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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-02-02

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, February 2, 2000


  • [01] Geneva Day Two and it's back to bickering
  • [02] Opposition anger at Annan remarks
  • [03] Selected Greek routes opened to competition
  • [04] Top banks join forces to bring tenor Carreras to Cyprus
  • [05] Frost decimates potato crop: domestic supplies OK
  • [06] Armed robbers beat up jeweller but miss stash locked in car
  • [07] Saving the grass snake and the barn owl
  • [08] Greenpeace wants EU link for Akamas
  • [09] Government acting on dangerous school labs
  • [10] Police seize 'largest ever' Ecstasy haul
  • [11] Institutional investors snap up cheap shares to push the market up

  • [01] Geneva Day Two and it's back to bickering

    By Jean Christou

    DAY TWO of the second round of proximity talks in Geneva was soured yesterday as the two leaders sparred indirectly over the issue of recognition of the breakaway regime in the north.The change in the hitherto optimistic climate was sparked by UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan's statements on Monday that all issues were on the table for discussion, including the recognition demand by the Turkish Cypriot side.Although technically no such proposal has been put to the Greek Cypriot side the UN appears to be courting both sides in an attempt to move the process forward towards a crucial third round.The four core issues for the Greek Cypriots -- territory, security, property and distribution of power -- are being discussed between UN Deputy Secretary-general Alvaro de Soto and President Clerides.But at the same time Annan confirmed on Monday that additional issues put forward by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash were also being discussed in his meetings with de Soto. Annan also forecast a comprehensive settlement this year.Denktash told reporters in Geneva yesterday that the issue of confederation of two separate states was on the table. He also said he would reject discussion on the four core issues before recognition was granted.Asked what was the UN's response to his demands, Denktash said it was their job to listen and that the parties were allowed to bring anything they wish to the table. "I am very glad to say that the more they lend their ears the more we have to say into their ears," he said.He also said that the intervention of foreign envoys was not helpful because the Greek Cypriots put too much hope on the intervention of outsiders."What Mr Clerides said yesterday (Monday) to the press unfortunately indicates that there is no will by the Greek Cypriot side to settle the problem," Denktash said.In an interview with The AP on Monday night, Clerides said the recognition issue was blocking a solution."One of the reasons there has been no agreement so far was the insistence... for recognition," he said. "If this continues then certainly there is no reason to feel optimistic about a solution."Yesterday Clerides, asked to react to Denktash's statements about the inclusion of the confederation demand, told journalists that each side does not know what the other is discussing with the UN. "We know the issues we discuss with the UN," Clerides said after a 90-minute meeting with de Soto. I do not know the issues he (Denktash) is discussing."He said the UN is expected to make proposals of its own at the third round expected in May or June. The current round is expected to last around ten days.Greece yesterday welcomed Monday's prediction by Annan for a settlement this year."It was a positive statement that brings hope," said government spokesman Demetris Reppas. "It puts pressure on Denktash to adopt the UN resolutions on Cyprus."Repeated UN resolutions condemn the invasion and occupation of Cyprus and the establishment of the internationally unrecognised TRNC.

    Ankara was also upbeat yesterday on prospects for a solution, but only if recognition was granted to the Turkish Cypriots.

    "It will be possible if the Greek Cypriots and the international community to a certain degree were to be more realistic," Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said before his visit to Athens tomorrow. "So it depends if there's recognition of this reality, if there's recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, of its characteristic as a sovereign entity."

    Wednesday, February 2, 2000

    [02] Opposition anger at Annan remarks

    By Jean Christou

    OPPOSITION parties have expressed their outrage at comments by UN Secretary- general Kofi Annan that all issues, including the demands of the Turkish Cypriot side, are on the table in the Cyprus settlement talks.

    At the opening of the second round of proximity talks in Geneva on Monday, Annan said the parties would be discussing all the core issues, as well as issues added by Denktash.

