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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-13

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, May 13, 1999


  • [01] Cyprus warns parliament could block embargo provisions
  • [02] Defence budget postponed amid party opposition
  • [03] CY spokesman gets anonymous death threat
  • [04] Gloom pervades surreal AGM at Hellenic Chemicals
  • [05] New British High Commissioner presents credentials
  • [06] Ledra Street landmark to be torn down for Shacolas car park
  • [07] Shares in third successive record close
  • [08] Unions warn of nationwide hotel strike
  • [09] Bus-dweller forced into Strovolos home
  • [10] Boys fingers reattached
  • [11] Customs official and importer held on bribery allegation

  • [01] Cyprus warns parliament could block embargo provisions

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS decided yesterday to join the latest EU embargo on Yugoslavia, but warned that many of the sanctions were in the hands of a parliament firmly opposed to the measures.

    "The government has decided to align itself as far as possible with the new measures which the EU has decided to take," said government spokesman Costas Serezis.

    Cyprus, along with other applicant EU countries, was directly asked by Brussels on Monday, and approached again on Tuesday by a representative of the German EU presidency, to join in the implementation of the new sanctions.

    Speaking after yesterday's Council of Ministers, Serezis said the government would be examining which of the measures could be dealt with by the cabinet and which would require legislative changes.

    "On the second issue, we have asked for the opinion of the Attorney-general, " Serezis said. He said the cabinet did not discuss the specifics.

    The new sanctions include a travel ban on relatives of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, as well as people known to have close links with him, a freeze on Yugoslav assets abroad, a tightening of existing sanctions on Belgrade's external investments and on commercial or private flights between the EU and Yugoslavia.

    The government has already joined an EU oil embargo against the Serbs, which the House of Representatives has condemned and asked it to reverse.

    The House last week said the embargo was illegal because it had not first been approved by parliament.

    Parliament is unlikely to react any more kindly to additional sanctions, and could delay their eventual implementation.

    It is believed the government has made the EU aware that certain issues might be out of its hands, but has said it would conform to any sanctions directly under its own jurisdiction.

    Commenting on the Cabinet's decision yesterday, House President Spyros Kyprianou said he disagreed with the government's move. He dismissed as incorrect the reasoning that Cyprus' EU accession would be negatively affected by a refusal to implement further sanctions against Yugoslavia. Accession and sanctions were separate issues, he said.

    Socialist party Edek also condemned the move, saying it was ran against public opinion and was contrary to both the spirit and the letter of international law.

    The main stumbling block in the latest package of sanctions is thought to be the freezing of Yugoslav assets in Cyprus, a move thought by lawyers to require either a UN resolution or a change in the law for its implementation.

    Cyprus is already investigating allegations that Serbian money might be illegally channelled onto the island. Reports in the local and foreign media have claimed that Milosevic has millions stashed away in offshore companies in Cyprus. Four of the island's 30 offshore banks are Yugoslav.

    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    [02] Defence budget postponed amid party opposition

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE GOVERNMENT'S 1999 defence budget is hanging in the balance, with opposition parties saying they will not approve new weapons systems that could take them down the S-300 road.

    Today's scheduled House plenum debate on the defence budget has now been postponed, with Akel and the United Democrats saying they are prepared to vote against any new weapon systems purchases that could sidetrack the peace process.

    Diko for its part has declared it has "grave reservations" about approving funds, which leaves Edek and Disy in the minority.

    The defence budget was submitted to the House in January, but has been held up at committee stage for over four months as the parties weigh up the political costs of ordering more hardware.

    Cyprus last year came under sustained international pressure over its decision to purchase S-300 Russian missiles, with tensions rising to boiling point in the region as a result.

    With Turkey threatening to strike the missiles if they were deployed on the island, and Greece visibly uncomfortable with the decision, President Clerides finally scrapped the deal last December.

    It is understood that the 1999 budget (whose itemised expenditure is not made public) includes funds for attack helicopters, medium-range Russian missiles and two missile boats.

    Party leaders, wanting to avoid the S-300 controversy, have urged Clerides to hold a high-level defence summit in which a coherent and consensual policy on military spending can be thrashed out.

