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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-01-25

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

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


Saturday, January 25, 2003

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Clubs get an extra hour. for now
  • [02] Papapetrou: we can't possibly pay for a solution on our own
  • [03] Flag and anthem agreement 'is not a breakthrough'
  • [04] Savvides plays down flu epidemic reports
  • [05] Central Bank holds interest rates
  • [06] Cyprus will be relief HQ for a war in Iraq
  • [07] Road deaths: we're getting better but we have a long way to go
  • [08] Erratum

  • [01] Clubs get an extra hour. for now

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE INTERIOR Minister yesterday decided to extend the closing hours of nightclubs by one hour following violations over the winter period.

    District officers, police, municipality union representatives and nightclub union representatives met at the Interior Ministry on Thursday night to discuss closing times.

    Current law states that entertainment centres, such as discos and cabarets, have to close at 2am during the week and at 3am on Fridays and Saturdays during the winter and half an hour later during the summer. But a legal clause allows some districts to extend closing times with special permission. Club owners wanted to give this opportunity to all proprietors.

    The Federation of Cyprus Parents Associations yesterday condemned Minister's decision. "This is totally inexcusable and a complete violation of the law," said chairman Elias Demetriou.

    After the meeting Interior Minister, Andreas Panayiotou, announced nightclubs would be given half an hour extension until March.

    "We have agreed to give nightclubs a two-month transition period. During that time we will prepare a study in cooperation with all concerned, such as the police, the Education Ministry, parents, local authorities and nightclub owners.

    "We will then create a committee to discuss the issue and by the end of March will put specific law amendment suggestions before the House for approval," said Panayiotou.

    Demetriou claimed this smacked of presidential campaigning and that financial gain was at the root of this decision. "It is despicable that our children are being used for money in this way," he said.

    In the past nightclubs had been allowed to stay open until later because the authorities had turned a blind eye, he said. Increased crime rates involving minors in recent months had government deputies and parent organisations calling for stricter closing hour controls, believing the lack of them was the primary reason in increased delinquency.

    The parents association maintain that club times should not be extended because their children are staying out too late as things are.

    Night club owners say early closing times would not keep youngsters home, rather they would continue their partying in other uncontrolled environments after hours.

    The parents association want the closing times adhered to and more: they want hours reduced to 1.30am every night - island wide, including tourist areas.

    "It is inexcusable that they have violated the law time and time again," Demetriou told the Cyprus Mail. "In fact we believe that clubs should close at 1.30am every night of the week throughout the island and that no district should be given an extension."

    At the weekend police cracked down on premises that had violated the 3am shutdown, angering club owners who had gotten used to the holiday season leniency. They said 2,000 employees should not be punished just because some parents failed to bring up their children properly.

    Others said that strict closing times in Nicosia, as compared to more flexible ones in tourist districts, drove people out of the capital for a night on the town. This in turn ran the risk of increasing accidents caused by drunk drivers when they returned home in the early hours, they said.

    This would soon not be a problem, according to Panayiotou. "Our goal is to set a uniform time for all districts so that there are no differences between nightclubs in the capital and in coastal, which seems to be a cause of unrest. Unfortunately a lot of young visit coastal areas and then travel back at first light, resulting in a number of traffic accidents," he said.

    Demetriou said the Federation is holding a general meeting on Tuesday night to decide what active retaliation steps to take. Demetriou could not rule out the possibility of blocking off roads.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [02] Papapetrou: we can't possibly pay for a solution on our own

    By Sofia Kannas

    GOVERNMENT Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday Cyprus cannot undertake all the financial strain that will ensue from the implementation of a Cyprus settlement and that the international community should come forward with a more substantial contribution.

    According to Cyprus News Agency, Central Bank Governor, Christodoulos Christodoulou, said he has already prepared a suggestion on the issue and has handed it to President of Clerides, saying it is important to undertake an in-depth study on the cost of a solution.

    Papapetrou said the financial obligations that could result from the Annan plan are estimated at one billion pounds or more.

    Invited to comment on a proposal by EU Enlargement Commissioner, Gunter Verheugen to convene a donors' conference to support a settlement, Papapetrou said ''the EU and the international community are preparing in earnest to handle all the parameters of a possible Cyprus settlement.''

