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

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, March 3, 2000


  • [01] Anger over the Akamas: Greens vow direct action
  • [02] Bourse just manages to keep its head above water
  • [03] Police call in Interpol over missing Saudi millionaire
  • [04] US reports praise Cyprus efforts on drugs and money laundering
  • [05] Bases police question Romanian shot by Turks
  • [06] Cypriots top bone marrow donors
  • [07] Palestinian Airlines to start flights to Larnaca
  • [08] UAE plane forced to make emergency landing in Larnaca

  • [01] Anger over the Akamas: Greens vow direct action

    By Martin Hellicar

    GREENPEACE yesterday threatened direct action to block a Cabinet decision to allow "mild and sensitive" tourism development along the coast of the Akamas.

    As the dust settled from Wednesday's bombshell ministerial decision, the international environmental pressure group prepared to move from persuasion tactics to "very dynamic action".

    The controversial Cabinet decision -- which dashed environmentalists' hopes that the unspoiled Akamas peninsula would be spared from development -- has been greeted with similar threats from local green groups.

    In contrast, Akamas area villagers, who have always lobbied for tourism development there, yesterday gave the state plan a cautious welcome.

    The Akamas management plan announced on Wednesday was the result of more than a decade of state dithering in search of a formula to satisfy both environmentalists and locals.

    The Cabinet plan cocked a snoop at a unanimous 1998 House of Representatives vote endorsing a state-commissioned World Bank plan for an Akamas National Park. The World Bank recommended that tourism development in the area be limited to within existing village boundaries.

    The Cabinet said development was 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. Most of the area's coastline is thus opened up to what the cabinet termed "mild, controlled, sensitive" tourism development.

    Greens interpret the plan as giving carte blanche to developers. Irini Constantinou, spokeswoman for Greenpeace in Cyprus, yesterday expressed disgust at the Cabinet decision.

    "Greenpeace is outraged. The promises from the Ministry of Agriculture for three consecutive terms have been proved a lie because, at this stage, everything has been changed and the World Bank report will not be accepted, " Constantinou told the Cyprus Mail, referring to repeated state vows to protect the Akamas.

    Unconfirmed reports suggest Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous was the only Cabinet member to back greater protection for the Akamas during Wednesday's crucial meeting.

    Greenpeace and local green groups have been lobbying for conservation of the Akamas for years. Constantinou said the time for "gentle persuasion" had now passed.

    "The diplomatic way is over, we have tried this for a long time and we have been discussing with the authorities for a long time. Now it=s time for a more dynamic way of approaching the issue. We are planning for a very dynamic action and very soon," the Greenpeace spokeswoman vowed.

    She did not divulge what form this action would take, but the international pressure group has earned a reputation for "no holds barred" direct environmental action.

    The Cyprus Green party has already promised to fight the Cabinet development plan with the same sort of direct action it used to end British army exercises on the Akamas.

    The party claims the government has been lying about its Akamas intentions for years. To prove its point, it has released a letter President Clerides sent to them in the run-up to the February 1998 Presidential elections.

    "I commit myself the promote the implementation of the World Bank management plan for the Akamas. There is no commitment to restrict the protected area to the limits of the state forest," the letter reads.

    But not everyone is unhappy about the new state plan for the Akamas.

    Savvas Theodorou, mukhtar of the Akamas area village of Neo Chorio, said restriction of any National Park to within the Akamas state forest had always been the local communities' aim.

    Theodorou was nonetheless only cautiously optimistic, saying local villagers would wait to see how the plan was implemented.

    A ministerial committee has been given three months to discuss the Cabinet plan with all interested parties before presenting a final formula.

    "It is still a bit early for reactions," Theodorou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. "Though we are basically positive about the plan, we will wait for final decisions after the ministers' discussions," the mukhtar said.

    He said Akamas residents wanted to see the peninsula protected and had "reservations" about the "mild" development proposed by the Cabinet.

    The government has not made clear what exactly it means by mild development.

    "We wanted something more mild than the `mild' they are asking for, we do not want to destroy the environment," Theodorou said.

    But the mukhtar's definition of mild would not match that of environmentalists.

    "We are all for hotels," he said, explaining that villagers felt such development would revive their communities, create jobs and stop the mass exodus of youth to towns.

