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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-01-13

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Wednesday, January 13, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Hercus to New York for surprise Cyprus talks
  • [02] High commissioner's replacement dies suddenly
  • [03] Cyprus denies it scuppered Dutch visit
  • [04] December electricity bills down 24 per cent
  • [05] Green light for Viagra today?
  • [06] Dynamite find wreaks havoc in Limassol
  • [07] Cyprus hub concept becoming reality
  • [08] December sales were high for most
  • [09] Crunch time for loss-making government hotels
  • [10] Tobacco merger unlikely to impact Cyprus for several months
  • [11] British trade mission in Cyprus next month
  • [12] Obituary: Colonel Anthony Simonds

  • [01] Hercus to New York for surprise Cyprus talks

    By Jean Christou

    UNFICYP chief of mission Dame Ann Hercus is to fly to New York today via London for talks on the Cyprus problem.

    An announcement yesterday said Dame Ann would hold talks with UN Secretary- general Kofi Annan. En route, she will stop in London for talks with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. She will return to the island on Saturday.

    "Both meetings will focus on the UN's 1999 agenda of efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem," the statement said.

    Dame Ann is carrying out her three-month-old shuttle talks in secret without even informing each side of what the other is saying.

    The surprise UN announcement was followed late yesterday by the news that Britain's special Cyprus envoy Sir David Hannay would be on the island in the next few weeks.

    The two developments, coupled with the resumption after the holiday break of the UN-backed shuttle-talks on Monday, are seen as a renewal of international interest in resolve the Cyprus problem.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides confirmed that there was an increased interest in Cyprus, in the wake of President Clerides' cancellation of the Russian s-300 missiles. He said missile the decision had created a positive climate.

    "There is indeed an increased interest on the part of the international community following the review of the decision on the missiles," Stylianides said. "But this interest has not yet materialised in a concrete manner."

    He added that so far there had been no indications from the Turkish side.

    US ambassador Kenneth Brill, who met President Clerides on Monday, crossed to the occupied areas to see Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash yesterday.

    British High Commissioner David Madden met Denktash on Monday and Clerides yesterday.

    Following the meeting with Clerides, Madden announced that Sir David would be visiting the island.

    And he said tomorrow's London meeting between Dame Ann and Robin Cook could be seen as an initial step in Britain's support of the UN process.

    Madden said the meeting was an important indicator of Britain's full support for the UN process.

    Madden also stressed the importance of the two UN resolutions recently adopted on Cyprus by the Security Council, and particularly the one calling on the Secretary-general to secure a staged process for the reduction of troops and armaments on the island.

    "In our view, the resolution provides very clear objectives and sets out some of the steps we would like to see taken," Madden said.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [02] High commissioner's replacement dies suddenly

    BRITISH diplomat John Martin, who was to replace David Madden as Britain's High Commissioner to Cyprus in March, has died suddenly.

    "It is with great sadness that the British High Commission has to announce the death of John Martin on January 5, after a short illness," the High Commission in Nicosia said in a brief statement yesterday.

    Martin - who was 54 when he died - was posted to Cyprus between 1978 and 1982, when he was head of the High Commission's political section.

    A fluent Greek speaker, Martin had served at the British Embassy in Athens from 1970 to 1974. The career diplomat also served in Lagos and New York. His last posting, which he took up in 1993, was as British High Commissioner to Lilongwe, Malawi.

    Martin was married with three sons, one of them only 10.

    A British diplomat said yesterday that following Martin's death, Madden would be staying on as High Commissioner till the end of March. Madden's next posting is as Britain's Ambassador to Athens.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [03] Cyprus denies it scuppered Dutch visit

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS has denied reports in a Dutch newspaper that it refused to allow a parliamentary delegation from the Netherlands to meet Turkish Cypriot politicians.

    According to Saturday's edition of Algemeen Dagblad, a delegation from the second chamber of the Dutch parliament cancelled their visit to Cyprus "because their freedom of movement was curtailed".

    "The Greek Cypriot authorities refused at the very last moment to agree on a planned conversation with the chairman of the Turkish Cypriot parliament, " the paper said.

