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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-12-01

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Kyprianou’s ‘secret deal’ claim rubbished
  • [02] Bourse slaps one-day ban on 8 brokerages
  • [03] Haris Loizides is new CY chairman
  • [04] Police probe report of bogus doctors
  • [05] Court frees bus driver after soccer riot
  • [06] Quake ‘could spark toxic disaster’ in Limassol
  • [07] Foundry asks Supreme Court to rule on emissions
  • [08] Turkish and Greek greens join forces in anti-nuke demo
  • [09] Pilgrims visit Apostolos Andreas
  • [10] Postal service to go public
  • [11] £100,000 compensation for man who fell into a pit
  • [12] Cyta reduces mobile phone rates by up to 52 %

  • [01] Kyprianous secret deal claim rubbished

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday dismissed claims by House President Spyros Kyprianou that Greece and Cyprus have reached a secret deal to allow Turkey to become an EU candidate at the Helsinki summit next week.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said Kyprianou's claims, made in a letter to President Clerides, were both "unfounded and unacceptable".

    Rumours have been rife for weeks about a rift between Athens and Nicosia over how Greece would handle its power of veto on Turkey's candidacy at Helsinki.

    In the past Greece has always blocked Turkey's accession aspirations until progress was made on the Cyprus issue, but the US and some other European quarters are now pushing for Turkey to be given candidacy status.

    Nicosia has been concerned that Turkey would be given candidacy status without having moved an inch on Cyprus, and has expressed its worries to Athens over its position.

    Last week Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou visited the island for two days to discuss the strategy to be adopted in Helsinki.

    News of Kyprianou's letter containing the claim that Athens and Nicosia had made a secret pact on the issue came out of the blue on Monday, and even his own Diko party officials said they were unaware of it. Kyprianou has been hospitalised since November 21 with respiratory problems.

    Papapetrou said yesterday he did not wish to reply to Kyprianou's claims because it was a time for unity between all political parties with the start of the UN-sponsored proximity talks in New York on Friday.

    "The reason I don't want to expand on this issue is because the President leaves this afternoon (Tuesday) on a crucial mission and it is his intention and the government's intention to maintain the highest possible degree of unity both here in Nicosia among the various political powers and also between Athens and Nicosia," he said. "In any case the specific claim is rejected as baseless and unacceptable."

    Papapetrou said that Kyprianou met Papandreou in hospital last week and as far he was aware no such position was put forward by the House President. "Nor was there any statement after the meeting," he added.

    He also pointed out that no such statement were made by Diko representatives at Monday's National Council meeting. "As a consequence we have to wonder at these claims."

    Papapetrou said there had been some differences of opinion but added that these were procedural rather than on the essence of the issues.

    Clerides left yesterday for New York where he will meet on Friday with UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan at UN Headquarters. According to Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard, the schedule will be open-ended and "could go on for a week or more, depending on the two leaders who will be doing the talking and whether or not there is any progress being made".

    Eckhard said the Secretary-general planned to devote as much time to the talks as possible. His representative Alvaro de Soto would also be fully engaged in the talks.

    US State Department Spokesman James Rubin said the purpose of the talks is to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations.

    "We believe these talks should be substantive," Rubin said. "They will discuss core issues including security, governance and territory. In addition and obviously either side may bring other issues to the table."

    In Nicosia, diplomatic sources were reported by the Cyprus News Agency as saying: "We will not let the Turkish Cypriot leader get away with the usual tricks. We mean business, and the talks will be substantive."

    [02] Bourse slaps one-day ban on 8 brokerages

    By Hamza Hendawi

    LIVING up to its reputation of never a dull day, the Cyprus Stock Exchange wrote a new chapter in its crisis-filled history yesterday, slapping one-day suspensions on eight brokerages for their failure to meet deadlines for processing transactions.

    Brokers from the eight firms, out of a total of 22 officially accredited to the market, only found out about the exchange's action when their pre-opening orders were rejected by the system.

