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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-02-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, February 25, 2000


  • [01] Government calm amid reports of British 'spying'
  • [02] Government saves Meridien from threat of closure
  • [03] Cabinet approves golf course for Ayia Napa
  • [04] Cyprus airways probes expense scam allegation
  • [05] Tourist tax will take three months to flow into CTO coffers
  • [06] Clerides delivers strong message of support for shipping
  • [07] Market edges down on record low trade
  • [08] Four more refugees lodge cases against Turkey
  • [09] Horse exhumed after doubts cast on poisoning theory

  • [01] Government calm amid reports of British 'spying'

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GOVERNMENT did its best to keep things in perspective, but reports of British "spying" activity on the island yesterday threatened to take on a life of their own.

    The reports were sparked by debate of the Echelon monitoring network at the European parliament's civil liberties committee on Wednesday. A report tabled before the committee by British physicist Duncan Campbell suggested the British-American satellite monitoring system was used to intercept fax, telephone and radio exchanges across the globe.

    The report apparently notes that one of Echelon's 10 ground monitoring stations is located within the British Bases on Cyprus. This led local newspapers and radio and television stations to conclude that the British were spying against Cyprus.

    Armed with these claims - and well-aware of public sensitivity to spying issues - local journalists yesterday set out to get comment on the matter from any official available.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou seemed to suggest it was self- evident that monitoring was part of the function of the British bases.

    AThe British have military bases, as we all know, and these bases are not schools or colleges," he told his morning briefing.

    "Everyone knows the British have radars (on Cyprus); what they do, we cannot say," he added.

    But the spokesman stated the government had no official information on the issue and was not about to draw conclusions solely on the basis of reports.

    "We've seen the reports and are investigating the issue. Once the facts have been determined, we will decide about what the government will do, whether it will act, and how."

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said he knew nothing about the issue except what he had read in the papers.

    Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said the state had no evidence of British spying against Cyprus.

    "We cannot say for sure whether there are (British) spying stations or not. If they are indeed spying on our interests, it is a very big issue. But because there is nothing before us to say there is spying, all we can do is ask for explanations from the British," Hasikos said.

    The chairman of the House defence committee, Takis Hadjidemetriou, was not nearly as cautious as the government in his response.

    He said it was "well-known" that the British were spying on Cyprus.

    "Various services, and the bases in particular, are spying against our country," Hadjidemetriou said.

    Greek Euro-MP Alecos Alavanos - a member of the European parliament committee examining the Echelon issue - fanned the flames further yesterday.

    Alavanos said the government should urgently seek explanations on the Echelon issue from London.

    The MEP said the monitoring system threatened the "health and safety" of local residents. He admitted he did not know where exactly the echelon ground station in Cyprus was.

    British Sovereign Base (SBA) authorities declined to comment on the essence of the issue yesterday.

    "Britain has long-established worldwide communications networks and the facilities in Cyprus have always been an important link in the worldwide communications organisations," a brief bases statement read.

    "The SBA cannot comment on specific aspects of this worldwide communications network."

    Friday, February 25, 2000

    [02] Government saves Meridien from threat of closure

    By Martin Hellicar

    FACED with the threat of temporary closure of a top hotel, the government yesterday decided retroactively to grant planning permission for an extension to Limassol's Le Meridien.

    Work on Le Meridien's new wing began three months ago, on November 21, even though the necessary planning permission had not been granted.

    Construction was halted earlier this week, at the request of the Limassol District Office.

    But things took a turn for the better for the five-star hotel yesterday.

    When the Cyprus Mail spoke to Le Meridien's manager John Wood yesterday morning, he seemed a worried man.

    He said the hotel would be forced to close its doors and cancel all its bookings for the coming summer season unless a belated permit was granted, and fast.

    "If they do not give us the permit in the next day or so, we will be forced to stop work (on the extension) completely, simply because we cannot carry on with building into the summer season," Wood said.

