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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-06

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, February 6, 2001


  • [01] CY fury at 'electioneering' over fleet decision
  • [02] Clerides threat to House authority
  • [03] Greens urge government to ban asbestos brakes
  • [04] FTSE/CSE index sinks deeper
  • [05] Castor battered by gale force winds
  • [06] Tsiakourmas in hospital again
  • [07] Village bans building from around sinkholes
  • [08] Five held over gang rape claim
  • [09] Market trading from your office?

  • [01] CY fury at 'electioneering' over fleet decision

    By Jean Christou PARLIAMENTARY interference could further delay plans by Cyprus Airways (CY) to take a quick decision on the renewal of its fleet.

    The airline has already several times pushed back its own deadline to decide between Boeing, Airbus and two leasing companies, but party political concerns now look set to prolong the agony.

    If CY needs a government loan guarantee for its 400 million fleet renewal, the issue would need parliamentary approval. But now the political parties, and communist AKEL in particular, are demanding a say in the proceedings, irrespective of whether parliament needs to endorse the cash or not.

    CY is 65 per cent owned by the government and is listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE). The remainder of the shares are privately owned.

    Yesterday, the House Finance Committee called an emergency session following a letter sent by parliament to the CY board last week, complaining about being kept in the dark on the deal.

    "Cyprus Airways might be a private company and if it doesn't need government guarantees then it doesn't have to come to the House for approval," Committee chairman Marcos Kyprianou told journalists after yesterday's meeting.

    "On the other hand, it belongs to the government and the people of Cyprus and the people of Cyprus through their representatives in parliament should be informed on how state money is spent."

    Kyprianou urged the company not to take a final decision before fully informing the House.

    Last Friday, AKEL issued a statement demanding that the House be involved in the decision and demanding a say. The party also criticised labour relations at the national carrier and suggested the airline could upgrade its existing fleet instead of replacing it.

    CY chairman Haris Loizides reacted angrily to the statement yesterday saying the communist party was engaging in electioneering.

    "I wouldn't like to get into details of the announcement because it is really entrenched in a pre-election climate and its purpose was to cause some reaction rather than help us with advice," he said, wondering whether AKEL had experts who had examined CY's option on the upgrading of the fleet. He also accused the party of attempting to whip up labour unrest.

    CY sources yesterday told the Cyprus Mail the company was attempting to obtain the necessary loans without having to secure a government guarantee. "This means we wouldn't need their approval," the sources said. "But it seems they want to be informed anyway as to the decision."

    Economic observer Pambos Papageorgiou confirmed the House had a right to a say in the decision if the government was guaranteeing the loan, but if not, then they had no right.

    "But in the broad sense this is a political decision," he added.

    He said that if CY did not need government guarantees, then technically the House did not have to be involved.

    "But deputies can table a question to parliament when money is directly or indirectly involved," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Clerides threat to House authority

    By a Staff Reporter PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday threatened to curb what he sees as a power-hungry parliament by resorting to the Supreme Court to secure a ruling curbing its authority to the strictly legislative.

    Clerides' comments came hot on the heels of Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos charging the House of Representatives with exceeding its authority by rejecting funding for the purchase of four Bell helicopters for the army. Opposition parties voted against the 22 million helicopter budget, insisting Bells were not up to scratch.

    But the President, who was speaking at Larnaca airport on his return from a visit to Lebanon, insisted his concerns about parliament's authority were not directly linked to the Bell issue.

    He spoke of a more general problem: "It is a fact that in some cases the House, with the decisions it takes, crosses the dividing line between executive and legislative authority."

    He warned that he would take things further is he thought it necessary.

    "It is a constitutional matter whose solution will in the end be given by the Supreme Court. If there are bills or decisions which in my opinion, and that of the Attorney-general, cross this dividing line of authorities, it will be my duty to send the issue to the Supreme Court," he said.

    The government does not currently enjoy a majority in parliament.

    Following the Bells fiasco, and taking his cue from Defence Minister Hasikos, DISY deputy Prodromos Prodromou is proposing a law change to revoke parliament's right to approve defence spending.

    The proposal has met with stiff opposition from main opposition party AKEL. Hasikos yesterday came out in support of Prodromou's proposal, insisting it was necessary to ensure defence spending was not held up by parliament in future.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Greens urge government to ban asbestos brakes

    By a Staff Reporter THE WIDESPREAD use of asbestos car brake discs, banned in the EU, is causing high cancer levels among the local populace, the Green party charged yesterday.

