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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-09-18

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

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


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Saturday, September 18, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Akel MP says share profits will go to charityBy Hamza HendawiAKEL Deputy Takis Hadjigeorgiou announced yesterday that he planned to donate to charity all profits made from the 10,000 worth of shares he obtained from Louis Cruise Lines' private placement.Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, meanwhile, said that Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou held an independent post, and he as spokesman could therefore not comment on his controversial acquisition of Louis' shares through the private placement.Papapetrou, however, added that Afxentiou would not have acquired the shares had he known of the government's stance on the issue.The Central Bank Governor made a spirited defence of his integrity in several radio and television interviews on Thursday, accusing his critics of fabricating "scandal scenarios" aimed at tarnishing his name.Afxentiou obtained 5,000 worth of shares in Louis, while his son, auditor Costa Afxentiou, obtained 20,000 worth of the stock, according to a list of private placement beneficiaries obtained by the Cyprus Mail.The Louis private placement was worth 8.95 million at 40 cents a share. The share's value soared to 3 on the first day of trading in early August, realising massive profits for investors. The value of the share, however, dropped soon afterwards when it emerged that top Louis executives had dumped tens of thousands of shares on the first day of trade.The Initial Public Offering of Louis was worth 9.5 million and was oversubscribed more than 50 times, leaving investors with less than two per cent of the number of shares they sought. Investors with considerable financial muscle, however, were able to secure a decent number of shares by putting huge amounts of money up front.Money bid for the IPO totalled more than 500 million, a sum that was kept by Louis for two weeks according to the law before it began to send refunds to investors. The company has reportedly gained about 1 million in interest on the 500 million plus it was allowed to keep for those two weeks.Speaking on CyBC radio yesterday, Akel deputy Hadjigeorgiou insisted that he broke no laws when he applied last April to Louis to obtain shares in the company's private placement, but added: "A politician should not only be honest but must also appear to be honest."He said his decision to give to the island's fertility centre profits generated by his 25,000 shares had not been taken under pressure, but informed sources said Hadjigeorgiou, who runs Akel's Astra radio, was strongly admonished by party leaders for the embarrassment he caused over his inclusion in the private placement.Akel, the main opposition party, reacted with considerable indignation to revelations last month that ruling Disy and opposition Diko of House Speaker and former president Spyros Kyprianou obtained hundreds of thousands of shares in the Louis' private placement.The party gave a guarded welcome earlier this week to President Glafcos Clerides' ruling that obtaining shares in private placement by Cabinet ministers would provide sufficient grounds for their dismissal. Clerides is also seeking legal advice from the Attorney- general's office on whether the ban could cover civil servants as well.Hadjigeorgiou said the issue of politicians, political parties and senior civil servants obtaining shares in Louis' private placement would not have been publicised had it not been for the fact that the value of the shares had considerably risen since they made their market debut early last month.He also repeated the argument that he felt he had done nothing wrong when he obtained the shares because, as a deputy, he did not have the political leverage or power needed to influence decisions affecting public companies.Declaring that he was "deeply hurt" by the notion that his Louis shares' acquisition smacked of favouritism, he said: "The responsibility lies with those who tried to boost the value of the share while they held them."Beside Afxentiou and Hadjigeorgiou, those known to have received shares as part of the private placement are the Dias media group, which publishes the daily Simerini, the English-language weekly newspaper Financial Mirror, former Communications Minister Lentios Ierodiaconou, Vassos Pyrgos, the Communications Ministry's permanent secretary, Director of Customs Andis Tryphonides, Panicos Pouros, director of the Finance Ministry's Planning Bureau, Costakis Christophorou, director of the House of Representatives, Michael Erotokritos, director of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Takis Kanaris, head of the research department at the Central Bank.
  • [02] Clerides still uncertain of talks format
  • [03] Chilean to replace Hercus as caretaker head of Unficyp
  • [04] Thousands turn out for last tribute to Kranidiotis
  • [05] New Ministry building could overshoot 16 million budget
  • [06] Government decides to cut potato crop
  • [07] Papaphilippou puts Cyprus ice-cream on the British market
  • [08] Greens back residents against desalination plant
  • [09] Christofias returns after transplant operation
  • [10] Greens plead for Paphos trees

