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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-12-10
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Friday, December 10, 1999
 Annan steps back into proximity talksBy Athena Karsera
PROXIMITY talks continued for the fifth day yesterday in a slightly changed format, with UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan stepping back into the picture but still under a strict news blackout.
Annan had short meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday. Annan and Clerides met for approximately half an hour, slightly earlier than planned.
Annanís meeting with Denktash lasted just over half an hour. Annan did not specify why the schedule had been altered.
Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard later said that the Secretary-general had met with the leaders "one on one," after which they were joined by their delegations.
Eckhard said that on returning from a trip to Canada, Annan wanted to "catch up on what had happened" during his absence and to "see that things were still on track."
The short meetings differed from previous engagements lasting from between one and a half to two hours, where the leaders mainly talked with Annan's special adviser for Cyprus, Under-Secretary-general Alvaro de Soto.
Complying with requests for a news blackout during the talks, Clerides did not make any comments after his meeting with Annan.
In contrast, Denktash told the waiting reporters that he would be going back to Cyprus "with good news." He did not specify what this was.
He also denied having said that he would leave the talks if Turkey was not upgraded to a canditate country for accession to the EU at the Helsinki summit.
Earlier yesterday de Soto met with the British and US special envoys on Cyprus Sir David Hannay and Alfred Moses respectively.
Alithia newspaper, meanwhile, yesterday reported that the proximity talks would go into a second round in January.
The newspaper said that, according to its sources, the negotiations would restart in the second fortnight of the month, once again in New York.
Alithia said that both sides had been informed of the idea and neither had rejected the possibility provided the current round of talks did not end badly.
Alithia said that it had not yet been established whether the negotiations would be direct or would remain proximity talks.
The paper said that the US and UN seemed to be in favour of the proximity talks continuing as past experience showed more progress was made using this method rather than direct talks.
In a separate development, Acting President Spyros Kyprianou yesterday complained again at being kept in the dark about what was happening in New York.
Meanwhile, Government spokesman Michaelis Papapetrou on Wednesday read out a statement from Clerides saying that before his departure from Cyprus, the President had informed the National Council about what the Greek Cypriot side intended to put forward during the talks.
The statement said that the President had listened to the parties' views on the issues and promised that "If there were to be any counter-proposals or any matter where decisions would have to be taken, not only would he inform them but would invite them to New York for consultations."
But dismissing Papapetrou's statement that there was nothing to tell, Kyprianou said the apparent lack of progress and lack of substance was also regrettable.
"I directly disagree with a lot of issues which are of the essence but I would like to continue this discussion in the presence of Mr Clerides."
Disy president Nicos Anastassiades yesterday said the issue of the party leaders not being informed should not be exaggerated.
"I would not like us to exaggerate a problem that has to do with an important issue but from the announcement (by Papapetrou) and from other information it seems that they do not feel it is necessary to inform us. This (lack of progress) in itself is something for us to be informed on."
Anastassiades said that even if the President was unable to, someone in his entourage should brief the party leaders on what was going on in New York, "instead of us waiting to hear the news to see what the one journalist or the other is told."
United Democrat president George Vassiliou dubbed the issue a "storm in a teacup."
"The reality is that there are no developments. I met the (Foreign) Minister in Brussels and it was natural for him to tell me that there were no developments and I spoke with the government spokesman and he said there had been no progress."
Vassiliou did, however, conceded that this information could easily have been given directly to the party leaders.
The UN sponsored proximity talks opened at the UN headquarters in New York on December 3 with the aim of paving the way for meaningful negotiations leading to a solution to the Cyprus problem.
A breakthrough is likely to be affected by a decision at today's EU summit on the acceptance of Turkey as a candidate country.
Greece has warned it will veto Turkey's acceptance if there was no gesture of goodwill on Cyprus or an improvement in other Greco-Turkish differences.
Diplomatic officials yesterday said that intense negotiations were underway at the summit's Helsinki location to try to find a compromise that would satisfy both sides.
Friday, December 10, 1999
 Government attacks Denktash for exploiting buffer zone shootingBy Martin Hellicar
THE GOVERNMENT yesterday attacked Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for trying to make political mileage out of Wednesday's alleged buffer zone shooting.
"This incident as such is not there to be politically exploited in any way, something Mr Denktash is attempting to do," Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) in New York.