    "If that's the case, we will be forced into the unfortunate situation of closing the hotel down completely. There's no point in bringing people in to look at a building site," the hotel manager said, pointing out that the new wing was going up between the existing hotel rooms and the sea.

    Wood defended the hotel's decision to begin construction of the extension before a permit had been granted, telling the Mail that "verbal permission" had been given by the relevant authorities.

    Le Meridien would be forced to pay hefty compensation to the building contractors if work had to be suspended long-term, Wood said.

    But he was hopeful that a belated permit would be granted.

    "The District Office has reassured us we will have all the licences," he said.

    Apart from the possibility of Le Meridien being out of action this summer, the government also faced the threat of industrial action by hotel employees.

    The unions representing Le Meridien workers, Sek and Peo, held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation yesterday morning.

    "The unions are exerting a lot of pressure as well," Wood said. "They - quite rightly - do not want people to loose their jobs," he added.

    A couple of hours later, a relieved Wood contacted the Mail again.

    "We're back in business!" he announced.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou had granted permission for the new wing.

    "It seems the pressure has worked: we have just been advised that the minister has signed the document and it's now going to town planning. We expect to have it in our hands within a couple of hours’ time," Wood said.

    "We have been told by the minister that they can start work tomorrow morning," the hotel manager added.

    Friday, February 25, 2000

    [03] Cabinet approves golf course for Ayia Napa

    A GOLF course is to be created on state forest land in the Ayia Napa area, the government announced yesterday.

    The Cabinet has decided that some 500 donums of forest land are to be leased to a consortium of hoteliers who want to build a golf course to attract winter tourists to the island's east coast area.

    The decision, taken on Wednesday and announced yesterday, is bound to kick up a storm of protest from environmentalists. Greens argue that the parched island does not have water to spare for golf courses. But Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis insists slightly higher water consumption is a small price to pay for attracting more winter visitors.

    An official announcement yesterday explained the Cabinet's reasons for sacrificing forest land for a golf course.

    "The reason it was decided to create a golf course in the Ayia Napa area is the upgrading and enrichment of the tourism product of the Ayia Napa and Paralimni area - which is the only tourist area which suffers seriously from seasonality," the statement read. "A golf course is considered a very significant tourism development which will support tourism the year round."

    More golf courses are in the pipeline.

    Strong local opposition blocked a plan for a course at Pentakomo, in the Limassol area, but the government is still backing plans for a course at Oroklini, near Larnaca.

    There are already two courses in the Paphos area, with a third on the way.

    Despite the water-use concerns, golf experts insist Cyprus can only put itself on the golfing "map" if it can offer enthusiasts six or seven courses to choose from.

    Friday, February 25, 2000

    [04] Cyprus airways probes expense scam allegation

    By George Psyllides

    A HIGH-ranking Cyprus Airways employee is in hot water after reports that she was living a lavish life at the expense of the company.

    According to yesterday’s Politis, the woman, who was posted in an overseas bureau, allegedly fiddled her expenses to the tune of £50,000, passing off as company expenses her own personal spending.

    Cyprus Airways Spokesman Tassos Angeli yesterday told the Cyprus Mail there was an ongoing fraud investigation into the case, and added that the employee involved had been suspended pending its outcome.

    If the investigation exposed foul play, then the company would take all necessary measures, he added.

    Politis said the woman had been submitting receipts made out in the language of the country where she was working. All receipts were accompanied by explanations in Greek or English, written by the woman for the auditors.

    Her alleged scam passed unnoticed until a ‘petrol receipt’ for the company car caught the eye of an auditor.

    According to the receipt, the woman had paid $150 for petrol. After checking, the auditor found that $150 was enough to fill several cars larger than the company car in the country where the woman was working.

    A translator was then called in to check what was actually written on the receipts.

    Bewildered company officials discovered that receipts submitted for petrol, business lunches or gifts for travel agents, were instead for shoes, cosmetics, and other personal items.

    Politis said the total amount involved in the alleged scam was around £50,000.

