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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-07-19

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, July 19, 2000


  • [01] Kyprianou barred from taking National Council briefing paper
  • [02] Avrupa editor released pending outcome of trial
  • [03] Coming days critical for crash baby
  • [04] Just because it’s hot, doesn’t mean you don’t have to wear a helmet
  • [05] Alarm bells over future of oncology centre
  • [06] Don’t expect a casino at the Hilton
  • [07] Tanks on the move near Famagusta
  • [08] Market fall continues

  • [01] Kyprianou barred from taking National Council briefing paper

    By Jean Christou

    HOUSE President Spyros Kyprianou was yesterday barred from leaving a meeting of the National Council with a confidential briefing paper on the Geneva proximity talks.

    The incident took place as President Glafcos Clerides was informing the National Council about the talks.

    House President and Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou left half way through the four-hour meeting, saying he felt unwell.

    Kyprianou underwent heart surgery early this year, but doctors said yesterday there was no cause for alarm.

    CyBC later quoted Clerides as saying Kyprianou had wanted to keep a document prepared by the government for the party leaders, outlining a number of ideas put forward by UN special envoy Alvaro de Soto.

    Clerides handed out the document to the members of the National Council and told them to look at it during the meeting, but the President said Kyprianou had tried to take it with him. He was not allowed to do so.

    On the final day of the Geneva talks last week, De Soto gave the two sides some ideas to consider until they return to Geneva on July 24. A fourth round of talks is scheduled to take place in New York in September.

    The latest rounds of talks have on several occasions been blighted by breaches of the UN-ordered news embargo and by leaks of confidential documents.

    After yesterday’s meeting, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told reporters that the National Council, comprising party leaders and presidential advisers, had decided to set up a committee under Attorney- general Alecos Markides to examine certain legal issues that have come up in the Geneva negotiations.

    Papapetrou yesterday kept to the news blackout imposed by the UN, but said the National Council would come to some conclusions when it resumes its consultations today.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Wednesday, July 19, 2000

    [02] Avrupa editor released pending outcome of trial

    A TURKISH Cypriot ‘court’ yesterday freed the editor of the opposition Avrupa newspaper and two other suspects accused of spying for the Greek Cypriots, pending further investigation of the charges against them.

    The case against editor Sener Levent has stirred up unprecedented debate over the role of Turkish military in the occupied areas. Avrupa was highly critical of the powerful armed forces.

    Judge Emine Dizdarli said yesterday there was insufficient evidence against Levent and the other two suspects -- Turkish Cypriot army officer Vasfi Tutuncu and his wife, Pembe -- to warrant their continued detention. He ordered their release pending the outcome of the trial. Dizdarli also told the ‘court’ the three should have their passports confiscated and be banned from leaving the country while the investigation proceeds.

    No trial date was set for the three, who were detained on July 7. Prosecutors told the ‘court’ that searches of the suspects' homes had revealed photographs of sensitive military areas. A fourth man was released on Monday due to lack of evidence.

    Levent's lawyers complained to reporters yesterday that tape recordings presented to the ‘court’ by the prosecution had been obtained by illegal phone tapping.

    The lawyers claimed the Turkish Cypriot "deep state" had been caught red- handed illegally tapping phones. They said they would consider filing a compensation case against this "clandestine and illegal eavesdropping by the state." Avrupa has campaigned for the ‘police’ and fire services to come under the control of the Turkish Cypriot ‘interior ministry’ instead of the mainland Turkish army, a stance that drew harsh criticism from a Turkish army general.

    Some 35 Turkish Cypriot political parties and non-governmental organisations planned to hold a demonstration in occupied Nicosia last night under the slogan "This country is ours", the groups said in a joint statement.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, July 19, 2000

    [03] Coming days critical for crash baby

    By Melina Demetriou

    A NEWBORN baby injured when his pregnant mother was fatally hurt in a car crash on her way to deliver him remained in a critical but stable condition yesterday.

    "If the baby’s condition remains stable and if no complications arise, then by late Wednesday or early Thursday we will probably be able to say that his life is out of danger," the director of the intensive care unit at the Makarios hospital, Andreas Hadjidemetriou, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    Twenty-year-old Argyro Ioannou was fatally injured in a head-on collision with an overtaking car on the Polis to Paphos road on Sunday.

