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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-09-14

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

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


Thursday, September 14, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Rolandis urges motorists to save fuel
  • [02] Direct flights to the US next year?
  • [03] Scandal banker flees from the occupied areas
  • [04] Government transfers Hilton share to Louis
  • [05] Does a mobile make you happy?
  • [06] ‘Political equality’: a step to recognition or a way of letting Denktash off the hook?
  • [07] Market cools
  • [08] New sex claims hit the Church
  • [09] 250 rescued from sinking trawler
  • [10] Talks fail to get off the ground

  • [01] Rolandis urges motorists to save fuel

    By George Psyllides

    THE government will have to pay fuel companies another £14 million in subsidies to meet its commitment to cover 60 per cent of oil price increases, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Consumers are burdened with the remaining 40 per cent in the form of higher pump prices.

    Speaking after a meeting yesterday with fuel company directors, Rolandis said £14 million had already been paid to the companies for the first four months of the year, while a further £14 million would have to be coughed up for the period between June and September.

    The companies need the money to place orders and keep the island tanked up.

    Fuel companies have in the past complained that the government has been late in paying the subsidy, prompting banks to refuse them credit.

    The government needs House approval to release the extraordinary funds.

    But the minister said the subsidies did little to encourage consumers to save on fuel, adding Cyprus was one of only a handful of countries, which experienced an increase in fuel consumption during July and August. Cypriot motorists pay some of the cheapest fuel prices in Europe.

    "Others save fuel, but because we do not pay the difference directly and a big part is paid by the state treasury, we do not care about saving fuel," Rolandis said.

    But Rolandis pointed out it was the same taxpayers who’d ultimately foot the bill for the subsidies.

    "Consumers do not seem to care if the money does not come straight from their pockets," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    Rolandis pleaded with the public to save fuel, adding his ministry was studying various plans to encourage lower consumption.

    However, there was no plan to increase the consumer’s share of the bill because of high fuel consumption in winter months, Rolandis said.

    The fuel price regulating mechanism set by the House would be in place until June next year, so no increase in the consumer’s share of price rises should be expected before that, he added.

    The mechanism operates against a benchmark Brent Crude Rate of Rate of £16.97 ($25.96) per barrel. Fore every increase of £1.75 per month, pump prices clock up one cent per litre.

    The House of Representatives passed the mechanism to bypass lengthy political arguments that have dogged price rises in the past.

    [<a href="greek0914.htm">Greek Press</a>]

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Thursday, September 14, 2000

    [02] Direct flights to the US next year?

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) could be operating direct flights to the US by the end of next year, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with CY chairman Haris Loizides, Rolandis said attracting American tourists was a priority for both the government and the airline.

    "We examined several issues relating to Cyprus tourism and Cyprus Airways, more specifically markets like the US, France, Hungary, Ireland and Poland, " Rolandis said. "These markets show prospects."

    Tourism from the US has increased by 30-40 per cent compared to last year and will probably be 50 per cent up by the end of the year, Rolandis said, adding he had been in constant contact with tourist offices in the US to determine the movement of visitors.

    "There are expectations that we will surpass 35,000 tourists from the US and it’s a market we have worked at," Rolandis said.

    He said the increase had much to do with the Miss Universe pageant, which was held on the island last May and gave the island millions of pounds worth of exposure in the US. "This started the momentum," Rolandis said.

    He said his ministry had been working for six months on ways to create a direct route to the US, an absolute necessity if the market is to be developed further.

    Loizides said at the moment that flights to the US were not feasible because the company’s fleet of Airbus A320s and A310s was not geared for 12- hour flights, although CY has the technical capabilities to do so, he said.

    "It’s a difficult task for Cyprus Airways and the company needs to have close co-operation with the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and the ministry to succeed in starting these flights," he said. "We have the technical capabilities and if there are problems we will work on them as long as the market is there. We are here to serve any market within the framework of complete liberalisation." CY is currently in the process of deciding whether to replace its existing fleet, or to lease or buy new aircraft and is in negotiation with both Airbus and Boeing. The board is expected to take a decision in the near future.

    [<a href="greek0914.htm">Greek Press</a>]

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, September 14, 2000

    [03] Scandal banker flees from the occupied areas

    By Martin Hellicar

    A TURKISH Cypriot banker involved in a financial scandal crippling northern Cyprus has fled to the government-controlled areas, saying his life was in danger.

    Turkish Cypriot Elmas Guzelyurtlu crossed south through the mixed buffer zone village of Pyla at around 10.30 on Monday night, police said yesterday. Guzelyurtlu turned up at Oroklini police station, down the road from Pyla, shortly afterwards.

