Cipro

Time to party in Nicosia

Cyprus Mail - 53 min 4 sec fa

The autumn months bring with them a new series of events including parties and live music nights not only to celebrate Halloween but also a new season.

Greek singer Melina Aslanidou, a judge on the new X-Factor Greece, is taking a brief break from her talent show duties to perform in Cyprus. Two live shows are scheduled, the first on Tuesday at Nea Musiki Skini RED and the second on Wednesday at Vinylio Wine etc in Limassol.

Another star from the Greek music scene is heading to the island next week. Ilias Kampanakis’ performance however will be more of a late-night party. State Night Club will host the Greek singer on Friday, who is set to entertain the crowds from 11.30pm until the early hours of dawn.

For something that doesn’t run so late into the night yet still promises an evening full of dancing, good tunes and festive spirits is Nostalgia Parties’ latest event – a Halloween edition of their usual 80s and 90s themed parties. Also happening at RED Music Stage’s new location in Engomi, the event on Saturday will feature good music from DJs Claudio and Marco and spooky vibes. Dress up is encouraged.

The following day also has a party in its agenda. After a busy summer with performances in the most prestigious festivals and clubs of the world, the Italian duo, Undercatt, from Solomun (Official)’s label Diynamic Music will be making its way to Cyprus next Sunday.

State Club will again transform its venue for an atmospheric night accompanied by Undercatt’s unique melodic and emotional sounds. Alongside Undercatt, Paul Anthonee and the club’s resident DJs Jonathan Reyes, Paul Angelo and Don Argento will crank up the party.

 

Melina Aslanidou

Live performance by Greek singer. October 22. RED Music Stage, Nicosia. 10.30pm. October 23. Vinylio Wine Etc, Limassol. €30/35. Tel: 99-059257

Ilias Kampanakis

Mastihoma and the State Night Club present the Greek singer Ilias Kampakakis in a unique live. October 25. State Night Club, Nicosia. 11.30pm-5am. Tel:22-255111

Nostalgia 80s 90s Halloween Party

Annual Halloween Party by Nostalgia Parties blasting 80s and 90s tunes. October 26. RED Music Stage, Nicosia. 9.30pm-3am.€8

Undercatt

Live DJ set by Italian duo Undercatt. Paul Anthonee and the club’s resident DJs Jonathan Reyes and Paul Angelo & Don Argento will also be on the decks. October 27. State Night Club, Nicosia. 11pm-4.30am. €15 or €10 at presale. Tel: 22-255111

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Categorie: Cipro

Banking on tech: incumbents and challengers

Cyprus Mail - 1 ora 25 min fa

Traditional banks are struggling to keep up with virtual banks like Revolut with no service or transaction fees

 

By Philippe Orphanides

Banks have thrived on high-risk investments and outrageous fees, and newcomers in the sector are effortlessly harnessing technology to mark a new age in the way we transact. Today, Cyprus’ largest banks are pushing for digital transformation, and even if they are clearly communicating about it, their record is still quite slim.

Your coffeeshop tech geek, a proud early adopter of Apple watches, Alexa and alike keeps talking about this bank. It’s an app, it’s full of perks and works 24/7. Well, dying of curiosity would be an exaggeration, but you caught our attention. After a couple of minutes, you’re up and running, you own a new bank account, and all you had to do was verify your mobile number and take an ID screenshot and a selfie (yes, no scanned copies no email, no phone calls).

After a few weeks, this fun thing you were trying out turns out to replace that good ol’ bank where papers are printed, lines are stood in and cheques are signed, cashed or bounced. And if you don’t believe in a digital and cashless society, don’t bother reading below.

Virtual banks or “non-banks” have gradually gained recognition and trust from institutions and users, and today some of them are licensed to operate as a fully fledged bank. Transactions, lending, insurance, it’s all there, at your fingertips. Their main advantage is speed; every operation is executed twice faster than in your local branch. Their second advantage: lower fees. With few fixed costs, they do not charge service or transaction fees, nor do they require a minimum account balance, some offering particularly advantageous interest rates. When a traditional bank in Cyprus charges you a fee to change your online banking password, there is not much left to debate.

Take Revolut for example. The virtual bank created by entrepreneur Nikolai Storonsky went from beta testing to “unicorn” in just two years, reaching the one billion USD market value threshold granting this coveted status in the startup world.

Their rise in popularity and capacity to quickly adapt have helped them get the green light from regulators. Licensing allows them to hold funds themselves, issue loans, issue normal accounts with IBANs and are covered from savings protection laws and schemes within the EU.

Kiran Wylie, Revolut’s PR man, has shared some thoughts on the Cypriot market.

So far, Revolut has proved to be incredibly popular in Cyprus, with over 45,000 customers signed up to date, that’s just over 5 per cent of the population. In the first quarter of 2019, Revolut was signing up between 100-200 customers per day and the company only expects that to increase.

On the other side of the spectrum, we see that many of the larger institutions have too much internal complexity to compete with fast and nimble start-ups, Wylie explains. To adapt, they are starting to embrace, acquire and evolve. We’ve begun to see a “land grab” for the most promising technology platforms and start-ups, with an increasing number of key partnerships, mergers and acquisitions between challengers and incumbents.

How are traditional banks reacting to change? Some banks announce or advocate innovation and use smart PR campaigns where they claim to acknowledge and embrace technology for lower costs and better customer experiences. But the heavy human factor and legacy IT infrastructure cannot compete with an AI-powered bank, where instantaneity is the norm. Also, the resistance to change from decision-makers in slow-paced economies and complex political landscapes remains unfortunately a big obstacle.

In a special report from May 2019 on neo-banking, the Economist argues that bankers and politicians are tempted to resist technological change, given the crucial role banks play in financial stability, and that would be wrong, because its benefits—a leaner, more user-friendly and more open financial system— easily outweigh the risks.

“Richer data will allow banks to take risks that currently baffle underwriters. Fraud should be easier to spot. Lower costs and the democratising effect of social media will give more people better access to finance. And more firms with good ideas should be able to get loans faster, boosting growth,” it said.

