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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-02-29

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, February 29, 2000


  • [01] Man killed ‘demonstrating Russian roulette’
  • [02] Bicommunal contacts on the rise again
  • [03] UN seeks to double capacity for bicommunal calls
  • [04] Investors hesitant ahead of new wave of company results
  • [05] Disy fails to convince Akel on voting reform
  • [06] Man dies in restaurant blaze
  • [07] Trying to track down David

  • [01] Man killed ‘demonstrating Russian roulette’

    A NICOSIA man was killed yesterday in what is thought to have been a game of Russian roulette.

    Police found 21-year-old Christos Paphios at 6am, lying in a pool of blood at his house on Andreas Demetriou Street in Dasoupolis.

    Paphios had a gunshot wound on the right temple, apparently from a bullet, which subsequently lodged itself into the wall.

    Police found a revolver, five bullets, and an empty bullet-shell.

    CyBC said Paphios, who was living with his girlfriend, had been demonstrating to her how Russian roulette was played.

    He was apparently still drunk from his birthday party the night before.

    Investigators are trying to sort out whether the incident was an accident or suicide.

    They are also eager to find out where the revolver that killed the man came from.

    Tuesday, February 29, 2000

    [02] Bicommunal contacts on the rise again

    By Martin Hellicar

    BICOMMUNAL contacts appear to be back with a vengeance, and, according to the UN, this is down to Greek and Turkish Cypriots' desire "to get to know each other as people."

    Unficyp spokesman Charles Gaulkin yesterday said this desire for contact was a stronger catalyst for rapprochement than the resumption of settlement talks or the thaw in Greco-Turkish relations.

    Last year and the year before that, bicommunal contacts were conspicuous by their absence.

    There was a flurry of such meetings in 1997, but it all came to an abrupt halt in December of that year, after the EU decided to open accession talks with Cyprus and not Turkey. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash promptly banned all bicommunal contacts.

    But the climate would now appear to have changed.

    Earlier this month, the first official meeting between parties from both sides for over two years took place at the Ledra Palace in Nicosia.

    Last week, Turkish Cypriot greens were allowed to cross the divide to attend a conference on EU environmental law and Cyprus in Nicosia.

    On Friday, a delegation from the Turkish Cypriot Patriotic Unity Movement visited the headquarters of ruling Disy in Nicosia.

    On Sunday, representatives of the Movement met with representatives of the main Greek Cypriot opposition party, Akel, at the mixed village of Pyla, in the Larnaca area.

    Last night, 17 Turkish Cypriot journalists were expected to attend the annual Journalists' union ball at the Nicosia Hilton.

    According to Gaulkin, many more meetings between people from the two sides have been going on away from the media spotlight. Most all these low- profile meetings are being hosted by the mixed buffer-zone village of Pyla.

    "It seems Pyla has become a focal point, several things have actually been going on there quietly for some time," the Unficyp spokesman told the Cyprus Mail. "There has definitely been an increase in such meetings recently," Gaulkin added.

    He mentioned a bicommunal choir that rehearses twice a month and a group of historians and education experts meeting to find ways to re-write Cyprus history in a non-prejudicial manner.

    Gaulkin said the UN was delighted with the increased contact. "Of course this is a positive development, we are happy to see this going on."

    The spokesman said the desire for contact between the two sides had always been there and suggested ordinary Greek and Turkish Cypriots could take much of the credit for this increased rapprochement.

    "I think maybe one element might be the awareness among an increasing number of people - including young people - of the need to become more familiar with the ideas and viewpoints of other people and simply to get to know them as people," he said.

    Gaulkin also mentioned political developments as a factor encouraging rapprochement.

    "I'm sure that better relations between Greece and Turkey and the fact that proximity talks are going on and there is at least the prospect of a solution have also helped," he said.

    Denktash and President Clerides are set to attend their third round of UN- led proximity settlement talks in New York in late May. No concrete results have been announced from the indirect talks, but both leaders have expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved.

    Greece and Turkey are moving closer than ever before following the exchange of mutual aid after disastrous earthquakes in Turkey and Greece last year.

    Gaulkin shied away from commenting on what Denktash's role might be in the increased contacts.

    Tuesday, February 29, 2000

    [03] UN seeks to double capacity for bicommunal calls

    By Noah Haglund

    UNFICYP is looking at doubling the capacity of its bicommunal telephone exchange to cope with the soaring demand for calls across the Green Line.

    Force spokesman Charles Gaulkin told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the heavy use of existing lines was forcing the UN to consider expanding the service, suggesting it would probably be necessary to double capacity.

    Gaulkin added the UN was also considering the introduction of fax service, which does not currently exist.

