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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-09-08

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, September 8, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Two held after rocket attackBy Charlie CharalambousA 27-year-old labourer was remanded in police custody and another suspect was arrested yesterday in connection with Sunday's anti-tank rocket attack on a Limassol cabaret.Petros Georgiou Koupepas, from Dymes, was remanded for eight days by Limassol district court and faces possible charges of attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, and possessing a lethal weapon and ammunition for it.Koupepas denies any involvement.Following Koupepas’ court appearance police arrested car salesman Michalis Ioannou, 29, from Kato Polemidia, for questioning.Two other men are still being sought by police in connection with the attempted murder of club owner Sotiris Athinis.Police chief Andreas Angelides said he was "optimistic" that other arrests would be made and that the crime would be solved within the next 24 hours.He personally oversaw the investigation while visiting Limassol HQ yesterday.Police are treating the latest attack -- on the Blue Pearl cabaret in Heroes Square -- as part of a vendetta between rival underworld gangs.Extra officers have already been deployed in the area and additional patrols will cruise the island's best known red light district after 11pm, in an attempt to discourage any further gangland violence.Limassol Mayor Demetris Kontides has vowed to close "problem cabarets", plans to pedestrianise Heroes Square to prevent curb crawling, and to introduce more street lighting.Heroes Square recently received a much publicised facelift in an effort to rid the place of its gangster image.Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said yesterday he was studying a request from Kontides to establish a police station in the square in a concerted effort to clamp down on underworld crime.British bases personnel are banned from visiting the square for an off-duty drink in case they get caught in the crossfire of gangland violence.Athinis, 44, the target of Sunday's missile attack was getting out his car outside the Blue Pearl when a 66mm anti-tank shell fired from a hand-held launcher exploded at the entrance.There were around 30 people inside watching the floor show at the time.The launcher and an unused rocket were discovered on the roof of a deserted hotel next to the cabaret.Investigators believe the shells and the launcher were stolen from the National Guard.It was the fourth attempt on the life of Athinis in recent years.Last August he was lightly injured when a bomb exploded at his Le Panache cabaret in Limassol.In 1995 his brother Melios was shot dead while driving his white BMW through Heroes Square.Athinis is one of five accused standing trial for the gangland murder of Hambis Aeroporos who was shot dead in Limassol last December.One policeman and a special constable are among those on trial for the murder.
  • [02] Lazarides warns stock exchange must be reined in
  • [03] Government seeks EU cash to protect Muslim sites
  • [04] Enclaved murder 'was not political'
  • [05] First steps agreed to move oil refinery
  • [06] Logos finally signs deal with Greece's Mega
  • [07] Weston welcomes 'positive elements' in Cyprus situation
  • [08] Disy to try to patch up differences again
  • [09] New hospital to be ready next June

  • [01] Two held after rocket attackBy Charlie CharalambousA 27-year-old labourer was remanded in police custody and another suspect was arrested yesterday in connection with Sunday's anti-tank rocket attack on a Limassol cabaret.Petros Georgiou Koupepas, from Dymes, was remanded for eight days by Limassol district court and faces possible charges of attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, and possessing a lethal weapon and ammunition for it.Koupepas denies any involvement.Following Koupepas’ court appearance police arrested car salesman Michalis Ioannou, 29, from Kato Polemidia, for questioning.Two other men are still being sought by police in connection with the attempted murder of club owner Sotiris Athinis.Police chief Andreas Angelides said he was "optimistic" that other arrests would be made and that the crime would be solved within the next 24 hours.He personally oversaw the investigation while visiting Limassol HQ yesterday.Police are treating the latest attack -- on the Blue Pearl cabaret in Heroes Square -- as part of a vendetta between rival underworld gangs.Extra officers have already been deployed in the area and additional patrols will cruise the island's best known red light district after 11pm, in an attempt to discourage any further gangland violence.Limassol Mayor Demetris Kontides has vowed to close "problem cabarets", plans to pedestrianise Heroes Square to prevent curb crawling, and to introduce more street lighting.Heroes Square recently received a much publicised facelift in an effort to rid the place of its gangster image.Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said yesterday he was studying a request from Kontides to establish a police station in the square in a concerted effort to clamp down on underworld crime.British bases personnel are banned from visiting the square for an off-duty drink in case they get caught in the crossfire of gangland violence.Athinis, 44, the target of Sunday's missile attack was getting out his car outside the Blue Pearl when a 66mm anti-tank shell fired from a hand-held launcher exploded at the entrance.There were around 30 people inside watching the floor show at the time.The launcher and an unused rocket were discovered on the roof of a deserted hotel next to the cabaret.Investigators believe the shells and the launcher were stolen from the National Guard.It was the fourth attempt on the life of Athinis in recent years.Last August he was lightly injured when a bomb exploded at his Le Panache cabaret in Limassol.In 1995 his brother Melios was shot dead while driving his white BMW through Heroes Square.Athinis is one of five accused standing trial for the gangland murder of Hambis Aeroporos who was shot dead in Limassol last December.One policeman and a special constable are among those on trial for the murder.

