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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-11-22

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, November 22, 2001


  • [01] Is there any point in direct talks?
  • [02] Christmas in Athens for 49
  • [03] Mukhtar 'tampered with tax registry to hide illegal land transfers'
  • [04] Paphos escaping tourist slump, but hotels still close for renovation
  • [05] Matsakis points finger at politicians over land scam
  • [06] Truckers to block port in x-ray protest
  • [07] Stockbrokers Association chief quits meeting over 'coffeeshop' remark
  • [08] Man gunned down in Larnaca shop

  • [01] Is there any point in direct talks?

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday raised doubts about the forthcoming meeting between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash after it emerged Denktash had written to the UN Secretary-general repeating his uncompromising stance on the Cyprus issue.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday expressed concern about the outcome of the meeting on December 4 - the first between the two leaders since 1997 - if Denktash was attending simply to repeat his well- known views on a settlement.

    The spokesman said the government had hoped Denktash would come to the meeting with a fresh outlook, and warned that if the Turkish Cypriot leader did not change his stance, there could be no progress towards a solution.

    Speaking after yesterday's Cabinet meeting, Papapetrou said Denktash had sent a letter to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, dated November 12, arguing for a confederation recognising two states in Cyprus each with separate sovereignty - a scenario that runs contrary to UN resolutions.

    The letter is dated on the same day as Denktash was writing to President Clerides urging a face-to-face meeting, which the government agreed to earlier this week.

    "If Mr Denktash comes to the face-to-face meeting with the President with this kind of disposition, then it is all but certain that the meeting will not achieve its objective to break the current stalemate and pave the way for a settlement," Papapetrou said, adding the government would like to hope that, despite the current pessimism, Denktash would nevertheless come to the Nicosia meeting with a new approach.

    The UN Secretary-general's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto is due to arrive in Cyprus on December 2 to act as an observer at the meeting. He is expected to listen and take notes, but not to intervene in the discussions.

    Papapetrou said yesterday President Clerides had not been aware of Denktash's letter to Annan when he accepted the Turkish Cypriot leader's proposal to meet in the presence of De Soto.

    "Even if the President had known about the letter, he would still have said yes to Denktash's proposal," Papapetrou said. "What counts is what Denktash will say at the meeting."

    The spokesman said the Greek Cypriot side had no wish to engage in a public debate with the Turkish Cypriot side. "For the Greek Cypriot side, the basis of the talks are the relevant UN resolutions, which provide the framework in which a settlement must be pursued,"he said.

    The December 4 meeting will be the first time since August 1997 that Clerides and Denktash meet face-to-face. The two leaders had since December 1999 been engaged in UN-led proximity talks, which Denktash abandoned last year after failing to secure recognition of his breakaway regime.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Christmas in Athens for 49

    By Melina Demetriou

    WITH just 49 plus airport tax, you can fly to Athens and back during the Christmas break, if you act fast and book a seat before 1,200 bargain tickets are sold out.

    Cyprus Airways (CY) chairman Charis Loizides yesterday announced a Christmas offer including 1,200 return tickets for Athens at 49 each and 1, 000 for Salonica at 69 each. The prices don't include airport tax.

    Loizides briefed reporters on the offer yesterday after a closed session of the House Finance Committee, which examined the national carrier's financial affairs.

    " We decided to offer a limited number of cheap tickets to Greece to show our gratitude to Cypriot travellers. Those who buy the tickets must leave a couple of days before Christmas and return just after New Year's Day. The offer is on a first-come-first-served basis."

    Tickets became available yesterday afternoon at Cyprus Airways braches and travel agencies.

    Standard fares for Athens and other short-haul destinations will soon come down as part of the company's efforts to counter the effects of the global economic recession on tourism, Loizides said.

    " We have already reduced fares for flights which last less than an hour, like those to Cairo, Damascus and Beirut. We offer less food and service for cheaper tickets,"he said.

