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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-06-19

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, June 19, 2002


  • [01] BA announces massive fare cuts, but not to Cyprus
  • [02] Yiangou claims Americans spying out of Larnaca airport
  • [03] Law firm launches 1 million libel suit over Milosevic allegations
  • [04] Dams 57 per cent full, but consumers urged to save water
  • [05] Talks 'continuing to July 2'
  • [06] Pick and bulldozer work hand in hand on new Municipality
  • [07] Experts warn the bubble will be back
  • [08] Government takes a step back from Church crisis
  • [09] Two more players leave Turkish Cypriot clubs for the south
  • [10] Electricity workers warn public could be affected by further strikes

  • [01] BA announces massive fare cuts, but not to Cyprus

    By Jean Christou

    BRITISH Airways (BA) yesterday announced massive price cuts of up to 80 per cent on routes to Europe, but Cyprus failed to make it to the list.

    According to reports from the UK, BA slashed the prices on 42 routes into Europe, while 'Saturday night stay' and advance purchase restrictions have been scrapped for round trip tickets from the UK to France, Italy, Portugal, Holland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The airline is also cutting prices on domestic routes.

    As of June 20, prices will start at 59 return on domestic flights and 69 return including taxes from London to Paris and Amsterdam.

    Mores than 50,000 seats at the lowest fare will be available every month on the 71 domestic and European routes. A flight to Paris from the UK will now cost 69 instead of 298. Martin George, BA's director of marketing told journalists that the airline was offering full service at no-frills prices.

    "We are adopting what the no-frills carriers do well and combining this with what our customers tell us we do better than everyone else.

    But a representative for BA in Cyprus told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the special fares would not apply to the island. "It only applies to European countries, not to longer-haul destinations like Cyprus," the representative said.

    "BA is trying to compete with the no-frills carriers on lower cost fares across Europe."

    Fares between Cyprus and the UK are in the region of 225 return, both on BA and Cyprus Airways, which operate under a bi-lateral agreement between Britain and Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Yiangou claims Americans spying out of Larnaca airport

    By a Staff Reporter

    TWO CARGO containers at Larnaca airport contain hi-tech electronic surveillance equipment enabling the Americans to monitor air traffic over Cyprus and the greater eastern Mediterranean and Middle East areas, the House Communications Committee was told yesterday.

    AKEL deputy Kikis Yiangou claimed the Americans used the airport to carry out espionage with the seal of approval of the Cyprus authorities.

    According to Yiangou, the Americans used these installations, as well as a house in the Phaneromeni area of Larnaca and their embassy in Nicosia to intercept phone calls and e-mails.

    Yiangou went further, charging that Paphos airport was used as a transit stop by US military aircraft, which come and go as they please. He also claimed armed Israelis had been given permission to roam Larnaca airport

    DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis said he had personally noticed security lapses at Paphos airport, asking that measures should be stepped up.

    Paphos Police Director Spyros Koniotis asked Pittokopitis to give him the details of any specific incident where he was allowed to enter without any checks, pledging that disciplinary action would be taken against the officer who failed to carry out his duty properly.

    Koniotis assured the committee that it was probably an isolated incident and that all necessary measures were being taken.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said that all facilities given to the Israelis were part of a bilateral agreement and asked Pittokopitis to hold a 'closed' session where he would give him more details concerning security measures.

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou rejected Yiangou's allegations, adding that even if they were true "personally I wouldn't expect anyone who represents his country to go public with them".

    "Our country largely depends on tourism and if what was said is untrue, those who say them are effectively stabbing their country in the back," Neophytou added.

    Concerning Yiangou's claims of personnel shortages at Larnaca airport air- traffic control, Neophytou replied Cyprus had recently been praised for its air safety and even been assigned control of the greater Middle Eastern area by the European flight control organisation.

