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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-03-04

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, March 4, 2000


  • [01] Papapetrou lashes out at critics
  • [02] Akel batters government for failure to protect Cyprus from Echelon ‘spies’
  • [03] ‘Bogus stockbroker used couple’s savings to feed gambling habit’
  • [04] Bargain hunters send share prices up
  • [05] Paralimni desalination plant will take up to two years to build
  • [06] Russian jailed for illegal entry and selling sex pills
  • [07] Parking lot fire sends five to hospital
  • [08] Want to buy a ministerial car?
  • [09] Vassiliou insists on stricter shipping measures

  • [01] Papapetrou lashes out at critics

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE GOVERNMENT spokesman's choice of an "outsider" to work under him is threatening to create a major rift between the Presidential Palace and ruling party Disy.

    Disy deputies claim Thursday's secondment of educationalist Louis Igoumenides from the Education Ministry threatens the government's Cyprus problem policy.

    Many in right-wing Disy view Igoumenides, a one-time member of opposition party Akel, as a dangerous moderate.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou lashed out at the Igoumenides critics yesterday, claiming their real target was President Clerides and his national policy.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides insisted no public servant had any say in Cyprus problem policy.

    Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades did his best to put the lid on what was threatening to become a party revolt. But he also questioned the wisdom of the Igoumenides appointment.

    The man at the centre of the storm yesterday insisted his Cyprus problem views were "totally compatible" with those of the government.

    Igoumenides' secondment was announced late on Thursday, to be met by an instant outcry from certain Disy quarters.

    Chief among the protestors are deputies Prodromos Prodromou and Christos Rotsas.

    Prodromou yesterday said Igoumenides had written a whole series of articles "defaming" Clerides and his policy on the Cyprus problem.

    Rotsas said the educationalist's positions were more concessionary to the Turkish side even than those of the political left wing.

    Opposition parties joined in the attack.

    Diko called it an "ill-advised" move.

    Nicos Koutsou, of fringe right-wing party New Horizons, was more forthright. He said Igoumenides was part of a network of advisors being set up in Athens and Nicosia with the aim of promoting a confederal Cyprus settlement.

    Government Spokesman Papapetrou took the flood of criticism personally and made no effort to hide his exasperation at the attacks on the appointment.

    Hidden behind the attacks, he told his daily press briefing, was a desire to hit Clerides.

    "It is crystal clear that the criticism is coming from certain quarters which disagree with the policy of the government and the President of the Republic. They do not dare to take on he who decides and carves out this policy head on and consider it easier and more convenient to take on he who expresses this policy," he said.

    Papapetrou refused to comment when asked if he was pointing the finger at Disy members.

    The Spokesman belongs to junior government coalition partners the United Democrats (UD), a sore point for some within Disy. The UD have a more moderate Cyprus problem policy than Disy.

    The Spokesman said he would not back down over his choice of aide.

    He made no comment on the fact that Igoumenides was his relative, except to say that he was doing him no favours in moving him from the Education Ministry, as his new duties would be "much tougher."

    Papapetrou reiterated the government's support for a federal settlement.

    Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades tried to take the sting out of his party's reaction, saying that only the "naive" could believe an assistant in a government service would influence national policy.

    "Mr Clerides' policy is well known, his steadfastness to this policy even better known and we should not make an issue out of something that has nothing to do with anything but the better function of the Spokesman's job, " Anastassiades said.

    But the Disy leader also said he "totally justified" concerns about Igoumenides "due to some of his positions."

    He said the appointment should not have taken place.

    Reporters badgered Foreign Minister Cassoulides into making a statement on the issue.

    "I want to avoid being tempted to comment on anything and everything, I do not think this is a matter for me to comment on," he protested - but to no avail.

    He stuck to a general statement, not mentioning Igoumenides:

    "Policy on the national issue is drawn up by the President of the Republic and is carried out by his Ministers and the Foreign Minister in particular. There is no change in this and public officials do not change policy."