Banking in Cyprus is still quite archaic, Wylie notes, but Cypriots are becoming more tech savvy, and we’re seeing that reflected in the number of people signing up to Revolut. “The Cypriot market is extremely important to Revolut due to the large number of expats, migrant workers and professionals transferring money in and out of the country, and these people are beginning to embrace fintech.”

Andreas Costouris, president of the Association of Cyprus Banks, is less optimistic. He explains that traditional banks have a lot to lose. Technology-based neo-banks will grow at much lower costs and acquire larger client bases, eroding traditional bank’s profits. Unfortunately, Cyprus is not very fertile for this.

Competition in the Cyprus banking sector is coming only from financial technology firms. And the big players, namely Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic, are trying to build products for faster transactions and improved user experience, which is the key to remaining competitive.

Some banks, like EUROBANK decide to purchase banking platforms from software providers for a quicker step into the fully digital world despite the data security and support quality risks involved with using third party software.

Hellenic Bank recognises that while virtual banks are posing a threat, there is an opportunity to use a neobank as a quick way to migrate specific customer segments, i.e. Millennials, to digital channels while at the same time control the pace across all other traditional service lines.

The slowest mover in the landscape is the central bank, which has a lot of legacy systems that do not easily allow it to move on to some of the new technology. Building up some of those platforms again can be problematic, time-consuming and expensive.

There is the concern that the integration of financial technology into banking will leave many people jobless, shamelessly replaced by robots. However, there has always been changing technology, and not so long ago, banks were fully paper-based. The challenge might not lie in whether to replace people or not, but rather in how to change their skillset and have them work alongside algorithms and customer service bots.

In Cyprus, and generally across Europe, banks have been suffering from bad reputation, and alternative financial players have stepped in. Added to this, the sustained consolidation of the sector, Cyprus has seen its banking sector shrink by 33 per cent in the past seven years, makes the perspective of super-bank scenarios even more plausible, Costouris explains.

He puts forward a scenario where agile and cost-friendly players would share the market with mega banks who absorb struggling local institutions like BoC or Hellenic. The Deutsche and Commerzbank merger attempt illustrates this hypothesis, however its collapse showed we are not there yet.

Will the large and slow banking institutions change gears in an evidently fast-moving game? The only solid advantage traditional banks have is the trust factor. They have been there, through thick and thin. You can see them, walk in their branches and shake their hand. For now, relying on the trust-based advantage seems to keep them in the mix, but this trust, recent history has shown, is relative and dwindling.

“Banks spend money on branches and bonuses. We invest in technology” – this is the motto of a virtual bank that reached 3 million users without any paid marketing.

The bank is dead, long live the neobank.

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Categorie: Cipro

New rubbish solution proving to be a smelly alternative

Cyprus Mail - 2 ore 31 min fa

Hidden underground bins stinking out part of Nicosia’s old town

 

Residents and shop owners in the heart of old Nicosia say the stench from three massive underground bins, located just 100 metres away from popular Ledra Street, has become overpowering.

The Nicosia municipality started installing the underground bins in the older part of town in October 2018 in an attempt to modernise waste systems and reduce long-term costs and the number of obstructive wheelie bins on the narrow streets.

Three underground refuse collection points, of a massive five cubic metre capacity each, have been installed in four locations in the capital’s old city.

The four locations are on Palaion Patron Germanos Street, at the end of Vasiliou Voulgaroctonou Street, near the Phaneromeni parking and on Ermou Street.

Despite the attempt to modernise the waste-collecting service, reports of a persistent smell in the area coming from the bins, particularly from the ones located on Vasiliou Voulgaroctonou Street have been multiplying.

Liquified rubbish seeping out from the underground bins

“It’s disgusting, the smell lingers in the air for hours, people in the area don’t know what to do anymore,” one of the local residents on Vasiliou Voulgaroctonou Street told Cyprus Mail.

“Particularly on hot summer days, and we have had many of those in the past months, people breathe in the polluted air throughout the entire day.

“Maybe this system works for colder countries, but here in Cyprus the heat amplifies the smell, I just don’t think it works,” she said.

Popular bar Patio, just off Ledras Street has also been affected by the smell.

“It’s inevitable to feel it, it’s so strong,” said one of the bar’s employees.

“The problem is that there are no labels on the bins, so people chuck every item of garbage possible, from plastic to paper, from food to sanitary waste.

“We used to have a recycling bin nearby, it was removed. As a result, we also use the underground bins, like I suspect our entire neighbourhood does.”

The underground waste collecting system has become increasingly popular and is already in use in many continental European countries.

The bins, often made of steel, have underground “chambers” that can contain up to three times more garbage than traditional bins.

Only the small intake columns are visible on the surface, a solution that is certainly more aesthetically pleasing but does present other problems, according to a worker at Siantris restaurant located near the bins.

“When people eat outside on hot days the smell is very bad,” he told the Sunday Mail.

“This is bad for business. We are going to lose customers if the municipality doesn’t act to solve the issue. We called the municipality several times and they said they are going to look into the situation. But nothing significant has changed.”

While the garbage bags left outside the bins are always picked up twice a week, the underground chambers are never completely emptied, with rubbish permanently sitting on the bottom of the deep chamber from which the stench seeps out.

“You can imagine the stench when we come to work,” the employee at Siantris restaurant said.

“These bins need to be cleaned thoroughly including the bottom of the chamber, as they are bigger than the average bin. I have never seen anyone doing it!”

Another issue with the underground bins is that, whereas in other parts of Europe where they are in use, sensors inform the municipalities when the underground chambers are full, the ones installed in old Nicosia do not feature that particular setting.

The Nicosia municipality, which is responsible for the maintenance of the underground bins, recognised there are issues to be solved, but also defended the choice of replacing the traditional bins.

“We are sorry to hear there are reports of bad smell, especially in the centre,” Nicosia municipality’s Makis Nicolaidou told the Sunday Mail.

