The incident allegedly happened on Tuesday night in the mixed village.

    Turkish Cypriot reports that the shots had been aimed at a bust of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, appear to be unfounded.

    Although 31-year-old builder Demetris Sotiriou was not arrested, Cyprus police said they had confiscated his shotgun and he could be detained at a later date.

    "There is an accusation that two shots were fired last night from a residence in Pyla, which is underneath a Turkish sentry post," Larnaca police chief Savvas Lardis told a press conference yesterday.

    As part of the investigation, the suspect's hunting gun was confiscated for ballistic tests, police said.

    "If anything comes of the investigation, there will be arrests," said Lardis.

    The police chief also said the shooting incident took place at least two kilometres away from the bust of Ataturk, which stands outside the Turkish Cypriot elementary school in the village.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [05] Nothing can stop us now

    By Andrew Adamides

    NOTHING can stop Cyprus' accession course to the EU, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.

    Cassoulides was speaking on his arrival from Brussels where substantive accession talks began on Tuesday with Cyprus and five other, Eastern European, candidates.

    "It is obvious that the course will proceed until the end of the road of accession negotiations," he said, adding that no one expected that that road would be trouble-free.

    On Monday, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands issued a joint communiqué stating that without a Cyprus solution, problems would arise with the island's accession process, effectively preventing it from becoming an EU member.

    Cassoulides said the joint statement was more of a warning, but pointed out that the EU ought to turn its attention to the cause of the problem - Turkey.

    "We do not have nor have we ever had any blank cheques that all EU member states would back Cyprus' accession all the way," he said. "If the accession course proceeds and the Cyprus problem remains unsolved, Cyprus will join the Union".

    Greece is determined to block further EU expansion if Cyprus' application is held up because of the Cyprus problem.

    The warning was repeated yesterday by Greek Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Speaking to CyBC, Papandreou said that "if the accession negotiations prove that Cyprus is ready for membership and the only reason they do not accept her is because the Cyprus problem is not settled, then it is certain that the Greek parliament would not be able to ratify the accession of the other countries because this would be unfair and unacceptable."

    Papandreou also said that the obstacles placed in Cyprus' path by certain EU members did not facilitate efforts for a Cyprus solution. The start of substantive negotiations on Tuesday "proves that Cyprus is moving forward," he added, though he admitted that problems were likely to arise in the future.

    Asked if he believed the Italy-France-Germany-Netherlands motion had been issued in order to try and pressure Greece into accepting EU funding for Turkey, he said this was "very possible" although the proposal had not been put forward "in this sense".

    Greece has for years been blocking EU aid to Turkey.

    Meanwhile, the chairman of the European parliament, Jose Maria Gil-Robles, said yesterday Cyprus would be treated the same as any other candidate country in spite of the four countries' reservations.

    "When the adaptation is done, Cyprus must come in," he said at a Vilnius meeting of the East European applicants.

    The other countries up for accession with Cyprus are Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Estonia.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [06] Five-star hotels must focus on repeat guests

    By Jean Christou

    TOURISTS think five-star hotels in Cyprus look great, but say there is room for improvement in service, according to a new survey into the sector.

    The report concludes that Cypriot hoteliers allocate resources to immediate goals, such as achieving high occupancy and short-term profitability.

    Instead they should invest in improving the quality of service to enhance long-term reputation by trying to attract repeat business.

    "The findings of the study show that although service quality in local hotels is of a very satisfactory level, repeat customers are few," it concludes.

    "This result suggests that local hoteliers need to work harder to develop their existing clientèle in order to encourage repeat business."

    The study - the first of its kind to be made public - was carried out jointly last July by the local College of Tourism and Hotel Management and the Ben Gurion University in Israel. Researchers interviewed 450 guests staying at 11 of the island's 17 five-star establishments.

    The study found that the image of hotels varied across nationalities, with the highest level of dissatisfaction among Belgian tourists.

