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

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, March 2, 2000


  • [01] Cabinet approves Akamas development plan
  • [02] Diplomats and envoys do the rounds as new talks loom ahead
  • [03] Broadcasting authority probing Sigma and Ant1 news reports
  • [04] Kyrenia Bishop claims he is being victimised for Cyprus problem views
  • [05] Market down for third day in a row
  • [06] Interamerican Greece to enter the Cyprus fray
  • [07] Snow wreaks havoc in mountain areas
  • [08] Assailants bet up kiosk owner and steal four scratch cards

  • [01] Cabinet approves Akamas development plan

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE CABINET yesterday decided to permit "mild and controlled" tourism development along almost the entire Akamas coast, crushing environmentalists' hopes that the unspoilt remote peninsula would be protected.

    Development is to be banned only from areas already enjoying protected status: the Toxeftra and Lara turtle-nesting beach reserves and the state forest land extending over most of the heart of the peninsula.

    "On Akamas peninsula land beyond the state forest, mild and controlled development, sensitive and respectful to the environment, will be permitted, " Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou announced after yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

    Environmentalists wasted no time in condemning the cabinet decision, dismissing promises of "sensitive" development and charging the government with pandering to the wishes of big Akamas landowners who want to build hotels on the peninsula's picturesque coastline.

    George Perdikis, of the local Green party, threatened "very dynamic action" to oppose the Cabinet decision.

    Development on the peninsula had been banned ever since the government earmarked the Akamas for National Park status over a decade ago. Yesterday's decision opens the door for coastal development and represents a major defeat for local and international environmental pressure groups, which have campaigned long and hard for conservation of the whole peninsula.

    The Akamas boasts the island's last remaining sizeable area of lowland scrub forest, sandy beaches used for nesting by endangered green and loggerhead turtles and dramatic gorges and coastal cliffs.

    The cabinet decision flies in the face of the recommendations in a government-commissioned World Bank report on how the Akamas should be managed. The report - welcomed by greens and adopted by the House of Representatives almost in its entirety two years ago - suggested tourism development be kept within existing village boundaries.

    Akamas residents objected and the government stalled on a final decision, tasking a ministerial committee with finding a compromise formula to keep both conservationists and villagers happy.

    The spokesman made it clear that yesterday's decision represented the end of the 10-year-long Akamas saga. "The basic elements which formed the route for certain disagreements and conflicts have been solved with this specific decision," he stated.

    Papapetrou said the ministerial committee on the Akamas was being given three months to iron out the implementation of the formula agreed yesterday.

    He announced a compensation system for private landowners whose property falls within protected areas.

    They will either be paid off, allocated government plots elsewhere or allowed to build more on other, non-protected, properties of theirs.

    Papapetrou also announced a number of "green" measures for the peninsula.

    No new licences for jeep safari enterprises would be issued and all existing licences would be re-assessed, he said. Over-grazing is to be controlled and £50,000 allocated for a cleanup of the peninsula. Illegal billboards are to come down. The area formerly used as a firing range by the British army is to be re-forested and the Cyprus Rally banned from using the peninsula.

    Green party spokesman Perdikis was dismayed by the new National Park formula and unimpressed by the additional measures.

    Environmentalists have always claimed big developers were behind local residents' opposition to National Park plans.

    Perdikis said the cabinet decision proved the greens had been right all along.

    "Basically, this is the political capitulation of the government to the interests of big tourism business," he said.

    Perdikis said the party would be challenging the legality of the cabinet decision. He claimed the government had bound itself to protect the whole peninsula.

    Local greens used direct action to help end British army exercises on the Akamas, and Perdikis said similar action would be used to oppose development on the peninsula.

    "We did not fight for the British to leave just so that big business could move in and make the Akamas the back yard for their hotels," he said.

    He said the "green" measures announced by Papapetrou were nothing but an attempt to disguise the state's true designs for the Akamas. To emphasise this point, Perdikis pointed out that the Cyprus Rally had steered clear of the Akamas "for years".

    Greens have feared the Akamas would be developed ever since the Cabinet approved planning relaxations to allow the family firm of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides to build a massive hotel at Asprokremos on the peninsula's northern coast.

