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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-03-31

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, March 31, 2000


  • [01] Hannay in Athens today for Cyprus talks
  • [02] Vassiliou warns Cyprus must put EU promises into practice
  • [03] Boy needs blood transfusions as series of charity events announced
  • [04] Takeover speculation fuels market rise
  • [05] Universal Life buys IMC
  • [06] Bank robbery suspect surrenders to police
  • [07] Minister orders mobile security force for schools
  • [08]
  • [09] Government to run asbestos tests on former miners
  • [10] British experts to start testing Ergates residents next moth

  • [01] Hannay in Athens today for Cyprus talks

    BRITAIN'S Cyprus envoy, Sir David Hannay, is expected in Athens today to talk Cyprus problem with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    According to Reuters yesterday, a Greek Foreign Ministry official said Sir David was to discuss ways of helping Cyprus settlement efforts proceed "more seriously and more swiftly." Sir David and Papandreou – a driving force in the recent Greco-Turkish rapprochement - are also to consider ways of getting President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to face-to-face talks, the Ministry official said.

    Clerides and Denktash are due to begin a third round of UN-led proximity settlement talks in Geneva on May 23. The optimistic mood generated by the first two rounds of talks, in New York and Geneva, has been soured by recent statements from the two leaders.

    Clerides has expressed deep misgivings about Denktash's willingness to discuss the essence of the issue, while Denktash has been increasingly vociferous in his insistence that only a confederal solution - rather than the federation proposed by the UN and backed by the Cyprus government - will do.

    The UN envoy conducting the talks, Alvaro de Soto, conceded earlier this month that UN Secretary general Kofi Annan's comments that a solution could be found this year may be unrealistic.

    Meanwhile, yesterday's Turkish Cypriot press suggested Clerides and Denktash would be brought face-to-face in a fourth round of talks in July.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris cited diplomatic sources as saying Sir David and his US counterpart, Alfred Moses, might present "concrete proposals" during the third round of talks. The two sides on the island were being put under intense pressure to "do their homework" so that the third round of talks could be "more substantive," Kibris added.

    Friday, March 31, 2000

    [02] Vassiliou warns Cyprus must put EU promises into practice

    CYPRUS is dragging its feet when it comes to putting its EU harmonisation commitments into practice, the head of Cyprus's EU accession talks team again warned yesterday.

    George Vassiliou said Cyprus was ahead of the pack of candidate countries when it came to closing chapters in the process of harmonisation with the Acquis communautaire, but was not doing so well when in came to implementing these commitments.

    "To close chapters in negotiations is one thing, to adopt and implement what you have promised is quite another," the accession talks chief said.

    "Cyprus lags behind on the issue of implementation of commitments we have undertaken. That is not to say we are delaying any more than others, but we are noticeably delaying... and for this reason I am worried," Vassiliou said.

    "If we do not deal with these delays urgently we will have problems," he warned.

    Heeding Vassiliou's earlier warnings about the need to speed up harmonisation efforts, President Clerides has instructed all his ministers to provide Vassiliou with monthly progress reports.

    Vassiliou's fresh warning came on the sidelines of a meeting between the heads of the accession talks teams of all six candidate countries in Paphos. Chief negotiators from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Hungary and Slovenia will continue and conclude their discussions with Vassiliou today. The meeting is one of a series of similar "get-togethers" organised by the six countries with the aim of helping each other out in their journey towards EU accession.

    Friday, March 31, 2000

    [03] Boy needs blood transfusions as series of charity events announced

    By Athena Karsera

    DOCTORS said yesterday the six-year-old leukaemia sufferer at the centre of a massive search for a compatible bone marrow donor would probably need blood transfusions to counter his deteriorating health.

    Andreas Vassiliou went for a check-up at Nicosia's Makarios hospital yesterday, where doctors found advanced blood abnormalities consistent with his condition, raising the likelihood of a blood transfusion.

    Meanwhile a series of events is being organised with the aim of bringing more exposure to the cause and raising money for one of the institutions at the forefront of the effort.

    Tens of thousands of people have so far given blood samples in the hope of finding a match for young Andreas. The likelihood of finding a compatible donor stands at 35,000 to one.

    The boy’s plight has also moved hundreds of Turkish Cypriots to give blood and Turkey to open up its donor records to the Republic.

