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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-06-14

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

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


Wednesday, June 14, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Unficyp could be forced to leave if agreement not found
  • [02] Talks to settle heart dispute postponed
  • [03] Brokers concerned at wild swings in market
  • [04] Western press ignored Miss Universe
  • [05] ‘Not even animals are treated like this’
  • [06] Ministry calls on private schools to synchronise entrance exams
  • [07] Paphos Bishop hits back at calls for resignation
  • [08] Why can’t we find any decent bricks?
  • [09] Co-op banks to be included on dud cheque blacklist plan
  • [10] Afxentiou protest at offshore rating
  • [11] Airspace co-operation deal with Israel

  • [01] Unficyp could be forced to leave if agreement not found

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS’ willingness to see Unficyp leave the island rather than compromise on an offending provision in the force’s renewal mandate is no idle threat, senior government sources said yesterday.

    The government said it would not give its consent to the renewal of the six- monthly mandate for the 1,200-strong force if the Turkish Cypriot side’s approval is recorded in a contentious addendum due to come before the Security Council tomorrow. A vote scheduled for Monday has already been postponed.

    However unlikely such a threat may seem, sources told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the government was prepared to allow the force to leave the island after 36 years and with the Cyprus problem still unresolved.

    A senior government source said that if pushed on the issue, Cyprus would not give its approval. "The time has come when we have to stop somewhere," the source said.

    The government is objecting to the inclusion of a provision that would require both sides to approve the presence of the force.

    Unficyp came to the island on a six-monthly mandate after the intercommunal troubles of 1964, at the invitation of the Republic of Cyprus, not the warring communities.

    But last December for the first time, the UN included an addendum to the force’s renewal, which appeared to bow to the Turkish Cypriot side’s demand to give its own consent to the presence of Unficyp, along with the Cyprus Republic, Britain, Greece and Turkey.

    The Greek Cypriot side saw the move as pandering to the Turkish Cypriot side’s demand for recognition, but the UN insisted the addendum did not change its position on Cyprus.

    Earlier yesterday, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told the Reuters news agency that the Greek Cypriot side intended to take a firm stance. "That would mean that by Thursday night they (Unficyp) have to start packing," he said.

    Papapetrou told the Cyprus Mail he was hopeful that such a crisis could be averted, and that a text to which the government could give its seal of approval would be issued by the UN.

    "The message is clear," he said. "The text as provided is not acceptable."

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides criticised the UN for its "clumsy" handling of the issue and for opening "Pandora’s Box" last December.

    "Surely our position will be not to give our consent for the renewal of Unficyp if we are not satisfied with the wording of the addendum," he said.

    "We are objecting in order to show the (UN) Secretariat that it cannot derogate from a certain framework because if it does that, then it will want to do the same thing during proximity talks for a Cyprus settlement."

    The third round of proximity talks is due to start in Geneva on July 5.

    "We believe that for a practice established and followed on this issue for 36 years, there is no need for it to be challenged three weeks before the talks," Papapetrou said.

    The government spokesman also confirmed yesterday that the UN had issued two corrections to the Secretary-general’s recent report on Unficyp’s operations in Cyprus.

    One correction deletes the reference to the participation of ‘Greek troops’ in the National Guard’s exercises in May.

    The other notes that there was a reduction in buffer-zone air violations on the part of the Greek Cypriot side. The report had originally given the impression that there was an increase in such violations by both sides.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    [02] Talks to settle heart dispute postponed

    By Anthony O. Miller

    HEALTH Minister Frixos Savvides has postponed indefinitely the heart-to- heart talk he said he would hold this week with cardiologists from two competing heart clinics to settle a feud affecting the care provided to the island's heart patients.

    Savvides' office did not give a reason for the postponement or set a new date for the meeting, saying only that Savvides would be leaving on Thursday for "a couple days in Athens."

    Last year, the government sent 441 Cypriots overseas for open-heart surgery. While 1999 data are supposed to be released this week, the Health Ministry said that overseas heart repair cost Cyprus taxpayers £3,669,000 in 1998 and £2,949,00 in 1997.

    But with a top-flight heart clinic -- the American Heart Institute – operating at the Apollonion Hospital in Nicosia for the last 11 months, much of that tax-paid travel and treatment was a waste.

    American Heart Institute doctors and nurses are all US trained and use the latest US heart-treatment equipment. They can even do heart-transplants, its chief cardiologist, Dr Christos Christou, said.

    But he claimed his Institute had had to drum up its own business because Nicosia General Hospital cardiologists, headed by Dr Costakis Zambartas, have refused to honour a patient-referral agreement that Savvides brokered this past March.

