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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-17
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
 Buoyant euro could damage tourismBy Jean Christou
THE PARITY of the euro against the US dollar will not impact hugely on the Cyprus economy, although the development has strengthened the Cyprus pound against sterling, a leading economist said yesterday.
The economist, who did not wish to be named, said that the difference between the Cyprus pound and sterling could hit tourism, since the island's biggest market is the UK, accounting for over half of annual tourist arrivals.
However, the economist said that on the plus side, the strength of the euro could bring lower crude oil prices, which would be a positive development.
"The only effects would be the sterling difference hitting tourism a little, " the economist said. "But on the other hand the parity will mean cheaper oil prices, which will filter eventually to the pumps."
He said other than those two sectors the effects on the Cyprus economy would be minimal. "Basically, because we are keeping stable with the euro and Europe is our major trading partner, especially Greece, one shouldn't expect a lot of impact on the economy," he said. "In the past even when we had big changes in exchange rates it didn't really affect the economy."
Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that he thought the already badly-hit tourism sector could be affected. "It's a little worse for us but things are marginal and it is not anything really serious at this juncture," he said.
At yesterday's rates it would cost a British tourist £1.11 sterling to buy a Cyprus pound. Some months back, the two currencies were on a par. This makes holidays in Cyprus more expensive for Britons, whose government has so far refused to join the single European currency.
The strength of the euro against the dollar has weakened sterling and the Cyprus pound's link to the European currency has had a knock-on effect.
Yesterday the euro and the dollar were both trading at 1.7 against the Cyprus pound.
The dollar's weakness on Monday helped the euro reach parity with the US currency for the first time in more than two years, and analysts forecast further gains for the single currency.
The euro reached $1.0 for the first time in 28 months as investors' wariness towards US assets depressed the dollar. The single currency hit a high of $1.0031 in European afternoon trade, rising from $0.9941 in late Asian trade.
The euro has gained nearly 11 per cent in the year to date and risen more than 17 per cent from its record low of $0.8225 in October 2000.
"The dollar's weakness has been the driving factor in the markets for over a month as equities have fallen steadily amid fears of poor earnings and corporate governance worries," the Financial Times said yesterday.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Clerides meets ministers ahead of liberalisation talksPRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides was yesterday expected to meet Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou ahead of today's cabinet meeting, which will decide whether the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) is to be be allowed to compete when the telecommunications market is liberalised later this year.
According to reports, Clerides already met separately with Commerce Minster Nicos Rolandis in an attempt to defuse the row on the issue between the two ministers.
The last cabinet discussion on liberalisation ended acrimoniously when Rolandis and Neophytou clashed over whether the EAC should be allowed into the bidding war for new mobile providers. Neophytou believes the EAC should not participate because it is a semi-government organisation. He said this would not constitute liberalisation of the market but further nationalisation, since one semi-government organisation, CyTA, already holds the monopoly on telecommunications.
Rolandis, however, argues the EAC should be allowed to bid for a licence because it has the necessary infrastructure to do so. He said it would be unfair for the EAC to have to face the liberalisation of its own sector without having the opportunity to diversify and expand into other areas to offset competition in the electricity market. The government hopes to open up the mobile phone sector in October and expressions of interest have been received from international companies such as Vodafone, Telestet and Greece's CosmOTE, which are interested in GSM licences. The list also includes other companies from the US, France, Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and Russia.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Greek Cypriot remanded for another three daysA GREEK Cypriot man detained in the north on Friday night was remanded for another three days by a 'court' in occupied Famagusta yesterday in order to "complete investigations" as to why he crossed to the north.
Vassos Elias, 25, a builder from Xylotymbou, crossed to the north with his Turkish Cypriot employee Osman Sinkerpi through Pergamos in the Famagusta district on Friday night. He was later arrested in a tavern and remanded by Turkish forces.
The two men had been out for a few drinks when Sinkerpi suggested they head north to continue their evening out. Trouble started when Elias began singing Greek songs in a Turkish Cypriot tavern and he was arrested at about 8.30pm.
