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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-05-05

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, May 5, 2000


  • [01] Falling pound good news for Cyprus economy
  • [02] Turks lift ‘visa fees’ on the enclaved
  • [03] 1974 bones identified by forensic experts
  • [04] Brokers pleased with market stability
  • [05] Two years of campaigning against Akkuyu
  • [06] Angry exchanges over rotten army meat
  • [07] Cabinet approves £2.4 million to upgrade school labs
  • [08] Iranian suspected of ‘masterminding’ heroin operation
  • [09] Woman drives off cliff to her death
  • [10] Cyprus pound falls below sterling
  • [11] Jovial Clerides up and about before surgery

  • [01] Falling pound good news for Cyprus economy

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE CYPRUS Pound may be pegged to a plummeting euro driven down by unemployment in the European Union, but the consequences of the weak pound for the island's economy are positive.

    Cypriots may curse sterling for the bank busting cost of UK holidays and studies, but the situation at home is far more favourable.

    Former President George Vassiliou shackled the Cypriot pound the then ecu in 1988, his last year in office, with the view to Cyprus joining the EU as a full member as soon as it could integrate its economy.

    But at the moment, protected by full employment, the Cypriot economy is in better shape than those of its EU counterparts.

    "We have more than full employment when you consider that we have a large foreign workforce as well," commented Marios Clerides, planning and research manager at the Hellenic Bank.

    Sterling’s strength is excellent news for tourism, the island's main earner, given that it’s British visitors who pull the most clout.

    Of the 1.1 million tourists on the island last year, 47.5 per cent were from the UK. With the heady 2000 cocktail of dire weather in northern Europe and the best sterling exchange rates in decades, the number of British holiday bookings for the Easter period alone was up 90 per cent.

    Even more importantly, UK tourists spend more per capita than their European counterparts, according to British High Commission Commerce Secretary Bill Preston.

    Although there are package deals galore, more UK holidaymakers go self- catering than any other nationality. They buy food in the local shops and hire local cars.

    Of the £1 billion earned last year from tourism, Preston estimates that easily £500 million came from British purses.

    And according to the travel agents Thomas Cook last week, the British now have over £65 extra for every £500 sterling they exchange into Cyprus pounds.

    But it’s not only tourists and expats who benefit from the lower cost of living on the island.

    A weak Cyprus pound is good news for exports to the UK.

    In 1999, British imports from the island were up 12 per cent from 1998. In the first two months of 2000, they were again up by three per cent.

    Even British exporters, hounding the Labour government to put up interest rates to bring sterling more into line with the euro, are not suffering unduly in their albeit small Cyprus market.

    British exports were actually up 21 per cent in January and February of this year from the same months last year.

    Bill Preston admits that the sudden hike could be seasonal and is far from indicative of any overall trend for 2000. But for the moment the news is positive.

    The problems occur when the tourist traffic flows the other way. The exchange rates can only put off Cypriots thinking about holidaying in the UK.

    One woman was outraged at the news.

    "The plane tickets are expensive enough in the summer season, but now you have less money when you actually get there. It’s terrible," she told the Cyprus Mail.

    It remains to be seen if the sterling strength will make serious inroads the numbers of people educating their children at UK universities and colleges.

    One official at the British Council pointed out that parents' decisions to educate their children in Britain depended on more than just money.

    "It’s a subjective decision, about the quality and type of education. It’s a very individual thing", she said.

    No noticeable trends are known as yet because initial figures relate to this year's intake, and students applied in the autumn - well before the current hike in the value of sterling.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Friday, May 5, 2000

    [02] Turks lift ‘visa fees’ on the enclaved

    By Martin Hellicar

    IN WHAT is being seen as a unilateral confidence building measure, the occupation regime has reportedly eased entry restrictions for relatives of the enclaved.

    According to Turkish Cypriot press reports yesterday, the occupation authorities have decided to lift charges imposed on Greek Cypriots and Maronites crossing at the Ledra Palace checkpoint. The current charge of £13 is to be replaced by a one pound "administrative levy".

    Kibris newspaper reported that Greek Cypriots and Maronites visiting the occupied areas would also be allowed to stay for a "reasonable amount of time subject to confirmations from the relevant ministries."

    At the moment people visiting enclaved relatives are restricted to no more than two nights and three days in the north.

    The new visiting rules were given a cautious welcome by government officials and were seen as a positive step in diplomatic circles, even if exact details were not yet clear yesterday. But the new arrangements were given a chilly reception by relatives of the enclaved.

