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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-12

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Wednesday, May 12, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU calls on Cyprus to join new embargo
  • [02] Denktash warns G8 to stay away from Cyprus
  • [03] Shares soar again as Clerides speaks of challenges ahead
  • [04] 'TRNC passports' for sale, claims Chinese company
  • [05] Unions call off sympathy strike
  • [06] Debt-ridden Hellenic Chemicals prepares to hold first AGM in years
  • [07] Tories turn on Green for £120,000 Cyprus junket
  • [08] Deputy slams highway building delays
  • [09] State counsel under investigation in apparent row with Markides
  • [10] Russian dies in Aphrodite's Rock plunge
  • [11] Earthquake simulation in bases drill
  • [12] Three deny killing bouncer
  • [13] Boy loses fingers in slicer

  • [01] EU calls on Cyprus to join new embargo

    By Jean Christou

    THE EUROPEAN Union yesterday asked Cyprus to align itself with the latest EU measures against Yugoslavia.

    Cyprus has already said it will comply with the EU's oil embargo, but the new measures bring together a wide-ranging series of sanctions.

    These include a travel ban on relatives and those with close ties to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, a freeze on Yugoslav assets abroad, and a tightening of existing sanctions on Belgrade's external investments and on commercial or private flights between the EU and Yugoslavia.

    The German embassy in Nicosia approached the Foreign Ministry yesterday with the call for the island to join in the latest sanctions.

    Germany holds the EU's six-monthly rotating presidency until the end of June.

    A spokesman at the embassy said they had made a démarcheyesterday morning, asking associate countries, including Cyprus, to support the new measures.

    A Foreign Ministry official said the request had already come from Brussels, and that the government would take a decision soon. The issue may be discussed at the Council of Ministers today.

    Meanwhile some 50 Chinese students marched on the American embassy in Nicosia yesterday to protest against the bombing of their country's embassy in Belgrade last Friday.

    The students, carrying placards and shouting anti-Nato slogans, burned an effigy of Bill Clinton and photographs of the US president.

    Several of the students then took turns to stomp on the remains of the burnt pictures. The protest took place around midday amid a heavy police presence.

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    [02] Denktash warns G8 to stay away from Cyprus

    By Andrew Adamides

    TURKISH Cypriot Leader Rauf Denktash yesterday warned the G8 to stay out of any bid to restart stalled Cyprus talks.

    Recent reports have suggested a new initiative may seek the involvement of the influential Group of Eight - the world's seven most industrialised countries plus Russia - in renewed efforts on Cyprus.

    Speaking to Reuters television, Denktash said such an initiative would be "unwelcome", suggesting it would only encourage the government's bid for EU accession, which he bitterly opposes.

    "We say to the G8, and to the United States and Britain, don't interfere. If you do, then the Greek Cypriots will be given hope and will continue down their mistaken path," Denktash told Reuters on a visit to Turkey.

    But in Nicosia yesterday, US Ambassador Kenneth Brill said the US would press on with its agenda for Cyprus negotiations, saying it would not allow the Kosovo crisis to delay American efforts, as widely suggested in Greek and local press reports.

    He also denied reports that the US has already prepared a blueprint for a Cyprus solution.

    In statements made after a meeting with Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, Brill said the US was "doing a number of things to put in place the pieces of the mosaic, which will lead to a comprehensive negotiation process."

    He added it was "amusing" to read Greek press speculation, saying "some of the best fiction in Greek today is being written in the Greek press in Athens."

    Brill underlined that the US was "doing things now" and not waiting for anything to happen before getting to work on Cyprus.

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    [03] Shares soar again as Clerides speaks of challenges ahead

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARES yesterday notched up their second record close in as many days, rising by 2.03 per cent to close at 132.71. Yesterday's all-time high was also the third in a week and took to more than 45 per cent the appreciation in shares' value since the start of the year.

    Traders say shares were expected to be around 70 per cent up on the year, more than treble the rise in shares' value for 1998.

    "The market is witnessing a case of demand surpassing supply by far," said Stavros Agrotis of CISCO, the Bank of Cyprus' brokerage and investment banking arm. "That is what is driving prices up."

    The start of Nato's air campaign against Yugoslavia caused prices to plunge for a brief period in late March, but traders said the market later discounted the conflict in the Balkans and resumed its impressive bullish run.

