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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-02-03

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, February 03, 1999


  • [01] Clerides insists there will be no early release for Israelis
  • [02] Share prices power their way to new record as bourse boss pleads for liberalisation
  • [03] Pollution concerns over desalination plants
  • [04] Canteens are dirty and overpriced, House told
  • [05] Hotel owner defends redundancies
  • [06] Strikers block port entrance
  • [07] Mazotos the little dromedary
  • [08] Two remanded for car bomb
  • [09] Horse doping arrest
  • [10] Missing committees finally agree to merge

  • [01] Clerides insists there will be no early release for Israelis

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRUS yesterday rebuffed calls by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu to release two of his convicted agents immediately.

    President Glafcos Clerides said yesterday he would not consider the early release of the two Israelis, sentenced to three years imprisonment on Monday, by granting them a pardon.

    "I am not going to deal with the issue at this stage," Clerides told reporters when visiting the site of Nicosia's new general hospital.

    "They haven't served the period of their sentence which they should serve before the issue of granting a pardon is even examined," Clerides added.

    Despite the tough language on both sides of the Mediterranean, public opinion is convinced that the Israeli agents will be spirited off the island in time for the Jewish feast of Passover, just before Easter.

    It appears the question is not whether the Cyprus government will bend to Israeli pressure, but when.

    A pardon can only be granted once a period of the sentence has been completed, once the prison governor submits a good behaviour report, and once Attorney-general Alecos Markides agrees that special circumstances exist, Clerides explained.

    Udi Hargov, 37, and Igal Damary, 49, both senior members of an elite anti- terrorist unit, were sentenced to three years by an Assize court for approaching a restricted area during secret army operations in Zygi last November.

    No sooner had the court decision been relayed back to Tel Aviv, than Nethanyahu again vowed to bring the agents back "immediately".

    Asked to speculate on what Nethanyahu might do to get his men released, Clerides said: "I am not a mind reader... he will try and I don't rule out that he will try, but the issue is whether he will get a response."

    The Israeli Prime Minister ruffled diplomatic feathers when making the same pledge only a day after the duo were arrested in Zygi on November 7.

    Diplomatic ties between two neighbours have not been the same since the Israelis were arrested.

    Clerides admitted yesterday that Israel had applied pressure from the outset to prevent the two men from appearing in court.

    "We came under pressure not to take them to court, but we said 'no' and took them to court," Clerides said.

    Hargov and Damary pleaded guilty to approaching a prohibited area after the more serious charge of spying was dropped in a deal with the defence last week.

    The president denied that spying charges had been withdrawn because of intense Israeli and other outside pressures.

    "The charge sheet was amended by the Attorney-general, who judged that, on the basis of the evidence, he could not see them being convicted of spying, " said Clerides.

    "So to stop them getting away, he (Markides) saw fit to introduce a new charge."

    Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon indicated his displeasure over the court decision, saying on Monday that he "regretted the severity" of the sentence.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides yesterday suggested that Israel, like Cyprus, should respect the due process of law.

    "In reference to Mr Sharon's statements, the Cyprus Republic respects the independence of the courts."

    Stylianides also ruled out any suggestion that the two Israelis could serve their sentence in Israel.

    "No such bilateral agreement exists between Israel and Cyprus."

    Defence lawyer Andis Triantafyllides said he was considering an appeal to the Supreme Court against the harshness of the sentence. The maximum jail term under the offence is six years.

    A decision on whether to appeal is not likely to be taken before next week.

    Wednesday, February 03, 1999

    [02] Share prices power their way to new record as bourse boss pleads for liberalisation

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARE prices powered their way to a second successive all-time high yesterday, with the official all-share index leaping by 1.64 per cent to end the day at 104.68.

    The market has now risen by nearly 15 per cent since the year began and yesterday's close was the third in positive territory in as many days.

    The closely-watched blue-chips of the banking sector rose by 1.66 per cent, with their sub-index closing at 122.20, more than 25 points ahead of the second-placed manufacturing sector.