    "I think it is sufficient for you to accept that we started with core issues, and additional issues have been added by one of the parties, which is fine with us," Annan said.

    According to Turkish Cypriot press reports quoting UN sources, there are seven core issues on the table, confederation, security, sovereignty, constitution, freedom of settlement, freedom of movement and confidence building measures.

    Akel general secretary Demetris Christofias was first to criticise Annan's statement yesterday, calling it unacceptable and laying blame on the government.

    Christofias said the government's stance over the issue was disappointing and called on it to defend the Greek Cypriot side's position.

    "The Secretary-general's behaviour is for us unacceptable because we consider the Secretary-general to be the one most responsible for defending UN resolutions and the principles of these resolutions," he said.

    These resolutions condemn the breakaway regime in the north, he said, adding that the Secretary-general should have made this clear.

    Christofias also blamed the US and Britain, saying they had influenced Annan and that the Greek Cypriot side had made a mistake by rushing to accept the invitation for proximity talks in the first place.

    "And as if all this wasn't enough the government said it was not worried by the secretary-general's statements," Christofias said. "This was a disappointing statement".

    Diko deputy Nicos Cleanthous was equally critical, saying the procedure being followed was allowing Denktash to have his unacceptable demands presented and discussed.

    Cleanthous said Diko was not proposing that the government pull out of the talks, but said they should have reacted differently.

    Disy leader and Acting President of the Republic Nicos Anastassiades defended Annan, saying the Secretary-general was merely trying to ensure that the third round of talks would take place.

    But he added that he felt Annan's comments could have been avoided.

    "I believe that in view of the planned third round, which will be face to face and on the essence of the problem and when the intervention of other parties will be more substantial, and in view of the fact that Denktash is facing elections in his pseudo state, this is perhaps an effort to keep alive the talks," Anastassiades said.

    "That is why he said what he said in diplomatic language, or as we see it undiplomatic language, with the aim of achieving a goal which is not to achieve progress but to get to a third round of talks."

    The expected third crucial round of talks is expected to take place around June.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2000

    [03] Selected Greek routes opened to competition

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS yesterday signed a memorandum of agreement with Greece in the first concrete move liberalise air travel between the two countries.

    Under the terms of the memorandum, which stops short of full liberalisation, a second Greek carrier will be allowed to start scheduled flights from Greek destinations from November 1 this year.

    But the busy Athens and Salonica routes are excluded from the agreement. Both routes are covered by a bilateral agreement between the two governments and operated by national carriers Cyprus Airways (CY) and Olympic Airways.

    The Larnaca-Athens route is one of only three profitable destinations for CY, the others being London Heathrow and Tel Aviv in Israel.

    Under the new memorandum, charter flights will also be allowed to operate to destinations in Greece, again apart from Athens and Salonica.

    From destinations where there are no scheduled flights, carriers will be allowed to allocate 15 per cent of their places on a "seat only" basis.

    Greek airlines Aegean, Axon and Kronos are the airlines involved in the deal and yesterday's signing also included representatives from CY and Olympic.

    Procedures are also expected to be speeded up for the creation of a joint air space between the two countries. Another meeting on this issue will be held within six months.

    Dr Vassos Pyrgos, permanent secretary of the Communications and Works Ministry, said yesterday it was hoped all restrictions in air transport between Greece and Cyprus would have been eliminated by the end of 2001.

    The idea of lifting flight restrictions between Cyprus and Greece was first mooted last July as part of a government threat to liberalise air links between Larnaca and Athens following two strikes by CY pilots over promotions.

    It is also an attempt to induce more Greeks to travel to the island. Only around 70,000 Greeks visit Cyprus every year out of a total of over two million tourists.

    Four Greek airlines have expressed an interest in operating flights to Cyprus.

