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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-03

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, April 02, 1999


  • [01] Concern over implications of pro-Serb House demonstration
  • [02] Cassoulides hits back at Brill's 1963 comments
  • [03] 'I'll be back' says US tourists struck by strikers' tomato
  • [04] Spot-fines for illegal smoking
  • [05] More summer water cuts for Nicosia
  • [06] Irish sergeant court-martialled for duty-free racket
  • [07] Shopkeepers call off protest after MPs back down on closing times
  • [08] Printing merger
  • [09] Man killed in Aphrodite's rock pile-up
  • [10] Savings survey to prepare for liberalisation

  • [01] Concern over implications of pro-Serb House demonstration

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT was yesterday quick to dismiss concerns that the participation of Spyros Kyprianou in today's pro-Serb rally could damage Cyprus' reputation abroad.

    Kyprianou, the leader of centre-right Diko party and House President, is also currently acting President, standing in for Glafcos Clerides who is on a private visit to Syria and Lebanon.

    Political sources have expressed concern that Kyprianou's participation in today's mass rally by deputies might be perceived as some form of government sanction, despite its denials to the contrary.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday met party leaders at the House to discuss today's rally at Eleftheria Square.

    Cassoulides said the rally was being organised by the political parties, and not by the House of Representatives and that the government had no problem with it.

    Government spokesman Costas Serezis told journalists yesterday that there would be no government participation in the rally.

    He said Kyprianou would be taking part as House President, and not as Acting President of the Republic.

    According to Diko deputy, lawyer Tassos Papadopoulos, there is no constitutional conflict of interest.

    He said the House President did not lose any of his capacity by taking on the role of Acting President of the Republic, "but he can't preside over the House proceedings because of the strict separation of powers", he said, adding that it didn't mean he stopped being President of the House.

    "When President Clerides meets Mr Denktash he goes as a representative of the Greek Cypriot community, but it doesn't stop him being President of the Republic," Papadopoulos explained.

    Papadopoulos said the issue of Kyprianou's capacity during his attendance of the rally had been considered, but he said the government had not expressed any concern.

    But while there is no legal obstacle to Kyprianou's participation, a government source agreed that it could affect Cyprus internationally if the wrong image was projected abroad through international news coverage.

    "We thought about this aspect, but we had no alternative," the source said. "We can't tell him (Kyprianou) not to go. We can't tell the House what to do."

    The government has so far been extremely careful not to express any blatantly pro-Serb views since the bombing of Yugoslavia began nearly two weeks ago, despite outright condemnation of the Nato action by the House and in the public at large.

    But views expressed yesterday both by Kyprianou and by Foreign minister Yiannakis Cassoulides seemed to indicate that the government's public position does not reflect its true views.

    The House yesterday passed a resolution condemning the Nato action against Yugoslavia. The resolution expresses unconditional support for the Serbs and the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia.

    Kyprianou said the government's position was the same as that of the House, "even if it was expressed in more moderate tones".

    Kyprianou was speaking after his meeting with Cassoulides, who told journalists the government's position had been carefully balanced to take into account the best interests of the country.

    "Let's put things in perspective. The House is aware, as are the parties, of the government's position," he said. "The parties speak more from the roots of the people, whereas the government is forced to weigh up various factors for the sake of national interests."

    Serezis said earlier that "emotions are one thing and responsible government policy is another".

    "National interests must be served. That is the determining factor for the government," he said.

    Cassoulides admitted that there were some concerns in European quarters over the pro-Serb feelings in Cyprus and how the island's EU accession could be affected. Only last week, the government agreed to represent Yugoslav interests in the UK.

    Commenting on Cyprus' stance yesterday, the US embassy in Nicosia said it had taken no position on this particular issue.

    "However, the US welcomes the Foreign Ministry's expression of concern about atrocities committed against civilians and call for those found guilty of any crimes against humanity to be dealt with in a decisive manner by the international community," embassy spokesman Judith Baroody told the Cyprus Mail.

    "Regarding Cyprus, the problems of Kosovo have not in any way shaken the resolve of the United States to do all it can to support the goal of a timely resolution of the Cyprus problem."

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [02] Cassoulides hits back at Brill's 1963 comments

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday hit back at comments about the Cyprus problem made by US ambassador Kenneth Brill in a television TV interview on Thursday night.

    In the interview on the CyBC discussion programme Proektasis, Brill was asked whether the US was going to use military force to end the Turkish occupation of Cyprus when the Kosovo crisis was over.

    The US ambassador replied that, although it was a fair question, the Turkish Cypriots could have asked the same question in 1963.

    He was referring to the outbreak of intercommunal troubles on the island.