    The value of yesterday's trade was 5.13 million, of which 1.54 million were spent trading on banks' shares. The Bank of Cyprus rose by six cents to close at 4.53, while the Popular Bank closed nine cents up at 4.35. Hellenic Bank, slowly waking up from a prolonged slumber, added nine cents to close at 3.03.

    Universal Life was the biggest winner in the insurance sector, closing 14.5 cents up at 6.92.

    The market's current bull run coincides with the reduction in political tension following President Glafcos Clerides' December decision not to bring the Russian S-300 missiles to the island.

    The market was boosted further last month with the announcement of a major takeover in the insurance sector and prospects of a new rights issue and warrants by the Bank of Cyprus.

    The spectacular rally in the market, which some traders say could be due for a correction, coincided with a plea by bourse boss Dinos Papadopoulos for large public sector companies to be put on the market.

    Papadopoulos told a news conference yesterday that the bourse was also eyeing pension funds as a source of investment in the market.

    "We would like to see semi-government corporations on the stock exchange. It will turn the market around and spark interest among foreign investors," he said.

    The market, which in March 1996 replaced an unofficial one run by the Chamber of Commerce, has insignificant foreign participation at present, but Papadopoulos yesterday revealed that investment powerhouses ING Barings and Nomura had recently shown interest. He gave no details.

    He also called on the government to lift restrictions on the free movement of capital to attract more investors, saying: "For us, the sooner the economy is liberalised the better."

    Papadopoulos makes no secret of his uncompromising support for privatisation as a means of revitalising the economy.

    Addressing a privatisation conference in Nicosia last week, he called on the government to proceed immediately with the sell-off of large public sector companies, saying this would "provide a major boost to the capital market in Cyprus."

    He singled out the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) as one of the companies he wished to see on the stock market.

    The government last week announced plans to turn the telecommunications monopoly, said to be one of the most modern of its kind in Europe, into a joint-stock company.

    The announcement, which appeared to be a prelude to the eventual privatisation of CyTA, triggered an angry response from trade unions and some politicians who claim that the island's EU accession course does not necessitate privatisation, but rather liberalisation - i.e. allowing private investors to set up companies offering services similar to those of CyTA.

    But this argument appears to cut no ice with Papadopoulos, who, in his capacity as head of the bourse, symbolises market economy.

    "I feel compelled to say that as a country we are moving down the road of privatisation far too late and the process looks as though it is going to be a very slow one," he told last week's conference.

    "We are behind, very behind," he said before he called for the establishment of a specialised body to push forward privatisation.

    "This matter must be dealt with expeditiously and in a focused professional manner. If not, we shall pay the price for doing it late and not doing it right," he warned.

    Wednesday, February 03, 1999

    [03] Pollution concerns over desalination plants

    By Anthony O. Miller

    CYPRIOTS desperately want water, but they apparently don't want either of the two 'mobile' desalination plants the Water Development Department (WDD) is buying to be installed anywhere near their homes.

    Apart from not wanting to live next to the incessant noise of the diesel generator-fired mobile plants, local residents yesterday also expressed concern before Parliament at possible environmental damage from the two units, because they discharge concentrated salt-brine in removing salt from seawater.

    The mukhtar of Zakaki complained about noise pollution from the desalinators, and expressed concern that their discharge of brine would harm coastal waters.

    The mukhtar of Ayios Theodoros for his part accused the Agriculture Ministry of installing the two units without proper planning, and urged they be installed farther away from inhabited areas.

    House Environment Committee Chairman Demetris Iliades said the government should not solve one problem by creating another. "The concerns are to do with the location as well as the problems cause by the operation of the units," Iliades said.

    These include not only "the consequences in the sea, but also the noise that will be caused, because these units - at least in the first phase - will not work with electricity, but with generators.

