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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-27

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, March 27, 2001


  • [01] Government reports good response to airport tenders call
  • [02] Bells arrive from Greece
  • [03] New wave of gypsies crossing from the north
  • [04] Wording of contentious UN report will be corrected
  • [05] More EU harmonisation chapters on verge of completion
  • [06] March was one of hottest on record
  • [07] Market plunges to new low
  • [08] Pilots: CY can do whatever it wants with Eurocypria
  • [09] Murderous weekend on the roads

  • [01] Government reports good response to airport tenders call

    By Jean Christou THE GOVERNMENT has received 23 expressions of interest from companies in 14 countries to build and operate Larnaca and Paphos airports, the Communications and Works Ministry said yesterday.

    Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr Vassos Pyrgos told a news conference that applications had been received from companies in Europe, America and Australia.

    "There is a very wide range of applications, including several from well- known companies," Pyrgos said, adding they included almost all the big airport operators in Europe. "This makes us very optimistic," he said.

    Pyrgos said that by the end of May a more detailed tenders invitation would be published abroad and that the government hoped to have a short list of candidates by the end of June and a final four or five tenders by July.

    "By the end of this year or the beginning of next year we are hopeful that the tender will be awarded," he said.

    The winning company will build the airports at its own expense and run it for a period of time, between 15 and 20 years, to recoup costs under the BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) method, before returning it to the government, Pyrgos said

    Using the BOT system means the government will save 200 million and cut out the headache of operating an enterprise as huge as an international airport.

    The state spent 1.5 million on Larnaca Airport and half a million on Paphos last year, just to keep both functioning and running to capacity.

    Larnaca is serving over four million arrivals and departures a year and Paphos over 1.3 million, and growing at the rate of eight per cent per year.

    When the new terminals are built, Larnaca will be able to serve six passengers departures and Paphos two million. There is also room for further expansion in two phases if the need arises, which would see capacity rise to 12 million

    The new airports will retain the existing runways, which have recently been extended with rapid exits created to cut down on the time it takes aircraft to reach parking areas, which means another approaching flight can land more quickly. There is also provision for new runways in the future.

    New finger-style terminal are also in the offing, with plans for 13 air bridges leading directly in to the terminal.

    Outside the terminal building, parking plans include provision for around 1, 000 private cars, 175 rental cars, 195 taxis, 37 buses and 320 staff parking places.

    The companies that have submitted applications for expression of interest are: Airgonomics Ltd (Cyprus), Kobenhavns Lufthavene Copenhagen Airports (Denmark), SAVE S.p.A. Venice Airport (Italy), S.E.A. Milan Linate Airport (Italy), HOCHTIEF Airport GMBH (Germany), Lufthansa consulting GMBH (Germany), YVR Airport Services (Canada), Airport Consulting Vienna GMBH (Austria), Fraport A.G. Frankfurt Airport (Germany), SKANSA BOT and TBI plc (Sweden), Cintra S.A. (Spain), Parsons Aviation (USA), Walter Construction Group Ltd. (Australia), SERCO AEROSPACE (UK), J&P Ltd. (Cyprus), Airport Development Corporation (Canada), EGIS Projects (France), MALIBU (Israel), AerRianta International (Ireland), BAA Plc. (UK), BEN DOR Technologies Ltd (Israel), Alterra Partners (UK) Ltd. (UK) and Iacovou, Chapo Balfour Beatly (Cyprus).

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Bells arrive from Greece

    By Martin Hellicar THE government has got its own back on parliament by securing on loan from Greece the helicopters that deputies would not approve funding for.

    Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday proudly announced that two Bell helicopters had arrived on the island on Sunday night, courtesy of Athens.

    Main opposition party AKEL reacted by insisting that the helicopters loaned out by Greece were virtual antiques, far inferior to the models the House of Representatives had rejected as inadequate for the army's needs. Hasikos denied this.

    "The Greeks removed two helicopters from their own forces and sent them to us with their crews," Hasikos said yesterday, noting that Cyprus would be allowed to keep the helicopters for as long as the National Guard needed them.

    Hasikos turned to Greece for help last month after parliament refused to rubber-stamp funding for the purchase of four US-made Bell helicopters. "The government could not sit there with its hands tied just because parliament would not approve the necessary sums," he said.

    The Minister said Cyprus needed the helicopters both to up her search and rescue capabilities and in order to live up to promises made to the European Defence Force. "The Cyprus Republic has obligations towards the European army. we said we would undertake search and rescue in the area. We will now be in position to cover search and rescue in whole the whole Nicosia Flight Information Zone (FIR)."

