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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-10-21

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

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


Saturday, October 21, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Same story new song
  • [02] Can politicians really force the market up?
  • [03] Mock dogfights as fighter jets square off on the way to Cyprus
  • [04] War crimes prosecutor in town as Central Bank denies Milosevic asset claims
  • [05] Union anger at plan to scrap siesta time
  • [06] Orphanides confident of securing Paphos licence
  • [07] Woman sues dog farm over abuse claim

  • [01] Same story new song

    IF READERS of this column have that ‘here we go again’ feeling, please remember that our editorial writers also have to tread the same road time and again, because one of the continuing difficulties in Cyprus is, it seems, endemic. We are talking of enforcement of the law – or rather, the lack of it. Whether the subject is road traffic regulations, environmental infringements or, in this case, animal cruelty, the problem, and the solution, is the same. The penalties for offenders exist but the law is ignored because it is not applied as often and as painfully as it should be.

    In a special report this week, The Sunday Mail highlighted the cruel practice of lime-sticking and mist-netting in Cyprus which results in the massacre of millions of migrant birds. Trappers go about their business – which has moved from its traditional rural base into a lucrative industry -- apparently unconcerned they will ever be caught or prosecuted. They can make rich pickings from the death of songbirds, despite the fact that trapping wild birds is illegal, as are the lime-sticks and the nets.

    In fact, the trappers use a combination of old technology and new -- the birds are often lured to their death by audio-taped bird songs -- to the extent that some 2.2 million birds die on lime-sticks or caught in mist- nets every year in Cyprus, according to a study by the International Council for Bird Preservation.

    Who will stop the trappers? Police or game wardens appear unwilling to clamp down on this cruelty despite the fact that they have the law on their side. And those who would intervene to rescue the birds are understandably reluctant to do so because of threats of violence from the offenders, as a number of letter writers to this newspaper have testified.

    Yesterday, on the front page of the Cyprus Mail, came more evidence that animal abuse on the island is as bad as it ever was. The Veterinary Services Department admitted that out of 84 reported cases of animal cruelty between May and August this year just two were being pursued through the courts. Does anyone believe that just two cases were worthy of prosecution? Of course not: we agree with the Cyprus Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA) that these figures reflect the government’s apathy and reluctance to prosecute rather than any significant improvement in the way people treat animals.

    Vet. Services said that its officers always spoke to the owners after being told about cases of ill-treatment and stressed that a follow-up visit was always made to ensure that if the problem was not rectified the matter would be reported to the police. What good will that do? In a case recently reported to this newspaper, neighbours complained to a local vet that a dog was kept chained inside a metal tank on the roof of a house during summer’s searing temperatures. The dog was rescued by the vet, its owner called the police, the dog was given back and the police assured the vet that they would keep an eye on the situation. Is anybody surprised that the vet later found the dog being kept in the same appalling conditions?

    Until the authorities stamp down hard on animal cruelty, enforcing the laws, prosecuting, penalising hard and publicising such cases, the abuse will continue and Cyprus will remain notorious as one of Europe’s killing grounds.

    Cautious welcome for market rescue package

    By Martin Hellicar

    PARLIAMENT'S stock market rescue package received a cautious welcome from all quarters yesterday, even if the bourse responded by shedding another 2.7 per cent.

    Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou meanwhile rushed to deny that he had told the House finance committee that the ailing market would sink further before stabilising.

    Beleaguered investors - who have watched in horror as the market has halved its value since the turn of the year - said deputies had done the right thing in approving three bills aimed at injecting capital into the bourse. But they also spoke of organising protests to demand more government aid for the market.

    Brokers called on investors to “take on board” the revitalising potential of the bills approved by deputies on Thursday night. They also urged the Central Bank to lift restrictions on lending for stock market investment.

    Afxentiou said it would be wrong to try to boost the market through a more relaxed lending regime and instead urged investors to take advantage of the low share prices now on offer.

    But the Central Bank Governor was far more concerned with refuting what KISOS deputy Doros Theodorou had let slip during Thursday night's heated plenum debate.

    Theodorou stated that Afxentiou had told a closed-doors session of the House finance committee that the market would sink further.

    Afxentiou yesterday said he had never said the general price index would drop more. He said that what he had said was that if the Cyprus market had risen at the same rate as in other countries, then it would be at 130 or 140 points today. “I did not say and am not saying that the index today should be at 140 points, on the contrary, I agree with those who say that at least some companies have quite low prices on the market and present good investment opportunities,” Afxentiou said, talking up the bourse.

    Late on Thursday, after a government rescue package announced the day before had failed to lift the market, the House of Representatives plenum voted in three long-pending stock market bills.