    "It is understood that the noise created and the fumes put out hurt the environment, and negatively affect the quality of life because the units are close to residential areas," Iliades said.

    Despite the opposition, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous told the House Environment Committee yesterday that the two mobile plants would be installed as planned. But he added his ministry would examine "small adjustments" to their exact siting in response to residents' complaints.

    When the WDD in September first sought the mobile desalination unit tenders, it said it would spend up to 330,000 to install one at Ayios Theodoros near Larnaca, for connection to the WDD's pipeline network serving Nicosia.

    It said it would also spend up to 300,000 to install a second mobile plant at Lady's Mile at Zakaki near Limassol, for connection to Limassol's water system.

    Themistocleous said the mobile units were necessary because, despite heavy rainfall in recent weeks (average rainfall is at 100 per cent of normal for this time of year, the Meteorological Service said yesterday), the drought is nowhere near over.

    He said the mobile units would "solve" Cyprus' water shortage problems, "and when we say it will be solved, we mean that as much water will be taken from desalination as to stop all the restrictions we have today, and give every Cypriot citizen continuous running water."

    While trying to assure concerned citizens, Themistocleous admitted at the House hearing that there would be no environmental assessment reports done prior to installing the mobile desalination plants.

    This, he said, was because the units would have to be installed quickly in the next few months, as they would be needed to get the island through this summer. But he said every possible precaution - short of an environmental assessment report - would be taken to minimise their damage to the environment.

    The government first went to bid last September for tenders for the two mobile desalination plants, and still has not yet picked their builder.

    However, Nicos Tsiourtis, senior WDD water engineer, said on Monday the tenders were before the main tender board, where he expected the selection to take place next week. The tender board received a total of 73 tenders for the mobile units.

    Of these, 31 were from 14 companies bidding to hook up a mobile desalination unit at Zakaki and 42 were from 15 companies bidding for Ayios Theodoros.

    The two mobile units should be up and running within 22 weeks of the awarding of the winning bids, according to the tender specifications. Tsiourtis said he hoped the two mobile units would be on-line by June or July.

    Themistocleous on Monday announced that two Israeli joint-venture companies - IDE (Israeli Desalination Engineering) and Oceana, both of Tel Aviv - had won the bid to build the island's second permanent desalination plant, outside Larnaca. The government first sought tenders for the second plant in November 1997 - 15 months ago.

    Wednesday, February 03, 1999

    [04] Canteens are dirty and overpriced, House told

    MOST school canteens are dirty and smelly and sell unsuitable, spoilt and overpriced foods, the House Education committee heard yesterday.

    Some school canteens even sell cigarettes, deputies heard.

    Hygiene regulations existed but were more often than not simply not implemented, committee chairman Sofoclis Hadjiyiannis stated.

    The Disy deputy said health inspectors had found many canteens that were fly-ridden, stank, were filthy and mould-infested.

    "I need hardly stress the need to protect the health of children and prevent their being exploited. The problem is especially serious in primary schools: because there we are talking of kids six or seven years old that are completely vulnerable to exploitation and cannot recognise unsuitable foods," Hadjiyiannis said.

    The chairman of the pancyprian union of secondary school parents' associations, Ilias Demetriou, said a spot-check on four school canteens carried out on January 13 had showed owners routinely made a 100 per cent profit on the sweets and treats they sold.

    Demetriou said the standard response from proprietors when challenged on this over-pricing was that they "had to make a living somehow."

    George Poulis, the chairman of the school canteen monitoring board, admitted to the committee there were "weaknesses" in the inspection system. He confirmed that hygiene regulations were often ignored by school canteens.

    The committee vowed to investigate the situation further and look into tightening up existing regulations on school canteens.

    Wednesday, February 03, 1999

    [05] Hotel owner defends redundancies

    By Athena Karsera

    STRIKES at two Larnaca hotels yesterday went into a fourth day in protest at the firing of 73 workers.