    AKEL did not share in the Minister's satisfaction.

    While being careful to express thanks to Athens for the two helicopters, the opposition party's defence expert, Doros Christodoulides, suggested the donated military hardware might be rather old stock. "I would need to know details concerning the type of helicopter. If they are UH-1Hs then they are the great-great grandfather of the Bell 412s the army tried to get; Greece got the UH-1Hs in the 1960s or 70s," Christodoulides said. "The Bell 412s were not approved by the House because they were considered unsuitable," he added.

    "As far as I know, Greece does not even use UH-1Hs for search and rescue," he said.

    Christodoulides also claimed the bringing in of the helicopters was nothing but a government attempt to win votes ahead of the May parliamentary elections.

    Hasikos did not say exactly what model of helicopter was being brought in from Greece, describing them only as an "earlier version" of the Bells the government had wanted to buy.

    But the Minister insisted the gifts from Greece were up to the job: "These helicopters are the basic helicopter of the Greek army; Greece has 115 of them and the US has them too. I do not want to question the capabilities or reliability of this helicopter."

    But Hasikos also admitted the donated helicopters did not cover the National Guard's needs "one hundred per cent" and said the government would soon be seeking tenders for the supply of more army helicopters.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] New wave of gypsies crossing from the north

    By Athena Karsera INTERIOR Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday said "tragic" economic and social conditions in the occupied north had driven 49 Turkish Cypriot gypsies to cross into the government-held areas in the last 15 days.

    "There is no doubt that the arrival of these gypsies is due to the fact that economic and social conditions in the occupied areas are tragic and dramatic. And this is (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash's so called paradise," Christodoulou said.

    The most recent group was spotted in Peristerona in the early hours yesterday. The 27 gypsies, including 14 children were taken to a hotel in Paphos after police ascertained they were citizens of the Republic of Cyprus and gave them food and water. They told police they were from occupied Morphou and had crossed over at Astromeritis.

    Christodoulou said he had given instructions for the district officer, police and welfare office in Paphos to make arrangements for them to have somewhere to stay before permanent residence was found.

    Christodoulou noted that some of the Turkish Cypriots who earlier this year claimed they had been mistreated by Cyprus police and returned to the north were among those who had arrived in the last 15 days

    An investigative committee is examining the claims of mistreatment.

    "Denktash has, on an international level, alleged that they were mistreated. We believe that, if any mistreatment indeed took place, it was carried out by Denktash's regime," Christodoulou said.

    He said another 10 gypsies had arrived on March 7 through the British bases at Dhekelia, followed by another 12 on March 23.

    "The first ten have already been settled at various locations in Limassol with the remainder being settled in Paphos."

    Christodoulou said that the Republic was obliged by its constitution and the international conventions it had signed to treat Turkish Cypriots as Cypriot citizens.

    "This is exactly what we are doing, but the international community also has to realise that conditions in the pseudostate are hellish and that even these gypsies, who do not demand a lot from life, are not happy and in spite of all the dangers dare to cross over into the free areas."

    The Minister continued that fears that Denktash was deliberately sending the gypsies into the free areas were being investigated, "but the truth is that it does not serve Denktash well to have it proven that his pseudostate is a hell and not a paradise in terms of its political, social and financial conditions."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Wording of contentious UN report will be corrected

    By a Staff Reporter THE UN Secretary-general's Special Advisor on Cyprus has made it clear that the status of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides and other issues of the Cyprus problem matters should be addressed through negotiations and not ahead of them.

    Alvaro de Soto made the comments following Greek Cypriot anger at the terminology used in UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report on human rights in Cyprus.

    Annan's report spoke of the "Greek Cypriot authorities", in a move seen as equating the legitimate government of Cyprus with the unrecognised Denktash regime. The government demanded a correction.

    Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) yesterday, De Soto said: "It is a mistake to read anything deeper into the issue,' adding some "inappropriate terminology (had) inadvertently" found its way into the report.

    De Soto said the report would be reissued and stressed that the only way the Cyprus problem could be solved was through the Secretary-General's good offices.

    "As everyone knows by now, some inappropriate terminology inadvertently crept into a recent report of the Secretary-General on human rights in Cyprus. This terminology is being adjusted and the report is being reissued accordingly," De Soto said.

    He dismissed fears that Annan intended to address the status of the Republic and the occupied areas through the report. "This is not correct," he said.

    De Soto said he and Annan had repeatedly made it clear that the status issue and others should only be addressed through negotiations "not prior to negotiations, nor by any other means."