    People in the 31-45 age group were the hardest to please, but at the same time an overall 75 per cent of all respondents said they would visit the same hotel again, while 87 per cent said they would recommend their hotel to acquaintances.

    For first-time guests, the appearance of the hotel on arrival was the most important factor; the study noted that all of the hotels were investing wisely in this respect and should continue to do so.

    The report was divided into three age groups - under 31s, 31-45, and over 45s.

    The 31-45 group was the largest. Although they were fully satisfied with the appearance and physical facilities of the hotels, they were also the most dissatisfied with service, making them the group most likely to affect repeat business. "Unless rectified, it could have unfavourable repercussions in the future," the report said. "It is generally accepted that it costs six times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an old one."

    Of the guests polled, 45 per cent were British, 12 per cent Russians, nine per cent Belgians, eight per cent Germans and six per cent each French and Swiss. Others included Cypriots, Arabs, Dutch, Israelis, Italians and Irish.

    Around two-thirds of the total had used five-star facilities consistently. In general, the perceptions of the Britons and Russians were below their expectations, with the exception of appearance and facilities.

    Both the British and French expect to receive a high quality of service in Cyprus, while Germans and Swiss had lower expectations and therefore emerged pleasantly surprised.

    The most dissatisfied group were the Belgians, a group that consistently uses five-star hotels and is "important to satisfy the first time round as they exhibit the lowest percentage of repeat stays," the report said.

    Almost a quarter of Belgian visitors indicated they did not plan to stay in or recommend the same hotel again, the highest such percentage in the sample.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [07] Ministers put off Hilton announcement

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE CABINET yesterday put off for a few days its final stance on allegations of abuse of public funds at the Hilton Hotel by the Cyprus Tour Development Company (CTDC) and its president, Andreas Kaisis.

    "I cannot say anything officially," Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday after the Council of Ministers discussed the luxurious Nicosia hotel.

    "We're looking into all the aspects of the Hilton Hotel (and) we shall look further in the course of the next very few days... make some more contacts" about charges of improper tendering and overspending of £9 million in renovations, he said.

    "We shall make some more contacts and we shall come up with a decision very soon," Rolandis said, adding, "it will be handled in the course of the next three to four days."

    The government owns 81 per cent of the Nicosia Hilton via ownership of CTDC shares. The hotel is operated by Hilton International, which is owned by British gambling giant Ladbrokes.

    Kaisis threatened in September to resign as CTDC chairman, but relented when the CTDC administrative council backed him and denied any chicanery in paying to renovate the hotel. Remodelling originally pegged at £7 million wound up costing £16 million.

    Phileleftheros yesterday reported that a report on the hotel commissioned by Rolandis, and leaked to the press, confirmed that companies of which Kaisis is chairman won a tender worth £513,000, although this was not the lowest bid.

    The report also noted that the CTDC board spent £25,000 in fees and other costs to prepare an agreement regarding building a gambling casino alongside the Nicosia Hilton Hotel, even before the government had issued any permits allowing the building of casinos in Cyprus, the newspaper said.

    The report further noted that, for lack of the required experts, the Cyprus government could not evaluate allegations that the CTDC, which Kaisis chairs, wrongfully overspent at least £9 million to renovate the Nicosia Hilton.

    The construction of a new, 84-room wing (opened in March 1995) and the February completion of renovations to the remaining older section of the hotel totalled some £16 million.

    This drove the hotel deep into debt at a time when other hotels in the capital - notably the Holiday Inn and the Forum Intercontinental Hotel - grabbed up a major share of the luxury hotel market.

    The extra rooms are believed to have been built for the high-rollers the hotel hoped to attract with the casino that Kaisis said he hoped to build on land adjacent to the Nicosia Hilton.

    But over three years since the new wing's completion, the Nicosia Hilton is some £12 million in debt, has no casino but lots of empty rooms, and faces stiff competition from other five-star hotels, and four-star hotels offering five-star accommodation. Some say it has priced itself out of the market.

