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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-19

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>


  • [01] Greece, Turkey can resolve problems, says Ecevit
  • [02] Nicosia foundry could be shut down
  • [03] Matsakis laughs off Hasikos threats
  • [04] Officials to start testing foundry fumes
  • [05] Koshis in the dock over Anastassiades photos
  • [06] Rudderless market inches up
  • [07] Teachers to strike over attack on colleague

  • [01] Greece, Turkey can resolve problems, says Ecevit

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said yesterday problems between Greece and Turkey could be resolved, but he deliberately left Cyprus out of the equation.

    Speaking after a meeting in Istanbul with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Ecevit said there was no problem between Greece and Turkey that would be difficult to resolve.

    He was referring to long-standing Greco-Turkish differences over the Aegean and minority rights.

    The two leaders met on the sidelines of the summit of the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE), which is taking place in Istanbul.

    Ecevit said he believed the problems between Greece and Turkey could be solved.

    However, he added: "I believe we should not add the Cyprus question to those issues".

    Responding to Ecevit's comments, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said he now saw "no light at the end of the tunnel" for the Cyprus problem.

    Despite the warming of relations between Athens and Ankara following recent devastating earthquakes in both countries, Greece still wants Turkey to give more on the Cyprus issue.

    Turkey is up for European Union candidacy at the EU Helsinki summit beginning on December 6, but Greece still has the power to veto the move.

    "Greece supports Turkey's EU perspective and believes that Turkey's bid for EU membership is precious to both Turkey and the European Union," Simitis said.

    But Athens has said it will see what progress is made at the-UN- sponsored proximity talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides due to take place in New York on December 3.

    "There is a theory that we endorse the Turkish claim to be a candidate to the European Union without any condition," Simitis said. "This is not true...There must be an evolution, a small...evolution to overcome these problems."

    Addressing the OSCE conference, UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan said he hoped the proximity talks would be the beginning of the end of the Cyprus issue.

    "It is my personal hope this renewed effort will begin the closing chapter of this long-standing dispute," he said. "In the new century, we must do better. We now have such an opportunity in Cyprus."

    Also in Istanbul, President Clerides met yesterday with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to discuss Cyprus' EU accession course and the Helsinki summit.

    Fears that his stay might be fraught with difficulties turned out to be groundless, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. "Not only did the President not encounter any problems but everything went smoothly," an offical told Cyprus Mail.

    Cassoulides described the meeting between Clerides and Schroeder as satisfactory. "There was a general understanding between Mr Clerides and Mr Schroeder regarding the way each side views the issues discussed," he said.

    The Helsinki summit is also likely to be the focus of talks on the island next week, with the arrival in Cyprus of Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou for a two-day visit.

    Papandreou will arrive on November 25 and will meet President Clerides and party leaders. The upcoming proximity talks will also be discussed.

    [02] Nicosia foundry could be shut down

    TESTS on emissions from a controversial Nicosia district foundry show it is releasing over twice the permitted level of heavy metal laden dust, the House plenum heard yesterday.

    Deputies were outraged to hear the results of Labour Ministry tests carried out at the Ergates metal works this week. Ergates residents blame foundry emissions for the high incidence of cancers and breathing complaints in their village. "Tomorrow morning, after these results, the foundry must be closed," the chairman of the House environment committee, Demetris Illiades, told fellow deputies.

    ANT1 television reported that Labour Minister Andreas Moushioutas had demanded the prosecution of the factory owner. Moushioutas was quoted as saying court action could close the foundry immediately.

    [03] Matsakis laughs off Hasikos threats

    By George Psyllides

    DIKO DEPUTY Marios Matsakis yesterday upped the stakes in his squabble with the Defence Minister, laughing off arrest threats and saying he would defy the minister and enter the Kalo Chorio firing range again on Saturday.

    Matsakis was reacting to orders from Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos to arrest anyone entering the firing range and disrupting National Guard exercises.

    The minister's orders came after Matsakis and several other Pyrga residents carried out a protest on Wednesday, entering the firing range and disrupting army exercises.

    The protest came after Tuesday night's accidental shelling of the nearby village of Pyrga during an exercise.

    No one was injured in the 'friendly fire' episode and the ministry says the shells that landed in Pyrga were flares, and therefore harmless.

    Matsakis said yesterday that Hasikos' threats to arrest him were a joke, and insisted he and other residents would enter the firing range again on Saturday to stop army exercises.

    "We are afraid now, and we will never enter the range again, because the Minister scared us off," he quipped sarcastically. "This is ridiculous. We are not scared of what the Minister said in Athens," Matsakis said.

    Hasikos has been in Athens since Monday for talks with his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos and visits to various defence suppliers.

    Matsakis said yesterday neither he nor other residents opposed defence. "The people know that I support defence, but a proper defence. If we are going to have amateurs shelling us instead of the enemy, then we are better off without them," he added.

    And the outspoken deputy could not resist twisting the knife in the government's beleaguered defence policy.

    "If the Minister cares about the island's defence, he should arrange for the S-300 and TOR-M1 missiles to return to Cyprus, and not deal with artillery," he said.