    The lifting of crossing restrictions represents a softening in the stance of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who made things difficult for relatives of the enclaved after the EU opened accession talks with the Cyprus government two years ago.

    Foreign diplomats are interpreting the Denktash move as some form of good will gesture towards the Greek Cypriot side.

    The UN and others involved in the settlement process have been calling on the two sides on the island to make such gestures. In this vein, an agreement was made a few months ago for repairs to be carried out on the Hala Sultan Tekke outside Larnaca and the Apostolos Andreas monastery in the occupied Karpass.

    The government's Humanitarian Affairs officer, Takis Christopoulos, said he had not been informed of any new arrangements for visiting the north. But he added that any such move would be welcome.

    "If things are as you say than this is very positive," Christopoulos told the Cyprus Mail after being informed of what was being reported by Kibris.

    "Anything that makes the life of the enclaved easier is always welcome," Christopoulos said.

    But the chairman of the Karpasia Co-ordinating Committee, Nicos Fallas, dismissed the reported new arrangements as a "sham" and an "insult to everyone's intelligence."

    The Karpasia committee chairman noted that Greek Cypriots wishing to visit enclaved relatives for a longer period would be forced to seek the permission of the occupation regime.

    "This is not a development or a lifting of restrictions on the enclaved... there is nothing new on the movements of the enclaved," Fallas said.

    "It makes the life of the enclaved more difficult," Fallas insisted.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 5, 2000

    [03] 1974 bones identified by forensic experts

    THE REMAINS of 15 Greek Cypriots killed during the invasion have been isolated and identified and will be given to the families within the next few days for burial, it was announced yesterday.

    While the 15 were known to be dead, the name of at least one person on the missing list is expected to be announced by Monday.

    Speaking to CyBC yesterday, the president of the Committee for the Relatives of the Missing, Nicos Theodosiou, said: "From what I have been told, an Interior Ministry announcement will be made today which will say that on Thursday afternoon and evening, some of the families of people who have been identified but were not on the missing list, have been informed."

    Theodosiou added: "We believe that possibly on Friday or on Monday another list of results will be published which could have one or two names which are on the missing list. We will have to wait for this announcement to be sure."

    He said that the finds were important as they showed that the identification process, "which is going on at the Neurology and Genetics Institute with the team of scientists working day and night to get the best results," was effective.

    Theodosiou said the efforts were deliberately being carried out far from the public eye out of respect for the experts' work and especially out of respect for the families of those being identified.

    Last year, the remains of Zinon Zinonas, 16, were identified after being exhumed from a Nicosia cemetery.

    He had previously been on the list of persons missing since 1974.

    An expert team of anthropologists, archaeologists and pathologists on June 1 last year began exhumations of unmarked graves at cemeteries in Palouriotissa and Lakatamia.

    Any identification is then made through DNA testing at the Institute.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 5, 2000

    [04] Brokers pleased with market stability

    By Michael Ioannou

    SHARE prices ended marginally lower yesterday as the broad market traded in a narrow range with investors’ attention focussed in individual stocks, rather than sectors.

    Warrants of Triana, ordinary shares of ShareLink, Toxotis and Astarti Development were the buys of the day as each surged to add between £1.70 and 30 cents.

    There was also a surge in Laiki Bank, which added 10 cents to a close of £13.65.

    The all-share CSE index moved 0.23 per cent, or 1.28 points, lower to a close of 550.17, moving between an intraday high of 552.48 and a low of 548.38 points and with turnover nudging on £33.9 million pounds, some five million pounds less than on Wednesday.

    Dealers said the market was holding a firm support level of around 550 points, and was expected to flirt with that figure for the next few days.

    "This is very positive for the market. There was some profit taking but the market appeared to absorb the supply of the past few sessions with very satisfactory volume levels," said trader Andreas Leonidou.

    Market watchers said reports yesterday of an additional equity issue for Laiki fuelled demand for the stock ahead of its annual general meeting on May 17.

    Shareholders will be called to approve the issue of 15 million new shares at a par value of 50 cents each. At current market prices, this would raise Laiki an additional £202 million.

    The terms of the allocation of the capital, however, remain uncertain. A copy of the resolution sent to shareholders states that the equity would be used to "further aims of the company.... to persons and with terms set by the board of directors."

    Bank officials have kept mum on speculation that the issue might be related to rumours -- or wishful thinking -- which have been sweeping the market for weeks that shareholders will get goodies ahead of the bank’s centenary celebrations next year.

    Some expressed their wishes aloud.

    "As a shareholder, I would like to see bonus shares and a warrant issue, "trader Stelios Bekris told journalists yesterday.

