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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-02-03

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

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


Thursday, February 3, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Talks become a slanging match
  • [02] New House will take at least ten years to build
  • [03] Market rallies as investment firms step in
  • [04] Paphos won’t (and can’t) share its water
  • [05] Broad welcome for police decision to stop naming suspects
  • [06] Hoteliers blast trend towards ‘poverty tourism’
  • [07] Nicosia man ‘ordered Ecstasy stash from Amsterdam’
  • [08] Snake George says conservation plan too little too late
  • [09] House begins 3-day Budget debate

  • [01] Talks become a slanging matchBy Jean ChristouTHE GENEVA proximity talks took another battering yesterday as the two leaders clashed through the media on the issue of sovereignty.On the third day of the talks, President Clerides went as far as breaking the UN-imposed news blackout to answer comments Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash made on Tuesday.After informing UN negotiator Alvaro de Soto of his intention, Clerides issued a written statement "in order to reply to Denktash".Denktash later rubbished the statement in comments to the press: "Clerides is trying to get away with Cyprus and naturally he can't," he said."Mr Denktash on February 1, in answering questions to the press, made statements i.e. that I am denying even bizonality of the settlement, that he "will not discuss territory, boundaries, that such things will be discussed when the sovereignty rights of the north are recognised and not before"," Clerides said in his written statement. "He has also made a false statement that the Security Council has endorsed global exchange of property."

    Clerides said what the Greek Cypriot side was aiming at was not to create a new state but to amend the constitution from a unitary state to a federal state.

    "What Mr Denktash proposes is tantamount to the abolition of the Republic of Cyprus and the creation of two new states..." he said. "I wish to make it absolutely clear that as far as we are concerned the question of sovereignty is not a negotiable issue."

    Confederation, he added, "is excluded and cannot be accepted".

    On Denktash's reference to a global exchange of property, Clerides said there was no such decision of the Security Council.

    Later he told the press: "The (UN) resolutions (on Cyprus) are there. The resolutions were not made by (UN Secretary-general) Mr Annan but by the Security Council, and nobody except the Security Council can say whether the resolutions should be ignored or not, and no Security Council will say that its resolutions must be ignored."

    Denktash said he did not take Clerides' statement seriously, because if he did it would mean the Greek Cypriot side did not want a settlement.

    Speaking after his meeting with De Soto, the Turkish Cypriot leader said: "We don't take that seriously because the constitution was declared to be dead and buried by Makarios."

    "There is no constitution for the whole of Cyprus, there are two constitutions. Mr Clerides knows we are talking on confederation and we shall continue to talk in the hope that in the third round things will become clearer to both sides," Denktash said. "Only then we'll understand whether there is any reasonable chance for rapprochement."

    Annan confirmed at the opening of the second round on Monday that issues put forward by Denktash, including confederation, were being discussed in his meetings with De Soto.

    However, the Secretary-general also said he was optimistic of a settlement in the course of the year.

    In an interview on Monday night, Clerides said the recognition issue was blocking a solution.

    The UN is expected to make proposals of its own at the third round of talks, expected in May or June. The current round is expected to last about 10 days.

    Thursday, February 3, 2000

    [02] New House will take at least ten years to build

    By Athena Karsera

    A NEW House of Representatives will not be built for at least ten years, while plans for an interim relocation will be discussed next week, it was announced yesterday.

    Parliamentary representatives from the political parties were yesterday briefed on the issue by the Communications and Finance Ministers in a meeting presided over by acting House president Nicos Anastassiades.

    Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou said an in-depth discussion on the site of the new House would begin mid-April.

    Plans to build the House at the old Pasidy headquarters had to be scrapped after preliminary digging uncovered a rich archaeological site.

    "Everyone unanimously agreed that the use of the Pasidy hill site was ruled out," Neophytou said yesterday. "It is technically impossible for the volume of archaeological finds to co-exist with the House building."

    Neophytou said the three proposed sites for the new building were south of the original site - in between the old and new Pasidy buildings - the area where prefab government buildings stand south of the Pasidy building, and the area of the Nicosia general hospital, opposite the current parliament.

