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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-10-04

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

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


Wednesday, October 04, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Church fued flares again
  • [02] Cook hopeful on Cyprus problem
  • [03] Tycoon offers money back after bourse delay
  • [04] Grape growers protest at rock
  • [05] Immigrants sent back to Lebanon
  • [06] KISOS lash out at allocation of retirement funds to stock market
  • [07] Five-year permits for some foreign workers
  • [08] Road taxes set to soar by 35 per cent
  • [09] Pessimism on sluggish bourse
  • [10] Diving centres battle for Zenobia access

  • [01] Church fued flares again

    By Martin Hellicar

    The Church “homosexuality” spat reared its ugly head again yesterday, with two men claiming to have been gay lovers of Limassol Bishop Athanasios turning the airwaves blue with their lurid claims.

    A third man, who earlier this year joined the other two in testifying before a Holy Synod committee probing the ‘Gay Bishop’ allegations, yesterday withdrew his claims, saying he had been pressured and bribed into witnessing against Athanasios.

    Meanwhile, over 100 Limassol clerics came out in support of Athanasios yesterday, backing the Bishop’s protests that the gay claims are lies and insisting their leader is a “saint”.

    The homosexuality claims have been dogging the Church for months now and show no sign of dying down.

    Even though Archbishop Chrysostomos has sided with Athanasios, the Limassol Bishop’s detractors – with Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos at the helm – have succeeded in getting the matter before a Synod investigating committee.

    In a shock decision last month, the probe committee decided that Athanasios should appear before a committee of inquiry to answer to homosexuality charges.

    The Bishop’s alleged gay lovers came out of the woodwork and went public with their accusations yesterday.

    Speaking from Athens, Lefteris Psyllos told Capitol radio that he had had “sexual relations” with Athanasios for six months when the Bishop was Abbot of Macheras monastery in the Troodos hills. Athanasios was Macheras Abbot before he became Bishop two years ago.

    Psyllos detailed what he had told the Synod investigating committee.

    “In my testimony against Athanasios I have described his body, I mean his hidden body, under the robes, and the places we went to. It would be easy to get Athanasios to take off his robes and for three clerics to have a look and see if what I said was true – so the truth might shine forth,” he said.

    Psyllos claimed Athanasios supporters had used threats and physical violence in an effort to stop him testifying against the top cleric.

    Another alleged lover of the Bishop, hairdresser Christos Stangos, told radio listeners how Athanasios’s attentions had “forced” him out of Mount Athos “in tears” when he was 16, some 15 years ago.

    He too spoke of being threatened by Athanasios supporters but vowed he would not be put off, even promising to reveal all at a press conference.

    “I will be ready by Friday to give a press conference so that people of Cyprus can at last learn who Bishop Athanasios really is.”

    But another witness before the Synod investigating committee, Costas Savva, yesterday withdrew his claims against Athanasios.

    Savva said Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos and Limassol archimandrite Andreas Constantinides had pressured him and paid him money to testify.

    Like the Paphos Bishop, Constantinides – who is being probed by the Church for allegedly having an affair with a woman working at his Limassol shop – has been a vociferous Athanasios critic.

    Chrysostomos of Paphos called a press conference yesterday to deny Savva’s claims of bribery. He said Athanasios supporters had put pressure on Savva to withdraw his testimony.

    In Limassol meanwhile, more than a hundred local priests held an emergency meeting at the Panayis Katholiki church. The clerics drew up a petition in support of their under siege Bishop.

    The petition stated the allegations against Athanasios were lies and called on the Archbishop to intervene to end the “scandal-mongering”.

    “We have known our Bishop for about two years, we have loved him, he is a unique person in our church…a fine Bishop,” said the Limassol Bishopric’s financial adviser, father Andreas. “He is pure and saintly,” he added.

    Father Andreas spoke of a plot to “get rid” of Athanasios.

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

    Wednesday, October 04, 2000

    [02] Cook hopeful on Cyprus problem

    By Jennie Matthew

    BRITISH FOREIGN Secretary Robin Cook yesterday gave his full backing to a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution to the Cyprus problem, after a meeting with foreign minister Ioannis Cassoulides in London.

    He also encouraged a shift in the nature of discussions to move from “preparation into serious negotiation”.

    “We would want to see a settlement reflecting the UN resolutions and heading towards what we have always believed would be the best possible way of accommodating both sides, a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation,” he said.