    Louis Cruise Lines once again topped turnover with 1.3 million shares changing hands, retreating a further two cents to £2.13. Leptos Calypso followed with a 960,916 share turnover, adding two cents to a close of 91 cents.

    Investors realised profits on yesterday after it had bucket market trends to climb for four straight sessions. It discarded 16 cents and closed down to £6.53 on 602,305 shares traded.

    Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that the stock exchange has sought explanations from Globalsoft for comments attributed to its chairman of "important announcements" in the next few days. The comments were contrary to stock exchange rules, a statement from the bourse said. Globalsoft responded by saying the comments were general in nature and were in response to specific questions.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 5, 2000

    [05] Two years of campaigning against Akkuyu

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE Green party yesterday marked two years of campaigning against Turkey's plans to build a nuclear power plant at Akkuyu with yet another demonstration.

    This time, a handful of protesters gathered outside the Canadian Consulate in Nicosia. The consulate was targeted because a Canadian concern is among those bidding to build the plant on Asia Minor's southern coast, about 100km north of Cyprus.

    A large "NO NUKES" banner was unfurled and protesters handed the Canadian Consul a petition calling on Ottawa to block the Canadian company's bid to build the plant.

    The green party says it has collected over 20,000 signatures on its petition.

    The demonstration, which began at about 11.30am, was without incident.

    The fringe party has organised a whole series of demonstrations against Turkey's Akkuyu plans, including hoisting a giant anti-nuclear banner in Greek, Turkish and English on top of the Shacolas tower in Old Nicosia.

    Greenpeace, which is also campaigning against the Akkuyu plans, last month released a scientific report confirming that the site for Turkey's first nuclear power plant lies in an active earthquake zone.

    The Turkish Electricity Utility (TEAS) and Energy Ministry both insist that the Ecemis fault, near the Akkuyu Bay site, is inactive.

    Turkey is pressing ahead with plans to build the nuclear reactor despite strong opposition at home and abroad. A study by the Greek Ministry for the Aegean has shown that Cyprus would more than likely be swamped by nuclear fallout in the event of an accident at an Akkuyu plant.

    Environmentalists point out that Cyprus would also be affected by releases of radioactive waste during routine plant operation.

    Greenpeace believes the real reason for Turkey's persistence with plans to build an Akkuyu reactor is a desire to have a source of weapons-grade plutonium.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 5, 2000

    [06] Angry exchanges over rotten army meat

    By Melina Demetriou

    CONTROVERSY, rows and angry accusations dominated yesterday’s House Defence Committee meeting called to discuss a batch of rotten lamb found in an army camp as it was about to be cooked for an Easter feast.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides announced yesterday he would order an investigation to find who was responsible for supplying the 1,810kg of rotten meat to the National Guard.

    Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos read aloud a report listing all the actions taken by his ministry since April 27, when a butcher who had been given lamb from an army unit near Limassol to cut, realised the meat smelled bad and was greenish in colour, and immediately informed army vets.

    According to the report, vets Stavros Chrysostomou and Costakis Krasia ordered the withdrawal of the meat from 11 army units after a 28-hour investigation conducted on April 28 and 29, not because it had gone off, but because it did not quite look as it ought to, appearing slightly older and raising fears it might go off with three or four days’ time.

    The same vets told yesterday’s meeting that when they had gone to check the slaughterhouse that provided meat to the army, the meat was fresh and in every way suitable for consumption.

    Diko deputy Marios Matsakis, himself a doctor, wondered "how could it be possible that a butcher who had nothing to do with science could detect that the meat was bad because it smelled awful and had turned green, while scientists such as the army vets did not think that the meat was unsuitable for consumption?"

    Akel’s Costas Papacostas, who was one of the first to publicise the scandal, accused the veterinary services of not keeping the banned meet as an exhibit to be used during the investigation. After the meat was withdrawn, Hasikos ordered that it be kept in freezers to be examined later.

    But when the lamb was examined by Krasia, Chrysostomou and two other veterinary officers on May 3, it was characterised as suitable for consumption.

    Hasikos agreed that it had been a mistake by the veterinary services and the ministry to return the meat to its provider, PGP Meat Commerce LTD, instead of keeping it as an exhibit, according to proper legal procedures.

    Matsakis then suggested that if the meat had been returned to the supplier, it was possible that it had been passed on to the public.

    Meanwhile, the Dairy Organisation came under attack for allegedly passing bad meat to the supplier after freezing it for weeks. A Disy deputy suggested the organisation might have been blackmailed by farmers to buy the meat "now or never", during the dead period of March and early April when people were fasting.