“We are certainly going to look into the situation and follow up with the complaints. However, I am convinced that the implementation of underground bins has been mostly positive.”

Nikolaidou said the new system has been highly successful abroad and he sees no reason why it shouldn’t make strides in Cyprus too.

“The underground bins have the capacity to contain three times as much garbage as the traditional ones. Also, they are not as invasive as the traditional ones, in fact people can barely spot them.”

He stressed the effort the municipality is undertaking to improve the centre.

“We are cleaning up Nicosia. The new bins are a part of our effort to make it more attractive for tourists and, despite a few setbacks, we are delivering good results.”

 

 

 

 

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Categorie: Cipro

EU’s incoming economy chief calls for less restrictive budget policies

Cyprus Mail - 2 ore 50 min fa

By Gavin Jones

The European Union needs looser budgetary policies and an overhaul of its fiscal rulebook, the bloc’s designated economics commissioner said in an article published on Sunday.

Writing in Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore, Paolo Gentiloni said that while the EU’s deficit and debt rules must not be ignored, they needed to be “reviewed and updated”.

“It’s time for countries which have fiscal space to use it, in an overall context of less restrictive budgetary policies,” Gentiloni, due to replace Pierre Moscovici as economic and financial affairs commissioner on Nov. 1, said.

The former Italian prime minister warned that with the EU economy slowing, “the risks of a prolonged period of low growth must not be overlooked” and the task of stimulating the economy “cannot be left to monetary policy alone”.

Gentiloni will have an important role in scrutinising Italy’s draft 2020 budget which was submitted to the Commission last week.

The budget plan raises next year’s structural deficit — which excludes the effect of GDP growth fluctuations — by 0.1% of gross domestic product, reversing a previous commitment by Rome to lower it by 0.6%.

EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told Reuters on Friday that Brussels would ask Italy for “clarifications” over its budget intentions.

However, even though the budget seems to flout EU rules, many analysts expect the Commission to take a lenient approach and avoid a prolonged dispute with Rome like the one that broke out last year when Italy had a less EU-friendly government.

Gentiloni, who comes from the pro-Europe Democratic Party which now governs with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, said it was crucial that the budget plan comes from a government that has a constructive approach towards the EU.

Among what he termed new instruments needed help growth and stability, Gentiloni cited an EU-wide unemployment insurance scheme, without going into details.

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Categorie: Cipro

Time for Turkey to understand EU’s massage says Neophytou

Cyprus Mail - 2 ore 59 min fa

EU leaders sent a clear message to Turkey about its illegal activities in the Cyprus exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Disy leader Averoff Neophytou said on Sunday, adding that he hoped Ankara would get the message and show good will to end its “unlawful actions” and return to a dialogue.

Speaking in Limassol, he said that the world had lost its balance and the right European policies are needed “to bring rationality back into politics, to otherwise not have any political accidents”.

Asked how this affected Cyprus, he said that “the internal front is cruel on a daily basis because of the war-like announcements of parties which creates a toxic environment, all of which ignore the fact that if we want a solution [to the Cyprus problem] above all we need the goodwill of Turkey, the co-operation of the Turkish Cypriots and the restart of negotiations”.

The president, he said, is ready to respond to an invitation from the UN secretary general but “every day new, unacceptable and illegal activities are being recorded”.

He expressed the fear that not only are the results of 1974 being cemented, “we see every day new moves in the sea and in Varosha,” noting that what is needed is “national unity”.

Referring to the decision by EU leaders at their summit this week, Neophytou said “it is very important, politically, that all European leaders with one voice sent a clear message to Turkey, condemning illegal and unlawful actions, accompanied by specific EU measures”.

He said he hopes Ankara gets the message, and “shows goodwill to return to a dialogue”.

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Categorie: Cipro

Cyprus should heed what’s happening in Syria

Cyprus Mail - 3 ore 36 min fa

We should be working with the Turkish Cypriots to avoid the excesses of Erdogan

 

THERE are many lessons to be drawn from Turkey’s invasion of Syria. The most significant for us is that even if there is a settlement of the Cyprus problem without intervention rights, no one could guarantee that Turkey would not invade militarily if, God forbid, there was armed bicommunal conflict even on a limited scale.

It would actually be preferable for intervention rights to apply and we lived in peace and harmony with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots (in which case the right to intervention would be rendered a dead letter with the passage of time) instead of being abolished and, because of friction between the two communities, have Turkey’s Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

If, then again, we end up with a two-state solution, what prevents Turkish troops, when Unficyp is eventually withdrawn, from creating a security zone (as Ankara would call it) on technical pretexts that would include Nicosia and its suburbs? The platitudes of the EU or UN resolutions?

Another significant lesson from the Turkish invasion of Syria is the absurdity of the so-called new policy on the Cyprus problem which would “incur such a cost on Turkey that it would quit its intransigent positions”.

Firstly, international public opinion, which would activate the agencies to impose this cost, would have to be convinced that the reason for not reaching a Cyprus settlement was Turkey’s intransigence. At Crans-Montana, it was the Cyprus president who walked out of the talks and, while the UNSG Antonio Guterres criticised the leaders of the two communities for lacking the will to reach an agreement, he praised Turkey for the constructive stance it took.

The Annan plan, which we overwhelmingly rejected, was backed by Turkey, Britain, the UN, the US, Greece’s intelligentsia and former prime minister Costas Simitis. Therefore, it is not obvious to foreigners that the responsibility for not agreeing on a settlement belongs to Turkey. But even if the prevailing view were that Turkey was exclusively responsible, who and what type of sanctions would be imposed on Turkey to make it more compromising so that a settlement could be secured when we see how ineffective the sanctions imposed, as punitive measures, for the invasion of Syria have proved?