    But a source at the House of Representatives, which was due to host the delegation, told the Cyprus Mail that the reports were inaccurate. He did, however, confirm that the Dutch delegation had cancelled its visit, which had been due to begin last Sunday.

    "A framework for the visit was agreed by both, and at the last moment the Dutch failed to comply," the source said.

    He said what the Dutch delegation wanted was unacceptable, "and in our view would have constituted recognition of the illegal regime".

    "What is acceptable to us are fact-finding missions, meetings with political parties in the occupied areas and meetings with (Rauf) Denktash as leader of the Turkish Cypriot community."

    But the source said the Dutch delegation had wanted meetings with Turkish Cypriot 'ministers'.

    The Greek Cypriot side does not object to people crossing to the north on such visits on a private basis.

    "But they wanted these visits under an official umbrella. The Republic of Cyprus could not accept this. We could not agree to an official visit," the source said.

    He said an appropriate official response has already been sent to the Dutch newspaper.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [04] December electricity bills down 24 per cent

    By Athena Karsera

    DECEMBER Electricity bills will be down up to 24 per cent on the previous year, but that's no reason to waste power, according to the Electricity Authority, which is trying to balance the windfall reductions with a power saving campaign.

    Speaking yesterday, the EAC's press officer Tassos Roussos said "the big reductions seen in electricity bills lately are due to the lowering of petrol prices in the international market."

    The lower prices had prompted the Authority to lower the cost of electricity per kilowatt, he said.

    The spokesman added that the average household's December 1998 electricity bill would be up to 24 per cent cheaper per kilowatt than that for December 1997.

    But in spite of the lower prices, and in an effort to prevent waste, the Authority has fixed a set price for the first 120 kilowatts used, thereafter raising the price up to 200 kilowatts, and again after that.

    The parallel saving publicity campaign will continue until the end of January, Roussos said.

    In March last year, the EAC came under pressure to cut bills to reflect savings made on cutting electricity supplies to the occupied areas.

    Consumers still pay a 15 per cent supercharge on their bills, which used to subsidise the supply of power to the occupied areas.

    This is no longer necessary since the construction of a power station in the occupied areas. But the surcharge remains.

    At the time Roussos said bills would not go down because "the EAC has a very large expansion programme." Money raised from the surcharge would be channelled into investment and expansion.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [05] Green light for Viagra today?

    By Andrew Adamides

    SEX WONDER drug Viagra is expected to be okayed for the Cyprus market today.

    Samples of the blue miracle pills, which have lifted the spirits of impotent men worldwide, have already been supplied to the Cyprus Pharmaceutical Council for testing and, according to reports, the Council has been entirely satisfied by the product.

    If no unexpected obstacles arise to block the drug, sales are expected to start next month.

    Viagra, which is made by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, became one of the buzz-words of 1998, and has helped impotence sufferers across the globe to regain normal sex lives.

    A bona-fide pop culture icon, it has also been immortalised in countless comedy shows and stand-up routines, as well as inspiring dozens of puns.

    Cyprus' Viagra will be imported from Greece, where Viagra is already available. Cypriots seeking it will only be able to get it on prescription, however, and a doctor must decide whether a patient needs the 25, 50 or 100 milligram dosage.

    Before taking the drug, anyone with heart problems will first have to consult a cardiologist, and doctors have warned that it cannot be used more than once a day. Other side-effects can include dizziness, increased heart rate and blurred vision. Viagra must not be used in conjunction with any other medication.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [06] Dynamite find wreaks havoc in Limassol

    POLICE had to evacuate the offices of the island's biggest shipping agency in Limassol yesterday after an explosive device was found outside the building.

    The home-made bomb turned out to be a dud.

    At around midday, police received a call from a distraught worker at the offices of Columbia Shipping Ltd, telling them a "thing wrapped in tape, maybe a bomb" had been found.

    Police rushed to the offices in downtown Limassol to find a bundle of dynamite sticks bound together with sticky tape left by the perimeter fence of the gardens of the offices.

    Workers were ordered to evacuate the premises while a wide area around the offices was cordoned off and police explosives chief Antonis Shiakalis was sent for from Nicosia.

    News of the bomb find caused panic among residents and shoppers in the area.

