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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-12-18

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, December 18, 1999


  • [01] UN says no change in its policy on Cyprus
  • [02] Cyprus seeks clarification on Unficyp addendum
  • [03] Government seeks to rush through market profit tax
  • [04] Aeroporos killers jailed for life
  • [05] Cabinet gives foundry a year to clean up emissions
  • [06] Banned PVC toys still on the shelves
  • [07] Baby in a box to be adopted

  • [01] UN says no change in its policy on Cyprus

    By Anthony Goodman

    AN addendum to a report by Secretary-general Kofi Annan on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (Unficyp) does not signify any change in UN policy, Annan's spokesman said yesterday.

    "That addendum is to inform the Security Council of the position of the relevant parties concerning the extension of Unficyp's mandate," spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

    "So the secretary-general reported the positions, as he always does, without comment," Eckhard added.

    Pressed further, he said: "My statement made it clear that there was no change of UN policy. He (Annan) was just reporting, without comment."

    The Security Council unanimously approved on Wednesday another six-month renewal, until June 15, 2000, of the mandate of the UN force that has been stationed in Cyprus since 1964.

    The addendum to Annan's report said Turkey supported the Turkish Cypriot position that Unficyp could operate on both sides of the divided island "only on the basis of the consent of both parties."

    It added that "the Turkish Cypriot authorities will accordingly request Unficyp to work with them to develop modalities of Unficyp's operation in northern Cyprus."

    Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots welcomed the addendum as evidence that the United Nations was moving toward recognising that there were two equal authorities on the island.

    This interpretation upset the Cyprus government in Nicosia, which is internationally recognised as the government of the whole island.


    Saturday, December 18, 1999

    [02] Cyprus seeks clarification on Unficyp addendum

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS wants the UN Security Council to clarify the wording in an addendum to Unficyp's renewal, which has prompted the Turkish side to claim the breakaway state in the north has been recognised.

    President Clerides yesterday summoned the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council, Britain, France, Russia, China and the US, and Unficyp Chief of mission James Holger, to the Presidential Palace after the addendum was made public on Thursday.

    It said the governments of Greece, Cyprus and Britain had agreed with the mandate extension. "The government of Turkey has indicated that it concurs with the position of the Turkish Cypriot party, namely that Unficyp can operate on both sides of the island only on the basis of the consent of both parties and that the Turkish Cypriot authorities will accordingly request Unficyp to work with them to develop modalities of Unficyp's operations in northern Cyprus."

    The Turkish Cypriot side already controls the movement of Unficyp troops in the north, but not through any written agreement or formal dealings.

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement late on Thursday saying the addendum showed the UN was moving closer to Ankara's position that the international community should have official dealings with the breakaway regime.

    Ankara believes the wording of the addendum makes it clear that the UN accepts the validity of the Turkish Cypriot administration.

    "With this official Security Council document, it is recognised and established that there are two equal sides on the island, that these sides have equal authority and that from now on the activities of the UN Peace Force must be determined separately by authorities on each side," the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said.

    The addendum did not say that the UN would take such a course of action, but its wording has concerned the government enough to prompt the President to seek clarifications, particularly in the wake of the Turkish side's interpretation.

    "We have asked for a clarification from the Permanent Five and representatives of the Secretary-general because the interpretation is annoying and it could be serious," said government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou.

    Papapetrou said there had always been an addendum to the Unficyp mandate renewal concerning the agreement of Greece, Britain and Cyprus.

    He said Turkey was also routinely asked, but usually just said it supported the view of the Turkish Cypriot side. "This time, Turkey has proceeded to explain the views of the Turkish Cypriot side," Papapetrou told the Cyprus Mail. "This is the only difference and that's why we called the Five to avoid any possibility of misinterpretation."

    Yesterday's summons to the Palace was also a warning to the UN Security Council that the Cyprus government would not tolerate Unficyp entering into any written agreement with the regime in the north.

    The clarifications are expected to be received by Monday, Papapetrou said. He said the government would then determine what its stance on the addendum would be.

    Saturday, December 18, 1999

    [03] Government seeks to rush through market profit tax

    By Hamza Hendawi

    THE GOVERNMENT will on Monday try and rush through the House a bill taxing profits made on the stock market, sources close to the Presidential Palace said yesterday.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail on condition of anonymity, the sources said that President Glafcos Clerides yesterday agreed to the taxation proposal presented to him by Finance Minister Takis Klerides.

