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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-07-13

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

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Tuesday, July 13, 1999


  • [01] Ministers back three month freeze on work permits for foreigners
  • [02] Police deny checking Pontians for circumcision
  • [03] Howling dogs and cats will greet August 12 eclipse
  • [04] Heavy demand reported for Louis share issue
  • [05] Cairo embassy allegations to go to Attorney-general
  • [06] First stage of exhumations over
  • [07] Police puts traffic measures on hold as MPs have second thoughts
  • [08] Turkish Cypriot escapes Limassol gun attack

  • [01] Ministers back three month freeze on work permits for foreigners

    By Martin Hellicar

    A MINISTERIAL committee yesterday endorsed a proposal for a three-month moratorium on the issuing of work permits for foreign workers.

    The foreign workers committee -- made up of Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis and Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas -- also decided to delve deeper into the "Pontian problem".

    Moushiouttas, whose idea the three-month ban was, said drastic action was needed to stem the tide of foreign workers.

    "While we have implemented strict measures to restrict the number of work permit applications, the number of foreign workers is still going up," Moushiouttas said.

    Trade unions consistently complain about legal and illegal foreign workers stealing the jobs of locals. There are a some 15,000 foreigners working on the island legally, and another 10,000 estimated to be working illegally.

    The Labour Minister said enforcing the ban till September 30 would allow time for the true number of foreign workers and unemployed locals to be ascertained and for relevant action to be taken. Moushiouttas said the moratorium would only apply to new work permit applications and not to the renewal of existing permits.

    Christodoulou said Moushiouttas's proposal had been adopted and would be implemented once the details had been ironed out.

    "We have decided that the Labour Minister, in co-operation with his helpers, will decide on which sectors and areas the suggestion should apply to," the Interior Minister said.

    Turning to the issue of Black Sea Russians living in Cyprus, Christodoulou said the ministries of the Interior, Justice and Labour would jointly study all aspects of the issue and report back.

    Diko deputy Nicos Pittokopitis is leading a campaign to have many of the Pontians sent home, labelling them criminal illegals of dubious ethnic origin. The Paphos deputy, who was back on the warpath yesterday, has focused his anger on a "ghetto" of the Black Sea Greeks in Kato Paphos.

    Christodoulou described the Pontians as a "problem" and said the report by the three ministries would look at ways to "smooth their integration into the social whole."

    Moushiouttas said not all the Pontians in Cyprus were Greek passport holders and so some of them needed work permits. Others were working here illegally, the minister said.

    Moushiouttas described the Pontians' Paphos 'ghetto' as "an issue that has to be studied."

    Pittokopitis was not nearly as restrained, describing the situation in his constituency as "tragic".

    He said there were 9,500 foreign workers in the Paphos area -- 3,000 of these illegals and 3,500 Russian Greeks.

    "All this has created the problem of displacement of the local workforce, which has been left unemployed. And beyond this, especially with the Russian citizens of many races who have secured Greek passports either legally or otherwise, a ghetto has been created," Pittokopitis charged.

    He attacked the Greek embassy for failing to follow up his suggestion that the legitimacy of the Greek passports held by Pontians in Cyprus be scrutinised.

    "The Greek embassy have done nothing in this direction," he protested. "I have information from various sources that many who have secured Greek passports are not Greeks," he added.

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    Tuesday, July 13, 1999

    [02] Police deny checking Pontians for circumcision

    By Charlie Charalambous

    POLICE hit back yesterday at claims that Black Sea Greeks were being rounded up in Paphos and stripped from the waist down to check if they were circumcised.

    The police had stood accused of using the unorthodox methods to catch out 'fake' Greeks they suspected of being Muslims passing themselves off as ethnic Greeks to obtain coveted Greek passports.

    The allegations were made by the president of the Federation of Greek Pontians, Omiros Poursanides, in an interview with Alithianewspaper on Sunday.

    "Do you know what the police do in Paphos, they round up 15 to 20 people, take them to an isolated beach area, and take down their trousers to check if they've been circumcised," Poursanides claimed in the interview.

    Poursanides alleged police had rounded up youths on at least five occasions for the purposes of inspecting their genitals.

    "I was asked by the Paphos police chief if there were any Muslims among us. What am I supposed to say? I'm tired of the same questions," said the Pontian spokesman.

    However, the police yesterday denied any involvement in such practices.

    Police spokesman Stelios Neophytou told the Cyprus Mailthe allegations had "no bearing on reality".

    "And the police wouldn't stoop so low as to use such methods," he added.

    Paphos police noted they had received no complaints about such activities.

    The Black Sea Greeks have over recent weeks been accused of all sorts of crimes and misdemeanours.

    Not an evening goes by without Paphos local TV parading the latest batch of Pontian Greek suspects.

    And Poursanides agreed a few bad apples intent on breaking the law were giving the whole community a bad name.

    "There's about 30 or 40 people in Paphos who are on the TV every night, so why don't they just deport them?" Poursanides asked.

    Local politicians and government ministers are unhappy about the "indiscriminate" way in which Greece has issued passports to those who once resided in the Black Sea region.

