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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-07

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

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


Saturday, December 7, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] 20 BILLION EUROS
  • [02] CSE rejects Sharelink move on White Knight
  • [03] Twisters strike Paphos coast
  • [04] Amendment planned to allow transsexuals to marry
  • [05] Credit card chaos looms as JCC strike drags on
  • [06] Man stabbed in Limassol fight between Turkish Cypriots
  • [07] Domestic violence 'spiralling out of control'
  • [08] CY to receive new Airbus next week
  • [09] BP out of petrol by Monday?
  • [10] Euro parliament chief arrives tonight
  • [11] DNA tests the next steps in exhumations
  • [12] R&D up in 2000 but still low by international standards

  • [01] 20 BILLION EUROS

    That could be the bill for renovating the north, with half going on the 'ghost city' of Famagusta

    By Alex Mita

    IT COULD cost an estimated 20 billion euros to renovate the north in the event of a solution, with half of that going to rebuild the abandoned coastal resort of Famagusta and the suburb of Varosha.

    The Cyprus Mail has learned through a reliable source that the Town Planning Authority is studying possible scenarios for reconstruction or renovation, in case of a settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    "I can tell you that there is a preliminary plan where the government is studying possible scenarios on how to rebuild Famagusta in case of a solution," the source said.

    "The first scenario is just to renovate the existing buildings in Famagusta, while other scenarios include renovating all the houses and building the entire seaside front from scratch." The third option is to demolish and build the entire city from scratch.

    "In the case of the third scenario they are thinking of building a city of the future," the source said. "Famagusta is a ghost town and the cost of renovating it would exceed the cost of rebuilding it. So they are seriously considering rebuilding the whole city from scratch, including the sewage system, roads and creating a sample city for the European Union."

    The source said that the EU had been in close contact with the Town Planning Authority. It is thought that the project would be partly funded by the EU, while foreign and Greek contractors have shown great interest in undertaking the massive project. "The cost for a complete reconstruction of the city in a period of up to twenty years is estimated to be in the region of 10 billion euros," said the source, "while the cost of renovating the north including Famagusta is estimated to be in the region of 20 billion euro."

    The source revealed that the government had studied the issue so thoroughly that they have even discussed how to get rid of the rubble created from razing Famagusta to the ground. "The government is considering dumping the waste into abandoned mines owned by the Church that would have to be returned to their original geomorphic state before they were dug up.

    "Another idea is to dump the rubble into the sea to create a small island, the same way Lebanon created a small island from rubble as they reconstructed Beirut, after the war."

    Both the Communications and Interior Ministries have denied knowledge of any plans to rebuild Famagusta. But, speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Electricity Authority spokesman Tassos Roussos said the EAC had been studying the issue for a number of years and an estimate had been presented on the cost of restructuring the electricity network.

    "Based on knowledge of what we left behind in 1974, we have an estimate of what the cost would probably be for rebuilding the entire electricity network in Famagusta," he said. "In order to reach a possible estimate we have to take some things into consideration, for example what the function of the city of Famagusta would be.

    "If the city is intended for tourism the demand for electricity would be immense. Taking all these factors into consideration we have come with up with a figure of 30-40 million.

    "However, we still don't know what will happen in the case of a possible solution. We don't know how the electricity authority will function. Will it be our responsibility or will the authority be under Turkish Cypriot control?"

    Roussos said the EAC had to consider the state of the network today. "The old systems are probably obsolete," he said. "The electric system in Famagusta would have to be built from scratch, because the cost of repairing the old system would be more than rebuilding it. You also have to consider the fact that it will take many years for the city to be reconstructed."

    An expert from construction giant Cybarco told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that, theoretically, many buildings have suffered because of the salty air and years of neglect.

    "I believe that many of the buildings in Famagusta would have to be torn down," Kypros Gregoriou said. "Studies have to be carried, especially on buildings on the sea front."

    Gregoriou said that years of neglect have probably damaged the buildings beyond repair. "If you consider that the life of cement buildings is up to 60 years if they are inhabited and repaired, you can imagine the state some of the buildings in Famagusta would be in," he said.

    Gregoriou said the cost of rebuilding the city would be astronomical. "If you consider the population of Famagusta in 1974 then over 20,000 housing units would have to be built for the residents," he said. "And if you think that the cost of the sewage system of the city at the time was 1 million, imagine what it would be today."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] CSE rejects Sharelink move on White Knight

    THE COUNCIL of the Stock Exchange (CSE) has rejected an application from Sharelink Financial Services (SFS) to issue up to 219,801,978 new shares to shareholders of White Knight Holdings (WKH) who have accepted a proposal for the purchase of all the company's shares, the CSE announced yesterday.

