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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-09-27

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, September 27, 2000


  • [01] International business shock at new immigration law
  • [02] Petrol station owners threaten to turn off the pumps
  • [03] CyTA plans eight-digit numbers and unified national rates
  • [04] Turk admits to captaining immigrant ship
  • [05] Archimandrite optimistic of acquittal
  • [06] Lanitis unveils resort of the future: Greens not impressed
  • [07] Insurance dragged by sluggish market
  • [08] Island’s biggest ever drugs haul
  • [09] Striving to breach the gap

  • [01] International business shock at new immigration law

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE Cyprus International Business Association (CIBA) will tonight discuss at its monthly Executive Committee Meeting the new law that threatens to break up families in the name of 'family unity', CIBA president Mehran Eftekhar said yesterday.

    Successor to the former Cyprus Offshore Enterprise Association, CIBA boasts some of the top foreign business executives on the island and the industry it represents is one of the pillars of the economy.

    Despite this, Eftekhar yesterday acknowledged his membership's top managers “at this moment in time are in the same league as anybody else” with respect to this new law.

    The law requires foreigners to have worked on a valid work permit in Cyprus for five years before being allowed to bring their wives and children to live here.

    As with spouses of any other foreigners here, the dependant wife of a CIBA company director in Cyprus for less than five years would now only be allowed to stay with him until his current permit expired, according to Antonis Economides, Head of the Visitors Section at Immigration.

    But he said when the executive's work permit ran out, he would have to send his wife home until he had passed the five-year employment mark.

    “If somebody has been working here for an offshore company for less than five years, he cannot bring his wife here,” Economides said.

    But he insisted the relevant ministries - Labour, Justice and Interior - would thrash out a new wording for the law in December exempting CIBA company executives and their spouses from the five-year hurdle.

    Eftekhar said he was meeting today with the Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary and various heads of the Immigration Department to discuss the new law.

    “The meeting was arranged with the Permanent Secretary prior to your article on the new law, and we had agreed certain topics to discuss,” Eftekhar said. “I have (since) advised… them this item is also on the agenda.”

    “You know, people think you're joking when you tell them about this law,” Eftekhar said. “Today I had lunch with some international bankers, and I told them the story. Their reaction was: 'God, this cannot be. This is stupid.'

    “I cannot imagine that this law can stand as it is. The essence of it is ridiculous. It makes a mockery of the EU harmonisation process.”

    “Fifteen months is the period that applies in all EU countries,” Eftekhar said. “That's the period they have to adopt in Cyprus.”

    Wednesday, September 27, 2000

    [02] Petrol station owners threaten to turn off the pumps

    By Melina Demetriou

    PETROL station owners are threatening to switch off the supply of fuel to motorists if the government does not agree to cover their losses at a meeting in a fortnight's time.

    The Cyprus Fuel Station Owners Association warned yesterday they would shut down all petrol stations if the government or the fuel companies failed to cover losses that say amount to £8,000 per station per year.

    Association president Bambinos Charalambous told a news conference in Nicosia that fuel station owners and fuel companies would meet with Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis in two weeks to try and solve the problems arising from soaring international oil prices.

    “Each of us suffers losses of £8,000 per year. The reason is increased fuel prices and the fact that fuel companies have opened so many stations around the country that the competition has nearly put us out of business,” Charalambous said.

    The Association, which is part of the Povek trade union, called on the companies to cover its members losses by providing retailers with a bigger commission.

    “Every three years, we renew our collective contract with the companies. In 1993, it was decided that every time our commission would be adjusted based on the previous year's results, i.e. the stations' profit and loss. And so it happened. But this year, by the time we were supposed to renew our contact, the fuel companies refused to consider our point of view. On top of that, the Ministry of Commerce has completely ignored us and said it did not want to interfere,” Charalambous said.

    He added the Union had asked for no more stations to be opened.

    “I am optimistic that the meeting scheduled for October 12 will yield results. But if nothing comes out of it, we are going to put all stations out of operation as our General Assembly has instructed us to do.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2000

    [03] CyTA plans eight-digit numbers and unified national rates

    By George Psyllides

    CYTA hopes to turn Cyprus into a unified telephone region, with uniform rates across the island, the House Communications Committee heard yesterday.

    If approved by the House, the plan will come into effect by December 1, 2001.

    It will turn the island into unified telephone region, incorporating area codes into new eight-digit numbers and charging fixed rates for all national calls.