    Neophytou pointed out that a special committee has been set up to co- ordinate all those involved in airport security, adding that it had visited Spata airport in Greece, which is considered one of the safest in Europe, to study what applies there.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Law firm launches 1 million libel suit over Milosevic allegations

    By George Psyllides

    A NICOSIA law office founded by the Chairman of DIKO, Tassos Papadopoulos, yesterday filed libel suits against a television station and a newspaper demanding over a million pounds in compensation for reports linking the office to the operations of offshore companies named in a report by the International War Crimes tribunal as acting on behalf of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

    According to the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, where Milosevic is currently on trial for genocide, more than 1.23 billion was channelled by the former Yugoslav president and his associates through eight offshore companies in Cyprus between 1992 and 2000.

    Several of the companies had been registered by Papadopoulos' law office, a common practice in Cyprus. But the law firm insists that beyond the registration, it had nothing to do with the companies' activities.

    In a written statement signed by all the office partners, the firm said that the attempt to escalate the defamation against them had been obvious, especially in the past few days, adding Antenna television's reports on the company's activities had been clearly defamatory.

    The statement also accused Alithia newspaper of regurgitating similar slander over a period of time.

    "It is well known that Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos' dealings with the office's professional matters has been very limited in the past years because of his intense involvement in politics," the statement added.

    The partners said they wanted to restore the truth to protect their authority, dignity and work from the campaign against them, which they said aimed in undermining Papadopoulos as a politician.

    "The current and former members of the office, whom it was attempted to smear and degrade, have today filed law suits against Antenna and Alithia, demanding court injunctions and compensation of over one million pounds," the statement said.

    They said that offshore companies were a small percentage of the firm's field of operations and that Papadopoulos in particular had nothing to do with them.

    "Everyone knows this, even those who are trying of course to smear his name." the statement said.

    "It is unacceptable to blame law offices, which found or act on behalf of offshore companies, and identify lawyers with clients by referring to their operations," it added.

    The partners accused Antenna and Alithia of trying to link them to Milosevic and to a greater extent to criminal acts, adding that such an attempt was "monstrous and malicious".

    "We do not know whether these companies had been engaged in any illegal activities and never, until today, has any authority drawn our attention to the potential involvement of any member of our office in an illicit action, " the statement said.

    In a related development, the island's Bar Association held an extraordinary meeting on Monday to examine lawyers' involvement in the procedures for registering offshore companies.

    The meeting concluded that lawyers should not be involved in the business activities of these companies and that unfounded attacks or criticisms against them were unacceptable.

    In a written statement issued after the meeting, the association said lawyers would safeguard their dignity and professional reliability with all legal means at their disposal.

    "The provision of lawyers' services in registering and operation of offshore companies should not be identified with the business operations of these companies," the statement said.

    The association said it was absolutely legal for lawyers to act as directors or secretaries of a company they had registered or even to own shares on behalf of their clients or shareholders after getting the permission of the Central Bank.

    The Chairman of the association, Nicos Papaefstathiou, who called the meeting, had asked to be exempted because he is a partner with Papadopoulos' firm and was also named in some reports.

    Papaefstathiou left the meeting because, as he said, he did not want it to seem that he had influenced the conclusions of the meeting in any way.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Dams 57 per cent full, but consumers urged to save water

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE ISLAND'S dams are 57 per cent full after this winter's heavy rainfall, which totalled 156 million cubic meters of water, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous said yesterday.

    The Minister highlighted the encouraging figures to mark the beginning of a government drive to save water.

    The campaign, which started yesterday and will run until October, is designed to enlighten the public on the importance of saving water, he said.

    "We must enlighten and inform consumers at all levels and departments, so that we can limit water wastage," stressed Themistocleous, despite the fact the dams are currently at healthy levels.

    "We all need to adopt a water conscience so that every single drop of water is used properly."

    But, although Cyprus' water reserves are satisfactory at present they are most definitely "not inexhaustible," and our water shortage problem "is still a problem, because Cyprus is globally situated in a semi-dry region with low rainfall, high evaporation and high temperatures".

