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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-01-04

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

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


Saturday, January 4, 2003

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Turkey: April more realistic for a solution
  • [02] ANT1 seeks licence for Turkish channel
  • [03] Ministers discuss controversial heating subsidy
  • [04] Market up on Erdogan statements
  • [05] Strike threat at semi-government organisations
  • [06] Students sing up for overseas vote, but glitch could force them home

  • [01] Turkey: April more realistic for a solution

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said yesterday that the middle of April was a more realistic timeframe for a Cyprus solution than the February 28 deadline fixed at the EU summit in Copenhagen last month.

    "February 28 is an artificial date. It does not reflect the expiration of any specific time," Yakis said in an interview with Turkish channel NTV. "April 16 represents a more concrete deadline."

    Under the UN proposal, a solution would have to be reached by February 28, and Cypriots would vote in a referendum on March 30, both for a settlement, and EU accession. Cyprus expects to sign the EU accession Treaty in April.

    "If nothing is achieved by February 28, a negotiator other than Clerides may come and if there is hope, the talks will continue," Yakis said.

    But Clerides announced yesterday he would be standing in the February 16 elections for a limited 16-month mandate to see through a Cyprus settlement.

    Turkish parliament speaker Bulent Arinc, who will visit the north with a delegation next week, said yesterday that the Cyprus issue should be debated in parliament after which deputies would decide on it in line with the nation's interests. He said that the time for a decision on the Cyprus issue was looming.

    "The expectations of the Turkish Cypriot people are very important. Naturally, these expectations will shape the negotiations," Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer's spokesman, Tacan Ildem, told a news conference in Ankara yesterday.

    But, "just as important as the expectations of the Turkish Cypriot people, are Turkey's historical and legal rights in its capacity as both a guarantor power and a motherland. This should not be forgotten either," he said. "We hope the talks... will yield a concrete positive result with the good will of both sides," Ildem added.

    Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who is facing mounting opposition both from Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, were due to resume talks next Tuesday, but UN special envoy Alvaro do Soto will not now return to the island until January 12 after visiting Athens and Ankara.

    Denktash came under heavy fire from Tayyip Erdogan, leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), on Thursday, with a warning that the Cyprus issue was not his personal business, and that he should listen to the demands of Turkish Cypriots, 30,000 of whom came out to demonstrate against him over a week ago. Main opposition parties have also called for his resignation.

    Speaking after the National Council meeting in Nicosia yesterday, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the only person "out of tune with what is going on at the moment is Denktash".

    An editorial in Turkish Cypriot newspaper Sabah yesterday called Denktash "a lion without teeth".

    "Denktash has lost the overwhelming support of his community as well as the Turkish government," the paper said, adding that, "if there was an election tomorrow, Denktash could not get 20 per cent of the votes".

    "Since the overwhelming majority of Turkish Cypriots want a solution almost at any cost, this has turned Denktash into a poker player who plays with his cards open and has lost all his money," Sabah added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [02] ANT1 seeks licence for Turkish channel

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    ANT1 television has applied for a licence to broadcast a Turkish-language channel across Cyprus, sources confirmed yesterday.

    An official source told the Cyprus Mail that an application for a new television channel in Turkish called ANT1-Turk was currently under review by the Cabinet. According to the source, an application by ANT1 was put before the Cabinet to broadcast the new bi-communal channel throughout the island including the occupied north.

    The Cabinet has asked the Interior Ministry to determine whether the Cabinet has the legal authority to examine this obligation or whether it is for the broadcasting authority to decide. Meanwhile, the Communications Ministry has been asked to search whether frequencies are available for a new channel.

    Once an assessment has been reached on both issues, the Cabinet will be able to take a closer look at some of the problems which will arise, including interference from channels broadcasting from the occupied north and network coverage difficulties, said the source.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [03] Ministers discuss controversial heating subsidy

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    CONCERNS over heating fuel subsidies for households using central heating and fuel for agricultural purposes were discussed yesterday in a meeting between Commerce and Finance ministers, Nicos Rolandis and Takis Clerides.

    The two ministers declined to disclose any details after their discussion until a further examination of the relevant issues could be undertaken.

    Regarding a possible further reduction of petrol prices, Rolandis said there was no such issue.

    He told the Cyprus News Agency that if the price of crude oil "remained at the levels it is today (over $30 a barrel) for the whole of January and February then by law I have a duty to intervene and see what I can do with the prices". Readjustment of fuel prices based on the price of crude occur every six months, with the next one due on April 17.

    "Up to the end of last year, the balance-sheet for diesel has not raised any questions of a price hike," said the minister, noting that they even experienced a small surplus.

    Rolandis made a clear distinction between "the price that exists today plus taxes that must be imposed according to EU regulations and the basic price of diesel, which fluctuates based on the price of crude oil".

    This was not discussed in yesterday's meeting, Rolandis insisted, saying discussions had focussed, among other things, on the contentious subsidy for heating fuel suggested by the Cabinet last year. The decision to refund part of the tax on heating fuel to households has been followed by cries of unfairness by members of the public who feel that it would create a situation where the rich - who can afford central heating - are being subsidised by the poor.

    They argue that central heating is a pricier method of heating which only more well-off households can enjoy, whereas poorer households have to rely on basic heaters using heating fuel. Up to 63,000 households with central heating will get a 120 return, according to a Cabinet decision last October, whereas those without will get nothing.