    Instead, Nicosia General cardiologists began working overtime, doing procedures their skills allowed, and referring overseas patients needing surgery they could not perform, Dr Christou said.

    Zambartas has denied refusing to refer patients to the American Heart Institute. In fact, his boss, Nicosia General Hospital Director Dr Stavroulla Demetriou laid the blame for referring heart patients overseas with Savvides' Heath Ministry.

    In the three months since the Savvides-brokered March agreement, Dr Christou said he has had "12 to 14" patient referrals from Nicosia General Hospital, instead of the "40 to 50" he expected to have referred in that time.

    In the first week of the agreement's effect, he said he got no referrals at all, while Nicosia General Hospital said it treated three heart patients that week and sent 17 others overseas -- at much higher cost than the American Heart Institute.

    Dr Christou yesterday said Savvides had pledged Nicosia General cardiologists "would stop working overtime this week" and begin referring their extra patients to his Institute. "But I've heard this many times since January," he added.

    Many private cardiologists say they prefer the American Heart Institute to services at Nicosia General Hospital.

    They say their patients must wait sometimes months for procedures that can be scheduled in the morning and done the same afternoon at the American Heart Institute.

    The feud has got back to Savvides, and last week he, too, was piqued: "After consultations I had with the doctors of the American Heart Institute, and the doctors from Nicosia General Hospital, I will get them all together sometime (this) week in my office," he pledged.

    "And I will put down in writing," he continued, "the modus operandi of how they will operate and proceed in order to apply and stick to their agreement that this ministry has signed with this (American Heart Institute) clinic, that they (Nicosia General Hospital) will refer patients to them up to the maximum they can handle."

    However, with this week's meeting with Savvides postponed, it remains to be seen whether Nicosia General Hospital cardiologists cease their overtime work and begin the patient referrals to the American Heart Institute that Dr. Christou said Savvides pledged they would.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    [03] Brokers concerned at wild swings in market

    By Michael Ioannou

    CALLS were growing yesterday for bourse authorities to investigate sharp swings in share prices after the market experienced one of its more pronounced drops in recent days on volumes that spiked to a year high.

    The market lost 1.13 per cent in a broad-based decline which only investment shares withstood as they have been riding a wave of speculator euphoria for the past two weeks.

    With acquisition and merger mania gripping most investors, traded values were pushed to a record £68 million pounds, smashing the previous high of £64.8 million set barely a week ago.

    The all-share index settled at 519.36 points, slipping through the 520 level for the first time in three weeks.

    Taking its cue from previous sessions, small cap shares high on rumour but short on substance dominated trading.

    Dodoni, invariably seen by investors as a target for acquisition or hopping sector from investment into the ‘other’ category, recorded a turnover which edged on the unprecedented £18 million shares.

    The company, which has a net asset value of 14 cents, climbed 5 cents to 43.1.

    Though not mentioning Dodoni directly, stockbrokers said the Securities Exchange Commission had the obligation to investigate sharp swings in prices without any apparent reason.

    Though speculative gambits are nothing new to the market, stockbrokers are worried that this time around things are getting out of hand.

    Many have also voiced concerns at investors tipping the balance in their portfolios by dumping banking shares to get on the small-cap bandwagon.

    "The peculiar fluctuations in some shares could attract the interest of the Securities Exchange Commission," said Theodoulos Charalambides of Axxia- Plus.

    Banking shares gave way to selling pressure, falling 1.4 per cent with losses in Bank of Cyprus and Popular.

    BoC's share was down 10 cent to £8.19 and Laiki fell 17 cents to a last trade of £12.60, while there were smaller downward adjustments to the other two banks in the sector.

    Dome Investments scored the highest rise of 10.5 per cent, or one pound, to a last trade of £10.50.

    Lemeco Silvex followed with a 14 per cent, or a 67-cent jump to £5.16 after the company announced a 10 way split in the value of its stock to 10 cents each from one pound.

    CyTrustees, meanwhile, announced it would offer one bonus share for every four held, or every four warrants. It also announced it would issue one additional warrant for every eight shares held. The decision needs ratifying by shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting on July 12.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    [04] Western press ignored Miss Universe

    By Jennie Matthew

    A SURVEY by the Press and Information Office (PIO) has concluded that newspapers in Western Europe and the United States paid scant attention to last month’s Miss Universe contest.

    The findings concluded that, "dependable newspapers and magazines in the US, Great Britain, France, Germany and other European countries, in their majority, ignored the event".