    Igoumenides himself insisted his Cyprus problem positions were compatible with the government's.

    "My opinions on the Cyprus problem were always clear: that the Cyprus problem must be solved peacefully on the basis of political equality and with the aim of creating a bi-zonal, bicommunal federation," he said.

    Saturday, March 4, 2000

    [02] Akel batters government for failure to protect Cyprus from Echelon ‘spies’

    By Martin Hellicar

    MAIN OPPOSITION party Akel yesterday pushed the Echelon "spying" issue back into the spotlight, bringing it before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

    Akel parliamentary spokesman Andreas Christou used Echelon as a stick with which to beat the government, claiming the state was failing to protect its citizens from British-American "spying" activities.

    The government, represented at the committee by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, again did its best to keep the Echelon issue in perspective.

    Christou - taking his cue from widespread local media reports on the Echelon issue - claimed the British were using monitoring stations within their Cyprus bases to "listen in" to police, National Guard and business communications on the island.

    He said the government should demand that British monitoring stations on Cyprus be closed down. Cassoulides countered that this was tantamount to demanding the bases, established by the 1960 treaty of guarantee, be abandoned.

    The Echelon issue has already caused a media frenzy on the island. The spark was a debate on the US-British monitoring network at the European parliament's civil liberties committee earlier this month. A report tabled before the committee by British physicist and journalist Duncan Campbell suggested the satellite monitoring system tapped into the world's fax, telephone and radio exchanges.

    The report apparently notes that two Echelon ground monitoring stations are located within the British Bases on Cyprus. This led the local media to conclude that Britain was using Echelon to spy on Cyprus.

    Christou yesterday told the committee the monitoring network violated citizens' right to privacy.

    Cassoulides suggested Christou's claims of British spying were alarmist and his demands for closure of monitoring stations unwise and impractical.

    The monitoring installations at the bases were not tuned into communications on "little" Cyprus, the Foreign Minister insisted.

    It would be a "huge mistake" to make an "enemy" of a "friendly" nation like Britain by bringing up such an issue, Cassoulides added.

    "The Akel parliamentary spokesman is asking for the cessation of these activities at the bases. I have to interpret that a demand for a cessation of such activities at the British bases equates to a demand for the withdrawal of the bases from Cyprus," Cassoulides said. The primary function of the bases was monitoring, the Foreign Minister explained. "These bases are useful for the big powers only for activities, which are, unfortunately, of this (monitoring) form," he told the committee.

    The committee is to continue debate of the issue behind closed doors. Christou said his party would table the issue before the House plenum and the National Council.

    Akel leader Demetris Christofias yesterday sent a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair asking him to intervene to close down Echelon ground stations in Cyprus.

    Saturday, March 4, 2000

    [03] ‘Bogus stockbroker used couple’s savings to feed gambling habit’

    AN UNEMPLOYED man who allegedly duped a couple out of £13,700 by posing as a stock broker, then blew it on a betting spree, is being questioned by police.

    Stelios Assiotis, 37, from Ayios Dhometios, is helping police with their enquiries after a Nicosia District Court remanded him in custody for six days.

    The man faces charges of theft, receiving money under false pretences and illegally accepting money as a person who was declared bankrupt in 1997. The alleged offences took place between January 12 and 19 this year. Assiotis allegedly posed as a bogus stockbroker from the genuine brokerage house Marketrends, persuading a Limassol couple to part with a cheque for £13.702 to purchase Bank of Cyprus shares.

    The suspect promised to buy 1,500 BoC shares for the unsuspecting couple at £9 each – a price the share almost touched a month or so ago. They wrote a cheque out in his name - including the commission.

    But, according to police, the unemployed 37-year-old cashed the cheque at the Bank of Cyprus, rather buying stock in the same institution

    Antonis and Tassoula from Limassol did not get their shares and police now believe that the suspect frittered away the cash to feed a gambling habit rather than play the market.

    The man was introduced to the couple by a relative and mutual friend, who presented him as a broker from Marketrends Capital in Nicosia.