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    Wednesday, September 8, 1999

    [02] Lazarides warns stock exchange must be reined in

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE CHAIRMAN of the Popular Bank Group, Kikis Lazarides, yesterday warned there was a need to rein in the island's galloping stock exchange.

    The market reached unprecedented heights last month before dropping a bit towards the end of last week.

    Lazarides warned that the "huge" market explosion had led to many shares becoming greatly overpriced and said there was a need for "all involved" to act to control the market.

    The market is closed for the next three weeks to give brokers a chance to process the huge volume of transactions carried out as the public went share-crazy over the past few weeks.

    Lazarides blamed the huge backlog of transactions on "mistakes", but added that no fledgling market could have been expected to survive the "mad increase" in share deals experienced by the Cyprus stock exchange this year.

    He said the market had a healthy future provided corrective measures were taken now.

    "Long term prospects for the stock exchange are good provided that the forthcoming developments will give a new important impetus," Lazarides said.

    Various ideas for streamlining market transactions have been put forward by brokers and others, including a reduction in working hours and working days. The stock exchange board has already introduced a number of measures aimed at curbing the activities of get-rich-quick market speculators.

    Lazarides said the Popular Bank group would be demonstrating its continued confidence in the market by trading shares in its investments subsidiary, Laiki Investments. He did not say when the share issue would be.

    He also confirmed the bank would discuss the possibility of a new share split at a directors' meeting on September 17, three months after an earlier split.

    Lazarides was speaking at a press conference in Nicosia yesterday, called to present the group's results for the first half of the year.

    Operating profits reached £36.7 million, an increase of 52.5 per cent compared to the same period last year (when operating profit was £24 million).

    Lazarides attributed the impressive results to the group's expansion into the insurance sector, the spectacular increase in stock exchange activity and improved control of operating costs.

    Shareholders can look forward to an interim dividend of 10 per cent, compared with eight per cent last year.

    "Prospects for the next half of the year appear even more positive," Lazarides stated.

    A new share split seems likely further to fuel the stock market euphoria of which Popular Bank has been one of the chief motors.

    When it made its debut after its first split three months ago, it opened at £3.77. By last Friday, the stock had soared to £11.31.

    Sources at Popular said it was not a foregone conclusion that it would proceed with the split, a rumour on the market for several days.

    They said, however, that the bank wanted to keep the share at a price accessible to all shareholders and potential investors.

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    Wednesday, September 8, 1999

    [03] Government seeks EU cash to protect Muslim sites

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE GOVERNMENT has requested one million euros (CY£580,000) from the European Union to help repair and maintain the Hala Sultan Tekke and other Turkish Cypriot holy sites.

    The appeal comes on the back of a pledge to do more to protect Muslim heritage sites in the wake of an arson attack on the 18th century Tekke shrine last month.

    But despite the request for extra cash the government was criticised for doing too little too late.

    Yesterday's announcement came during a House Education Committee meeting which demanded that all religious monuments should be protected, regardless of whether they were Christian or Muslim.

    "Officials gave us an optimistic and positive account on protection of mosques, but I think they have to indicate more interest and spend more money," socialist Edek deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou told the Cyprus Mailafterwards.

