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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-11-02

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

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


Friday, November 2, 2001

CONTENTS

  • [01] Brits still shying away from Cyprus
  • [02] Burning a wheat filed could land you in jail for life
  • [03] Maple Leaf pub wrecked in blaze
  • [04] Priest defrocked
  • [05] AKEL opposes plans for new anti-terror unit
  • [06] Pressure rises for interest rate cut
  • [07] Share prices soar in sudden regain of confidence
  • [08] Council of Europe envoy on mission for the enclaved
  • [09] CyTA under fire for cut-price mobile phone sale
  • [10] De Soto in Cyprus today
  • [11] Land scam suspects remanded in custody

  • [01] Brits still shying away from Cyprus

    By Jean Christou

    BRITONS may have begun to venture abroad again but they won't be coming to Cyprus, going instead to Greece and Turkey next summer, UK operators warned yesterday.

    Noel Josephides, general manager of UK-based Cyprus specialists Sunvil Holidays, told the Cyprus Mailthere seemed to be a general upturn in bookings for next summer. Cyprus, however, was not one of the lucky destinations, he said.

    " Certainly, what's happening is that people are getting used to the problem in Afghanistan in the same way as they have gotten used for many years to problems in Northern Ireland. Afghanistan is a long way off so they don't feel that it's an issue,"he said.

    " My feeling is that things are slowly coming back, but it's very patchy and there are certain areas that are still not going particularly well. Cyprus still isn't going well."

    Already, the island's winter tourism for this year has been wiped out. Josephides said that tour operators had cut back their programmes to Cyprus by 80 per cent between now and Christmas. " It's going to be very down,"he said.

    Josephides said that the latest figures in the UK for summer 2002 bookings, dating to the end of September, " reflect what happened (on September 11) but don't reflect if there's been any improvement since" .

    He said that for next summer the overall UK market was down nine per cent.

    Cyprus is down 21 per cent, Spain 25 per cent, Portugal 17 per cent, Malta 13 per cent, Italy 12 per cent and the US 17 per cent.

    But Greece and Turkey have shown an increase in bookings of up 16 and 19 per cent respectively.

    " This has nothing to do with any rational thinking,"Josephides said. " This is purely people's sentiments. It's just perception, and unfortunately in Cyprus we are stuck with the perception that the British bases are going to be used."

    He said, however, that it was too early to be worried as the industry seemed to be bouncing back slowly.

    " But one thing is certain,"he added. " There have been so many cutbacks in capacity for next summer for Cyprus that I would be very surprised if we reached this year's numbers, and this year's figures were fairly static anyway."

    The biggest UK operators, such as Thomas Cook and JMC, have already cut next year's capacity to all destinations by around 20 per cent, which represents thousands of holiday packages.

    Josephides said January was going to be " crunch time"for bookings.

    " If demand doesn't come back strongly in January, there are going to be enormous problems. It will affect everyone,"he said. " But whichever way you look at it, the capacity for next year will be down. I don't thinks there is any doubt about it. There will be fewer arrivals in Cyprus, but this might not be a bad thing. We might not have the rubbish we had this year and the £59 one-week packages to Ayia Napa."

    He added that if no more " big incidents"occurred the situation might improve, but warned: " If there is another incident involving an aeroplane, then we've got serious problems."

    Sources told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that passengers out of the UK now preferred to travel Cyprus Airways rather than British Airways because they felt there was less chance of terrorists targeting CY than BA.

    However, a CY spokesman said there were no actual figures to prove the theory.

    Both CY and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) confirmed that even if British tourists had begun to put aside their fear of travelling in the wake of the September 11 attacks, it was not making an impact on tourism to Cyprus.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said the situation was " more or less the same" .

    " People are still very cautious because of the news that the US expects new terrorist strikes,"he said. " The situation is not tragic, but it's not normalising either."

    Senior CTO official Lefkos Phylactides said they had received no news from the UK about any upturn in bookings.

    " Our advertising campaign is still running and if it's working it will show through calls and coupons and hits on our website,"he said. " I think this should become more apparent over the next few days or so."

    Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday called on airport workers not to add to the current tourism woes by going ahead with a planned strike at Larnaca and Paphos yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Burning a wheat filed could land you in jail for life

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE HOUSE Legal Affairs Committee yesterday heard it was about time to change a 72-year-old law that anyone who deliberately started a fire in a wheat or cereal field should be sentenced to life imprisonment.

    The Committee was yesterday examining the possibility of implementing stronger legislation concerning forest fires.

    " While we were discussing the issue, it emerged that the act of deliberately starting a fire in a cereal or wheat field was punishable with life imprisonment. But if you start a fire in a state forest you only get 15 years. It looks like there is a discrepancy, "DISY deputy Ionas Nicolaou said after the meeting yesterday.

    The Legal Affairs Committee called on the government to examine the law in question and come up with a bill to amend penalties so that they reflect the severity of each action, Nicolaou said.

    The DISY deputy was asked to comment on the fact that the old bill also made references to " oxen"and " chickens."

    " Please don't make laugh,"Nicolaou giggled.

    " At the time when the bill was drafted, in1929, Cyprus' economy was based on agriculture and farming. Priorities were very different to what they were later in the industrial age and to what they are now in the post- industrial age,"he explained.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Maple Leaf pub wrecked in blaze

    A NICOISA pub was completely destroyed when a fire broke out in the early hours of yesterday morning.

    The Maple Leaf Pub on Kallipoleos Street, which was under renovation, was totally destroyed by the fire that broke out at 6.50am under unknown circumstances.

    Three fire engines rushed to the scene and put out the flames.

    One fire fighter was hurt when the roof collapsed and was taken to the casualty department of Nicosia General Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.

    Lykavitos police are investigating the causes of the blaze.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Priest defrocked

    By George Psyllides

    AN archimandrite was yesterday defrocked by the Holy Synod for his involvement in an attempt to defame Limassol Bishop Athanassios by branding him a homosexual.

    Disgraced Archimandrite Andreas Constantinides remained defiant after hearing the decision, threatening revelations about certain members of the clergy.

    Constantinides was a protagonist in last year's saga, which dragged the Church of Cyprus through the mud and hurt the trust of many faithful towards their clergy.

    Last month the Holy Synod defrocked another archimandrite, thought to be Constantinides' protégé.

    Chrysostomos Argyrides, along with Constantinides, spearheaded the campaign to defame Athanassios who was vindicated last year by a Greater Synod which met on the island for the second time in the history of the Church of Cyprus.

    Yesterday a bitter Constantinides said the decision had been a vindictive and cowardly action.

    " They showed that they are all cowards in the Synod.

    " They are afraid of the truth,"he said.

    In a burst of self-righteousness, not uncommon for the now former cleric, Constantinides said he would continue his fight against the homosexual priests who were covered by the Church of Cyprus.

    He alleged that a DISY deputy had met with a member of the Synod at the monastery of Trooditissa recently and tried to influence him to change his stance and vote for him to be defrocked so that Athanassios would be satisfied.

    Constantinides said he would continue to wear the frock and warned that he would soon make revelations.

    Paphos Bishop Chrysostomos, who voted against the defrockment, said that other members of the Church had committed worse offences that the Holy Synod did not even bother to investigate.

    The Holy Synod yesterday also looked into changing the Charter of the Church in order to increase the number of bishoprics to 14.

    A bitter Chrysostomos who supported the increase said he was sure the proposal would be rejected.

    He said: " I am not honoured to be a member of the Synod."

    Kyrenia Bishop Pavlos said it was not the right time to change the Church Charter.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] AKEL opposes plans for new anti-terror unit

    By Melina Demetriou

    AKEL and New Horizons yesterday came out against suggestions for an anti- terrorist unit made by the Cabinet in a bill submitted to Parliament last month.

    Some deputies on the Legal and Foreign Affairs Committees yesterday charged that certain provisions of the bill were arbitrary.

    The anti-terrorist bill rules that anyone found guilty under the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism could face life imprisonment and/or a £2 million fine. It also provides for the formation of a special anti-terrorist unit, which would be modelled on the existing financial crime fighting unit. The two units would, if necessary, work in conjunction and co-operate with other international crime-busting agencies.