  • [01] Akel MP says share profits will go to charityBy Hamza HendawiAKEL Deputy Takis Hadjigeorgiou announced yesterday that he planned to donate to charity all profits made from the 10,000 worth of shares he obtained from Louis Cruise Lines' private placement.Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, meanwhile, said that Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou held an independent post, and he as spokesman could therefore not comment on his controversial acquisition of Louis' shares through the private placement.Papapetrou, however, added that Afxentiou would not have acquired the shares had he known of the government's stance on the issue.The Central Bank Governor made a spirited defence of his integrity in several radio and television interviews on Thursday, accusing his critics of fabricating "scandal scenarios" aimed at tarnishing his name.Afxentiou obtained 5,000 worth of shares in Louis, while his son, auditor Costa Afxentiou, obtained 20,000 worth of the stock, according to a list of private placement beneficiaries obtained by the Cyprus Mail.The Louis private placement was worth 8.95 million at 40 cents a share. The share's value soared to 3 on the first day of trading in early August, realising massive profits for investors. The value of the share, however, dropped soon afterwards when it emerged that top Louis executives had dumped tens of thousands of shares on the first day of trade.The Initial Public Offering of Louis was worth 9.5 million and was oversubscribed more than 50 times, leaving investors with less than two per cent of the number of shares they sought. Investors with considerable financial muscle, however, were able to secure a decent number of shares by putting huge amounts of money up front.Money bid for the IPO totalled more than 500 million, a sum that was kept by Louis for two weeks according to the law before it began to send refunds to investors. The company has reportedly gained about 1 million in interest on the 500 million plus it was allowed to keep for those two weeks.Speaking on CyBC radio yesterday, Akel deputy Hadjigeorgiou insisted that he broke no laws when he applied last April to Louis to obtain shares in the company's private placement, but added: "A politician should not only be honest but must also appear to be honest."He said his decision to give to the island's fertility centre profits generated by his 25,000 shares had not been taken under pressure, but informed sources said Hadjigeorgiou, who runs Akel's Astra radio, was strongly admonished by party leaders for the embarrassment he caused over his inclusion in the private placement.Akel, the main opposition party, reacted with considerable indignation to revelations last month that ruling Disy and opposition Diko of House Speaker and former president Spyros Kyprianou obtained hundreds of thousands of shares in the Louis' private placement.The party gave a guarded welcome earlier this week to President Glafcos Clerides' ruling that obtaining shares in private placement by Cabinet ministers would provide sufficient grounds for their dismissal. Clerides is also seeking legal advice from the Attorney- general's office on whether the ban could cover civil servants as well.Hadjigeorgiou said the issue of politicians, political parties and senior civil servants obtaining shares in Louis' private placement would not have been publicised had it not been for the fact that the value of the shares had considerably risen since they made their market debut early last month.He also repeated the argument that he felt he had done nothing wrong when he obtained the shares because, as a deputy, he did not have the political leverage or power needed to influence decisions affecting public companies.Declaring that he was "deeply hurt" by the notion that his Louis shares' acquisition smacked of favouritism, he said: "The responsibility lies with those who tried to boost the value of the share while they held them."Beside Afxentiou and Hadjigeorgiou, those known to have received shares as part of the private placement are the Dias media group, which publishes the daily Simerini, the English-language weekly newspaper Financial Mirror, former Communications Minister Lentios Ierodiaconou, Vassos Pyrgos, the Communications Ministry's permanent secretary, Director of Customs Andis Tryphonides, Panicos Pouros, director of the Finance Ministry's Planning Bureau, Costakis Christophorou, director of the House of Representatives, Michael Erotokritos, director of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Takis Kanaris, head of the research department at the Central Bank.

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    Saturday, September 18, 1999

    [02] Clerides still uncertain of talks format

    By Jean Christou

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides expects UN Secretary-general Kofi Ann to invite the two sides to talks in the last weeks of October.

    However, the President said he did not know at this stage what format the talks would take.

    Clerides was speaking on his arrival in New York late on Thursday.

    The Greek Cypriot side and the international community has been pushing for a return to direct talks between the leaders of the two communities.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has said he will not attend any such talks unless his breakaway regime in the north is recognised as a separate state.

