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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-06-20

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, June 20, 2003


  • [01] Papandreou: Turkey’s path to EU lies through Cyprus
  • [02] Documentary wins award in US
  • [03] Med 100 index launched
  • [04] Central Bank outlines account procedures for Turkish Cypriots
  • [05] Refinery employees: Lillikas better keep his promise
  • [06] Former minister slams refinery decision
  • [07] Denktash watches over Turkish search and rescue rehearsal
  • [08] News in Brief

  • [01] Papandreou: Turkey’s path to EU lies through Cyprus

    By Jean Christou

    GREEK PRIME Minister and outgoing EU president, Costas Simitis said yesterday that if Turkey wanted to join the EU a solution to the Cyprus problem must be reached in line with UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan’s plan

    Simitis was speaking to journalists during a visit to the press centre at the EU summit in Thessalonica at the end of Greece’s stint in the six-month rotating presidency chair.

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who was also at the press centre, said Turkey’s European prospects could be used to solve the Cyprus problem. “This is not a theoretical issue, this is a practical issue. You have Greece, which is a neighbour and has been helping Turkey, Turkey is a neighbour and you have Cyprus that is a neighbour. Cyprus is becoming a member of the EU. So all three countries will be part of the same family. So in this family we say these problems must be solved”, Papandreou said. “What we are trying to say is let us use the European prospect to help find a solution.”

    President Tassos Papadopoulos who left for Thessalonica yesterday said the Greek Cypriot side was ready to resume the stalled negotiations without reservations or preconditions, whenever Annan would invites the two sides back to the table.

    “We are ready, whenever we are asked by the UN Secretary-general, to come forward for dialogue based on the Annan plan, without any reservation, without any precondition,” he said on departure at Larnaca Airport..

    Recent speculation has suggested the UN would invite the two sides to talks in September in New York and the US has admitted being in the throes of a new initiative on Cyprus. However, as State Coordinator Thomas Weston discovered during his visit this week, no talks are likely as long as Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash continued to insist that the Annan plan was dead and buried.

    Weston, who blamed Denktash for the stalemate and said the Turkish Cypriot leader’s stance had hardened, arrived in Ankara on Wednesday for contacts with Turkish officials in an attempt to press forward with the US initiative.

    Denktash also came under fire from the EU this week after rejecting trade measures offered by Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen to ease the plight of Turkish Cypriots. Verheugen went on to warn Turkey that it would not be allowed to use the Cyprus issue as a trade off to further its own EU aspirations.

    An outraged Denktash was yesterday was quoted as saying he would never accept the conditions of the trade measures, which involve the use of legal Cyprus ports by Turkish Cypriot producers.

    “If there is any exporter who wishes to do this we shall prevent him from doing so,” said Denktash, adding that if such a thing happened, it would lead to the gradual closure of the checkpoints, which he allowed to be opened on April 23.

    Papadopoulos yesterday welcomed the strong stance the US and the EU had taken on Denktash’s position.

    “Verheugen and Weston uttered nothing more than the truth and I am happy because I see they both agree with the line we follow,” he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 20, 2003

    [02] Documentary wins award in US

    By a Staff Reporter

    A CYPRIOT documentary has won the first prize in the Huston World Film and Video Festival ahead of 86 other entries.

    The documentary My Country Alone won the Gold Special Jury Award in the Ethnic-Cultural category.

    Thirty-seven countries with 4,500 films took part in the festival.

    The Gold Special Jury Award is given to movies, which were also selected as candidates for the first prize in all categories.

    The film was written and directed by Andys Roditis and was produced by Transvideo.

    The theme concerns the location of the genuine elements of Cypriot identity, the discovery of spiritual dependency and their mimicking and emulating ways and methods that are not related to the traditions of Cyprus or its culture.

    It was financed by the Education Ministry and sponsored by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the Leventis Foundation, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and the Bank of Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 20, 2003

    [03] Med 100 index launched

    By Jean Christou

    A JOINT Financial Times FTSE Med 100 index involving the Cyprus, Athens and Tel Aviv stock exchanges was launched officially in Nicosia yesterday.

    Five Cypriot listed companies - the Bank of Cyprus, Laiki Bank, Hellenic Bank, Louis Cruise Lines and Tsokkos Hotels -- are represented on the new Med 100 index, along with 60 Athens listed companies and 35 Israeli firms.

    “This new launch is our attempt to open our markets to international investors,” Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) chairman Akis Cleanthous told a joint news conference with his counterparts Panayiotos Alexakis from the Athens bourse and Robby Goldenberg from the Tel Aviv exchange.

    Cleanthous said the move was part of a long-term CSE strategy, which will encompass changes brought about as a result of Cyprus’ EU accession next year. He also said the Med 100 would encourage the performance of local companies as they compete to participate in the new index.

