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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-08

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, April 08, 1999


  • [01] Kyprianou sets out to bring back soldiers
  • [02] US could call on Cyprus to freeze Serb assets
  • [03] Palace college offers free tuition to Serbs
  • [04] Episkopi refugees on hunger strike
  • [05] Man remanded for Aradippou murder
  • [06] Enclaved man murdered, autopsy shows
  • [07] Hotel strikers block road
  • [08] Greenpeace slams new Akamas hotel plan Staff reporter
  • [09] Lambs to the slaughter
  • [10] Euronews ousted by sex phoneline
  • [11] Viagra on sale this month
  • [12] Share prices soar for second day

  • [01] Kyprianou sets out to bring back soldiers

    By Jean Christou and Martin Hellicar

    House President Spyros Kyprianou left Cyprus yesterday on a personal mission to bring back three U.S. soldiers held captive by Serb forces in Yugoslavia.

    The three soldiers - Staff Sgt Andrew Ramirez, 24, Staff Sgt Christopher Stone, 25, and Specialist Steven Gonzales, 24, - were captured by Serb forces on the Macedonia border on April 1.

    Kyprianou asked the Americans for a 24-hour Nato cease-fire to safely complete his mission to the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade, but it did not materialise.

    The Diko leader was advised by the United States not to travel to Belgrade last night as he had planned, because Nato was continuing two-week old air strikes against Serb targets, the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation said from Athens.

    He will fly on a Greek plane to Belgrade today, a Greek cabinet minister, who requested anonymity, said. The minister added: "(Kyprianou) stopped in Athens because Serbian airspace is not safe after sunset because of the Nato bombings."

    Earlier, U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin told CNN: "It is my understanding the Greek government working with the Cypriots is intending to arrange for a transport to Belgrade on Thursday.

    "Our embassy in Greece informed us that arrangements are being made for the safe and secure passage of this plane."

    He said Washington would welcome its soldiers' release, "but our view is that this release has to be unconditional."

    Kyprianou flew to Athens yesterday and had been due to fly to Belgrade the same day.

    Announcing his intentions earlier in the day, Kyprianou told journalists the objective of his trip was to prepare the ground and conclude an arrangement with regard to the release of the three American prisoners, whom he would bring to Cyprus and hand over to the American authorities.

    "My mission is purely humanitarian. I think it is something that nobody could object to... the indications are that this mission will succeed. I am confident about it," he said.

    The shock announcement by the House President came shortly after a meeting in Nicosia with U.S. embassy chargé d'affaires Deborah Graze. UN ambassador Kenneth Brill was abroad, but an embassy official said he had been informed, and that, if Kyprianou was successful, he would return to Cyprus immediately.

    "I have discussed and conveyed to the U.S. the purpose of my mission and I requested the halting of bombings and hostilities for at least 24 hours so that I can conclude my mission and bring the three prisoners to Cyprus," Kyprianou said.

    Kyprianou secured the blessings of the Cyprus government for his trip but was not accompanied by any representative of the Yugoslav embassy in Nicosia, a spokesman there confirmed.

    The move by Kyprianou, who is currently Acting President of the Republic in the absence of Glafcos Clerides, has been welcomed by Washington, but there was little to indicate it would agree to halt air attacks.

    "It's doubtful," a U.S. embassy source in Nicosia predicted early in the day.

    Kyprianou said he believed it was only reasonable to expect that while he was in Belgrade "for this purely humanitarian mission" the question of his safety and that of the American prisoners be considered.

    Government sources told the Cyprus Mail it was likely "some arrangement" would be made to facilitate Kyprianou's trip.

    Kyprianou told journalists that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had stated his willingness to release the three Americans as a gesture of good will.

    Political observers believe the move is designed to assist the Serbian President to secure a respite from Nato air attacks for the Orthodox Easter this Sunday.

    But Kyprianou said Milosevic had not set any preconditions for the release of the three soldiers.

