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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-06-08

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

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


Saturday, June 8, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Anastassiades hands back his gun
  • [02] Neophytou lashes out at CSE report
  • [03] New airport shortlist includes J&P
  • [04] Limassol parents join Nemitsas protest
  • [05] Two establishments singled out in drive to improve old people's homes
  • [06] Turks release Greek Cypriot
  • [07] 'Top academics' presence a sign of things to come'

  • [01] Anastassiades hands back his gun

    By Jean Christou

    DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades yesterday handed in his gun and wrote to the Chief of Police asking to be removed from the list of special constables.

    Speaking on CyBC radio, Anastassiades did not specifically say why he had handed in the weapon, only insisting that there were special circumstances that would allow personalities and politicians to obtain a gun for their own protection by being appointed special constables.

    It emerged last week that several deputies had taken the easy route to carrying a gun by being appointed special constables by police chief Andreas Angelides, instead of applying through official channels at the Justice Ministry.

    The Attorney-general ruled last week that special constables should only be appointed for state protection, and not as a way for individuals to assure their personal protection.

    Moreover, a Nicosia lawyer pointed out this week that the constitution stated that being a member of the security forces was incompatible with being a deputy in the House of Representatives and that all deputies appointed as special constables should therefore vacate their seats in parliament.

    He added that handing in a weapon after the fact did not rectify the problem, since the constitution clearly stated that the seat in parliament "shall be vacated" if a deputy becomes a member of the security forces.

    People are only allowed to carry guns in Cyprus either by obtaining a licence from the Justice Ministry or becoming a special constable. Other deputies have also been appointed special constables, including DISY deputy Christos Pourgourides and AKEL spokesman Nicos Katsourides. House Chairman Demetris Christofias obtained a gun from the Justice Ministry.

    Both the government and the legal services have remained tight-lipped on the unconstitutional aspect.

    Deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that his department had no reason to look into the issue or hand down a ruling unless asked.

    "We have not been asked about the constitutional issue and if we are asked then we will look into the subject and give our advice," he said.

    "Constitutional issues are not as simple as this. You can't give opinions by just having a look."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Neophytou lashes out at CSE report

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE House Watchdog and Finance Committee's damning report on the Cyprus Stock Exchange fiasco yesterday sparked tit-for-tat exchanges across the political spectrum.

    The report, investigating the 1999-2000 stock market debacle, which saw thousands of investors lose their life savings, unanimously assigned political responsibility to: the Cabinet, the Finance minister, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the CSE board, the Central Bank, the chairmen of the Popular Bank and the Bank of Cyprus, stockbrokers, and lawyers and accountants involved in registering public companies on the CSE.

    But Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday hit back and criticised the report for failing to name particular individuals guilty of taking advantage of innocent "non privileged members of society".

    He was particularly scathing of the fact investors had been taken advantage of "in order to ensure political benefits", and questioned why the report did not name any particular stockbroker, accountant or lawyer, as many of them had profited from the CSE, yet now passed on all responsibility to others.

    "Although in a democratic society it is beneficial to appoint judges that control and deal with a bad state of affairs, who at the end of the day should be appointed to judge those judges? Who judges the lawyers and accountants? Who will judge the 56 deputies who devoted a whole session at the plenum, from 4pm to 2am, examining various legal ways to deal with the fact that millions of non-privileged citizens had their saving snatched from them? Not a single public company was named. Why not? Not a single stockbroker. Why not?" he wondered.

    Neophytou said the House would never come out and name anyone or point the finger because Cyprus was a small place and everyone knew who was to blame anyway.

    "Besides, if it was going to name someone, why didn't it do so already? Although the government might not have had the proper legislation in place protecting investors on time, people took advantages of these loopholes and became rich. Why are they not the ones who are being exposed?" he said.

    But House President Demetris Christofias said the House was "not a peoples' court" and that it was not its responsibility or duty to control and castigate people guilty of irregularities and malpractice.

    He said the Watchdog and Finance committees had carried out an investigation that revealed certain findings, which were now a matter to be taken up by private authorities and the Attorney-general's office, and that should if need be lead to criminal prosecutions.

    Christofias accused the government, Government Spokesman and Finance Minister of trying to shake off all responsibility in the debacle by claiming the report was incomplete.

    Before leaving for Madrid yesterday, Christofias said: "the findings may not be infallible, after all we are human. But there was an important and vigorous attempt to come to bottom of this and to satisfy the public's rights that had been violated. I will not accept that the House is to blame for this entire fiasco, particularly as the Finance Minister has tried not to take any of the blame. It was not, and is not, the House's responsibility to come up with the appropriate legislation (protecting investors)."

