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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-05-10

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, May 10, 2000


  • [01] Vassiliou flies to London for brain tumor operation
  • [02] Durrell’s Kyrenia ‘rogue’ gunned down in Nicosia
  • [03] Dollar strength could force petrol price rise
  • [04] ‘Land for peace formula not suitable for Cyprus’
  • [05] Market down but Orphanides up after split
  • [06] Trial date set for murder suspects
  • [07] Russians arrested after spate of tourist burglaries

  • [01] Vassiliou flies to London for brain tumor operation

    By Athena Karsera

    CYPRUS’ chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou flew to London last night for emergency surgery to remove a benign brain tumor.

    Vassiliou was expected to be immediately admitted to London's National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery for the removal of a meningioma of the cerebellum.

    The former president’s sudden hospitalisation came just days after his successor President Glafcos Clerides was operated for the removal of a polyp growth.

    Doctors on Monday said a biopsy had found some cancerous cells in the growth removed from Clerides, but expressed confidence in his "complete cure".

    Clerides yesterday resumed to his official duties from his hospital bed.

    Vassiliou left Cyprus early yesterday evening. The United Democrats’ leader will undergo surgery today.

    Accompanied by his wife Androulla and family pathologist Janet Stylianaki, Vassiliou said he expected to return to his duties in approximately six weeks’ time.

    Speaking outside the Evangelistria Clinic where Clerides is being treated yesterday, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Health Minister Frixos Savvides said Vassiliou’s diagnosis had been made during a series of medical examinations at the Ayios Therisos Diagnostic Centre on Monday.

    "Mr Vassiliou immediately asked that the operation take place in Cyprus, something which was rejected by his doctors due to the delicacy of the surgery," Papapetrou said.

    Savvides said patients undergoing similar procedures could usually return to work approximately six weeks after surgery. He added the tumor had been located using magnetic tomography.

    After visiting President Clerides to inform him about the situation yesterday, Vassiliou said that he had been feeling unwell for some time but put the symptoms down to a recent bought of flu and a heavy workload. "It has been a while since I felt completely well," he added.

    Vassiliou decided to undergo a check-up under pressure from his family, who were concerned at his condition.

    He said he would be spending two to three weeks in the hospital, "if all went well."

    Oncology specialist Adamos Adamou said yesterday the operation to remove the tumor was a delicate and difficult one: "for someone to be 100 per cent sure (that a tumor is benign) there has to be a biopsy, but with the modern magnetic tomography that made the diagnosis, this looks like a usual meningioma."

    He said all brain surgery was complicated and that was why specialist surgeons and a specialised clinic were required in Vassiliou's case.

    Vassiliou said yesterday he was not too concerned about being absent from his position for a time, as he said most of the relevant procedures were already in progress and little remained in the coming weeks that would require his presence. "At this time there is no need for a replacement in the (EU accession) negotiations."

    Papapetrou noted that Vassiliou had been specially appointed by the Council of Ministers and that the constitution did not contain provisions for anyone to stand in for him.

    The spokesman said that Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides or Finance Minister Takis Klerides would be the most likely candidates to fill Vassiliou's shoes if his illness kept him from vital EU contacts.

    "When something has been decided it will be announced," he said.

    Klerides returned from an official visit to Athens last night and Cassoulides is expected back from Italy today.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Wednesday, May 10, 2000

    [02] Durrell’s Kyrenia ‘rogue’ gunned down in Nicosia

    A TURKISH Cypriot businessman described as "the biggest rogue in Kyrenia" in Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons has been shot dead in occupied Nicosia.

    Turkish Cypriot ‘police’ said yesterday that 76-year-old Sabri Tahir had been shot four times in the head by a lone gunman on Sunday.

    Reports said Sabri had been resting in the Orient Hotel he owned in occupied Nicosia on Sunday afternoon, when his former bodyguard, Mucahit Ardahan, aged 24 from Istanbul, walked in.

    "He walked up to the bar and ordered a glass of water," a witness told the Reuters news agency. "He drank it down then walked over to Sabri, pulled out a gun and shot him. Then he laughed."

    The gunman later gave himself up to ‘police’.

    Yesterday’s London Times quoted speculation among the Turkish Cypriot community that the killer belonged to the Turkish mafia, which handles prostitution rackets in the Turkish occupied north.

    Sabri had been wheelchair-bound since an attempt on his life in 1996 and in 1990 his car was blown.

    Sabri’s son was Adnan was stabbed to death in the same hotel in 1980.