    Before leaving from Larnaca Airport, Kyprianou said he would be meeting Milosevic, but where and when would not be determined until his arrival.

    "I believe, I hope my mission will succeed. If it does, I think it will help improve the climate, it will satisfy the American people who are very worried about the three captives and it will be proof of the Yugoslav president's commitment to peaceful processes," Kyprianou said.

    Kyprianou has the full support of the Cyprus government for his mission. Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said the government would give Kyprianou every possible help in his humanitarian mission. "It would be a particulary important development for Cyprus," he said.

    The British bases said they had not yet had any requests for help from the U.S., such as the possible use of Akrotiri, but would be willing to help if asked.

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [02] US could call on Cyprus to freeze Serb assets

    By Jean Christou

    THE US government may ask Cyprus to freeze Serb assets held in Yugoslav offshore banks on the island as part of Nato measures against President Slobodan Milosevic.

    An official request has not yet been made, but a source at the US embassy in Nicosia said such a possibility could not be ruled out.

    Reports yesterday suggested billions of dollars in Yugoslav state funds had been stashed way in accounts in Cyprus, including money belonging to Milosevic himself.

    During the Bosnian war and with UN sanctions on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, thousands of Serbs settled in Cyprus and hundreds of thousands of pounds were deposited in offshore companies. Around 3,000 Yugoslavs live in Cyprus.

    The Central Bank, in line with its secrecy policy relating to the offshore sector, refused to reveal how many of the 36,500 offshore licences issued in Cyprus were granted to Yugoslav companies.

    They were no more willing to say how many of the 30 Offshore Banking Units (OBUs) on the island are Yugoslav, although at least four are named on a recent list, including Beogradska Banka in Nicosia.

    In the early 'nineties is was estimated that several thousand Serb-run offshore companies had been granted licences.

    But a Central Bank source said the number of Yugoslav companies being granted licences has declined gradually over the past several years.

    "After Bosnia, they went back when the exodus of business from the region stopped," the source said.

    He said it was too early to tell whether the Kosovo crisis and Nato attacks would drive business from the region again and back to Cyprus.

    But the source was adamant that the US government could not attempt to freeze Yugoslav assets in Cyprus, without a decision by the United Nations.

    A representative of a Nicosia law firm which deals with Yugoslav offshore companies said they were not worried by such reports. "It can't be done," the representative said.

    "The Cyprus government cannot satisfy the request of another country in this way. There would have to be a UN resolution or a change in the law."

    The legal representative said that, in any case, over the past seven or eight years the number of Yugoslav companies in Cyprus has been substantially reduced.

    "It is not a big figure any more," he said, without elaborating further.

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [03] Palace college offers free tuition to Serbs

    By Andrew Adamides

    A NICOSIA college that last month said it was expelling all British and American students in retaliation for Nato air strikes on Yugoslavia struck again yesterday, offering free admission to Serbian students.

    The Palace College caused outrage when it announced on March 30 that it was ousting all its British and American students for the duration of the Nato bombings on Yugoslavia and sending their fees to aid relief for the Serbs.

    College Director Michaelis Papachrysostomou said yesterday that the offer to Serbian students covered all the institution's courses - mainly extracurricular programmes for secondary school students, language and secretarial courses.

    He did not say how many Serbs had availed themselves of the offer, but did specify that this amounted to offering the entire course free, as payment would not be asked of the Serbs if their free courses outlasted the Nato bombings.

    Asked if this would not hit the college's finances even harder after its pledge to send double the fees of the expelled American and British students to Serbia, Papachrysostomou told the Cyprus Mail that "we have to do something if we can", given the situation in Yugoslavia.

    Papachrysostomou yesterday again refused to specify exactly how many Americans and Britons had been dismissed, but said some had complained to their embassies and others had threatened legal action. He said the Education Ministry had furnished him with unspecified "instructions" about what he was to do about the situation, but added he would "not necessarily" follow the instructions.

