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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-01-15

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, January 15, 2000


  • [01] ‘Rising temperatures make desalination an urgent priority’
  • [02] Market up again, but brokers angry at new law
  • [03] Annan will attend Geneva talks
  • [04] Britain and Cyprus sign war games memorandum
  • [05] ‘Shacolas manager sacked for criticising Afxentiou’
  • [06] Bases officials meet farmers to discuss water dispute
  • [07] Shopkeepers fume at early sales
  • [08] Government to close loopholes in Turkish Cypriot property law
  • [09] Elder statesmen in ‘resign’ row

  • [01] ‘Rising temperatures make desalination an urgent priority’

    By Martin Hellicar

    AGRICULTURE Minister Costas Themistocleous yesterday unveiled statistics showing declining rainfall in a bid to press home his campaign for more desalination.

    He said that the Meteorological Service figures proved more oil-powered desalination plants were needed, urgently.

    In response, Greenpeace argued that the same rainfall statistics showed why such desalination would be a mistake.

    Greenpeace's Cyprus spokeswoman, Irini Constantinou, said the declining rainfall was the result of global warming.

    More oil-powered desalination plants would mean more emissions of heat- trapping carbon dioxide, more global warming and worsening droughts, Constantinou argued.

    Themistocleous set out his stall during a morning press conference in Nicosia.

    He produced extensive Meteorological service data to show that the island's climate was getting hotter and drier. But he made no mention of the greenhouse effect.

    The ministry attributes the pattern to "climatic variations."

    Precipitation in Cyprus is now 17 per cent lower than it was at the beginning of the 20th century, the government figures show. Annual precipitation in the first three decades of the century was 559 mm, while in the last three decades it has averaged 464 mm.

    Average temperatures on the island have risen by about 0.8 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years. The average temperature in Nicosia in the first three decades of the century was 18,9 degrees, while in the last thirty years it has been 19.7 degrees.

    A similar pattern has been recorded throughout the region.

    Themistocleous noted that the decline in rainfall and increase in temperatures had been greater in the second half of the century. Most of the hottest years of the century have been recorded in the past 20 years. Rainfall over the past 10 years has been the lowest of any decade this century.

    The Minister also noted that this winter was, so far, the driest of this dry decade. Rainfall, since October, has been only 35 per cent of average.

    This drought, Themistocleous said, meant dams were increasingly empty and the government had to look elsewhere to meet water needs. Flow into dams has dropped by 42 per cent over the past 12 years.

    Themistocleous said the trend was likely to continue and the only way out was to build more desalination plants.

    Local residents and greens have been kicking up a fuss about state plans to build a desalination plant at Zakaki in Limassol.

    The Minister presented a government impact study giving the proposed plant a clean bill of environmental health. He suggested Limassol would run out of water if the plant was not built.

    He also warned that the government might have to review water pricing if the drought continued.

    But Greenpeace told the Cyprus Mail that the desalination solution did not hold water.

    "With this choice we will certainly get water, but we will also exacerbate climate change," Constantinou said.

    No serious scientist now doubts that global warming is a reality.

    "Ten years ago there might have been scientists who disputed that global warming was happening, but not any more, the evidence, especially in our region, is plain to see," the Greenpeace woman said.

    Greenpeace recently launched a campaign to get governments to invest in non- polluting, renewable, sources of energy.

    Constantinou said solar desalination plants were a viable alternative to oil-powered desalination that would help curb global warming.

    The government impact study for the Zakaki plant makes only passing mention of the energy issue.

    "It is a fact that a desalination plant involves energy use, a factor which was taken into account along with the other factors that had to be considered," the agriculture ministry report states. "In any case, every new unit of offices or hotels increases the use of energy," the report concludes.

    Saturday, January 15, 2000

    [02] Market up again, but brokers angry at new law

    THE BULLS were back on the Cyprus bourse yesterday as blue chip buying shored prices by 3.2 per cent but there were tense undercurrents among brokers over legislation bypassing them in equity dealings.

    Spurred mainly by banks, the all-share index climbed 20.49 points, or 3.28 per cent to close at 645.99 after a firm opening and intraday highs and lows moving within a band of less than 10 points.

    Trades were up to 5,282 on a turnover of £26.2 million.

    Companies in the "other" category led advancers with a 4.9 per cent rise, followed by investment stocks, which rose 3.4 per cent. Banks climbed 3.08 per cent while commercial, industry, and insurance stocks were unchanged.

