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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-05-26

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, May 26, 2000


  • [01] CY Airbus blows two tyres on takeoff
  • [02] Globalsoft denies any wrongdoing after SEC contacts the police
  • [03] House probe into firing of Shacolas manager
  • [04] Israel apologises for FIR violations
  • [05] Sharelink bonus plan boosts bourse
  • [06] Mugging suspect due in court
  • [07] What’s in a name? Quite a lot when that name is Attila
  • [08] ‘Pet passports’ scheme to include Cyprus
  • [09] Christodoulou urges Ergates foundry to keep its promise

  • [01] CY Airbus blows two tyres on takeoff

    By Noah Haglund

    A CYPRUS Airways (CY) Airbus blew two tyres as it was accelerating on the runway at Dubai yesterday afternoon, causing an aborted takeoff.

    The tyres burst in close succession at about 2pm Cyprus time, causing panic on board Flight 318, which originated in Bahrain and had made a scheduled stop in Dubai before resuming its flight to Larnaca.

    Witnesses said no one was injured in the incident.

    "We heard one tyre explode, then another one, and then we heard the grinding of the (wheel) rims on the (runway) pavement," one passenger told the Cyprus Mail by phone from Dubai.

    After the aircraft came to a halt, passengers disembarked on to the tarmac and were bussed back to the terminal.

    While the two tyres were being repaired, Cyprus Airways sent a replacement airliner to Dubai to continue the flight, with takeoff planned for last night at 10.50pm Cyprus time, a CY source said.

    Cyprus Airways spokesman Tassos Angeli denied the blown tyres implied maintenance problems at the airline. He conceded the dual blowouts were not "something that happens every day, but should be no cause for concern".

    Angeli said CY's Dubai-based manager, who was looking after the passengers following the tyre failure yesterday afternoon, told him the incident was "nothing serious".

    The Cyprus Mail was unable to reach any officials from the Cyprus pilot’s union for comment on the incident.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Friday, May 26, 2000

    [02] Globalsoft denies any wrongdoing after SEC contacts the police

    GLOBALSOFT.COM yesterday denied it had violated public disclosure regulations following a Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) announcement earlier in the day that it had reported the company to the police.

    "Both the Company and its chairman categorically deny any violation of the law," a Globalsoft announcement said last night.

    The SEC had taken exception to published remarks attributed to Globalsoft chairman Lycourgos Kyprianou on April 29, in which he allegedly said its "first big announcement was expected to push the price of the shares up to very high levels".

    It is understood that Kyprianou later distanced himself from the remarks, reported in the weekly Neos Typos newspaper.

    Globalsoft said that the SEC had not approached the company or its chairman during a SEC investigation prior to the police becoming involved.

    "We consider the SEC's handling of the issue to be unfortunate, at the very least," it said. The statement added that both the company and Kyprianou had requested legal advice and reserved the right to take all necessary measures to protect both their own and their investors' interests.

    Under bourse rules, listed companies are obliged to disclose all price- sensitive information to the CSE to prevent the possibility of insider trading.

    The SEC said that while it had asked police to investigate the matter, the issue is still pending.

    A police enquiry into an alleged violation of stock exchange regulations is currently the only recourse now available to the SEC.

    A referral to the police, however, does not imply that a criminal offence was committed, SEC sources said yesterday.

    Globalsoft announced its takeover of the Word Processing Centre in Nicosia two weeks ago and earlier this week announced a £16.5 million takeover of software providers and developers Cycom.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 26, 2000

    [03] House probe into firing of Shacolas manager

    By Melina Demetriou

    DEPUTIES yesterday accused Shacolas Group Chairman Nicos Shacolas of violating international and EU Human Rights conventions on the freedom of expression by sacking a former top Shacolas Group manager over an article the manager wrote.

    Costas Mavrides, whose article Shacolas claimed offended Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou, and Shacolas yesterday attended a meeting of the House Human Rights Committee, which is investigating the matter. Afxentiou was also present.

    Mavrides, a lecturer in fiscal policy, had worked as a general manager of Euroinvestment and Finance Ltd, part of the Shacolas Group, until shortly before his article's publication in January.

    His article had criticised Afxentiou's dealings in the stock market, arguing that these had compromised the Central Bank Governor's independence.

    Mavrides' article was never published in Phileleftheros, as originally intended. The paper -- in which Afxentiou's wife is a major shareholder -- declined to publish it.

    It was finally published in Politis shortly after Mavrides was dismissed by Shacolas, on January 9.

    Afxentiou told the Committee he was not involved in sacking Mavrides, and that he did not oppose publication of his article. He admitted, though, he had been informed of the article by Shacolas when it was first submitted to Phileleftheros for publication.