    Paphos deputy Nicos Pittokopitis fanned the flames two weeks ago, describing Black Sea Greeks as rapists, drug dealers and of "dubious ethnic origin".

    Thousands of Russians, Ukrainians and Georgians with Greek origins were issued Greek passports after the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991 and therefore have no difficulty entering Cyprus. More importantly, they have the right to work on the island.

    They started arriving in 1993 and now some 7,000 are estimated to be living on the island (at least 5,000 are concentrated in what is known as the "Paphos ghetto"), making them one of largest non-Cypriot communities on the island.

    The vast majority of Pontian Greeks are concentrated in apartment blocks (renting around 1,700 flats) on two of Kato Paphos' main thoroughfares.

    Paphos mayor Feidias Sarikas is so concerned about the settlement of 5,000 Black Sea Greeks in a town with a population of 22,000 that he's called for emergency state measures to disperse the "ghetto" community.

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    Tuesday, July 13, 1999

    [03] Howling dogs and cats will greet August 12 eclipse

    By Jean Christou

    HOWLING dogs and cats, and birds going to sleep in mid-afternoon are just some of the phenomena expected on August 11 during the solar eclipse, a Cypriot astronomer said yesterday.

    Ioannis Fakkas, honourary president of the Cyprus Astronomy Association, also warned that people should not look directly at the sun during the eclipse because they could suffer serious damage to their sight.

    Fakkas said Cyprus would see 86 per cent of the sun covered by the moon at the moment of the total eclipse, which will be at around 2.35pm local time.

    "The birds will go to sleep and stars will appear in Europe during the total eclipse," Fakkas said.

    "I believe the planet Venus will also appear over Cyprus and dogs and cats will be howling. In the old days men were also afraid," he added.

    Fakkas said those using telescopes should have a spectacular view of the planet.

    The phenomenon will begin in Cyprus at 1.10pm and continue until 3.59pm and will be visible all over the island.

    Fakkas strongly advised people not to look at the sun under any circumstances, "not even with sunglasses".

    "It will destroy the eyes to look directly in the sun at any time," he said, adding that people didn't normally look at the sun, but might be tempted to look at it for a prolonged period just to see the eclipse.

    He said special glasses could be found at observatories, but that for people not in a position to visit these sites there were other alternatives.

    Special protective glass can be bought from shops that sell welding materials which workmen use as visors, Fakkas said.

    Alternatively, he said a piece of ordinary window-pane glass could be blackened with smoke from a church candle; the blackened glass would then provide adequate protection through which to view the eclipse.

    "But this should not be done with spectacle glass," he stressed.

    For those who want an even better view, Iran Air last week announced a special 'eclipse' package to Tehran for a week to witness the 96 per cent coverage that can be seen there.

    Nasa has announced that Iran is the best place in the world to view the eclipse.

    The eclipse will begin with sunrise on the west of the Atlantic Ocean and after covering central Europe, Cyprus, Turkey and northern parts of Iraq, will cover Iran on the west.

    The one-week package to Iran will cost between 400-500, including travel and full board in a five-star hotel.

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    Tuesday, July 13, 1999

    [04] Heavy demand reported for Louis share issue

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARE prices firmed further yesterday, ending the day up for the third successive session and reducing to hearsay persistent talk of a correction movement in the offing.

    The all-share index closed 1.65 per cent up at 171.45, coming within a whisker of its last record close of 172.05 reached last week. The value of trade was 12.98 million, with all but one of the market's seven sub- indices finishing in positive territory.

    Traders, meanwhile, reported heavy demand on the first of four days of subscription in shares offered by Louis Cruise Line Ltd, which are expected to be traded from the first week of August.

    "The demand is tremendous due to the international standing of the company. There is even some international interest in the issue," said Adonis Yiangou of Expresstock Ltd. "It will be oversubscribed by 10 folds and maybe more."

    The market, he said, remained stable and withstood some liquidation by investors seeking to cash in to subscribe in the Louis issue.

    Louis Cruise Lines, part of giants Louis Tours, is among the biggest operators in the Mediterranean. It is offering 23.27 million shares at 40 cents apiece to the public, while shares worth 8.95 million will be sold in a private placement.

    The much-heralded issue, set to be the largest ever by a company in Cyprus, will represent 30 per cent of its total share capital, leaving the remaining 70 per cent in the hands of Louis Tours. It is expected to have a market capitalisation of 61.1 million.

    In yesterday's trade, the sectors of tourism, trading and "other companies" were by far the biggest winners, with their indices finishing 7.47 per cent, 7.35 per cent and 8.05 higher respectively.

    Only the Bank of Cyprus ended higher from among the blue-chips of the banks, appreciating by 4.50 cents to close at 7.13 apiece.

    Libra Holidays was again among the leaders of the tourism sector, gaining 25.50 cents to close at 1.91.

    In the "other companies" sector, Share Link Financial Services was by far the biggest winner, notching up 51 cents to close at 3.67.

