|Saturday, 18 January 2020|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-02-21
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Saturday, February 21, 1998
 Galanos moots possibility of breakaway partyBy Martin Hellicar
DIKO rebel Alexis Galanos yesterday called on the party leadership to resign and spoke of the possibility of forming a breakaway party.
Galanos and his supporters have been expelled from Diko after refusing to go along with the party decision to back George Iacovou in the presidential elections.
"We (the rebels) expect the party leadership both to apologise for expelling us and to resign to create conditions of renewal," Galanos said.
The banished rebels are challenging the party decision at court as illegal and unconstitutional. Nicosia District court will rule on Monday whether the Diko party lawyer can lodge an appeal against the injunction sought by the rebels.
"The party is the base level support and not the leadership. It is too early to speak of forming a new party but, if the official Diko decision is to remain in opposition with Akel, then we (the rebels) have a completely different approach," Galanos said.
"I cannot preclude anything," he replied when asked if this meant he would try to form a new party.
Diko and Akel, who backed Iacovou together, have refused to participate in the all-party government that President Clerides has tried to form. The Diko rebels, whose backing helped Clerides win round two of the elections, are to participate in the new government.
Meanwhile, the Diko parliamentary team headed by Tassos Papadopoulos met yesterday to examine possible ways of re-uniting the party. No statement was made after the meeting.
Earlier in the day, party member Christos Triantafyllides came out against the expulsion of the rebels. He said "concessions" were necessary on all sides for the sake of the party's future.
 Edek mediation fails to get Diko and Akel on boardBy Martin Hellicar
THE IDEA of an all-party government appeared stumped for good yesterday after an Edek initiative to persuade Akel and Diko to come aboard got nowhere.
President Clerides has invited all parties to submit catalogues of possibles for his new cabinet, but Communist Akel and centre-right Diko - who backed George Iacovou in Sunday's presidential elections - have declined.
Representatives of socialist Edek, who have provisionally accepted the President's invitation, had separate meetings with their counterparts from both Akel and Diko yesterday.
Neither meeting bore any fruit, with Akel and Diko reiterating their negative stances.
Diko general secretary Stathis Kittis said afterwards his party would only reconsider if Clerides withdrew the invitation he had sent to Diko rebel Alexis Galanos. Galanos stood as an independent candidate in the elections, securing four per cent of the vote in the first round and then backing Clerides for round two.
Akel spokesman Andreas Christou said his party failed to see eye to eye with Clerides on fundamental issues of foreign, social and economic policy.
"There is a package of differences we consider too serious to allow us to participate in the government," Christou said.
Edek leader Vassos Lyssarides described the meetings as "friendly", but said the all-party government idea was dead.
He said Edek would still be participating in government, but the details of how still had to be discussed.
The all-party government was Lyssarides's baby.
Having secured an impressive 10.6 per cent in round one of the elections he persuaded both Clerides and Iacovou, who were eager to secure his backing before round two, to sign commitments to form such a government if elected. Edek then sat on the fence for the second round, which Clerides won by a margin of some 6,000 votes.
Lyssarides warned yesterday that Diko's refusal to participate in the government was not good news as far as a proposal for the creation of a new socio-democratic party was concerned.
Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou had suggested to Lyssarides between the two rounds that their two parties might in the future unite.
Lyssarides said a single party could not be formed out of two parties, one of which was in government and the other in opposition.
The United Democrats (UD) and Galanos have also responded positively to Clerides' invitation. The UD, whose leader George Vassiliou secured a disappointing three per cent in round one, also backed Clerides in round two.
Galanos, who has been promised an advisor role by Clerides, said he expected two Diko rebels to secure cabinet posts.
Vassiliou, who has been promised a post as the head of the Cyprus delegation to the EU, said the UD would get one cabinet post.
They both declined to comment on who from their parties would secure these postings.
 Base inauguration 'will not provoke'By Bouli Hadjioannou
THE GOVERNMENT yesterday denied media reports the Paphos air base would be officially inaugurated on March 25. It said the date for the opening would be announced in due time and would be such as not to provoke.
