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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-12-19

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, December 19, 2001


  • [01] Hannay hails new climate in talks process
  • [02] Scam suspects questioned
  • [03] The biggest ostrich abattoir in Europe
  • [04] British will not prosecute any of Episkopi rioters
  • [05] New power plant will use crude, despite natural gas plans
  • [06] Government seeks to bar sale of goods below cost price
  • [07] Turks scupper bastion repair plan
  • [08] Banks drive the market up
  • [09] Polluting industries to face 'green tax'
  • [10] Ancient tombs found at Amathus

  • [01] Hannay hails new climate in talks process

    By Jean Christou

    BRITAIN'S special envoy for Cyprus Lord David Hannay yesterday sounded a note of optimism for a political settlement on the island, but cautioned against excessive euphoria over recent developments.

    On December 4, the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, President Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash, agreed at their first face-to-face meeting in over four years to return to direct talks under UN auspices from January 15.

    " Three months ago, neither you nor I would have imagined... face-to-face negotiations,"Lord Hannay told Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists attending a news conference at the UN-controlled Ledra Palace.

    " If we are honest with ourselves, we didn't think that we would be here. This is a major step forward. Whether by the end of the year we'll be breaking open the champagne I don't know. It's a bit soon to put it on ice, but I have got some champagne,"he added.

    Hannay, who arrived on the island on Sunday for a three-day visit, met separately with Clerides and Denktash and said he found some very encouraging signs.

    " This problem has been around long enough now to require a very serious effort. I'm convinced now that both sides are approaching it with deep seriousness,"he said. " I think the atmosphere has been transformed by the meeting on December 4, but I caution a little bit against excessive euphoria. I think the road ahead will be quite long and quite difficult."

    The key factor that Lord Hannay sees as crucial to progress for the new round of talks is Cyprus' imminent EU accession. The government hopes to complete negotiations by next June, a date by which both sides hope to see meaningful progress.

    Lord Hannay said there now seemed to be a realisation that a timetable existed and that a sense of urgency was in the air. " I think the Cyprus problem has been dogged over the years by a feeling that there is an infinite amount of time available to conduct discussions and it doesn't matter if they don't proceed in a very purposeful direction,"he said.

    " I don't get that feeling from anyone now. I think everyone is working to a timetable, which takes account of some very important other timetables, "he added, referring to the island's accession course. " It's a very important timetable for everyone. It's not an ultimatum. It's not a threat, but it is a time constraint and it seems to me that this is understood on both sides."

    Lord Hannay also welcomed what he called the obvious absence of tactical manoeuvring, which has been a trademark of any negotiations on the Cyprus issue. " One of the things which encouraged me was that fact that on both sides there is now a clear concentration on core issues,"Lord Hannay said.

    He added that ultimately the solution to the Cyprus problem lay in the hands of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots themselves and not of an outside power. He also cautioned both sides to pay little attention to media rhetoric on either side in the run up to the talks.

    " What matters is what is said at the negotiations,"he said. " Everything else is secondary to that. That is where we will know what the true positions are. I believe there is a much better prospect than there has ever been in the past of achieving the twin objectives of a settlement and the (EU) accession of the whole island."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Scam suspects questioned

    POLICE yesterday arrested two 27-year-old men in connection with an alleged insurance scam.

    According to five insurance companies, a group of individuals has staged fake car accidents over the past two years, and then claimed back the insurance. Police said several hundred thousand pounds were obtained in this way.

    The two Limassol men being questioned on conspiracy to commit a crime, forgery, circulation of forged documents, obtaining money under false pretences, and obtaining property with menaces.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] The biggest ostrich abattoir in Europe

    By George Psyllides

    THE LARGEST and most modern ostrich abattoir in Europe was inaugurated yesterday, at Ayios Ioannis Malountas outside Nicosia.

    The abattoir, which belongs to Englezakis Ostrich Farms, is the first on the island to be approved to export meat to the European Union - an export market of 300 million potential consumers.

    The facility was inaugurated by Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, accompanied by the EU's Cyprus negotiator Leopold Maurer.

    It can process up to 2,000 birds a month with the ability to produce 800 tonnes of meat a year. At the same time, the company will produce 20 tonnes of feather and 24,000 skins, which would yield around 8 million.