    Students who have one Greek parent, or who are married to a Greek have been allowed to remain at the college. The college initially claimed up to 50 students would be affected but has steadfastly refused to give exact figures.

    Papachrysostomou has denied the expulsion are unfair, saying that "compared to what Nato are doing, this is nothing."

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [04] Episkopi refugees on hunger strike

    By Hamza Hendaw

    MORE THAN half of the 68 illegal immigrants held by British military authorities in Cyprus since October began a hunger strike yesterday to protest against what they see as the delay in deciding their fate.

    The immigrants, detained at the Episkopi military base, and a spokesman for the British bases in Cyprus said 39 of the mostly Arab and Kurdish refugees refused lunch and dinner yesterday. They include 12 children and four women, two of whom are pregnant, according to the refugees. The strike followed a 60-minute meeting between the detainees and British officials from the bases. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the UNHCR, the United Nations' main refugee agency.

    Held at the request of the detainees, the meeting ended on a negative note when the British officials refused to meet demands by the immigrants. These included a deadline for a decision on their asylum requests, that they be set free in a civilian area pending the resolution of their cases and for the United Nations to extend them legal aid.

    "We understand their frustration, but they are illegal immigrants and all we can do is to treat them decently and humanely, which is what we are doing, until a decision is made on their case" said bases' spokesman Captain Jon Brown. "We have medical services on stand-by in the case of an emergency resulting from the strike," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    Several detainees reached at Episkopi by telephone said they planned to continue the strike indefinitely, but that young children would have to be fed. The refugees were saved from what looked like a certain death when British troops last October plucked them from a ramshackle boat which had almost sunk off the British air base of Akrotiri. They had paid thousands of dollars to middlemen in Lebanon to be taken to Italy, but their boat developed mechanical problems less than two days after they sailed off the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli.

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [05] Man remanded for Aradippou murder

    A 22-YEAR-OLD charcoal maker was yesterday remanded in custody in connection with the murder of a Nicosia man whose body was found at the bottom of Aradippou dam on Monday.

    Georgios Christodoulou, from Aradippou, outside Larnaca, was incriminated by bloodstains that police found in his car, senior CID officer Andreas Krokos told the Larnaca District Court yesterday morning.

    Father-of-three Fotis Petrakides, 55, was shot dead with an automatic weapon sometime between his disappearance on Friday and Monday afternoon - when his body was found.

    When he left his home in Engomi on Friday, the victim told his wife, Fani, he was going to his workplace - a factory at Lymbia in the Nicosia area - to pick up his boss and accompany him to the airport. He was not seen alive again.

    Christodoulou had been arrested at about 1.45am yesterday, about two hours after police had released a Lymbia waiter arrested in connection with the murder on Tuesday. No evidence was found to incriminate the 25-year-old waiter.

    Christodoulou's three lawyers said their client had nothing to do with the killing, but had no objection to helping police with their enquiries.

    Krokos told the court the suspect and the victim were "connected" and had been due to fly to Athens together on Sunday. He did not explain how the two men were connected.

    Unconfirmed reports have suggested Petrakides, a former special policeman, had been working as an undercover police informant trying to bust a ring running drugs and guns from the occupied areas.

    Christodoulou was remanded in custody for eight days.

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [06] Enclaved man murdered, autopsy shows

    UN POLICE said yesterday murder appeared to have been the cause of death of an elderly enclaved man, whose body was brought to the Republic from the Karpass Peninsula by UN personnel for an autopsy yesterday.

    State Pathologist Sophoclis Sophocleous performed the post-mortem examination on the body of Ionannis Mantira, 85, of the Karpass, and said his death was due to "serious violence."

    MP and pathologist Marios Matsakis, at the request of Mantira's family, assisted Sophocleous in the autopsy. Two UN doctors and UN police were also present throughout.

    UN police said Mantira died from a beating that inflicted fatal injuries to his head. His death remains under investigation.