Elias is married and has one child. His wife Maria, a Briton, with the help of UNFICYP managed to visit her husband yesterday. UNFICYP is carefully monitoring the situation and is working to secure Elias's release, spokesman Brian Kelly said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Papadopoulos hits back at DISY's Milosevic swipeBy George Psyllides
ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday confirmed the existence of a letter from chief war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte allegedly mentioning the name of DIKO Chairman Tassos Papadopoulos in connection with former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, currently on trial for war crimes.
The revelation about the letter was made on Monday by DISY Chairman Nicos Anastassiades and was confirmed later by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides who was the recipient of the letter.
Markides yesterday also confirmed the existence of the letter, but refused to elaborate on its contents, saying it was confidential.
He said the Chief Prosecutor at The Hague International War Crimes Tribunal had requested information concerning the movement of Milosevic funds through Cyprus.
The Republic had co-operated, as it was obliged to do, and all the requests had been satisfied, Markides said.
He stressed that the letter did not name any suspects.
Yesterday, Papadopoulos said Anastassiades' claims brought political behaviour to a new low.
On Monday, Anastassiades, who was arguing against Papadopolos' potential presidential candidacy, claimed the DIKO chairman was disliked by the Americans, not because of his politics, but because of his alleged connections in breaking the United Nations embargo on Yugoslavia.
Papadopoulos said Anastassiades' claims were merely a repetition of allegations repeatedly levelled against him for the past five years, adding that what was important was not who the candidate was, but the new turn in political ethos and behaviour.
Concerning claims that the American embassy did not approve of him, Papadopoulos said: "If the desires or dislikes of an embassy.are to be considered when drafting a list of candidates, are we take it that (DISY's) delay in endorsing a candidate could be because the American embassy has not yet approved the list."
US ambassador Donald Bandler said yesterday it was up to the people of Cyprus to elect their own president, though he avoided telling reporters why Papadopoulos was never invited to his embassy's functions.
AKEL, through its spokesman Nicos Katsourides, described Anastassiades' claims as the "return to the mentality and practices of the 1950s, when right-wing leaders were visiting the British and American embassies to receive their orders".
Katsourides said the attack was reminiscent of practices common in the turbulent period between 1972 and 1974, and wondered if it was a coincidence that it had taken place on the anniversary of the 1974 coup.
"Acting as a US representative in Cyprus, he (Anastassiades) informed the people that the Americans opposed Papadopoulos' candidacy because he had registered offshore companies accused of potentially collaborating in breaking the embargo against Yugoslavia," Katsourides said.
He added that such attacks were undermining the Republic and were a "classic example of how, even inadvertently, someone could damage public interest to serve his party".
Katsourides urged the government to publish Del Ponte's letter and suggested that its contents probably originated from Cyprus.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Bitter exchanges over crash inquiryBy George Psyllides
HARDLY a week after five army officers were killed in a helicopter accident, the investigation into the incident has become the focal point of a bitter spat between politicians, who yesterday exchanged accusations over the manner the inquiry is being conducted for the second day running.
The spat was sparked on Monday, when AKEL deputy Doros Christodoulides disputed the reliability of the committee investigating the Bell 206 accident, which killed the commander of the National Guard and four other officers.
Christodoulides, an ardent opponent of Bell helicopters, suggested there should be an independent investigator included in the committee.
Yesterday, he continued his attack unabated, suggesting it had been a "very bad" move to include company representatives in an official investigation.
Last Wednesday's accident is being investigated by six Cypriots - three pilots and three helicopter engineers - two Greek experts, as well as one Bell-Textron expert specialising on the fuselage and a Rolls Royce engine specialist.
Christodoulides claimed that, everywhere else in the world, authorities assigned an independent committee to investigate such an accident.
"As far as I know, company officials are not included on such a committee," Christodoulides said.
He said companies could carry out their own inquiries, but, "for God's sake, they are not included (in the official committee)".
"Either it is independent or it is not," he added.
Christodoulides claimed it could hardly be expected that Bell or Rolls Royce would admit there had been anything wrong with the helicopter - "because you know what assuming responsibility is."