    Greenpeace have been actively involved in the campaign to protect the Akamas. The international pressure group has recently taken its Akamas campaign to the EU, hoping that pressure from Europe would save the area.

    While the EU has no official position on the Akamas, visiting EU officials have repeatedly expressed support for the protection of the peninsula.

    Opinion polls carried out in Cyprus have suggested widespread public support for protection of the Akamas.

    Thursday, March 2, 2000

    [02] Diplomats and envoys do the rounds as new talks loom ahead

    By Anthony O. Miller

    Alvaro de Soto, UN Special Advisor on Cyprus, is leading a caravan of journalists into the Karpas Peninsula today to further his knowledge of the island, before attending a Kyrenia reception hosted tonight by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    The reception is merely one of many such milestones for the procession of diplomatic heavyweights passing through Cyprus this and next week in the run-up to the third round of UN-hosted settlement talks set for May 23 in New York.

    De Soto, who arrived on Tuesday night, was feted last night along with his deputy, UN Resident Mission Chief James Holger, at a dinner hosted by British High Commissioner Edward Clay.

    The dinner followed a working day at Nicosia International Airport, headquarters of Unficyp (the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus), one of many such he plans before leaving Cyprus next Wednesday.

    Those plans include meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash towards the end of his stay, although Fred Eckhard, spokesman for UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, insisted before De Soto arrived that his main purpose was not to advance the "proximity talks" process, but to get to know the island better.

    Next in the buffet line is Sir David Hannay, Britain's Special Representative for Cyprus, who arrives on March 13 for two days of talks with Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders.

    Hannay, in the wings of the December and February proximity talks respectively in New York and Geneva, will start his stay with a Monday working breakfast with Clerides.

    He will have a working luncheon later that day with Denktash in occupied Nicosia, where he will meet with Turkish Cypriot party leaders.

    Before holding an expected pre-departure news conference on Tuesday, Hannay will meet with Greek Cypriot party leaders and with George Vassiliou, Cyprus' chief EU accession negotiator.

    Meanwhile, a working luncheon was the venue for talks yesterday between senior British diplomat Jeremy Hill, who arrived in Cyprus on Monday, and Denktash and the political party leaders in his breakaway regime.

    Hill last night joined De Soto and Holger for dinner hosted by British High Commissioner Edward Clay, the final ceremonial touches on his visit to the island at the head of a Foreign Office delegation.

    That delegation included Sally Axworthy of the office of EU-Cyprus and EU- Turkey relations, and Stuart Sommers, Assistant Head of the Cyprus Office. Dinner guests included US Ambassador to Cyprus Donald Bandler, De Soto and Holger.

    Hill, who carries the title of Foreign Office Director for Southern European Affairs, yesterday said he was convinced that Cyprus problem talks would intensify in direct relation to the continuation of the proximity talks.

    Hill spoke after his talks yesterday with President Clerides, a day after meeting with Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides. He is to tour the British Sovereign Bases Areas today before flying back to London this afternoon.

    As the May 23 curtain readies to rise on the third round of Cyprus proximity talks in New York, two top US diplomats with Cyprus briefs - US Presidential Envoy for Cyprus Alfred Moses and State Department Co- ordinator Thomas Weston - are expected in Cyprus on March 7.

    Weston is due to stop for talks in Athens before coming to Cyprus, while Moses plans to visit both Athens and Ankara in April at a date yet uncertain.

    While May's third round of talks, as with the previous two rounds, is billed as "proximity talks," the hope is that their intensity can build such that Clerides and Denktash abandon talking only through intermediaries, and engage one another face-to face over the issues that have divided Cyprus for 25 years.

    A major hurdle to be overcome for that to occur is Denktash's insistence that there can be no movement on the Cyprus problem unless and until his breakaway regime is accorded international recognition as a "state" - something only Turkey has granted it.

    Thursday, March 2, 2000

    [03] Broadcasting authority probing Sigma and Ant1 news reports

    By George Psyllides

    TWO private television stations are under investigation by the Radio and Television Authority for airing controversial clips during their news bulletins, an authority official said yesterday.

    Marina Yiannikkouri said the authority had decided to investigate the matter on its own back, but added that it had also received several complaints from viewers.