    The Vassiliou family yesterday met with Akel general secretary Demetris Christofias, with the opposition leader congratulating all those who had contributed to the cause.

    "I want to congratulate our compatriots, both the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, for their moving contribution in helping the children that are suffering, because besides Andreas there are also others."

    Christofias said he hoped this effort would be seen as example of the two communities overcoming their differences to co-operate and hoped this would continue.

    Efforts are also being pooled in the search for a donor for a Turkish Cypriot boy suffering from leukaemia, 12-year-old Kemal Saracoglu.

    A series of events were announced yesterday to raise money for the Karaiskakio Foundation, which has spearheaded the unprecedented campaign to find a donor.

    The President of the Friends of the Karaiskakio Foundation, Christos Andreou, yesterday said the first event would be sponsored events by Cypriot athletes, athletic organisations and the Cyprus Motorcycle Association.

    Starting from various points on the island, including Polis, Limassol and Ayia Napa from between 8 and 10am tomorrow, the sponsored runs are mostly set to finish at the Karaiskakio Foundation at 9pm.

    Christou said that Greek celebrities, performers and fashion houses would also be coming to Cyprus during April in order to raise money for the Karaiskakio.

    Meanwhile, the elite RAF aerobatics team, the Red Arrows yesterday announced that they would be carrying out a personal display for Andreas today.

    The event takes place at RAF Akrotiri at 2.30pm and will last half an hour.

    Friday, March 31, 2000

    [04] Takeover speculation fuels market rise

    By Michael Ioannou

    SMALL cap shares were in focus on the stock market yesterday, with interest on K&G Complex – widely speculated to be the target of a takeover bid -- spiking demand in the stock, which ended the day with a staggering 5.2 million shares changing hands.

    All seven sectors of the market registered increases, led by a 7.16per cent jump in tourism shares -- boosted by strong gains in Libra Holidays, Astarti and Dome Investments -- and a six per cent jump for commercials. In the latter sector, Ceilfloor, Mallouppas and Papacostas and Orphanides jumped between 19 and 34 cents.

    The all-share CSE index showed a 2.24 per cent gain, closing at 467.6 points on a turnover of £19.1 million. The market showed a steady advance throughout the session, with its opening and closing level the intraday low and high respectively.

    Of 101 securities traded, 73 rose and 23 fell while five were unchanged. There were 5,126 deals.

    "The market is at a stage of stabilising. If one looks at the performance of the bourse for the past 12 weeks, then today's advance was a natural outcome of some very attractive valuations at the moment," said an investment analyst at one brokerage.

    K&G Complex, which is associated with the Galatariotis group of companies, has been snapped up by investors over the past two days amid widespread speculation that it might be taken over by another company.

    Its stock closed down by a whisper to 25.2 cents.

    Banking stocks ended 1.6 per cent firmer, underperforming higher advances in the rest of the market. Bank of Cyprus staged a strong recovery to add 17 cents, closing at £7.57 on a total of 290,000 shares changing hands while Laiki climbed 10 to £12.12. Hellenic was up eight cents to £2.75.

    Louis Cruise Lines continued to languish at £1.45, down two cents on a volume of 628,819 shares. Traders reported that institutional investors, and especially banks, were expected to prop up the stock ahead of a forthcoming rights issue to shareholders, which sets an exercise price of £1.60. Since the exercise price is higher than the current market price it was expected to be shored up before the option to exercise rights is exercised, one said.

    "There is no way Louis would get money from an issue at £1.60 --- it would be better for the beneficiaries to get it straight from the market," one said.

    Louis have given a seven-week postponement to the deadline for the rights issue until May 18.

    Retailing group Mallouppas and Papacostas said yesterday sales of the group rose 33 per cent and its pre-tax profit was up 183 per cent last year.

    Sales in the year under review rose to £7.9 million compared to £5.9 million the previous year, while pre-tax profits rose to two million pounds.

    Blue Island Fish Farm said sales jumped 114 per cent last year to £883,438. An expansion of its retailing network and higher exports brought pre-tax gains of £285,351 pounds, climbing 78 per cent compared to the previous year.

    The company said it expected to post a 150 per cent increase in sales for the current year.