    Cassoulides gave full government commitment to the talks, playing down criticism levelled by President Glafcos Clerides against the direction the talks were taking in New York.

    “President Clerides has demonstrated yet again his political will to continue and pursue the efforts for a settlement in Cyprus. We will not miss this opportunity,” he said.

    Cassoulides was in London to brief Cook on the progress of the UN sponsored proximity talks, which finished on September 26.

    “Everyone understands that the future solution has to be within the parameters of Security Council Resolutions and based on a bi-zonal, bi- communal federation,” he added.

    Cook sent out a special appeal to the people of northern Cyprus, urging them to work towards a solution.

    “The residents in the north stand to gain even more than the Greek Cypriot community from membership of the European Union. It is in their interest that they should resolve the division of the island so that they also can join at the same time,” said Cook.

    “This is an historic opportunity to resolve the division of Cyprus and I hope we can seize the opportunity in order to create a single sovereign Cyprus,” he said.

    The fifth round of proximity talks will take place in Geneva from November 1 to 10.

    He said Britain would make no efforts to dismantle the international trade embargo against the north.

    “We have never recognised the so-called Republic of Northern Cyprus and we have no intention of doing so,” he added.

    Greek Cypriots will greet his announcement with open arms, after lambasting UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for urging the two sides to recognise each other as political equals, in an eventual settlement.

    They crushed his remark as tantamount to recognition of the breakaway regime.

    Cook went on to congratulate Turkey for “encouraging progress” in the talks, stressing the role of the European Union in underpinning the UN sponsored negotiations.

    He praised Cyprus for her “excellent progress” in the path towards full EU membership.

    Cook stressed Britain was committed to achieving a successful outcome to the talks.

    In return, Cassoulides thanked the foreign secretary for his personal interest in a peace settlement, given “the traditional links that exist between Cyprus and the United Kingdom”.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2000

    [03] Tycoon offers money back after bourse delay

    By Staff Reporter

    STELMAR SHIPPING, owned by Stelios Haji-Ioannou of EasyJet airline fame, announced yesterday it would offer investors their money back because of a delay by the Cyprus Stock Exchange in approving its listing.

    The shipping concern, based in Athens and London, amassed million in private placements this year conditional on a listing in Cyprus by September 29.

    Industry sources said the absence of an official policy on the listing requirements of ocean-faring companies has kept Stelmar's application to the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) on the sidelines since April.

    The firm has given bourse authorities until October 31 to clarify their position on the listing of shipping companies and said it would review its own plans to list on the stock market.

    "This is inexcusable and is causing serious damage to the prestige... of the company," Stelmar's board said in a statement.

    "This (delay) has caused problems to the company in its development strategy," added Demos Petropoulos, head of shipping at Sharelink, the Cyprus-based lead underwriters of Stelmar's issue.

    "We are waiting for a reaction from the CSE. They have promised to do something from now until October 31."

    Stelmar said in a statement it would be willing to offer investors their money back with interest if they requested it. It said it would review the situation again on October 31.

    Bourse authorities, said to be concerned at what they perceive as the high- risk nature of the shipping industry, have consulted lawyers and are reviewing shipping company listing requirements.

    Stelmar owns and operates a fleet of 12 tankers and last year had a turnover of million.

    Haji-Ioannou has warned in the past that the company’s institutional investors, which include Credit Suisse First Boston, EMG and Triad, could pull out of the CSE if prospects dwindle. He has threatened to look elsewhere to list his company, as well as stripping his ships of the Cypriot flag they currently bear.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2000

    [04] Grape growers protest at rock

    By Athena Karsera

    GRAPE FARMERS yesterday blocked Limassol-Paphos traffic for 15 minutes in attempts to push the government to up grape prices and farming subsidies.

    Around 100 demonstrators blocked the road near Aphrodite’s Rock from 10.15am having begun their rally at around 9.40am.

    A Paphos police representative yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the demonstration had been peaceful and that permission had been given by the police for the road to be closed off.

    The demonstration dispersed after a representative of the three participating agricultural unions, PEK, EKA and Agrotikos, read out a petition to be sent to President Glafcos Clerides.

    “We would like to believe Your Excellency, that your government, even at this eleventh hour, will grant our requests by first announcing higher grape prices, which have remained at the same levels for the last three years. Secondly, review the subsidy so that it adequately covers lost income from wine and table grapes due to the drought and heat wave and thirdly, show real support to the grape growers so that we can look to the future with optimism.