    He said the financial aspects of the UN plan relate to compensation for resettling people and economic incentives for the return of settlers to Turkey.

    "We are talking about amounts which Cyprus cannot undertake on its own, therefore it is necessary the international community comes forward with substantial contribution and specific promises to help towards this direction", Papapetrou added.

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides would have to "take a definite stance" to a revised UN peace plan, if a settlement is to be reached by the February deadline.

    Speaking after meetings with Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and UN Special envoy to Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, Simitis said the UN wanted a solution by February 28.

    "In order to achieve a solution by (then) there will be a point when the UN will want to put a end to negotiations.

    "It is very likely then that they (the UN) will present their final thoughts regarding the Annan Plan.calling on the two parties involved to determine their final position."

    Simitis warned that Greece and the Greek Cypriot side would have to show its commitment to reaching a solution if a settlement was to be achieved.

    ''As far as we and the Greek Cypriot side are concerned, in any case we must show the international community that we are seeking a solution, we want a just, viable, workable solution, we are contributing in this direction and we consider the negotiations and the solution of any difference as necessary within the context of the UN'', he said.

    "We must show the international community that we are seeking a solution..only if we show we are trying to overcome problems. will we have the support of the international community, which is always necessary," he added.

    Greek Foreign Minister Andreas Papandreou reiterated Simitis' hopes for a solution by the end of February and expressed the Greek government's support for the efforts of Alvaro de Soto in brokering a deal between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides.

    Following his meetings with Papandreou and Simitis in Athens, De Soto returned to Cyprus yesterday afternoon for the latest session of direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Statements about the meeting are expected to be released by both sides later today. Central Bank Governor, Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday said he believes experts should undertake a complete and multifaceted study on the cost of a solution and the burden on the public finances that would emanate from the possible implementation of the Annan plan.

    Christodoulou said this issue was also discussed during a meeting yesterday between Cyprus' Chief Negotiator with the EU George Vassiliou and EU Chief Negotiator with Cyprus Leopold Maurer.

    Meanwhile the US yesterday welcomed Verheugen's suggestion of an international donors' conference and said it is prepared to participate and contribute financially.

    In a press statement, US State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said the US stands ready to provide support and expertise to a ''needs assessment'' effort in Cyprus as the first step in preparing for a donors' conference.

    Verheugen with the full backing of European Commission President Romano Prodi, on Thursday proposed a donors' conference to financially support a Cyprus settlement.

    The Commission said the conference should be convened as soon as a settlement is reached and endorsed by the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [03] Flag and anthem agreement 'is not a breakthrough'

    By Alex Mita

    A.K.E.L. GENERAL-Secretary Demetris Christofias yesterday said the launching of a United Nations competition for a new flag and national anthem for the island should not be seen as a breakthrough in the negotiations for a settlement.

    "The UN are dragging the issue by the hair, to make it look like there is a common denominator," he said.

    Christofias comments came after a UN announcement said on Thursday night that President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash both gave the green light to set the flag and anthem procedure in motion.

    "The issue of the flag is included in the 'yellow pages' of the UN Secretary-general's plan for a settlement," Christofias said.

    "Under normal circumstances it should be requested when the Founding Agreement is signed."

    Christofias said Denktash was still "his old bad self", and that he has not changed his position in the talks.

    Meanwhile, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday there were no objections by members of the National Council on the UN competition.

    Papapetrou stressed that the decision for the new flag and anthem would not be taken by the UN, but that all the proposals would be presented to both sides for approval.

    Asked what the government's position was regarding renaming the country in case of a solution, Papapetrou said the new name should stress that there was one nation, with one sovereignty and one national identity.

    "The issue of renaming the country in case of a solution is being discussed in the talks, but we are still on the stage of evaluating various suggestions and ideas," Papapetrou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [04] Savvides plays down flu epidemic reports

    By Sofia Kannas

    HEALTH MINISTER Frixos Savvides yesterday played down fears that a flu epidemic might affect Cyprus.

    Press reports yesterday quoted an influenza expert at Erasmus University in Rotterdam

    as saying Europe had to start preparing for a potential pandemic in coming months.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Savvides said "there is no indication that a European epidemic will affect us here.