    The Organisation's chairman, Andreas Marangos, admitted having handed 435 lambs to the supplier who provided the Army with meat for Easter.

    "I do not know and I am not responsible for what the provider company did with the meat afterwards or if it sold it in time. We sold it to the company for the first time in late March and for the second time on April 21," Marangou said.

    Matsakis insisted that measures be taken as soon as possible so that meat checks be more effective.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 5, 2000

    [07] Cabinet approves £2.4 million to upgrade school labs

    SCIENCE laboratories are set to become safer in high schools throughout the island, following a Cabinet decision yesterday approving nearly £2.4 million in funds to upgrade them.

    A Ministry of Education report in February showed safety standards at many school labs were below acceptable levels. Several labs had unsafe equipment or inadequate ventilation.

    At the time, Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said immediate measures were being taken to correct the most serious conditions, while further action would follow to remedy less acutely dangerous labs.

    Yesterday, the Cabinet announced that almost £2.4 million would be spent to improve school laboratory equipment and safety this year.

    The safety upgrades involve 29 gymnasiums and lyceums. The work was to have begun during the recent Easter break, but is now expected to be carried out during the lengthy summer vacation.

    The total of £2,336,276 approved included: £1,431,126 for lyceum physics labs; £387,000 for lyceum chemistry labs; £150,000 for gymnasium chemistry and biology labs; and £368,150 for lyceum typing rooms.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 5, 2000

    [08] Iranian suspected of ‘masterminding’ heroin operation

    AN IRANIAN man who police suspect masterminded an alleged drug-smuggling operation uncovered in January was remanded yesterday for eight days after trying to leave Cyprus.

    The 30-year-old, who police said had been living and working in Cyprus illegally since April 22, 1998, has an older brother, 35, who is also in police custody after allegedly being found with 100 small packages of suspected cannabis in his body.

    The older brother's wife, 19, who police allege had 15 bags of cannabis on her person, has since been deported with the couple's child.

    When the alleged drug-smuggling operation was uncovered on January 19 and the husband and wife were arrested, the younger brother disappeared.

    He was apprehended on Wednesday at Larnaca Airport when he was spotted on the stop-list. Police said he was carrying $2,050 and an undisclosed sum of Iranian money when he was arrested.

    The suspect yesterday told Larnaca District Court all the allegations against him were lies. At one point, he had to be cautioned to keep quiet after series of outbreaks.

    Investigating officer Andreas Vrionis told the court the suspect had been corresponding with his older brother and sister-in-law before the couple arrived in Cyprus, suggesting the husband-wife team was actually carrying the suspected drugs.

    The court also heard police were searching for a third brother believed to be on the island.

    In opposing the request for his remand, the suspect told the court: "They arrested me for no reason. Nothing was found in my possession."

    "If my brother did something, what does it have to do with me? There are five of us, and I am not responsible for what they do. They (the police) broke the presents I was taking to Iran," he added.

    Vrionis said the presents in question had already been broken before the suspect's suitcases were opened.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 5, 2000

    [09] Woman drives off cliff to her death

    A MOTHER of three plunged to her death in a traffic accident near Kouris Dam on her way to work yesterday, police said.

    Court official Eleni Christoforou, 36, was travelling to Limassol from her home in Pelendri village when the accident occurred around 8am.

    Witnesses told police Christoforou had been overtaking a Range Rover when a double-cabin truck in the oncoming lane of traffic apparently caused her to panic and lose control of her car.

    Her Renault plunged down a 40-metre cliff on the far right side of the road, approximately 100 metres from the sea, killing her instantly. Police said she was not wearing a seat-belt.

    Alerted by a passing driver, a petrol station attendant was first on the scene, followed quickly by police and the fire brigade. Firefighters had to cut Christoforou out of the wreckage.

    Police yesterday asked for the drivers of the Range Rover, the double-cabin truck and any other drivers in the vicinity of the accident at the time to come forward with any information they might have.

    The official cause of the accident remains under investigation.

    [10] Cyprus pound falls below sterling

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE Cyprus pound fell below sterling yesterday for the first time since 1974 B reaching an exchange rate of just 99 pence for one Cypriot pound.

    Since October 1998 sterling has steadily appreciated in value against the plummeting euro to which the Cypriot pound is pegged. In March 1997 the rate was ,1.24 sterling to the Cyprus pound. A few years before that the pound sterling was worth around 68 cents or so. Yesterday=s selling rate notified by the Central bank of Cyprus was 0.9963 sterling.

