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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-01-24

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

January 24, 1999


  • [01] Pay up or be sued, Swedes tell CTO
  • [02] VAT to be raised to 15% over next three years
  • [03] Hannay bucking the London line, says Stylianides
  • [04] Youths 'threatened to knife pensioner'
  • [05] 'Mystery talks' to avert Cyprus Airways strike
  • [06] Censored: CyBC pulls the plug on raunchy scenes
  • [07] Aida to be staged in Paphos

  • [01] Pay up or be sued, Swedes tell CTO

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE CYPRUS Tourism Organisation (CTO) faces a damaging legal battle in Scandinavia following threats by a Swedish advertising agency to sue it for non-payment of a 3.6 million Krone (£233,258) campaign bill.

    A Stockholm law firm hired by the cash-hit agency Rekom Reklamkommunikation told The Sunday Mail it was now considering legal action against the CTO for not paying the outstanding amount plus interest.

    "If we haven't heard anything within a week, we must do something, because we can't handle all the creditors. We will have to take legal action against the CTO," said Rekom's legal adviser Jonas Reiner of Stockholm law firm Fylgia.

    With media outlets in Sweden, and some in Denmark, demanding to be paid, the CTO is said to be harming rather than promoting Cyprus' good image abroad.

    "We think it's a serious matter for the CTO because they should be interested in trying to maintain its reputation in Sweden which is a substantial tourist market," said Reiner.

    More than 100,000 Swedish tourists visit Cyprus every year, contributing greatly to an economy heavily reliant on tourism.

    Fylgia has even contacted the Swedish foreign office in an attempt to try to resolve the issue by making a formal complaint against the semi- government organisation in Nicosia.

    Stockholm-based Rekom Reklamkommunikation was contracted by the CTO to carry out a 5 million SEK (£645,000) marketing and advertising campaign in Scandinavia to woo increasing numbers of tourists to Cyprus.

    The agreement was signed in 1996, and the firm said most of the payments are outstanding from mid-1997.

    But the CTO has a different story to tell, going so far as to allege the ad agency may have fiddled invoices and over-charged for work which has not been done.

    "This agency has not fulfilled its obligations. They haven't done the job in many aspects which should have been done," CTO spokesman George Georgiou told The Sunday Mail.

    Georgiou said in no uncertain terms that the problem lies with the agency and not the CTO. "There is a problem with the invoices," he said. "We have paid for stuff which wasn't done."

    "They haven't done their job and we are not sure about the expenses either, " he added. The CTO has proof about the alleged suspect invoices, Georgiou said.

    Reklamkommunikation claims the work has been done but that nearly two- thirds of the invoices have not been paid, and it now faces the very real threat of bankruptcy because of the number of creditors knocking at its door.

    "Our opinion is that this (CTO claim) is incorrect, the invoices are not false," Reiner said. "If we don't get payment from the CTO then we don't have a possibility to pay all the creditors with total claims of 2.6 million SEK (£167,740). This is a lot of money, so bankruptcy is a reality."

    Reiner said that the CTO has not complained about any of the invoices sent and has failed to contact his office, despite a warning letter sent in December threatening legal action if payment was not made by January 15.

    "We don't know why they are not paying, because they haven't contacted us. So we will sue if nothing substantial happens."

    The CTO, however, says it has sent constant messages to the Swedish ad agency explaining what the problem was.

    "We have not delayed payment but sent observations and an officer to consult with them, but they didn't co-operate," Georgiou said.

    The prospect of an expensive legal wrangle finds the CTO in defiant mood. "If they want to take legal action then we will do the same to defend our reputation," Georgiou said.

    One Swedish journalist who has been following the story in Stockholm believes the situation is compounded by the CTO's bureaucratic methods and the fact that it got its fingers burnt by a marketing firm in Belgium two years ago.

    "As we understand it the ad agency has not been fiddling, but the issue is being badly handled by a bureaucratic CTO who are very suspicious because of what happened in Belgium," said Swedish travel writer Josť Pieters.

    Pieters works for major travel magazine RES and specialist publication Travel News which are owed a total of 250,000 SEK (£16,129) for work done for Reklamkommunikation.

    The CTO launched an internal investigation in 1997 after it discovered a Belgian firm had tried to swindle thousands from the organisation by charging for non-existent advertising.