    Asked if he had any information about the missile systems, Matsakis answered: " The minister knows what I mean."

    Hasikos said yesterday that Matsakis had gone over the top on the issue.

    "It is not the first time that he exaggerates to defend his and other residents' rights. I told the Army High Command to enforce the law that applies to such situations. Whoever obstructs or disrupts the National Guard, especially its exercises, can be arrested and carried away for their own protection, and for the National Guard to carry on with its work," Hasikos said from Athens yesterday.

    But House Defence Committee member, Akel deputy Doros Christodoulides, supported Matsakis, saying Hasikos should have known better before voicing any threats.

    "The Minister's statements are unfortunate and wrong. The minister should have known that nobody can order the arrest of a deputy because it is prohibited by the constitution," Christodoulides said.

    "The Minister should have known that he should go through the proper procedures, and not threaten a deputy with arrest by the National Guard. It reminds us of past eras that no one would like to return to," he added.

    [04] Officials to start testing foundry fumes

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE LABOUR Department will start testing the smoke from Nemitsas foundry today and monitoring the air quality around the Omonia plant to see if the smoke is dirtier than allowed and to learn what metal particles are in the air, Labour Department Director Sotiris Sotiriou said yesterday.

    Meanwhile, the foundry owners have threatened to sue the parents of some 50 children affected by smoke that drifted over their school playground this week, unless they stop "defaming" the foundry by complaining to the media about the fumes' effect on their children's health.

    "We are going to measure the dust emission concentration from the flue gas," Sotiriou said. "And we are going to analyse the dust and see what the content of it is (to see if) this is in accordance with the conditions we gave to Mr Nemitsas."

    Those conditions required Nemitsas foundry to make sure its smoke contained no more than 300 milligrams of particulate matter per cubic metre of furnace smokestack emission, he said.

    "We are (also) going to measure the quality of air in the area... (to) determine whether there is an excess of the standards on air quality in the area," Sotiriou said.

    If pollution exceeds state standards, "we will try to establish whether this is due to the operation of the foundry," Sotiriou said.

    Noting Nemitsas did not operate every day, Sotiriou said his technicians would stay on the foundry site "24 hours per day, all week," to see "if there is a difference in some parameters." If there is, he said, "then we can know what happened."

    Sotiriou said the dead-fish smell that area residents complained of in association with the foundry was going to be reduced. "How far, we don't know yet. If it is just a nuisance, it is one thing; if it is something more, we are going to see."

    Residents suspect Nemitsas has been installing anti-pollution devices on its furnaces and smokestacks so its smoke will come in well below the particulate limit of 300mg per cubic metre the government recently imposed.

    Bernadette Charalambous, whose two children were sickened by the smoke last week, said the test results would be taken with a pinch of salt. "They will not be verification of the normal operations of the factory," said Charalambous, a member of the Fresh Air Initiative Group, composed of "very fed up residents who cannot take any more pollution from the foundry."

    Sotiriou dismissed such concerns, noting: "we could see if there are any new additions when we go there. We have been there a number of times, so we know this installation."

    Kikis Petevis, Nemitsas Managing Director, denied the foundry had made any alterations to its smokestacks. "None in the last six months," he said.

    Petevis also denied his November 17 letter threatening legal action against the Fresh Air Initiative Group demanded they surrender their rights to freedom of speech and to seek redress for grievances.

    "There is a difference between free speech and defamatory statements," Petevis said. "This applies to the press as well... who have exceeded the right of freedom," he said, adding: "We have sent a letter as well yesterday to the newspapers... who have trespassed our right of existence." He did not name them.

    Petevis' letter accused the Initiative Group of "reckless behaviour" and using "baseless information" in statements to the media concerning the 50 children of Eighth Elementary School in Omonia, who fell sick with headaches, dizziness and vomiting on November 11 from what they said was Nemitsas foundry smoke.

    "Our legal advisers' opinion" was the group had defamed Nemitsas, Petevis said. He warned against "making any statement or characterisation" or acting in any way that "is defamatory to our company" or it will "take the necessary legal measures."

    Charalambous dismissed Petevis' letter: "We are not going to get into a slanging match with them," she said. "We are not planning to go through long, expensive legal things to get a clean environment."

    "We don't feel in the least bit intimidated," she said. "It's his prerogative to sue us if he wishes. He doesn't have any grounds for a lawsuit. If anything, we should be suing him, but because we are unable to prove damages, we do not have a strong legal case, but we have a strong moral case, I believe."

    [05] Koshis in the dock over Anastassiades photos

    By Martin Hellicar

    JUSTICE Minister Nicos Koshis flew back from Moscow and into the eye of a storm yesterday, his denials of a friendship with a 'pink slips' suspect apparently blowing up in his face.

    A local daily yesterday published photographs showing the Minister partying with Bambos Anastassiades, the disgraced twin brother of Disy leader Nicos.

    Nicos Anastassiades then cast aspersions on Koshis' claim that he never knew his brother. The leader of the ruling party questioned the Minister's motives for making such denials, thus calling into question his suitability.

    Businessman Bambos Anastassiades faces trial in connection with the 'pink slips' scandal, and Koshis has been at pains to deny reports that the two of them are "bosom buddies."

