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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-01-21

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

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


Tuesday, January 21, 2003

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Cyprus agrees to host interviews of Iraqi scientists
  • [02] Hotel strike threat as talks with owners deadlocked
  • [03] Outrage over latest assault involving teenage girls
  • [04] Government promises help for motorists who can't convert to unleaded
  • [05] Club owners call on officials to back down over closing times
  • [06] Greens back Papadopoulos in hope of more assertive stance on Annan plan
  • [07] Limassol project to examine Limassol's mixed heritage
  • [08] Farmers in new protest against the government

  • [01] Cyprus agrees to host interviews of Iraqi scientists

    By Michele Kambas

    CYPRUS has agreed to a UN request that it host interviews between UN arms inspectors and Iraqi scientists if needed, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday.

    Asked if Cyprus had been formally asked to do so by UN officials, he told Reuters: "Yes. We were officially contacted by the UN last week on such a possibility."

    Cyprus had agreed to provide facilities if UN inspectors brought Iraqis abroad for interview, he said.

    Asked whether Cyprus would indeed be a venue, top UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said: "That is likely." But he added no scientists had been approached.

    "We have not asked anybody yet. But it may well come very soon," Blix told reporters in Athens at the end of a two-day visit to Baghdad, where he won pledges of better co-operation from Iraq in searching for any weapons of mass destruction.

    Cyprus is already the forward logistics base of UN weapons inspectors who have combed Iraq for the past two months.

    The UN uses the seaside Flamingo Hotel near Larnaca airport as a transit point for inspectors, and sends in all its supplies via Cyprus.

    The UN says it is within its mandate to interview scientists abroad. US officials have called for interviewees to be taken abroad to protect them from Iraqi reprisals.

    Cyprus would host interviews on condition they would not go on for extended periods and has made clear the island cannot offer political asylum, Cassoulides said.

    Iraqi physicist Faleh Hassan last week accused "Mafia-like" arms inspectors of using his wife's sickness to lure him abroad.

    UN inspectors found around 3,000 documents, including some classified material apparently related to enrichment of uranium that could be used for nuclear weapons, in the scientist's home.

    Cassoulides said he did not know when interviews might take place. "They do not have candidates so far."

    In Baghdad yesterday, Iraqi authorities said they would encourage inspections of "private sites" -- an apparent reference to places like the homes of leading scientists -- and to "private interviews".

    Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's top scientific adviser said Blix did not ask for Iraqi scientists to be taken abroad for questioning during the two- day talks.

    Asked about yesterday's announcement by Cyprus, Amir al-Saadi said: "We did not discuss this subject at all and we heard it on the news... We do not know who was behind it, whether someone has asked the government of Cyprus or... they just volunteered this thing."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [02] Hotel strike threat as talks with owners deadlocked

    By Sofia Kannas

    HOTEL employees met in Limassol yesterday to decide what measures to take after the refusal of the Pancyprian Hotel Association (PASYXE) to sign a new collective agreement with employees.

    The meeting, which took place at SEK offices in Limassol yesterday afternoon, was attended by members of PEO and SEK unions, who are demanding the Hotel Association accept the agreement proposed by Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas.

    General Secretary of the PEO Hotel Employees Association, Lefteris Georgiadou, emerged from the meeting satisfied.

    "We had the meeting as planned and we have reached some decisions with regard to the problem.

    "We discussed the situation in detail and decided that as employees we will go on strike in 10 days' time should the Hotel Association reject the agreement again.

    "As Hotel employees we accepted a proposal from the Labour Minister, which wasn't hugely beneficial to us, in order to foster a climate of peace within the hotel industry.

    "The proposal provided for a modest increase in basic salaries for employees entering the hotel sector and also for a small improvement to medical schemes.

    "However, I would like to point out that the increments proposed are negligible and do not keep up with inflation rates. In fact, the increments are much lower than what we usually agree to."

    Asked whether the dispute could be resolved Georgiadou said: "The issue will only be resolved when the Hotel Association accepts the agreement -- and we are talking about an agreement which favours them! But I suppose they think they can get even more concessions by refusing this proposal."

    Avgerinos Nikitas, President of the Pancyprian Hotel Association was yesterday unmoved by the threat of strike action by employees.

    "We have had several meetings with the Labour Ministry at which we put forward our own proposal for an agreement, but which the Ministry rejected.

    "The Labour Ministry then made its own proposal which ignored our needs.