    He and his wife were once employed by the brokerage, but were fired after irregularities cropped up and police were informed. Assiotis reportedly worked at the brokerage and used the name of his wife when closing transactions.

    Police are to question the suspect’s wife and other family members as part of the investigation.

    Saturday, March 4, 2000

    [04] Bargain hunters send share prices up

    By Michael Ioannou

    STOCKS climbed 1.89 per cent yesterday on higher liquidity inflows from buyers snapping up bargains from recent lows, though uncertainty on the short-term performance of the bourse remained.

    Bolstered by a strong performance in the investment and banking sectors, the benchmark index climbed to 607.57, a tad below the intraday high of 608.

    The market opened eight points higher than Thursday at 604.66 and climbed throughout except for a brief hiatus in the second half of the session.

    Traders said the market would probably track a seesaw course for the immediate future.

    "God knows," was the response of one market analyst when asked if yesterday's upsurge could be maintained.

    "With the exception of today the market trend has been downwards. Volume levels have been probably at their lowest levels in the past nine months or so. It is very possible that new investment firms are not investing their portfolios yet, and this is affecting the situation, investors are very impatient," said an analyst at a Nicosia stockbroking firm.

    "Traded volumes were significantly up today and this has encouraged investors. I think that there will be oscillations in the short term. We cannot expect anything firmer before new companies debut on the market," said stockbroker Nicos Ephraim.

    On a weekly basis, the market has slipped 1.2 per cent, exacerbated by a cumulative 3.9 drop on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but with a reversal on Thursday and yesterday cutting short the bourse losses.

    Traded volume yesterday reached £18.9 million, but average volumes of around £16.6 million for the week were still marginally lower than last week by about three per cent.

    Banking stocks, which this week absorbed more than 43 per cent of volume, climbed 1.98 per cent with healthy rises for Bank of Cyprus, which jumped 16 cents to £9.40, and Hellenic Bank, which climbed five cents to £3.72.

    Laiki, which announces its 1999 earnings on Wednesday, climbed 42 cents to £15.14. on a turnover of 364,145 shares, the second highest volume registered.

    Universal Savings Bank bucked the trend in the banking sector to register a nine cent drop to £6.16.

    Advancers yesterday outpaced decliners 56 to 17 and nine securities were unchanged on 82 traded. There were 3,253 trades.

    Louis Cruise Lines dominated market volume with 715,394 shares changing hands as the stock climbed five cents to £2.66.

    1999/2000 warrants by ShareLink registered the highest net gain, climbing £1.30 to £21, followed by ShareLink ordinary stock with a 71 cent, or 3.2 per cent increase to £22.70 pounds.

    Laggards included Triana 1999/2001 warrants which had 74 cents clipped off to £13.51, followed by Euroinvestment and Finance, which declined 20 cents to £13.30.

    Saturday, March 4, 2000

    [05] Paralimni desalination plant will take up to two years to build

    THE PARALIMNI desalination plant is planned for completion in 18-24 months and enlarged to supply the whole Famagusta district, in case there is a Cyprus settlement, the government said yesterday.

    The announcement followed a meeting in Paralimni involving Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous, the directors of the Agricultural and Water Departments and local officials.

    The meeting's purpose was to discuss the desalting unit that the government decided on February 23 to build in Paralimni, after the House of Representatives killed plans to erect a water desalination plant in Zakaki.

    Deputies killed the Zakaki plant outside Limassol, despite the fact the government had chosen a lowest-bidder from among the several contractors that submitted tenders to build the facility.

    Where the Zakaki plant was to have gone on line this summer at the latest, the Paralimni plant will not be completed for 18 months to two years, according to the government.

    Similar popular opposition killed a desalination plant planned for Ayios Theodoros. And the desalting plant under construction in Larnaca is the subject of several legal challenges filed by the Mayor of Larnaca George Lycourgos.

