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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-05-16

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, May 16, 2001


  • [01] Olympic bid 'unanimous and enthusiastic'
  • [02] Government is 'killing tourism with taxes'
  • [03] Bank robbers make off with 50,000
  • [04] Beyond reasonable doubt? Cypriot experts question Lockerbie verdict
  • [05] CY calls in police over expired meat supply
  • [06] Officials insist Limassol water is safe
  • [07] French company called in to inspect deteriorating road surface
  • [08] New spokesman for UNFICYP next week

  • [01] Olympic bid 'unanimous and enthusiastic'

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) chairman Haris Loizides said yesterday the airline's decision to submit a binding bid for a majority stake in Greece's ailing national carrier Olympic subject to certain conditions had been unanimous.

    He denied reports in the local press that the bid had been worded in such a way as to ensure it would be rejected by the Greek government, and said that CY's involvement in the bidding process had brought the airline international recognition and respect.

    Loizides also revealed yesterday that CY would bid for at least 50 per cent of Olympic and that one of the earlier bidders. Australian venture Capital Integrated Air Servicees, which withdrew at the last minute, had expressed an interest in joining the CY consortium.

    "This is a golden opportunity for Cyprus Airways to expand its horizons and get involved in a strategic alliance, something which it has been pursuing for some time," he said.

    After being granted two extensions in the past two months, the CY board on Monday announced its final decision only minutes before the 5pm deadline for submission of final and binding bids to the Greek government.

    The results are expected in eight days, after Credit Suisse First Bank has evaluated the bids, which also includes one from Axon Airlines.

    A brief statement from CY on Monday said the board had agreed to make the bid but under certain conditions which referred to "guarantees, facilities and obligations" which the airline judged necessary to safeguard its own interests and the viability of the new Olympic Airways.

    CY has a number of other partners involved in the consortium, but has declined to reveal who they are.

    "We are still enthusiastic and that's why we submitted our bid and we are aware of the difficulties of the feat," Loizides said. "That's why we imposed all these conditions. We are not flying high but we are not flying low either. We have our feet on the ground."

    Olympic has only once made a profit in the past two decades, is saddled with debts of more than 40 billion drachmas (approximately 66.7 million) and is expected to lose at least half of that amount again this year.

    Over the past two weeks, serious concerns were expressed on the CY board at the state of Olympic and the lack of detail on the airline's financial status. Reports in Greek newspapers said their government was not even sure what parts of the airline it wanted to privatise.

    Sealing the deal would give CY exclusivity on the Greek market from Cyprus and create new connections through Athens to Europe and the US, while at the same time opening up Larnaca further as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. Common offices throughout Europe could also be established.

    If the CY offer is accepted, it could see the airline dominate the southeastern Mediterranean with a combined fleet of 30-40 aircraft.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Government is 'killing tourism with taxes'

    By Jean Christou

    HOTELIERS yesterday accused the government of killing them with taxes, and called on it to reconsider its policy towards the sector.

    They also called for an overhaul of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), changes to employment conditions in the sector and cash incentives to renovate hotel units.

    Addressing the annual general meeting of the Cyprus Hoteliers' Association in Nicosia, chairman Avgerinos Nikitas said his members were being hit by taxes from all sides.

    He referred first to spiralling VAT, designed to bring Cyprus on a level with European Union rates and also to the reintroduction last year of the three per cent levy on all tourist bills, which funds the CTO.

    "We are talking about taxes which are unfairly levied at high levels on the hotel industry," Nikitas said. "In no other country in Europe does the private sector subsidise the national tourist organisation. In these countries, such funding is the responsibility of the state through its annual budget."

    He said more increases in VAT would cripple the sector, particularly as the island's competitors in the region would not be subject to similar tax hikes.

    "This should concern the government and it should take some much-needed balancing actions to avoid further contributing to Cyprus' reputation as one of the most expensive destinations in the Mediterranean," Nikitas said.

    "We therefore call on the government to reassess its stance towards the hotel industry and instead of looking at it as an easy target for levying various specialised taxes on it, to provide the necessary support through the adoption of measures which will allow it to regain its healthy performance."

    Nikitas said hoteliers were demanding incentives for them to upgrade and renovate their units and also demanding that the CTO use more uniform criteria when classifying hotels in different categories.

    They also want changes in the labour laws to allow them to employ foreign workers when they fail to entice Cypriots for various positions and they want the government to ease up on the existing stringent employment criteria.

