|Monday, 11 December 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-03-18
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Saturday, March 18, 2000
 Klerides steps in to talk up the marketBy Michael Ioannou
THE GOVERNMENT intervened to talk up the bourse yesterday in an effort to arrest the slide that has seen 40 per cent shaved off prices since the market hit dizzying highs last November.
Finance Minister Takis Klerides skipped an IMF meeting in Ukraine to reassure edgy investors that the market slump was irrational, but clarified that there was little the government could actually do to curtail market forces.
"The state cannot intervene in the freedom which must govern the market... the government cannot raise prices," he said at a hastily-convened news conference yesterday.
However, he did say that the finance ministry would allow insurance companies greater flexibility to invest more of their managed funds onto the market, and said he would seek better bank repayment terms for indebted investors now exposed to the price correction.
That could slightly ease a liquidity crunch that has seen millions withdrawn from the market to invest in new start-ups trying to capitalise on the jump in prices last year.
With about 50 of them awaiting approval to list their shares on the market, Klerides said the bourse had also contracted private auditors to review financial statements of applicants in the hope that this would speed up the listing process.
The market has plunged by 40 per cent since last November. Various reasons are cited, from investors angry at commercial banks cutting back loans on Central Bank instructions to companies sitting on millions from IPOs and widespread rumours of a bear play by influential players to drag the market down before moving in for the kill.
Klerides carefully avoided any finger-pointing.
"I cannot understand why, when the prospects of the economy and public companies are excellent, investors' confidence should be so low. It can only be justified by saying that these are inexperienced investors who are not acting wisely."
The Finance Minister said he would have further contacts with Central Bank governor Afxentis Afxentiou on Tuesday to examine ways of shoring up the market. Klerides said authorities would also pursue with the Central Bank the possibility of allowing investor accounts to reoperate at commercial banks.
"It should be at logical levels... this does not mean we are turning on the money taps," he said.
Klerides said insurance companies would now be allowed to invest up to 40 per cent of their premiums on the market, up from a previous limit of 30 per cent.
Better repayment terms for groups of investors who borrowed to get into the market would also be discussed with the Central Bank, and Klerides said that Afxentiou himself had issued such an appeal to commercial banks.
"This would effectively deal with a problem which may already be confronted by certain groups of investors," he said.
There are no firm figures available, but it is estimated that hundreds of people took out bank loans last year to invest on the market. However, there is no indication that banks are calling them in.
A Central Bank announcement earlier this week that it was lifting restrictions previously imposed on commercial banks failed to have an impact on the market.
The Central Bank, which has for long maintained that the bourse cannot be built solely on borrowed money, said that loans could be allowed for individuals using their bank deposits as collateral.
Some traders have shrugged the offer off, andone trader told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that Klerides would use his meeting with Afxentiou on Tuesday morning to press the point home that the Central Bank should loosen its purse strings even further.
"I don't know how others see it, but as far as I know investors could always get a loan using their deposits as collateral anyway," the trader said. "So in effect the Central Bank statement amounted to nothing."
Saturday, March 18, 2000
 Shares rise at last after a week of lowsBy Michael Ioannou
SHARES heaved themselves off the floor of the market yesterday, rebounding 1.75 per cent in an across-the-board rise led by insurance firms, one of the casualties of this week’s slump.
Driven by expectations of government incentives to support the market, the all-share index rallied for the first 45 minutes, succumbed to some intraday profit-taking in the next 45 and ended with a gain of 8.7 points.
The benchmark index settled at 507.26, but hit a high of 511.97 points early on in the session from an opening level of 505.81, eight points higher than Thursday's close.
"We are seeing some very strong support at 500 points," said a trader. "Expectations of government measures to tone up the market are helping."
Turnover reached £22.2 million, absorbed mainly by the banking heavyweights, which absorbed £8.2 million of the total and rose 0.83 per cent.
Insurance firms, battered early in the week on the negative sentiment that swept the market, shored up 6.06 per cent to be the day's highest sectoral gainer.
Tourism stocks followed with a 3.7 per cent gain.
"It is good to see the market stabilising over the 500 point. Prices were very attractive after Thursday," said stockbroker Costas Shamtanis.
Intraday fluctuations, which saw the market surge by more than 2.5 per cent at one point, were normal, he added.
Banks remained the highest capitalised sector with a 42 per cent slice of the market's £10 billion capitalisation.
Bank of Cyprus lifted itself off a nine-month low to close at £8.09 pounds yesterday on a volume of 453,383 shares, while Laiki Bank raked in a 19 cent gain to close at £13.14 pounds. Hellenic Bank, which is due to announce its 1999 earnings next week, gained two cents to close at 3.06.
Louis Cruise Lines topped volume ranks, holding steady at £1.93 on 1.3 million shares changing hands.