    The suspensions, which covered such powerhouses as CISCO and CLR, were part of the exchange's drive to discipline the market and avoid a repeat of the three closures it was forced to order since July in the face of a backlog of unfinished paperwork. But traders have consistently complained that the punitive measure was too harsh, applied too frequently, hurt their income, and undermined investor confidence.

    They took particular exception to the exchange's failure yesterday to give advance warning of the suspensions, and at least one broker -- Louis Klappas of the brokerage of the same name -- chose to make it known that he had had enough.

    "They cannot continue to do this to us, they cannot!" he shouted on the floor upon learning of his firm's surprise suspension.

    A veteran trader whose firm is possibly the most frequently suspended, Klappas shouted scathing criticism of the exchange's policies and his outburst of frustration and anger was received with obvious sympathy on the floor.

    However, his heat-of-the-moment call for an impromptu strike in protest at the exchange's action fell on deaf ears. Tension remained visible throughout the 60-minute session, though, and there was even talk that some brokers were considering legal action against the exchange.

    Suspending brokerages for flouting paperwork deadlines has been a common occurrence on the Cyprus Stock Exchange for months now, but barring as many as eight firms on a single day is unusual.

    Brokers have repeatedly accused the exchange of heavy-handedness and of not acknowledging its share of the blame for the market's administrative crisis. Yesterday's suspensions contributed to their frustration since they coincided with the absence from the floor, through suspension or voluntary withdrawal, of 18 companies.

    The 18 are out to have time to update their share registers and to catch up on issuing share deeds. When announcing their suspension, the exchange had said that its action was linked to the introduction on November 29 of a new settlement system.

    The Mondays target date passed with no sign of the new system, and brokers now say that the exchange may have had second thoughts about it and was looking at February for an entirely automated settlement system.

    The suspension of brokerages and companies took its toll on trade yesterday, with volume at a lowly £20.28 million, well below the average since the market reopened for business on October 4 after a four-week closure.

    The all-share index was off Monday's all-time high, sliding by 1.39 points, or 0.16 per cent, to close at 847.91.

    Bank shares, the dominant force of the market, fell and the sub-index of their key sector was down 1.66 per cent. Industrials and tourism companies also finished down, while insurance, investment and other companies closed up.

    The Bank of Cyprus was down 32 cents at £12.27 and the Popular Bank closed at £16.44, down by 18.50 cents.

    [03] Haris Loizides is new CY chairman

    THE CABINET yesterday appointed Cyprus Airways board member Haris Loizides as the airline's new chairman.

    He replaces Takis Kyriakides who resigned on Monday to become the chairman of Lordos Holdings.

    Loizides said his first task would be "to oversee normal labour relations and stable and long-term industrial peace as a necessary precondition for the survival and further development of Cyprus Airways which benefits the company, staff, tourism and the economy".

    A replacement for Loizides on the Cyprus Airways board will be decided on December 16.

    Yesterday Kyriakides advised his successor to seek long-term goals for the airline. He denied that the pressure of the job had anything to do with his decision to quit, although he did say there had been some undermining of his position.

    "From the governments part there was never an issue of challenging my position as chairman," he said. "On the contrary, I had their full support. As for the other undermining, this is part of the game -- and there was plenty of it going on."

    He advised Loizides to continue to believe in the airline but never to underestimate the necessity to continue efforts to restructure the company fully.

    "It is not an issue of solving certain problems temporarily, even if we disappoint some people in the short term," Kyriakides said.

    [04] Police probe report of bogus doctors

    POLICE are investigating official complaints about two bogus doctors treating patients in the Nicosia area. The complaints were made by the Pancyprian Medical Association.

    Association Chairman Dr Antonis Vassiliou said two unqualified people were presenting themselves as doctors in Nicosia and treating chronic cancer patients and paraplegics.

