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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-12

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


CONTENTS

  • [01] US hopes politicians willing to take tough decisions
  • [02] Denktash warns OSCE over terminology
  • [03] Tourism stocks drive the market up
  • [04] New smoke cloud sends children into hospital
  • [05] Parents complain of asbestos kindergarten
  • [06] Unions warn foreign interests could snap up CyTA
  • [07] Trade deficit widens
  • [08] Remembrance tinged with bitterness

  • [01] US hopes politicians willing to take tough decisions

    By Jean Christou

    THE United States is hopeful that Greek and Turkish Cypriots, together with Greece and Turkey, will take the tough decisions necessary for a Cyprus settlement, State Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday.

    Rubin, who did not specify what these tough measures were, said US President Bill Clinton would be raising the Cyprus issue with Greece and Turkey during his visit to the region next week.

    Clinton leaves for Ankara on Sunday after postponing his visit to Athens until next week amid security fears following a spate of anti-US demonstrations.

    He will now be arriving in the Greek capital on November 19 for a 24-hour stopover visit.

    Rubin said the US hoped the recent rapprochement between Athens and Ankara would help efforts towards a Cyprus solution. Clinton would raise these issues during his trip, he said.

    "I have concluded that there is no way really to know what will cause the two leaders and the relevant leaders in Greece and Turkey to make the hard political decision to yield a peaceful settlement," Rubin said.

    He said the Cyprus peace effort had been marked by "bursts of optimism and pessimism".

    "We certainly hope that the recent rapprochement in certain cases between Greek and Turkish officials following the earthquakes increases the chances for that," he said.

    "Certainly, the President will be raising these issues in his discussions in Greece and Turkey."

    Greek Americans yesterday stressed the importance of Clinton's visit to Greece as far as the Cyprus issue was concerned and called on the US to secure some substantive progress.

    The postponement of Clinton's trip to Athens is not seen by political parties in Nicosia as a negative development.

    House President and Acting President Spyros Kyprianou said it appeared the postponement was due to anti-US demonstrations in Athens, but added there might be "other reasons".

    However, he said the demonstrations sent a specific message, which the US government should take into consideration.

    Akel spokesman Andreas Christou saw the postponement as a warning and a message to Athens, which underestimated the

    Clear feelings of the Greek people towards the United States.

    "I think there are two dimensions to this issue," Christou said. "The first is the decision or the will of the US at this point to send a message to the Greek government that they do not accept this kind of demonstrations and reactions.

    "The other dimension is the underestimation of the reaction of the Greek people, reactions which are natural because of the US stance and recent developments."

    Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides said the US had initially chosen a bad time for the Clinton visit to Athens. Next Monday is the anniversary of the unilateral declaration of independence by the breakaway regime in the north, while Wednesday is the anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising against the Greek junta, which enjoyed official American support.

    "I have to say that I was perplexed when they set the date... in these cases the climate would be more explosive than usual," Lyssarides said.

    The Edek leader added, however, that he could not rule out the possibility that the postponement constituted a form of pressure on Athens. "I cannot disregard this," he said.

    Athens and Nicosia are currently in behind-the-scenes negotiations on how Greece will handle its possible veto over Turkey's EU candidacy at the upcoming summit in Helsinki.

    Speaking from Paris, Lyssarides said Athens's final decision would be taken in conjunction with Nicosia.

    The Greek stance has not yet been determined and some question marks remain between the two allies.

    Lyssarides said that following his contacts in Paris, he would consult with the government back here.

    "What I can say is that Greece will not move to lift the veto if this isn't the wish of the Cyprus government," Lyssarides said.

    [02] Denktash warns OSCE over terminology

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday warned the OSCE summit next week against describing the Greek Cypriot side as the only legitimate government on the island.

    Denktash told the Anatolia news agency that such a wording could hamper efforts to revive UN-sponsored talks.

    The warnings appeared be directly aimed at UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, who will be among the participants at the 54-nation summit taking place in Istanbul on November 18-19.

