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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-01-18

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Teachers defy union to reject compromise
  • [02] It was spend, spend, spend over Christmas
  • [03] Cyprus adopts corruption and compensation conventions
  • [04] Government admits likely talks delay
  • [05] Minister promises good news on water
  • [06] Market on hold for projections
  • [07] Court told witnesses were bribed to testify against bishop
  • [08] Illegal hire cars: drivers will be covered
  • [09] Clerides to decide fate of police official blamed for radar fiasco
  • [10] Sunken boat found, three years after tragedy
  • [11] Tsiakourmas bail hearing adjourned

  • [01] Teachers defy union to reject compromise

    By Melina Demetriou MEMBERS of the secondary schoolteachers' union OELMEK yesterday defied their leadership, voting down a government offer on pay rises and new promotions.

    But sources within the union were yesterday optimistic the vote would not mean more disruption in the classroom, hoping the dispute could be resolved through negotiation.

    The majority of OELMEK's members -- 55 per cent -- voted against the proposal yesterday.

    Teachers were called to vote on the Education Ministry's proposal after the union's Council had endorsed it earlier this month.

    But members of the left-wing Proodeftiki and centre-left Synergasia tendencies voted against the proposal, dismissing it as out of line with established agreements. Members of the right-wing Alayi and centre-right Diki movements backed the proposal.

    Union leaders had campaigned until the last moment in an effort to influence the teachers' decision.

    OELMEK President Andreas Stavrou expressed his disappointment after the vote: "I respect the outcome of the vote and we shall now think of ways to deal with this problem and make sure our demands are met."

    The union's Council is due to convene today to address the situation.

    OELMEK's co-ordinating secretary Takis Gabrielides told the Cyprus Mail: "We are really worried about the split within the union. OELMEK faces serious problems. I hope they do not prove to be disastrous," he said.

    Gabrielides declined to say whether further strike action might follow.

    But union sources expressed the belief that the matter could be resolved peacefully and gradually.

    The spat between the Education Ministry and the secondary schoolteachers began when primary schoolteachers went on strike demanding pay rises to bring them into line with the secondary sector.

    The secondary schoolteachers reacted by asking for an upgrade in their own salaries -- to maintain the existing difference with their primary school colleagues.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] It was spend, spend, spend over Christmas

    By a Staff Reporter CREDIT card holders spent more than 30 per cent more this Christmas than last, despite January interest rate hikes that are causing many to regret their excesses.

    According to JCC Payment Systems Ltd, a total of 42.23 million was charged to the nation's credit cards in December, compared to 33.15 million in December 1999.

    The 35 per cent increase was more than double the 12 per cent rise from December 1998 to December 1999.

    The figures put paid to predictions of economic slowdown after the stock market crash, at least for the moment.

    But new interest rates introduced on January 1, in line with European Union liberalisation requirements, saw credit card rates shoot up to 10.5 per cent.

    The legislation allows banks to charge whatever margin they like on top of a seven-per cent base rate fixed by the Central Bank.

    Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou has said increased rates on credit cards would serve as a healthy deterrent to over-spending.

    Indeed economists have pointed to an almost certain drop in consumer spending early this year after the Christmas rush, as the stock market continues to wilt.

    But that's no comfort to consumers who charged up their plastic last month.

    Banks have been accused of luring customers into extra spending by extending credit card limits ahead of Christmas, without asking them whether they wanted the extra purchasing power.

    The extra credit offer failed to warn of prospective interest rate hikes.

    Banks have defended the increase by branding credit cards a risky product.

    Consumers, nevertheless pay 16 to 17 per cent interest on credit cards in other European countries.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Cyprus adopts corruption and compensation conventions

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS yesterday ratified the European Convention on Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes and the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption.

    Ambassador Christophoros Yiangou, Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the Council of Europe, handed over the ratification treaties to Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer.

    Under the Convention on Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes, all states must operate a compensation scheme funded by public money to victims of deliberate and violent crimes, which have caused bodily injury or death.

    States are obliged to extend compensation not only to their own nationals, but also to foreign victims on its territory, including migrant workers, tourists and students.

    The Convention, which comes into effect in Cyprus on May 1, 2001, fixes upper and lower limits for compensation payments. Payments can be denied to victims who belong to a criminal gang or an organisation that commits acts of violence, or to a known criminal.

    The treaty is already in force in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan.

    Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Turkey have signed the convention.

    The Criminal Law Convention on Corruption acts to boost international co- operation in hunting down corruption crime, through mutual assistance, complementary criminal law and availability of information.

    The convention deals specifically with domestic and foreign, private and public sector and judicial bribery, trading in influence, money laundering and accounting offences.

