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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-10-20

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>


  • [01] Moses up-beat after meeting with Denktash
  • [02] Greenpeace protest at Akamas hotel
  • [03] "No trade" session hits new high
  • [04] Government has high hopes of Moses mission
  • [05] Schools directorate accused of using funds for stock market speculation
  • [06] Hasikos stands firm on missiles
  • [07] House tells veterinary services they are responsible for sea lion
  • [08] Air traffic controllers land plane manually in Y2K test
  • [09] Deputies seek tougher controls on trucks
  • [10] Man lied to secure entry for Ukrainian woman
  • [11] Cocaine suspect admits he is an addict
  • [12] Syrian arrested in work permits probe

  • [01] Moses up-beat after meeting with Denktash

    U.S. PRESIDENTIAL envoy Alfred Moses said last night he believed his visit to Cyprus would be productive.

    Moses, in Nicosia to assess the climate for a resumption of direct talks, was speaking after a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    An American Embassy statement last night said Moses shared "the views that have been just expressed by Mr Denktash", but it did not say what those views were.

    Denktash does not want to return to talks unless his breakaway regime in the north is recognised. He also wants the issue of confederation, as opposed to federation, on the agenda of any talks.

    "I believe my visit will turn out to be a productive one," Moses said. Many of the things that Mr Denktash has shared with me I understand and can be supportive of."

    Moses said his role here is not to suggest how the problems of Cyprus should be resolved or what the parties should do, but rather be "a facilitator" to try to bring the two communities together.

    Yesterday the Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibris said that 23 of the north's biggest trade unions supported the idea of a federation, saying they were "tired of living on top of a military volcano which is ready to explode at any moment".

    [02] Greenpeace protest at Akamas hotel

    By Jean Christou

    MEMBERS of the international environmental group Greenpeace yesterday clashed with police in the grounds of the Anassa Hotel complex in the Akamas.

    Police say ten members of the group, including local and foreign journalists, "illegally" came ashore at the luxury hotel from a small dinghy after disembarking from the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.

    A police bulletin from Paphos said they began photographing and filming the hotel and tried to talk to guests who were sunbathing in the grounds.

    Hotel staff asked them to leave but they refused, and police were called from Polis Chrysochous. They said that two of the protestors, one local and one foreign journalist, were arrested but then "escaped police clutches".

    This was hotly denied by Greenpeace's Cyprus spokeswoman Irini Constantinou, who said the police had merely threatened to arrest them.

    Constantinou said the Rainbow Warrior carrying the journalists and environmentalists set off on a six-hour journey from Limassol to symbolically mark the perimeter of what the World Bank has deemed to be the boundaries of an Akamas national park.

    EU Ambassador Donato Chiarini and other officials from the delegation were also on board but disembarked before the ship docked some 500 metres off the coast of Asprokremmos, the site of the Anassa, which is owned by Thanos Hotels, the family of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides. Chiarini had not known there was to be a protest.

    Greenpeace has been involved in a long-running campaign against Thanos Hotels, which it claims broke the law by building the 352-bed hotel following building relaxations granted to the Michaelides family by the government. The Supreme Court has since ruled that the hotel is illegal, but it is still operating.

    Yesterday the protestors went ashore to mark the boundaries of the national park which includes the hotel's beachfront area.

    They put up a banner stating "Akamas National Park" in front of guests and claimed it was torn down and ripped up by hotel staff before police arrived.

    "They wanted us to leave because we were illegal," said Constantinou. "Our answer was that they were illegal."

    [03] "No trade" session hits new high

    By Hamza Hendawi

    AWARE that pundits and punters may have grown accustomed to increasing doses of excitement, the Cyprus Stock Exchange had something new for the faithful yesterday -- a trading session that ended before it began.

    A ceiling on daily transactions in force since Friday meant the five minutes before the official 10.30am opening -- during which sell and buy orders entered by brokers are allowed to match -- were enough to meet the maximum of 2,000 deals allowed.

    In the event, brokers entered 5,289 orders, of which 2,278 went through. Volume was 15.19 million, a respectable figure given the circumstances, and the all-share index notched up its seventh consecutive all-time high at 584.13, 5.20 per cent up on Friday's close.

    The introduction of the ceiling on transactions is a temporary measure designed to help chip away at a mountain of unprocessed deals that has plagued the market since the boom months of the summer. It is the latest in a series of measures improvised by the embattled exchange to tackle the backlog.