    "The market is consolidating. There is some resistance at around 600 points and I would expect the market to yo-yo around that level in the next few days," said a leading Nicosia stockbroker. Complaints from stockbrokers at legislation allowing broker-less transactions were unlikely to dent the outlook of a euphoric mood among brokers next week, he added.

    "We expect to see some announcements of board meetings to review results... investors will stop being sellers and take hold positions," said broker Dimitris Zisimides of Laiki Investments.

    Powerhouse Severis and Athienitis (SAFS) were due to meet yesterday afternoon to debate a share split, warrant issue and an increase in equity. Discounting the move, buying pushed the share price up 99 cents to £25.70 on a turnover of £22,669.

    Other gainers included the Cyprus Tourism Development Company, which on Thursday announced it would issue three million new shares in a rights issue to holders.

    The stock climbed £1.35 to £10.35. Sharelink, which has been a consistent market outperformer, closed at £23.29, a rise of £1.19 on a volume of 18, 596 shares.

    It emerged yesterday that the CSE was investigating widespread rumours on the bourse that CLR Stockbrokers and Sharelink were putting pressure on the market with mass sell recommendations to clients.

    CSE director Nondas Metaxas, who addressed letters to both companies, got denials from both. "Our associates and other members of staff have never urged investors to sell or buy titles as a matter of principle," CLR director Costas Toumbouris said.

    Similar denials were issued by Sharelink, which however pointed out that it was its legal obligation to give clients investment advice.

    Brokers, in the meantime, were seething at the Tassos Papadopoulos' legislative amendment, which allows equity transactions among investors without their mediation.

    By allowing private transactions, investors could be exposed to insider trading, money laundering could go undetected and indices would be distorted, they said.

    "This is taking things way back to the days of KEVE," said a female stockbroker of the unofficial over-the-counter market that existed before the official bourse came into being in 1996. "How could the CSE indices reflect transactions off the floor?"

    Stockbrokers' chairman Christodoulos Ellinas said the issue would be raised at a meeting on Monday with Finance Minister Takis Klerides.

    "Here we have transparent transactions and order. This will allow transactions which are uncontrolled and unregulated," Ellinas told reporters on the floor.

    Though the Papadopoulos bill was passed unanimously, at least one deputy expressed misgivings yesterday at the effectiveness of the law.

    Bypassing brokers would leave the CSE in a rut because brokerages, by law, do the task of collectingthe levy on equity transactions passed by parliament last month. "If the broker is not involved, the CSE cannot do the job," Disy deputy Prodromos Prodromou said.

    Regallia Holdings and Investments yesterday denied market rumours that they were a takeover bid by the Commercial Bank of Greece. The denial was issued after a written request for clarifications from the Securities Commission.

    Regallia said if and when there would be important announcements affecting the company it would be officially announced in accordance with Stock Exchange regulations. The share price of the company closed unchanged at £2.99 on a volume of 99,876 shares yesterday.

    Saturday, January 15, 2000

    [03] Annan will attend Geneva talks

    By Athena Karsera

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday confirmed widespread reports that UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan would attend the first meetings of the second round of proximity talks in Geneva.

    "This is information we had from the start and with the end of the first round I made this public," spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said.

    And he added that one of the reasons why Geneva had been chosen as a venue for the talks was in fact because Annan would be there at the time.

    Papapetrou said second round of talks, starting on January 31, would follow the same form as those carried out in New York in December. They will last for ten days and be at a proximity level with an embargo on statements.

    Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou repeated yesterday that people-to-people diplomacy would positively contribute to solving the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking during an interview on CNN, Papandreou said, "I think that they are very ready and wish to have contact. I am in contact with Greek Cypriots independent from government organisations and I know they very much wish to meet with their counterparts in the Turkish Cypriot community."

    He said he felt the Turkish Cypriots also wanted these meetings to take place, "I think there is a new mood, a new climate, especially following the recent Helsinki decision to guarantee Cyprus' movement towards the EU at a very fast rate."

    Papandreou said that Turkey being made an EU candidate country had also played a part in the new climate. "I believe people-to-people diplomacy can work and we saw how effective it was in Greco-Turkey relations over the last months."

    Papandreou on Wednesday completed a two-day visit to Cyprus before going on to London to meet his British counterpart Robin Cook. He is due to visit Ankara in the coming week.

    But in contrast to Papapandreou’s upbeat stance, the Turkish foreign ministry yesterday issued a statement referring repeating its insistence on two-state dialogue.