    A summary of the international press attention devoted to the beauty pageant was collated by the PIO and distributed to government departments this week.

    The Cyprus Tourist Organisation (CTO) justified the £4.5 million cost of hosting the pageant by citing the massive global publicity given by the show to Cyprus as a tourist destination.

    Organisers were particularly keen to target the American market. But the Washington Post was the only high-profile American newspaper to give the beauties space.

    Even then, the article focused on the protest mounted by appalled Orthodox Christians on the night of the pageant final for "shooting women down to the bottomless pits of hell".

    The BBC World Service and The Guardian also gave attention to the all- night vigil in the Ayios Panteleimonas church and the slashed ticket prices– rumoured to have been a desperate measure to fill vacant seats.

    The German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung followed suit, whereas French papers ignored the contest altogether.

    An article published in Politis on Tuesday implied that the £4.5 million cost of hosting the pageant had been a waste, and that the expected publicity had not materialised.

    But both the PIO and the government yesterday refused to attach much importance of the survey. They emphasised the centrality of the pageant’s televised coverage that reached its full target audience. One billion viewers tuned into the contest live on May 13 and a further 2 billion were expected to watch it recorded in 124 countries worldwide.

    "The relevant minister has commented on this matter repeatedly. We’re talking about coverage through television stations. Nothing changes this and it’s premature to say whether this effort will pay off or not," said Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou.

    PIO director Androulla Lanitis branded the Politis report an "unbelievable" distortion. "The televised target [of viewers for the Miss Universe pageant] was met by far," she said. She went on to add that extra articles were a bonus.

    "We did have some articles in the written press, which we didn’t actually expect and there were some very good articles," she said.

    Newspapers in Egypt, India and Mexico did splash out on the pageant in Cyprus, but Politis ridiculed them as insignificant tourist markets.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    [05] ‘Not even animals are treated like this’

    Paphos fury at decade of inaction over stone crushing plant

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE HOUSE environment committee yesterday hit out at state services for allowing a nuisance stone crushing plant to operate within a Paphos residential area for almost a decade.

    "This is insulting behaviour from the state towards its citizens, we should all be ashamed," committee chairman Demetris Eliades protested. "Rarely have I felt so strongly about a phenomenon, one that has been going on for 10 years and which this committee has been hearing the same thing about for four years," Eliades said.

    People living around the massive plant in Chlorakas told the committee they could stand the dust and noise no more and had had enough of empty promises that the unit would be moved.

    "What do we have to do?" an exasperated Charalambos Antoniades, the residents' spokesman, demanded of the government officials attending yesterday's committee session.

    "I have not been able to use my home for the past 10 years... not even animals are treated like this."

    Antoniades said plant operators never stuck to regulations for limiting dust and noise levels.

    Environment Service officer Andreas Hadjipanayiotis agreed, saying the plant was "the biggest anarchic activity I have seen in my 10 years with the service".

    Hadjipanayiotis said he had been shocked by what he had seen when he visited the site on Monday. "I am ashamed as a citizen of what I saw yesterday. There was dust lying three centimetres deep outside nearby homes."

    "I know all of Cyprus’ mines and I have never seen such a place, there is no way to improve it," Hadjipanayiotis added.

    Paphos deputy George Hadjigeorgiou, of Akel, said local residents were forced to tape their windows shut in an effort to keep the dust out.

    In reply to this barrage of criticism, Paphos District Officer Nicos Roussos said negotiations to agree a compensation deal with plant owners to close down the stone-crushing unit were almost at an end. He promised the committee a deal would be reached by next month.

    The District Officer agreed that the plant was an "unbearable nuisance" and said owners were being taken to court for operating without approval, illegal additions to the plant and dangerous constructions.

    Hadjigeorgiou was not impressed, predicting that the nothing would happen and the committee would again be examining an unchanged situation come next summer.

    Plant owner Nearchos Eliades told the committee he had no comment to make.

    The plant was built before the area became residential. It later closed down but was re-opened in 1991, despite mushrooming housing development. A 1992 demolition order against additions to the plant has never been carried out.

    The issue has been before the committee for four years now, without discernible progress. In 1998, the committee was told that the plant would have to go to make way for a new road. But the road later turned out not to be crossing the plant's path.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    [06] Ministry calls on private schools to synchronise entrance exams

    THE EDUCATION Ministry is stepping in to get the island's private secondary schools to synchronise announcement of their entrance exam results.

    The current system -- with different private schools announcing entrance exam results at different times -- was creating serious problems for pupils and parents, the House Education Committee heard yesterday.