    "I'd like to say that any attempt to compare 1963 and 1974, and even worse to equate the two is unfortunate," Cassoulides said yesterday.

    "But I am lenient towards foreign diplomats, because I believe on an issue like this when such questions are asked, there can't be either an answer or an excuse."

    Cassoulides said it must not be forgotten that, in 1963, with the permission of the Cyprus government, Britain, as a guarantor power, did interfere, "and that's how we got the Green Line".

    "Beyond this, let's not forget we can't generalise, but 1963 was more than a disturbance between two communities. It was a systematic and organised effort on the part of Turkey to divide the population which opened the road to divide the country in two," Cassoulides said.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was quoted as saying yesterday that Greece could not solve the Cyprus problem or develop its relations with Turkey.

    He equated the Kosovo crisis with the Cyprus problem and said that, like Cyprus, any unity in the region would be an artificial unity which would explode in three years time, just like the Cyprus constitution did in 1963, three years after Independence.

    "Then who is going to save those that are numerically in the minority. They would all be eliminated. Therefore the solution is separation. If there is going to be peace in the future it must be between two equal sides," he said.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [03] 'I'll be back' says US tourists struck by strikers' tomato

    By Athena Karsera

    AN AMERICAN tourist staying at the Golden Bay hotel said yesterday he would return to Cyprus despite being struck by a tomato thrown by strikers at the Larnaca hotel.

    Tie Sosnowski from Dallas, Texas, yesterday held a news conference at the Lordos-owned hotel, condemning pickets for throwing tomatoes and eggs at tourists.

    Later speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Sosnowski said he had been sunbathing at the swimming pool on Wednesday afternoon when "screaming and shouting" strikers approached the area.

    "They were about 15 feet away and I decided to go to ask them why they were demonstrating. No one seemed very interested in telling me so I turned around to leave."

    Sosnowski said that he then felt something hit him and looked down to see a tomato, adding: "I was very surprised as to why they would be doing something like that."

    Sosnowski, who is on his second holiday to the island, said he "probably will be coming back, even though I was disappointed."

    He said there were "better ways for strikers to get their message across," and wondered if the pickets were being exploited by union leaders.

    Sosnowski also noted that incoming tourists were being told about the strike and its resulting problems at Larnaca airport and that Cyprus' image could be harmed by strikers' behaviour towards tourists.

    The government is trying to encourage more American tourists to visit Cyprus, which currently offers its hospitality to only a few thousand Americans every year.

    In a statement issued yesterday, the Golden Bay's general manager, Ioannis Xidas, denounced the strikers for throwing eggs and tomatoes at tourists, adding that the matter had been reported to the police.

    He said this type of behaviour was especially unacceptable since the Labour Ministry was making efforts to find an acceptable solution ending the strike.

    Strikes at the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels yesterday went into their 63rd day. Employees are demonstrating over the dismissal of 73 of their colleagues when sections of the hotels were turned over to outside contractors in an effort to lower costs.

    Labour Ministry mediation efforts have remained fruitless, with unions claiming the dismissals are in violation of collective agreements and management claiming they were necessary to combat chronic losses.

    Constantinos Lordos, the director of Lordos Holdings, which operates the two hotels, insists the company is "not willing to negotiate its rights," and that a business is entitled to arrange employment in order not to lose money.

    Meanwhile, employees at an Ayia Napa hotel began strike action at 6am yesterday after unions said negotiations over redundancies had reached deadlock.

    Talks began on March 6 when the five star Aeneas Hotel's management decided to reduce the hotel's 103 regular staff by 21, claiming reservations for the summer season had remained low.

    The unions are worried that the dismissals are part of a policy to employ more temporary than permanent staff.

    Unions yesterday said that strike action was being taken after a Labour Ministry meeting between the two sides last Wednesday failed to reach agreement.

    But Sek's Famagusta hotels' representative, Michalis Kalafatis, said yesterday negotiations would continue, even though strike action had begun.

    Peo's Andreas Zahariou confirmed that a meeting would be held with the hotel's management today.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [04] Spot-fines for illegal smoking

    BAD NEWS for smokers. The House plenum yesterday afternoon unanimously approved a bill imposing a 20 on-the-spot fine for smoking in a public building.

    Smoking in theatres, government offices and other public meeting places remains a widespread practice despite being made illegal years ago.

    "Unfortunately for you and me both, Mr Moushiouttas, the bill is unanimous, " joked acting House president Nicos Anastassiades, addressing fellow smoker Diko deputy Nicos Moushiouttas before bringing down his gavel to declare the bill passed.

    In the last plenum session before their three-week Easter break, deputies rushed through 15 bills and postponed consideration of another 22.

