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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-01-14

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

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


Friday, January 14, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] House approves new law to protect small investors
  • [02] Shares move up as market optimism returns
  • [03] Jimmy jailed for bomb attacks
  • [04] Man held after alleged revenge attack on police station
  • [05] Government plans steps for rapprochement
  • [06] Denktash to visit Berlin after Geneva talks
  • [07] British to sign war games agreement today
  • [08] Health Ministry orders testing of Ergates villagers
  • [09] Broadcasting Authority calls on public to use their rights
  • [10] Karas in live showdown with Sigma boss
  • [11] Cyprus Airways considering fleet expansion

  • [01] House approves new law to protect small investors

    By Athena Karsera

    THE HOUSE yesterday approved a series of measures aimed at protecting small investors and cutting down on paper work at the Cyprus Stock Exchange.

    Buyers and sellers will now be able to bypass brokers and deal directly with the bourse, provided the transaction is agreed between the parties concerned.

    The proposal, passed unanimously by the House plenum yesterday, aims at helping to solve operational problems at the Exchange by cutting down on paperwork and tasks going through brokerages.

    The move came in the wake of a crippling backlog of unprocessed transactions, which dogged the market for several weeks last year.

    The bourse had to close its doors on three different occasions over July, August, September and October 1999 as a result of the backlog.

    In particular, the new law allows the shareholder to negotiate his stock without having a broker act as a middleman, provided he is the registered owner of the shares.

    It also allows the Stock Exchange board to give temporary permission allowing people to carry out Exchange work without having the qualifications to act as a broker, provided they are thought to have the experience and ability to do so. This will be allowed in cases where a stockbroker has informed his client he is unable to carry out negotiations on his behalf or if there is a greater than average number of transactions taking place.

    The temporary permission will be given for a period of three months, with the possibility of a single three-month extension.

    It will also be against the law for a broker to accept to undertake to carry out transactions if he knows that he will not be able to do so due to an extensive workload or due to problems affecting the operation of the Stock Exchange.

    A late amendment to the law, put forward by the deputy who first tabled the bill, Diko's Tassos Papadopoulos, forbids companies from selling shares under the pretence that they will soon be listed on the Stock Exchange.

    Stockbrokers will also no longer be allowed to negotiate shares on their own behalf.

    The law also brings about a number of other measures to protect small investors, including a provision that transactions be handled strictly on a ‘first come first served’ basis, independent of size.

    Brokers will also be barred from demanding a minimum or maximum number of titles before agreeing to negotiate them on the owners’ behalf, or from demanding the titles themselves or funds upfront.

    Friday, January 14, 2000

    [02] Shares move up as market optimism returns

    Shares headed higher on the stock market in late deals yesterday, recouping Wednesday's profit taking in a session driven mainly by smaller caps rather than market heavyweights.

    Mid and small cap stocks outperformed the general market while blue chips were mixed. The all-share CSE index climbed 1.4 per cent to 625.50, its intraday high, after starting off on a low of 615.89 in pre-opening deals.

    Turnover was lower at £19.93 million on 4,383 deals, but that was a reflection of a continuing cash squeeze, said traders.

    Co-op investment firm Demetra lodged its application for flotation yesterday. Its £130 million IPO, Cyprus's largest ever, opened on Monday and registers are to remain open until January 28.

    Bourse officials said the application would be processed as soon as possible. "It is a serious company and will bring thousands of new investors to the stock market," CSE chairman Dinos Papadopoulos told reporters.

    Brokers said that with every single co-op on the island participating in Demetra, the investor spread was expected to be wide and diverse, ranging from fund managers to potato farmers.

    "The mood is changing towards the positive. Investors are now not that worried that the market is heading for a crash," one stockbroker said, referring to Monday's 9.4 per cent plunge in prices.

    With no fresh money coming into the market for the time being, trading conditions were expected to remain volatile but brokers said the current situation was an opportunity to build positions in certain blue-chip firms.

    "There is some selective buying... in newly listed firms like Mallouppas and Papacostas and Logicom, and in the banks," said another trader.

    Malloupas and Papacostas were one of the day's highest gainers with a 94- cent climb to £4.83 on a volume of 570,558 shares, while recent underperformer Orphanides Supermarkets rose 23 cents to £2.93.

    Both stocks spurred the commercial index up 7.18 per cent. Investment firms, on the other hand, took an 8.5 per cent beating as most companies in the sector turned red. Meanwhile Nicosia powerhouse Severis and Athienitis (SAFS) looks set to lock horns with the management of its takeover target, Universal Life. UL chief executive Andreas Georghiou has rejected the bid.

    However undaunted SAFS sources told the Cyprus Mail that they would prepare a formal offer within the next 10 days in accordance with CSE regulations. Banking stocks moved up 1.3 per cent on a 19 cent rise in Bank of Cyprus, which closed at £9.79, and Hellenic, which climbed 12 cents to £4.51 on a heavy volume of 315,046 shares.

