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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-07-27

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

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


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Tuesday, July 27, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Clerides denies rift with Greece over defence pact
  • [02] Serezis stands his ground
  • [03] Second Greek Cypriot held by Turks after crossing north
  • [04] Government to open centres for foreign workers
  • [05] Klerides aims to raise VAT to 10 per cent this yearFINANCE Minister Takis Klerides has said that a proposed tax package to be submitted to the House later this year will include an increase by two percentage points in value added tax and a rise in fuel prices.No decision has yet been made on a five pound monthly levy on mobile telephones that was suggested earlier, he said. The proposed fee was sharply criticised as anti-business by CyTA, the island's telecommunications monopoly.Klerides, speaking in an interview with CyBC scheduled to be broadcast last night, said leaded petrol prices would go up by five cents a litre, while a litre of diesel would sell for seven more cents. The price of unleaded petrol would stay the same, while the road tax for diesel-fuelled vehicles, he said, would be lowered.VAT, currently standing at eight per cent, would go up to 10 per cent, he said, adding that increasing the tax to 15 per cent in one go would prove too much for consumers to accommodate.He said the increases in VAT and fuel would almost certainly run into opposition at the House, but added that the government did not plan to set aside more than 17 per cent of the additional revenues it will get to cushion the impact of the higher prices on people with limited incomes.
  • [06] Agriculture minister sweeps away bribe claim
  • [07] Municipality acknowledges improvement in hospital emissions
  • [08] Tourist arrivals up again
  • [09] Russian 'just wanted to frighten' taxi driver

  • [01] Clerides denies rift with Greece over defence pact

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CLAIMS that Athens is ready to jettison its joint defence pact with Cyprus were yesterday roundly dismissed in Nicosia as "unfounded and harmful".

    The government was quick to scupper any idea that Greece might be prepared to let the island go it alone against the might of the Turkish army and its 35,000 occupation troops.

    Sunday's edition of Athens newspaper Eleftherotypiasuggested that Greece was ready to abandon the joint defence pact signed with Cyprus in 1993, preferring to concentrate resources on meeting convergence criteria to join the European single currency.

    The paper said Greece wanted Nicosia to take on the "political and financial cost" of strengthening its own defence capabilities -- something Greece was "unwilling to do".

    "Cyprus has never asked Greece to carry the cost of its defence spending," President Clerides replied in a written statement yesterday.

    He added that Cyprus had paid its own way under the defence dogma and met all its obligations, which included building the Paphos air base for Greek fighter planes.

    The National Guard has benefited from the pact, acquiring multi-million pound weapons systems thanks to Greece, government spokesman Costas Serezis said yesterday, explaining there was no rift between Athens and Nicosia.

    Clerides described the newspaper report as "unfounded and harmful to Cyprus' national issue."

    In an effort to meet the requirements of joining the single currency, the paper claimed, Greece had scrapped plans to buy more F-15 fighter jets and a Kidd-class destroyer specifically to defend Cyprus from potential threat in the air and at sea.

    Athens reportedly got cold feet over its military involvement on the island after the high-tension controversy over the Russian-made S-300 missiles, which Greece eventually had to take after Clerides was forced to divert their deployment to Crete last December.

    Eleftherotypia

    said Greece would transfer a "frontline missile weapons system" to the island in lieu of payment for the S-300s it received.

    Turkey had threatened to strike at the missiles if they were installed in Cyprus. This would have put Greece on a war footing, because the defence pact binds it to intervene if Cyprus is attacked.

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    Tuesday, July 27, 1999

    [02] Serezis stands his ground

    By Charlie Charalambous

    GOVERNMENT spokesman Costas Serezis yesterday dug in his heels in a bid to survive a whispering campaign to oust him from office.

    Not for the first time, Serezis yesterday had to use his press briefing to side-step ugly accusations about his suitability for the job.