    Following the discovery, the Belgian company refused to hand over invoices for £52,325 worth of CTO advertising in newspapers and magazines, but agreed not to be paid.

    A CTO inquiry into the Belgian fiasco is still not complete.

    During a House committee discussion last May, on how the organisation's £9 million plus budget was being spent, vice-chairman Andreas Georgiou conceded that the CTO had been ripped off in the past by agencies charging too much commission and over-charging for lacklustre campaigns.

    "We were not getting value for money," Georgiou told the House Watchdog Committee in May 1998.

    January 24, 1999

    [02] VAT to be raised to 15% over next three years

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE government is to increase Value Added Tax to 15 per cent - but gradually over a three-year period, Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday.

    "It is only right that the increase of VAT to 15 per cent from 8 per cent be done gradually because the Cyprus economy cannot endure a sudden increase in the last year (2002) or within six months," Christodoulou told a press conference in Nicosia.

    He said the increase in VAT was unavoidable because it was part of the EU harmonisation process.

    But the island's EU accession is part of the reason for the government's growing public deficit, expected to top last year's figure of 5.4 per cent.

    The increase in the public deficit is explained by a drop of £300 million in public revenue as a result of Cyprus' EU customs agreement, said Christodoulou.

    To offset higher VAT the government will introduce tax relief measures for those on lower incomes.

    "We intend to propose generous social measures to maintain the existence of a large middle class," he said.

    Referring to the total cost of the S-300 missiles, Christodoulou said the final amount was £115 million, most of which has already been paid.

    Although he declined to confirm whether Greece would pay the remainder, he did say he believed there was a way to fill the S-300 gap with similar defence weapons costing the equivalent amount.

    The minister wouldn't say how this could be achieved. The defence fund showed a £300 million deficit, he said.

    January 24, 1999

    [03] Hannay bucking the London line, says Stylianides

    By Charlie Charalambous

    SIR DAVID Hannay's comments on President Glafcos Clerides' recent backing for UN resolution 1218 contradict the official line from London, Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday.

    Britain's special envoy caused a storm of protest after he allegedly implied on Thursday that Clerides' January letter to Kofi Annan announcing a weapons purchasing freeze was a "tactical manoeuvre" to score points against Turkey.

    Clerides called the remarks "offensive", and refused to attend a dinner with Sir David on Friday at the home of British High Commissioner David Madden.

    The government also took offence because its decision to divert deployment of the S-300 missiles was hailed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, only for Sir David to say that it could expect nothing in return for doing so.

    "His comments were the opposite of what his superiors, Mr Blair and Mr Cook, have already stated," Stylianides told Antenna radio yesterday.

    But High Commission spokesman Piers Cazalet said yesterday Sir David's comments did not contradict British policy on Cyprus.

    "The things Hannay said represent British policy on Cyprus. What he said at the airport was misinterpreted and put out of context," Cazalet told The Sunday Mail.

    Clerides decided not to deploy the S-300s after UN resolution 1218 - calling for intense effort to solve the Cyprus problem and to reduce tension - was passed on December 23 and welcomed by the British Prime Minister.

    Blair expressed his commitment to work for its full implementation.

    Cook described the S-300 decision as a "significant contribution to international efforts to reduce tensions in the region".

    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."

    Although local party Edek is calling for Sir David to be sacked as Britain's special envoy, Cazalet believes this latest storm soon blow over.

    "I don't think this latest incident has harmed Cyprus-British relations. There is a history of good relations with the government built up over the years and that will continue," he said yesterday.

    January 24, 1999

    [04] Youths 'threatened to knife pensioner'

    TWO youths were remanded in custody for eight days yesterday on suspicion of burglary and attempting to rob an 80- year-old woman.

    Police told Nicosia District Court that Yiannis Karayiannis, 18, and George Torouros, 17, had admitted breaking into the home of Kyriakou Papaignatiou on Friday night and threatening to knife her if she didn't hand over money.

    The two were reportedly so drunk at the time that they didn't notice an amount of money on the sideboard, and fled empty-handed.

    They are also accused of breaking into a neighbouring house and stealing jewellery worth £2,000.

    The crimes were committed at the Strovolos 2 Housing Estate, where both teenagers live.

    January 24, 1999

    [05] 'Mystery talks' to avert Cyprus Airways strike

    UNION bosses at Cyprus Airways say talks to avert a planned strike may go ahead anyway, even though there is confusion as to whether the Labour Ministry has actually been asked to mediate in a pay dispute.