    Managing Director Savvas Hadjiminas told the Cyprus Mailthat with EU approval, they could now access a market of 300 million people anywhere in the union.

    " Sale of the meat - 800 tonnes - is assured within the EU,"he said.

    " The local market interests us; people can afford the meat and it's always good to have a strong local market because you never know,"Hadjiminas added.

    He said the company had not advertised heavily on the local market up to now, as the meat had to be slaughtered abroad and was being imported, carrying a high tax, which increased its price.

    But with the meat now being processed locally, consumers can expect ostrich to be readily available and at lower prices.

    The company, established by Cypriot expats, started operating in South Africa in 1985.

    It imported the first 125 adult ostriches into Cyprus in 1993. Today, the population has reached 15,000 birds, spread across 15 farms around the island.

    The company expects the population to reach 25,000 in the next two years, which would enable the abattoir to operate at maximum capacity.

    The cost of the slaughterhouse, which includes a packaging facility, was 2 million, while the company has invested around 6 million to set up its operation.

    During the opening yesterday, Hadjiminas said ostrich farming yielded more profit than any other livestock unit per acre.

    " Even modest estimates about ostrich products - meat, feathers, skin - show that no other animal can compete with the benefits offered by ostrich farming,"Hadjiminas said.

    He added there was a market for every part of bird.

    Quality and safety of the product was the company's outmost consideration, he said.

    The abattoir has been designed according to EU standards on meat hygiene, installation planning as well as strict separation of the facility into clean and unclean areas.

    It is also environmentally friendly with waste water-processing stations aimed at protecting the soil and underground aquifers, as well as producing 30 to 40 tonnes of good quality water that can be used for irrigation.

    Hadjiminas added that the use of solid waste and blood in by-products and the transport of mud and other waste from the processing plant to the central processing station at Vathia Gonia would prevent the discarding of any waste into the environment.

    Hadjiminas also told the Mailthe company had spent $150,000 on equipment to make the slaughter process more humane.

    " There are only two such machines worldwide and we were the second company to install the system,"he said.

    British RSPCA officials visited the plant specifically for this reason and expressed satisfaction at the method used, he added.

    The company also boasts a product tracking system that is unique for Cyprus and the meat industry.

    Hadjiminas said the company could pinpoint the origin of any ostrich at any time, from its conception to the consumer's plate - from the collection of eggs, to the hatchery, the farmer, the slaughterhouse and finally the consumer.

    The company said this follow-up was guaranteed by a data sheet recording all the information relative to the ostrich.

    Each marketed product has a number recorded on the packaging tray, enabling anyone to access its origin by logging on to the company's website.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] British will not prosecute any of Episkopi rioters

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE BRITISH Bases yesterday confirmed that no one would be prosecuted over the July 3 riots that hospitalised 20 and caused damages in excess of 500, 000 in Episkopi this summer.

    At the time, the Police Commander of the Eastern Bases, John Guy, condemned the violence as " criminal and hooligan" .

    " I watched defenceless police officers attacked for no reason other than trying to do their lawful duty. I watched while missiles were thrown and people struck in the head. People were kicked, dragged out of the crowd and kicked. If that is not criminal and hooligan, I do not know what is,"he said.

    But SBA Attorney-general Peter Visagie has since decided not to prosecute, on the grounds that it is not in the public interest to do so.

    The fracas broke out to protest against the arrest of DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis on charges of breaking and entering during a campaign against the erection of a 190-metre radio mast in the Akrotiri Salt Lake.

    Some 1,000 Greek Cypriots clashed with 140 riot squad officers, resulting in the injury of 34 SBA officers, 10 British soldiers and five protestors.

    A total of 35 vehicles were gutted by fire and Episkopi police station was ransacked.

    Damages to property set the Ministry of Defence back 500,000.

    One source told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that investigators had built the strongest case against Matsakis.

    Although deputies are not immune from arrest or prosecution on SBA territory, in practice the British are reluctant to push ahead with court proceedings against them.

    Given the practical difficulties of prosecuting the prime suspect, there seemed little reason to haul those accused of lesser crimes before the court, the source said.

    SBA spokesman Rob Need yesterday declined to comment, saying that Visagie was on his Christmas holidays and unreachable.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] New power plant will use crude, despite natural gas plans

    By Melina Demetriou

    AN ELECTRICITY production plant to be up and running in 2004 will use crude oil, despite plans to start replacing crude with natural gas two years later, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Rolandis was briefing the House Commerce Committee about an emerging agreement to import natural gas from the Middle East.