    "I am satisfied with all that the president has said to me and I remain where I am," Serezis said after his daily chat with Clerides yesterday.

    Serezis added he didn't have to try and "keep or win back" his position.

    He seemingly backed himself into a corner after proudly claiming last week that he hadn't stepped on anybody's shoulders to become the government's top PR man.

    This did not go down too well at Disy headquarters in Nicosia, seeing the ruling party had been was instrumental in ensuring Serezis got the job by putting his name forward.

    Following Serezis' faux-pas, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades called him "ungrateful" and made a number of unflattering remarks, which seemed to put a swift expiry date on the hapless spokesman's tenure.

    Anastassiades has met President Clerides twice since the row erupted last Thursday, and there has been growing speculation that the fall-out will lead to a minor government reshuffle.

    After yesterday's meeting at the Presidential Palace, Anastassiades would only say he and the president had "exchanged opinions and concerns".

    On a cryptic note, the Disy boss said the issue "remained where it stands", but this did not mean the matter was "closed".

    For his part, Serezis called the furore a "misunderstanding" over some innocent comments.

    "I talked about the fact that I had no political support: it wasn't a complaint, I was just stating fact," said Serezis.

    Disy deputy Sophocles Hadjiyiannis has already suggested to the party that Serezis' track-record is less than admirable.

    He has proposed to the party's powerful political office the need for a government reshuffle -- with Serezis the only candidate for the chop.

    The deputy has been less than kind about the spokesman's ability to keep the government's image "unblemished", and believes the spokesman is a media disaster.

    Disy tempers have since calmed, and the party message is now that Clerides is the only man who can decide on a reshuffle, but Serezis should head the list when and if he does.

    Serezis has had an error-strewn five month tenure ever since his predecessor Christos Stylianides had a crisis of conscience in trying to steer the Clerides administration through persistent corruption allegations.

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    Tuesday, July 27, 1999

    [03] Second Greek Cypriot held by Turks after crossing north

    By Martin Hellicar

    A SECOND Greek Cypriot was yesterday being held by the Turks after straying into the north on Sunday evening.

    Twenty-two-year-old Spyros Koushioumis, from Dhali in the Nicosia area, was yesterday brought up before a 'court' in occupied Nicosia and remanded for three days for "illegal entry".

    Canadian Greek Cypriot Rogiros Georgiou, who crossed to the north on Wednesday, was also brought up before the same 'court' yesterday and re- remanded for a further eight days.

    Koushioumis crossed to the north through the Vryssoules check-point, in the British base of Dhekelia, at about 7.30pm on Sunday.

    Bases spokesman Jon Brown said Koushioumis had ignored the warnings of British soldiers manning the 'black night' check-point. "He approached the gate. He was advised not to cross. He did so anyway," Brown said. Check- point guards are not authorised to stop people crossing to the north, the spokesman said.

    The 22-year-old was apprehended by the Turks just three days after 48-year- old Georgiou. The Canadian national was captured by Turkish soldiers on Wednesday after he lost his way on the old Nicosia to Larnaca road and ended up at occupied Pyroi.

    Georgiou, who lives at Kalo Chorio in the Limassol area, was yesterday re- remanded for alleged trespass into a military area, a change from the original charge of illegal entry.

    Unficyp said the trespass charge meant Georgiou would now probably appear before a military 'court' on August 3.

    Unficyp spokeswoman Sarah Russell said the UN hoped to visit Koushioumis, who works at an Ayia Napa club, today.

    The UN reported Georgiou to be in good health after his arrest last week.

    The UN say a total of nine Greek Cypriots and Greeks have strayed into the occupied areas this year, while 17 Turks and Turkish Cypriots have crossed the divide in the other direction.

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    Tuesday, July 27, 1999

    [04] Government to open centres for foreign workers

    THE GOVERNMENT plans to provide foreign workers with centres where they can gather, swap gossip, call home and get free professional advice about problems associated with their employment, a Labour Ministry official said yesterday.