    Logicom said yesterday its turnover rose to £8.3 million, almost doubling the £4.4 million turnover posted in 1998.

    Pre-tax gains rose to £1.01 million while earnings per share rose to 8.9 cents over five cents of 1998. The company said it had proposed dividends to shareholders amounting to £242,000 -- spreadingmore than 30 per cent of the year's total gains.

    Vassiliko Cement's sales dropped to £22.5 million last year on the back of a slowdown in the construction sector, a two per cent decrease compared to 1998.

    The firm said pre-tax gains reached £3.8 million, marginally lower than the £3.9 million posted in the previous year while net profits for 1999 were £3.18 million. There was a loss from foreign currency fluctuations of £280, 000, believed to be a result of a surge in the value of the dollar against the Cyprus pound.

    Friday, March 31, 2000

    [05] Universal Life buys IMC

    THE UNIVERSAL Life insurance firm has bought up the International Merchandising Centre (IMC) building outside Nicosia for a reported £15 million.

    The deal will not affect the Stock Market's relocation to the massive IMC building or the rental terms agreed for the move.

    The IMC never took off as a marketing venture but the building is considered ideal for the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE).

    The exchange has been housed in its current location for over three years but rapid expansion coupled with an upsurge in market fever has seen speculator activity the bourse mushroom in the past 12 months. Brokers, investors and a daily stream of media crews who crowd into the CSE building in central Nicosia frequently complain about the lack of space prompting bourse authorities to seek an alternative.

    The IMC was opened in 1997 ostensibly as a central location for buyers from countries in the region to purchase goods wholesale at a one-stop shop.

    The £30 million building has four floors and comprises 22,000 square metres of exhibition and administration facilities divided into dozens of units plus 25,000 square metres of bonded warehouse. It is also already computer networked.

    Friday, March 31, 2000

    [06] Bank robbery suspect surrenders to police

    By George Psyllides

    A MAN still wanted by police in connection with Wednesday’s armed raid on a Limassol bank yesterday gave himself in.

    The surrender came just hours after another three suspects had been remanded in custody for eight days in connection with the robbery. A fourth suspect, arrested on Wednesday, was released yesterday.

    Chrysanthos Ioannou, alias Athos from Kolossi, give himself in at Episkopi police station yesterday afternoon.

    Police had earlier warned the public that Athos was believed to be armed and dangerous.

    Police investigators had earlier told Limassol court that three men -- Iakovos Sakkos, 27, Vassilis Patouris, 22, both from Trachoni, and 30-year- old Sotiris Charalambous, alias Steve, from Limassol -- had been arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit felony, armed robbery, and illegal possession and transfer of firearms and explosives.

    The armed raid took place at 9.30am on Wednesday at a branch of Laiki Bank on the corner of Ayia Zoni and Makarios avenue in Limassol.

    Two robbers, dressed in black and wearing black motorcycle helmets, one of them armed with a shotgun, got away with around £74,000 in cash.

    According to witnesses, they entered the bank through the back door and forced staff and customers on the floor at gunpoint.

    The men escaped on a stolen red scooter, which was later found on a nearby street.

    But they were seen abandoning the scooter and fleeing in a silver car.

    Witnesses noted the number plate, which led police to its owner, Sakkos.

    Investigators told the court they had found two bags in an open space south of town.

    One of the bags was empty, while the second contained a sawn-off shotgun, a pistol and a jacket, all believed to have been used by the robbers.

    Police also found another jacket and some burned clothes under a bridge near the village of Fassoulla.

    The car was found by police in a Trachoni car wash, owned by Patouris.

    The three suspects deny any involvement with the heist.

    Meanwhile, a pipe bomb yesterday went off in a car owned by the fourth robbery suspect, Athos.

    The bomb went off at 12.30am at a used car lot.

    The device was placed in the front part of a Mercedes belonging to Athos, which had been put up for sale around a month ago.

    The explosion caused light damage to the car.

    ARSONIST in Limassol yesterday set fire to a Mitsubishi Lancer belonging to Yiannakos Timotheou.

    The car was parked outside the La Bamba bar on Karajias Street, when the fire started in the early hours of the morning.

    Police swept the scene for clues and their initial findings led them to believe the fire had been started deliberately.

    The owner said yesterday he had received several death threats recently.