    "We were committed by April 15 to present the results on the alternatives, their pluses and minuses and their extra costs," the minister said.

    Anastassiades said the original architectural plans would still taking into account relevant alterations for the site.

    He said the new House would take at least ten years to be completed. "In the meantime, we all see the need for the House to be moved or even for it to stay where it is with another location found for offices for the deputies or office staff."

    Anastassiades said that an expert committee had been formed to this end, which had already put forward suggestions on the matter.

    "It is now in the court of the cross-party committee meeting this week to discuss the experts' suggestions in terms of the needs."

    Anastassiades did not say what these alternatives might be, but they are thought to include the Yiorkio hotel, the Philoxenia hotel in conjunction with the International Conference Centre, or the option of using the current house with offices relocated to part of the Churchill hotel.

    Thursday, February 3, 2000

    [03] Market rallies as investment firms step in

    By Michael Ioannou

    THE MARKET rallied by a further 3,3 per cent yesterday, driven by block buys in heavyweight banks as smaller capitalised sectors took the back seat.

    More liquidity was starting to enter the market from investment firms flush with cash. Those firms were doing the most buying, traders said.

    But analysts cautioned that the present cash flow did not point to maintenance of the rally momentum until further funds were released by investment companies waiting for a CSE listing.

    "Smaller investors are making a comeback, but gradually," a trader said.

    "Institutionals have been more active for the past two days because of the attractive levels several stocks were at."

    Institutional investors had taken Monday off when the market was drubbed 5.0 per cent.

    It was a showing some brokers said was a bear play by influential market players who wanted to push prices lower then mop up cheap prices.

    Such practices are not illegal. In fact, it is a tactic that is widely adopted in some markets even if some traders raise a question of ethics.

    "It is downright arrogant to say the market could fall to ‘x’ from ‘y’ point," the disapproving head of one Nicosia brokerage said.

    By yesterday the market had clocked up a 112.99 point loss from the start of the year. A strong showing on Tuesday and yesterday trimmed percentage losses to 15.8 per cent from a previous calculation of 20 per cent.

    Buoyed by forecasts of good 1999 results, the banking sector yesterday surged 4.3 per cent, outperforming the general index.

    A weaker performance by smaller cap shares, and investment companies in particular, offset further gains for the all-share benchmark, which climbed 19.12 points to 600.98.

    The trend of the session was evident from pre-trading. Opening more than two per cent firmer after pre-trading, the market hit an intraday low of 592.50 before starting its climb. It hit a high of 601.78 before scaling back a whisper over the 600 resistance level to 600.98.

    Traders said shares were not advancing in unison, denoting selective buying in stocks. One said that investment companies, which posted some of the smallest returns on the day, were still overpriced.

    "The market appears to be showing prudence. We did not see any extremes and trading was more selective," said Neophytos Neophytou of AAA United Stockbrokers.

    That much was evident in the banking sector. Bank of Cyprus and Popular Bank climbed 30 and 61 cents respectively, while 20 cents was wiped off Hellenic, the smallest of the three commercial banks.

    Companies in the "other" category continued to command high percentages of overall trade. Louis Cruise Lines topped volume ranks with 800,000 shares changing hands, and there was also active trade in Claridge, Amathus Navigation and Cassoulides, which all ended on the upside.

    Twenty-eight companies have applied to the Cyprus Stock Exchange for listing, the bourse said yesterday.

    The companies are: Alkioni Fish Farm Ltd., Atlantic Insurance Ltd., Aristo Investments Ltd., Aiantas Investments Ltd., C.A.C. Papantoniou Ltd., Chris Cash and Carry Ltd., Constantinou Bros Hotels Ltd., CLR Investments Fund Ltd., Demetra Investment Ltd., Dimco Electrical Supplies Ltd., Drake Investments Ltd., Europrofit Capital Investments Ltd., Phoenikas Famagusta Investments Ltd., Exelixi Investment Ltd., Isxis Investment Ltd., Jumbo Investments Ltd., Cosmos Insurance Company Ltd., Kyknos Investment Portfolio Ltd., Pharmakas Quarries Ltd., LK Global Soft.Com Ltd., Multichoice (Cyprus) Ltd., Muskita Aluminium Industries Ltd., New Marathon Tours Ltd., Palinex Trading Ltd., Phil Andreou Ltd., Pierides G. Electrical Ltd., PHC Franchised Restaurants Ltd. and Telia Aqua Marine Ltd.

