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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-02

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

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


Tuesday, July 2, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] De Soto: June deadline not a reality
  • [02] Light plane crashes on Larnaca runway
  • [03] Taxes hikes shoot for the hip
  • [04] House passes new tax package
  • [05] New loan for Cyprus university
  • [06] Rape suspect remanded
  • [07] Synod seeks expert ruling on property probe
  • [08] Cinema closes to protest government competition
  • [09] CY plane turns back mid-flight
  • [10] Amateur fishermen close Limassol port
  • [11] Greek Cypriot seeks to sell apartment in the north
  • [12] Gun search bears no fruit

  • [01] De Soto: June deadline not a reality

    By Jean Christou

    THE U.N. Secretary-general's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto has confirmed that the major breakthrough the UN had hoped for by the end of the June target date is not going to happen.

    The UN envoy for Cyprus will leave the island tomorrow for Vienna, where he will meet and brief UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan on the course of the direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    De Soto will then fly on to New York where he will brief the Security Council, whose current president, Britain's permanent representative Sir Jeremy Greenstock, will make a statement after the briefing.

    "We are facing a conundrum and I have to discuss this with the Secretary General," de Soto told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), noting that so far the two sides "have relied on bilateral negotiation" at the talks.

    The two sides, he said, seemed to be finding it difficult to negotiate by themselves.

    "There is not going to be this major breakthrough we hoped for," he said.

    De Soto said that the UN was trying to crack the four core issues as identified by Annan --governance, security, territory and property -- by the end of June, a target date initially suggested by Denktash and agreed upon by the President and the UN.

    "The parties cannot get down to the legal drafting and both sides, one more than the other, seem to underestimate the amount of legal drafting that needs to be done," de Soto said.

    Referring to the sense of urgency to reach an agreement, de Soto said accession of Cyprus to the European Union is a pressing factor and should be taken into consideration.

    "The EU enlargement process and the Secretary General's good offices are separate processes, though not incompatible and they obey their own calendars. Each has its own different mandate," he said.

    He pointed out, however that "to argue that there is no relationship between the UN and the EU processes would be to pretend that EU enlargement had no bearing on the negotiations." That, he added, would be an attitude of "childlike naivety."

    "The UN keeps its independence, the Secretary General reports to the Security Council and he must take into account the existing international context," de Soto said.

    Direct talks began between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides began in January. The latest round ends today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Light plane crashes on Larnaca runway

    A SMALL private plane yesterday crashed at Larnaca Airport, said fire department officials.

    The accident took place around 1pm and involved a small, private Piper-type airplane.

    According to a Civil Aviation official, the two passengers onboard were Israeli nationals. But, a conflicting source told the Cyprus Mail the two men were American.

    "They were on their way to Rhodes, when they realised something was wrong with the plane and turned back," said a local fireman, who had been called to the scene. "However, as the plane's wheels touched the runway while trying to land, they somehow folded in and the entire aircraft collapsed".

    The two 50-year-olds were thankfully unharmed and did not need medical attention. "They are just in shock that's all," said the fireman.

    The plane has been sent for repairs and as soon as it's ready the two men will be on their way as they had only been passing through Cyprus.

    "They could even be off tomorrow. I really couldn't say when exactly they plan on leaving," he said.

    The runway remained closed between the time of the accident and 3pm forcing a number of incoming planes to land at Paphos airport instead.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Taxes hikes shoot for the hip

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE KNOCK-ON effects of the tax package were immediately felt by consumers yesterday as the three per cent rise in VAT added two and five cents per litre on petrol and diesel respectively while some smokers paid up to 2 for a packet of cigarettes.

    While most of the package, apart from a few provisions, was approved yesterday, the increase in VAT was passed on Thursday in order to take effect on the first day of the month.

    Along with the VAT hike, the plenum on Thursday scrapped the two per cent defence levy, which would now be paid by companies until January 1, 2003.

    VAT went up three per cent to 13, with the reform providing another two per cent increase by January 1 next year.

    The rise in VAT caused an immediate hike in fuel with a litre of petrol costing two cents more.

    A litre of super - 98-octane -- would now cost 49.1 cents, regular - 92- octane -- 47 cents, super unleaded 49.1 cents and regular unleaded 47 cents per litre.

