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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-03-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Saturday, March 25, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Take your lead from Ankara, EU envoy tells Turkish Cypriots
  • [02] Market rebounds as investors snap up cheap shares
  • [03] Turkish Cypriots to give blood at Ledra Palace checkpoint
  • [04] Tourism looks set for another record season
  • [05] Government to clamp down on illegal holders of Turkish properties
  • [06] Cabinet extends repatriation benefits

  • [01] Take your lead from Ankara, EU envoy tells Turkish Cypriots

    Staff reporter

    EUROPEAN Union enlargement commissioner Guenter Verheugen yesterday urged Turkish Cypriots to take the lead from Ankara in its goodwill ties with traditional rivals Athens.

    "A political breakthrough would be needed like Greek-Turkish relations," said Verheugen at a bi-communal press conference in Nicosia. AThis should be seen by both sides on how to come to together, co-operate and tackle difficult issues."

    The 55-year-old envoy said that if the Turkish Cypriots did not open the window of opportunity created by the post-Helsinki (EU summit) climate, they would be left out while the motherland reaped the rewards.

    "Already a situation exists where the Greeks in Greece are members, the Turks in Turkey are preparing for full membership and the Greek Cypriots are negotiating members, we've only one side left. It's in no one's interest to leave it like this," said Verheugen.

    The German commissioner underlined that the island's EU accession would benefit both sides but only if the Turkish Cypriots joined the negotiation teams -- which they have so far failed to do.

    "Cyprus can only speak with one voice, no separate negotiations are possible, I made that clear. The main initiative must be taken by the two sides," he said.

    Verheugen said the money was already available to implement joint projects to benefit both communities but the will to work together must exist. "There is a deep conviction that accession to the EU and membership would be the best way to give security and prosperity to the people of Cyprus."

    He said this would be the message to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash -- whom he will invite to join the island's accession process -- when they met later last night.

    However, the EU official offered some self-help philosophy and realism to the divided communities. "You should not wait for wise people to come from elsewhere to tell you how to solve your problem -- it's your responsibility."

    Verheugen, wrapped up his two-day Cyprus visit by giving the island's accession bid top marks. The EU commissioner met Cyprus' chief negotiator with the EU George Vassiliou earlier yesterday and said afterwards: "Cyprus is the leader with eleven chapters provisionally closed. The process is very well on track; there are no particular problems and I told Mr Vassiliou that he can be sure that the commission is strongly committed to continue the process of accession based on the principles of speed and quality.@

    Vassiliou told reporters that Verheugen had assured him that the EU intends to go ahead with the enlargement without any delays. "He stressed very clearly that there are now 12 and not six candidate countries and each candidate would be judged on its own merit," Vassiliou added.

    The results of the Helsinki EU summit created a "window of opportunity" for Cyprus which the EU will try to use, Verheugen said after meeting House President Spyros Kyprianou.

    Kyprianou described Verheugen as " a very important personality" with "clear views and a determination to help," noting the EU commissioner's goal is to "speed up the accession negotiations" and at the same time provide help for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus question.

    He said they discussed President Clerides' proposal for the Turkish Cypriot participation in the accession negotiations.

    Saturday, March 25, 2000

    [02] Market rebounds as investors snap up cheap shares

    By Michael Ioannou

    INVESTORS snapped up shares lurking at year-lows yesterday, shoring the market up 6.2 per cent and eclipsing an 8.5 per cent hammering of stocks on Thursday.

    Yesterday reaffirmed that there is never a quiet day on the Cyprus bourse when shares staged an impressive 27-point rebound in aggressive buying which saw traded value of £26.7 million, higher than it has been for weeks.

    It placated dozens of investors who gathered on the ground floor of the stock exchange building to take brokers and authorities to task over the continued slump in prices. "We have to make it clear to investors that they should not sell their shares dirt cheap to sharks," one investor said.

    Police kept a close watch on investors standing outside the bourse building before the session began. Several officers protected the entrance to the main offices but their presence was superfluous.

    The market notched up a six-point gain at the outset of 448.31 points and kept climbing until it closed at 470.41. Traders had predicted before the session started that investors would be on the buy side. "We had many buy orders because prices were really very low," one trader said.

    But some traders said it was early to predict that the market had entered a buy cycle. "It is not something we can foretell. The day was excellent and we recouped some of the losses suffered on Thursday," said stockbroker Costas Hadjigavriel. "Prices are at very attractive levels so some investors took the chance and bought." Traders said buyers included both institutional and private investors.

