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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-07-02

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

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


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Friday, July 2, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Hercus at the eye of the storm
  • [02] Cyprus clinches Miss Universe contest
  • [03] Government plays down hope for solution
  • [04] German envoy expects Denktash to change heart on talks
  • [05] Clerides sends 'unworkable' corruption bill back to the House
  • [06] Voyeur saves waiter from rape charge
  • [07] Man held in SBA on suspicion of indecent assault
  • [08] Banks back at market's helm
  • [09] House postpones marina plans till the Autumn
  • [10] Government will seek to raise bid for Hilton hotel
  • [11] Solomis defends ministry on two fronts

  • [01] Hercus at the eye of the storm

    By Jean Christou

    EYEBROWS were raised yesterday when Dame Ann Hercus denied that she had anything to do with the omission of the missing persons issue from UN resolutions on Cyprus passed this week.

    Dame Ann, Unficyp's Chief of Mission, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry yesterday to explain how the omission came about, following reports that she had been responsible for it.

    A statement issued by Unficyp after the meeting said Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides had "totally accepted" her assurances that the media reports concerning the issue were wrong.

    However, speaking to reporters later in the day Cassoulides said the government had been told by members of the UN Security Council that the omission had been made at the request of Dame Ann.

    "I have no reason not to believe her, but I have no reason not to believe the members of the Security Council either," Cassoulides said. "There is apparently a misunderstanding somewhere."

    Earlier the government let it be known officially that it was not convinced of Dame Ann's explanation.

    Spokesman Costas Serezis confirmed she had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry.

    "Mrs Hercus categorically denied that it was her initiative for the omission," he said.

    "Foreign Minister Cassoulides has said he has no reason not to believe her, just as he has no reason not to believe the French ambassador who was chairing the Security Council and who informed the Permanent Representative of the Cyprus Republic in New York that indeed this move had been made on the part of Mrs Hercus.

    "He cannot believe them both."

    On Tuesday, the Security Council passed two resolutions on Cyprus, one relating to the extension of Unficyp's six-monthly mandate and the second on Secretary-general Kofi Annan's mission of good offices on the island.

    In yesterday's Unficyp statement, Dame Ann categorically denied the allegations made against her, blaming media reports for the furore.

    The statement said Dame Ann had in fact been responsible for sending to New York the reference included in the most recent Unficyp report on the work of the Committee for Missing Persons. This reference is standard in all the Secretary-general's six-monthly reports.

    "She had also informed New York HQ for its background information, the fact that the government of Cyprus had itself announced that the exhumations in Nicosia which commenced a short time ago were not connected in any way in their view with the July 31 agreement and therefore logically could not be included in the report," the Unficyp statement said.

    It was referring to the exhumation of remains at two Nicosia cemeteries, currently being conducted by a team of international experts to determine if any of those buried there are on the list of 1,619 missing persons.

    The exhumations are not part of the July 31, 1997 agreement between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to push forward the missing issue by exchanging information on the location of mass graves.

    The deal fell through when the Turkish Cypriot side pulled out. However, the Cyprus government hoped the exhumation process would create a better climate and persuade the Turkish side to return to the July 31 agreement.

    In the Unficyp statement, Dame Ann said it was for the Security Council and no one else to decide which elements in a field report it wished to comment upon, or to urge action on by means of a resolution.

    But the government's concern was not the omission of the reference to the exhumations, but the fact that the resolutions contained no reference at all to the missing persons, even though it did include standard references to the enclaved and other issues.

    A previous UN resolution, No 1178, passed in June last year, calls for the implementation "without delay" of the agreement on missing persons of July 1997.

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    Friday, July 2, 1999

    [02] Cyprus clinches Miss Universe contest

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS has clinched the millennium Miss Universe contest, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Rolandis told the Cyprus Mailthat he had received notification by fax on Wednesday and that the 55-page contract would be signed in the next 10 to 15 days at a formal ceremony between the government and the representatives of the Miss Universe Corporation.

    The organisers of the pageant are the Donald Trump Corporation and CBS, the American TV network which will be broadcasting the contest live from 4am Cyprus time to coincide with US prime time viewing.