    "There have indeed been some complaints, and they are being investigated by Nicosia CID," police spokesman Stelios Neophytou confirmed yesterday.

    Vasiliou has not said who exactly these allegedly charlatan medics are, but the Medical Association insists that such impostors are not an unusual occurrence on the island.

    The association is currently investigating two clinics in Limassol that allegedly allowed unlicensed foreign doctors to use their premises.

    [05] Court frees bus driver after soccer riot

    A BUS DRIVER from Limassol arrested in connection with weekend soccer riots was released yesterday after a court rejected a police plea for him to be remanded.

    Meanwhile, a further four youths are expected in court in Larnaca today in connection with the same incident.

    The bus driver was arrested on Monday because, police said, he had opened the bus door for hooligans to get out and smash shop windows in the village of Xylophagou, in the Famagusta district.

    The fans were returning from a football match at Paralimni.

    Police had asked the court to approve a remand order for two days, but the court dismissed the application and ordered police to release him.

    The trouble in Xylophagou followed riots at the Paralimni stadium after the end of Sundays football game between the local team and Omonia of Nicosia, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

    Furious Omonia fans invaded the pitch in protest at the way the referee had handled the game.

    The home side's two equalisers were both controversial, coming from a contested penalty and a suspected offside. Omonia also had another two goals disallowed for offside.

    Five policemen and two Paralimni fans were injured during the trouble. One of the two fans suffered a serious injury to his right eye.

    There was also extensive damage to the stadium facilities, and to cars and motorbikes parked outside.

    [06] Quake could spark toxic disaster in Limassol

    By Martin Hellicar

    TONNES of toxic insulation liquid buried under Limassol ten years ago are a disaster waiting to happen, the House Environment Committee heard yesterday.

    Dr Marios Matsakis, Limassol deputy for Diko, decided it was high time the committee looked again at the issue of tonnes of the carcinogenic polychlorinated dimethyl that were dumped in the area of the Limassol industrial estate a decade ago.

    "Its presence in the ground under Limassol constitutes a deadly and permanent danger," Matsakis told the committee.

    Limassol residents' groups have been demanding that measures be taken to protect the public from the possibility of leaks from the dump.

    Matsakis said the decision to allow the import of the banned carcinogenic substance into the country in the first place constituted "criminal negligence".

    It was imported in 1986 as insulation material inside a large shipment of transformers imported from France via Saudi Arabia by a private businessman.

    Officials who objected to the import at the time were persuaded to drop their reservations, the committee heard.

    Labour Ministry official Solonas Kasimis told deputies he had been one of the officers "hounded" into turning a blind eye to the transformers being imported. "I happened at the time to see the import licences... I asked, through the police, that the import licences be revoked," he said.

    But, Kasimis said, the businessman importing the transformers petitioned the Labour Ministry and got his way. "He had an opinion from the then head of the State Lab that the disposal method was safe," Kasimis said.

    The material was disposed of in a deep pit in the Limassol industrial estate area. Officials said rocks underlying the area were impervious and would not allow the toxic liquid to seep out. The pit was lined with bentonite and 150 tonnes of polychlorinated dimethyl were dumped in it. Another layer of bentonite was added and then two metres of soil was placed on top. The site was landscaped to prevent erosion and boreholes were sunk on the perimeter to allow regular checks for contamination of groundwater.

    But these precautions do not convince the committee.

    The Limassol Technical Chamber insists that an earthquake could release the toxic liquid into groundwater and lead to widespread poisoning.

    [07] Foundry asks Supreme Court to rule on emissions

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE NEMITSAS foundry in Zakaki has essentially asked the Supreme Court to lift the smoke particulate-emission limit of 300 milligrams per cubic metre of air that was imposed by the Labour Ministry.

    Meanwhile Labour Minister Andreas Moushouttas told the Cyprus Mail yesterday he thought Attorney-general Alecos Markides had already filed a criminal complaint against the foundry, charging it with exceeding that 300mg particulate limit.

