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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-01-13

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Granddad, 88, who married artiste aged 23, for his son's sake, has pangs of conscience
  • [02] Hannay: 'It's not in anyone's interest to interrupt the talks'
  • [03] CY considering bid for Olympic stake
  • [04] 090 operators claim CyTA driving them out of business
  • [05] Turkey grants $350 million in aid to the north
  • [06] BoC launches Internet banking services
  • [07] Fanieros jailed for five years
  • [08] Government pledges Nemitsas tests by end of the month
  • [09] Colonel acquitted in 'paramilitary' case

  • [01] Granddad, 88, who married artiste aged 23, for his son's sake, has pangs of conscience

    By a Staff Reporter

    PANGS of conscience forced an 88-year-old grandfather to own up to entering into a sham marriage with his son's 23-year-old Russian lover so that the woman, a former cabaret dancer, could stay in Cyprus.

    The Russian woman was deported on Thursday after the grandfather spilled the beans to immigration officers.

    As Politis newspaper reported yesterday, the unnamed father and his 50- year-old son resorted to the bizarre arrangement because the son's wife would not grant him a divorce so he could marry his new love - the Russian artiste - and enable her to stay in Cyprus.

    The 88-year-old and the 23-year-old went through a civil marriage ceremony at a Limassol suburb on September 14 last year.

    The arranged marriage would quite likely have excited nothing more than comments from neighbours had the 'newly-wed' 88-year-old not felt so guilty that he had to go to the immigration department.

    "I love my son, but I cannot bear the pangs of conscience," he reportedly told immigration officers. The Russian artiste was duly arrested and put on the next plane home.

    Fearful of a rise in arranged marriages, the immigration department last year introduced tough new rules to clamp down on sham unions aimed at ensuring foreign nationals can stay on the island.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Hannay: 'It's not in anyone's interest to interrupt the talks'

    By Jean Christou

    BRITAIN'S special envoy for Cyprus Sir David Hannay said yesterday it would not be advisable for either side to interrupt the ongoing UN-sponsored proximity talks.

    The future of the talks, due to resume in Geneva on January 26, has been hanging in the balance since Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's said he would not attend unless his breakaway regime in the north of the island was recognised.

    The Greek Cypriot side has said President Glafcos Clerides will attend the talks as long as the format used until now does not change. Hannay said he did not foresee this happening.

    "I cannot see how it serves anyone's interest to interrupt, delay or frustrate the process, and I hope that any such negative developments can be avoided," Hannay told journalists from both sides at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace hotel on Nicosia's Green Line.

    Hannay, who arrived in Cyprus on Wednesday after contacts with officials in Ankara and Athens, said his task was not to discuss the modalities of the next meeting but to reinforce his government's strong support for the UN process.

    Logistics and modalities, he said, would be a task for the UN special Cyprus envoy Alvaro de Soto, who is due on the island shortly.

    "In our view. there is a chance for decisive progress in this year 2001," he said. "What is needed now is to put flesh on the bare bones of what has been discussed up to now and my government and others in the EU and the US attach the very greatest importance to the continuance of this process."

    Hannay said that under Turkey's partnership with the EU, hammered out at Nice in December, Ankara was expected to support the efforts of UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan.

    "Whether or not Turkey is in fact doing that will become clear in the weeks ahead when Mr De Soto comes here. That will be the true test and that's what I'm waiting to see," Hannay said.

    "I'm aware of what Mr Denktash has said and of what the Turkish government and the Prime Minister of Turkey said but I hope we shall nevertheless be able to move on and that is what we are trying to do."

    The British envoy said it was now up to De Soto and Annan to take the process forward. "We have to move on towards identifying and setting out the elements of an actual settlement because this has to become operative in 2001 if we are to get the decisive progress we are hoping for this year, " Hannay said.

    "My own feeling is that the best tonic that the economy of the north of Cyprus could have is a settlement of the Cyprus problem and for the whole island to enter the EU. Anything else is less good than that."

    Hannay will have another meeting with Denktash today before leaving the island later in the day.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] CY considering bid for Olympic stake

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) may bid for between 10 and 30 per cent of Greek national carrier Olympic Airways, the airline's chairman said in an interview published yesterday.

    Speaking to weekly the Selides magazine, Haris Loizides said participation in the Greek airline would be a unique opportunity for CY, which would like to create a new charter airline with flights from Europe to Greece.

    "They (Greece) asked us to present a worthwhile proposal but not in terms of money," Loizides was quoted as saying. "What the Greek government wants is a proposal that will make the airline viable."

    The Greek government is seeking to sell up to 65 per cent of its debt- ridden airline. British Airways in June abandoned plans to purchase a stake in Olympic.