    The new plan envisages area codes being added to the subscriber's number, along with an extra digit indicating the service provider in anticipation of the imminent liberalisation of the telecoms market.

    The zero in front of the area code digit will be scrapped and users will have to dial the full eight-digit number irrespective of where they are calling from.

    If the new plan is adopted, the Cyprus Mail phone number would become 22 81 85 85.

    The first digit represents Cyta, which is the current provider. The second digit represents Nicosia.

    The new system will be implemented in three phases, beginning on November 15 of this year.

    In the first phase, consumers will be asked to choose how they want to be billed.

    They can opt to pay a £3 monthly subscription fee with free national calls, or £1.50 per month subscription, plus two cents per local call.

    On August 1, 2001, the subscription will be raised to £4 per month, or £2 per month and two cents per call respectively.

    In the final phase, starting on December 1 next year, the new numbers would come into operation and the billing options would merge, with subscription rising to £5 a month and national calls costing two cents for every two minutes at peak time, and two cents per four minutes off-peak.

    Current local rates stand at 1.3 cents per four minutes, while inter-city calls cost 3.12 cents per minute during peak hours and 2.23 a minute off- peak. Monthly subscription is £1.25.

    The Director of CyTA Operations Management Support, Glafcos Houtris, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the changes had been decided to keep up with worldwide trends, and because of the island's small size.

    Houtris added the authority was also preparing for the future when other service providers will enter the market.

    European Union regulations require Cyprus to open the market to competition.

    During yesterday's committee session, Communications Ministry representative Louisa Savvidou said the changes were necessary to protect CyTA from future competition.

    Committee Chairman Nicos Pittokopitis of Diko said full liberalisation was scheduled for 2002, one year ahead of the date when Cyprus hopes to become a full member. Pittokopitis wondered if permits should be given to foreign companies if the accession process overshot the scheduled date of entry.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2000

    [04] Turk admits to captaining immigrant ship

    By Melina Demetriou

    A TURK arrested last week on suspicion of captaining a trawler crammed with 266 illegal immigrants which ran aground off Paphos on September 13, yesterday gave a statement to police admitting he had indeed been the captain of the boat and that it had sailed from Lebanon.

    The Lebanese authorities have said they will not accept the return of the immigrants under a bilateral agreement with Cyprus unless they received conclusive evidence that they sailed from their shores.

    Ibrahim Muhammad Farrah was arrested last Thursday suspected of the illegal carriage of immigrants and the deliberate sinking of their vessel. He is due to reappear in Court tomorrow.

    “The suspect admitted to captaining the immigrant ship and revealed exclusive information about the ring which planned the whole operation from Lebanon,” Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou told reporters yesterday.

    A Cypriot delegation of Interior, Foreign Ministry and police officials will travel to Beirut today or tomorrow to present the Lebanese authorities with the new evidence, hoping to convince them to accept the immigrants back.

    The immigrants, mainly Kurds and Iranians, are being held at sea off Limassol. The government has said it will deport them to their countries of origin if Lebanon doesn't take them back. The boat people had paid each to be taken to Italy.

    Nicosia and Beirut have an agreement for the return of illegal immigrants leaving Lebanese ports, but Lebanon disputes police evidence that the latest immigrant boat sailed from its shores.

    Lebanon said yesterday it had not taken a final decision yet on the matter, according to Christodoulou.

    The minister also countered claims from human rights organisations about conditions of detention on board: “The living conditions on the boat where the immigrants are kept are excellent and they would not have been any better anywhere ashore,” Christodoulou said.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2000

    [05] Archimandrite optimistic of acquittal

    By Staff Reporter

    LIMASSOL Archimandrite Andreas Constantinides said yesterday he was optimistic he would be cleared by the Holy Synod of charges that he fathered two illegitimate children from an affair with a 30-year-old woman.

    Speaking after his testimony before the Holy Synod yesterday morning, Constantinides rejected the charges levelled against him, adding he feared nothing and believed the Holy Synod would acquit him in the end.

    “I will return in one piece, but Athanassios will not return to the Bishopric,” Constantinides said.

    The Archimandrite holds Limassol Bishop Athanassios responsible for the accusations against him.

    “I was an obstacle to Athanassios' plans and he did this to take revenge,” Constantinides claimed.

    The two clerics have been engaged in a bitter struggle for months.