The denial came in the wake of a CyBC television report on Thursday that Greece's Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos would be attending an official inauguration ceremony on March 25, accompanied by a large team of senior Greek army officers.
The opening ceremony would see the arrival of a squadron of Greek fighter jets - possibly Mirage - the report had added.
CyBC's detailed report was yesterday dismissed by the spokesman. He said no decision had been taken as to when the base - to take the name of the late Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou - would be opened.
"The base is one of the most important achievements of Cyprus defence. An official inauguration is necessary. When it will take place will be announced," he said.
But he rejected suggestions that the base was not yet ready. Asked whether construction was still continuing, Christofides said the base was "completed and in an operational state. But it is natural that as in any base some works may be required."
The spokesman was also pressed to clarify whether he was also denying a previous statement that the base would be officially opened in March, once the elections were out of the way.
"I do not deny anything. My statement stands that the technical handover was given in January and that the official opening would be later. If that was said to be March there is nothing to stop a responsible government from saying that can be March or April."
He was also asked whether the government wanted to avoid international attention being drawn to the air base in a month which sees the start of the Cyprus-EU accession talks and UN efforts to resume inter-communal talks.
"What is necessary is for the opening to be held in a correct way, a way which does not provoke or affect in any way the spirit which must predominate in the context of the talks which are staring for inter- communal negotiations and EU accession talks."
To the question whether the government linked developments in the Cyprus issue with the timing of the official opening, Christofides replied: "Even if this were to be the case it is a responsible approach to a serious issue."
 Tourist evacuation planned if bases used against IraqBy Jean Christou
UK TOUR giant Thomson said yesterday it would evacuate clients from Cyprus if the British bases were used in any conflict with Iraq.
Speaking at a tourism seminar in Nicosia, Thomson's Product Manager Lisa Powell cited the Iraqi crisis to demonstrate the awareness and sensitivity of British tourists to global conflicts.
"In the Iraqi situation we have looked at the possibility of evacuating from Cyprus. So there are certain issues that come up in the UK tourist's mind about Cyprus," Powell said.
She also mentioned the tragic events of summer 1996 when two Greek Cypriots were killed in buffer-zone demonstrations.
Powell added, however, that summer '98 looked good for Cyprus regarding the number of British holidaymakers expected, suggesting that clients are quick to forget.
Nevertheless, she urged all sides to work together to deal with the unpredictability of the market, and the possibility of an Iraq war, by raising a positive profile of Cyprus.
"At this stage the evacuation programme is only planned," Powell told the Cyprus Mail. "But it could be a possibility if the (British) bases are used for more than humanitarian aid."
She added that the safety of Thomson customers was of paramount importance if the situation became "extreme".
Powell said she had no numbers to hand as to how many Thomson customers are currently on the island.
In Cyprus, major players in the tourism sector are already monitoring the situation in Iraq and it is believed they are concerned.
During the Gulf War in 1991, Cyprus suffered a huge drop in the number of tourist arrivals almost overnight.
Only 1.38 million tourists visited the island in 1991, down some 200,000 on 1990. But the real loss is estimated to have been closer to 500,000 when the projected annual increase is taken into account.
Last year 2.1 million tourists visited the island and projections for 1998 so far show that a steady increase on this figure is expected.
 'The Ghali Ideas are a right mess'By Bouli Hadjioannou
THE INTERNATIONAL community will not recognise the breakaway north as a separate state, however hard the Denktash regime tries, the government said yesterday.
Spokesman Manolis Christofides was responding to reports that Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash were stepping up efforts to secure recognition of the breakaway north.
"For 35 years, the world organisation and the international community have been proclaiming in the most categorical way that there is only one state in Cyprus. One government is recognised, the government of the Republic of Cyprus. There is one sovereignty in the Republic of Cyprus and there will be one for the federated state of Cyprus," he said.
Inter-communal talks required a climate of good will and co-operation, and the daily statements by Turkish officials and Denktash went against this spirit, he added.