    "In cases where it is found beyond any doubt by the responsible ministry that there is no locally available personnel for specific positions, then the necessary licences for hiring foreign labour should be issued without time-consuming procedures and without imposing unenforceable conditions and criteria," he said.

    Another major gripe for the hoteliers is the annual problem of the CTO advertising campaign. This year, Cyprus missed the boat after the House delayed approval of its 12 million advertising budget, resulting in a campaign launched after the peak booking season in January. Nikitas called this a "serious delay".

    He suggested the CTO be given a two-year budget, which would give it plenty of time to advertise without going through the same problems every year. And he added the advertising budget should be increased to three per cent of the island's revenue from tourism, as is the case in other countries. This would amount to some 36 million for advertising annually, based on annual tourism receipts of over a billion pounds.

    "It is important to have an increased and more aggressive advertising campaign in current markets and in new ones. This happens in all EU countries with which we want to harmonise, where the sector itself is not asked to support the national tourism organisation," he said.

    "The restructuring of the CTO in a way that would allow a more dynamic and flexible functioning of the organisation so that it can react immediately to the rapidly changing developments in international tourism is of major importance."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Bank robbers make off with 50,000

    By Rita Kyriakides

    TWO hooded men broke into a branch of the Bank of Cyprus near Larnaca shortly after 8am yesterday morning, making off with 50,000.

    Larnaca police told the Cyprus Mail that the men - who were unarmed - had been waiting outside the Orkolini branch, which was still closed to the public, forcing their way into the bank when the doors were opened for the cleaning lady to come in.

    They turned security cameras towards the wall, then approached the tellers' desk. One man shoved aside Eleni Argyrithou, one of the three employees in the bank at the time, and grabbed the keys for safe, from which they stole around 50 000.

    After leaving the bank, the robbers got into a green Toyota Corolla and were seen on the Larnaca to Dhekelia road. Bank workers called the police, who immediately launched helicopters to search for the perpetrators. The search led police to the abandoned Corolla at 11am, three blocks away from the bank near some holiday apartments.

    Several men doing road works on the motorway saw the men abandon the Corolla and get into another car. Police believe the men had accomplices waiting nearby to help them escape.

    Larnaca police are currently inspecting the abandoned car for any DNA evidence left by the robbers.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Beyond reasonable doubt? Cypriot experts question Lockerbie verdict

    By Jean Christou

    TWO Cypriot aviation experts have concluded that the judgement in the Lockerbie trial was based entirely on circumstantial evidence and did not prove the guilt of the Libyan man who was jailed.

    Andreas Mateou, a law graduate and Eurocypria captain, and Sofia Michaelides, a law lecturer at Intercollege, have prepared a report which they will present to the US and Libyan ambassadors at a lecture entitled "The Lockerbie Trial: Beyond Reasonable Doubt?' at Intercollege tonight.

    "Once we stated looking into the judgement of the actual court, what seemed to appear is that the evidence on which one of the two men was found guilty was very circumstantial," Michaelides said. "The more we looked into the matter, the more complicated it got and the more loopholes we found."

    On December 21 1988, a PanAm Boeing 747 en route from London Heathrow to New York's JFK airport, exploded over Lockerbie in Scotland, killing 243 passengers, mostly Americans, 16 crew members and 11 people on the ground.

    In January this year, a Scottish court in the Netherlands found Abdel Basset Ali Megrahi, an agent for Libyan intelligence, guilty for the bombing and sentenced him to life imprisonment. A second defendant, Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted.

    "There were a lot of gaps in the prosecution's case and the court admits that in the final judgement anyway," Michaelides said. "It looks like there has been a lot of political manoeuvring behind the scenes. The evidence just doesn't add up."

    Michaelides and Mateou said the trial interested them because of the size of the tragedy. "So what's even more tragic is if justice has not been done, " Michaelides said.

    "We are not saying whether they were guilty or not. We are saying the court, having looked at all the evidence presented to it, decided they were guilty based on circumstantial evidence."

    Mateou and Michaelides cite the final paragraph of the judgement to lend weight to their research. The judgement says: "We are aware that in relation to certain aspects of the case there are a number of uncertainties and qualifications. We are also aware that there is a danger that by selecting parts of the evidence which seem to fit together and ignoring parts which might not fit, it is possible to read into a mass conflicting evidence a pattern of conclusion which is not really justified."