    "The Ministry had thought of doing this for years," said the official, who requested anonymity. "Foreign workers are a fact of life in Cyprus, so we should not treat them like animals (that congregate) in the street. We have to... treat them properly."

    Unless foreign workers belong to a church that provides a community centre, most have only public parks in which to gather with compatriots to share their experiences away from home.

    In Nicosia, for instance, the Municipal Park near Paphos Gate serves as the major meeting place for many nationalities of foreign workers on Sundays, the official noted.

    "If it rains, it's a problem," she said, whereas under the government's plan, "they won't have to be in that garden all the time; they will have the centre."

    Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas wants a place where foreign workers "can go on Sunday and discuss their problems (among themselves)... with social workers or with barristers at law or immigration officers," she said.

    The minister wanted foreigners "to be informed about their rights in time, so that if they have problems with the terms and conditions of their employment, they can discover problems in time with an expert and get free advice about what to do, so they won't let their problems grow for years and years until it's too difficult to solve them," the official said.

    The centre would be "like the centres they have in Europe for foreign workers," she said. "We will be showing the foreigners that we want them and are treating them like human beings."

    The official said she did not know where Moushiouttas planned to locate such centres, when they would open for business, and what their days and hours of operation would be. But the notion is past the drawing-board stage, she said.

    KISA, the Movement in Support of Foreign Workers, had asked Moushiouttas to create such centres and has given its approval to his concept, the official said.

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    Tuesday, July 27, 1999

    [05] Klerides aims to raise VAT to 10 per cent this yearFINANCE Minister Takis Klerides has said that a proposed tax package to be submitted to the House later this year will include an increase by two percentage points in value added tax and a rise in fuel prices.No decision has yet been made on a five pound monthly levy on mobile telephones that was suggested earlier, he said. The proposed fee was sharply criticised as anti-business by CyTA, the island's telecommunications monopoly.Klerides, speaking in an interview with CyBC scheduled to be broadcast last night, said leaded petrol prices would go up by five cents a litre, while a litre of diesel would sell for seven more cents. The price of unleaded petrol would stay the same, while the road tax for diesel-fuelled vehicles, he said, would be lowered.VAT, currently standing at eight per cent, would go up to 10 per cent, he said, adding that increasing the tax to 15 per cent in one go would prove too much for consumers to accommodate.He said the increases in VAT and fuel would almost certainly run into opposition at the House, but added that the government did not plan to set aside more than 17 per cent of the additional revenues it will get to cushion the impact of the higher prices on people with limited incomes.

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    Tuesday, July 27, 1999

    [06] Agriculture minister sweeps away bribe claim

    A GOVERNMENT Minister was yesterday accused of accepting a bribe to secure an appointment, which was in fact before he came to office.

    Akel mouthpiece Haravghicharged Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous with accepting an all-expenses-paid trip to Paris from Greek shipping tycoon Fotis Poulides.

    The opposition party paper claimed Poulides had hosted Themistocleous in an effort to ensure his son, Georgios, succeeded him as Cyprus's representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

    The minister was accompanied on the trip by his wife and a Foreign Ministry delegation, the paper alleged. The bill for the trip, which included nights in a luxury hotel and entertainment, came to over 10,000, according to Haravghi.

    But Themistocleous gave a rather different version of events when he was cornered by reporters on his return yesterday morning from a Helsinki meeting of Environment Ministers of EU-member states.

    "Mr Georgios Poulides is already Cyprus's representative to the FAO -- his father held the position before him, during Makarios's time," the minister said. Georgios's appointment was made before he became minister, so claims that he had accepted bribes to secure the appointment were nonsense, Themistocleous insisted.

    He said he had indeed visited Paris at Poulides's invitation, but only in order to attend the launch of one of the tycoon's new ships. The event had also been attended by members of the French government, Themistocleous added.

