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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-01-22

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

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


Tuesday, January 22, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Two held as police recover guns from army camp raid
  • [02] Businessmen seek to bridge the economic divide
  • [03] Parliament presses Central Bank over transfer of stock market profits
  • [04] Airport bidding to start next month
  • [05] Ports under scrutiny ahead of planned overhaul
  • [06] Teachers on strike over suspension row
  • [07] Anger at new extension for Nemitsas foundry
  • [08] 3,600 cars face write-off after failing to show up for MOT
  • [09] Officials evaluate fire helicopter bids

  • [01] Two held as police recover guns from army camp raid

    By George Psyllides

    TWO men were arrested yesterday, as police recovered all the arms and munitions stolen from an army post in Evryhou raided by three hooded men early on Saturday morning.

    Police said they were still seeking a third man in connection with the raid.

    No information was released on the identities of the suspects.

    Police did say, however, that one of the men held was a soldier and another had served at the post, explaining how the attackers knew the layout so well.

    Chief of Police Andreas Angelides said all the weapons stolen on Saturday had been found at two separate locations around Tochni in the Larnaca district.

    On Sunday night, police found the box used by the perpetrators to carry the weapons, dumped in the Governor's Beach area.

    Three hooded men attacked the guard on duty at the post on Saturday morning, grabbed his rifle and tied his hands.

    They then entered the post and surprised two other conscripts there, who were sleeping.

    The men stole three G3 automatic weapons, one HK11 light machine gun, one MG3 machine gun, and a Russian-made RPG anti-tank rocket launcher, along with six missiles.

    They also took 1,445 7.62mm rounds and 1,000 machine gun rounds.

    The men fled in a car after they alerted the driver by mobile phone, also taking three mobile phones belonging to the soldiers.

    Yesterday, Angelides announced that the weapons were in the hands of the police, describing the raid as a huge betrayal.

    "The stolen weapons, the sacred arms, which can only be used for the country's defence are in the hands of the police," Angelides said.

    He said there had been two arrests, while a third was just matter of time.

    Angelides said police were now looking into the motives behind the raid, refraining from saying how the arsenal had been recovered.

    National Guard Commander Charilaos Florakis said he was sure that the case would be resolved.

    "I was sure that the disgraceful, criminal and treacherous act would be resolved.

    "I was absolutely sure, because the commander of the unit knew his men well, a fact that helped a lot in finding those responsible," Florakis said.

    He said the National Guard relied on humans - conscripts, reserves and officers; the means came second, because the means had to be served by people who loved their country and not thugs.

    Florakis stressed that the raiders had had no help from the conscripts serving at the post.

    The guard, who was exhaustively quizzed by police and military authorities, insisted he had not been asleep at 1.30am when it all happened.

    He said he had been surprised and disarmed before he had any chance to react.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Businessmen seek to bridge the economic divide

    By Jean Christou

    A GROUP Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen are to set up a study group to prepare the creation of an economic forum for the whole island.

    The decision was taken following a series of meetings in Athens between three members of the group.

    The aim of the 'Economic Forum for the island of Cyprus' is to bring together a number of interested and important personalities involved in various economic activities from the two communities, and examine the economic issues surrounding the Cyprus problem.

    "In particular, the forum will aim to support the peace process. by proposing policies that aim at strengthening the economy of the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots," an announcement said. "Two important targets here are to equalise competitiveness and eventually equalise the income per capita of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. This equalisation is essential to the long-term success of the peace process."

    Greek Cypriot businessman Constantinos Lordos, one of the main participants in the group, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the group wanted to make sensible suggestions on how this can be done in shorter time than it would take if the peace process ran its natural course.

    "We attach a lot of importance to the disparity in the income," he said. "It creates another gulf between the two communities."

    Lordos said it was hoped that, in view of the current positive climate, there wouldn't be any problems with the group meeting - as has happened to other bicommunal groups in the past.

    "The intention of this forum is not to provide opposition or support to any one in particular. It makes sensible proposals on how to deal with problems common to us all," he said.

    "The socio-economic problems have to be dealt with realistically. We are not in liaison with the government. It's our own initiative but we expect both sides to be supportive."

    The group began with three people from each side, but hopes to expand to 10 from each side by the time the next meeting is arranged. Lordos said it would also take place abroad.

    "There will initially be 10 and 10, but we have already agreed that this is not enough, because there has been a lot of interest," he said, adding that personalities from the media and academic world would probably also be participating.

    "We will not be operating in isolation," Lordos said.

