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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-08-22

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

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


Tuesday, August 22, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] US officials monitoring Cyprus role in disappearance of Yugoslav assets
  • [02] Why should small parties have a say in the Cyprus problem?
  • [03] Twin streakers in Ayia Napa pool jaunt
  • [04] Pervolia despair at second summer of road chaos
  • [05] Syrian cargo sinks off Larnaca
  • [06] ‘Tourists feel drugs are OK in Ayia Napa’
  • [07] Athanassios supporters hit back
  • [08] Migrating birds cause Limassol blackout

  • [01] US officials monitoring Cyprus role in disappearance of Yugoslav assets

    WESTERN investigators believe as much as four billion dollars from former Yugoslavia could have ended up in Cyprus as Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbian regime tried to syphon money out of the country in the early 1990s, the Sunday Times has reported.

    And American officials seeking clues to the financial web that sustained Milosevic through a decade of war and sanctions are monitoring the case of one Yugoslav businessman who claims his Cyprus account with a Yugoslav offshore bank was hijacked by money launderers, according to the paper.

    Reports compiled in western capitals, including Washington, suggest that the savings of millions of now penniless Yugoslavs may have been laundered through private offshore accounts in Cyprus, Lebanon, South Africa, and China.

    Ten years ago, before the country began to break apart, Yugoslav investors held savings valued at roughly $12 billion in a handful of state-owned banks. At the same time the central bank had foreign reserves worth nearly $10 billion.

    As war broke out in Croatia and Bosnia and United Nations sanctions began to bite, Milosevic froze all private savings accounts and commandeered the central reserves, the Sunday Times said. Most of the money disappeared over the past decade, the paper claimed. And while the Milosevic regime spent much on the war effort and on shoring up internal security, financial analysts estimate that billions of dollars in cash were transported abroad.

    Investigators at the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control believe as much as $4 billion -- £2.7 billion – could have ended in Cyprus alone.

    According to the Sunday Times, more than 500 Yugoslav offshore companies, mostly handling exports and imports, were set up on the island during the early 1990s. Western investigators believe some of these were fronts for laundering money.

    Officials of the US Treasury yesterday declined to comment on the report, and officials from the Central Bank in Nicosia were unavailable for comment.

    The government has repeatedly denied allegations that Cyprus turned a blind eye on money laundering operations from former Yugoslavia and Russia.

    The Sunday Times claimed American officials were monitoring the case of one Cyprus-based Yugoslav businessman who claims his account at the recently closed Nicosia branch of Beogradska Banka had been taken over by money launderers.

    The paper said the businessman had attempted to ship cotton into Yugoslavia in 1994 with a United Nations permit.

    His Bulgarian business partner deposited about £180,000 in Deutschmarks into his company account in Belgrade, and the money was supposed to be transferred to the Beogradska in Cyprus.

    However, the transfer was mysteriously blocked, and the businessman found his money had been moved into an account with a local Cypriot bank.

    When the accounts were examined, the man discovered that about £300,000 had been transferred to the Cypriot bank account, which bore the same number as his Beogradska account and was controlled by a company he had never heard of.

    The man finally got his money, but far too late to save his business deal.

    The paper also said Western intelligence agencies believed two senior figures in the Milosevic regime had been murdered earlier this year because they knew where billions of dollars of bank savings had ended up.

    Zika Petrovic, the head of Yugoslav Airlines (JAT), and Pavle Bulatovic, the defence minister, were killed, allegedly on Milosevic’s orders, "because they knew too much," the paper said.

    Intelligence officials who have interviewed former JAT pilots have learned that Petrovic personally oversaw the loading of suitcases stashed with cash onto flights.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Tuesday, August 22, 2000

    [02] Why should small parties have a say in the Cyprus problem?

    By Athena Karsera

    DISY deputy Christos Pourgourides has stepped up his campaign for a rise in the threshold for election to the House of Representatives by saying the current system allowed tiny parties a disproportionate say in national policy.

    Pourgourides has been spearheading a Disy campaign to raise the threshold required for a party to gain representation in parliament from the current 1.79 per cent of the national vote to four per cent.

    Small parties who risk being squeezed out of parliament vehemently oppose any change in the electoral law.

    Pourgourides said yesterday that ruling Disy had been aiming to raise the threshold for some time now.

    Speaking to the CyBC, he said that the low percentage encouraged the formation of small parties, which did not represent a significant proportion of the population, but nevertheless demanded a say in the national issue.