Financial powerhouses ShareLink and Severis & Athienitis raked in the day's highest gains: a 10.9 per cent surge for ShareLink to £19 and a 5.8 per cent jump for Severis&Athienitis to £18.95.
On a weekly basis, three days of declines this week have seen the all-share CSE index fall by 7.34 per cent.
That translates into a 28.9 per cent drop since January 1, or a 42 per cent drop from the market's all-time high of 881 points on November 29 last year.
Recriminations among floor players of a bear play and talk of price manipulation, which has sorely dented sentiment, appeared to be fading out yesterday, though there were murmurs on the market that the media had also played a crucial role in the market's negative climate.
There were also reports out yesterday that brokers were heard clapping on their secluded trading floor when the market fell 4.2 per cent on Thursday as small investors downstairs were staging mock funerals. Many traders asked dismissed the claim.
"I didn't see anything. I was too busy working," one trader said deadpan to the CyBC.
Saturday, March 18, 2000
 Fanieros remanded over share scam allegationsBy Athena Karsera
ANTONIS FANIEROS was remanded in custody for eight days yesterday on suspicion of forgery involving tens of thousands of Louise Cruise Line and Bank of Cyprus shares.
Larnaca district court remanded club owner Fanieros, 55, and 32-year-old waiter George Stylianou, also known as `Arapoui', on suspicion of conspiracy to commit crime, forgery, drawing up and distributing forged cheques, obtaining money under false pretences and covering up a felony.
Investigating officer Christoforos Mavromatis told the court that 34,750 Louise shares belonging to businessman George Alexandrou had somehow found their way into the hands of a third party, who then sold them to a Nicosia stockbroking firm, making off with £143,000.
The court heard how the unnamed third party had twice this month convinced an employee at the Severis and Athienitis brokerage that he was in fact Alexandrou, the legal owner of the shares.
In the first case, the employee received 8,000 Bank of Cyprus shares in exchange for a post-dated cheque for £73,000.
The second case saw the same employee paying out £70,000 for 26,750 Louise Cruise Line shares.
Mavromatis said the alleged scam came to light when Alexandrou received notification that his shares had been sold.
He immediately contacted the authorities to report that he had not given permission for the shares to be sold.
The investigating officer added that an eye-witness had testified to seeing Fanieros, Stylianou and a third man exchanging the £73,000 brokerage cheque for two other cheques written out to a certain Antonis Hambis.
The court heard another witness had told police that Fanieros and a man claiming to be Alexandrou had shortly after asked him to give them two cheques for £50,000 and £20,000 in exchange for the £70,000 brokerage cheque.
All four cheques were cashed in various Larnaca banks, the investigating officer said, and were now in the hands of police as evidence.
When Fanieros was arrested on Thursday, he reportedly told police: "I have no idea, I don't forge things." Mavromatis added that police had found £35, 000 hidden in the tyre of his car.
Stylianou was arrested yesterday morning. Police are still searching for a third suspect.
Saturday, March 18, 2000
 Spyros Kyprianou is backBy Athena Karsera
DIKO AND House president Spyros Kyprianou yesterday returned to Cyprus after almost five weeks overseas for corrective surgery following an open- heart operation, and immediately launched into an attack on the government’s Cyprus problem policy.
Kyprianou underwent surgery in London to re-wire his sternum following a coughing-fit after his first operation in the United States.
As soon as he landed at Larnaca airport, Kyprianou suggested the Greek Cypriot side should seriously consider whether it should even show up for the third round of proximity talks with the Turkish Cypriots in May.
Kyprianou said it was too soon to discuss whether he would be accompanying President Glafcos Clerides to New York for the talks, saying it was something that would have to be decided by his party.
"I don't know if I will go personally or if the party will be represented or whether it should (be)... It is too soon. One of the things we should know, and I thought about this a lot personally, but of course I will not try to influence my colleagues - the party will decide - is whether there is something of essence, something to be done (during the third round), or whether is it just a repeat of the two previous rounds."
Asked whether Diko believed the government should therefore not participate in the third round, Kyprianou replied: "I suggest that at some stage, perhaps a while before the third round and after the elections in Greece, there be serious consideration here in Cyprus to see whether we really want to be realistic (about the situation)... and see along with the Greek government which will come out of the elections, where we are heading."
Kyprianou continued that the land issue was not the only one that required discussion, "There is also history, the invasion, the occupation, the uprooting, ethnic cleansing, what about the settlers?"
He said the National Council should discuss all these issues before deciding whether the government should take part in the proximity talks and that, once discussion there was exhausted, the matter should be taken up with the Greek government.
Kyprianou also said he did not believe any progress in the Cyprus problem had come out of the EU's decision to make Turkey a candidate country.
"(We got) absolutely nothing. Turkey will not discuss the Cyprus problem in the framework of its EU accession," he said.