    Constantinos Lordos, president of the Lordos company, which owns both affected hotels - the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach - yesterday defended the job-cuts, saying redundancies had been necessary since the company had been showing a loss.

    Lordos admitted the company had laid off staff in the gyms, bakeries and house-keeping sections of each hotel.

    He said the changes were necessary and that the company would pay compensation to those who had been made redundant.

    The Sek and Peo unions, however, say that strike measures will continue until an acceptable solution securing the workers' future is found.

    Peo representative Andreas Trahanas yesterday told the Cyprus Mail this meant the strikes would stop only once the 73 workers were reinstated.

    And he added that the dismissals in fact affected more than 100 people, as the 73 were full-time workers only.

    On recent threats of sympathy strikes at other hotels, Trahanas said: "we still call other hotel workers to demonstrate here, but the sympathy strikes are not something that will happen immediately."

    But he warned that they should not be ruled out at a later stage.

    Meanwhile, the Pancyprian Hoteliers' Association yesterday called for the government to step in to solve a dispute that it said was creating a negative impression on visitors to the island.

    Wednesday, February 03, 1999

    [06] Strikers block port entrance

    By Athena Karsera

    LARNACA harbour workers yesterday continued their indefinite strike in protest at their uncertain future by blocking the harbour entrance with machinery.

    The machinery, belonging to the Larnaca Harbour Stevedores Association, prevented vehicles from entering or leaving the port throughout the working day.

    Two ships, carrying soil and oil, were affected by the lock-in.

    In addition to the Stevedores' Association, the strikers - into the second day of their action - enjoy the backing of major unions Sek, Peo and Deok.

    The unions yesterday announced they would step up their protest with picketing of the harbour entrance and demonstrations through the streets of Larnaca. They have also threatened to block the roundabout just outside the harbour.

    In a visit to the harbour yesterday, Disy deputy Andreas Mouskos announced he had sent a letter to Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas condemning delays in announcing the future of the harbour. The letter also called Moushiouttas and Communications Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou to meet with the workers.

    Harbour workers are protesting a delay in voluntary redundancy packages for those willing to leave their posts.

    Other union demands include the implementing of a Development Committee decision to modernise the harbour, which would guarantee workers and stevedores another two to four years of employment. They also want more working hours.

    Peo's Larnaca harbour representative Costas Christodoulou, speaking on behalf of the striking committee yesterday said: "What we are fighting for is work and the fulfilment of the promise made to us by the government and the (Labour) Ministry."

    Christodoulou said workers had been inactive for months, without being able to get any income beyond their unemployment benefit.

    On Monday, he told the Cyprus Mail that the unions had been threatening to strike since last November if they received no government word on their demands by the end of January.

    Wednesday, February 03, 1999

    [07] Mazotos the little dromedary

    By Athena Karsera

    THE FIRST camel has been born in Cyprus since the days when camel trains used to trek across the island.

    Little Mazotos was born on Monday morning. He is almost a metre high and as heavy as your average 10-year-old.

    He is the first calf born to six-and-a-half-year-old Iliada, and he entered the world at the 'Daktari Camel Park' in Larnaca's Mazotos village, after which he has been named.

    The Park's operator Nicos Xenis yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that Mazotos would soon be allowed out of the enclosure where he is currently being kept to follow his mother around a larger area.

    Mazotos is the seventh male in the park and will soon have some playmates, since another two of the Park's 19 female camels are expecting.

    Camels stay pregnant for thirteen months and are extremely protective of their babies, who are not weaned until they are a year old.

    The camels at Daktari Camel Park are single-humped dromedaries. The new arrival can expect to live for about 50 years and will grow to a height of more than two metres. He will become more than three metres long and weigh between 300 and 400 kilos.

    Dromedaries originally come from Arabia but gradually spread to Asia Minor, the Mediterranean and North Africa. Older people in Cyprus will remember that local trading used to involve camels as a means of transport.

    The animals can carry loads weighing up to 250 kilos and under the right conditions can cover a distance of 500 km in four days.