    The bill, which ratifies the International Convention, was approved by the Cabinet and submitted by Attorney-general Alecos Markides to the House of Representatives for approval on October 11.

    The Legal and Foreign Affairs Committees yesterday held a joint session to discuss the plan with Markides.

    Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Nicos Anastassiades said deputies agreed with many of the bill's provisions, noting, however, that AKEL and New Horizons opposed the idea of an anti-terrorist force.

    " Such a unit's authorities supersede the law. They even allow body searches without a court warrant,"charged Christos Klerides, New Horizons' single deputy and member of Cyprus Human Rights Association.

    AKEL deputy Andros Kyprianou reiterated his party's position opposing the formation of an anti-terrorist force.

    AKEL believes the existing financial crime unit could be expanded to combat the funding of terrorism.

    " Too many units can create a negative climate and also lead to abuse of power,"Kyprianou warned.

    The Attorney-general responded that if the House committees eventually decided to oppose the provision, then he would " make the necessary moves" .

    Reports say Markides has said privately he would discreetly exclude the provision from the bill if Parliament opposed it.

    AKEL deputies also felt that the punishment of life imprisonment laid out in the anti-terrorism bill was too strong.

    Markides, however, argued that such serious crimes could not be punished with prison terms of three or five years.

    " It is our duty as a nation to treat this kind of crimes the same way we treat murders and rapes,"Markides insisted.

    Anastassiades asked Markides what would happen if someone funded an organisation which appeared to be a charity but then turned out to be affiliated to a terrorist group.

    The Attorney-general conceded that the final version of the bill should clarify that only intentional financing of terrorism was punishable.

    He also shared Kyprianou's view that the anti-terrorism law should not ban funding of national liberation movements, such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

    Markides last month tried to allay fears that the bill would limit basic freedoms, saying it basically extended current legislation on financial crime to the financing of terrorism.

    The government's authority to investigate bank accounts or other confidential documents and freeze or confiscate assets would, upon passage of the law, include people or organisations suspected of funding terrorism.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Pressure rises for interest rate cut

    By Michele Kambas

    CYPRUS may get its third interest rate reduction in a year if the Central Bank heeds calls from politicians and stockbrokers at a regular rate- setting meeting today.

    Signs that the tourism sector is starting to flag in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the US, and a large gap between local and eurozone rates point to a drop in the key lending benchmark of 6.0 per cent, analysts say.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides has joined the chorus of stockbrokers and opposition politicians in publicly urging the Central Bank to take action to mitigate the effect of the world's economic woes on the country.

    The publicity-shy Central Bank, which has lowered rates half a point since September 11, has kept mum and let the guesswork gather pace.

    Opposition party economists think a new reduction is needed. The government's own target of 4.0-4.5 per cent growth in real terms for 2001 is a too ambitious, they say.

    This year, growth is likely to splutter to 2.0 per cent and new impetus is needed for the economy, according to researchers at left-wing opposition AKEL.

    "I would expect a half-point reduction to be natural," said deputy Stavros Evagorou, the head of the communist party's economic research division.

    Figures released on Wednesday confirm that tourism arrivals are likely to remain flat on last year's figure of 2.7 million visitors. The sector represents more than 20 per cent of Cyprus' gross national product.

    "An impact has been seen from a slowdown in bookings," said Evagorou. "It is likely to have a chain reaction throughout the economy," he told Reuters.

    Evagorou said that before September 11, some of Cyprus' economic indicators were deteriorating in a knock-on effect from a crash on the stock market, which has lost 50 per cent this year.

    Consumer spending, he said, rose 6.7 per cent in 2000 but its growth has faltered to only 2.5 per cent this year as purchasing power has diminished.

    Laiki Bank chief economist Sophronis Eteocleous said he too expected a half- point drop in rates.

    "Tourism has started to show some signs of being affected with bookings... possibly the Central Bank will work pre-emptively in reducing interest rates with a view to boosting economic activity," he said.

    Fears of stoking inflation, only 1.8 per cent, will probably be the last thing on central bankers' minds, he said.

    "What worries the Central Bank is not really inflation but the current account deficit. It was 5.2 per cent in 2000, and that figure has been improved since then," said Eteocleous.