    The official could not give the Cyprus Mail further details on the investigation, saying it was an ongoing matter.

    But Yiannikkouri said any results would be made public in accordance with authority rules.

    The controversial clips were aired by Sigma on Monday and ANT1 over the weekend.

    On Monday during its main evening news bulletin, Sigma illustrated its report on a Nicosia barman killed apparently demonstrating Russian roulette with a clip from a film showing a man putting a gun to his head.

    Meanwhile, ANT1 at the weekend carried an "exclusive" broadcast of the arrest of an artiste stripping in a cabaret.

    The television crew were on the scene as police raided the joint.

    Police spokesman Glafcos Xenos said yesterday he was disgusted at the coverage.

    Xenos said he did not know who had called the crew and why they had been allowed to film the arrest.

    "This is vile, and the police had nothing to do with it," Xenos told the Cyprus Mail, calling on all involved to observe the code of ethics.

    But Politis claimed yesterday that eyewitnesses had seen the police officers a few minutes before the raid, waiting for the television crew to show up.

    The paper maintained that Police Chief Andreas Angelides had not been informed about the raid, and that when he found out he reprimanded those responsible.

    Asked to comment on the issue, the Chairman of the Journalists' Union, Andreas Kannaouros, said he had not seen either of the controversial clips.

    "Unfortunately we are going from bad to worse," he conceded.

    "There should be respect for the viewers… The stations should avoid showing scenes like these."

    Thursday, March 2, 2000

    [04] Kyrenia Bishop claims he is being victimised for Cyprus problem views

    By Athena Karsera

    THE BISHOP of Kyrenia has accused political leaders of conspiring to prevent his involvement in a memorial service as punishment for his views on the Cyprus problem.

    The memorial for Eoka hero Grigoris Afxentiou was carried out on Sunday by a Greek Bishop; but Bishop Pavlos of Kyrenia had believed he would be the one officiating.

    Bishop Pavlos, himself a former abbot of Machairas, said the Reserve Officers' Association, who organised the service with the monastery, had been used as pawns to sabotage him.

    He accused certain political powers of being behind the incident and claimed he was being victimised for his outspoken opposition to a bizonal federal solution to the Cyprus problem.

    "One (of the parties involved) is the Abbot (of Machairas) and some circles in the Archbishopric, laymen of course, who oppose his Holiness (the Archbishop's) national work. His Holiness knows about this, I have visited him and we talked about the issue."

    The Kyrenia Bishop would not name the other parties: "I told his Holiness, I do not want to name them in public, but his Holiness knows."

    Asked why he believed there was a plot against him, Bishop Pavlos said, "The Abbot knows… ask him… I have my suspicions… it’s the national problem and already people are being used as pawns by other people."

    Speaking of himself in the third person, the Bishop continued,

    "And I would like to say that the Bishop of Kyrenia was not the one who was going to make the public address, so what Mr (Kypros) Manoulos (the president of the Officers’ Association) said (that the Kyrenia Bishop would be assisting the Greek Bishop) does not stand because I would have carried out a sermon, as I always do, independent of who made the address."

    Asked if he believed political leaders were involved in the issue, the Kyrenia Bishop replied: "Some of them, some of the leaders."

    Asked if he had information to back this up, he said: "The Bishop of Kyrenia would like not to comment specifically but I know that behind the Abbot, behind the Reservists, there are some others."

    Meanwhile, speaking to the CyBC from Athens, Manoulos said, "I am saddened by the Kyrenia Bishop's characterisations. What I repeat is that the Association was the first that said it was against a bizonal federation, in 1977… Now the Bishop of Kyrenia is saying that we were someone else's pawns to promote a bizonal federation… This is surprising… I don't know what to call it."

    "The facts are simple, the Association for many years from 1967, organised a memorial for Afxentiou… the Archbishop usually attends. In early January when the date had been set for February 27, we asked him to attend. He said he had another event in Nicosia that he was committed to, but that he would try to find a Bishop to go in his place. Fifteen days before the memorial he said the Bishop of Kyrenia would be the one holding the memorial service, and we issued an announcement to this effect. Then the Abbot of Machairas said that the memorial would be held by the (Greek) Bishop of Thyatira Gregorios and said that the Kyrenia Bishop would accompany him… Of course (the Bishop of Kyrenia was aware of this.)"