    Michaelides also said the relatives of the victims needed to know what really happened. "We've come to the conclusion that we're not saying we know what happened but we've come to the conclusion that we don't know what happened. Nobody knows what happened," she said. "We want to let people know that there is this decision but if you look at it, it's not based on conclusive evidence. If you tie that up with all the other bits and pieces you do find that the story has not been told. The trial is just an end of a chapter it's not the end of the story."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] CY calls in police over expired meat supply

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) has lodged an official complaint with police after one of its meat suppliers allegedly tried to rip the airline off with some 300 kilos of out-of-date lamb.

    Sources told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that staff processing the meat for inflight meals noticed that the lamb was past its expiry date, but stressed that it was not gone off, "just out of date".

    The supplier was asked to take back the meat and did so, but when a new batch was brought, the processors claimed someone had tampered with the date stamps and that they had possibly been given back the same consignment.

    "It seems there was an attempt to change the dates on the boxes," the source said. "The police and the veterinary services were called in and the case was reported to the police and the veterinary services."

    The source said that a small portion of the meat had found its way onto a flight and was served to passengers, but stressed again that the meat itself had not been spoiled.

    CY cannot, however, change its suppliers, unless police prove they tried to mislead the airline. Processors in the meantime plan closely to monitor all produce they receive from the company in question.

    Airline spokesman Tassos Angelis said yesterday he could not comment on the case as it was in the hands of the police and still under investigation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Officials insist Limassol water is safe

    By Noah Haglund

    OFFICIALS from the Limassol Water Board and Health Ministry yesterday dismissed as false reports that Limassol residents were drinking water from cesspools.

    A headline in yesterday's Phileleftheros charged that "Limassol residents have been drinking water from cesspools," and went on to cite an anonymous official from the Limassol Water Development Department who alleged that it had seeped into the ground water.

    According to the paper's unnamed source, until recently, Limassol water needs were being supplied by rainwater; water from the Garillis River and ground water reserves.

    However, asked whether this had been a danger to the health of citizens, he said that the earth had been acting as water filter, and no problems had been observed.

    "The earth is the best filter," said the official and added that the water was being mixed with other, better quality water that was within guidelines.

    "I don't know who said this, but the people should be assured that we are checking the water," Nicodemous Nicodemou from the Limassol district water board told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    "We are 100 per cent sure that there was no problem," he added.

    Government scientists checked the water in three stages, at its source, in the reservoirs and as it left the taps, he said.

    "We used selected bore holes," said Nicodemou, adding that "since early March, the water comes only from the Limassol treatment plant and the Kouris dam."

    When asked if this situation might be linked in any way with the recent outbreak of meningitis in Limassol, the Health Ministry's Senior Health Officer, Dr. Chrystalla Anastasiou told the Cyprus Mail, "there is no possibility that the meningitis cases relate to water."

    "If this were the case," she said, "there would be many more cases than what we've seen in the past four months."

    Hadjianastasiou confirmed the testing of the Water by the Ministry of Health and said, "We have no suspicion that the water is unsafe to drink."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] French company called in to inspect deteriorating road surface

    By Rita Kyriakides

    JUST five months after resurfacing work, the Nicosia-Limassol motorway is deteriorating badly, forcing Communication and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou to invite a French company to inspect the road.

    An investigation in April showed that poor quality materials were used for the section of motorway between Latsia and Lymbia.

    Senior Control Engineer Alecos Michaelides told the Cyprus Mail that, according to the agreement, the original contractors were responsible for fixing the bad workmanship on the motorway.

    The Ministry's engineer has sent a letter to the contractor stating that the motorway must be fixed and at the company's own expense.

    Michaelides said the contractor could agree to fix the motorway but reserve the right not to take responsibility. If the contractors do not want to take responsibility for the bad workmanship, the case will then be taken to court, he said.

    The French company SETRA has been called as an outside witness, as an inspection by the government would be seen as biased since they are party to the dispute.

    A decision on the issue should be made by the beginning of June.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] New spokesman for UNFICYP next week

    By a Staff Reporter

    NEW UNFICYP spokesman Brian Kelly will arrive on the island next week to take over from departing acting spokesman Charles Gaulkin, who leaves the island on Tuesday.

    Kelly 57, from Ireland, has previously been assigned to UN missions in Ethiopia and Eritrea and has also served in the past in Sierra Leone, Namibia, Angola, South Africa and Liberia.

    Before being assigned to peacekeeping missions, Kelly worked in the UNDP. Before that, he was a journalist and has worked on the Irish Times and the Irish Press.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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