    Regular diesel would cost 25 cents per litre with a litre of low sulphur diesel priced at 28.2 cents.

    The new legislation increased the tax-free ceiling from 6,000 to 9,000.

    Thereafter tax would be deducted at a rate of 30 per cent on salaries from 9,000 to 12,000 and 40 per cent beyond that.

    From January 1, 2003, the tax-free ceiling would remain at 9,000 and the tax rate reduced to 20 per cent between 9,000 and 12,000 and 30 per cent thereafter.

    In January 2004 the ceiling would rise to 10,000 while tax would be deducted at the rate of 20, 25 and 30 per cent for every additional 5,000.

    The package abolished the disparity between tax rates for local and offshore companies, introducing a standard rate of 10 per cent.

    With the reform, people looking to buy a new car could now find it more affordable as duties in some cases have been slashed by up to 45 per cent.

    Duties for saloon cars with an engine capacity of up to 1600cc were now set at 55 per cent, compared to the previous 100 per cent.

    An additional 10 per cent would be cut by 2004.

    Duties for cars between 1600cc and 2000cc saw a 15 per cent decrease to 85, with a further 10 per cent decrease expected in 2004.

    But those motorists who need powerful cars would not be so happy with the tax reform.

    Duties for cars between 2000cc and 2500cc remained at 120 per cent for petrol engines and 110 per cent for diesels.

    An additional five per cent however was slapped on over 2500cc cars, raising the duty to 135 per cent.

    Those planning to buy a sports utility vehicle (SUV) or four-by-four would have to pay 10 per cent more duty - 70 per cent from 60 -- for a 3000cc vehicle, and an additional 10 if they wait until 2004.

    More powerful SUV's - over 3000cc - would cost 20 per cent more - 80 per cent from 60 - and 30 per cent by 2004.

    Registration fees were increased by 20 per cent while the road tax for petrol fuelled cars of over 1,016 kilograms was also raised by 20 per cent.

    On the other hand, road tax for private diesel vehicles was cut by 10 per cent.

    Cigarette smokers were not very happy yesterday, as they had to pay an additional three per cent VAT on top of a recent increase of 20-cent per packet.

    Cigar aficionados would have to cough up an additional 10 per cent tax as their habit is viewed as a luxury in the tax package.

    A 10 per cent tax was also slapped on caviar, smoked salmon, sparkling wines, leisure boats, motorcycles over 100cc, and outboard and inboard boat engines.

    The House also approved a one-cent increase on the price of soft drinks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] House passes new tax package

    By George Psyllides

    AFTER OVER an hour of discussions the House yesterday approved the majority of the tax reform package while scheduling a fresh extraordinary plenary session for Friday to vote for the provisions concerning child benefits and social aid to pensioners.

    Yesterday's extraordinary plenum had been scheduled for 9am but the session kicked-off over an hour late as party discussions dragged on and almost extended into the session with deputies arguing over the semantics of the Finance Committee report.

    The package was finally approved with parties agreeing to voice their positions in Friday's session.

    House Finance Committee Chairman Markos Kyprianou said: "There are some loose ends that will be voted at the end of the week, and some - like scrapping the professional tax - will be discussed later as agreed between the House and the government".

    The agreement to do away with the professional tax has been recorded in the committee's report, which was submitted to the plenum, Kyprianou added.

    "The agreement is binding for the government, which has submitted the outlines of four bills that would be examined later, and when they are officially submitted by the cabinet the (finance) committee would scrutinise them and forward them to the plenum" Kyprianou said.

    The outlines also include the regulations concerning child and large family benefits, as well as social benefits to pensioners, which have not been approved by the cabinet yet and discussion of the issue was left until Friday when the tax reform would be discussed as a whole.

    "The two bills concerning the ditching of the professional tax have been submitted but as agreed they would probably not be discussed before the summer.

    "In any case the bill would take effect on January 1, 2003," Kyprianou said.

    Finance Minister Takis Klerides stressed that the approval of the tax reform has enabled Cyprus to close the taxation and competition chapters of the European Union aquis communitaire.

    "Of course I'm satisfied; after many months of negotiations I want to express my satisfaction and thank the parties and the House in general for approving the legislation," Klerides said.