    "We can't organise the Church side of things," Manoulos added. "We invited Defence Minister Socrates Hasikos as a speaker."

    Afxentiou was killed by the British in his hideout near Machairas in 1957.

    Thursday, March 2, 2000

    [05] Market down for third day in a row

    By Michael Ioannou

    A CASH-STRAPPED bourse continued to limp on low liquidity yesterday as it sank further for the third straight day on a broad-based decline with the exception of insurance stocks.

    The benchmark index took a 1.06 per cent beating on volumes that continued to remain comparatively low.

    Opening three points down on Tuesday, when the market slipped through the 600 support level, the bourse followed a straight decline almost throughout. The all-share index hit an intraday low of 590.59 before spiking in the closing minutes back up to the close of 593.73.

    From the beginning of the year, the index has shed 120 points, or 16.8 per cent as the market has followed an unsteady course on the realisation that the 700 per cent gains of 1999 will be almost impossible to match.

    Turnover yesterday reached £17.6 million, about three million pounds more than Tuesday and on 2,804 trades.

    Traders said the market continued to remain sluggish because of a withdrawal of funds for the primary market, and for lack of any firm corporate developments, a factor keeping many investors on the sidelines.

    Cyprus Popular Bank announces its 1999 earnings next Wednesday, but at £14.65 per share, exceptional profits of the bank have probably already been discounted by investors, dealers said.

    Declines were most pronounced among smaller cap shares. Volatile commercial stocks took a 2.3 per cent drubbing and companies in the other category were down 1.9 per cent.

    Banking stocks lent their weight to the all-share index to stop it falling further as it pared losses of the broader market with a 0.6 slide downwards.

    Losers outnumbered gainers 58 to 17 and five were unchanged on 88 securities traded.

    Bank of Cyprus pushed Louis off the top spot it has dominated for weeks in terms of most actively traded shares. Some 571,633 BOC shares changed hands, compared to 5023,678 shares of Louis.

    In terms of net gainers, Leda 2000/2002 warrants came out tops with an 11 cent increase to £2.43, climbing 4.7 per cent. Era Split Capital followed, jumping nine cents to £3.84.

    In the net losers category, blue-chip Sharelink stock had the most pronounced loss of 96 cents, or 4.2 per cent down to £21.49 pounds, followed by CTC warrants which lost 80 cents and went down to £5.82.

    Thursday, March 2, 2000

    [06] Interamerican Greece to enter the Cyprus fray

    By Michael Ioannou

    Greek insurers Interamerican announced their relaunch into the Cyprus market yesterday, with mutual funds and an automobile aid service, but kept reporters guessing about their plans to push into the highly competitive banking sector.

    Interamerican Hellas chairman Demetris Kontominas said the group would start offering mutual funds on the island as soon as legislation permits and said it expected to get its licence from authorities within the next few days.

    He said the insurer would also make its foray into the automobile aid market, setting up shop in five to six different areas of the island and offering stranded drivers assistance ranging from car repair to emergency medical aid.

    "Cyprus is an important market for us and we want to underline its importance also as a base for plans to expand into neighbouring Middle East countries," Kontominas said.

    Kontominas sold his controlling stake in local insurer Interamerican (Cyprus) to the Nicos Shacolas group in early 1996; three years later, Shacolas sold it to Laiki.

    The issue of using the Interamerican name in Cyprus has turned into a thorny subject, since Laiki maintains that in the Shacolas deal Kontominas waived his rights over the name with an undertaking to abstain from insurance activities in Cyprus until 2002.

    There have also been reports that Laiki is challenging Kontominas' business activities and has already filed court action.

    But Kontominas' legal adviser Loukis Papaphillipou said the Interamerican name was dropped by Laiki on February 10 as the bank changed the name of its life insurance division to Laiki CypriaLife. He and Kontominas avoided stating whether the issue was now before the courts.

    Kontominas said he had also had discussions with local officials on plans of the group further to expand its banking unit in Greece. However, he stopped short of announcing that it planned to branch out into the Cypriot banking sector as well.

