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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-08

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, May 08, 1999


  • [01] Clerides warns he would veto attempt to reject embargo
  • [02] Unions threaten general strike over Lordos dispute
  • [03] Bourse starts life in the fast lane
  • [04] Church denies Limassol sackings part of a campaign against women
  • [05] Rolandis plays down reports of Syrian potatoes being sold as Cypriot
  • [06] Lawyer blames bad faith for delay in immigration case
  • [07] Deputies call for corruption net to be extended
  • [08] Farmer unhurt after shell blows up combine harvester
  • [09] Bomb wrecks car

  • [01] Clerides warns he would veto attempt to reject embargo

    By Athena Karsera

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday warned deputies he would stand by his decision to enforce a European Union oil embargo against Yugoslavia, saying he would veto any parliamentary attempt to block the move.

    Clerides' reaction followed a Thursday House resolution calling on the government to reverse its decision to enforce the embargo.

    The Cabinet on Wednesday officially endorsed a decision to join the EU oil embargo, saying it was in the national interest.

    Government Spokesman Costas Serezis yesterday read out a terse statement by the President during his daily briefing.

    Clerides said the government was not bound by House resolutions.

    "In the case of the oil embargo, if the House of Representatives had gone a step further and, either through legislation or binding decision, sought to change the decisions of the government, as President, I would without hesitation use the right of veto."

    The resolution, adopted by majority vote, described the EU decision as "devoid of legality," and said that the government had "no legal, political or moral obligation to respond to the relevant directive from Brussels."

    Clerides replied yesterday that the Constitution placed the responsibility for foreign policy in the hands of the Cabinet, and that it also gave the President the right of veto over any Cabinet or House decision on foreign policy issues.

    "Resolutions adopted by the House of Representatives, either by majority or unanimously, reflect its own views and are not binding on the government," the President said.

    Clerides said he would if necessary use his right of veto because "I believe that the decision of the majority in the House does not do Yugoslavia any good if one also takes into account yesterday's decision by the Group of Eight, which coincides with the position of the Cyprus government as regards a resolution of the problem."

    He added the resolution did "not help Cyprus' EU accession course either."

    Saturday, May 08, 1999

    [02] Unions threaten general strike over Lordos dispute

    TRADE UNIONS announced yesterday they had decided to step up industrial action in support of marathon strikes at two Larnaca hotels, warning they would resort to a general strike if their demands were not met.

    Sek's deputy secretary general Demetris Kittenis said yesterday the decision had been taken at an union meeting on Wednesday night.

    Kittenis said the first wave of action would see sympathy strikes at more hotels.

    "The second stage," he continued, "will be strikes at certain sections of the airports."

    Kittenis said that the final stage would be a nationwide general strike.

    He said the unions would be meeting on Monday to decide a timetable for their measures.

    Employees at the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels have been on strike since the end of January to demand the reinstatement of 56 colleagues dismissed when sections of the hotels were turned over to outside contactors in an effort to lower costs.

    In a statement issued yesterday, Lordos Holdings, the owner of the two hotels, criticised the unions, saying their actions would harm Cyprus' tourism lifeline.

    The company also threatened to bypass the unions and open direct negotiations with the striking staff themselves if the unions continued to reject a Labour Ministry appeal for binding arbitration.

    Kittenis yesterday repeated that binding arbitration could not be accepted if the sacked employees were still "left out on the street."

    Saturday, May 08, 1999

    [03] Bourse starts life in the fast lane

    By Hamza Hendawi

    THE CYPRUS Stock Exchange began a new chapter in its life yesterday, replacing the traditional open outcry system with computerised trading.

    The bourse's first day in the world of high-tech passed without a glitch and the 12 noon end of session was greeted with a collective cheer and cries of "bravo" from the bourse's brokers who spent the 90 minutes of trade huddled around their computers entering orders and prices.

    The atmosphere yesterday contrasted with the old system that traders used for many years and which saw them shout orders at the top of their voices and laying siege to the floor's clerks seated behind the floor's front counter.

    The brokers' cheerful cry at the end of trade brought wide grins to bourse officials, who chose Friday to start the new system so they could redress any technical problems over the weekend.

    "We are very pleased. The whole system worked very well and now the CSE has one of the most modern trading systems in the world," declared Nondas Metaxas, the bourse's general manager.

    His upbeat assessment was echoed by brokers, but some were sad to see the open outcry system go despite the speed and efficiency which they saw in computerisation.