    He was uncertain if Markides had also filed a motion seeking to enjoin Nemitsas from making further smoke emissions until the criminal complaint is heard in court: "It is the attorney-general's responsibility to ask for the injunction ... The decision is up to him."

    Markides was not available yesterday for comment, having left for the Cyprus proximity talks in New York with President Glafcos Clerides.

    "In principle, we do not wish to comment on that," Nemitsas Managing Director Kikis Petevis said yesterday when asked if the firms suit sought a repeal of the Labour Ministry's 300mg limit.

    "It's not against the 300mg limit that we're going; it's against the whole way of how these limits were set, because what we want to find out is what basis we're going -- 300 this year, 50mg next year. That's the basic issue behind," the Supreme Court lawsuit Petevis said was filed on Friday.

    He said Nemitsas wants court help to ascertain "what these limits have been based upon, which are being imposed on us and on the other foundry in Nicosia," the Marios &amp; Elini foundry in Ergates, which Moushouttas has also sued.

    "According to our information -- we may be wrong -- no such limits have been imposed by the EU, at least the EU directive that we mentioned in our (Supreme Court) appeal. At least how we read it, it doesn't mention any limits," said Petevis, son-in-law of foundry founder, former Commerce Minister Takis Nemitsas.

    "The (300mg) conditions which were set were studied by six (Cyprus) ministries, and they are the conditions of the Republic of Cyprus," Moushouttas told reporters yesterday.

    "There are factories in Europe that function with these conditions, and we are trying to harmonise ourselves with Europe. This was not imposed by the European Union, but (the 300mg standards) were in accordance with what applies within the EU," he said.

    Moushouttas acknowledged Nemitsas' claim that the 300mg standards are "prohibitive for the functioning of his foundry", do not comply with EU standards, and will force it to close. But he said he did not agree with the claim, "because in a year we will move ahead and demand him to limit emissions to 50 milligrams, which I repeat is technically feasible and applies in countries of the European Union where foundries have not closed" because of them.

    More than 50 pupils of the 8th Elementary School required medical treatment on November 11, after being stricken in the playground by toxins in smoke from the Nemitsas foundry. On October 14, 47 of the school's pupils were hospitalised with symptoms of poisoning from the foundry's smoke.

    The pupils complained of headaches, dizziness and nausea. Some were physically sick in the playground. Many parents came to the school to collect their children.

    Before filing suit against both Nemitsas in Zakaki and Marios &amp; Eleni foundry in Ergates, Moushouttas had gone along with claims that the burning of tyres by local residents accounted for the noxious fumes in the smoke that made the children ill.

    Markides, while filing a criminal complaint at Moushouttas' behest against the Marios &amp; Eleni foundry, did not seek to enjoin the factory from emitting smoke until the suit was settled. He said this was due to smokestack modifications, which would reduce emissions to the 300mg standard.

    Faced with Nemitsas' head-on counter-suit, a bullish Moushouttas declared: "It's up to the court to decide."

    "We have as a country thought that we had to put these terms and conditions, and we feel they are in line with those in the countries of the European Union," he said.

    [08] Turkish and Greek greens join forces in anti-nuke demo

    CYPRIOT, Greek and Turkish environmentalists will join forces in Athens on Saturday to protest against Turkey's plans to build a nuclear power station at Akkuyu.

    The demonstration will be staged outside the Canadian embassy in the Greek capital, in an attempt to dissuade Canadian firms from supplying technology for the power plant.

    The proposed site for the plant is on Turkey's southern coast, less than 60 miles from Cyprus.

    "This is the first time Greek, Turkish and Cypriot greens will have met for a common protest against the Turkish nuclear power station at Akkuyu," the Green party said yesterday.