    Full liberalisation of air transport is not expected to come about until the island joins the EU in 2002 at the earliest, giving CY time to become more competitive.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2000

    [04] Top banks join forces to bring tenor Carreras to Cyprus

    TWO OF Cyprus' major banks have joined forces to bring one of the three tenors and a host of other musical greats to the island this year.

    ‘Music 2000’, held in conjunction with the Culture and Commerce Ministries, is set to include performances by renowned tenor Jose Carreras accompanied by the Del Valles Symphonic Orchestra, opera divas Montserrat Caballe and Montserrat Marti, the BBC Concert Orchestra `100 Years of Cinema' and the St Petersburg Mussorgsky State Opera with `The Barber of Seville.'

    The Bank of Cyprus' head of public relations, Daphne Prodromou, yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that her bank and the Popular Bank were joining forces due to huge the cost of putting on such an event.

    "The budget of something like this, especially being held at small venues, is huge, so the banks thought of the solution of working together."

    Prodromou said whether the banks would work together on cultural events again in the future depended on how `Music 2000' worked out.

    She said the millennium had also been a prompt for the special event and for the banks' co-operation.

    The St Petersburg Mussorgsky State Opera will be performing at the Limassol Pattichion Municipal Theatre on February 4 and 5 and at the Nicosia Municipal Theatre on February 7 and 8.

    The BBC Concert Orchestra will be performing at the two venues on April 10 and 11 respectively, while Caballe and Marti will appear only at the Nicosia Municipal Theatre on May 15.

    Carreras and the Del Valles Symphonic Orchestra, meanwhile, will appear at the D'Avila Bastion Moat in Nicosia on July 3.

    Prodromou said ticket prices had not yet been set for all the venues and would be announced once they were.

    The event is taking place with the co-operation of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Limassol and Nicosia municipalities.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2000

    [05] Frost decimates potato crop: domestic supplies OK

    By Anthony O. Miller

    POTATO supplies - and prices - in Cyprus should not be affected by the frost that killed an estimated average of 50 per cent of the early spring potato crop on Friday, a Cyprus Potato Marketing Board source, who requested anonymity, said yesterday.

    But exports of the early spring potatoes could be hurt by the cold snap, which killed 100 per cent of some farmers’ crops while leaving those of others virtually untouched, he said.

    "There is no problem with the local market at all," the Board source said. "(But) it's going to affect, to a certain extent, the exports," he conceded.

    The source said he was expecting the ongoing winter potato harvest to yield some 8,000-9,000 tons of tubers, adding "there was no damage to that" from the frost.

    If anything, the frost merely strengthened the winter crop, the source said. "Even if the vine was killed, the potatoes are OK because it helps the (mature winter) potatoes to have a thicker skin."

    "There is no import (of potatoes) at all," he said, noting: "We have a surplus. There is a continuous cropping in harvesting potatoes between November and July. We are exporting 80 per cent of the total production of Cyprus," he explained.

    "I went to the villages yesterday to see," the Board source continued. "There is great crop damage to the early crop. The late crop has not been damaged, nor the medium," he said, adding: "we may loose about 50 per cent of the early crop."

    Before Friday's frost, the Board expected an early spring potato harvest in February and March of about 30-35,000 tons. "We may get less than half" that now, the source said, noting this was only "a preliminary estimate."

    Before Friday's frost, "we were expecting about 100,000 tons in the total spring crop. We expect to lose about 10 per cent of that - 10,000 tons - from the very early production," leaving a net spring harvest of about 90, 000 tons, the source said.

    Neither Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis nor George Photiou, acting director of the Agricultural Insurance Organisation (AIO) could say what the cost might be to indemnify potato farmers.

    "I can't tell you," said Photiou, "because our loss adjustors are just now in the fields inspecting the losses, and we'll have the first results early next week."

    "It is a bit premature to say what we can do about it," Rolandis said, "but certainly we feel very sorry for the situation." He noted the early potato crop normally brought the highest prices, adding all the more to farmers' worries.