    But it appeared to backfire on Monday, when the automated trading system caved in during pre-

    opening trade under the pressure of thousands of orders entered by traders. Two hours and three false starts later, all hope of trading was abandoned and brokers went home.

    The problem with the system was not identified until the small hours yesterday, thanks to the help of a technician from the company that provided the system, who flew in from London and worked through the night with the exchange's technicians.

    "The problem has been solved and today's session went smoothly," declared Nondas Metaxas, the exchange's manager, at an impromptu news conference in his office two storeys above the trading floor.

    He struck a philosophical note about Mondays breakdown: "We have to understand that when there is electronic equipment, problems can be expected. The market will overcome any problem that it may encounter, and these are problems which are faced by any market in the world."

    Yesterday's trade saw the arrival of Hellenic Bank shares after their four-for-one split, closing at 4.83 on a thin volume of 231,460, a mere 1.5 per cent of yesterday's trade.

    The Bank of Cyprus, the market's locomotive, was up 6.50 cents at 12.32, while Popular Bank notched up 38 cents to end the day at 12.97.

    Nicos Shacolas' Woolworth had a field day, rising by 46 cents to close at 4.05. Its sister company CTC also fared well, closing at 3.92, up by 24.50 cents.

    [04] Government has high hopes of Moses mission

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT has high hopes that the mission of US presidential envoy Alfred Moses will be successful in helping kick-start stalled negotiations on the Cyprus problem, spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    Papapetrou was speaking on the first day of Moses' visit to the island, during which the US envoy met Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Moses, who is accompanied by State department Coordinator Thomas Weston, will meet President Clerides for a working breakfast today.

    "We expect the Turkish side will co-operate in the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 1250 and will come to the table to discuss the Cyprus problem," Papapetrou said.

    The resolution calls for the two sides to return to talks without preconditions.

    The Turkish Cypriot side wants talks held on a 'state-to-state' basis and also wants the issue of confederation to be put on the table.

    Papapetrou said the government would never accept the issue of confederation being discussed.

    He said the government was waiting for the outcome of today's meeting between Clerides and the US envoy.

    "Let us wait and see what emerges from the meeting, what he has to discuss and say to President Clerides," Papapetrou said. He added Clerides would then assess the situation.

    "Beyond this, I repeat, the information we have from the Greek government is not announcable because anything that there was to announce was announced by the Greek government," Papapetrou said.

    He said the government had already been briefed about Monday's meeting in Athens between Moses and Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou. The US envoy also held talks in Ankara last week.

    After meeting Moses, Papandreou flew to London for talks with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on Monday.

    The Greek Foreign Minister is touring EU capitals to seek assurances on the smooth progress of Cyprus' EU application in exchange for Greece's willingness to accept Turkey as a candidate for membership.

    Yesterday, Papandreou praised Cook's statement that Cyprus' bid for EU membership should not be blocked by the absence of a political solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Cook told reporters after Monday's meeting: "We do not believe that the resolution of the division of the island should be a condition of Cyprus's application for membership. Cyprus is entitled to be considered on its merits, and its merits are strong."

    He did say, however, that it would be desirable to solve the Cyprus problem so the island could once more be a single sovereign state.

    Papandreou told reporters that Cook's statement contained the essence of what Greece was seeking from its EU partners ahead of the Helsinki summit in December.

    "If we get to the point where countries begin to accede to the EU, then Cyprus shouldn't be held back because Turkey has an army there," he said.

    [05] Schools directorate accused of using funds for stock market speculation

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE NICOSIA Schools Directorate has joined the ranks of those finding themselves in hot water over alleged stock exchange dealings.

    Political parties, a minister, a number of senior government officials and the Central Bank governor have all attracted negative publicity following revelations about their dealings on the soaring market.

    Secondary school teachers are now attacking the Nicosia Schools Directorate, saying it is busy using its considerable funds to buy and sell shares when schools in the area are in desperate need of repairs.

    Secondary school teachers union Oelmek claims the directorate has accumulated 30 million in funds and is using large chunks of this sum to speculate on the stock market. Oelmek describe the situation as "scandalous".

    Oelmek says the directorate has absolutely no right to use its funds -- which they note come principally from legacies -- to make money on the market.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides yesterday said the directorate was entitled to use its funds in any way it saw fit "for the good of schools."