    The submission of applications does not necessarily imply approval for the companies to list on the bourse, the stock exchange said.

    Thursday, February 3, 2000

    [04] Paphos won’t (and can’t) share its water

    By Anthony O. Miller

    PAPHOS, which has two-thirds of the island's reservoir water behind dams, will not be sharing any with the rest of the island because there is no way of getting it there, a government water official said yesterday.

    Paphos Mayor Phidias Sarikas has declared that, despite the drought, he "cannot accept Paphos residents depriving themselves of water to give water to other areas," Phileleftheros reported yesterday.

    Sarikas also said the Paphos water service would not become a water board because the municipality wants to handle the water issue itself.

    "Half of the water (in Cyprus) is in Paphos. It's much more than the rest of the island has," Nicos Tsiourtis, Senior Water Engineer at the Water Development Department (WDD) said yesterday.

    In fact, of the Republic's total of 30.6 million cubic metres (30 billion litres) of reservoir water, the Paphos has 20.5 million cubic metres of it in its dams, Tsiourtis told the Cyprus Mail.

    This water is behind various dams of the Paphos Project, including the Asprokremos Dam outside Paphos (11.5 million cubic metres), the Evretou Dam near Polis (6 million cubic metres) and several smaller area dams (3 million cubic metres), he said.

    By comparison, Kouris Dam, largest of several reservoirs along the Southern Conveyor - which supplies Larnaca, Limassol, Nicosia and smaller cities between the dam and the capital - has only 9 million cubic metres of water in it, Tsiourtis said.

    This figure represents half what Paphos dams hold, and is a mere one-third of the total water in storage behind state dams.

    According to Tsiourtis, Mayor Sarikas has no need to worry about sharing the water in Paphos Project dams because, "there is no way to connect it" to the Southern Conveyor to feed the remainder of the island.

    The sole link between the Southern Conveyor and mountains north of Paphos- Polis is the Dhiarizos Diversion. This is a dam high in the mountains that blocks the Dhiarizos River, feeds some of its water to local towns, and then sends the excess through a tunnel to Kouris Dam and the Southern Conveyor up to Nicosia.

    "(But) there is no intention of getting water from Paphos to Nicosia," Tsiourtis said, adding it would be very expensive to build the necessary pipelines. And besides, he said, at this juncture - despite the drought - "there is no need" for it.

    Dams along the Southern Conveyor, which were built in wetter times, "are not yielding expected amounts due to the drought," Tsiourtis said. The WDD is "only getting 60 million cubic metres of water a year" from them, whereas it was supposed to get 102 million cubic metres per year when they were built.

    Where Cyprus had 34.8 million cubic metres behind its dams this time last year, it only has 30.6 million cubic metres today. "But there is a difference," Tsiourtis said. "Last year, water levels were still going up at this time; now we are just using the water, because there is no rain."

    Indeed, average rainfall is 50 per cent of normal for the meteorological year, which began last October 1 and ends this September 30, according to the Meteorological Service.

    "We don't have to import water at the moment," Tsiourtis said, "but we are still waiting. We have two more months to go for more rains" before things get critical as upwards of 2 million tourists swell the island's water- consuming population.

    The island's sole desalination plant, at Dhekelia, turns out 40,000 cubic metres of water per day at maximum output, and sells it to the WDD at 54 cents per cubic metre.

    A second desalination plant is under construction south of Larnaca, but has been beset with a lawsuit filed by the city's mayor to halt its construction.

    "Technicalities" in the law - including the fact the plant is a state project on state land – have allowed construction to continue, despite the court order to halt it on grounds it lacked a building permit.

    Meanwhile, municipal water boards continue to set their own rates, encouraging over-use in some cities, and conservation in others.

    For instance, Limassol has old water rights to a spring near the Kouris Dam and to groundwater from the Yermasoyia Aquifer, according to Tsiourtis. These rights entitle it to 4.4 million cubic metres of water free of charge.