    The sterling storm is set to continue and some analysts are now predicting that the exchange rate could fall to as low as 85 cents. "Sterling will then slacken slightly and the euro should gain some ground," one economist predicted.

    It=s good news for the tourism industry, with the weakness of the Cyprus pound maintaining the island's attraction as a British holiday destination, alongside other euro-linked rivals Portugal, Spain and Italy.

    In 1999 total income from tourism was ,1 billion, a figure that British High Commission Commerce Secretary Bill Preston expects to increase under the current sterling exchange rates.

    With the best rate in decades, more British tourists than usual, fed up with bad weather at home, are expected to head for the island. The number of UK tourists who came at Easter was already up by 90 per cent, according to the CTO.

    For expat pensioners from Britain it=s also good news B as they reap more Cyprus pounds with their pension cheques. But for Cypriot parents of students at UK universities it=s bad news, their annual costs have risen inexorably.

    And as the Cyprus pound continues to devalue, the pressure on inflation is set to mount. "Devaluation is appropriate for the EU states which suffer from high unemployment, but it is not necessarily good for Cyprus which has full employment," commented research and planning manager at the Hellenic Bank Marios Clerides.

    The Cypriot economy has grown rapidly at an annual rate of four to six per cent since the mid 1970s.

    But Clerides maintained that the euro depreciation would not have an adverse affect on trade, most of which is with the UK and with Greece, whose drachma, like the Cyprus pound, is pegged to the euro.

    The Bank of England announced yesterday that UK interest rates would stay fixed at six per cent for the third month in succession. Confederation of British Industry chief Kate Barker expressed relief at the decision. "This was the right decision and should bolster long-term economic growth," she said.

    British export manufacturers have complained that sterling's record value has strangled them in the European market.

    The Labour government remains under persistent pressure in Westminster to cut interest rates to bring sterling down against the euro.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 5, 2000

    [11] Jovial Clerides up and about before surgery

    By Martin Hellicar

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides appeared in fine fettle yesterday ahead of bowel surgery scheduled for this morning to remove a polyp growth from his large intestine.

    The operation, beginning at 7.30am, means the third round of proximity Cyprus settlement talks, set to begin on May 23 in New York, will more than likely have to be postponed. Doctors believe the polyp is benign but will not know for sure until biopsy tests are completed.

    But Clerides yesterday appeared free of concerns about the possible political or health consequences of the imminent surgery. He even got out of his rest-bed at the Evangelistria clinic in Nicosia to chair a three- hour morning Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Palace.

    "I slept well, at 5am, as usual, I got up, had a shave and now I'm off to the Council of Ministers= meeting. I feel relaxed," a jovial Clerides told reporters waiting for him on the steps of the clinic as he left in the morning. He said no decision had yet been made about whether the talks would be moved back, but insisted any postponement would not harm the settlement process and would "probably be beneficial".

    On arrival at the Presidential Palace, he joked with staff who gathered to wish him a speedy recovery. "Tomorrow morning, down in surgery, they'll do some cutting and stitching... and we'll see what's left!" he said. "Make sure you carry on working while I am away," he jokingly warned his staff.

    Doctors say the 81-year-old president will need two to six weeks to recover from the operation.

    Foreign envoys scheduled to visit the island ahead of the May 23 talks have been forced to put their plans on hold and Clerides' doctors have advised him he is unlikely to be well enough to travel to New York for May 23.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides was yesterday reported as saying the third round of indirect talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would be re-scheduled for late June. A close aide of the president's told Reuters the talks would probably be delayed for "a few days". The unnamed aide said all would depend on how well the octogenarian president recovered from the operation. Foreign diplomats in Nicosia could not say if the talks were being postponed.

    At 2pm yesterday, Clerides was admitted to the Ayios Therissos medical centre for a scan in preparation for today's surgery. His doctors said the operation would go ahead irrespective of the scan results, which would not be made public.

    Doctors Akis Syrimis, Iosif Kasios and George Pavlides expressed optimism about the surgery, saying the president's general condition was "excellent". Clerides has no history of ill health. The operation, in which part of the affected bowel is to be removed, is described as "routine," but doctors admitted there were risks, particularly for a man of his age.

    Pavlides said Clerides had been suffering from intestinal "irregularities" for some months but had not been able to make it for a check-up because of his heavy workload. The operation is to be carried out by Dr George Kyriakides, of the Paraskevaidion transplant centre, and the director of the Evangelistria, Dr Andreas Constantinides.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

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