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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-08-24

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

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


Tuesday, August 24, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Chrysostomis and Serezis resign
  • [02] Market chaos as brokers strikes
  • [03] Injured tourist could be charged with causing jet-ski crash
  • [04] Hotel hits back at tourist complaints
  • [05] US ambassador presents his credentials
  • [06] Municipality despair over hospital waste
  • [07] Leaked report shows medicines cost more in Cyprus

  • [01] Chrysostomis and Serezis resign

    By Jean Christou

    DEFENCE Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis and Government Spokesman Costas Serezis both submitted their resignations yesterday, jumping ship before they were pushed in a widely expected government reshuffle.

    "I gave my resignation to President Clerides and he accepted it," Chrysostomis told journalists.

    "I am no longer the Defence Minister."

    Asked why he had resigned, Chrysostomis, a former Supreme Court judge, replied: "For reasons of dignity."

    In a damning indictment of the political scene, Serezis, once a journalist, said he had resigned in order to keep his integrity, despite the personal cost.

    "How could I, not a politician, get involved in the political misery which exists in Cyprus," he said, alluding to the fact that he had been undermined by the ruling party Disy at every turn since his appointment in March this year.

    "They wanted my head here and now," he said. "I am not deceitful and I am not a political chameleon."

    By submitting their resignations early yesterday, both Chrysostomis and Serezis pre-empted their expected ouster in the forthcoming cabinet reshuffle.

    Reshuffle rumours have been circulating for weeks as President Glafcos Clerides comes to grips with the need to revamp the image of what polls suggest is one of Cyprus' most unpopular governments ever.

    Plagued by scandals and allegations of incompetence, the current cabinet has consistently ranked rock bottom in public opinion, particularly since one of Clerides' two coalition partners, socialist Edek, broke ranks over the diversion to Crete of the Russian S-300 missiles in December.

    Chrysostomis -- who has no party allegiance -- got the defence job when Edek pulled its two ministers out of government in January.

    Subsequent efforts by Clerides to broaden the political base of his government have failed to yield any results. Apart from Disy, only the United Democrats (UD) of former president George Vassiliou are represented in government, holding the agriculture portfolio. The UD are said to be seeking two posts in the reshuffle.

    Vassiliou said yesterday the two resignations had come as no surprise.

    Clerides had hoped to delay the reshuffle until November, but the resignation last month of Communications and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou led to widespread speculation that several ministers, including Health Minister Christos Solomis, were heading for the chop.

    Both Chrysostomis and Serezis had bumpy rides during their short terms in office.

    In July this year Chrysostomis threatened to resign after allegations that he had been lavishly entertained by an international arms manufacturer in Paris in June in connection with the purchase of Italian-made Aspide missiles.

    Chrysostomis said then that he would resign if there was no end to what he saw as a campaign to hound him out of office.

    He said that since taking office there had been an orchestrated campaign to "humiliate" him.

    During his term of office, the Defence Minister also managed to upset senior Greek army officers and came under fire when it was revealed that the National Guard's Russian T-80 tanks had been running on the wrong fuel for three years. He also allegedly allowed the army to run out of ammunition.

    Serezis, who replaced Christos Stylianides after he resigned in March, never managed to gain the respect of the media who saw him as poorly- briefed and lacking the eloquence to talk an unpopular government out of trouble; his later treatment at the hands of Disy -- who had recommended his appointment in the first place -- did, however, earn him considerable sympathy.

    The outgoing spokesman had already attempted to hand in his resignation twice in the past month, once verbally and once in writing after a row with Disy.

    Yesterday, he said the last straw had been criticism from deputies of statements he made during the anniversary of the coup on July 20.

    He said that although his comments had been approved by the President, he had been accused of reopening old wounds when he stated that "forgetfulness makes it easier for criminal actions to be committed again."

    Serezis said he wondered why those who had persuaded him to take up the post in the first place now considered him to be unfit for office.

    "Had the circumstances been different, I would have left without making any statement but I faced such polemics that even I wondered, along with the public at large, about the severity of such criticism," he said.

