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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-07-28

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

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


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Wednesday, July 28, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Official report slams government water policy
  • [02] Presenting the 'event of the millennium'
  • [03] UN soldiers under investigation on sex assault claim
  • [04] Parents protest nunnery ban on visits to daughters
  • [05] Hellenic announces 4-for-1 share splitBy Hamza HendawiHELLENIC Bank yesterday announced a four-for-one share split, saying the move would bolster investors' interest in the stock.An official announcement by the bank, the island's third largest, said the split would be voted on by shareholders during an extraordinary meeting in September.Hellenic Bank shares currently have a nominal value of 1 each. This will be reduced to 25 cents after the split.The bank also announced the issue of 600,000 shares and 600,000 warrants for bank employees. Terms of the issue will be announced at a later date, according to the statement.The bank's shares have had an extraordinary performance in recent weeks and news of the split is likely to broaden interest in the stock. It closed at 7.24 last Friday, realising gains of more than 100 per cent since the start of the year.Last week, the bank said it had made a public bid to acquire the entire share capital of the insurance company Pancyprian, ending months of speculations about the bank's search for a quick vehicle into the island's competitive insurance market. It said it had already acquired 60 per cent of Pancyprian's share capital.A split in the shares of Hellenic Bank follows a similar move by the Popular Bank, whose stocks went into a two-for-one split earlier in the summer. The Bank of Cyprus plans a two-for-one split shortly as part of the restructuring of the group.Shares of the three banks have been at the centre of the market's bullish rally in the past six months, a period which saw share prices rise by an astounding 173 per cent as of last Friday. The three account for more than 70 per cent of the market's capitalisation.The market was closed yesterday and on Monday to allow brokerages time to clear their backlog of administrative work, a problem created by the dramatic increase in volume in recent weeks. Trading resumes today, when the impact of Hellenic's share-split announcement on the share price will be seen.
  • [06] Four months at the Interior Ministry
  • [07] Man arrested over Chlorakas bank raid
  • [08] CyTA to introduce pre-pay system for mobile phones

  • [01] Official report slams government water policy

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GEOLOGICAL Survey department has put the cat among the pigeons by challenging state policy on desalination.

    An emergency session of the House environment committee was called yesterday following the release of the departmental report damning government water policy and decrying the state of the island's water reserves.

    The report, by Geological Survey director George Constantinou, has caused a rift within the Agriculture Ministry. The Water Development department insists desalination is the answer to the island's chronic water shortage problem. But Constantinou plainly states in the report that desalination is not the answer and that the government should instead focus on proper management of existing water resources.

    Desalination, according to the report, is costly and polluting and does not address the core problem of over-consumption of water.

    Deputies yesterday demanded that -- in the light of the report's findings -- the cabinet hold off on making a final decision on whether to go ahead with two mobile desalination plants.

    Opposition from local residents has already forced the cabinet to go slow on plans to install mobile plants at Zakaki, Limassol, and Ayios Theodoros in the Larnaca district.

    Constantinou's report was compiled in April 1998, but was kept under wraps till earlier this week, when leaks of report extracts to the press forced Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous to release the whole study.

    The minister also released confidential internal memos on the desalination question written earlier this year by Constantinou and Water Development department chief engineer Nicos Tsiourtis.

    "We believe the water needs of Cyprus can be covered without the construction of the two mobile desalination units," Constantinou states in his memo.

    "Existing surface and underground water reserves can be used to cover needs, " he adds.

    In reply, Tsiourtis states that desalination is needed to cover the shortfall in water reserves due to a drastic reduction in flows into dams and depletion of groundwater reserves.

    Constantinou reiterated his position to the environment committee yesterday, adding that he spoke for all the experts in his department. "Without a doubt, correct management and protection of water resources must be the real aim of the ministry's overall strategy," the government scientist said.

    Current policy was leading the country down the road to desertification, Constantinou alleged.

    Limassol deputies Rikos Erotokritou and Yiannakis Thoma suggested "big interests" were the hidden reason behind the government's eagerness to add more desalination plants to the existing one at Dhekelia.

    Contracts have already been signed for a second static desalination plant at Larnaca.

    Cyprus' water needs could be covered without the need for multi-million pound investment in desalination, the two deputies said.

    Committee chairman Demetris Iliades lambasted the government for not releasing the report earlier. Simeon Matsis, director of the Agriculture Ministry, replied that the report had appeared in newspapers and had been forwarded to House president Spyros Kyprianou. Iliades said he would be sending a letter to Themistocleous insisting that any final decision on the mobile desalination plants be postponed till his committee had had adequate time to pore over Constantinou's findings.