    Popular Bank retreated five cents to close on a last trade of £12.85 on a turnover of £97,112.

    The bank is expected to unveil its centenary gift to shareholders this year, and many expect it to be similar to the Bank of Cyprus' bonus and rights shares issued in 1999. One trader said Popular was expected to make an announcement on its intentions within the next couple of weeks.

    Friday, January 14, 2000

    [03] Jimmy jailed for bomb attacks

    By Martin Hellicar

    BODYGUARD Demetris Demetriou, alias Jimmys, was yesterday sentenced to six years imprisonment as the "brains" behind two bomb attacks in Larnaca last May.

    In passing sentence yesterday, the Larnaca Assizes stated that 36-year-old Jimmys planned the bomb attacks to avenge the sentencing of Loucas Fanieros, the son of his boss, club owner Antonis Fanieros.

    "It is clear the incidents were linked to the fact that on May 18 the Assizes passed an 18-month sentence on Loucas Fanieros, who was a close friend of the accused," the court noted in its decision.

    "The aim of the accused was to strike, literally, at the very foundation of justice in this country," the three assize court judges added.

    Jimmys' 23-year-old namesake, Demetris Demetriou, is serving a three-year sentence for planting the bombs that went off at an electricity authority sub-station on May 21, 1999, and the Larnaca courthouse two days later.

    No one was hurt in the blasts.

    Jimmys was convicted for instigating the bomb attacks and supplying Demetriou with the necessary explosives.

    Demetriou was arrested after his motorbike was involved in a traffic accident not far from the Larnaca courthouse shortly after the May 23 bomb blast. Police said Demetriou crashed in his haste to abandon the scene of the crime.

    During his trial, Jimmys claimed police had intimidated everyone who could have provided him with an alibi.

    Friday, January 14, 2000

    [04] Man held after alleged revenge attack on police station

    By George Psyllides

    A LIMASSOL man was arrested yesterday after attacking a police station with Molotov cocktails.

    Twenty-five-year-old George Neophytou, alias Locagis (commando), was arrested at around 5.30am after throwing five petrol bombs at a police station.

    No one was injured in the attack.

    The bombs missed and started several small fires outside the police station without causing any damage.

    The fires were extinguished by police officers, who then arrested Neophytou.

    Police said Neophytou had attacked the station to take revenge for abuse he claimed to have suffered at the hands of the police.

    Three months ago, Neophytou entered the Limassol central police station armed with a skewer and a club, shouting abuse and threatening officers.

    He says that he has suffered psychological problems ever since allegedly being beaten by police.

    Neophytou's parents say their son had no problems before the alleged beating.

    Limassol Police Chief Charalambos Koulendis denied the allegations, and said a doctor would assess the suspect's condition to determine if he could face the court.

    "It is a sad situation, which was apparently a result of his mental condition," Koulendis said.

    Friday, January 14, 2000

    [05] Government plans steps for rapprochement

    By Jean Christou

    THE GREEK Cypriot side intends to promote steps leading to rapprochement and better contact with the Turkish Cypriots, provided those actions do not lead to recognition, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    Asked by journalists at his daily press briefing whether the intended measures were accepted in the north, Papapetrou said the steps would be taken irrespective of the reaction of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, "which it is hoped will be positive".

    He said there were powerful political and social forces among the Turkish Cypriot population that proved they wanted rapprochement and better relations between the two communities.

    "It is a well known fact there are parties and organisations in the occupied areas which have never concealed their desire for peaceful co- existence and improvement of relations with the Greek Cypriots even before a settlement is achieved," Papapetrou said.

    He added that the government's policy was to seek rapprochement on many levels, demolishing the arguments of the Turkish Cypriot leadership "who talk of a wall of division, two states and the impossibility of co- existence between Greek and Turkish Cypriots".

    Papapetrou also said that the EU has been encouraging rapprochement between the two communities for a long time.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash slapped a ban on all bicommunal contacts in December 1997 after the EU summit in Luxembourg snubbed Turkey's candidacy.

    Despite an improvement in Greco-Turkish relations in the second half of 1999, which culminated in the EU finally recognising Turkey as a candidate at the Helsinki summit in December, bicommunal contacts do not appear to be resuming.

    US Assistant Secretary of State Marc Grossman referred to the issue on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters about the UN-led proximity talks due to resume on January 31 in Geneva, Grossman said that in the short-term bicommunal contacts should be resumed.

    "I'd sure like to see Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots talking to one another again," Grossman said. "I'd like to see some quality of life issues if you could get there - get moving on that".

    He hailed a recent decision for both sides to work with the UN on the restoration of the Apostolos Andreas monastery in the north and the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque in Larnaca.