    Local protesters will set off on Friday, carrying with them a 60-foot banner proclaiming: "No Nuclear Power," in Greek, Turkish and English. The travelling demonstrators will also take with them thousands of protest letters calling on Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien not to allow the export of nuclear technology to Turkey.

    Akkuyu lies in an active earthquake zone, and a Greek government study suggests that Cyprus would be swamped in nuclear fallout in the event of an accident at the proposed plant.

    [09] Pilgrims visit Apostolos Andreas

    ALMOST 1,800 Greek Cypriot pilgrims crossed to the occupied north yesterday for the twice-yearly pilgrimage to Apostolos Andreas Monastery.

    Refugees, priests, children and some disabled people crossed early in the morning from the Ledra Palace checkpoint to make the three-hour journey to the remote Karpas peninsula on the northeast tip of the island.

    They carried candles, containers for holy water and packed lunches.

    Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos said that 93 overseas Cypriots and 63 children under 12 were part of the group.

    The pilgrims were accompanied by UN peacekeepers on their journey to mark yesterday's feast day of the Apostle Andreas, one of the most important days in the Greek Orthodox calendar.

    Pilgrimages to the monastery are held twice a year, on November 30 and August 15, under a UN humanitarian programme for the exchange of visits to religious sites.

    Turkish Cypriots cross to the republic several times a year to visit the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque by Larnaca salt lake.

    In the past 12 months there have been complaints that the number of pilgrims crossing to the monastery is too large and that problems were created in the monastery's tiny church.

    [10] Postal service to go public

    THE cabinet yesterday decided the postal service should be converted to a public company with the state as the sole shareholder.

    A cabinet announcement stated that post office employees would be given the chance to own shares in the new company if they wanted.

    In explaining its decision, the cabinet stated that foreign postal service experts had "repeatedly noted" the inability of the local postal services to function efficiently and meet customers' needs.

    "A study by the Cyprus Development Bank concluded that if the department is not made autonomous and the same tendencies continue, in a few years Cyprus post offices will be converted from profitable to loss-making," a cabinet statement said.

    The Council of Ministers also noted that the postal sector was already largely liberalised and would become even more so after accession to the European Union.

    [11] £100,000 compensation for man who fell into a pit

    A MAN who has been confined to a wheelchair since he fell into a 30 metre-deep pit eight years ago was yesterday awarded £100,000 in compensation.

    Vassilis Gastrinakis, 52, from Athienou in the Larnaca district, was awarded the money by Larnaca District Court because of the injuries he suffered in the accident in May, 1992. He has been unable to work ever since.

    The land in Athienou where the pit is located belongs to Stavros Ellinas, a businessman, and Gastrinakis' employer in 1992.

    Ellinas denied that Gastrinakis worked for him, and told the court that he had not given permission to him to enter the plot of land.

    He also said that the pit's opening, which is 1.5m in diameter, had been covered.

    The judge ordered Ellinas to pay Gastrinakis £50,000 for the psychological trauma caused by having to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, and £50,000 for the wages he had lost since 1992.

    [12] Cyta reduces mobile phone rates by up to 52 %

    By Jean Christou

    CyTA yesterday announced up to 52 per cent cuts in its mobile phone rates during peak and off-peak hours effective today.

    The biggest cut is in costs per minute on the GSM and NMT-900 systems is for calls to South Africa which drop 52 per cent from £1.17 per minute during peak hours to 56 cents and from 91 cents per minute in off-peak hours to 46 cents.

    Off-peak hours are from 10pm to 8am daily.

    Other substantial reductions are on calls to Australia and Canada which will drop 46 per cent from £1.03 to 56 cents in daytime and from 75 cents to 46 cents after 10pm.

    Symphony - prepaid call cards for mobiles - will see reductions of up to 48 cents for the same countries from £1.23 to £1.05.

    Smaller cuts will apply for calls to European countries and the US. The cheapest country to call on GSM at any time is Greece which costs less than 25 cents per minute.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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