    Senior Palace officials, according to the sources, yesterday informed several House deputies from the ruling Disy party of the President's decision to table the proposal on Monday.

    The House has brought forward to Monday its last Plenum before the Christmas and New Year break. It normally meets on Thursdays.

    The sources did not have any details on the proposed tax, but said the percentage on stock market profits would be the subject of intense consultations between Disy and opposition parties over the weekend and on Monday morning.

    Cyprus does not at present have a tax on capital gains made on the market, and a proposed levy of 1 per cent agreed upon by political parties was not adopted by the House on Thursday as had been expected. It was not immediately clear whether the government planned to get the House to adopt both the levy and the proposed tax on capital gains.

    Klerides, the Finance Minister, recently said the government fully intended to tax individuals making a living solely on speculating on the stock market. He argued that the income of those who had no job other than the stock market must be taxed.

    Last week, he publicly disagreed with Finance Committee Chairman Markos Kyprianou that such a tax should be collected over and above income tax. The minister said that such a method would be unfair.

    If adopted by the House, a tax on capital gains made on the market would have far-reaching consequences on the exchange, whose capitalisation, at about 15 billion, is more than twice the island's gross domestic product.

    The performance of the market so far in 1999 -- share prices have appreciated by more than 700 per cent -- has drawn the attention of politicians in view of the vast profits made by virtually every investor.

    Brokers have said that Clerides' cash-strapped government was desperate to lay its hands on some of the money changing hands in the exchange and that it was just a matter of time before it found a way to do so.

    Share prices, meanwhile, ended lower yesterday for the second consecutive day. The all-share index fell by 11.31 points, or 1.47 per cent, to close at 759.33 on a modest volume of 25.77 million. The index fell by 1.61 per cent on Thursday, a day after shares appreciated by nearly 10 per cent to end a four-session skid, which wiped out 16 per cent of the value of shares.

    All seven sectors of the market finished down, with manufacturing companies the worst hit. The sector's sub-index finished 5.94 per cent lower.

    The banks' sector was down by 1.23 per cent, with all listed banks except Hellenic finishing lower. Worst hit was Bank of Cyprus, down by 0.25 to close at 11.09. Popular Bank was only five cents down at 14.30 and Universal Bank 10 cents lower at 7.85. Hellenic was up 5 cents at 5.27.

    Saturday, December 18, 1999

    [04] Aeroporos killers jailed for life

    By Martin Hellicar

    TWO POLICE officers were yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment for the killing of Hambis Aeroporos in Limassol almost exactly a year ago.

    The Nicosia criminal court found police officer Christos Symianos, 35, and 33-year-old special constable Savvas Ioannou, alias Kinezos, guilty of premeditated murder.

    Waiter Prokopis Prokopiou - who a few months ago made a dramatic court-room confession to being one of the three hooded hit-men who gunned down 36-year- old Aeroporos - was unable to attend court for sentencing yesterday.

    The court was presented with a doctor's note explaining that kidney patient Prokopiou, 35, was not well enough to leave his hospital bed to attend the hearing.

    The court will reconvene on Monday to decide how to proceed with his sentencing.

    When making his confession, Prokopiou, 35, told the three-judge bench his two co-accused were innocent.

    But the court chose to agree with the prosecution that Symianos and Kinezos in fact were the two other hooded hit men who shot Aeroporos dead at Ypsonas outside Limassol on December 16.

    Police say the brutal daylight killing was a gangland hit, part of a bloody feud between underworld clans vying for control of the cabaret circuit - suspected of acting as a front for prostitution and gambling rings.

    Symianos and Kinezos had denied murder charges, but hair belonging to them was identified, using DNA fingerprinting, on hoods recovered at the scene of the crime by police.

    The three-judge bench also found the two officers guilty of the attempted murder of Aeroporos' cousin, Charalambos Charalambous, who with the victim in his car when it came under attack. Symianos and Kinezos were found guilty of six charges, including conspiring to murder, unlicensed possession of weapons, using these weapons and possession of explosives.