    Paradoxically, Constantinou's report contains figures supporting Tsiourtis' argument that ground-water reserves are being over-taxed and that flow into dams has dropped over the past ten years.

    "Average flow into dams has been reduced by 30 per cent (over the past ten years)," Constantinou's report states. Rainfall has dropped by 14 per cent over the past decade, the report adds.

    "Most underground aquifers are over-pumped with resultant salinisation of coastal aquifers and drops in the water levels in other aquifers," the report states.

    But the conclusion Constantinou draws from these worrying trends is opposite to Tsiourtis'. He states that increasing available water only leads to increased demand and usage, creating a vicious cycle.

    "The infrastructure created to gather water has increased water demands beyond the limits of sustainable reserves," the report states.

    The argument is that further desalination plants would only increase demand further. Much better to reduce demand, particularly in agriculture, and manage existing reserves sustainably, the Geological Survey chief suggests.

    Constantinou suggests that extraction from underground reserves be strictly controlled and limited.

    The current extraction rate is recorded as about 300 million cubic metres a year. A sustainable rate -- that would allow replenishment of aquifers by rainfall -- would be closer to 160 million cubic metres a year, Constantinou says.

    The expert points the finger at agriculture as the main water wastage culprit, and says the government should consider ending water cuts to homes as these save relatively little water.

    He notes that agriculture uses 78 per cent of available water and suggests the government grant no further licences for water-hungry crops. There should be a gradual movement away from crops requiring constant irrigation, Constantinou says.

    He also suggests that the price of water be increased to reflect its true cost and encourage conservation. "The average sale price of underground water is five times lower than the real cost," he notes.

    Constantinou also says dam water should be used in preference to underground water, because, if it is not, it is very quickly lost through evaporation.

    Certain groundwater reserves should be put aside and saved for use in time of emergency, the expert recommends.

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    Wednesday, July 28, 1999

    [02] Presenting the 'event of the millennium'

    By Athena Karsera

    IT'S OFFICIAL. Cyprus will be the host of the 2000 Miss Universe Pageant, Commerce and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis announced yesterday.

    Speaking to the media yesterday, Rolandis said this "event of the millennium" would provide Cyprus with exposure in over 100 countries, with television coverage expecting to attract approximately 2.4 billion viewers.

    "This is an entertainment event and so will be difficult to combine with information on the Cyprus problem," Rolandis added. "We will, however, give exposure to the issue in subtle, less direct ways which are, in any case, often more effective."

    The Minister said that, on this issue, the organisers would focus on the concept of Cyprus as a successful survivor of a tragic event, with much attention given to the island's cultural heritage.

    Miss Universe Organisation president Maureen Reidy said it was this very cultural heritage that had attracted the organisers to Cyprus and had helped distinguish the island from the other twelve, undisclosed, candidate host countries.

    "It was a heated competition... but it was Cyprus that clearly stood out in its culture, beauty and ancient history."

    Rolandis had heavily promoted the idea of Cyprus as the birthplace of the ancient Greek goddess of beauty and love, Aphrodite.

    A 'golden apple' like that mythologically given to Aphrodite by Priam, king of Troy in recognition of her supreme beauty over the other goddesses, is also in the pipeline as an award to the winning candidate.

    Reidy said the organisers planned to make the 49th annual Miss Universe Pageant in Cyprus "the best event ever," especially as it would be tied in with millennium celebrations.

    She said the contest would be held mid-May but that a specific date had not yet been decided on.

    Top US television channel CBS owns the Miss Universe Organisation and will be showing the two-hour extravaganza live in its prime time slot. That means the pageant will begin at 4am Cyprus time.

    After much speculation, Rolandis said, the organisers decided that Nicosia's Eleftheria stadium would be the most suitable Cyprus venue, as it was the largest indoor location available.

    Eleftheria stadium has capacity for 4,000 spectators, but Rolandis said that large screen televisions would probably be set up around the island for more (paying) spectators to watch the competition live.

    "Of course, the ideal place would be at the birthplace of Aphrodite, but the organisers could not rely on there not being any rain or equipment- damaging humidity," Rolandis said.

    Reidy later added that the pageant was a much publicised A-list event and could not depend on favourable weather conditions.

    She added that world famous celebrities would be staying on the island to judge and provide entertainment at the contest, while CBS owner multi- millionaire Donald Trump was also expected to attend the contest.

    Other stars have not yet been decided upon, with Reidy saying suggestions on Cyprus' favourite international stars would be taken into account. CBS will also be choosing the event's hosts.

    Contestants from 85 countries will spend three weeks on the island, with Rolandis saying that they would be taken around various parts of the island, with accommodation not limited to one or two particular towns.