    However, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said he had not read the report or its findings and so would not comment on its contents or state his position on the matter and whether or not it would lead to his resignation.

    "I have to read the report first and then discuss it with those other people mentioned in it, because as you know not only was I blamed, but so was all of the government and Cabinet. Only after this has been done will I decide whether or not to resign."

    DISY President Nikos Anastassiades on the other hand tried to smooth things over yesterday.

    "We must not focus on where most of the responsibility lies and with whom. The two committees have carried out a worthy investigation, despite various blanks and political implications. Instead, what is important in my opinion is who took money from the masses and how to come up with a plan that either totally or partially helps citizens who have lost their life's savings," he said, adding that his political party had already come up with a proposal of immediate measures that needed to be taken.

    Furthermore Anastassiades said that although some political parties may have acquired shares through private placement, the buck did not stop with them. He admitted that if some of the responsibility were theirs, then of course they would apologise for it, but could not be expected to take all the blame.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] New airport shortlist includes J&P

    By Jean Christou

    The government expects to announce invitations to tender for the Build- Operate-Transfer (BOT) airport project at the beginning of July, the Communications and Works Ministry said yesterday.

    Senior official Alecos Michaelides told the Cyprus Mail that the five bidders would be given around four months to submit their tenders but that choosing a winner could take anything from weeks to months, depending on the bids and the amount of negotiating time needed.

    The state is seeking a strategic partner to invest some 200 million into the Larnaca and Paphos airports BOT projects and run them for the next 20 years.

    The final five bidders were announced by the government late on Thursday, and now include the bid from J&P (Joannou and Paraskeviades), which was initially excluded. The bid, which includes the British Airport Authority (BAA), had originally come in sixth, but later issued a legal challenge to the government.

    J&P's suit led the government to ask all 10 initial candidates to fill out an additional questionnaire, which one of the original five, Fraport AG, comprising investors from the Frankfurt Airport project and Cypriot company Lefkoniko Investment Group, declined to do, leaving the way open for J&P.

    A spokesman at Lefkoniko told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that after considering the situation, the Fraport consortium had decided not to submit the questionnaire and had pulled out of the bidding. They passed on their final decision two days ago, the spokesman said.

    Michaelides said Fraport had actually expressed its reservations some weeks earlier, but that the Ministry had tried to persuade the consortium to remain in the game.

    "We had a fax saying that due to the delays, etc, they are no longer able to prejudge the completion of the project," Michaelides said. "We gave them another opportunity but we were told two days ago they were no longer interested."

    Michaelides said that the information the 10 bidders had submitted through the questionnaire did not alter the status of the final choices very much, which means the final list is identical to the original five minus Fraport and plus J&P.

    He admitted Fraport's withdrawal had made things a little easier for the government.

    The five finalists are:

    Alterra Consortium, which took part in the development of Singapore and Manchester airports and includes Cypriot companies Lanitis E.C. Estates, Amathus Navigation Co Ltd, Cybarco and Caramondani Bros, as well as the Royal Bank of Scotland is also involved;

    Cyprus Gateway Airports consortium, which was involved in the Vienna Airport project and includes Cypriot partners George P. Zachariades construction;

    Hermes Airports, which comprises investors from three international airport projects, including Irish group Aer Rianta, Charilaos Apostolides, CTC, Egis Projects and Iacovou Brothers;

    Project Pegasus, a Spanish airport consortium, which does not include any Cypriot partners;

    The J&P consortium, which includes the British Airport Authority (BAA).

    Alterra was also the preferred bidder for a BOT project for the new airport in Malta, but withdrew from that project after the Maltese government asked it to pull out of the Cyprus bid, according to reports from Valetta.

    Vienna is now the preferred bidder for Malta, but Michaelides said it was not known yet whether the company would pull out of the Cyprus bidding if, like Alterra, it was asked to do so by the Maltese government.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Limassol parents join Nemitsas protest

    THE LIMASSOL Parents Association Federation will close down all 89 local primary schools for a day next week.

    Sixteen thousand students will not be showing up for class on Monday in a show of support for the Chiflikoudia primary school that has been plagued by the Nemitsas foundry for several years now, the federation decided at a meeting on Thursday night.

    The afflicted area's primary school has been closed since Tuesday in an effort to bring the government's attention to the noxious chemicals that are emitted from the foundry daily, affecting residents' and students' health.

    The Federation said yesterday: "The problem should have been solved by now. This is yet again another example of the authorities expressing their lack of consideration for small and unimportant people."

    Its president, Dinos Ellinas, did not rule out the possibility that schools around the island would join in the strike if the relevant authorities did not take immediate action against the foundry.