    Approximately 500 enclaved Greek Cypriots, mostly elderly, live in the Karpass Peninsula.

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [07] Hotel strikers block road

    PROTESTORS closed the Larnaca to Dhekelia road at several intervals yesterday in support of striking workers at two Larnaca hotels.

    According to Oroklini police, some 250 rain-soaked pickets blocked the road for 45 minutes starting at 11.30am; they later blocked the road at regular intervals until late into the afternoon.

    Police diverted traffic onto service roads.

    Lordos Holdings, which owns the hotels involved in the dispute, said yesterday strikers had caused £1,200 worth of damage to their property during yesterday's protest, damaging fencing around both the Lordos Beach and the Golden Bay hotels and smashing a window at the Golden Bay.

    The action came as Peo hotels boss Yiannakis Phillipou said there had been no new developments in strike negotiations, despite Labour Ministry efforts at mediation.

    Speaking to the assembled strikers and their sympathisers from all over Cyprus, Phillipou criticised tactics employed by the Ministers of Labour and Tourism, and the stance taken by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Employers and Industrialists Association and the Hoteliers' Association, which have all condemned the strike. He also criticised travel agents for continuing to send tourists to the two hotels.

    Sek's hotel representative Nicos Epistethiou told the demonstrators that the employers had "gone back on what they said. Is at a dead-end."

    He said the unions were ready for dialogue, "because no problem can be solved without dialogue." But he rejected arbitration, saying "a problem can't be solved with arbitration without dialogue."

    The strikes yesterday went into their 68th day calling for the reinstatement of 73 staff sacked when sections of the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels were tuned over to outside contractors.

    Lordos Holdings insists it will not discuss the redundancies.

    The unions have refused a Labour Ministry proposal for binding arbitration to end the increasingly bitter dispute.

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [08] Greenpeace slams new Akamas hotel plan Staff reporter

    THE GREENPEACE environmental organisation yesterday denounced the government's grant of planning permission to Grecian Bay Hotels of Ayia Napa, to build a 264-bed, five-star hotel in the ecologically fragile Akamas Peninsula.

    If Grecian Bay's pending building permit wins approval, it would mean a second large hotel complex could be erected in the Akamas, a coastal area of Cyprus the government has earmarked, under a World Bank plan, for a National Park.

    "This situation is unacceptable," Greenpeace Mediterranean declared. "The Cyprus government must take responsibility for the destruction being caused in the area," said Irene Constantinou, Greenpeace representative in Cyprus.

    She said Greenpeace planned to take action in the international arena in ways that would affect Akamas tourism.

    Greenpeace claims that Cabinet foot-dragging allowed planning permission to be granted to Grecian Bay Hotels last November by the Interior Ministry's Town Planning Department, despite pledges to "promulgate the relevant legislation" by the end of 1998 to prevent another hotel from going up in the Akamas.

    "And the Parliament had already passed the relevant report recommending the Akamas for protective status last year," Greenpeace added. "That would have made it absolutely illegal for such a building permit to be granted," it said.

    "Once again, the Cyprus cabinet is playing nepotistic games to the detriment of the environment," Constantinou said, referring to Alecos Michaelides, who was Foreign Minister when planning restrictions were relaxed so his family-owned company, Thanos Hotels, could build the huge Anassa Hotel in the Akamas.

    Michaelides was forced to resign from the government in the scandal surrounding the grant of planning permission to build the 352-bed Anassa, and the Supreme Court later ruled the Anassa's planning permits illegal.

    An appeal of that ruling is pending. Meanwhile, the 352-bed Anassa is up and running, and few, if any, think a Court ruling will ever force it to close.

    A report by the World Bank and the Mediterranean Environmental Assistance Programme, commissioned by the Cyprus government, concluded no tourist development should take place in the Akamas, and it should be set aside as a National Park.