    President Clerides will also be attending the summit, where it is hoped that sidelines diplomacy can make progress towards the resumption of talks.

    "My hope is that a terminology which saddens us will not be used at the OSCE (summit), such as saying 'we see only one government in Cyprus which is the Greek Cypriot one'," Denktash said.

    Denktash is refusing to return to talks unless they are held on a state-to-state basis and unless the issue of confederation is on the agenda.

    The UN and the major players in the international community have called for talks without preconditions, which the Greek Cypriot side says it is willing to attend.

    [03] Tourism stocks drive the market up

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARE prices finished up yesterday, bouncing back from Wednesday's fall on the back of a strong showing by tourism companies.

    The all-share index rose nearly 10 points, or 1.37 per cent, to close at 728.92, a whisker off Tuesday's all-time record of 729.56.

    An announcement by Louis Cruise Lines (LCL) that it was seeking the approval of shareholders for a five-for-two share split also fuelled the market's rally yesterday. LCL, the market's fourth largest title in terms of capitalisation, said it was also planning a rights issue of 5.42 million shares with a nominal value of 10 cents, which would be given to shareholders of the Greek-based Royal Olympic Cruise Lines. LCL last month announced its acquisition of 51.4 per cent in Royal Olympic. The deal, which has yet to be approved by the Central Bank of Cyprus and Olympic shareholders, would make LCL the biggest cruise operator in Europe and the world's third largest.

    The LCL share split, which would cut the nominal value of the share to 10 cents from 25 cents, and the rights issue would be put to a vote by shareholders in a meeting scheduled for December 6.

    LCL's August debut in the Cyprus Stock Exchange was mired in controversy and corruption allegations. The share's IPO was oversubscribed by more than 50 times and its arrival on the market was associated in the minds of many Cypriots with the prospect of making an instant fortune.

    But the share suffered considerably from the negative publicity before it bounced back last month with steady and virtually daily gains. Yesterday, it notched up 27 cents to close at 8.45 on a volume of more than 3 million.

    Yesterday's rally in the tourism sector, whose sub-index rose by 7.61 per cent, was largely due to a buying frenzy in the shares of Lordos Hotels (Holdings). The company announced in a statement to the exchange that it planned a share split, a rights and a warrants issue. The proposals would be presented to shareholders in a meeting scheduled for November 25.

    The news made the stock jump by nearly 1 to close at 9.37 on a volume of nearly 1.5 million.

    The banks, usually the dominant force of the market, had to settle for a back seat yesterday, with their sub-index closing 0.04 per cent down on a volume of 15.41 million.

    In a move that gave rise to some uncertainty, the exchange on Tuesday night decided to suspend trade in the shares of the three largest banks -- Bank of Cyprus, Popular Bank and Hellenic Bank -- starting from next Monday. The move is designed to allow them to update their share registers and rectify hundreds of wayward share deeds they issued in the confusion of the boom summer months.

    The exchange also said that a new, partial dematerialising system would come into force on November 29. This would facilitate trading and allow investors a more active role in buying and selling. The exchange vowed that, effective from November 29, any listed company found to breach deadlines for issuing deeds would be suspended immediately. The exchange also invited companies that may be facing problems with their share registers to withdraw from the market voluntarily.

    The suspension of the three banks, which combine for more than half of the market's capitalisation, has led to the circulation of market theories that many investors would dump the banks to maintain their liquidity while they are out and that a rally would kick off in small caps once the banks are out.

    However, traders believe that some investors will hold on to their shares in banks in the hope that they will return to the market at a higher level and also because of strong rumours that Popular Bank is mooting bonus shares, a rights issue or both early in 2000 to mark its centenary.

    A huge rise in the value of small caps while the banks are out, the traders argue, would distort the market when all issuers are back on the floor.