    Shacolas said Mavrides's contract with the Shacolas Group had stipulated he behave with dignity and modesty and would be well-mannered. So after he had violated these provisions -- presumably by writing the article -- his company had every right to sack him, Shacolas argued.

    Akel Deputy Demetris Christodoulides took on Shacolas, charging the contract's provisions did not comply with international and EU human rights conventions that protect the freedom of expression from censorship.

    Shacolas said his Group has always respected human rights, one of the reasons being that almost every house in Cyprus consumes Shacolas products. He said Mavrides was fired because he had offended a public figure: Afxentiou.

    The letter of dismissal sent to Mavrides by the Shacolas company director said he "should resign because his action was against the company's interests, taking into account the nature of the company's activities, and because he refused to withdraw the article after being advised to do so".

    The case will end up in court, as the Shacolas Group is suing Mavrides for libel and Mavrides is in turn suing the Shacolas Group for alleged human rights violations.

    Mavrides accused Phileleftheros editor Anthos Lycavgis of bias when the paper decided not to publish his article after being contacted by a Shacolas representative.

    In a document he gave to the media, Mavrides said Afxentiou’s wife, who is also a member of the board of directors of Phileleftheros, was the reason the newspaper did not publish his article.

    Mavrides accused Lycavgis of tipping off Shacolas about the existence of the article after it was submitted for publication, but Lycavgis denies the accusations.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 26, 2000

    [04] Israel apologises for FIR violations

    By a Staff Reporter

    ISRAEL has apologised to Cyprus for its military aircraft repeatedly violating airspace controlled by Nicosia, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    Papapetrou told his daily press briefing that Israel's Ambassador to Nicosia, Shemi Tzur, had "conveyed the apologies of the Israeli Air Force for the problems caused" to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

    Nicosia had complained to Israel last week about Israeli jet fighter intrusions into the Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR) without prior submission of their flight plans to local aviation authorities. Government officials said more than 100 such violations by Israeli jets had been reported.

    The Nicosia FIR covers a vast expanse of commercial airspace in the eastern Mediterranean, a throwback to the times when Cyprus was still a British colony and the island an important strategic Cold War base for Britain.

    Papapetrou said the Israeli Air Force had promised to conform strictly with agreed flight procedures in future. He said that, to this end, an Israeli official will visit Cyprus soon.

    While Papapetrou noted Tzur had stressed Israel was keen to maintain good relations with Cyprus, he also noted Israel had made and broken similar promises of "good behaviour" in the past.

    Tzur apparently had also noted the Israeli jets had not entered Cyprus sovereign airspace. The topographical area covered by the Nicosia FIR is hundreds of square miles greater than the sovereign airspace of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Violations of the Nicosia FIR by Israeli jets are nothing new. Local military sources say Cypriot aviation authorities were sometimes not told of flights by Israeli military jets because the warplanes were heading for bombing raids in Lebanon.

    There have also been reports of Nicosia FIR violations as Israeli jets were heading to or from Turkey, with has a military pact with Israel.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 26, 2000

    [05] Sharelink bonus plan boosts bourse

    By Michael Ioannou

    SHARELINK'S announcement yesterday of a massive bonus share issue and plans to hike its capital gave the market a new prod to register gains of 1.5 per cent.

    Sharelink grabbed interest on the bourse with a stunning 10 for 1 bonus issue for shareholders in its books on July 4. It announced that it was calling an extraordinary general meeting on June 21 for shareholders to ratify the proposal.

    The Nicosia-based powerhouse, which has shown phenomenal growth in the past year, said it also planned to increase its authorised share capital to £80 million, divided into 350 million shares, from an existing £10 million.

    It will issue 17.5 million new shares this year. The shares will be allocated to foreign and institutional investors and to existing clients, Sharelink said in a statement to the bourse.

    The extra cash would be used to fund an overseas expansion drive, it said.

    Sharelink's share surged £3.04, or 12.8 per cent, to a last trade of £27.04 yesterday as seven million pounds worth of the day's total turnover of £34.4 million went into the stock.

    It lurched to an intraday high of £27.49, marginally higher than the closing year high of £27.47 it hit on February 11.

    The price of the stock -- it is the most expensive on the market -- has fuelled speculation in the past that the company could either split or issue bonus shares which would make it more marketable.

    The announcement reversed an otherwise downbeat mood which had hung over the market this week after three successive drops.

    "The issue of fuel prices, ongoing uncertainty over the VAT bill and fiscal issues was having a negative impact on sentiment but this was offset today by Sharelink," said Expresstock's Costas Shamptanis.

    Other traders have said that expectations commercial banks will stem the flow of loans after getting a rapping from the Central Bank could also be having an impact on investors' moods.