The AKEL deputy also accused President Glafcos Clerides of pre-empting the investigation, when he said after the accident that the aircraft had apparently tried to make an emergency landing but had landed on a precipice and overturned into a ravine, where it exploded.
He similarly accused Hasikos for ruling out sabotage through remarks that the helicopter's pilot had definitely attempted to land the craft.
DISY deputy Antonis Karas yesterday replied that the most important matter was that a committee of specialists had been assigned to look into the incident and report on their findings.
"Anything else is said malevolently for opposition aims," Karas said.
He added: "Christodoulides, and in general his party, are trying to rid themselves of the blame of not approving the funds for modern helicopters for the National Guard."
Karas defended Clerides' remarks concerning the potential cause of the accident, arguing the President was trying to disperse rumours about sabotage that could unnecessarily raise tensions.
Yesterday, Hasikos for the umpteenth time appealed for an end to speculation in order to allow the committee to complete its work.
He stressed that the responsibility for drawing any conclusions on the cause of the accident belonged to the six Cypriot experts and that the others only had an advisory role.
According to reports, a second expert from Bell-Textron has joined the inquiry.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 New National Guard Commander sworn inBy Rachel Chrysostomou
DEFENCE Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday welcomed the new National Guard Commander at a swearing in ceremony at National Guard Headquarters. Hasikos expressed his full support for Lieutenant General Athanasios Nicodemos, saying the new chief was in a "position to carry on the work of the previous Commander."
The new commander was appointed to the post after last Wednesday's helicopter accident, which cost the life of former National Guard Commander, Lieutenant General Evangelos Florakis, and four other officers.
Hasikos maintained the tragic events of last week "strengthened the intention to work harder for Cyprus." He assured Nicodemos that the Cypriot people had embraced every single leader of the National Guard, making it his responsibility to show that he deserved the trust that was being offered to him. Hasikos expressed his confidence that the new commander "can and has the power, knowledge and energy to give to the Cypriot people what they expect".
Nicodemos in turn, thanked the Minister, pointing out that he "accepts full responsibility to carry out his work". He noted that he would put his abilities to full use, supported he said, "by God, but mainly by the excellent, flawless and total co-operation of the political and military leadership, all the authorities, and most importantly, the heroic and proud Cypriot nation".
Lieutenant General Nicodemos voiced his deep pain and sorrow at the tragic helicopter crash, and the death of his dear friend Florakis with whom he worked for 40 years on their military careers. He expressed his condolences not only to the families but also to the staff at the National Guard.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Talks resume with agreement on working programmeBy Jean Christou
PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday held a one-hour meeting, as the fifth round of talks on the Cyprus question resumed in Nicosia.
Reports from the talks said that the two leaders had decided on a working programme for the upcoming meetings.
The UN Secretary-general's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro De Soto, and the two leaders' aides also attended yesterday's meeting, which lasted about an hour.
Clerides was accompanied by Attorney-general Alecos Markides, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros.
De Soto said on Monday there was a lot of work to be done in the coming weeks and that the talks would continue throughout the summer.
It has been widely reported that the UN will present a proposal for a solution at the current round. The Greek Cypriot side says it would be open to such a proposal, as long as it fell within the parameters of UN resolutions on Cyprus. Unconfirmed reports said Denktash had responded negatively to the idea.
The talks resume amid widespread concern about how the political crisis in Turkey might affect the Cyprus issue, especially since the appointment as foreign minister of Sukru Sina Gurel, a known hardliner on Cyprus, replacing the pro-European Ismail Cem, an architect of the policy of rapprochement with Greece.
Observers say that if the anti-EU lobby in Turkey wins any early elections in Turkey, Gurel's appointment as Foreign Minister would spell the end of any hope for a solution on Cyprus.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Lawyers offer free services for Euro cases against TurkeyBy Jean Christou
A GROUP of lawyers from Morphou have offered free legal services to any refugee who wishes to take Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for violation of their human rights by not being allowed access to their property in the occupied north of the island.
The initiative, by a total of seven lawyers, all refugees from Morphou, is being led by Yiannakis Erotokritou, Christos Kitromilides and Vatoulla Shittis.