    Loizides added the company would try to cover tourism losses expected to emerge from European carriers' decision to reduce the frequency of their flights to Cyprus.

    " The time has come for us to step in dynamically and schedule more flights to and from some of those countries. We will try apply this in places where there are prospects for an increase of the flow of tourism to Cyprus,"he said.

    Commerce and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said earlier this week that airlines in Britain and other EU countries had reduced the number of flights to the island, contrary to Greek, Russian and Scandinavian companies.

    Loizides also confirmed the company would be taking delivery of three A-319 airbuses, despite the global aviation crisis. One of them will be added to CY's fleet next April and the other two at the beginning of 2003.

    " Those planes will be used for short-haul flights, the number of which will increase. We plan to schedule four or five flights to Athens a day, "Loizides said.

    Committee chairman Marcos Kyprianou later pointed out the company had already sold four old A-310 airbuses.

    " They are replacing the old bigger aircrafts with new smaller ones. This way, they will be able to increase the number of profitable flights and decrease the number of unprofitable ones. Long-haul flights have become unpopular while short-haul flights are what most people are asking for, "Kyprianou explained.

    The decision to restructure the fleet had been taken before the September 11 attacks on the US, he noted.

    BRITISH Airways yesterday announced reduced fares for daylight flights to London accompanied by holiday packages. Larnaca-London return tickets are now available at 193 and as low as 143 for senior citizens. The flights leave from Larnaca at 3.45pm and from London at 8am. This is backed by a short-stay British Airways Windsor package offered at 246 per person for a two-night stay, in a double room, at the Tavistock Hotel, close to the heart of London's West End. For those who want to be even closer to the shopping action, 251 per person pays for a two-night break at the Mostyn Hotel off Oxford Street.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Mukhtar 'tampered with tax registry to hide illegal land transfers'

    By George Psyllides

    THE MUKHTAR of Pano Pyrgos was yesterday remanded in custody for eight days on suspicion of involvement in illegal land transfers in the remote Tylliria area.

    Andreas Lagos is the latest suspect in the spiralling case, which has opened a floodgate of allegations of illegal transfers all over Cyprus, including the occupied areas, allegedly involving politicians, deputies and businessmen.

    Lagos was the third public figure to be detained in connection with the case.

    So far, police have charged the Mukhtar of Pigenia and two Land Survey Department officials with multiple counts of fraud, corruption and bribery.

    The Mukhtar of Kato Pyrgos, who was arrested at the onset of the case, has not been charged yet.

    Lagos was arrested on Tuesday night, suspected of conspiring to commit felony, fraud, forgery, concealing documents, abuse of authority, bribery and obtaining documents using false pretences, offences allegedly carried out between 1985 and 1997.

    Police investigator Kypros Michaelides told the Paphos court that a land survey official had on November 15, sent a letter to police, reporting numerous illegal land transfers in the Pano Pyrgos area.

    Investigators suspect Lagos of involvement in 28 cases of illegal transfers in the area.

    The court heard that out of 28 applications for the acquisition of land, Lagos was the applicant in eight, his wife in five, and in 16 the applicants were his relatives or close friends.

    The police investigation allegedly revealed that the Pano Pyrgos tax registry had been altered in such a way as to prevent anyone finding out the irregularities and to indicate the suspect as the original owner of the land.

    Police said they found a huge number of land-transfer related documents in the suspect's dwellings while it was revealed in court that Lagos had written and signed a letter to the Land Survey Department director asking him to withdraw a certificate he had issued to a man held in connection with the case.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Paphos escaping tourist slump, but hotels still close for renovation

    By Jean Christou

    NINE hotels will close down in Paphos for the winter season, more than four times the usual number, but hoteliers said yesterday the decision had nothing to do with the tourism slump.

    " Usually they don't close, but since it's less busy this winter they decided to do their renovations,"one hotelier said. " It's nothing to do with the crisis,"he added.

