|Tuesday, 28 November 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-16
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
 Denktash finally agrees to talksBy Jean Christou
AFTER A 24-hour game of cat and mouse with UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash finally agreed yesterday morning to attend proximity talks in New York on December 3.
The 'will he, won't he' saga began on Sunday, when Denktash announced he had accepted a verbal invitation from Annan to attend the talks.
Later in the day, he changed his mind after reading the official text of the invitation, in which Annan stated he had spoken to "President" Clerides and "Mr" Denktash and that they had both agreed to attend "meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement". Annan also said he expected the talks to be "substantive".
Denktash, who has been insisting on talks between two states, objected to the reference to Clerides as president and withdrew his acceptance. He also objected to Annan's reference to substantive talks.
Denktash said he would not go to New York because the format of the talks he had agreed with Annan had changed. "The new invitation is not an acceptable invitation," he said. "Let them return to that format and let's go to the talks."
A second text from the UN in Cyprus amended the original wording and referred to both men as "His Excellency". The remainder of the statement was not altered.
Denktash, still balking at the reference to substantive negotiations, said: "The agreed formula for the proximity talks was a neutral, simple short invitation for the parties, no names, no titles, whereas now they want us to into substantive talks... whereas we were going to prepare the ground for substantive talks."
The Turkish Cypriot leader told the Cyprus Mail last week that he wanted proximity talks on his status before resuming direct negotiations.
Following an evening of uncertainty on Sunday, which involved UN special Cyprus envoy James Holger making several calls to Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader appeared to soften his stance.
After a second statement out of UN headquarters in New York in the early hours yesterday Denktash finally agreed to attend the talks, responding officially yesterday morning.
Annan's new statement read: "There seems to be some confusion about the statement I made yesterday on Cyprus. Let me be clear: The parties have agreed to start proximity talks in New York on December 3 to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement."
Finally satisfied with the statement, Denktash said: "Due to out insistence and the powerful support of Turkey, the announcement was returned to its original, previously agreed form."
President Clerides, speaking yesterday to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in South Africa Durban, said he was "not bothered" by the change in terminology.
"The secretary-general has to invite to negotiations the representatives of the two communities according to UN resolutions because the talks are held between the representatives of the two communities."
"I believe that a possible refusal on our part to respond positively to the UN Secretary-general's invitation... particularly following the assurances I received, would be a terrible mistake, which would have affected not only the course of the Cyprus problem but also our EU accession course," he said in a written statement.
Clerides said that for the first time in the history of the Cyprus problem there had been assurances on the active involvement of the United States. American officials had assured him, he said, that the talks would be substantive and would focus on the basic aspects of the Cyprus problem.
Speaking on Air Force One on his way to Ankara on Sunday, US President Bill Clinton hailed the agreement to return to talks. "I ask the parties to approach this opportunity with good faith... I hope they succeed... we want them to last long enough to get to direct negotiations," Clinton said. "The Cyprus problem has been with us for far too long."
White House officials said the agreement was one of the biggest goals Clinton had set for his trip to the region.
 Opposition concern at new developmentsBy Athena Karsera
POLITICAL parties in Cyprus were mixed in their reactions yesterday to President Clerides' acceptance of the UN secretary-general's invitation to Cyprus talks in New York, but the tone ranged from negative to uncertain.
Speaking in his role as Diko leader, current acting president Spyros Kyprianou said the offer had been "unacceptable," accusing UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan of changing the invitation's format.
"The first thing I want to say is that after the Secretary-General's statement on the invitations, he referred to the President of the Republic as the President. Denktash complained and the Secretary-general immediately removed the 'President' and Denktash agreed to the talks."
Kyprianou said he believed Denktash had implied that a prior agreement on the format of talks had been reached before the invitations were sent: "I also find it unacceptable that Denktash spoke about some agreement on the New York meetings. He said if the UN adopted the procedure that they agreed on, he would go."
