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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-09-08

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, September 8, 2001


  • [01] Milk shake-up: Lanitis has the bottle to start a market battle
  • [02] 2.4 million road project under way
  • [03] Chaos looms as teachers threaten to step up action
  • [04] Officer to face 50 charges in explosives trial
  • [05] Ghanaian dance troupe in false passport sage
  • [06] Officials order deer cull to save the moufflon
  • [07] Denktash confirms: 'No' to New York
  • [08] Bomb scare fails to dampen market revival
  • [09] Crew bail out from sinking ship
  • [10] Investors group resignations
  • [11] Athens promises Olympic development next week
  • [12] Turmoil as PASYDY meets for leadership elections

  • [01] Milk shake-up: Lanitis has the bottle to start a market battle

    By Elias Hazou

    PLANS by major drinks company Lanitis Bros Ltd. to move into the milk industry have sent shockwaves across the so-far regulated market.

    Lanitis says it will be launching a new milk brand, sold in see-through recyclable bottles, in October. Established dairy products companies Christis and Charalambides, which have dominated the market, reacted strongly after Lanitis obtained a licence back in May to bottle and distribute milk.

    The two companies argue that due to the nature of the industry - where supply of milk is regulated by the semi-government Milk Marketing Board (MMB) - price controls and supply quotas need to be maintained.

    But Lanitis' bold entry into the market, with its state-of-the-art, fully computerised premises, has caused the Commerce Ministry to consider liberalising the market.

    After months of wrangling between the dairy producers, Lanitis were initially set to begin operations on September 1, but reduced milk production during the summer months meant the MMB gave priority to supplying cheese producers with outstanding orders.

    For their part, Lanitis claim the "last-minute" change adversely affected their operations and income and upset their schedules. Despite receiving assurances they would be allowed "adequate" quantities starting from October, the company has warned it may resort to legal means if the board fails to deliver.

    But as the crunch time nears, the matter could end up in court in any case, as Christis Managing Director Panikos Hadjicostas told the Cyprus Mail. "We are seeking legal counsel and are considering the court option if all else fails."

    He said the matter was now in the hands of the Commerce Ministry, to which Christis had submitted a proposal on Thursday, but he did not elaborate on this.

    "Clearly, the Milk Marketing Board did not follow proper procedure. This is a question of ensuring fair competition. Newcomers to the market are welcome, but the manner in which this was done left much to be desired," Hadjicostas said.

    Christis currently has 40 per cent of the market, with the other 60 per cent going to Charalambides, and these figures are used to argue that Lanitis' entry into the market would upset the balances.

    Lanitis Managing Director Michalis Spanos yesterday denied allegations that the company had "slipped in through the back door," adding that "we have never cared for backstage manoeuvrings".

    Spanos told a news conference that the company had followed all appropriate procedures and that Lanitis' entry would help revive "a market with untapped potential". He said Lanitis would have around 1,000 points-of-sale in distributing its new brand of milk.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] 2.4 million road project under way

    By Rita Kyriakides

    THE GOVERNMENT has undertaken a 2.4 million project to improve the quality of various roads across Cyprus.

    The head of the Public Works Department, Stathis Hamboullas, yesterday signed three contracts for different roadworks to be completed over the next year.

    Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou said the agreements were for the maintenance of different roads in the Paphos area, the improvement of the Limassol to Platres road, running as a motorway as far as Monagri, and the addition of a lane to the Karvounas to Saittas road.

    "We are continuing works to improve roads to ensure a better quality of life for Cypriots," he said.

    On October 15, the Ministry has promised to open the final stretch of the Limassol to Paphos motorway at Petra tou Romiou.

    At the beginning of October, works will begin on the Dhekelia to Protaras road to upgrade it to a motorway.

    By September of next year, the Ministry will be open to tenders for the improvement of the Paphos to Polis Chrysochous road and, by the end of 2002, for the continuation of the Troodos motorway from where it currently ends at Kokkinotrimithia as far as Astromeritis and Evrychou.

    According to Neophytou, the ratio of roads compared to the size of the island means Cyprus has the best highways in Europe.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Chaos looms as teachers threaten to step up action

    By Melina Demetriou

    LOOMING chaos in schools looked likely yesterday with teachers warning that they would step up action if the government carried out its threats to punish protesters.