    A decision concerning the export of Egyptian natural gas to Cyprus via an underwater pipeline from the Syrian port of Baniyas is expected to be reached by the summer of 2002.

    Natural gas is being used more and more in combination with other fuels to improve their environmental performance and decrease pollution. By making the switch from crude oil to natural gas for the production of electricity, Cyprus will be complying with European Union directives on the use of this more environmentally friendly energy resource as well as saving money.

    " Natural gas will not only be used by the Electricity Authority. It will also be used in industry and households in several area,"the minister said.

    But AKEL deputy Kikis Yiangou charged it would be a complete waste of money to construct an electricity production plant that would use crude oil, just two years before Cyprus started switching to natural gas.

    The minister countered that a new electricity production unit was necessary to cover consumers' needs. He explained that at the moment the government could not give the go ahead to a construction of a plant that would use natural gas.

    " It is very risky to make such a move right now because the building of the pipeline from Syria has not even started."

    Rolandis said the new plant, the third of its kind, would be located at Vassiliko near Larnaca.

    " After that, we will start building natural gas units. It may be possible to make adjustments to the existing plants to make them work with this energy resource but that would be quite expensive,"the minister added.

    Yiangou then asked Rolandis: " Is it true that there is an agreement concerning the natural gas business between Cyprus and an American company of which the main shareholder is President George W. Bush's brother?"he asked.

    The minister refused to be drawn.

    " We are co-operating with an American company which consults us. I cannot say whether Bush's brother has shares in it. That is not the point, and I do not want to get into that."

    Stavros Evagorou of AKEL then claimed it was US Vice-president Dick Cheney who had shares in the company.

    And a source claimed yesterday that the Cabinet had last year planned to co- operate with a company of which Cheney was the main shareholder, without inviting other tenders.

    " The government felt this secret agreement would have a political touch. But when a newspaper discovered a very revealing letter and published it on its front page, the Cabinet was forced to rethink its tactics,"the source told the Cyprus Mail .

    Rolandis yesterday reiterated that he and his Egyptian and Syrian counterparts had examined the idea of promoting Cyprus as an energy resource area.

    Rolandis said that with Cyprus' accession to the EU by 2004, it would able to trade with other EU members without obstacles.

    " Egypt and Syria desperately want to export gas to the EU. But it would be very expensive for them either to construct a pipeline transferring the energy resource all the way to Europe or to export LPG.

    " But Cyprus could possibly import more gas than it needs for internal consumption, use the private sector to set up natural gas liquefaction centres and export the resulting LPG to other EU members without paying any duties,"Rolandis argued.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Government seeks to bar sale of goods below cost price

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE GOVERNMENT is optimistic it can bar the sale of goods below cost price from as soon as the New Year, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Selling products below cost price would only be acceptable when they are nearing their sell-by date or if they are out of fashion, he said.

    Rolandis met this week with representatives from retail groups to discuss the practice.

    He told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that selling goods below cost price fundamentally hurt the principle and spirit of fair competition and, in the long run, damaged consumer interests.

    " This practice has caused turmoil among the smaller shops.

    " Fruit shops and meat shops are unable to compete with the low prices that supermarkets set for these products and cannot survive.

    " It's got to the point where 250 meat producers have threatened not to slaughter any more meat for Christmas if this goes on, because they are being forced to sell their produce at prices well below their own cost."

    Suppliers are also worried, he said, because they say they are not being paid on time - sometimes for as long as eight or nine months.

    " Below cost sales must be financed, so if you delay paying your suppliers you basically create a cash flow to do just that,"Rolandis said.

    Although initially offering cheaper prices, the practice becomes detrimental to the consumer when some outlets go under. The competition was then limited to a small number of establishments that could raise prices at will, he said. " This has already happened in other countries, such as Malta, which then faced great financial difficulties."

    Rolandis added the EU also considered these practices to be anti- competitive, and France and Greece even have laws prohibiting such practices, he said.

    However, it the EU has not yet outlawed the practice.

    " Since the EU has not reached a decision on this particular question we shall have to examine it very carefully and discuss our next move with Brussels,"he said.

    " We do know that Brussels is very concerned about these practices and that it is urging competition committees in all countries to intervene in such cases.