    Committee member Hadjidemetriou -- who raised the sensitive issue of protecting, preserving and restoring Muslim sites -- said he wasn't convinced everything was being done by the government.

    "I'm not sure the (government) conservation programme is happening as effectively as they are saying."

    The deputy -- who is also a member of the Council of Europe's education and cultural committee -- said more should be done in restoring mosques and cleaning up the surrounding areas.

    "The important thing is for the Republic to show greater interest in monuments because they are not only Muslim but Cypriot and part of our common heritage.

    "We cannot separate people by culture and religion and this is the general view of the political and religious leadership," said Hadjidemetriou.

    The House of Representatives has requested a report on all mosques in the free areas and says it is prepared to act as a "watchdog" to ensure Muslim sites are maintained and protected.

    "Although the government has asked for more money from the European Union, my position is that they should have started with the budget money," Hadjidemetriou said.

    Larnaca district officer Kypros Mathaiou said £1,800 worth of damage had been caused by the recent arson attack on the Tekke.

    Representatives from the Antiquities Department and the Communications Ministry said that Muslim, Christian and ancient structures were always treated equally as far as was financially possible.

    Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the state-run Turkish Cypriot Properties Service, Haris Kyriakides said that a government service should be established specifically to protect Turkish Cypriot cultural sites.

    Around 100 mosques remain in government-controlled areas and some £200,000 was spent maintaining them between 1985 and 1990.

    The Tekke will be closed to the public from today until September 15 for restoration work.

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    Wednesday, September 8, 1999

    [04] Enclaved murder 'was not political'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE CYPRUS government yesterday ruled out the possibility that last week's murder of a Greek Cypriot enclaved man in the occupied north might have been politically motivated.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the Greek Cypriot side had received information which made clear the murder of 69-year-old Stelios Charpas had no political connotations.

    "Based on the findings we possess, we have reached the conclusion the murder wasn't political," Papapetrou said yesterday.

    The only political aspect, he said, "stemmed from the failure of the occupation authorities to secure conditions of safety for the enclaved."

    Fears had been expressed that last week's murder might have been a tit-for- tat attack following the attempted arson on a Turkish Cypriot holy shrine, the Hala Sultan Tekke, in Larnaca on August 29.

    An unknown Greek Cypriot nationalist organisation claimed responsibility for the Tekke arson.

    The number of enclaved Greek Cypriots in the occupied areas is dwindling, with only 440 mainly elderly villagers still living in the Karpass peninsula.

    "We support the heroic efforts of the enclaved to remain in the Karpass," said Papapetrou at his press briefing.

    The government has yet to receive the UN report on Charpas' murder.

    "After taking certain steps towards this direction, we hope to receive it very soon," the spokesman said.

    On August 31, the charred remains of the Greek Cypriot were found in his burnt-out car.

    Autopsies carried out by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot pathologists concluded Charpas was shot twice in the head before his body was set alight.

    According to the Turkish Cypriot press, seven of the eight suspects arrested have since been release without charge. One Turkish Cypriot man remains in police custody as a murder suspect.

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    Wednesday, September 8, 1999

    [05] First steps agreed to move oil refinery

    By Anthony O. Miller

    COMMERCE Minister Nicos Rolandis and Larnaca Mayor George Lycourgos yesterday took the first step towards honouring an old government pledge to move the island's oil refinery and storage facility out of the city and end decades of air pollution and eyesore.

    "This time we mean business. It will happen," Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail. "The moment we agree (on a timetable for the move), I shall personally supervise implementation."

    "The promises in the past were very vague. There was no memorandum, nothing of this sort. There was a vague promise by the Council of Ministers that the case will be studied... which doesn't mean much, really," he said.

    Yesterday Rolandis and Lycourgous, representing the Larnaca Development Committee, agreed to prepare a memorandum specifying timetables for every step of the move, pending ratification by the Council of Ministers -- which authorised Rolandis to open talks with the city in the first place.

    "It's a very major issue, with expenses running into hundreds of millions of pounds," Rolandis said. "Whatever we do will be in excess of half a billion dollars."

    Before any actual move takes place, however, the government will invest some £40 million to upgrade the existing refinery to produce more unleaded petrol and low-sulphur diesel fuel, Rolandis said.