    Durrell devoted a whole chapter to Sabri’s negotiating skills as an estate agent when he helped him buy a house in Bellapais in the 1950s.

    "Sabri was a gallant man," wrote Durrell.

    "I once saw him dive fully clothed into Kyrenia harbour to rescue a Greek fisherman's child in difficulties."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, May 10, 2000

    [03] Dollar strength could force petrol price rise

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE FALLING value of the pound against the US dollar looks set to squeeze consumers, threatening to force a rise in petrol prices.

    This week, the cost of a barrel of oil stands at $25.70 - in January the price was just $10.

    And with the euro-pegged Cyprus pound falling every day against the dollar, the price of a barrel is rising even further for Cypriot importers.

    Yesterday one Cyprus pound bought $1.5716, down slightly from Monday's 1.5815. In January it stood at $1.75.

    With economists predicting the dollar will continue to rise against the weak euro, petroleum companies estimate that by he end of the year they will be sinking under a £40 million deficit, unless the government takes swift action.

    The Director of Petrolina, Takis Lefkaritis, wants the government to put up petrol prices in order to keep heads above water.

    In February, the government bowed to public pressure and refused to raise prices, agreeing instead to subsidise oil imports.

    The price of oil has fallen since then (it stood at $30 in February), but the fall in the pound has all but wiped out any advantage for importers.

    Yesterday, Commerce Minister, Nicos Rolandis promised a price review would be considered.

    "The Council of Ministers will meet again before the end of the month, probably not later than May 24, to decide how to continue," he added.

    But other economic experts blame government "meddling" and price controls for hampering economic harmonisation ahead of full EU membership.

    As far as inflation is concerned any price rises would hit consumers, with a knock on effect on the Cost of Living Allowance (CoLA) and therefore on wages.

    "Until 1999, inflation has always been low in Cyprus - at an annual rate of two to three per cent," said research and planning manager at the Hellenic Bank, Marios Clerides.

    "But devaluation and full employment ups the pressure," he added.

    And several were muttering about the news on the streets of Nicosia yesterday.

    "Things are getting so expensive. I never see my wages, so yes I will definitely think twice about buying a second car now, if petrol's becoming more expensive," said one woman.

    But petrol price rises do not just affect private cars – they will also public transport and taxis.

    The President of the Taxi Driver's Union, Kypros Andreou, who last month forced the government to compromise on a proposed increase in taxi fares, said he would fight against any new pressures to up the fares again.

    "Fares cannot go up any more," he told the Cyprus Mail, "because it’s inimical to our customer's interests. Taxis will become too expensive, people will not use them. And how else are the elderly supposed to get to the hospital?" he added.

    Taxi fares are already set to go up (though by less than the government originally intended) as soon as a proposed VAT increase from eight to 10 per cent gains parliamentary approval.

    Rising petrol prices will also damage the general economic outlook - as inflation will exacerbate the balance of payments' problem.

    The declining euro, to which the Cyprus pound is pegged, does make Cypriot prices more competitive to customers in the United States and the United Kingdom, given current dollar and sterling strength.

    "But inflation means Cyprus goods are no longer so competitive - exports go down, as imports increase in order to fill the demand in the economy - creating a deficit in the balance of trade," explained Marios Clerides.

    He blames government "meddling" and its "hotchpotch economic policy" for worsening the economic climate ahead of EU preparations.

    "We suffer from not having an enterprise economy. Although there is very little direct state control, the government determines prices, which, in the UK are governed by the market."

    He claims the government missed an ideal opportunity to use the moves to increase VAT to fix government finances and get Cyprus on the EU course.

    "The ideal would have been to increase VAT and lower income tax - to counterbalance common tax evasion, particularly among the higher income bracket."

    "But the pound's devaluation against the dollar and sterling, plus government haggling, will leave the government out of pocket."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, May 10, 2000

    [04] ‘Land for peace formula not suitable for Cyprus’

    A MIDDLE-East style "land for peace" deal would not be suitable for resolving the Cyprus issue, Britain's special envoy Sir David Hannay said yesterday.

    Speaking in Athens after meeting Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Hannay said although the territorial issue would be part of any solution, the core issues should be addressed together.

    "I do not think you can look at that in isolation from the other core issues which are absolutely crucial," Hannay said.

    "I think that by trying to promote one of the core issues ahead of the others – and that is not only true of the territorial one, it is true of others – you do not get anywhere in the end. So you have to address them all," he added.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said last month the government would be open to a "land for peace" agreement as a step towards settling the Cyprus problem.

