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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-02-09

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, February 9, 2002


  • [01] Some snags, says Denktash, but now we're talking territory
  • [02] Russian oil company among Exxon-Mobil bidders
  • [03] Immigration deny abuse claims from pressure group
  • [04] Merger to create 12 million conglomerate
  • [05] Deadline for Nemitsas
  • [06] Price fixers could be fined 5,000 a day
  • [07] Shares rebound in last half hour of trading

  • [01] Some snags, says Denktash, but now we're talking territory

    By a Staff Reporter

    TALKS on a Cyprus settlement have hit snags since they began last month, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday, but he and President Glafcos Clerides have moved on to discussing issues of territory.

    Denktash was speaking after the latest in a series of meetings with Clerides aimed at finding a solution to the 28-year division before the European Union formally accepts Cyprus as a member -- probably in 2004.

    Denktash predicted that a second phase of the talks, starting in March after a break for a Muslim religious holiday later this month, would be smoother.

    "In the first phase there were some difficulties and hitches experienced by both sides... The second phase is a period of rapprochement. The two sides will come to understand each other," Denktash told reporters in the north of the island.

    He did not elaborate on what those hitches were during the current first phase of the talks, which have been held three times a week since January 21 under a media blackout. But he said they discussed the sensitive issue of territory and documents would be exchanged on that next week.

    "Today we talked about the territory issue. On Thursday we will exchange documents and continue. The documents are on territory," Denktash said.

    "We haven't come to the point where maps will be exchanged. (But) if the Greek Cypriots present us with maps we won't say no. Maybe it will be better."

    Denktash said meetings due to take place on Monday and Wednesday would be postponed to make way for Turkish Cypriot representation at a Joint Forum of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the European Union in Istanbul early next week but the two leaders would meet on Thursday and Friday.

    President Clerides and Denktash have now touched on all four of the basic chapters of the Cyprus problem, mapped out by the UN Secretary-general Kofi Anan and adopted by the UN Security Council.

    Political analysts are reserving their assessment of the talks until the second phase when they say the real intentions of the Turkish sides will be easier to determine, CyBC reported yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Russian oil company among Exxon-Mobil bidders

    By a Staff Reporter

    A RUSSIAN oil company is among the bidders for 15 petrol stations, which must be sold in Cyprus, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis confirmed yesterday.

    Commenting on a Russian news agency report, Rolandis said there were a number of companies interested in purchasing the Exxon-Mobil stations.

    "There has been a decision of the Council of Ministers because of the merger which occurred last year between Exxon-Mobil and BP, so they will have to dispose of 15 stations to another operator in the field of petroleum products," Rolandis said.

    "There are a number of companies interested. Amongst them, there is a Russian company, but it has not been decided as yet who is going to take it."

    Rolandis said Cyprus was prepared to accept a Russian company if it was successful. "As a government, we cannot intervene. We can ask the petrol companies to dispose of these stations and they have to go through a process of transparency," the Minister said. "We are following the process to make sure they adhere to the decision of the Council of Ministers but the decision will be taken by the seller,"

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Immigration deny abuse claims from pressure group

    By Elias Hazou

    A PUBLIC row has erupted between the Immigrant Support Action Group (ISAG) and the immigration department, accused of mistreatment of foreign nationals on the island.

    The allegations were made by ISAG's chairman Doros Polycarpou, who cited several cases where foreigners complained of mistreatment, prejudice and even beatings by immigration police. Polycarpou said that if these reports were not properly investigated and due action not taken by local authorities, ISAG would show it meant business by taking recourse to the European Court of Human Rights.

    "Both immigrants and foreign students in this country are not being shown the required respect by a country with supposedly democratic institutions," Polycarpou accused. He noted that most violations of privacy and insults to dignity went unreported, as foreign nationals were afraid of further incurring the wrath of police or the immigration department.

    One case revolved around complaints made by students of Asian extraction, who claim their apartment was arbitrarily searched by police officers without a warrant and that during the search some of their cash went missing.