    The greens called on the government immediately to ban the import of these "dangerous" disc brakes to stop the spread of deadly asbestos fibres every time a driver hits the brakes.

    At a news conference yesterday, the Green Party spoke of extremely high levels of asbestos-induced cancer in Cyprus: "While on a global scale there are one or two cases per million, in Cyprus we have five to ten cases a year among a population of less than a million," said party leader George Perdikis.

    Perdikis said these high figures had always been blamed on the high cancer levels among former workers of the Amiandos asbestos quarry in the Troodos Mountains. But, Perdikis said, there was evidence that many incidents of asbestos poisoning were not related to the now defunct mine.

    "There is evidence that carcinogenic asbestos fibres swamp the atmosphere around our roads," the party spokesman said. "There are complaints from experts that there are more asbestos fibres in the dust in Nicosia air than in the Amiandos area."

    He blamed this on asbestos brake discs and said the government had "neglected" to follow a 1999 EU directive banning such brake discs.

    Though acknowledging that Cyprus had no legal obligation to comply with the EU directive yet, the Green party said the state's failure to protect citizens from this asbestos risk was "criminal".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] FTSE/CSE index sinks deeper

    By Jean Christou THE ALL-SHARE index sank to new depths yesterday hitting an 18-month low of 217.9 points as share prices dropped another 1.07 per cent.

    Blue chips were harder hit, falling 1.4 per cent as the FTSE/CySE plunged to 913 points, 87 points shy of its 1,000 benchmark. Volume was only 7.8 million yesterday, as the market appeared to have lost the will to live.

    The index opened around 219 but managed to jump higher than Friday's close of 221 for a few minutes before plummeting rapidly for the remainder of the session.

    All sectors except construction, finance and hotels ended in the red but even their gains were insignificant at the half a percent mark.

    Heavy sectoral losers included insurance down 2.18 per cent, banks down 1.13 per cent and technology down 5.14 per cent after GlobalSoft was slaughtered.

    That share, which was around the 6 mark late last year, plunged 25 cents yesterday, dropping below the 4 psychological barrier to end at 3.84.

    Nicosia broker Demos Stavrides told Cyprus Mail that GlobalSoft has dropped because the company is due to float another 2.5 million shares on the market next Monday.

    'GlobalSoft is an important share and when it was affected like it was today, falling below the psychological barrier, it also affected the investors` attitude to other shares," Stavrides said.

    Bank stocks were among those that suffered the knock-on effect. Bank of Cyprus (BoC), the day's most active share ended the day six cents poorer and broke its 3 psychological barrier ending at 2.94 with a volume of 1.1 million. Laiki managed to hold its own despite the heavy selling pressure and closed at 2.55.

    "Both these banks are basic to the exchange but there is just no demand for them at the moment," Stavrides said.

    Sharelink also managed to keep the bear at bay although it was the second most actively traded share of the day, it ended one cent up at 91 cents. Stavrides Sharelink's flotation of some 20 million new shares yesterday should have had the opposite effect. "What happened was encouraging," he said.

    Lordos Hotels was also on the top five list shedding some of last week's substantial gains by dropping three cents to 55 cents.

    Stavrides said the market had little to look forward to in the coming week.

    "We expect the same scenarios for the next few days at least," he said. "Perhaps the losses will be a bit less, around the 0.3 mark but something big will be needed to reverse the current psychology."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Castor battered by gale force winds

    By Jean Christou THE STRICKEN Cypriot-flagged Castor is still in limbo off the coast of Malta, awaiting better weather conditions to salvage its explosive cargo of unleaded petrol, the Merchant Shipping Department said yesterday.

    Senior surveyor Captain Andreas Constantinou told the Cyprus Mail the Castor had been battling force eleven winds at the weekend and that the salvage crew was working around the clock to hold the damaged vessel together.

    The Greek-owned Castor has been seeking shelter since New Year's Eve, when crew reported a deck crack off the coast of Spain. Several countries in the western Mediterranean refused shelter, fearful that the petrol on board might explode.

    "The crack has not deteriorated but the ship could not be moved because of the weather," Constantinou said.

    He added the ship would bide its time for better weather to resume the cargo transfer. Some 6,000 tonnes of unleaded petrol has already been removed, but 23,000 tonnes remain on board.

    "If the weather improves the operation will be resumed," Constantinou said. "If not the ship will try and come to Cyprus."

    The Cabinet is expected this week to give its approval for the Castor to be given shelter to transfer its cargo.

    Cyprus is the only country in the Mediterranean, which appears to be willing to give shelter to the ship.