    The Council of Ministers has given provisional backing for casinos in Cyprus, but relevant legislation has not yet been passed by the House of Representatives.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [08] New appointments to EAC board

    THE CABINET yesterday named replacements for two Electricity Authority (EAC) board members who resigned after a government probe found the authority had paid over the odds to buy Church land.

    The new vice chairman, replacing Nicos Lakkoufis, is lawyer Ionas Nicolaou, while Andreas Louroudjitis will replace departed board member Andreas Christodoulides.

    Lakkoufis and Christodoulides resigned in protest late last month after the cabinet made it clear it would like to sack all nine board members in the wake of the land purchase scandal, were its hands not tied by legal constraints.

    A government investigation into the purchase of land from the Limassol Bishopric for the EAC Limassol headquarters found the authority had paid twice the going rate. Bishop Chrysanthos of Limassol received £1,425,000 from the EAC for land whose market value was put at £700,000 to £800,000.

    Announcing the appointments after yesterday's cabinet meeting, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis - who has been at odds with the EAC board ever since the probe - said the new members had been named to allow the board to resume work.

    Bishop Chrysanthos is currently being investigated for a number of alleged financial scams.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [09] National Council to consider recourse... again

    THE NATIONAL Council will on Friday again discuss the possibility of a recourse to the UN General Assembly over the deadlocked Cyprus problem, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday.

    He told his daily press briefing this would be the third time the National Council had discussed the matter. No decision has yet been taken, although the government had said the matter would be decided after President Glafcos Clerides' return from the UN General Assembly in late September.

    Asked if the topic of the S-300 missiles would be raised at tomorrow's meeting, Stylianides said they would be discussed if anyone brought up the subject. Clerides has said he would not bring up the subject.

    Stylianides also said Clerides would meet Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis later this month to discuss the Cyprus problem and Greco-Cypriot co- operation.

    Stylianides said the visit would take place around November 26.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [10] Harassment lecturer could be expelled

    A CYPRUS University lecturer found guilty of sexual harassment could be expelled if a previous decision to suspend him is overruled by the University Council.

    According to Phileleftheros, the University Council met on Tuesday night to discuss the issue and, by a small majority, moved for the lecturer to be kicked out.

    The University Senate, which needs approval from the council, was reported to have previously decided to suspend the lecturer on half pay until September 2000.

    University rector Nicolas Papamichael refused to confirm or deny the reports when contacted by the Cyprus Mail yesterday, but did say that meetings had taken place.

    "What I can say is that the university council met yesterday, but we did not complete our discussions and we will discuss the issue next week," Papamichael said.

    On what the senate had decided last month, he would only say:

    "The Senate took a decision that was not made public. The decision was forwarded to the Council to make a final decision."

    An internal investigation by a university team found the lecturer guilty of a "form of sexual harassment" after witnesses said the academic had groped them and made suggestive comments while in his study.

    Students have called for the academic to be shown the door for good.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [11] Budget constraints cap local government subsidies

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT pleaded poverty yesterday in response to requests for more funding by Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades.

    "The position has always been to consider local authorities as important bodies which serve the aim of decentralisation; therefore their financial support is also a government policy," an official state announcement said.

    "Of course, further financial support of local authorities will always be within the limits set by the financial capabilities of the state."

    The statement was issued in response to criticism levelled again the government by Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades.

    The Nicosia Mayor on Tuesday described the funding of the island's municipalities as "comical" and the policies under which it operates as "strange".

    "If after all this time of us asking for a meeting with the President, with the Minister (of Finance) and for a review of this strange policy, the government follows a line which says 'we don't have any money so go and ask the parties to convince them to approve fresh taxation so that we can give you some money back', then this is not a serious or responsible action," Demetriades said.

    "They say they treat us like everyone else who asks for money, potato growers or whoever. This is the reality of it and its is not only wrong but infuriating."

