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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-02-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, February 17, 2000


  • [01] EU urged to up accession funds
  • [02] Mayor leads village revolt against police
  • [03] Clerides to chair ‘decisive’ water crisis meeting tomorrow
  • [04] Cars stranded as snow blankets Troodos
  • [05] Shares down slightly for second day
  • [06] Disy voting plan seeks more deputies but edges out small parties
  • [07] Israel in search of business partners
  • [08] Government plans new departments for university
  • [09] Nicosia to host employers’ round table

  • [01] EU urged to up accession funds

    THE European Parliament yesterday urged the EU Council to allocate 130 million euros (about CYP ,75 million) to Cyprus and Malta during accession talks, and to provide even more funds to encourage Greek and TurkishCypriot communities to get together.

    The Parliament's suggestion for 130 million euros exceeds plans by the EU Commission and Council to offer 95 million euros to both countries.

    Top EU official for enlargement Guenter Verheugen said he was hopeful the Cyprus problem could be solved, and said direct talks could start by the Autumn. With this in mind, he stressed the need for greater bi-communal communication.

    Portugal, which is the current EU Council president country, noted that a "window for a solution" to the Cyprus problem appeared to open after the EU's December summit in Helsinki, when Turkey was invited to apply for membership to the 15-member EU club.

    Thursday, February 17, 2000

    [02] Mayor leads village revolt against police

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE MAYOR of Lefkara yesterday led a "citizens' revolt" against a police clampdown on minor traffic offences in the Larnaca area village.

    Sofoclis Sofocleous said the village police sergeant had arrested him for his trouble, but Lefkara police denied this.

    It was all sparked by Lefkara police launching an early morning booking offensive against illegal parking and drivers not wearing seatbelts.

    Larnaca police chief Dimitrakis Georgiades said more than 15 Lefkara residents were ticketed for such offences.

    By the time Sofocleous went to open his office in the village just after 8am, an angry crowd had gathered outside to protest against the police action.

    "There were about 20 or 30 people outside my office shouting and complaining that police were implementing the letter of the law on belts and parking," the mayor told CyBC radio.

    While stating that the law had to be respected, Sofocleous also expressed sympathy with the crowd of protesters, noting that the police clampdown had come "early in the morning" and had "never been done before".

    The mayor said he tried to pacify the crowd but then decided to join in their protest when informed that he was being blamed for the police action.

    "I was told that police said the municipality had given the order for the clampdown when only the police or the Justice Minister can give such orders, " he said.

    Sofocleous then led a procession to the village police station. A noisy confrontation between the crowd and the duty sergeant ensued, with Sofocleous to the fore. Things got heated, and the sergeant reportedly told the mayor he was under arrest.

    Sofocleous later admitted he had insulted the officer. "I used a specific expression at the officer, a commonplace phrase which expressed my feelings about police behaviour. He told me I was under arrest."

    But the intervention of Larnaca police headquarters seemed to patch things up between the mayor and the village policeman.

    "It was nothing, and, no, the mayor is not under arrest," an officer at the Lefkara police station told the Cyprus Mail yesterday afternoon. Sofocleous said his arrest had been "an arrest in inverted commas".

    Thursday, February 17, 2000

    [03] Clerides to chair ‘decisive’ water crisis meeting tomorrow

    By Anthony O. Miller

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides and the Council of Ministers are holding an water-crisis meeting at the Presidential Palace tomorrow to discuss the island's worsening drought and local opposition to construction of emergency seawater desalination plants.

    The crisis meeting comes amid government warnings of even tougher rationing this summer than already is in force due to failing winter rains and falling reservoir levels.

    The tightened rationing includes a total cut-off of all reservoir water for irrigation from Limassol to Famagusta.

    It also includes radical cutbacks for all cities getting dam water from the Southern Conveyor, which stretches from Kouris Dam in the south to Nicosia in the north, government sources said.