    "I am the last person to say that one does not have the right to express one's opinion in a democratic manner. Nevertheless, one cannot dismiss the fact that members of the ruling party often maintained different views from those of the government on crucial issues."

    Fending off media criticism that his daily briefings had been inadequate, Serezis said a spokesman needed the help of others to be fully briefed on all issues. "I worked 24 hours a day on this score," he said.

    He also dismissed the notion that his appointment has contributed to the demise in popularity of the ruling party. "These are difficult times for a government spokesman, but even more so for those who act like ostriches," he said.

    It is thought likely the president will now announce a reshuffle within 24 hours.

    Tuesday, August 24, 1999

    [02] Market chaos as brokers strikes

    By Hamza Hendawi

    CYPRUS Stock Market brokers staged an impromptu strike yesterday to protest against the suspension by the bourse's authorities of three brokerages for failing to clear a backlog of overdue transactions.

    The punitive measures and the brokers' reaction plunged the market into chaos, leaving the bourse's reputation in tatters and undermining investors' confidence, at least in the short term.

    Brokers spoke of the loss of millions of pounds in trade and thousands of pounds in income for brokerages, some of which are public companies.

    Yesterday's stoppage is also likely to tarnish the market's image at home and abroad, already hurt by two closures earlier this month and late in July to allow brokerages and listed companies to clear a backlog of backroom administrative work. The overload was the result of a dramatic increase in the number of transactions -- from a daily average of 500 to 4, 000 -- following the introduction of a fully automated trading system in early May which replaced the open-cry system.

    The brokers' action has also underlined the power and influence they now wield in a market that has been making emerging market history, registering gains of nearly 300 per cent so far this year.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides yesterday held separate emergency talks with the Cyprus Stock Exchange authorities, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the association of brokers.

    A source who attended the talks but spoke to the Cyprus Mailon condition of anonymity said "deliberations would continue" today. Trading on the stock market, he added, would resume today as usual and brokers would take orders from investors, although this could not be independently confirmed last night.

    Other sources said the exchange was adamant that the three suspended brokerages -- Benchmark Securities, Citi Principal Investments and Parma Brokerage Ltd -- would remain suspended until they met their obligations.

    The brokers began their stoppage 10 to 15 minutes into yesterday's session, stopping executing trades upon hearing of the suspension, the second for Benchmark in as many weeks.

    Their action reduced yesterday's volume to 2.11 million, the lowest seen in the market for eight months, but did not hinder the single-minded rise of share prices. The all-share index closed at 348.67, the market's sixth consecutive record close, 2.35 per cent up on Friday's close.

    All seven sub-indices finished in positive territory with approved investment companies recording the highest rise, 3.41 per cent, but on a pathetic volume of just 124,840.

    Speaking on CyBC radio yesterday, Louis Clappas, head of the brokers' association, said the action had been in solidarity with the suspended brokerages and accused the Cyprus Stock Exchange authorities of pursuing policies which could only hinder the development of the market. He also blamed the automated trading system for the backlog causing trouble for the exchange and the brokers.

    "We welcome the large volumes, but it is impossible to deal with such volumes under these circumstances," Clappas told CyBC. "We want flexibility from the stock exchange."

    Tuesday, August 24, 1999

    [03] Injured tourist could be charged with causing jet-ski crash

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A BRITISH tourist who suffered severe facial injuries in a jet-ski accident last week could be charged with reckless driving, police said yesterday.

    In a bizarre twist, the injured father-of-two could now find himself in the dock for allegedly being the one who caused the accident, a state legal source told the Cyprus Mail.

    "Police have evidence which indicates he (Sparks) caused the accident, and he now faces charges of careless driving," the source said yesterday.

    Although another British holidaymaker was initially charged in connection with the crash off Protaras, he has since been allowed to fly home after the Attorney-general's office decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, a police source said yesterday.

    Steven David Sparks, 44, from Taunton in Somerset, suffered multiple head injuries and a depressed skull fracture when he came off his jet-ski in a collision with a speed boat.

    He underwent eight hours of emergency surgery after the boat's propeller mutilated his face. It was the first time Mr Sparks had driven a jet-ski.