The big danger, though, for the future of Cyprus is the rise of Islamism in Turkey that not only boosts xenophobia but also hatred towards people of other religions, particularly Christians. It is a trend that we have not taken seriously, despite seeing mosques growing like mushrooms in occupied Cyprus. This development is the result of the emphatic victory of President Erdogan’s AKP in the general elections of 2011, which put Islamists firmly in the driving seat and allowed them to freely pursue their own agenda.

In contrast to the previous two electoral victories of the AKP, the Islamists were now freed from the shackles of Kemalism and the military establishment. So, instead of democratising Turkey, as they had been declaring, they did the exact opposite, backing populism and the personality cult of Erdogan. To achieve this, they upgraded the role of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).

As defined by law, the responsibilities of Diyanet is to execute works related to the beliefs, worship and morals of Islam, to enlighten the public about their religion and to administer the sacred places of worship. Diyanet, in consultation with the AKP, plans the weekly sermon that is delivered to 85,000 mosques in Turkey and northern Cyprus as well as 2,000 mosques abroad. It is a coordinated act of brain-washing. And those who express disagreement with the policies of the regime can be stigmatised by Diyanet through various fatwas.

The head of Diyanet, Mehmet Gormez, wholeheartedly supports the emerging radical Islamist rhetoric of the AKP government and is against abortion, women’s rights, consumption of alcohol, celebration of New Year etc. He also uses the rhetoric of jihad in order to demonise the opponents of the regime. This repression reached new heights with the 2017 fatwa that the terrible crimes committed by the supporters of the Erdogan regime could not be persecuted because the Muslims of Turkey are under attack from forces within and outside the country.

For all these reasons, it is imperative to forge friendly ties between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots that would help secure a settlement before the radicalisation of the Turkish Cypriot leadership. At the moment, there are pockets of resistance as the trial of journalist Sener Levent and the comments about Syria by Mustafa Akinci testify. If these pockets of resistance disappear and the Islamists prevail completely the future of Cyprus will be very bleak.

In such a nightmarish case, what type of negotiations could there be when the basic values of human life, embraced by the EU such as freedom of thought, religion, action and speech are considered satanic? When the ‘virtuous’ and ‘correct’ citizen is the person that is voiceless, servile, without will, subservient and unprotestingly complies with the dogmas and fatwas of the imams.

 

George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist

 

 

 

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Categorie: Cipro

Sheep take over streets of Madrid for annual migration

Cyprus Mail - 3 ore 49 min fa

Sheep replaced traffic on the streets of Madrid on Sunday as shepherds steered their flocks through the heart of the Spanish capital, following ancient migration routes.

The annual event, which started in 1994, allows shepherds to exercise their right to use traditional routes to migrate their livestock from northern Spain to more southerly pastures for winter grazing.

The route would have taken them through undeveloped countryside a few centuries ago, but today it cuts through Madrid’s bustling city centre and along some of its most famous streets.

Sheep farmers pay a nominal charge in symbolic acknowledgement of a 1418 agreement with the city council that set a fee of 50 maravedis – medieval coins – per 1,000 sheep brought through the central Sol square and Gran Via street.

The herd includes 2,000 merino sheep and 100 goats.

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Categorie: Cipro

South African power ends Japan’s fairytale run

Cyprus Mail - 4 ore 20 min fa

There was never any shortage of courage, but not even the bravest of blossoms could punch through Springbok brawn on Sunday as South Africa reached the rugby World Cup semi-finals by beating Japan 26-3 and ending their dream run at their home tournament.

In what was a first World Cup quarter-final for the Japanese, neither an entire nation seemingly now besotted by rugby, nor a raucous 50,000 crowd packed into Tokyo Stadium, could carry the hosts to victory.

It was always going to be an enormous ask for Japan to replicate what has been their greatest moment on a rugby field — beating South Africa 34-32 in a World Cup group stage match in Brighton, England, four years ago.

South Africa had been stunned by that ‘Miracle in Brighton’ but with victories over both Ireland and Scotland this World Cup, Japan no longer held any element of surprise.

Lines were clearly drawn, with both Japan and South Africa knowing precisely what they had to do to reach next weekend’s semi-final against Wales – this was always going to be a battle between the Boks’ forwards and the Brave Blossoms’ lightning backs.

The first half was close — mostly due to South Africa’s profligacy with the line at their mercy — and the teams had gone in with only two points separating them after an unconverted fourth-minute try by winger Makazole Mapimpi was countered by a Yu Tamura penalty for Japan.

But in the event, after an exhilarating first 40 minutes, the Japanese team ran out of energy, ideas and, finally, hope.

They had not been tackled as fiercely this World Cup as they were on Sunday night. Nor had they faced such a disciplined, well-organised defence.

And where the South Africans had been careless early on – they could have gone in at halftime three or four tries to the good – they tightened everything up in the second period to devastating effect.

Man of the match Faf de Klerk, who had helmed the South Africans artfully throughout, added a second try on 66 minutes and Mapimpi added his second four minutes later.

Pollard converted one try and slotted three penalties in the second period, all unanswered.

Japan could never hope to maintain the frenetic pace with which they had harried South Africa early on and departed the tournament beaten but with a whole new army of fans for their exciting, free-flowing rugby.

South Africa must now regroup for their Yokohama semi-final against Wales who earlier recorded a 20-19 victory over 14-man France, who had lock Sebastian Vahaamahina sent off at Oita Stadium.

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Categorie: Cipro

‘Public health must be prioritised over phone companies’

Cyprus Mail - 4 ore 33 min fa

Public health must be the priority of the state, president of the Green Party George Perdikis said on Sunday as he took part in a demonstration in Dheryneia against the installation of 5G phone masts.

“It must stop the nonsense of mobile phone companies,” he said, “the interest of the telecommunications company must be put in second place, after public health”.He said four law proposals against mobile phone masts have been tabled at the House by the Green party but other parties refuse to vote on them.

The Green Party is calling for the reduction of the exposure limits of the public to mobile phone masts, TV and radio stations and radar.

According to documents submitted to the House by the party, there are 1,300 mobile phone masrs in Cyprus, half of which are not licenced.