    Among the 22 put off for another day was the bill forcing deputies, cabinet members and top civil servants to declare all their assets. The controversial bill, intended to block any abuse of position for personal enrichment, has been pending for a decade.

    The chairman of the legal affairs committee, Panayiotis Demetriou, said everyone agreed the bill was "urgent" and his committee's final report on it was now ready. But he had not had enough time to read this report properly - as he had been absent abroad - so it would be sensible for the plenum to consider the bill after the Easter break, the Disy deputy suggested.

    No-one disagreed with him.

    "Let's not rush things, all deputies need a chance to read this important report," Akel deputy Yiannakis Agapiou said.

    Deputies unanimously approved a bill criminalising insider dealing on the stock market.

    The plenum also approved a $300 million state loan through the issue of government European medium term notes (EMTNs).

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [05] More summer water cuts for Nicosia

    By Anthony O. Miller

    WHILE the government debates whether and where to build two mobile desalination plants, residents of Nicosia can expect a 33 per cent cut in the hours water flows to their homes and businesses throughout the coming summer.

    Vassos Mavroutes, Nicosia Water Board Deputy Technical Manager, said yesterday the government planned to send Nicosia only 29,000 cubic metres of water per day from mid-June to October, as opposed to the 40,000-45,000 cubic metres per day the city needs in summer.

    The Water Development Department (WDD) currently sends Nicosia 28,000 cubic metres of water daily - down from 34,000 cubic metres in 1996, the first summer of the drought. The Water Board distributes it over 36 hours per week on three alternate days, 12 hours each day, in different areas of the capital.

    The WDD decision to raise Nicosia's summer ration by a mere 1,000 cubic metres per day - despite a 3,000 per year population increase - means the Water Board must cut the hours of water supply to 24 per week over two days, 12 hours a day, Mavroutes said.

    "It's going to be as bad as last summer, or worse," he said. "Last summer, we had a lot of phone calls every day from people not getting enough water. If we split that (24-hour period) to eight hours, three times per week, nobody will get water at the higher elevations" in Nicosia, he said.

    "Nicosia always gets hurt" by water rationing, Mavroutes said. He said the capital, with 70,000 properties to serve, has "almost one-third of the Cyprus population, and should have at least one-third of (island's) water."

    It gets nowhere near this, he said, adding he believed the island's tourist areas and farms wind up with the water Nicosia should get.

    The Green Party yesterday termed it "inhuman" to threaten Nicosia residents with supplying water only 24 hours per week. They said the Nicosia Water Board was cutting the hours of flow to blackmail the government into building the two mobile desalination plants it is weighing whether or not to build.

    They said it was unfair to restrict water to homes, while allowing it to be "wasted" on crops that are water-intensive - like tomatoes - and that are irrigated improperly, or letting it be lost through leaks in the island's water pipes.

    WDD Senior Water Engineer Nicos Tsiourtis said the WDD was rationing all water by 80 per cent over what it would send the cities in a normal, non- drought year.

    He said the WDD had thought the two mobile desalination units would be needed to enable the government to supply 80 per cent of normal supplies to the cities. But this winter's rains - at 79 per cent of normal, the best in three years - have lifted reservoir levels to where the government can send 80 per cent of a normal supply without erecting the two mobile units, he said.

    However, this takes some of the urgency out of deciding whether and where to build the two mobile plants, Tsiourtis said. And opposition in Ayios Theodoros and Zakaki near Limassol to siting the two units near those villages has further delayed deciding whether and where to erect the units, he conceded.

    President Glafcos Clerides has advised waiting until after March rainfall totals are known to decide whether to build the two mobile plants. Local residents' opposition to them surely figured in his wait-and-see decision.

    Even when the two desalting plants are built, their output will merely replenish reservoir supplies, to make the dams "more reliable" for the future, Tsiourtis said; they will not pump their water directly into the island's urban supply system.

    The island's reservoirs are 23 per cent full, at 62.5 million cubic metres, compared to the 39m cubic metres they held this time last year, at only 17.4 per cent of capacity, he said.

    One reason forcing rationing in Nicosia is the fact the reservoirs feeding it contain only 27.4 million cubic metres of water, while those feeding the much smaller Paphos area contain nearly 30 per cent more, or 35 million cubic metres.

    Tsiourtis said it would be too expensive to build pipelines to move water from the Paphos dams to those feeding Nicosia.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [06] Irish sergeant court-martialled for duty-free racket

    AN IRISH sergeant formerly serving in Unficyp has been court-martialled for the illegal sale of duty-free liquor and tobacco from his base in Cyprus.

    The Irish Times reported that another three soldiers were also set to face court-martials in the next few months for reselling duty-free goods while they were stationed in Cyprus.