    In yesterday's trade, the Bank of Cyprus closed 10 cents lighter at 10.86, while Popular Bank rose by 7.50 cents to close at 14.0. Hellenic Bank was also up, by 8.5 cents to close at 4.92.

    [04] New smoke cloud sends children into hospital

    By Anthony O. Miller

    PARENTS are refusing to send their children to the Eighth Elementary School in Zakaki after more than 50 pupils needed medical treatment yesterday for the effects of smoke inhalation thought to have drifted from a nearby foundry.

    Bernadette Charalambous, a leader of the parents' group, described as "chaotic" the situation caused by drifting smoke from the Nemitsas foundry.

    "More than 50 pupils had a problem and had to be checked by paediatricians who were sent to the school by Limassol General Hospital," she said.

    "There was a lot of smoke on the playground. The kids started crying, coughing, complaining of tummy pains, and vomiting," Charalambous said.

    One of the state doctors confirmed the children had complained of headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and eye and throat irritation.

    "I can't say what caused it," said Dr Anastasia Angeli of Limassol Hospital, one of the state doctors who examined the children, admitting that neither she nor her colleague had found anything pathological in their examination.

    "But of course the atmosphere was very heavy," she said. "It was a smell, and the atmosphere was heavy. It wasn't something normal," Angeli said.

    Niki Kyriakidou, herself a paediatrician and the mother of two children at the school, noted the state doctors "were here for a little bit. But the pollution was so bad they changed their mind and went back to their hospital, and they asked the children to go there."

    As both a doctor and a parent, Dr Kyriakidou said the school was not safe for children, and advised parents to keep their children at home.

    "Our suggestion is to move the factory," Kyriakidou said. "We are worried and we want immediate action from the government."

    Michael Stavrides, the Education Ministry's director of Primary Education, said his department was aware of the problem and had sent a letter to the relevant ministries (Health, Labour and Commerce) on October 27, 13 days after a similar smoke cloud caused 47 school children to be taken to hospital for treatment.

    "We are asking them to research the question of whether the foundry has a health affect on the children and the people of the area," Stavrides said.

    Asked whether he would send his own children to the school, Stavrides admitted: "When the foundry is working, I'd be inclined not to."

    Deputy Demetris Eliades, chairman of the House Environment Committee, was furious when informed of the latest smoke cloud in the school playground.

    He declared the Labour Ministry's response to previous complaints about pollution by the foundry "completely unacceptable and dangerous to public health".

    But Nemitsas Managing Director Kikis Petevis was bullish when asked for his response: "The environment belongs to everybody, not to just those who complain. It belongs to us... especially to us, who are the biggest landowners around here, so we own more of the environment than they do."

    "A lot of the smoke, especially the smell, did not come from the foundry. It came from other sources, from people behind our factory who were burning car tyres during the whole operation of our foundry," Petevis said.

    He said that when children had been examined following last month's complaint, a representative of the Ministry of Health "denied those kids had anything".

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday also conceded there was nothing pathologically wrong with the children. "But this is not the point. It's the long-term effects of something like this. And this is what we want to make sure we can tackle on the basis of scientific research that could prove to us either that there is no long-term effect on the health of the people around the foundry, or that there is."

    "If there is any remote connection with any serious disease emanating out of the foundry," he added, "they will be closed."

    EDITORIAL: PAGE 9

    [05] Parents complain of asbestos kindergarten

    By George Psyllides

    THE PARENTS of a group of children attending a Larnaca district kindergarten that has an asbestos roof yesterday appealed to the state for a prompt end to the health threat.

    Thirty-one children in the refugee estate of Tsiakkilero near Larnaca attend the Archbishop Makarios III kindergarten, housed in a pre-fabricated building with an asbestos roof, built just after the 1974 invasion.

    The representative of the parents' association, Androulla Kaitani, yesterday blamed the state for the situation, saying complaints from parents had gone unanswered.

    Parents had first called for action back when Christodoulos Veniamin was interior minister in the 1980s, she added.