    For any WDD water it receives - because the House of Representatives refused to approve a water rate rise for Limassol residents - the Limassol Water Board only has to pay 3.7 cents per cubic metre of state water, Tsiourtis said.

    This contrasts with the 27.5 cents that Nicosia and Larnaca Water Boards have to pay per cubic metre of WDD water, he said, and the 33.5 cents per cubic metre the WDD would like to be able - with House approval - to charge per cubic metre.

    Not only is Limassol getting its WDD water for a mere fraction of what other cities pay for it, he said, but the Limassol Water Board for years has refused to pay even this minimal charge.

    Tsiourtis said the government passed a law last June enabling the WDD to take the Limassol Water Board to court to get its money. But such matters ultimately fall to the Attorney-general's office for action, he said.

    Tsiourtis said that, as things now stood, it would be impossible to impose a uniform water charge on all municipalities. "Each water board has its own law. Each is autonomous. Each has different resources. Some (like Limassol) also have water rights they bought in the past," and can pretty much do as they please.

    Thursday, February 3, 2000

    [05] Broad welcome for police decision to stop naming suspects

    By George Psyllides

    THE CHAIRMAN of the Press Ethics Committee Andreas Mavrommatis yesterday expressed his satisfaction at the police decision to stop naming suspects before they come up for trial.

    The police last week decided to uphold a suggestion by Ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou to stop naming suspects before they were even charged.

    A police spokesman said yesterday the Council of Ministers had discussed the suggestion and decided it should be implemented.

    Mavrommatis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday his committee had repeatedly appealed to the authorities to do something about the way suspects were brought to court and presented by the media.

    "We are glad the police decided to stop publishing names," he said.

    The Chairman of the Journalists’ Union, Andreas Kannaouros, echoed Mavrommatis’ enthusiasm, saying it was "a good first step in the right direction."

    "We must be careful how we portray suspects," he added.

    Kannaouros said many suspects were released without charge, but their reputations were often left in tatters because of the way they had been named by police and paraded on television.

    "In most European countries it is prohibited to announce the names until and if they are charged," he said.

    Kannaouros urged the media to give equal prominence to the fact that some suspects were cleared and thus to restore their tarnished reputations.

    He said he expected the police decision to be respected by the media and called on the Attorney-general and the Justice Minister to honour their pledges to discuss ways to protect suspects further.

    Last November, the President of the Supreme Court said he would ask the government to pass legislation to protect the rights of suspects being brought to court.

    Judge George Pikis said he would seek new regulations to protect suspects, defendants and witnesses from media targeting during their arraignment.

    Pikis said he wanted to prohibit the media from taking pictures or television footage of suspects being taken to court.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides has suggested that self-regulation by the media could be more appropriate.

    He said he had been liberal towards media prosecutions because he believed in the public's right to be informed.

    "At the same time, however, it is no secret that I believe that the media have exceeded the accepted limits, with reporters attempting to ask questions that were tormenting for the suspects," said Markides.

    Photographers and cameramen regularly mob suspects and defendants as they go in and out of court, with television reporters often questioning suspects on the courthouse steps.

    Thursday, February 3, 2000

    [06] Hoteliers blast trend towards ‘poverty tourism’

    By Jean Christou

    A GROUP of hoteliers yesterday said Cyprus was heading more and more towards "poverty tourism".

    At its AGM in Nicosia, Marios Hampoullas, chairman of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (Stek), said the current philosophy was geared towards the lowest prices possible.

    Stek is a breakaway group of some 30 four and five star hoteliers who aim to improve the quality of the island's tourism.

    "We are not under any illusions that mass tourism will be eliminated," he said. "It's tourism of the biggest number at the expense of profit."

    Hampoullas also criticised what he called the "low standard of facilities" in Cyprus, which he added were being tolerated by the government.

    He said Cyprus had failed to create a tourism identity for itself, which should be characterised by its cultural and natural resources.

    "We did not manage to promote the strong elements of Cyprus' identity," he said. "We haven't got a tourism profile but remain a traditional Mediterranean tourism destination of the sun and sea variety. Just like so many others we are an uncolourful attraction and it has become clear that it is due to low prices."

