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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-01-23

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, January 23, 1999


  • [01] Hannay snubbed after 'insult'
  • [02] Budget approved in the House
  • [03] Bank of Cyprus announces centenary bonus
  • [04] Kranidiotis under fire on S-300s issue
  • [05] Spy trial set for February 25
  • [06] Civil servants reaffirm strike threat over health scheme
  • [07] Union cynical over no-smoking pilot scheme on Cyprus Airways
  • [08] Patient remanded after attack on doctor
  • [09] Suspect drug smugglers due in court
  • [10] Cyta announces high fibre deal
  • [11] All mod cons - in the Bronze Age
  • [12] Minister to axe one set of final year exams

  • [01] Hannay snubbed after 'insult'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRUS and Britain were embroiled in a diplomatic storm yesterday over "insulting" comments made by London's special envoy to the island, Sir David Hannay.

    President Glafcos Clerides snubbed a dinner invitation from British High Commissioner David Madden in protest at what he called "offensive" statements by Sir David on his arrival on Thursday.

    High Commission spokesman Piers Cazalet tried to play down the row earlier yesterday.

    Asked about how Sir David felt about the situation, Cazalet told the Cyprus Mail: "Hannay's feelings are of regret."

    But the war of words escalated last night when the government made public the letter Clerides had sent to Madden.

    In it, he objected to Hannay's "advising us to follow the Swiss model" and to "Sir David's innuendoes" that he was engaged in tactical manoeuvring to score political points against Ankara.

    In a tit-for-tat move, the High Commission then released its response from the High Commissioner to the President, saying that Sir David's comments had been misunderstood.

    "I am all the more saddened since, as you will see from the enclosed transcript, Sir David made neither of the points to which you objected," Madden's letter said.

    Sir David was hit with an unprecedented double-snub yesterday when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash cancelled his lunch appointment with him, which had been scheduled for noon.

    In a terse announcement, the British High Commission said Sir David's visit was part of a sustained effort towards a Cyprus settlement.

    "We regret therefore that neither side has taken the opportunity to give us their views."

    The High Commission said Denktash had given no reason for his last-minute change of mind.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides told his midday briefing that Clerides would not attend last night's dinner in protest at "unfortunate statements" made by Sir David on Thursday.

    "The President arrived at this decision after unfortunate statements by Sir David Hannay, and in taking this action he wishes to express his disappointment at, and dislike of, certain parts of his statements."

    Clerides said in his letter to Madden that he was unhappy with Sir David's comments about "tactical advantage and manoeuvres" - a reference to his letter to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan announcing a freeze on weapons purchases to allow the UN time to implement recent resolution 1218, which urges disarmament on both sides.

    When Sir David was asked on Thursday whether the letter to Annan warranted a response from Ankara he said: "This is a tactical way of proceeding which I do not think will get us very far."

    Asked whether the Security Council should take measures if Turkey failed to comply with December's resolution 1218, Sir David said: "Manoeuvring for tactical advantage of this sort, saying I am the good boy, I have accepted, they are the bad boys, has not frankly moved the Cyprus question from ground zero over 35 years."

    Specific mention of Hannay's "tactical manoeuvring" comments are contained in the Clerides letter to Madden.

    "I consider such statements offensive. I was not manoeuvring in order to show that I was the good boy...," he wrote.

    As for Sir David's perceived support for the Swiss constitution as a role model for Cyprus, the Clerides letter points out that the Swiss model of a rotating presidency and cantons are "all... Turkey's positions" and rejected by UN resolution 1217.

    "So far as the Swiss constitution is concerned Sir David did not advise Cyprus to follow the Swiss model," retorted the Madden letter.

    Sir David and Clerides were scheduled to have dinner last night at the High Commissioner's residence as part of a meeting of the British ambassadors to Cyprus, Athens and Ankara - Madden, Michael Smith and David Logan respectively.

    Sir David had said the main purpose of his visit was to attend the conference of Britain's ambassadors, and not to negotiate on the Cyprus problem or to bring any proposals.

    Opposition parties such as centre-right Diko and communist Akel had earlier this week criticised Clerides for accepting the dinner invitation, saying that it downgraded his position.

    Local politicians argued that Sir David should have shown Clerides the courtesy of visiting him at the Presidential Palace.

    The President's former coalition partner, Socialist Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides, said yesterday that Hannay should be "declared an undesirable".

    Communist Akel said Sir David's "unacceptable comments" underlined the government's "amateurish" approach to policy making.

    Although Clerides' dinner refusal may have been taken for domestic consumption, diplomats told the Cyprus Mail that the international community would not be amused.