    "If we look at the village, how it was and how it is now, people having got up and left, we want development, to give the incentive for people to return," he said.

    Greens argue that hotel development will not mean jobs or prosperity for locals.

    They have always claimed big landed interests were behind locals' opposition to National Park plans.

    The only existing Akamas hotel, the massive Anassa complex, employs only one local villager.

    The hotel was built by the family firm of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides after the Cabinet approved planning relaxations for it.

    Eight applications for licenses to build Akamas hotels are reportedly pending.

    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.

    Friday, March 3, 2000

    [02] Bourse just manages to keep its head above water

    Michael Ioannou

    TIGHT liquidity conditions continued to put strain on the Cyprus bourse yesterday as the benchmark index just about managed to keep afloat with a marginal 0.4

    per cent spike.

    The benchmark index closed 0.44 percent, or 2.5 points higher to 596.32 on a traded value of 13.1 million pounds, some four million pounds less than Wednesday.

    The bourse rebounded from a softer open of 592.94 and fluctuated between a narrow band of 596.32 to 591.82.

    Traders said that they had initially expected yesterday's session to follow the three-day slide of the bourse earlier this week, but added that buyers were starting to emerge at current low levels. However, they added that poor liquidity and lack of

    any corporate developments was excluding an upsurge in the immediate short- term.

    "There is a general lack of demand and the market is weak," said Severis and Athienitis stockbroker Katia Constantinidou. "The climate will be reversed once the investment firms start putting money back into the market, " she said.

    Companies in the "other" sector outperformed the broad market and climbed two per cent. Banking and industrial stocks were kept steady, inching 0.25 and 0.1 per cent

    upwards. Tourism stocks led decliners, trimming 0.9 per cent.

    Analysts and dealers agree a key reason for an ongoing correction which has seen the market go into decline since last November is a general lack of liquidity. They cautioned, however, against describing the situation as a freefall, a phrase which will spark panic in the minds of any small investor.

    Jumping on a 700 per cent surge in prices on the stockmarket last year, dozens of new companies have been formed and have drained millions of pounds from

    the market in new issues. From November, when the market hit a peak of 881.46 points, it has retreated 32.4 per cent.

    Another dealer said the market was being pressured in a bear play by influential players who wanted to mop up cheap prices. "I have seen a desperate attempt by some to create a mini-crash," said one dealer, who requested anonymity. "The market is resisting though."

    Traders reported that institutionals like Demetra and CLR Investments were active on the market which helped prop it up in recent days and prevented it sinking further.

    Advancing stocks outpaced decliners 42 to 35 and 11 were unchanged on 88 securities traded. The small-cap K&G Complex topped market volume with 835, 000 shares changing hands, followed by Avacom Computer with

    409,000. Avacom announced earlier this week a deal to acquire 30 per cent of a Greek consultant firm, giving it a foothold in the country's market.

    Friday, March 3, 2000

    [03] Police call in Interpol over missing Saudi millionaire

    By Martin Hellicar

    POLICE believe a missing Saudi Arabian multi-millionaire could have been murdered. They have enlisted Interpol's help to track down a Russian woman and her teenage son, who both stayed with him in Limassol in January.

    Rakan Khalied Hathleen, who arrived on the island in early January, was reported as missing on February 18.

    Yesterday, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said police had reason to believe 52-year-old Hathleen could have been the victim of foul play.

    The Minister said police were keen to speak to the missing man's Russian female friend and her son because they - and an unidentified Pontian Greek - are thought to have used the millionaire's credit card after his disappearance. Mother and son are thought to have gone to Uzbekistan.

    "Up to a specific date, we know where he (Hathleen) was and with whom he was - then his traces disappear," Koshis said.

    After Hathleen's disappearance, Koshis added "his credit card was used - with forgery it would appear - by some Russian, and possibly by some Pontian, to get money, not in cash, but through buying jewellery and other things."

    Unconfirmed reports suggest 70,000 was spent using Hathleen's credit card after his disappearance.

    "We have notified Interpol concerning a Russian woman who appears to have, at some stage, been staying with him in the flat, and her son of about 20, who left Cyprus earlier as did the woman, who is, I think, from Uzbekistan, " Koshis said.

