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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-04-27
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Wednesday, April 27, 2000
 Cyprus joins the dot-com bandwagonBy Michael Ioannou
SHARE prices ended mixed yesterday with mild profit taking eclipsed by a strong performance by high-tech newcomer L.K.Globalsoft.Com, which soared at its debut, hitting the market at an opening price of £5.95.
The firm, which allotted shares at £1.50 in its IPO, at 25 cents in a private placement and at six pounds in a bidding process for institutional investors, was the fourth most actively traded stock as some 1.5 million shares changed hands.
Globalsoft.Com opened at £5.95, clawed to a high of six pounds and subsided to £5.52 before a close of £5.69, in line with analysts' predictions. The nominal value of the 127 million shares is five cents.
"It is a very strong company with a sound management team. The potential of the firm is without bounds," said stockbroker Yiannos Athienitis, lead manager of the issue.
In addition to its Cyprus activities -- it is holding company for several firms with interests in IT solutions and internet-based services, it is also engaged in activities in north Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East, Athienitis said.
Traded value yesterday reached £47.4 million over £37 million registered on Tuesday and on 8,784 deals.
With the exception of companies in the ‘other’ category, which climbed 0.4 per cent and absorbed most of the day's traded value, the remaining six sectors ended lower. Decliners were led by a 1.4 per cent drop for tourist enterprises, closely followed by industrials, which were 1.2 per cent lower.
Banking stocks traced the trend of the all-share index, which fell 0.46 per cent to a close of 549.78 after a firmer open.
"These are small advances and declines. I am not particularly bothered about that," said Athienitis.
What was important, he said, was that investor psychology had changed.
"People are slightly more serious about things than they might have been a month ago. They are happier and don't think that some small rises or falls is anything to get worried about," he said.
Other traders said that investors might be realising profits ahead of today's debut of Demetra, the co-op investment firm that will float 200 million shares on the market and 40 million warrants.
Aiantas Investment was the most actively traded stock, absorbing some 2.12 million of the 25 million shares that changed hands yesterday. Aiantas slipped marginally to a last trade of 44.2 cents. Kyknos, which has also topped volume ranks in the past two sessions, was down a cent to 94 on a turnover of 1.7 million shares.
Euroinvestment and Finance was the net gain leader, adding 58 cents, or 4.3 per cent, to a last trade of £14.27. Triana 99/2001 warrants suffered the most losses yesterday, sliding 65 cents to a last trade of £11.35.
Wednesday, April 27, 2000
 Libyan spy claims ‘not an issue’ for CyprusBy Martin Hellicar
THE GOVERNMENT yesterday brushed aside allegations that Libya's Ambassador to Nicosia had spied for his country while posted to Britain in 1995.
Khalifa Ahmed Bazelya was eventually declared persona non grata by the British government and asked to leave the UK.
Yet Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday said the spying claims were simply "not an issue" for the government.
Politis newspaper yesterday reported that a "top secret" MI5 document leaked onto the Internet linked Bazelya to the Libyan Intelligence Services.
According to the paper, the leaked MI5 document states that Bazelya, while posted to London in 1995, was "actively engaged" in "hostile intelligence services." The MI5 document quoted by Politis apparently states that Bazelya had a hand in the activities of the IRA and other extremist organisations.
Foreign Office spokesman Nev Johnson told the Cyprus Mail from London yesterday that the authenticity of the "leaked" MI5 report had not yet been ascertained.
But he did confirm that Bazelya had in December 1995 been declared persona non grata "for activities not consistent with his diplomatic status."
Cassoulides insisted the government had no reason to question Bazelya's presence in Nicosia.
"For there to be an issue for the Cyprus government there has to be some official contact or briefing, for example, in the current case, from the British government. We have had no such briefing," Cassoulides said.
The Foreign Minister said the government was not about to react on the basis of a document "posted on the Internet and picked up by newspapers."
He implied that what Bazelya may or may not have done in Britain was of no concern to Cyprus.
"We have no reason to have any problem with the Libyan ambassador. Our relations with Libya are excellent, therefore there is no issue for us," he said.
According to the document reproduced by Politis yesterday, the MI5 proposed in December 1995 that Bazelya "be declared persona non grata in the immediate future," as indeed he was.
Politis added that the Ethiopian government had expelled Bazelya from his post as Libyan Ambassador to Addis Ababa in 1991 because he had been involved in supplying guns to anti-government rebels.
The Libyan embassy in Nicosia did not respond to the Cyprus Mail's request for comment on the report yesterday.
The British High Commission in Nicosia declined to comment on Bazelya's activities while in London.
"Our policy of not commenting on media or other speculation on intelligence matters is well-known," High Commission spokesman Jonathan Allen said.
The Government Spokesman, Michalis Papapetrou, said the government would be investigating the contents of the Politis report. But he also added that "good relations with Libya cannot be damaged in any way."
Bazelya had been posted to Nicosia since November last year.
Wednesday, April 27, 2000
 Trams to solve Nicosia traffic congestion?Melina Demetriou
TRAMS could be the solution to Nicosia’s traffic problems, Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.
"The idea of a tram system could be examined, as part of the efforts to decrease traffic congestion, to step up traffic security and cut down on accidents," the mayor said.
"Soon there will be no room for cars to move, or to park, not to mention that parking fees are getting higher and higher. We cannot make roads wider. Strange as it sounds, Cypriots will have to get used to the idea of walking, or using public transport, like the bus. That’s where my idea for a tram system came from," said Demetriades, who was inspired by the tram system in the French city of Strasbourg, which he said was quiet and very effective.
"The Minister of Communications liked my idea, and I think we should now have an expert look into it and tell us whether it is worth considering. After that, if we still want to go ahead and set up a tram system, we should have a specialised company make plans and move on with the construction. It need not take more than a couple of months," said the mayor. EU funds could be used to accomplish this, he added.