On Wednesday, Denktash said the shooting of a Turkish Cypriot 'policeman' - for which the Turkish side blames Greek Cypriot hunters - demonstrated why his breakaway regime needed "state" recognition.
Papapetrou suggested the incident had been staged in a deliberate effort to score political points in New York.
He said the UN "do not link" the presence of Greek Cypriot hunters near the incident to the injury sustained by the Turkish Cypriot 'policeman'.
Unficyp are investigating Turkish claims that one of a group of three Greek Cypriot hunters shot at 'police' officer Huseyin Bahce after he and his colleagues confronted them at around 7.30am on Wednesday. The Turkish side claims the hunters had crossed into the occupied areas just north of the buffer zone near Lefka, in the Morphou Bay area.
The area is overlooked by a number of Turkish and National Guard watchtowers.
Unficyp spokesman Paul Kolken told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the UN had seen Bahce in hospital, where he was recovering from a minor flesh wound caused by a single shotgun pellet.
Kolken said there was nothing new to report from the ongoing investigation.
Unficyp reports that Greek Cypriot hunters were spotted in the Lefka buffer zone area just after the incident. But no evidence has so far come up to link them to the injured Turkish Cypriot, Unficyp says.
Greek Cypriot hunters often venture into the buffer zone in pursuit of the abundant game there.
National Guard chief Demetrios Demou yesterday said Greek Cypriot sentries in the Lefka area did not witness any incident or hear any shots on Wednesday morning.
Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said Cyprus police and the National Guard were still investigating the alleged incident but had found nothing new since Wednesday.
Friday, December 10, 1999
 Confusion and sharp drop greet market reopeningBy Hamza Hendawi
SHARE prices fell sharply yesterday amid a wave of selling by investors and confusion over a new settlement system introduced by the exchange to simplify the processing of transactions.
Yesterday's trading marked the end of a three-session closure ordered by the exchange to give listed companies leeway to update their registries and allow itself time to install the new system. It was the fourth closure of the market since late July, with the total loss of 30 sessions.
But there were reports of widespread confusion over details of the new settlement system, resulting in uncertainty among brokers as to what exactly they should be doing.
There were some angry words too from some brokers, who viewed the new system as perhaps the latest in a series of damaging blunders by the exchange.
The new system, which is initially involving six companies, replaces share deeds with statements, or notices, from issuers stating an investor's holdings. But some brokers are unsure whether the statements need some form of certifying since a seller could have, unwittingly or otherwise, sold some or all of his holdings but be presenting a statement that does not reflect the latest status of his holdings.
"We were unsure as to how to proceed with the sale of shares. We took a risk every time we sold on behalf of a client," said Stavros Agrotis of CISCO, the Bank of Cyprus' brokerage and investment banking arm. "There was some panic."
"My feeling now is that I am sick and tired of all this amateurishness. We should not accept anything unless we have been informed about it in advance, " said the outspoken Agrotis.
"I won't be surprised if one brokerage is penalised by the exchange for a mistake arising from the confusion caused by the new system today," said Yiannos Demetriou of CLR.
Beside the confusion over the new settlement system, the market traded yesterday in the absence of 17 companies, which either were suspended or had voluntarily withdrawn to update their share registries.
The all-share index fell by 28.69 points, or 3.43 per cent, to close at 808.57 on a volume of £26.63 million.
The three-company trading sector was the heaviest loser, its sub-index shedding as much as 19.43 per cent. The three -- Woolworth, CTC and Orphanides -- marked their return to the market with losses of £1.9, £0.98 and £0.72 respectively.
Industrials also lost heavily -- 6.32 per cent -- with all nine companies listed in the sector finishing the day in negative territory.
The banks, still missing Hellenic Bank, also finished down with the crucial sector's sub-index closing down 2.27 per cent. Bank of Cyprus, the market's largest title was down 15.50 cents at ?11.78, while Popular Bank became 72.50 cents slimmer at ?15.53. The much smaller Universal Bank was only slightly down, closing at ?8.77.
Investment companies were the only sector to gain in yesterday's trade, but only four of the market's 15 such titles were trading yesterday. Athena was one of two that made gains yesterday, up 127.50 cents to close at £8.12. The other one -- Apollo Investment Fund -- was up £1.03.
"It is not a panic situation," said Demetriou of CLR. Beside the confusion over the new settlement system, he explained, many investors were liquidating to enable them to get into new issues coming up.
