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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-03-07
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Tuesday, March 7, 2000
 Water crisis: Nicosia mayors threaten to take matters into their own handsBy Martin Hellicar
FRUSTRATED at what they see as state tardiness in tackling the water shortage problem, Nicosia area mayors are vowing to take matters into their own hands.
The mayors of Nicosia and its suburbs are proposing to hire mobile desalination units to provide emergency supplies for the coming summer.
The mayors also cannot see why output from the existing desalination plant at Dhekelia cannot be increased.
"People will go thirsty this year," Nicosia mayor Lellos Demetriades warned yesterday, emphasising the need for urgent action.
The government, its plans to build desalination plants at Zakaki and Ayios Theodoros scuppered by local opposition, is now planning to build a plant at Paralimni. The Paralimni plant will not be ready for another 18 to 24 months and though work has already begun on a Larnaca plant, it will not be ready in time for this summer. The Zakaki plant would have been ready for late this summer.
With only about 25 million cubic metres of water in dams at the moment (half of the volume at the same time last year), the Dhekelia plant represents the only reliable source of summer water (it produces only 40, 000 cubic metres of water a day).
The government plan is to get through the Summer by digging deeper into our already over-exploited borehole reserves.
Demetriades and other Nicosia mayors are not impressed.
They plan to meet with Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous today or tomorrow to discuss water.
If Demetriades' statements yesterday are anything to go by, then Themistocleous is in for a hard time.
"What is the government going to do?" Demetriades asked. "If we are convinced (by Themistocleous) that the government is doing all it can, then OK, let the government do it, we don't particularly want to do it ourselves, " he said.
But Demetriades suggested it was more likely Nicosia would have to look after its own water needs.
"It is a matter of taking the initiative and going ahead on our own," Demetriades said.
This could be done through mobile desalination plants, the Mayor suggested. The idea of mobile plants has already been considered and rejected by the state.
The mayors have also heard that the existing plant could be expanded and want Themistocleous to explain why this option is not on the table.
"I want an answer concerning the possibility that the existing desalination plant can be expanded to give more water in six months," Demetriades said. "I want to know what is blocking this solution," he demanded.
Themistocleous responded by saying the government was ready to listen to any and all proposals.
But he warned that the water shortage problem was a tough nut to crack and could not be solved "from one day to the next."
Themistocleous said even mobile desalination plants were not quick to bring on-line.
Tuesday, March 7, 2000
 Government seeks to allay fears over influx of Turkish CypriotsBy Jean Christou
THE GOVERNMENT yesterday sought to allay fears over the recent influx of Turkish Cypriot families to the Republic, which has seen some politicians warning of a conspiracy by the Denktash regime.
Three more families numbering around 10 people crossed on the Green Line on Saturday night near Astromeritis, where they were picked up by police.
They claimed to be Turkish Cypriots and wanted to return to live in the south of the island, where many had homes prior to the Turkish invasion in 1974.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou insisted yesterday that, although there was some concern at the apparent exodus from the north, Turkish Cypriots had the same rights as any other citizens of the Republic.
Papapetrou said that in recent months between 200 and 250 people from the north had crossed to the south, claiming to be Turkish Cypriots.
Yesterday, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the first time answered questions on the issue, after being cornered by Greek Cypriot journalists covering his meeting with UN envoy Alvaro de Soto.
Denktash said the incidents were something that happened between all neighbouring states, even in the most democratic countries, and that he was not concerned about it.
He said the Greek Cypriot side was the one encouraging the Turkish Cypriots to leave the north, "and then kill them". He based his opinion on historical fact, he said.
Papapetrou said that whatever the circumstances of their arrival, the Turkish Cypriots would to be treated as citizens of the Cyprus Republic.
Of the 250 or so who have crossed already in recent months, the vast majority, he said, were Turkish Cypriots.
"Those that are not will be treated as illegal immigrants," Papapetrou said, adding that the process of checking nationalities would be thorough.