    Since that investment must be recovered before the refinery and oil storage tank farm can be moved -- or simply shut down and dismantled -- Rolandis said he could not estimate when refining would cease there. But refining and storage at the Larnaca site will indeed cease, and may never be resumed on the island at all, he said.

    Besides honouring its promise to Larnaca to move the refinery and oil storage tanks, Cyprus must also comply with EU rules requiring enlarging the tank farm from its current 100,000-ton capacity, to 500,000 tons. That would give the island a 90-day supply of oil -- 300,000 tons for the oil refinery, and 200,000 tons for the electricity generating plant.

    "We have an option," to locate a new refinery and tank farm either on the island or "anywhere in the European Union," Rolandis said.

    "The directives of the European Union allow a member state to store the required quantities of petroleum products either within the national boundaries or outside the boundaries, as long as they are within the European Union. You can have them there permanently if you like," he said.

    For instance, he said, "there is a lot of storage space, from what I know, available in Rotterdam, and probably in Greece, as well... Everything will depend on rentals and of course how convenient it will be. Greece is nearer, of course, but that will be a decision to be taken after we reach agreement on this memorandum" setting out a timetable for all steps in the move.

    While the Council of Ministers must ratify an eventual Rolandis-Lycourgos memorandum, "we are ready to proceed, the argument being: the city of Larnaca is now a tourist area, and it has been one of the very strong claims of the city and the district of Larnaca that those (oil) installations are hindering their development in the sphere of tourism.

    "Inevitably, when you have a refinery, there is a degree of pollution. And tourists do not like to see tank farms, petrol stations and refineries around them. And, of course, it takes up a good part of the beach and the development area of the city," he conceded.

    Rolandis also said he hoped the House of Representatives would approve by the end of October a stack of regulations governing building several new marinas, so that the government can seek tenders early next year for their construction.

    Rolandis' plans call for erecting private marinas in Paphos (750 boats), Limassol (1,000 boats), Ayia Napa (600 boats), Protaras (270 boats). The Larnaca Marina would be privatised and upgraded to 1,050 berths, and the already-private San Rafael Marina would keep its 250 berths.

    Rolandis estimates the Eastern Mediterranean is ringed with some 1,400 marinas, leaving Cyprus -- which has only 600 berths now -- competing for the yachting-tourism market with countries deeply invested in tens of thousands of individual berths.

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    Wednesday, September 8, 1999

    [06] Logos finally signs deal with Greece's Mega

    By Charlie Charalambous

    LOGOS' very own 'who will lease the station' soap opera ended yesterday when an agreement was reached with Greece's Mega Channel.

    "The process of handing over the station started this morning," Logos legal counsel Aris Hadjipanayiotou said yesterday.

    Church-owned Logos finally ended the on-off deal with Mega yesterday and signed an agreement for the private channel to pay £560,000-a-year in rent to the Orthodox church.

    Recent months have seen Logos going back and forth between Greek channels Mega and Skai, as well as a third unnamed party.

    Logos has struggled to gain a ratings foothold and sees the Greek deal as away of stemming the flow of money needed to prop up its less commercially orientated mandate.

    Mega TV has signed a 10-year lease worth £5.6 million.

    Once the paperwork is complete, Logos will officially become Mega Cyprus -- in a similar relationship with its Greek parent as that enjoyed by popular rival Antenna.

    It is understood that under the agreement, three hours of religious programmes will be transmitted in the early morning or afternoon, but after 5pm there will be no Church censorship or controls on programming schedules.

    However, Mega is said to have promised to tone down its more risqué programmes and stick to its formula diet of soaps, melodramas, tabloid news and glitzy game shows.

    No date has been announced for Mega's launch in Cyprus, but it is expected to take place in the coming weeks.

    Mega TV is entering an overcrowded and fiercely competitive media dog fight for a relatively small audience, but the Greek station is expected to launch an aggressive marketing campaign.

    Logos has encountered huge losses for a number of years, but with Mega coming in local jobs are said to be secure.

    Logos radio and the channel's Logosnet internet service are not affected by the deal and remain under Church administration.