    But Commerce and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis reassured residents yesterday that the Cabinet would be meeting to discuss the problematic foundry and that a decision would be made shortly.

    Meanwhile owner of the foundry, Takis Nemitsas, spoke of government compensation in event of its closure and for money spent on equipment used to regulate emission levels in recent months.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Two establishments singled out in drive to improve old people's homes

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    TWO homes for the elderly have been singled out by the Labour Ministry for failing to meet the required standards on housing and quality of personnel.

    The two homes were referred to the ministry for keeping unsatisfactory housing conditions and hiring unqualified staff, Evanthia Papasavva, Head of the Social Welfare Department said yesterday.

    "They are just two of a number of old people's homes that do not fulfil the criteria for housing," said Papasavva, adding: "their particular condition required the most attention."

    The Welfare Department had given the homes repeated warnings to improve their conditions but were ignored, maintained Papasavva, resulting in a referral to the Labour Ministry. The ministry then sent an official notice to the two owners, giving them 14 days to respond.

    According to Papasavva, if the owners fail to make efforts to improve the appearance of the buildings, hire qualified staff and provide greater care for the pensioners within two weeks, their operating licences will be revoked.

    President of the Pancyprian Owners of Old Peoples Home Association, Costas Ioannides, said that the homes in question would have to show progress within the 14 days. He added: "The Association wishes to protect and advise home owners but cannot argue against present legislation. If problems exist, owners need to rectify them so we may have a foot to stand on."

    Ioannides highlighted the need to review residence fees so owners would have means of support to meet the demands of new legislation to be implemented in 2004. According to yesterday's Phileleftheros, Labour Minister, Andreas Moushiouttas confirmed that dialogue between his ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Association was under way to review board fees, which currently range between 232-277 per resident.

    The new legislation stipulates that measures be taken to improve buildings, limit residents to two per room and install air conditioning in all rooms, communal and private. At present, said Papasavva, some homes have air conditioning in communal living areas only.

    One of the owners of the two homes yesterday denied receiving any letters from either the welfare department or the Labour Ministry, insisting that she heard the news through the media first. Magda Eleftheriou of the Oasis old people's home in Nicosia claimed her home was no worse off than many others, including that of Association President, Costas Ioannides.

    Asked whether she intended to improve conditions in the home, Eleftheriou said plans had been made to do so, but would not be completed within two weeks. She said that according to communications with the Labour Ministry, she was merely required to respond to the letter, which she has not yet received, within the two weeks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Turks release Greek Cypriot

    A 50-YEAR-old Greek Cypriot man arrested by Turkish troops on Thursday after crossing to the north was released early yesterday afternoon.

    George Papageorghiou, a refugee from the Turkish-occupied village of Peristeronopiyi, now living in a Larnaca village, crossed into the occupied areas from the British bases near Achna after leaving his car near the Achna police station on the old Famagusta-Nicosia road.

    There is no UN-controlled buffer zone between bases territory and the north.

    Papageorghiou, who is married with three children, is a former member of the Cyprus police force, who was discharged after suffering psychological problems. His medical papers were given to the UN to help negotiate his release.

    He was handed over to UNFICYP personnel yesterday and released through the Ledra palace checkpoint at around 3pm.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] 'Top academics' presence a sign of things to come'

    A TEAM of distinguished academics is coming to Cyprus next week to brainstorm over the establishment of a new research and educational institute on the island.

    Among the scholars are Nobel Laureates Paul Crutzen and Harold Varmus, as well as Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard University - also a special adviser to the UN Secretary-General - and former Undersecretary of the US Department of Energy, Ernest Moritz.

    The programme was announced at a news conference yesterday, organised by the Cyprus Development Bank.

    Bank Chairman Andreas Mouskos poured praise on the project, which he said would bring so many eminent scholars together in Cyprus for the first time.

    "Their willingness to come from all around the world to attend the convocation despite their busy schedules, is a measure of the importance they attach to the realisation of the project," Mouskos said.

    The proposed Cyprus Institute aims to use science and technology "to unearth the region's past and shape its future as an integral and vital part of the community."

    According to a news release, the Institute expects to be partnered with other world-class institutions worldwide. It will be structured into research centres, probably focused on energy, environment and water, technology and archaeology as well as other fields of study.

    It is estimated that the institute will require a capital investment of several hundred million euros, with ongoing operational expenses in excess of 60 million euros, expected to be provided by the European Union.

    Professor of Physics Costas Papanicolas of the University of Athens, the main co-ordinator of the project, said the cost would be covered by the EU only if the institute was classed as a Centre of Excellence, and noted that such an institute could not flourish without the support of the public.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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