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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-05-27

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Saturday, May 27, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Holger sees future for old ideas
  • [02] Banks lead small gains on mixed market
  • [03] Globalsoft boss hits out at ‘amateurish’ SEC
  • [04] Deputy Attorney-general resigns
  • [05] Anastassiades defends spokesman in ‘Attila’ row
  • [06] Foresters attack Akamas development plans
  • [07] Lyssarides concern at ‘midnight Turkish boats’
  • [08] Cyprus awaits confirmation of ‘pet passport’ inclusion
  • [09] Heavy vehicles barred from ‘death bend’ road
  • [10] Plenum approves 2 per cent increase in VAT
  • [11] VAT: How much of the 62 million will come out of your pocket?
  • [12] Akel accuses Disy over "paramilitary" group

  • [01] Holger sees future for old ideas

    U.N. STRATEGY is to go forward to the past - to plans like the old Ghali Set of Ideas - and seek again the seeds that might produce consensus in July's Cyprus talks in Geneva, outgoing UN Chief of Mission in Cyprus James Holger says.

    "The idea is to begin building from the bottom blocks to construct areas of approximation of the positions of the two sides, leading to a consensus on the four core issues," Holger, who retires at the end of this month as UN Deputy Special Representative in Cyprus, told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

    Those issues, Holger noted, are: security, distribution of powers, property and territory. In the second round of talks, in February in Geneva, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash added equality, independence and his leitmotif precondition to any serious talks, international recognition of his breakaway regime, to the list of core issues.

    The United Nations, Holger said, is trying to "keep the present momentum going," so the talks set to open July 5 in Geneva will lead to a fourth round of talks, possibly in September.

    Such a fourth round of UN-led talks might take place in New York that month, when world leaders gather there for the Millennium Summit prior to the start of the UN General Assembly meeting, set for the third Tuesday of September.

    A first set of Cyprus proximity talks took place in New York in December 1999, and were followed by a second set this past February in Geneva.

    Holger termed the Set of Ideas proposed in 1992 by then-UN Secretary- General Boutros Boutros-Ghali "perhaps the most relevant document" that Alvaro de Soto, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus, will have to draw from in trying to lay the building blocks of consensus for the July talks.

    The United Nations, he said, "is expected to take a more active role" in the talks, and come up with ideas that De Soto can present.

    Once presented with UN suggestions, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides are expected to come back with their own "comments, suggestions, agreement or disagreement" on what De Soto lays on the table, he said.

    Holger said it might have been better for all concerned with the Cyprus problem if, as in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian problem, an Oslo-like process had been adopted.

    Those talks were held in secret in Norway, out of the glare the international media.

    As he wraps up his third stint of service in Cyprus, Holger said he sensed "a different atmosphere now than before," when he was here in the 1989s.

    He said there was "more openness to the idea that a solution could be reached", but swiftly added such a solution may not be on the immediate horizon.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Saturday, May 27, 2000

    [02] Banks lead small gains on mixed market

    By Michael Ioannou

    THE STOCK market ended up a fractional 0.06 per cent yesterday, with early advances later absorbed by mild profit taking.

    The benchmark CSE index edged 0.32 points forward to527.70 at close, having peaked at 533.21 and troughed at 525.44. Traded values were a fraction lower than Thursday’s at £34.3 million and on 8,550 deals.

    Early gains were triggered by rises in the banking sector. Buying in Bank of Cyprus lifted the stock up to an intraday high of £8.70, but fell thereafter to a close of £8.61 and a gain of six cents on 276,670 shares traded.

    "Many investors are waiting for that Friday afternoon when the bank will announce a suspension of its shares on the CSE, which will be the countdown to Athens," said a trader.

    Such a process is necessary for the bank to start a procedure of book building in Greece for its initial public offering of 39 million new ordinary shares with a nominal value of 50 cents each.

    "We are still getting Greeks ringing up wondering when this will be," a fund manager at a bank-controlled brokerage said.