    He added: "At the same time an important factor that should not be ignored is the tax reform's harmonisation side, which allowed us to close two vital chapters of the aquis communitaire."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] New loan for Cyprus university

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE EUROPEAN Investment Bank is set to loan Cyprus 65 million euros to help complete the first phase of the new university, the government said yesterday.

    The first phase of the project, which began in 1999, should be finished by the year 2006 and is expected to cost 84 million. The second phase will be complete by 2010 and will cost around 62 million.

    This is the island's fourth loan in the past eight months. In November last year the bank approved 50 million euros to help build the new Nicosia General Hospital. The island has also secured 100 million euros to expand the electricity authority's transmission and distribution network and next month the government will sign a 55 million euro deal to pay for a new Civil Aviation building as well as the upgrading of Larnaca Airport's landing system, radar and communication system.

    The government said the new University loan would be withdrawn in stages according to the project's progress and had to be paid back in 25 years with an eight-year grace period. Interest rates will depend on the amount of money withdrawn at a time and will be based on the London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR).

    The deal will be signed in mid-October, when the President of the European Investment Bank, Philippe Maystadt, visits the island on an official two- day visit.

    On January 1, last year, the European Investment Bank set aside 8.5 billion euros to fund investments in accession course countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Malta and Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Rape suspect remanded

    By a Staff Reporter

    A LIMASSOL court yesterday remanded a 28-year-old man for eight days on suspicion of abduction, severe bodily harm and rape.

    The Pachna resident was accused of the crime by his 27-year-old ex- girlfriend who said he had allegedly visited her home in the early hours of Sunday morning. While they were talking, she claims he grabbed and threw her into his car, transported her to the remote Kantou village and raped her. He then allegedly took her back home.

    She was transported to Limassol General Hospital by relatives, where the duty doctor found severe bruising and bite marks on various parts of her body.

    State coroner Sophoclis Sophocleous also examined the young woman and his finding concurred with that of his colleagues.

    Police arrested the 28-year-old male who was then examined by Sophocleous. No bruises were found on his body and he claims he had consensual sexual intercourse with his ex-girlfriend.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Synod seeks expert ruling on property probe

    By George Psyllides

    THE MEMBERS of the Holy Synod yesterday decided to ask for an expert ruling on whether they could make important decisions in the absence of the Archbishop who is currently ill and being treated in Greece.

    The decision followed days of bitter wrangling among the high clergy in the wake of numerous reports in the island's media alleging irregularities in the management of Church property.

    The main point of disagreement was the appointment of an investigating committee tasked with examining the Archbishopric's financial transactions in light of allegations that his relatives had exploited his ill health to get their hands on Church property, which they subsequently sold for huge profits.

    Paphos Bishop Chrysostomos insisted that a three-member committee should be appointed to look into the allegations while the Bishop of Kiti argued that such a decision could only be taken by the Holy Synod, which could not convene without the Archbishop.

    But yesterday, after over three hours of discussions, the members of the Holy Synod decided to ask for a ruling from three canon experts who would advice on whether the Synod could make important decisions in the absence of the Archbishop.

    The decision was read out by Chrysostomos who said that after they Synod members had been briefed on the Archbishop's condition they decided to ask for a ruling from three established university professors specialising on the Church charter.

    Chrysostomos stressed that the decision was not in any way aimed in replacing the ailing Archbishop who according to reports would remain in Greece for at least three more months.

    The Bishops of Morphou and Kyrenia suggested they should seek the advice of the Ecumenical Patriarch without it meaning that his ruling would weaken the independence of the Church of Cyprus.

    The suggestion however did not go down well with the rest of the clergy and the two bishops said they were bound by the majority decision to accept the three experts.

    They stressed however that any rulings would be of an academic nature and would not bound the members of the Synod and warned that in the past some rulings had been made to order.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Cinema closes to protest government competition

    By Alexia Saoulli

    AFTER SEVEN years of operation, the Acropole open-air cinema in Nicosia closed down for two weeks in protest against unfair competition by the Education and Culture Ministry, its owners said yesterday.

    "Acropole's open-air cinema provided a breezy escape for locals spending the summer in the capital," said Susan Papas, referring to the popular summer cinema that offered two daily screenings in the outdoors.

    But this year, the cinema closed down from June 21-July 4, because the Education and Culture Ministry was operating its own open-air cinema for the second year in a row.