    "He said his life was in danger and he wanted to stay here," police spokesman Stelios Neophytou said.

    Neophytou said government authorities were "obliged" to give sanctuary to the fugitive. The police spokesman said the Interior Ministry would decide Guzelyurtu’s future. He would not comment on where the Turkish Cypriot was being kept, citing security reasons.

    The 48-year-old Turkish Cypriot was a shareholder and director in Everest Bank, the first of six that collapsed in the occupied areas earlier this year, freezing the accounts of thousands of depositors.

    The banking scandal caused unprecedented unrest in the north this summer, with hundreds of depositors taking to the streets to demand their money back.

    The Turkish Cypriot ‘Attorney-general’ is investigating Guzelyurtlu and shareholders of the other five banks. The probe is expected to be wrapped up this month, Reuters reported yesterday.

    According to reports in yesterday’s Turkish Cypriot press, Guzelyurtlu, who comes from Limassol, was also the owner of a casino in the occupied areas.

    Kibris reported that he had been banned from leaving the north by the occupation regime and had of late repeatedly pleaded to be allowed to travel to London to find money to save his sunken bank.

    The Turkish Cypriot papers said Guzelyurtu’s wife, left behind in the north, was refusing to make any comment on her husband’s flight.

    One of the depositors caught out by the collapse of the six banks told Reuters that Guzelyurtu’s escape was a case of the guilty fleeing the scene of a crime.

    "We, the bank victims, are getting criminal charges filed against us for storming parliament in protest and the perpetrators of the bank crisis are getting away," he said.

    The owner of another bank under investigation said Guzelyurtu’s flight was likely to make other bankers look even worse in the eyes of the public.

    "This is very bad for all of us. By running away he is admitting his crime in the eyes of the people and it is going to make things very difficult in our cases," the banker, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

    [<a href="greek0914.htm">Greek Press</a>]

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, September 14, 2000

    [04] Government transfers Hilton share to Louis

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday officially transferred its £22.6 million majority share holding in the Nicosia Hilton to the Louis Tourist Agency.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides signed the documents turning over the 2.44 million shares to Louis Executive Chairman Costakis Loizou as a pleased Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis looked on.

    The government had owned 81.33 per cent of the shares in the Cyprus Tour Development Company (CTDC), which actually owns the Nicosia Hilton. Louis acquired those shares via tender. The private sector owns the remaining shares.

    Rolandis had long sought to end the government’s hotelier status. He presided over the closure of the other state-owned hotel -- the loss-making Philoxenia.

    Klerides acknowledged the state was an inefficient business manager, and said the sale was part of its effort to modernise its role and "focus on those services promoting the social role of the state".

    Rolandis declared: "The business role of the state has been concluded".

    Loizou said he would sell 13 per cent of his CTDC shares to meet Cyprus Stock Exchange rules against listing a company in which one owner holds more than 70 per cent of the shares.

    He added he would sell even more than that 13 per cent if legislation being considered in the House of Representatives reduced the percentage of stock ownership allowed for listing on the exchange.

    Loizou noted the Nicosia Hilton would continue being operated by the giant Hilton Hotel chain under an existing contract, and that the CTDC would neither meddle in its management nor lay off any employees following the sale.

    He said he was "against casinos" because most Cypriots gambled too much as it was, so he had no intention of ever erecting a casino on the luxury hotel’s spacious grounds.

    Other bidders for the hotel had suggested erecting a casino on its grounds if Parliament ever passed a law allowing casinos on the island. Casinos are currently outlawed.

    In accepting the shares, Loizou noted several local banks had helped finance their purchase. He also said a recent major redecoration of the Hilton obviated any refurbishment.

    Besides owning the Nicosia Hilton Hotel, Louis, the island's largest tourism organisation, also manages Nicosia’s other five-star hotel, the Forum International, which is owned by the Cyprus Church.

    Louis’ successful £22.6 million tender for the Hilton was more than double its previous offer of £10 million – rejected by the government as well below the £13-15 million it then wanted for the hotel.

    [<a href="greek0914.htm">Greek Press</a>]

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, September 14, 2000

    [05] Does a mobile make you happy?

    By Athena Karsera

    ONE in four Cypriots -- 178,000 people -- owns a mobile phone, according to latest figures from the department of statistics.

    And 81 per cent of households have at least one car, while seven per cent have three or more, the report for 1999 said.

    But though the vitality of our consumer spending is clearly a sign of prosperity, psychologists warn it is rarely a sign of happiness.