    But Bambos' son, Andreas, has now released photographs showing the smiling Minister sitting with his father at a reception. Other pictures show Bambos clapping Koshis on as he dances a traditional Greek dance at a taverna.

    The pictures made the front page of Politis yesterday.

    Nicos Anastassiades made matters even worse for the Minister. "As far as I know, they were friends," the leader of the governing party said of his brothers' relationship with Koshis.

    Nicos Anastassiades wondered why the Minister had been so keen to deny knowing his brother.

    "What one might say is that perhaps the minister had no reason to deny his friendship with this or any other suspect, assuming that he was carrying out his duties properly," he said.

    Asked if he felt Koshis' denials compromised his position as Minister, Nicos Anastassiades said: "You will have to ask the Minister himself, but for me there is no such issue."

    Koshis did not comment on the matter on his return from an official visit to Russia yesterday evening.

    In response to earlier reports of close ties between him and the suspect, Koshis said Bambos was no more than a casual acquaintance whom he had "bumped into two or three times" at functions. "Bambos came and sat at my table, what could I do, send him away?" the Minister protested.

    Nicos Anastassiades did add yesterday that he did not think it mattered if the Minister was a friend of his brother's. He also dismissed suggestions such a friendship might influence court proceedings against his brother.

    But the Disy leader's statements and the photographs published yesterday are, at the very least, a major embarrassment for the Minister -- one of the most popular figures in the Clerides government.

    Bambos Anastassiades goes on trial on November 22, on charges of selling forged 'pink slips' for cabaret artistes at 170 a shot.

    He was arrested last month following the launch of a police probe into alleged corrupt pink slip practices. Three senior officers were tasked to look into information that police officers and others in positions of power were abating underworld prostitution rackets by providing pink slips for foreign cabaret artistes, some of them forged.

    Immigration chief Christodoulos Nicolaides has been charged with accepting bribes to "fix" pink slips for foreign workers.

    Also in the dock in connection with the police probe are senior Immigration officer Nicos Vakanas, former Disy organisational secretary Andreas Tsangarides and Limassol police officers Efstathios Theodorou, Demetris Himonas and Pelopidas Evgeniades.

    [06] Rudderless market inches up

    By Hamza Hendawi

    LACKING clear direction, share prices yesterday had a lacklustre day in which the index firmed up by 5.45 points, or 0.68 per cent, to jump over the 800-point mark only for the second time in its history.

    The index closed at 803.64 on a volume of 44.92 million. There were 7,477 transactions.

    Of the market's seven sectors, only banks and industrials finished down. The remaining five, however, made modest gains, with insurance companies making the most. The sector's sub-index rose by 4.92 per cent on a volume of 3.44 million, mostly in Minerva Insurance.

    "After the profit taking on Tuesday and Wednesday, some investors saw it opportune to re-establish positions at lower levels," said one trader.

    Other traders said the lack of corporate news or rumours left many investors without a clear direction. Additionally, the continued absence of the three large banks -- Bank of Cyprus, Popular Bank and Hellenic Bank -- and a host of other companies due to suspension has contributed to investors experiencing a sense of loss or imbalance.

    Last Monday, the first day of trade without the three banks, investors moved en masse to small caps, pushing up the index by 6.50 per cent. There was an across-the-board rise in their value, something that triggered a flurry of profit taking the following day pushing the index down by nearly 3.5 per cent. Wednesday saw shares consolidating at their lower levels.

    "Everyone will move back to the banks once they return to the floor," said another trader. "Everyone wants to have a piece of the banks because of the security they inspire."

    One bank, Hellenic, yesterday had to issue a statement categorically denying persistent rumours that it was the target of a takeover bid. The statement was in response to a request by the Capital Markets and Securities Commission that the bank clarify whether or not it was engaged in takeover negotiations.

    Hellenic, Bank of Cyprus and Popular Bank, Orphanides Supermarkets, Cy-Venture, Frindlays Properties &amp; Investments, Cassoulides &amp; Sons have been suspended to allow them to update their share registers and deal with complaints about erroneous share deeds they issued.

    Vassiliko and Minerva Insurance, meanwhile, will be suspended from tomorrow until November 26 for the same reason, while Astarti Development will be out from November 22 until December 1.

    Combined, the 10 titles account for more than 7 billion of the market's capitalisation. Their suspension is linked to the exchange's plans to introduce on November 29 a new settlement system, which, in theory at least, will end the backlog of share deeds and unprocessed transactions.

    [07] Teachers to strike over attack on colleague

    TEACHERS at the Ayios Ioannis lyceum in Limassol are to stage a two-hour walkout today in protest at an assault on one of their colleagues by a pupil yesterday.

    Secondary School Teachers' union Oelmek stated such attacks by students were increasing at an alarming rate. The union said today's strike action was a protest against the state's "indifference" in the face of growing violence against teachers.

    Oelmek warned the strike action would be escalated and extended to secondary schools across the country unless the government took some action to deal with the problem.

    The teacher at the receiving end of the student assault was not reported to be seriously injured.

    There have been a number of reports of similar incidents at secondary schools in recent weeks.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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