    Participant states are obliged to adhere to strict sanctions, including deprivation of liberty that can hasten extradition.

    The Group of States against Corruption, GRECO, founded on May 1, 1999, monitors the treaty.

    All states become automatic members of GRECO when they ratify the convention.

    Open to non-member states, the United States is also a signatory. The treaty comes into effect when 14 states have ratified it.

    Cyprus is the seventh state to do so, following Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Government admits likely talks delay

    By a Staff Reporter THE GOVERNMENT officially conceded yesterday that the sixth round of UN-led Cyprus settlement talks was set to be postponed, and blamed the Turkish side's "negative stance" for the hick-up.

    The putting off of the proximity talks, which had been set to resume in Geneva on January 26, comes as no surprise, the Turkish side's threats not to attend having put a spanner in the UN's beak-brokering efforts weeks ago.

    "The possibility of the next round of talks taking place at the set date is now remote, due to the unacceptable stance of the Turkish side," Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    During their visits to the island last week, US envoy Alfred Moses and his British counterpart, Sir David Hannay, both failed to persuade Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to go to the talks. Denktash, backed by Ankara, says he will not go to Geneva unless his age-old demand for recognition of his breakaway regime is met.

    Papapetrou yesterday insisted the Turkish Cypriot leader's stance was doing him no favours in the eyes of the international community.

    "We consider that Mr Denktash is exposed by his negative stance, which basically creates dangers of blowing up this talks procedure," the spokesman said.

    Papapetrou said a new date for the sixth round of indirect meetings between Denktash and President Clerides would be set when the UN mediator in charge of the talks, Alvaro de Soto, visits the island later this month.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Minister promises good news on water

    By a Staff Reporter WATER shortages are soon to be a thing of the past, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocelous hinted yesterday, promising a major announcement on the issue from President Clerides "before the end of the week".

    "All I can tell you is that the news will give joy to all Cypriot consumers, " the Minister said after yesterday's Cabinet meeting. "There are important developments and it is considered correct that these be announced by the President of the Republic himself," he added.

    Themistocleous has long promised that the government's desalination programme will end all water cuts and the island's second desalination plant, at Larnaca, is set to come on line at the end of February. The first heavy winter rains for five years are another reason for optimism over water cuts. Dams currently hold twice as much water as they did at this time last year.

    Themistocleous also announced that the Cabinet had approved a bill making environmental impact assessment studies mandatory for all road-building projects, refinery developments and other works "that might create environmental problems." At the moment, only development projects costing 1 million or more require impact assessments.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Market on hold for projections

    By Jennie Matthew THE HOTELS provided the only interest on a still stagnant market yesterday, as volume stretched into 15.67 million, saving the index from slipping more than its 0.03 per cent, coming into rest at 241.11.

    The morning hotel boom clocked up over 7 million worth of transactions, affording the sector a 2.69 per cent rise, making Tsokkos (TSH) the hero of the day.

    Rumours that foreign tour operators are poised to buy shares, or even that a couple may try to acquire listed hotel companies, fuelled the action and pushed the shares up.

    TSH started the day at 48.5 cents and rose as high as 55 cents, before closing at 50 cents. Hotel giant Agros Development stumbled down seven cents to finish at 2.28.

    "Obviously, if nothing materialises in the future, the share prices will pull back, perhaps not as low as they were, but they will still fall," commented stockbroker Socrates Georgiades.

    Despite the daily transaction averages of some 25 million this time last year, the day's 15.67 million effort was considerably higher than the more downbeat 10 million on Tuesday.

    As for the weeks ahead, traders are looking to the up and coming announcements of company projections for 2001 to restore at least a modicum of investor confidence.

    Some have already started, but the bulk are due in February and March.

    "Good results and projections are expected from the banks and some blue chips and they should move the market out of its stagnant position of the last three weeks. Good results from small companies won't have an effect on the index," said Georgiades.

    Otherwise, yesterday's proceedings were uneventful. The investment and manufacturing groups reported minute gains of 0.37 and 0.32 per cent respectively. Finance and insurance companies slid furthest down the notches, bumping around 1.78 per cent and 2.36 per cent lower. The biggest insurance loser was Liberty Life Insurance opened at 1.55 only to close at 1.50.

    Minimal interest in the banks cost Bank of Cyprus a mere two-cent price drop, closing at 3.26 and scraped off one cent from the Popular Bank to finish at 2.97.

    As a whole, gainers out numbered the losers by eight to six.

    A couple of the more interesting heavyweights dominated the "other" sector.