    Xenis said that the 25 adult camels at the Park had been bought from a Bedouin tribe in Israel's Dead Sea and were relatively young, "between three and eight years old.".

    They were imported to Cyprus in June 1998 when Iliada was already pregnant. Xenis said that, to the best of his knowledge, little Mazotos was the first camel to be born in Cyprus in the last 30 to 35 years.

    He added that the last time he remembered seeing a herd of camels in Cyprus was over twenty years ago, "when a Turk had four or five."

    Xenis said the Park's goal was "for people not only to see the camels but also to be able to ride them."

    Visitors can go on camel rides on Sundays when "a caravan (of camels) is taken down to the sea."

    The Park also houses other animals, such as donkeys, including another new baby, mules and two horses.

    Xenis said he planned to introduce even more varieties, such as sheep, goats, chickens and, most importantly, a pair of Moufflon.

    Xenis has already made the relevant application to the government to keep two of Cyprus' national protected species.

    Xenis continued that the Park, including an agricultural museum, swimming pool and restaurant, should be fully completed in May this year.

    The Daktari company also runs a jeep safari out of Limassol. For more information on the Daktari Camel Park call: 05-322210.

    Wednesday, February 03, 1999

    [08] Two remanded for car bomb

    TWO LIMASSOL men were yesterday remanded in custody in connection with a car-bomb attack in the town on Monday.

    The bomb went off just before 1am under a block of flats on Ayias Zonis street, destroying a Mercedes belonging to cabaret owner Melios Yiannakas.

    Cabaret owner Michalis Achniotis, 36, and Michalis Georgiou Loullis, 21, unemployed, were remanded for four days by Limassol District court on suspicion of being involved in the attack.

    The court heard that Achniotis and Loullis had been arrested on Monday after Yiannakas named them as likely suspects.

    Professional rivalries are believed to be behind the bomb attack.

    Wednesday, February 03, 1999

    [09] Horse doping arrest

    A NICOSIA man was yesterday remanded in custody for four days in connection with a horse-doping case.

    Acting on a tipoff, police on Monday searched a car belonging to Ioannis Polykratis from Kaimakli. In the car, they found various drugs, including 10 vials of Nadrolin, 20 Plendil tablets and 14 tablets of Tenoretic. They also found three syringes, one of which had been used.

    Polykratis was remanded yesterday by the Nicosia District Court. His arrest came as part of an ongoing investigation into the administering of anabolic steroids to horses at the Nicosia Racetrack.

    Wednesday, February 03, 1999

    [10] Missing committees finally agree to merge

    BARELY 10 days after the two concerned parties said it could not be done, the two committees for relatives of the missing persons announced their merger yesterday.

    On January 21, merger talks between the Pancyprian Committee for Relatives of the Missing Persons, chaired by Nicos Theodosiou, and the National Struggle Committee for the Missing, chaired by Agapios Hiratos, reached deadlock.

    The two committees could not reach an agreement over who would be eligible to be a member of a joint committee. Theodosiou said only "first degree" relatives (parents, siblings, wives) should be included, whereas Hiratos insisted on a wider membership.

    The deadlock was broken during a meeting yesterday between Theodosiou and Hiratos chaired by House president Spyros Kyprianou. House refugee committee chairman Aristofanis Georgiou - who in December launched the initiative to merge the two missing committees - was also present.

    The new combined committee is to be called the Joint Committee for Relatives of the Missing Persons.

    Kyprianou announced that the executive committee of the joint committee would be comprised of five members from each of the two committees.

    This council would call elections within a year for the 21 members of the Joint Committee. The compromise agreed was that 19 of these committee members would be "first degree" relatives while the other could two relatives however far removed.

    Kyprianou said he hoped the agreement would signal a "new era of co- operation" between everyone involved in the missing issue.

    Over 1,600 Greek Cypriots are listed as missing since the 1974 invasion.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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