In a statement, the largest opposition party Akel condemned the latest developments: "Instead of negotiations in the framework of the UN and based on the Security Council's Resolutions and Summit decisions, we have become the martyrs of artificial scenarios that will bring about an artificial progress that in turn will be used to assist Turkey's passage into the EU."
Edek's members, meanwhile, seemed divided in their opinions on the issue yesterday.
Speaking after a party meeting yesterday, party president Vassos Lyssarides said the party had no choice but to support Clerides' decision at this stage.
However, Edek's first vice-president Yiannakis Omirou, speaking from Paphos yesterday, said Clerides' acceptance had been a "diplomatic and political defeat."
Lyssarides said his party could not advise Clerides not to take part in the talks due to the prevailing political climate.
Lyssarides did, however, note that the government should make it clear it would not give in to Denktash's demands and that the Cypriot delegation would leave the table if these demands were raised.
He said Edek would help provide the united front Clerides hoped for as long as Denktash's unacceptable demands were not discussed.
But former defence minister Omirou said Cyprus had "pulled the rug out from under its own feet" by accepting the invite.
He said Clerides had committed himself to the National Council not to accept an invitation to talks based on Denktash's demands and that direct talks were the only acceptable way forward.
Omirou said the invitations seemed to have been sent after intervention by US president Bill Clinton and that this had made the situation worse.
He said Denktash's acceptance had come just before the EU summit in Helsinki and that Clinton's intervention was intended to spare him from having to take action on Cyprus during his meetings in Ankara and Athens this week.
"In this way the possibility of reaching any decision in Helsinki that would help Cyprus' EU accession is reduced to zero. The same goes for the EU's obligation to help solve the Cyprus problem by drawing up a time-table... and for Turkey to have to take specific measures to ensure its passage into the EU."
Omirou said that the move would also force Cyprus to support Turkey's accession if nothing other than as a sign of good will.
Disy deputy Prodromos Prodromou seemed to share this opinion yesterday, saying the issue could be seen as a quick fix in Turkey's favour.
Prodromou, however, conceded the invitation was not one that could be rebuffed.
He said this was because of the way the Cyprus problem had been handled lately. "When I say that we could not have given the correct answer (a refusal), I refer to the environment we are in. Greece should have already said it would veto Turkey's recognition as a candidate country, the President should have told Annan he would not come to talks structured differently to the ones agreed on by the UN."
"We do not now have the luxury of risking this stance," he added.
New Horizon's party condemned Clerides' acceptance of the invitations and called on Clerides to return to Cyprus as soon as possible.
In a statement released yesterday, New Horizons president Nicos Koutsou said Clerides had "accepted the worst scenario under the worst conditions at the most dangerous and critical point of Turkey's (EU) candidacy."
Meanwhile, statements on the invitations were yesterday made by Greek Foreign Minister, George Papandreou and Greek government spokesman Demetris Reppas.
But speaking in Athens yesterday, Greek government spokesman Demetris Reppas cautioned Cypriot parties from seeking to score points on the issue, saying they should refrain from turning it into a political battlefield.
 Pontians on receiving end of death threats and 'blatant injustice'By Martin Hellicar
POLICE were yesterday investigating death treats against Paphos' Russian Greek, or Pontian, community. The threats to "burn alive" all Pontians came from a hitherto unheard of organisation calling itself 'Golden Dawn'.
Ombudswoman Eleana Nicolaou meanwhile issued a report condemning the "racist" deportation of the head of a Russian Greek family in Paphos.
The Pontian community in Paphos has a bad reputation, often shouldering the blame for rising crime in the coastal town. This bad name is now apparently leading to racist abuse against the community.
On Saturday night, 'Golden Dawn' posted its threatening proclamation on the front doors of the local television station, Paphos TV.
Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou condemned the racist statement as "irresponsible," while Paphos police chief, Spyros Koniotis, said the threats did not appear to be serious. Both Christodoulou and Koniotis promised Paphos Pontians would be protected.