    " However, they have not proceeded to issue any directives or to approve any legislation by which selling below cost will be prohibited and as we are not yet part of the EU we have to be more cautious on issues that don't have a directive."

    All the representatives at the meeting agreed that measures needed to be taken to put an end to unfair competition, and stressed the importance to deal with this issue as soon as possible, he said.

    " The Ministry will try to establish a gentlemen's agreement between the market operators, and to set an agreed time for discontinuing its practice, possibly as soon as December 31,"he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Turks scupper bastion repair plan

    UNFICYP officials met yesterday with representatives of both sides to discuss repairing the Venetian walls at the Roccas bastion after the Turkish Cypriot side withdrew its support from the project on Monday.

    A new meeting to discuss the issue will take place today, an UNFICYP spokesman said yesterday. " UNFICYP is working closely with both sides to complete the work on the wall at the earliest,"the spokesman said. " We hope there will be a positive result from the meetings with both sides."

    A section of the old wall at the 16 thcentury Roccas Bastion opposite Paphos Gate collapsed last week after to the heavy rains. The bastion marks the edge of the boundary between the UN buffer zone and north Nicosia, and the Turkish Cypriot regime has previously refused permission for the wall to be repaired.

    However, with the wall at risk of total collapse and in the climate of good will created after the meeting between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the two sides agreed on a joint plan of action to save the walls.

    Under the plan, it was agreed the Greek Cypriot side would undertake repairs to the bottom half of the wall and the Turkish Cypriots would repair the top half. UNOPS was to pay for the cost of the renovation.

    the work hit a snag on Monday when the Turkish Cypriot side pulled out for no apparent reason and work ground to a halt. Sources told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that the reason related to a dispute over where the ceasefire line begins and ends.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Banks drive the market up

    STOCKS recorded a modest 0.48 per cent gain yesterday, as a more upbeat mood appeared to hit investors.

    The all-share index ended at 134.7 points on a volume of 5.4 million. The blue chips FTSE/CySE index fared slightly better, recording gains of 0.65 per cent to end at 533.7 points.

    Trading opened on a positive note but slid under Monday's close by mid session, when the index hit an intraday low of 133 points. It then made an impressive recovery into the second half.

    " Banks were the most dominant shares traded in the second half,"said one Nicosia trader. " If it hadn't been for investor interest in the two main banks, we would have seen another depressing session today."

    Sectoral gains were almost across the board, ranging from 0.13 per cent for financial companies to 1.46 per cent in the trading sector. Only the tourism sector ended in the red, with losses of 0.9 per cent.

    The banking sector added 0.49 per cent as Bank of Cyprus ended the day one cent higher at 1.95 and Laiki Bank jumped two cents to 1.56.

    Winners outpaced losers with 57 titles on the up compared to 33 decliners and 57 unchanged.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Polluting industries to face 'green tax'

    INDUSTRIES that pollute the environment will soon have to pay " green tax" , Finance minister Takis Klerides announced yesterday.

    Briefing Parliament's Environment Committee, the minister said the government had decided the measure in line with European Union practices and because of concerns about " industries damaging the environment" .

    " The state will sponsor industries to buy environmental friendly equipment. If they don't comply in time, they will have either to close down or pay high taxes,"Committee chairman George Lillikas of AKEL warned, noting the measure would be implemented early next year.

    DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis suggested that ministers should use smaller cars to " set a good example."

    But Klerides dismissed the idea, arguing that the engine capacity of ministers' cars was " only 2.5 litres" .

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Ancient tombs found at Amathus

    TWO ANCIENT tombs were discovered yesterday during sewerage work near the Amathus archaeological site in Ayios Tychonas, Limassol.

    The Antiquities Department said the first tomb excavated contains objects from three major eras dating back to the 5 thand 6 thCentury BC, the Archaic, Classical and Roman periods.

    The tomb appears to have been looted, officials said, as a number of objects appeared to have been tampered with or were in disarray. Many artefacts were also found broken, although around 30 vessels - mainly amphorae and wine jars - were found undamaged.

    Archaeologists also found an alabaster vessel, two copper coins and broken glass from what could have been candle holders.

    Experts said the second tomb - which will be excavated today - contains what appear to be human bones. They did not rule out the existence of more tombs in the area.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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