    Since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US, tourism to the island has slumped, with forecasts of a ten per cent drop on estimates for 2001.

    " Bookings are a bit slow and everyone is waiting to see what is going to happen,"the hotelier said, adding that, compared to last winter, bookings had dropped around 30 per cent.

    " But in terms of numbers, it's not much,"he said. " Arrivals are usually few in winter, so even that percentage does not correspond to a large amount of reservations."

    Hoteliers Association director-general Zacharias Ioannides told the Cyprus Mailthat normally one or two hotels in Paphos closed for renovations in the winter

    " There is no crisis,"he said. " Certain hotels in Paphos have found it timely for their renovation projects. There is not a crisis as a result of slowdown in bookings."

    In fact, Ioannides said Paphos was performing under normal conditions. " In Paphos normally one or two hotels close in winter for renovations but because of the lower bookings profile that exists more considered it opportune,"he said.

    A representative from the SEK trade union in Paphos confirmed that hotels in Paphos were not suffering serious problems. He said the hotels still had enough work. " It is the first time that so many hotels have closed for renovation at the same time for winter, but there is really no serious problem,"he said.

    Hotel staff were not in danger of losing their jobs, he added, saying the majority would take their leave while the hotels were closed.

    Figures issued by the government yesterday said arrivals to Cyprus in October were ten per cent down on the same period last year - about 31,000 tourists less.

    Total arrivals from January to October numbered 2.51 million, some 2.5 per cent down on the same period last year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Matsakis points finger at politicians over land scam

    By Melina Demetriou

    FORMER and serving deputies and government officials may be involved in a widening land scam, DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis alleged yesterday.

    The police are currently investigating a series of cases of illegal transfers of land in the remote Tylliria area and possibly beyond.

    Matsakis said yesterday he had received complaints that deputies, senior government officials and lawyers were involved in some of the cases concerning Turkish Cypriot properties.

    The DIKO deputy made the allegations yesterday after a meeting of the House Refugee Committee.

    " It is known that Turkish Cypriot properties have been abused in the worse way. We have received complaints that deputies, lawyers and high-ranking officials use these properties illegally,"he charged.

    Matsakis said he had requested relevant information from the Interior Ministry to investigate the claims.

    " We must find a way to transfer all those properties to Greek Cypriot refugees who have a right to use them."

    Matsakis warned those who were involved in the land scams should be " trembling with fear" .

    Committee Chairman Aristophanis Georgiou of AKEL - who first made public the Tylliria allegations - said he was not aware of any deputies being involved in the illegal property transfers.

    " If Matsakis has any evidence, he should submit it to the Committee,"he urged.

    DISY deputy Lefteris Christoforou suggested the issue of Turkish Cypriot properties should be discussed by the National Council.

    " This affair has huge political, national and legal dimensions and must therefore be addressed by the National Council. There is a big confusion in the House and in the government about how Turkish Cypriot properties should be managed,"he said.

    " The National Council must draw up policies and set a legal framework that will enable us to deal with this matter until there is a solution to the Cyprus Problem,"Christoforou said.

    The deputy added the rights of Greek Cypriot refugees who legally use Turkish Cypriot properties should be safeguarded in case of a solution.

    " It will be tragic if those people lose everything for a second time. Some of them have based their businesses on Turkish Cypriot land,"Christoforou pointed out.

    Georgiou agreed it might be a good idea for the National Council to discuss the issue.

    " This possibility, however, must be examined by parliamentary parties,"he added.

    AKEL deputy Kikis Yiangou said he had evidence that Land and Survey Department officials as well as public figures were involved in a longstanding land scandal in Ayia Napa.

    " I intend to submit the evidence I have to the Committee,"he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Truckers to block port in x-ray protest

    MAJOR disruption was caused at Limassol port yesterday when truck drivers refused to drive through an x-ray machine installed to scan container contents, which they claim could harm their health.