    Photiou said indemnification "depends on the percentage of loss. For example, if the loss is 100 per cent, then we indemnify farmers up to 51 per cent of the expected yield. We don't indemnify losses lower than 15 per cent," he added.

    For this protection, "the premium is six per cent of the actual income from potatoes," from the previous year's crop harvest, Photiou said, adding "the government subsidises half of the premium" and the farmer pays the other three per cent.

    He said indemnification levels would depend on the prices the Potato Marketing Board was paying for the early spring crop in late February and early March.

    Asked if the AIO had enough funds to pay the losses, Photiou said: "It depends. We have a reserve fund." But he noted that in 1997, when drought ruined harvests, "we didn't have enough money to pay the farmers, so the government gave us the rest of the money we needed."

    For now, he said, "we have enough money" to pay the expected losses. Especially after a recent actuarial study of the AIO's resources and risks, he said, "we are optimistic that we can manage to survive."

    Photiou said the frost hit Friday night when the temperature plunged below freezing and there was no wind - unlike Thursday, which was cold but produced no frost.

    "We call it a radiation frost, because the surface of the soil warms throughout the day. And if at night there is no wind, then there is a radiation of the warmth into space, and this is the reason we have the frost," Photiou said.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2000

    [06] Armed robbers beat up jeweller but miss stash locked in car

    POLICE in Larnaca were yesterday looking for three men who attempted to rob a jeweller with automatic assault rifles on Monday night.

    Petros Georgiou, 53, told police he was attacked at his home at around 8.45pm.

    Georgiou said he had left two bags containing jewellery worth £200,000 locked in his car and gone to his home on Souniou Street in Kamares to prepare dinner because his wife and son were still at work.

    The doorbell rang and when Georgiou opened, he was confronted by three masked men armed with two G-3 automatic rifles, believed to be army issue, and a pistol.

    The robbers demanded the jewellery, but Georgiou told them he did not have any with him in the house.

    The commotion was overheard by his sister-in-law, who came out to see what was happening.

    The assailants then beat up Georgiou and fled in a car parked outside the house.

    The men are described as being of average height and wore camouflage jackets and dark trousers.

    Georgiou told police the rifles appeared not to be loaded because they did not have any magazines.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2000

    [07] Saving the grass snake and the barn owl

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GAME Fund is launching campaigns to save the Cyprus grass snake and the barn owl.

    The government service - whose primary remit is to maintain game populations - is also planning to buy radar tracking and tagging equipment with which to monitor threatened birds of prey.

    Game Fund director Andreas Panayiotou told the House finance committee of the service's conservation efforts during discussion of the fund's 2000 budget on Monday.

    A US expert is to be brought over to draw up a plan for saving the rare local variety of grass snake, called a water-snake in Cyprus.

    The snake was considered extinct until a specimen was re-discovered recently by Paphos reptile expert Hans Jorg Wiedl, known as Snake George.

    It hunts for frogs, crayfish and fish in streams and ponds. Its numbers have been hit by habitat loss and, principally, by poisoning from pesticides used to eradicate mosquitoes.

    Ecologist Nick Symons, director of the environmental studies centre at Kritou Terra, Paphos, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the current numbers of the Cyprus grass snake were unknown.

    Barn owl numbers are to be increased by putting up artificial nest boxes in suitable sites, Panayiotou told the finance committee.

    He said the nocturnal predators were suffering because of a dearth of hollow trees and abandoned buildings, their favoured nesting sites. Panayiotou noted that the owls were beneficial to agriculture as they consumed around 2,000 rats a year.

    But Symons told the Mail that a more likely threat to local barn owl populations was the widespread use of rat poison.

    "Poisoned rats wander around stupefied and half-dead. Barn owls take them and die," the ecologist explained.

    Symons noted the urgent need for better monitoring of the populations of barn owls and other wildlife.

