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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-10-07

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

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


Saturday, October 07, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Court duty free decision to force tenders on all public interest contracts
  • [02] 'The best day of our lives': Cyprus Serbs celebrate the fall of Milosevic
  • [03] Kyprianou prepares to step down as DIKO head
  • [04] Archimandrite tells Synod of DNA test plans
  • [05] Euro MPs put Turkey in the dock on Loizidou case
  • [06] Police probing claims of diesel smuggling to the north

  • [01] Court duty free decision to force tenders on all public interest contracts

    By Jean Christou

    A SUPREME Court decision blocking Cyprus Airways (CY) from automatically renewing its duty free shops contract has wide-ranging implications for public works tenders, legal sources said yesterday.

    The Court ruled on Thursday that the renewal of the contract to run the duty free shops at the island's two airports, which CY has held since 1996, should be put out to tender, as should all government contracts with a public interest.

    A legal source close to the case told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the Court had ruled that any matter of public importance must be put out to tender. “This goes way beyond the issue of Cyprus Airways and the duty free shops,” the source said. “From now on any major public work must be given out to tender and the decision is final.”

    As an example, the source referred to the ongoing controversy over the Cyprus Stock Exchange's (CSE) move to the IMC building on the outskirts of Nicosia, which has been approved under contract with a private firm.

    The move has been vehemently opposed by Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades on public interest grounds, and by the Technical Chamber on town planning grounds.

    According to the Supreme Court's decision, the relocation of the CSE ought to have been put out to tender, the source said, but added the decision on that issue has already been taken.

    The source also said the decision should apply to the duty free shops at the island's ports, which are also under private contract. “It is now clearly established that these should also be put out to tender,” he said.

    But the source said that, under the decision, the government might continue to engage in private contracts occasionally if the public interest was not involved.

    CY's contract for the duty free shops expires in May 2001, and the airline was on the brink of renewing, when other interests challenged the procedure.

    “The action was not against Cyprus Airways,” the source said. “It was an action by a group of individuals against the government. Until now the government has had greater discretion in the hading out of contracts. Cyprus Airways was just in involved on an incidental basis.”

    The airline will be able to bid for the duty free franchise when the contract when goes to tender, but the loss of the duty free shops would be a major blow to CY, which has seen its profits shoot up dramatically since it took over the contract in May 1996.

    In the first eight months of that year, the duty free shops yielded £500, 000 in revenue. In 1997, the shops made a profit of £800,000, in 1998 £2.5 million and last year £3.9 million, out of a total pre-tax profit for the CY Group of £8.8 million, another £4.6 million of which came through the sale of shares in Equant NV.

    The CY airline operation itself yielded only pre-tax profits of £3.6 million in 1999, less than the duty free operation for the same year. In fact, the airline sustained losses of £0.7 million when the exceptional share income was deducted.

    Profits from the duty free shops this year are expected to reach £4.5 million.

    Neither CY chairman Haris Loizides nor spokesman Tassos Angelis was available for comment yesterday.

    Saturday, October 07, 2000

    [02] 'The best day of our lives': Cyprus Serbs celebrate the fall of Milosevic

    By Elias Hazou

    SERBS in Cyprus yesterday echoed the euphoria on the streets of Belgrade, but official Yugoslav interests on the island were cautious, still awaiting the final outcome back home.

    Hundreds of thousands of Serbs took to the streets of Belgrade on Thursday, storming parliament and state television in support of Vojislav Kostunica's September 24 election victory, denied then cancelled by President Slobodan Milosevic.

    But with Milosevic's fate still uncertain yesterday, the Yugoslav Embassy in Nicosia was reluctant to comment on the events, saying only they were waiting for the situation to clear up. An embassy employee, however, expressed satisfaction with the fact that the potentially volatile situation in Belgrade had not degenerated into violence.

    Similarly, Yugoslav offshore banks and companies based in Cyprus seemed to be playing the waiting game, citing uncertainty over the situation in their refusal to comment.

    This was despite growing evidence in Belgrade that the opposition had consolidated its grip on power yesterday, while rumours abounded about where Milosevic was hiding out and where he might end up.

    One Cypriot radio station even reported that Milosevic was considering seeking asylum in Cyprus - a report immediately denied by government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou.

    But for ordinary Yugoslavs living in Cyprus it was a day like no other, though some still expressed concern about the future.

    “Hopefully the situation will improve, and we Yugoslavs will be treated the same as everyone else,” said Maja Stojanovic of Limassol. “Though storming and burning parliament was not the ideal thing to do, it was the only way the people could enforce their will, since Milosevic was not willing to step down.

    “I think Milosevic has no future in Yugoslavia, and he will have to leave the country. Because of him, there has been no peace, we lost part of our land, so many people died, and he made other people hate us.”