Erotokritou, who has just had a case declared admissible by the ECHR, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the group of lawyers had cleared their proposal with the Attorney-general's office and were ready to begin accepting cases.
"We are ready to help them proceed to the European court without any financial burden," Erotokritou said. "We consider this our contribution to the protection of human rights and we hope other lawyers will join us."
Last month, Erotokritou, acting on behalf of an elderly couple from occupied Lapithos, secured admissibility at the ECHR for his client's inability to access her property due to the Turkish occupation.
In its decision, the court ruled there was no reason to depart from the December 1996 judgement against Turkey in the Titina Loizidou case, which found Ankara guilty of denying the Greek Cypriot woman from Kyrenia the right to enjoy her property. "The court finds no reason to depart from these conclusions," the decision said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Need: Antenna construction will go aheadBy Stefanos Evripidou
BRITISH BASES spokesman, Rob Need, said yesterday the new antenna at Akrotiri would be erected regardless of objections raised by the House or political parties.
According to Cyprus News Agency, Need was speaking at a press gathering called to update the public on the environmental work being done on the site. He cited the Treaty of Establishment as he reiterated Britain's sovereign rights over the area, which gave them conclusive authority on the installation of the antenna.
On a strict legal basis, British sovereignty of the land implies that the Cypriot government has no power to interfere with any aspect of construction on bases territory.
As part of preparations for the installation of the new antenna, about 15, 000 square metres of topsoil containing flora and fauna have been translocated from the site. Environmental experts from the UK are expected to finish the relocation of the ecosystem by July 22.
Meanwhile, Defence Estates, responsible for all Ministry of Defence land, have appointed an environmental manager to oversee the construction work, and a botanist who will be monitoring the ecosystem from time to time.
Need said the bases were implementing all the mitigating measures that are required of them and estimated the cost of the operation to be over half a million.
He said to the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the bases administration was meeting with the relevant government departments to establish a management plan of the Akrotiri Salt Lake area not under construction.
Together they hope to come to an agreement over land that should come under the Ramsar Wetlands Convention. Under the convention, certain areas may be withdrawn if they are replaced by an equally large area elsewhere but Need said the bases had already given undertaking not to construct on any areas protected by the Ramsar Convention.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 CyTA announces £78 million profitTHE CYPRUS Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) yesterday announced pre-tax profits of £78 million in 2001 compared to pre-tax profits of £91 million in 2000.
Pre-tax profits in 2000 were boosted by a £12 million profit from sale and revaluation of investments.
The Authority's chairman, Stathis Papadakis, told journalists that revenue in 2001 had increased 17 per cent, or £31 million, to £215.6 million compared to £184.7 million in 2000.
"CyTA considers that its current available funds are essential for the financing of its medium-term development projects, the cost of which are estimated at between £360 million and £500 million," Papadakis said.
At the end of this year, CyTA, after a decades-long monopoly in the telecommunications sector, will face the full force of liberalisation as the government opens the market to international companies.
"Now, more than ever it is imperative that the legislation to change CyTA's legal framework be approved," Papadakis said. "CyTA will be obliged to compete with private enterprise in the open market and our ultimate aim is to strengthen the organisation so that it will not only survive but continue to expand."
Papadakis said once the market was liberalised it would totally change the telecommunications scene, and particularly mobile telephony. He said the government expected to invite tenders in October and be in a position to grant licences by March 2003. He estimated the government would grant one or two licences to begin with.
Those said to have submitted responses to a public consultation paper issued by the government in April include Vodafone, Telestet and Greece's CosmOTE, which are interested in GSM licences. The list also includes other companies from the US, France, Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and Russia.
Papadakis said that fixed telephony was still the organisation's backbone with a total of 432,553 lines installed by May 2002 - 62.73 lines per 100 residents.
This was less than last year, however, when 434,978 lines were in use by December 2001.
Papadakis said the decrease was due to the increase in the basic rates.
Regarding mobile telephony, connections by June 2002 had reached 255,269 with a density of 37.02 per cent. Prepaid mobile connections for the same period reached 107,117.