    Laiki, which closed with daily gains of 2 cents to a last trade of £13.12, lurched to an intraday high of £13.30 and a low of £13.00 on 119,488 shares changing hands.

    Laiki debentures yielding seven per cent and maturing in 2006 were the net gainers on the market. The debentures rose 6.28 per cent, or 39 cents, to a last trade of £6.60.

    ShareLink, which has grabbed investors' attention with a massive 10:1 bonus issue slated for July, absorbed £3.2 million worth of the days' total turnover.

    In spite of the relatively high price of the stock - it closed at £27.33 - turnover exceeded 85,000 shares. It gained 29 cents.

    News that a probe had been launched by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) against market heavyweight Globalsoft.com appeared to have little impact on the share price. Globalsoft dipped eight cents to a last trade of £5.85 and on a turnover of 287,717 shares.

    "People are a bit confused as to what the probe actually means," one trader said.

    The SEC said it had referred the company to the police for comments attributed to its chairman that a "big" announcement was expected which would have a positive impact on the share price.

    The comments were apparently made to the Neos Typos newspaper on April 29.

    Globalsoft have denied any wrongdoing while it is understood they have distanced themselves from the attributed remarks, which could be construed as a violation of laws that price sensitive announcements have to be disclosed to bourse authorities first.

    Meeting the SEC head-on, Globalsoft chairman Lycourgos Kyprianou has said that if his alleged remarks were so offensive then maybe authorities should also investigate CEOs of other firms who have made public announcements on company performance.

    "Legislation cannot be selectively enforced, assuming that I did make the statements attributed to me," he was quoted as saying in Alithia yesterday.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, May 27, 2000

    [03] Globalsoft boss hits out at ‘amateurish’ SEC

    By Graham Tait-Cooney

    GLOBALSOFT.COM chairman Lycourgos Kyprianou yesterday accused the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) of acting in amateurishly after it accused Globalsoft of violating public disclosure regulations.

    Comments attributed to Kyprianou last month by the weekly Neos Typos paper that "Globalsoft expects to push the price of shares up to very high levels," aroused the SEC’s suspicions as to a possible breach of bourse regulations. The SEC said on Thursday it had asked police to investigate the allegations.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Kyprianou said: "The press found out about the (SEC) accusations first, then I found out through the press - which is hard to believe.

    "When you are a body as serious as the SEC wanting to accuse a public company and the chairman of the board of something, then you should invite that party to tell them why investigations are taking place and to listen to their views."

    He added: "If the accusations are to be forwarded to the police, the accused should be informed beforehand. Regarding the accusations against Globalsoft, none of this happened."

    Although Kyprianou is reported to have sought to distance himself from the Neos Typos quotes, he told the Cyprus Mail yesterday: "I am seriously considering taking legal action against the SEC for publicising its accusations."

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

    Although the SEC called on 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 available to the SEC.

    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

    Saturday, May 27, 2000

    [04] Deputy Attorney-general resigns

    By Melina Demetriou

    DEPUTY Attorney-general Nicos Charalambous resigned yesterday, citing factors that did not allow him to perform his duties for his decision.

    Charalambous' resignation did not come as a surprise, coming on the heels of rumours that he and Attorney-general Alecos Markides did not see eye to eye.

    Charalambous' replacement was named yesterday as Petros Clerides, who had been working at the Legal Department for 26 years.

    The outgoing deputy Attorney-general did not go into detail yesterday on the reasons for his resignation.

    "Factors independent of my personal desire to stay in office prevented me from performing my duties as deputy Attorney-general to the degree I aspired when I took on the job. I therefore feel obliged to file my resignation for reasons of self-respect," Charalambous said in his letter of resignation to President Glafcos Clerides.

    Charalambous said he did not put the blame on anyone for his decision to resign and said he had no hard feelings for anyone.

    He said he had revealed the reasons of his resignation both to President Clerides and to Markides.

    Markides said yesterday he regretted Charalambous’ resignation and had tried to talk him out it up to the last minute.