"The process of checking will stay just as strict as it has been," Papapetrou said. Those who are not Turkish Cypriots will be dealt with like any other illegal immigrant and deported to their country of origin in accordance with relevant international treaties.
Papapetrou also said that, according to the Attorney-general, Turkish Cypriots who owned property in the south before 1974 would have to go through the legal process to get it back.
Any problems created for Greek Cypriot refugees who now live in those Turkish Cypriot homes would be taken care of by the government, Papapetrou said.
But political parties are not convinced. Nicos Pittokopitis, a Diko deputy from Paphos, believes the exodus is being orchestrated by the Turkish Cypriot regime in the north.
He said Greek Cypriot refugees in Paphos were upset. "It's worrying me as it should worry every citizen of the Republic," he said.
Pittokopitis said it was the first time such a large influx of Turkish Cypriots was occurring without any reaction from the `authorities' in the north, with Turkish Cypriot side making no attempt to clamp down on the crossings.
"This in my opinion gives more credence to the view that this is an organised plan. It's not possible that no one saw these people crossing, and no problems are being caused or demands being made by the regime for them to be sent back," Pittokopitis said.
"When I say today these 100 will become 1,000, 2,0000, 3,000, 4,000, where are they going to live? Where are they going to work? What are their plans? It seems it is not under control."
Akel and the Social Democratic Movement (formerly Edek) have expressed similar concerns over the exodus and called on the government to exercise caution.
Social Democratic Movement leader Vassos Lyssarides said: "We are right to be concerned. It was too easy for them to come in," he said.
Tuesday, March 7, 2000
 De Soto meets Clerides and DenktashBy Jean Christou
UN ENVOY Alvaro de Soto yesterday met the leaders of the two communities following almost a week of contacts on the island to prepare ground for a third round of talks.
De Soto, who mediated in the first two rounds of proximity talks in December and in January, first met President Glafcos Clerides before crossing to the north to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash later yesterday morning.
A third round of talks is expected in New York on May 23.
"It is with great discipline that I am saying nothing," he said after his two-hour meeting with Clerides.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the Greek Cypriot side was ready to proceed to the third round of talks with the intention of tackling the real issues and the substance of the problem.
"In this respect, we are ready and willing to go there with a constructive spirit and we hope that the Turkish side will come to these talks in the same spirit," Papapetrou said.
The Turkish side has been pushing for a confederation between separate `states' but the international community supports a bicommunal, bizonal federation.
He said the Greek Cypriot side would stick to its demand for a federation, "and we are wondering why it is so difficult for the Turkish side to accept this solution of federation".
"We were of the opinion that this was the traditional Turkish position," Papapetrou said. "The Greek side moved bravely to meet this position and this position of federation was acceptable to the Turkish side just a few years ago at a period when relations between Greece and Turkey were cold war relations. We are wondering why this solution is unacceptable for the Turkish side now that relations between Greece and Turkey are moving to the better."
The government also expects a more substantive contribution from the US in efforts to find a settlement of the Cyprus problem in order to create the preconditions for a viable solution to the problem on the basis of UN decisions, Papapetrou said.
US Presidential emissary Alfred Moses and State Department Coordinator Thomas Weston are due on the island today for a brief visit during which they are expected to meet Clerides and Denktash.
Tuesday, March 7, 2000
 Market starts the week down againBy Michael Ioannou
EQUITY prices moved into the red again yesterday, killing off a firm open when institutionals started selling blocks of Popular Bank shares, which earlier rallied on a bout of pre-financial reporting euphoria.
Paring all of last week's gains, the all-share index fell 2.2 per cent, or 13.30 points, to settle at 594.27, confirming once again analysts' predictions that the 600 level is a point of reference for many on the bourse.
The broader market suffered heavier losses but that was not reflected in the benchmark because of the underlying influence of banking stocks, which were down nine points.
The market opened some seven points higher than Friday's close of 607.57 and briefly rose before starting to descend. Traded value was more than £10 million up from Friday at £28.9 million, underpinned by block trades in banking stocks.