    Glory Worldwide Holdings (GLO) powered on as the most expensive share on the market, rising four cents to close at 5.14 and Rolandos Enterprises (ROL) who clocked up a three-cent lead to finish at 55 cents. But Unifast Finance (UFI) outstripped them both, adding seven cents to its opening 2.07 price, coming into rest at 2.14. END JM

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Court told witnesses were bribed to testify against bishop

    By Martin Hellicar THE TRIAL of two clergymen and three laymen charged with conspiring to label Bishop Athanassios of Limassol a homosexual kicked off before the Nicosia District Court yesterday.

    Costas Savva, Manolis Ilia and Lefteris Psyllos are accused of falsely testifying against Athanassios before a church committee tasked with probing the gay allegations against the popular Bishop last year. Archimandrite Andreas Constantinides and fellow-Limassol cleric Chrysostomos Argyrides are charged with coaxing and bribing the three laymen to tell the church probe lies.

    Athanassios endured months of sordid allegations before a Major Synod, only the second ever to convene in Cyprus, cleared him of the accusations in November.

    The court heard yesterday that Savva, who, along with Ilia, has pleaded guilty to the charges, told police of a sixth man involved in the alleged anti-Athanassios conspiracy: Dinos Karayiannis, the brother of Bishop Vassilios of Trimithounda.

    Athanassios' supporters claim Bishop Vassilios was part of an orchestrated plan to oust their favourite. They say Paphos Bishop Chrysostomos led the 'gay Bishop' campaign in a bid to regain his position as favourite to be next Archbishop from the Limassol Bishop.

    State prosecutor George Papaioannou stated that Savva told police that Psyllos called him in July last year and asked him to testify against Athanassios. Psyllos asked Savva to tell the church investigating committee that he had seen Athanassios and Psyllos together at a nudist beach at Pissouri, west of Limassol, in 1994, the court heard. Papaioannou said that Savva met with Constantinides and a Father Theodosiou, a few days later. Savva told police Father Theodosiou had written out a testimony against Athanassios, which Savva signed, the court heard.

    The court also heard that Savva had twice received bribes from Archimandrite Constantinides.

    In late August, the state prosecutor said, a repentant Savva met with Bishop Athanassios and confessed to him that he had falsely testified against him.

    Ilia had also admitted to lying before the church probe, the court heard.

    The court set the next hearing for the trial for Monday, when Savva and Ilia will be sentenced.

    The testimonies from Savva, Ilia and Psyllos last year convinced the church probe committee to call Athanassios to appear before a panel of his peers to answer to the gay allegations. But Archbishop Chrysostomos intervened by inviting Bishops and Patriarchs from outside Cyprus appear to form a Major Synod, which duly dismissed the anti-Athanassios testimonies and cleared the Limassol Bishop.

    Constantinides, who had been the most vociferous anti-Athanassios campaigner, has been indefinitely suspended from his priestly duties.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Illegal hire cars: drivers will be covered

    By Melina Demetriou DRIVERS taking out unlicensed hire cars will not face any sanction unless it can be proved they were aware of the illegality.

    And in the case of an accident, the Motors Insurance Fund will cover any damages caused.

    DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis on Tuesday presented evidence to the House Communications Committee revealing that of 30 hired cars randomly picked in Paphos and Limassol, only half were properly licensed.

    Officials at the Communications Ministry's Transport Department yesterday told the Cyprus Mail they had received dozens of complains about unlicensed cars being offered for hire.

    They said the Department tried to keep the situation under control and that many cases were pending trial.

    The Licensing Authority must approve all cars offered for hire. No insurance plan can cover a hired car without this special licence.

    Michalis Palazis, the manager of the Cyprus Higher Risk Pool that insures hired cars, said yesterday: "Companies are only licensed to have a certain number of cars according to the season and the market's needs. A hired car can only be insured by us and only if it is licensed. Anyone renting a car should always ask to see either the car's licence or the insurance cover. If the company fails to present any of the two it means the car is unlicensed.

    "If someone hires an unlicensed car and has an accident, the Motors Insurance Fund will pay for the damages and claim the money from the hiring company. It will probably have the police arrest the car's owner."

    A person hiring an unlicensed car will not face the law unless it can be proved they were aware of the fact that the car did not have a licence.

    "Travel agencies usually mediate between people travelling to Cyprus and hiring companies, but they are not careful enough to make sure the company is legal," said Andreas Kythreotis of the Transportation Department.

    Minister Averoff Neophytou has said he is aware of the illegalities and argues the only way to tackle the problem is to liberalise the sector. "When the field is fully liberalised, companies will not need state licences to operate," he told the House Communications Committee on Tuesday.

    Neophytou promised to investigate the issue raised by Matsakis.