    The first and most controversial bill gives stock market investment companies eight months in which to sink 80 per cent of the capital given them by investors into the bourse. The other two bills allow companies to buy up to 10 per cent of their own shares and force companies coming onto the market to make 30 per cent of their shares available by public offering.

    The state market-saving package announced on Wednesday included tax relief for investments in shares and a cabinet probe into allegations of “dirty dealings” on the bourse.

    The chairman of the investors association PASEXA, Akis Argirides, yesterday said the measures approved by the House were “correct” but not enough in themselves, as they would not have an immediate impact. He said the Pasexa board would be meeting to decide on a possible protest rally to demand more state support for the bourse.

    “We would expect all investors to show up to show what the stock market means…what it means to us all…to show how much we all protest about this situation and how much we insist on correct measures being implemented for the market,” Argirides said.

    Stavros Agrotis, the vice-chairman of the union of brokers, called on investors to “correctly understand” what had been passed by deputies. He said the bill allowing companies to buy up 10 per cent of their own shares would provide an opportunity the companies would not pass up and called on investors to follow suit and stop selling off their shares “at any price”. “Investors must take on board this essential point,” Agrotis stated.

    He also insisted banks had to make loans more freely available if the market was going to recover.

    “We suggest specialised loans to those in a bad financial state due to the market - a type of social measure,” he said.

    The idea was shot dead by Central Bank Governor Afxentiou.

    “It would be wrong to support the market with loans, I do not want to be an accomplice in the creation of a false bubble,” Afxentiou said.

    Saturday, October 21, 2000

    [02] Can politicians really force the market up?

    By Jennie Matthew

    ECONOMISTS yesterday voiced concern at measures passed by parliament in an attempt to refloat the sinking stock market.

    With the market hammered by investor panic over recent weeks, the House of Representatives on Thursday announced a package of measures that many yesterday dismissed as a short-term bid to fiddle the market

    “I'm not sure it will work in the long-term, because the market will go where it wants to go,” economist Marios Clerides told the Cyprus Mail.

    Investment companies have been given an eight-month ultimatum to sink 80 per cent of investor-capital into the bourse. Listed companies are to be allowed to buy 10 per cent of their own shares and those coming on to the market must make 30 per cent of their shares available in public offering.

    In addition, the state has offered tax relief incentives for stock investments and the cabinet will launch an investigation into allegations of “dirty-dealings” on the exchange.

    Clerides drew a line between the measures to boost market confidence and efforts to manipulate the exchange.

    Confidence boosting moves could haul investors out of the doldrums, something crucial for recovery.

    “But I find the measures supposed to push the index up ridiculous in a free market,” he said.

    “For investment companies to invest big parts of their assets over next eight months, its almost saying that shareholders have to bear the brunt for the correction of the market,” he explained.

    The package interferes with the relationship between investment companies and their clients, undermining the companies' decision to invest what, when and where they see fit - which is precisely their field of expertise.

    “If they invest now and share prices continue to fall, then company directors and managers will say it was a government decision. Where is the responsibility then? Investment companies have another £150 million, what will happen when that runs out?” said Clerides.

    Most analysts agree that one of the major reasons for the recent freefall has been the wave of new companies listing on the exchange.

    When share prices soared sky high last year, companies on the outside were desperate to cash in.

    “We have 150 companies now. When the market was overvalued, a lot of companies decided to take advantage of the fact that they could raise capital very quickly. But there isn't enough money to sustain all these companies,” said Clerides.

    The general feeling on the floor is that the market will still loose, but that the worst is over: what will come is a flattening out, rather than a wipe-out, if only because there's not much left for the index to fall.

    “Perhaps we are seeing a sort of barrier now, in the reaction of the new companies that want to get in. I think a lot are thinking how the hell can I get out?” said one expert.

    Woolworth recently aborted its prospective rights issue and Universal the opening of an investment fund.

    Analysts were last night quoting figures lower than 200, others of 220 to 250 as the possible low point for the share index.

    “The government should have intervened before people lost 60 to 65 per cent of their bank power. In Cyprus, if there's a fire it erases everything before the fire brigade comes. And how slowly they move! Many of the measures are useless, the market will correct the failings itself,” said broker Socrates Georgiades of Argus Financial Group.

    Saturday, October 21, 2000

    [03] Mock dogfights as fighter jets square off on the way to Cyprus

    By Melina Demetriou

    GREEK AND Turkish fighter planes squared off near Cyprus yesterday as Turkish planes harassed Greek air force jets on their way to join the Nikiforos exercises on the island.

    The Defence Ministry said there had been two incidents between Rhodes and Cyprus as two Greek F-16s and two A-7 Corsairs bombers were making their way to Cyprus.