According to Papadakis, CyTA can now boast significant upgrades in services, with 11 customer service offices operating around Cyprus - three each in Nicosia and Limassol, and one each in Larnaca, Paphos, Paralimni, Kakopetria, and Polis.
CyTA has also succeeded in drastically cutting waiting time for the 192 service from an average 20 seconds to six seconds, while unanswered calls fell from four per cent to 2.4 per cent.
The percentage of calls answered within 20 seconds has increased from 67 per cent to 91 per cent, Papadakis said.
He also cited research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) showing CyTA was by far the cheapest compared with nine other main European telecommunications companies in both fixed and mobile telephony.
International calls have also chalked an increase due to the reductions in rates, Papadakis said, with a total of 243,218,447 minutes in 2001 and 109, 054,301 minutes until May 2002.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Cyprus to 'wait and see' on cosmetics scareBy Alexia Saoulli
THE HEALTH Ministry will not be taking an official stand on a recent alarming US-led product study that found harmful substances in many popular fragrances, hair products and deodorants. Instead it plans to wait and see what the official EU and United States position is.
'Health Care Without Harm,' an Environmental Working Group and 'Coming Clean' last week released Not Too Pretty, a report that outlined the harmful effects of collective exposure to phthalates. The study tested 72 name-brand fragrances, hair sprays and deodorants for phthalates: 72 per cent tested positive. Only one of the products listed the compounds on its label and a further 11 contained more than one common phthalate.
Phthalates are a family of seven chemical compounds that are used as "plasticizers" - they make plastics flexible without sacrificing strength or durability.
Their chief use, as plasticizers, is in vinyl (also known as PVC), but they are used in cosmetics, toys, flooring, adhesives, wallpaper, furniture, raincoats and shower curtains and medical equipment, according to Health Minister Frixos Savvides.
According to the Phthalate Esters Panel of the American Chemistry Council - composed of all major manufacturers and some users of the primary phthalate esters in commerce in the US - some phthalates can make nail polish chip- resistant or a perfume fragrance's scent linger longer.
However, according to Not Too Pretty, they can also be absorbed through the skin, inhaled as fumes, ingested when they contaminate food or when children bite or suck on toys, and are inadvertently but directly administered to patients from some PVC medical devices.
But Savvides called for calm until the damning study was investigated more thoroughly. What was important, he said, was to assess what level of phthalates were being used in cosmetic products, as well as to determine to what degree consumers used them and how they were being used. "A substance does not pose any danger unless it is being used in such a way that affects your health. The same compound was found in plastic toys three years ago and banned, but only because the toys were for children under the age of three and they were likely to put them in their mouth. Nail polish for instance would be harmful if we were to eat it, but that is not something a normal person would do," he said.
However, last year the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) found 45 times more phthalates in the urine of five per cent of 20 to 40-year-old women. It is the environmental group's belief that the main source of exposure could be from cosmetics and beauty products women are using every day.
Not Too Pretty claims: "Hundreds of animal studies have demonstrated that phthalates can damage the liver, the kidneys, the lungs and the reproductive system, especially the developing testes. Some patients who receive treatment using PVC medical devices softened with phthalates have developed the same health problems that animal studies show come from exposure to these chemicals. Other health problems seen in animal studies have never been looked for in people. But scientists in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada and the National Institutes of Health's Toxicology Programme agree that animal studies predict that phthalates can be dangerous to humans."
Last week, the Phthalate Esters Panel of the American Chemistry Council hit back and said there had never been "reliable evidence" to support cosmetic use of phthalates was harmful, particularly since they did not stay in the body the way some heavy metals did, but were broken down and excreted with other waste. "That's where the CDC found them - in urine samples."
Although the state lab informed the Ministry it was ready to carry out its own independent analyses of cosmetics available in Cyprus, Savvides said the government would not be going ahead with any recommendations but would wait for the United States and European Union's official position instead.
"We alerted them and asked to be kept informed in writing, whereby we will act accordingly," he said, adding that it was common knowledge that women's cosmetics contained harmful substances, which was "the price being paid for the way of life today".
Savvides was yesterday unavailable for further comment.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002