    "It will be difficult for the international community to fully appreciate why this decision was taken," said one western diplomat last night.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [02] Budget approved in the House

    AFTER a gruelling three-day debate in the House the government last night managed to get its 1999 budget voted through unopposed.

    Although the opposition parties lambasted the government's economic record it was never in any danger of losing the budget vote.

    Despite Edek abstaining - they only have five seats in the 56-member House - the government easily secured more than the 28 votes necessary to get the 1.68 billion budget passed.

    This year's budget provides for a deficit of 508.8 million, five per cent more than 1998, with revenue projected at 1.1 billion.

    According to state forecasts growth is expected to reach four per cent this year, with inflation contained at 2.5 per cent.

    More than 20 hours of debate culminated in half-hour closing speeches from party leaders and parliamentary spokesmen yesterday. The debate, as on the two previous days, focused as much on the government's controversial decision not to bring the S-300 missiles to Cyprus as on matters fiscal.

    Newly appointed Disy deputy Christos Rotsas made his mark on the debate by going off on a nationalistic tangent.

    "We need to create young people who are masters of their own destiny and not subservient, spineless and cowardly. Young people cannot be afraid of the Turks," he said.

    "Power is not on the side of the numerous. If God had wanted us to be numerous he would have made us Chinese. But he did not make us Chinese. He gave us gifts that have to do not with size and numbers but with substance and quality," Rotsas explained.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [03] Bank of Cyprus announces centenary bonus

    By Hamza Hendawi

    BANK of Cyprus Chairman Solon Triantafyllides took on the role of Father Christmas yesterday, announcing a centenary package of bonus issues, warrants and a new rights issue in what the bank called a "gesture" to its shareholders.

    Addressing a glitzy news conference at the old bank's headquarters in Nicosia's Phaneromeni Street, Triantafyllides said a bonus issue in the ratio of one to every 10 shares held next May 4 will be given to shareholders.

    Additionally, warrants maturing in October 2003 with an exercise price of three pounds apiece will be issued to shareholders on the same 10-1 ratio.

    Triantafyllides also announced a new rights issue of 16 million shares which will be made available to shareholders at the ratio of one for every eight shares held in September. The new shares will be priced at 2.5 each.

    He also said that 1998 dividends would be increased by three per cent.

    "The announcement exceeded market expectations," said senior trader Stavros Agrotis of CISCO, the Bank of Cyprus' brokerage arm.

    The bank's shares closed at 4.22 and trade in the stock accounted for 36 per cent of all volume yesterday. The official all-share index also moved up by 0.57 per cent to close at 97.75 - the highest for at least 13 months.

    The total value of trade yesterday was a respectable 5.5 million.

    Chairman Triantafyllides spoke to a conference room packed with reporters, Bank of Cyprus executives and a small army of aides and executive assistants. One wall was adorned by a large black and white depiction of the bank's evolution from its origins in 1899 as the 'Nicosia Savings bank'.

    In a carefully choreographed news conference, the lights dimmed as Triantafyllides was about to make his introductory remarks. Only a green desk lamp remained lit as he spoke.

    His presentation was backed up by a slide show and was followed by a promotional film.

    The documentary and material in the press kit given to journalists appeared to link the bank's evolution with the national struggle in the 1950s to rid the island of British colonial rule.

    "By supporting the people of Cyprus through difficult times, the BoC identified itself with the people's fate and it gradually evolved into an international group," said an English language press release.

    The Bank of Cyprus has a market capitalisation of about 450 million. Trading in its titles consistently dominates activity on the Cyprus Stock Exchange, which has a total capitalisation of about 1.4 billion.

    The bank, which employs 3,900 people, has in recent years expanded into Greece, where operations account for nearly a third of the group's profits. The bank also operates in the US, Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia and in several east European countries.

    To mark the centenary, Triantafyllides said employees and living retired personnel would be given 100 bonus shares each, and that 1.5 million warrants would be distributed among them on the same terms given to shareholders.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [04] Kranidiotis under fire on S-300s issue

    By Martin Hellicar

    DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades yesterday charged Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis with trying to use the S-300 missiles issue for personal political gain.

    Anastassiades reacted angrily to Kranidiotis' public denial of his claim that Athens had forced Nicosia into not bringing the Russian missiles to Cyprus.

    On New Year's eve, in an effort to justify President Glafcos Clerides's controversial December 29 decision to re-route the S-300s to Crete, Anastassiades said Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos had made it plain Athens would no longer support Cyprus if the missiles were deployed on the island.

    In an interview with Ant1 television earlier this week, Kranidiotis said this was not true, although he did not deny that Athens had pushed for a missile rethink. He also said he had never supported the original decision to order the ground-to-air missiles - taken jointly by Athens and Nicosia.