    Yesterday's volume stood at £8.9 million, nearly half of which went to the blue-chips of the banks.

    Bank of Cyprus, which hopes to list on the boisterous Athens bourse before the end of the year, rose by 14 cents to close at £5.55. Trade in the title accounted for 29.8 per cent of all dealings yesterday.

    The Popular Bank, the island's second largest financial institution and also an Athens market aspirant, was up by 15.5 cents to close at £6.69. The stock is barley three weeks away from a 1=2 split which has attracted the interest of investors.

    Hellenic bank, whose stock has turned the corner after years in the shadow of the two larger banks, closed at £3.59, up 15.5 cents.

    Earlier yesterday, President Glafcos Clerides outlined his administration's economic priorities until the end in 2003 of his five-year term in office and spoke of what he called the serious challenges facing the economy as a result of globalisation and the island's European path.

    Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Federation of Employers and Industrialists (OEV), Clerides said harmonising the island's legislation with that of the European Union was a top priority. The government, he said, also planned to review all areas of the economy to see what it could do to upgrade its status as an international business and services centre.

    He said the island's accession negotiations with the EU had progressed well so far and that Cyprus planned to present by the end of the year all its position papers with timetables for compliance with the EU's acquis communautaire.

    Cyprus opened membership negotiations with the EU in March last year and hopes to join by January 2003.

    Clerides has been holding consultations with political party leaders on EU harmonisation. High on his agenda is the pressing need to introduce measures to arrest the growth of a fiscal deficit forecast to hit 5.9 per cent of GDP in 1999 and a public debt that is set to go just beyond 60 per cent this year.

    Finance Minister Takis Clerides said yesterday that he planned to bring down the fiscal deficit to two per cent of GDP by 2002 - well within the three per cent ceiling set by the EU as single currency criteria - through cuts in expenditure and gradual increases in indirect taxation.

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    [04] 'TRNC passports' for sale, claims Chinese company

    By Jean Christou

    MEMBERS of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot administration in the north are selling 'TRNC citizenship' abroad on the basis of Cyprus' EU entry.

    An investigation by Kibrisnewspaper said advertisements appearing in Hong Kong, Canada and the US claimed that Cyprus would join the EU on July 1, and that holders of a 'TRNC passport' would then be able to move freely in EU countries.

    The cost of a passport would be $35,000, Kibrissaid.

    The scam was brought to light by a Chinese company, which says it was cheated out of thousands of dollars by former 'Agriculture Minister' Kenan Akin.

    The company, Vigor Time Ltd, an immigration consultancy company, has posted an open latter on the internet detailing its experiences with the administration in the north.

    It says that, in 1995, the company, after initial contacts in Turkey over an investor programme, received faxes in Hong Kong from Turkish Cypriot Uysal Altug, promising that 'passports' would be issued to investors in the 'TRNC', and that these were easier to obtain than Turkish passports.

    "Then we asked him to show us the approval letter from a government official and he sent us the letter for one of the Ministers in North Cyprus; the letter is signed by Kenan Akin with the official government stamp," the Chinese company said.

    That was in October 1996.

    It went on to say that in 1997, three of its clients had been interested in emigrating to Turkey and northern Cyprus, and had applied for the 'passport' at the same time as the administration in the north was touting its investor programme.

    Representatives of the company went to the north, with the approval of Akin. They say they saw the then 'minister' handing over all the necessary documentation and a deposit of $10,000 to Altug, believing that Akin was aware of that part of the deal.

    Akin then began stalling, the company claimed, and, despite several meetings with him, no passports ever materialised.

    "We were waiting for long enough to feel uncomfortable and we went again to see Kenan Akin in his office," the letter said. "He explained to us that this procedure would take longer time to proceed but he promised that he would finish the application."

    In June 1997, company representatives went to see Taner Etkin the then 'Foreign Minister'. They said Etkin appeared surprised at what had transpired.

    Etkin approached Serdar Denktash, son of the Turkish Cypriot leader, and then 'deputy prime minister' and Akin's party boss. He is said to have summoned Akin, who in turn denied everything.

    In the presence of Serdar Denktash, Akin told Altug to return the money to the Chinese company. "Mr Serdar Denktash realised then that Kenan Akin was lying and the truth is that Kenan Akin and Uysal Altug are together."