    Hathleen arrived on the island in early January and was staying in a Limassol flat with a Russian woman and her 20-year-old son. He was reported missing by his family in Saudi Arabia on February 18, after he had failed to contact them for a number of days.

    Police have issued a description for the missing multi-millionaire. He is about six foot tall, thin, with short black hair and a dark complexion.

    Friday, March 3, 2000

    [04] US reports praise Cyprus efforts on drugs and money laundering

    By Noah Haglund

    TWO US State Department reports released yesterday gave the Cyprus government a thumbs-up for its efforts against drug trafficking and money laundering.

    The annual reports say that Cyprus has made "further progress in 1999 in the fight against money laundering" while its authorities aggressively combat the "distribution of drug use, as they do illegal cultivation, sale, transport and financing."

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday officials in Cyprus believed the reports accurately reflected the progress and serious improvement the Republic has achieved in these areas.

    He added that "we have nothing to hide and we are prepared to listen to the views of any country on these issues".

    The report on drug-related issues says that "although there continues to be no evidence of significant narcotics production on Cyprus, there is increasing concern on the island about a perceived increase in usage," noting that the government has a low tolerance attitude towards the use of narcotics by Cypriots and has embarked on a pro-active campaign to remind them of the penalties their use carries.

    The report observes that "the only illicitly cultivated controlled substance in Cyprus is cannabis, and this is grown only in small quantities for local consumption".

    The State Department also comments on the increased distribution of drugs during the summer months in tourist areas, although there is no significant sale or identified financing occurring on the island.

    Overall, it portrays Cypriot law enforcement as very successful in discouraging the use of the free areas as a drug transit point. The report attributes this largely to improved ties with authorities in Lebanon, a major production and distribution centre for illicit substances.

    However, the State Department does identify problems in the occupied territories, noting that "there were occasions in 1999 when kilograms of heroin seized in London were identified as transiting northern Cyprus from Turkey".

    As for signs high-level corruption, it says "there is no evidence of senior or other officials facilitating the production, processing, or shipment of drugs".

    The report on money laundering and financial crime states that "Cyprus is a major regional financial and tourist centre and as such remains vulnerable to money laundering activity" and quotes Cypriot officials as saying that "burglary, theft, fraud and drug trafficking are the major sources of proceeds to be laundered".

    It adds that "Cyprus has taken strong and concrete steps to upgrade its anti-money laundering regime" and refers to various measures adopted to this end.

    The State Department also refers to the fact that Cypriot officials involved in combating money laundering acquired extensive formal training in 1999 from the US, the UK, the European Union and others.

    One piece of constructive criticism regards the island's booming offshore sector, partly due to the fact that it has dual-tax treaties with 26 countries. The Central Bank, advises the report, "needs to continue to upgrade its capabilities for tracking beneficial ownership". It also says that the Central Bank "needs to continue to focus on meeting the increasing supervisory challenges of the offshore sector and on increasing its transparency".

    The report refers to the fact that Cyprus has been divided since Turkish troops occupied 37 per cent of its territory in 1974 and that the illegal regime in the occupied areas is recognised only by Turkey form which "it receives massive cash infusions".

    It says the occupied areas are at risk for money laundering "because of the presence of a network of 24 essentially unregulated casinos, as well as suspected narcotic links with Turkey".

    It quotes Turkish Cypriots as saying they believe that "any money laundering that takes place most likely does so in the casinos".

    Friday, March 3, 2000

    [05] Bases police question Romanian shot by Turks

    By Athena Karsera

    BRITISH Base authorities said yesterday they had interviewed a Romanian man shot and wounded by Turkish soldiers near Dherynia on Monday, in connection with a spate of burglaries.

    Bases spokesman Rob Need told the Cyprus Mail that SBA police officers had spoken to the suspect in hospital in occupied Nicosia, where he is recovering after being shot in the foot and shoulder on Sunday night.

    Need did not name the suspect, but Turkish Cypriot authorities on Monday said Romanian Ion Popescu was being treated in hospital after being shot as he tried to cross into the occupied areas near Dherynia. Popescu had apparently ignored calls to stop and started running when soldiers fired warning shots.

    UN sources yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that Popescu and another Romanian, Michael Cosmas, were suspected of involvement in a series of burglaries in the free areas.