    Secondary schoolteachers' union OELMEK this week vowed to act unilaterally and force implementation of an 'agreement' on teacher workloads from Wednesday next week when pupils returned to classes. The union charged that the Education Ministry would "be responsible for the chaos that will be caused", and threatened to "step up" action if necessary.

    The changes teachers are implementing include reducing the teaching hours of teachers with six or seven years' experience from 24 to 22 and those with 13 to 15 years' experience from 22 to 20.

    OELMEK also warned that assistant heads and teachers of specialised subjects would not perform all of their duties.

    The union claims the agreement reached with the ministry earlier this year provided for these reductions in teachers' workload but the ministry argues that there are no such provisions in the agreement.

    The union also announced last week that school inspectors would be denied access to schools, protesting at the fact that a new teachers' evaluation system was not in place yet.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides has branded OELMEK's threats illegal and anarchic, and threatened that teachers would suffer pay cuts if they went ahead and taught fewer hours. The government's policy not to negotiate under union threats makes the situation even worse.

    But teachers hit back yesterday giving the ministry until Tuesday to implement the disputed agreement in order for them to call off the planned action.

    "If the ministry does not comply, in the next week we will ask all secondary school teachers to sign a statement saying that if any colleague's salary is touched they would also teach two hours less a week," Kyriacos Theodorou, a member of OELMEK's central council, told the Cyprus Mail after a marathon union meeting yesterday.

    Theodorou admitted that the union's action would deepen the crisis in education but argued that the ministry had left them no other choice. "We called off strike measures again and again but the ministry did nothing," Theodorou claimed.

    He described the government's policy not to negotiate under action threats as "anachronistic and unacceptable". He added: "OELMEK condemns the offensive and authoritarian behaviour of Ioannides."

    The minister on Thursday flew to Geneva with chaos looming in schools.

    He does not only face OELMEK threats -- he is also under fire from school inspectors, junior teachers, the ministry's technical unit and some pupils' parents.

    Technicians yesterday announced a two-hour strike on Monday. Parents of elementary schoolchildren have slammed the ministry for failing to complete renovation work on school buildings before their children returned to classes on Thursday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Officer to face 50 charges in explosives trial

    By Elias Hazou

    A LIEUTENANT colonel with the National Guard was yesterday sent for trial before a criminal court after a total of 50 charges were levelled against him on illegal possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit felony.

    Infantry officer Savvas Sudjis had been named by another suspect, Fanos Mahattou, in what police believe was a run for cover by gangland figures desperate to get rid of their weapons.

    Sudjis has also been tied to two 1998 bomb explosions in the Paralimni area, with Mahattou claiming the infantry officer supplied criminal groups with weapons and explosives.

    A Larnaca district court yesterday sent Sudjis directly to trial before a criminal court, setting the date for October 16. The counsel for the prosecution said in court that it was likely the Attorney-general might amend and/or reduce the charges to be pressed at the criminal court.

    Police sources said the charges comprised seven pages and hundreds of documents from testimony given by witnesses and explosives experts.

    The high-profile case started in mid-August when, acting on a tip from an informant, police found in Sudjis' car and house an arsenal of weapons, including machine guns, revolvers, TNT explosives and detonators.

    In court yesterday, Sudjis' lawyer argued that his client might not receive a fair trial because of the media publicity surrounding the case, and asked for an acquittal. The judge rejected the argument, noting it was too early to establish such bias.

    The 47-year-old officer may find himself waiting for the trial behind bars, but his counsel yesterday pressed the court to issue bail.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Ghanaian dance troupe in false passport sage

    By Jennie Matthew

    PROFESSIONAL dancers from Ghana brought to Cyprus by UNESCO and the International Theatre Institute for a Festival of Ancient Greek Drama entered the country with false passports.

    But the discrepancy was only spotted when three of the group of 14 tried to go to Egypt using their own passports on Tuesday.

    The dancers arrived on August 26 to give two performances at the drama festival in Paphos, organised by theatre director Nicos Schiafkalis, president of the Cyprus International Theatre Institute.

    They travelled with cultural officers from the Ghanaian government.

    Schiafkalis told the Cyprus Mail that the dancers had planned to leave the island on August 31, but Middle East Airlines turned them away because there were no available seats.