    Akel are even calling for the issue to be discussed at the National Council.

    "Taking into account the S-300 fiasco, the government should have informed us of their plans before the National Council," Akel deputy Doros Christodoulides said yesterday.

    He also accused the government of not consulting with Greece on planning an effective military programme as part of the 1993 Defence Pact.

    United Democrat Michalis Papapetrou said his party, a junior government partner, would not support the buying of new weapons systems this year that could give the Turkish side another excuse to avoid direct peace talks.

    "We will vote for the defence budget, but our disagreement is over the purchase of new weapons systems," Papapetrou said.

    "Our defence budget should reflect our political aims," he added.

    Disy deputy Averof Neophytou blamed Akel for dragging its feet in the House Defence Committee in order to cause maximum discomfort for the government.

    "Akel have been delaying negotiations because they only gave their written position in April," Neophytou said.

    Committee chairman Takis Hadjidemetriou said it was time to dismiss the S- 300 saga as an isolated incident.

    "Cyprus has a need for defence and the strongest possible defence; we need to forget about the S-300s," said Hadjidemetriou.

    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    [03] CY spokesman gets anonymous death threat

    By Jean Christou

    AN ANONYMOUS caller yesterday posed as a Sigma journalist to send a chilling threat to unsuspecting Cyprus Airways (CY) spokesman Tassos Angelis.

    Family man Angelis told the Cyprus Mailthe caller had passed himself off as a journalist called Stavros Stavrou from Sigma TV in order to convince a secretary to put him through.

    The call came in at around 11.30am.

    "He said he was a journalist just so that he could talk to me," Angelis said, adding that he could not call to mind any journalist of that name.

    According to the airline spokesman, the caller said: "Listen carefully. You talk to much. Be careful of what you say because you have a family and it would be a pity."

    "I asked who was speaking but he hung up," Angelis said. "I consider this a serious threat to me and my family."

    Angelis said he reported the incident to the police, who advised him of what precautions to take. "I told them that I don't have any differences with anyone," he said. "But this person or persons who have made a threat on my life obviously have a grievance against me."

    Angelis said this was the first time as airline spokesman that he has received such a direct threat, although he had been threatened indirectly in the past. "It is obvious that it is someone who doesn't like what I say as a spokesman," he said.

    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    [04] Gloom pervades surreal AGM at Hellenic Chemicals

    By Hamza Hendawi

    IT WAS surreal.

    "Delicious Coca-Cola. Relieves fatigue. The most refreshing drink in the world," read the ad, a reproduction on mirror of old Coca-Cola slogans, complete with depiction of a woman in a turn-of-century outfit and hat. It hung on a wall of peeling paint and spots of dirt.

    The outdated catch phrases appeared to blend in nicely with the events yesterday afternoon in Nicosia's faded Europa Hotel, venue of Hellenic Chemical Industries' first Annual General Meeting in three years.

    Below the ad, on a table facing the room, were eight men - directors, lawyers and auditors of the debt-ridden and insolvent company that has for most of its 22 years cheated death to continue playing the part of a black hole for taxpayers' money.

    Of the eight, two did not even bother to wear neckties, while others looked like they would rather be somewhere else. One, a lawyer, was so eager to leave, he was on his feet ready to go before the meeting was even finished. Earlier, he put his head under the table to speak on his cellular phone.

    Hellenic's unfortunate shareholders had their worries of years past compounded when they learned that the company was deeper in the red, by some £61 million.

    For 90 minutes, the "investors", mostly in their 60s and 70s, shared the room with a handful of journalists and a single news photographer.

    One shareholder, in his 50s himself, explained: "This company went public in 1982. It has been 17 years and I would say that about a third of the shareholders have died since while the rest are getting on."

    "Fewer and fewer people are showing up for the AGMs," he said.

    To some, yesterday was a day that brought back memories they would rather forget. They once dreamt of profit, even wealth, trusting Hellenic Chemical Industries with their money, buying shares in a company that invited them to buy its stock with a 1982 prospectus that contained what was later found to be fraudulent information.