    In December, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was allowing Olympic to fly to New York and Boston, but only on condition the airline's capacity and schedules were frequently checked. Such limitations could make Olympic less attractive to potential buyers.

    CY has not yet taken a final decision on the matter, but Loizides said the airline has a strategic plan in the pipeline designed to cut costs, increase productivity and expand into new markets.

    "We will increase the frequency of our flights to traditional destinations such as Greece, the UK and parts of the Middle East," he said.

    "We are currently holding talks with strategic investors from abroad aimed at creating joint co-operation in these fields," he said.

    Referring to Cyprus Airways' plans to renew or replace its fleet, Loizides confirmed that both Boeing and Airbus were still wooing the company, but that no decision had yet been taken by the airline.

    The airline currently has 12 Airbuses, eight A320s and four A310s. Three of the A320s are leased to its charter arm Eurocypria. The average age of the fleet is 10.7 years.

    CY recently received $3.7 million (2.3 million) from the United Nations in the form of compensation for losses incurred during the 1991 Gulf War, which the airline had estimated at $20 million.

    The sum will be offset as exceptional income against the company's financial results for 2000, which are expected to fall victim to last year's oil price increases. The company has not issued any forecast for 2000.

    In 1999, the airline recorded pre-tax profits of 3.6 million, compared to 5.3 million in 1998. Group profits stood at 8.8 million in 1999 compared to 10 million in 1998.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] 090 operators claim CyTA driving them out of business

    By Jennie Matthew

    COMPANIES operating 090 numbers are accusing the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) of squeezing them out of the market and plunging them into bankruptcy ahead of the planned market liberalisation in January 2003.

    Peoplestel and Golden Telemedia are the only companies out of 30 to have survived the seven-year history of 090 since CyTA opened up opportunities for private firms to operate the service in 1993.

    Managers of the two companies attribute the staggering failure rate to CyTA's bullish behaviour, which has prevented them from making a success of the venture.

    The latest incident broke early last September, when CyTA informed Peoplestel and Golden Telemedia that CyTA coffers would net 30 per cent of their income each month, coming into effect immediately.

    Although legal pressure has forced CyTA into postponing the arrangement until April 1, Peoplestel and Golden Telemedia insist the battle is not over.

    "The bad thing is that we can't react. This cut is massively going to reduce our turnover and profit, and drive us into bankruptcy. They have the monopoly and they can do whatever they like," the general manager of Golden Telemedia, Antonis Eniotis, told the Cyprus Mail.

    "If 20 per cent of our turnover is gross profit, let's say, and CyTA comes in and takes another 30 per cent, you can see how serious it is," he added.

    "They decide and everyone has to shut up. They are behaving like Denktash," said the manager of Peopleset, Eliza Betito.

    CyTA justified the new cut on the grounds that 090 services were not profitable for it. European Union regulations prohibit service- subsidisation.

    The companies already pay CyTA monthly line rental charges and CyTA takes a cut of every single call charge.

    Eniotis said company turnover had been 750,000 in 1999, with 1,800 going to CyTA each month in line rental.

    But Peoplestel and Golden Telemedia hold CyTA responsible for allegations of non-profitability, claiming that the semi-governmental organisation has done everything in its power to strangle their business.

    Betito says CyTA has allowed a third of households to cut themselves off from dialling 090 numbers, and allowed others to forego paying their bills, just because "they didn't know how expensive the calls were".

    "We need their approval for each project, but that slows us down where speed is vital," said Betito.

    She criticises CyTA for refusing to okay chat lines, such as the ones that operate all over Europe, on moralistic grounds - an attitude she finds hypocritical given the vast array of sex sites available on the Internet on call time paid to CyTA.

    She claims giving CyTA an even bigger cut is absurd, arguing that though CyTA may service the telephone lines and collect payments, they do that for all customers anyway.

    "We pay them hundreds of pounds and they do nothing. They seem to think we're making millions, but it's so hard to make money. In a population of half a million people, a third have been cut off, and another third hate 090. That leaves a very limited market," she said.

    She says preferential advertising rates at Sigma and Antenna keep Peoplestel and Golden Telemedia afloat - privileges not extended to their rivals who went bankrupt.

    It remains to be seen how the companies will be affected when the new arrangements come into effect in the spring, but they see liberalisation as their only hope.

    Their fear is that if they go under before then, foreign companies will take over the market in 2003.

    "We survive with the vision of liberalisation in Cyprus, on the grounds that that will make things better for the private sector. It's a matter of strategy," said Eniotis.