    Akel deputy George Lillikas said parents often ended up having to make non- returnable down-payments to more than one school. He described a common scenario: results from one school came out first and the student accepted a place, only later to switch to another, preferred, establishment once its exam results were announced.

    Lillikas called on the Education Ministry to intervene to sort things out.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides told the committee he was ahead of the game, having already called on private schools to synchronise announcement of their exam results.

    "As of next year... the dates for announcement of exam results will be the same for all private schools every year," Ioannides promised the committee.

    Entrance exams for all private schools are also to be kept within a three- week period, to limit disruption to the final year of primary school.

    Some 6,000 pupils, or about 10 per cent of the total, currently choose private secondary education.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    [07] Paphos Bishop hits back at calls for resignation

    THE Bishop of Paphos, Chrysostomos, yesterday hit back at a group of parishioners demanding his resignation on grounds that he is more interested in business than spirituality.

    The bishop does have extensive business interests, but he insisted yesterday that he and his Paphos clergy worked tirelessly for good of the faithful.

    "We work noiselessly, we do not like to show off, but as quiet as we are, the very stones shout out about it, as the saying goes," Chrysostomos said.

    "Wherever you may stand, wherever you may go, wherever you may sit you will find our seal, and indeed our religious seal," the bishop affirmed.

    He attacked Dr Andreas Demetriou, head of the pressure group calling for the Bishop's resignation.

    "The man has other motives; he is not a cleric; he has never come down to the Bishopric to make suggestions or recommendations," Chrysostomos said.

    Dr Demetriou retorted that every time he went to the Paphos Bishopric he was put off by hearing talk only of "hotels and business" and by Chrysostomos' constant "bad-mouthing" of his Limassol counterpart, Athanassios.

    The Paphos Bishop has made no secret of his dislike for Athanassios, which, says Dr Demetriou, is because Athanassios is the man behind a so-called "spiritual rebirth" of the local church. He said the Paphos Bishop had his eyes on the Archbishop's throne.

    The bishop later said he had no ambitions to become Archbishop and planned to retire in six years’ time, when he hits 65.

    Dr Demetriou's group slates Chrysostomos as the instigator of the gay sex allegations against Athanassios, currently rocking the church.

    The Holy Synod is probing allegations that 18 years ago Athanassios had a homosexual affair with a Greek monk who is now a hairdresser.

    Athanassios denies the allegations, branding them as part of a plot to destroy him.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    [08] Why can’t we find any decent bricks?

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE CONTRACTORS’ association has accused brick factories of using their market monopoly to allow one their number to sell off its "useless" stock.

    The Contractors’ Association, the brick-makers and the Ministry of Commerce’s Consumer Protection service are holding a meeting today in an attempt to resolve the dispute, but the factory under fire denies the accusations.

    Contractors’ Association director Angelos Constantinou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday several brick factories had over the last 10 days repeatedly claimed they did not have any stock to provide contractors, and would not have for another couple of weeks because they were undergoing maintenance, directing them every time to one specific brick factory.

    "How can all factories be closed, undergoing maintenance at the same time? Many builders have complained that they could not get bricks anywhere but from a single factory, which supplied them with absolutely useless bricks," he said.

    The association will decide what steps to take after today’s meeting.

    Constantinou claimed that the factories’ "dirty tricks" were a usual phenomenon in the summer period, but also at other times of the year.

    He sent a letter to the Commerce Ministry's Department of Consumer Protection on June 7, outlining the situation to the department's director, George Mitides.

    Mitides told the Mail yesterday that his department was investigating the matter, but was finding it difficult to make progress because the contractors' accusations were vague, and failed to name factories accused of refusing to supply buyers with bricks.

    The department had asked contractors to be more specific, he said.

    "We also got some phone calls from brick shop owners who complained about not being able to get bricks easily," Mitides said.

    The answer to all these questions could be that during the summer period a lot of factories did indeed close down for maintenance, he said.

    "But if our investigation concludes that there has been a planned action to protect the interests of a specific company by not offering services, brick factory owners will have to face the consequences of braking the law."

    But the manager of the factory accused by the contractors told the Cyprus Mail that there was no plan whatsoever to manipulate the market, and denied Constantinou’s claims that most brick factories were closed.

    "The reason why some factories refuse to provide builders with bricks is because many of them have not been paying for material those factories supplied them with in the past," said the manager.

    "We follow the same tactic. When we are happy with our clients, we continue to serve them. When we are not, we stop doing business with them."

    There was no hidden agenda, he said, and if there had been, prices would have gone up.