    The Asprokremos area of the Akamas, where the Anassa Hotel is situated, and the Xistarokambos area of the peninsula on the Latchi coast, where the Grecian Bay's proposed hotel would be built, are close to a nesting ground of the Green Turtle, an endangered species.

    Greenpeace said there may be only 225 to 275 nesting female Green Turtles that nest annually in the entire Mediterranean basin, with Cyprus one of the few places there that they still reproduce.

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [09] Lambs to the slaughter

    SOME 52,000 animals - pigs, lambs and cattle - are expected to be killed at the government's main abattoir in Kofinou, this year for Easter banquet dishes, slaughter house officials said yesterday.

    This figure does not include the number of animals going onto the block at smaller government abattoirs on the island, they said.

    The 52,000 figure includes 27,000 pigs, 24,000 lambs and 1,000 cattle, they said, adding the figure was similar to the number of animals butchered last year at Kofinou for Easter.

    Abattoir employees have been working overtime since last Friday to dress enough carcasses to ensure there will be no shortages of lamb, beef and pork in the island's shops before they close after business today for the long Easter weekend.

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [10] Euronews ousted by sex phoneline

    TV VIEWERS with Hotbird satellite packages but no digital decoders, have been getting an unexpected replacement for the recently-scrambled Euronews - a sex channel called Livesat.

    At the beginning of the month, Euronews, billed as Europe's answer to CNN, switched to digital broadcasting and can now only be received by viewers with digital decoders. In its place Livesat appeared, alternating footage of scantily-clad ladies enticing viewers to "make love with your credit card" by calling sex phonelines.

    Both numbers advertised by the channel are long-distance calls, one terminating in Canada, but no per minute charge is advertised. The phone- line girls alternate with spectacular footage of car crashes taken from motor races. Although no hardcore footage is shown, viewers worried about the channel can simply tune it out.

    Local satellite specialists were yesterday unable to shed any light on where Livesat originates from. Euronews is still available on terrestrial TV, while Eurosport, also advertised as going digital, can still be received by Hotbird users without a digital decoder.

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [11] Viagra on sale this month

    VIAGRA will be with us in just over a week. According to Health Ministry sources, all the procedures for the drug's import have been completed and the final prices for the drug - both wholesale and retail - just have to be finalised.

    The launch date has been set at April 19, with suggested retail prices thought to be around £5.50 for 25mg, £6.50 for 50mg and £8 for 100mg.

    The official press launch will be held in the afternoon, and at night an official symposium on impotence will be held for doctors. Viagra is to be strictly controlled in Cyprus, where many people can often buy prescription- only drugs from pharmacies owned by friends.

    The drug, made by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and originally intended as a heart drug, kicked up a storm when it was launched last year, becoming a must for every comedy routine worldwide. Cyprus' Viagra is coming from Greece, where demand for the drug was lower than expected.

    Thursday, April 08, 1999

    [12] Share prices soar for second day

    SHARE PRICES traded higher yesterday for the second time in as many days with the all-share index closing at 119.53, 3.23 per cent up on Tuesday.

    A seven-session slump in share prices ended yesterday when the market rallied by 1.87 per cent. Combined, the two-day rally has now claimed back half the territory lost since the downward spiral began on March 24.

    The value of yesterday's trade was £6.41 million and all seven sub-indices made gains, the biggest of which were by the blue-chip bank stocks where all four listed shares closed up.

    The Popular Bank, the island's second largest financial institution, was the day's biggest winner, raking in 23 cents to close at £5.66. The Bank of Cyprus fared in a less impressive fashion, closing up 18 cents at £5.50 apiece.

    Hellenic Bank did unusually well on the day, appreciating by 14 cents to close at £3.43.

    In the insurance sector, Universal Life was up 13 cents at £6.43. The company this week reported that operating profits in 1998 have increased by 52.8 per cent to £423,924 and announced an increase in its share capital from five million shares to 6.25 million shares as part of its plans to expand.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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