    "There have been some differences between me and Charalambous. But two people cannot agree on each and every thing. It is unrealistic. However, I do not think that our differences were serious enough to justify his resignation," Markides said.

    The Attorney-general said it was not up to him to disclose why his deputy had resigned, saying that it would make it easier if Charalambous himself revealed the reasons why he had quit.

    Charalambous said in his letter that taking public office had never been for him "a reason to live for", but the willingness to serve was.

    His replacement Petros Clerides was appointed yesterday morning by President Clerides in a ceremony at which the President read aloud Charalambous’ resignation letter.

    Petros Clerides will take office on June 1.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, May 27, 2000

    [05] Anastassiades defends spokesman in ‘Attila’ row

    DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades yesterday rushed to quash rumours that his governing party was angry with Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou.

    Papapetrou has this week been involved in an escalating war of words with Akel leader Demetris Christofias, accusing the opposition party chief of labelling the government an ‘Attila’. Christofias has denied using the name given to the Turkish invasion force of 1974 to describe the government.

    Disy deputies have criticised Papapetrou's attack on Christofias and those who defended the Akel leader. The deputies accused the spokesman of alienating non-government parties. Disy spokesman Tassos Mitsopoulos suggested Papapetrou had "misinterpreted" Christofias' "Attila" statement.

    This led to speculation that many within Disy wanted Papapetrou, a member of junior government coalition partners the United Democrats, out.

    But Anastassiades was keen to put pay to such rumours yesterday.

    The Disy leader backed the Spokesman's interpretation of Christofias' "Attila" statement.

    "I cannot understand why everyone is rushing to make a scapegoat of Papapetrou when all of the media interpreted the statement as he did, which is why Christofias found it necessary to distribute (transcripts of) his statements and to clarify them, not once but many times," Anastassiades said.

    Anastassiades said Disy spokesman Mitsopoulos had only said Papapetrou had misinterpreted Christofias' statement after the Spokesman admitted earlier in the week that he had not seen a transcript of the Akel leader's exact words.

    On Thursday, Christofias released a verbatim transcript of his Monday statements in a bid to prove his use of the term "Attila" was in reference to the "declining" state of Cypriot society as a whole and not the government.

    Papapetrou seized on the transcript as proof of the accuracy of his own interpretation of the "Attila" statement.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, May 27, 2000

    [06] Foresters attack Akamas development plans

    By Martin Hellicar

    PROFESSIONAL foresters yesterday took their turn to slam a cabinet plan to allow tourism construction on the unspoilt Akamas peninsula, claiming the state was pandering to developers.

    "We do not believe that the state has any obligation to sacrifice the aim of protecting (the Akamas) in order to satisfy the financial interests of big businessmen from outside the area," the Foresters' Association stated yesterday, noting that the government had been promising to preserve the Akamas for the past 15 years.

    The cabinet plan, announced on March 1, allows for tourism development on private land at Fontana Amorosa on the north coast of the unspoilt peninsula and for "mild and controlled" development everywhere else except for the already protected state forest land and the turtle nesting beaches of Lara and Toxeftra.

    The plan, to be implemented after a ministerial committee has ironed out the details, has already been lambasted by environmentalists and the House environment committee.

    Like other detractors before them, the foresters' yesterday expressed particular concern about government proposals for the Fontana Amorosa land owned by businessman Photos Photiades.

    "In our opinion, any form of development (in the Fontana Amorosa area) will cause irreversible damage to the physiognomy and ecosystem of this sensitive part of the Akamas," the association stated.

    The foresters noted that Photiades' land lies within the Akamas forest, the last remaining sizeable area of coastal scrub forest on the island.

    "Protection of the state forest and plots encircled by it must be absolute, " the association noted.

    The foresters also stressed the need to protect the whole Akamas area, and not just parts of the peninsula proper, as proposed by the cabinet.