    "It worked perfectly and the future looks bright," said Neofytos Neofytou of AAA United Stcokbrokers. "I believe the volume will double and maybe treble in the next two months if the experience of other markets which had become computerised is anything to go by," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    "I thing we are at the threshold of another uptrend," he predicted.

    "I was extremely sad today," announced Yiannos Andronikou, managing director of Suphire Stockbrokers. "Now that the floor has been eliminated, the market lost a part of its mystique, its excitement if you like," he told the Mail.

    "I sat all day today just typing orders on my computer. There is no feel to that, no life and no sense of the market," said Andronikou, who also commended the new system for its efficiency and speed.

    The official all-share index marked the introduction of the new system by finishing in positive territory, snapping a two-day skid. It closed at 128.15, 0.49 per cent up on Thursday. The value of trade was a modest 4.77 million.

    The close was a mere 0.47 points below the all-time high of 128.62 on Tuesday, which took the market's gain to more than 40 per cent since the start of the year.

    Saturday, May 08, 1999

    [04] Church denies Limassol sackings part of a campaign against women

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE CHURCH yesterday publicly defended its new Limassol bishop after rumours that he was on a misogynist mission to sack all his female employees.

    After sacking several employees (four women and a male clergyman), Bishop Athanasios has again tasted the whiff of controversy, with local reports suggested he wanted all the women out.

    The sackings allegedly came without warning and involved long-term staff.

    He has been accused of trying to rid Limassol's bishopric of any female presence in a fundamentalist coup to ensure his surrounding are more monastic.

    However, Limassol bishopric spokesman Stavros Olympios said the sacking of senior female librarians and secretarial staff were not part of any grand design.

    "There is no wish to sack women, we are not against them... there will be no more sackings," Olympios told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    He said those who had been sacked were deemed surplus to requirements and would receive full compensation and benefits.

    "It was only a small number... this was done simply within the framework of reorganising and upgrading the office of the Metropolitan and his services, " said Olympios.

    Frixos Cleanthous, spokesman for the Archbishopric in Nicosia, would only say: "Every Metropolitan has the authority to act as he sees fit."

    Bishop Athanasios was elected earlier this year after his predecessor Chrysanthos resigned under a cloud of corruption allegations last November.

    It's not the first time Athanasios has found himself at the centre of controversy. In the run-up to the elections for the vacant see, many saw attacks on his spiritual mentor Elder Iosif as a thinly-veiled attempt to compromise his moral standing.

    Elder Iosif, an 81-year-old Mount Athos monk, was accused by the Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos of corrupting young nuns whilst staying in a Paphos monastery 17 years ago.

    The Cyprus synod upheld the accusations, but the Patriarchate of Constantinople, under whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction Iosif falls, stood by the monk.

    Bishop Chrysostomos said Athanasios' association with Iosif made him unfit to be Bishop of Limassol, and refused to attend his enthronement.

    Saturday, May 08, 1999

    [05] Rolandis plays down reports of Syrian potatoes being sold as Cypriot

    COMMERCE Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday played down reports that Syrian potatoes were being mixed with Cyprus potatoes for sale in London, saying the practise was not widespread, and in no way implicated Syria.

    He said the practice appeared to be restricted to small London food stores, not the larger supermarket chains, and owed to the fact that potatoes from both Cyprus and Syria are grown in red soil, making them hard to distinguish on sight.

    Reports of London merchants mixing Cyprus potatoes with those from Syria surfaced yesterday in Machi. The newspaper also noted that, besides Syria, Cyprus potatoes faced competition in European markets from Egypt, Italy, New Zealand and Australia.

    A senior member of the Cyprus Potato Marketing Board told the Cyprus Mailthe board had indeed received complaints that London merchants were mixing the Cypriot and Syrian potatoes.

    The board member, who declined to be identified, said the non-Cyprus tubers were much cheaper per kilo than the Cyprus product, so mixing the cheaper variety with the higher-priced Cyprus item produced windfall profits for merchants.

    He said the Potato Board had passed on the reports to the Cyprus Trade Centre in London for further investigation.

    At worst, the problem is self-regulating, Rolandis suggested, noting that while the spring Cyprus potato export crop totalled some 120,000 tons, Syria's spring potato export crop was a mere 6,000 tons.

    Saturday, May 08, 1999

    [06] Lawyer blames bad faith for delay in immigration case

    By Anthony O. Miller

    BAD FAITH and more delays by the Migration Department forced the postponement of a Supreme Court hearing to free a Sierra Leone man, who has spent nine months locked up beyond his two-month sentence for entering Cyprus illegally, his lawyer said yesterday.