    "The only reason we want the percentage raised is so only parties that represent a significant share of the vote take part in National Council," Pourgourides said.

    All parties represented in parliament currently have a seat on the National Council, the all-party advisory body on the Cyprus problem.

    Pourgourides said proportional systems elsewhere in Europe had thresholds as high as five per cent, and no one doubted their democratic credentials.

    "In Cyprus political parties have to handle the national problem, the survival of the Cypriot nation," he added, saying a change in the status could hardly be considered undemocratic.

    "Is it logical for a party which is in the House with only about 7,000 votes to judge the future (of Cyprus)? I think not and neither does Disy."

    His comments sparked an instant response from New Horizons leader Nicos Koutsou, whose party failed to make the current threshold at the last elections.

    "Have you only now decided that (the current system) is not suitable?" he wondered.

    To which Pourgourides replied: "We wanted four per cent (when the current system was introduced in time for the 1996 election) because we felt that it was necessary, but there was a majority for 1.8 per cent and felt it was not logical for us to disagree."

    The Disy deputy said time had shown the current threshold was too low. "Our experience has shown that opportunistic and self-promoting parties have been formed, and we must not promote such parties that also demand to have a say."

    Koutsou retorted that Pourgourides’ stance was tantamount to saying "that the President has put our EU future in the hands of the leader of a party that should not exist."

    Chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou is leader of the United Democrats, which got two deputies elected under the current law, but would not have made the four per cent threshold had it been in force at the last elections.

    And Koutsou added: "I will remind you that at the formation party of Dinos Michaelides’ Adik, President Glafcos Clerides said there was a need for many voices. What is the truth and what is a lie?"

    The New Horizons president added that if Disy believed parties were being formed for personal interests to be promoted, they should prove it.

    Meanwhile, socialist Kisos joined the fray yesterday with an announcement saying no changes should be made so close to the next Parliamentary elections in eight months’ time. The party said any change now would give the impression that personal interests were being served.

    Diko deputy Stathis Kittis said his party would be in favour of a sensible rise in the percentage.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Tuesday, August 22, 2000

    [03] Twin streakers in Ayia Napa pool jaunt

    BRITISH twins Angela and Deborah Joice, both 22, were yesterday fined £80 each for cavorting around an Ayia Napa hotel swimming pool in the nude.

    The sisters, who were arrested at around 5am on Friday, bring to five the number of British holidaymakers fined for indecent exposure in Ayia Napa this month.

    The Famagusta District Court, convening in Larnaca, heard yesterday that Angela and Deborah had told police that they could not see what they had done wrong. "We just did it for a bit of fun," one of them told the arresting officer. "But we haven’t done anything for you to arrest us for," the other sister told the officer as he asked them to get dressed before escorting them down to the local police station.

    The Leicester twins were fined exactly the same amount as three other British tourists arrested recently for streaking through Ayia Napa.

    Last week, two British men were arrested for exposing themselves in Ayia Napa square – reportedly so that another man could photograph them. A few days earlier, another Briton was arrested as he paraded through the resort "deliberately flaunting his genitals".

    The incidents come at a time when the resort is earning itself an unwanted reputation as a ‘sex ghetto’.

    Ayia Napa has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, with newspaper and television reports painting a picture of depraved young holidaymakers – mostly British – using the resort to indulge in drunken violence, drug taking and wild and public sex games. The government has been keen to dismiss incidents of this nature as isolated, but local residents are not convinced.

    Every summer, the Famagusta District court deals with a steady stream of young Ayia Napa holidaymakers charged with drug abuse and violent behaviour.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Tuesday, August 22, 2000

    [04] Pervolia despair at second summer of road chaos

    By Jennie Matthew

    RESIDENTS of Pervolia near Larnaca are in despair over the seemingly endless chaos in the centre of their village, as unfinished road works put businessmen at serious financial risk and threatening the area’s reputation as a tourist haven.

    The road in question connects the centre of the village with Pharos beach. Its closure since April 1999 forces beach-goers on a 2 km detour to get to the sea and has pushed tavern and supermarket owners to the brink of ruin.

    The council is putting electricity cables under the road, resurfacing it and redesigning the town’s square. Although the municipality is confident that the completion date of October 2000 will be met, the residents aren’t so hopeful.