    Saturday, March 4, 2000

    [06] Russian jailed for illegal entry and selling sex pills

    A RUSSIAN dermatologist was yesterday jailed for five months for illegally entering the Republic through the occupied areas and selling unlicensed medication.

    Nina Nelioubina, 47, was arrested on February 25. She was carrying Russian 1,000 cigarettes and 17 boxes of tablets, which allegedly protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

    Police said Nelioubina had sold the tablets to cabaret artistes in Limassol and Larnaca.

    She has already served two months imprisonment in 1997, again for three instances of illegal entry into the Republic.

    Police found that Nelioubina came to Cyprus through occupied Tymbou airport on December 29 1999, then crossed over into the free areas through the Dhekelia British Bases.

    Investigations showed she had been staying in a Kyrenia hotel.

    Before sentencing, Nelioubina told the court that she knew she had been breaking the law but had been driven to do so by the economic situation in Russia.

    She said that she had a 20-year-old son in university and a physically handicapped husband to support.

    She also said that she only sold the cigarettes and pills to Russians and had never made a sale to Cypriots.

    Saturday, March 4, 2000

    [07] Parking lot fire sends five to hospital

    A FIRE in the parking lot of an apartment block in Nicosia yesterday gutted five cars and caused breathing problems to five residents.

    The blaze broke out at around 2.20am at the underground parking lot of the building on Eleftheroupoleos Street in Acropolis.

    It ruined five cars and sent five residents to hospital with breathing problems from smoke inhalation.

    The five were treated and released.

    The fire was put out by the fire service, while police officers searched the area for clues to the cause of the blaze.

    A fire service officer later told reporters that nothing conclusive had been found on the scene to indicate whether the fire had been an arson attack or just accidental.

    He added the police and fire service would wait until the results of tests on the ashes came back from the state laboratory before making any further announcements.

    He did, however, stress that they were investigating all possible causes and that the fire had not been caused by explosives as some residents thought at first.

    Saturday, March 4, 2000

    [08] Want to buy a ministerial car?

    HAVE YOU always yearned for the perks of being a senior government official but already missed the boat?

    Never fear, a Minister's car or even one that belonged to his director- general could soon be yours through public auction.

    Luxury vehicles that would normally cost a fortune will soon be available at knockdown prices, with bidding kicking off at around £10,000.

    Finance Ministry officials have revealed that at a recent auction, seven BMW 728i Ministerial cars and BMW 523i models used by director generals were sold for between £13,000 and £22,000.

    The government actually makes money from the cars' auction, as they are bought tax-free by the state.

    Government officials said they paid £9,775 plus Value Added Tax (VAT) for each director-general's car and £13,675 plus VAT for those going to Ministers.

    Sold five years after their purchase, the first seven cars peddled this year made £92,500 for the state. The auction date for the rest is to be announced soon.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Saturday, March 4, 2000

    [09] Vassiliou insists on stricter shipping measures

    THE NUMBER of ship inspectors is set to rise, more foreign companies used and stricter checks on ships implemented, Cyprus' head EU negotiator said yesterday.

    The safety of Cyprus-flagged ships, often accused of running under a flag of convenience, was at the forefront of discussion during a special meeting under the auspices of chief negotiator George Vassiliou yesterday.

    Speaking during the meeting, Vassiliou said ideas were being put forward for the stricter inspection of ships, something that was directly connected to Cyprus' EU accession course.

    "We want to have ships but we also want them to be safer," Vassiliou said.

    "As much cost as there is (for improving safety inspections), the benefits are much more, I can tell you this now," he added.

    The meeting was attended by Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou, officials from the Merchant Shipping Department, members of the Cyprus Shipping Council and the Association of Cypriot Shipping Magnets, and other shipping experts.

    President Glafcos Clerides last week assured the Cyprus Shipping Council that the state would do everything in its power to improve the image of the Cyprus flag.

    Clerides said Cyprus would no longer tolerate substandard vessels in its Registry and that no effort would be spared in achieving this goal.

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