    "Instead of supporting and protecting cinemas, the Ministry decided to go ahead and run its own open-air cinema programme for a second time. In effect, this has thrust unequal and unfair competitive circumstances upon other professional establishments," she said, adding that although the Ministry believed it was serving the notion of open-air viewings, it was in fact undermining it, despite official protests lodged against it last year.

    "If the Ministry was really in support of outdoor movie theatres, it should have contacted existing venues for hire, rather than create its own cinema elsewhere."

    Instead, Papas said, it had used state funds to create its own cinema and imported the same films as other cinemas tax-free. Coupled with cheap entrance fees and a huge advertising campaign, other private, local cinemas would only find this type of unjust competition hard to compete with, she said.

    Last year Acropole's management formally complained about the Ministry's transformation of the Constantia Theatre in Nicosia into a summer cinema. The cinema/theatre operated from June 26 to August 18 and showed 17 films - a full programme of American films, European films and animated films for children.

    In a letter addressed to the Education and Culture Ministry, Susan and Michael Papas warned this move was "to be a death blow to the Acropole Summer Cinema which has kept alive the tradition of open-air cinema in Cyprus over the last six years under difficult circumstances and with no support whatsoever from the state". But according to Papas, the Ministry did not even bother to acknowledge it.

    In fact, it ignored their letter to the point that it had reintroduced its summer cinema again this year, promoting it with the slogan "Marathon summer screenings".

    In light of this, Papas said, the cinema had closed down for two weeks as a show of protest and to give the Ministry a chance to recognise its error and a chance to co-operate with other professionals in the field.

    The Acropole Film Club, that hires Acropole 2 for three club screenings per week, continued unaffected by the closure.

    The summer cinema will reopen again on Thursday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] CY plane turns back mid-flight

    By Jean Christou

    YESTERDAY'S Cyprus Airways (CY) Heathrow flight turned back two hours into the journey after crew suspected there might have been unaccompanied baggage on board.

    One furious passenger, whose wife and daughter left on the 4am flight to London and were due to catch a connecting flight to Glasgow, accused the airline of disregard for passenger safety and customer care.

    The Dubai-based businessman said that as a result of the flight's return to Larnaca at around 6.30am, his wife and daughter had missed their connection, which was non-refundable but were allegedly told by CY staff that the airline "had no responsibility in this matter".

    He said CY, instead of diverting to the nearest airport, had made a two- hour return trip while uncertain as to how dangerous the possible piece of unaccompanied luggage might have been. "Given that you considered the mater serious enough to divert the flight, your decision to return to Larnaca rather than a closer airport subjected my family and the lives of all passengers to an unacceptable level of risk," the man said in an open letter to the airline.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis confirmed the incident saying the plane was near Rhodes when the discrepancy in passenger numbers and baggage tickets was discovered. He said it was the result of some mix-up with a travel coupon received from Dubai.

    He said although it was clearly just a mix-up the captain of the plane had decided to err on the side of safety and return to Larnaca where the baggage in question could be identified. The flight eventually left for London at 10.50am yesterday.

    "The crew was not sure whether one passenger had stayed behind and given in luggage so for security reasons they decided that after the events in the States on September 11, to be very strict and to be on the safe side they decided to come back," Angelis said.

    He said it was up to passengers to complain if they wished but that there were "some procedures that the captain knows best". "The action to return to Larnaca might have appeared a little exaggerated but they just wanted to be on the safe side," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Amateur fishermen close Limassol port

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    A FLEET of 150 amateur fishing boats blocked Limassol port for four hours on Sunday, as part of demonstrations by amateur fishermen against laws on amateur fishing.

    The fishermen refused to open access to the port, preventing ships from moving in and out, until government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou agreed set up a meeting between demonstrators and appropriate authorities to review their demands.

    Angry fishermen extended their blockade, initially from 10.30am till 12.00pm, for a further two and a half hours in response to the alleged 'negative attitude' of Agriculture Minister, Costas Themistocleous, said Chairman of the Pancyprian Association of Amateur Fishermen (PAAF), Demetris Demetriou.

    The minister had shown no interest in meeting with the amateur fishermen before the demonstration and told deputies who approached him that the police were quite capable of handling the matter, said Demetriou yesterday.

    The amateur fishermen warned that demonstrations would continue until they had an opportunity to discuss their demands regarding recent legislation on amateur fishing licences.