    Issued to "clarify certain points on statements by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on the Cyprus problem," the announcement said, "The problems in Cyprus will be solved by the two people and the two independent states on the island."

    "The Cyprus problem is not an EU problem but various past actions -- in spite of our warnings -- have turned the Cyprus problem into a problematic situation for the EU."

    The statement continued that an agreement between two equal stats on the island and their common actions towards Cyprus' EU accession would be the only way for the Cyprus problem to no longer be seen as a problematic situation by the EU.

    It then said that it was the responsibility of the UN Secretary-General and not the EU for a solution to be found.

    "The opinion that the Cyprus problem will be solved with reference to the Helsinki decisions and in the light of Turkey-EU relations has no basis and is deceptive."

    The statement concluded that Papandreou's use of the terms "invasion" and "pseudo-state" went "against the historical, legal and current reality."

    Saturday, January 15, 2000

    [04] Britain and Cyprus sign war games memorandum

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS and Britain yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to allow the British bases to use a National Guard range to conduct military exercises.

    In return, the bases will suspend their manoeuvres in the Akamas peninsula, to which they have limited rights under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment.

    The memorandum of understanding was signed by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and British High Commissioner Edward Clay at the Foreign Ministry in Nicosia.

    Under the agreed terms, British soldiers will no longer use the Akamas peninsula for manoeuvres but will be use the National Guard firing range at Kalo Chorio in the Larnaca district for ten days a year, as opposed to the 70 allowed under the Treat of Establishment.

    Cassoulides said the memo was a result of efforts and co-operation between the Cyprus and British governments, which were trying to satisfy popular opinion on the environmentally sensitive Akamas.

    For years, environmentalists have been trying to put a stop to British war games in the Akamas, which was earmarked as a national park in 1989. Persistent protests forced Nicosia and London to seek an alternative.

    "The friendly relations between the two countries and a spirit of mutual understanding and co-operation allowed for a happy conclusion of this issue, " Cassoulides said.

    Clay also welcomed the agreement. "We all recognise the importance of the Akamas as a national and indeed international area of outstanding natural beauty," he said, adding that, while using the area, the British had always respected this. "This agreement is another example of co-operation between the Sovereign Base Areas, the British government and the government of Cyprus, and the excellent relationship we enjoy."

    The memo, which was agreed last April, was approved by the cabinet last December and the bases held their first exercises at Kalo Chorio last August.

    Their basic right to use the Akamas will not be forfeited under the agreement, but they will not be allowed to exercise on the peninsula as long as the memo remains in force. Under the terms, either side can terminate the agreement on three months’ notice.

    The National Guard did have misgivings about allowing the British access to Kalo Chorio, but under the agreement it will be allowed to monitor the exercises.

    Only light artillery can be used on the Larnaca range and British troops will not be allowed to stay overnight.

    Cassoulides yesterday gave assurances that all measures would be taken for the safety of residents in the area close to the range.

    Saturday, January 15, 2000

    [05] ‘Shacolas manager sacked for criticising Afxentiou’

    A TOP Shacolas Group manager was sacked for writing an article criticising Central Bank Governor Afxentios Afxentiou, Politis newspaper claimed yesterday.

    Dr. Costas Mavrides, a general manager for Euroinvestment & Finance Ltd, was reportedly sacked because he refused to apologise to Afxentiou over an article he sent to Phileleftheros - even though his piece was never published.

    The article, which Politis published in full yesterday, criticises Afxentiou for his dealings on the stock market, arguing that these compromised the Central Bank Governor's independence.

    The Shacolas Group yesterday insisted that the Politis story was not true.

    Mavrides, a lecturer on fiscal policy at the Cyprus University, told Politis that he had submitted the contentious article on January 5. Two days later, Shacolas group boss Nicos Shacolas apparently rang him from England to demand that he withdraw the article and send a letter of apology to Afxentiou.

    Mavrides said he told Shacolas he was not about to change his opinions on the issue and would therefore not withdraw the article.

    The academic told Politis he then rang Phileleftheros editor Anthos Lykavghis, eager to find out how Shacolas had come to know the content of his as yet unpublished article. Lykavghis assured him he personally had not shown Shacolas the article, Mavrides said.

    On Monday, January 9, Mavrides found a letter of dismissal waiting for him on his desk.

    The letter reportedly stated he was getting the chop because he had written an article "whose content and tone constitute a personal attack on the Governor and other officials of the Central Bank, directly harming the interests of our company."

    Shacolas group spokesman, Pavlos Pavlou, yesterday afternoon issued a statement in response to the Politis article.