Police spokesman Stelios Neophytou yesterday said it was too early to say whether 'Golden Dawn' posed a real threat or not. "The threats are condemnable," Neophytou said, adding that police had stepped up patrols in the area of Paphos where Pontians lived some time back, and would contin
The foot patrols were introduced after persistent complaints that Pontians were harassing passers-by.
Among the most vociferous of the Pontians' detractors is Paphos deputy Nicos Pittokopitis of Diko. Pittokopitis has labelled Paphos Pontians thieves and rapists.
Socialist Edek yesterday issued a statement condemning the death treats from 'Golden Globe' and calling on "certain" politicians to stop "cultivating a climate of xenophobia."
But, according to the Ombudswoman, politicians are not the only ones guilty of blatant racism.
In a report released yesterday, Nicolaou describes how a Pontian man was deported for no reason at all, even though he has a wife and two young children on the island.
Nicolaou said the Paphos police chief had justified the deportation on the grounds of "the Pontian problem in Paphos."
In November 1998, the Ombudswoman's report states, the Pontian and two fellow-nationals were arrested in connection with the theft of a bottle of wine and two small bottles of coke.
The father-of-two was later released without charge. But, three months later, he was arrested, held for almost a month without charge, and then deported.
Nicolaou is scathing in her condemnation of the Immigration department's part in the ill treatment of the Pontian.
"The Immigration department contributed to complete this blatant injustice with the shoddiness and indifference it showed, something not unusual for this department," the report states.
Both police and immigration officials completely ignored the fact that the man had a wife and two young children on the island, Nicolaou states.
An appeal by the Pontian to the Supreme Court was scuppered by police and the immigration service.
"He was arrested like a common criminal, kept in Paphos police holding cells for almost a month and then deported six days before his case was heard by the Supreme Court," Nicolaou states.
The Ombudswoman suggests the state pay for the Pontian's immediate return to Cyprus.
 Small titles send market soaring in banks' absenceBy Hamza Hendawi
TRADERS and investors fondly call it crazy, members of the non-investing public dismiss it as a balloon destined for sudden deflation, a gambling joint or a pyramid-like investment scheme that will collapse.
But punters and doubters had better start looking for more original ways of describing the Cyprus Stock Exchange after its latest exploits yesterday.
With more than half the market's capitalisation unavailable through suspension, share prices yesterday soared to an all-time high on a volume of £48.50 million, the fourth-largest since the market reopened on October 4 following a month-long closure.
Only one title ended lower yesterday, Agros Developments Proodos, while a total of five rose by more than £2 (£2.74 in the case of Apollo Investment Fund warrants) and no less than 25 climbed by £1 or more.
Even sleepers such as Cyprus Forest Industries (up 49 cents) and Cyprus Pipes Industries (up 54 cents) had a field day, as investors, with too much money chasing too few shares at the best of times, made the widely anticipated shift from the blue-chips of the banks to small caps.
"I don't like the way the market is going," said Stavros Agrotis, a senior broker with CISCO, the Bank of Cyprus' investment and brokerage arm. "The market is dominated by inexperienced investors who are still pouring money into shares and are convinced that the only way is up."
It is this seemingly endless supply of funds pouring onto the market that is largely held responsible for the rapid appreciation of shares.
The all-share index yesterday rose by 50.56 points, or 6.5 per cent, to smash through the 800-point barrier and close at 827.90. The figure now represents 813.49 per cent gains on the year and nearly a 100 per cent since October 4.
If the present momentum is maintained through the year's six remaining weeks, gains of about 1,000 per cent are a realistic prospect.
"But I think the party may end before that," Agrotis predicted.
Another broker, however, seemed to think differently. "Greed is playing a part here," said Neofytos Neofytou of AAA United. "No one is cashing in and everyone seems to think that more profit can be made."
"It is absolutely crazy."
