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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-01-26

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

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


Sunday, January 26, 2003

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CONTENTS

  • [01] 'Go ahead and strike and see what happens'
  • [02] US plays down embassy warning report
  • [03] Top British Physician to lecture in Cyprus
  • [04] Race to become new mobile operator down to four firms
  • [05] Government slammed over pensions
  • [06] Second Grand Slam final for Baghdatis

  • [01] 'Go ahead and strike and see what happens'

    By Jean Christou

    COMMUNICATIONS Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday threatened to temporarily appoint Eurocypria or Helios Airways the national carrier if Cyprus Airways pilots escalate their industrial action beyond tomorrow's strike.

    The CY pilots' union PALPU is staging a 24-hour warning strike from midnight tonight, grounding 14 flights and ruining the travel plans of 1, 500 passengers, in a row with management over organisation of the flight department. Both sides say they will not back down and PALPU has threatened to escalate measures if the company does not meet its demands.

    “The right of strike is respectable but the obligation of the state to protect the citizens and the economy is also respectable as well, therefore if they continue with the measures, we plan to liberalise the market and give the rights to Helios and Eurocypria and even to some foreign companies like Emirates to serve the needs of the clients on Cyprus Airways destinations,” Neophytou told the Sunday Mail.

    “When they stage a strike the government can alter the agreements between Cyprus and Greece, and for this week instead of Cyprus Airways, as national carrier we appoint¼ say Helios,” he added.

    Although air liberalisation in Cyprus is progressing under an EU 'open skies' mandate, CY scheduled flights are still protected on their most lucrative routes such as London Heathrow, Athens and Tel Aviv. The protection is governed by bilateral agreements between the governments of Cyprus and the other countries involved.

    Helios and Eurocypria, which started out as charter companies, have already been given licences to operate scheduled flights to destinations not covered by Cyprus Airways such as Luton, Dublin and Heraklion.

    Neophytou said full liberalisation has slowed because of the EU's own delay in implementing the “common aviation area”.

    “I will be a very lucky man if they (CY pilots) continue... I will be very glad if they continue their strike because I will implement sooner my transport liberalisation,” the Minister said.

    An announcement from PALPU yesterday blasted CY management and chairman Haris Loizides, who accused the union of blackmail on Friday. The chairman said the strike was in violation of the industrial relations code and had been called without warning or notice. He also suggested there was some pre- election manoeuvring involved.

    Loizides said on Friday he would not be willing to have talks with the union over the weekend unless they first call off the threat of strike action.

    “It is extremely surprising that Loizides and management call on the industrial relations code when they, with the greatest ease, step on it and ignore it on a daily basis,” PALPU said yesterday.

    It challenged Loizides to justify “why with his support and acceptance he allows privileged management team pilots to introduce new statutes and employment practices with huge financial and professional consequences to Cyprus Airways”.

    Commenting on the accusation of electioneering, the union said it finds it surprising that the chairman would make reference to such an issue “at the same moment that he has started a serious of managerial changes in the flight department, and for the sake of a few trees he prefers to burn the whole forest”.

    “It is the behaviour of Cyprus Airways that can be classed as irresponsible and superficial with clear pre-election nuances,” PALPU said. “Loizides must remember that he is at the helm of a financially sensitive organisation and he must leave aside any political aspiration and motives and ambitions.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [02] US plays down embassy warning report

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE AMERICAN Embassy in Nicosia denied yesterday it had received a cable telling US citizens living in Cyprus to be ready to leave quickly in an emergency.

    Reuters news agency reported the US State Department had sent such a cable to embassies around the world on Friday.

    “The Department is asking all US embassies and consulates worldwide to send a warden message to local American communities with advice on preparedness for an emergency,” Reuters reported State Department spokesman Susan Pittman as saying.

    No confirmation was given that the cable was related to a possible attack on Iraq, which Washington has threatened with war if it fails to surrendered its suspected weapons of mass destruction.

    “No such announcement was made in Cyprus,” a US Embassy spokesman told the Sunday Mail.

    The local embassy's website said a state department “worldwide caution” announcement made in November “is current as of today, Sat. January 25”. The caution was “issued to alert US citizens to the need to remain vigilant and to remind them of the continuing threat of terrorist actions that may target civilians”. It expires on May 20. Until then “US Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert” and “US embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to American citizens” if necessary.

    Washington's message on Friday advised US citizens to “have a supply of medicines on hand, keep their passports up to date and maintain adequate stocks of food in the event of political unrest, natural disasters or 'terrorist' attacks,” said Reuters.

    It added that although US embassies frequently sent 'warden messages' to keep its citizens posted on threats and to offer advice, the state department said this was the “first time it has recommended posts issue a warden message regarding the personal preparedness of individual American citizens abroad”.

    “We're asking our embassies to remind Americans¼ to take normal preparations, routine preparation to leave if for some reason, whatever it might be, they might have to,” a senior state department official told Reuters.