    "The Akamas is a truly remarkable area for Cyprus and unique in the Eastern Mediterranean. Its correct utilisation with parallel protection of its noteworthy characteristics can bring significant benefits both for local residents and for the national economy," the Foresters' Association stated.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, May 27, 2000

    [07] Lyssarides concern at ‘midnight Turkish boats’

    THE LATE night arrival of two Turkish-flagged vessels at Limassol port earlier this week has set alarm bells ringing in the head of Kisos leader Vassos Lyssarides.

    According to the veteran and opposition party leader, the boats entered the harbour shortly after midnight and just minutes after the port pilot had packed up for the night.

    "These boats came into Limassol port at 12.14 or 12.15am without a pilot and without informing the authorities - that is they knew that the pilot is there only till 12," Lyssarides stated yesterday.

    Lyssarides called a news conference to highlight his port security concerns yesterday morning. He suggested something had been afoot: "Why did the Turkish boats come in at midnight, and after the pilot had gone, and how did they come in at midnight and how did they know where to moor?" Lyssarides wondered.

    The Kisos leader did note that the vessels that arrived earlier this week were private and thus posed no threat. But he said the "clandestine" entry of the Turkish vessels suggested security at local ports was anything but adequate.

    "The question is can any ship (do this)?" he asked.

    Lyssarides first brought up the issue at the House of Representatives plenum on Thursday night, prompting Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou to comment yesterday that Turkish-flagged ships mooring in local ports was "nothing new".

    Lyssarides responded at his news conference by suggesting Neophytou had been "misinformed" by his subordinates. He said he was confident the Minister would investigate the matter thoroughly.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, May 27, 2000

    [08] Cyprus awaits confirmation of ‘pet passport’ inclusion

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE VETERINARY Department is still waiting for confirmation that Cyprus will be included in Britain’s ‘pet passport’ scheme to do away with quarantine for registered pets.

    Britain's Minister of State for Agriculture Joyce Quin said earlier this week that Cyprus could soon be included in the scheme.

    But Senior Veterinary Officer Loizos Hadjizinonos yesterday told the Cyprus Mail the department did not yet have an official reply from Britain's veterinary services to its application to be included in the pilot scheme, which allows dogs and cats to travel to Britain without having to be subjected to the six-month quara ntine upon their arrival.

    Quin told the House of Commons on Wednesday that: "I understand that all problems have been resolved in relation to Cyprus, so it will be possible to include it in the main scheme."

    "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," she added.

    Hadjizinonos said the main problem for Cyprus until now had been the fact that stray dogs often crossed from the occupied areas to the south, making it hard for the authorities to ensure pets' well-being.

    "We have notified the British Agriculture Ministry that we use traps to catch stray dogs coming from the occupied areas in order to examine whether they are infected with rabies. Maybe that is why Britain now seems more keen on letting our pets in the UK if they are accompanied by a microchip or another sign stating the identity of the animal - whether it belongs to a home, whether it was vaccinated against rabies and blood tested," Hadjizinonos said.

    "But Cyprus has not yet been included in the scheme," he added.

    Once the island is included, the Veterinary Department will be responsible for issuing records of pets' health. But the Department might assign the project to the private sector, Hadjizinonos said.

    Quin said a decision to lift the restrictions for Cyprus would be especially important for members of the British forces women serving in Cyprus, who often bring pets home with them.

    The plan will be subject to review before being fully introduced.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, May 27, 2000

    [09] Heavy vehicles barred from ‘death bend’ road

    TRUCKS and buses were as from yesterday banned from a treacherous twist on the Platres to Moniatis road known as "death bend".

    Since 1983, 19 people have lost their lives in horrific accidents on the tight bend, which is on the main route from Troodos to Limassol.

    After the latest fatal accident on the stretch last January - in which seven people lost their lives when a mini-bus overturned - Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou promised action.

    The Communications Ministry has now decided not to allow buses and lorries to use the Platres to Moniatis road when travelling downhill. All the fatal accidents have occurred as vehicles have tried to negotiate the tight bend while travelling downhill on the steep road.

    Trucks and buses will have to go the long way round when travelling down to Limassol from the Troodos mountains, from Platres to Mandria and then to Pera Pedi before re-joining the main Platres to Limassol road at Saittas, below Moniatis.