The party charged telephone companies with filling towns and villages with masts without any concern for the people that live near them.

The dangers to public health of these masts were outlined at a meeting in Emba, Paphos of the Association of People Affected by Telephone Mast rays (Aspida), which says the closer the mast is to a house, the greater threat it poses to public health.

The mayors of Emba and nearby Mesogi said with the new 5G network, there is the fear that exposure levels will increase

At the same time, the mayor of Yeri, in Nicosia, Neophytos Papalazarou has sent a letter of complaint to the town planning department for the illegal erection of a mobile phone mast in a densely populated part of the municipality and warned of an upcoming demonstration.

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Categorie: Cipro

Petrol bombs and tear gas scar HK streets as police, protesters clash

Cyprus Mail - 4 ore 44 min fa

By Anne Marie Roantree and Marius Zaharia

Hong Kong riot police and protesters exchanged tear gas and petrol bombs as an illegal anti-government march that attracted tens of thousands descended into chaos, with hundreds of shops trashed and Chinese banks and metro stations targeted on Sunday.

After two weeks of relative calm, the major rally showed that the pro-democracy campaign has not lost support and that hardcore protesters will continue to clash with police.

“You can see Hong Kongers won’t easily give up their right to demonstrate… today’s turnout is more than I expected,” said Daniel Yeung, an unemployed protester.

“You can see that as long as people keep coming out in large numbers we are safe and can keep fighting,” he said.

Hong Kong has been battered by months of often massive and violent protests over concerns that Beijing is tightening its grip on the city, the worst political crisis since Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.

Protesters threw petrol bombs at the Tsim Sha Tsui police station on Kowloon peninsula after police inside fired volleys of tear gas to disperse demonstrators on the street.

Others erected fiery barriers on Nathan Road, a major retail strip in the Kowloon district, as riot police, shields in front, marched towards them, while others fired tear gas.

Police used several water canon trucks to disperse protesters, spraying jets of blue-dye into the crowds and sending hundreds fleeing. Police have used the blue dye to identify protesters.

It was the heaviest use of water canons by police and many people hit with the water developed coughs, suggesting an irritant may be mixed with the water.

As riot police advanced protesters fell back to their next barricade, unlike past rallies when they stood and clashed with police, throwing petrol bombs and bricks.

Along the march route, protesters trashed metro stations and hundreds of shops, throwing goods onto the streets. Several Chinese banks were targeted.

People sit on a barricade made of benches left after an anti-government protest in Hong Kong

By nightfall only small groups of protesters remained, with one group throwing petrol bombs down a street towards police who responded with tear gas. Large numbers of riot police guarded several intersections.

Police said they had seized more than 40 petrol bombs that they believe may have been en route to the protest.

The unrest was sparked four months ago by a bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts. It has since widened into a pro-democracy movement.

The protests in the city pose the biggest popular challenge to China’s President Xi Jinping since he took power. Beijing has denied eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms and Xi has vowed to crush any attempt to split China.

Police had declared Sunday’s march illegal due to concerns over public safety. Protesters, ranging from young students to the elderly, many carrying umbrellas to shield their faces from street surveillance cameras, face arrest.

For the first few hours, the march was peaceful.

Protesters believe the police’s refusal to issue a permit for Sunday’s march was an attempt to limit their numbers, as some would fear being arrested.

“The government pretends we just want to destroy the city. We’ll be out for as long as it takes to let the world know it is them who are destroying it,” said Ray, 24, who planned to go home after a few hours as he feared arrest.

Hong Kong is governed under a “one country, two systems” formula, which permits the city freedoms not available on the mainland such as an independent judiciary.

Protesters are angry at Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam for what they see as her failure to protect those freedoms from an encroaching Beijing, imposing colonial-era emergency powers, and allowing what they say is excessive force by police.

Protesters have five core demands: universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into police action against protesters, amnesty for those charged, an end to describing protesters as rioters, and the formal withdrawal of the extradition bill.

The Asian financial hub is facing its first recession in a decade because of the unrest.

 

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Categorie: Cipro

Hail in Famagusta, storms in the mountains

Cyprus Mail - 5 ore 31 min fa

Hail fell in areas of the Famagusta region on Sunday afternoon as storms continued to move across the island.

The storm affecting Famagusta has earlier brought rain to Karpasia.

Meanwhile, storms and heavy rainfall were also recorded in the mountains and Troodos foothills.

The large amount of rain is expected to cause problems to drivers, such as slippery roads and fallen earth.

Storms are set to continue throughout the coming week, while the temperature in Nicosia is expected to finally fall below 30C.

 

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Categorie: Cipro

Brexit will happen on Oct. 31 despite PM’s unsigned delay request, UK says

Cyprus Mail - 5 ore 56 min fa

By Kylie MacLellan and Paul Sandle

Britain will leave the European Union on Oct. 31 despite an unsigned letter that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced by his opponents to send to the bloc requesting a Brexit delay, the government said on Sunday.

The Brexit maelstrom has spun wildly in the past week between the possibility of an orderly exit on Oct. 31 with a deal that Johnson struck on Thursday and a delay after he was forced to ask for an extension late on Saturday.

Johnson’s defeat in the British parliament over the sequencing of the ratification of his deal exposed the prime minister to a law passed by his opponents demanding he request a delay until Jan. 31.

Johnson insisted he did not want what he cast as a deeply corrosive delay to Brexit beyond the Halloween deadline. One of his most senior ministers said Britain would still leave the bloc on Oct. 31.

“We are going to leave by October 31. We have the means and the ability to do so,” Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations, told Sky News.

“That letter was sent because parliament required it to be sent … but parliament can’t change the prime minister’s mind, parliament can’t change the government’s policy or determination.”

In an extraordinary step that indicates the extent of the Brexit fever gripping the United Kingdom, Johnson sent three letters to Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council.

First, a brief cover note from Britain’s EU envoy explaining that the government was simply complying with the law; second, an unsigned photocopy of the text that the law, known as the Benn Act, forced him to write; and a third letter in which Johnson said he did not want an extension.