    The unborn boy came close to asphyxiation as his mother bled profusely, stemming the supply of oxygen to the placenta.

    For more than half an hour, the child’s brain was inadequately oxygenated, causing brain malfunction and spasms, Hadjidemetriou said.

    Ioannou was rushed to Paphos hospital and her baby delivered by caesarian section, but she died minutes later. The baby was transferred to the Makarios hospital in Nicosia, where he remains critical.

    "But now he is starting to respond to his environment," Hadjidemetriou said.

    However, he warned that even if the baby survived, there was a danger of permanent brain damage. He said that if all went well, the next few weeks would be decisive for the boy’s mental health.

    "The baby’s treatment will continue for as long as it is necessary. His medication aims to reinforce his vital organs’ functions and balance his blood circulation," said Hadjidemetriou.

    Argyro Ioannou was buried in her native Peristerona yesterday.

    Police are still investigating the circumstances of the crash, and have arrested the Greek driver of the overtaking car.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, July 19, 2000

    [04] Just because it’s hot, doesn’t mean you don’t have to wear a helmet

    By Athena Karsera

    THE SWELTERING heat of recent weeks has not deterred police from enforcing the law on crash helmets.

    When the law was first adopted last year its enforcement was suspended over the summer months amid Akel concerns it was too hot for elderly riders to be wearing helmets.

    But an officer from Nicosia Traffic Department yesterday told the Cyprus Mail: "If anything we have become stricter. This is evident from the higher fines."

    Since Monday, offenders have been fined £50 instead of the previous £30.

    The officer added that motorcyclists trying to get around the law by not fastening the straps on their helmets would have a nasty shock if they were stopped by the police: "They will be fined as if they were not wearing a helmet at all. It’s the same thing anyway."

    When the helmet law came up before parliament last June, left-wing Akel initially opposed its extension to moped riders.

    Akel representative George Sophocleous yesterday told the Cyprus Mail: "The issue was discussed at the House twice. The first time in June 1999 we were against the law including 50 cc bikes as this would affect a huge amount of people."

    Discussion was eventually postponed until after Parliament’s summer recess and when it resumed last October, Akel was swayed by police statistics showing an increase in the number of serious motorcycle accidents.

    Sophocleous added: "We changed our minds after hearing the substantial evidence put forward by the police."

    Only two of 15 motorcycle fatalities this year were wearing crash helmets, but many riders remain loath to wear them.

    Seventeen-year-old Skevi Michael told the Cyprus Mail: "I know the theory behind it and I wear one during the day when the police are more likely to stop me. I don’t like wearing one though, especially in the summer. It makes the heat even more unbearable."

    Professional messenger Demetris Hadjitoffas, aged 60, echoed his feelings: "It’s very hot, like you’re in a cage. But since its compulsory, what can we do? And it’s for our own safety after all."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, July 19, 2000

    [05] Alarm bells over future of oncology centre

    By Noah Haglund

    THE GOVERNMENT is reconsidering its financial contribution to the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre as it wonders how to fund the state-of-the-art facility without sacrificing cancer care at government-run hospitals.

    The Oncology Centre is one of two major cancer treatment centres on the island, seeing about the same number of patients as the government-run oncology department at Nicosia General Hospital.

    The Bank of Cyprus centre remains privately run, but relies heavily on government cash to supply care to its patients.

    In a recent letter to Health Minister Frixos Savvides, the former director of Nicosia General’s oncology department, Dr. Helen Soteriou, has pushed the question to the fore, urging the ministry to explain how it plans to navigate the difficult situation.

    While Soteriou praised the Bank of Cyprus for it’s "well-intentioned" desire to finance the centre, her letter blasts the bank for not taking overall planning into consideration.

    Alecos Stamatis, chief executive of the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre told the Cyprus Mail that the contract between the government and the Bank of Cyprus was being renegotiated, but hinted very strongly that the centre would not come under direct government control, despite the generous subsidies.

    "The very reason for the centre’s existence is its autonomy," he said.

    He would not, however, comment on the centre’s funding issues, saying these questions could only be answered by the Health Ministry.