    Denktash has hinted at the possibility of being open to proximity talks, but this has been rejected outright by the government.

    The only other possibility is multi-sided talks involving Greece and Turkey, an idea currently being bandied about in the media.

    Clerides said on Thursday his participation in broader peace talks would depend on the composition of such a meeting and the topics to be discussed.

    He said he had not been the recipient of any proposals for talks with the participation of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, Greece and Turkey.

    Such a proposal was given to Denktash but he turned it down, the government said on Thursday.

    Clerides said that if Ankara went to the negotiating table and was ready to discuss a solution within the framework defined by the UN, it would constitute a sign of substantiative progress.

    "We have not set any preconditions, we are ready to talk on the basis the Security Council has decided," Clerides said.

    The president said he believed the US would act in a more determined way this time around.

    "The determination is there, the problem is how determined are they not just to indicate to Turkey, but to actually apply some of pressure levers that they have," he said.

    "Our understanding is that they are ready to exert their influence in a more effective manner."

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday the international community appreciated the effort the Greek Cypriot side was making for the resumption of talks.

    "The message the government gets is that international public opinion appreciates the cooperation, tolerance and reason displayed by our side," Papapetrou said.

    He added the international community had also taken note of the negative approach of the Turkish side.

    Asked to comment on statements by Denktash that the acceptance of Turkey as an EU candidate would smooth the way for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, Papapetrou said: "The position of Greece and Cyprus on the issue is clear and reflects what the Union itself has decided."

    The EU has said that for Turkey to become eligible for accession, it should meet the criteria all candidate states are asked to fulfil.

    Turkey's poor human rights record and its stance on Cyprus have been major factors in its exclusion from EU candidacy.

    Papapetrou said Turkey should take a political decision to take those steps that would lead to a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    However, he said he believed the recent improvement in Greco-Turkish relations could benefit settlement efforts and vice versa.

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    Saturday, September 18, 1999

    [03] Chilean to replace Hercus as caretaker head of Unficyp

    PRESIDENT Clerides has announced that the new caretaker Unficyp chief of mission will be Chilean James Holger.

    Clerides made his announcement on arrival in New York on Thursday night.

    Holger, who has served with the UN in Cyprus in the past, will replace New Zealander Dame Ann Hercus, who leaves at the end of the month.

    The Chilean envoy is expected to take over until former Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Egland is appointed.

    Hercus resigned her post for personal reasons.

    She had been engaged in secret shuttle talks for almost a year between the two sides with the aim of bringing the two leaders back to the negotiating table.

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    Saturday, September 18, 1999

    [04] Thousands turn out for last tribute to Kranidiotis

    By Jean Christou

    GREECE'S Deputy Foreign Minister, Cypriot-born Yiannos Kranidiotis, 51, and his only son Nicolas, 23, who were killed in an aircraft accident on Tuesday night, were buried in Athens yesterday.

    The funeral was held at the Church of Dionysos Areopayitou in the Greek capital and presided over by the Patriarch of Greece and Archbishop of Athens, Christodoulos, the Patriarch of Alexandria, Petros, and the Patriarch of Armenia and Archbishop of Tyre, Anastassios.

    Among those who addressed the thousands who turned out to pay their respects were Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, House Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Simitis told mourners Kranidiotis' death was "a great loss for Greece and Cyprus".

    Cyprus was represented by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and House President Spyros Kyprianou.

    President Glafcos Clerides is currently in New York to attend the UN General Assembly and was unable to change his schedule.

    Speaking at the service, Cassoulides said: "Cyprus, an inseparable piece of the nation is mourning for the death of a distinguished child of hers. Cyprus is mourning with all of Hellenism for the premature, unfair and unanswerable loss of Yiannos Kranidiotis and his son."

    In his brief address, Kyprianou questioned why such a tragic event had happened.

    "It's an event that will unite all of us independently of any differences," he said. He said both nations were in shock over what had happened to someone "serving the national interest and the interests of all Hellenism".

    "I don't think I can add any more," Kyprianou said. "I can't to be honest. I think he offered a huge amount and we all know it and appreciate it."

    Socialist Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides, who was the one to break the news to Kranidiotis' mother in Nicosia in the early hours of Wednesday also spoke at the service.