“I have made clear since becoming Prime Minister and made clear to parliament again today, my view, and the Government’s position, that a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson said in the third letter, signed “Boris Johnson”.

The EU, which has grappled with more than three years of tortuous Brexit crisis, was clearly bewildered by the contradictory signals from London.

Tusk said he had received the request from Johnson.

“I will now start consulting EU leaders on how to react,” he said on Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Johnson that Paris needed swift clarification on the situation after Saturday’s vote, an official at the French presidency told Reuters.

“He (Macron) signalled a delay would be in no one’s interest,” the official said.

It was unlikely that the EU’s 27 remaining member states would refuse Britain’s delay request. Diplomats said on Sunday the bloc would play for time rather than rush to decide, waiting to see how things developed in London next week.

Johnson won the top job by staking his career on getting Brexit done by the latest deadline of Oct. 31 after his predecessor, Theresa May, was forced to delay the departure date. Parliament rejected her deal three times, by margins of between 58 and 230 votes earlier this year.

He had hoped to pass his own newly struck deal at an extraordinary sitting of parliament on Saturday but that was derailed by a legislative booby trap set by a rebel lawmaker concerned that Britain might still drop out without a deal.

Lawmakers voted 322 to 306 in favour of an amendment that turned Johnson’s planned finale on its head by obliging him to ask the EU for a delay, and increasing the opportunity for opponents to frustrate Brexit.

In his own signed letter to Tusk, Johnson said he was confident that the process of getting the Brexit legislation through Britain’s parliament would be completed before Oct. 31.

Former minister Amber Rudd said she and most of the 21 Conservatives kicked out of the ruling party over their bid to block a no-deal Brexit would support the deal and there was “a fragile but sincere coalition of people who want to support it”.

Independent MP Oliver Letwin

Oliver Letwin, the lawmaker behind Saturday’s booby trap, said on Sunday that he believed Johnson could probably get his Brexit deal over the line.

“I am absolutely behind the government now as long as they continue with this bill, continue with the deal. I will support it, I will vote for it,” Letwin told BBC television.

“There will be no more Oliver Letwin amendments next week because there don’t need to be. I am supporting the bill.”

But the opposition Labour Party accused Johnson of acting as if he was above the law, and warned that the prime minister could end up in court.

Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said the party would put forward amendments to Johnson’s Brexit legislation, particularly aimed at closing the “trap door” to no-deal Brexit at the end of a transition period in December 2020.

Starmer also said an election was inevitable.

“He is being childlike. The law is very clear he should have signed one letter … If we crash out, because of what he has done with the letters, in 11 days’ time without a deal he bears personal responsibility for that,” Starmer told BBC television.

Asked whether it would end up in court, Starmer said: “I am sure there will be court proceedings.”

Scotland’s highest court is due to consider on Monday a legal challenge that had sought to force Johnson to comply with the law forcing a delay.

The court said earlier this month that government lawyers had given formal legal statements that he would abide by the law and that it would be a serious matter if he did not.

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Halloumi standing takes a further knock (updated)

Cyprus Mail - 6 ore 12 min fa

A recent statement by a top European judge that a Bulgarian cheese can be called BBQloumi is a further failure of the Cyprus government to have halloumi declared a Cyprus product, the Green party said on Sunday.

On Thursday advocate general Juliane Kokott of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) dismissed an appeal from the Foundation for the Protection of the Traditional Cheese of Cyprus named Halloumi, which owns an EU collective trademark for ‘Halloumi’.

The foundation bid to prevent Bulgarian company MJ Dairies EOO from using the word BBQloumi for its product, which features a plate of halloumi on the packing.

“This shows once more that the biggest thing we are fighting against is the government’s inability,” the Green party said.

Despite this not being a point in Cyprus’s favour, it is not a final decision. “This Opinion precedes the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union and it is not binding on the Court,” the state legal services said on Sunday.

“No defeat or loss to Cyprus has occurred,” it added.

“The Legal Service has continually and consistently supported the executive in trying to defend the national product in the best possible way,” it concluded.

The foundation was previously unsuccessful in stopping the registration before the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), which found the ‘Halloumi’ trademark to have only low distinctive character.

The EUIPO also said it is unlikely people will link between the foundation and the producers of BBQloumi. The foundation appealed the decision, but in September 2018, the General Court upheld the EUIPO’s earlier decision.

The foundation also argued that a likelihood of confusion exists between its own trademark and the applied-for mark due because the goods covered by both marks are identical or similar.

In her opinion, Kokott upheld the General Court’s ruling that the ‘Halloumi’ mark corresponds to the designation of a well-known Cypriot cheese. 

She also said ‘Halloumi’ does not designate a specific place, but is merely associated with a place, namely Cyprus, at least in accordance with the previous case-law of the General Court.

Cyprus has been battling on two fronts to protect halloumi: in the UK, where it lost the trademark because of blunder by civil servants; and in the EU where its collective community mark is being challenged.

The EU collective wordmark Halloumi, registered on 14 July 2000, remains in force across the EU, including the UK.

Under the collective community mark, halloumi is produced only in Cyprus with certain ingredients and production methods. The UK’s secession deal also provides for the collective wordmark to be applied in the UK after Brexit.

Loss of the trademark in 2018 has not disrupted halloumi exports to the UK, according to trade figures. In fact, in the first four months of 2019 exports to the UK saw a 15.5 per cent rise.

 

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Colourful festival draws to a close in Ayia Napa (pics)

Cyprus Mail - 6 ore 51 min fa

The colourful Medieval Festival came to an end on Ayia Napa on Saturday night with a parade through the resort of people dressed in costumes of times gone by.

The eight-day festival kicked off in much the same way and attracted thousands of visitors and locals.

At the opening of the festival deputy minister for tourism Savvas Perdios said such events add to the overall upgrading of the Cyprus tourism product.