    According to Politis yesterday, parliament recommended that all 150,000 households get the subsidy for heating fuel and not just those with central heating, but Rolandis reportedly told the paper that such a move would mean households would only get a 50 rebate, while administrative costs would soar. He did not rule out modifying the Cabinet's decision, however, saying "nothing has been ruled out".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [04] Market up on Erdogan statements

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE YEAR'S second stock market session fared even better than the first with a healthy 2.7 per cent increase taking the all-share index back to 98 points after a disappointing end of year close.

    Share price opened well above Thursday's close, peaked at 99 points within minutes and began to descend before a mid-session upsurge put a stop to the decline. The blue chips FTSE/CySE index rose 3.38 per cent to 399 points and volume for the day stood at 1.19 million.

    Optimism was rife in the tourism sector, which added 4.5 per cent, despite the continued rumblings over Iraq, while bank stocks gained 3.7 per cent. Bank of Cyprus and Laiki each added five cents to close at 1.45 and 1.35 respectively, while Hellenic ended unchanged at 77 cents.

    Overall, some 52 stocks gained compared to only 22 decliners and 80 that remained unchanged.

    Analysts said the reason for investor optimism appeared to have been statements by the leader of Turkey's new ruling party, Tayyip Erdogan, on Thursday blasting Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and warning him to listen to the voice of his people.

    It was the first time Greek Cypriots had heard a Turkish leader speak out so publicly in favour of a Cyprus solution and criticise Denktash and his intransigence on the Cyprus problem, they said.

    In addition to the possible good news for a Cyprus settlement, world markets have also performed well in the first two days of the year, analysts said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [05] Strike threat at semi-government organisations

    By Sofia Kannas

    SEMI-governmental organisations are threatening strike action due to the continuing failure of the government to implement and ratify a collective agreement signed by employers and unions in July 2002.

    Nikos Tambas, General Secretary of OIO-SEK voiced his frustration with a situation, which has been ongoing since December 2000, when the old agreement came to an end.

    "Even in 2003 we are still struggling to achieve the renewal of an agreement which ended in 2000. We had an agreement with the Finance Ministry regarding general rises for semi-governmental employees and also regarding the length of the collective agreement. We thought it had been renewed for three years but now the Ministry has intervened in the negotiations and have not ratified an agreement which was based on proposals put forward by the government' s own mediating service."

    Tambas has also expressed his regret that strike action may be resorted to by members of OIO-SEK.

    "We have sent letters and statements to the government asking them to accept the collective agreement formally but there has been no response. It is a great shame that even in the holiday season we are considering industrial action which we would rather not undertake. But sadly we have no choice."

    The employees of Paphos Municipality have already planned a strike for January 9 and 10, and similar strikes may follow in other sectors such as the EAC and CTO.

    Andreas Panorkas, President of the Free Pancyprian Union of Electricity Authority Employees says his federation is angry at the government's repeated failure to honour an agreement signed collectively between the employer and the unions.

    "Both the employer and the unions followed all the legal procedures and went through all the relevant ministries before the agreement was signed on July 29, 2002. It was then sent to the Ministry on July 30 and there were no comments on it.

    "At some point the budget regarding the collective agreement was sent to the Finance Ministry for ratification. Unfortunately, there was a delay in forwarding the budget details to the Council of Ministers and to Parliament, and it is this delay which is causing the problems. It is making people uneasy.

    "As a federation we avoided confrontation and strike action in the holidays out of respect for the public, but if this delay is ongoing we will follow the OIO-SEK line and begin industrial action soon. All legal procedures have been exhausted - we have no other way to turn," he added.

    Panorkas expressed the hope that the government would act to prevent the need for strikes.

    "Hopefully we will not have to inconvenience the innocent public, but this is in the Ministry's hands now. They must ratify the budget and implement what was originally agreed."

    No one at the Finance Ministry was available for comment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [06] Students sing up for overseas vote, but glitch could force them home

    By George Psyllides

    AROUND 3,728 students out of 14,882 studying abroad have applied to be registered on the electoral list to be able to vote at local embassies, Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said yesterday.

    Panayiotou said there had been 2,803 applications in Greece, 450 in Britain, 100 in the USA, 82 in Russia, 67 in Bulgaria, and 226 from other countries.

    "Whether electoral centres operate abroad depends on the final position taken by the House, which we hope would be this coming week," Panayiotou said.

    The government had decided to set up election centres at embassies abroad, but a legal complication could mean students will have to follow the traditional route of being flown home if they want to vote.

    According to a ruling by the Attorney-general the law allowing the overseas vote can only apply to the parliamentary elections and not presidential polls.

    It is now up to the House Interior Affairs Committee to decide whether to amend the law, which has to be done immediately if it is to be in force in time for February 16.

    The ministry had decided to set up centres in embassies in those countries where the number of voters was over 50.

    "Initially we estimated to have eight such centres abroad but that would ultimately depend on how many would apply and the areas they come from," Panayiotou said.

    The minister added that the total number of registered voters in Cyprus was 475,000, including 7,921 new voters.

    Panayiotou said 231 objections had been filed, mostly involving the registration of people who are not permanent residents.

    The minister said such an act was illegal and warned of the penalties should it be proved that a declaration had been false.

    He reminded it was illegal not to vote, adding, however, that no one had been charged for such an offence in the last elections.

    The cost of the elections will reach 4 million, covering both rounds.

    Candidates will have to pay 1,000 along with the submission of their candidature, a sum they lose if they do not secure 10 per cent of the vote.

    A candidate also needs nine supporters - one who nominates and eight who back the candidate.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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