    "How can they accuse us of monopolising the market when we are selling material as cheap as we were selling it 10 years ago?"

    And the manager brushed aside the claims that his factory's bricks were useless: "It's their right to say anything they want," he said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    [09] Co-op banks to be included on dud cheque blacklist plan

    By Athena Karsera

    CO-OPERATIVE bank chiefs were yesterday divided in their opinion of a House Finance Committee decision to back a bill that would put cheque-bouncing co- op customers on a blacklist.

    Plans for such a list had so far been restricted to commercial bank customers.

    The Committee’s decision came during a closed meeting on Monday.

    Now that they have been drawn up and agreed by the Committee, both proposals are due to go before the House Plenum shortly.

    Co-operative Credit Societies chairman and manager of the New Aglandja Co- op Credit Society Dinos Constantinou yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the Committee's decision was a positive one.

    "Uncovered cheques are a big problem. The Co-operative banks should not be any different from the other financial institutions, there should be the same approach."

    He said once the law had been approved, the co-op banks would have to put people systematically issuing bad cheques onto a list. "What happens now is that they leave from one branch and go to another."

    Constantinou said that the list would help give a clearer picture of the number and frequency of bounced cheques in Cyprus.

    The head of the current accounts department at the Co-operative Central Bank, however, had a different view.

    Michalis Iracleous told the Cyprus Mail he did not believe the move would make any difference: "I don't see it working, whatever we put before a Cypriot, he is still a Cypriot."

    Iracleous said the move would only prevent prospective cheque-bouncers from opening new accounts at co-operative banks: "The ones that already have accounts will continue like before."

    He said it was up to each branch to decide whether to refer to the blacklist or not: "If they do decide to, then there will be progress."

    "The only way is for there to be a jail sentence like in Greece. If people knew they would be tried and possibly jailed, they would think twice about writing a bad cheque. We're Cypriots, the authorities have to show us their teeth."

    According to the proposal, a bounced cheque will be one that remains uncovered for seven days after it has been written.

    Sources said the blacklist would also include liquidated companies, people that have declared bankruptcy and those found guilty of offences similar to bouncing cheques.

    The sources said the blacklist would not be open for public access.

    [10] Afxentiou protest at offshore rating

    CENTRAL Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou has protested against Cyprus being shifted to the third category of offshore company countries by the Financial Stability Forum (FSF).

    According to yesterday’s Phileleftheros Afxentiou told the FSF president that Cyprus objected to being put into any category, especially without being consulted in a matter it was directly involved in.

    "Afxentiou put forward Cyprus’ positions on the report during a meeting between the Central Bank presidents of seven countries negatively affected by this report."

    The paper said the meeting had taken place in Switzerland about a week ago and that Afxentiou had pointed out to FSF president Andrew Crocket that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had not included Cyprus on its list of tax havens.

    "Afxentiou also told Crocket that the FSF categories should be withdrawn and reviewed," Phileleftheros said, adding: "Crocket promised he would read Cyprus' opinions to the FSF members."

    The paper said Afxentiou had insisted Cyprus would not let the matter rest and that he had suggested Finance Minister Takis Klerides send letter to his counterparts in the seven most industrialised countries.

    The FSF was established last year and is currently made up of 40 member countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan.

    International financial organisations, including the International Monetary Fund, the OECD and the World Bank, are also members of the organisation.

    According to the report, Cyprus was one of 24 countries in the third category, along with Costa Rica, Lebanon, the Seychelles, the Bahamas and Liechtenstein.

    The report defined third category countries as those with lower quality legal foundations, resources and levels of co-operation than those in the second category.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

    [11] Airspace co-operation deal with Israel

    CYPRUS and Israel have agreed on technical matters relating to flights by Israeli ware planes over the Nicosia Flight Information Region (FIR), the government announced yesterday.

    Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said Israel had assured the government it would comply with its obligations and that both parties had committed themselves to improving existing co-operation.

    Papapetrou said officials from both countries had met on Monday.

    "As a result of these consultations, arrangements for practical compliance with the international safety regulations on air traffic were agreed," he said.

    Papapetrou said the discussions had been "warm and friendly".

    Last month, Israel apologised because its military aircraft had entered the Nicosia FIR without informing the authorities. It was the second time Israel had apologised for air violations.

    Papapetrou also said yesterday that Cyprus’ representative to the UN had lodged a complaint over the continuing violation of the Nicosia FIR and the island’s air space by Turkish warplanes.

    Since the end of April, the authorities have recorded a total of 78 such violations.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail


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