    The company said Serdar Denktash then promised to have their money returned. They went to see him many times, the said, but so far, two years later, the money has not been returned.

    "Now it is time for us to let the world know about this unfair deal, let the world know what is going on with the Turkish government in north Cyprus. We want our money back from Kenan Akin and Uysal Altug."

    Akin is wanted by the Cyprus government as the man suspected of killing Greek Cypriot protestor Solomos Solomou at a demonstration in Dherynia in August 1996. An international warrant has been issued for his arrest.</o:p>

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    [05] Unions call off sympathy strike

    By Athena Karsera

    UNIONS yesterday decided to call off a sympathy strike at a Lordos owned Paralimni hotel, started on Monday to back workers in an ongoing industrial struggle at two of the company's Larnaca hotels.

    Sek and Peo unions yesterday announced that the strike at the Golden Coast hotel had been called off following a union general assembly on Monday night.

    Sek's Michalis Kalafatis claimed the sympathy strike had achieved its objective, but warned it could be called again at any time if a solution was not found to the bitter hotel dispute.

    Workers at the Lordos Beach and Golden Bay hotels in Larnaca have been striking since January to demand the reinstatement of 53 colleagues sacked when sections of the hotels were turned over to outside contractors.

    The strike at the two Lordos Holdings hotels took a turn for the worse on Monday, with the start of a sympathy strike at the Golden Coast.

    Unions on Monday said that staff at the Golden Coast hotel in Paralimni had agreed to the sympathy strike at union meetings on March 15, while the hotel management described the action as a "coup". Management also claimed that staff who failed to show up for work on Monday had been intimidated by union activists.

    Monday's picket line outside the Paralimni hotel included strikers from Larnaca's Golden Bay and Lordos Beach.<span lang="EN-GB" style="font- size:12.0pt;font-family:"Courier New"; letter-spacing:-.15pt;mso-ansi- language:EN-GB"></o:p>

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    [06] Debt-ridden Hellenic Chemicals prepares to hold first AGM in years

    By Hamza Hendawi

    HELLENIC Chemical Industries, a debt-ridden and insolvent company that refuses to die, today holds its first annual general meeting in three years.

    The 5pm gathering at Nicosia's Europa Hotel is not expected to settle any of the nagging questions that have surrounded the ill-starred company since shortly after its inception in 1977.

    The government has a 27.5 per cent stake in Hellenic Industries and is believed to be owed at least £40 million by the company. The Hellenic Mining Corporation has another 30 per cent, the Co-Operative Movement 22 per cent and investors, mostly provident funds of public companies and semi- governmental organisations, 13 per cent. The Archbishopric has seven per cent.

    Conceived during the later years of the late Archbishop Makarios' rule, the company was set up to meet local demand for fertilizers and to produce chemicals.

    But in the 22 years of its existence, it has produced fertilizers on-and- off for about three years in the 1980s. Its factory remains incomplete to the present day, standing on a desolate site in the Vassiliko Industrial area near Limassol. During the little time it was actually producing, the factory was running below capacity and with unusually low level of raw material retention.

    The company went public in 1982, offering the general public three million shares at one pound apiece. The prospectus issued to the public, according to a high-powered committee set up by the Cabinet in 1984 to probe Hellenic Industries, included misleading or erroneous information.

    The four-man committee issued a 270-page report in 1986, establishing that the "mistakes" contained in the prospectus were fraudulent and provided sufficient grounds for legal action against the company's directors.

    Those sitting on the committee were George Stavrinakis and Alecos Evangelou, who in later years became Cabinet ministers under President Glafcos Clerides, Michalakis Zambellas, the boss of chartered accountants PriceWaterHouseCoopers in Cyprus and Theophilos Theophilou, a senior civil servant who now heads the committee in charge of selecting civil service employees.

    The committee's findings were damning.

    They concluded that some directors of the company did not tell the truth to House committees during several hearings - a criminal offence - and that they sought and secured loans despite their knowledge that the company was in no position to pay back.

    Surprisingly, the committee's findings failed to stir the government into taking any action against Hellenic Industries, whose board members at the time included relatives of powerful political figures and individuals, who remain in the public domain till the present day, occupying top jobs in the civil service. They also included captains of industry and prominent businessmen.

    "Some of them are up at the Presidential Palace every day," said Petros Yiassemides, a former marketing manager at Hellenic Industries and a shareholder who has for more than a decade campaigned virtually single- handedly to bring those responsible to justice.