    The hotel industry is going through a very bad patch. Last year was a bad year for us and with war on Iraq imminent it looks as though the situation will not improve in 2003.

    "We considered the employees very seriously in drawing up our proposal but we cannot give them what is being asked. We cannot possibly keep giving increases to employees every time it comes to renewing an agreement.

    "The labour market is 20 to 50 per cent more expensive here than in competing countries like Turkey, Morocco, Greece and Spain. Even the Tourism Minister admits there is a problem.

    "We have sent a letter to the Labour Minister asking him to reconsider the proposal, and we await his response," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [03] Outrage over latest assault involving teenage girls

    THREE underage girls have been questioned by Limassol police on suspicion of kidnapping and molesting a 19-year-old girl over the weekend.

    Police said that on Saturday night three girls - aged 14, 15 and 16 - had apparently kidnapped a 19-year-old girl and driven her to an empty house somewhere in the town. They then tied the victim to a chair, stripped her and beat her up, police said.

    When her assailants left, the 19-year-old managed to untie herself and call her friends, who took her to Limassol hospital, where she is being treated.

    The victim claims she was also sexually assaulted, but refused to be checked by a medical expert. Doctors at the hospital said she had been seriously battered and had abrasions all over her body.

    The three schoolgirls, whom the victim apparently knew, were picked up by police on Sunday and questioned. All three admitted to battering the 19- year-old, but denied indecent assault. The eldest of the assailants was arrested and held for questioning. Later in the day she was charged with assault and battering and causing actual bodily harm, and released pending her appearance in court.

    The other two were questioned and later released. All three have been referred to the welfare office for counselling and psychological evaluation, standard practice for juvenile offenders.

    The latest incident bears similarities to a case in October, when a group of girls kidnapped three others, drove them to a remote area outside Limassol, tied them to a pole, assaulted and robbed them. Police would not confirm reports that the incidents may have been linked.

    October's attack sparked a public outcry, prompting the House Criminal Committee to put it on the agenda for discussion.

    The upsurge in juvenile delinquency has been a growing concern in recent years, matching a sharp rise in petty crime and serious offences. Statistics for 2000 showed that 564 minors broke the law that year, an 11 per cent increase on 1999.

    But unreported crime was far more extensive, psychiatrist Yiangos Mikellides told the Cyprus Mail. "The violence and crime we see in the media is but a small fraction of what really goes on," he said. "Cypriot society is becoming more liberal and de-personalised. In the absence of controls or sanctions -- from the family or the justice system -- it's no wonder that juvenile crime is getting out of hand.

    "Generally speaking, you could say that offenders are venting their frustrations into violence, because they have no other way of solving their problem. That also holds true for teenagers, who are at a critical age," he said.

    The absence of adequate welfare support on the island was another significant parameter. There are no probation officers to provide counselling to major offenders. And as far as reformation goes, the absence of a juvenile correctional facility means that young offenders are either left off the hook or incarcerated in the main, adult prison.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [04] Government promises help for motorists who can't convert to unleaded

    By George Psyllides

    COMMUNICATIONS minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday sought to reassure motorists over a European Union directive ordering the withdrawal of all forms of leaded petrol by next summer.

    The government is planning to withdraw leaded petrol by the summer of 2004 at the latest.

    Neophytou said the government had studied various measures concerning those motorists who would be unable to run their vehicles on unleaded petrol.

    The minister said one of the incentives would be to exempt motorists whose vehicles could not run on unleaded from registration fees on a new car.

    This could save them between 300 and 1,300, depending on the type of the vehicle, the minister said.

    He said only very old vehicles would have problems running on unleaded; considering most were probably worth to more than 500, it would be profitable for motorists to change them.

    Neophytou said a study carried out by the government showed that of the 400, 000 vehicles currently on the island's roads, only around 6,000 - aged 15 years and above - would have problems running on unleaded petrol, Neophytou said.

    "All vehicles imported to Cyprus in the last years are suitable for unleaded petrol.

    "We have 400,000 vehicles and only 6,000 present a problem," Neophytou said.

    The minister said the state's technical services would be at the disposal of the owners of such vehicles to instruct them on what changes they need to make in order to be able to use unleaded petrol.

    An expert at the Communications Ministry told the Cyprus Mail that what was needed in most cases was a reinforcement of the valve seats.