    No date has been set to begin work on any upgrading of the telephone exchange, and it will take at least several months before all preparations are complete and funds available, Gaulkin told the Mail.

    Records kept by Unficyp show that the use of bicommunal phone lines is increasing rapidly.

    The number of calls per month rose sharply during the course of 1999, from 17,607 in January to a peak of 44,652 in November. Averaged out for the year, the automated service handled just under 1,000 calls per day.

    Unficyp records place the total number of calls made over the north-south divide last year at 354,647 - 228,663 of which were from south to north and 125,984 from north to south.

    The service was inaugurated on May 26, 1998 after Unficyp received $165,000 in United States funds through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Prior to the introduction of the new service, an operator-assisted system averaged only about 100,000 connections per year.

    The project was the brainchild of US envoy Richard Holbrooke, who promoted it through a bicommunal business initiative.

    Dinos Lordos, who worked with Holbrooke on the project, said yesterday the total cost for doubling existing lines was not likely to exceed $100,000. Lordos sees the project as a way of testing the good will that exists in each community towards solving the Cyprus problem.

    Callers in the free areas must dial 0139 to obtain a dial tone to the north, while those in the occupied areas call 0123. Calls from south to north are charged at local rates, while the Turkish Cypriot side charges international rates to the south.

    The switching equipment is located at Unficyp Headquarters in Nicosia where the lines are automatically connected. The equipment can handle 20 simultaneous connections.

    Tuesday, February 29, 2000

    [04] Investors hesitant ahead of new wave of company results

    By Michael Ioannou

    THE CYPRUS stock exchange headed south yesterday on thin volumes that kept buyers and sellers at bay, with the market trading rangebound for the near- term.

    The benchmark index trimmed 6.58 points from Friday's close to settle at 608.43 on a traded value of £17.3 million, £2.5 million higher than Friday but still comparatively low.

    The market opened at 611.09 and edged marginally higher to 611.16 then started descending, hitting a day low of 616.45 before climbing back up to its closing level.

    "Volumes are quite satisfactory... the volumes would have been lower if there had not been block trades," said stockbroker Andreas Leonidou.

    Traders said the market was seen trading between 600 and 640 in the near term, with a more definitive course only likely after more companies start issuing their results.

    "The first indication will be next week with Laiki," a trader said.

    Laiki's board of directors will be meeting on March 7 to review 1999 financial results and approve dividend policy.

    There were 2,975 deals yesterday, which is also significantly lower than deals of more than 4,000 seen daily until mid-February.

    "Traded volume is down meaning that there is not enough liquidity around for new purchases," said another stockbroker.

    There did not appear to be many willing sellers on the market amid expectations that prices would soon start going up once new investment firms started investing on the market, he said.

    "Sellers are reluctant and buyers are hesitant. The market does not have any real pressure," he said.

    All seven sub-sectors registered declines, led by a 2.7 per cent drop in small cap investment stocks, and a 2.12 per cent decline for service companies.

    Banking shares, which hold more than half the bourse's capitalisation of around £13 billion, retreated 0.6 per cent.

    Bank of Cyprus fell 14 cents to £9.35 on a turnover of 271,000 shares, while Popular climbed eight cents to £14.82.

    Of 88 shares traded, 68 declined and 13 advanced while seven were unchanged.

    Louis Cruise Lines dominated trading with 663,932 shares changing hands.

    Meanwhile, computer services firm Avacom said yesterday it had entered agreement to take a 30 per cent equity stake in Greece's TEC A.E. Consultancy in a deal worth 125 million drachmas (about CY£215,000).

    Avacom said the deal would allow subsidiary Global Data Solutions Ltd. to take a 20 per cent equity stake in TEC, while another subsidiary, Avacom Net Services Ltd, would take a 10 per cent stake.

    "This agreement gives Avacom Computer Services a strong basis for expansion plans in Greece and nearby regions," Avacom said in a statement.

    Tuesday, February 29, 2000

    [05] Disy fails to convince Akel on voting reform

    By Athena Karsera

    AKEL AND Disy yesterday agreed to disagree on Disy's proposal for changes in parliamentary election laws, with Akel insisting that the system should remain as it is.

    Statements after the parties' leaders met at Akel headquarters showed they had reached agreement only on the provision of expert staff to advise deputies on specialised issues and help lighten their workload.

    While the proposal is to be put before Akel's executive committee for a final position to be taken, the party's secretary-general Demetris Christofias yesterday said that his party did not agree with Disy's suggestions.

    These include raising the percentage threshold required by a party to obtain parliamentary representation from 1.7 per cent of the vote to 3.4 per cent – a proposal which has infuriated smaller parties likely to be frozen out of parliament by such a move.