Christofides' remarks were a response to statements by Denktash that talks could only resume on the basis of "two states". The Turkish Cypriot leader insisted on sovereignty and proclaimed the UN sponsored bi-communal talks "dead" ever since the EU had invited the government of Cyprus to start accession talks.
The spokesman was asked to comment on Denktash's position that he would only meet Clerides if there was common ground. Since the Ghali Set of Ideas are no longer valid, there is no such common ground, the Turkish Cypriot leader told a Turkish daily.
"At the stage we are now, we are heading for talks within the context of the United Nations at the invitation of the UN Secretary-general... we have common ground, a great deal of documents and material of which UN resolutions are particularly important," he said.
Asked whether the Greek Cypriot side was ready to negotiate on the basis of the Ghali Set of Ideas, Christofides replied. "There are clear positions that the Ghali Ideas cannot constitute a basis."
Yes, but could the Ideas serve as a basis for talks, he was asked. "The Ghali Ideas are a right mess," was the response.
 BoC's 1997 profits up 13.3 per centBy Hamza Hendawi
THE BANK of Cyprus Group, the island's most visible financial conglomerate, yesterday announced better than expected annual results, posting a 11.7 increase in pre-tax profits to £37.7 million in 1997 from £33.8 million in the previous year.
Addressing a news conference yesterday, group chairman and chief executive Solon Triantafyllides also announced a final dividend of 12 per cent over and above the six per cent interim dividend paid out to share holders in 1997.
Operating profits also increased in 1997, he said, reaching £53.7 million from £46.4 million in 1996, an increase of 16.0 per cent.
Triantafyllides said 35 per cent of the group's profits came from its ovreseas operations, particularly Greece.
The results, however, failed to impress the market, which closed down at 81.66 points, snapping a run of three successive 1998 highs this week. All sectors closed down except investment companies which rose slightly by 0.39 per cent. Volume was a modest £610,000.
"Nothing spectacular happened today. The market just lingered on at Thursday's levels," said Costas Anastassiades of Laiki Investments, the Popular Bank's brokerage.
The banking sector's sub-index closed 0.28 per cent lower and BoC shares ended yesterday's trade down by one cent, to close at £3.36-£3.37. A total of 48,685 BoC shares changed hands, compared to 34,770 from the rival Popular Bank, which finished also a cent lower at £3.40-£3.41.
The Popular Bank's 1997 results, which are also expected to be better than anticipated, will be announced on March 5. The Hellenic Bank, the island's third biggest behind BoC and Popular, will announce its results on March 7.
Triantafyllides, the BoC group boss, said the bank's profitability increase had been due to the expansion of the economy at a better rate than had been forecast, the "remarkable performance" of the bank's operations in Greece and that of the life insurance sector.
He, however, announced a 27.4 per cent year-on-year increase in the group's provisions for bad and doubtful debts in 1997 to £16.0. million and said that legal "obstacles" had arisen in regard to the listing of the group's planned Global Depositary Receipts on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Earlier this year, the bank announced that it would buy back 15 per cent of its share capital and convert them into GDRs to be listed on the London Stock Exchange this spring and later traded also in Athens.
"No foreign shares have been listed on the Athens Stock Exchange either directly (parallel listing), or in the form of Global Depositary Receipts (ELPIS). This is why there are obstacles as regards the listing of our share on the Athens Stock Exchange," said Triantafyllides.
The London Stock Exchange, he added, had already given its unofficial approval for the listing of BoC GDRs and the bank was currently working on its listing particulars.
The GDR issues, he said, were part of BoC's efforts to become an international bank. In this respect, the bank plans to open five new branches in Greece this year, taking to 16 branches its retail network there. The bank already has representatives offices in Australia (4) and Yugoslavia (1). Preparations to open similar offices in Russia and New York are under way and are expected to be operational soon, he added.
The contribution of the Bank of Cyprus to the group's earnings, he said, was expected to improve considerably in 1998, partly because of the benefits expected from automation at local branches and the "metamorphosis" project which gave branches a facelift and increased efficiency.
