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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-31

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

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


Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Pressure mounts on Clerides to seek re-election
  • [02] Bases gearing up for Iraqi war?
  • [03] Bounced cheque provisions could still be watered down
  • [04] The price to pay for peacekeeping
  • [05] Government agrees 4.25 compensation for potato farmers
  • [06] Shot fired at Limassol shop
  • [07] More bad weather on its way

  • [01] Pressure mounts on Clerides to seek re-election

    By George Psyllides

    THE PRESIDENTIAL election scenery remained unclear yesterday, with President Glafcos Clerides tight-lipped on whether he would seek re- election amid reports he was coming under pressure from all sides to do so.

    DISY chief Nicos Anastassiades repeated yesterday that he did not know what Clerides was thinking and suggested patience until mid-January by when presidential hopefuls must officially submit their candidacy.

    Reports, however, claimed that Clerides was under pressure to seek re- election from Greece, the British and the Americans, as well as his own DISY, as he was viewed as the most suitable to negotiate a settlement of the Cyprus problem and sign an agreement.

    The other potential candidate whose name has been floated, Attorney-general Alecos Markides, followed Clerides' example and refused to disclose his thoughts concerning the elections.

    Surveys have found that Markides would have a clear lead over the strongest contender in the elections, DIKO leader Tasos Papadopoulos.

    But yesterday he said that he would not base his decision on whether to run or not on opinion polls.

    Markides declined to hint about his thoughts, saying any potential candidate had first to consider whether they felt they could contribute to the future of the country.

    "We will talk soon, and do not take me for granted, because all these reports (about running) are based on the thoughts of journalists."

    "They do not come from me," Markides added.

    He said the reports were not based on discussion with those involved and the logic used to draw conclusions may not match the logic of the people actually involved.

    The continuing uncertainty did not stop the exchange of barbs between opposing camps yesterday.

    Anastassiades accused DIKO and AKEL of not responding to DISY's call for a government of national unity, proving that the two parties were only interested in climbing to power.

    Anastassiades said DIKO had responded to his call for unity, by saying, "no, we will share power only with AKEL and those who will support us" in the elections.

    He said Papadopoulos had only now, because of the elections, remembered the existence of Turkish Cypriots, adding his party had been in contact with Turkish Cypriot parties since 1977.

    Referring to comments by AKEL spokesman Nicos Katsourides, who accused DISY of being against rapprochement, Anastassiades said: "Let him and his candidate show how many times he met with Turkish Cypriots, apart from in the past two months."

    Papadopoulos said it had become clear that those who knew they would lose the elections were trying to find ways to avert them, adding that their anxiety to keep power at any cost was only too obvious.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Bases gearing up for Iraqi war?

    THE government said yesterday it was closely watching developments at the British bases, which are reportedly gearing up for a possible US-led war on Iraq early in the New Year.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said developments on the island and in the greater region were being "monitored very carefully", following reports that the bases had been put on high alert.

    Bases spokesman Tony Brumwell told the Cyprus News Agency yesterday that there was no increased alert and that everything was "completely normal". However, he admitted that some precautionary measures were under way in case of a conflict.

    Brumwell said the Bases had on Sunday received supplies of vehicles, vehicle trailers and some ammunition, which would be stored for the time being.

    "At the moment, there are going to be stored, we can't say whether there will be used for training, operations or not at all", Brumwell said.

    He said that a British High Commission spokesman had notified the Cyprus Ministry of Defence about the arrival of these supplies, "out of courtesy".

    Brumwell rubbished press reports that the Bases had increased the number of fighter planes and helicopters on site.

    "We couldn't hide a build up of aircraft like that," he said.

    "There is only one aircraft at Akrotiri at the moment."

    Asked about the role of the Bases in a possible attack against Iraq, Brumwell said, "no decision has been taken to make any sort of attack" against Iraq, adding that the Bases had not so far been told by the British government to prepare for any specific role.

    "So what we got to do is begin to plan what that role might be. The role could be very diverse, it could be supporting operations, it could be logistics", Brumwell said.

    "We are doing this planning, we take some precaution, in case we are asked."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Bounced cheque provisions could still be watered down

    By George Psyllides

    THE Central Bank could reconsider certain provisions concerning penalties on those who bounce cheques while the date for implementing new rules regarding post-dated cheques could be pushed even further.

    New rules on bounced cheques were scheduled to come into force on January 2, 2003, but implementation was pushed back a month following a request by the House Finance Committee.

    Provisions concerning post-dated cheques were pushed back even further to July 1, 2003.

    Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday that a final decision on the matter would be taken on January 20.

    Speaking after a meeting with members of the House Finance and Legal Affairs Committees, Christodoulou said there could be some changes in the rules but the philosophy and structure of the law would remain unaltered.

    He added that the February 1 deadline was "final", while a further extension of three months would be considered for post-dated cheques.

    "I will look into the possibility of an extension; they have suggested October 1 instead of July 1 but it could be Septmber 1 instead of October," Christodoulou said.

    The introduction of the new rules effectively puts an end to the practice of issuing post-dated cheques, as banks will now be able cash them upon presentation, irrespective of the date.