In yesterday's trade, the sub-index of industrials rose by a breathtaking 20.73 per cent, the largest gain by any of the market's seven sectors. The smallest gain -- a miserly 0.13 per cent on a volume of £267,912 -- was chalked by the banks, a sector of blue chips now left with only the small Universal Bank. The sector's heavyweights -- Bank of Cyprus, Popular Bank and Hellenic Bank -- are out through suspension designed to give them time to update their share registers and rectify a spate of erroneous share deeds issued in the confusion of the boom months of the summer.
Also out for the same reason are Cassoulides & Sons, Frindlays Properties and Investments, Cy-Venture and Orphanides Supermarkets. The four, together with the three banks, have a combined market capitalisation of about £7 billion.
The sub-index of tourism companies also rose substantially, 15.84 per cent, to close at 1,092 on a volume of £17.48 million.
 Government promises to help 'defecting' Turkish CypriotsBy Martin Hellicar
THE WELFARE Department yesterday promised to do all it could to help four impoverished Turkish Cypriot families who "defected" from the north and turned up in Limassol on Sunday.
The government is to look into naturalising the 21 Turkish Cypriots -- among whom are 12 children ranging in age from a few months to 15 years -- but is also concerned that "suspicious characters" may be crossing over from the occupied areas.
The Limassol welfare office said it would cater for the families' immediate needs until it could make "more permanent arrangements".
"We will not leave them destitute, especially as there are children among them," the head of the Limassol Welfare office, Vladimiros Aristodemou, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said the Turkish Cypriots had the right to stay. "We cannot send them away, and we will not send them away," he said.
"Whether they get naturalisation papers from the Cyprus Republic is something that will come out of a study of this serious issue by the relevant ministries and the submission of a report to the Council of Ministers," Koshis said.
But the minister also said the number of people coming over from the north had increased recently and the government was concerned there might be "suspicious characters" among them.
The government was to investigate the issue, he said.
The 21 Turkish Cypriots apparently say they are Famagusta residents and crossed into the government-controlled areas near occupied Makrosyka, where the Dhekelia base borders the Turkish-held areas. The four families knocked on the door of a Turkish Cypriot resident of Limassol's Turkish quarter at about 4am on Sunday morning.
Newspaper reports yesterday suggested the Turkish Cypriots had been driven to the south by the "desperate" living conditions in the north, Turkish settlers having been given all the jobs by the occupation regime. The "defectors" were quoted as saying they had been living in "shacks without power or water" and had been forced to scavenge among rubbish bins for food.
Koshis also spoke of impossible living conditions in the north yesterday. The Minister said he believed Turkish Cypriots were being driven to the south to escape "hunger and misery."
Koshis said he believed Turkish Cypriots arriving from the occupied areas should be given "a roof over their heads, food and work" by the welfare department.
 New loan product from Alpha BankIN A bid to gain a foothold in the housing loans' market, Alpha Bank yesterday unveiled a new product offering prospective clients a housing loan of up to £200,000 paid through a current account.
The current account operates like one with an overdraft facility, where the borrower deposits his/her salary and uses a chequebook drawn against the account. Money kept in the account will be treated as payment against the loan, therefore reducing interest and the time needed to repay the loan.
Interest on the new loan package is a favourable seven per cent instead of the going rate of eight per cent.
The only obligation on the customer is to make the loan payments, while the total interest accrued will be reduced in accordance with the balance in the account.
Addressing a news conference held to publicise the product, Alpha Bank's Managing-director Eleftherios Ioannou said: "This is a very important product in view of a freeing of interest rates and the first time such a housing loan has a limit of £200,000.
"We are maintaining our competitiveness by offering a wide range of products to our customers and meeting the demands of a wider public. It is an exceptional product which benefits the customer, and the crucial difference with other loans is its link to a current account, which enables customers to pay off the loan sooner," he said.
The new product is available to businesses, couples or individuals, and covers 75 per cent of the value of a ready-made house or one that is under construction. A loan can also be obtained for house repairs, business relocation or the purchase of offices, flats and holiday homes.
The loan comes with free one-year fire insurance.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999