"This, in conjunction with the group's attempts in recent years to maximise profit from local banking operations through maximising productivity, will result in a further increase of productivity in 1998 and the saving of human resources," Triantafyllides said.
Bank of Cyprus (Holdings) shares are arguably the most sought-after stock on the local bourse. They account for nearly a third of the Cyprus Stock Exchange's capitalisation, the biggest share of the market by a single stock.
 Cost of Unficyp down on last yearACCORDING to a new United Nations report, it will cost $45,436,200 to maintain the 1,616-strong UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus for the 12-month period beginning this July.
This represents a 5.3 per cent decrease on the previous 12 months, said the report, which was compiled by the UN Secretary General's Office.
The report also noted that in accordance with a 1993 UN General Assembly decision, this cost is covered by member states. Previously, the peacekeeping force had been paid for by the governments supplying personnel for the contingents, the Cyprus government and voluntary contributions.
Voluntary contributions from Cyprus amounted to $14,821,234 in 1997, while Greece paid in $6.5 million.
The report also discussed the force's political mandate, operations and personnel status, placing special emphasis on the role of the UN Civilian Police (Uncivpol).
"It is Uncivpol's responsibility," the report states, "to liaise with both Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides, help maintain order in the buffer zone and assist in UN-sponsored humanitarian activities."
 Baby joins parents in jailA ONE-month-old baby went to jail yesterday when its parents were both imprisoned for two years, police said.
The young couple, Maria Sotiriadou and Avraam Kyriacou, were jailed by the Nicosia court on several charges of burglary.
When the sentence was read out, the baby's mother froze with shock. She and her partner were led away by police and immediately taken to the Nicosia Central Prisons.
Prison Director George Anastassiades told reporters the baby, born on January 19, would remain with its mother.
He said they would have a room of their own in the women's wing of the prison, which has fewer than ten inmates.
Anastassiades said it was the first time in his seven years as prison director that a child had accompanied its mother to jail.
 Why were there no fingerprints?By Aline Davidian
AN EXPERT witness for the prosecution in the trial of two Turkish Cypriots charged with smuggling guns and sheep from the north testified yesterday that no fingerprints were found on pistols confiscated from the defendants by the police.
Ozman Kondoz, 41, and Mustafa Veli, 33, both from occupied Louroudjina, were arrested on the night of October 23 1997, following a police sting operation in the Athienou buffer-zone area.
Nicos Kerimis, a police fingerprinting expert, told the Nicosia Assizes that after examining confiscated items on the night of the sting, the only fingerprints he had found were on the surfaces of a green plastic bag and a magazine.
Earlier in the case, prosecution witnesses had testified that the defendants had held the pistols whilst demonstrating their efficiency to police officers posing as a powerful gun-runner's henchmen.
The confiscated items included a green plastic bag, two pistols, two magazines, each containing seven bullets, a small knife and a packet of Benson and Hedges cigarettes.
Kerimis said there were two fingerprints on the green bag and one on the surface of one of the magazines.
"But the impressions don't provide very good material for examination" he said.
Defence attorney Youstrel Katri was swift to pick up on the absence of fingerprints on the guns, intimating police had either failed to store the confiscated items correctly or that the guns examined were not the ones carried by the defendants on the night of their arrest.
"If someone took the pistol in hand surely some prints would be left," he queried.
"All I know is I examined the guns and found nothing," responded Kerimis.
Prosecution attorney Maria Malachtou, picking up after Katri had finished his cross-examination, however, asked the police expert which were the factors determining whether fingerprints remained on a surface.
Kerimis said factors such as the surface of the object, whether or not it was clean and the psychological state of the person touching it, determined whether fingerprint impressions were made.
The trial continues on March 3. Kondoz and Veli deny the charges.
 Eurocypria to take on more flightsEUROCYPRIA yesterday announced a deal with British tour agents Thomson Holidays providing for a second weekly Eurocypria flight from Dublin to Cyprus.