    Anastassiades described Kranidiotis's denial as "aimless, unnecessary and far removed from reality".

    The Disy leader said Kranidiotis had dealt a blow to Athens-Nicosia relations at a time when everyone was doing their best to protect them in the wake of the missile saga.

    "At a time when we are really trying to be as restrained as we can, to avoid even the slightest upset in relations between Athens and Nicosia, some people are trying to excuse themselves by denying what they have not denied for a month."

    The Disy leader said Kranidiotis's statements had been motivated by a desire to score political points for himself.

    "He should be particularly careful when serving his personal ambitions," accused Anastassiades.

    Kranidiotis's claims that he had never supported the missile deal "brought his mental capabilities into question", Anastassiades said. Everyone knew the decision to order the missiles had been taken jointly by Greece and Cyprus, he said.

    "It's all in Mr Kranidiotis's head. I'm sorry to be speaking like this, but when you hear a deputy Foreign Minister talking as if they had no idea what it was all about, you have to wonder..." Anastassiades said.

    Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides also expressed "surprise" at Kranidiotis's claim that he never supported the S-300s.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [05] Spy trial set for February 25

    THE TRIAL of Avgoustinos Skoullou, a Maronite accused of spying, was set yesterday for February 25.

    Skoullou, 53, was arrested at the Ledra Palace checkpoint on January 14 after documents relating to National Guard installations and weapons systems were found in his car. He was preparing to cross to the occupied areas.

    Police say Skoullou has admitted that he was to hand classified military information to a senior Turkish officer, but that he said he was in fact spying for the National Guard. In addition to the four-page document, a search of Skoullou's car and house revealed two loaded cameras and a pair of binoculars.

    The Maronite community has issued a statement condemning the alleged actions of Skoullou and George Josephides, another Maronite arrested on spying charges in October.

    Under the 1975 Vienna agreement on the enclaved, members of the Maronite community enjoy free movement across the Green Line.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [06] Civil servants reaffirm strike threat over health scheme

    By Andrew Adamides

    THE CIVIL servants' union Pasydy yesterday confirmed that it will take strike action if the government goes ahead with plans to implement a national health scheme without fully consulting it first.

    The strike threats already made by Pasydy were confirmed in a statement made after a meeting also attended by primary and secondary teachers' unions Poed and Oelmek and the Police Association. All three backed the strike actions.

    The unions are concerned that contributions taken from wages towards the health scheme will exceed the amount they already pay out to their union health schemes. Pasydy is also concerned about the working conditions of health professionals it represents if the scheme is implemented.

    Health Minister Christos Solomis announced earlier in the week that the bill will go before the House of Representatives in mid-February, despite any objections. Replying to the unions yesterday, he said he had arranged to meet Pasydy representatives to discuss the matter on January 18 but that the union had said it was not fully prepared for the meeting. As such, they had asked for the bill to be postponed until the level of contributions had been fully discussed.

    Solomis said that he would arrange discussions on the matter as soon as possible, but that putting the bill before the House would not preclude parallel negotiations on any matters of concern relating to it.

    The Health Minister also promised that the government would look after the working conditions of those civil servants involved in the medical profession, but warned that he would not allow the civil servants to block promotion of the bill.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [07] Union cynical over no-smoking pilot scheme on Cyprus Airways

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways' (CY) cabin crew will today decide on what measures to take to counteract plans for smoking-free flights to Athens and London Heathrow, which are due to start on Monday.

    The company's largest union Cynika, and some 200 of its former members who have set up a breakaway union, met yesterday with the Labour Ministry to discuss the issue.

    Cabin crew are outraged that pilots would be excluded from the scheme under management's plans because the cockpit is an enclosed space and cut off from passengers.

    Cynika is calling management's move a form of discrimination and has vowed to fight the smoking ban unless it applies throughout the aircraft.

    The original plan to introduce the scheme on flights to Athens and London went up in smoke late last year because of the dispute.

    At the time, the airline decided to avoid trouble coming up to the busy Christmas season and postponed the trial period, but this week it announced it would be coming into force as of Monday.

    The new two-month trial period will begin on the two routes from January 25 and will run until March 28.

    Cynika chairman Costas Demetriou said yesterday's meeting at the Labour Ministry was attended by union, management and government mediators.

    "Even the Labour Ministry pointed out to the company that they would have problems if smoking was not banned on the entire flight," Demetriou said.

    The decision to ban smoking on the flights was reached after Cyprus Airways ran a questionnaire in which 90 per cent of passengers said they would prefer non-smoking flights.

    But two months ago Cynika said that even if pilots are included in the ban, its members may still refuse to accept the non-smoking package.