    Also on the jet-ski at the time were Sparks' 14-year-old son Sam, who received eight-stitches for a hand injury, and his 12-year-old daughter Emily who was treated for shock.

    Steven Sparks is described as being in a "stable condition and improving day by day".

    Michael Anthony Clayton, 41, had been arrested in connection with the incident last Friday, and charged in writing by police the following day. But the Attorney-general's office decided not to prosecute the British tourist.

    "The Attorney-general's office has instructed police to let the tourist leave Cyprus because he was not responsible for the accident and there is no evidence to suggest he abandoned the scene," the legal source said.

    Police now want to question Mr Sparks in connection with the incident.

    However, doctors at the Paralimni private clinic that is treating Steven Sparks will not allow investigators to question him, saying he's not well enough to make a statement, police said yesterday.

    The Cyprus government has tightened up water-sport activity at coastal resorts since a British woman died in a jet-ski collision in Protaras last Summer.

    Tuesday, August 24, 1999

    [04] Hotel hits back at tourist complaints

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A BRITISH couple who spent 250 on a dream Cyprus holiday claimed their "Fawlty Towers" Larnaca hotel chucked them out on the street with 20 other guests.

    But the hotel management yesterday hit back at what it said was whingeing Brits looking for a free holiday.

    "Everything was fine until the last day then they started complaining because they wanted compensation," Sveltos owner Kika Marinou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    According to Blackburn couple Julie Parsons, 38, and Patrick Kelly, 37, the manager at the Sveltos Hotel went "berserk" when the 25-strong British party dared to complain about "shabby service".

    Apparently, the problems started when the couple found a used condom in one of the cupboards and then discovered the chef was a priest when they complained about the food.

    "We took to calling the hotel Fawlty Towers and the manager Basil but it was much worse than that," Julie told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph.

    Her partner Patrick said the experience was a nightmare.

    "We ended up having breakfast in one hotel, a shower in a second place and dinner in a third," builder Patrick told the Telegraph.

    "We were so depressed we never even bothered taking any photographs while we were on holiday," he added.

    However, the hotel says it did everything possible to accommodate the Brits.

    "We never put people on the street because we are a friendly hotel, but some people are never happy no matter what the service," said Marinou.

    The three-star Sveltos welcomes hundreds of foreign tourists every Summer, and says only a minority -- driven by "suspect motives -- complain.

    "I've learnt in this business that clients are only 99 per cent right, not a 100 per cent right," the owner said.

    Tuesday, August 24, 1999

    [05] US ambassador presents his credentials

    By Jean Christou

    NEW U.S. ambassador Donald Bandler yesterday presented his credentials to President Clerides, promising that his government was determined to bring about a federal solution in Cyprus.

    "I would like to reaffirm that achieving a just and durable resolution of the Cyprus problem remains one of President Clinton's and Secretary Albright's major foreign policy priorities," Bandler said.

    "The United States remains determined to encourage a Cyprus settlement that establishes astable, bizonal, bicommunal federation with adequate security guarantees for all. That is a task for the people of Cyprus themselves to accomplish, but the United States will do all it can to help them find the right path to create the circumstances in which a settlement can be reached."

    To this end, Bandler said the US would support bicommunal projects that increased mutual understanding between the two communities and addressed real problems affecting the daily lives of all Cypriots.

    Bicommunal activities between the two sides were banned by the Turkish Cypriot regime in late 1997 following the EU's decision to go ahead with Cyprus's accession talks while putting Turkey's application on hold.

    "Our determined efforts to bring about negotiations and ease tensions are not a sign that we look upon Cyprus as just a 'problem'," Bandler said.

    In his address, President Clerides said Cyprus was expecting the international community, and especially the government of the United States, to exert the necessary influence on Turkey so it would show the will to negotiate a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem based on a bizonal bicommunal federation.

    "We recognise the commitment of President Clinton to contribute effectively in the remaining part of his mandate to the finding of an acceptable and just solution which will end the division of the island and promote peace and stability," Clerides said.

    UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan has urged the two sides to return to direct talks slated to take place in New York in October.