    Panayiotis Yiallouros, Health Services Adviser in the Ministry of Health, confirmed that the government was re-considering its financial contract with the centre, but maintained, "this is the only thing that is under consideration."

    "We will send a reply to Mrs. Soteriou after we consider all the points she makes in the letter," he said, adding that she would probably receive answers from the Health Ministry before the end of the month.

    Nevertheless, the new £80 million Nicosia hospital in Athalassa will open in two years’ time and Soteriou finds it inconceivable that such a hospital could do without a unit to treat cancer, the second biggest killer in Cyprus.

    The Bank of Cyprus Centre is located only two kilometres away from the Athalassa Hospital, and while it wouldn’t make sense to run both centres simultaneously, they are too far apart to integrate.

    Since almost all cancer patients require the care of other specialists, it is extremely expensive to have to move doctors or patients from one facility to another.

    According to Soteriou, separate oncology centres in Britain were found to cost three to four times as much to operate as ones incorporated into hospitals.

    Now the government faces a dilemma: if it continues to fund the Bank of Cyprus centre, it will compromise any such facility in the new Athalassa hospital, but if it cuts off funding, the country loses a valuable treatment centre that represents an enormous investment by both the Bank of Cyprus and the government.

    An added difficulty would be accommodating personnel from both facilities if they were ever combined or if one of them closed down.

    There are huge variations in salaries, benefits and expectation between staff in the public and private sectors, and it would be hard to expect them to work under the same roof, said Soteriou.

    One approach to the personnel problem would be to continue to fund the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre as the sole centre in Nicosia and to open another one in Limassol.

    But Soteriou finds this solution unsatisfactory because the Limassol district hospital will simply not have the range of specialists on hand as the new Athalassa hospital.

    "I am trying to sound the alarm bells for what will happen to the patients, " said Soteriou.

    She likened the Bank of Cyprus Centre to a beautiful woman: "men fall in love with what they see on the outside … but they don’t see the problems that she will create."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, July 19, 2000

    [06] Don’t expect a casino at the Hilton

    By Anthony O. Miller

    COMMERCE Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday scotched speculation that imminent state approval to open a casino lay behind the Louis Group’s multi- million-pound to buy the government’s 82 per cent share of the Nicosia Hilton Hotel.

    "No, there is no legislation" pending any presidential signature and "there is nothing imminent" about to go to Parliament that would permit casinos on the island, Rolandis said.

    Louis’s bid – slightly less than £23 million according to one government source - was more than double the £10 million the tour giant originally bid about this time last summer, when the state was under Stock Exchange pressure to cut its Hilton shares to 70 per cent or be de-listed from the Stock Exchange.

    Louis later last summer raised its offer to £11.5 million, but the government then said it was too far below the £13-15 million the state wanted for its 82 per cent of the Cyprus Tour Development Company (CTDC), which owns the Nicosia Hilton. The private sector owns the rest.

    Despite being opened last Friday, the bids are not expected to be officially made public before today or tomorrow. Five companies have tendered to purchase the hotel.

    These include the Kaisis group, which offered £16.5 million through Fortune Property Investments; a consortium of 200 Hilton employees and six companies that have combined to offer £14.4 million; and Sharelink, which is reported to have bid £10 million. The remaining bidder’s identity was not made public.

    "This question of casinos has been in the offing for the past 20 years," Rolandis said. "Unbelievable, but that’s how it is. From the days when I was foreign minister, the casino issue was on the agenda."

    Strong Church opposition and equal antagonism among a majority of deputies have kept casinos off the island. The Church fears casinos will break down family values - both in tempting Cypriots to gamble and in exposing them to other "vices" that associate with the high-rolling lifestyle of casino cities.

    Communist Akel deputies oppose casinos in principle, as do the Social democrats of Kisos. And within the Democratic Party (Diko) and the ruling Democratic Rally (Disy) there are enough deputies opposed to casinos to carry the day.

    In fact, Rolandis said, Casinos are "the only chapter of my 12-point plan for tourism that I have shelved because of this difficulty, although all the members of the European Union and most of the Mediterranean countries have them."

    Apart from any casino hopes that Louis might harbour, some suggested the tour giant bid as much as it did for the hotel because it wanted the Hilton logo for the cachet that attaches to so respected a name in the hotel business. The CTDC’s contract with Hilton runs to 2014, with a right of renewal by Hilton for another 10 years.