    The CSE effectively put an end to what independent shareholders said would lead to the swallowing up of WKH and its capital by the CSE-listed SFS.

    The independent shareholders had appealed to the authorities to reject the merger proposal.

    WKH was set up in November 1999, at a time when share prices were at their peak, by the main SFS shareholders, who sit on both boards.

    By June 2000, WKH had raised 76 million from investors who were paying between 50 to 70 cents per share.

    SFS used various methods to take a 42 per cent stake in the company, initially taking 26 per cent, which it paid with SFS shares worth 20 each at the time.

    Bank loans were then used for the purchase of WKH shares, representing an additional 11.5 per cent of the capital.

    Three WKH subsidiaries were used to provide collateral and guarantees for the loans amounting to 12.5 million.

    SFS subsequently increased its holding with the takeover of Kyknos investment company, which also held WKH shares.

    Small shareholders claim that for every pound they invested in WKH, SFS benefited by 30 to 35 cents, while the company's cash reserves were used as an internal pocket for SFS.

    At the same time, the companies that WKH bought to restructure and make profitable ended up incurring more losses than before.

    The companies were run by SFS, which was charging WKH 2 million per year to provide management and administration services.

    To make matters worse WKH found itself saddled with 30 million SFS shares, which had lost 95.5 per cent of their value.

    This meant losses of 28 million for the ordinary WKH shareholders who, unlike SFS, had paid for their shares in cash.

    These shareholders blame the SFS board for huge losses, with 30 per cent of WKH assets effectively wiped out due to bad management.

    Last April, the boards of the two companies announced the merger proposal, whereby WKH shares would be traded for SFS shares, based on their respective internal value.

    But the CSE council has now rejected the proposal, which stops SFS from taking control of 93 per cent of WKH and thus ownership of immovable property worth 40 million and a fleet of six ships leased for 12 years.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Twisters strike Paphos coast

    By Alexia Saoulli

    AN EYEWITNESS yesterday reported three hurricanes in the Paphos district.

    Fifty-five-year old Len Sayer, a former Hong Kong police officer, saw the twisters at 8am yesterday morning off the coast of Peyia.

    "I had just been on the phone to my son, when the phone rang again and it was my neighbour asking us if we had seen the hurricane outside," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    Rushing outside onto the balcony Sayer and his wife were left awestruck at the sight before them.

    "The first hurricane I saw formed on the sea like a water spout and started to move west along the coast towards Ayios Giorgios. Then I notice a second one forming - again on the sea - which proceeded to head towards my house," he said.

    The tornado grew and rose above the water and appeared to touch the sky it was so huge," he said. "It was about 50 metres wide, very black and seemed to go on forever as it swirled powerfully towards us."

    The 55-year-old Briton reached for his camera as the destructive whirlwind came throttling towards his retirement home.

    "It was just so amazing. I couldn't let it go unrecorded. However, it was a tad disconcerting when I saw it head towards me." Thankfully, before the twister hit his home, it veered 200 metres to the west, ripping across the surrounding countryside. It proceeded to completely flatten a goat herder's hut and picked up wild debris and corrugated iron, flinging it violently in its wake as it forced its way up the hill.

    "I saw it picking up corrugated sheets of iron as it whirled up along the hill to the west of our house," Sayer said. "God knows what would have happened if it had hit a house. I'm convinced it would have taken tiles with it and caused extensive damage with the debris it picked up along the way. And someone standing in its path would have been killed for sure."

    The third hurricane formed east of his home on the sea and headed towards Paphos and out of sight. It was about 10-15 kilometres away and so he could not see it as clearly as the first two, he said.

    "It was very scary. Particularly the second one coming towards me because it seemed the largest of the three as it was only 200 metres away from me."

    Sayer has lived in Cyprus for the past six years and although he had witnessed waterspouts in the past, he had never come across anything like this before.

    "Even during my time in Hong Kong I'd seen typhoons but nothing like what I witnessed today," he said.

    Paphos police did not receive any reports on the incident or complaints of any damage.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Amendment planned to allow transsexuals to marry

    By Nicole Neroulias

    HOUSE Legal Affairs Committee members yesterday examined the issue of extending rights of marriage to transsexuals.