    The Turkish Cypriot side says it will not participate unless the talks are held on a state-to-state basis, with a proposal for a confederation instead of federation on the table. The Greek Cypriot side says it is willing to attend talks without preconditions.

    "But we wish to emphatically declare that we will not accept the preconditions demanded by the Turkish side nor accept the legalisation of the illegal and destructive invasion and occupation of Cyprus by Turkish forces," Clerides said.

    Tuesday, August 24, 1999

    [06] Municipality despair over hospital waste

    By Jean Christou

    NICOSIA Municipality is in despair over the lack of waste management at the city's general hospital.

    The situation was highlighted on Antenna TV on Sunday night, in a report showing overflowing rubbish bags and even a syringe and surgical gloves lying on the hospital grounds.

    Town Clerk Andreas Andreades told Cyprus Mailthe Municipality collected the rubbish from the hospital every morning.

    "It's not a question of the accumulation of rubbish forgotten in a corner, but we are talking about a daily situation," he said. "It seems they have a problem with the administration."

    Andreades said the municipality's health services had been talking to the hospital "for some time now" about its waste management practices.

    "We have given them some indication of what they should do, but they should know themselves," he said.

    "They should look into the number of bins they have and what they throw away and how they throw it," he said.

    Andreades said he was only yesterday shown a photograph of an empty bin surrounded by bursting black bins bags.

    "But if they are treating the issue in the way they say they are then there should be no danger," he said.

    The hospital has its own incinerator, which, according to he Municipality, is not up to scratch. A report on the situation is under consideration following a warning to the hospital administration.

    "Some items should go into the incinerator and if they are doing that, the risk (from the trash) is minimal," Andreades said.

    Diko deputy Marios Matsakis has long complained about the incinerator at the hospital and the rubbish thrown in the nearby Pediaios river bed.

    He said furniture and other items had been thrown there and not removed. "It was still there two months ago and was lying there long before that," Matsakis said. "I made a complaint a year ago."

    He added that it seemed that action was only being taken after the situation was exposed on television.

    "It shows that the media has a greater influence than politicians," he said.

    Tuesday, August 24, 1999

    [07] Leaked report shows medicines cost more in Cyprus

    THE CYPRIOT consumer pays more for medicine than most of his European counterparts, a leaked report commissioned by the government revealed yesterday.

    According to Politis, a study requested by former Health Minister Manolis Christofides compared the price of medicines in Cyprus with those in Switzerland, Germany, England, Greece, France and Portugal.

    According to the report, carried out by a Greek company and which Politissaid was never made public, consumers in Cyprus pay double the medication's manufacturing costs.

    Health Ministry officials were yesterday unavailable for comment on the report.

    Specifically, the report said that in 1993, retail prices for the same medicines in France, Greece and Portugal were cheaper than those in Cyprus by 26, 33 and 25 per cent respectively.

    British and Portuguese wholesale prices, meanwhile, were 25 per cent cheaper than those for the same medicines in Cyprus, while production costs in France and Greece were also cheaper by 14 and 21 per cent.

    The report indicated that medicines in Cyprus were on average 10 per cent more expensive than those in the European Union.

    However, it also revealed that retail prices in Germany and Switzerland were 94 and 81 per cent higher than those of the same medicines in Cyprus.

    Medicines are brought into Cyprus through two channels, through the state and through private companies.

    According to Politis, the report showed that the prices of medicines purchased by the state were lower than those in the other six countries in the study.

    The price regulation system in the private sector, however, left a lot to be desired, according to the report, and needed immediate revision.

    According to the study, the average price paid for each prescription in the private sector is 46 per cent higher than that charged at a state hospital.

    Politis

    noted that Cyprus was unable to support its own pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, resulting in 95 per cent of the island's medicines being imported from overseas.

    The paper quoted suggestions made in the report for improving the system. These included lowering profit margins for wholesalers and calculating profit on scale with the price of the medicines. Stronger price control was recommended as was government intervention to introduce import licences.

    The report also suggested that a list be drawn up of the medicines covered by the social insurance scheme.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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