    Stojanovic added many fellow Yugoslavs in Cyprus were now considering returning once things had settled down. “Sanctions will be lifted, and we will hopefully be able to travel, have better salaries. We will forget about demonstrations, about wars,” she said.

    For Milos Cekic, there was a sense of relief and hope for the future.

    “We have been waiting for something like this to happen for over ten years. At last, that bastard Milosevic is out. Things will definitely improve back home, but it will take some time. This is one of the happiest times in my life.”

    Jovan Pavlovic, 45 and working for an offshore company in Nicosia, was euphoric: “This is the best day of my life,” he said. “I've sat up all night just coming to terms with what I was seeing on TV. Serbia is free at last after 59 years of slavery,” he added, referring to the four years of German occupation and 45 years of communist rule that preceded Milosevic's decade in power.

    Another Nicosia Serb, Dragan Stojanovic, was upbeat, yet sceptical: “Sure, I feel happy about what happened, and I am looking forward to the situation stabilising. But I hope the West makes good on its promise to lift the sanctions as soon as Milosevic is removed from power. We shall see.”

    The Cyprus government yesterday joined other countries in voicing its support for Kostunica, whom it said it now recognised as the legal president of Yugoslavia.

    Government Spokesman Papapetrou said Milosevic had to respect the election result that had shown overwhelming support for his rival, and said the government was wholeheartedly backing the Yugoslav people who had taken to the streets.

    Papapetrou added that, until order and stability had been restored in Yugoslavia, the Cyprus Central Bank would take all measures to protect the capital of the Yugoslav state and people.

    In response to questions by reporters, Papapetrou said he was not aware of any companies operating from Cyprus that belonged to the Milosevic family.

    “We would like to see the situation in Yugoslavia returning to normal as soon as possible and to see the continuation in ties between Cyprus and Yugoslavia,” he added.

    Saturday, October 07, 2000

    [03] Kyprianou prepares to step down as DIKO head

    By Melina Demetriou

    VETERAN politician Spyros Kyprianou will officially step down from the DIKO leadership today, after 24 years as one of the most prominent players in Cyprus' political arena.

    Kyprianou will be succeeded as party leader by DIKO parliamentary spokesman Tassos Papadopoulos when DIKO's National Electoral Council meets in Nicosia today.

    The party - the third largest in parliament -- hopes its change of leadership will boost its image and chart DIKO's path in future coalitions and its new goals.

    But according to one political analyst, the party will have a hard time expanding its influence in the near future, due to the failure of centrist parties to consolidate into a broader bloc.

    Kyprianou has suggested Papadopoulos to be the next chairman of the party, and there is no other candidate for the job. The only thing remaining is for official procedures at today's meeting to crown the new leader.

    The new co-ordinating secretary will be Fytos Constantinou, after all his running mates withdrew from the elections yesterday.

    Key battles for other senior positions are expected to be at the focus of the party meeting with deputies Nicos Cleanthous and Stathis Kittis fighting for the deputy -presidency.

    Cleanthous favors a united front of centre parties and a possible coalition with communist AKEL to fight the next presidential elections while Kittis takes a more right-wing approach, the analyst told the Cyprus Mail.

    The concept of a centrist bloc is seen by members of DIKO, the Social- Democratic Movement and some small non-parliamentary parties as the only way to topple right-wing DISY from government rule.

    Papadopoulos himself has ambitions for the Presidential race, provided that a coalition between DIKO and one of the largest parties, DISY or AKEL and possibly KISOS, will back his candidacy.

    “The new party's president is a real Cyprus problem connoisseur and stands a chance of becoming President of the Republic, but on the other hand people want younger politicians with fresh ideas,” the analyst said, adding it would be down to the big parties to decide Papadopoulos' candidacy in the 2003 Presidential elections.

    Kyprianou will find it hard to ease off the levers of power, the analyst said, “but Papadopoulos will impose himself.”

    Nicos Pittokopitis is regarded as the most likely to be elected as one of the three vice-presidents while Costas Petrides, Fotis Fotiou, Aristos Chrysostomou and Zacharias Koullias also stand a good chance.

    Ten executive office members will also be elected.

    DIKO is at present the third largest party with 10 seats in Parliament and Kyprianou serving as House President.

    Kyprianou founded DIKO in 1976, when he was foreign minister. He served two terms as President of the Republic after the death of Archbishop Makarios, between 1978 and 1988.

    Saturday, October 07, 2000

    [04] Archimandrite tells Synod of DNA test plans

    By Athena Karsera

    THE LIMASSOL archimandrite accused of fathering two illegitimate children was yesterday called in by the Holy Synod to say if and when he would be undergoing DNA paternity tests.

    Leaving before the end of the meeting, Archimandrite Andreas Constantinides said the Synod had not asked him to undergo the tests and would not have forced him if he had refused, but added: “I have my own reasons to take the test.”

    He said he was willing to take the test right now and that the mother of the children was also willing for testing to go ahead, but wanted to consult her lawyers first.