Friday, December 10, 1999
 House approves Miss Universe cash plea after heated debateBy Athena Karsera
A CALL for funding and for an acceleration of plans to host next year's Miss Universe Pageant yesterday sparked heated discussion at the House Plenum.
Deputies eventually approved a proposal for the setting up of a committee to oversee the smooth running of the event, but only after intense debate.
Akel deputy George Lillikas expressed concern that the request for £2.5 million included in the proposal would be the tip of the iceberg. "How do we know it will not become five or six million without us getting anything in return?" he wondered.
Lillikas dismissed as an "illusion' the claims that Cyprus would reap $300 million worth of publicity from the event, and wondered whether the taxpayer would ever see anything in return for his funds.
And he added that Americans, the Pageant's main target audience, were unlikely to be persuaded to visit Cyprus, as there were no direct flights between the two countries.
Edek's Doros Theodorou said his party also had concerns about the plea for cash. He accused the government of deciding to host the event without consulting parliament.
He said efforts should have been made to give the event a more cultural focus -- "perhaps an exhibition of statues of Aphrodite," he suggested.
In reply, acting House president Nicos Anastassiades wondered whether Theodorou had anything against the Aphrodites being alive.
But Theodorou persisted, pointing out that the beauty contest would be shown in Europe "two or three days after it is shown in America" as it clashed with the Eurovision Song Contest.
He also said that the £2.5 million the government was now asking for could very easily become up to £8 million.
Demetris Syllouris of Disy defended the proposal, saying the expenses were necessary as Cyprus would otherwise be unable to uphold its obligations.
Diko's Stelios Kittis said his party was in favour of the proposal while Androulla Vassiliou of the United Democrats said that while she was personally not in favour of beauty pageants, the government had already committed itself to hosting this one.
"I believe we have to do everything possible to do our best. We do not have time to waste," she said.
In the end, the proposal was adopted by 23 votes to two, with Edek opposing the motion and Akel's deputies choosing to abstain.
Friday, December 10, 1999
 Charalambous storms out after committee drug probe questionsBy Athena Karsera
THE ASSISTANT Attorney-general's recent ruling on the Erythropoetine scandal yesterday continued to make waves when he stormed out of a Health Committee meeting.
Nicos Charalambous walked out after refusing to explain his decision to the members, saying he was not obliged to do so.
Charalambous' report earlier this week found that there was no criminal case to answer concerning tenders for the supply of the kidney drug to state stores.
Charalambous later clarified that his ruling had only concerned one aspect of the Erythropoetine scandal: the procedures followed by the ministry to secure supplies from private companies.
Police, meanwhile, are still investigating why hospitals were allowed to run out of the life-enhancing drug.
Health Minister Frixos Savvides on Wednesday blamed his initially angry reaction to Charalambous' report on emotional overload.
Savvides on Wednesday said he in fact agreed with almost all of the report's findings.
Charalambous yesterday told deputies he was not obliged to give details on his decision to the Committee.
He said it had been long established that neither parliament nor the courts had a right to monitor the Attorney-general's office in its constitutional duties.
Charalambous added he did not believe the Committee was the right body to question his ruling.
Speaking after the meeting, Edek deputy Doros Theodorou said Charalambous' actions had been insulting to Parliament.
Theodorou and other Committee members noted that past Attorney-generals, including incumbent Alecos Markides, had never reacted in this way.
Markides has recently been called to explain several decisions to various House committees, including the early release of two convicted Israelis spies.
The investigation into the Erythropoetine scandal was launched after an uproar over the disappearance of large quantities of the kidney drug from ministry stores and revelations of long delays in replacing them.
An earlier investigation by the Auditor-general's office found the ministry had been too slow in procuring fresh stocks, even though it was aware of the urgent need.
Part of the ongoing police probe is examining information that the medicine found its way to the Nicosia racetrack, where it was allegedly used to dope racehorses.
Friday, December 10, 1999
 Minister rekindles port row with new resignation callBy Martin Hellicar
COMMUNICATIONS Minister Averof Neophytou yesterday fired off another volley in his simmering spat with Ports Authority chief Dinos Erotokritou.
Neophytou again called on Erotokritou to resign because of his open disagreement with government policy concerning the island's ports.
The Minister yesterday lamented the fact that he had no power to fire Erotokritou, because the Ports Authority boss had been appointed by the cabinet.
"There are laws which do not give you the right to fire someone appointed by the cabinet," he said.