    In retaliation to Athanassios' charges, Constantinides accused the Bishop of having a homosexual affair with a young novice on Mount Athos 18 years ago.

    Athanassios - a popular figure in his diocese -- vehemently denies the charges, saying they were part of a plot to destroy him.

    Yesterday, Constantinides said he was ready to undergo DNA testing to prove beyond doubt he was not the father of the two children.

    But reporters swarming the Archbishopric wondered why Constantinides had not been asked to take the tests before.

    The Archimandrite the procedure against him was now complete and he was expecting a decision soon.

    Constantinides was an associate of former Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos, currently on trial facing fraud charges.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2000

    [06] Lanitis unveils resort of the future: Greens not impressed

    By Athena Karsera

    PLANS unveiled yesterday by the Lanitis Group for a luxury leisure resort with golf course near Aphrodite's Rock have sparked concern from the Environmental Movement.

    Green party leader George Perdikis said yesterday the Movement had foreseen this type of development from the moment the government announced its desalination plans: “We just didn't think it would happen so soon.”

    But Lanitis Group president Platonas Lanitis said yesterday the development, just 1km away from Aphrodite's Rock, had been a vision of his father's more than quarter of a century ago.

    “My father Evagoras Lanitis' vision for the 1,750 donums of countryside now called Aphrodite Hills began 27 years ago… He was convinced, even then, that the tourism product in Cyprus could not remain stagnant and depend only on sun, sea and sand, but would have to enrich and diversify itself so that it became a quality destination,” Lanitis said.

    One of these diversifying factors is the 18-hole golf-course around which the Aphrodite Hills complex will be based: “My father conceived the idea of a complete development with facilities such as a golf-course, tennis courts, health spa, horse riding, nature trails, cycling and other activities.”

    Lanitis said his father, who died in 1992, had in fact received the government go-ahead on the project in the late 1970s, with construction studies initially carried out by 1981. The next 10 years were spent trying to sort out the various problems connected to building in the area, such as access to the spot and its water supply.

    More feasibility studies were carried out in the late 1990s taking into account modern travellers' needs and expectations and were, this time, accompanied by an environmental study on the area, all of which were approved by the government last year.

    But Perdikis dismissed the environmental study, saying he had been informed it had not taken into account the archaeological artefacts in the area.

    Lanitis, however, said the group had an excellent relationship with Professor Georgia Bazemore of Indianapolis University's Archaeology Department, who is working with the Antiquities Department in excavating the area around Aphrodite Hills: “We have provided financial support and a number of people employed by our company to help out at the digs. We feel it s our obligation to protect our country's heritage.”

    On the provision of water to the resort, Lanitis said the agreement with the government stipulated that Aphrodite Hills would be the first to have its water supply rationed if Paphos was hit hard and that the company was prepared to construct a desalination plant for its own needs. Conceding the environmental cost of a desalination plant, Lanitis said it would be the most acceptable solution under the circumstances: “As a famous environmentalist once said, you eventually have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.”

    Project director Angelos Markides added any desalination plant built for Aphrodite Hills would be on a much smaller scale of those constructed for public use: “The ones built by the government produce, I believe, 40 million tonnes of water while we would only need one million tonnes of water a year.”

    Perdikis said he was sceptical of Lanitis' assurances: “Why should they build a desalination plant when they government has been giving them all the water they want.”

    Aphrodite Hills is to be completed in phases, with the sporting facilities expected to be completed by the end of 2001 and the entire project, including hotel, hotel apartments and many of the privately owned villas finished by mid-2003.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2000

    [07] Insurance dragged by sluggish market

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE STOCK Exchange descended yesterday by 0.85 per cent as the all-share index closed down 3.14 points at 367.35; underscoring the current inertia in the Cyprus market.

    Traded volume was marginally up – £22.83 million – but still lags miles behind the buoyancy that was commonplace before the market plummeted in early summer.

    The insurance sector, which has persistently under-performed since the slump, slipped a significant 6.55 per cent – the largest group change in recent weeks. The sector’s volume only managed a grim £555,595.

    The “other” companies sector scraped together a tiny £14.26 million in volume.

    GlobalSoft plowed ahead as the only blue-chip company to make progress in such a stagnant environment. The share price swept up 49 cents (8.51 per cent) to finish at £6.25.

    “Share selling forced the index down and it was only GlobalSoft which picked pushed the index up a little at the end,” said stockbroker Socrates Georgiades of the Argus Financial Group.