    However, Themistocleous expressed the conviction that the House of Representatives would soon pass a bill founding a specialised national water body that would be responsible for controlling the island's water sources. This in turn would "ensure that water sources were being managed by a specialised team and taken advantage of as best as possible," he said.

    Concerning possible price increases, the government has not yet proposed the introduction of such a plan. But, "in the future, the cost incurred to obtain water will have at least to be recovered by water sales prices," Themistocleous said.

    He added that although various water projects around the island - such as the Larnaca desalination plant - had been designed to deal with the increasing water shortage, they were not a panacea. For these projects to be effective, "water must be used properly and not overindulgently abused" by everyone, he said.

    The campaign on the importance of saving water will include televised transmissions of three short films, radio messages, publications in newspapers and magazines and the distribution of material to homes, hotels, schools and other public venues.

    The minister added that so far consumers had not been misusing the island's precious water supply, despite this year's increased rainfall.

    According to the Water Development Department's vice-chairman, Iacovos Iacovides, water consumption levels from the beginning of this summer had been normal and no different to the same period last year.

    Although there are "slight fluctuations according to variations in the temperature, there is no reason for concern over excessive consumption," he said.

    The Water Development Department estimates that 14.5 million cubic meters of water are needed to see the island through the summer.

    "The Larnaca-Famagusta district will need around five million cubic meters of water, Nicosia will need an average of six million cubic meters and Limassol will need around 3.5 million cubic meters," said Iacovides.

    On another note, the Minister was asked to answer why a water source in Anayia village in the Nicosia District had been contaminated. He replied it was normal for "some problems to appear" in communities that were not supplied by large water plants. But, he was quick to point out, the particular problem had already "been cleared up". In fact, he added: "We should not sensationalise the fact that a particular source has a problem. Instead we should only sensationalise or kick up a fuss if a problem is not timely dealt with when it appears. Moreover, the real problem would have been if the contamination had not been pinpointed and the distribution of water to consumers within the Anayia community had continued unnoticed."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Talks 'continuing to July 2'

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday the latest round of negotiations on the Cyprus problem will continue until July 2.

    He was speaking after yesterday's meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, in the presence of UN special envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.

    When face-to-face talks began in January, the parties set a June 30 deadline for substantial progress to reunite the island.

    "Our meetings will follow a definite programme until July 2. Then Mr de Soto will travel to New York on July 3 to brief the UN Secretary-general," Denktash said yesterday.

    He did not confirm or deny media speculation that talks may be extended into the latter part of the year.

    European Union and NATO member Greece has made it clear it will block a future enlargement which does not include Cyprus -- divided or not. Fellow NATO member Turkey, also hoping to join the EU, says it may 'annex' the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north if the island is included in the next expansion without a settlement.

    UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan visited the island last month, urging the two sides to speed up efforts to break the deadlock.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Pick and bulldozer work hand in hand on new Municipality

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    CONSTRUCTION workers and members of the Antiquities Department are working hand in hand on the site of the new municipality in old Nicosia after ancient remains were found during work to build an underground car park.

    Antiquities Department officer Maria Hadjicosti told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that a team had been sent to the site to monitor the diggings of the bulldozers, which are expected to uncover remains of mediaeval buildings.

    So far, they have discovered broken parts of mediaeval pottery indicating the possibility of more significant mediaeval remains being found underneath the initial layers.

    "We are still in early stages, the bulldozers have not reached the archaeological strata yet. We should know in a few days," said Hadjicosti, explaining bulldozers had removed remains of more recently demolished buildings on the site and were ready to start excavating below those foundations, where the archaeological debris is likely to lie.

    If archaeological remains exist in the lower layers, bulldozers will step aside for the picks and shovels of the archaeological team, said Hadjicosti. Asked whether findings were likely to cause delays in the construction of the underground car park, and therefore prolong works on the new town hall, she said it was too early to speculate, as the remains uncovered would have to be evaluated first.