    He said that in the past, these parts had been manufactured using soft metal, which had no problem using leaded petrol because the lead provided the lubrication preventing wear and tear of the seats.

    Unleaded fuel does not provide such lubrication, but the problem could easily be rectified by using fuel additives or hardened rings placed on the valve seats, he said.

    But he warned motorists to seek more information from manufacturers before spending any money on conversions.

    Neophytou said the government had specific suggestions for those who could not afford to buy a new car, even without paying the registration fees.

    "We assure that no class of citizens will be adversely affected because of the enforcement of this measure," Neophytou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [05] Club owners call on officials to back down over closing times

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE Restaurant, Bar and Nightclub Owners Association (PASICA) will meet with Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou on Thursday to demand a change in the strict enforcement of new closing time laws applied to food, drink and music establishments.

    The meeting comes after club owners protested on the streets last weekend, causing traffic mayhem.

    PASICA general secretary and owner of Cimaroza restaurant in Nicosia, Phanos Levendis, told the Cyprus Mail he was optimistic they could find a temporary solution to get through the next few months until Parliament opens again after the presidential elections.

    "I am sure we will reach an understanding on opening hours until parliament begins again and we have time to discuss all our problems with deputies. Once they have a better view of the situation, new laws will be introduced, not just relating to opening and closing times, but to other issues as well, " said Levendis.

    Club and pub owners took to the streets of Limassol on Saturday night to protest against the 2am closing time for weekends. They blocked the main tourist road of Yermasoyia with their cars, causing a great deal of friction between club owners and other drivers, while creating a long line of traffic on the busy road. Police eventually persuaded the angry owners after about 20 minutes to remove their cars and free up the road to traffic. Similar protests occurred around 3am when some clubs were booked for violating the 2am shutdown.

    Problems began for owners when police brought to an end the unofficial one- hour extension implemented for the Christmas period. Now, closing hours have gone back to times set in 1985.

    Levendis said he was confident a solution would be found until further legislation could be enacted. "We should have a flat time for all clubs, bars, cabarets and restaurants, like in Europe," he said.

    Those most affected by the earlier closing hours have said that they should not be blamed if some parents cannot protect their children from the dangers of the night, and have even threatened to make up for the subsequent loss of income by serving smuggled alcohol in the clubs.

    "There are many reasons for time changes including being in line with Europe and keeping up with modernisation, but time is not the only issue," said Levendis, adding, "Establishments are opening all the time and we need to follow European laws on this because it creates problems in the market. Many amateurs get involved in the profession."

    Levendis highlighted that laws on safety, capacity, hygiene and alcohol licences needed to be carefully studied. "It is a very small market and things don't always work like they do abroad. The worst establishments are not necessarily likely to be the ones that shut down," he said. "It's very easy to get an alcohol licence here, whereas in England its easier to go to the moon than get a licence. There need to be more restrictions on opening new places," said Levendis, suggesting an island-wide five-year moratorium on entertainment joints. "People should buy from an existing establishment which has all its licences and has followed all the regulations."

    Levendis gave an example: "In Austria, owners take tests every year, but here, carpenters can open up restaurants."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [06] Greens back Papadopoulos in hope of more assertive stance on Annan plan

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE GREENS said yesterday they had decided to back DIKO leader and candidate Tassos Papadopoulos in the presidential elections because they felt his candidacy came closest to securing the rights of the Cypriot people and promoting the positions of their party.

    Green Party deputy George Perdikis told reporters he hoped there would be a more assertive stance on the UN-backed Annan plan if the DIKO leader was elected and described as "unfair and unprovoked" comments by Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou against the Greens decision to back Papadopoulos.

    AKEL and DIKO both welcomed the Greens' decision, saying the forces of the opposition were getting stronger and more united as the elections neared, creating a "certain majority" for Papadopoulos to become president.

    KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou who recently withdrew his own candidacy to support Papadopoulos, described the Government Spokesman's comment that the Greens decision would make little difference as "wishful thinking". The decision gave new dynamic to the opposition forces and paved the way for a victory for Papadopoulos, he said.

    United Democrats leader George Vassiliou said the Greens' support for Papadopoulos "should make people seriously consider where we are going (with Papadopoulos) and to what degree there is real honesty and determination, not just to negotiate but, to discuss within the framework of the Annan plan moves towards a solution." He pointed out that both the Greens and New Horizons had refused to go to Copenhagen and candidly rejected the Annan plan.