    He told reporters he had asked for police protection, which apparently had not been granted.

    Damage to car was estimated at £3,500.

    Friday, March 31, 2000

    [07] Minister orders mobile security force for schools

    IN THE wake of assaults on teachers and arson attacks at local secondary schools, the Education Ministry is proposing to set up a mobile security force to police schools.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said this rapid reaction force would be manned by private security men and alerted by alarm systems in all schools.

    Teachers' unions have been calling for greater protection for their members, who they say are finding it increasingly difficult to deal with a rising tide of student aggression.

    Yesterday, a 14-year-old Limassol student was questioned by police in connection with an alleged assault on one of his teachers. The youth was given a warning by police and suspended for 15 days by his school.

    At least two other incidents of pupils attacking teachers have been reported over the past year.

    Ioannides was yesterday keen to stress that such incidents were only a problem at "specific" schools.

    Ten such "problem" schools had already been fitted with alarm systems and the plan was to extend this security cover to all schools, the Minister said.

    "Our proposal is that each school be covered by alarm systems. At the same time, schools will be linked with a mobile unit in every town," Ioannides explained.

    "This mobile team will be made up of one or two or more cars manned appropriately so that - at a moment's notice - they can be at any school where there is a problem," he said. "We will hire services from companies that offer such policing possibilities," he added.

    The minister said posting permanent security guards at all secondary schools would be ineffectual and was both impractical and too costly.

    Friday, March 31, 2000


    [09] Government to run asbestos tests on former miners

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE GOVERNMENT will on Monday begin testing asbestos miners and their families for a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres suspended in the air, according to Parliamentary testimony yesterday and a Health Ministry physician.

    Akel Deputy Yiannakis Thoma tabled the issue yesterday in the House Labour Committee, noting that in 1980, 1,400 asbestos workers had been examined and nothing suspicious found.

    "From 1980, of the 1,400 miners who were examined then and nothing found, dozens have died from asbestos-related disease," Thoma said, including his uncle Stelios Thoma.

    Thoma said tests on his uncle showed he had pure asbestos fibres in his lungs. He said his uncle never worked anywhere else except the Amiantos asbestos mine, so his fatal asbestosis could not have come from anywhere else.

    Also dead of asbestosis was PEO trade union official Stelios Kyprianou, of Pelendri, who only visited miners and inspected mine conditions, Thoma said, adding: "I personally know five individuals (from the mine) whose disease is at an advanced stage."

    Dr Andreas Georgiou, of the Health Ministry's public health service, confirmed that "starting on Monday we... will start testing for cancer of the lungs" among asbestos mine workers and their families.

    "We are going to look at those who were exposed to asbestos in previous years to see if the mine's suspended (asbestos) particles in the air have had any harmful effect" on them, he said.

    "The trade unions demanded this," he said, adding he had testified concerning the testing yesterday before the House Labour and Social Insurance Committee.

    Georgiou said there were 30 villages near the now-defunct Amiantos Mine, the island's sole asbestos mine; miners would be tested, as would members of their families, since the miners could have brought asbestos fibres home in their clothing.

    He said he had "written to the heads of the (30) villages, and 470 people responded," agreeing to be tested at Kyperounda Hospital for the deadly pneumoconiosis asbestosis. Sadly, he said, "I did a study in 1980... and 1, 460 persons responded." Many of them have since died.

    Georgiou noted a three-and-a-half-year-old change in Cyprus law - removing occupational health jurisdiction from the Health to the Labour Ministry - opened Cyprus to the prospect of huge lawsuits for asbestosis and other work-related illnesses, especially the closer Cyprus gets to EU membership.

    "The most appropriate thing," he said, is to transfer occupational health authority back to the Health Ministry from the Labour Ministry. "When we enter the European Union, by law we have to have this," he said.

    "The only thing the European Union is concerned about is occupational medicine. Nothing else," he said. "They don't say you have to have surgeons, or internal medicine or ENT specialists, or cardiologists. They say you must have occupational physicians," he said.

    Georgiou said the Labour Ministry had had power over occupational medicine for three-and-a-half years and "they have never used it to appoint doctors, because it's impossible to have doctors in the Labour Ministry."