    The Castor is still some 100 miles west of Malta on an eastward route.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Tsiakourmas in hospital again

    By a Staff Reporter GREEK Cypriot contractor Panicos Tsiakourmas -- held in the occupied areas since December 12 -- has hit an all-time low both physically and mentally, his distraught wife Niki said yesterday.

    Niki was yesterday allowed another visit to the north to see her diabetic husband in hospital in the Turkish-held half of Nicosia. She returned to report that her husband was feeling "very down" and that his blood sugar levels were dangerously high. Niki, who was accompanied on her trip north by her young daughter Maria and by Panicos' brother Andreas, said two occupation army soldiers had visited her husband in hospital at the same time as her to inform him that he was to be returned to a holding cell today.

    Niki said her 39-year-old husband - abducted from the Dhekelia British base and held on what the base authorities and the government insist are trumped- up drug charges - was not well enough to leave hospital.

    Panicos Tsiakourmas was taken to hospital in the north on January 30.

    Britain has been working hard to get Tsiakourmas released, but so far without success.

    The Turkish side say they will only release the Greek Cypriot if the government lets go of Turkish Cypriot coffee-shop owner Omer Tekogul, being held on charges of heroin smuggling. The government has ruled out such a swap.

    Tekogul, who was arrested 10 days before Tsiakourmas' abduction, was yesterday up before the Larnaca court for another hearing in his trial on charges of trying to sell two kilos of heroin. Police have refuted Turkish Cypriot claims that the 42-year-old Pyla resident was apprehended inside the UN-controlled buffer zone.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Village bans building from around sinkholes

    By a Staff Reporter THE APPEARANCE of massive sinkholes has forced Pera Chorio-Nissou to ban the building of houses from a large area around the village.

    The sinkholes first appeared late last year, and are being blamed on excessive pumping of groundwater in the village 20km south of Nicosia.

    "We have taken a decision temporarily to ban building in the area where the sinkholes appeared," the mukhtar of Pera Chorio-Nissou, Yiannis Georgiou, said yesterday. "The affected area is residential, so we had to create a white (no-development) zone for a certain period till we can determine the extent of the problem," the community leader said.

    The Geological Survey department is currently carrying out a careful study of the area in a bid to pinpoint all areas where sinkholes are likely to appear.

    "We do not know specifically how large an area is affected, this has not yet been defined. But we will define it in next few days," Georgiou said.

    The mukhtar admitted the building ban would create considerable problems for those who had planned to build in the area now being put off-limits. "It is a residential area so it will create some problems, but our first concern is safety," Georgiou said. He said other areas would be found for people to build on.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Five held over gang rape claim

    By a Staff Reporter FOUR men were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days in connection with the alleged gang rape of a 20-year-old Moldavian artiste.

    They join a 23-year-old man already in custody in over the same case.

    All the suspects, aged between 18 and 23, come from villages around Nicosia.

    The woman told police on Thursday that five men had raped her for four hours earlier that morning at a remote spot outside Nicosia.

    She told police the men had threatened to kill her if she reported the rape, and subjected her to horrific brutality before abandoning her in the fields.

    The crime is alleged to have taken place in a derelict shack in a deserted area between the villages of Marki and Kotsiatis between 3am and 8am.

    The 20-year-old told police she left the cabaret where she worked in Larnaca with five men, who offered to drive her home.

    Instead, she said, they took her to the shack where they took turns in raping her for four hours.

    When the alleged assailants sped off, she called a taxi for help from her mobile phone, and returned to her Larnaca apartment.

    She then called her employer and together they went to the Pera Chorio Nisou police station, where they reported the incident.

    On Friday afternoon, the woman was examined by state pathologist at the Nicosia general hospital.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Market trading from your office?

    By a Staff Reporter STOCK market bosses are pushing for the introduction of a new computerised share transaction system that could lead to the market floor as we know it becoming obsolete.

    The proposed new system was discussed at yesterday's session of the House Finance Committee.

    The general director of the stock market, Nondas Metaxas, said the new system would enable brokers do to all their work from their offices, making it unnecessary for them to go to the market floor.

    "There will be a possibility, in the medium-term, not to have a floor -- but we will look at this with the companies," Metaxas said.

    The market boss said the new system could even allow investors to carry out their own transactions without hiring a broker. The whole computerised transaction system would be controlled by a bank, with the stock market authorities acting as overseers.

    He said he did not know when the new system might be introduced, but added that the technology already existed.

    On behalf of the brokers, Christodoulos Ellinas said it was important that the new system also be capable of checking an investor's credit rating, so that brokers did not fall foul to blank checks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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