    Most securities traded yesterday advanced; there were 6,185 deals. Cash squeezes and rumours of influential players wanting to stitch up smaller investors by pressuring prices have angered many.

    Investors' association Pasecha has said its members had the impression the recent dive in prices was artificial. Pasecha vice-chairman Kypros Protopapas told reporters that yesterday's gathering was one of a series of measures planned to show authorities that the group would not tolerate the situation any further. "Some people have decided not to give their shares away any more," he said when asked why the market showed such a broad rebound.

    Small and medium cap shares, which were the first casualties of the downturn this week, registered the highest gains. Commercial stocks surged 11 per cent, with industrial and insurance stocks following with a five and six per cent rise respectively.

    Banking stocks rose 4.4 per cent. Bank of Cyprus was lifted off year lows to close at £7.65, up 46 cents on a turnover of 596,000 shares. Popular Bank notched up a 19-cent gain to close at £12.49 while Hellenic Bank rose 36 cents to £2.81 on a turnover of 798,000 shares.

    Louis Cruise Lines dominated transactions with 2.2 million shares changing hands as it rose 22 cents to £1.46, followed by Hellenic and Bank of Cyprus.

    In terms of net gainers, ShareLink nil-paid rights rose 13.75 per cent to £13.65, while its ordinary shares climbed 7.7 per cent, or £1.32, to £18.45.

    Saturday, March 25, 2000

    [03] Turkish Cypriots to give blood at Ledra Palace checkpoint

    By Athena Karsera

    THE UNITED Nations are trying to organise a way for Turkish Cypriots to donate blood in the quest for a bone marrow donor to help save a six-year- old leukaemia victim.

    Unficyp spokesman Charles Gaulkin yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that samples would probably be taken at the Ledra Palace check-point on Monday between 5pm and 8pm.

    "We have been contacted by a number of Turkish Cypriots who have read or seen or heard of the effort going on to get samples to help the leukaemia victim (Andreas Vassiliou). They wanted to participate, they hope to contribute."

    Gaulkin said Unficyp's Civil Affairs branch had been in contact with the Karaiskakio Foundation in an effort to find a way for the samples to be collected.

    The Foundation will meanwhile be receiving new machinery to help speed up sample testing with around 1,00 samples being tested a day.

    In the past week alone, approximately 30,000 people have given blood samples in an effort to find a suitable donor.

    Volunteers have also been making donations in Greece.

    Karaiskakio Foundation vice-president Christos Andreou yesterday told the CyBC that the race against time would begin on Monday when the new machinery was put into use.

    "We are bringing extra machines. A new machine arrives on Sunday at dawn with technicians and with other machines that had already been ordered and are coming from Europe with trained technicians."

    "With these machines, Cyprus will be the first country, at this time, with a laboratory that can do more than 1,00 examinations a day. We asked a lot of (overseas) laboratories and they talked about doing 50 or 100 a day. You can understand what this means."

    Meanwhile, young Andreas yesterday left Nicosia's Makarios hospital after hitting his head during a routine check-up on Thursday. The boy had been kept in overnight for observation.

    Saturday, March 25, 2000

    [04] Tourism looks set for another record season

    By Jean Christou

    WITH only a week to go to the start of the summer tourist season, optimism is high in the sector for another record year for arrivals.

    "Bookings are very good," Commerce Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    He said the estimate was that overall the number of visitors would be up by ten per cent, which would translate into around 2.7 million visitors.

    Even the 1999/2000 winter season saw a sharp rise, with arrivals in February up a whopping 18 per cent on the same period last year. January was also up more then 10 per cent.

    Rolandis, who returned on Thursday night from a tourism fair in Russia, said numbers were expected to be up from all destinations.

    In particular, he said the UK was expected to exceed the forecast 10 per cent increase. Visitors from Germany would increase between 10 and 15 per cent and from Russia between five and eight per cent.

    "Russia dropped off in 1999 from 190,000 visitors to 135,000 because of the (economic) crisis," Rolandis said.

    "Cyprus had the smallest decrease while others fell dramatically. In our case we kept 135,000. This time the number of arrivals will be close to 150, 000."

    The Minister said that while the bookings situation looked good, the industry had to face the inevitable consequence of overbooking due to a shortage of summer beds.

    "There may be a problem with overbooking," Rolandis said. "Already we have complaints from Germany and Russia and even from the UK."

