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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-01-03

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

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


Friday, January 3, 2003

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Clerides in new presidential bid?
  • [02] Postage to Greece goes up to meet standard EU rate
  • [03] War in Iraq would affect Cyprus, says minister
  • [04] Police fire warning shots as bikers raid village party
  • [05] VAT goes up to meet EU minimum
  • [06] Overseas voting 'unlikely' this time round
  • [07] BNP moves to Cyprus
  • [08] Archives show Makarios vision of Cyprus solution through European framework
  • [09] Larnaca boy born two minutes into the New Year
  • [10] Drink casualties up in Nicosia but down in Limassol
  • [11] Greek soldier killed in car crash
  • [12] Lots of rain and plenty of water in the dams
  • [13] Police hail improved road safety record
  • [14] Economic growth to rise

  • [01] Clerides in new presidential bid?

    By George Psyllides

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides said yesterday he was considering seeking re- election in the coming presidential elections if developments concerning the Cyprus problem made it necessary.

    "Of course I am considering it, but I have not decided. if a solution is found on the 25th or 28th of February there will be no reason for me to ask to continue as President of the Republic of Cyprus," Clerides told Reuters in an interview.

    He added: "If it's not, then it would be very unwise in the middle of the negotiations to walk out and give the matter to somebody else."

    When asked later on if these comments meant he would be running for election, Clerides answered "No. He who starts the negotiations should brief his successor so he would know what is going on."

    But with the elections being proclaimed today, Clerides has just 14 days to decide whether he is running or not.

    January 17 is the deadline for presidential hopefuls to submit their candidacy.

    DISY chief Nicos Anastassiades said yesterday that his party would only reverse its decision to support KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou if Clerides decided to run due to dramatic developments in the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking after meeting the President, Anastassiades said Clerides had not even hinted on whether he would seek re-election.

    "(It doesn't depend) on who put pressure on the President and how much," Anastassiades said.

    "The President judges by his criteria and I want to make it clear that from the moment my party made the decision (to support Omirou), it is impossible to put pressure to reverse that decision through another one," he added.

    Anastassiades said DISY had never kept secret the possibility of reassessing its decision if there were dramatic developments necessitating Clerides' re-election.

    Answering questions about Attorney-general Alecos Markides, who scores well above Omirou in the polls, Anastassiades said there was a lot of noise about Markides, who has not yet expressed any intention to run, despite many people saying he would stand.

    "Let us drop the scenarios put together by various people and concentrate on the substance," Anastassiades said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Postage to Greece goes up to meet standard EU rate

    By a Staff Reporter

    AS of yesterday, letters and packages posted to Greece no longer carry the luxury of being considered local, with postage going up to the fixed EU rate.

    "Until now, anything posted to Greece was considered part of Cyprus and so people were charged local prices," a Nicosia branch post office official said. "But, as of yesterday, this changed and Greece, as part of Europe and a separate country from Cyprus, will carry the same prices as other European Union member states."

    This was in order to have consistency and uniformity, he said.

    Letters that had once cost 21 cents to post would now cost 31 cents, he said. The biggest blow would hit parents with children studying or living in Greece, who frequently sent packages. Until now, they had enjoyed the privilege of positing a two-kilo package for 1.71, including express delivery. "These packages will now cost senders 12, plus an additional 1 if they want it delivered express."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] War in Iraq would affect Cyprus, says minister

    By a Staff Reporter

    COMMERCE, Tourism and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday issued a grim warning that a potential war in Iraq would have negative consequences on the economy.

    Rolandis yesterday held two separate meetings with tourism and fuel company officials and discussed the situation.

    With the tourism officials - Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Cyprus Airways, hotel association, travel agents and others - Rolandis discussed the possible fallout of a war and various measures to be applied before, during and after a potential conflict.

    "Cyprus' economy is supported to a large degree by tourism.

    "Any events could affect tourism negatively and consequently the economy," Rolandis said.

    He said tourism officials tabled their views on the matter and a list of points of concern as well as measures to be applied before any developments tale place was drawn up.

    The measures would take effect next week and a meeting would be held in around 15 days to assess their results, Rolandis said.

    Concerning the effects on the fuel companies, Rolandis said they would be negative due to the expected further rise in the price of crude oil.

    The price of crude oil has jumped from $25 a barrel to around $32.

    He added that the problem would be compounded further because of the insufficient oil reserves and the lack of storage space on the island.

