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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-03-07

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

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


Friday, March 7, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Simitis not looking for a Yes or No
  • [02] Government plans measures to protect economy from war
  • [03] EU prepares for donors' conference
  • [04] Company hired for refinery upgrade took guarantees from deposit
  • [05] Massive blaze at toy warehouse
  • [06] Sandwich van bomb blamed on vendetta
  • [07] Ayios Spyridonas park to go ahead
  • [08] Team GB to train in Cyprus?

  • [01] Simitis not looking for a Yes or No

    By George Psyllides

    ACHIEVING a deal on the Cyprus problem that guarantees peace, co-operation and security in the region rather than saying 'Yes' or 'No' is the aim of the Greek Cypriot side's attendance at a UN-sponsored meeting on the Hague on Monday, Greek prime minister Cotas Simitis said yesterday.

    He was speaking after a three-hour meeting in Athens with President Tassos Papadopoulos, which dealt primarily with the United Nations Secretary- general Kofi Annan's proposal to put his peace plan to separate simultaneous referendums on both sides of the divide on March 30.

    Annan has invited the two sides to The Hague on Monday to tell him whether or not they agree to put his plan to the two communities to decide.

    After a meeting with the Turkish leadership yesterday, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash meanwhile reiterated his stance that he would reject Annan's latest plan and will ask for broad changes to it during Monday's meeting. He did not, however, say whether or not this meant he was rejecting the referendum.

    Simitis said his meeting with Papadopoulos, which overran by two hours, had been constructive with the Greek and Cypriot sides arriving at common conclusions.

    The Greek Prime Minister however suggested there should be a discussion in The Hague.

    “Because we are not asked and no one is asked to express oneself in one word, it is proper for a discussion to take place.

    “What we are interested in is not to say yes or no but to achieve something that would guarantee peace, co-operation and security in the region,” Simitis said.

    “Our position is, and remains, that we want negotiations to be held, in an effort to improve the provisions of the Annan plan. This does not mean re- negotiating all the provisions of the plan, but only those which will make it functional and therefore viable,” Papadopoulos said.

    Denktash, after talks with the Turkish leadership, told the Turkish parliament that the plan was “unbalanced and unjust”.

    “The Secretary-general, presumably so he didn't go home empty handed, said come to The Hague even if you are going to say no,” Denktash said.

    He added: “That is how we will go to The Hague, but we will go strengthened as a result of the talks in Ankara.

    “We go with goodwill and we will seek ways to change this plan; God willing we will find them,” the Turkish Cypriot leader said.

    His comments were echoed by Turkish presidential spokesman Tacan Ildem, who told a news conference that the Annan plan, in its current state, was far from meeting the expectations of the Turkish side.

    Concerning the referendums, Ildem said it was something that the two sides on the island must address “through their own democratic and constitutional structures”.

    But it is highly likely that Denktash's views will fall on deaf ears as Annan has clearly asked the two sides to reply on whether they agree to hold separate referendums on his plan and not to tell him if they reject it or not.

    And comments made by his special envoy, Alvaro de Soto, during a TV interview last night, seemed to dispel any possibility of major changes to the plan.

    “The Secretary-general was very clear; it is unlikely there would be a possibility of improving in a significant way the plan they have,” de Soto said.

    “Furthermore, the time to do so has practically run out and perfectionism at this stage would not lead us anywhere,” he added.

    In what was a clear warning to the two sides, de Soto said that Annan hoped and expected that they would say yes to his proposal.

    “It is difficult to imagine that they would stand in the way of the people taking the decision,” de Soto said.

    He added: “We feel that the people who have been waiting so patiently on both sides earned the right, have earned the prize of being able to say what they think.”

    “And they should know that it is not really so much a choice between this plan and a better plan as a choice between this plan and possibly no plan at all for an unpredictable period of time,” de Soto.

    But Simitis last night blamed Denktash for the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and indirectly warned Turkey that its EU bid could be jeopardised if there was no solution in Cyprus.

    Denktash's stance not only leads to the “total isolation of the Turkish Cypriot side but in general undermines Turkey's EU accession course,” Simitis said.

    “Although he said he would travel to The Hague, he is so far intransigent, ignores the dynamic mobilisations in the Turkish Cypriot community in favour of a solution and accession to the EU, ignores the clear will to solve the problem, the clear will throughout the island and the international community,” he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 7, 2003

    [02] Government plans measures to protect economy from war

    By George Psyllides

    THE government is working on a series of measures to safeguard the island from the consequences of war in Iraq, the Finance Minister said yesterday.

    Speaking on behalf of a ministerial committee, which met to discuss the potential fallout of a war on the Cyprus economy, Marcos Kyprianou said the government's aim was to prevent any dire consequences.