    A spokeswoman for CyTA, Rita Karadjian yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the chairman and management team were handling the matter. She was unable to make any further comment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Turkey grants $350 million in aid to the north

    By a Staff Reporter

    TURKEY yesterday unveiled a $350 million, three-year aid package to boost the economy of the occupied areas.

    The aid will go towards developing light industry, tourism and higher- education institutions, Turkish State Minister Sukru Sina Gurel said.

    Observers have said the so-called Action Plan allows Turkey to maintain a tighter rein on the Turkish Cypriot economy, rocked by the collapse of six banks last year.

    "Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side's partnership agreement... is for the deepening of the current co-operation and solidarity on foreign policy, security, defence, economic and fiscal issues," Gurel said in a statement.

    The Action Plan coincides with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's refusal to join a sixth round of UN-backed proximity talks later this month.

    Denktash has said he will not attend the talks unless his statelet is given equal footing with the Cyprus government. He has also insisted on recognition of his proposal of a loose confederation between the Cypriot regimes, rather than a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation as outlined by UN resolutions.

    "Turkey and the TRNC have concluded there is no sense to the prevalence of the indirect negotiations process," Gurel said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] BoC launches Internet banking services

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE BANK of Cyprus (BoC) yesterday announced the launching of its Direct Banking services for customers wishing to use the bank's services via Internet, WAP or telephone.

    Speaking at a news conference yesterday, BoC Director Christos Pandjaris said the move was part of the bank's efforts to "stay abreast of technological advances, ensuring the highest quality service to customers." He went on to say the Direct Banking system had been thoroughly checked and was fully operational.

    BoC introduced telephone banking back in 1993 with the Super Bank programme, but the new phone services will be upgraded. Callers can now dial 0800 0800 toll-free, and will be served by either operators or a recorded menu. WAP users can now hit wap.bankofcyprus.com, and Internet surfers will visit the site www.bankofcyprus.com, the bank's homepage on the web, which even features an "income tax calculator."

    After applying for an identity number and a password, customers will be able to check on their cellular phones or on the Internet their account status and conduct any number of transactions, such as transferring funds to other accounts or cancelling a cheque payment. Use of the Direct Banking services is free of charge.

    Direct Banking head Demetris Loucaides explained some services would also be available to non-BoC customers, such as checking exchange rates and share prices on the stock market. He added that all services would be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that a technical support team would be on standby.

    In light of the spread of cybercrime, Loucaides said that all personal data on the Internet would be encrypted, and that information submitted to the server would take place behind firewalls, ensuring full security and privacy in online banking.

    Asked whether the growing application of technology would result in sizeable reductions in workforce, Pandjaris said he did not think that this was currently the case, adding that the bank's operating profit was primarily based on "traditional banking services."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Fanieros jailed for five years

    By Martin Hellicar

    LARNACA club owner Antonis Fanieros, 57, was yesterday sentenced to five years imprisonment for his part in a scam to cash 143,000 worth of someone else's shares.

    His accomplices, Vryssoules businessman Christos Hartoumbalos, 32, and lorry driver Petros Georgiou, 31, also from Vryssoules, were sentenced to five and three years in jail respectively.

    In passing sentence, the three-judge Assizes court, convening in Larnaca, was heavily critical of the gullibility of the banks, brokerages and government officers taken in by the fraudsters.

    The victim of the scam was Dherynia businessman Georgios Alexandrou. In March last year, the swindlers managed, using forged documents and Hartoumbalos' impersonation of Alexandrou, to dupe a Nicosia and a Larnaca brokerage into selling thousands of the Dherynia businessman's high-flying Bank of Cyprus and Louis Cruise Lines shares. The scammers got two banks to issue them with deeds for Alexandrou's shares and to cash cheques in the victim's name issued by the brokerages. All this was achieved, the court heard, with the unwitting help of government officials who certified signatures on fake documents for Fanieros, Hartoumbalos and Georgiou.

    Court president Georgios Aresti noted that the scam had been "amateurish" and that the three swindlers left a trail of clues in their wake. Aresti laid into those taken in by the scam, speaking of "slipshod and shoddy" handling by the banks and brokerages and "criminal and irresponsible" actions by the certifying government officers.

    The three men faced a total of 14 charges of conspiring to deceive, forgery and impersonation. Fanieros was found guilty of conspiring and impersonation, but not of forgery. Hartoumbalos had pleaded guilty to all 14 charges while Georgiou was found guilty of only three of the 14 charges and therefore received a lighter sentence.

    In passing sentence, the court took into consideration the fact that Alexandrou had been fully reimbursed by the three defendants.

