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

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

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


Saturday, December 11, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] New York talks likely to end on Tuesday, says Denktash
  • [02] Prices fall again as investors prepare shift to new issues
  • [03] Charalambous threatens to take dispute with House to Supreme Court
  • [04] Lellos promises millennium bash to remember
  • [05] Kyprianou too ill to receive congratulations
  • [06] Rolandis calls for more quality wine
  • [07] GREENS yesterday protested that the new Ayia Napa to Protaras highway had been re-routed through a forest on the say-so of private landowners.
  • [08] UN anger at being misquoted over shooting incident

  • [01] New York talks likely to end on Tuesday, says Denktash

    PROXIMITY talks on the Cyprus problem which began in New York a week ago are likely to be wrapped up by Tuesday, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday.

    Speaking after his meeting with Alvaro de Soto, the UN Secretary-general's special representative for Cyprus, Denktash said further meetings would take place today and on Monday.

    "I think we will be able to leave on Tuesday the 14th of December," Denktash told reporters. "Tuesday evening our plane leaves. If there is a morning session, of course we will attend it". Asked about the possibility of a new round of talks after the Christmas holidays, Denktash said: "We don't know yet".

    President Clerides who met de Soto earlier made no comment on the talks, in line with a news blackout which has ensured no leaks coming out of New York as to whether any progress has been made in the past week. "Tomorrow (Saturday) we will continue the work we are doing," Clerides said.

    The proximity talks began on December 3, initially with the participation of UN Secretary-

    general Kofi Annan who handed over to de Soto later in the week. The talks are aimed at paving the way for a possible resumption of direct talks between the two leaders who last met face to face more than two years ago in Glion, Switzerland.

    Saturday, December 11, 1999

    [02] Prices fall again as investors prepare shift to new issues

    By Hamza Hendawi

    SHARE PRICES fell sharply yesterday for the second consecutive day as investors sold heavily to shift into new issues expected to enter the market before the year's end.

    "I don't think there is any reason to panic," said Panicos Kaiserlides of Benchmark Securities Ltd. "I would say 80 to 85 per cent of the reason for the drop is that many are preparing to move to new stocks."

    At least four new titles are expected to start trading on the market before the end of the year, an eagerly awaited development in a market long starved on new issues.

    The all-share index of the Cyprus Stock Exchange was down yesterday by 33.11 points, or 4.09 per cent, to close at 775.46 on a modest volume of 25.89 million. On Thursday, the index fell by 28.69 points, or 3.43 per cent.

    Drops of this size are not uncommon in the market, which remains more than 750 per cent up on the year after the latest falls.

    The exchange, whose 1999 performance places it at the forefront of emerging markets worldwide in terms of gains, reopened on Thursday after a three- closure ordered by market authorities to allow themselves time to install a new settlement system.

    The shutdown, the fourth since late July, was also aimed at giving listed companies some leeway to update their registries and correct hundreds of erroneous share deeds issued during the boom months of the summer, when the market steadily scaled new highs amid unexpectedly record volumes.

    The backlog created in the summer months is still besetting the tiny exchange. The market has been operating without 20 companies or more at any time since mid-November because they have been suspended by the exchange or voluntarily withdrew to tackle a backlog of backroom administrative work.

    Brokers also attributed the drop in share prices yesterday and on Thursday to the confusion arising from a new settlement system, which is meant to be a stop-gap measure before a central depository and clearance system is put in place in 2000.

    Hardest hit yesterday were shares of industrial and trading companies, whose sub-indices shed 6.27 per cent and 6.15 per cent respectively.

    The banking blue chips, which account for nearly half of the market's capitalisation, were also sharply down. Bank of Cyprus, the island's largest, was down 59 cents to close at 11.19 pounds. Also down was the Popular Bank, ending the day 60.50 cents slimmer at 14.92 pounds.

    Yesterday's skid in share prices coincided with a decision by the House's Finance Committee to put to a vote next Thursday a proposal to levy a one per cent tax on all sales of shares on the stock market.

    Two members of the committee are also proposing a capital gains tax on stock market transactions that should be collected in isolation of income tax, but Finance Minister Takis Klerides, who was present at the committee's meeting yesterday, said such a tax would be unfair and counter- proposed that it be integrated with income tax.

    Saturday, December 11, 1999

    [03] Charalambous threatens to take dispute with House to Supreme Court

    By Athena Karsera

    ASSISTANT Attorney-general Nicos Charalambous yesterday raised the stakes in his dispute with the House Health Committee, from which he stormed out on Thursday when deputies called him to justify one of his decisions.

    Charalambous said that if the House insisted that he should explain his stance on the tenders' procedure in the Erythropoetine scandal, he would take the issue to the Supreme Court.

    He walked out on Thursday saying he the House had no right to call on him to explain his decision.