    Christofias also said Akel did not agree with suggestions to raise the number of deputies from 56 to 60 and to introduce a further 10 deputies who would represent all of Cyprus and not just a specific district.

    Akel also opposed the introduction of horizontal voting, where voters could cast preference votes across party lines, Christofias said.

    Disy president Nicos Anastassiades said after yesterday’s meeting he hoped Akel's executive committee review of the proposal would lead to more common ground being found and that his party’s aim was for changes to be made wherever there was consensus.

    He then met with Social Democratic Movement leader Vassos Lyssarides, who said he would not take a stand on the proposal until it was reviewed by his party's executive committee.

    Anastassiades and Disy vice-president Panayiotis Demetriou carried out yesterday's meetings as part of a campaign to seek consensus on their proposal.

    Disy formulated its reform plan after 14 deputies from a range of parties prepared a proposal suggesting the introduction of a horizontal voting system.

    Under the current system, voters chose a party list. Though they can cast a preference vote, they are only allowed to do so within the list off the party they voted for.

    Tuesday, February 29, 2000

    [06] Man dies in restaurant blaze

    A FILIPINO man died yesterday in a blaze that broke out in a Limassol restaurant shortly after midnight.

    Police said they found 45-year-old Hilario Gamid unconscious in the bathroom, apparently from smoke inhalation.

    He was rushed to Limassol hospital but to no avail as doctors pronounced him dead.

    The man had been living in a room in the Romeo and Juliet restaurant in Moutagiaka, given to him by a foreign friend who worked there.

    An immigration official said Gamid had been working legally at a farm in Ypsonas.

    Investigators who scanned the scene for clues said they did not suspect foul play.

    They believe the fire started in the man's room, probably from a cigarette butt.

    Gamid was found in the bathroom in what fire service think might have been a desperate effort to get out of the burning building.

    Tuesday, February 29, 2000

    [07] Trying to track down David

    By Martin Hellicar

    IT COULD be viewed as a cautionary tale. How a momentary lapse caused a Nicosia restaurateur days of agonized searching for a customer he did not want to disappoint.

    It was a busy day at the Abu Faysal the week before last when owner Ghazi Mroueh's mobile phone rang. He confesses that he did not recognise the friendly voice on the other end of the line, but the caller evidently knew him, so Ghazi did not want to let on.

    "`I'd like a table for four for Thursday night, I'm David from Latchi,' the caller said. I was busy so I said `yes, yes, don't worry, no problem,'" Ghazi told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    It was only after he closed the phone that he realised what he'd done - the restaurant was fully booked up for a wedding party on Thursday night (February 24).

    He would have to call David straight back, apologise and see if another night could be arranged.

    The problem was that Ghazi's mobile had not registered the caller's number and he still could not place who this David was.

    "I felt really bad, as he said he was coming from Latchi, all that way."

    The restaurateur called all the places he could think of where David from Latchi might be known: the Cyprus Mail, the Cyprus Weekly, the Mouflon and the Solonion bookshops. But to no avail: "Nobody knew of this David," Ghazi said.

    Finally he decided to place an unusual ad in the Mail on Tuesday and Wednesday last week. "DAVID, please call Abu Faysal restaurant regarding your reservation for February 24," the advert read.

    There was no response from David, but the advert was certainly noticed by all of Ghazi's friends and acquaintances.

    "It became a joke. People were coming up to me saying `Oh Ghazi, I found David,' and `Ghazi, I have a David.'"

    "People were calling up, saying please could they make a reservation for David!"

    By the time Thursday night came around Ghazi was ready for the worst: a customer bringing his friends down from far-away Latchi only to be turned away.

    But it was to prove much, much more embarrassing.

    David turned out to be a regular customer not from Latchi, Paphos, but from Britain. "I saw him and it was like `aghhh!'" Ghazi said, cringing at the recollection.

    "I went up to him and gave him the bad news and he was, like, shocked."

    "I said `come on David, are you not staying till tomorrow?' He said `no we've just arrived from Larnaca airport by taxi, we have nothing else to do in Nicosia, we were coming to your place and then we're off to Latchi at 8 or 9 tomorrow morning.'"

    David said he had phoned from England to make the reservation - which explained why Ghazi could not track him down.

    Ghazi was mortified.

    He told David how hard he had searched for him: "I showed him the newspapers with the ads; He ended up comforting me."

    "I was afraid they would complain, but they were lovely, his wife was smiling the whole time."

    Ghazi drove them to another restaurant in Nicosia.

    David, his wife and friends are booked in at the Abu Faysal for this Friday night, just before they fly back to Britain.

    "I hope nothing will go wrong," Ghazi said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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