    Hoteliers are also optimistic for the summer. Zacharias Ioannides, director general of the Hoteliers Association, said yesterday his members expected a record year.

    "We anticipate a growth of five to 10 per cent, and the most encouraging of all the developments, is the fact that almost all our markets are showing a healthy growth, including Russia," he said, adding, like Rolandis that there were definite signs of recovery from last year's slump in the Russian market.

    "The UK is doing excellently and from the bookings situation so far we are confident of a second year of double-digit growth rate."

    Rolandis also said plans for the Miss Universe contest in May were going very well despite some "delays and difficulties".

    "This is much bigger than we ever thought it would be," Rolandis said.

    Ioannides said it would be difficult to quantify the effects of the Miss Universe pageant, but agreed that it was an effective means of exposure for the island as a tourist destination.

    Also yesterday, Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou announced that an initial agreement had been reached with a cruise firm for the development of Larnaca port as a major cruise centre.

    Saturday, March 25, 2000

    [05] Government to clamp down on illegal holders of Turkish properties

    THERE would soon be no more Turkish Cypriots properties in the hands of people not entitled to them, the Interior Minister said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with the Central Advisory Committee in Charge of Turkish Cypriot Properties, Christodoulos Christodoulou said that while many people had lost their properties just after the invasion, some were now very much back on their feet.

    He said many now had luxury properties of their own, but still held on to the Turkish Cypriot houses and land; "On a strict interpretation, the number of illegal cases could be a few hundred," he said.

    Christodoulou said he would be heading the Committee's first ever efforts to establish how many of people should be allowed to keep Turkish Cypriot properties.

    "What has to take place is a new approach to the issue so that we can decide if those who were once entitled to property should still be allowed to hold on to them, and this will be judged on the financial situation of each one, who may have been in need in 1974 or 1980 and is in a different situation now."

    Christodoulou said that if it were established that people were found holding on to property to which they were not entitled, they would be prosecuted. "(They will be subjected to) what the law says and what the court decides."

    He said his next meeting with the Committee would be in May and added his efforts were in no way connected with the recent wave of people leaving the occupied north for the free areas.

    Christodoulou said there were approximately 500 empty Turkish Cypriot houses available, and that the people coming over were being housed in waiting areas until it was established that they were in fact Turkish Cypriots.

    Saturday, March 25, 2000

    [06] Cabinet extends repatriation benefits

    THE CABINET has decided that repatriated boys returning to Cyprus between the ages of 10 and 12 would serve an 18 month National Guard term instead of the usual 26 month service.

    Previously, male children who returned to Cyprus by the age of twelve were required to do the full military service, while those who return between the ages of 13 and 17 are required to do 12 months, those aged 18 to 25 did six months and those 26 to 50 years old, three months.

    According to an announcement yesterday, Thursday's Cabinet meeting also led to a decision to extend subsidies to cover the private secondary education fees of children of Cypriot women and foreign husbands.

    The fee subsidies had previously only been provided for children of Cypriot descent form the male line, something Repatriate organisations deemed blatant discrimination.

    The £450 subsidy followed a December 17 1999 Cabinet decision and applies to children who, from the start of their immigration, began their education at a private high school recognised by the Education Ministry.

    Applicants should be of Cypriot descent, hold Cypriot nationality or be eligible for it having moved back to the Republic after having permanently settled overseas for a period of at least the 10 years before their repatriation.

    Interested parties should apply to the Education Ministry, with a copy sent to the Office of the President's Commissioner for Expatriate and Repatriate Issues.

    Commenting on the changes to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Kikis Christofides, the chairman of the Association for expatriate and Repatriate UK Cypriots said, "The things that changed were to our benefit, but we still are demanding more."

    "They are now offering some money to those going to high school but not primary school and we say `yes its good that they are offering this amount of money, but we demand that these young children have financial benefits as well’. You understand everybody who comes here and does not understand Greek has to go to an English speaking school so therefore their parents have to pay money."

    On the military service front, Christofides said that his Association had been satisfied by the change and was now demanding for married repatriated men with families to be allowed to leave the army in the afternoons and overnight.

    Christofides said that his Association would be meeting on April 10 to discus progress made on repatriate problems and identify other areas where difficulties were experienced.

    The Association can be contacted through Christofides at 02-313896, during office hours. The Association also assists Cypriot repatriates and expatriates from countries other than the UK.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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