The event included concerts by groups from around the world and exhibitions of medieval costumes and masks in Ayia Napa.

Ayia Napa mayor Yiannis Karousos said these types of events will help Ayia Napa in its bid to become the cultural capital of Europe in 2030.

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EU plays for time as Johnson spars with UK parliament on Brexit

Cyprus Mail - 7 ore 22 min fa

The European Union will play for time rather than rush to decide on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s reluctant request to delay Brexit again, diplomats with the bloc said after a 15-minute meeting on Sunday.

The fractious British parliament refused to vote on Johnson’s new Brexit withdrawal deal on Saturday, a move that forced him to seek a third postponement of Britain’s departure from the bloc. It has so far been envisaged for Oct. 31.

At a rare Sunday meeting of ambassadors of the 27 states that will make up the EU after Brexit, the diplomats decided to forward Johnson’s deal to the European Parliament for its required approval. The EU chamber sits in Strasbourg next week.

“We’re looking for more clarity towards the end of the week, hoping that by that time we will also see how things develop in London,” one senior EU diplomat said.

Another one added the meeting was very brief: “No questions, no discussion. We are waiting.”

The chairman of European Union leaders, Donald Tusk, said on Saturday he had received the extension request and he would now be consulting with EU capitals on how to react.

While weary of the tortuous Brexit process, EU leaders are keen to avoid a disorderly no-deal Brexit and are unlikely to reject the request. They hope the deal can eventually be approved in London.

After the British parliament refused to endorse Johnson’s deal at the first time of asking on Saturday, the prime minister sent a letter to the bloc requesting a delay, as required by a law passed earlier by parliament.

Johnson, who has insisted that Britain will leave on Oct. 31 come what may, added another note, however, in which he explained that he personally did not want the “deeply corrosive” postponement.

 

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Turkey’s EEZ incursion an ‘act of aggression’ punishable by the ICC

Cyprus Mail - 7 ore 26 min fa

Dr Kypros Chrysostomides

According to the stipulations laid down by the Montego Bay Convention on the Law of the Sea and delineated between the Republic and neighbouring countries, the incursion by Turkey, its entry into and drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ is an “act of aggression” in accordance with the UN definition and the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Such definition is contained in the UN General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December, 1974. This provides in its Article 1, that ”act of aggression is …“the use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another state”. Article 3 lists examples of acts of aggresssion “including attack by armed forces, occupation…sea blockades…” Similarly Art. 2(4) of the UN Charter prohibits the use of force or the threat of use of force against a state member of the UN, thus restricting the wanton use of force in modern international society.

The Nuremberg judgement was the starting point for the generally accepted criminalisation of waging aggressive war. This was embodied in the UN charter and nowadays in the statute of the ICC, confirming that such acts are criminal under customary international law.

In accordance with Article 5 of the Rome statute, the crime of aggression falls within its jurisdiction subject to certain conditions stipulated in its further articles. That is, if such actions are referred to the ICC prosecutor by a state party to the statute, or if it is referred to it by the UN Security Council under chapter VII of the charter, or if the prosecutor has initiated an investigation ex proprio modu, it will be examined by the ICC. Such jurisdiction is also subject to some ratione temporis conditions as provided for in articles 13 to 15 of the same statute.

The question that has to be examined in the present situation of Turkey’s incursion or violation of the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, as defined by the International Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 and duly declared as such by the Republic of Cyprus and delineated by international agreements with neighbouring states, years before the Turkish actions, is whether it is an obvious act of aggression.

Such illegal actions do not at this stage constitute an act of war, whether declared or not. They do not constitute an armed conflict in the form of exchange of firing or land or naval military clashes. At least not yet, though the express use of force is threatened almost daily by Turkish officials including its president.  They constitute, however, at the present stage not only a “threat of use of force”.

It is worth mentioning that also “sea blockades” constitute acts of aggression in accordance with the UN Resolution Defining Aggression under its Article 1. It should be noted that 15 Turkish warships and other vessels are now around the Cyprus EEZ. Two or three Turkish drilling rigs, and two or three surveying ships are circulating in the Cyprus EEZ accompanied by warships. It should also be recalled that Turkish warships prevented ENI, duly licensed by the Republic from drilling in block 3 of Cyprus’ EEZ, with the threat of using actual force by the Turkish warships which prevented the ENI rig from approaching bloc 3. If this is not a “blockade” then I do not know what a blockade actually is. Consequently, the ICC had and has, in my opinion, under its relevant provisions clear jurisdiction to try such a crime of aggression, even before its review conference in 2010.

Now, even more, after the review conference, the new article 8 bis includes in the definition of the crime of aggression “the planning, preparation, initiation or execution by a person in a leadership position” in relation to such acts of aggression. There are many candidates for prosecution.

The statute, as amended, contains a threshold that the act of aggression must constitute a manifest violation of the UN charter, which it clearly is. This is provided, of course, that it is referred to the ICC by the Security Council, or by a state member of the convention or by the prosecutor ex proprio modu subject to certain time constraints.

Finally, as indicated in the definition of the crime derived from article 8 bis of the Rome statute, for an “act of aggression” to take place, a certain act must be initiated by an official of the state in a leadership position who may “exercise control over or who may direct the political or military action of a State”. Additionally, paragraph 2 of the aforementioned article states that an “act of aggression” entails the use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another state. This, in turn, could imply that the actions of such state organ, who themselves will bear individual criminal responsibility, will also be attributable to the state.

Taking into consideration these findings, one could argue that the crime of aggression, as formulated in the statute, generates state responsibility as well. In such a case, the court has to also examine the state responsibility.