    The Cyprus government yesterday welcomed De Soto's assurances over the report.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the statement that the text of the human rights report would be revised confirmed what the UN had told the government.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] More EU harmonisation chapters on verge of completion

    By a Staff Reporter CYPRUS' chief EU negotiator said yesterday the island expected to close another four to six chapters in its EU harmonisation in the coming months, bringing it more than 80 per cent of the way towards full accession.

    Speaking after briefing President Glafcos Clerides on recent developments, George Vassiliou said Cyprus would close the harmonisation chapter on free movement of capital on Thursday.

    He said that this chapter, which is closely linked to stamping out money laundering, would be one of four chapters expected to be closed before the end of Sweden's current six-month EU presidency.

    Vassiliou said it was significant that the European Commission had consented to the chapter being closed: "This means they are satisfied with the explanations we have given on how we handle the issue of money laundering."

    Cyprus has come under considerable criticism in the last decade for its suspected role in Serbian and Russian money laundering.

    Vassiliou said Cyprus had been granted a five-year adjustment period on allowing European citizens to purchase a second home on the island, an aspect of the chapter on the free movement of capital.

    He said progress had also been made on a series of other chapters, such as the free movement of individuals, co-operative services, transport and energy.

    "We hope that we will be able to close between four and six chapters during the Swedish presidency, something that will be especially significant since we will then have covered more than four-fifths of the way to completing negotiations," Vassiliou said.

    He reiterated that a solution to the Cyprus problem was not a prerequisite to the island's EU accession and that the EU would not consider giving Turkey the right to veto Cyprus' accession.

    Vassiliou said Turkey would eventually have to choose between solving the Cyprus problem or being isolated by the EU.

    "Turkey has begun to raise its tone and I believe it will continue to try to intimidate and blackmail us in various ways. Our answer to these threatening statements has to be clear and persistent. We want a solution, Turkey is the one not moving in that direction. However, even if there is no solution, Turkey can still not keep us out of Europe."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] March was one of hottest on record

    By a Staff Reporter BRACE yourselves, for if March is anything to go by, then this summer is set to be an absolute scorcher.

    This March has been one of the hottest on record, with temperatures in Nicosia averaging around four degrees higher than the norm for this time of year.

    "Temperatures have definitely been very high. For Nicosia at least, this month has so far been one of the hottest three of the past century," a Meteorological Office expert said yesterday. Meteorological Office records stretch back to 1892.

    This March has also been very dry. "We have so far had only 10 mm of rain, whereas the average for the month is 62mm," the government meteorologist said.

    The weather expert said the hot, dry weather was due to "a combination of factors" and pointed out that a similar pattern was being recorded the world over.

    Global warming is expected to make the Eastern Mediterranean hotter and drier overall.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Market plunges to new low

    By Jean Christou THE ALL-share index hit a 20-month low yesterday, closing 2.92 per cent down at 179.4 points. It was the lowest the index has seen since July 1999.

    The FTSE/CySE top 20 dropped a further 2.58 per cent to 759.6 points while volume stood at 6.3 million as investors continued to dump shares with little left to lose.

    Hardest hit in the blue chip stakes were the three most active of the day, Bank of Cyprus (BoC), Laiki Bank and GlobalSoft (GLC), which clocked up over 2 million of the total volume.

    Over one million pounds worth of BoC shares were traded, with the stock ending at 2.56, down seven cents. Laiki fell four cents to 2.08 and GLC to 3.4, a drop of five cents.

    Sectoral losses were heavy in manufacturing and tourism, which plunged 5.4 and 6.3 per cent respectively, but most sectors were down between two and four per cent. Only the trading sector managed to avoid the slaughter, with minimal losses of 0.84 per cent.

    "Investors do not see any reason to buy into a falling market with no immediate prospects of a rebound," said one broker.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides yesterday sought to avoid questions on the state of the market after yesterday's House Finance Committee meeting.

    Asked what the government position was on the decline of the market, Klerides said: "Next question please."

    He added that he was not obliged to follow the tactics of his Greek counterpart in commenting on the market.

    Asked whether he thought opposition parties were deliberately keeping he market down as a pre-election tactic, the Minister said: "We would need proof to substantiate such an allegation but each individual can come to his own conclusions by seeing how the index is moving."

    Klerides also said if the government's proposal to introduce the 100 million stabilisation fund for the market had received parliamentary support the situation would not be so bad.

    Finance Committee chairman and DIKO deputy Markos Kyprianou, who put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the government, said the fund would only have provided a short-term solution.