    She maintained that the Antiquities Department was in constant contact with the mayor and that they were working together on the progress of the excavations, acknowledging contractors' desire to get the job done.

    Land Registry plans of the old town suggest an old church might be located in the area. Hadjiosti admitted the prospect of discovering the Lusignan Palace of the crusader period was also possible, given that, "In old Nicosia, you can expect to find mediaeval buildings wherever you dig."

    EXCAVATIONS on the ancient archaeological site on PASYDY hill in Nicosia are to continue until finished, as long as it is within a reasonable time period, Despo Pilides, project manager for the Antiquities Department, said yesterday.

    The same speed required for such a rescue excavation would be maintained, said Pilides, adding that all workers involved would work through the summer months to get as much done as possible. The Antiquities Department is to submit a plan to the Communications Ministry, which has stressed time is of the essence, giving an outline of the shortest time needed to finish the excavations.

    Archaeologists were concerned that works on the new Parliament to be built next to the site would begin in June, despite the fact that archaeological excavations were nowhere near completion.

    The excavations have uncovered exciting evidence of a town planning system believed to be the site of ancient Ledra.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Experts warn the bubble will be back

    By Jean Christou

    SECURITIES and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Marios Clerides said yesterday that fraud had only caused a small part of the stock market crash and that neither more regulations nor intervention could prevent another bubble.

    Clerides was speaking at a presentation in Nicosia entitled 'After a Market Bubble: is it sink or swim?' organised by Severis and Athienitis Financial Services. Two American financial experts were also present at yesterday's event.

    Yesterday's lecture came in the midst of a crisis over who had been to blame for the stock market crash, which has seen the all-share index drop from a high of some 800 points in November 1999 to 98 points yesterday.

    "The Cyprus bubble is just one more bubble in the long history of bubbles worldwide," Clerides said. "We are not any different from any others we've seen."

    But Clerides added bubbles were not always easy to spot, which made warnings easy to ignore. He said former Central bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou had tried to issue a warning in 1999, but it had proved useless.

    "Maybe a more orchestrated warning would have worked, but I doubt it," Clerides said.

    He said one of the characteristics of bubbles was that they could easily be exploited by swindlers. "Herein lies the problem of the regulator. During the euphoria no one is complaining. They are too busy making money," he said.

    "During any bubble there is an increase in illegal or immoral actions. This does not mean the losses incurred are mainly a result of that. In Cyprus we have associated the bubble with a big swindle and this is not the case. Big losses stem from a market skyrocketing to a crash. Fraud is only a small part of the devastation."

    Preventing a bubble, he said, would not be easy. Neither was more regulation or intervention. "No degree of measures can prevent another bubble. If there were any we wouldn't have any bubbles worldwide. With the time and dimming of memory another bubble could happen and neither financial regulations not intervention can prevent the next bubble but knowing and recognising the possibility of a bubble is a sure way of protection against the next one," he added

    Nicos Severis, Chairman of Severis and Athienitis Financial Services, had harsh words for investors and authorities alike in his address. He said once the bubble had burst, the thoughts of most investors who had lost money had been "centred around licking their wounds and feeling morose and not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel".

    "At such times its always difficult to blame oneself, so investors try to find a culprit to blame. In this, they are assisted by various regulators and self-appointed prosecutors in this witch-hunt," Severis said. "In good times, when the market is soaring, people believe, or pretend to believe the gurus advising them on which stocks to buy. In bad times, when the market crashes, they believe or pretend to believe the prosecutors who want to put the gurus in jail."

    Severis said the stock market eventually reflects the state of the economy and once a momentum - up or down - sets in "it's incumbent on each investor to evaluate the market and compare it to the reality of the economy".

    "Few investors in Cyprus have bothered to do this. It's the thinking investor that makes money," he added.

    Severis said investors had acted like lemmings or sheep and that the CSE had become a "penny stock market". He said that when the market was worth a "ludicrous" four times its value in 1999 no one wanted to listen to advice. He advised investors now to not to wait for prices to shoot up but to take a position now, adding that the upcoming liberalisation of the financial market would open new horizons for Cyprus, giving Cypriots the chance to become global investors - "provided they know what they are doing or ask someone who knows what they are doing," he said.