    SBA police arrested Cosmas on Sunday night, but Popescu got away and seems to have been trying to escape to the occupied areas when he was shot.

    Need yesterday said an SBA court had remanded Cosmas in custody for seven days on Wednesday on suspicion of involvement in the burglaries.

    He said the crimes had mainly involved the theft of welding equipment.

    Unficyp spokesman Charles Gaulkin on Monday said Popescu had been shot 400 metres north of the buffer zone near Dherynia at approximately 10pm the night before.

    His injuries are not life threatening.

    Friday, March 3, 2000

    [06] Cypriots top bone marrow donors

    THERE are more bone marrow donors registered per capita in Cyprus than anywhere else in the world, with statistics showing some 18,500 registered donors among a population of about 650,000.

    This distinction owes largely to the efforts of the privately-funded Karaiskakion Foundation, which strives to register potential donors and find matches for patients in need.

    A total of 149 patients in the Republic have applied for a compatible bone marrow donor, most of whom are Cypriots, but also include 56 Greeks and 16 patients from other countries, according to the statistics presented to visiting deputies from the House Health Committee by Dr. Adamos Adamou, the head of the Scientific Committee of the Karaiskakion Foundation.

    The Foundation, which offers its services free of charge, managed to find donors for 31 patients. Six of the donors are not related to the patients.

    He said a Cypriot donor was found to be compatible with a Greek patient and would go to Greece in April for the transplant.

    "The Foundation aims to register 35,000 donors to enable each Cypriot patient to be more or less sure of finding a compatible donor," Efstathios Efstathiou, President of the Board of Directors of the Foundation, said.

    The chance of finding a compatible donor among brothers or sisters is 25 per cent, but drops to three per cent among other relatives. There is one chance in 35,000 to find a compatible bone marrow donor in the rest of the population.

    "The Karaiskakion Foundation has some very impressive work to show for", Andreas Parisinos, President of the House Health Committee, said during a recent visit to the centre.

    The current number of donors in Cyprus translates to one new donor for every 56 persons, a figure which could very well increase this year to one new donor for every 36 persons, he said.

    In Britain the corresponding figures are one donor for every 2,600 persons in a population of about 65 million. Deputy Parisinos said the Committee would offer every possible assistance to back the excellent work the foundation is doing, and added "we feel proud because our small homeland ranks first in this worthwhile effort on a global scale in this very sensitive matter."

    The Foundation, established three years ago, is funded by private donations, but the House approved a government proposal to allocate 125,000 for this year exclusively to buy tissue typing reagents.

    Dr. Pavlos Costeas, Director of the Laboratory, gave the visiting deputies a tour of the lab and stressed the need to move to new premises, buy the necessary equipment and employ more staff.

    Friday, March 3, 2000

    [07] Palestinian Airlines to start flights to Larnaca

    PALESTINIAN Airlines will start twice weekly flights to Cyprus this month, a statement published in Palestinian newspapers said yesterday.

    Sunday and Wednesday flights will begin on Sunday, March 26.

    This new service is part of a larger effort by the airline to expand its schedules. In December it signed a deal with Alitalia to start direct service between Rome and Gaza.

    Other destinations include Romania, Turkey and Arab states including Egypt, Jordan, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

    The airline operates out of Gaza airport, opened by the Palestinian Authority under a 1998 deal with Israel.

    The airport is a window to the world for Palestinians, who previously could only fly through airports in Israel or neighbouring Arab countries.

    Friday, March 3, 2000

    [08] UAE plane forced to make emergency landing in Larnaca

    A UNITED Arab Emirates jet en route to Dubai returned to Larnaca for an emergency landing on Wednesday night after it developed engine trouble.

    Flight UAE 946 from Larnaca to Dubai reported damage to one of its engines 20 minutes after takeoff and while it was still in the Nicosia FIR, a spokesman for the airline said yesterday.

    The Airbus 310 had left Larnaca airport at 2150 on Wednesday and returned at 2214 to make the forced landing.

    The 169 passengers and 14-member crew were transferred to a Larnaca hotel and yesterday morning left for Dubai on two flights. Eighty left on United Arab Emirates 006, which was diverted from London, and the remainder on Cyprus Airways 383.

    The damaged airplane was scheduled to depart for Dubai at 1730 yesterday afternoon following repairs.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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