    "As is known, Cyprus never had sufficient storage space and we are now preparing to go ahead with the Energy Centre, which, however, won't be ready before 2008," Rolandis said.

    Regarding oil prices, he said there was not a lot that could be done because Cyprus avoided buying oil in advance in order not to pay more if the prices went down in the future.

    "The conclusion of all factors if there are operations in Iraq is that the economy's basic areas, the areas, which contribute substantially to the gross domestic product would be possibly affected negatively," the minister said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Police fire warning shots as bikers raid village party

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    RESIDENTS of Sotira in the Famagusta district celebrated the New Year with a bang when police fired warning shots in the air to ward off unruly youths that had invaded village festivities just minutes after the stroke of midnight.

    A gang of 10 or so youths on high-powered motorcycles gate-crashed the village party enjoyed by some 400 locals celebrating the New Year. The youths, wearing hoods and masks, entered the village square on bikes without number plates, despite police efforts to prevent them from doing so. Once in the village, the youths continued to run havoc in the square, ignoring police orders to leave the area.

    On-duty police officers fired four warning shots in the air at 10 past midnight, causing the intruders to abandon the party and leave behind five motorcycles.

    Head of Famagusta police, Savvas Chailis, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the whole fiasco was due to a trend that started a couple of years ago where youths would steal old bikes and burn them in a heap of metal, similar to the bonfires started during the Easter period. Police clamped down on the ritual, creating fewer incidents last year but failed to stop the unruly youngsters from raiding this year's New Year celebrations.

    "Basically a bunch of youths steal old bikes and use them to make a bonfire. We cracked down on them causing last year, but it appears they came back this year," said Chailis.

    Police are searching for the offenders using evidence from the confiscated bikes and local knowledge of youngsters in the area. Four people have already been questioned and arrests are expected to follow. "We will find them. It is only a small place and both us and the community are determined to stop this action."

    No casualties were reported as a result of the shots fired during the fracas.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] VAT goes up to meet EU minimum

    By a Staff Reporter

    VALUED Added Tax (VAT) yesterday rose by another two per cent to meet the European Union minimum 15 per cent requirement.

    The increase was part of the government's tax reform, keeping in line with the EU acquis communautaire.

    On top of the VAT increase, new diesel and petrol prices were yesterday also implemented, with slight increases in the former and decreases in the latter, said Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis.

    "The new fuel prices show a small decrease for petrol prices and increase for diesel prices," he said.

    Ninety-eight-octane extra petrol now costs 47.5 cents a litre at petrol stations, down 1.6 cents; 92-octane regular petrol now costs 46.5 cents per litre.

    Unleaded 98-octane super petrol is now 46.3 cents a litre compared to 49.1 cents last year and unleaded 95-octane petrol is now 45.2 cents a litre, compared to 47 cents previously.

    Those hardest hit by the price changes were owners of diesel-powered vehicles, with a six cent per litre increase in diesel prices. From 25 cents a litre, diesel now costs 31 cents a litre. And low-sulphur diesel now cost 33 cents a litre, compared to its previous price of 28.2 cents. Paraffin oil was yesterday also six cents more expensive at 31 cents a litre.

    Other fuel price changes included liquid gas now costing 250 per metric tonne, LFO at 9.5 cents a litre; 70/100, 50/70 and 35/50 asphalt now sells at 88.5 per metric tonne and S/125 asphalt at 97.5 per metric tonne.

    The next fuel price change will be implemented in six months, on July 1 followed by complete liberalisation of all fuel products on October 1.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Overseas voting 'unlikely' this time round

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRIOT students and those living abroad will have to fly home if they want to vote in February's Presidential elections, an Interior Ministry official said yesterday. The news comes after concerns that efforts to allow overseas voting at designated centres would lead to possible "complications" and "unconstitutional" loopholes.

    "As the law stands today, Cypriots abroad are supposedly allowed to vote," House Interior Committee Chairman and AKEL deputy Nikos Katsourides told the Cyprus Mail.

    "However, the Attorney-general's office has notified us that as the law stands there are constitutional problems and it can only apply to parliamentary elections and not presidential elections," he said. If the committee decided that Cypriots abroad should be able to vote, then the law would have to be amended immediately. If not, it would be changed in time for the next Presidential elections in 2007, he said.

    The committee will be meeting today, with each party planning to announce its position on the matter. Katsourides said he did not want to comment further until after the meeting, although ruling DISY and opposition DIKO deputies yesterday clashed over what the former claimed was a political ploy by opposition parties to thwart Cypriot citizens abroad from exercising their voting rights.