    The police categorically denied the accusations, dismissing them as "outright lies". Immigration police chief Andreas Aristidou said the real facts had been twisted. What happened, he said, was that people had complained the students were making too much noise, so police visited the apartment to check things out. They were allowed inside by one of the tenants, so no warrant was necessary, Aristidou explained.

    A differing interpretation was given to another incident reported this week, when a Syrian woman and her newborn daughter were taken to a police precinct for questioning. Polycarpou's take on the story was that the woman and the baby had been placed under arrest. He added that her husband had been unjustly laid off from work four months ago.

    But the police side of the story was that both the man and his spouse resided illegally on the island, and that was the reason why police went looking for him. When they saw the man had fled the scene, they took in his wife for questioning. "She was treated very well, we provided refreshments and snacks for her and the baby, and we notified the Syrian ambassador of the case," Aristidou insisted.

    Immigration officer Sotiris Trifonos yesterday confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that the woman had not been placed under arrest, adding that police treatment in such cases was "completely humanitarian".

    "We are not vigilantes and we show understanding; but some people try to make us out to look like monsters."

    He suggested, as did Aristidou earlier, that ISAG was driven by ulterior motives, but did not expand on this. Despite their public allegations, Trifonos said, ISAG had not yet relayed their evidence to police authorities, as they were supposed to. "These are wild, unsubstantiated claims," he remarked.

    For their part, ISAG maintains it is not their job to substantiate the claims.

    Stopping short of the word 'racism', ISAG's Polycarpou said Cypriot society in general was intolerant of foreigners. Some of foreign students' major complaints were that Cyprus law prohibited them from getting part-time employment, that they were economically exploited by certain colleges, and had to deal with prejudice and hostile behavior by locals.

    The action group has already relayed some of the complaints to Attorney- general Alecos Markides and ombudsman Iliana Nicolaou, and are waiting for a response.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Merger to create 12 million conglomerate

    By Elias Hazou

    THE PEOPLE'S Coffee Grinding Company, wine-makers Loel and international offset printers Printco Ltd yesterday announced their intention to merge, in what was described as a "landmark decision", with entry into the stock market now becoming an option.

    Spearheaded by the Laiko coffeemakers, the move is seen as bringing together the technical know-how, technical infrastructure and expertise of the three companies in a strong conglomerate capable of competing abroad.

    Laiko's CEO Andreas Papacostas said yesterday that the merger reflected a change in philosophy and a "historic move", explaining that so far the companies had not been primarily profit-oriented. "But now we have to adapt to the times," he added.

    Both Laiko and Loel have been around for a half-century, while Printco are relative newcomers. Laiko's brand name has been associated with coffee, biscuits, crisps, sweets and assorted nuts; Loel has stamped its mark on the local market with its beverages, particularly wines and juices.

    Among the benefits cited as arising from the merger were a gradual decrease in operational costs, more efficient distribution and a wider range of products.

    The intention to merge the three companies would be formally put to shareholders on March 10, Papacostas said, adding he was confident everything would go ahead as planned. Speaking at a news conference, he allayed fears of layoffs, usually associated with mergers and acquisitions as companies seek to slash costs. He said that respect for employees was one of the traditional aspects remaining intact. All three companies have strong historical links with communist party AKEL and the labour movement.

    If approved, the new conglomerate would boast some 800 employees and an initial share capital of 12 million.

    Assuming the merger does go through, Papacostas said the conglomerate would consider applying to be listed on the CSE "when the time was right".

    Laiko's CEO also noted the group would be seeking strategic investors so as to expand into new markets.

    Papacostas went on to note that Laiko had come under intense pressure to join the CSE in the heyday of 1999, but then saw fit to adopt a wait-and- see policy, "which turned out to be right move".

    Laiko posted profits of 450,000 and sales of 16.5 million in the year 2000, giving out a 15 per cent dividend to shareholders. Its share capital was 2 million, Loel's was 3 million and Printco's 85,000.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Deadline for Nemitsas

    By a Staff Reporter

    HEALTH Minister Frixos Savvides has warned of direct action against the Nemitsas foundry if it does not comply with methylamine emissions within a set time framework.