    Interamerican's Novabank, a joint venture with Portugal's Banco Commercial Portugues will be launched in September with 40 branches in Athens and Salonica. Novabank will soon be getting an operating licence from the Bank of Greece. The national economy ministry has already given its go-ahead for the venture, company officials said.

    Aides said Kontominas had a meeting yesterday morning with Central Bank governor Afxentis Afxentiou where the bank plans were discussed.

    "The meeting with Mr. Afxentiou was very important and we were given the chance to talk about our plans in Greece and our future plans in Cyprus," Kontominas said when asked if the issue of setting up a bank in Cyprus was in the pipeline.

    Thursday, March 2, 2000

    [07] Snow wreaks havoc in mountain areas

    By Noah Haglund

    HEAVY snow and rain caused chaos in the mountains yesterday, but are unlikely to bring much relief to the island’s shrinking water reserves.

    By yesterday morning, snow lay 45 cm deep at the top of Mount Olympus and 40 cm in Troodos Square.

    Police asked that drivers to be especially careful on higher ground, and closed several roads to all vehicles, including those to Saittas, Kato Amiantos, Moniatis and Karvounas. Other roads, including that linking Alona to its neighbours, were open only to four-wheel drive vehicles or those with snow chains.

    Police also said the road linking the Kalo Panayiotis to Yeraka was inaccessible following a rockslide.

    The electricity authority announced there had been power cuts in the Troodos area because of damage to lines. A tree between Trimiklini and Karvounas fell onto the power lines supplying the two villages with electricity.

    "The snow in Troodos is normal in a dry year," Cleanthis Philaniotis, director of the Meteorology Service Department said yesterday.

    The rainfall is of course "very good for us", he remarked, but noted that precipitation levels for the year were still far below average.

    On Tuesday, precipitation averaged 16.5 millimetres over a 24-hour period, according to data from the Meteorological Service Department. In the plains, recorded rainfall ranged from 7 to 15 millimetres, while 30 to 40 millimetres fell in the mountainous areas. Above 900 metres, showers fell as snow.

    Even with this welcome precipitation, Cyprus is still much drier than it should be. Monthly rainfall for the month of February was only 86 per cent of the usual amount, with 70 millimetres of the usual 81,6. Meteorological Service statistics show that total rainfall in the free areas since October is only 61 per cent of the normal amount for the autumn and winter seasons.

    Current water levels in the island’s reservoirs are only about half of what they were at the same time last year, said Dr. George Socratous, executive engineer for the Water Development Department.

    Statistics from the Water Development Department show that the island's dams hold a total of 35.8 million cubic metres of water. The southern conveyors supplying the Limassol, Larnaca and Famagusta regions now hold 10.6 million cubic metres of water. Last year the respective amounts were 58.6 and 23.7 million cubic metres.

    Rains on Tuesday night and yesterday morning only contributed slightly to the short supply, raising reserve levels by 250,000 to 300,000 cubic metres. Runoff from the snow, when it occurs, will likely contribute another one and a half to two million cubic metres. This could happen in a few days time, or later in the spring, depending on the weather.

    Thursday, March 2, 2000

    [08] Assailants bet up kiosk owner and steal four scratch cards

    POLICE yesterday arrested three suspects in connection with an attempted kiosk robbery in Nicosia.

    Two men aged 21 and a 16-year-old boy were picked up by police after allegedly attempting to rob a kiosk armed with a pistol and a bat.

    Police say two men, one wearing a helmet and the other a hood, entered George Anastasiou's kiosk on Marcos Drakos Street in Pallouriotissa at around 2am, threatening the owner with a gun and a bat.

    When Anastasiou refused to hand over the money, one of the men to smashed him on the head with the bat.

    Anastasiou dashed for the mezzanine to avoid further battering, and the assailants fled, but not before snatching four lottery scratch cards.

    Ten minutes later, police intercepted a car outside Yeri, and found a helmet, a woollen balaclava, two bats, an iron bar, and a toolbox along with a torch.

    The three people in the car were arrested and transferred to Nicosia CID, where they reportedly admitted to taking part in the attack.

    The thieves claimed the pistol was fake and that they had dumped it in the area between Latsia and Yeri.

    After scanning the area, police found the gun, which was indeed a toy.

    The kiosk owner was taken to Nicosia hospital where he received treatment and was later released.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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