    "No doctor will accept (a post there), because the law says - Article 40, paragraph three – that doctors there will work under the jurisdiction and guidance of the chief inspector of factories, who is an engineer... No doctor will ever accept that," he said.

    "It's a very serious thing," he said, "because anybody who is going to sue the government for not having had access to occupational medicine is going to win money," Georgiou said.

    "Because for three-and-a-half years, we have people who have been exposed to asbestos (without any medical help). We have industrial deafness to persons who are exposed to heavy noise. We have occupational asthma. We have radiation - so many things," Georgiou said.

    "Who is going to pay these people, who for three-and-a-half years have been heavily exposed (to industrial hazards) without any medical examination? Who is going to pay the money when they sue?" he asked.

    "I think at the end, this Republic will be heavily exposed to legal action and lawsuits by persons," Georgiou warned.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Friday, March 31, 2000

    [10] British experts to start testing Ergates residents next moth

    By Anthony O. Miller

    HEALTH Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday said he hoped April 15 would be the date British experts would start setting up shop to test Ergates villagers for lead, cadmium and dioxin suspected in the smoke from the nearby Marios & Andreas foundry.

    Savvides said the Tender Board had accepted bids to begin work about April 15 by "a team out of Essex University (London) in collaboration with Guy's Hospital Epidemiological Department," also of London.

    "A special team will test the people. Another team will do the environment - soil, air, vegetation, the whole works," he told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    "I think they said in their report it would take two months from start to finish, including the writing of the report, but I would give them three," Savvides said.

    Public Health physician Dr Andreas Georgiou said the Tender Board accepted the bid by Leonidou Associates Human Resource Consultancy. "They are going to bring doctors from St. Mary's Hospital in London - they're the best in the world, actually - and Guy's Hospital in London" to conduct the tests.

    Georgiou said the clinical examination would be conducted by doctors from St Mary's Hospital, and the laboratory work would be done by the Guy's Hospital toxicology reference laboratory."

    "The Tender board gave the approval on March 22, and we were informed just (yesterday) by fax officially," Georgiou said. "So we are going to proceed (to sign the contract). In my opinion, it will be done in the first fortnight of April."

    Georgiou explained that "part of the team will come to Cyprus to make the first fact-finding mission, to go to Ergates to make the design of the study, and the rest will follow" to begin drawing blood and carrying out the environmental tests.

    Asked when the first blood samples would actually be drawn from Ergates residents, Georgiou replied: "between the beginning to the 20th of May we will have the first blood, because it's a matter of designing the study first."

    Savvides said the teams would also inspect the foundry to determine how to make its operation safer.

    "They will do measurements of the filters, of the process of filtering the smoke. They will identify the present situation and they will also comment on the proposed improvements" the foundry must make, Savvides said.

    Savvides last year pledged to establish a mechanism for the government, the foundry and anyone found to have suffered health effects from its smoke to be compensated.

    But for the time being, he said, "this is something else... It's a very, very big subject. I hope we don't have - not for the monetary reasons, but for other reasons - I hope that we don't have a serious problem" with injuries to human health.

    He also pledged, once the Ergates testing program got underway, to look to beginning similar tests in the Zakaki area, where residents complain of being sickened by smoke from the nearby Nemitsas Foundry.

    Yesterday Savvides reiterated this pledge, noting he had accumulated lists of several respected international laboratories interested in tendering to test Zakaki area residents.

    Savvides said the winning Ergates tender came in "a little bit under" the £144,000 the Council of Ministers approved to spend on the tests.

    Two series of tests done by epidemiologist and public health physician Dr Michalis Voniatis showed Ergates residents have five times the cadmium and nearly three times the lead in their blood as Nicosia residents do.

    Voniatis' tests also show Ergates residents have brain, kidney, pancreas and lung cancer rates many times the Cyprus average, and twice the Cyprus rate of leukaemia. And he blames the foundry smoke for giving 33 per cent of Ergates children chronic lung problems.

    Voniatis and other doctors also suspect dioxin is in the villagers’ blood - and in the vegetables grown around the village - from the toxic emissions in the foundry smoke. These vegetables are both eaten in Cyprus and exported to Europe.

    Savvides has pledged that, if his experts conclusively prove damage to human health caused by toxins in the smoke of either the Marios & Andreas or the Nemitsas foundry, he will close them down.

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