    Greece has the highest weighting in the new euro-driven index at 61.06 per cent, followed by Israel with 36.37 per cent and Cyprus with 2.27 per cent. Based on May 30 prices, the index has a free-float capitalisation above 90 billion euros. Its largest constituent with a 22.7 per cent weighting is Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical followed by Greece's OTE Telecom.

    Other Greek companies included in the Med 100 index include banks such as Alpha, National and Eurobank, telecoms firms Vodafone Panafon and Cosmote and construction firms Michaniki, Aktor and Hellenic Technodomiki.

    Alexakis said the three exchanges were hopeful that others in the region would also join the index.

    “We believe in the present and future of this region of the world,” he said. “It’s very important for this region to develop and give a bigger and more integrated stock exchange for investors inside and outside the region.”

    Israeli participants include Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Migdal Insurance, Partner Communications, Super Sol, Israel Discount Bank and Agis Industries. Goldenberg said the Med 100 would be a benchmark for investing in the region and that it would pave the way for expansion for co-operation between the three exchanges.

    “We hope to see additional countries in the Mediterranean joining in the near future,” he added.

    The FTSE MED 100 benchmark will be calculated in real time from 9.45am to 5pm, a time spread that covers the trading hours of all three exchanges involved. Its base will be 5,000 points.

    The index, which will be reviewed semi-annually in May and November, may also serve as the underlying instrument for the launch of new derivatives products at a later date.

    “We aim to establish a transparent and rules-driven regional index which will be recognised by the international investment community,” said CSE Director-general Nondas Metaxas.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 20, 2003

    [04] Central Bank outlines account procedures for Turkish Cypriots

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE CENTRAL Bank of Cyprus released a circular to commercial banks giving advice on how to approach applications by Turkish Cypriots to open up bank accounts in the government-controlled areas.

    The circular advises banks to apply the same principles and requirements for opening a savings account for Turkish Cypriots as they would for Greek Cypriots. But the authority failed to cover crucial issues like what happens when a Turkish Cypriot company wants to open an account or an individual Turkish Cypriot wishes to take out a loan.

    The commercial banks have asked the Central Bank to give its opinion on the issue of savings accounts after a number of Turkish Cypriots made applications to open an account following the partial lifting of travel restrictions in April.

    The Central Bank stipulated that any Turkish Cypriot wishing to open an account had to go through the same procedures as Greek Cypriots. First, they must prove they are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus by presenting a legitimate identification card. The next step is to verify the money to be deposited comes from a “regular, legitimate business” - especially for large sums of money.

    One Central Bank official told the Cyprus Mail this was standard procedure for all Cypriot citizens. “The same procedure will apply for Turkish Cypriots too. However, it is up to each bank to decide and evaluate the evidence provided,” he said.

    The official pointed out that the circular applied to “opening an account and other banking related services”. It did not deal with how to handle requests for individual loans or deposits by Turkish Cypriot businesses as legal entities themselves.

    “We only tried to deal with the issue of how Turkish Cypriots should be handled as individuals or legal entities. If they want to deposit money as businesses, that is a different issue. Their businesses are not registered. What constitutes a ‘legitimate business’ for these purposes?” he asked.

    Turkish Cypriot businesses are not registered in the Republic of Cyprus while an added complication arises with the issue of Greek Cypriot property ownership in the north.

    “This becomes a political question which cannot really be discussed by the Central Bank. It is, however, a crucial issue with a very political dimension,” he added.

    Regarding savings accounts, the official highlighted that large deposits would create complications because the bank would start to wonder where that money came from.

    “The question of whether the individual has a ‘legitimate business activity’ has to be verified on a continuous basis as part of standard procedure, otherwise the account should not be opened.”

    “There are many banks in the north and there is an issue of money laundering; we don’t want that to spread on this side,” said the Central Bank source.

    Asked whether Turkish Cypriots were effectively limited to depositing money in the free areas, he replied: “The problem with loaning is, how do you secure that you will get the money back at the end of the day? Hypothetically speaking, will a bank accept collateral in the north?”

    “The Central Bank has not mentioned loans in the circular; it is up to the banks to decide. In practice the banks need to verify the questions they have. They need minimum verification of a legitimate business activity in order to provide ‘other banking services’. Personally, I don’t think a bank is crazy enough to give loans to anyone without securing collateral first,” he said.

    But, the official did not rule out the possibility of loans. “If a Turkish Cypriot deposits £10,000, for example, and asks for a loan facility using the money as collateral deposit, maybe they will grant an overdraft facility because it is secure collateral,” he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 20, 2003

    [05] Refinery employees: Lillikas better keep his promise

    By Alex Mita

    PETROLEUM refinery employees yesterday said they would not strike on the condition that the Commerce and Industry Minister kept his promise to find them other jobs when the site closed next year.