    “We studied the likely consequences and judged they were reversible; if the correct measures are taken, any serious effects can be avoided and negative developments could be improved,” Kyprianou said.

    The government fears a repeat of the situation in the first Gulf War in 1991, when tourist arrivals fell by 50 per cent overnight.

    Bookings for the summer season have slumped on average 19 per cent, with the key markets of Britain and Germany sagging on talk of a possible strike in Iraq.

    “Cyprus is not in any war zone and that it something everyone has to understand, but it will be affected one way or another like many other countries,” Kyprianou said.

    The Finance Minister said that measures should be taken for tourism irrespective of Iraq, due to the global recession, which is affecting tourism worldwide and not only Cyprus.

    “Thus priority will be given to measures for tourism regardless of whether there will be a war in Iraq or not,” Kyprianou said.

    The minister said the committee, made up of the ministers of Finance, Trade, Industry and Tourism, Communications, and Labour, had not made any decisions and would meet again next Wednesday.

    “The package of measures will be announced when it is ready,” Kyprianou said.

    The package is expected to include tax breaks on hotel overnight stays and a further exemption of a three per cent levy channelled to tourism authorities.

    Kyprianou said the measures would be comprehensive, covering all sections of the economy.

    The looming war comes at a period when the island's tourist industry was set to recover from its poor performance last year, which saw arrivals down by about 10 per cent.

    Kyprianou, however, was adamant that Cyprus would not necessarily be affected if it set a proper strategy to offset a potentially negative impact.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 7, 2003

    [03] EU prepares for donors' conference

    By Sofia Kannas

    THE EUROPEAN Commission has pencilled in March 21 for a preparatory donors' conference for a post-settlement Cyprus, assuming both sides agree on Monday to hold simultaneous March 30 referendums on the UN settlement plan.

    EU delegation spokesman Nicholas Karides said yesterday such donor conferences had successfully been organised by the Commission before.

    “The last donor conference in which the Commission was involved was held in Brussels on March 12, 2002 for the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    “What happened in the case of FYROM was that the Commission set up a joint office with the World Bank, and co-operated in arranging the conference.

    “The conference involved presentations elaborating the needs of the country, and statements by prospective donors explaining how they planned to use the money they pledged.”

    Karides said it was still too early to say how much might be raised for Cyprus at such a conference.

    “The Commission pledged 104 million euros to FYROM at last year's conference… I know the Commission has set aside 206 million euros for the north in the event of a settlement, to be spent over the years 2004-6. But this amount will be separate from whatever is raised at a donors' conference. This was decided in January last year and endorsed by the Copenhagen European Council. This 206 million will be used primarily to upgrade the northern part of the island to bring it up to the same level of development as in the south.”

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, a source in Brussels confirmed the Commission was awaiting Monday's meeting in The Hague before finalising preparations for a preparatory conference on March 21.

    “We are waiting to see what happens on Monday and if it all goes well we will begin sending invitations out to potential donors.”

    Asked who would be receiving invitations to the preparatory conference, which is set to be held in Brussels, the source said invites would be sent to countries and organisations that had already expressed an interest in participating in a donors' conference for Cyprus.

    “We will be sending out invitations to all EU member states, plus the embassies of Australia, the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, Japan and Switzerland. We will also send ones to organisations such as the World Bank, the Council of Europe and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

    “If the result at The Hague on Monday is positive, then we will also begin preparations for the real conference which would take place in Brussels in May.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 7, 2003

    [04] Company hired for refinery upgrade took guarantees from deposit

    By Alex Mita

    THE Cyprus Petroleum Refinery (CPRL) paid an Iranian company a multi- million pound deposit to upgrade Larnaca refinery to EU standards after the company failed to produce the required £2 million performance guarantee from its own banks.

    CPRL chairman Takis Lefkaritis yesterday admitted the refinery had signed a £42 million project with Iranian company SAZEH without first receiving the bank guarantee. The refinery then paid the company a deposit, so that part of it could be used by the company to pay the performance guarantee, claiming European banks were unwilling to guarantee an Iranian company.

    Lefkaritis told the Cyprus Mail that banks in Europe were reluctant to guarantee SAZEH.

    “When you sign an agreement and ask for a bank guarantee, the person you sign with will go and get the bank guarantee, and the person hiring the company has to pay a deposit,” he said.

    “But European banks were hesitant to provide Iranian companies with a guarantee.

    “Part of the deposit we gave them (£2 million) was then given as a guarantee by SAZEH, but we got the guarantee so what does that have to do with it?” Lefkaritis said.

    “But some people out there are against the refinery and they caused us a problem. We had offers of £63 million, £60 million and from this company we had an offer of £42 million,” he added.