    "This is the biggest event ever in Cyprus," the Minister said.

    "It will have a television audience of 2.4 billion people, less only than the Olympics and the World Cup".

    Rolandis said the contest would be held at Nicosia's Eleftheria Stadium, probably next May, and would attract thousands of people to the island. It is the first time the contest has taken place in the region and should prove to be a huge boost for the island's tourism industry.

    "Not only that, but the contestants will be on the island for three weeks and moving from hotel to hotel," Rolandis said, adding there would be events in other areas to coincide with various aspects of the pageant so activities would not be confined to Nicosia.

    Over 2 million have been set aside to host the pageant through a specially approved budget, and committees will be set up to oversee the arrangements, the Minister said.

    Cyprus will be pushing the "island of love" angle as legend has the island as the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.

    Keeping up the mythological theme, Rolandis said the winner of the contest would be given a golden apple, just like Aphrodite once was for her beauty.

    He said the organisers liked had this idea.

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    Friday, July 2, 1999

    [03] Government plays down hope for solution

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday denied reports that President Clerides had said there would be a solution to the Cyprus problem in six months.

    The denial came after extracts were published yesterday of comments Clerides allegedly made in an interview to Turkish Cypriot opposition newspaper Avrupa.

    The matter was clarified by government spokesman Costas Serezis: "What President Clerides said was that if the Turkish Cypriots wanted a solution and came to the negotiating table with good intentions, then there could be a solution in six to seven months if negotiations began. But the government does not believe this good will exists on the part of the Turkish Cypriot side," Serezis said.

    UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan has called both sides back to face-to-face talks without preconditions following an initiative by the G8 countries.

    The talks are expected to be called in New York in the Autumn.

    The government has welcomed the invitation, but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash says he will not negotiate unless his breakaway regime is recognised as a state.

    Yesterday he repeated his stance.

    He said he regretted the new UN initiative and stressed again his refusal to attend the talks unless he was recognised as head of state.

    "Intercommunal talks have closed. We said we would talk state to state and we will," he was quoted as saying by the Turkish Cypriot news agency Tak.

    CyBC radio yesterday reported Denktash as saying that he would be ready to participate in four-way talks between the two sides plus Greece and Turkey.

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    Friday, July 2, 1999

    [04] German envoy expects Denktash to change heart on talks

    THE GREEK Cypriot side seems more positive in its approach to an anticipated UN invitation to talks on the Cyprus problem, although neither side has yet announced its decision, Germany's special envoy for Cyprus said yesterday.

    But Detlev Graf zu Rantzau hinted there may be a change of heart on the Turkish Cypriot side, even though Rauf Denktash has steadfastly refused to return to the negotiating table until his 'TRNC' is recognised as a 'state'.

    Rantzau, who is visiting Cyprus on a five-day visit, said the word 'never' did not exist in either life or politics.

    "What I want to say is that in life as in politics, there is never a never and so I think reactions will correspond to the details of the invitation."

    The diplomat was speaking to reporters after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, and said the President had told him "he would consider an invitation from the UN Secretary-general to attend a conference on the Cyprus issue, under UN auspices, very positively."

    According to Rantzau, Clerides said that "if conditions were right, he would then be ready to accept the invitation," later noting that the invitation was not yet on the table: "I understand very well that it is difficult to react to something you do not know the details of."

    He added Denktash had said he could not commit himself to accepting such an invitation if negotiations were not carried out on a state-to-state basis.

    Rantzau said it was normal for parties to any negations to adopt maximalist positions, but that, "it remains to be seen whether he would hold this position once the invitation is on the table."

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    Friday, July 2, 1999

    [05] Clerides sends 'unworkable' corruption bill back to the House

    By Martin Hellicar

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday sent back to the House a controversial anti- corruption bill that was approved early last month after over a decade of on-and-off debate.

    The bill provides for the periodic publication in the government gazette of the full assets of deputies, cabinet members, judges, top ministry officials and the owners and editors of all media outlets. The aim of the legislation is to prevent public figures abusing their position for personal financial gain.

    But Clerides does not like the law as amended by deputies, and has exercised his constitutional right to send legislation back to the House for re-consideration.