    The new Marriage Law, proposed last year and still under discussion in the House, would allow people who have undergone gender reassignment surgery and obtained amended birth certificates legally to marry a member of the newly corresponding opposite sex. These marriages would be officially recognised by the state.

    The decision to extend the Marriage Law to transsexuals stems from a precedent set by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in July that persons who change their gender must be accorded full rights, including the right to marriage.

    Deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides told the Legal Committee members last week that the proposed law was intended to help lawmakers prevent fraudulent marriages, including the rare cases of polygamy, marriages between relatives or involving minors.

    The bill states that legal marriage can only take place between a man and a woman, and would not recognise homosexual marriages. However, a man who has undergone gender reassignment surgery and receives an amended birth certificate could legally marry another man.

    Several transsexual marriages have already taken place in Cyprus, according to reports received by members of the House who were discussing this issue.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Credit card chaos looms as JCC strike drags on

    By Nicole Neroulias

    AN ONGOING strike at JCC Payment Systems Limited has halted thousands of commercial transactions, threatening to choke the economy during the busy Christmas shopping season.

    All employees at the company's electronic centre have been on strike since last Friday, and an additional 62 employees refuse to work overtime. Phone calls to the JCC offices are answered by an apologetic recording, saying, "Due to industrial action, JCC remains closed."

    Transactions worth 15 million remain incomplete due to the strike, while cash withdrawals worth 250,000 a day by holders of foreign cards remain unsettled. The bank has also suspended all cash transfers between banks, and some employees have yet to receive their November salaries as a result of the strikes.

    The labour dispute began when JCC re-hired an information technology specialist, reinstating him to his previous post of deputy department manager. Banking union ETYK appealed to the Labour Ministry, saying JCC had violated standard practices and the Ministry upheld the appeal.

    However, when JCC effectively demoted the employee to the status of a newly appointed member of staff, ETYK was unhappy and decided to initiate strike action.

    The Labour Ministry has dismissed the strike an illegal violation of the Industry Relations Code, and asked ETYK to lift all strike measures. ETYK representatives did not return calls for comment.

    JCC is the primary processor of credit card transactions in Cyprus. The company maintains a client base of registered merchants who choose to accept credit cards as payment for the products and services they offer to their own customers. Company shareholders are the Bank of Cyprus, Laiki Group, Hellenic Bank, the National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank and Arab Bank.

    Cyprus's credit and debit card spending has been on the rise over the last four years, particularly during the month of December. In 2001, spending reached almost half a billion pounds, with more than 50 million during December alone. December 2000 and 1999 saw expenditures reach 42 million and 33 million, respectively.

    If the strike continues, JCC management has said it will be forced to consider suspending the operation of credit card acceptance systems, an action that could severely affect local businesses that depend on holiday season spending.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Man stabbed in Limassol fight between Turkish Cypriots

    A 34-YEAR-old Turkish Cypriot man was in a serious condition yesterday after sustaining four stab wounds in the abdomen during a brawl involving two other Turkish Cypriots in Limassol's Turkish quarter on Thursday night.

    His condition was not life threatening.

    A police officer was lightly injured during the fight.

    Two men, brothers Hasan and Kenan Mehmet, 47 and 39 respectively were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days in connection with attempted murder and assault, and injury of an officer as well as several lesser offences.

    Police said the 11.30pm incident started when Aziz Mehmet, who is related to the suspects, passed outside their home and verbally abused them.

    Kenan rushed out asking for an explanation while Aziz got out of the car and continued to hurl abuse at him, police said.

    Hasan then came out too and smashed the vehicle's windscreen with a crowbar.

    The three then came to blows while police arrived on the scene and tried to break them up.

    Hasan allegedly attacked the officers injuring one in the abdomen with a knife.

    He then turned to Aziz, who was lying on the ground, and stabbed him four times in the abdomen and shoulder.

    Limassol police director Theodoros Stylianou said police were investigating the cause of the incident but reports said the fight started for "reasons of honour".

    Greek Cypriot residents of the area, most of whom are refugees, have repeatedly complained about the situation in the Turkish quarter, which houses a large number of Turkish Cypriot gypsies.

    The Greek Cypriots claim the gypsies create huge problems with their behaviour.

    The problem has escalated in the past year, with the gypsy population increasing fivefold, residents said.