    The entrance to the port was closed, resulting in shipments getting stuck in the port. More trouble is expected today with drivers threatening to block the entrance until the issue is settled in their favour.

    The trouble started early in the morning when drivers refused to drive their articulated lorries through the x-ray machine, citing the health risks involved.

    Their refusal led the port authorities to prohibit their exit from the port.

    The drivers retaliated by blocking the entrance.

    A meeting held to discuss the problem ran into deadlock, and the drivers said they would close the entrance to the port from today.

    A trade union representative said the drivers had every right to complain, even if authorities said there were no health risks involved in the procedure.

    He warned that if authorities insisted, then the union would call on all truck drivers to come to their colleagues' support.

    Checks have been placed in all airports and ports after the September 11 attacks against the Unites States to prevent sensitive materials like nuclear weapons from falling in the hands of terrorists.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Stockbrokers Association chief quits meeting over 'coffeeshop' remark

    By George Psyllides

    A MEETING of the House Watchdog Committee, investigating the stock market (CSE) debacle, came to an abrupt end around 20 minutes into the session yesterday after the Chairman of the Stockbrokers Association Christodoulos Ellinas walked out in protest for comments made by the committee's Chairman Christos Pourgourides who described the association as a coffee shop where people play cards.

    The session kicked off with a serious allegation by AKEL deputy Aristofanis Georgiou who indirectly implied that the major stockholders of one of the island's two big banks had been dumping shares.

    Georgiou said that major bank shareholders, in the period between 1997 and 1999 had apparently sold around 25 per cent of their portfolio.

    This is why they had 30 per cent in 1997 but in 1999 they were only left with five per cent, Georgiou said.

    He asked Ellinas whether this constituted dumping and if the association, based on professional ethics, had an obligation to report such behaviour.

    But before Ellinas had a chance to reply, Pourgourides said that the association had no ethics and that it resembled a neighbourhood coffee shop where people played cards.

    Ellinas retorted that he would not tolerate his association being ridiculed, adding that if they had the legal authority to impose penalties they would have done so.

    Ellinas blamed the House for depriving the brokers in 1995 of the legal right to impose sanctions and asked Pourgourides to retract his comment.

    Instead, Pourgourides repeated: " I mean what I say and the stockbrokers association is no different from an Ayios Dhometios card-playing club."

    Ellinas said: " I cannot accept that the House deals with neighbourhood coffee shops."

    To this Pourgourides retorted: " You can leave; the people are my judge; this is my opinion and you can present your arguments."

    The brokers left the session saying they would confer with their members and decide whether to return.

    It is understood that according to House protocol anyone officially summoned before a committee has no right to leave.

    In this case the brokers were not officially summoned but were invited.

    It is expected that the brokers would soon be called before the committee, which has, since the CSE investigation begun, gained the reputation of 'grilling' those who come before it.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Man gunned down in Larnaca shop

    A 38-YEAR-OLD man was yesterday gunned down inside a shop in Larnaca by a hooded gunman armed with an automatic weapon.

    Police, who are treating the shooting as a professional hit, said Charalambos Lemis, from Trahoni in Limassol was killed when a gunman fired three bursts at him with an automatic weapon.

    The incident happened at 7.10pm while Lemis was inside a shop belonging to a friend.

    Eyewitnesses said a car pulled up outside the shop and a hooded individual wielding an automatic fired three bursts through the shop window, hitting Lemis who fell dead on the counter.

    The man got into the car which sped off in an unknown direction.

    The clinical accuracy of the hit led police to believe it was the work of a professional hit man.

    Four other people in the shop at the time of the shooting escaped unscathed police said.

    The Chief of Police Andreas Angelides said Lemis was probably killed by underworld figures with whom he had personal differences.

    Lemis had several previous convictions and had been the target of a bomb attack in the past.

    A few months ago he had been arrested in connection with the bombing of a Larnaca kiosk while yesterday morning he appeared in court in connection with the possession of explosives.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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