    "The use of a mobile phone and private car may be an indication of financial development, but not of quality of society," Psychologist and Intercollege lecturer Dr. Stavros Stavrou said yesterday.

    He quoted from American colleague David G Myers, who said in a recent book that "the richer the Americans get, the less content they seem to be with their lives."

    Myers said the quality of life enjoyed by most Americans today was better than ever, with incomes up, prices stable and unemployment low.

    At the same time however, "divorces have doubled since 1960, teenage suicides have tripled, violent crime has quadrupled, the number of prison inmates increased fivefold and the number of people suffering from depression multiplied by 10."

    Stavrou also noted the comments of another American psychologist Barry Schwartz: it is not people themselves who are at fault, but a political system that allows them to "chase after money and store up material goods with the result of social values being worn down."

    Stavrou said that besides the traffic and environmental problems caused by the number of cars, they also encouraged social rivalry: "competitiveness as well as basic capitalist values are enforced with the use of a private vehicle."

    "Because of financial well-being, the sale of private cars is continually rising, reaching half a million. The family car is history: now there are only individual cars and this is why every new house is built with room for two to four cars."

    The Statistics and Research Department’s Report also showed that 97 per cent of the island’s homes had a colour television and 99 per cent a refrigerator.

    In addition, the report revealed that only seven per cent of the population paid rent, with the remainder owning their homes.

    [<a href="greek0914.htm">Greek Press</a>]

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    <title>‘Political equality’: a step to recognition or a way of letting Denktash off the hook?</title>

    Thursday, September 14, 2000

    [06] ‘Political equality’: a step to recognition or a way of letting Denktash off the hook?

    By Jennie Matthew

    AN INTRODUCTORY statement made by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the fourth round of proximity talks in New York referring to the "political equality" of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, has unleashed a tide of controversy and anger in the Greek Cypriot camp.

    Fears were heightened by a refusal from UN special envoy to Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto to explain the precise meaning of "political equality", taken by some as a firm step towards recognition of a ‘state’ branded ‘illegal’ by the Republic and the international community.

    "The precise and elaborate definition of this point will have to wait until negotiations on a comprehensive settlement conclude," De Soto said on Tuesday.

    Annan read the original statement to the two delegations separately. De Soto said meetings had been "interesting" and that "we got reactions". The news blackout precluded further comment.

    Reactions from the Greek Cypriot delegation will depend on what exact interpretation they decide to give to "political equality".

    For some, it’s nothing that hasn’t been said before. The UN has always treated Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and President Glafcos Clerides as equals throughout the negotiating process, started in December 1999.

    De Soto pointed out that Annan "is acting within the framework of Resolution 1250," drawn up before that date.

    Without mentioning "equality", political or otherwise, the Resolution appears to uphold the same value. "Both sides" are urged to "participate constructively", "both sides have legitimate concerns that should be addressed through comprehensive negotiations" and it "calls upon the two leaders, in this context, to give their full support to such a comprehensive negotiation".

    Political commentator Sofronis Sofroniou yesterday pointed the finger even further back. "In the London-Zurich agreement (that established independence), the Turks were the co-founders of the Republic, which can be seen as amounting to political equality in a sense. That could be one possible explanation," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    But for political correspondent Loizos Antoniou, it’s a serious and dangerous departure "towards acknowledgement". And to many it’s a sly diplomatic endorsement of the Greek Cypriot’s greatest fear - acceptance of Denktash demands for a confederation.

    All this despite UN insistence that Annan’s comment was "merely a portion of the statement and does not purport to enshrine all of the UN positions in these talks".

    Equality between Clerides and Denktash at the UN negotiating table is understood. As De Soto spelt out, "the parties represent their side and no- one else".

    But the statement denies Clerides any representation of the Turkish Cypriot people, which as President of the Republic, he legally exercises, as expressed for example in his invitation to Turkish Cypriots to participate in the island’s accession talks to the EU.

    But commentators agree that political equality does fall short of international recognition. And the Secretary General made no request for agreement in his statement.

    The drive of his speech was that "the time has now come to move ahead". Denktash has insisted on recognition of the legitimacy of his regime before entering into comprehensive negotiations – something the Greek Cypriot side is adamant it will never grant.

    The mention in a sub-clause of a statement outlining the framework for the talks of "political equality" could in fact provide Denktash an opportunity to extricate himself from this stumbling block without losing face, and come to the table and talk.

    "In a way, it could be not so much placating as inducing the Turks into entering serious negotiations," Sofroniou told the Cyprus Mail.