    The ‘other companies’ category, where Sharelink is traded, posted a 2.63 per cent advance while euphoria over the stock also spilled over into other sectors.

    Banking stocks chalked up a 1.7 per cent gain, scored mainly in the last 20 minutes of trading. Dealers said that new rumours that Bank of Cyprus was nearing its flotation date on the Athens bourse pushed the stock up 14 cents to a last trade of £8.54.

    Laiki registered a higher net gain of 18 cents to a last trade of £13.10.

    Advancing stocks had a strong lead over decliners. Of 111 issues traded 65 advanced, 32 fell and 14 were unchanged. There were 6,904 deals, slightly higher than the totals recorded on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 26, 2000

    [06] Mugging suspect due in court

    A COURT hearing is set today for a Limassol man charged with mugging a 24- year-old Finnish tourist yesterday while she was pushing her two-year-old son in his pram along the Ayia Napa-Protaras main road.

    Ayia Napa police said the 24-year-old Limassol man they arrested in connection with the incident had confessed to the attack.

    According to a police report, Finnish tourist Sanna Laasko was pushing her son's pram along the main road's pavement when a man attacked her, grabbing the purse she had hung around her neck.

    Her assailant ran off when Laasko fell to the ground and began screaming. She was slightly injured in the attack, police said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 26, 2000

    [07] What’s in a name? Quite a lot when that name is Attila

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE PHRASE "our own Attila", as used by Akel leader Demetris Christofias, continued to fuel a major political row yesterday.

    The spat, between Christofias and Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, centred on differing interpretations of who or what the Akel leader was referring to as an ‘Attila’.

    On Monday, Christofias employed the emotive term -- ‘Attila’ is the epithet of the Turkish invasion forces of 1974 -- during a news conference to plug an upcoming Akel party conference.

    Papapetrou was quick to claim the opposition leader was branding the government an ‘Attila’. He said this was unacceptable slander.

    Christofias protested he had only used the term in reference to the general state of Cyprus society.

    The squabble showed no signs of dying down yesterday, with Papapetrou appearing increasingly isolated, and even governing Disy criticising his "combative" retorts.

    Yesterday, Akel released a verbatim transcript of the statements Christofias made Monday in an effort to prove the party leader had not called the government an Attila.

    Papapetrou treated the statement's release as a moral victory, claiming it showed Christofias was keen to explain himself and "re-phrase" his Monday remarks -- proving the validity of Papapetrou's interpretation of Christofias' Attila quip.

    While there is no direct reference to the government as an Attila in the Christofias transcript, Papapetrou insisted the government-Attila link was plainly implicit.

    Papapetrou, reading out the first part of Christofias' statement at his daily press briefing, quoted the Akel leader as saying: "As far as the internal front is concerned, unfortunately the situation is becoming worse and worse. We are justified, I think, in speaking of our own ‘Attila’, because the rot is deepening and spreading all the time.

    "Principles are in retreat, and their place is being taken by the hunt for profit, individualism, drugs and criminality. It is for this reason that is will be crucial for the (upcoming Akel) conference to concern itself with these issues and with anti-people socio-economic policy and, of course, to present its own proposals," the Christofias statement continued.

    "Therefore," Papapetrou concluded, "(Christofias) links government proposals and government policy with the 'Attila'. For all who can read and write these issues are simple."

    But Christofias begged to differ. He insisted the transcript proved he had not been referring to the government, and suggested it was now time for Papapetrou to apologise.

    "Today we released the statement. This makes things completely clear. Therefore I feel the government spokesman must now apologise," the Akel leader said.

    In the second part of the transcript -- in reply to a journalist's question asking for clarification of his Attila statement -- Christofias speaks of "political life in its broadest sense" and not of the government.

    He states that "our own Attila" is created by "the promotion of individualism, the retreat of moral and cultural values".

    Papapetrou's attack on Christofias is obviously making many within ruling Disy uncomfortable.

    On Wednesday, Disy spokesman Tassos Mitsopoulos suggested Papapetrou -- who belongs to junior coalition partner the United Democrats -- had "misinterpreted" the Akel leader's statement.

    Yesterday, Disy Deputy Rikkos Erotokritou said he did not feel the Mitsopoulos comment undermined the spokesman, but then went on to say he was satisfied with the explanations offered by Akel about Christofias' Attila remarks.

    Erotokritou also complained about Papapetrou's earlier attack on Diko Parliamentary Spokesman Tassos Papadopoulos, who had branded Papapetrou's attack on Christofias "violent".

    Papapetrou retorted by saying that Papadopoulos -- a favourite to get the nod as Diko presidential candidate in the 2003 elections -- was only trying to ingratiate himself with Akel.