    "Nothing that Mr Mavrides passed on to the newspaper bears any relation to truth," Pavlou stated.

    "A representative for Euroinvestment & Finance Ltd stated that the company is no longer concerned with the Mavrides issue, which it considers history, " the statement added.

    Mavrides' article criticises Afxentiou for playing the stock market.

    Revelations that Afxentiou had acquired shares by private placement caused a storm of protests last year. Afxentiou insisted he had done no wrong, and was not compromising his position by securing shares in this manner.

    Mavrides did not mince his words in his article: "If the Governor of the Central Bank of any country acquired shares - not just by buying them on the stock market but by securing them through private placement - this would be a reason not just for his resignation but for a first rate scandal."

    Saturday, January 15, 2000

    [06] Bases officials meet farmers to discuss water dispute

    By Jean Christou

    BRITISH bases officials yesterday met farmers’ representatives from the Ormidhia district to discuss the issue of illegal boreholes on SBA territory.

    A statement from the bases said that a number of proposals had been put on the table and that the farmers had said they would think about them.

    The bases offered to allow some water to be supplied to tenant farmers who have potato crops, which will be jeopardised if all the illegal boreholes are shut.

    Some of this water would be supplied from bases outlets, the statement said.

    "We have made a fair offer to enable the farmers to harvest their crop which is already planted," said Ian Williamson, the Defence Land Agent who represents the bases. "In return we would like to see them accept that non- licensed boreholes have to be shut down when their present crop has been lifted. This is vital in order to preserve the aquifer."

    It was also agreed at the meeting to ascertain the precise water usage of the farmers and to identify to whom and where water from other illegal boreholes was being sent.

    Last Monday, the bases moved early in the morning to cap five illegal boreholes dug by farmers who rent bases land for crop cultivation. The bases said it was the first phase of an action to prevent the illegal abstraction of water from the Ormidhia aquifer.

    Around 100 potato farmers in the Ormidhia area were affected, but the bases said they would be capping another 23 illegal boreholes in the near future.

    The bases say the farmers are in effect stealing water by using the illegal boreholes.

    They say that if the water in the aquifer drops below sea level the supply of drinking water for bases residents will be contaminated with seawater.

    Commenting on yesterday's meeting, bases spokesman Rob Need said it had been "affable" but that they did not expect an instant response from the farmers. "However, we are grateful that they have agreed to co-operate in helping us identify their precise water usage."

    "But our bottom lines is that the boreholes will cease to extract water."

    Saturday, January 15, 2000

    [07] Shopkeepers fume at early sales

    By Athena Karsera

    SHOPKEEPERS have called on the government to act to stop competitors discounting their goods before the specified sales period.

    Speaking at a press conference on the upcoming winter sales yesterday, Melios Georgiou, the secretary-general of the Union for Small Businesses and Retailers (Povek), told reporters: "Large supermarkets and chain stores began (their sales) first and other shops were forced to follow."

    Condemning the large stores, Georgiou said their actions caused unfair competition between retailers from the consumer would end up as the loser. He said the consumer should be offered "real sale prices on leftover clothes from a specific commercial period that is ending, and not be misled with offers on goods that were especially manufactured for the sales and sold at a price they would have been sold at anyway."

    Smaller shops also missed out, he said, as they could not afford to advertise their special prices and depended on people knowing sales were on and going around the shops specifically to find bargains.

    He said the Commerce Ministry seemed unable to prevent this from happening and that Povek, "demands that the responsible Minister puts this issue in order."

    Georgiou said Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis had already brought forward this year’s by 14 working days and had extended them to last seven instead of four weeks, as in earlier years.

    The winter sales usually start on the first Monday of February.

    Strictly regulated sales were more likely to encourage healthy competition and to allow the customer a real chance of finding a real bargain, Georgiou said.

    "During the legally specified sales period... consumers have the opportunity to choose between goods they like at very low prices and from a range of retailers."

    Georgiou said that consumers could also expect excellent opportunities because the sales followed a slow festive season.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail later yesterday, he said that sales over Christmas had been lower than expected. "We believe the cold weather played a role, and in part, the Stock Exchange too. Also there were a lot of goods on offer because of the large number of shops."

    The sales will (officially) begin on Monday January 17 ending on Saturday March 4.

    Saturday, January 15, 2000

    [08] Government to close loopholes in Turkish Cypriot property law

    By George Psyllides

    INTERIOR MINISTER Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday announced that the law governing the administration of Turkish Cypriot property would be amended.