    Accepting the term is an olive branch to the Turkish Cypriots, the question is, how far would it be rational for the Greeks to object?

    Abandoning the talks seems extremely unlikely. Not only would it paint the Greek Cypriots as unco-operative, it would also damage their cause in the European Union, given that a settlement is desirable for membership.

    Antoniou thought the delegation might drag their heels, waste time and make De Soto’s job more difficult. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.

    [<a href="greek0914.htm">Greek Press</a>]

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, September 14, 2000

    [07] Market cools

    By George Psyllides

    PROFIT taking forced the all-share index down a further 0.48 per cent to close at 384.85 points.

    Yesterday’s poor performance shattered hopes that the market might recover after the battering it had taken the day before.

    On Tuesday the index plunged to 386.6 points, effectively putting an end to its upward swing which it had sustained for most of the last week. Volume stood at a low £21.60 million, compared to Tuesday’s £28.69 million.

    Opening on a one per cent loss, the general index rose after 30 minutes to around 386 and hovered there throughout most of the session before diving to 384 in the last half hour.

    Analysts said yesterday’s performance was again closely associated with the Athens Stock Exchange’s (ASE) index which has been following a similar path over the last week.

    Market analysts assert that as the Bank of Cyprus (BoC) nears its launch on the ASE the performance of the two general indices will be similar.

    All market sectors were down but the hardest hit were insurance, losing 1.90 per cent, and the tourism, which sustained a 1.27 per cent loss.

    BoC managed to stay afloat scrapping an increase of half a cent to close at £6.71. Laiki Bank lost 0.3 per cent to end at £9.64, while Hellenic Bank ended the session at £2.20 after a loss of seven cents or 3.2 per cent.

    Newly floated AvacomNet which issued 150 million shares offered at 50 cents, opened at 50 and closed at 54 cents, trading in the range of 50 to 59 cents throughout the session. Over eight million AvacomNet shares changed hands.

    [<a href="greek0914.htm">Greek Press</a>]

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, September 14, 2000

    [08] New sex claims hit the Church

    By Martin Hellicar

    HOMOSEXUALITY charges are to be answered by Bishop Athanassios of Limassol following a shock decision of the Holy Synod yesterday which ordered him to appear before a committee of inquiry.

    Three of the Bishop’s peers -- Bishops Pavlos of Kyrenia, Neophytos of Morphou and Vasilios of Trymythounda – are to probe Athanassios over lurid sex allegations levelled against him by Limassol archimandrite Andreas Constantinides.

    "It is a day of great sadness for me and for all church leaders," Bishop Neophytos said after the Synod meeting.

    Though not a ‘guilty’ verdict against Athanassios, yesterday’s decision from the Church’s governing body came as a surprise, with everyone – including the Bishop’s main detractor Constantinides – having expected the Synod to clear the Limassol Bishop of the sex charges.

    On Tuesday, Archimandrite Constantinides appeared so certain of an unfavourable Synod verdict that he was busy threatening to parade his witnesses to the Bishop’s alleged antics before a "people’s court".

    In comments after the Synod meeting, Bishop Neophytos made it clear that it had been fresh evidence brought before the body yesterday – rather than the findings of a Synod investigating committee – that had persuaded the Synod to take matters further.

    Bishop Neophytos did not divulge what this crucial new evidence had been, but Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos had said when arriving for the Synod meeting that he had with him "some evidence to put before the Synod if necessary". Chrysostomos has been a consistent Athanassios detractor.

    But yesterday’s decision was by no means all good news for Archimandrite Constantinides. Synod secretary, Father Marios Demetriou, also announced that the Synod was to convene again on Monday to look at allegations against Constantinides and another Limassol archimandrite – Chrysostomos Argyrides.

    Constantinides is accused of having had an illicit affair with a woman working at his Limassol shop. He is said to have had two children with the woman. Constantinides – who was suspended from church duties after the allegations surfaced – flatly denies any involvement with the shop assistant. The nature of the investigation against Argyrides was unclear yesterday. Argyrides – who is also suspended from duty – is a close associate of Constantinides’.

    The Synod decisions concerning Athanassios and the two archimandrites were both arrived at by a majority vote, Bishop Neophytos said.

    Athanassios once again refrained from commenting on the allegations against him, arriving and departing through the back door of the Archbishopric.

    The Bishop’s supporters have furiously denied the homosexuality allegations, labelling Constantinides a "lying philanderer".