    The paper claimed the woman was a political protégé, whose position within the company had been "tailor-made" for her.

    Cyprus Airways had provided her with a house, car, and other benefits overseas, Politis said, yet the woman conducted most of her business based in Nicosia. Despite this, her salary included an overseas allowance.

    Friday, February 25, 2000

    [05] Tourist tax will take three months to flow into CTO coffers

    TOURISM Minster Nicos Rolandis yesterday told the House Finance Committee that a loan would be needed cover the three-month interim before the CTO saw any money from the reintroduction of a tourism service provision tax.

    The Council of Ministers this week decided to bring back the three per cent CTO charge for the provision of tourism services, Rolandis told the Committee.

    The Council of Ministers also decided to bring VAT for hotels down from the current eight to five per cent in order for the industry to be protected.

    Rolandis yesterday told Finance Committee that the money would take three months to begin to flow into CTO coffers and said a government guaranteed loan would be needed to bridge the gap.

    He also asked for the House of Representative's support in requesting the loan.

    The three per cent tax is seen as essential to fund the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), whose budget deputies refused to approve last month.

    The tax had been scrapped in an effort to compensate the tourist industry for the loss of business suffered during the Gulf War.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides on Monday told the Finance Committee that the tax would be reintroduced from November 1 this year.

    Friday, February 25, 2000

    [06] Clerides delivers strong message of support for shipping

    President Clerides yesterday assured the Cyprus Shipping Council that the state would do everything in its power to improve the `flag of convenience' image of the Cyprus registry.

    In an address read out at the Council's eleventh annual general meeting yesterday, President Glafcos Clerides said, "I wish to state categorically once again, our strong dedication towards enhancing the image of the Cyprus flag and the Cyprus Maritime Administration... The message to the international shipping fraternity should be crystal clear; we shall not tolerate any substandard vessels in our Registry, and we shall spare no effort in achieving this important goal."

    Clerides said the government had recently amended its policy on the registration of over-aged vessels by not allowing ships of over 23 years of age to be registered.

    He also said that ships over 15 years old now had to undergo a special inspection prior to their registration under the Cyprus flag.

    The President said that 20 inspectors had already been appointed within this framework and that a further eight were being offered positions.

    "The government will do its utmost to secure that Cyprus remains an important international shipping centre even after its full accession into the European Union."

    He said that Cyprus' impressive technical and operational infrastructure would be warmly welcomed by the European shipping community.

    "It is expected that the EU accession negotiations regarding shipping will soon be completed. We trust that the strong emphasis that the Cyprus government has placed on improving safety standards on board Cyprus flag ships and the continuous support of the local shipping industry, will make a strong case for Cyprus at the European Commission."

    Clerides said that this would eventually secure a smooth transition into the European shipping set, "without adverse effects for the industry, especially as regards taxation and the fiscal regime of the Cyprus-based shipping companies."

    Friday, February 25, 2000

    [07] Market edges down on record low trade

    By Michael Ioannou

    THE CYPRUS equity market trimmed some of Wednesday's gains with a 1.14 per cent decline yesterday as traded value hit its lowest level this year.

    The all-share index dropped 7.41 points to 610.22 on thin trading volumes of £14.7 million, a figure traders said had not been seen on the market in months.

    The lowest trading volume recorded this year was actually £5.8 million pounds on February 4, but that session was interrupted early by a power cut.

    The market opened firmer by some five points on Wednesday's close, but selling pressure and weak trading volumes made the upswing impossible to sustain, traders said.

    Blue chip bank stocks, which hold more than half the bourse capitalisation, retreated 1.06 per cent after climbing 1.7 per cent on Wednesday.

    "The market is lacking momentum for a surge in the short-term. There are investors who are not active and interest has waned in some cases," said one analyst at a local brokerage.

    Of 89 securities traded, 48 dropped and 28 advanced, while 13 remained unchanged.