    In the three-title trading companies sector, Nicos Shacolas' Woolworth and CTC gained nine and 13 cents to close at 1.19 and 2.13 respectively. Orphanides Supermarkets, barely three months away from the scheduled opening of its Nicosia commercial complex, closed 13 cents up at 1.25.

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    Tuesday, July 13, 1999

    [05] Cairo embassy allegations to go to Attorney-general

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE FOREIGN Ministry yesterday completed its investigation into allegations that a married diplomat at the Cyprus embassy in Cairo had an illicit affair with an employee and fiddled his expense account.

    Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Andreas Pirishis told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that he had received the conclusions of the internal enquiry.

    "A copy of the report will be given to the Attorney-general and we will consider if there is any disciplinary offence to answer," Pirishis told the Mail.

    Although the ministry appointed an ambassador to investigate the matter, they are treating the issue as the revenge of a woman scorned, according to insiders.

    "This is a minor incident which doesn't deserve the attention it has caused, " an official source suggested.

    The woman who made the allegations is the diplomat's former Syrian wife.

    She reportedly hired a Nicosia law firm to prepare her allegations and submit them to the ministry.

    "The wife is going around saying things and we were obliged to look into the matter," the source said.

    Following the allegations, the diplomat has been earmarked for transfer from his Cairo post to serve in Bulgaria next month.

    Pirishis said this was only because his "time was up", but conceded the process had been "speeded up" in view of the allegations.

    Despite the accusation of sexual dallying at the embassy, the more serious charges concern the waste of taxpayers money through alleged expense account fraud.

    However, the ministry believes the fact that the parties involved went through a messy divorce is the most probable motive behind the accusations.

    "It's not a happy situation, it's about a marriage break-up with some bitter repercussions," said Pirishis.

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    Tuesday, July 13, 1999

    [06] First stage of exhumations over

    By Jean Christou

    THE FIRST stage of exhumations at two Nicosia cemeteries to determine if remains found there belong to any of the missing persons has been completed, the government announced yesterday.

    A statement from the government said the team of experts from the international organisation Physicians for Human Rights had left the sites of the two cemeteries, Lakatamia and Saints Constantinos and Eleni.

    They will now begin phase two of the work, which is to continue the scientific analysis of the remains at the laboratory they have set up at the facility established for the operation.

    The government also said the Institute of Neurology and Genetics in Nicosia was continuing its task of completing and setting up the DNA bank with samples of genetic material from the relatives of the 1,619 missing and war dead from 1974.

    "At the same time, the isolation of genetic material from remains has already started with a view to establishing the identity through the process of DNA," the statement said.

    The team at the Institute Laboratory comprises six molecular geneticists and biochemists, headed by Dr Marios Kariolou.

    Kariolou said yesterday the remains of five skeletons had been taken to the Institute last Friday.

    "We have basically moved on to the first stages of sample taking from the remains," he said, adding that he soon hoped to have a complete DNA bank from the relatives of the missing.

    He cautioned, however, that not all of the remains belonged to missing persons.

    Exhumation team leader professor William Haglund has for his part also warned it would not be possible positiviely to identify all the remains.

    The passage of time and the lack of ante-mortem information has a bearing on the results of the exhumations, and it may not be possible to extract DNA from all the remains, particularly if the ground environment was not conducive to any kind of preservation.

    The bodies had not been buried in coffins or boxes but had been hastily wrapped in blankets. The team has found some associated items, such as clothing and helmets, which indicate there were soldiers in the graves.

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    Tuesday, July 13, 1999

    [07] Police puts traffic measures on hold as MPs have second thoughts

    POLICE did not, as threatened, start handing out fines for violations of strict new road safety laws yesterday.

    Up till yesterday, police had been letting off motorcyclists caught riding without a helmet or drivers caught using their mobile phones on the road with just a warning. Steep on-the-spot fines for these and other road safety offenses were due to come into force yesterday. But they didn't.

    The reason is that the House is having second thoughts about the new law -- which came into force on July 1 -- and is to discuss it again at an extraordinary session of the House plenum tomorrow.

    Police said yesterday they would await the outcome of the plenum session before going ahead with handing out fines.

    Akel are now pushing for an amendment to the new law to allow people riding bikes of 50cc or less to do so without a helmet within urban areas only. People will just get too hot otherwise, the opposition party argues.

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    Tuesday, July 13, 1999

    [08] Turkish Cypriot escapes Limassol gun attack

    A TURKISH Cypriot salami-maker had a lucky escape on Sunday when machine- gun bullets interrupted his morning cup of coffee.

    According to police, Jemal Moustafa Kasapoglou was enjoying his coffee in the garden of his home in Limassol's Turkish quarter at about 8am when the bullets started flying.

    The shooting is thought to have come from a hit-man hiding on the roof of a workshop opposite 45-year-old Kasapoglou's home on Kemal Selim street. Kasapoglou was unharmed as five bullets slammed into the dirt around him and the wall of his home.

    Police are investigating.

    Unconfirmed reports suggested the attack may have been an attempted gangland hit.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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