    Local grass snakes and barn owls may be in decline, but the good news, according to Panayiotou, is that the mouflon, the island's endemic wild sheep, is doing well.

    Once on the brink of extinction, the mouflon is now relatively widespread.

    In 1992, there were an estimated 1,200 mouflon on the island, Panayiotou said. Today, their population is estimated to be 3,000 strong.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2000

    [08] Greenpeace wants EU link for Akamas

    By Martin Hellicar

    GREENPEACE are calling on the EU to make protection of the Akamas peninsula a precondition for Cyprus' accession.

    The director of Greenpeace Mediterranean, Mario Damato, was in Nicosia yesterday morning to table the demand before the EU ambassador to Cyprus, Donato Chiarini.

    "We are demanding that the settlement of this important environmental issue be a prerequisite to Cyprus's entry to the EU," Damato said after the meeting.

    Damato said Greenpeace's latest Akamas campaign involved canvassing EU representatives in Cyprus and abroad.

    "We are in contact with EU representatives up to the highest level to ensure that the Akamas gets the protection it deserves once and for all," Damato said.

    The International environmental pressure group has long been campaigning for conservation of the remote peninsula, whose beaches are nesting grounds for endangered green and loggerhead turtles.

    In a press release yesterday, Greenpeace expressed concern that development would swamp the area if protection measures were not implemented soon.

    The government declared its intention to turn the Akamas into a National Park some 10 years ago. In 1998, the House of Representatives approved a government-commissioned World Bank report suggesting tourism development on the pristine peninsula be restricted to within existing village boundaries. But a ministerial committee tasked with drawing up final plans for an Akamas National Park is still trying to find a formula to appease local residents, who are in favour of more widespread tourism development.

    The government has repeatedly set and broken deadlines for final approval of a National Park plan.

    "We are very concerned over the way the ministerial committee is handling the World Bank report for the protection of the Akamas peninsula," Damato said yesterday.

    "It is obvious that the postponements made are not in favour of the natural environment and the existing status quo is destroying the Akamas day by day."

    Greenpeace and local environmentalists fear the delay will allow more tourism development in the area.

    "The saga of the Akamas peninsula is characterised by delay upon delay to allow development permits to meanwhile be issued to Ministerial favourites, " Greenpeace claimed yesterday. "The Anassa Hotel, owned by the ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs (Alecos) Michaelides was built during this deadlock."

    The cabinet approved planning relaxations to allow the hotel to be built within the area earmarked for National Park status.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2000

    [09] Government acting on dangerous school labs

    SAFETY standards at many school chemistry laboratories are below acceptable standards, Education Ministry findings yesterday showed.

    The House Education Committee heard that an investigation carried out by the Ministry showed that several labs had unsuitable equipment or inadequate ventilation.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides told the Committee that immediate measures had been taken in the most serious instances, while further action had been implemented from Monday.

    "We have done everything we have to. We examined each laboratory and took immediate safety measures. Instructions have been given for other measures to be taken and these began yesterday."

    Ioannides said all laboratories would be modernised during school holidays, with work planned to begin during the Easter break.

    "Yes, there is a problem, and the problem is that the labs were built years ago."

    Chemistry Teachers Association representative Christina Valanidou said the report had justified charges previously put forward by the Association: "At some stage, some said there were no problems, now they admit that there are. We are especially satisfied that work has already started."

    But Andreas Demetriou, a representative of the Association for Parents of Middle School Pupils said those labs with serious problems should have been closed immediately.

    [10] Police seize 'largest ever' Ecstasy haul By George PsyllidesPOLICE say drugs found on a Nicosia man arriving from Amsterdam included the island=s biggest ever Ecstasy seizure.

    Paris Ypsilantis was yesterday remanded in custody for eight days accused of possessing 352 grams of cocaine and 338 ecstasy pills.

    Twenty-eight-year-old Ypsilantis was arrested at Larnaca Airport on Monday night on arrival from Amsterdam via Athens.