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

    Archbishop Chrysostomos has come down on Athnassios’ side, whereas his namesake the Paphos Bishop has been the most notable among the Limassol Bishop’s detractors.

    Church observers suggest Chrysostomos of Paphos is keen to see the back of Athanassios because the Limassol Bishop has usurped him as the Archbishop’s favourite.

    [<a href="greek0914.htm">Greek Press</a>]

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, September 14, 2000

    [09] 250 rescued from sinking trawler

    By Jean Christou

    OVER 250 Iraqi immigrants, mostly women and children, were rescued from a sinking trawler off Paphos yesterday afternoon, police said.

    As tourists at the luxury Coral Beach hotel only 100 metres away on the shore, watched in horror, the immigrants screamed for help and threw themselves from the sinking vessel.

    Police said the 250 Iraqis had been abandoned by the captain of the boat, believed to be Syrian, two days into the journey, apparently deliberately. They said indications were that it had sailed from Lebanon nine days ago on its way to Italy. The immigrants had paid around $4,000 each for the trip, they said.

    Two police launches and a helicopter spent most of the afternoon rescuing the trawler’s occupants. Women and children were removed first but by the time that part of the operation was completed, the men who had been on board were already in the water clinging to life rafts as the ship lay on its side.

    It took some four hours to get everyone to shore, police said. Four or five people were taken to Paphos hospital suffering from hypothermia but were later released. Others were treated on the beach after doctors were called to the scene.

    Paphos police chief Spyros Koiniotis said that at around 3.30pm the boat drifted close to the shore after springing a leak. "Some people fell in the sea and tried to get back on but the others wouldn’t let them when they saw the water was going in," he said. "We managed to transfer all the women and children to another boat."

    Witnesses on the beach told a local television station it appeared the boat’s occupants had not had food or water for several days. One said the tourists who had watched the drama made a collection and brought food from a nearby supermarket to feed them.

    A Paphos police spokesman said late last night that all the immigrants had been rounded up and were on the beach near the hotel. He said the authorities were trying to see where they could be housed for the night. "We don’t know yet where they are going to stay or what will happen to them afterwards," he said.

    [<a href="greek0914.htm">Greek Press</a>]

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, September 14, 2000

    [10] Talks fail to get off the ground

    By Jean Christou

    PROXIMITY talks in New York failed to get off the ground yesterday after the government took offence to a UN statement on the equality of the two sides and refused to meet envoy Alvaro de Soto.

    The decision not to attend the scheduled meeting with the UN envoy was reached after a lengthy meeting of the National Council, members of which accompanied President Glafcos Clerides to New York.

    Clerides will ask UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan for a written explanation of his comments on the opening day of the talks, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said.

    He said whether or not the Greek Cypriot side would attend today’s scheduled meeting would be announced later.

    "The President of the Republic is sending a letter to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan in which he outlines his comments and positions in relation to the statement Annan made yesterday (Tuesday)," Papapetrou said.

    In the offending statement, Annan said: "In the course of these talks I have ascertained that the parties share a common desire to bring about, through negotiations in which each represents its side -- and no-one else -- as the political equal of the other, a comprehensive settlement enshrining a new partnership on which to build a better future in peace, security and prosperity on a united island. In this spirit, and with the purpose of expediting negotiations in good faith and without preconditions on all issues before them, I have concluded that the equal status of the parties must and should be recognised explicitly in the comprehensive settlement which will embody the results of the detailed negotiations required to translate this concept into clear and practical provisions".

    There was little commentary out of New York yesterday where Clerides convened the National Council for a three-hour meeting but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash who is seeking recognition for his breakaway regime in the north, hailed Annan’s statement as the "foundation stone for the solution defended by the TRNC".

    "In other words it stresses several facts that we have always insisted on. What we foresee is a confederal Cyprus state based on two states and one where none of the sides represents the other," Denktash said.

    In Nicosia some politicians called for a withdrawal of the Greek Cypriot side from the negotiations.

    Communist AKEL spokesman Nicos Katsourides said the Greek Cypriot side was responsible for the development. "We wrongly committed ourselves to say that whatever happened we would continue the talks," he said. "Our side has to react and show that if this is the aim of the talks we cannot accept it."

    In New York UN envoy de Soto tried to defuse the apparent crisis. He said the precise definition of the equal status of the parties, engaged in the negotiating process, would have to be defined at the end of the process.

    "The Secretary-General did not ask for approval of his statement by the parties, it is his statement, his assessment, this is what he feels must happen and this is the guideline he will follow," de Soto said.

    [<a href="greek0914.htm">Greek Press</a>]

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail


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