    But the court only sentenced them for premeditated murder, which carries an automatic life sentence.

    Cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis, 43, and his 51-year-old sister Zoe Alexandrou, a hospital cleaner, had also been on trial for conspiring to murder Aeroporos.

    But the charges against them were dropped after the Supreme Court ruled key evidence against them was inadmissible.

    Relatives of the victim and the two policemen were in court for yesterday's verdict.

    The Aeroporos family has paid a heavy price in the bloody underworld feud.

    Hambis Aeroporos' younger brother, Andros, was also killed in a suspected gangland hit outside a Limassol nightclub in the summer of 1998. The murder came only days after Hambis, Andros and their brother Panicos had been acquitted of charges of attempting to murder gambling club boss Antonis Fanieros in Larnaca in May 1997.

    The underworld feud shows no sign of letting up.

    In early September, Athinis, while still on trial for the Hambis murder (but out on bail), was lucky to survive an anti-tank missile attack outside his Limassol cabaret.

    The Hambis murder trial was moved to Nicosia for fear of gangland reprisals against the suspects. Armed police have been out in force for every hearing.

    Hambis was killed as he drove home after a hospital visit for treatment to injuries sustained in a 1995 gangland hit.

    Saturday, December 18, 1999

    [05] Cabinet gives foundry a year to clean up emissions

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE CABINET yesterday gave the Marios & Andreas foundry outside Ergates village more than a year to reduce its smokestack emissions to the level the European Union will require in 2003, the year Cyprus hopes to become an EU member.

    The decision was condemned by Edek deputy Demetris Eliades, chairman of the House Environment Committee, and by Dr Michalis Voniatis, whose epidemiological studies show the foundry's smoke has poisoned Ergates villagers' blood with lead and cadmium.

    The Cabinet acted after Health Minister Frixos Savvides briefed them on the villagers' health problems linked to the foundry, according to Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas.

    However, the Cabinet decided against forcing the foundry to meet current Cyprus standards of 300 milligrams of particulate per cubic metre of smoke by January 1, 2001 - as Moushiouttas had originally intended.

    Instead, the ministers decided that the foundry's owners - Marios Petrou and Andreas Georgiou, both of Lakatamia - should immediately begin bringing their particulate level to the EU standard of 50mg per cubic metre of emission by some time in the year 2000. They were not more definite about the date.

    Moushiouttas said the foundry would need at least two to three months to reequip to meet this new, tougher emission level. He added that the government would subsidise the foundry's purchase of the necessary equipment to expedite compliance.

    He said the foundry had made some improvements, but these had "tended towards compliance with the 300mg per cubic metre standard" and were inadequate for meeting the 50mg EU limit.

    The foundry raised eyebrows in the House Environment Committee this week when it was revealed that, despite its claims to improvements, its smoke- ash levels were 366mg, 399mg and 500mg of particulate per cubic metre of emission.

    Even Moushiouttas, who has often defended the foundry against critics who have demanded its closure, was openly displeased with these figures.

    Eliades condemned the Cabinet's decision as "completely unacceptable."

    "They have to stop the foundry immediately until it complies with the EU (50mg) standards," he said.

    "And if the necessary period takes two or three months, (the owners) have to be compensated by the government." But whatever is done, "the foundry has to stop poisoning the people and the environment," Eliades said.

    Voniatis said, "the compliance (with the 50mg EU standard) should be done within the next six months."

    "I know it's going to be difficult. Once you order the equipment to change the function of the furnace, it takes three to four months to receive the equipment, and installing could take a couple more months," he said.

    Voniatis said that while the changes were under way, the foundry "should stop functioning until the emissions are dropped down to the new specifications that will apply in 2003 in the EU - less than 10mg." Cyprus hopes to become an EU member in 2003.

    "There is no excuse for not shutting down (during retooling) if he is being reimbursed" by the state, Voniatis added.

    Tests Voniatis did showed Ergates villagers have five times the cadmium and nearly three times the lead in their blood that Nicosia residents do. He also showed that blood-lead levels of 62 per cent of the villagers exceed World Health Organisation "critical" levels.

    Voniatis' also found brain, kidney and pancreas cancer rates in Ergates some three times the Cyprus average; lung cancer 50 per cent over the Cyprus average; and twice the leukaemia found in the rest of the island.

