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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-08-11

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

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Wednesday, August 11, 1999


  • [01] Oversees call rates fall, but local calls will have to rise
  • [02] British soldiers train in Kalo Chorio after Akamas deal
  • [03] Church sucked in to Louis share controversy
  • [04] Cairo ambassador suspended as investigators probe allegations
  • [05] Heat wave set to strike Cyprus
  • [06] Don't take risks with the eclipse
  • [07] Cyprus pigs safe from deadly virus
  • [08] US warship to dock in Limassol
  • [09] Christofias to have kidney transplant today
  • [10] Unficyp warns hunters not to stray into buffer zone
  • [11] Rape suspect held

  • [01] Oversees call rates fall, but local calls will have to rise

    By Martin Hellicar

    MAKING a phone call to Britain, the US, Germany, Russia and Greece becomes cheaper as from today.

    The bad news is that, in the long term, domestic charges are set to go up as the Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) brings its charge rates into line with the EU.

    CyTA spokeswoman Rita Karadjian said yesterday the five countries had been chosen because they were the most frequently dialled overseas destinations.

    Karadjian said CyTA was chopping rates in line with an international trend for reducing telecommunications charges.

    The spokeswoman confirmed that domestic charge rates were currently lower than cost and were, in effect, subsidised by higher charges for international calls. She said this did not mean domestic rates would be going up just because overseas rates were coming down, but added that domestic rates would "have" to go up eventually as CyTA came into line with EU norms.

    Calls to the US are slashed by 59 per cent to 40 cents a minute during peak hours and 30 cents a minute off-peak (10pm to 8am). Calls to Russian go down by eight per cent to 40 cents a minute during peak hours and 30 cents a minute off-peak.

    Calls to Britain now cost 30 cents a minute during peak hours and 25 cents a minute off-peak. Calls to Germany cost 30 cents a minute during peak hours and 25 cents a minute off-peak. Charges for Greece are 20 cents a minute during peak hours and 19 cents a minute off-peak.

    Charges for calls from mobile phones are similarly reduced.

    "This is one of the most welcome developments for the local business community for a long time," was the response to the charge cuts from off- shore businessman Mike Shadrach.

    But Shadrach, president of the Cyprus International Businesses Association, said he hoped these price cuts would be just the beginning.

    "Its a step in the right direction, but CyTA must go further still," he said.

    The businessman said he and his colleagues had no complaints about the standard of the technology CyTA provided, but would like to see lower charges overall.

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    Wednesday, August 11, 1999

    [02] British soldiers train in Kalo Chorio after Akamas deal

    By Martin Hellicar

    BRITISH soldiers yesterday began exercises on a Larnaca firing range, after Nicosia and London cut a deal to end controversial war games on the unspoilt Akamas peninsula.

    "The agreement is a memorandum of understanding... it allows us to use Kalo Chorio for a certain period every year," the spokesman for the British High Commission in Nicosia, Piers Cazalet, said yesterday.

    Years of persistent protest by environmentalists and anti-bases activists forced the two governments to seek an alternative to the remote Akamas for live-fire exercises by British forces based on the island.

    The rugged peninsula on the Northwest tip of the island is earmarked for National Park status.

    After months of delicate negotiations, a relevant memorandum was initialled in Nicosia on Monday, allowing two British army rifle companies (about 200 soldiers) to begin exercises on the National Guard's Kalo Chorio firing range first thing yesterday morning. The war games are to continue until August 19.

    The Cyprus army had made clear its misgivings about allowing the British access to Kalo Chorio. Monday's agreement was ironed out after the British army set August 10 as a deadline after which it would use the Akamas if no alternative was offered, sources said.

    Cazalet said the agreement did not mean Britain had given up the right to use the Akamas for exercises -- a right guaranteed by the 1960 treaty establishing Cyprus's independence. But the High Commission spokesman added that he saw no reason for the British army to now return to the Akamas.