    Two did nevertheless manage to travel out, leaving 12 stuck in Cyprus. Then on Wednesday three of them tried to take a boat to Egypt from Limassol.

    But immigration police stopped them at passport control on suspicion of illegal entry because their papers showed no entry stamp.

    On-the-spot explanations proved insufficient, so they were taken down to Limassol police station for eight hours of questioning until 9pm.

    They then admitted to flying in with passports issued in the names of the performers originally invited to the festival, who had pulled out at the last minute. They kept the names, but switched the photos so immigration officers wouldn't be suspicious.

    When they tried to leave the country, they used their own passports, which did not have entry stamps.

    "To have passports made out in different names is a typical offence and we had to decide whether or not there was an intention to fraud," said Limassol divisional police commander Charalambous Koulentis.

    The dancers may have used their own passports to leave as Immigration officer impounded their first passports on arrival.

    In the end, police contacted the festival organisers and let them go. Five are staying in Drousia with Schiafkalis, and the other seven are in Limassol.

    Immigration has given them until September 21 to find seats on an alternative flight.

    But an article in Politis newspaper yesterday provoked outrage for confusing the Ghanaian troupe with the world famous Zulu warriors from South Africa, in Cyprus for a series of performances from August 30 to September 1, in Nicosia and Paphos.

    "We brought Zulu dancers and we arrested them," shrieked the front-page headline.

    Police denied that the dancers had been arrested, saying they were in for questioning only.

    The South African Honorary Consulate General yesterday criticised the newspaper for debasing a professional event that had raised money for the Cyprus Association of Cancer Patients and Friends.

    The Ulundi Zulus left Larnaca on September 2. "Under no circumstances were any of the members of this group arrested nor did any of them stay behind in Cyprus," the statement said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Officials order deer cull to save the moufflon

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE FORESTRY Department has decided to exterminate the fallow deer population in the Tylliria Mountains to prevent the unwelcome species from getting out of hand and eliminating the treasured moufflon population.

    The order for a mass cull was given after attempts to return the deer to their native Switzerland or offload them onto zoos came to nothing.

    Some 50 to 60 deer are housed in an enclosure - originally built for three - near the remote point of Stavros tis Psokas.

    Unless drastic action is taken, forestry officials fear the population will multiply to nearly 120 in less than two years.

    The deer boom could have catastrophic effects on the some 2,000 moufflon that roam the forest.

    There is no question that the Ministry of Agriculture will sacrifice the prized indigenous moufflon to the deer after the species recently bounced back from the brink of extinction.

    The slaughter, to be carried out systematically over the next five years, should stock the kitchens at exclusive restaurants with the odd slab of venison.

    The Ministry of Agriculture is expected to offer tenders to interested parties to begin the butchery early in 2002.

    Experts consider deer meat a tidy profit-making business. Licensed buyers will have to confront high prices for the gourmet meat.

    If successful, the cull will end the deer problem that has lingered for over 20 years.

    Two female and one male deer were shipped over from Switzerland in 1980, a mistake from the word go.

    The government had wanted to breed Persian fallow deer on the island, a species native to western Asia and the Mediterranean and therefore considered most appropriate.

    But the Swiss sent the wrong species. When challenged, they reportedly refused to take them back.

    "They must die because the enclosure is too small for them. But neither can they roam in the forest because the vegetation is not appropriate for this species and they would harm the moufflon population, which, endemic to Cyprus, has to be our priority," Demetris Christofias, Paphos divisional forestry officer told the Cyprus Mail.

    "We did write to zoos and institutions to see if they could give these animals a home, but they don't want them. We've been battling with this problem for the last four years," he added.

    Deer are stronger than moufflon, so guzzle up the moufflon's food. The two animals can also fight to the death, the deer more often the victor, if they encounter each other.

    Meanwhile, the Veterinary Department is to order an open season for the nation's 45,000 hunters to gun down some 200 wild boars rampant in the Troodos Mountains.

    The Ministry says there is a real danger that boars could pass foot and mouth disease and swine fever to farm pigs.