    In his explanatory letter to the House, he lists a whole series of reasons why the new law would be unworkable. Most all of the provisions pin-pointed as suspect by the President were approved during the final debate before the House plenum approved the bill on June 10.

    This lends weight to speculation that these last-minute amendments to the law were approved with the aim of making it unworkable.

    The anti-graft law had been on the table for more than ten years but successive plenums had been wary of approving it.

    The recent resignation of Dinos Michaelides as Interior Minister in the face of persistent unlawful enrichment allegations heightened public mistrust of politicians and served as a catalyst for approval of the bill.

    In his letter, Clerides said extending the remit of the law to cover judges and top media bosses made implementation "problematic". Subjecting judges to such scrutiny would compromise their independence, the President noted.

    Publicising the asset statements of public figures was "not in keeping with the spirit" of privacy laws, Clerides added.

    And the inclusion of non-public figures in the list of accountable persons (media editors and publishers) was a violation of privacy laws, he added.

    The House has, by law, 15 days in which to re-consider the bill and vote on it afresh. However, the last scheduled plenum session is on July 8, giving deputies very little time in which to think again.

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    Friday, July 2, 1999

    [06] Voyeur saves waiter from rape charge

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A PAKISTANI waiter accused of rape by a British tourist was saved from prosecution when a peeping Tom vouched for his innocence.

    Paphos CID confirmed yesterday that a key witness in the rape case came forward to ensure the young waiter was freed without charge.

    "A man has been arrested and since released after the British woman withdrew her complaint," a police source said yesterday.

    Earlier this week, the British tourist, who is in her twenties, visited Paphos police station to claim that she had been raped the previous evening by a Pakistani waiter who worked at a local pub.

    Following the allegation, police arrested the Pakistani man and took him to the station for questioning.

    Things were not looking good for the waiter until, by chance, the police secured a crucial eye-witness testimony from a confessed voyeur.

    Police say he gave a detailed account of how he just happened to be passing by the holiday flat, and saw everything that went on between the couple -- by peering through the key hole.

    The British woman was then called back to the station on Wednesday, and told police officers that her story was false because she had been too drunk to remember anything.

    "There were no charges brought against the woman for wasting police time as she had since left the island," a police source said.

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    Friday, July 2, 1999

    [07] Man held in SBA on suspicion of indecent assault

    A 38-YEAR-OLD Cypriot has been remanded in British bases police custody suspected of indecent assaults on children at the beach.

    The father-of-two from Ormidhia faces charges in relation to indecent assault, indecent exposure and indecent acts in public against children.

    The offences allegedly took place on June 25 and 26 at the Romanzo beach, which is within the Dhekelia SBA.

    During the course of their investigation, SBA police have come across similar allegations from Greek Cypriot families, which they think could be linked to the suspect.

    According to parents' allegations, the suspect also indecently exposed himself in front of two girls aged under 12 in the same beach area on June 24.

    He was picked out in a police identity parade by one of his alleged victims on Tuesday.

    The suspect told police he could not remember approaching any children on the beach, the court heard yesterday.

    Police said the man was known to welfare services who had investigated allegations that he abused his own children.

    The suspect was remanded in custody for eight days to prevent him from tampering with witnesses.

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    Friday, July 2, 1999

    [08] Banks back at market's helm

    By Hamza Hendawi

    BANK shares are at it again.

    After nearly two weeks of playing second fiddle to such upstarts as Nicos Shacolas' CTC and Woolworth, bank stocks appear to have regained their traditional place in the fast lane of the Cyprus Stock Exchange.

    Hellenic Bank, an unlikely leader only months ago, was at the forefront in yesterday's trade. It notched up 48.50 cents to close at 5.55 with nearly 2 million worth of trade. Considering that this was a bank that only a few months ago was dismissed by almost everyone as an also-ran among high- flyers, Hellenic's performance in recent weeks has come as a total shock.

    If rumours are to be believed and the bank's denials are to be dismissed, then Hellenic is the target of a lucrative takeover by a large Greek bank.

    But regardless, Hellenic shares have appreciated by an astounding 70 per cent since the end of March.