    "As long as we can exercise I see no reason why we would return to the Akamas," the spokesman said.

    The memorandum, which will be signed after approval by the cabinet in Nicosia, only allows the British army use of the National Guard's range for 10 days in August.

    Under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, the British army is allowed to use the Akamas for exercises for up to 70 days a year.

    Both Cazalet and British Bases spokesman Rob Need said the 10-day restricted practice time would not adversely affect the army's battle readiness.

    "We all get more refined in the ways we conduct things," Need said.

    "Use of the Akamas had been reduced anyway, it was used for about 30 days in the early nineties but much less since then," Cazalet said.

    Local protestors have in recent years become increasingly daring in their anti-war game protests, often entering the Akamas during live firing and refusing to leave.

    Need said he was confident the British forces would be able to train at Kalo Chorio without interruption from protestors.

    "The place is a well-used and well-established National Guard range. I cannot see any reason why anyone would want to protest," Need said.

    Cypriot anti-bases protestors -- a fringe pressure group -- oppose British army exercises anywhere on Cyprus. Furthermore, they would like to see the British forces leave the island for good.

    Later in the day, the government issued a statement detailing the content of the agreement with the British.

    According to the statement, it had been agreed that British forces would not use the Akamas for as long as the agreement lasted. Only light artillery could be used on the Larnaca range, the government said. British troops would not be allowed to stay overnight on the range; the National Guard would be allowed to observe the exercises and policing would be up to the Cyprus police.

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    Wednesday, August 11, 1999

    [03] Church sucked in to Louis share controversy

    By Charlie Charalambous

    LOUIS Cruise Lines yesterday attempted to call a cease-fire in the political battle raging over shares sold to political parties in private placements, claiming everything done had been above board.

    "The company did not pursue or did it have reason to pursue interested parties or individual politicians to participate in its share capital," said a Louis Cruise Lines statement issued yesterday.

    "We want to stress once more that the company did not offer any gifts or favours to any political party or person... the entire procedure was completely transparent and legal," the statement added.

    In addition to the ethical row concerning parties receiving thousands of shares in the Louis private placement scheme, the Church yesterday came under fire for acquiring almost 200,000 shares of its own in the company.

    "This recent publicity over shares can only harm the credibility of the Church and the parties," said one political analyst, who did not want to be named.

    The amount of shares (187,500) purchased by the Church for 75,000 is highlighted in Louis' prospectus.

    The list of private placement buyers included semi-governmental organisations and commercial banks, which received 3.3 million shares from a total 22.6 million offered.

    Louis employees and travel agents took the lion's share with 5.7 million shares on the private placement scheme. All gave a pledge not to sell the stocks for one year.

    The shares and warrants dumped on the first day of trading by the company's top two executives -- causing serious jitters among investors -- were not from the private placement, a Louis source told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    There are now 22,000 shareholders in Louis following the issue of over 46 million shares in the private placement and Initial Public Offering, contributing to the recent meteoric rise of the Cyprus Stock Exchange.

    The stock exchange has closed for the week under the sheer weight of volume in the buying and selling frenzy which has seen the All Share Index increase by 221 per cent since January.

    An even more staggering indicator is the market capitalisation of the bourse, which has reached 3.8 billion, up from 1.2 billion in August 1998.

    That figure roughly translates into 80 per cent of the island's Gross National Product.

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    Wednesday, August 11, 1999

    [04] Cairo ambassador suspended as investigators probe allegations

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRUS' ambassador to Egypt was yesterday suspended from duty, following allegations he hosted a bouzouki night with Romanian dancing girls and smuggled wine as part of a 'national enlightenment campaign'.

    Ambassador Charalambos Kapsos was suspended for three months, based on the initial findings of investigators sent to Cairo when the scandal broke last week.

    An official statement said that "Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides had requested the suspension from the Public Services Commission based on his preliminary briefings."