    Kranidiotis was one of the founding members of Edek and Lyssarides is a close family friend.

    "When the mourning later begins to lift and the excusable and emotional explosions of today cease, when our touched lives go back to their normal rhythm, then it will be realised even more the gap that Yiannos Kranidiotis left behind," Lyssarides said. "Because he was not just a passive handler of political issues he was at the heart of it all."

    After the church service, Kranidiotis and his son were buried at the First Cemetery in Athens.

    Kranidiotis, his only son and four others died when the plane they were travelling in suddenly plunged thousands of feet before the pilot managed to land at Bucharest Airport late on Tuesday night. Seven others, mostly journalists accompanying Kranidiotis on the official trip, were injured.

    The government on Wednesday declared three days of national mourning and flags flew at half mast on all public buildings.

    According to CyBC radio yesterday the black box from the Falcon jet on which Kranidiotis and his entourage had been travelling has been sent to Germany and the Greek government is awaiting the results.

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    Saturday, September 18, 1999

    [05] New Ministry building could overshoot 16 million budget

    THE FINAL cost for the new Finance Ministry building could exceed the budgeted 16 million, Finance Minister Takis Clerides revealed yesterday.

    Clerides and Communications & Works Minister Averof Neophytou yesterday toured the construction site of the new ministry in central Nicosia, opposite the GSP stadium.

    Clerides said contractors Lois Builders had made some demands for more money, which the government was considering. He said it was hard, at this stage, to say whether these demands would mean the final cost for the project would overshoot the projected 16 million.

    So far, 4 million has been spent on completing about a third of the ministry, Neophytou said.

    The Finance Minister also said the new building would be ready on schedule - - towards the end of 2001.

    The massive building -- with a floor space of 50,000 square metres -- will also house the government Planning Department and the Public Service and Education Committees.

    The imposing construction is of the grandiose and mammoth design favoured by the government for its new ministries.

    "The government, recognising that the work environment is a significant factor in increasing employee productivity and effectiveness, is implementing a programme for the creation of suitable homes for the various Ministries and government services," Neophytou said.

    Both ministers expressed their satisfaction with project progress.

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    Saturday, September 18, 1999

    [06] Government decides to cut potato crop

    THE GOVERNMENT has decided to limit next year's potato harvest to 100,000 tons to avoid another market collapse, which so far this year has cost the state 5 million in compensation to farmers, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    "If you plant too little, you may be safe, but then you get out of the market," Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail. "In light of the problems this year, we decided that the happy medium would be best."

    "The idea is to have not more than 100,000 tons" of potatoes at harvest time. "That would be the optimum in our judgment," he said.

    Both the government and the Potato Marketing Board earlier this month agreed that overproduction lay at the root of this year's slump in potato prices, with consequent losses to Cyprus farmers.

    The government on September 6 said it would pay 5 million to potato growers in partial compensation for their losses.

    Cyprus' trademark "red soil" potato is the island's chief agricultural export. Britain and Europe account for 50-60 per cent of export sales.

    But competition from Italy, Spain, Israel, Egypt, Syria, and Britain -- many of which had bumper crops -- last year cut sales from a normal 3,000 tons per week to only 1,000 tons per week.

    So where Cyprus tubers, because of their quality, once sold at between 240 to 290 per ton, the market glut caused prices for the Cyprus potato to plunge as low as 150 per ton this year.

    Not just this, but a Syrian potato, also grown in red soil, further cut into Cyprus "red soil" sales.

    The Cyprus potato is sold unwashed, with the red soil on it as proof it is the genuine Cyprus product. But some European stores -- especially in Britain -- were reported this year mixing the cheaper Syrian tuber with the more expensive Cyprus product, confusing customers, boosting store profits and short-changing Cyprus growers.

    The government earlier this month said the sales prospects looked good for this winter's potato crop. If correct, this would help erase some of the farmers' earlier export losses.

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    Saturday, September 18, 1999

    [07] Papaphilippou puts Cyprus ice-cream on the British market

    CYPRUS ice-creams took their first leap toward Europe yesterday, after the signing of an agreement between Papaphilippou and Panayiotis (P&P) ice cream company, and Tabra Enterprises Ltd, of the United Kingdom.