    If that happened, then Cyprus pig farming would be ruined.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Denktash confirms: 'No' to New York

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will not be attending UN-sponsored talks in New York next week aimed at solving the Cyprus Problem, he informed the United Nations last night. "We did receive confirmation from Mr Denktash that he cannot attend the meeting here," UN spokesman Manoel Almeida e Silva told reporters in New York yesterday.

    Formal word that Denktash had turned down the UN invitation for talks beginning on Wednesday was a blow to the UN.

    "We regret this development. We hope this is not Mr Denktash's final word. There is a lot of work that needs to be done and efforts must get back on truck without delay and in earnest," Silva said.

    President Glafcos Clerides had already accepted the invitation and will be in New York next week, the UN spokesman said.

    Earlier yeasterday, Clerides forecast that Denktash would not respond positively to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan's invitation for the resumption of talks on September 12.

    Clerides said he himself would be in New York next week but that he would not now be meeting Annan.

    Meanwhile, the Greek government yesterday vowed to complain about Denktash's refusal to attend the talks to the informal conference of EU foreign ministers taking place today and tomorrow.

    Annan had invited the two leaders to separate meetings in the hope that talks could be resumed immediately but Denktash on Wednesday spurned the offer less than an hour after it was made by Annan's special Cyprus envoy Alvaro de Soto in Nicosia. Denktash said he wanted further talks on his status before he would agree to any negotiations.

    "If the Secretary-general asks to see me, I will not refuse," Clerides said earlier yesterday. He said he was also planning to see representatives of the UN Security Council permanent members.

    The British Foreign Office expressed its deep disappointment over Denktash's refusal to go to New York.

    "We are deeply disappointed about his refusal to return to the UN settlement process", a British official from the British Foreign Office told London Greek Radio yesterday. "We don't find his reasons for not doing so to be justified or convincing."

    Turkish Cypriot press said yesterday that Ankara was fully behind Denktash's decision. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Faruk Logoglu told reporters in Ankara that extending an invitation for September 12 without seeking the Turkish Cypriot side's confirmation did not harmonise with the good offices mission of the UN Secretary-general.

    He said the Turkish Cypriot side was objecting to the date of the invitation as well as to the point that it was made without sufficient provision for the preparation of ground. The Turkish Cypriot side was of the opinion that starting a process without sufficient preparation of ground would render the process unsuccessful.

    Denktash was yesterday quoted as saying de Soto had wasted his time. "An official who is conducting a mission of good offices does not have the right to publicly declare a date for a meeting when he knows that one side will come to the meeting while the other will not be able to," he said. "If de Soto does not use the term partnership then I do not go to the meeting."

    Asked to comment on Turkish threats to annex the north if Cyprus' EU entry goes ahead, Clerides said yesterday that Turkey was already given its answer by the EU. "If Turkey implements its threats it can forget its accession to the EU," Clerides said referring to a European Parliament's resolution.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Bomb scare fails to dampen market revival

    By Jean Christou

    SHARE prices ended 1.5 per cent up yesterday as the all-share index closed at 139.8 points, but blue chips lagged behind with only a 0.87 per cent rise to 537.4 points.

    The index was heading uphill after reaching an intraday low of 135 points when a bomb scare interrupted trading at around 11am, half an hour into the session.

    Police said an anonymous call saying there were two bombs in the building had been made to a private television station. Calls to the Cyprus Stock Exchange itself can be traced.

    Trading resumed around midday after police gave the all clear, and the index witnessed a buying frenzy it had not seen for weeks upping recent poor volumes to 8 million.

    All sectors except banks and financial services companies ended in the black, with gains ranging from 1.01 per cent in the construction sector to 6.72 per cent for technology companies.

    The banking sector lost 0.07 per cent after taking a serious hammering on Thursday when it dropped over four per cent. Bank of Cyprus managed to gain one cent yesterday to end at 1.96, making it the most traded share of the day. Second on the list was Laiki Bank, which dropped four cents to 1.39, while Hellenic came in third, gaining four cents to 90 cents.

    The three banks accounted for some 25 per cent of total volume.

    Troubled GlobalSoft inched up three cents to close at 27 cents after 1.7 million of its shares were traded.