    President Glafcos Clerides will chair the water "war council". It will include all government ministers and representatives of the relevant government departments and selected water experts.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said Clerides told him to reply to all water questions by saying: "Tell them I'm handling the case personally."

    "I think the matter will be dealt with tomorrow and finished. I think that by tomorrow the situation must be clarified," Papapetrou said.

    Meanwhile, the villagers of Akrotiri, north of Limassol and within the British Sovereign Bases area, have reiterated their refusal to have a desalination plant in their community.

    In a letter dated June 1, 1999, signed by G. Christou, mukhtar of Akrotiri, and faxed to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Akrotiri residents declared their "strong disagreement with the thoughts for setting up a desalination unit in our area, following the actions of the Zakaki community."

    Opposition to a desalination plant by Zakaki villagers spurred the House of Representatives last month to kill the project by denying the Water Development Department (WDD) the money to build it.

    The villagers feared the plant would lower property values and interfere with swimming along Lady's Mile beach. Enough deputies agreed to kill funding for the plant.

    Similar opposition in Ayios Theodoros scuppered plans for a desalination plant on that area of the coast.

    And the island's second desalination plant, under construction south of Larnaca - near the airport and the sewage treatment plant - remains tied up in court, owing to opposition by that city's mayor and residents to where it has been located.

    Meanwhile winter rains are only 46 per cent of normal and reservoir levels are only three-fifths of what they were at this time last year.

    Island reservoirs are now only 11 per cent full - or 89 per cent empty - with about 31.5 million cubic metres of water in them. At this time last year they were 18.8 per cent full, and had 51.4 million cubic metres of water.

    Despite these facts and the threat of more Draconian water rationing, the Akrotiri residents' letter declared that, "in any case, our community... is determined to react strongly and not to accept the construction of this (desalination) unit in our area in any way. This decision is final."

    WDD Senior Engineer Nicos Tsiourtis said this week that, if the Zakaki residents had not got the House to kill the desalination plant slated for their area, the Limassol area would have had much more water than it otherwise will this summer.

    Cyprus gets its water from dams, aquifers and the island's sole desalination plant, in Dhekelia. Many aquifers are bone dry due to overpumping; others are tainted with seawater seepage; and still others are dangerously low for lack of annual rainfall to recharge them.

    Thursday, February 17, 2000

    [04] Cars stranded as snow blankets Troodos

    BRITISH soldiers were drafted in yesterday to clear snow-bound roads in Troodos and set up emergency shelter for people stranded after heavy snowfall on Tuesday night.

    Troodos Square and the road to Mount Olympus were covered with 35 centimetres of snow, while other areas were blanketed by over a metre and a half.

    The sudden onset of the storm forced many motorists to abandon their vehicles.

    By yesterday afternoon, the main thoroughfares had been cleared for traffic. But the roads remained icy and British soldiers stationed on Mount Olympus made additional efforts to clear car parks for day-trippers who continued to head up to the mountains. No serious accidents were reported.

    A British forces spokesman said 120 people from the resort areas had been taken to a main sheltering station for temporary accommodation.

    According to the Cyprus Meteorological Service, the current conditions are not unusual for this time of year, with precipitation low and temperatures near normal. Meteorologists do not expect more snowfall before Friday afternoon.

    Thursday, February 17, 2000

    [05] Shares down slightly for second day

    By Michael Ioannou

    SHARES ended marginally lower for the second consecutive day as investors continued to realise profits from a recent rally.

    Profit taking pulled the CSE all-share index 8.7 points down to 648.58 points, 1.3 per cent lower from Tuesday after a soft opening.

    The market opened after pre-trading at 647.17 points, from a closing level of 657.29 on Tuesday.

    Negotiating a band of 650.12, the intraday highest, to a low of 644.12, trading was seen moving in narrow range for the near-term, said traders.

    Traded value was almost three million pounds lower than Tuesday at £19.3 million with 3,800 trades.