    When Shiakalis arrived on the scene less than an hour later he found the device had no detonator attached to it.

    Police are investigating.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [07] Cyprus hub concept becoming reality

    By Anthony O. Miller

    CYTA has taken yet another step to position the island as the region's pre- eminent communications hub, with undersea fibre-optic connections that will eventually hook it up as far as Singapore.

    The private Israeli company, Med-1 Submarine Cables Ltd, has just finished laying an undersea cable linking Israel, Cyprus and Sicily, Cyta Assistant General Manager Kyriacos Christodoulides said yesterday. It is to be commissioned in mid-March in Israel.

    Cyprus' $5 million investment in Med-1 gives Cyta a 7.25 per cent share in the company, a seat on the board, and revenues for maintaining the cable's touchdown station in Cyprus, he said.

    Med-1 planned to bypass Cyprus and go from Israel to Italy, Christodoulides said: "Cyprus was out of the picture. We contacted them and managed to persuade them to lay the cable to Cyprus."

    With the Med-1's Tel Aviv-Paphos-Sicily links, "now we have additional cable access to Israel, and then additional access from Cyprus to Italy," he said.

    The new Med-1 cable is the second fibre-optic one linking Cyprus directly with Israel. The first cable also has links with Syria and Lebanon.

    Cyprus is also linked to an international undersea fibre-optic cable highway that begins in Marseilles and ends up in Singapore via Egypt, Christodoulides said.

    "Via a spur of this highway, from Alexandria to... very close to Zygi," he said, Cyprus is hooked to this second undersea highway, and through it, "we have access all over the world."

    Cyprus's third undersea fibre-optic links go from Paphos to Crete to Marseilles. "The three (undersea) cables come from the European countries and can be switched to two other highways, one going east and west, the other going only west," he said.

    A fourth undersea fibre-optic cable - "the longest and most expensive cable system in the world" - is to be begun in July, Christodoulides said. Cyta's share of its $1.4-billion price tag is $28.5 million, he added.

    This cable - the "Sea-Me-We-3" (Southeast Asia, Middle East, Western Europe) - will run from Northern Germany to Belgium, France and Britain, and connect with Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Morocco, before running out to Singapore, he said.

    There it will connect with the Middle East and Gulf states, as well as India, Pakistan, Thailand and Southeast Asia, before splitting off from its Singapore hub to Australia on one leg, and Japan and South Korea on its other one, he explained.

    "Cyprus has a direct link on this cable," Christodoulides said. "We are co- owners, we are investors... All these countries' traffic... joins the Cyprus traffic, and we all go outside these countries (onto the world's cable highways)," he said.

    "This is the beauty of the Cyprus Hub, which was a dream in the late '80s and early '90s. It is a must now - that anything that passes Cyprus must also land in Cyprus. Otherwise, the Cyprus Hub concept is dead."

    "We believe whoever owns the capacity will survive," in the world of global communications, Christodoulides said, especially after EU accession forces the Cyprus government to privatise Cyta to join the global telecommunications competition.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [08] December sales were high for most

    By Martin Hellicar

    WHILE the festive season provided the expected cash bonanza for most shops, for other outlets poor takings proved to be the final straw pushing them to protest action.

    Major high-street shops yesterday reported satisfactory business over the last few weeks of 1998. But owners of shops along old Nicosia's pedestrian thoroughfares are so disgruntled they are planning a protest shut-down.

    Shop owners along Ledra and Onasagorou street are to close their doors at 11 am on Wednesday January 27 - two hours early - and march on the Town hall to hand over a petition to Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades.

    The vexed shopkeepers say pedestrianisation has crippled their business. They want the municipality to take action to fill their cash-registers.

    "We call all shopkeepers in the area but also concerned residents who suffer with us to gather in Phaneromeni square to approve a petition and then march down Ledra street to the municipality to hand over the petition, " Trifonas Neocleous, of shopkeepers' union Povek, said yesterday.

    Neocleous said the municipality had turned a deaf ear to shop owners' repeated pleas for support.

    The feeling among managers of major high-street shops was more positive.

    "Good," was the reply of one department store manager when asked what takings had been like over the festive season.