    Thousands of spectators are expected to visit Cyprus especially for the event: Rolandis said these as well as future visits resulting from Cyprus' exposure, would more than cover the island's 2 million costs for hosting the contest.

    Money would also be made on selling Cyprus' broadcasting rights on the competition, he said.

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    Wednesday, July 28, 1999

    [03] UN soldiers under investigation on sex assault claim

    By Charlie Charalambous

    TWO BRITISH UN soldiers are under investigation following charges of indecent sexual assault by a female colleague.

    "The investigation is on-going and the soldiers will remain here while the investigation is going on," UN spokeswoman Sarah Russell told the Cyprus Mail.

    She said two soldiers were being questioned in connection with allegations of indecent assault during a drunken beach trip to Ayia Napa on July 14.

    "Two soldiers were detained but later released. The UN military police are continuing their investigation and a report of their findings will be filed to the UN British commander," said Russell.

    It will then be up to the relevant military authorities in Britain, not the UN, to decide on any further course of action, Russell said.

    Eight men and the woman, all from a Royal Artillery regiment serving with Britcon, hired a mini-bus for a day out at Nissi beach.

    When returning to base in Nicosia the woman claims she was assaulted by two lance-bombardiers.

    According to her allegation, a lot of drinking had gone on, and the two soldiers exposed themselves to her and then assaulted her.

    The soldiers were immediately arrested following the allegations, but have been released while UN miliary police continue enquiries.

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    Wednesday, July 28, 1999

    [04] Parents protest nunnery ban on visits to daughters

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A GROUNDSWELL of protest is brewing among Church faithful claiming they are being prevented from seeing their "brainwashed" daughters confined to a convent outside Nicosia.

    A number of parents who have young daughters at the Ayios Heiraklidios nunnery have appealed to the Holy Synod to allow them access to their loved ones.

    Many are concerned about the high-handed way they have been treated, and have voiced real concern about their children's apparent fervour for monastic life.

    Limassol Bishop Athanasios has come under strong criticism for his "egoistical and indifferent" behaviour towards parents wanting to see their daughters.

    During his time as Abbot of nearby Machairas, the nunnery came under the aegis of Athanasios, who is seen as the prime instigator of a new Orthodox fundamentalism sweeping the Church.

    Ayios Heiraklidios was at the centre of a "hostage" controversy in December 1997, after it was claimed a bright Cyprus University graduate had been brainwashed by Athanasios and the convent's mother superior.

    In a desperate attempt to get 23-year-old Nectaria back home, her father -- a Paphos priest -- planned a daring kidnap bid outside the convent gates.

    Although the abduction was successful, Nectaria returned to the convent where she remains today.

    Her father. Papakyriacos Tryphonas, from Letymbou, Paphos, is one of the parents wanting his daughter to come home because he claims "Christian love does not thrive at Ayios Heiraklidios".

    Nectaria's mother has fallen ill since the whole incident and is being treated at Nicosia's general hospital, Tryphonas says.

    Paphos district official Yiannakis Papantoniou has written to the mother superior of Ayios Heiraklidios, saying he wants his daughter home "to make absolutely sure she is mature enough to take on the burden of monastic life".

    He also said that neither the mother superior or Athanasios were "qualified to instill Christian love, which is evident in your arrogant behaviour towards me and my wife."

    In her reply, the mother superior has reportedly defended Athanasios, saying his interest in the girls was purely "spiritual".

    "The devil has something to do with this case because he is the enemy of love," said the mother superior in her letter of reply to Papantoniou.

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    Wednesday, July 28, 1999

    [05] Hellenic announces 4-for-1 share splitBy Hamza HendawiHELLENIC Bank yesterday announced a four-for-one share split, saying the move would bolster investors' interest in the stock.An official announcement by the bank, the island's third largest, said the split would be voted on by shareholders during an extraordinary meeting in September.Hellenic Bank shares currently have a nominal value of 1 each. This will be reduced to 25 cents after the split.The bank also announced the issue of 600,000 shares and 600,000 warrants for bank employees. Terms of the issue will be announced at a later date, according to the statement.The bank's shares have had an extraordinary performance in recent weeks and news of the split is likely to broaden interest in the stock. It closed at 7.24 last Friday, realising gains of more than 100 per cent since the start of the year.Last week, the bank said it had made a public bid to acquire the entire share capital of the insurance company Pancyprian, ending months of speculations about the bank's search for a quick vehicle into the island's competitive insurance market. It said it had already acquired 60 per cent of Pancyprian's share capital.A split in the shares of Hellenic Bank follows a similar move by the Popular Bank, whose stocks went into a two-for-one split earlier in the summer. The Bank of Cyprus plans a two-for-one split shortly as part of the restructuring of the group.Shares of the three banks have been at the centre of the market's bullish rally in the past six months, a period which saw share prices rise by an astounding 173 per cent as of last Friday. The three account for more than 70 per cent of the market's capitalisation.The market was closed yesterday and on Monday to allow brokerages time to clear their backlog of administrative work, a problem created by the dramatic increase in volume in recent weeks. Trading resumes today, when the impact of Hellenic's share-split announcement on the share price will be seen.