    Erotokritou said the government spokesman's attack on the Diko parliamentary spokesman was alienating the opposition Akel party, thus making it hard for the government to secure consensus in the House for important votes.

    A Diko spokesman charged Papapetrou with adopting a "combative" approach in his dealings with both Papadopoulos and Diko party leader Spyros Kyprianou.

    Last week, Kyprianou and Papapetrou crossed swords after the latter suggested "certain persons" were trying to undermine President Glafcos Clerides, and Kyprianou assumed Papapetrou was referring to him.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 26, 2000

    [08] ‘Pet passports’ scheme to include Cyprus

    By Athena Karsera

    CYPRUS is to be included in Britain's pilot scheme that abolishes the often- traumatic six-month quarantine that pets are subjected to when they arrive on British soil.

    Announcing the island’s imminent inclusion in the ‘Passports for Pets’ scheme yesterday, Britain's Agriculture Minister of State Joyce Quin told the House of Commons: "I understand that all problems have been resolved in relation to Cyprus, so it will be possible to include it in the main scheme."

    She said this decision was especially important for British servicemen and women serving in Cyprus who bring pets back home with them.

    "For citizens, the costs of the scheme are far less than the costs of quarantine, which not only brought a lot of misery but was also an extremely expensive system," Quin said.

    According to a report yesterday by Britain’s domestic Press Association news agency, the scheme's pilot phase, begun in February, allows pets to enter Britain and to bypass quarantine provided certain conditions are met.

    The scheme effectively repeals Britain's 100-year-old pet quarantine laws, which had gained fame as the world's toughest anti-rabies regulations.

    The scheme allows dogs and cats that have been microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and given a blood test one month thereafter to be issued a ‘passport’ and declared rabies-free after examination by a veterinary surgeon.

    These pets will then be allowed to enter Britain through the Channel ports and London’s Heathrow Airport, provided they have been treated for possible lice and ticks between 24 and 48 hours before reaching British soil.

    While the pilot scheme has so far proved effective, it remains subject to review before being fully introduced, as planned, early next year.

    Cyprus had up to now been excluded from the scheme because of British fears that the Republic was unable to ensure against dogs with rabies crossing the UN buffer-zone into the free areas.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, May 26, 2000

    [09] Christodoulou urges Ergates foundry to keep its promise

    By Graham Tait-Cooney

    INTERIOR Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday he hoped the co-owner of the Marios & Andreas foundry near Ergates will keep his promise to close his foundry while medical tests seek to learn if its smoke has damaged villagers' health.

    Christodoulou made his remarks during a visit to the foundry, scene of violent demonstrations earlier this week by Ergates villagers demanding that it be shut down.

    "The state is the guardian of legality, not the protector of illegality. It is among the priorities of the state to protect the health and well-being of its citizens," Christodoulou said.

    At a meeting on Tuesday, after Monday's violent protests by Ergates residents, one of the foundry's two owners, Marios Petrou, agreed to close the factory while medical experts hired by the Health Ministry conduct toxicity tests on the villagers.

    A House Environment Committee hearing on May 3 declared the foundry should be closed for six months so tests can be conducted on the air, soil, vegetation and the blood of Ergates residents to see if toxins in foundry smoke emissions have poisoned them.

    Two series of tests on the villagers by Cyprus epidemiologist Dr Michalis Voniatis have shown Ergates villagers to have five times more cadmium and three times more lead in their blood than Nicosia residents.

    Voniatis' tests have also shown Ergates residents have levels of several types of cancer far higher than the national Cyprus average, and that 33 per cent of Ergates children suffer from breathing problems. He blames the foundry smoke for this.

    Voniatis, Public Health Physician Dr Andreas Georgiou and other local physicians say they also suspect deadly cancer-causing dioxin to be one of the foundry smoke's toxins.

    The Health Ministry medical tests are intended to rule in or out these suspicions.

    In the light of the foundry's repeated refusal to close down, Christodoulou issued a thinly veiled warning, saying: "I must confess the Nicosia District Officer (Andreas Papapolyviou) is not satisfied with past co- operation of the foundry owners. I hope that this time they will co- operate" in closing the plant.

    "I cannot ignore the fact," he said, "that the residents feel very strongly about the situation, which is what I would have to call at the very least, a nuisance. I hope the factory management will comply with the ruling of a six-month suspension".

    Although Petrou has agreed to close the foundry, a date has not yet been clarified as to when its operations will be halted.

    On Monday, about 400 angry Ergates residents -- incensed over the foundry's refusal to close as promised -- rammed a truck into the foundry gates, forcing their way on to the property, and broke windows and knocked down signs.

    The protest was the latest in a long series of public demonstrations by the villagers to dramatise their wish for something to be done about the foundry emissions.

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