    He won a case against the company for unlawful dismissal, but his attempts to sue Hellenic Industries in a civil suit were blocked by the Attorney- general, invoking his right to stop legal proceedings in the name of public interest.

    In April 1998, the Cabinet decided to liquidate the company, but nothing has been done so far to implement the decision.

    If the company was to be liquidated, explained Yiassemides in an interview with the Cyprus Mail, the veil of limited liability would be lifted and its directors become personally responsible for the company's actions.</o:p>

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    [07] Tories turn on Green for £120,000 Cyprus junket

    By Jean Christou

    BRITISH Conservative MPs have attacked Socialist Euro MP Pauline Green for her alleged waste of taxpayers money on a junket to Cyprus.

    A leading Tory told The Expressthat Green, leader of the Socialist Movement at the European Parliament, was unfit to attack the Brussels Commission for wasting public money.

    In the paper, the Tories question Green's ability to tackle waste and mismanagement following the paper's exposure of a £120,000 trip to Cyprus she and other socialist MEPs made to the island in 1996.

    By coincidence, the meeting occurred on the same week as the wedding of one of their colleagues on the island.

    The Express

    said that the Prime Minister's official spokesman would not comment, but quoted Edward MacMillan Scott, Conservative leader in the European parliament, as saying: "It ill behoves anybody who undertakes this sort of waste of public money to criticise others."

    According to the Sunday Express, Green's close friend and political adviser Ray Collins was married in Nicosia two days before the official meeting.

    The MEPs were then able to claim expenses for the meeting while attending the wedding, the paper said.

    A spokesman for Green said on Monday that the European Parliament had not suffered any additional expense because of the wedding.

    "This was a very important delegation visit to investigate and understand the sensitive political situation in Cyprus in the light of impending EU enlargement," the spokesman said.

    "These two events were entirely separate. The flights to Nicosia would cost the same whenever they travelled."

    Those who arrived early to attend the wedding did not pick up their other expenses until the day of the official meeting, he added. "All costs incurred were completely in line with European Parliament regulations."

    But MacMillan Scott hit out at Green at a House of Commons press conference on Euro fraud.

    He said £3 billion of the EU annual budget was unaccounted for and warned that if fraud continued on such a massive scale it threatened to bring down the whole EU.

    "Conservatives recognise that this is taxpayers' hard-earned money. It is an outrage that Europe then allows it to be squandered through fraud and maladministration," he said.

    The controversial two-day socialist meeting for which Green has come under fire was organised at the invitation of Cypriot socialist party Edek. Political bureaus at the European parliament are allowed to organise three trips a year outside Brussels and Strasbourg. The meetings usually consist of party leaders from each member countries.

    The Cyprus trip, however, involved an enlarged team of 28 MEPs, 19 assistants and 12 translators with 12 translation booths flown from Brussels at a cost of around £10,000 alone.

    The Express said it was the most expensive trips ever taken by a bureau.</o:p>

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    [08] Deputy slams highway building delays

    THE HOUSE Communications and Works Committee president yesterday said delays in work on the Limassol to Paphos highway were "inexcusable" and a waste of public funds.

    Committee president Nicos Pittokopitis also warned that he would question the government on a series of mistakes that upped the budget for the road by approximately £1 million.

    The Diko deputy from Paphos drew particular attention to a delay in the building of a flyover near Aphrodite's Rock and to delays in an industrial area roundabout that was costing the government £8,000 per day pending completion.

    The Limassol to Paphos highway is part of £300 million project to link the island's towns.

    The government has said the project will be completed by 2000, but Pittokopitis yesterday noted the remaining stretch would not be open until 2001.

    Meanwhile, Paphos mayor Phideas Sirringas yesterday met with restaurateurs, pavement vendors and water-sport entrepreneurs in an attempt to agree measures to upgrade the Paphos harbour area.

    Preliminary decisions from what is the first of several meetings saw agreement for water-sport facilities in the future to use only one board each to display their services and prices to tourists strolling around the harbour.</o:p>

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    [09] State counsel under investigation in apparent row with Markides

    By Charlie Charalambous

    SENIOR state counsel Akis Papasavva is under investigation for allegedly refusing to execute his duties following a decision of the Council of Ministers.