    But Interior Ministry official Demetris Demetriou said he did not believe the House would amend the law in time for this year's elections and that each party would instead be flying over its voters as had been done in the past.

    "Anyone in possession of a Cyprus voting book is eligible to vote," said Demetriou. "However, it doesn't look like the voting centres abroad are going to go ahead this time round and so anyone wanting to vote will have to come back to Cyprus."

    Voting centres had initially been planned for Greece and the United Kingdom.

    The problem in amending the law to iron out the loopholes is time. With just over six weeks until the first round of voting scheduled to begin on February 16, all voters had to be registered by yesterday evening in order to draw up the final election list, which will be published today. Anyone turning 18 by February 16 is eligible for voter registration.

    "Therefore, you realise, this provision could not have been implemented (in time)," said Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou. Any objections to the voting register should be submitted no later than next Sunday, he said. These objections concerned individuals who had no place on the register, such as non-permanent residents of Cyprus.

    "There are 475,000 voters so far," said Panayiotou, "which is 8,000 more than in the 2001 parliamentary elections. There are also 231 objections, which need to be examined by each district officer."

    Presidential candidates have to submit their candidacy by January 17.

    Unofficial candidates so far are DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos, who has the backing of AKEL; KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou and New Horizons party leader Nicos Koutsou. President Glafcos Clerides and Attorney-general Alecos Markides are still to decide whether to stand. If Clerides decides not to seek re-election, it is expected that Markides will throw his name in the hat.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] BNP moves to Cyprus

    By George Psyllides

    FRENCH bank BNP Paribas will be establishing an international banking unit in Cyprus, the Central Bank has announced.

    BNP Paribas S.A., which got the green light to operate in Cyprus on December 31, is the result of a merger between BNP and Paribas, which took place in May last year.

    The two banks were worth 825 billion euros on December 31, 2001.

    BNP Paribas is the biggest bank in the Eurozone in relation to its stock market value and has braches in 85 countries, providing a wide array of financial services worldwide through various affiliated companies.

    In a written statement, the Central Bank said BNP Paribas' decision was another indication of the island's success in attracting foreign banking and financial organisations, stemming from the international recognition Cyprus has as a respectable regional financial centre.

    The BNP Paribas international banking unit will be taking over all operations, assets and obligations of Banque National de Paris (BNP) Intercontinentale S.A, which has been operating on the island since 1985.

    BNP Paribas will be dealing mainly with foreign currency and non-permanent residents who are based in Cyprus or abroad.

    It will also provide mid and long-term loans to Cyprus residents and companies wishing to borrow money in foreign currency.

    The company will also offer approved investment services and foreign currency to permanent and non-permanent residents and companies and will be under the control and supervision of the Central Bank and the French banking authorities.

    There are 29 international banking units currently operating on the island, while more foreign banks have expressed interest and more licences are expected to be issued in the near future, the Central Bank said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] Archives show Makarios vision of Cyprus solution through European framework

    By a Staff Reporter

    BRITISH archives released on New Year's day under the 30-year rule reveal that Archbishop Makarios predicted the solution to the Cyprus problem would be facilitated by the presence of a united and "greater Europe incorporating Greece, Cyprus and Turkey."

    The records also document a meeting at Downing Street between acting Foreign Secretary George Pelagia and British Prime Minister Edward Heath in November 1972, at which Pelagia informed Heath that General Grivas was "out of control" and that "Archbishop Makarios believes the Greek Government should take a tougher stance (against Grivas)."

    Papers show that throughout 1972 the Greek Junta exerted great pressure on Makarios, making the Archbishop's position very difficult.

    According to other documentation, on the arrival to Cyprus of Czechoslovak guns ordered by the Cypriot President, the Greek government demanded the hand-over of the weapons to the UN, and the withdrawal of both the Archbishop and Grivas from the Cyprus political scene.

    A British embassy document to Washington dated November 4, 1972 made reference to "a Turkish Cypriot movement whose aim was the de jure recognition of an independent Turkish Cypriot Republic."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [09] Larnaca boy born two minutes into the New Year

    By Sofia Kannas

    CYPRUS' first baby of 2003 was born just two minutes into the New Year in Larnaca on Wednesday.

    The baby's mother, Elena Olympiou Papakyriakou was admitted to the Papazachariou and Hadjitheocharous Clinic in Larnaca at 11 pm on New Year's Eve. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy weighing 3.8 kilograms just after the stroke of midnight, at 12.02 am, a nurse at the clinic confirmed yesterday.