    "That's the kind of thing we ought to be doing more of," he said.

    Grossman repeated that the international community was working towards a clear goal, a bizonal, bicommunal federation. "I know this is not everybody's goal, but that is our position," he said.

    Friday, January 14, 2000

    [06] Denktash to visit Berlin after Geneva talks

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was officially invited to visit Berlin by German Foreign Minister Oscar Fischer.

    According to the Athens News Agency (ANA), Denktash will visit Berlin after the second round of UN proximity talks due to take place in Geneva on January 31, but an exact date for the visit has not been fixed.

    It will not be Denktash's first visit to Berlin, but it will be his first time since the setting up of his breakaway regime that he will be officially received at such a high level of government.

    ANA said in a dispatch from Berlin that representatives of the German Foreign Ministry had confirmed Fischer's invitation to Denktash, which was delivered to a Turkish Cypriot politician by the German ambassador in Nicosia.

    It added that Germany was aware there were a number of protocol problems that would need to be overcome if the visit was to do ahead. But these are likely to be taken care of along similar lines to the UN's invitation to the two leaders to attend the New York proximity talks last December.

    ANA said German officials had made it clear that the visit did not involve recognition of the `TRNC', but was designed to show Germany's interest in helping to find a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Germany, like other interested parties in the international community, has expressed its optimism for the second Geneva round of proximity talks starting at the end of this month.

    Friday, January 14, 2000

    [07] British to sign war games agreement today

    By Jean Christou

    BRITAIN and Cyprus will today sign a memorandum of understanding allowing for a change in where the British bases can conduct military exercises.

    The rubber-stamping of the memorandum follows cabinet approval last December authorising the Foreign Ministry to go ahead with the move, which allows the British bases to use a national guard firing range for military exercises instead of the Akamas peninsula.

    The memo, which was agreed on last April but not signed, allows the bases to use the firing range at Kalo Chorio in Larnaca between August 10 and 19 once a year instead of the 70 days per annum they were allowed under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment.

    The bases consistently claimed that use of the Akamas had been reduced to about 30 days by the early nineties and sometimes was even less.

    Under the terms of the new memo, either side will be able to terminate the agreement if they so wish on three months’ notice.

    The bases held their first exercises at Kalo Chorio last August and they passed off without event.

    For years, environmentalists were trying to put a stop to British war games in the Akamas, which is earmarked as a national park. Persistent protests by environmentalists and anti-bases activists forced Nicosia and London to seek an alternative for live-fire exercises by British forces.

    The National Guard made clear its misgivings about allowing the British access to Kalo Chorio, and the memo does not mean Britain had technically given up the right to use the Akamas for exercises as allowed by the 1960 treaty.

    Local protestors have in recent years become increasingly daring in their protests, often entering the Akamas during live firing and refusing to leave.

    The memo of understanding also provides that British forces cannot use the Akamas for as long as the agreement lasts. Only light artillery can be used on the Larnaca range and British troops will not be allowed to stay overnight on the range. The National Guard will be allowed to observe the exercises.

    Friday, January 14, 2000

    [08] Health Ministry orders testing of Ergates villagers

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE HEALTH Ministry plans to conduct random blood tests of the residents of Ergates village to determine how badly they may have been poisoned by the toxic smoke from a nearby foundry, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    The ministry plans to collaborate in the testing scheme with Dr Michalis Voniatis, whose tests on the villagers first discovered massive cadmium and lead poisoning, which he blamed on Marios & Andreas foundry's smoke.

    "It has been decided by the government that the Ministry of Health, together with Dr Voniatis… will make a fresh examination of the inhabitants in order to find out whether there is a real problem" with blood-poisoning, Papapetrou told the Cyprus Mail.

    "They will conduct quite a number of random examinations," of the villagers' blood, he said. He was not sure when testing would begin, but expected it to be in the next few days. Papapetrou said the government's decision apparently stemmed from a question about the state's obligations to the villagers that he posed to Health Minister Frixos Savvides before he went into Wednesday's meeting of the Council of Ministers.

    Voniatis was yesterday delighted to learn of the government's decision.

    "That's a very good development," he said. "I'm ready to help and be part of the whole venture. I have no hesitance about that. I think... the community will welcome it."

    "If we proceed with this approach, we can clearly define the problem, and then we can discuss what else can be done for the health of the community," he said, adding: "I would suggest that this testing be done on workers at the foundry" as well.

    Voniatis said a minimum of 300 of the village's population of 1,700 should be tested in order to obtain enough blood samples to draw valid conclusions from such a study.

    Friday, January 14, 2000

    [09] Broadcasting Authority calls on public to use their rights

    By George Psyllides

    THE CHAIRMAN of the Broadcasting Authority yesterday urged the public to co- operate with the authority to improve the quality of television and radio programs.