    Stockbrokers said the market's current reference point was around 650 points, with oscillations around that figure.

    "The market will fluctuate up and down and that is healthy," said one floor trader.

    Analysts said the current trend cultivated a good climate for investors angling for a short-term stay.

    "The ups and downs have created some good opportunities for people quick to get in and out of the market. It is not an easy feat and does carry a degree of risk," said an analyst.

    All seven sectors moved lower, led by a 1.44 per cent climbdown for banks, which lost 11.20 points to settle at 768.86 points.

    Bank of Cyprus lost 25 cents to close on a last deal at £10.15 with a volume of 358,365 shares. Traders reported that there was a "wait-and-see" attitude towards the stock ahead of 1999 results the group will release on Friday and expectations of some firm news of when the group will list in Athens.

    Group chairman Solon Triantafyllides was in Athens on Tuesday discussing the issue with Greek monetary authorities. One newspaper reported that he received no firm commitment from them that the share would be listed prior to Greek elections in April, which is what the bank wants.

    "There is a lot of speculation, either that it will get in before or after the elections," said Christakis Christodoulou of Benchmark Securities.

    In the rest of the banking sector, Laiki were trading 13 cents lower on a last deal of £15.20 and Hellenic 4 cents down to £4.16. Universal Bank were off 7 to £6.92.

    In terms of volume, Louis Cruise Lines remained the most actively traded stock with 552,000 shares changing hands, followed by Hellenic with 361, 000.

    * AN INITIAL public offering for shares in Demetra Investment Company was over-subscribed by almost eight times as the firm gleaned a record £981 million in applications, company executives said yesterday.

    The response was so huge that Demetra hiked the IPO to 179.4 million shares from an initial £129.4 million pounds, with a par value of one pound, chairman Demetris Pitsillides told a news conference.

    It received 191,354 applications from individuals seeking shares. "On all counts, this is a record for Cyprus and is a display of the confidence the public has shown in us," he said.

    In an effort to achieve a maximum spread, all subscribers to the issue will receive a minimum allocation of 200 shares for the first 500 pounds worth of stock sought. Shares will be distributed at a ratio of 1 for every 8 shares sought above that sum, Pitsillides said.

    "We made this provision with the interests of small investors in mind," he said.

    Eleven million pounds worth of shares would go to co-op staff and associates and the remainder, some £25.4 million worth, would be distributed to institutional investors, which are mainly provident funds.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) deferred a decision on Tuesday clearing the application of Demetra to the next stage of the listing process, which would be a review by the CSE Council.

    Pitsillides dismissed the delay as irrelevant. "There is no problem, it was a marginal issue," he said, implying that the details requested by the SEC related to the share registry, which had not been concluded by Tuesday.

    "Our registry is seven times larger than the next largest firm on the exchange," added Kikis Kazamias, chairman of Lefkoniko, Demetra's parent company.

    Pitsillides said he expected Demetra to float on the market in March. By that time, a co-op brokerage will have also commenced operations, he said.

    Thursday, February 17, 2000

    [06] Disy voting plan seeks more deputies but edges out small parties

    By Athena Karsera

    RULING party Disy is today expected to announce its proposal for a new parliamentary voting system.

    Disy president Nicos Anastassiades said yesterday that what the party envisaged was a "modernisation of the whole voting system to satisfy the citizens and to provide for a satisfactory political life necessary for a republic to exist."

    One of the suggestions made public by Anastassiades yesterday was for the number of deputies to be raised from the current 56 to 70.

    He said his party’s proposal would not suggest doing away with the proportional ratio system, but may raise the percentage threshold required by a party to be represented in the House.

    Parties currently need to achieve 1.79 per cent of the vote to secure a seat in parliament.

    Anastassiades also said the definition of a political party would have to be clarified.