    Papakyriakou and her husband Nicos already have two daughters and were overjoyed at the timely birth of their third child, who will be christened Thalis.

    Asked if she had been expecting to give birth on New Year's Day, Papakyriakou revealed that doctors had calculated her child would be born on the second or third day of January.

    "I think the joy a mother feels at the birth of a child is the same whatever day of the year it is. My main concern was to have a healthy child. But I do think it will be nice for Thalis when he's older to know he was the first new born baby of 2003 in Cyprus," she added.

    The birth of Thalis was followed by that of another baby boy, Yiannis Yiorgallis, in Nicosia at 1.20 am. The island's first new-born girl of January 1, 2003 was delivered at Larnaca Hospital at 8 am.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [10] Drink casualties up in Nicosia but down in Limassol

    By Alexia Saoulli

    NICOSIA hospital yesterday reported an increase in the number of young revellers rushed to the casualty department with alcohol poisoning over the New Year. Paphos hospital also reported a significant increase, but Larnaca and Limassol said their experience was no different from a normal weekend.

    "Quite a large number of people aged 25 and under were brought to us from 2am onwards," said Dr. Costas Antoniades, who heads the Nicosia General Hospital emergency department. He added almost all the cases saw youngsters brought in by friends having collapsed into a drunken stupor after celebrating the New Year.

    "Every year it's the same. People have too much to drink; not everyone's organism can take the excessive alcohol and some become very ill," he said. He could not say how many people had been treated for alcohol related complaints on New Year's eve.

    Antoniades said such binge drinking did not necessarily pose a physical health hazard, but was still cause for grave concern.

    "Although it might not affect people health wise, it is still very dangerous, because people are prone to drink and drive, which in itself is a huge problem."

    The treatment for alcohol poisoning usually involved the administration of intravenous fluids, he said.

    A Paphos hospital spokesman told the Cyprus Mail there was also increased activity in dealing with cases of alcohol poisoning.

    "Until lunchtime on New Year's day, people of all ages, who had been drinking heavily, were brought in to the emergency department," he said.

    A total of 250 emergency cases were brought in during the 24-hour period, beginning at midnight on January 1.

    "Not all these cases concerned alcohol poisoning. Some were minor accidents because of drink driving, others had gastroenteritis and others were vomiting. In general, however, there was increased activity in the ER," he said.

    Surprisingly, Limassol reported a decrease in alcohol poisoning levels this year.

    "The number of incidences this year were far fewer than previous years, as were the number of drink driving related accidents," said hospital emergency medicine head, Dr. Antonis Kastanos. Although there were a few cases of people having had too much to drink, the numbers were, thankfully, as few as on a typical Saturday night out, he said.

    "Most people that came into hospital were suffering from viruses, or a bad case of gastroenteritis, which were completely unrelated to excessive eating and alcohol consumption," said Kastanos.

    Larnaca General Hospital did not have any alarming statistics to report either.

    "No one mentioned anything out of the ordinary this morning, which would have been the case had it been hectic yesterday," said an emergency room staffer. "Although there were one or two people brought in for treatment, it's not worth mentioning since this is the usual number you would expect on any night out."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [11] Greek soldier killed in car crash

    By a Staff Reporter

    A GREEK soldier serving in the National Guard as a five-year volunteer was killed yesterday morning in the first fatal road accident of the New Year. Constantinos Kondos, a resident of Dhali, collided with another vehicle on the old Nicosia-Limassol road just before 7am. The 35-year-old father turned off the highway at the Latsia exit, heading towards Latsia industrial area, when he collided with another car, driven by 52-year-old Georgios Adamou, at a cross section. Both drivers were rushed to Nicosia General Hospital where the soldier was pronounced dead. Adamou was treated for injuries and subsequently released.

    Kondos was married with a two-year-old child and had been living in Cyprus for seven years. He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Police have appealed for anyone with information on the accident to report to their nearest police station.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [12] Lots of rain and plenty of water in the dams

    By Alexia Saoulli

    DECEMBER may have started out dry, but by New Year's Eve rainfall had far exceeded the monthly average.

    "The total rainfall for the entire month covered 145 per cent of the month's average, with 153.5 millimetres of rain," Meteorological Department head, Theodoros Theofilou, said yesterday.

    At 8am yesterday, January 2, total water levels for the month already amounted to seven millimetres, covering seven per cent of the January average, Theofilou said.