    Acting on a tip-off, police intercepted the suspect as he was passing through customs.

    They found five packages in his underwear. Four contained 352 grams of cocaine and 287 heart-shaped Ecstasy pills. The fifth one had 51 more Ecstasy pills, seven grams of cannabis, and one gram of cocaine.

    Police sources say the Ecstasy tablets have a street value of ,10 to ,15 each.

    Drug squad chief Christakis Katsikides told the Cyprus Mail this was probably the biggest single Ecstasy seizure ever made by Cyprus police.

    During yesterday=s remand hearing, Larnaca court heard that another suspect was wanted by police for questioning and that warrants had been issued for two houses to be searched.

    Police say they are co-operating with Dutch Interpol to track down the provider of the drugs.

    Ypsilantis did not object to his remand, saying nothing in his defence, and only nodding his head when the remand was ordered.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2000

    [11] Institutional investors snap up cheap shares to push the market up

    By Michael Ioannou

    INSTITUTIONAL investors made a comeback to the Cyprus bourse yesterday, snapping up shares languishing at year lows after the market was battered on Monday.

    The benchmark CSE index rebounded from a weak open to close 15.50 points, or 2.7 per cent, higher to 581.86 on a turnover of £24,238 million and 4, 130 trades, both considerably higher than on Monday, when the market fell 5.02 per cent.

    It is the first increase the bourse has registered in more than a week.

    A small number of investors briefly protested outside the stock exchange building before the start of yesterday's session, complaining about the recent decline, which has seen prices fall by 20 per cent in January.

    "Corrections are normal, but not a correction like this. This is just a steep slide," one angry investor told reporters.

    Their protest turned out to be premature. Within minutes of opening at 560.16 and touching an intraday low of 559.86, the market started showing strong signs of resistance. The all-share index hit an intraday high of 584.52 before scaling back to its 581 close.

    Many investors were perturbed at widespread rumours that the market was being manipulated by brokerages who wanted the market to fall. But short of rumours, there is nothing concrete to back up the claims.

    "We have no official complaint," a member of the Securities Commission told the CyBC.

    Brokers’ union chairman Christodoulos Ellinas said it was impossible for one single brokerage to influence the market.

    "This philosophy should stop," he told reporters.

    Small-capitalised stocks, which suffered heavy losses on Monday, led gains on the market yesterday.

    Commercial stocks registered gains of 9.5 per cent, followed by an eight per cent gain for investment firms and a six per cent rise in tourism stocks.

    Banking shares underperformed the general rise to climb just 1.2 per cent.

    There was active trade on Bank of Cyprus shares, which rose 15 cents to £9.15 on a turnover of 475,000 shares, and Hellenic Bank, which climbed 20 cents to £4.31 on 413,355 shares changing hands. Popular was up eight cents to £13.14, registering a volume of 141,342.

    In terms of volume, Louis Cruise Lines once again dominated. More than 1.4 million shares were traded and the stock climbed 12 cents to a last trade of £2.52.

    The highest day climb was however reserved for Share Link. The blue-chip share climbed 50 cents to £21.50 on a turnover of 20,250.

    The firm is due to meet on February 11 to review its 1999 results. Rumours are also flying on the market that it might decide on a stock split.

    The company was targeted by criminals on Monday, when an unexploded bomb was found outside its Larnaca offices.

    The union of brokers condemned the incident and urged the authorities to get to the bottom of the matter.

    * Libra Holidays Group yesterday said its pre-tax profit rose 84 per cent to £4.04 million pounds and its turnover was up by 85 per cent to £59.8 million in 1999. The company said net profit for the year under review rose 125 per cent to £3.4 million pounds. Pre-tax profit for the year also includes an extraordinary £1.1 million, which represents investments in public companies. Libra said it would broaden its business activities this year by including packages to Florida, Egypt and Spain. The company currently specialises in organised packages to Greece and Cyprus.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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