    The president of the small News Horizon party immediately expressed his dissatisfaction at the Disy plan. His party failed to make the grade at the last elections and would have even less chance of making it to parliament if the threshold was raised further.

    Nicos Koutsou said raising the percentage required by parties to be represented in the House was a step back and not modernisation.

    He said the measure would force people into voting for bigger parties, as they would feel a vote for a minority party would be wasted.

    Main opposition party Akel leader Demetris Christofias said yesterday he felt the Cyprus political system was still developing and cautioned against immature politicians making decisions that could lead the country into difficulties.

    He said any new ideas had to be faced calmly and said that Akel was open to discuss any suggestions.

    Disy's proposal is set to come shortly after one signed by 13 deputies from a range of parties last week.

    The deputies' proposal, which has not yet been endorsed by any party as a whole, calls for the election of individual deputies instead of their appointment from party lists, and calls for voters to be able to cast preference votes across party lines.

    Thursday, February 17, 2000

    [07] Israel in search of business partners

    ISRAELI businessmen and government officials will visit Cyprus next week for a three-day conference at the Nicosia Hilton Hotel in search of partners for industrial joint ventures.

    Yoram Blizovsky, Director-general of the Israel Manufacturers Association will accompany Israel's Director of Foreign Trade Zohar Peri and Director- general of the Israel Export Institute, Amir Hayek, at the head of the 16- member Israeli delegation.

    The Israeli business sectors represented include computer software; industrial and electrical engineering; the diamond trade; chemicals, paints and sealants; steel products, fencing and sheds and all variety of home appliances.

    Among the heavyweight companies anchoring the conference are transnational corporations Motorolla Corp and Rad Data Communications.

    Conference organisers have set aside time for one-on-one discussions between individual Cypriot businessmen and Israeli corporate representatives to facilitate maximum exposure for both sides to the joint- venture business opportunities available.

    Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis will address the conference on Monday. Rolandis, Finance Minister Takis Klerides and Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou will also meet with businessmen at the conference.

    Thursday, February 17, 2000

    [08] Government plans new departments for university

    THE GOVERNMENT is to create a department of applied sciences and vocational skills at the Cyprus University.

    The new department will be made up of the four existing government tertiary education colleges: the Higher Technical Institute (HTI), the Hotel and Catering Institute, the Forestry College and the Nursing College.

    The decision was made at yesterday's cabinet meeting and announced jointly by the Ministers of Education and Labour, Ouranios Ioannides and Andreas Moushiouttas.

    "A study being carried out by the Labour Ministry will show us the fields, directions and levels we must have and the methods, procedures and time- frame," Ioannides said.

    The study will also determine to what extent the colleges need to be upgraded to meet the needs of the modern workplace.

    The plan is for the study to be carried out by the four existing government colleges themselves, Moushiouttas said.

    The ministers said it was too early to say when the new University department would be up and running or how much the whole project would cost.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Thursday, February 17, 2000

    [09] Nicosia to host employers’ round table

    NICOSIA is to play host to a "round table" meeting of employers' organisations from 28 European countries this May.

    The initiative for organising the Fourth Round Table Synod of Employers and Industrialists Organisations of EU member states and accession candidates in Cyprus belongs to local employers' association Oev.

    Oev chairman Andreas Pittas said the organisation of the synod in Cyprus on May 22 and 23 was a "great honour" for Cyprus and a real feather in the cap for Oev.

    "It is not hard to take on board how significant this meeting will be for the promotion of the Island's accession process," Pittas said at a news conference yesterday.

    The aims of the round table meeting will be to facilitate EU expansion by preparing employers organisations in candidate countries, Pittas said.

    The topics to be covered during the two-day synod are:

    - the role of employers organisations in implementation of the Acquis communautaire as it applies to employment and social policy;

    - the promotion of health and safety in the workplace; and

    - an analysis of programmes for support of employers organisations in EU candidate countries offered by the European Commission and International Labour Organisation.

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