    Haravghi described Themistocleous' trip to Paris as just another example of ministerial bribe- taking. Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis came under fire recently for accepting hospitality from a Swiss armaments manufacturer which sold Cyprus Aspide missiles. Chrysostomis denied any wrongdoing.

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    Tuesday, July 27, 1999

    [07] Municipality acknowledges improvement in hospital emissions

    THE GOVERNMENT has done enough to persuade Nicosia municipality not to go to court over emissions from the incinerator at the city's general hospital.

    The municipality has twice over the past month given the government two weeks notice in which to do something about toxic emissions from the antiquated trash-burner or face legal action.

    "The Municipal Council has decided not to go ahead with taking legal action in the light of the observed improvement in the situation," the Nicosia Town Council stated in an announcement yesterday.

    Both municipality inspectors and local residents had noted a significant reduction in pollution after a clean-up effort at the installation, the announcement stated.

    The incinerator is used to burn all sorts of hospital wastes, resulting in the emission of a cocktail of toxic fumes.

    The municipality noted that it would be keeping a close eye on the functioning of the incinerator and would not hesitate to take the state to court in future should the improvement prove short-lived.

    The municipality also insisted that a modern and efficient incinerator be installed at the new Nicosia hospital, currently going up at Athalassa. Architects' protests that building such a facility would require a major rethink on hospital plans "cannot be accepted," the municipality added.

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    Tuesday, July 27, 1999

    [08] Tourist arrivals up again

    ARRIVALS for June 1999 are up 8.8 per cent on those for the same month last year, boding well for the tourism sector, the Department of Statistics and Research announced yesterday.

    Last month, 329,620 people arrived on the island. Arrivals for the first six months of the year were up 7.8 per cent to 1,265,011.

    Of these arrivals, the number of tourists entering the island in June was 276,879, compared to 248,426 last year, an increase of 11.5 per cent. For the January to June period, tourist arrivals this year reached 988,550, up 10.1 per cent from 898,213 last year.

    Most of the tourists came in from the UK, which accounted for 51.8 per cent of arrivals, followed by Sweden with 6.7 per cent, Germany with 5.9 per cent, Switzerland with 3.4 per cent, Norway with 2.8 per cent and Greece with 2.7 per cent. Overall, 78.5 per cent of the tourists arrived from EU countries.

    Of returning Cypriots, June 1999 saw 41,347 Cypriots returning from abroad, up from 40,138 in June 1998. For the January-June period 220,431 residents of the island arrived back from abroad, up 5.1 per cent from 1998's 209, 716.

    June also saw the number of excursionists, cruise-ship visitors, and those in transit at ports and airports reach 8,001, while 619 long-term immigrants and 1,432 short-term immigrants arrived and 1,340 day-trippers visited Cyprus.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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    Tuesday, July 27, 1999

    [09] Russian 'just wanted to frighten' taxi driver

    LARNACA District Court yesterday heard a Russian man claim he "just wanted to frighten" a taxi driver he allegedly tried to strangle early on Sunday morning.

    The incident allegedly took place at Pervolia, after 40-year-old taxi driver Dimitris Yiannakou Kakkoulis picked up Iuri Drovalev, 42, at around 4.45am in Phinikoudes, Larnaca.

    Kakkoulis told police he was driving Drovalev to Pervolia when, at around 5am, he felt a piece of string being tied round his neck, and being pulled taut. Turning, he said, he saw Drovalev trying to strangle him, but managed to break free by placing his feet on the windscreen, pushing his seat back and biting Drovalev's hand.

    Kakkoulis said he then jumped out of the car and shouted for help, alerting nearby residents, while Drovalev, frightened, ran off across fields. Police found the sole of one of the Russian's shoes in a nearby field, and the piece of string was discovered in the car.

    Drovalev was arrested at a Larnaca apartment on Sunday evening after the taxi driver and his colleagues received a tipoff about where he was staying. He was remanded in custody for eight days.


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