    "The general feeling around, concerning the last two months of the year, is that business was satisfactory," the manager of a chain of large Nicosia general stores said.

    He said takings had been about the same as for the same period the year before.

    The response was similar from other major outlets.

    Also yesterday, Povek confirmed that the Commerce Ministry had decided to allow shops to begin their winter sales two weeks early, on January 18.

    Neocleous said the ministry had decided to sanction the early start to sales because it was unable to prevent shops flouting the law and putting the "sale" signs up early.

    The Commerce Minister, Nicos Rolandis, is by law empowered to bring forward the start date for winter sales - set as the first Monday in February - by 15 days.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [09] Crunch time for loss-making government hotels

    By Anthony O. Miller

    COMMERCE Minister Nicos Rolandis is taking up with President Glafcos Clerides today the controversies still stalking the government-owned Nicosia Hilton Hotel: whether to replace its entire board, and whether tax money was overspent by the previous board.

    Rolandis had threatened early in December to call a Nicosia Hilton extraordinary general board meeting around January 5 with the aim of replacing the entire board if it continued rejecting the Council of Ministers' choice for its chairman, Byron Kranidiotis, instead of the chairman it elected, Marios Pelides.

    The Council of Ministers must also still resolve whether some 9 million in taxpayer's money was overspent by the board in its 16-million renovation of the luxury Nicosia Hilton under prior board chairman, Andreas Kaisis, some of whose companies got renovation contracts.

    "That has been left in abeyance because of the various problems we had connected with the missiles," Rolandis said yesterday. "I'm taking this matter up (today) with the president, so that we can proceed with that. We have to resolve this issue."

    "As it was handled by the president, personally - he had two meetings in my presence with the board - I thought it appropriate to wait for the president to be in a position to take it up. I could not start with the Hilton when he was handling the missile problems."

    While "the hotel is running... they have a loss" due to high interest rates and depreciations, Rolandis said, because the renovation investments were made "without the infusion of extra capital."

    A major reason the Nicosia Hilton is losing money for its owner, the Cyprus Tour Development Company (CTDC), is because other Nicosia hotels drew off business during and after the expensive renovation, he said. The government owns 82 per cent of the CTDC's shares, with the private sector holding the rest.

    Where four or five years ago the Hilton's annual income "used to be approximately 1.5 million, now the income has gone under 1 million because of competition in Nicosia," Rolandis said.

    So, while Hilton International makes money on the hotel, the CTDC is losing around "700,000 to 800,000" per year on the hotel since the renovations and the loss of business.

    While "this has caused a collapse of the price of the hotel" share value, he said, Hilton International has no plans to pull its name from the hotel. To the contrary, it recently renewed its contract to keep its name there through 2020.

    The nagging question of the money-losing, government-owned Philoxenia Hotel "will be taken up, as well, one of these days," Rolandis said, acknowledging it badly "needs refurbishing to the tune of 2 million."

    But he said the Council of Ministers would ultimately have to decide how to deal with the corner, into which the House of Representatives painted both the government and itself by prohibiting the sale of any shares in the limited company it created to oversee that hotel's operation.

    Rolandis has little patience for "this paradox: the government is the owner of this company (but) cannot do what any owner of property can do - sell the property. We are deprived of this right," he once said.

    "This matter has to be taken before the Council of Ministers again," he said, before the government can even countenance offering any Philoxenia stock, for instance, on the open market.

    The Philoxenia's board, unable to finance needed renovations and tired of watching the threadbare hotel rot for lack of attention, wants the enterprise closed down in March.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [10] Tobacco merger unlikely to impact Cyprus for several months

    BRITISH AMERICAN Tobacco Plc's announcement on Monday that it was acquiring Rothmans International is not likely to have any impact on the operations of the two cigarette manufacturers on the island for at least several months, Johan Mathijs, BAT's manager in Cyprus, said yesterday.

    "We've only learned about the proposed acquisition yesterday, like everyone else," said Mathijs, a Belgian.

    "It is far too early to say what is going to happen here in Cyprus. The proposed acquisition must first be approved by shareholders and then by the European Anti-Trust Commission."

    A high-powered task force, he added, had been set up by the two companies to look into the amalgamation of their activities globally.