    But a colleague at Hellenic Bank was unsure whether there would be a rate cut.

    "It will depend on whether the emphasis will be on concerns about a possible economic slowdown, or on the fact that the European Central Bank kept its own rate unchanged at 3.75 per cent last week," she said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Share prices soar in sudden regain of confidence

    By Jean Christou

    SHARE prices soared 4.13 per cent yesterday, with banks and financial services companies leading the way to push the index to 124.4 points.

    The blue chips FTSE/CySE index outperformed the general index, gaining 4.23 per cent to 511.2 points, while volume clocked in at a healthy £9 million.

    All sectors ended in the black, with gains ranging from 2.9 per cent in the hotels sector to 6.23 per cent for financial services companies, while banks notched up 4.15 per cent.

    Analysts said a selling spree early in the session had threatened to shake investors' confidence but the index pulled itself up rapidly and a bullish mood prevailed until the close.

    Only 14 titles ended the day in decline, compared to 94 which saw gains, and 30 that remained unchanged.

    Also yesterday, the CSE announced the latest six-monthly list of companies on the FTSE/CySE. The Advisory Committee - made up of a representative of FTSE International, members of the CSE Council, public listed companies and the stockbrokers' association - met on Tuesday to examine the composition of the FTSE index.

    The basic criteria for companies to be included on the FTSE index are large capitalisation and a high tradability.

    The new FTSE/CySE index is as follows: Bank of Cyprus, Cyprus Popular Bank Ltd, Hellenic Bank Ltd, Louis Cruise Lines Ltd, Lanitis Brothers Ltd, A. Tsokkos Hotels Ltd, Sharelink Financial Services Ltd, Libra Holidays Group Ltd, Cyprus Trading Corporation Ltd, Golden Sun Leisure (Cy) Ltd, KEO Ltd, F.W.Woolworth & Co. (Cyprus) Ltd,L.K. Globalsoft.Com Ltd, Universal Savings Bank Ltd,D.H. Cyprotels Ltd, Malloupas & Papacostas Trading Co Ltd, Suphire Financial Services Ltd,Aristo Developers Ltd,

    Renos Hatzioannou Farm andPandora Investment Co Ltd.

    The last four listed companies are new to the FTSE. They replace Orphanides supermarkets, Minerva Insurance, Salamis Tours and Avacom Computers.

    The new list comes into effect on December 3.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Council of Europe envoy on mission for the enclaved

    THE RAPPORTEUR of the Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe began a three-day visit to the island yesterday to assess the rights and freedoms of Greek Cypriots and Maronites in northern Cyprus.

    Dick Marty arrived on Wednesday night and spent yesterday locked in top- level meetings with government officials.

    He had appointments with Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, Attorney- general Alecos Markides, Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Takis Christopoulos and the President of the House Committee for Refugees, Enclaved and Missing Persons, Aristophanes Georgiou.

    In the afternoon, Marty consulted NGOs dealing with enclaved Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the north, as well as the deputies for the Maronite and Armenian communities Antonis Hadjiroussos and Petros Kalaidjian respectively.

    He had lunch with members of the Cyprus Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

    Marty will spend today and tomorrow in the north, before leaving the country on Sunday morning.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] CyTA under fire for cut-price mobile phone sale

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE CYPRUS Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) hit the headlines yesterday over reports that it had sold 11,000 mobile phones to a non-operational British company at well below market prices.

    Auditor-general Chrystalla Yiorkadji told the House Watchdog Committee on Wednesday that CyTA had bought thousands of mobile phones, then sold them to D.G. Trading without inviting tenders.

    CyTA lost £445,000 in the deal, technically public money managed by an authority duty-bound to plough profits back to the consumer.

    D.G Trading is represented by two lawyers in Britain, its shareholders are unknown and its capital of just £2 implies it could have been set up to buy the mobiles on borrowed money and sell them on at a profit.

    No one knows why CyTA failed to invite tender either for the purchase of 15, 000 mobiles from three foreign companies for £1.12 million, or for the subsequent sale of 11,000, at way below proper market prices.

    It is not clear why CyTA bought the phones. Dumped in storage for five months, 11,000 of them were then hurriedly sold for £25 each to D.G. Trading.