    Thirty-three per cent of the children in Ergates suffer from chronic respiratory problems from breathing the foundry's smoke.

    Saturday, December 18, 1999

    [06] Banned PVC toys still on the shelves

    By Anthony O. Miller

    TOYS made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) softened by poisonous "phthalates" - which are linked to cancer - were still on sale this week in Cyprus, despite a month-old government ban on their sale or import.

    In a random check of Nicosia stores, the very first item the Cyprus Mail inspected - a baby's teething ring - in the first store the newspaper visited was made of phthalate-softened PVC, the storekeeper conceded.

    The item's Cyprus distributor said he ordered the teething ring pulled from the shelves of all nine stores that he supplies. The teething ring was made by the American toy maker, Fisher-Price.

    The distributor said the teething ring was a two-year old model, which Fisher-Price has since replaced with a newer version that does not contain any PVC or phthalates.

    However, he acknowledged that the newer, phthalate-free teething ring was not yet available in Cyprus; its closest point of sale was the European Union, he said.

    The toxic teething ring was only one item of one distributor. With thousands of Christmas toys on sale, and the state's month-old store shelf- sweep obviously less than a total success, other phthalate-poisoned toys may still be on sale in Cyprus.

    On November 13, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis banned the sale and importation of all phthalate-softened PVC, and ordered all store shelves swept of such toys.

    Rolandis acted while the European Union dithered about how much of a phthalate-PVC ban to impose, and on what items.

    Children who put the phthalate-softened plastic into their mouths, and suck or chew on it, leach the phthalates out of the PVC.

    The European Commission has accepted scientific opinion that phthalates can damage the liver and kidney, as well as cause cancer and the disruption of the body's hormone balance.

    The Green Party yesterday accused the Commerce Ministry's Consumer Protection Centre of failing to publish a list of the toys sold in Cyprus that it found to contain phthalate-softened PVC, despite months of testing in state laboratories.

    George Mitides, director of the Consumer Protection Centre, was out of Cyprus, and his deputy, Andreas Galatariotis said he had no knowledge of any list of the dangerous PVC toys.

    Dina Akkelidou, director of the state laboratory, said she feared this would be the verdict in Mitides' Centre, adding she suspected Mitides had simply not kept any list of the toys he sent her labs for analysis.

    "We must not play around with these things now," Akkelidou said. "We cannot wait until we have epidemiological data on kids. It's too late then."

    Galatariotis said Mitides would be back in Cyprus on Monday, and that if he had a list of phthalate-tainted toys, he would probably decide then whether or not to release it.

    Saturday, December 18, 1999

    [07] Baby in a box to be adopted

    By Athena Karsera

    THE "baby in a box" born in Nicosia last week is to be adopted, it was reported yesterday.

    According to Phileleftheros, the baby's mother, Jennifer Lopez, a domestic helper from the Philippines, has already selected a childless couple to adopt her child. She had initially told police she had found the child abandoned in a box, before admitting the baby was hers. The little boy is at present in the care of the Welfare Department, who have the final say on his future.

    A representative from the Department yesterday confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that the proposed family was currently being investigated for suitability.

    According to the law, a child must be three months old before being adopted. Until then, the little boy will remain in the Welfare Department's custody.

    Lopez told Phileleftheros that although she loved her baby, she was unable to keep it. She said that she already had three children in the Philippines and was afraid of how her parents would react to her having a child out of wedlock.

    Lopez has lost contact with the child's father, thought to be an Arab foreign worker, who is believed to have left Cyprus.

    She has continued working for her employers, an elderly couple, who have stood by her during the ordeal.

    The baby, whose name has not been made public, is being kept in the newborn ward of Makarios hospital, where Lopez is allowed to visit him until doctors decide on his release.

    He is thought to have been born slightly prematurely and doctors initially put him on a ventilator. Both mother and child are now in good health.

    On Saturday December 11, Lopez told police that she had found the baby abandoned in box outside Nicosia's Municipal Theatre near the apartment she live in with four other Filipinas.

    Last week, police spokesman Glafcos Xenos told the Cyprus Mail that Lopez had been examined by a physician after bringing the bloodstained baby to the police.

    When it was determined she had given birth recently, she admitted that the child was hers.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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