The House President said that he had been told by sources in Greece that UN special envoy to Cyprus Alvaro de Soto had been disappointed by the Turkish side's attitude during his recent visit to Cyprus: "It is up to De Soto to say if he was not disappointed."
He dismissed comments by Britain’s special representative Sir David Hannay on Tuesday saying there was currently a better chance for a solution to the Cyprus problem than there had been for many years.
"Something else I saw in papers that Sir David Hannay said this was the chance we have and we have to grab it... We have to remember that in the last 25 years, every year and sometimes every six months, they tell us this is the last chance."
Kyprianou also said that more attention should be paid to Turkey's role in the Cyprus problem and that the country's human rights problem had not disappeared because of its better relations with Greece.
Turning to other matters, he said whether he continued as House President or Diko leader would not depend on his health.
"The criteria will not be health. We have passed the problems, so the situation is like it was before my health problems."
Kyprianou said that at least until decisions on his status were announced at Diko's general assembly, he would gradually be returning to his duties.
He also thanked all those who had supported him through his "sometimes nightmarish" ordeal.
Saturday, March 18, 2000
 Third round crucial, says PapapetrouTHE THIRD round of UN-led proximity talks due to take place in New York next month is "especially important", the government said yesterday.
Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the third round was important because it would reveal the future of the talks process.
Two rounds of proximity talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, have already taken place, the first in New York in December and the second in Geneva last month.
Papapetrou said the government had other scenarios in mind if ever the talks were to break down.
"We will be taking part in the third round, but not taking part in talks with no meaning just to give Denktash an opportunity to give an excuse for the invasion," Papapetrou said.
Denktash has put the issue of recognition of his breakaway regime on the table at the UN-led proximity talks. His proposal for a solution is the establishment of a confederation of two 'states', as opposed to the bicommunal, bizonal federation sought by the Greek Cypriot side and the international community.
In an interview published in Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kibris yesterday, Denktash said the international community expected both sides to go to the third round with concrete proposals.
"The Cyprus cause is about what could be done on confederation and two state basis," he said. "They want to see how such an establishment will function. Naturally we are preparing these."
Denktash said the Greek Cypriot side wanted cantons in the Karpass peninsula, but he could not see how this would be possible. "With cantons they aim at creating Trojan Horses among us," he said.
Papapetrou said the terms put forward by Denktash were completely unacceptable.
Saturday, March 18, 2000
 Turks appeal to Rolandis to allow tourists to overnight in northTHE TURKISH occupation regime wants Cyprus Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis to liberalise tourism between the free areas and Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.
The call was made yesterday by Mustafa Akinci, ‘state minister and deputy prime minister’, in a front page story in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper, Kibris.
Under the headline: "Call to the Greek Cypriot side for co-operation on tourism," Akinci asked Rolandis to allow tourists who visit the occupation regime to be able to cross into the Republic and stay overnight, and vice versa.
He said his proposal showed the Denktash regime was ready to take new steps towards co-operation, and expected a positive response from the Greek Cypriot side.
"The two communities cannot have freedom of movement on the island," the way things are now, Akinci said. "We want at least the tourists to be able to move freely."
"We want this unfair embargo to be lifted," he said, adding: "This island does not belong only to Greek Cypriots."
At present, tourists to the free areas can cross the Green Line to the northern 37 per cent of the island during daylight hours, but must be back by 5pm.
Tourists who visit Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus are not allowed to cross into Republic, since their arrival on the island - via airport or seaport - would have been through an illegal port of entry.
This owes to the fact that, in keeping with UN Security Council resolutions, the Republic is considered the only legally constituted government of the whole of Cyprus, and the occupation regime is an illegal breakaway state.
However "co-operatively" cast, Akinci's proposal did not appear to be purely platonic.
In discussing the vast disparity in tourism figures, he noted that in the 20 years between 1977 and 1997, only 3.5 million tourists had visited the occupied north, whereas the Republic, this year alone, expects some 2.7 million tourists.
Rolandis was unavailable late yesterday for any response to Akinci's proposal.
Saturday, March 18, 2000
 Limassol disturbances ‘had nothing to do with ethnicity’By Anthony O. Miller
THE CIVIL disorders in Limassol this week, involving Greek and Turkish Cypriots and Gypsies from the occupied north, had nothing to do with the nationality or ethnicity of those involved, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.
Wednesday's incident - about which Cyprus Police still refuse to comment, claiming political instructions not to - involved "two guys being drunk, guys with whom the police have dealings quite often," Papapetrou said. "They were Greek Cypriots."
"(They) visited the sister of the one, a Greek Cypriot who is married to a Turkish Cypriot, and... one was demanding from his sister's husband a motorcycle which he claimed was his," he said.