    The grape growers also said that they had chosen to demonstrate at a popular tourist destination to send a message to Industry (and Tourism) Minister Nicos Rolandis; who up until now has refused to meet their demands “which amount to a few thousand pounds” while having organised the Miss Universe pageant, “costing the state millions”.

    The Rock was a focal point of the Pageant’s local promotion and widely used on location segments in during the contest’s broadcast.

    Only agriculture union Panagrotikos failed to support the demonstration having accepted a September 19 government offer to give the growers an extra £1 million on top of a previous offer for £10-11 million and to pay for 95 per cent of the full price for grapes dumped before a deal was made for the surplus crops to be taken on by the wine industry.

    PEK, EKA and Agrotikos say that they want another £3 million for their losses and to be paid the full price for the dumped grapes.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2000

    [05] Immigrants sent back to Lebanon

    By Jennie Matthew

    The 275 illegal immigrants moored for three weeks off the coast of Cyprus, yesterday began their journey back to Lebanon, two days ahead of schedule.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said on Monday that the immigrants would be sent back to Lebanon by Thursday.

    But last night the immigrants’ vessel turned its back on Cyprus and headed out to sea soon after 8pm.

    The boat, under heavy police guard, is expected to arrive at its final destination some time today.

    The immigrants were said to be unaware of their fate and the police presence was to guard against violence or mutiny once the truth dawned.

    On Monday, two officers from the Rapid Reaction Squad (MMAD) were rushed to Limassol General Hospital, injured after some of the immigrants began throwing things at them.

    The violence broke out when officers boarded their cruise ship to escort one of the people to the shore for police questioning. They began flinging bottles, rubbish and chairs at the Cypriot men.

    The immigrants were rescued from a sinking boat near Paphos on September 13, by Cypriot authorities and their stay has been dogged by disturbances.

    Several threatened suicide, saying that they would throw their children overboard, whilst others refused food and medical supplies.

    The returning exodus to Lebanon, was brokered by the government in accordance with a bilateral Lebanese-Cypriot treaty which stipulates that all illegal immigrants be returned to the port they left from.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2000

    [06] KISOS lash out at allocation of retirement funds to stock market

    By Melina Demetriou

    The Social Democratic Movement (KISOS) yesterday spoke out against the proposed investment of the Social Insurance Fund’s money on the Cyprus Stock Exchange

    They maintain the proposal would jeopardise people’s pensions and lead to higher taxation.

    The suggestion was put forward by DISY in June and referred to a 5 per cent share of the Fund’s income, or approximately £100,000.

    Panos Pashiardis, secretary-general of the party’s Finance Committee, told a media conference yesterday that the social nature of the Fund must be maintained as there was no other group provide low-income earners with a pension after retirement.

    “It would be wrong to use the Fund’s money to support the Stock market prices, which are devaluing steadily. Working people invest part of their salary on the Fund to secure a first-class pension after retirement. We have witnessed the collapse of Private Funds abroad, leaving investors with smaller pensions than they expected,” Pashiardis said.

    Pashiardis continued that the Social Insurance Fund’s money is often used by the state as a low-interest loan.

    “If the government stop borrowing money from the Fund they will have to borrow from somewhere else and face much higher interest. To find the extra money, the state would be forced to implement higher taxation policies.

    “At the end of the day the investment of the Fund’s money on the stock market is not a good idea.”

    The socialist party says the Fund should stay intact and that it contributors should be the ones to decide on its future.

    If some working people want to invest money on CSE they should do it independently, said Pashiardis.

    As an alternative he put forward the option of making a part of the Fund available for individual investors.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2000

    [07] Five-year permits for some foreign workers

    By Martin Hellicar

    A NEW law making it harder for foreign workers to bring their spouses to Cyprus could prove to be good rather than bad news -- but only for EU nationals and those working in the “right” sectors.

    This is because the controversial ‘spouses out’ law – which applies to all foreigners including EU nationals -- is prompting the Interior Ministry to draw up criteria for granting certain foreign workers unprecedented five- year permits.

    On July 21, the House of Representatives approved regulations stipulating that foreign workers could only be joined by their dependents if they were “in possession of a working permit of a total duration of five years”.