    Labour Minister Andreas Moushouttas said yesterday that the airline's unions had officially asked for mediation on the financial dispute, and that he had submitted a written request to this end.

    But Costas Demetriou, chairman of CY's largest union Cynika, said that the first he had heard of this was on the radio news.

    He said that when Cynika had announced its plan to strike for four hours this Thursday, it had submitted a letter to the Labour Ministry informing them of its decision, and that the letter had said Cynika was at its disposal for discussions on the matter.

    So it was possible the ministry considered this a request for mediation, Demetriou said. He added that if the ministry did call Cynika to the negotiating table, then they would be happy to attend talks.

    The unions and Cyprus Airways are in dispute over demands for pay increases and benefit boosts in line with those given to employees of other semi- government organisations.

    Demetriou also told The Sunday Mail that the smoke-free flights the airline plans to start running from tomorrow "are not a matter for a strike".

    In a separate dispute, Cynika is fuming over the plans to ban smoking on flights to Athens and London, as pilots will be excluded from the ban but cabin staff will not.

    Demetriou said the airline would be implementing the scheme on schedule, but that it was a matter for continued discussion.

    Moushouttas met Cynika representatives on Friday to discuss the matter, and reportedly told the airline that unless everybody was banned from smoking on board its aircraft, there would be problems.

    The thinking behind CY's decision is that as the pilots sit in a separate compartment, their smoking would not annoy passengers. But Cynika views this as discrimination, and has said that even if the pilots are also included in the smoking ban, its union members may still refuse to accept it.

    January 24, 1999

    [06] Censored: CyBC pulls the plug on raunchy scenes

    By Andrew Adamides

    CYBC ANNOYED viewers with a spot of on-the-job censoring on Friday night, when they abruptly stopped showing the film Body Language half way through and replaced it with an old Greek comedy - apparently because the film was too sexy.

    The 1995 TV movie began as scheduled at 9pm on CyBC1. Just under an hour later, there was an advertising break, followed by trailers for upcoming programmes. Then the Greek film, an innocuous late sixties comedy, began and Body Language was conveniently forgotten.

    Body Language is an erotic potboiler which stars Tom Berenger as a married lawyer who begins an obsessive sexual relationship with stripper Heidi Seinz. But Seinz is married to a crook, and when he finds out that Berenger is her lover, and is defending a man accused of murder, he starts blackmailing him.

    The film's hotter moments include a bedroom scene featuring Berenger and screen wife Nancy Travis, after which Travis cavorts topless in their kitchen. Another steamy sequence occurs when Berenger goes to watch Seinz' act at a strip club. Coming on in a sailor suit, she does an on-screen striptease and he stuffs money into her underwear. The two then have an abortive romp in Seinz' dressing room, cut short by the arrival of her husband.

    Then they... you get the picture. Or rather, you don't, because CyBC decides you shouldn't be watching such smut.

    Body Language was originally made for an American cable network, which allows far more explicit scenes than any terrestrial channel.

    No-one at CyBC was available for comment yesterday, and it is not known if it received complaints from viewers about the film's raunchiness.

    But Greek press reports yesterday said that members of the public had tried to contact CyBC to complain about Body Language being cut short, but there was no-one at CyBC answering the phones.

    One angry viewer told The Sunday Mail yesterday: "I thought I was going mad. I switched channels for a minute, and when I came back to CyBC1, I thought the Greek film was another trailer. But then there were the credits, and it just didn't stop."

    "You can't just cut a film with no warning in the middle and pretend nothing has happened. It spoils the night of many thousands of viewers. And if you think a film is fit to be shown after 9pm, then why not have the courage to show it in its entirety?"

    The viewer also pointed out that the film "wasn't actually pornographic" and added that "given the plot, that he's going out with a stripper, it's a bit hard not to show anything."

    January 24, 1999

    [07] Aida to be staged in Paphos

    THE Russian Bolshoi Opera is to stage Verdi's Aida this coming September, it was announced yesterday.

    The opera will be performed under the auspices of the Paphos Aphrodite Festival. The festival's organisers said the decision to stage Aida was taken at a meeting with Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Nicos Rolandis.

    The opera will to be the jewel in the crown of this year's festival which the organisers hope to make into "an ambassador of Cypriot culture... the official annual cultural event."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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