    But the chairman of the House Education Committee was not so sure about the acceptability of the directorate's alleged dealings on the market.

    "I will carry out a full investigation and if I find that something is not going well, then we will bring the matter to the committee to examine it," Sofoklis Hadjiyiannis said.

    Directorate members were due to meet last night to discuss the issue.

    [06] Hasikos stands firm on missiles

    By George Psyllides

    THE DISPUTE over the whereabouts of the TOR-M1 missiles continued unabated yesterday, with the Defence Ministry trading barbs with the House Defence Committee.

    The government on Monday vehemently denied reports that the short-range anti-aircraft missiles, unveiled to the public during the October 1 military parade, had since been whisked off back to Greece.

    "The TOR story has gone too far," Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said yesterday. "It should be accepted that when a minister speaks, the State speaks. There should be respect or the public will lose its trust in the State and its officials," he added.

    Hasikos insisted the TORs were where they should be. "Absolutely no one will be allowed to see them," he added, rebuffing calls that the House Defence Committee should be allowed to inspect the missiles to dispel the uncertainty.

    The Chairman of the committee, Edek's Takis Hadjidemetriou, took issue with the minister: "If the committee decides to inspect the missiles, then it will," he told the Cyprus Mail. But if Hasikos managed to convince deputies of their whereabouts, then there would be no need to take the matter further, he added.

    Hasikos will be attending the meeting of the House Defence Committee tomorrow in an effort to clear any doubts and settle the matter once and for all.

    Another Defence Committee member, Doros Christodoulides of Akel, was more belligerent. He insisted the issue of where the missiles remained very much open.

    He said there were serious doubts about the location of the missiles, and added that, even if they were on the island, it was doubtful they were operational.

    Christodoulides also attacked remarks by Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou that military installations were not tourist sites for anyone to walk in and inspect.

    "It is outrageous for the government to treat the legislature like a tourist service," Christodoulides said.

    The government's refusal to allow deputies access to the TOR-M1s was proof the missiles had just been shipped in for the parade and were no longer in Cyprus, he said.

    [07] House tells veterinary services they are responsible for sea lion

    By George Psyllides

    THE HOUSE Environmental Committee decided yesterday to place sole responsibility for Ayia Napa's starving sea lion on the veterinary services.

    The Chairman of the Environmental Committee, Edek deputy Demetris Eliades, told the committee yesterday that the veterinary services were from now on responsible for monitoring the condition of the seal until it could be moved to a better place.

    "The animal is in our hands and it must be saved," said Eliades.

    The veterinary services should make sure that the seal is fed well, and that proper arrangements are made to accommodate the animal once it is be fit to be moved, he added.

    The Ocean Aquarium in Ayia Napa has offered to accommodate the sea lion on a short-term basis, until it is nursed back to health and ready to be transported to a better place overseas.

    Green Party leader George Perdikis maintains the animal is suffering, and should be confiscated at once.

    "It should be moved to the aquarium until it is better, and then moved abroad to a suitable environment," Perdikis told the committee.

    Eliades asked a representative from the Attorney-general's office to prepare a written report by Thursday, detailing the legal grounds for confiscating the sea lion.

    Eliades also asked the Director of the Department of Veterinary Services to report to the committee next Tuesday on developments in the issue.

    The sea lion is one of two that were brought to the Ayia Napa Marine Park in October 1994, along with four Black Sea Bottlenose Dolphins. All four dolphins and the second sea lion have since died. Marine experts say the surviving seal is severely undernourished and close to death.

    [08] Air traffic controllers land plane manually in Y2K test

    By Jean Christou

    AIR TRAFFIC controllers at Larnaca Airport carried out their first millennium bug exercise yesterday landing an unexpected aircraft successfully in the process.

    Flight operations chief Costas Astras said the aircraft had been delayed and arrived during the exercise, which lasted around half an hour in the morning. "Two other aircraft successfully departed during the exercise," he said.

    "We switched everything off and worked manually using radio and battery equipment," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    The exercise was carried out in two phases, firstly using generators and then, in case of their failure, with battery power. "We were trying to deal with all scenarios," Astras said.

    Other exercises are planned at the island's airports this month to test all systems for the Y2K bug. These will include the participation of Cyprus Airways.

    All essential services are expected to begin testing their systems in the coming weeks if they have not already done so.

    The Electricity Authority yesterday announced it was ready for 2000.