    The new law, first revealed in the Cyprus Mail on Tuesday last week, was slammed by alien support groups, international businesses and human rights activists as it is unheard of for a foreigner to be granted a five-year work permit.

    Top Interior Ministry and Immigration department officials made things worse by making clear that they interpreted the law to mean that no foreign national who had worked on the island for less than five years could bring in his or her spouse, other than for a maximum of three months’ holiday on a tourist visa.

    Not only did the law apparently force foreign workers to wait for years before they could be joined by their loved ones, but it also raised the spectre of having to wave goodbye to partners already living on the island.

    But the Attorney-general’s office put things in a rather more positive light yesterday. In a statement sent to the Cyprus Mail, State Attorney Georgia Frangou dismissed the Interior Ministry and Immigration department interpretation of the new law. “The (new) regulation does not require the alien concerned to have actually worked for a five-year period before he can be united with his family,” Frangou stated.

    A foreign worker could, for example, bring his family in if he or she had worked in Cyprus for two years and then secured a three-year work permit extension, the government attorney explained.

    “It does not need to be one licence of five years -- it must be a licence of a total duration of five years,” Frangou said.

    She also clarified that – contrary to some earlier interpretations – the new spouses law did apply to EU nationals. The really good news for some is that, in the light of the new regulations, the Interior Ministry is now moving towards granting foreigners five-year work permits, a year longer than the current maximum allowable period in some cases.

    A five-year permit would allow a newly arrived foreign worker to bring his family with him.

    “Five-year permits had not been given before, but now that there is this new regulation… I have been talking with officers at the Interior Ministry and the Immigration Department and they will be giving… licences for five straight years,” Frangou said.

    The catch is that these permits will, in all likelihood, only be issued for EU nationals and those employed in certain sectors.

    “One of the categories of foreigner for whom five-year permits will immediately be given will be -- in all likelihood -- those from EU countries or those in certain jobs,” the State Attorney said.

    Frangou did not say what the favoured job sectors would be.

    Domestic helps and farm workers, who are usually Asian or Arab, are currently barred from staying longer than four years.

    Interior Ministry and Immigration officials are now drawing up a set of criteria dictating who will be entitled to five-year permits.

    “It will be up to the ministry to give permits according to country of origin or employment sector. They will be internal arrangements of the ministry, which are not defined by law but which it is allowed to make,” Frangou said.

    She insisted these criteria would be applied across the board and would not be open to interpretation or abuse by individual immigration officers. “It will not be up to the officer -- there will be criteria which will be implemented uniformly by all who issue permits. If there are no criteria then it can be random -- the aim is to get uniform treatment of cases.”

    Accusations of racist treatment at the hands of Immigration officials are not uncommon.

    The longer permits are also good news for foreigners already working on the island and who are fortunate enough to fall into a favoured category.

    Frangou made it clear that such resident foreign workers need have no fear that their spouses will be deported because of the new law.

    “If they fall into criteria that will get five-year permits then when their permit expires they will be granted an extension that covers a five-year period. For someone who has worked here for two years, when they run out they will give him three more so that his dependents can stay.”

    Frangou insisted the new system was not discriminatory. “The granting of permits will depend on the sector – only for EU citizens will there be, in all likelihood, a special arrangement.”

    The new spouses law was brought in in an effort to harmonise with EU norms as Cyprus seeks accession to the 15-member bloc.

    Frangou said the five-year rule mirrored the treatment of Cypriot nationals in EU countries.

    Foreigners from outside the EU have to work within the block for 15 months before their families can join them. Frangou noted that this “waiting period” was not a requisite in Cyprus, provided a five-year permit was secured.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2000

    [08] Road taxes set to soar by 35 per cent

    By Athena Karsera

    ROAD TAXES could be increasing by up to 35 per cent from January 1 if the House of Representatives approve a government proposal.

    The House Communications Committee will be discussing the issue over its next meetings with the proposal to be voted on by the Plenum before the end of the year.

    Confirming a press report on the issue, a Communications Ministry official yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the increases are in the framework of Cyprus falling in line with European Union rates by 2003.