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    Wednesday, July 28, 1999

    [06] Four months at the Interior Ministry

    By Athena Karsera

    INTERIOR Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday summoned the media to tell them that his ministry' goals in the four months since he had come to office were directly and promptly to serve the people of Cyprus.

    Speaking at a news conference to present his achievements at the Interior Ministry, the former finance minister said his basic goals had also included the upgrading of local government and the modernisation of other services within the remit of his ministry, such as the construction and land surveying departments.

    Presenting a 19-page report entitled The Interior Ministry's work from April to July 1999 and basic goals for the immediate and short-term future, Christodoulou said attention had been given to the issue of illegal immigrants and to upgrading civil defence.

    The Minister said interim agreements had been made with Lebanon and Syria, which both agreed to accept illegal immigrants back from Cyprus if they were shown to have left from their shores.

    He also said he had recently paid surprise visits to locations where many Black Sea Greeks had settled in order to obtain a true picture of the people's living conditions. He added that a Ministerial Committee appointed to investigate the large settlement of Pontian Greeks in Paphos would be submitting its report in September.

    On civil defence, Christodoulou said: "This is an imposed necessity for the protection and safety of every citizen: especially under the current conditions in semi-occupied Cyprus."

    He said the public would know "by the end of the month" which shelters they had been assigned in the event of air raids.

    Christodoulou also sought to draw attention to the planned introduction of a citizen's 'Smart Card', which would combine identification with a hospital card and would allow people access to government planned Service Centres.

    He said progress on the information service front had already been made, with the Press Information office distributing more information on the internet.

    Christodoulou also touched on the issue of rehousing refugees, saying that 6 million would be spent over a period of three years to improve the living conditions of 1974 refugees, including the provision of land.

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    Wednesday, July 28, 1999

    [07] Man arrested over Chlorakas bank raid

    A MAN was arrested yesterday and remanded in custody in connection with a bank robbery earlier this year at Chlorakas village outside Paphos.

    Grogoris Gregoriou, 31, was arrested in the early hours of yesterday morning when he arrived back in the country from Athens. He was arrested at Larnaca Airport, where he arrived accompanied by his lawyer.

    Gregoriou, from Kato Paphos, was taken before Paphos District Court, where he was remanded in custody for six days.

    The bank raid took place on April 22 at around 9.40am, when a masked gunman strode into the Bank of Cyprus in the village and took more than 6,500 in Cyprus pounds and 4,900 in foreign currency. Ordering staff to hand over the cash, he fled with it in a plastic bag, escaping on a powerbike which was later found abandoned.

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    Wednesday, July 28, 1999

    [08] CyTA to introduce pre-pay system for mobile phones

    UNEXPECTEDLY high mobile phone bills will be a thing of the past from next month, with the introduction of a pre-pay service. The telecommunications authority CyTA yesterday announced that from July 30, GSM mobile phone users will have a new payment choice, a pre-pay system called 'Symphony'.

    This new system involves no extra monthly subscription charge or written application.

    Also, unlike the current monthly billing system, non-permanent residents will no longer have to pay the usual high deposit in order to become subscribers to the pre-pay service.

    Symphony subscribers must have a CyTA-approved GSM mobile phone, and purchase a 40 Symphony kit from any CyTA outlet.

    The kit includes a Symphony SIM card and a Time Renewal Card, on which the system is based, as well as directions on how to use the programme.

    The Time Renewal Card provides 20 worth of call time to be used within 61 days. Additional Time Renewal Cards can then be purchased from CyTA offices and kiosks.

    The pre-pay service will offer all the advantages of the usual service except that phones using the Symphony system cannot be used to make calls from outside Cyprus.

    Symphony users will have to request itemised bills -- currently provided free with the monthly telephone account -- at an extra cost.

    In an announcement yesterday, CyTA said that the service was particularly aimed at short-term visitors to the island and for foreigners living in Cyprus who might have difficulty paying the deposit.

    It is also aimed at Cypriots who use their mobile phone rarely and for people who mainly accept calls rather than making them.

    Further information can be obtained by calling CyTA customer services at 132.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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