    "We are happy to be the first company to enter the British market," owner Panayiotis Papaphilippou told a news conference called to announce the deal yesterday.

    "This is our answer to European companies that have entered the Cyprus market," he said.

    "Our ice-cream is distinguished for its quality, and our company has the upmost respect for consumers," Papaphilippou added.

    Tabra's representative in Cyprus, Miltiades Stylianou, said that, after a serious and thorough research and study, his company had concluded that P&P ice-cream was of excellent quality and decided to create a distribution network in Britain.

    "The product is right, the price is right, for us the sky's the limit," Stylianou said.

    Papaphilippou also announced that there was great interest for P&P ice- cream in Greece, and that there was a serious proposal for the creation of a chain of ice-cream stands there.

    Despite the high spirits however, Papaphilippou complained that the government was not helping industries enough to face European competition.

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    Saturday, September 18, 1999

    [08] Greens back residents against desalination plant

    GREENS yesterday sided with Zakaki residents in their fight to stop the siting of a desalination plant in their suburb.

    The Federation of Environmental and Ecological Organisations issued a statement calling on the government to think again and not to build the plant on Ladies' Mile beach.

    Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous has made plain his determination to go ahead with the cabinet-approved unit, despite strong opposition from residents of the Limassol suburb.

    The federation described Ladies's Mile as possibly "the most significant" beach on the island, which "had to be protected at all costs."

    The desalination plant is to go up next to the new Limassol port, at the far northern end off the coastal stretch.

    The federation said the plant would have a serious environmental impact. Themistocleous insists an environmental impact study has given the proposed plant a clean bill of health.

    "We further call on the Minister to undertake a re-examination of the water problem and the ways it is being dealt with in both the short and long-term, " the greens' statement read.

    Environmentalists argue that water conservation, particularly in agriculture, would be a better long-term policy than desalination, which is an energy-hungry, and therefore polluting, process.

    Local residents are threatening to blockade roads to the plant site in protest.

    Themistocleous says desalination is the way out of the island's chronic water shortage and would end the need for water cuts.

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    Saturday, September 18, 1999

    [09] Christofias returns after transplant operation

    AKEL LEADER Demetris Christofias yesterday returned to the island following his successful kidney transplant operation in London.

    Christofias underwent the transplant at St. Mary's clinic early last month, receiving the life-saving organ from his sister Despina. The opposition left-wing party leader was given a warm reception by friends, family and party members as he arrived at Larnaca airport yesterday afternoon.

    The operation has been pronounced a success, but the 52-year-old veteran politician's return from London was nonetheless delayed by a couple of weeks at the request of his doctor.

    In March, Christofias underwent open heart surgery in preparation for the transplant, again at St. Mary's hospital.

    The transplant was deemed necessary after Christofias suffered kidney damage during treatment for bronchial pneumonia in Cyprus last winter.

    But the kidney transplant has not been without controversy, with local doctors insisting the operation could just as well have been carried out in Cyprus. The fact that tax-payers footed the bill for Christofias's treatment in London has added to the contentiousness of the Akel leader's choice of hospital.

    The head of the Nicosia Paraskevaidion Surgical and Transplant Centre, Dr George Kyriakides, said his clinic routinely carried out such operations -- and could easily have done so for Christofias.

    Christofias' personal physician Dr Michaelis Minas, however, said that the party leader's trip to London had been approved by the Medical Council, due to Christofias' medical history.

    [10] Greens plead for Paphos trees

    GREENS yesterday called on the government to grant a reprieve to pine trees facing the chop in the Paphos forest area.

    The Paphos branch of the Ecological Movement group also called on the Forestry Department to re-align its felling policy to put trees rather than lumberjacks first.

    In an announcement yesterday, the group said it had been swamped by phone- calls from concerned members of the public worried about the impending "slaughter" of hundreds of pines in the Symbouli area of Paphos. An on-the- spot investigation had revealed that hundreds of pine trees had been marked for the axe, the movement said.

    The Forestry Department were more concerned with keeping the saw-mills of the state forestry industries supplied with timber than they were for the long-term survival and health of native forests, the environmentalist charged.

    It was time for this to change, the pressure group demanded.

    "Everyone's first concern should be for the preservation of the natural environment at any cost," the greens stated.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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