    At a press conference on Wednesday, Lillikas said the government was going to do “everything within its power” to find alternative employment for those who found themselves out of a job. His promise came after the Cabinet decided to close the Larnaca oil refinery six years earlier than scheduled.

    Around 125 employees were to be made redundant in 2010, but with Wednesday’s decision the employees will now be made redundant next year.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, employees union SEK secretary Glafcos Theodotou said should Commerce and Industry Minister George Lillikas fail to keep his promise, the employees would consider their next step.

    “We are not going to take any measures against the government decision to cancel the upgrading of the refinery,” he said.

    “We don’t think that any measures we take will overturn the Cabinet decision to stop the upgrading because we haven’t got the support of any political party or the local authorities. They just don’t see that 120 people will lose their jobs. Yes, they are highly paid, but they contribute.”

    Theodotou said employees unions would hold meetings with Lillikas and any decision on what measures they will adopt would be taken after the meetings are concluded.

    “We will have meetings with the Minister and we will only act if he does not keep his promise,” he said.

    “What we can do is to wait and hope that Mr Lillikas keeps his promise to help the employees find other employment. But they have been telling us this for many years and in all our meetings we were always told we would be taken care of. We hope that this time, this government will help us find another job.”

    Theodotou said the experience of the staff would be invaluable to the way the refinery was turned into a fuel terminal and insisted the employees should be the ones to dismantle the refinery in 2010.

    “We would like to keep the staff in the refinery grounds,” he said.

    “We are certain that we can find jobs for them here so that they can continue working here. When the import terminal is completed we want the refinery people to run it.

    “We will demand that the people work in the terminal and we believe that we can offer other services here, such as the dismantling of the refinery in 2010 and the restoration of the area. All these works should be carried out by the employees because they are the most qualified people to do it.

    “The supervision should be carried out by the refinery staff and we also believe that the terminal should be run by the employees. The staff should be allowed to organise the construction of the new energy centre at Vassiliko with the help of some foreign companies,” Theodotou added.

    He said that the way things were going, the refinery would have to shut down on May 1 2004, because when the island enters the EU it will not be up to standards.

    But he stressed the refinery should continue operating while the works to turn it into a terminal take place.

    “Refining must continue while the works are being carried out or else the island will be without fuel. There is a way to continue refining while the works are being carried out and they should leave it to us,” he said.

    Theodotou said the employees were devastated by the government’s decision and criticised the Cabinet for not understanding how much the refinery meant to its employees.

    “There is a very heavy climate here in the refinery, as you can imagine,” he said.

    “The employees are very upset, we have people here who grew up with the refinery and they will be thrown out in the street very soon. They are a generation of scientists that have invested their careers in the refinery and now they will lose their livelihoods and what they have invested.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 20, 2003

    [06] Former minister slams refinery decision

    By a Staff Reporter

    FORMER COMMERCE and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday blasted the decision to shelve plans to upgrade the Larnaca Petroleum Refinery to meet with EU standards.

    In a letter yesterday, Rolandis said the decision to upgrade the refinery was taken in 1995 following a study which showed that it was the cheapest option.

    Rolandis’ reaction follows comments made by Commerce and Industry Minister George Lillikas on Wednesday that turning the refinery into a fuel terminal would save the economy up to $80 million in the long run

    “After a series of decisions from 1995 onwards it was decided that the presence of the refinery was good for the country,” he said.

    “The benefit compared to alternative solutions, including turning the grounds into an import terminal was estimated at $60 million.”

    Rolandis said the Cabinet had come to the conclusion in April, 1995, that if there was no refinery in Cyprus and the fuels produced by the refinery were imported, then the cost of those products would be $5-10 million a year more expensive.

    Lillikas told the House yesterday that the economy would save up to $80 million from cancelling the upgrade of the refinery and turning it into a terminal and called on anyone who had any evidence to show otherwise to come forward.

    “The experts that carried out the studies do not have any financial or commercial interests and they would never take part in the upgrade of the refinery or the project to turn it into a fuel imports terminal.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 20, 2003

    [07] Denktash watches over Turkish search and rescue rehearsal

    By Gokhan Tezgor

    A STRANDED yachtsman, his boat flames off the shores of Kyrenia, is unlikely to care if his rescuers speak Turkish or Greek but the topic of who patrols the island’s waters has been a bone contention for almost 30 years.