    The archimandrite said a birth certificate previously presented to the Synod and allegedly naming him as the father of the children was a fake: “I have never seen a real copy.”

    Reports suggested the Limassol woman at the centre of the allegations had also testified before the Holy Synod sometime during yesterday's meeting.

    But statements made after yesterday's Synod meeting were uncharacteristically low-key following a storm of below-the-belt allegations over the last weeks.

    All Synod secretary Marios Demetriou would say after the lengthy meeting was that allegations against Constantinides had been discussed.

    The Church has been rocked in recent months by an exchange of bitter recriminations between Constantinides and Limassol Bishop Athanassios.

    The archimandrite accuses the bishop of being homosexual, while Athanassios called the investigation into the paternity claims.

    The Attorney-general this week called a probe into allegations that Athanassios had been the victim of a defamation campaign, after a man who testified before the Synod said he had been bribed by Constantinides and Paphos Bishop Chrysostomos to testify against Athanassios.

    Constantinides said yesterday he believed the witness had indeed been paid, but by Athanassios to retract his statement.

    Saturday, October 07, 2000

    [05] Euro MPs put Turkey in the dock on Loizidou case

    By Jean Christou

    A EUROPEAN Parliament report on Cyprus' accession has taken Turkey to task for the first time for refusing to comply with a European Court of Human Rights ruling on the Titina Loizidou case.

    Loizidou's lawyer Achilleas Demetriades told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) yesterday that the next step should be the expulsion of Turkey from the Council of Europe.

    The report, compiled by rapporteur Jacques Poos, said Turkey's attitude did not encourage optimism for the ongoing UN-sponsored proximity talks.

    "It is most encouraging that Euro MPs took note of the fact that Turkey has for over two years refused to execute the Loizidou judgment," Demetriades told CNA, commenting on the inclusion for the first time of a reference to this case in a report of this kind.

    "Even more encouraging and interesting is to see that Euro MPs agree with the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in labelling Turkey's refusal to execute the judgment as a manifest disregard of its international obligations as a high contracting party to the Convention on human rights and a member state of the Council,” he added.

    "I suppose the next step now should be for the procedure to expel Turkey from the Council to commence.”

    Loizidou told CNA she welcomed the paragraph in the report on her case, saying it was important that Euro MPs were now better informed about the significance of the Court ruling and the need to implement it.

    In July 1998, the Court ordered Ankara not only to pay damages to Loizidou for loss of use of her property in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, but also said Loizidou must be regarded as the legal owner of her property and should be allowed access to it.

    The Court found Turkey responsible for events in occupied Cyprus as a result of the presence of its troops and the effective control they exercise, labelling the Turkish Cypriot regime as "a local subordinate administration to Turkey."

    Turkey has met none of these provisions of the ruling.

    The 15-page report, released this week, notes that certain recent events are not conducive to optimism regarding the outcome of the UN peace talks and proceeds to outline five such issues.

    One was Ankara's refusal to comply with the Court ruling. The remainder refer to Turkish demands for recognition of the illegal regime before substantive talks can take place and to provocative remarks by Turkish officials.

    Saturday, October 07, 2000

    [06] Police probing claims of diesel smuggling to the north

    By Athena Karsera

    THE AUTHORITIES are investigating information that a Greek Cypriot criminal gang has been selling millions of pounds worth of diesel to the occupied areas by smuggling it through the British Base Area in Dhekelia.

    Speaking after a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis confirmed the information, but added he had not raised the matter before the Cabinet as it was not within his jurisdiction.

    “We just mentioned it, and I can confirm it again. Diesel especially is subsidised in many ways by the government, with 60 to 65 per cent of additional cost being covered by the state right now. Plus, and this is very important, petrol subsidises diesel. So we have expensive petrol and cheap diesel.”

    The Minister added: “Under these conditions, how can the Cyprus taxpayer subsidise diesel in all these ways just for it to be channelled elsewhere? The matter is being investigated by the authorities in the relevant sectors.”

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail later yesterday, Rolandis said police were looking into the issue, but added the only link to his department was because the alleged scam involved fuel: “This is why we are interested in the issue.”

    Police spokesman Glafcos Xenos was unavailable to comment on the investigations, while British Bases spokesman Rob Need said it was the first he had heard of the issue.

    “As you know, we don't have any borders, we can't stop people from crossing over, just advise them not to as the case may be.”

    The Dhekelia base is adjacent to the occupied areas and is often seen as a transit point for smuggled goods.

    The issue came to light in a Sigma news report on Thursday night.

    Sigma said it had laid hands on an intelligence document saying diesel had been finding its way to the occupied areas through Turkish petrol trucks crossing over into the British Base Area in the early hours.

    According to Sigma, the trucks then filled up their tanks before returning to the occupied areas, where the fuel was stored in Pergamos and sold on for double the price.


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