    Traditionally, February is a slow month in terms of turnover, but the crunch is more evident from the ongoing liquidity squeeze created by new issues.

    "A lot of money is still blocked," said trader Louis Klappas.

    Some 37 companies are awaiting approval to list their shares on the bourse, with murmurs of discontent gathering pace from impatient investors.

    Industry insiders say the market has yet to see the results of the "fast- track" listing process the bourse authorities introduced early this year, where applications from new investment start-ups are handled by another team of CSE officers.

    "Processing applications should take between four and six weeks but here it is anything between three months and a year," said Klappas.

    Yesterday's session was also marked by protests from investors, who said new arrangements in the stock exchange building made it impossible to communicate with their brokers.

    Investors have been shepherded into a new room in the stock exchange building and communicating with a broker means running up two floors and begging the security guards to let them into the trading floor. The alternative is using portable telephones.

    But the problem came to a head yesterday morning when mobile phone lines went dead for about 30 minutes. CyTA said the problem was an overloading of the system.

    Thirty seven companies have applied for permission to list their shares on the Cyprus Stock Exchange, the bourse said yesterday. The companies are: Alkioni Fish Farm Ltd., Atlantic Insurance Ltd., Aristo Investments Ltd., Aiantas Investment Ltd., Andreas Coullapides Ltd., CAC 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., Costas Michaelides Constructions Ltd., Europrofit Capital Investments Ltd., Phoenikas Investment Ltd., Exelixis Investment Ltd., Golden Sun Leisure (CY) Ltd., G&K Exclusive Fashions Ltd., Isxis Investment Ltd., Jumbo Investments Ltd., Cosmos Insurance Company Ltd., Kyknos Investment Ltd., Laiki Investments Ltd., Pharmakas Quarries Ltd., LK Global Soft.Com Ltd., L.Atteshlis Shipping 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., Rolandos Enterprises Ltd., Telia Aqua Marine Ltd., Harvest Capital Management Ltd. and Renos HadjiIoannou Farm Ltd.

    Friday, February 25, 2000

    [08] Four more refugees lodge cases against Turkey

    FOUR MORE Greek Cypriots have lodged cases against Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights for their loss of property since the invasion.

    The appeals were lodged by Demetra Kakogianni, Yiannoulla Wakefield née Kakogianni, Stella Soulliotis and Dr Demetris Soulliotis.

    Kakogianni is claiming that Turkey deprived her of the ownership and enjoyment of living in her home in the occupied part of Ayios Pavlos, Nicosia.

    The Soulliotis couple have also said that Turkey prevented them from using a house and two pieces of land in occupied Nicosia.

    The European Court of Human Rights last year ruled in favour of Kyrenia refugee Titina Loizidou, ordering Turkey to pay compensation.

    In spite of pressure by the Council of Europe, Loizidou has yet to receive any of the money she was awarded.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Friday, February 25, 2000

    [09] Horse exhumed after doubts cast on poisoning theory

    A PRIZE stallion thought to have been poisoned earlier this month has been exhumed for further forensic testing.

    Nicosia police yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that five-year-old Eaton Square had been exhumed on Wednesday afternoon in order for blood and urine samples to be taken.

    The chestnut stallion, worth around £40,000, was found dead by an Egyptian farm hand on February 12.

    The farm hand, Mahmoud Ahmed, was arrested on suspicion of poisoning the horse. He was initially remanded in custody for six days, but later released without charge for lack of evidence.

    Preliminary veterinary examinations on Eaton Square indicated that he had died after being given a lung-paralysing injection in the neck.

    Government veterinary services, however, on Wednesday asked to carry out further testing in order to investigate whether Eaton Square may have died of natural causes.

    The police yesterday said that samples had been taken and were being examined at the Government Laboratory.

    Eaton Square belonged to gynaecologist and horse-lover Dr Ioannis Mavrides and was kept at his owner's Latsia farm on the outskirts of Nicosia.

    He was used for breeding due to his own excellent parentage and success at the racetrack.

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