    An official from the Auditor-general's office and Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Andreas Pirishis are in Cairo gathering evidence.

    Kapsos has denied allegations that he personally intervened to have foreign artistes dance at his residence and charged

    Cairo's diplomats $60-a-head for the so-called 'Cyprus night' held at his residence in the exclusive Maadi district.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides is said to be furious with his ambassador for arranging a bouzouki night which was not cleared by him, and which was supposed to be a propaganda event, not a reflection of the island's sleazier reputation.

    A Cairo embassy letter sent to the PIO in Nicosia heralded the event as an extravaganza filled with traditional Cypriot culture enjoyed by Egypt's top politicians and Greek tycoons.

    A more serious charge levelled at Kapsos concerns alleged abuse of his diplomatic position to smuggle 372 cases of Keo wine into Egypt, declaring the container as inexpensive personal effects.

    This would have saved him from paying 300 per cent import duty levied by Egyptian customs. Foreign Diplomats accredited to Egypt are allowed to buy limited quantities of alcoholic beverages tax-free.

    Even though Cypriot wine flowed freely at the embassy party on June 3, the 170 guests are unlikely to have consumed 4,464 bottles in a single evening.

    Cassoulides ordered a thorough inquiry after explanations given by Kapsos were not deemed convincing enough.

    The scandal follows another Foreign Ministry inquiry last month, following allegation that a junior diplomat at the Cairo embassy had an illicit affair with a secretary and submitted false expenses.

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    Wednesday, August 11, 1999

    [05] Heat wave set to strike Cyprus

    A HEAT wave will strike Cyprus in the next few days, pushing temperatures well above 40 degrees Celsius in Nicosia and the central plain, and into the mid-30s along the coasts, Cleanthis Philaniotis, Meteorological Service Director, said yesterday.

    Today the mercury in Nicosia will peg out at 39 degrees Celsius, and approach 30-34 in coastal areas, he said.

    "We expect a rise in temperature from Thursday to reach 40 or even higher in the central plain," until Saturday, he said, and "around 33-34 in the coastal areas."

    "It will not be a serious heat wave" -- like the one last year that killed 70 people in Cyprus, Philaniotis said, "but it will be very hot weather."

    "We are above the 'comfort level' already, so for the next four days -- today until Saturday -- it will be very hot weather, except for the afternoons, when the sea breeze will relieve us a little bit" inland and on the coast, he said.

    In view of this, the Health Ministry yesterday issued reminders to the public of measures to take to prevent a recurrence of last year's heat-wave tragedy. It urged people to:

    Avoid frequent exposure to the sun, especially doing needless movement and heavy physical work in it.

    Wear a hat, dress in light-weight, loose, light-coloured clothing.

    Avoid alcoholic drinks, heavy foods such as fatty foods, chocolates and pastries, and instead eat light foods, vegetables and juices.

    Drink plenty of water and liquids in general -- nine to 10 glasses per day are essential.

    Use air-conditioning and fans whenever possible.

    Make sure elderly relatives and friends, who are more sensitive to high temperatures, strictly adhere to the above measures.

    The same goes for children, heart patients, diabetics, kidney sufferers, and people with respiratory problems.

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    Wednesday, August 11, 1999

    [06] Don't take risks with the eclipse

    Staff reporter

    WATCH your eyes, watch your children's eyes, and watch your animals and your animals' eyes between 1.07pm and 3.59pm today, the time of the solar eclipse over Cyprus.

    Keep children and pets inside during the show. Move barnyard animals to shady, well-drafted places, with plenty of drinking water. And keep shades drawn and lights on in the house so caged birds will not be confused by two "sundowns".

    Do not

    use smoke-blackened glass ("black-glass"), exposed film or ordinary sunglasses to watch the eclipse. This is a sure prescription for the dark glasses and white cane of the blind.