    Deputies were questioning Charalambous on a report released earlier this week, which found there was no criminal case to answer concerning the tenders process for the supply of the kidney drug.

    Police are still investigating why hospitals were allowed to run out of the life-enhancing drug.

    Charalambous yesterday said that if the House insisted that it had the right to police the decisions of the Attorney-general, he would appeal to the Supreme Court.

    "This decision, not to follow a criminal prosecution, is clearly linked to court procedures and therefore cannot be policed by the House, the Cabinet or even the courts themselves."

    Charalambous said that until now only a number of deputies had asked for clarification, but that if this turned out to be the official position of the House, "then the difference will be sorted out by the Supreme court to which I will appeal."

    But Disy deputy Rikkos Erotocritou yesterday insisted that Charalambous was obliged to tell deputies the reasons behind his decision.

    He said deputies were not trying to question the way in which Charalambous carried out his duties, but wanted to be informed about why the specific decision had been taken.

    "He was obliged to inform the House. No one was asking him to violate his responsibilities," Erotocritou said. "He has already issued an announcement explaining to reporters the reasons behind his decision in detail, so why can't he tell the House?"

    Edek deputy Doros Theodorou described Charalambous' behaviour in walking out as "unfortunate", and wondered if the Attorney-general's office was at war with the House.

    On Thursday, Charalambous said it had been long established that Parliament and the courts could not monitor the Attorney-general's office in its constitutional duties.

    He referred to a statement to this effect by former Attorney-general Kritonas Tournarides, saying that because of this he did not believe the Committee was the relevant body to question his ruling.

    Also speaking after the Thursday meeting, Theodorou said that Charalambous' waking out of the Committee had been insulting to the Parliament.

    Several committee members noted that past Attorney-generals including Alecos Markides had never reacted in this way.

    Markides recently was asked to explain his decision to various House committees on several issues including the summer release of the two Israelis believed to be spies.

    The investigation into the Erythropoetine scandal was launched after an uproar over the disappearance of large quantities of the kidney drugs from ministry stores and revelations of huge delays in replacing them.

    An earlier investigation by the Auditor-general's office found the ministry had been too slow in procuring fresh Erythropoetine 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 ace-track, where it was allegedly used to dope race horses.

    The recent report also caused temporary waves between Health Minister Frixos Savvides and Charalambous.

    On Wednesday Savvides said that he had been emotionally overloaded when initially slamming Charalambous' report as preventative to further investigations.

    Savvides continued that he now agreed with almost all of the report's findings.

    Saturday, December 11, 1999

    [04] Lellos promises millennium bash to remember

    By Athena Karsera

    THERE will be dancing in the streets this New Year's Eve thanks to Nicosia's seven municipalities banding together to organise a cheery alternative to expensive nightclubs and hotels. Announcing the municipalities' plans for the festivities yesterday, Nicosia mayor Lellos Demetriades said the aim was for the festive crowds to enjoy a party atmosphere in Eleftheria Square.

    "There will be organised amusement but what we really want is for the people themselves to be having a good enough time to be entertaining themselves."

    Demetriades said the 12-piece Vivat Petersburg orchestra from St Petersburg had been engaged to begin playing at 9pm, continuing until "everyone has gone home."

    Visual entertainment will be supplied by a dance and gymnastics troupe, again from St Petersburg, and two giant video wall units with links to New Year celebrations all over the world.

    A DJ will provide contemporary music during the band's breaks throughout the celebration while the Eldyk military band will play traditional Greek music as we enter the new millennium with a spectacular firework display. There will also be acrobats on stilts performing amongst the crowds.

    The mayors and their families will join the party by 11pm. After midnight, Demetriades said that, as in past years, he and a number of representatives would be visiting the Green Line at the end of Ledra Street.

    "We are not going there to cry, I do not believe that it what we should do. We are going there to show that even though we will be having a good time, we remember that our capital is divided."

    Refreshment will be provided by Keo, the 30,000 event's sponsors, with five kiosks on the square providing free Keo drinks.

    Pieces from traditional Vassilopitta cakes will be handed out by each of the municipalities, with a valuable prize hidden in one slice from each cake. The mayors did not say what the prizes would be, saying that would depend on the municipality.

    Traditionally, a coin is put into a Vassilopitta and the person who finds it is said to have good luck for the New Year.

    Demetriades and his fellow mayors said the event had been organised to give a party to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it, "Young people for example or families."

    The event will also provide those who do not have anywhere specific to celebrate, such as foreign workers, a place to go, Demetriades said.

    The mayors also suggested that the event would give a message to venues trying to take advantage of millennium celebrations with hiked up prices.

    While this is the first time the municipalities of Nicosia have joined forces on this scale, Demetriades said that it would not be the last.

    He noted that the municipalities of Nicosia, Strovolos, Lakatamia, Latsia, Aglandja, Ayios Dhometios and Engomi had organised their own decorations, including "27 kilometres of lights."