Shares of Laiki were in focus yesterday as some 832,829 shares changed hands topping volume ranks. The decline was sparked mainly by institutional sellers, which appeared in force during the last 30 minutes, snipping some 12 cents off the share, which closed at 15.02.
Laiki had opened at £15.50 and had reached a high of £15.57 before the sell- off began.
"It is clear some investors thought Laiki had reached the highest point it was going to go, so sold to make a profit," a dealer said.
Laiki is scheduled to announce its 1999 earnings tomorrow morning. Many traders believe that the results will be even better than those of Bank of Cyprus, which posted a 119.3 per cent increase in pre-tax profit.
Selling pressure also affected Bank ofCyprus, which fell 13 cents to £9.27 on a turnover of 320,820 shares. Pressure pushed the banking sub-index down 1.35 percent.
Smaller capitalised sectors also fell significantly. Tourism shares were down 4.3 per cent and commercial stocks declined 3.8 per cent.
Stocks have been see-sawing for weeks on the back of lack of corporate news and some waning of interest reported among investors who either made a fortune in the run up to the November all-time high or got their fingers burnt in the correction thereafter.
Cash shortages have also been cited. However, one financial weekly reported at the weekend that property sales were booming from institutionals putting their money on real estate, which offers significantly lower yields than bourse investments but are considered by some as a surer bet.
Meanwhile, the CSE announced yesterday that it would be extending its trading hours by 30minutes from March 30. In response to demand from brokers and investors, trading sessions will be held from 10.30 to 12 noon.
* Tourism company Amathus Navigation said yesterday it posted a £5.4 million pre-tax gain in 1999, up from little over half a million pounds in 1998.
The figure was bolstered by a £4.9 million income from Amathus' sale of its stake in associate Claridge Investments, it said in a statement to the stock exchange.
Revenue for the year rose 23 per cent to £20.6 million.
Tuesday, March 7, 2000
 Markides to rule on controversial appointmentTHE ATTORNEY-general is to rule on the legality of the controversial secondment of a teacher to the office of the Government Spokesman.
Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou's decision to take Louis Igoumenides from the Education Ministry has caused a storm of protest from within ruling party Disy.
Many Disy deputies view Igoumenides - whose secondment was announced on Thursday - as a dangerous "outsider" whose Cyprus problem views do not match those of the government.
Papapetrou, who belongs to junior government partners the United Democrats (UD), has angrily defended his choice of aide, insisting that those attacking Igoumenides were actually trying to take a sideways swipe at President Clerides' policies.
Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides insists neither Igoumenides nor any other public servant has any say in national policy.
But the Disy-Papapetrou spat rumbled on. On Sunday, Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides protested that the secondment would have to be approved by himself and the House of Representatives.
Following Ioannides' protest, the Attorney-general Alecos Markides, has been asked to rule on the correctness of the procedure followed for Igoumenides' transfer.
Papapetrou yesterday insisted that if Igoumenides' secondment was proved invalid, then some 400 other teachers transferred to various ministries over the years would have to return to schools.
Tuesday, March 7, 2000
 Police deported suspect now wanted for Saudiís disappearanceLAST month, police unwittingly deported a Russian youth wanted in connection with the mysterious disappearance of a Saudi Arabian multi- millionaire.
At the time, police did not know that the 18-year-old might be connected to the disappearance of 52-year-old Rakan Khalied Hathleen, police spokesman Glafcos Xenos told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
Police believe the millionaire could have been murdered.
The Russian teenager was deported for illegal residence on February 21, after spending 10 days in Limassol police holding cells. Three days earlier, Hathleen had been reported missing.
But, unfortunately for police, the possible connection between the youth and the vanished millionaire was not established until after February 21, Xenos said.
The police spokesman said the 18-year-old and another man were suspected of using Hathleen's credit card, after his disappearance, to spend up to £70, 000 on jewellery and other valuables.