    Committee President Nicos Pittokopitis of DIKO complained that the Ministry was putting up with offenders to have more excuses to introduce liberalisation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Clerides to decide fate of police official blamed for radar fiasco

    By a Staff Reporter PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides will decide the fate of a senior police officer accused of delaying a tender procedure for the procurement of coastal surveillance radar systems.

    The delay wrecked the whole procedure, requiring the start of a new time- consuming process.

    The government had appointed an ad hoc committee to look into the case.

    The report on the findings of the committee, which have not been published, apparently suggested the senior officer should be dismissed.

    The findings were forwarded to Attorney-general Alecos Markides, who reportedly followed suit in ruling the officer should be dismissed.

    Markides' report was tabled before the Cabinet yesterday, but according to Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, Clerides is to handle the matter personally.

    Papapetrou confirmed that the officer's defence lawyer yesterday met with the president to convey to him issues concerning the case.

    "After a request, the president met the officer's lawyer, who raised some legal issues, which the president said he would study," Papapetrou said.

    The defence lawyer told reporters yesterday that he had found irregularities in the way the case had been handled, which violated his client's "sacred right" to defend himself.

    He said his client had not received the findings of the independent committee, arguing that no one could be sacked without knowing why.

    The lawyer wondered why the committee had singled out his client, when he was only a member of an evaluation committee presided over by the chairman and members of the tender board.

    "Everything should be examined and then justice would take its course," he said.

    Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos, whose ministry would have shared the operation of the radars, yesterday reiterated his suggestion that the officer should be sacked.

    He added, however, that it was now up to the president to decide what should be done.

    Reports from the Presidential Palace yesterday suggested Clerides could request a fresh ruling from the Attorney-general.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Sunken boat found, three years after tragedy

    By a Staff Reporter THREE and a half years after it sank, resulting in the drowning of a 12-year-old boy and a 39-year-old man, the 18-foot Chrysanthi fishing boat was yesterday pulled out of the sea off Paphos.

    Only the father of the drowned boy, also 39, survived the May 1997 capsizing off the Paphos airport. No sign of his friend, architect Loizos Askanis, who is believed to have drowned trying to help the boy reach the shore, has ever been found.

    The fateful vessel was snared in a trawler's dragnet off Paphos airport at around 10pm on Tuesday night and hauled up and taken ashore early yesterday morning.

    Police were yesterday examining the recovered wreck for further clues to the cause of the disaster.

    On May 9, 1997, Askanis set off on a nighttime fishing trip with his contractor friend Michalis Kyriacou and his 12-year-old son Marios. Askanis and the father and son all lived in Yeroskipou, near Paphos.

    By 2.30am on May 10, Askanis' worried wife, Astero, was calling police to report that her husband and his friends had not returned. The coastguard was put on alert and began combing the coast off the Paphos airport. A fisherman found Kyriacou and his son, floating unconscious in the water at 6am on May 10. The two were rushed to hospital but the boy was declared dead on arrival.

    Kyriacou later described how the Chrysanthi had capsized at around 7pm on Friday evening. He said he and his son had put on life jackets while Askanis, who was a strong swimmer, tried to help the boy as they swam for shore. Hours later he said he noticed his son has lost consciousness and Askanis had complained of being tired. Kyriacou said they had seen a launch in the distance but had been unable to signal it. He then lost consciousness himself, he said.

    Kyriacou and his son had been in the water almost 11 hours before they were found.

    An air and sea search for Askanis' body drew a blank.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [11] Tsiakourmas bail hearing adjourned

    By a Staff Reporter THE wife of a Greek Cypriot man held by the Turkish occupying forces yesterday said that she would pay any amount of money to free her husband.

    Contractor Panicos Tsiakourmas was abducted by Turkish agents in the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area on December 13 and has been detained in the north since.

    Tsiakourmas, who suffers from diabetes, was driving towards the village of Pergamos to pick up Turkish Cypriot workers and carry them to the south.

    Yesterday a 'court' in the north said it would convene in 10 days to examine a request to release Tsiakourmas on bail.

    His wife, Niki, told reporters she would pay any amount of money for her husband to be released.

    "(Tsiakourmas' Turkish Cypriot lawyer) applied in the pseudo-court for my husband to be released on bail.

    "My husband did not appear in court, only the lawyer did. The court adjourned for 10 days."

    She added she did not know how much the Turks would ask as bail.

    The British government has strongly protested about the abduction and has demanded Tsiakourmas' release, but to no avail.

    Tsiakourmas' abduction came in retaliation for the arrest of a Turkish Cypriot man from the mixed village of Pyla, who is suspected of drug trafficking.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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