    Saturday, December 11, 1999

    [05] Kyprianou too ill to receive congratulations

    ACTING President Spyros Kyprianou has announced he will not be receiving visitors on his name day tomorrow, because of his recent illness.

    Kyprianou recently spent more than a week in hospital after suffering an asthma attack.

    "House president and Diko chairman Spyros Kyprianou, due to his recent health adventure and on the advice of his doctors, will not, unfortunately, have the pleasure of welcoming to his home this year, as he has in previous years, all those who honour him with their friendship," an official announcement read.

    On his release from hospital last Saturday, Kyprianou said he was taking up the post of acting President - during Clerides' absence in New York - with reluctance.

    This reluctance had nothing to do with his state of health, he insisted. He wanted to be excused from his temporary Presidential duties because he disagreed so violently with the way President Clerides was handling the Cyprus problem.

    Kyprianou said he had asked Attorney-general Alecos Markides to find a "formula" that would allow him to pass on the acting President duties to someone else. Unfortunately, he said, Markides could not find such a recipe.

    Saturday, December 11, 1999

    [06] Rolandis calls for more quality wine

    COMMERCE Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday said Cyprus should begin to market quality wines with labels specifying geographical origin.

    Speaking during a meeting with wine makers yesterday, Rolandis said he believed a solution to the problem of grape over-production could be found in this way.

    Speaking to representatives of Keo, Etko, Sodap and Loel, Rolandis said there was no reason Cyprus should not adopt the practice, "already used in Australia, South Africa, South America, Greece and California."

    He said that in this way future production could be continued only on profitable wines.

    "There has never been a strategic plan on the wine issue and we let other countries get ahead, but logically they should have been behind because Cyprus has a history, not of centuries but of millennia in the wine making sector. It is really insulting to see overseas hotel and restaurant menus with wines from all over the world but not from Cyprus."

    Rolandis also said that only 10 per cent of wine grapes were currently used for bottled wines and that this should rise to 50 per cent over the next 15 to 20 years.

    "When we reach 50 per cent and the rest remains for juice, we will be in a good position," he said.

    Rolandis said that while the government had no illusions that the industry could be turned around from one day to the next, "Greece, for example, in 15 years managed to achieve a lot in the wine sector."

    Saturday, December 11, 1999

    [07] GREENS yesterday protested that the new Ayia Napa to Protaras highway had been re-routed through a forest on the say-so of private landowners.

    The new road was originally routed through plots belonging to these landowners, but they used their influence to ensure their land was not affected while the trees got the chop, the Ecological Movement group alleged.

    The group issued a photograph of the affected trees, declaring: "These trees are now firewood."

    The greens said they had alerted the government to this "unacceptable scheming" two weeks ago but nothing had been done.

    "We asked the Communications Minister to look into the matter. So far, all that has happened is that the destruction has continued," the Ecological Movement stated.

    The group said a "ridiculous bend" had been put in the new road to accomodate the big landowners' interests. This would increase the cost of the road, the group said, making this both an ecological and economic "scandal."

    Saturday, December 11, 1999

    [08] UN anger at being misquoted over shooting incident

    By Jean Christou

    UNFICYP is angered over reports in the Greek Cypriot press claiming that the UN had blamed a Turkish Cypriot hunter for Wednesday's shooting incident in which a Turkish Cypriot police officer was injured.

    In an announcement issued yesterday, Unficyp said several newspaper articles had published inaccurate reports concerning the shooting that injured Turkish Cypriot Huseyin Bahce.

    The Turkish side claims Bahce was shot and injured near Lefka early on Wednesday morning after Greek Cypriot hunters crossed into the north.

    A `police' spokesman in the north said the shooting happened after officers went to investigate reports that a group of Greek Cypriot men in camouflage gear had crossed into the north.

    UN Peacekeepers did not witness the shooting but did see Greek Cypriot hunters in the same area half an hour later.

    An investigation hopes to establish whether there is a link between the shooting and the hunters seen in the buffer zone.

    Yesterday's announcement by Unficyp said: "Contrary to statements... Unficyp civilian police have not stated at any time (a) that they believed the perpetrator was not a Greek Cypriot, or (b) that they believed the perpetrator was a Turkish Cypriot hunter."

    It adds that Unficyp states only that there is no evidence to date that connects the shooting to any particular individual, "although Unficyp saw a number of Greek Cypriot hunters in the buffer zone close to the site of the incident".

    Unficyp said its investigation was continuing and no conclusion had been reached as to the identity of the perpetrator.

    The shooting came at a crucial time in the Cyprus problem, with the leaders of the two communities only days into UN-backed proximity talks in New York. A news blackout on the talks themselves helped the shooting gain international prominence and led the government to criticise Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for attempting to gain political mileage from the incident.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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