    Overall, 99 titles gained compared to 42 decliners and 90, which ended the day unchanged.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Crew bail out from sinking ship

    THE SEVEN crew members of a Cambodian-flagged ship safely abandoned the vessel when it started listing off the Paphos coast yesterday with a cargo of copper. The Lynn was carrying some 650 tonnes of copper sheets and was headed from Limassol to Corinth, Greece, when it issued a distress signal 20 km west of the island yesterday morning.

    The coastguard picked up the five Ukrainians and two Greeks who abandoned the vessel in a lifeboat, drifting some 300 metres away from the ship.

    The Lynn's captain said that they were forced to jump ship after the engine room flooded. "After an agonising two hours on the lifeboat, we were picked up by the Paphos coastguard, whom I would really want to thank," the somewhat shaken captain said.

    The ship's engineer was taken to hospital for treatment as a precaution. The other crew members were unharmed.

    The Department of Merchant Shipping said it was investigating the cause of the accident. According to an official at the department, the vessel had taken a left tilt in rough seas.

    The ship later sank.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Investors group resignations

    TAKIS Cole, chairman of the investors association PASECHA, and four other members of its council stepped down yesterday, according to a television report. The PASHECHA council yesterday convened to give its response to what it called "defamatory accusations against Cole".

    Four members, Andreas Antoniou, Kyriacos Padjiaros, Louis Constantinou and Kikis Pastellides, vowed before the marathon meeting that they would resign to express their support for the chairman. The four investors also spoke of "a member of the council who served other interests than those of PASECHA."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [11] Athens promises Olympic development next week

    THE GREEK government will decide next week how to proceed with the privatisation of ailing national airline Olympic Airways (OA), after a deadline in talks with the front-running bidder Axon Airlines expired yesterday. Greece is expected to say whether it will clinch a provisional deal with Axon or keep the doors open for the two other suitors - Cyprus Airways (CY) and Australian-based Integrated Airline Solutions (IAS).

    Greek Transport and Telecommunications Minister Christos Verelis said the government would announce its next step yesterday, but privatisation advisers Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) later issued a statement saying they would not issue their recommendation to the government before next week.

    "Following the expiration of the initial negotiation period with Axon Airlines and the receipt of clarifications on their proposals from the Cyprus Airways consortium and Integrated Airline Solutions consortium, (CSFB) will provide its recommendation... by early next week," it said.

    Axon had expected to sign a tentative deal with the government early in September, but Greece last week asked all three bidders to renew their letters of guarantee until October 31 in an effort to keep them involved in the process.

    CY has asked Greece to clarify where it stands in the negotiations with Axon before renewing its bid.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [12] Turmoil as PASYDY meets for leadership elections

    By Melina Demetriou

    INTERNAL tensions yesterday marked civil servants' union PASYDY's electoral conference, which decided a new general council following the shock resignations of 52 general councillors last month.

    The electoral conference was forced after over half of the general council resigned en messe on August 10, throwing the 3,000-member union into disarray and uncovering a rift between general secretary Glafcos Hadjipetrou and former chairman of the general council, Antonis Antoniou.

    Antoniou insists Hadjipetrou instigated the resignations and has spoken of a "war" against the chairman within the powerful union.

    Antoniou and the rest of the general council were elected four months ago.

    Hadjipetrou has not aligned himself for or against the outgoing councillors, but has supported "a need for renewal".

    However, there are fears the crisis might split the union in two.

    Around 400 PASIDY members yesterday cast their votes in a behind-closed- doors meeting to decide a 96-member general council which will in turn elect the union's leadership, i.e., the council's chairman, a central secretariat and an executive committee.

    Seventy-one of the council's members were elected uncontested.

    PAISDY members said yesterday the conference had been held in a charged atmosphere and marked by conflicts between senior officials.

    After the conference, Antoniou and other senior members of the union charged voters had not been given the chance to express their views and said the resigning councillors had had no time to explain the reasons why they had quit.

    "Today's procedures did not honour us as a trade union. Our primary concern had always been unity, which today, however, suffered a serious blow," said Antoniou.

    "The leadership decided that open discussion was not in line with the union's constitution," he added.

    Secretary-general Hadjipetrou, however, said the event had been held in a cordial atmosphere and played down fears of a split.

    The new general council will convene in a week to elect PASIDY's leadership. Antoniou will run for re-election.

    "I have information that the position will also be contested by another member," he said.

    Sources suggested this would be Andreas Christodoulou.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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