Two lines on the tram could be enough, said Demetriades, one of which might start from Kaimakli and end up in Lakatamia.
People should start using buses too, said the mayor, though he had little comfort for users who find them slow and often unreliable: "Buses are a private business and their owners are always complaining about not having customers. I cannot do much about it because it is a private business."
Wednesday, April 27, 2000
 Treading a fine line on EU funding to Turkish CypriotsBy Athena Karsera
THE GOVERNMENT yesterday sought to defend itself from opposition claims it was pandering to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in allowing EU funds to be channelled to the occupied areas.
Foreign Minister Yiannis Cassoulides said the government was treading a fine line on the issue, trying to maintain its status as the only recognised government on the island, while not wanting to be seen as blocking efforts to help individual Turkish Cypriots.
But Diko parliamentary spokesman Tassos Papadopoulos that the government was mishandling the issue and that the matter was not as complicated as it was being made out to be.
Speaking to the CyBC before leaving for Athens, Cassoulides said: "A new phenomenon is being created in Cyprus. Denktash, who previously refused to allow anybody in the Turkish Cypriot community to accept financial help from bi-communal funds provided as part of the EU’s pre-accession strategy for Cyprus, now tells (EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenther) Verheugen he is ready to accept it, provided it is not handed to him by the Greek Cypriots."
Cassoulides said that while Denktash's earlier stance was of course "totally unacceptable", the Cyprus government now faced a dilemma.
He said ways had to be found for the Cyprus government to retain its status as the only legitimate international representative of Cyprus in all matters including dealings with the EU, and for the Turkish Cypriots to receive the EU funding.
"The image should not be projected to Europe that we are trying to prevent members of the Turkish Cypriot community, the entire Turkish Cypriot community, of course not the pseudo-state and its institutions... from taking part in bi-communal projects with the Greek Cypriots."
But Diko’s Papadopoulos said he did not agree that Denktash's stance had changed a great deal, and accused the government of trying to find ways of satisfying his illogical demands.
"When the Turkish side puts forward an illogical demand, instead of being refused, we look for other ways, rearranging the facts and procedures so that the Turkish side can be even partly appeased. Denktash wants money straight from the EU. The simple answer is ‘You are not entitled to this. You will not get it.’"
Papadopoulos said Denktash was trying to use the issue to obtain implicit recognition from the EU.
Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday suggested the whole issue had been blown out of all proportion: "Honestly, I cannot understand some of the reactions."
He said the government's position was "very, very simple. It is not an issue of the government being demoted or of the direct or indirect recognition of the pseudostate. I wonder what the problem is."
The Government Spokesman stressed that the funding would only be going to independent organisations in the occupied areas, "in accordance with the Constitution of 1960."
He also said that the funding would help Turkish Cypriots understand the benefits of the whole of Cyprus becoming a member of the EU.
He was later echoed by Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades, who said he could not understand the furore over the issue, as similar funding had been provided to the Turkish Cypriots in the past.
Wednesday, April 27, 2000
 State to appeal suspended sentence against bank robbersTWO CONVICTED bank robbers could soon be back in court after the Attorney- general yesterday said he would appeal against an Assize court decision that let them walk free.
On Tuesday the court decided on a two-year suspended jail term for the duo, taking under consideration the hardships they had gone through during their life.
Othonas Othonos, and Zanettos Tsapatsaris, both 20, held a bank at gunpoint on February 11, getting away with around £17,000.
They were arrested several hours later.
Police recovered most of the money along with the shotgun used in the robbery.
On Tuesday, the court decided to give the pair a second chance, arguing the youths had had a turbulent life that drove them into crime.
"Fate and society in general has proven too harsh on both men. We have no doubt they are here because of the hard circumstances they were brought up in. But these cannot be used to excuse the suspects' illegal activity," Chief Judge George Aresti said.
"We do not believe we are dealing with ruthless professional criminals," the court said.
But Attorney-general Alecos Markides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the state was going to appeal the sentence because it was considered too lenient.
He could not say if the decision to suspend the pair's sentence would set a precedent if the appeal were to be rejected.
Wednesday, April 27, 2000
 Study shows copper mining not contaminating cropsBy Martin Hellicar
COPPER extraction at Skouriotissa is not contaminating food grown at nearby Katydata village, a Health Ministry study has concluded.
The study came after Katydata villagers protested that the activities of a Greek-Australian mining consortium were polluting their crops and homes.
The village mukhtar, Kyriacos Georgiou, yesterday said he had not seen the Ministry report but would be satisfied if it indeed gave Katydata produce a clean bill of health.
"We fought to find out if there was a problem," Georgiou told the Cyprus Mail. "For me at least, there would only be a problem if there was contamination," he said.
The villagers, supported by environmentalists, had taken their case to the House Environment Committee, prompting the government to promise both environmental and epidemiological studies for the area.
The epidemiological study is yet to be completed.
The Health Ministry study on the possible impact of copper extraction on local cultivations found levels of copper dust in olives, olive oil, nectarines and peaches to be acceptable.
Only in the soil around Katydata were copper levels found to be high. But the report describes this finding as "expected" because of the long history of mining in the Skouriotissa area and the local geology.
Georgiou agreed that the high soil copper levels were unavoidable.
Katydata is a stone's throw from Skouriotissa on the northern flanks of the Troodos range, a site mined for copper since antiquity.
A Greek-Australian mining consortium is now using weak acid to extract copper from the low-grade ore left behind by the earlier mining operations.
The company and government officials insist the extraction activities enjoy a clean bill of environmental health but greens say the consortium's activities are poisoning the land, water and air.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000