    The planned blacklist is designed to reinforce the credibility of cheques by barring cheque bouncers from issuing any further cheques.

    Before anyone can get blacklisted, their cheque must remain unpaid for at least seven days after it is first presented for payment at any bank or co- op.

    The drawer's name is then placed on a preliminary list, giving another chance for settlement.

    If the cheque is paid at this stage, the issuer's name will remain on the preliminary list, though it will not be placed on the blacklist.

    The moment anyone gets blacklisted, banks will freeze all their current accounts and inform them to stop writing cheques and hand in their chequebook within 10 days.

    Anyone on the list cannot open a new current account until their name is removed after a mandatory period of five years.

    Yesterday, Christodoulou said he had heard suggestions concerning the severity of the penalties as well as the seven-days grace period given to a drawer to settle the cheque.

    He said the period could be increased to 15 or 20 days, but added all decisions would be made on January 20, and any changes published before the end of the month.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] The price to pay for peacekeeping

    By George Psyllides

    TAXPAYERS have forked out around 161 million since 1993 for the maintenance of the United Nations peacekeeping force (UNFICYP) on the island, a study revealed yesterday.

    According to the study, prepared by the director of the Cyprus Centre of Strategic Studies Aristos Aristotelous, the upkeep of UNFICYP in the nine years since 1993 added up to around 486.4 million, with Cyprus and Greece chipping in 45.2 per cent of the total cost.

    Since 1993, when Cyprus decided voluntarily to contribute one-third of the cost of maintenance of the force, taxpayers have paid approximately 161.5 million.

    Greece has contributed around 58 million since 1993.

    The cost of UNFICYP between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002 was 42.4 million -- 13.6 million paid by Cyprus and 6.5 million by Greece, the study said.

    The cost was 1.4 million higher than the previous year.

    Preliminary estimates indicated that 23 per cent of the amount covered the costs of employing civilian personnel, 18 per cent went to operational expenses, and 55 per cent towards military personnel.

    A further four per cent was spent on various other overheads.

    The study noted that UNFICYP was a mission that used only a small percentage - 1.5 per cent - of the total budget allocated by the UN for peacekeeping in 2001-2002.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Government agrees 4.25 compensation for potato farmers

    A COMPROMISE deal was thrashed out yesterday between the government and angry potato growers, to be awarded 4.25 million in compensation for weather damage to their crops.

    The decision was announced by Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis, following a meeting of the Cabinet yesterday.

    The decision came a week after behind-the-scenes negotiations between farmers' associations, unions and the government, and 10 days after potato growers blocked access to Larnaca airport in a show of force. Last Monday, the government moved to defuse tensions, agreeing to pay out 1 million in immediate relief aid.

    In addition to the 4.25 million compensation to potato growers, the rest of the agricultural community would be receiving 6 million, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous said yesterday. Themistocleous added that the cash would be made available as soon as possible.

    Overall, the compensation would amount to a cash payment of around 500- 600 per family.

    For his part, Rolandis said the sum should be considered "satisfactory." But the Cabinet's decision came under fire from trade union SEK, saying the compensation was inadequate and late in coming. Last week, farmers associations were floating a 5.6 million figure.

    SEK general secretary Costas Constantinides was particularly critical of the fact that 250,000 pounds of the potato growers' compensation would come from their social security fund, according to the Cabinet's decision, which Constantinides dismissed as "predictable".

    He went on to lash out at the government for its delayed response to the plight of the farming community, which led to the takeover of Larnaca airport.

    "Although we do not condone such actions, nevertheless it could all have been averted if the government had listened to the farmers early on," said Constantinides.

    In the wake of the mayhem caused at the airport, national carrier Cyprus Airways also asked for compensation from the government; the figure cited was around half a million pounds. But yesterday the Cabinet issued a laconic statement: CY would be receiving no damages payout.

    The Cabinet has said it will be reconvening again in early January to review the situation; the farming community claims that, despite the cash payments, it is still in dire straits. Last year's damages to crops have been coupled by more destruction by freak hailstorms this winter.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Shot fired at Limassol shop

    POLICE were yesterday investigating a shot fired at a shop in Limassol, which shattered the glass door.

    Police believe the perpetrator of the shooting had used a stolen car, which was found shortly after the incident.

    The car had been reported stolen by its owner at 8.10pm.

    The man said his vehicle had been parked outside a bakery on Paphos Street.

    At around the same time, police received information that an unknown person in a car, fitting the description of the car reported as stolen, had fired one shot at a shop, shattering the glass door.

    The gunman fled the scene and abandoned the car shortly afterwards near the area where it had been stolen.

    Police believe a military rifle was used to fire the shot.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] More bad weather on its way

    WEATHER forecasts say a wet week lies ahead, with skies only clearing up a little as the New Year sets in.

    More rains and sporadic storms will be arriving starting late tomorrow afternoon, following a brief lull today. Temperatures should rise to a comfortable 17 degrees inland and 19 degrees on the coast.

    New Year's Day will start out dry, as clouds later gather to bring rainstorms, and snow and sleet high on the Troodos mountains. The showers will continue onto Friday.

    The bout of bad weather is caused by a low-pressure wave heading eastward from mainland Greece.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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