    Fears had been raised as to the credibility of an international company like SAZEH, when it was unable to raise a bank guarantee, but Lefkaritis said there was no credibility issue in this case.

    “Goodness no, they found the bank guarantee even though they got it from the deposit, what's the difference?” Lefkaritis said.

    “When you sign a contract, it is expected that you will receive a bank guarantee, and we did,” he added.

    Works to upgrade the refinery are expected to be completed by 2004. The refinery will then continue its operation until 2007 and will then be dismantled by 2010 and sold for scrap.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 7, 2003

    [05] Massive blaze at toy warehouse

    By Alex Mita

    MORE than 50 firemen battled through the night yesterday to salvage a toy warehouse in Dhali from a raging fire that broke out a little after midnight.

    Using special breathing apparatus to protect themselves from the toxic fumes emitted by the burning plastic toys, the firemen tried desperately to get as close to the fire as possible, hampered by the fact that only one outdoor staircase offered access to the building.

    The intense fire caused parts of the brick walls of the warehouse to swell outwards and collapse, raising concern about the integrity of the building as well as the safety of the firemen inside.

    The exhausted firemen had to be constantly sprayed with water to protect them and their equipment from the heat.

    “They were spraying all that water on me and I was still burning,” one fireman told the Cyprus Mail.

    The fire was finally brought under control at around 5am, but firemen stayed at the scene for a further five hours putting out small fires that kept breaking out.

    Police said yesterday the severity of the fire made it difficult for investigators to determine whether it was the result of arson. The warehouse, which belonged to Stefanos Eliades, was insured, but it was too soon to assess the cost of the damage.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 7, 2003

    [06] Sandwich van bomb blamed on vendetta

    By a Staff Reporter

    A BOMB explosion which ripped through a sandwich van in Limassol on Wednesday night may have been the result of a vendetta between an unknown party and the van's owner, police said yesterday.

    The homemade device exploded inside the van belonging to 42-year-old Andreas Solomou at around 9pm, while the vehicle was parked in an empty plot on Ayias Filaxeos Avenue.

    Limassol Police Chief Theodoros Stylianou yesterday expressed his anger at the explosion, which happened at a busy time and place, and could have resulted in fatalities.

    The explosion caused damage not only to the sandwich van but also to another car parked nearby. Neither vehicle was covered by insurance.

    In a statement, Stylianou appealed for witnesses to come forward, saying it was impossible that no one would have seen anything suspicious given the time and place the bomb went off.

    Police have already ruled out the possibility, suggested by Solomou, that his van was targeted because he used to be an APOEL supporter.

    Investigations into the case are continuing.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 7, 2003

    [07] Ayios Spyridonas park to go ahead

    By a Staff Reporter

    NICOSIA Mayor Michalakis Zampelas said yesterday plans to redevelop land in Ayios Spyridonas square and turn it into a park would probably go ahead when finances allowed, despite opposition from certain quarters.

    The area, which is currently home to a church and several monuments, may be turned into a park with underground parking if the redevelopment plan is given the green light.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Zampelas said the Municipality's Environment Committee was looking into the matter.

    “We are going to have an environmental study done to see if there are adverse environmental issues to address with regard to the area.

    “We have been in close contact with all those concerned and the plans are for the area to become a green park with two underground parking areas for cars. We may relocate some monuments, but they will not be destroyed.

    “The main difficulty concerns the existing church. The Cyprus Church want a larger church to be built but the existing church is consecrated and they won't allow the demolition of such churches.

    “Others want to absorb the old church into a new one.”

    “But what I want is to try and find a way to keep the existing church and maybe build another church next to it…. while also managing to transform the area into a green park with underground parking.

    The Church was yesterday unavailable for comment on the issue.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, March 7, 2003

    [08] Team GB to train in Cyprus?

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE British Olympic Committee is set on using Cyprus as its centre for training purposes, Olympic Performance Manager Richard Simmons said yesterday.

    “We want to use Cyprus as a centre for our Olympic athletes as a training basis,” Simmons said.

    Speaking after a meeting with local sports officials, Simmons said facilities on the island were outstanding adding that he would try to persuade teams from different sports “like canoeing, running, rowing, rugby, and football, to give up on their training bases elsewhere in the world and focus on Cyprus”.

    For this reason he has been in Cyprus, holding meetings with the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Cyprus Airways and the sports federation to arrange sponsorships because the British Olympic Association did not receive government funds.

    A successful conclusion to negotiations, including investment from both sides in improvement of facilities, will see British athletes use Cyprus as their base in preparation for Athens 2004. Beyond the next Olympics, British athletes will use the island for warm weather training during winter and periodically use the facilities throughout the year to prepare for other major events.

    Team GB has already established similar bases in North America and Australia. The choice of Cyprus means the island will become the main European training centre for British athletes outside the UK.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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