    The forum will also approach various organisations and other groups with ideas and proposals for common action on the substantive issues affecting the happiness and prosperity of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    It will also propose policies pertaining to the island's EU accession in a manner that will benefit both communities, propose policies on education, particularly the teaching of history and the content of history books, policies on the environment, including town planning and transportation, and policies on commerce and tourism issues.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Parliament presses Central Bank over transfer of stock market profits

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE CENTRAL Bank yesterday stressed the right to client confidentiality, despite demands for the names of people who invested in foreign companies to facilitate a public inquiry into breaches of the law between 1999 and 2000.

    The President of the House Watchdog Committee, DISY deputy Christos Pourgourides, requested the information last week, but Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou refused on grounds of bank confidentiality.

    He is now seeking advice from Attorney-general Alecos Markides, and has promised to release the information if the law requires it.

    "If the Attorney-general says so, we will comply, but it's not right for a foreign investor who invested in the Cyprus Stock Exchange to see his name in the papers if the lists are leaked," said Afxentiou.

    Pourgourides told the Cyprus Mail that the investigation focused on Cypriots who manipulated the law or set up illegal foreign companies to send profits from the sale of shares out of the country.

    The law only allows Cypriots who reside permanently abroad to do so.

    According to the committee chairman, "a substantial amount" of money was sent abroad illegally between 1999 and 2000.

    The public inquiry has been launched after information from what he described as "various sources", such as those instrumental in helping to form illegal companies.

    "If the House knows about any specific cases, we'll do it but I want to warn people about the damage that will be done if lists are leaked," said Afxentiou.

    Commenting on the Central Bank's initial refusal, Pourgourides said, "he will not stop us from carrying out our investigation".

    Committee member and DIKO deputy Marcos Kyprianou said steps should be taken to guard against leaks to the media, as in the discussion of matters relating to defence and national security.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Airport bidding to start next month

    THE government expects to open a multi-million pound tendering competition for the operation of its two airports next month, the Communications Ministry said yesterday.

    Cyprus is seeking a strategic investor to plough some 200 million Cyprus (_347 million) into developing and administering the Larnaca and Paphos air terminals for 20 years.

    "The invitation for tenders will be declared soon, possibly in the second half of February," a Communications and Works Ministry official told Reuters.

    Five consortia short listed last November will be asked to submit their binding bids once parliament completes its own review of the government tender documents.

    Parties represented in parliament were initially expected to give their assessments by the end of December, but the holiday recess caused a short delay, the ministry official said.

    Parliament approved the government's plans for a build-operate-transfer administering contract at both airports, provided it was allowed to have a say in the process.

    Support from deputies is considered important to the success of the project because of opposition to the plans from trade unions concerned at job losses once a private partner take over.

    Both airports, which serve more than four million passengers annually, employ between 700 and 1,000 government workers. The five consortia short listed by the Communications Ministry are:

    1 - The Alterra Consortium, comprising: Alterra Enterprises Ltd, Singapore Changi Airport Enterprise Pte Ltd, Manchester Airport Plc, Lanitis E.C. Estates, Amathus Navigation Co. Ltd, Cybarco Ltd, Caramondani Bros Ltd, Bechtel International Inc., and Royal Bank of Scotland Plc.

    2 - Cyprus Gateway Airports: Airport Consulting Vienna GmbH, Alpha Properties and Investment Ltd, Flughafen Wien Aktiengesellschaft, Grupo Dragados SA, George P Zachariades Ltd.

    3 - Fraport AG: Parsons Brinkerhoff Ltd, Balfour Beatty Major Projects, Clifford Chance Puender and Lefkoniko Investment Group of Companies.

    4 - Hermes Airports: Aer Rianta International, Bouygues Batiment, Chambre de Commerce et D' Industrie Nice Cote D'Azur, Charilaos Apostolides & Co Ltd, Cyprus Trading Corporation Ltd, Egis Projects, Hellenic Mining Company Ltd, Iacovou Brothers (Constructions) Ltd, and YVR Airport Services Ltd.

    5 - Project Pegasus: Cintra Concesiones de Intraestructuras de Transporte SA, Aena, Desarrollo Internacional SA and Ferrovial Agroman SA.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Ports under scrutiny ahead of planned overhaul

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE Communications Ministry wants to charge car importers much more than three cents a day they currently pay to store their stock on port grounds.

    Talking to reporters after a meeting of the House Communications Committee to discuss the state budget for Limassol and Larnaca ports, minister Averoff Neophytou said importers were charged only three cents a day to use port grounds as parking for hundreds of cars.

    A ministry proposal pending parliamentary approval since 1999 calls for an increase of the fee. But Neophytou yesterday appeared determined to push for a "change of the colonial law".

    "It is time to move on because as things stand taxpayers are sponsoring a few individuals and this is unfair," he insisted.