    The acquisition of Rothmans by BAT combines the world's second- and fourth- largest cigarette companies in a group worth about $21.3 billion. The new giants will be almost the size of world No. 1 Philip Morris of the United States, but the merger will cause job losses in their combined workforce of 70,000.

    The move unites BAT's major international brands such as State Express 555, Lucky Strike, and Kent with Rothmans' eponymous brands, Peter Stuyvesant and Dunhill. It also makes a good geographic fit across the globe.

    Cyprus is a 1.6-billion-cigarette-a-year market that is worth roughly 70 million, including tax. BAT has 24.6 per cent of the market, according to Mathijs.

    BAT employs 120 people in Cyprus and fully owns and runs a production facility which makes such brands as Benson and Hedges, Lucky Strike and John Players Gold Leaf for both local consumption and export.

    "Cyprus is a profitable market," said Mathijs.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [11] British trade mission in Cyprus next month

    A BRITISH trade mission made up of 19 companies will be visiting Cyprus in the first week of February.

    The trade mission, on the island from February 1 to 5, is sponsored by the British Department of Trade and Industry, and organised by the East Mercia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    A wide range of products will be represented, from agricultural tractor parts, to draught beer dispensers and items for electrical installations.

    Some of the companies participating in the mission are already represented in Cyprus, while others are looking for agents or associates on the island.

    Those who wish to discuss business opportunities with any of the mission members handling the products and services should contact the Commercial Section of the British High Commission at 02 861100, fax 02 861150.

    Wednesday, January 13, 1999

    [12] Obituary: Colonel Anthony Simonds

    COLONEL Anthony Simonds OBE, 89, a former MI9 officer and longtime resident of Cyprus died last week. He was 89.

    Simonds, who played a crucial part in many covert operations in the 1930s and during World War Two, was born on November 21, 1909 to a long- established Berkshire family involved in banking and brewing. Educated at Wellington college, he was commissioned into the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1931.

    Many in Cyprus will remember him as the proprietor of the St Paul's Anglican Church second hand book stall, which he ran in the church grounds, usually wearing a panama hat and Special Forces Club tie.

    Simonds had left the army in 1952, moving permanently to Cyprus to become a flower-grower. He had married his first wife Eirwen Llewelyn Jones on the island in 1943, and the couple had two daughters before divorcing in 1969.

    He remained in Cyprus until 1974, when his Kyrenia home was destroyed during the invasion. Evacuated by the Royal Navy, he nevertheless returned to the island with his second wife Barbara Ayre. The couple lived in the village of Ayia Anna until 1997, when, suffering the onset of Alzheimer's disease, Simonds returned to England.

    His life until he left the army and moved to Cyprus could have read like a thriller.

    Soon after he joined the army, he showed a clear aptitude for intelligence work. During the 1930s Arab uprising in Palestine, Simonds worked for intelligence in Jerusalem, often supplying British raid squads with tip- offs that lead to successful raids. Though there were complaints from senior officers' wives that the unmarried Simonds was keeping a permanent female companion in his bungalow, these were disregarded by Top Brass, which felt this "moral turpitude" might be essential to his duties.

    In late 1941, Simonds trekked into Ethiopia from the Sudanese border, preferring this to parachuting in - of which he had a healthy fear - and helped Haile Selassie's force of Ethiopian Guerrillas against Italian occupation forces, often coming up with brilliant improvisations, which included using cigarette tins as dummy landmines and setting fire to scrub bush with a flare pistol.

    Later, in the summer of 1943, after Mussolini was deposed, Simonds masterminded the rescue of many allied prisoners from Italy, parachuting troops in to shepherd escapees to safety, and on one occasion capturing a German officer who was persuaded his men were black marketeers with illicit whisky to sell.

    Ironically, Simonds almost died over Cyprus during the war, when he was flying from the island to Turkey in 1941: the unarmed transport plane that was ferrying him was attacked by a German fighter. In order to escape, the pilot, who had an oxygen mask, climbed to a dizzying height; Simonds, who did not, blacked out.

    Colonel Anthony Simonds is survived by his second wife and the two daughters from his previous marriage.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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