    "It’s almost been two years and it affects everything in the village. All the tavernas in the centre are up in arms. They are losing a lot of money, about £2,000 over a weekend. They’ve done huge damage to us, they have. And the square they’ve made looks like tarmac, it’s not a nice lively colour," said one supermarket owner, who has a shop on the troubled stretch.

    The tavernas are losing their local clientele who would eat there, but for the logistical hassle of getting to and from the restaurant.

    Restaurateurs out of town may be benefiting from the diverted custom, but the Pervolia tavern owners are livid and there’s no chance of compensation from the government.

    In the weekend heat, one British expat said the rubble had put him and his wife off going to the beach. They turned away, amazed that the street was still a building site "for the second year running".

    The project was delayed from the outset by hold ups at the Electricity Authority and CyTA, and by shipping in the stone from Syria. And the power cuts that brought Nicosia to its knees for a weekend in July put back work by one and a half months.

    The government is funding the bulk of the cost – meeting £640,000 of the £800,000 total. Pervolia municipality is putting together the remaining funds.

    "The council don’t care, I keep calling them, but they don’t care," said the supermarket owner, who claims to have lost between £100,000 and £150, 000 since last April. "We react and they say to us, don’t you want the village to develop? Don’t you want projects to be done? Well, some people are going to be affected! My opinion is that they’re not doing it right at all," she added.

    The Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou said yesterday he couldn’t comment about the road, as he didn’t know about the site off hand.

    The local municipality’s response was also unsympathetic.

    "We have not had anyone saying that the road is a bad idea in itself. When you’re carrying out a project like this, you’re expecting to hear complaints about these kinds of things, about losing profits and things," said village mukhtar Andreas Pishiourtides.

    "The only thing the community can do is to put pressure on the government," said another local. "It doesn’t look good when the tourists come one year and see it and then come next year and see the same thing."

    Tourism is a sore point in Pervolia. Villagers are desperate to hold on to their key money earner. Apartments and villas have sprung up on the outskirts to the village - a stone’s throw from both the beach and Larnaca airport.

    Customer retention is vital to business success, and though one German tourist dismissed the road works -- "you see this sort of thing everywhere, it doesn’t matter" -- there are real fears that those who come to Pervolia for a second year running will leave with a bad impression of Cyprus efficiency.

    So desperate is the area for tourism that last summer the water board cut off water supplies to Pervolia in order to divert precious supplies to tourists in Pharos.

    But it won’t be over even when the works are finished as the municipality must still remove an electricity pylon planted further up the same road.

    Pishiourtides admitted the pylon had been deliberately planted into the road, despite the risk of causing a serious accident if a car were to plough into it. He dismissed the immediate urgency of moving it: "if we did that, then there would be no electricity in the area".

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Tuesday, August 22, 2000

    [05] Syrian cargo sinks off Larnaca

    A SYRIAN ship sank off Larnaca yesterday after a fire broke out on board, forcing its 10-man crew to evacuate.

    Limassol police said a distress message from the Ahssan II reported the ship on fire at about 10pm on Sunday. The cargo ship was in international waters 62 nautical miles (115 kilometres) southeast of Larnaca.

    The Cypriot authorities were not approached to help, but the island’s rescue channel ‘Radio Cyprus’ was notified of the emergency by two passing boats and immediately passed the message on to the Search and Rescue Service.

    A passing ship, the Russian-flagged Volvo Balt, responded to the SOS and collected the 10 sailors to take them to the Lebanese port of Tripoli.

    But they could do nothing for the Ahssan II, which sank in the early hours of yesterday.

    Syria is expected to investigate the incident, a representative at the Department of Merchant Shipping said yesterday.

    The representative said the department had been unable to find any information on the ship. Information on the vessel’s cargo was also unavailable.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Tuesday, August 22, 2000

    [06] ‘Tourists feel drugs are OK in Ayia Napa’

    NORWEGIAN tourists come to Ayia Napa feeling it’s fine to take drugs, as there is no police there to be seen, a suspect told Larnaca court yesterday.

    Appearing for sentencing for possession of 3.5 grams of cannabis, 20-year- old Kent Anderson from Oslo yesterday claimed Ayia Napa and Ibiza were one and the same: there was no police, therefore young Norwegian tourists assumed they could use drugs freely.

    Anderson was arrested on arrival at Larnaca airport last week after a flight attendant found he was holding a bottle containing what she thought were drugs.