    The House Committee heard that the sale was pushed through shortly after the Competition Committee began to investigate the CyTA deal, reported by affronted mobile phone importers.

    At the same meeting, the Auditor-general also claimed that £121.8 million deposited in CyTA bank accounts should have been invested in government bonds.

    General manager Nicos Timotheou defended the use of CyTA profits on acquisitions to modernise the authority and cope with stiff competition.

    But consumers were left stranded again yesterday, with mobiles, landlines, toll free 080 numbers and information 090-1 lines cut off all morning.

    The technical problems were put down to yesterday's introduction of new 8- digit telephone numbers.

    All area codes, (02, 03, 04, 05, 06) have been replaced with two new numbers (22, 23, 24, 25, 26 respectively) as CyTA braces itself for the onslaught of competition once the sector liberalises in 2003.

    Lines in Paphos and parts of Limassol were unreachable, cutting off subscribers from the outside world.

    Landlines and mobiles in Pyrgos, in the remote Tylliria area, Tsakistra, Palaichori, Pedoulas and Polystiko were among those worst affected.

    Toll free, 080 numbers in Nicosia, Larnaca and Famagusta and 090-1 numbers - late night chemists, duty doctors, hospitals, the talking clock, electricity and water repair centres and the weather were also cut off.

    A spokesman for the CyTA faults department said that all the lines were up and running by 2pm, nationwide.

    The new numbers will from December 1 mark the introduction of a single local call rate of two cents for two minutes across Cyprus.

    Local talk time will become twice as expensive, while inter-city calls will be slashed by more than 50 per cent.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] De Soto in Cyprus today

    THE U.N. Secretary-general's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto will arrive on the island today for a one-day visit, the government confirmed yesterday.

    Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the UN envoy would have separate meetings this afternoon with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    De Soto will leave early tomorrow for Athens and then Ankara for meetings with Greek and Turkish officials on the Cyprus problem, after which he will return to New York to consult with UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan before Clerides' meeting with Annan later this month.

    A meeting between the two men, schedule for mid September, was cancelled after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Denktash had refused to attend the meeting, which was intended to kick-start the stalled Cyprus talks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [11] Land scam suspects remanded in custody

    By Rita Kyriakides

    TWO MEN arrested on suspicion of involvement in illegal transfers of Turkish Cypriot land were yesterday remanded for eight days by the Paphos district court.

    Police arrested the Mukhtar of Kato Pyrgos, Krinos Theocharous, and Andreas Savva, a farmer from the remote area east of Polis on Wednesday.

    The court heard that, a few days ago, Theocharous had met with one of five suspended Land Survey Department staff, currently also in custody in connection with the same case.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said yesterday the case still involved a lot of work, with police needing to take many statements from local residents and sift through mountains of paperwork at the Land Survey Department.

    " There are 12 or 13 cases under investigation, but we are having difficulties because at least four of the files are missing,"he said.

    Koshis also said that police were currently concentrating on the Tylliria area and could not say if any other areas were involved.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides said yesterday his office was in contact with police, adding he believed the police were doing a good job.

    Markides had expressed concern last week that leaks about the investigation might compromise police work.

    The case was also discussed at a meeting of the House Refugee Committee yesterday.

    The chairman of the committee, Aristofanis Georgiou, told deputies there were many more cases involved, not only concerning land belonging to Turkish Cypriots but also land in the occupied areas belonging to Greek Cypriots.

    " The House committee will hand over any information it has to the Attorney- general's office,"said Georgiou.

    The case first emerged in August after Georgiou revealed that Turkish Cypriot land had been illegally transferred and subsequently sold. It returned to the limelight last week after reports appeared in the media that several land survey employees could be implicated in the case.

    Reports said the main suspects in the scam, allegedly carried out between September and October last year, were residents of the area who identified land belonging to people who did not possess title deeds.

    They allegedly managed to obtain notarised witness testimony that they had been cultivating the land for the past 40 years, and the land survey officials allegedly involved issued titles deeds in their names.

    The land was then sold for large amounts of money.

    In the main case under investigation, it was reported that land belonging to five Turkish Cypriots had been sold to an investment company for almost a million pounds.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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