    Meanwhile, independent presidential candidate Alecos Markides told state television yesterday that there was scope for significant improvements to the Annan plan, maintaining that he was the only candidate who had thought so in the first place. He ruled out signing the plan as it was if the Turkish Cypriot side decided to do so, but said he does not think the Turkish Cypriot side would. Markides said he was not certain whether UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan would abandon efforts to solve the Cyprus problem after February 28, but thought it unimaginable for Annan to quit if the two sides wanted to negotiate after the set deadline.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [07] Limassol project to examine Limassol's mixed heritage

    By Tania Khadder

    THE CYPRUS Conservation Foundation has announced that it is co-ordinating a project to study an adjoining Greek and Turkish Cypriot neighbourhood in part of Limassol's old town.

    A team of experts, which includes both Turkish and Greek Cypriots, met at the weekend to discuss plans for the project.

    The year-long study will look at the architecture and land uses of an area that covers about 500 square meters of the old town as a basis for understanding the town's multi-cultural significance.

    "The study has to come up with proposals about what should be done in order not to lose the cultural significance of the area," Artemis Yiordamli, executive director of the CCF, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. "The proposals will come out of what we find on the ground."

    The team chose to study this particular area because of the historical significance of its architecture.

    "Quite a few of the buildings have acquired the status of historic monument, " explained Sevina Zesimou, professional architect and head researcher for the project, "but we believe that there is a lot more going on in this neighbourhood which has not yet been listed."

    "It is also a neighbourhood where properties of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots tend to merge. There was an even more mixed picture to what we see today," she added.

    "Many of the Turkish Cypriot artefacts are fragmented and have not been documented but speak of a presence that is not altogether gone"

    The study, which also includes contributions from UNOPS and the Architectural Heritage Organisation, will be innovative in its approach because it joins a Greek and Turkish Cypriot neighbourhood and studies the two communities as one combined unit.

    "So far, areas have always been considered as either the Turkish Cypriot quarter or the Greek Cypriot quarter," said Yiordamli. "We are now not making this distinction. We are saying there is an area which contains historical and social elements of both communities."

    "We're interested to see where the two cultures meet and overlap, and how and to what degree there has been exchange between the two," said Zesimou.

    Yiordamli went on to emphasise the project's focus on the non-Christian influence on the island. "The importance for us is for people to understand that the non-Christian heritage is an equally important part of our heritage," she said.

    Zesimou said the team had begun planning the project long before recent developments in the Cyprus problem, but said these had added an interesting dimension to the project. "We're quite interested to see that the way we planned it seems to fall in line with the more contemporary attitude of the development of Cypriot politics," she said.

    The project could be helpful in that it looked at the "social significance of how Cypriots lived together peacefully until the early 60s," she said.

    It may also be the basis for future proposals on how to restore previously Turkish-owned properties upon which, under current law, permanent new structures cannot be built.

    As part of the study, researchers will digitally present 'before and after' scenarios indicating the positive and negative effects various uses of space might have on the area. They will also publish a brochure that maps important artisans from the area, and guides visitors on a historic walk through town.

    "It's the first [study] of its kind, and we hope that it will be a model for other towns in Cyprus," Yiordamli said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [08] Farmers in new protest against the government

    By Alex Mita

    POTATO farmers from Xylophagou yesterday began handing in their election booklets in protest over the requirement to deposit 200 in insurance when bringing in foreign workers.

    The dispute is the latest in a series of clashes between farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture; earlier quarrels were over compensation and duty on diesel.

    In December, hundreds of farmers blocked the entrance to Larnaca airport with their tractors causing disruption to 17 flights in a protest backing their demands for the government to pay them 5.6 million in compensation from crop damage caused by bad weather.

    Last week, the farmers were up in arms over the government's failure to reduce petrol prices, warning they would again block public roads unless the government met their demands. The dispute was resolved with the government agreeing to scrap the consumer tax on diesel for agricultural purposes.

    The latest dispute is over Agriculture Ministry demands for farmers to deposit 200 in insurance money for every foreign worker they want to bring to Cyprus.

    The outraged farmers yesterday started handing in their election booklets at the Xylophagou District Council. One of the farmers set fire to his booklet outside the offices.

    In statements to journalists, the farmers demanded that the government take action to reduce costs in the potato farming industry, and warned that more booklets would be handed in all over the Kokkinochoria area unless the government took action, saying no one would vote in the upcoming presidential elections next month.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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