    Marc Klee, a well-known American expert, who is a regular guest in the financial circuits and media in the US said another bubble was inevitable. How could Cyprus hope to avoid a bubble when the US with all its regulation had failed to prevent bubbles in the past, he asked.

    "Investors like to buy high and sell low," he said. "When everyone is buying, it's easy to go out and buy. That's human nature. Today, buying isn't so easy. It's easier to sell. The market is a lot smarter than you or I because the market is the collective wisdom of all the people investing."

    Klee said the smartest investor in history was William Shakespeare for writing "to thine own self be true - because everyone is different and you have to do what's right for you. Don't buy because others are buying and don't sell because others are selling," Klee said.

    He suggested that to return confidence, the Cyprus market should trade for longer hours and encourage company buy backs or any other measures that would increase liquidity.

    "What will also instill confidence is the prosecution of any culprits involved," he said. "I think incarceration would bring a lot of confidence. The little guy always loses. Wouldn't it be nice to see the guy who won lose too?"

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Government takes a step back from Church crisis

    By George Psyllides

    THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday it had no role to play in the unfolding Church land scandal, but DISY deputies for the first time raised the issue of state intervention to resolve the matter.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday: "The government has no place and no role in this procedure."

    Papapetrou had been asked to comment on persistent allegations that people close to Archbishop Chrysostomos had being exploiting his ill health to get their hands on vast areas of Church land at well below its market value and subsequently selling it at a vast profit.

    Papapetrou stressed the government could not do anything about the situation, and anyone who felt there was a criminal offence should report it to the Attorney-general.

    "Anyone who has a complaint concerning an alleged criminal offence should go to the Attorney-general so that it can be assessed and take its course," he said.

    In the case of the head of the Civil Service Committee, Andreas Karageorgis, who has allegedly bought considerable stretches of Church land for very little money, Papapetrou said that as long as there was no solid evidence against him, there was nothing the state could do.

    "What do you want the President to do?

    "Whenever a newspaper writes something the President has to take their head?

    "This is not democracy," Papapetrou said.

    Meanwhile, Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said the results of a probe into allegations claiming three state officials had been involved in shady land dealings would be ready by tomorrow.

    Panayiotou stressed that his ministry was looking into allegations that the officials had approved roads or demarcation of land that were not provided for in regulations.

    "We are investigating the possibility of the officials being involved and whether something like that has actually happened," Panayiotou said.

    On Monday, Panayiotou asked the directors of the land survey and town- planning departments, as well as the Famagusta district officer, to submit all information pertaining to at least two cases involving land demarcation and registration and surfacing of access roads to the plots.

    But the Church's freedom to handle its own financial affairs without accountability could end up being discussed in Parliament for the first time since independence after three DISY deputies, George Georgiou, Lefteris Christoforou and Rikkos Erotocritou, yesterday decided to table the issue before their party's parliamentary team, seeking to forward to the House as an emergency.

    Yesterday, Georgiou criticised the Church, stressing its property belonged to the Cypriot people.

    "Land and estates were donated to the Archbishopric at a time when it was the only possible thing to do, due to Ottoman occupation or for reasons of faith and dedication people felt towards the Church," Georgiou said.

    He added: "This is the reality; the Archbishopric did not work, nor did the clerics, or those who manage the property, to acquire the land.

    "Nor did they ever work on the land."

    Georgiou said the state should take initiatives, adding the party's parliamentary team was going to discuss the matter of regulating the Church property and the need for transparency.

    "We'll table the issue before the House for urgent discussion so that at last this would be resolved, either with the state's direct intervention or through legislation initiated by the House," Georgiou said.