Dr Kypros Chrysostomides is a lawyer and former government spokesman under the presidency of Tassos Papadopoulos

 

 

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Dramatic late try sends Wales through against 14-man France

Cyprus Mail - 7 ore 27 min fa
By Mitch Phillips Wales advanced to their third World Cup semi-final when Ross Moriarty’s late try gave then a 20-19 victory over a battling France team who played the last half-hour with 14 men after lock Sebastien Vahaamahina was sent off on Sunday. France were leading 19-10 when Vahaamahina had a moment of madness – elbowing Aaron Wainwright in a maul – and though they defended superbly after that, replacement number eight Moriarty, who had been yellow-carded himself earlier, won it six minutes from time when he grabbed a loose ball and forced his way over the line. Eight years ago an early red card for Wales captain Sam Warburton played a key role as France triumphed 9-8 in their World Cup semi-final in Auckland. This time it was the Welsh who benefited to reach the last four for the third time, having lost to New Zealand in 1987 and France in 2011. They will face either South Africa or Japan, who meet later on Sunday. The French will be furious that they allowed themselves to be forced onto the defensive, having played superbly for most of the opening 50 minutes. The perennial question of ‘which France will turn up?’ was answered emphatically as they roared into a 12-0 lead after eight minutes, playing with pace, dynamism and total commitment. Vahaamahina bundled over for the first score before Damian Penaud set up the second by beating Liam Williams in an aerial duel – which very few people can manage – to set his backline moving and eventually sent flanker Charles Ollivon over. Wales had barely swung a punch but got on the scoreboard when Wainwright scooped up a dropped ball to gallop between the posts for his first international try. Wales, who suffered a blow pre-match when star centre Jonathan Davies was ruled out through injury, then lost another key man in number eight Josh Navidi. The first contribution of his replacement Moriarty was a high tackle that sent him straight back off again for 10 minutes in the sin-bin. France duly took advantage with their third try as Penaud managed to unload a diving pass out of the tackle to Virimi Vakatawa, and the unstoppable centre proved just that. The halftime score of 19-10 was extremely kind to Wales and every player in both camps would have been well aware that earlier this year France led 16-0 at halftime in Paris but lost 24-19 as Wales completed the biggest comeback in Six Nations history. Something similar then began to look likely when Vahaamahina turned from hero to villain as he was shown a red card after ludicrously smashing his elbow into the face of Wainwright in a maul right on the Welsh line. France responded by buckling down and showing real aggression in defence, giving up just one Biggar penalty in the next 25 minutes. But just as it looked as if they might hold out for a memorable victory, replacement scrum half Tomos Williams stripped the ball from French hands after a five-metre scrum and Moriarty, villain turned hero, more than made up for his earlier yellow by grabbing it and diving over. Biggar converted and Wales controlled the remaining minutes to record their eighth win in the teams’ last nine meetings – and by far the most important.

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Armed robbery at Nicosia bakery

Cyprus Mail - 7 ore 45 min fa

Police in Nicosia are investigating an armed robbery at a bakery in the early hours of Sunday morning.

At around 2.20 police received information that five minutes earlier a robbery had taken place at a bakery.

According to police, a man entered the shop which his face covered by the hood of his sweatshirt and a scarf tied around his face.

He approached the employee and threatening them with a knife asked for money. He then grabbed a metal can on the counter for donations to charity, which had about €200 in it, and fled.

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Britain’s Raab: we have the numbers to pass a Brexit deal

Cyprus Mail - 8 ore 22 sec fa

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the government seemed to have the numbers in the House of Commons to pass Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

Raab said he was confident the United Kingdom would leave the EU on Oct. 31. He also said parliament could not muzzle the prime minister and that many people in the EU were deeply uncomfortable about further delay.

“He has got that deal. We seem to have the numbers in the House of Commons. Why hasn’t parliament pushed this through? that is what we are going to do next week,” he told BBC television.

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Greek Cypriot returns to his village in north after building new home

Cyprus Mail - 8 ore 21 min fa

An elderly Greek Cypriot man whose quest to return to the village of his birth in the north, which angered locals, has apparently come to a conclusion with him returning to the village of Larnaca tis Lapitou.

The 349 square metre plot was returned to Nikolas Skourides in September 2017 by the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) set up by Turkey in the north. According to a report in Turkish Cypriot daily Yeniduzen, a house has now been completed on the property.

“I’m 79 years old and I don’t know how much I have left. I want to spend time with my children and the rest of my life where I was born and raised,” Skourides was quoted by Yeniduzen as saying.

He said he wanted to spend the last part of his life in the village where he grew up.

“My intention was to make a room for myself, but when my children said they wanted to come and stay at the weekend, I decided to make a house,” Skourides told Yeniduzen.He left the village on August 14, 1974 and spent seven years reclaiming his property through the IPC, a body set up in the north to compensate Greek Cypriot refugees for their lost property.

When the crossings opened, he began going to the occupied areas two to three times per week, where he met almost all the Turkish Cypriots living in Larnaca tis Lapithou, with whom he maintains excellent friendly relations.

At the party pictured in Yeniduzen, Skourides was pictured with his family, Turkish Cypriot friends and people from the village.

He said he has met Turkish Cypriots in the same position as him, who had to leave their homes in the south. “I understand very well the feelings of those who have to leave their homes and have to leave.”

Skourides said he applied to the IPC when he learned that his land had not been put to another use.Speaking about the Cyprus problem, he said: “I want it to be a solution, but I don’t see a solution too close. We’ve all made mistakes in Cyprus, we need to learn from them”.

When he first started work on the house it created tension with those living in the area. Lapithos ‘municipality’ halted the work, saying the construction had no ‘permit’. Residents of the village reportedly started collecting signatures to overturn the decision of the IPC.

Police had to go to the area after that poles marking Skourides’ land had been removed following complaints that they were blocking the entrance to a neighbouring house.

IPC Chairman Ayfer Said Erkmen then told Yeni Duzen that after going through Skourides’ application, he had contacted the security forces and implemented the decision after they were informed that the return could take place.

Erkmen said Skourides had secured the necessary ‘permits’ from the ‘interior ministry’, the ‘town planning department’ and the ‘municipality’.

According to Erkmen, 97.7per cent of the decisions taken to-date by the IPC concern payment of compensation, 1 per cent return of property, while the rest of the applications have been withdrawn.

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