    Ports Authority President Christos Hadjimanolis yesterday complained to the committee that, despite the fact that the Authority had invested millions of pounds into development, it only enjoyed 32 per cent of the profits made from shipping activities.

    "One of the reasons why this is happening is because many people use port services for free. In 1999, we made a proposal to change that, but the bill is still pending parliamentary approval. I have the impression that the Communications Committee will sort this out soon," said Hadjimanoli.

    The Authority's chairman also blamed the government and parliament for the ports' poor finances.

    "They forced us to expand Limassol Port while it was obvious that the cost of such project could not be covered. And as if that was not enough, they now accuse us of going bankrupt," he complained.

    Hadjimanoli said the Authority's profits were down by 33 per cent compared to last year because of slow activity in the Middle East after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

    DIKO deputy Aristos Chrysostomou complained about low safety standards at the Limassol Port.

    "It is a shame that passengers have to walk through a warehouse with a tin roof which is full of containers. Thank God, there have not been any accidents so far," he said.

    Hajdimanoli reassured the committee that restoration work at Limassol Port would be carried out in about a year.

    The Committee also discussed government plans to develop Larnaca Port into the island's top passenger terminal, while Limassol would become Cyprus' main cargo port.

    Neophytou said his ministry aimed to reach a deal with two Japanese shipping companies, which have expressed interest in conducting business in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    "We want them to use Limassol Port instead of any other port in the region. But for this to happen we need to transfer four cranes from Larnaca to Limassol," the minister said.

    Neophytou admitted that the cranes had not been in use at Larnaca for the past four years and that their maintenance cost the public over half a million pounds a year.

    "If we don't install more cranes in Limassol, where we will have our main cargo port, the foreign companies we hope to attract will not be able to do business with us," said Hadjimanolis, countering arguments by several deputies that the cranes should stay put in Larnaca.

    DISY deputy Maria Kyriacou warned that Cyprus would be ridiculed if it invited foreign companies to use Limassol Port "without undertaking the necessary changes first".

    In 2000, the government announced a four-part plan for revitalising the island's ports, covering modernisation, 24-hour service, cost cutting and more efficient service.

    Business at Larnaca's container port is currently very slow. Limassol serves both as a passenger and as a container port.

    The ports have both suffered in recent years in the face of stiff regional competition.

    The reform plan would take five years to implement.

    The government plans to make Larnaca the island's main passenger port with a harbour capable of housing large cruise ships coming from the western Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Limassol port, which will serve as the main container port, will continue to house some small cruise liners sailing to regional destinations.

    Neophytou appeared optimistic that the development of the Larnaca Port by the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) method would make it profitable.

    The project will be carried out by the private sector before the government regains control of the port. Sixteen companies have expressed interest in the scheme. The same method will be applied for the development of Limassol Port.

    "There are encouraging signs that long cruises will become even more popular in the future. It is estimated that one in three travellers will choose this type of holiday in the next few years," said Neophytou.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Teachers on strike over suspension row

    By Rita Kyriakides

    SECONDARY school teachers across Cyprus walked out for an hour yesterday in protest at the bad publicity surrounding the suspension of a student at the Ayios Stylianos Gymnasium in Nicosia.

    Takis Gavrielides, President of the secondary school teachers' union OELMEK, said yesterday the teachers were dissatisfied at the way the situation had been handled.

    "When this matter was publicised, the girl, as well as the teachers, were given a bad reputation," said Gavrielides.

    OELMEK says teachers are worried at increasing ill discipline from students, and they need help to handle the situation.

    "Our hands have been tied. Instead of getting help, we have been paralysed, " said Gavrielides.

    But the president of the National Secondary Parents' Association, Elias Demetriou, yesterday said OELMEK has lost authority because of its "illegal and unprincipled" stance.

    "The Parents' Association will not communicate with OELMEK until they decide to stop defaming us," said Demetriou.

    Demetriou once again slammed teachers at the Ayios Stylianos School for refusing to teach a second-year class when the student - who was suspected of stealing - turned up despite being suspended.

    The school's teachers' committee met yesterday to discuss the future of the 14-year-old girl and her younger sister.

    However, the girls' parents called the headmaster of the school in the morning to request they be transferred to another school.

    The 14-year-old girl had been suspended for two weeks for allegedly stealing money from her fellow classmates and for bad behaviour.

    "The teachers' refusal to teach the class was illegal. They must have respect for the law and for the Education Ministry's authority," said Demetriou.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said yesterday's walkout had been unnecessary, but admitted teachers had every right to strike.

    "There are no communication problems between the Ministry and OELMEK or the Ministry and the Parents' Association," said Ioannides.