    Residents claimed Gypsies drive their cars recklessly, without licence or insurance, damage other vehicles, curse and threaten, and that people are scared to go out after dark.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Domestic violence 'spiralling out of control'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    EXAMPLES of horrific domestic violence incidents left deputies at the House Crime Committee speechless this week, as a representative of the Attorney- general's office charged judiciary officials with failing to protect minors from their abusive parents.

    On Wednesday, senior state attorney Eleni Loizidou told the Committee that judges would not issue warrants removing minors from their family home, because court registrars refused to operate courtrooms after working hours. The result, she said, was that children were left at the mercy of their abusive parents.

    Loizidou said an epileptic child's life had been in danger recently because its mother beat it. But a judge would not issue the required court order removing it from the home, because the time the request was lodged was not within working hours. The attorney blamed court registrars, for claiming union rules prevented courts operating during non-working hours and bank holidays, which in turn thwarted judges' abilities to issue the necessary court orders.

    When the court registrars were approached to explain the matter, she said, they allegedly told her "to come by in the mornings". Due to the severity of the accusation, the deputies decided to hold another meeting with a judicial representative present, as well as the Supreme Court's senior court registrar, in order to hear their views.

    Loizidou, who is a member of the Domestic Violence Advisory Committee, said all services that were involved in domestic violence cases were ineffective in their roles and that any progress made took place in fits and starts, thus failing fully to protect victims.

    She pointed out that the Social Welfare Service, for instance, was unable to handle the heavy load of child abuse cases due to staff shortages and that there were not enough safe houses to place the children in once they had been removed from their homes.

    There were also practical difficulties in protecting child victims of violence, she added. A mother had abused her 10-year-old girl for eight years, the committee heard, breaking broomsticks on her child. When the Welfare Service, police and Attorney-general's office intervened, there was no safe house to place the child in. Finally, the girl had to be placed in a hostel, from where her parents tried to remove her. Police were called, but the officers on duty refused to arrest the girl's parents and it took a phone call from Attorney-general Alecos Markides to get them to do it, she said.

    Loizidou said her office was dealing with 1,500 domestic violence cases. The problem was so vast that the Attorney-general had sent a memo telling all civil servants that had knowledge of such incidences to inform him, so that they could be investigated, she said. Meanwhile, Loizidou suggested setting up a service made up of specialists that not only protected abuse victims, but also provided help to the abusers themselves. At the moment, individuals inflicting violence on others were only sent to psychiatric wards, she said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] CY to receive new Airbus next week

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) will take delivery of its first ever 295-seater Airbus A330 next Thursday, the airline said yesterday.

    The A330, will be flown from the Airbus plant in Toulouse, France, with Airbus instructors aboard, who will continue to fly with CY pilots for the first month after the aircraft goes into service.

    The national carrier's second A330 is expected to be delivered around April next year. The two larger planes will replace CY's fleet of four 240-seater A310s, which have been sold to the same company the airline is leasing the A330s from.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said the new A330's inaugural flight would be to London on or around December 23. In the meantime, he said, the company's pilots would undergo training on the new aircraft. One team of pilots has already undergone six weeks of training in Toulouse. The A330s will be used on long-haul flights, mainly to the UK.

    CY recently took delivery of two new Airbus A319s, which has 126 seats, and is used for shorter-haul flights to Greece, Europe and the Middle East.

    The national carrier's charter arm Eurocypria is acquiring four Boeing 737s with 189 seats each at the beginning of next year, on long-term contracts. The Airbuses currently leased by CY to Eurocypria will then be returned to the national carrier.

    The completion of the addition of new planes will bring the fleet's total 16 aircraft, and is expected to cover the company's needs for the next five years at least.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [09] BP out of petrol by Monday?

    By Alex Mita

    UNIONS representing staff working for petroleum companies BP and Exxon- Mobil yesterday announced they would continue their strike indefinitely after renewed talks over the renewal of a collective agreement failed.

    The move means that BP and Exxon-Mobil stations around the island could be left with out petrol by early next week.

    The dispute began two weeks ago when demands for a rise in pension and redundancy pay were denied.

    In a news release yesterday, Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV) said an indefinite strike was a wholly disproportionate response to the issue in dispute.

    "The dispute arose during negotiations for the renewal of their collective agreement," the statement said.

    "A proposal issued by the mediation service of the Labour Ministry was accepted by the companies, subject to a few points of clarification.