    Neophytou has said the Platres to Moniatis road could eventually be re- routed to cut out the "death bend".

    [10] Plenum approves 2 per cent increase in VAT

    By Athena Karsera

    THE long-anticipated two percent increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) was approved after a marathon Plenum session yesterday along with a series of compensatory measures.

    After more than four hours of discussion, the 27 Disy, Diko and United Democrat deputies present voted in favour of the rise and compensatory measures. The 18 Akel and Social Democratic Movement (Kisos) deputies present, including independent deputy Andreas Phillipou, voted against.

    A proposal put forward by Akel to upgrade an income tax-related compensatory measure was rejected.

    Ruling party Disy said the compensatory measures put forward by the government were satisfactory while Akel said the measures amounted to very little.

    Akel also wondered why Cyprus did not receive more EU funding to help its harmonisation process while Diko suggested the formation of an independent Financial Policy Council.

    The United Democrats said they expected their suggestion that the defence levy replace further VAT rises would be taken note of.

    Kisos deputies said that while they would like to vote for every necessary EU harmonisation measure, they could not support the rise since they believed the funds could have been better found elsewhere.

    The government has said that the two percentage point rise in VAT is necessary as a first step in bringing Cyprus in line with the EU figure of 15 per cent. The last increase took place in 1994.

    The government added that the hike was vital to lowering Cyprus' fiscal deficit, now running at 4.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP.)

    The two percentage point rise is expected to bring an additional £60 million into state coffers.

    Voting on the issue was postponed twice before the House's Easter recess and twice again afterwards in order to build a consensus on the issue.

    Totalling approximately£47.2 million, the compensatory measures include extending ncome tax brackets by£1,000. This would make a £6,000 income the first slab to be subjected to income tax as opposed to £5,000 previously.

    Incomes of£6,00 to£9,000 will now be subject to 20 per cent income tax, from £9,000 to £12,000 to 30 per cent and incomes of £12,000 and over subject to 40 per cent income tax.

    Housing subsidies for low income groups will also be provided through the Land Development Association and pensions increased.

    The CyBC subsidy paid through electricity bills has also been halted with the institution being supported with government funds while refugees receiving a salary of less than £10,000 will pay £300 less tax.

    A further compensatory measure involving the abolition of income tax is due to be discussed in a further Plenum.

    The rise and compensatory measures will come into force from July 1, 2000.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, May 27, 2000

    [11] VAT: How much of the 62 million will come out of your pocket?

    SHOULD taxpayers in Cyprus be smiling in light of the latest changes to the VAT and income tax as Finance Minister Takis Klerides so cheerfully declared yesterday? Here in brief is a summary of the effects of the new legislation so you can decide for yourselves:

    The Republic of Cyprus hopes to generate an additional £62 million a year from the two-point rise in VAT (from eight to 10 per cent) to help plug its fiscal deficit. To offset the price hike for consumers, compensatory measures worth £47.2 million will include higher thresholds for income tax brackets and the abolition of the CyBC levy paid as proportion of electricity bills.

    So when it’s time to shop, what will your share of the £62 million be?

    A two-child family spending £70-100 on groceries every week should expect to pay an extra £1.30-1.85 weekly, £5.57-£7.93 a month and £67.60-96.20 a year after the two-per cent VAT increase goes into effect on July 1.

    By 2003, when the Republic is slated to gain EU membership and is expected to raise its rates to the EU norm of 15 per cent VAT, the price will go up £4.55-6.48 weekly, £19.50-27.77 monthly and £236.60-336.96 yearly.

    A new £10,000 car will set you back an additional £186 after July 1 and £649 by 2003.

    Cigarette smokers could expect to pay about two cents extra per pack – a rise of £8.10 a year for a packet a day smoker.

    On petrol, government sources contacted yesterday could not yet confirm whether the additional VAT would hit consumers at the pumps, but since the current VAT applies to fuel, motorists can expect future increases.