    Also ending the day sharply higher yesterday was the Bank of Cyprus. It went up by 15 cents to close at 7.06, while close rival the Popular Bank rose by 11 cents to finish at 4.03.

    Universal Savings kept with the pace of its big brothers, shooting up by 10.50 cents to close at 2.52.

    The sub-index of the four banks closed higher at 221.99, 3.14 per cent up on Wednesday's close.

    The banks' rally, which attracted 4.59 million from a total volume of 15.26 million, helped the all-share index rise by 1.70 per cent to close at 168.05, the market's eighth consecutive all-time high.

    All three listed trading companies -- Woolworth, CTC and Orphanides -- finished in negative territory yesterday, shedding 13 cents, 11.50 cents and 5.50 cents respectively. The sector's sub-index plunged by a painful 7.93 per cent.

    The gains of the last eight sessions lifted the appreciation of the market so far this year to a staggering 85.42 per cent, or more than four times the gains for the entire 1998.

    Barring any unforeseen developments, the market is expected comfortably to cross the 100 per cent threshold by the autumn or later in the year.

    While the possibility of a sharp downward correction does exist considering the dizzying heights of late, there is good reason to believe that the market can maintain its momentum.

    Such momentum can largely be realised through the injection of new blood with the scheduled listing of such sure bets as Louis Tours' cruise division, and investment banking powerhouses Severis & Athienitis Securities Ltd and Share Link Securities.

    Bank of Cyprus shares are also destined for a two-for-one split and a new rights issue in September, both set to stoke interest in the bank.

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    Friday, July 2, 1999

    [09] House postpones marina plans till the Autumn

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE HOUSE yesterday postponed until October all debate on proposed Tourism Ministry regulations for the creation of five more privately owned marinas that would allow Cyprus to compete with other Mediterranean countries in luring yachtowners to the island.

    "This delay is not welcome with us," Commerce and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday, "but I can appreciate that they had their own difficulties" at the House.

    "Even if we do it in October, it will be OK. It's a small delay," Rolandis said. "The only thing that I can say is, that after 10 of 15 years, at least, we shall have the regulations by October."

    "But I must repeat that the marinas are a must," the minister said. "We must have marinas if we want to upgrade tourism."

    Rolandis said the House "wanted some further clarification on the various areas to be used for marinas. The regulations were submitted by us 10 days ago, approximately, after consultations with the Port Authority over some property they owned."

    The proposed regulations would privatise the state-owned Larnaca Marina and allow private entrepreneurs to run all six planned marinas, including the already privately owned San Rafael.

    Rolandis said the government would seek international tenders for construction of four more privately owned marinas soon after the House approves the new regulations for allowing private entrepreneurs to operate them.

    Cyprus currently has two marinas -- the privately owned San Rafael, with 300 berths; and the state-owned Larnaca Marina, with 300 berths.

    Rolandis' master plan calls for a total of six marinas with a total capacity of 4,700 to 4,800 berths. These would include 1,200 berths each in Paphos, Limassol and Larnaca; 500-600 berths in Ayia Napa; and 300 berths each in Protaras and San Rafael.

    Rolandis estimates the Eastern Mediterranean is ringed with some 1,400 marinas, leaving Cyprus -- which currently has only 600 berths -- lagging far behind in the competition for the yachting dollar.

    A small group of protesters milled about outside the House yesterday to demonstrate their opposition to the privatisation of the state-owned Larnaca Marina. The demonstration passed off peacefully.

    [10] Government will seek to raise bid for Hilton hotel

    A MINISTERIAL committee will renegotiate a bid of 10 million to buy out the government's 81 per cent stake in the company that owns the Nicosia Hilton Hotel, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Rolandis said he and Finance Minister Takis Klerides "will make an assessment and evaluation of the offer, and we shall renegotiate the price with the bidder. We are entitled to negotiate the price, and we feel we should get more."

    Louis Tours last Friday announced they had offered 10 million to buy out the government's 81 per cent share in the Cyprus Tour Development Company (CTDC), which owns the Nicosia Hilton. The private sector already owns the rest.