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    Wednesday, September 8, 1999

    [07] Weston welcomes 'positive elements' in Cyprus situation

    THE NEW US Special Coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Weston, yesterday spoke of the existence of "positive elements" for a Cyprus settlement.

    Weston, who is conducting his first tour of the region since his appointment, was in Nicosia on Monday and yesterday discussed the Cyprus problem in Athens with Greek deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis.

    "There are positive elements in the international environment, which may give us greater tools than we had in the past to address the problem," the US diplomat said after meeting Kranidiotis.

    Weston did not specify what these "positive elements" were, but there has of late been a considerable thaw in Greco-Turkish relations.

    Weston said the status quoin Cyprus was "not the best possible alternative."

    "The division on the island remains a problem for us, for the international community," Weston said, insisting the US was still keen to push for a settlement.

    Kranidiotis expressed the hope Weston would be the last special envoy the US would have to appoint to Cyprus.

    "We look to the initiatives of the UN and the help of the US and the EU. Cyprus can find a solution in the context of the EU and UN resolutions," Kranidiotis said.

    He urged the US to put pressure on Turkey.

    In Nicosia meanwhile, Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said President Clerides had repeated his proposal for demilitarisation of the island during his meeting with Weston on Monday.

    The proposal is for a multi-national force to guarantee security for both island communities after a settlement, with the National Guard disbanding and Turkish forces abandoning Cyprus.

    Papapetrou said there had been no direct reply to Clerides's proposal from the US side.

    Nothing was given away about the content of the Clerides-Weston talks on Monday, except that the government had repeated it would not accept preconditions Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has set for attending talks. Denktash wants his breakaway state recognised before he will attend settlement talks.

    The UN are proposing a solution based on a bi-zonal, bicommunal federation.

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    Wednesday, September 8, 1999

    [08] Disy to try to patch up differences again

    RULING Disy are today to make yet another attempt to heal their growing rift over President Clerides's reshuffle decisions.

    All the principal members of the right-wing party will convene today to try to smooth over the cracks in party unity created by the row.

    Disy deputies Prodromos Prodromou and Demetris Syllouris have rebelled by complaining that Clerides has handed too much power to George Vassiliou's United Democrats (UD). Junior government partners UD have three cabinet seats.

    Prodromou has not ceased his protestations despite being banished from the party political office by Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades. Syllouris has charged Anastassiades with trying to silence him by planting false stories in the press about his alleged desire to form a new party.

    Anastassiades, who has pulled no punches in slamming the rebels, was at pains yesterday to promise there would be no "beheadings" at today's conference.

    Both Prodromou and Syllouris have accused Anastassiades of intolerance of those who fail to see eye-to-eye with him, but the party leader denied this yesterday. Everyone had a right to express an opinion, so long as this freedom to speak was not abused, he said.

    He said opinion polls proved Disy was the most "modern" party on the island, and accusations of suppression of free speech were thus nonsense.

    He also defended his record as Disy leader. "The last Presidential elections were won under the leadership of Nicos Anastassiades," he said.

    He could not resist another dig at the dissenters, insisting the size of the party rift was their fault.

    "More mature thoughts by certain persons would have helped them to overcome problems created by their own behaviour," he said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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    Wednesday, September 8, 1999

    [09] New hospital to be ready next June

    THE NEW Nicosia hospital will be completed in June next year, four months later than was originally planned, the Health and Communications Ministers announced yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting to discuss why the project had been delayed and to head-off any further setbacks, Health Minister Frixos Savvides said President Glafcos Clerides, who chaired the meeting, had given instructions for a list to be made of all possible obstacles and how these would affect the outcome of the project.

    The catalogue will be discussed at another meeting at the beginning of next month, Savvides said: "It is a large project and it is normal for there to be some problems and delays but our goal is, within the framework of the law, to speed up the procedure so that it can be completed by the time it is to be presented to the Cypriot people."

    Communications Minister Averof Neophytou said the project would cost a total of £38 million, with £10 million already spent and 25 per cent of the project completed.

    The government's aim is for the new hospital to serve the whole island, as it will include unique facilities such as a paraplegic ward. The Paraskevaidion Surgical and Transplant Centre, which co-operates with the government, will also be moved to premises next to the hospital.


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