    Demetriades said that in Europe, governments gave anything from five to 20 per cent of their budgets to municipalities.

    "We get 0.4 per cent," he said. "This is comical. We are at a very low level and we must go up. Local authorities are not just one step on from the village mukhtar."

    The government statement said subsidies to municipalities had gone up from 0.3 per cent to 0.4 per cent in 1996. This translated into £3.65 million. The government also said it contributed a total of 13.5 million to development works.

    The 1999 budget also includes £65,000 for computerisation, £250,000 for town halls, and £761,000 for lighting and electricity.

    The government also said it has guaranteed a total of £44 million for municipality loans.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [12] Naomi Campbell arrives for Metaxas show

    SUPERMODEL Naomi Campbell will tonight make her much-trumpeted appearance at the Forum Intercontinental Hotel, modelling locally-produced Metaxas jewellery.

    Directly before the show, Streatham-born Campbell will also make an appearance on the trendy Sigma magazine show Katerina, presented by local celebrity Katerina Vati. The interview will take place at the Forum.

    Campbell's visit is a flying one: she arrived on the island yesterday, and leaves tomorrow.

    The show has been organised by Metaxas to commemorate their 35th anniversary, and Campbell is to appear alongside six Greek models and one Cypriot. Metaxas have repeatedly declined to state how much they are paying her, but a figure of £40,000 has been bandied around in the local press, and Campbell is famous for once claiming she wouldn't get out of bed for less than £10,000.

    The lofty claim was made during her early '90s heyday, since when she has tried repeatedly to break away from modelling by recording an album, penning a novel, Swan, and making film and TV acting appearances. None of the attempts took off, but she is still very much in demand as one of the original supermodels and is said to be considering another film appearance, this time in a leading role along the lines of fellow supermodel Cindy Crawford's in the 1995 action flop Fair Game.

    Would-be stalkers should note that, although Campbell is known to be staying at the plush Residence Yiorki in Nicosia, extremely heavy security has been laid on for her visit.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [13] Hard times ahead

    By Jean Christou

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday warned that the economy was facing hard times in the run up to EU accession.

    "As we all know, the Cyprus economy has to go through a difficult course," Clerides said. "The changing new competitive environment and prospects for Cyprus' accession to the EU do not leave room for hesitation or postponement."

    Clerides was addressing the annual general meeting of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Keve) in Nicosia, which published the results of two recent surveys into public attitudes towards the economy.

    The studies show that 81 per cent of Cypriots believe the course towards Europe will help solve the island's political problem, but only 50 per cent believe it will help the economy.

    Referring to Monday's negative statements on Cyprus' accession made in Brussels by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, Keve chairman Vassilis Rologis said: "We know the road won't be easy and political and economic interests are already in our way. This situation is evidence of this."

    "We believe there must be a national crusade to counter any arguments or excuses," Rologis added.

    He suggested the government and the House discuss the economy in relation to EU harmonisation so that decisions could be taken quickly. "Through a process like this, Cyprus will be able to secure both its European future and win the battle against international competition," Rologis said.

    Rologis said the findings of the study showed there was no argument to justify any delay in finding ways to turn the economy around.

    In addition to attitudes towards the EU, the studies also showed that 82 per cent of those asked felt the civil service needed a radical overhaul, while 53 per cent wanted a wage freeze for civil servants, and a further 20 per cent advocated pay cuts of at least 10 per cent in the public sector.

    Thursday, November 12, 1998

    [14] Veterans remember world wars

    THE RED poppy was on the streets of Nicosia yesterday to honour the victims of the century's two World Wars.

    Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of Armistice Day, November 11 1918, ending the First World War.

    The Cyprus World War II Veterans' Association once again held a fund-raiser yesterday in an effort to support aged veterans and their families.

    The red poppy represents the blood shed on the battlefields of the Western Front.

    Thousand of Cypriots enlisted with the Allies during both World Wars. The graves of many who fell are scattered around Europe and Africa.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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