    Management wanted to run the scheme among regular passengers in order to obtain feedback on a trial basis before introducing it permanently.

    The airline has repeatedly said that there were no plans to stop pilots from smoking, but Cynika is not likely to resort to strike action over the matter, the union said.

    It already plans a four-hour strike on January 28 over pay rises.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [08] Patient remanded after attack on doctor

    A LIMASSOL psychiatric patient was remanded for eight days yesterday on suspicion of attempting to murder his doctor.

    Demetrakis Antonakis Kyriakides, 31, had already confessed to carrying out Thursday's gun attack on the office of psychiatrist Costas Kyriakides, no relation, police investigator Andreas Papakyriacou told the Limassol court.

    The court heard that the suspect had been a patient of Dr Kyriakides between 1991 and 1994.

    On Thursday at lunchtime after being told to wait in line the suspect left the doctor's office and later returned with a shotgun and fired at the door, which was shut at the time, the court heard.

    The doctor's secretary was slightly hurt in the attack.

    She was taken to hospital with minor chest and hand injuries and was given first aid before being released.

    Kyriakides then gave himself up at Limassol's central police station and handed over the shotgun.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [09] Suspect drug smugglers due in court

    TWO people from Limassol were arrested yesterday after being found to have 2.5 kilos of cannabis in their possession when they arrived at Larnaca Airport.

    Customs officials stopped Anna Pavlou, 33, and Stelios Constantinou, 35, when they arrived on a flight from Athens just before midday.

    Pavlou was found to have three packages of the drug strapped around her stomach. No drugs were found on Constantinou, but he is reported to have admitted his involvement.

    The two were questioned by the drugs squad at police headquarters. Officers then returned to the airport and found another two packages hidden in the building.

    Pavlou and Constantinou were arrested, and are expected to appear before Larnaca District Court today.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [10] Cyta announces high fibre deal

    The Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta) announced yesterday the signing of a supply deal for a Black Sea Fibre Optics Cable system.

    The system will offer high-quality, low-cost telecommunications, and is part of a larger plan to improve telecommunications links with the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea region.

    Cyta said the deal was signed with companies from Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia, the Ukraine, Russia, America, Germany, Croatia and Japan.

    The system is expected to be operational by early to mid 2000 and will cost $51 million. Cyta is contributing $3.2 million.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [11] All mod cons - in the Bronze Age

    THE completion of the sixth season of excavations at Marki have made the site the most extensively-investigated of its period, writes Andrew Adamides.

    The Department of Antiquities said yesterday that the latest season of excavations has been completed by a team of more than 30 Australian students under the direction of Dr Jenny Webb and Dr David Frankel of Melbourne's La Trobe University.

    The site dates from the early and middle Bronze Age, and was occupied from around 2500 to 1800 BC. This year's dig included closer examination of one of the numerous stone houses at the site.

    The building is highly complex as a result of having been rebuilt many times over several hundred years. Older sections of the building were abandoned or demolished, only to be rebuilt and incorporated back into the house by residents of later periods, who also added new sections.

    The house's floors were made of simple beaten earth with built-in plaster and clay benches, fireplaces and other fittings.

    The dig also turned up several stone kitchen implements and many fragments of pottery, including pieces of storage jars, cooking pots, jugs and bowls. In addition, several small simple models of animals were found.

    The Makri site is of special significance as the lower walls and pottery found there date from the very earliest period of the Bronze Age. It is about 20 kilometres south of Nicosia.

    Saturday, January 23, 1999

    [12] Minister to axe one set of final year exams

    By Martin Hellicar

    SECONDARY school students will be relieved of the agony of two sets of final year exams by the year 2002, newly appointed Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides promised yesterday.

    The minister also said female lyceum students would soon be allowed to wear trousers.

    Under a system introduced 20 years ago, final year lyceum students have to sit separate school-leaving and university-entry at the end of their final year.

    Ioannides said this system had proved a failure.

    It had forced students to focus only on the four topics tested in the entry exams for Greek and local universities and colleges, to the detriment of other subject areas, he said. It had also encouraged the spread of after- hours private institutes and rote learning.

    The government now wants to abolish university entry exams and have students assessed solely on the results of their end-of-year exams for second and third year lyceum, the minister said.

    "We believe this will allow better assessment of children, as they won't have two consecutive exams in the same period. We will achieve less disruption to the school year," he said.

    A relevant proposal has been drawn up and is to be discussed with all concerned over the next 15 days.

    Ioannides said the rules concerning school uniform would also be amended over the next fortnight to allow girl students to go to school in trousers during the winter months.

    Both proposals are likely to get a warm reception from student groups.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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