    He said the government would consider relaxing trade restrictions on the Turkish-occupied north in return for Turkey returning the coastal town of Varosha.

    The Turkish side rejected the idea.

    The UN has set out four core issues that are being addressed in the talks: territorial adjustments, security, refugees, and constitutional aspects.

    Two rounds of UN-brokered proximity talks have been held thus far.

    A third round had been scheduled to begin in New York on May 23 but is looks sure to be postponed after President Glafcos Clerides needed surgery last Friday to remove a polyp growth. His doctors say he will need at least six weeks to recover.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, May 10, 2000

    [05] Market down but Orphanides up after split

    By Michael Ioannou

    SHARE prices dropped 1.08 per cent yesterday, interrupting a week of straight gains with weakness in most sectors and marked by the return of Orphanides Supermarkets to the trading floor after a 5:2 split.

    The all-share index was off 5.9 points to 549.04 in spite of a stronger open and on a traded value of £33.3 million, steady on Monday's £33.6 million.

    With the exception of a 3.34 per cent jump on commercial shares, the category to which Orphanides belongs, all other sectors of the market recorded losses.

    The small-capitalised insurance sector fell 2.5 per cent on small losses of the three companies represented on the sub-sector, but exacerbated by their low denomination. Minerva declined six cents to £1.97, Liberty were down seven to £2.96 and Cosmos Insurance were down five to £1.66.

    Profit taking set in in the banking category, where nearly all of Monday's 18 cent gain for Laiki was wiped out yesterday. It fell 15 cents to £13.93 on a turnover of 172,644 shares, while Bank of Cyprus fell 10 cents to £8.48 on a turnover of 182,337 shares.

    Orphanides went back on the market after a split reducing the nominal value of the share to 20 cents from 50, splitting the share 5:2.

    The stock closed at £2.05 pre-split on April 10, or 82 cents post split.

    It opened at 94 cents yesterday, its lowest point, and scaled to a high and last trade of £1.08. Traders said investors were bullish on the stock at expectations of strong Easter sales at its stores in Limassol, Nicosia and Larnaca.

    Dot-com firm Globalsoft added four cents to a close of £6.59 on a turnover of half a million shares.

    The firm yesterday announced it had entered agreement to take over the operations of the Word Processing Centre (WPC) in Nicosia and firms Infostar and Copystar at a cost of £6.5 million – matching the projected turnover of the three companies combined for 2000.

    Options Eurocongress said yesterday it would acquire Palm Conferences and Incentives Ltd., in a deal worth 750,000. The acquisition would involve an issue of Options equity equivalent to £200,000 pounds, which would be given to existing Palm Conferences shareholders.

    Options dropped six cents to £2.70 on a turnover of 99,655 shares.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, May 10, 2000

    [06] Trial date set for murder suspects

    LIMASSOL District Court yesterday referred to the Assize court two suspects held in connection with the murder of a British tourist in Limassol last month.

    Christos Michael, alias Kattos, and Andreas Panovic, alias Panaouris, both 18, were arrested for allegedly beating 41-year-old tourist Graham Mills to death with a piece of concrete on April 20 near the old Limassol port.

    The victim, who was found in the early morning face-down in the mud, had been hit on the head.

    The court set the trial for June 21 and ordered that the suspects remain in custody until then.

    The pair have allegedly admitted to attacking Mills, but claimed they were under the influence of alcohol and did not intend to kill him.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, May 10, 2000

    [07] Russians arrested after spate of tourist burglaries

    FOUR Russians were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days, suspected of stealing £17,000 in cash and valuables from tourists in the Famagusta and Larnaca areas.

    The court heard that police were investigating 21 cases of theft and burglary against the two men and two women, aged between 20 and 26.

    The burglaries were carried out in Ayia Napa, Paralimni, and Larnaca in the past 15 days, police said.

    Police said tourists staying in Ayia Napa and Protaras had reported that their apartments had been broken into, with a total of around £17,000 in foreign currency and sundry valuables going missing.

    After studying the way the burglars hit, police put several hotels in the two areas under surveillance, aiming to catch the thieves red-handed.

    At around 10.20pm on Monday a policeman spotted two individuals entering a hotel's fenced yard with caution.

    At some point the suspects noticed the officers and made a run for it, but were caught before going far.

    Police found a torch on one suspect, while the other had a sharp tool, which is thought to be the instrument used to enter the apartments.

    The two women were arrested later while a search at their apartment yesterday found a stash of cash, jewellery, and other objects, which were identified by several tourists as belonging to them.

    The Russians denied all charges, saying the items found were theirs.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

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