    A ministerial committee has given the foundry four months to clean up its act, adding that he expected the company to start complying as soon as possible.

    Savvides further noted that an epidemiological study carried out did not show excessive lead emissions from the foundry, saying that had been the reason the foundry at Ergates outside Nicosia had been shut down.

    The foundry's operation has been swamped in controversy for over a year; last October, a report concluded there was no link between lead emissions and health problems, but local residents have dismissed it as a whitewash.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Price fixers could be fined 5,000 a day

    By Rita Kyriakides

    PROFESSIONAL Associations said yesterday the abolishing of fixed prices for services to come in line with EU practice would not affect tariffs.

    But the government's competition committee warned that future offenders could face fines of up to 5,000 a day if they were found to be guilty of price fixing.

    A source at the Protection of Competition Committee told the Cyprus Mail that if groups were suspected of fixing prices, an investigation would be launched, "and if we discover they are still using the fixed prices we will decide how to penalise them".

    The Committee can take four actions against members of the professional sector who are still found to be using the fixed price lists after the one- month notice issued on Thursday to end the practice.

    The Committee will then issue warning letter not to repeat the offence as a first step.

    If the offence ignores the warning, the Committee can impose fines of up to 5,000 a day for each day the offence is continued.

    Another sanction at the Committee's disposal is a fine of 10 per cent of the turnover made while the offender was charging fixed prices.

    Lastly, the Committee can issue an order to suspend a service from the moment the investigation is launched until it the matter is cleared.

    "For example, the Committee will launch interim measures and will not allow an agreement to go through until the investigation is completed," the source said.

    The Deputy President of the Bar Association, Andreas Zachariou, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the Association would be meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether the Committee's decision would affect lawyers.

    "The prices charged by the lawyers are governed by by-laws passed by the Cabinet, not by the Bar Association," he said.

    According to Zachariou, the by-laws only set minimum charges. He added some lawyers charged below the minimum and some charge above.

    "We will not really be affected by the Committee's decision," said Zachariou.

    The President of the Medical Association, Doctor Antonis Vassiliou, said yesterday doctors would not be affected by the decision either.

    "The Medical Association does not have fixed price lists. Doctors in Cyprus charge a 'justified' price according to the patient. If a patient is poor, the doctor might charge him a lower rate," said Vassiliou.

    Deputy President of the Hairdressers and Barbers Federation, Nicos Demetriou, said the Committee had taken their Federation to court over seven years ago to abolish the fixed price lists because they were outdated.

    "The last time a fixed price list was issued for hairdressers was around 15 years ago. Nowadays, the hairdressers simply charge according to their expenses," said Demetriou.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Shares rebound in last half hour of trading

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE stock market rebounded slightly yesterday after a week marked by successive year-lows. The all-share index ended with slight gains of 0.45 per cent at 118 points. Volume was also up, hitting the 3 million mark for the first time in weeks. But it appeared investors were keeping away from blue chips as the FTSE/CySE gained only 0.38 per cent to 484 points.

    Trading opened around Thursday's closing levels but went into freefall until mid session when the index hit an intraday low of 116 points before rebounding to end in the black.

    All sub-sectors showed gains except the 'other' companies sector, which lost 2.3 per cent compared to gains of 2.3 per cent in the hotels sector. Banks, which were hammered on Thursday, were the top shares traded but the sector recorded gains of only 0.2 per cent. Bank of Cyprus was the most heavily traded share, breaking even at 1.84 while Laiki recovered slightly from a six-cent loss the previous day by adding one cent yesterday to 1.36.

    Golden Sun Leisure (CY) Ltd was suspended by the CSE as of yesterday after failing to comply with article 29 by publishing its preliminary results for 2001. Overall, 57 titles showed gains yesterday compared to 32 decliners and 49 that remained unchanged.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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