    "It was a solution that would perhaps push the market up and drag others into the current dangers," he said. "It's like someone having cancer and you give them anaesthetic instead of giving then an operation. It doesn't hurt at the time, but the problem gets worse."

    He said the government has been very slow in facing the market's basic problems and that 99 per cent of all initiatives to revive the market had come from the political parties.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Pilots: CY can do whatever it wants with Eurocypria

    By Jean Christou CYPRUS Airways (CY) pilots are not concerned about the national carrier's plans to cut loose its charter firm Eurocypria, they said yesterday.

    A spokesman for CY pilots' union PASIPY told the Cyprus Mail that as long as the company honoured current agreements with them, it could do whatever else it wanted.

    In an interview with the Sunday Mail, CY chairman Haris Loizides said the recent decision on the fleet renewal had signalled the beginning of the end of the decade-old relationship between the national carrier and Eurocypria.

    The move will end the ongoing conflict between the charter firm's pilots and their CY counterparts and observers say it is also likely to herald a stock exchange listing for Eurocypria, along with the advent of new partners into the airline.

    "The company can do what it likes with Eurocypria, sell it, close it down, bring in people from abroad." the PASIPY spokesman said yesterday

    "We have certain agreements which Loizides has signed and we expect the company to abide by them. There is no provision in the agreement for what will happen to Eurocypria."

    The PASIPY spokesman said the agreement they had with the company for a share of captain vacancies in Eurocypria expired at the end of this year and would probably be renegotiated at that time.

    "The issue will probably be addressed then," he said. "Let them keep this agreement and then we will discuss the rest as it comes up."

    Eurocypria currently leases three Airbus A320s from CY, but these will be returned to the national carrier at the end of 2002 and replaced in 2003 with four leased Boeing 747s, which seat 189 passengers, 15 more than the A320s, making them more advantageous for charter flights.

    Loizides said this would put an end to the conflict over captain promotions, which has dogged the charter firm for years. Eurocypria pilots want to be treated as a separate company, while CY pilots demand common seniority.

    "The moment we bring the remaining aircraft, there are no more claims for common seniority or captainship or whatever," Loizides told the Sunday Mail.

    A new mediation effort to solve the latest round in the captains' dispute begins today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Murderous weekend on the roads

    By Athena Karsera THREE people were killed in two separate crashes in a bad weekend on the roads that also saw three young children seriously injured.

    Charalambos Charalambous, 21, Christodoulos Christodoulou, 22, both from Paliometocho, died instantly when their saloon car crashed into a bus stop before careering into an olive tree and being sheared in half.

    The accident happened on Archangelos Avenue in the Nicosia suburb of Parisinos at about 5.25am on Sunday.

    The two were leaving a Nicosia nightclub. Friends said Charalambous had left the club to go to his brother who had been involved in a minor accident in Kokkinotrimithia. Christodoulou had asked Charalambous to give him a lift home, as he felt too drunk to drive himself.

    Paliometocho cancelled its Greek Independence Day celebrations planned for Sunday in a mark of respect for the two men's families.

    A 36-year-old Russian Greek, Petros Aslanides, was also killed on Sunday.

    Police said the accident happened at 8pm when Aslanides' pick-up truck crashed into a Mercedes jeep on the highway between Kofinou and Larnaca.

    The driver of the jeep had indicated to another car to pull over onto the hard shoulder because its lights were not working. The driver of the jeep then stopped alongside it, but still on the motorway, to alert the other driver.

    Aslanides was coming up behind and ploughed in to the Mercedes, not realising it had stopped. He was killed instantly.

    His passenger Lazaros Zoumbalides was seriously injured. Police said Zoumbalides had been wearing his seat belt but Aslanides had not

    In other incidents three young children were injured in separate accidents.

    Four-year-old Chrystella Chrysostomou was run over while trying to cross Makarios Avenue in Leivadia at 7.30pm on Saturday. She was yesterday being treated in Larnaca hospital and said to be in a serious but stable condition.

    Earlier on Saturday, three-and-a-half-year-old Raphael Georgiou was critically injured after being run over trying to cross a road in Xylofagou. He was yesterday on a respirator in Nicosia general hospital.

    A second boy, four-and-a-half-year-old Michael Demetris Frixou, was yesterday being treated at Larnaca general hospital after receiving leg injuries during a car accident.

    Meanwhile, another three people were seriously injured on Saturday night when their car plunged 100 metres down a ravine on the Palaiochori to Prophitis Elias road in the Troodos mountains.

    All three were being treated in Nicosia hospital yesterday but pronounced out of danger.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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