    Besides, Louis also manages Nicosia’s other five-star hotel, the Forum International, and some suggested that owning the Hilton might allow Louis to – if not match – at least accommodate the one hotel’s prices with the other’s.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, July 19, 2000

    [07] Tanks on the move near Famagusta

    UNPRECEDENTED military activity has been detected in the occupied areas, with warplanes landings at occupied Lefkoniko airport and tank movements in the Famagusta district, Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said yesterday.

    Yesterday’s military movements follow Monday’s airspace violation by a Turkish F-16 fighter, and six transport planes, which unloaded personnel and equipment at Tymbou airport in the north.

    All aircraft have since left the island, except one transport plane which landed at Lefkoniko airport yesterday.

    Hasikos said the National Guard had no indications whether the tanks seen in Famagusta were reinforcements or if they were on the move.

    Unficyp Spokeswoman Sarah Russel said the movement near Varosha in the east was probably a rehearsal for tomorrow’s military parade to mark the anniversary of the 1974 invasion.

    Parades will be held in Nicosia, Morphou, and Famagusta

    Yesterday morning, five Turkish warships docked the occupied port of Kyrenia on the northern coast.

    The ships, commanded by Admiral Metin Atak, are expected to leave on Friday, after taking part in the invasion celebrations.

    Hasikos described the celebrations as an attempt by the breakaway regime to prove its existence, and accused the international community of turning a blind eye to the issue.

    "The very moment everybody calls on the Cyprus government to show goodwill because of the ongoing proximity talks, the Turkish occupying force celebrates its invasion of the island," he said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, July 19, 2000

    [08] Market fall continues

    By Jean Christou

    Liquidity problems continued to plague the bourse yesterday as the all- share index, although opening some 2.5 per cent up, slid into an irreversible decline to finally close 0.34 per cent down, hitting a new year low of 412.72 points.

    Investor interest remained high for most of the 90-minute session but the index slipped under as trading entered its last half hour with minor gains being short-lived. Volume continued to remain low at £24.06 million.

    The bourse did not trade on Monday due to a computer glitch. The Cyprus Stock Exchange officially denied the technical problems had anything to do with the market’s recent decline.

    Commenting on yesterday’s session analyst Christos Achillides said there was still a serious cash flow problem on the bourse. "It seems investors took the opportunity of a strong opening to liquidate and exit," he said. "Serious pressure has been created due to the low prices of the last three of four days and the liquidity problem won’t go away."

    Sectoral gains and losses fluctuated wildly yesterday from 3.74 per cent down in the ‘other companies’ sector to 1.35 per cent up in the banking sector.

    Bank of Cyprus (BoC) shares ended 12 cents up to close at £7.12. The bank is expected to have news of its Athens listing tomorrow. "This will be crucial," Achillides said. Laiki Bank lost two cents yesterday to close at £10.42. Trading on the two banks accounted for 11 per cent of the day’s volume following some heavy last-minute transactions.

    Worst performing sector was ‘other companies’ which went 3.5 per cent into the red.

    GlobalSoft lost 32.5 cents, ending at £3.23, less than half the price it was three months ago.

    Ceilfloor also lost big, dropping 37 cents to close at £3.38 as did Aristo Investments, which lost 30 cents to close at 76 cents.

    Yesterday’s gainers included Cosmos increasing 16 cents to end at £1.42 and Glory, which went up 35 cents to close at £5.80.

    Palinex Trading, which made its debut on the floor yesterday, opened at 70 cents and closed at 74 cents after hitting an intra-day high of 80 cents.

    Prospects for a quick market recovery do not appear promising either Achillides said. "It looks as if things will stay the same the rest of the week," he said.

    Broker Costas Hadjigavriel told CyBC yesterday the market’s instability was due not only to small investors liquidating their shares but also to institutional investors sitting on the fence.

    "Investment companies should really start investing serious money," he said. "It’s very hard for small investors to find the available cash."

    However he did concede that institutional investors were not obliged to prop up the market just because it was sliding downward.

    "They have a policy which they follow but I know they are making selective purchases," he said. "But the small investor cannot buy in bulk."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

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