    To offset higher consumer prices, the annual earnings threshold for each of the existing income tax brackets will go up by £1,000, so that the 20 per cent income tax will soon apply for those earning £6-9,000, 30 per cent for those earning £9-12,000 and 40 per cent for those earning over £12,000 a year. Also, the CyBC levy tacked onto electricity bills in the past on the basis of a sliding scale will no longer appear on the bi-monthly statements.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, May 27, 2000

    [12] Akel accuses Disy over "paramilitary" group

    By George Psyllides

    A "CLANDESTINE paramilitary" group headed by two senior retired National Guard officers and "keeping tabs" on army officers has been operating since April 17, Akel deputy Costas Papacostas charged yesterday.

    Flanked at a news conference by Akel colleagues Nicos Katsourides and Doros Christodoulides, Papacostas accused governing Disy of sheltering the group.

    Disy vehemently denies the allegations, which it denounced as "miserable and deplorable".

    "The aim of the paramilitary staff is to monitor National Guard activities and record the political beliefs of Cypriot officers, classifying them into friends, foes, and dangerous," Papacostas said. He claimed the group's main objective was the provision of "preferential treatment" in appointments.

    Papacostas showed reporters a diagram outlining the alleged structure of the "paramilitary" body, and the names of the officers involved. According to the diagram, two retired generals led the group, which was allegedly staffed by six active officers and a Disy employee.

    The Akel deputy said the group was housed at Disy headquarters on Pindarou Street in Nicosia, from where the party's so called ‘defence bureau’ operates. He added: "The defence bureau is networked with other top brass, and lower ranking officers, who hold key positions in the army's command."

    Papacostas said the officers were so audacious that they had stated: "We govern, so we do whatever we want". He added: "Such mentality and scheming reminds us of the situation in the National Guard in the dark period of the junta and Eoka B."

    Katsourides supported his colleague, saying active army officers were not allowed to be party members or open supporters. He also disclosed what he claimed was an issue "permanently on the agenda" of the group -- "to restrict the authority of the Commander of the National Guard".

    Papacostas refused to comment further, despite a barrage of questions from reporters. He said he had tabled the issue for discussion before the House Defence Committee, where he would present the rest of his evidence.

    Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said he had been briefed on the issue on Wednesday by the chief of the National Guard, Lieutenant General Evangelos Florakis. Hasikos said he had ordered Florakis to investigate and report back to him on June 5.

    He also instructed him to remind army officers of existing orders and regulations, demanding their strict enforcement.

    Hasikos told reporters he had briefed President Glafcos Clerides and had also spoken to ruling Disy chief Nicos Anastassiades. "The Defence Ministry will not allow any interventions, and never did in the past," Hasikos said, adding that the ministry was not a branch of any political party. "It is not possible for such groups to operate or be allowed to operate in the Republic," he said.

    Disy categorically rejected Papacostas' accusations, expressing surprise at the allegations. Spokesman Tassos Mitsopoulos denied Disy had any connection with anything Papacostas alleged.

    "We challenge Papacostas or Akel to submit any documents that prove the connection between Disy and any unacceptable activities of any army officer, or other person who works for the party or is in any way connected to it," Mitsopoulos told a news conference.

    Mitsopoulos wondered why Disy would have set up such a group eight years after it became the governing party, and not immediately after it came to power in 1993.

    Disy deputy and defence committee member Antonis Karas said Papacostas had ulterior motives and claimed the charges were actually made after the defence minister had ordered the investigation.

    But Karas did confirm that the two retired officers who appeared on the diagram were both members of Disy’s Defence Secretariat. He also conceded that the other person named on the diagram was a Disy employee, but said he held an insignificant position.

    Karas said such secretariats existed in Disy for every ministry. "It operates in all democracies in all European states," Karas said. "No active army officers are members of Disy."

    Karas accused Papacostas of trying to score electoral points. "I am sorry that defence is used to gain electoral advantage," he said."These are miserable and deplorable actions."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail


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