The Cyprus Airways (CY) charter flight subsidiary also announced it would be extending flights from mainland Britain this year. Eurocypria will be flying to Cyprus from a total of ten British airports before the end of the year, the company said.
This expansion is expected to help bring the number of visitors that the CY daughter company flies to Cyprus to 350,000, an increase of some 15 per cent compared to last year.
Fifty-five per cent of these passengers are expected to arrive from Britain.
 'Massive money-laundering in the north'NEW reports of money-laundering in the Turkish-occupied north - among them a claim a businessman flew in from Lithuania with $40 million - have surfaced in the Turkish-Cypriot press.
According to the daily Avrupa, illegal cash amounting to $120 million was laundered by banks in the breakaway north last week with the approval of the authorities.
The paper - which vehemently opposes the Denktash regime - says businessmen have been coming to the north with their illegal cash and are having it laundered at a cost of 10 to 20 per cent in commission. The money is then taken to Switzerland, the papers says.
According to Avrupa, no-one in the breakaway state asks where the money comes from.
About a month ago, it adds, a businessman came from Lithuania with his private plane to launder $40 million, but was refused - a decision Avrupa says the regime has now regretted.
 Title pretenders resume the chaseBy George Christou
ALL the title pretenders return to action today, after a three-week break, against relatively weak opposition that should help them ease their way back into championship race.
For second-placed Omonia and third-placed Ethnikos today's games will have special significance as it was in the corresponding fixtures of the first round that their season took off.
Omonia defeated Evagoras, who they meet today in Paphos, 2-0 to start their undefeated run which has seen them win 10 and draw two league games since.
Ethnikos scored their first victory of the season, a 4-1 win over Salamina whom they visit again today, and have not tasted defeat since. Their record is exactly the same as Omonia's, having won 10 and drawn two of the last 12 games.
Ironically, in the first round Omonia were quite fortunate to beat Evagoras, who had missed a penalty and had gone behind to a soft goal. This bit of luck proved to be the turning point in Omonia's season as they are now level on points with league leaders Anorthosis.
Ethnikos' first round trouncing of Salamina was marked by the return to action of their top striker, Mousic who had missed the start of the season through injury. Since his return he has scored 12 goals, averaging one per game.
Anorthosis have, what on paper appears the easiest task. They are away to bottom club Ethnikos Ashias, who have shown signs of improvement in the last few games.
They lost the corresponding first round fixture 5-0, but it is doubtful that Anorthosis will be able to open up the home defence so easily in the narrow Kykkos stadium in Nicosia; several top sides have found some difficulty winning in this stadium.
Both teams are involved in Wednesday's cup quarter-finals and could be looking to preserve themselves for those clashes.
Fourth-placed Apollonas face a tricky trip to Dherynia to play second from bottom Anagennisis, without this season's most in-form player Niki Papavassiliou who has undergone a knee operation and will be out of action for four weeks.
The injured Mladenovic will also be missing from the Apollonas side who will not have an easy game. Anagennisis were desperately unlucky to lose to Achna in their last game, but did not look like a team resigned to relegation. They fought very hard and will probably do the same against Apollonas today.
Apop, who have won their last three games after a long slump during which their coach was sacked, travel to Limassol for a mid-table clash with Ael.
Apop who are in seventh place on 18 points (one more than Ael in eighth) will be without their top scorer Sasa Jovanovic, serving a suspension. The last time they met Ael fought back to secure a 3-3 draw in the last second of an entertaining tie.
Paralimni have taken most of their points on their travels - four of their five victories came away from home. In fact they won at home for the first time three weeks ago.
Today they visit third from bottom Alki, whose home record is only marginally better - they won twice. Alki are in danger of relegation and desperately need the three points, although a draw seems a much more likely result.
Tomorrow Apoel will seek revenge for their first round defeat by Aek when the two sides meet in Nicosia. Apoel players will probably be pre-occupied with Wednesday's cup quarter-final clash against Anorthosis, as their league title prospects have vanished.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998