    The trial and sentencing was carried out under heavy police security because of Fanieros' alleged underworld links. The club owner, who famously survived a drive-by machine gun attack in May 1997, attracted a large crowd of cheering friends and relatives to the court.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Government pledges Nemitsas tests by end of the month

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE GOVERNMENT has still failed to approve medical tests on the populations of Omonia and Zakaki to discern whether there is a link between ill health and fumes from the nearby Nemitsas foundry, despite the fact that only one tender is on the table, from a London-based group of experts with a proven track record.

    It has been four months since the submission of the sole tender offered to carry out the tests on the 1,000-strong local community in the Limassol suburb, who fear they are being exposed to dangerous pollutants.

    In mid-December, the Health Ministry promised that the tests would get under way by January 10.

    Public health officer Andreas Georgiou yesterday assured the Cyprus Mail that the tests would start "by the end of January, or at the very latest, very early in February".

    "It will take five to seven days to make a proper evaluation of the tender, I mean it's a very heavy book," he said.

    But local campaigner Bernadette Charalambous says she was told a decision could have been made yesterday.

    However, nothing materialised. Earlier commitments to complete tests during the summer 2000, or at the beginning of last autumn, also came to nothing.

    But the government denied allegations of procrastination. "We want to do the best study we can afford. It is very important to us because we care about the health of the people, even if the Nemitsas foundry closed tomorrow, we would still do the study," said Georgiou.

    The London-based team of experts, who forced the closure of the Ergates foundry after discovering levels of toxin poisoning well over the World Health Organisation (WHO) danger level, applied to carry out tests in Omonia on September 15.

    The scientists reportedly offered to do the work for 2,000 less than the fee charged for Ergates, despite having to work with a local population three times the size.

    The government has persistently blamed the four-month delay in approving their application on the need to open the door to other proposals.

    But none have been forthcoming. The Health Ministry is evaluating only the existing tender.

    The Nemitsas foundry was forced to fit filters on its chimneys to cut down the emission pollutants from 300 milligrams per cubic metre to the European Union maximum of 50 milligrams by January 1, 2001.

    But the Parents Committee of the local school, forced to close in the past when the pollution has made pupils sick, sent out a circular this week claiming the situation was as bad as ever.

    "We've still got the stinky, fishy smell, the smoke still comes out of the chimneys and we can smell burning metal," said Charalambous.

    The Labour Ministry is responsible for ensuring that the foundry sticks to the allowed EU levels. The Limassol Chamber of Commerce issued a statement this week congratulating Nemitsas on the investment in the new filtration system.

    The Health Ministry confirmed that, when commissioned, the tests would also check emission rates to rule out any question of bias.

    Former Minister of Commerce, Takis Nemitsas, owns the foundry.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Colonel acquitted in 'paramilitary' case

    By Martin Hellicar

    A NICOSIA court yesterday acquitted an army Colonel charged with leaking military documents relating to an alleged clandestine group monitoring the political persuasions of army officers for governing DISY.

    Colonel Loizos Fessas was charged last summer amid a stormy political row between DISY and main opposition party AKEL over the alleged undercover group, labeled a "paramilitary" committee by AKEL.

    Defence Minister and DISY man Socratis Hasikos yesterday said the court's decision proved the monitoring group never existed. But the man who first levelled the "paramilitary" group allegations, AKEL deputy Costas Papacostas, insisted the court ruling did not prove DISY had not kept tabs on army personnel's political affiliations.

    The court threw out the case against Fessas, judging that there was no case for the accused to answer. Fessas was charged with breaching army security by leaving documents relating to the alleged clandestine monitoring group lying around. Papacostas says these "secret" documents later found their way into his hands.

    The court found that there was no actual testimony linking Fessas to the alleged offence. It also noted that while the contents of the documents allegedly mishandled by Fessas were "questionable and suspicious" there were also many gaps in the prosecution case.

    Fessas himself greeted the court's decision as his vindication, and thanked God, his friends and family for the support he said they had given him.

    Hasikos was also keen to hail the acquittal as the end of the paramilitary saga. "The court decision vindicates the National Guard's findings," the Minister said, referring to an earlier army probe that had found no substance to the AKEL allegations. Hasikos charged the opposition party with trying to score political points through the "paramilitary" issue and called for "respect" for yesterday's the court decision.

    But Papacostas was not about to drop the issue. He said the issue was not just legal, but, "above all", political.

    "For us the position remains that the paramilitary group was set up and functioned within the ranks of DISY and the political liabilities remain, independent of whether this was proved before the courts," Papacostas said. The former assistant police chief said he respected the court decision but then added: "If there is a crime and the suspect is caught, even red-handed, and the prosecution does not secure a conviction, this does not mean the crime was not committed."

    The AKEL man said he was sure the House Defence Committee would continue its probe into the "political responsibilities" relating to the clandestine monitoring group issue.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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