    A British millennium bug advisory on Cyprus published by the Foreign Office last week mentions possible disruptions in electricity and water supply and in the area of health on the island.

    The government described the directive as unacceptable and complained to the British government.

    [09] Deputies seek tougher controls on trucks

    THE HOUSE Communications Committee is proposing tougher controls on overloaded trucks in the wake of a horrific accident in Paphos.

    In September, a run-away truck loaded with gravel ploughed through several vehicles on a road through Mesogi outside Paphos, killing six people.

    Communications Committee chairman and Paphos deputy Nikos Pittokopitis told deputies yesterday that the killer truck had, shortly before the accident, been fined for carrying an excessive load.

    The Diko deputy proposed that police should be empowered to immobilise any overloaded lorry they find on the roads.

    "The truck had earlier been booked for carrying an excessive load. If it had been immobilised where it was booked then we certainly would not have had the later events and so many dead," Pittokopitis said.

    At the moment, a driver caught with an overloaded lorry faces only a fine.

    Pittokopitis also suggested that all lorry drivers be required to have a professional driving licence. As things stand, drivers of privately owned trucks do not require such a licence.

    Pittokopitis said these ideas would be put into a bill to be sent to the House plenum.

    Communications ministry representatives told deputies that Communications Minister Averof Neophytou was to chair a road safety meeting at the ministry today.

    This information prompted the committee to postpone its session to await the results of Neophytou's meeting.

    [10] Man lied to secure entry for Ukrainian woman

    A FATHER-OF-FOUR was yesterday fined 400 for lying to Larnaca airport immigration officials in order to secure entry for a Ukrainian woman he met on the plane.

    Larnaca District court heard that Georgios Pavlides, 47, was turned in to police by the Ukrainian girl he tried to "help".

    The court heard that Pavlides and the Ukrainian had arrived at Larnaca on the same flight from Kiev on August 29.

    Pavlides told airport passport control that the girl was his sister-in-law and had come over to look after his sick child. Pavlides, from Limassol, requested a three-month residence permit for the woman he had in fact only met on the flight over from Kiev, the court heard.

    Immigration officials granted the Ukrainian a 15-day visitor's permit.

    But the woman later went back to the officials with a local doctor who had been waiting to meet her outside the airport, the court heard. The doctor told the immigration police he already had a 15-day visitor's permit for the Ukrainian, who was coming over to visit a friend of hers who worked for him.

    Pavlides was arrested soon after on suspicion of making a false statement to immigration police.

    [11] Cocaine suspect admits he is an addict

    THREE people were remanded in custody for eight days yesterday after police found what they believe to be 77 grams of cocaine in their possession.

    English Cypriot Harry Panayi Theocharous, 35, his son Stephen Theocharous Brennan, 18, and 29-year-old Penelope Emma Wright were arrested on Monday after a police search at Theocharous' Paphos home uncovered the drugs.

    During yesterday's remand hearing at Paphos district court, Theocharous admitted he was a drug addict and said he had bought the drugs locally. He refused to name his supplier.

    Brennan and Wright denied any involvement in the case, while Theocharous was taken to Paphos general hospital for treatment.

    Asking for the remand yesterday, the investigating officer said two small bags of a white powder believed to be cocaine with a total street value of approximately 10,000 had been found during Monday's search.

    Police also found a paper towel containing what they believe to be traces of cocaine and drug-related implements, including a pair of scales, teaspoons and home-made pipes.

    [12] Syrian arrested in work permits probe

    A SYRIAN man living under a Greek Cypriot name with Cypriot citizenship was arrested yesterday afternoon on suspicion of being involved in the work permits scandal at the immigration department.

    Mahmoud Al Masri, 37, from Kaimakli, was arrested at 4.20pm as part of the investigation into the alleged selling of work and residency visas by officials.

    Immigration chief Christodoulos Nicolaides was arrested last Friday and remanded for eight days on suspicion of accepting bribes to fix permits for foreigners, including cabaret artistes.

    According to police, Masri has been living under the name Socratis Kosiaris for the past three years and operates an aluminium workshop.

    Police said in that time he took money from foreigners, mostly Syrians, to secure visas and citizenship and in exchange allegedly carried out work on the home of Nicolaides and his relatives free of charge.

    His company is called Syrianco and police said a search of the premises and of his home produced evidence and documentation relevant to the investigation.

    Masri is due to appear at the Nicosia district court today.

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