    The new prices are as follows:

    Class Weight Price Price

    (kg) Full year Half year

    Motorcycles

    200cc> £8

    500cc> £15

    500cc> £74

    Private vehicles

    Petrol 254< £15 £8

    254-508 £26 £14

    508-762 £42 £22

    762-1,061 £66 £34

    1,061-1,270 £126 £65

    1,270-1,524 £371 £192

    1,524< £520 £269

    Diesel 1,016> £386 £200

    1,016-1,270 £445 £230

    1,270-2,540 £624 £323

    2,540kg< £742 £384

    Other rises applying to public cars, trucks and specialist vehicles are all based on an across the board 35 per cent increase.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2000

    [09] Pessimism on sluggish bourse

    By Jennie Matthew

    The market stuck to its painful depths yesterday despite the all-share index closing up at 352.78 compared to Monday’s year-low of 352.31.

    The index plummeted steadily when the market opened and had hit the 348.28 mark at 11.50am when it bounced back four points in ten minutes, with volume stretched to just £14.98 million.

    “I think today was one of the worst days of trading this year, because the general index went below the psychological barrier of 350. It closed at a fictitious level, forced up by banks’ transactions,” said stockbroker Socrates Georghiades from Argus Financial Group.

    Monday’s grimmest dealers, Cosmos (COS) and Europrofit (ERP), fulfilled stockbrokers’ predictions and fared even worse than yesterday.

    COS dipped four cents to close in at 63 cents as the entire insurance sector slipped down 5.77 per cent with a volume of just £161,259.

    ERP lost another five cents to weigh in at £1.65 a share, with the “other companies” group closing 5.48 per cent lower than on Monday.

    The financial companies suffered the biggest percentage loss yesterday, as their proportion of the index trailed 14.98 per cent.

    Big losses were also felt by the technology companies, in particular Logicom Ltd.

    Trading opened at £4.55 and sunk as low as £4.40 before crawling up one cent when the markets closed.

    Spidernet Services Ltd shed nine cents to finish at 89 cents, as did Cyprus Pipes Industries Ltd, down from £2.49 to £2.40.

    But despite such poor performances, the six technology companies clocked up the largest group volume of £4.41 million – propped up by regular volume booster GlobalSoft who amassed some 676,468 transactions.

    Analysts say the path ahead is grim. Yesterday’s low volume, some £4million lower than Monday indicates investors’ unwillingness to buy or sell shares when the index is so low.

    Brokers are flashing the danger lights, stressing that very little money is needed to manipulate the market.

    The bottom also fell out of Glory Worldwide Holdings Ltd. After opening at £6.30, the share plummeted to a low of £6.01, before coming into bay at £6.12 by 12pm.

    “Some companies are at their lowest levels since March and April 1999. The government should cast an eye over what’s happening, before we see suicide attempts and families splitting up,” said Georghiades.

    The market’s misery makes a seriously good opportunity for investors to buy up cheap shares from stable companies, who will eventually rise from the depressed index.

    The old favourite, Bank of Cyprus (BoC) knocked off an extra eight cents on its already low price to close at just £6.60 yesterday.

    The bank’s forthcoming listing on the Athens Stock Exchange in November has been held up as a beacon for the despondent, unable to see another way out of the inertia in the home markets.

    Sharelink Financial Services (SFS) poses another decent prospect. A buoyant company with excellent potential, shares are currently a bargain £1.83, down four cents on Monday’s close.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2000

    [10] Diving centres battle for Zenobia access

    By Jenny Curtis

    THREE DIVING centres are appealing today against an interim court order which bans them from diving inside the Zenobia, a sunken ferry off Larnaca’s coast.

    Ayia Napa Cruises, who bought the wreck several years ago, are suing Dive Inn, Viking Divers and Sunfish Divers for entering, touching and resting on the vessel during dives.

    A judge has ruled that until the full case is heard they are allowed to dive around the wreck, but not to make contact with it.

    The three diving centres claim the ruling, which was made in August, is unfair and are asking for permission for full access in the interim period.

    Ayia Napa Cruises want diving centres to pay for access and claim because the wreck is now private property it should be made illegal for anyone to enter it without prior permission.

    The company filed proceedings against the other diving firms in July.

    The defendants are disputing the company’s legal ability to impose such restrictions and argue that free entry should be allowed at all times, without payment.

    Thousands of people dive the Zenobia each year, and is among the ten most popular wreck dive sites in the world.

    The ten thousand tonne 172-metre ferry sank in 1980, with 104 fully loaded articulated lorries on board.

    The top of the vessel is 16 metres below the surface and 43 metres at the seabed.


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