    Ioannides said the school's teachers' committee would have the final say as to the fate of the girls, in line with a ruling by the Attorney-general.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Anger at new extension for Nemitsas foundry

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday confirmed that the Nemitsas foundry in Limassol had been given an extension to cut its emission rates before any decision over its future is taken.

    An independent report submitted last September blamed the foundry for excessive pollution, which local residents say is to blame for health problems they have been suffering.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides confirmed when the report was issued that the pollution "explains why some residents might suffer from headaches, nausea and sore eyes".

    But the amount of lead found in the blood was well below European Union minimum levels, so Savvides dismissed residents' calls for the foundry to be closed or relocated.

    Earlier, he had pledged he would close the foundry if there was substantive medical evidence linking it to health problems, as he had done with the Ergates foundry outside Nicosia.

    Instead, the government gave Nemitsas three months to come into line with EU health standards and sort out the pollution problem, from the date that the written instructions were issued.

    The three months were due to be up on February 15, but the technical committee of the Ministry of Labour has since decided to extend the period to May 15.

    Both the Health Minister and local campaigners were yesterday disappointed with the setback.

    "We're not surprised. We've had nothing but empty promises for the last how many years. As far as we're concerned, seeing is believing. We need action not words from the government," said campaigner Bernadette Charalambous.

    "I feel bad because we should stick to the original timetable," said Health Minister Savvides.

    He expects to consult Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas today, after his colleague has examined the matter.

    "If he decides it isn't necessary than we will reduce it back to three months," he promised.

    Local residents say that the smell from the foundry is as bad as ever, despite a reduction in smoke.

    Charalambous referred to a bill tabled by the government in September, facilitating the relocation of any factory causing a nuisance in residential areas.

    "It doesn't need an expert of any kind to see that this is causing a nuisance," she said of Nemitsas.

    Locals brandished the medical report "a whitewash", accusing the government of criminal negligence for accepting the results and delaying the commissioning of the study.

    They are left wondering why the company has still failed to reach EU targets despite a 100,000 upgrade of its filtration system and supposed compliance in January 2001.

    This year, just 250 pupils registered at the nearby local primary school, compared to 416 six years ago and the entire teaching staff requested a transfer last year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] 3,600 cars face write-off after failing to show up for MOT

    AROUND 3,600 cars registered in the 70s are expected to be written off by their owners after they failed to show up for the MOT test.

    According to the Director of the Road Transport Department, Thasos Kyriakides, the initial figures concerning cars with registration EA390 to GZ999 indicated that 3,656 cars out of the 4,292 called for inspection had failed to show up.

    By January 9, 21 days before the expiry of the deadline, only 636 had been inspected, with 558 passing the MOT, while 78 failed.

    Kyriakides said that cars which were not inspected would be written-off automatically after their owners had been notified by the department.

    He said owners who could not for any reason get an MOT now could write to the department stating their vehicle would be immobilised for a period of time.

    In doing so, they would not be obliged to pay road tax until they decided to get their car inspected.

    Kyriakides said that, if the car remained out of circulation for three years without any notice from the owner, then it would automatically be written-off.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Officials evaluate fire helicopter bids

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE GOVERNMENT is evaluating seven tender applications to supply Cyprus with three multi-purpose helicopters for fire-fighting and general police use.

    The purchases are part of a three-year, 2 million fire-fighting campaign, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous said on Sunday.

    A senior official at the Ministry of Justice, responsible for approving the purchases, said yesterday the final contenders could be selected by the end of the month.

    "We invited tenders according to a decision made by the Council of Ministers. We are very close to finalising our final report, which could be ready by the end of the month," said Lazaros Savvides, permanent-secretary to the Ministry of Justice.

    The primary use of the helicopters will be fire fighting, but, "as they won't be doing that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they will be recruited for all responsibilities assigned to the police," he said.

    That includes search and rescue, border patrols and airlifts of patients in need of emergency medical treatment.

    Some 10 tenders were submitted for choppers with a five-tonne water capacity, but problems with bank guarantees have automatically disqualified three.

    The seven bids under consideration have come from US, French, Russian and German companies, as well as various Cypriot enterprises.

    A separate Ministry of Defence committee is deliberating the future of a larger helicopter, currently on three-month loan from Russia.

    Representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture, Interior and Justice are being consulted, but the final decision as to whether the chopper stays or goes rests with the military.

    If brought, it will be assigned for military use.

    Given that the selected tender will be unable to deliver the three multi- purpose helicopters by the summer, when the fire season gets into full swing, the two helicopters rented last year are to be re-leased.

    Based on the price charged in 2001, civil servants estimate they will cost around 800,000 to 900,000.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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