    If you must watch the sun vanish, do it only through lenses that block 99- 100 per cent of the ultra-violet and infra-red rays of the sun. Otherwise they will sear the eye's retina and cause permanent blindness. These are special glasses; you must buythem.

    And never everlook through a telescope or binoculars at the eclipse. The light through their lenses will, literally, fry the human eyeball the way sunlight through a magnifying glass sets a piece of paper or a leaf on fire.

    These are among the warnings of several government agencies and medical experts to all in Cyprus tempted to sneak a peek at the sun as it disappears behind the moon between 1.07pm and 3.59pm today.

    Maximum darkness starts at 2.35pm and continues for 2.5 minutes, bringing with it a brief drop in temperatures along the path of the millennium's last total solar eclipse, from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to the Bay of Bengal.

    Leaving children or pets outside during the spectacle may tempt their curiosity beyond adult restraints. But even a skyward glance through approved glasses could maim a child forever. Children are not co-ordinated, and if the glasses slip out of position for the split-second it takes sunlight to stab eyes, the damage could be irreparable.

    The major local television stations will carry the eclipse, some of them live. That is the safest watching for children and pets -- and for adults lacking the proper glasses.

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    Wednesday, August 11, 1999

    [07] Cyprus pigs safe from deadly virus

    By Anthony O. Miller

    CYPRUS is not in imminent peril from a deadly, new Malaysian virus, carried by pigs and lethal to pigs and humans, because the island does not import meat or live animals from Malaysia, a top health official said yesterday.

    "We are aware of the problem," Dr Pavlos Economides, Veterinary Services Department chief, told the Cyprus Mail, "and we have taken measures. This was done in May," three months after the virus began killing Malaysian pigs and their handlers in February.

    "We don't have to worry in Cyprus," he said, "because we do not import any meat or live animals from Malaysia," the only place to date, he added, where the virus has erupted.

    Economides said the newly named Nipah virus "is a new virus, a new disease not diagnosed before." It is passed to humans "by direct, close contact with pigs."

    "It affected a lot of pig farm workers and slaughtermen" in Malaysia in February. "Some of them died," he said, noting, "in one pig farm, out of 20 workers, seven showed clinical symptoms of the disease, and five died." By May, he said, "158 persons had developed symptoms of this disease, and 112 had died."

    At first, Nipah Virus confused epidemiologists into thinking it was Japanese Encephalitis (JE), because it appeared in close association with a simultaneous outbreak of JE in swine herds and humans in Malaysia.

    Samples of the new virus were sent to research centres in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. They were also sent to Brisbane, Australia, where a similar virus -- Hendra Virus -- wiped out stables of racehorses back in 1994.

    After the discrete strain of Nipah virus was soon isolated, the Nipah epidemic in Malaysian pig farms soon began being addressed by researchers as distinct from the outbreak of JE.

    To help stop Nipah virus from spreading, Malaysian pig farmers were told to leave their villages and relocate in schools and community halls in other virus-free villages, Economides said.

    The Malaysian government slapped a ban on transporting pigs throughout the country, and began using troops to cull suspect pigs from its swine herds. So far, Economides said, Malaysia has slaughtered over 1 million pigs to try to stop the virus.

    Curiously, the families of workers who have been exposed to infected pigs do not necessarily come down with Nipah virus, the literature shows, suggesting only direct contact with an infected animal transmits the virus.

    However, researchers have not yet conclusively ruled out whether contracting the virus is possible via aerosol transmission -- by breathing it.

    The Nipah epidemic has so ravaged Malaysia's pig industry that reports have circulated in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, suggesting it may have been deliberately introduced to Malaysia, under the "cover" of the simultaneous, and similarly-symptomed Japanese Encephalitis outbreak, as a plot by foreign intelligence agencies to destabilise the country's economy.

    Economides said videotapes of pigs with Nipah virus symptoms have been distributed to his inspectors, so they know what to look for in ensuring the contagion does not infect Cyprus herds. Fortunately, he said, "it seems that we have no such virus" in Cyprus.