    On a calm, sunny Mediterranean day, troops from the north pretended to be stranded airmen, a yacht fire was staged with smoke bombs and the TCG Gelibolu cruised from "rescue" to "rescue" before a watching press corps and military observers.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash clambered the ladders and gangways of the Turkish frigate TCG Gelibolu (Gallipoli), buoyant in blue naval cap with gold crest, as it cut through shimmering and calm waters last yesterday.

    He arrived on the ship, which was anchored off the coast of Kyrenia near the castle, aboard the frigates helicopter. He leaned over a rail and snapped avidly with his camera as helicopters and boats brought a total of 22 ‘rescued’ victims stranded at sea as a result of various mock accidents.

    The Caner Gonyeli Sea and Air Rescue (SAR) exercises are the second of their kind, and for the first time Turkish Cypriot SAR teams based on the island conducted exercises within the north's coastal waters. A large section of the event was conducted in international waters northwest off of the cape of Kormakiti.

    Alarm bells rang in north Cyprus and Ankara last year when the government- controlled areas said they were ready to take over Sea and Air Rescue operations for the whole of the island from Britain's sovereign bases. Britain has run SAR operations from its bases since the 1960s, initially because no-one on Cyprus was able to do it.

    In an awesome display of speed, the 138 metre-long, 14 metre-wide, four storey-tall ship surged forward as it left the waters off of the shores of Kyrenia to accelerate to a top speed of 32 knots (roughly 70kph) or the speed of a small motorboat. The frigate was joined by a small flotilla of other Turkish naval vessels, coast guard vessels, and helicopters to support the search and rescue operations.

    Though the mission was strictly humanitarian, the ship was armed with harpoons, a Surface to Air missile systems and guns for offence and defence. One Turkish military official on board said: "This is a peacetime exercise, it should not be politicised. We are talking about human lives here.

    "The waters between the southern coast of Turkey and northern Cyprus are the second busiest sea lane in the region after the Bosphorus," he added.

    Speaking to the media after the exercises, Admiral Yener Karahanoglu, commander of the fleet in Turkey's southern waters, said: "Search and rescue operations in Turkey and the rest of the world has attained great public approval."

    "As seas and air traffic throughout the world increases, and parallel to this, the number of non-seaworthy vehicles increasing together with the number of illegal immigrants furthers the necessity for search and rescue activities," added Admiral Karahanoglu.

    A noticeably tired Denktash also made an address after a long hot day under the Mediterranean sun, congratulating all that took part in the exercises. "These exercises proved one more thing. It proved that the agreements signed between Turkey and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not just a service to the Turkish Cypriot people, but to all of humanity," said Denktash.

    "The team that performed these exercises today proved that they are ready to serve and face any disaster and should be congratulated," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 20, 2003

    [08] News in Brief

    Teachers’ strike called off

    THE SECONDARY School Teachers’ Union (OELMEK) called off strike action, after a joint meeting with the Education and Finance Ministers yesterday.

    OELMEK delivered an ultimatum to the Education Ministry last Thursday, warning that if the Ministry did not act to solve the problems in secondary schools, industrial action would follow. OELMEK President Soteris Charalambous warned that union members would abstain from correcting and supervising university entrance exams if the Ministry ignored their demands. Members were also to picket outside a meeting of European Education Ministers, scheduled for June 27. The union’s demands, detailed last week, include the finalisation of a teaching assessment scheme, the timely staffing of schools and the immediate submission of transfer rules for teachers.

    Speaking after the meeting, Education Minister Pefkios Georgiades said the outcome of the joint meeting was “positive.”

    Finance Minister Marcos Kyprianou added the meeting had produced “smoke without fire.”

    Taxi driver murdered

    POLICE were yesterday investigating the murder of a 63-year-old taxi driver who was found dead in a construction site in Marathounda in the Paphos district.

    Michalis Zaharia had been reported missing by his son on Wednesday afternoon.

    Police believe the motive behind the crime was robbery as the victim used to carry a lot of cash on him.

    His new Mercedes was found abandoned and slightly dented on Ypsilantis Street in Paphos.

    He was found dead by a construction worker in a building site on the old Episkopi to Marathounda road.

    State pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous said the man had multiple wounds on his back, which were caused by a sharp object and a stone.

    It was reported that Zahariou was called to pick up a customer from Episkopi but never returned.

    A post mortem will be carried out today at the Paphos hospital.

    Ecstasy arrest

    A TURKISH Cypriot man, Ahmed Yilmaz was yesterday remanded for eight days in custody in connection with the alleged possession of around 800 ecstasy pills, police said.

    Yilmaz was arrested after a police tip-off at the mixed village of Pyla on Wednesday.

    According to a police bulletin, before officers stopped the suspect’s car, he was allegedly seen throwing a bag containing the pills out of his car window.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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