Gas talks end but officials tightlipped on preferred supplier

DEVELOPMENTS on a natural gas deal appeared to be moving rapidly yesterday, as the government took flak for its hush-hush policy after strong speculation emerged that Shell was the preferred supplier.

The Commerce Ministry was briefed on the conclusions of the Natural Gas Public Company (DEFA) for the preferred supplier of natural gas.

DEFA, in charge of importing and distributing natural gas, is majority-owned by the government, while the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) holds a 44 per cent stake in it.

The body has just completed the last round of discussions with three short-listed suppliers of natural gas.

Our View: Sales law should have been scrapped years ago

WE ARE in the middle of a recession. No one knows that better than shopkeepers who rightly steeled themselves for a poor turnover during the Christmas period. They may not have had to contend with the ferocious snows of northern Europe which kept shoppers there huddled at home, but shoppers here have still been uncharacteristically parsimonious.

And in times of recession, a shop owner has few choices. Slashing prices is one of them. During such difficult times giving consumers at least the illusion of a bargain – and in Cyprus it’s rarely more than that – is pretty much the only way of getting them to dig into their pockets.

Archbishop distances himself from far-right group

ARCHBISHOP Chrysostomos yesterday denied being a chauvinist, following comments earlier in the week that he identified a great deal with a nationalist extremist group.

In an interview with an online publication, published last weekend, the Prelate had said he was ‘against’ illegal immigrants and that he agreed with the nationalist outfit ELAM on many issues. His quote:

“Yes, I agree with ELAM with regard to the illegal immigrants. Our country and its people are facing many problems as it is, and we don’t need these people [illegal immigrants].

“They are interlopers, they have entered Cyprus illegally, and the laws must be enforced,” Chrysostomos had remarked.

Following the uproar from those comments, the Archbishop said yesterday:

Christofias: migrant debate is artificial and stupid

THE DEBATE over illegal immigrants and asylum seekers is a manufactured one and “stupid”, President Demetris Christofias said yesterday.

“The rhetoric which seeks to pit Cypriots against foreigners is alien to us as a nation. It is artificial and stupid,” Christofias said.

The President made the comments as more protests were heard about the “lavish” treatment given to asylum seekers and the state assistance they are entitled to.

One such voice was DIKO deputy Zacharias Koulias, who accused asylum seekers of exploiting the system to collect fat cheques.

“Many of them even go on holidays abroad…and then they come back to Cyprus just to collect their benefits, paid for by the taxpayer,” he said during a live TV talk show.

Turks erecting second antenna

A SECOND giant antenna is being installed by the Turkish army, this time north of the Nicosia district village of Mammari, on Turkish-controlled land, it emerged yesterday.

The news followed the revelation on Wednesday that a mast was being erected at Akhna close to the British base of Dhekelia .

Mammari’s Mukhtar Nicos Koshiamaris said yesterday works had started a few days ago, when the antenna’s base was laid.

The construction is similar to the one being erected near Dasaki tis Akhnas, creating unease among the area’s residents over the reasons behind the move.

The antennas are believed to be phone masts, installed by leading Turkish mobile phone company Turkcell.

Officers lied over prisoner’s escape

TWO POLICEMEN were yesterday suspended on the Police Chief’s orders, after a prison inmate escaped from their custody while on the way to hospital when they stopped off to buy cigarettes.

Not only were they suspended, but the two officers are also under criminal investigation after it emerged they had lied about the circumstances under which the Syrian inmate had escaped.

Their insincere explanation – that the inmate managed to take off his handcuffs, open the door and escape when the police car stopped at traffic lights – was exposed when they mixed up their statements.

According to the police, further investigations showed that the prisoner had in fact escaped when the policemen had stopped off at a kiosk and one of the two got out to buy cigarettes.

Moufflon poacher caught red handed

A 33-YEAR-OLD poacher who killed and decapitated a moufflon was arrested by officers from the Cyprus Game Fund after they staged a drug-style stakeout.

The wardens spotted the freshly killed decapitated moufflon near the village of Kambos in the Nicosia district.

The wardens then put the area under surveillance and waited for the culprit to return. Four hours later a 33-year-old man appeared. The wardens watched as the man approached the dead animal and saw him load it into his car.

As he was about to drive away they surrounded the man and caught him red-handed.  The man had a special hidden compartment in his truck which he used to store the dead animals.

Sixth wind park on the way

THE AGREEMENT for the creation of the island’s sixth wind park was signed yesterday at the Commerce Ministry.

The wind park belongs to ‘T.P. Aeolian Dynamics Ltd’ and will be created in Ayia Anna in Larnaca and will consist of six wind turbines  ‘VESTAS V-100’ that will be able to generate 1.8MW(megawatt) of power.

Minister Antonis Paschalidis said: “The agreement will be valid for 20 years and revenue for the project will come from the sale of energy to the Cyprus Electricity board and in the form of a grant from the Fund for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation.”

According to the minister the sale of the energy will be €0.166 for every kilowatt hour (KWh) produced while 2.0 per cent of sales will be investmed in the communities around the wind park.

Paphos bank robbery foiled

AN ATTEMPTED robbery on a Bank of Cyprus branch was foiled by the building’s electric doors yesterday in Paphos.

Two men were suspiciously loitering outside the bank early yesterday morning when suddenly they pulled hoods over their face, and tried to enter the bank but the electric doors automatically locked before they could enter the bank.

One of the men then pulled out a gun and fired two shots at the bank but luckily no one was injured. Paphos CID Chief Kleitos Erotokritou said: “At about 11.20am in the morning a man two men who had their faces covered tried to enter a bank in Paphos, but because the bank has automatic electric doors they didn’t manage to enter the interior of the bank.”

Britain knew UDI declaration was on the way

THE NEWLY-elected government of Margaret Thatcher was aware three years ahead of his doing so that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s would unilaterally declare independence for the breakaway state in the north, it was revealed yesterday.

According to media reports, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) released 30-year-old documents yesterday which revealed that the FCO had been informed since 1980 that Denktash intended to go-ahead with the UDI.

The Turkish Cypriot leader carried out his intentions in 1983, declaring the establishment of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ which to this day is only recognised by Turkey.