The youth was deported to Uzbekistan. Police believe his mother, also from Uzbekistan, was living with Hathleen at his Limassol flat before the man vanished.
Police have asked Interpol to help them track down the youth and his mother, and the other man, of unknown nationality, suspected of unauthorised use of Hathleen's credit card.
Xenos said police had no leads as to their whereabouts yesterday.
The Saudi Arabian millionaire arrived on the island in early January. 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 of the missing multi-millionaire. He is about six foot tall, thin, with short black hair and a dark complexion.
Tuesday, March 7, 2000
 January arrivals up 10 per cent on last yearJanuary tourist arrivals were 10.7 per cent up on last year, the Statistical Services announced yesterday.
The number of arrivals in all categories of travellers reached 107,622 in the first month of the year.
The number of tourists rose from 57,740 in January 1999 to 63,553 in January 2000.
There were 1,069 long-term immigrants arriving on the island in January, and 1,790 short-term immigrants.
The United Kingdom remained at the head of the visitors' countries of origin at 51.6 per cent, followed by Germany with 7.8 per cent, Greece with 6.8 per cent, Russia with 5.3 per cent, Belgium with 2.4 per cent, Austria with 1.9 per cent, the United States with 1.8 per cent and Israel with 1.7 per cent.
Over three-quarters of tourists came from the European Union.
Meanwhile, Cyprus residents returning from overseas trips accounted for 37, 857 arrivals in January, up 11 per cent from 34,106 in the same month last year.
Tuesday, March 7, 2000
 One colour for all taxis?IN AN effort to improve the image of taxis, the government is considering adopting the same colour for all vehicles, Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou said yesterday.
Speaking after a meeting of the Road Transport Council, Neophytou said all sides had agreed that one colour should be adopted for urban taxis, and another for long distance service taxis.
He added his ministry had already drafted a bill on the issue, copies of which would be given to all relevant associations for study.
Neophytou said the decision was expected to be taken on Friday during a meeting at the Communications Ministry.
"By adopting this policy we achieve two goals; improving taxi image, and helping the state fight lawlessness, which is prevalent in public transport today," he said.
Chairman of the Driver's Association Kyriacos Timotheou said he agreed with the Minister's proposal, stressing however that a new colour would not mean a new class of taxis.
Urban taxi and bus fares were also reviewed at the meeting, but Neophytou said decisions would be taken on those in the next few days.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000
Tuesday, March 7, 2000
 Car chase nets the wrong menPOLICE were involved in a dramatic car chase through the streets of Nicosia at the weekend, ramming the car they were following and eventually shooting its tyres to bring it to a halt.
The story was the lead on Ant1ís Sunday night news, with a camera crew promptly on the scene for the kind of reality television that has taken the private channel to the top of the ratings.
The problem was, the two men in the car were 18-year-old conscripts, not the carnival muggers police were after.
Last week, an Ant1 crew was again in the thick of the action, filming a police raid on a strip show in a cabaret in Limassol.
The woman was later released after police failed to find anything against her. Stripping is not illegal.
The plot this Sunday involved a 50-year-old Egyptian security guard, who told police two men tried to mug him while he was on duty at the Bank of Cyprus sports club, near Latsia in Nicosia.
Iosif Iousri claimed that in the early hours of Sunday, two thugs wearing carnival masks had approached him and demanded his money.
He told police that when he said he had no money, one put a penknife to his chest while the other hit him on the arm with a thin metal rod.
The suspects subsequently fled the scene in a dark-coloured Morris Mini, he added.
Police scrambled and spotted a car fitting the description in Armenias Avenue.
They tried to intercept the vehicle, but its driver failed to comply with police orders voiced through loudspeakers.
The police then rammed the suspects' car, but again they would not stop.
Eventually police resorted to more drastic measures, bringing the Mini to a halt by shooting its tyres.
But instead of catching the wanted muggers, police found two 18-year-old conscripts, who had nothing to do with the attempted robbery.
The soldiers said they had not stopped because the driver had no licence and was afraid.