    Speaking at a news conference in Nicosia, Alecos Evangelou said the authority had been formed to serve as a watchdog monitoring the electronic media.

    The authority's aim, Evangelou said, was to regulate television and radio stations so that they would not function solely to maximise their profits and exercise political and economic influence.

    The authority’s responsibilities include the issue of licenses to stations, ensuring their independence to avoid monopolies, and safeguarding the journalism code of ethics.

    "The absence of regulation could lead to the creation of monopolies, resulting in the concentration of power in the hands of a few individuals," he added.

    But despite efforts to raise the profile of the authority since it was established in January 1998, only six complaints have been made so far.

    The authority intends to broadcast a 12-second spot aimed at informing the public on their viewing rights and on the powers of the authority.

    Evangelou disclosed that the authority had examined 43 cases, with dozens of violations in each case.

    For these cases the authority had issued 62 reprimands, 11 warnings, and fined the violators a total of £6,330.

    But despite the fines, the broadcasting watchdog is essentially toothless since vital regulation essential for its functioning is still pending before the House of Representatives.

    The authority, for example, cannot publish the names of offenders and how they were punished, fearing legal measures that may be taken against it.

    Evangelou said this problem would be solved once the regulations were approved.

    "The regulations stipulate that it is compulsory for stations which were sanctioned by the authority to tell the public," he added.

    Evangelou noted that the authority's aim was not to punish stations, but rather to co-operate with them to improve the quality of programmes.

    "We do not want to sanction stations, but if the need arises we can be strict," he said.

    [10] Karas in live showdown with Sigma boss

    By Martin Hellicar

    DISY deputy Antonis Karas yesterday continued his campaign to clear his name of involvement in an alleged building scam.

    But he changed tack, deciding Sigma television channel, rather than fellow- deputy Kikis Yiangou, was to blame for the "blackening" of his name.

    On Tuesday, Akel deputy Yiangou alleged that a "Disy official" had secured "favours" to allow the building of 22 flats on an Ayia Napa plot not zoned for development. On the back of Yiangou's claims - which are the subject of an Interior Ministry probe - Sigma reported that members of Karas' family were the "beneficiaries" of these "favours."

    On Wednesday, Karas launched a bitter attack on fellow Famagusta deputy Yiangou, challenging him to drop his parliamentary immunity and appear before court to face libel charges.

    Yiangou accepted the challenge, but also protested that he had never named Karas when making his allegations.

    By yesterday, all the animosity between the two Famagusta deputies seemed to have been forgotten, with Karas accepting Yiangou's explanations.

    But he was not willing to let Sigma off the hook so easily.

    The Disy deputy repeated his threat to take the private television station to court.

    In an interview on CyBC state radio, Karas said Sigma had named him in connection with Yiangou's allegations and had filmed him in his office without his permission. He said he had complained to the Broadcasting Standards Authority about the report on Sigma's Tuesday evening news bulletin and had also tabled the matter before the House Interior Committee.

    Sigma boss Dinos Menelaou rang up CyBC radio to defend his channel and a showdown ensued.

    "All we reported was that the plot belonged to Karas' family. We did not show Karas or transmit any statements by him," Menelaou protested.

    Karas said the Sigma report was motivated by anti-Disy sentiments: "Your positions and relations with Disy are well-known," he told Menelaou.

    Menelaou said Karas was just trying to duck the issue: "These are the standard excuses from people who know they have made a mistake. Why are you bringing Disy and what I believe into this?" he asked Karas.

    "I say you have not actually seen the report, because if you had you would not be saying these things," Menelaou added.

    "You made sure my name was linked to a scandal, when my colleague (Yiangou) never did this," Karas countered.

    "We never mentioned your name, what we said was that the plot belonged to members of the Karas family, which you admit," the Sigma boss replied.

    Karas said he had no connection with the plot of land, even if it did belong to his relatives.

    Karas has taken the unprecedented step of asking the House Interior Committee to investigate his own involvement in the alleged Ayia Napa building scam.

    Friday, January 14, 2000

    [11] Cyprus Airways considering fleet expansion

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) is looking at the possibility of renewing and extending its fleet, a spokesman confirmed yesterday.

    "We have prepared a fleet plan and everything is under consideration, our needs for the future and whether we need to replace or expand our fleet, whether to lease or buy," said spokesman Tassos Angelis.

    He said this would not necessarily happen this year but the idea is under study, particularly in relation to the airline's Airbus A310s.

    CY has a fleet of four A310s, which are around 14 to 15 years old, and eight A320s, three of which are leased to CY's charter firm Eurocypria, which are about 10 years old.

    The A310s are bigger and used on long-haul flights, and they could be sold.

    "It's a young fleet," Angelis said. "Some airlines have fleets that are 20 to 25 years old."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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