    The DISY deputy added that no one had been surprised by the revelations and that it was something that had been happening since the Republic's inception.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Two more players leave Turkish Cypriot clubs for the south

    By Soteris Charalambous

    TWO foreign footballers playing for teams from the occupied areas have crossed to the free areas in the hope of securing contracts at a Greek Cypriot football club, Turkish Cypriot papers reported yesterday.

    According to the reports, the footballers played for Binatli and Yalova and arrived in Larnaca via Istanbul and Athens on Monday, having already secured trials with clubs in Cyprus.

    Earlier this month, a ban was imposed on Turkish Cypriot footballers visiting the buffer zone village of Pyla in an effort to stop high profile players moving to the free areas. The restrictions on the movement of footballers in the occupied areas were imposed shortly after Turkish Cypriot brothers Sabri and Mousafer Selden controversially left their club Binatli of Morphou and moved to the free areas. After being granted citizenship, both players signed professional contracts with AEK football club in Larnaca.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Electricity workers warn public could be affected by further strikes

    By Alexia Saoulli

    TWO THOUSAND Electricity Authority (EAC) employees went on a 24-hour warning strike yesterday, accusing the government of delaying the renewal of their collective agreements.

    The workers walked out because they claimed the renewal of their collective agreements were being unduly delayed by the Finance and Commerce and Industry Ministries, and threatened to step up strike measures by the end of the this week if yesterday's action did not have a positive outcome.

    The strike started at 7am yesterday but did not affect the island's electricity supply, with employees ensuring there was no interruption. However, if push comes to shove, the union warned consumers might end up suffering the consequences when they step up their action.

    EPOPAI Trade Union President Andreas Panorkos said the unions had worked out a preliminary agreement with the EAC, but that delays in concluding the final details were down to the government.

    "It has become clear to us that despite the fact that the EAC made an agreement with us, its hands are tied because the Finance Ministry is resisting a concluding settlement."

    He warned that if their demands were not met soon they were determined to intensify their industrial action.

    EAC Chairman George Georgiades yesterday backed the workers and characterised their demands as justified. He said the problem lay not in what the demands actually entailed, but in the technical procedure that led to a final agreement.

    "The government wants to have a supervisory role over the handling of workers' benefits in all semi-governmental organisations," he said, adding, however, that the EAC governing body should be able to work out such agreements.

    "Management should not only be responsible for the managerial running of an organisation, but it should have flexibility in administrative processes to make relatively quick decisions."

    OIOSEK trade union secretary-general Nicos Tambas accused the government of dragging its feet: "Couldn't the two relevant Ministries (Finance and Commerce and Industry) have been kept informed about what was being discussed over these past many months, so that once negotiations were over we could just go ahead and sign the deal?" he asked.

    But Commerce and Industry Ministry Permanent Secretary Soteris Soteriou rejected claims that delays were due to a study being carried out by Ministry officials. He said that in the past similar plans had taken up to 10 months to be agreed upon because of the necessary procedural studies that had to be carried out, examining all aspects of a contract.

    "A preliminary proposal was only sent to Ministry recently and we have been working on it for about one and a half months now," he said. "It's not fair to say we are delaying matters, because this is a huge topic we are looking at."

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday called for patience from all concerned. He assured angry trade unionists that the Commerce and Industry Ministry would not delay examination of the collective agreements and that an answer would be sent to the Finance Ministry for finalisation shortly.

    "The government wants to co-ordinate negotiations between semi-governmental organisations and trade unions," he said. "We have to control things so that we are all moving within the same logical framework, particularly since it refers to one uniform financial policy with a common employer. In the past, different semi-governmental organisations had varying contracts stipulating pay rises and promotions. These were then used and abused by other organisations as a negotiation tool and what eventually happened was the public sector somewhat turned into a ping-pong ball. Now what we need is a central, unanimous decision that is applied to all organisations across the spectrum."

    Meanwhile on Friday, employees from another semi-governmental organisation, CYTA (Cyprus Telecommunication Authority), will also be deciding if they are to strike over a similar disagreement.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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