    Passengers had complained that Anderson was being unruly.

    Antonis Andreou, defending, claimed his client had been told that there was no problem with using drugs in Ayia Napa.

    "Courts should act with leniency, and focus on the creators of this situation.

    "The accused is a victim of our behaviour as a society," Andreou said.

    The court fined £300.

    Police are keen to promote a zero tolerance policy on drugs in Ayia Napa, which this year has been hailed as the ‘new Ibiza’ for clubbing tourists from across Europe.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Tuesday, August 22, 2000

    [07] Athanassios supporters hit back

    By Martin Hellicar

    SUPPORTERS of embattled Bishop Athanassios of Limassol yesterday went on the war-path against his opponents within the church – the Bishop of Paphos, Chrysostomos, and archimandrite Andreas Constantinides.

    Athanassios has refused to be drawn into responding to the gay sex allegations levelled against him over the past few months, but the spokesman for his supporters, George Eliades, was far less controlled yesterday.

    Eliades charged Bishop Chrysostomos and Constantinides with waging a "sinister" war against Athanassios with the aim of returning his disgraced predecessor – Bishop Chrysanthos – to the Limassol Bishopric.

    Chrysanthos stepped down in late 1998 in the face of allegations of involvement in huge financial scams in Cyprus and abroad. Chrysanthos, who has always insisted on his innocence, is currently on trial on fraud charges.

    "It has become an organised smear campaign in which archimandrite Constantinides is conspiring with the Paphos Bishop and other clergymen and laymen from Limassol who want to return Chrysanthos to the bishopric," Eliades told CyBC radio yesterday.

    A Holy Synod committee is currently investigating allegations that Athanassios had a homosexual affair with a Mount Athos novice some 15 years ago.

    Eliades again insisted that Athanassios’ opponents had fabricated the allegations and that the witnesses brought before the synod committee were false.

    "They resorted to the dregs of Piraeus to recruit a homosexual suffering from Aids who is overtaken by a mania for revenge against society to bring him as a false witness against the Limassol Bishop," he claimed.

    He said this witness was a Limassol man whose testimony the Paphos Bishop planned to submit to the synod investigative committee.

    Athanassios’ supporters have tried similarly to discredit Greek hairdresser Christos Stangos, who reportedly testified before the synod committee that he had had a gay affair with Athanassios when he was a Mount Athos novice.

    Eliades reserved his most bitter attack for archimandrite Constantinides, who reportedly brought Stangos to the island to testify against Athanassios. He described the cleric as a "coward" who would not even "acknowledge the existence of his own children".

    Constantinides has been accused of having an illicit affair with a woman working at a shop he owns in Limassol and of having two illegitimate children with her.

    Eliades vowed that Bishop Athanassios was not about to bow out in the face of the gay sex allegations.

    "You can be sure that Bishop Athanassios will not leave, that he will continue his work, because this is what the people want."

    Unusually, the Paphos Bishop did not respond to Eliades’ attack yesterday, while Constantinides warned he would be replying to the Athanassios supporter.

    The allegations against Athanassios and Constantinides have sparked a bitter row within the Church that has rumbled on for months now.

    The row has brought relations between Archbishop Chrysostomos and his namesake the Paphos Bishop to an all-time low.

    The Archbishop has made plain his support for Athanassios. This has incensed the Paphos Bishop, who, before Athanassios came on the scene, was seen as favourite to succeed the ageing Archbishop.

    In the run-up to last year’s elections to find a new Limassol Bishop, Chrysostomos of Paphos charged that Athanassios’ Mount Athos mentor had molested nuns at a Paphos nunnery 15 years earlier. Athanassios won the elections hands-down, despite the accusations.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Tuesday, August 22, 2000

    [08] Migrating birds cause Limassol blackout

    PARTS of Limassol were plunged into darkness at the weekend when hundreds of migrating storks descended on electricity lines.

    The incident happened on Saturday night and deprived Moni and Amathounda of power for 45 minutes when the birds came down to rest on power lines, causing a short-circuit.

    Electricity Authority technicians were surprised to see what had caused the damage and eventually restored power after frightening the storks away.

    The Game Service said yesterday that it was unusual for such a large number of storks to land in Cyprus since the birds usually avoided islands, which did not provide the air currents they needed to help their migration. The birds had probably been forced down by changes in weather conditions, a spokesman said, adding a number of them had been electrocuted on the lines.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail


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