    Yesterday, one shareholder spoke emotionally of the loss of his school days' savings, another recounted the sad story of a widow who bought shares with the pension left behind by her deceased husband.

    The government has a 27.5 per cent stake in Hellenic Industries, while the Hellenic Mining Corporation has 30 per cent and the Co-Operative Movement 22 per cent. Investors, mostly provident funds of public companies and semi- governmental organisations, have 13 per cent and the Archbishopric another seven per cent.

    The company was set up in 1977 to meet local demand for fertilizers, but has produced them on-and-off for only about three years in the 1980s.

    A damning report on Hellenic Industries issued in 1986 by a high-powered committee failed to stir the government into action, something that detractors link to the fact that some board members at the time were related to powerful political figures or were individuals still active in the public domain, occupying top jobs in the civil service.

    Yesterday's AGM gave no clue to the future of the company, whose liquidation was decided, but not acted upon, by the Cabinet in April last year.

    The discussions covered a wide variety of topics, including the government's failure to replace directors who quit, the ownership of the land on which Hellenic's factories stand in the Vassiliko area near Limassol, and the reported interest by an unnamed foreign company in leasing the facility.

    With some £61 million in debt and rising and its return to production a remote possibility, the discussions seemed pedantic and perhaps even pointless. There were no dividends, no bonus shares or a lucrative share split.

    Only cheap canapés, sandwiches and orange juice to wash them down with awaited the shareholders: courtesy of Hellenic Chemical Industries.</o:p>

    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    [05] New British High Commissioner presents credentials

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday received the credentials of new British High Commissioner Edward Clay at a Presidential Palace ceremony.

    In his speech, Clay made reference to the long-standing relationship between Cyprus and the UK, pointing out that many Britons had chosen to make the island their permanent home, and that lots of British tourists returned to Cyprus time and time again. Clay also mentioned the large numbers of Cypriots who visit and study in England.

    On the political front, he said British Prime Minister Tony Blair had committed the UK to a sustained effort on behalf of Cyprus in 1999, and supported the island's EU accession bid, as this was in the interests of both sides on the island.

    In his reply, Clerides also pointed to the longevity of the relationship between the two countries, saying this had been going on for a century now. Cyprus, he added, was

    committed to finding a Cyprus solution, in spite of Turkish intransigence and that he believed EU accession would benefit "all Cypriots".

    Cyprus, he concluded, counted on England's "constructive involvement in the search for a just, viable and lasting solution of the Cyprus problem."

    Also present at the ceremony was Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and Presidential Under-Secretary Pantelis Kouros. Clay replaces outgoing High Commissioner David Madden, who has moved on to be Britain's ambassador to Athens.<span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Courier New"; letter-spacing:-.15pt;mso-ansi-language:EN-GB"></o:p>

    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    [06] Ledra Street landmark to be torn down for Shacolas car park

    By Athena Karsera

    NICOSIA'S Ledra street will shortly be losing another traditional characteristic, with the demolition of a building going back to the turn of the century.

    The courts recently approved a Nicosia Municipality decision on the sale of the 'Stoa Stavrinides', or Stavrinides Archway.

    The new owner, the Shacolas Group, plans to tear down the building and build a three tier parking facility in its place across the road from its new Woolworth department store.

    One of the two remaining shopkeepers in the building said she had been at the premises for thirty years: "I have nowhere else to go. My business will close down when the building is torn down. This shop has been my life for the last 30 years."

    The shopkeeper, who did not want to be named, said most of the other shopkeepers in the arcade had left a few years ago.

    She also noted that the building had once been the home of Eleftherianewspaper, which was established in 1905 and closed down on the first day of the Turkish invasion in 1974.

    "Everything in old Nicosia is being lost, it's becoming just like everywhere else. Nothing special will remain," the shopkeeper said.

    In an announcement issued this week, the Ecological Movement condemned the demolition plan, saying the building was "an important architectural creation," reflecting a style between neoclassicism and modernism.

    The Greens said tearing down the building would "create a serious gap in the study of Cyprus' modern history."