    CLR Investment Fund Ltd put in what has become a familiar performance: high activity trading but little price deviation. The share closed up half a cent at 39.5 cents.

    It was a feeble day for banks – the backbone of the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE).

    The sector shed 3.56 per cent of its all-share index proportion, with volume down on Monday at £1.59 million.

    The Bank of Cyprus (BOC) lost 2 cents to close at £6.66 and the Cyprus Popular Bank dipped in value by 9 cents to weigh in at £9.47.

    Most brokers point to BOC’s planned launch on the Athens’ Stock Exchange as the fuel desperately needed to kick the Nicosia index into action.

    Georgiades expects recovery by October. “It could have been sooner if the parliament hadn’t thrown dust into the eyes of investors, by putting legislation in place to force [market] investment,” he told the Cyprus Mail.

    The Parliament’s Finance Committee met on Monday to discuss legislation criticised by brokers on the grounds that it limits their activity.

    Tourism companies fared badly with a 4.21 per cent decline and a volume of just £759,824.

    Trading firms trailed down 3.47 per cent as £1.58 million worth of shares changed hands and the manufacturing firm dumped 1.87 per cent of its index share. Some £1.84 million pounds were traded in business.

    Lemeco – Silvex Industries Ltd was the most traded share on the index. Shares worth some £2.85 million changed hands, as the price lost 5.6 cents to close at 32 cents a share.

    Insiders have expressed concern about the poor performance of listed investment companies, for causing lacklustre in the market. Their day’s showing went without note with a volume of £1.58 million, and a 2.83 percentage decline.

    Harvest Capital Management Ltd made a dismal debut on Monday and the share did no better yesterday, gaining just 0.3 cents to close at 36.9 cents.

    The CSE yesterday announced the introduction of five new categories for the index: building and cement companies, information technology, financial services, fish culture, fish trading and hotels as of October 2.

    The new sectors reflect the wider range of companies who have won public listings in the last year.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2000

    [08] Island’s biggest ever drugs haul

    By Jennie Matthew

    OVER 35 kilos of cocaine were seized yesterday afternoon, just outside Limassol, in the largest single discovery of the class A drug on the island, Drug Squad Chief, Christakis Katsikides said.

    “We searched a container and found 35 kilos of cocaine. The case is under investigation and we will continue our search,” he said.

    The drugs were found in a container at a bonded warehouse in Ypsonas, on the outskirts of Limassol.

    The drug, thought to have a street value of £4 million was transported to the police headquarters in Nicosia for further examination.

    “The drug came from a country far away from Europe. I can’t say where, because people’s lives are in danger,” he said.

    According to local media reports the drug arrived in Cyprus en route from Haifa to Lebanon.

    There is no direct sea route from Israel to Lebanon. Cyprus is a common intermediate destination for goods travelling between the warring neighbours.

    Katsikides refused to give a street value estimation, saying that as a drugs officer, the potential human harm caused by such a drug far outweighed its commercial sale.

    No arrests have been made yet. The case is under investigation.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2000

    [09] Striving to breach the gap

    By Staff Reporter

    UNITED Nations Special Envoy Alvaro de Soto yesterday said some progress had been achieved during the proximity talks but there was still a long way to go.

    Speaking at a press conference yesterday after the end of the fourth round of talks, de Soto said UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, had invited President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, to a new round of talks in Geneva between November 1 and 10.

    But de Soto seemed reserved on his assessment of the talks.

    He said: “A qualitative step forward has taken place.”

    “We are encouraged that the two sides are engaged in these talks; there is a long way to go,” he added.

    De Soto reiterated that the UN’s aim was to find a comprehensive settlement for the Cyprus issue, adding that it had intensified its input of ideas to the parties and intended to do so in Geneva.

    “The progress has moved, but progress is hard to report on, its hard to measure,” he said.

    Annan wrapped up the 14-day proximity talks at separate meetings with Clerides and Denktash.

    According to Reuters Clerides said the talks were “useful” in stimulating a debate on core issues that have kept the island divided for years.

    “This has been useful because certain ideas were put down on the part of the UN to define and measure the reaction of our side and the other side,” Clerides said.

    After his meeting with Annan, Denktash said the talks had not been a waste of time.

    “I think we placed our case very firmly; we shall strive until we have breached the gap,” he added.

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