    Respected lawyer Papasavva has been embroiled in a bitter row with his boss, Attorney-general Alecos Markides, for some time; the disciplinary investigation seems to be a culmination of that feud.

    Government spokesman Costas Serezis would make no further comment on the cabinet decision yesterday, but only said the issue was within Markides' jurisdiction.

    Planning Bureau chief Panicos Pouros has been appointed to investigate alleged disciplinary violations against Papasavva following written remarks made by Markides to the Cabinet.

    Papasavva is said to have displayed behaviour towards his superior - Markides - unbecoming of a senior counsel of the Republic, and to have refused to exercise specific duties when instructed.

    In the past, Papasavva, known to have left-wing allegiances, has been vocal in his criticism of government decisions and has publicly slammed Markides on the way he has handled certain issues.

    There was a public falling out between Papasavva and Markides over the Attorney-general's handling of corruption allegations levelled at then Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides.

    Papasavva also made it known that he was upset at being passed over for the deputy Attorney-general's post when Nicos Charalambous was appointed.

    But bad blood started to brew between the two when Markides was a Disy stalwart and successfully defended the 62 alleged coupists. Papasavva then suggested he was somehow involved in the overthrow of Archbishop Makarios.

    Last month, a reportedly furious Markides is said to have sent a letter to Papasavva asking him to refrain from making public statements about government policy.

    However, Papasavva replied he would continue freely to express his opinions as was his civic and democratic right.</o:p>

    [10] Russian dies in Aphrodite's Rock plunge

    A RUSSIAN man yesterday died in a freak accident when his vehicle careered off the road and plunged into the sea near Aphrodite's rock.

    It is believed the car plunged down a cliff near Aphrodite's rock early yesterday morning or late on Monday night, but police were only informed of the tragedy at around 11.30am after an anonymous telephone call.

    Police frogmen were sent to the scene, as fears grew that people might be trapped inside the car as it started to sink.

    The body of a man was found floating in the sea, but divers found no signs that there had been any passengers in the car.

    Traffic police are still investigating the cause of the accident.

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    [11] Earthquake simulation in bases drill

    THE BRITISH Bases will next week conduct a civil emergency exercise on the recommendation of a Board of Inquiry set up to look into last year's devastating fire at Episkopi.

    The exercise, codenamed Theseus, will take place next Tuesday and Wednesday. The committee has been looking into ways of preventing disasters like last summer's fire from happening again, and of containing the damage if it does.

    Next week's exercise has been conceived within the framework of a programme of civil emergency exercises. It will involve the simulation of an earthquake, severely affecting power lines and communication.

    Live action during the exercise will be limited, but Theseus will involve some live activity including controlled explosions at 5am on Tuesday at Episkopi Garrison and Akrotiri station to simulate the start of the earthquake.

    The fire last year tore through the Episkopi married quarters from nearby brush, completely destroying Air House, the official residence of Angus Ramsey the Commander of the British Forces in Cyprus.</o:p>

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    [12] Three deny killing bouncer

    THREE suspects pleaded not guilty to the murder of night club bouncer Marios Panayides as their trial opened at the Limassol Assize court yesterday.

    Nicolas Nicolaou, 28, Ierothios Christodoulou, 38, alias Ropas, and Ara Harutyunian, 29, all pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder.

    Night club bouncer Panayides, 30, was gunned down at a Limassol petrol station last September. He was shot six times in the chest and stomach by masked killers.

    Police believe the murder was a gangland related killing as the victim was a close associate of the ill-fated Aeroporos clan from Kolossi, Limassol.

    The hearing was adjourned until May 21.

    Wednesday, May 12, 1999

    <p style="text-align:justify;line-height:12.0pt;mso-hyphenate: none">

    [13] Boy loses fingers in slicer

    SURGEONS at Nicosia's Makarios Hospital were last night attempting to reattach all five fingers on the left hand of a 12-year-old boy after they were severed in a freak accident at his father's Paphos bakery.

    Doctors were still operating at midnight, four hours after Panayiotis Arestis from Chlorakas was brought in by police helicopter from Paphos.

    He had been helping his father, Charalambos Arestis, at the bakery and had gone to cut some bread in the slicer when his hand was caught in the machine.

    The hospital official said last night it should be known sometime today whether the operation to reattach his fingers was successful.</o:p>

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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