When the uncle tried to take the motorcycle, "his two nephews reacted. He beat them, and then some Turkish Cypriot neighbours rushed to help" and the fracas ensued," Papapetrou said.
"The police went there, and these two Greek Cypriots were formally charged for this incident and they'll be taken to court," he said.
As for Thursday's incident involving Gypsies recently arrived from Turkish occupied northern Cyprus and Greek Cypriots in refugee housing, Papapetrou again conceded: "Yes, it happened, (but) the incidents had, in reality, nothing to do with their origin (as Gypsies), but to family differences."
The gypsies came as part of a recent influx, which has seen almost 200 Turkish Cypriots cross the Green Line in the last six months.
Papapetrou said yesterday that, "on Thursday, some neighbours were reacting to some Gypsies put next to them, claiming they were dirty and going around urinating in the streets."
But Diko deputy Marios Matsakis said that after visiting the area he had a totally different picture of Thursday's incident.
First of all, he said, "it was not a very clever thing to put them (the Gypsies) among Cypriot refugees straightaway. I think they should have been put in reception areas first, to deal with them and try to resolve their problems. They have all sorts of problems," said Matsakis, himself a doctor.
"They're gypsies... but they are Cypriot citizens. Whatever they are, they are human beings, they are in Cyprus, and they are Cypriots," he said, deploring the housing conditions he said they were forced to live in.
"They were not given any proper amenities. For example, they were put in these - they are not houses, they're sort of walls with half a roof on top, without water, without toilets. How can they live?" he asked.
"Of course they will cause disturbances, because they have no toilets. So they're going to use whatever they can find. They have no water, so they will try and get water from their neighbours," Matsakis said.
Papapetrou acknowledged "there were some incidents where they (the Gypsies) were urinating in the doorways of the neighbours there, (but) not because they are not rich (or lacked toilets), but because some people say they wanted to create trouble," he said.
But he emphatically denied the Gypsies were shoved into slums without the barest of hygienic amenities. "No, this is not the case. The places they were put were proper places, and they had these sort of facilities," he said.
"In order to be specific about what Matsakis is saying," he said. "I have to know which area he is talking about, which house."
"They were put in some places. It's not one place. So I need to be specific, " he said, but insisted: "I'm not aware of any of these houses not having toilets and water."
Saturday, March 18, 2000
 Israeli ambassador’s wife dies of cancerRUHAMA Tzur, wife of Israeli ambassador Shemi Tzur died late on Thursday night after a long battle with cancer. She was 53.
Mrs Tzur came to Cyprus in 1993 with her husband when he was posted here as ambassador.
During her years here she was actively involved with the Cypriot community in many areas, particularly in matters of education and health, and was course co-ordinator responsible for scholarships to Israel and for exchange courses.
Ruhama Tzur was personally involved in helping to arrange medical treatment in Israel for people who needed it and many benefited from her generosity in this area.
She was also actively involved in voluntary organisations for underprivileged children and with the mental health associations in both Nicosia and Larnaca.
Together with ambassador Tzur she travelled extensively across Cyprus visiting many remote villages.
She was born and went to school in Jerusalem. She studied economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and late joined the Israeli Ministry of Finance. She worked in the manpower department, the VAT department and in the department for free trade with the EEC, USA and Canada.
Ruhama married Shemi Tzur in 1969 and the couple had three children. Their first post abroad was to South Africa from 1973-1979, followed by a posting in 1980 to Istanbul. In 1985 they were posted to Sydney, from where they returned to Israel in 1989.
The embassy in Nicosia has opened a book of condolences for Mrs Tzur. It was open yesterday from 12pm to 3pm and will be open again on Monday from 1pm to 3pm.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000
Saturday, March 18, 2000
 Exports fall as agriculture downDOMESTIC exports fell to £215.2 million in 1999 compared with £221.3 million in 1998, latest statistics released yesterday show.
Industrial products of domestic products exported during 1999 accounted for £167.8 million, or 81 per cent, compared with £171.1, or 80.3 per cent in 1998.
Of those, pharmaceutical products held the biggest share with £25 million, up from £20 million in 1998, while clothing accounted for £22.8 million, down from £29 million the previous year.
Footwear and cement exports were also down.
However, the export of cigarettes was up from £12 million in 1998 to £14 million last year, as was the export of alcoholic beverages from £7.6 million in 1998 to £8.5 million.
Agricultural exports continued their downward trend dropping from £40 million in 1998 to £36.5 million in 1999. Potato exports in particular dropped from £19 million to £14 million but the export of citrus fruits was up slightly from £12.7 million in 1998 to £13.8 million last year.
EU countries absorbed 52.8 per cent of Cyprus domestic exports followed by Arab countries with 25.6 per cent.
Imports continued to rise from £1.58 billion in 1998 to £1.63 billion in 1999.
Almost 53 per cent of all imports came from EU countries.