    "The building was meant to be a training centre, but later on it was handed over to be used for housing the kindergarten," Kaitani said.

    The prefab building was only meant to house the kindergarten temporarily until the resources were found to build a new building.

    "The situation after the invasion was difficult," Kaitani conceded. "We didn't know at the time that asbestos caused cancer," she added.

    The whole estate, said Kaitani, had been built using asbestos.

    "Now new houses are being built, but the kindergarten is still there," she said.

    Kaitani said there had not been any cases of cancer yet, but precautions should be taken to prevent that happening in the future.

    "It is a shame to have such a situation, when Cyprus is ready to enter the European Union. It is clearly a health and humanitarian issue," she said.

    [06] Unions warn foreign interests could snap up CyTA

    A TOP union leader has warned that control of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority will go abroad if it is privatised.

    PEO general secretary Bambis Kyritsis told a press conference yesterday that if CyTA became a public company, it would sooner or later be privatised, and ultimately fall in the hands of a multinational company.

    At present, CyTA is a semi-government organisation, but the Authority is sounding out its staff about plans to become a public company in which both state and employees would have a stake.

    CyTA will soon submit a new legal framework to Parliament that would allow it to go public.

    Kyritsis said the Attorney-general had ruled that the constitution had to change before CyTA's legal framework could be altered.

    PEO, he said, "has warned that privatisation will hurt the interests of CyTA employees, as well as the interests of those who work for other semi-government organisations."

    By January 1, 2003, the date Cyprus hopes it will enter the EU, the government will be obliged to liberalise the telecommunications sector.

    The new proposal is designed to help CyTA stand the rigours of a deregulated market.

    Unions and CyTA management yesterday signed a new collective agreement that covers the period 1998-2000.

    The agreement includes wage increases of one per cent for 1999, and two per cent for 2000.

    It also includes a form of performance related pay, unprecedented for a semi-government organisation.

    The system, which will initially be implemented on an experimental basis, will offer financial reward to those employees who exhibit zeal in their work and increase productivity.

    [07] Trade deficit widens

    THE island's trade deficit has widened by nearly 40 million in the first eight months of this year compared to the corresponding period in 1998, the Department of Research and Statistics said yesterday.

    It said imports in the January-August 1999 period (for both consumption and placement in bonded warehouses) totalled 1.24 billion, almost unchanged from last year. Exports, however, fell to 355.9 million in the first eight months of 1999 from 396.5 million in 1998.

    The trade deficit amounted to 885.7 million, compared to 847.2 million in 1998, the department said.

    During the 1999 period in question, European Union countries supplied Cyprus with 668.2 million worth of goods, or 53.8 per cent of its total imports. More than 55 per cent of the island's exports also went to EU countries, followed by 23.3 per cent to Arab states.

    [08] Remembrance tinged with bitterness

    VETERANS yesterday paid tribute to their comrades in arms who died during World War II at a Remembrance Day service in Nicosia.

    Remembrance Day, celebrated every year on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the Armistice that ended World War I was signed, salutes the memory of those who died in both wars.

    During a ceremony at the war memorial in Nicosia, the Cypriot veterans expressed their sorrow that the principles they had fought for during WWII were still being violated in their own country after 25 years of Turkish occupation.

    House President Spyros Kyprianou, who represented President Clerides (himself a war veteran) at the ceremony, said the people of Cyprus were unable to enjoy the ideals that had been fought for in the two wars.

    British High Commissioner Edward Clay, who also attended the ceremony, said his country acknowledged the contribution of Cypriot fighters and this was why London was taking a leading part in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

    During the service, officiated by Archbishop Chrysostomos, wreaths were laid at the memorial, followed by a two-minute silence.

    The President of the Cyprus War Veterans' Association Andreas Christofi said that, despite their contribution and losses during WWII, veterans had never felt real freedom.

    "For more than 25 years, the international community has not been doing enough to enforce the principles of freedom and respect for human rights in Cyprus," he said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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