    The non-commissioned Irish officer was tried under the terms of the Irish Defence Act on Tuesday, even though he resigned from the defence forces earlier this year.

    He was convicted of three charges of illegal possession of documents, fined 450 Irish pounds and given a severe reprimand at Dublin's Cathal Brugha Barracks.

    The paper said his identity had not been revealed, but he was thought to be approximately 40 years-old and from Dublin. The case was heard in private.

    The Irish Times said Cyprus police working in co-operation with the UN had began investigating the illegal sale of liquor and cigarettes last summer.

    They discovered that more than 1 million Irish pounds worth of goods had been brought from duty-free outlets inside UN bases and sold on the local black market.

    As a result of the investigations, four soldiers were sent back to Ireland and charged with the possession of documents relating to the purchase of duty-free goods.

    The paper quoted UN sources as saying UN troops from at least three other countries were also suspected of involvement, though none were thought to have profited greatly from the racket.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [07] Shopkeepers call off protest after MPs back down on closing times

    PLANS for an early closure of shops in protest at a proposed extension of opening hours were called off yesterday after the House Labour Committee decided to scrap the offending aspects of the scheme.

    A representative for the Union of Cyprus Retail Businesses (Enelek) yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the Committee had eventually decided to avoid making changes to the status quo.

    Emilios Epanintas said that, under the new proposal, only shops in tourist areas would be allowed to remain open until 10pm, as is the current practice.

    The Cyprus Federation of Professional Shopkeepers (Povek) had called shops to close at 1pm in protest against a possible extension of closing times to 10pm, six days a week.

    Povek said they were against the later closing time as it would cause family and social problems as well as provoking unfair competition between larger and smaller shops.

    Enelek said not all shopkeepers agreed with Povek, accusing the union of "deliberately trying to give the impression that all Cyprus' shopkeepers are against the proposal," when "the truth is the majority of the interested parties are in favour of the proposal."

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [08] Printing merger

    TWO of the island's oldest printing companies yesterday announced a merger which will create Cyprus' largest printing conglomerate.

    JG Cassoulides and Son Ltd and Zavallis Litho Ltd are to join forces and will now be based at the Cassoulides premises. The new company will be under the direction of Yiannos Cassoulides and the management of Lakis Zavallis.

    In order to accommodate the new conglomerate, the Cassoulides premises are to be extensively renovated. Future plans include expansion both locally and into Greece. The company is also looking at the possibility of branching out into web page design and internet related sales.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [09] Man killed in Aphrodite's rock pile-up

    AN ATHIENOU farmer was killed and two people seriously injured in a three vehicle accident near Petra tou Romiou yesterday.

    Costas Ioannou Hadjiannacou, 51, was killed instantly when a truck and a pick-up collided with his van. His body had to be cut out of the vehicle and remained trapped for half an hour.

    According to a police report, the accident occurred at approximately 7.30 am on the wide bend in the road near Aphrodite's rock.

    Police say a large truck on its way to Limassol went out of control under unknown conditions. Reports from the scene said that the truck's trailer went into the wrong lane after the driver turned the corner.

    The truck, driven by 24 year-old Pantelakis Andreou from Kato Paphos, collided with the front part of Hadjiannacou's van, which was heading towards Paphos.

    A following pick-up truck driven by Antonis Constantinides then crashed into the back of the van, injuring two of its four passengers.

    A doctor on his way to Paphos General Hospital stopped at the scene and pronounced Hadjiannacou dead once the fire-brigade had cut his body out of the wreckage.

    The two pick-up truck passengers, Dimitra Skorou, 58, and Costas Constantinides, 16, were taken to Paphos General hospital with concussion but are out of danger.

    Friday, April 02, 1999

    [10] Savings survey to prepare for liberalisation

    ONE THOUSAND six hundred households have been quizzed about their finances in order to set up a database to ease transitions when interest rates are liberalised and Cyprus enters the EU.

    Speaking at a news conference yesterday, organiser Michalis Haliasos said the study would help form a complete picture of Cypriots' property debts, investments and insurance coverage.

    The anonymous survey has been carried out since March 1997 and is now over. Haliasos said all the information would be collated by the summer, and analysed by 2000.

    Among other questions, the households were asked how they'd react to changes in the interest rates, what their saving and investing behaviour was, and what their favoured debt repayment methods are.

    Households from across the economic spectrum were quizzed, while ages, professions and geographical area were also taken into account.

    Two samples will be used to generate final results: an average group and a sample of wealthier households.

    The survey was carried out by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the Cyprus University in co-operation with the Central Bank.

    Alexandros Karagregoriou of the university said that once the programme had been completed, Cyprus would be the fourth country in the world to have completed such a study, after the US, Holland and Italy.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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