    Licenses for spear gun fishing with oxygen tanks or at night with flashlights were revoked early this year, sparking fierce protest by the PAAF against the Fisheries Department, claiming the action would effectively cripple the sport. The step to curb amateur fishing will go one step further next year when the permitted length of fishing nets will be reduced from one thousand to one hundred metres.

    In response to allegations, Themistocleous said yesterday amateur fishermen were clearly not being driven out of the sea - they were allowed to use equipment and methods that no other European country would permit. About meeting with the PAAF, Themistocleous maintained he had already met with them four times to discuss spear gun fishing. He emphasised the fact that most forms of spear gun fishing was banned abroad and fishing nets not allowed for amateur fishing.

    In a previous statement to the Cyprus Mail, Gabriel Gabrielides, Head of the Fisheries Department, said the new rules were part of Cyprus's obligation to the EU to limit fishing efforts. According to the fisheries department, there are ten different ways to fish as an amateur, as opposed to just using a spear gun with equipment, which they see as an unfair sport.

    The amateur fishermen held banners on Sunday saying, "No to drugs, yes to fishing," according to Politis yesterday with the justification that banning of the sport would lead children to recreational drug use.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [11] Greek Cypriot seeks to sell apartment in the north

    By Jean Christou

    A GREEK Cypriot man from Nicosia has advertised an apartment block he owns in Kyrenia for sale after he claimed Laiki Bank asked him to pay the 30- year old mortgage on his property in the north.

    Yiannis Lartides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday he has placed the advertisement in newspapers here and in the north of the island.

    The ad reads : 'For sale apartment block in Kyrenia consisting of 12 apartments worth 700,000. Offers will be considered from Greek and Turkish Cypriots.'

    "If any Turk is interested I will sell it to him," Lartides said. He claimed Laiki Bank wants him to pay 112,000 for a loan he took out in the early seventies to build the apartment block, 56,000 for the loan and another 56,000 in interest. He says he doesn't have the money to pay it back.

    The apartment block in Kyrenia was completed just two days before the invasion in 1974. Lartides had secured a loan from National and Grindlays, which was taken over by Laiki in 1983.

    "Two days before the invasion the workers gave me the key but I never got to see the finished interior," Lartides said. Like all Greek Cypriot refugees, Lartides was not forced to pay any mortgage on properties left behind after the invasion. However he said Laiki came to him in 1994 asking for the 112,000. The case went to court. "I told the court that I lost my property but the bank took the case back again to the court," Lartides said adding that he might be forced to sell one of two apartment blocks he owns in Nicosia to pay the 112,000.

    "After 30 years they tell me to pay 112,000 I said I can't pay," he said. "The only way for me to get the money is to put the property up for sale. I want to sell it. I don't mind who buys it. I don't have the money to pay them." He told the bank they could have the Kyrenia property in lieu of the loan repayment, since they valued it at 700,000, but they declined, he claimed.

    Lartides said he has the title deeds of the property but he has no idea if the Turkish Cypriot administration has let or sold the property already.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides could not be reached for comment yesterday but his deputy Petros Clerides said he would have to look into this particular case.

    Nicholas Papadopoulos, from the Tassos Papadopoulos law firm, which represents Laiki Bank told the Cyprus Mail that the representation of Lartides' case in the press had been one-sided. He said that Laiki had withdrawn from the 1994 law suit but had been counter-sued by Lartides. The results of that case were issued in the June 13 court ruling.

    Papadopoulos said that the court had not ruled that Lartides repay Laiki, only that he did not, for various reasons, qualify to be a 'stricken-off debtor' like other refugees, and that theoretically he could be liable to pay back the bank. However Laiki has made no move in this direction, Papadopoulos said. He said that several times he asked Lartides why he had brought a case against Laiki but received "no clear answer".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [12] Gun search bears no fruit

    By a Staff Reporter

    AT FIVE o'clock yesterday morning, 40 police officers were dispatched to Kantou village, to investigate a tip-off concerning an arms stash.

    Members of Limassol CID, the Pachna police force, bomb squad and sniffer dogs were sent to look for hidden guns, explosives and other stolen items. The team of officers spent several hours going over the area but did not find the stash.

    Police investigations are set to continue as the information is said to be highly reliable.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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