    “There was an attempt to intercept them by Turkish fighters between the two islands,” a ministry spokesman said.

    One report said 12 Turkish aircraft had been headed off by an equal number of Greek jets.

    The four planes continued on their way and carried out their role in the joint Nikiforos-Toxotis exercises, before heading straight back to base in Greece.

    Two Corsairs were buzzed by Turkish jets on Thursday.

    President Glafcos Clerides yesterday dismissed the incidents: “Provocations of the kind are useful to our army. They provide a good opportunity to exercise,” he told reporters.

    Clerides said he was satisfied with the joint military exercise and said the National Guard was prepared to face any danger and threat, singling out the quality of the force's new artillery systems.

    Greek Defence Minister Akis Tzohatsopoulos was due in Cyprus later in the day to monitor the joint exercise. His plane was buzzed by Turkish fighters on its way to Cyprus two years ago.

    The most important part of the exercise will take place today and tomorrow, the last day of the manoeuvres.

    Earlier this week, Greek grounded its planes from a NATO exercise in the eastern Aegean after arguments with Turkey over flight patterns around disputed areas.

    Saturday, October 21, 2000

    [04] War crimes prosecutor in town as Central Bank denies Milosevic asset claims

    By Martin Hellicar

    THERE is no evidence to confirm claims that deposed Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and his close associates have ill-gotten gains stashed away in Cyprus, the Central Bank stated yesterday.

    The Central Bank's announcement came after Germany said on Wednesday that its intelligence services had found evidence that Milosevic and his top aides had funnelled around million worth of funds to Russia, China, Lebanon, South Africa, Greece and Cyprus.

    The announcement also coincided with a visit to the island by Carla del Ponte, Chief Prosecutor for the war crimes tribunal in The Hague - the body that last summer asked Cyprus to probe alleged financial dealings on the island by Milosevic and his aides.

    The Central Bank said a relevant investigation had given Cyprus the all clear.

    The probe focused on finding out whether five top officials of the Milosevic regime indicted by The Hague court had assets stowed away in Cypriot banks. “The Central Bank of Cyprus has ascertained that none of the persons in question has bank accounts in Cyprus,” the announcement stated.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou had issued a similar denial earlier this week following press reports about the Serbian strongman's alleged links to Cyprus.

    Del Ponte yesterday had a meeting with Justice Minister Nicos Koshis in Nicosia. Koshis stated after the meeting that he had assured Del Ponte the Cyprus government would do all it could to help secure the arrest of persons indicted by the court and would freeze any of their assets found on the island.

    The war crimes prosecutor said her visit was part of a tour of countries in the region aimed at gathering information about 38 Milosevic associates on the court's “wanted” list.

    This is not the first time that Cyprus has been linked to Milosevic's shady financial dealings.

    In May last year, The Times reported on rumours that Milosevic was channelling money to South Africa via middlemen in Cyprus, Israel and other countries.

    In May this year, the Cyprus Central bank revoked the licence of Beogradska bank, the oldest offshore banking company on the island. It did so saying Beogradska's “liabilities outweighed its assets” and amid reports that strong evidence existed that Milosevic controlled the offshore bank.

    According to a recent report by the German Intelligence service (BND), Milosevic and his entourage constitute an organised crime structure engaged in drug dealing, money laundering and other criminal acts.

    Saturday, October 21, 2000

    [05] Union anger at plan to scrap siesta time

    By Melina Demetriou

    SHOPKEEPERS' Union POVEK hopes to scupper government plans to allow Saturday and Wednesday afternoon shopping and abolish the traditional afternoon siesta, warning it will bring its members out on strike against the measures, which it says will drive small shops out of business.

    The Cabinet on Thursday approved a proposal abolishing the 1pm to 4 pm summer closing hours as well as Wednesday and Saturday afternoon closing.

    The proposal will have to be passed by the House of Representatives.

    POVEK's secretariat will meet today to decide on measures to derail the government plan, union secretary general Melios Georgiou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    “At the moment, we will not take strike measures, but if the bill passes through Parliament we will definitely take such action.”

    POVEK's Larnaca district secretary Stefanos Koursaris told the Mail: “ If the government goes along with its plan, the small shop retailers will never be able to keep up with the competition. We will need to hire extra employees to keep a shop open from 8am to 9pm. We could never afford that, or the bigger bills such as electricity and heating. That would result in big stores who can afford the extra burden working much longer hours than us, and putting us out of business.”

    But Christos Orphanides, owner of Orphanides Hypermarkets, is one hundred per cent behind the new plan and thinks it is humiliating for shops to be working on the current timetable.