    Lawyer Yiannakis Erotocritou categorically dismissed the Migration Department's claim to the high court yesterday that the department would try to release his client, Ikri Johnson, sometime before Tuesday.

    Erotocritou said the Migration Department had merely used as an excuse to keep Johnson in jail the claim that it was not prepared for his client's habeas corpus hearing to go forward yesterday, and thus needed the postponement until Tuesday.

    He said he believed the Migration Department had no intention of releasing his client before Tuesday, and was merely continuing the foot-dragging that has kept Johnson in jail since his two-month sentence expired last August.

    Johnson arrived in Cyprus last July through Turkey and Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus after fleeing the slaughter of civil war in his homeland. He has been languishing in a cell for illegal immigrants in Nicosia since his sentencing last July. His sentence was only for two months.

    Erotocritou said that, on April 16, he petitioned Attorney-general Alecos Markides to release Johnson, and that on April 20, Markides ordered Johnson set free.

    But, he said, Chief Migration Officer Christodoulos Nicolaides refused to release Johnson on April 20, prompting his filing of the habeas corpus petition to bring Johnson to court to determine if his continued detention was legal.

    Louisa Christodoulides, the Markides office lawyer handling the case, acknowledged Johnson's detention for some nine months beyond his sentence was an infringement of his human rights, but she blamed it on Migration Department foot-dragging in trying to deport him back to his homeland.

    Erotocritou said Markides appeared to have a conflict of interest in ordering Johnson released from jail while appearing in court for both the Migration Department and the Republic in relation to allegations his client's continued detention was a breach of his human rights.

    No one was available in the Attorney-general's office yesterday for comment.

    Saturday, May 08, 1999

    [07] Deputies call for corruption net to be extended

    DEPUTIES have finally begun discussion of the anti-corruption bill calling on government officials to declare their assets and interests.

    But the Plenum decided on Thursday night to send the draft back to the House Legal Committee for adjustments.

    Speaking to CyBC radio yesterday, Committee president Panayiotis Demetriou said the first proposed amendment was for the list of those affected to be extended to those who are no longer in office.

    The second proposal was for those in a wider range of offices and positions to be included.

    Demetriou expressed concern that the two proposals "may cause the opposite result of what we want in making the law effective."

    He said that as the bill stood, the five-member body that would appointed to examine assets and interests would already have to look through "around 5,000 cases every three years."

    The Plenum suggested that chairmen of boards of administration, main shareholders and director generals of radio and television channels, as well as chief editors and publishers of newspapers would have to declare their assets, to add to the current list of Cabinet members, deputies and senior civil servants.

    Demetriou added that powers of investigation of media bosses was already covered by existing broadcasting and press laws. The committee has already considered and rejected such a provision.

    The bill has been pending since 1993 and was sent to the House by the Cabinet on January 7 this year, with deputies repeatedly delaying its discussion since then.

    Saturday, May 08, 1999

    [08] Farmer unhurt after shell blows up combine harvester

    A REFUGEE farmer was in hospital suffering from severe shock yesterday, after a National Guard Shell exploded under his combine harvester.

    George Pekri, 48, was harvesting land at Kalo Chorio outside Larnaca at about 11am when the artillery shell exploded under the threshing blades of his harvester. The blast completely destroyed the harvester and started a fire, which quickly spread through the wheat Pekri was harvesting and through nearby scrub. It was extinguished by three fire engines from Larnaca, but not before setting off a further five stray shells.

    Pekri was miraculously unharmed, but was taken to larnaca General Hospital suffering from sever shock. Bystander Andreas Kallikas also escaped injury.

    The shell came from a nearby firing range, and investigations are under way as to how they got onto the farmland.

    Kalo Chorio Mukhtar Andreas Souroullas said afterwards that this was the first case of its kind in 25 years, and that measures had to be taken to protect farmers from it happening again.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

    Saturday, May 08, 1999

    [09] Bomb wrecks car

    POLICE were yesterday investigating a bomb blast which completely destroyed a civil engineer's car in Limassol late on Thursday night.

    The explosion occurred at 11.10pm outside the home of Andreas Soteriou, police said, adding the detonation had been caused by a powerful home-made bomb placed in the front of the vehicle.

    Police are searching for a foreigner with whom Soteriou said he had professional and financial differences.

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