    Hampoullas said the trend towards low prices was continuing even though the operating costs of hotels were increasing and despite the fact that the island's hoteliers were millions of pounds in debt.

    He called on the government to implement as soon as possible a concrete plan "which would have a vision up to 2010".

    Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis, who addressed the AGM, painted a more optimistic picture.

    He outlined the government's plans for more marinas, golf courses and other projects to increase quality tourism.

    Last year, tourism revenue passed the one billion mark, representing an increase of 16.4 per cent over 1998.

    Revenue should also increase substantially in 2000 if the forecast eight per cent rise in arrivals becomes a reality.

    The government's long term aim is to increase arrivals to three million by 2003 and then review plans towards 2010 to a possible 3.5 million. Arrivals in 1999 numbered 2.4 million.

    A plan to boost winter tourism, which was recently approved by the cabinet and is currently pending the approval of the House, is expected to raise arrivals between November 2000 and April 2001.

    Thursday, February 3, 2000

    [07] Nicosia man ‘ordered Ecstasy stash from Amsterdam’

    A NICOSIA man was yesterday remanded in custody for four days on suspicion of ordering cocaine and Ecstasy seized at Larnaca airport on Monday.

    Police believe 34-year-old Panayiotis Constantinides from Nicosia was the mastermind behind an attempt to smuggle drugs through customs.

    Paris Ypsilantis, 28, 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.

    It was the biggest single Ecstasy seizure ever made by Cyprus police.

    Police told Larnaca court yesterday that Constantinides allegedly gave Ypsilantis £9,600 to haul the drugs from Holland.

    Thursday, February 3, 2000

    [08] Snake George says conservation plan too little too late

    By Martin Hellicar

    A LOCAL reptiles expert yesterday hit out at government plans to save the Cyprus grass snake, saying the rescue plan should have been launched years ago.

    On Monday, the Game Fund announced it was to bring over a US expert to draw up a plan for saving the fast disappearing species, called a water-snake in Cyprus.

    But Paphos reptile expert Hans Jorg Wiedl, known as Snake George, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the time for studies had passed.

    "The situation is so bad that if we do not do something very soon we will have lost the Cyprus grass snake forever," he warned.

    Snake George - arguably the island's foremost authority on reptiles - said he had gone to the government with a plan for saving the grass snake "many years ago."

    Snake George questioned the wisdom of the Game Fund decision to spend money and time on bringing over a US expert when he was willing, ready and able to do the job himself.

    "I know exactly what has to be done and what the problem is," he said.

    Snake George can lay claim to having "re-discovered" the Cyprus grass snake, which is a local variety of the more widespread Eurasian species, after it had been declared extinct a few years ago.

    The small snake was found at an undisclosed wetland site in the Paphos area.

    "I recently found it at another site, but I would not want people to know where," Snake George told the Mail yesterday.

    The snake lives in streams, ponds and dam edges and feeds on frogs, crayfish and fish.

    Its numbers have been hit by habitat loss and, principally, by poisoning from pesticides used to eradicate mosquitoes.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Thursday, February 3, 2000

    [09] House begins 3-day Budget debate

    By Athena Karsera

    THE HOUSE of Representatives yesterday began a three-day debate on the 2000 Budget, but in speeches lasting a total of more than four hours, Deputies for the most part strayed from discussing the budget itself and into oft-repeated party policy on the Cyprus problem and other issues.Set to approve the budget tomorrow are the ruling Disy party, Diko and the United Democrats. Akel says it will only vote to approve the funds for defence and refugees, while Edek will vote against the budget except for the defence allocations.Akel General-secretary Demetris Christofias said the decision was taken because the government was Afollowing a policy that does not favour the people@. He said that while the Budget was positive in that it improved funds for defence and refugees, it also increased state expenditure.

    The 2000 Budget is the first to be presented as an overall package, having previously been divided into the "Ordinary", "Development" and "Relief Fund for Displaced and Afflicted Persons" budgets. It sets expenditure at ,2,007.4 million and revenue at ,1,088.4 million.

    The debate is slated to continue at 10am today.


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