    “The new schedule will serve the interests of employees who at the moment have no spare time at all to spend with their families. We would simply put employees on morning and evening shifts. The plan would give them time to go shopping and in other places they need to, working from 8am to1pm and from 4pm to 7pm. For a working mother who lives quite far from her work, it would be much more convenient to work on a shift from say 7am to 3 pm rather than go back and forth to end up home at 8pm.

    “Furthermore, the current time-table is humiliating for the Cyprus Republic and for us as citizens. It is unthinkable in the 21st century for shops to close for siesta time and for Saturday afternoon.”

    Orphanides argued the new scheme would serve consumers, as most of them only have spare time to shop from 2pm onwards.

    “We love the small shops,” he said, “and we think they will do well if they work professionally, based on feasibility studies.”

    But he added: “the days of protection are over.”

    Marks and Spencer's Nicosia Operation Manager Koullis Artemis said his store was in favour of the plan.

    “I think we might have to hire some extra employees. It is true some will make a profit and some will suffer losses. But for small shops it does not have to be all black and white. They can shut down during hours when business is really slow and stay open at busy hours,” he said, though he opposed the idea of scrapping the siesta time during the hot months of July and August.

    Saturday, October 21, 2000

    [06] Orphanides confident of securing Paphos licence

    By George Psyllides

    ONE of the biggest supermarket chains on the island said yesterday it was confident it would eventually secure a building permit from Paphos Municipality to build its new store, the third in the town.

    The municipal council had decided by majority vote not to grant a building licence to the Orphanides Company, which planned to build its new supermarket near the town's northern bypass.

    Backing the council's decision, Paphos Mayor Phidias Sarikas, said the area in question was not available for such development.

    But another supermarket chain, Woolworth, has already built a store in the same area, though reports said Woolworth had to appeal to the Supreme Court to get a building licence to build there.

    Yesterday, Orphanides Manager Christos Orphanides told the Cyprus Mail he was confident his company would eventually get the licence.

    “We are sure the site is the best. Paphos needs such development and this can be proved by the other Orphanides supermarkets,” he said.

    The company last year purchased two local supermarkets and integrated them into its chain.

    Orphanides said they would send a letter to the municipal council, asking for a meeting that would give them a chance to present their project.

    “I believe that with the presentation of all the aspects of the project, and with any possible changes the council might want, we are hopeful that there will not be a problem,” Orphanides said.

    He added that his company had carried out environmental and traffic studies, along with a retail impact study, and that all were positive.

    “The town centre will not be affected, nor the environment or traffic,” he said.

    But the municipal council and local shopkeepers fear such a development would damage the town centre.

    Orphanides said what his company was doing was for the good of Paphos.

    “Of course any municipal council would want what is good for the town. I believe such a development is for the good of Paphos.”

    Representatives of Paphos Municipality were not available for comment on the issue yesterday.

    Saturday, October 21, 2000

    [07] Woman sues dog farm over abuse claim

    By Elias Hazou

    A DISTRESSED dog owner from Nicosia is filing suit against a dog- training farm, which she claims is responsible for her Rottweiler's death.

    Inga Ioannou told the Cyprus Mail she had kept her dog Rex for about a month at the dog farm, which she regularly visited to see how he was faring. “Everything was fine for about a month. But after bringing the dog back home, I realised that he was not the same. Before this, he had been a very lively dog. Now he was depressed all the time, stopped eating, and all he did was just sit there.”

    Ioannou said that at first she did not give this much thought, as her 14- month-old Rottweiler's mood appeared to be improving. “But then he completely stopped eating, or doing anything. And then I noticed that there was blood in his urine.”

    Ioannou took Rex to a veterinarian, who said the animal had been physically abused, “kicked around,” as Ioannou put it. The vet told Ioannou that the dog's liver and stomach had been severely damaged and were bleeding internally, and that this had been caused by physical abuse and poisoning.

    Over the next couple of days, Rex's condition deteriorated. “One morning he seemed to be fine, but then in the afternoon he fell into a coma.” Ioannou took the dog to a veterinarian, who administered intravenous medication, but the dog died soon after.

    Distraught, Ioannou contacted the dog farm to complain. They denied her dog had been mistreated in any way, but did say it had been placed in the care of a newly-hired employee, who she was led to understand was “obviously an unqualified trainer”.

    “This is not about money,” Ioannou said of her decision to take the dog farm to court. “I mean, dogs cannot just be kicked around because they are dogs. When you place your pet in the care of someone else, then you expect that person to do just that -- care about the pet. I just want to make sure these people do not harm other dogs.”

    The dog farm refuses to comment on the case.


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