    The law was passed in 1991 and concerns the management of Turkish Cypriot property abandoned by its owners after the 1974 invasion, much of which was taken over by Greek Cypriot refugees.

    But the minister that some unscrupulous individuals had also taken advantage of the abandoned property, becoming very rich in the process.

    Christodoulou was speaking at a news conference to present the results of an investigation into allegations of illegal handling of Turkish Cypriot property.

    But it turned out that most of the cases looked into were not in fact illegal because of weaknesses in the current law.

    Christodoulou said there had been "25 years of anarchy" in the handling of Turkish Cypriot properties, and added that the state lost around £2.5 million a year due to mismanagement.

    The minister maintained the law as stood could not deal with illegalities because it was "vague and insufficient".

    His ministry would prepare amendments in the next six months to close all the loopholes, he said.

    "Some people became rich from these properties, others have taken two or four houses when they needed only one, and some acquired 500 donums while others got nothing," Christodoulou said.

    "Those cases will be regulated with the new law," he added.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Saturday, January 15, 2000

    [09] Elder statesmen in ‘resign’ row

    Calm down, you’re in a tense state, Clerides tells Kyprianou

    By George Psyllides

    RELATIONS between House leader Spyros Kyprianou and Glafcos Clerides soured dramatically yesterday when Kyprianou called on the president to resign, labelling his policy a danger to Cyprus. Clerides responded by advising Kyprianou to calm down because of his state of health.

    Kyprianou's outburst came just hours before the 67-year-old former president was due to fly to London, and from there to the United States for a heart operation.

    For the first time since the New York proximity talks and the EU’s Helsinki summit, Kyprianou yesterday openly attacked Nicosia and Athens, saying their policies were dangerous. He also disclosed that during a meeting with Clerides earlier in the day, he had advised him to call fresh presidential elections.

    The political row deepened when government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou claimed Kyprianou was scheming with other parties to take power. Papapetrou revealed that Kyprianou had approached political parties asking that if Clerides resigned he (Kyprianou) could have their backing as the new president, not for 45 days as the constitution stipulates but for the rest of Clerides' term, until February 2003.

    Earlier Kyprianou told reporters about his meeting with Clerides. "I cannot say I am happy from our meeting," he said. "No one can ask the president to resign, but if he wants to continue with the existing climate he should call fresh elections; that is what I would have done."

    Responding to Kyprianou’s comments through a statement read by Papapetrou, Clerides said that, during the meeting, he had "diagnosed that Kyprianou was in a tense state and, because of his health condition, he advised him to calm down". The president wished him a safe journey, full recovery and speedy return to the island, said Papapetrou.

    "During (yesterday’s) meeting (with Clerides), Kyprianou was obsessed with the idea that Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis follows a dangerous policy that will eventually hurt Cyprus," Papapetrou said.

    "The president tried to put his fears to rest, but it was clear that Kyprianou had made his mind up. He told President Clerides to remove from his environment all individuals who pushed him toward Simitis' policy," added Papapetrou.

    In a parting shot before boarding a plane at Larnaca, Kyprianou said Papapetrou had revealed to him that Simitis and Clerides had agreed, in the run-up to last month's Helsinki summit, to allow Turkey to become an EU candidate without Ankara making any Cyprus concessions.

    He also revealed that the Simitis supporters he had advised Clerides to remove were Cyprus' chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous and government spokesman Papapetrou.

    Kyprianou's first reaction to the Papapetrou statement was to question from where the president had got his information. He added: "Let him resign and I pledge not to run as a candidate in the presidential elections."

    The spat started around noon yesterday when Kyprianou held a news conference ahead of his trip for surgery on a weak heart valve. Kyprianou based his accusations on two recent articles in the Athens press, written by associates of Simitis.

    The first article, published in Exousia newspaper, sparked accusations in Cyprus that its author, George Pandayias, was advocating confederation as a solution to the Cyprus problem. In the second article published in Vima, Stathis Efstathiades, who according to Kyprianou is Simitis' close associate, asks Cypriots to give up on the principle of a bizonal federation, claiming that his positions are shared by high-ranking members of the Greek government.

    Kyprianou also commented on Germany's invitation to Rauf Denktash to visit Berlin, and wondered about the European Union's role in the Cyprus problem. "We do not want a Europe of interests but a Europe of rights," he said. "As far as Helsinki is concerned, we need to be psychic to find the positive aspects of the decision taken there."

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