    "Further talks with the unions and the Labour Ministry resulted in the Mediator issuing an amended proposal. This amended proposal clarified the arrangements for pension increases without altering the substance of spirit of the Mediator's original proposals. The companies accepted this, but the employees didn't."

    OEV said the pay and benefits enjoyed by employees were very competitive when compared nationally and internationally.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, BP Chairman, George Petrou said the strike would affect BP and Exxon-Mobil stations on the island.

    "The indefinite strike means that petrol stations will not be supplied and we will have no other option but to close them down until the dispute is sorted out," he said.

    "There are still ongoing talks to resolve the situation, but it seems we have an unacceptable disagreement regarding pay rises. We have been giving redundancy and pension pay for 20 years although it was at our discretion. Their demands to have the pension and redundancy pay made mandatory would have a major effect on local and foreign companies."

    A spokesman for PEO trade union said talks were still going on between the two parties but stressed the strike would continue indefinitely.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [10] Euro parliament chief arrives tonight

    THE LEADER of the European Parliament will arrive in Cyprus tonight for a short visit, during which he will meet with Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders.

    President Pat Cox's visit takes place just three days before the European Union summit in Copenhagen, during which Cyprus and nine other candidate countries are expected to be invited to join in 2004.

    Cox will kick off his two-day stay by meeting with House President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot party leaders on Sunday afternoon.

    That evening, he will participate in a round table discussion at the Ledra Palace, in the UN-controlled buffer zone, with the Trade Unions and Chambers of Commerce. After the discussion, Cox will give a press conference.

    On Monday morning, he will meet with President Glafcos Clerides and then attend the third Cyprus summit, part of a series of conferences hosted by The Economist.

    During a mid-morning break from the summit, Cox will attend the official opening of the Nicosia Master Plan, which the European Commission has helped finance, in front of the Ottoman Bath in the Old Town.

    In the early afternoon, Cox will give the keynote speech at the summit luncheon before leaving Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [11] DNA tests the next steps in exhumations

    THE exploratory digging to locate the remains of Turkish Cypriots killed in 1974 in a Larnaca district village has been completed, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

    The remains of 14 Turkish Cypriots were found on Thursday: what remained now is for them to be exhumed and identified using DNA sampling.

    "The exploratory digging, which started on Wednesday in the village of Alaminos by a group of scientists of Physicians for Human Rights has been completed," a Foreign Ministry statement said.

    "Human remains have been found, which according to existing testimony belong to Turkish Cypriots who lost their lives during the exchange of fire with the National Guard on July 20 1974."

    The statement said that after ascertaining the potential of identifying the remains using DNA sampling, "which necessitates the relatives' co- operation", the team would proceed to the exhumation of the remains.

    Nineteen people were killed in the July 20 incident - including five National Guardsmen.

    The Turkish Cypriots were buried on the site by Greek Cypriot villagers.

    The names of the dead from the Alaminos clash are included on the list of 500 Turkish Cypriot missing.

    A 1997 agreement signed by President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash provides for exhumation of remains across the island.

    Yesterday, the Foreign Ministry said it would facilitate visits to the site of relatives, as well as the Turkish Cypriot member of the Missing Persons Investigating Committee.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [12] R&D up in 2000 but still low by international standards

    By Batasha Varma

    CYPRUS spent 14.1 million on scientific research and experimental development (R&D) in 2000 a survey released yesterday has shown.

    In 1999 the amount spent on R&D was 12.4 million, which corresponds to 0.25 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) compared to 0.26 per cent for 2000.

    Despite a 13.3 per cent increase in R&D from 1999 to 2000, the percentage of GDP spent by Cyprus on R&D activities remains considerably lower that in other countries.

    The percentage of GDP devoted to R&D activities by the 15 member-states of the European Union stands at 1.90 per cent on average.

    By sector of performance, the government accounted for 6.6 million -- 46.6 per cent -- of total R&D expenditure, higher education institutions chipped in 3.5 million -- 24.8 per cent -- business gave 3.0 million -- 21.3 per cent -- and private non-profit institutions forked out one million pounds -- 7.3 per cent.

    In comparison to 1999, all sectors of performance increased their percentage to the total at the expense of the government sector, which registered a decrease from 49.4 per cent in 1999 to 46.6 per cent in 2000.

    The largest part -- 8.7 million -- of R&D expenditure was devoted to the natural and agricultural sciences.

    Social sciences absorbed 2.2 million, the humanities 1.2 million, the medical sciences 0.7 million and engineering and technology 1.2 million.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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