    The statement went on to accuse the Municipality of ignoring environmental and building requirements in favour of private interests.

    Nicosia mayor Lellos Demetriades yesterday said a Municipality official had been appointed to inform the public on the issue at the Town Hall today.

    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    [07] Shares in third successive record close

    SHARES moved higher yesterday to register the market's third record close in as many days and the fourth since Tuesday last week. The official all- share index closed at 132.79, 0.19 per cent up on Tuesday's close.

    The value of trade was £8.05 million, just over half of which - £4.21 million - in the blue chips of the banks, whose sub-index rose by 0.43 per cent.

    Not everyone finished in positive territory though.

    Titles in investment, manufacturing, trading and miscellaneous companies finished lower.

    The Popular Bank was the biggest winner, rising by 10.6 cents to close at £6.73 , while the Bank of Cyprus notched 6.2 cents to end the day on £5.58.

    The Hellenic Bank continued its impressive run with a gain of 4.2 cents to close at £3.54.

    Yesterday's rise in the value of shares took the market up by more than 46 per cent since the start of the year. Shares appreciated by about 20 per cent for the whole of 1998.</o:p>

    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    [08] Unions warn of nationwide hotel strike

    UNIONS yesterday announced that a six-hour strike would be held at all hotels on Thursday May 27, in sympathy with striking workers from the Lordos Beach and Golden Bay hotels in Larnaca.

    The hotel workers' divisions of Sek and Peo unions agreed on the strike at an afternoon meeting.

    Sek hotel representative Nicos Epistethiou told the Cyprus Maillast night that the next step would be to consider a nationwide strike across the tourism industry, which would bring in airport workers and port workers as well.

    Workers from the Lordos Beach and Golden Bay have been on strike since January, demanding that 53 colleagues sacked when sections of the hotel were turned over to outside contractors be reinstated.

    There have been several heated incidents in recent weeks between pickets and hotel security personnel. Further scuffles occurred yesterday at the Golden Bay.</o:p>

    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    [09] Bus-dweller forced into Strovolos home

    A THREE-YEAR love affair between an old man and his bus finally ended yesterday when the municipality moved in with the bulldozer.

    But 62-year-old Andreas Sotiriou agreed to go quietly to a new purpose- built municipal home in Strovolos.

    Sotiriou had previously refused to move from his dilapidated bus in a Strovolos field for the homely comforts of TV, a proper bed and the luxury of electricity.

    Nevertheless, Sotiriou said he lived like a "king" in his bus and enjoyed the company of his fellow drinking buddies who would come around and visit.

    Finally, the welfare department persuaded Sotiriou that he had to move on to a more conventional abode and allow his bus to be removed and the site to be cleared.

    Although he had been living in the bus for three-and-a-half years, Sotiriou has been sleeping rough since his early fifties.

    Only time will tell if the elderly Strovolos man stays put in his new home or whether he takes to the open road again.</o:p>

    [10] Boys fingers reattached

    A NINE-HOUR operation to reattach the five fingers lost by a boy from Paphos was successful and he is in a stable condition, doctors said yesterday.

    Surgeons at Nicosia's Makarios Hospital began operating at 9pm on Tuesday night in an attempt to reattach all five fingers on the left hand of 12- year-old Panayiotis Arestis. The fingers had been severed in a freak accident at his father's Paphos bakery earlier in the evening.

    Arestis was taken by police helicopter from Paphos hospital to Nicosia at around 7.30pm on Tuesday, shortly after the accident happened at the Chlorakas bakery.

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

    Thursday, May 13, 1999

    [11] Customs official and importer held on bribery allegation

    A PAPHOS customs official and the head of a mobile phone import company were yesterday charged with defrauding the government.

    The two were arrested on Tuesday night, after an investigation revealed that from a consignment of 80 mobile phones imported through Paphos Airport on April 18, three had gone missing. Importer George Andreou, 44, of Limassol, had put in a claim that eight were gone.

    It is believed that the three missing phones were given to customs official Kyriakos Assiotis, 44, from Episkopi as a bribe for forging the paperwork pertaining to Andreou's claim that eight phones were lost.</o:p>

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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