    The weather outlook for the next few days foresees occasional showers with temperatures rising by the weekend, he said.

    "There is an extended cloudbank west of Cyprus, which will be responsible for more rain," he said. "Friday morning will be cloudy in places with occasional showers, which will clear by the afternoon. The weather will continue to be fair for the weekend with a few scattered clouds and possible rain, although the temperatures will increase slightly."

    At the moment, the average temperature is 15-17 degrees during the day, which is relatively normal.

    Similarly upbeat were the Water Development Department's statistics on water flow into the dams.

    "A total of 112,572 million cubic meters of water was recorded in the dams today, making up 41.1 per cent of their total capacity," said Theofilou. This time last year, the dams held only 68,107 million cubic metres or 24.9 per cent of total capacity.

    Out of all the 17 dams in Cyprus, Kouris dam in the Paphos district yesterday held the most water with 49,904 million cubic metres, followed by Asprokremmos with 24,072 million cubic metres. These were both just under half full, while smaller dams such as the Kalopanayiotis dam in the Nicosia district reaching 100 per cent capacity.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [13] Police hail improved road safety record

    By Sofia Kannas

    THE number of serious road accidents over the 2002-3 New Year holiday period was down on those for 2001-2, according to police statistics released yesterday.

    There were no fatal road accidents in Cyprus between December 29, 2002 and January 1, 2003. This is in marked contrast to the same four-day period in 2001-2, when a total of four road deaths occurred across the island.

    The records also show a welcome fall in the number of serious injuries sustained as a result of traffic accidents this New Year. The number of seriously injured dropped from 18 people to 12. There was, however, an increase in minor accidents and injuries over the 2002-3 New Year, meaning that there was a total of 42 road accidents across the island for a second year running.

    Doros Achilleou, Deputy Director of the Cyprus Traffic Department, was pleased at the results and attributed the improvements to special measures taken jointly by the Department and the Police.

    "The obvious presence of the police on our highways and main roads this New Year undoubtedly had a positive effect, reducing traffic accidents at this busy time. The police were out in force, and were strategically positioned at busy road junctions and traffic lights."

    "Other important factors were speed control and alcohol checks. There were 300 drivers breathalysed over three days, right across the island," he added.

    Achilleou also praised the behaviour of Cyprus' drivers this New Year.

    "Drivers showed a definite improvement in attitude. Even the rainy weather has not led to an increased number of serious accidents."

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou believes the signs are encouraging for the future, and for the island's road safety on the whole.

    "Up until 2000, Cyprus had a total of 115 deaths a year due to road accidents. But 2001 was a turning point, with 98 road deaths that year, and 94 in 2002.

    "Despite this obvious improvement we are not satisfied with these figures -- we will continue our efforts in 2003 to keep fatalities as low as possible.

    "The introduction of new speed cameras in 2003 should see even greater progress. We hope to see under 90 road deaths this year.

    "But the best measure of road safety is driver behaviour. Road 'manners' in Cyprus have definitely improved and will improve further," the minister said.

    Neophytou also congratulated the police on their dedication to reducing traffic accidents and bettering road safety across the island, especially throughout the holiday season.

    "The police are co-operating with us and are doing an excellent job in making our roads safer," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [14] Economic growth to rise

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE economy's growth rate is expected to be higher this year if the possibility of a war in Iraq is not taken into account, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said yesterday.

    Klerides said the growth rate in 2003 would reach four per cent while inflation would remain under four per cent.

    Inflation last year was 2.8 per cent.

    Klerides told a news conference that various scenarios have been prepared in connection to a potential conflict in the Gulf area.

    Klerides struck a note of caution, stressing that it would be a "utopia to believe that there would be a war in Iraq and Cyprus would remain unhurt, unaffected because it has taken some measures".

    Concerning inflation, Klerides said it would be restricted under four per cent considering the increases in consumer taxes and VAT.

    He said the government not only would not have any income from the tax reform package but would be forking out 22 million in the form of countervailing measures.

    "Though the government and House's intention was to have the tax reform on a zero basis, that is, the state not to benefit at all, we have willingly decided for the state to have a loss of around 22 million because of the increased compensatory measures," Klerides said.

    Regarding the public deficit for 2004 and beyond, Klerides said the government has agreed with the House to re-examine the state's income from tax reform and consult with the House again depending on this year's developments.

    "Our pledge towards the European Union through the pre-accession economic programme, which provides for zero deficit by 2005 is a definite," the minister said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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