But he went on to suggest Erotokritou should resign for reasons of ethics.
"There are, however, unwritten laws too, those concerning responsibility, and the unwritten laws of ethics when you are on a collision course with the whole policy you are supposed to be implementing," Neophytou said. "I leave the whole matter up to Mr Erotokritou," he added.
Erotokritou has made no secret of his opposition to state plans to sell off some Port authority assets.
Neophytou insisted yesterday that all the state wanted to do was create a fishing shelter at Zygi and expand the Latchi harbour.
He said these plans did not constitute privatisation but rather an effort to help "poor fishermen."
Last week, the Minister issued a written statement calling on Erotokritou to resign after the Ports Authority chairman suggested there were "ulterior motives" for the minister's earlier attacks.
According to reports, things came to a head between the two men - both members of governing Disy - during a party meet last week. Neophytou apparently called on Erotokritou to resign if he did not support government plans for the authority he heads.
The next day, Neophytou confirmed these reports by publicly calling on Erotokritou to resign.
Erotokritou broke his silence to claim there were "ulterior motives" behind the minister's insistence he resign.
He said the Minister had always known of his opposition to certain state policies but had now, out of the blue, decided this would not do. He said he would not abandon his position.
He also accused the minister of acting in a dictatorial manner and insisted he had every right to disagree with state policy. "I have every right to express my opinion," he insisted. But he added that he would implement government plans to sell off Ports Authority assets despite his opposition to them.
Neophytou then issued a written statement in response, suggesting Erotokritou's reference to "ulterior motives" made his position untenable.
"When Mr Erotokritou speaks of ulterior motives - which is a serious accusation - he in essence refers to government policy and the government as a whole," Neophytou's statement read.
"Since he believes that government policy has ulterior motives, for what reason does he stubbornly insist he remain in the position of Port Authority chairman, serving this policy?" the minister concluded.
Friday, December 10, 1999
 Fishermen warn police shortages jeopardise safetyBy Phanis Droushiotis
LIVES are being put at risk because police shortages at Latsi near Polis Chrysochous mean patrol boats based at the harbour cannot put out to sea, local fishermen have warned.
The police have two craft moored in Latsi in the Paphos district, but locals say they are useless unless staff levels are raised.
And fishermen are warning the craft will be unable to take to sea if a boat sends out a distress signal.
A police source yesterday admitted to the Cyprus Mail that the two police patrol boats based at the Latsi Port Station - the Poseidon and the Karpasia - could not be properly serviced and were both very old. "Even the lives of those crewing these boats -- if anyone ever does -- are endangered, " the source added.
He said manning levels at the police station had currently reached crisis levels, not only because officers were on sick leave, but also because a number of them had been transferred to other stations, leaving the Port Station with just five policemen.
"The Minister of Justice Mr (Nicos) Koshis did not keep his promise of sending more men in the Paphos area and especially to Latsi where he admitted that there was a lack of personnel," the source complained.
"It takes three trained policemen to run the big boat and we barely spare two for the shift," he added. "It's about time the government took care of its own employees so the job can be done."
The area seems to have less attention during the 'dead' winter season, added John Filippou, a local fisherman, who also expressed his concern about the dangers he and his colleagues faced at sea.
"If something bad happens out there in the open, there will be nobody to run for help," he said.
The Poseidon and the Karpasia have not been out of port for the last three weeks. One restaurant owner facing the small Latsi port said "this makes people worry, especially after news reports about smugglers from the Turkish occupied areas."
"When you consider that the boats can't move, then we have even more reason to worry," he said.
Justice Minister Koshis had promised more police for the area after complaints from the Chief of Paphos Police that there were too many policemen in Nicosia guarding Ministers and Deputies.
Friday, December 10, 1999
 Hunter critical after bizarre accidentA HUNTER was in a critical condition yesterday after he suffered a fractured skull in a bizarre accident on Wednesday.
Cleanthis Charalambous, 47, from Lakatamia, near Nicosia, had been hunting with his brother Andreas and a friend in the Kalo Chorio Klirou area in the Nicosia district.
In an effort to flush out game, his brother threw a large stone toward the bushes.
The stone rolled down a slope and hit a large piece of wood, launching it straight onto Cleanthis' head, injuring him seriously.
He was rushed to the Nicosia General Hospital by the special rescue unit.
A rescuer said the victim had suffered a serious skull fracture and had been put on the ventilator in comatose condition.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999