    Soon after the outbreak in Malaysia, Indonesia banned the importation of Malaysian pigs, as did Thailand. The virus has not shown up, to date, outside Malaysia.

    However, two dogs that ate the carcasses of pigs infected with Nipah virus died of the disease, and two horses that were kept in a paddock near an infected pig farm also fell ill and died, CDC reports indicate.

    There is no known cure for Nipah virus.

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    Wednesday, August 11, 1999

    [08] US warship to dock in Limassol

    THE US Navy Destroyer, USS Ramage, will visit Limassol Port from today until August 19, the US Embassy announced yesterday.

    The visit of the Ramageto Cyprus was described as "a routine US ship visit" and an opportunity for shore leave on the island for many of the ship's crew.

    However, the 154-metre, 9,000-ton American warship will not be open for public visits during its week in Limassol, the Embassy said. It gave no reason for placing the ship off-limits.

    The Ramageset sail on May 24 from Hampton Roads in Norfolk, Virginia, the world's largest naval base, for training and other missions with other elements of the US Sixth Fleet.

    Her ports of call prior to arriving in Limassol include visits to Spain, Italy, France and Malta.

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    Wednesday, August 11, 1999

    [09] Christofias to have kidney transplant today

    AKEL secretary-general Demetris Christofias will today be undergoing a kidney transplant operation in London.

    An Akel announcement yesterday said all the routine checks necessary for the operation had been completed on Monday afternoon.

    The announcement said Christofias and his sister Despina, who will be donating her kidney for transplant, were admitted to London's St. Mary's hospital yesterday afternoon.

    Christofias was accompanied to Britain by his wife Elsi, his personal physician, cardiologist Dr Michaelis Minas, and kidney expert Dr Alkis Pierides.

    Both doctors travelled at their own expense.

    Christofias, 52, underwent a successful open heart operation in preparation for the transplant at St. Mary's hospital in March.

    The transplant was necessary after Christofias suffered kidney damage during treatment for bronchial pneumonia.

    He spent a month in hospital in Cyprus over December 1998 and January this year after being diagnosed with pneumonia.

    [10] Unficyp warns hunters not to stray into buffer zone

    HUNTERS should take care not to wander into the buffer zone, Unficyp warned yesterday.

    An announcement from the UN force noted that, even though hunting in the buffer zone was prohibited, more than 100 hunters had entered the area on Sunday, the first day of the season.

    Unficyp said "Hunters wearing camouflage outfits and carrying guns are easily mistaken for soldiers and therefore risk being fired upon by either of the opposing forces."

    The statement said gunfire in the buffer zone also increased tension for soldiers on duty because they could not easily determine where the shots had come from, but sometimes felt obliged to react.

    Unficyp said hunters had in previous years fired in the direction of Unficyp patrols, injuring peacekeepers and damaging their vehicles.

    "In late autumn 1997, hunters fired shots over the heads of UN personnel. In a separate incident, pellets from a hunter's rifle smashed an Austrian soldier's glasses."

    The announcement also noted that hunters might accidentally start fires in the buffer zones by dropping cigarette ends or matches, particularly while weather conditions remained hot and dry.

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    Wednesday, August 11, 1999

    [11] Rape suspect held

    A LIMASSOL man was yesterday remanded in custody on suspicion of raping an Eastern European cabaret artiste.

    Police told Limassol District court that 30-year-old Savvas Pericelous, alias Mastouris, had attacked the artiste in Limassol last on Tuesday afternoon. The artiste told police she had run into the suspect -- whom she recognised as a regular at the cabaret she worked at -- in the town's notorious Heroes square, the court heard. She accepted an invitation to go back to his flat for coffee, police said. But once there the man attacked her and raped her, she complained to police.

    Police issued a "wanted" announcement for Mastouris on Monday. He was tracked down and arrested later that same day.

    The court yesterday remanded him for three days.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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