    Such a sale would solve problems for the government caused by Stock Exchange rules that now require it to reduce its holdings to below 70 per cent by September, so that the CTDC can stay listed on the exchange.

    While Rolandis declined to discuss the identity of the bidder, he said the bid was based on "the capitalisation of the company today in the stock market."

    A successful private sale of the Hilton would realise Rolandis' long-held aspiration to get the government out of the hotel business.

    The other state-owned hotel, the Philoxenia in Nicosia, closed on Wednesday, after the government's international tender for a private operator netted only two bids that preliminarily met the threshold for further consideration.

    Rolandis said both bids were to operate the Philoxenia as a hotel, and that he would review both next week to see if either was acceptable.

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    Friday, July 2, 1999

    [11] Solomis defends ministry on two fronts

    By Athena Karsera

    EXTRA precautions are to be taken for the safety of nursing staff operating cell stabilising medicine dispensers, Health Minister Christos Solomis announced yesterday.

    Addressing a news conference yesterday, the minister also discussed Ombudsman Elenora Nicolaou's report on his department's failure to provide an adequate supply of erythropoetine for kidney patients, saying that a full ministry investigation into the matter was under way.

    The issue of safety was raised by the nurses operating the medicine dispensers. The cell-stabilising medication causing the concern is mainly used to treat cancer and kidney patients and can have adverse affects on the health of those applying the treatment.

    But Solomis yesterday told reporters "a nurse would have to apply the medication hundreds of times before they would be exposed to the kind of dose that a patient gets in a single injection."

    The minister said he had presided over a meeting the previous day which had studied a report submitted on the matter by a three-member committee.

    Solomis said it had been decided to adopt six measures to cut down the risks.

    Among them, is a decision temporarily to administer the drugs only at Nicosia's general and Makarios hospitals, which have safety chambers in which the medicine can be dispensed.

    Solomis said safety chambers would be purchased for the general hospitals in other towns, as would other safety equipment currently not available to the 100 or so nursing staff administering the medication.

    Staff will also receive further safety training, on top of the training they had already been given at Nursing College. The three nurses responsible for the medication at Nicosia general hospital, have recently received specialised instruction overseas, the minister added.

    Solomis said all the staff involved in the process would undergo medical tests, "on an annual or if necessary more frequent basis."

    He added that a "professional health unit" made up of Health Ministry officials had been appointed to investigate and respond to all issues concerning the well-being of hospital and health workers in general.

    The minister conceded that the government and his ministry were partly responsible for the lack of safety measures, but also put blame on the lack of technology at many of the state hospitals: "When we work in conditions like those 10 or 15 years ago without computers and with a paper from the mukhtar, we can't be as effective as we would like."

    Turning to the shortage of the kidney drug erythropoetine, Solomis said a full investigation was being carried out under the auspices of head of the Medical Service, Costas Mallis.

    The Minister said he had read the ombudsman's critical report, and discussed it with ministry officials.

    The investigation's aim will be to uncover who was responsible for supplies running out and what measures -- including if necessary criminal action -- should be taken.

    He said an investigation had been carried from the first day the issue had come to light.

    In response to a report in yesterday's Politisclaiming that erythropoetine was being used to dope race-horses, Solomis said the Ministry had been aware of the rumours for "a couple of weeks," but had not made any announcements until they could confirm the allegations.

    "We have been co-operating with the police but have nothing to announce yet. We do not yet know enough to confirm or completely deny it."

    But he said there had been an irregular increase over a five- month period in the amount of erythropoetine given out by Nicosia general hospital.

    He said that 450 units for injections had been given out in November 1998, while 908 were given in April this year.

    The medicine is used to improve kidney patients' quality of life and is usually applied after they have undergone dialysis.

    Solomis could not explain the surge in demand for erythropoetine and whether it might be connected to horse doping allegations as investigations were ongoing.

    Ombudsman Nicolaou examined the issue after a complaint was submitted to her by the New Horizons party. Her report accused the ministry of being slow to secure fresh supplies of the drug, even though they were aware of the urgent need.

    Tenders were put out in February with March 19 as the closing date, but the contract for new supplies was only signed on June 15, after the medicine had already run out in Nicosia.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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