    "If it does then we will take all the necessary precautions. We will call up the elderly and other vulnerable groups and make sure they get a flu vaccination.

    "We will also ensure that there are enough medicines and antibiotics in pharmacies, clinics and hospitals.

    "But I don't think a European epidemic will reach us. It's got a lot to do with the climate- it's very mild this winter and this means there is less chance of the flu affecting Cyprus."

    Asked why scientists are predicting a European flu epidemic, Savvides said,

    "There is a cycle of flu epidemics, and Europe hasn't had its turn for about 5 years now. We saw the Asian flu last year but nothing serious in Europe, so that's why experts were anticipating one this year.

    "But flu epidemics usually occur before Christmas time so it's less and less likely now," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [05] Central Bank holds interest rates

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE CENTRAL Bank of Cyprus left interest rates unchanged yesterday, prompted by global economic uncertainty, Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou said.

    After a meeting of the bank's Monetary Policy Committee, Christodoulou said the key lending rate would remain at 5.0 per cent and deposit rates would remain unchanged at 2.5 per cent. Interest rates were reduced in December, the first cut in 13 months.

    "The Committee took into consideration the fact the uncertainty that hangs over geopolitical developments, which appear to be the main constraining factors in investment and consumer spending, and the relatively low expected rate of growth in the world economy," Christodoulou said.

    Cyprus expects to cut its fiscal deficit to 2.1 per cent of gross domestic product in 2003 and phase it out altogether by 2005 with more efficient tax collection and cost controls.

    Earlier this month the finance ministry said it expected a resurgence in consumer demand stoked by lower interest rates and better tourism arrivals to spur an economic expansion of 4.2 per cent in 2003 compared to 2.3 per cent last year.

    The outlook is tempered by growing uncertainty over Iraq and the impact on the region of any US-led military action. Cyprus's tourism bookings were hammered during the 1991 Gulf War. The sector represents some 20 per cent of Cyprus's gross domestic product.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [06] Cyprus will be relief HQ for a war in Iraq

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE Cyprus government yesterday agreed to United Nations requests that the island act as the headquarters for a relief operation in the event of war with Iraq.

    A reliable diplomatic source said the agreement was concluded after an exchange of letters between UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan and Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides.

    According to the source, war on Iraq would mean up to 1,500 UN personnel coming to Cyprus to manage relief operations.

    During the 1991 Gulf War, more than 600 UN personnel, dependent and non- essential personnel from Gulf states were evacuated to Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [07] Road deaths: we're getting better but we have a long way to go

    By Alexia Saoulli

    CYPRUS' ROAD toll since 2001 has dropped more than any other European country. Despite this only 75 per cent of drivers wore either a seat belt or crash helmet, said Communication Minister Averoff Neophytou, following a road safety council meeting on Thursday.

    "The average number of road deaths during the last two decades was around 113, but this number dropped to 98 in 2001 and 94 in 2002," he said.

    Three years ago the government set out to beat life over death, said Neophytou. Although this plan had started "to bear fruits, there was still a lot of room for improvement and further reduction of road deaths," he stressed.

    This was highlighted by comparing other Europeans' adherence to road safety regulations with Cypriot. Neophytou said studies carried out in European countries showed 95 per cent of motorists wore seat belts and crash helmets. In Cyprus that figure was at 75 per cent - and that was only achieved by "using force". Neophytou said statistics showed that if we could improve this number, road deaths would drop by 25 per cent.

    He added that a strategic road safety plan was being put into place involving five different axons, which would come under the direct responsibility of specific ministries.

    Road traps and environment issues would come under the Public Works department jurisdiction; matters involving drivers, vehicles and driving behaviour would lie under the Road Transport Department and Electromechanical Service; the police would be responsible for policing drivers; the Education Ministry had been appointed to undertake educating the public on road safety issues and regulations; and medical care, in the case of accidents, would be the Health Ministry's responsibility.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [08] Erratum

    In an article in yesterday's Cyprus Mail we quoted the Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee, Marcos Kyprianou, as saying a letter was sent out to tobacco companies warning them of the increase in cigarette excise duties. No such letter was sent out, Kyprianou was referring to an internal budget memo. The error was made by a sub editor.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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