    The same official added he had not said this was totally routine practice. “I said we are doing this and that we have done it before. We thought it was appropriate to remind people to take appropriate precautions,” he said.

    On January 11, 1991, five days before the Gulf War started, the state department warned Americans “the threat of terrorism against American citizens would increase significantly” if war broke out. At the time Washington also ordered or authorised the departure of non-essential US government employees and dependents from several countries in the region. More than 600 United Nations personnel, dependent and non-essential personnel from Gulf States were evacuated to Cyprus.

    On Friday the government agreed to UN requests that Cyprus act as the headquarters for a relief operation in the event of war with Iraq. A diplomatic source said the agreement was concluded after an exchange of letters between UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan and Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides. Such an eventuality would mean up to 1,500 UN personnel coming to Cyprus to manage relief operations, the source said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [03] Top British Physician to lecture in Cyprus

    ROYAL College of Physicians President Professor Carol Black will be in Cyprus next month to lecture at an advanced medicine seminar.

    The seminar, organised by the Cyprus Medical Royal Colleges Association (MRCA-CY), will be on February 8 and 9 at the Amathus Beach Hotel in Limassol, said Dr Andreas Stylianides, president of the organising committee. All doctors in Cyprus are invited to attend.

    The Pancyprian Medical Association has credited the two-day seminar with 17 units of Continuous Medical Education (CME), Stylianides said. The CME system, implemented at the beginning of last year, maintains that every three years doctors in Cyprus must accumulate 150 points if they wanted their medical licences renewed.

    The MRCA-CY was first founded in 1985 and is made up of practising doctors in Cyprus who hold a post-graduate diploma from one of the UK's Royal Colleges.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [04] Race to become new mobile operator down to four firms

    By Jean Christou

    VODAFONE, Orange and Greece's CosmOTE are emerging as the main contenders in the race to become Cyprus' second mobile phone operator, Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou said yesterday.

    He said a public hearing would be held in a matter of days.

    “After this we may make some adjustments to the policy we have announced and then we will go for the tenders,” Neophytou said. “We have the tender documents ready and we are in process of hiring a professional public auctioneer.”

    The government received a rap on the knuckles from the European Union's chief negotiator for Cyprus Leopold Maurer earlier this week for its delay in liberalising the telecoms sector. Cyprus is due to join the bloc at the beginning of May 2004.

    The country's first rival mobile GSM licence is expected to be issued to investors early this year. The semi-government organisation CyTA, which has held a decades-long monopoly on the sector, recently slashed its rates across the board in preparation for competition.

    Last year the government received 18 responses from interested investors and other telecoms experts on the best way forward for liberalisation. Some commentators called for structural separation of fixed and mobile operations within CyTA to prevent cross-subsidisation.

    The new licence is likely to be issued for a period of 20 years with a renewal process held at least two years prior to the end of the term. Qualification criteria will include assessment of financial resources to build the network and demonstrated experience in operating a mobile network in a competitive environment that has attained more than 100,000 subscribers.

    “We believe that in three months we will have the new operator,” Neophytou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [05] Government slammed over pensions

    LEFT-WING union PEO yesterday slammed the government for failing to increase pensions at the start of the year in accordance with new VAT increases.

    “The state's attitude towards pensions is not only lacking in social sensitivity, it is also indecent and infuriating,” said PEO Secretary- general Pambis Kyritsis.

    Pensioners' quality of living had been seriously depressed because of tax and VAT increases imposed, he said, and accused the state of “mocking” pensioners.

    “Not only were agreed pension payment increases delayed by six months and given in one lump sum, the government has failed to implement those agreed increases this year, resulting in pensioners being unable to meet their daily needs,” Kyritsis claimed.

    He said the union will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss ways to “claim what pensioners self-evidently had a right to”.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [06] Second Grand Slam final for Baghdatis

    By Soteris Charalambous

    MARCOS Baghdatis will fly the flag for Cyprus today in the junior final of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

    He plays sixth-seeded Romanian Florin Mergea, and having beaten him in their previous encounter will be quietly confident of making Cypriot sporting history by becoming the first player from the island to hold a junior Grand Slam title.

    Top seeded Baghdatis beat French challenger Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in two sets to book his second successive Grand Slam final berth.

    The searing heat in Melbourne forced the semi-final matches to be delayed from the original 10am start and were eventually played some five and a half hours later under the cover of the closed roof of the Rod Laver Arena with the benefit of air-conditioning as outside temperatures peaked at 44 degrees.

    Carrying a slight shoulder injury from his last tournament, the 17-year-old won the first set comfortably. After breaking Tsonga's serve he kept his nerve and defended his own serve to close out the first set 6-4.

    Having beaten the same opponent on his way to the final of the junior US Open final, Baghdatis was confident of a repeat performance but Tsonga rallied taking the set to a tie-breaker. But Baghdatis prevailed taking it 11-9.

    Mergea had to get past fourth-seeded Frenchman Mathieu Montcroft. Much like Baghdatis he won the first set comfortably 6-2, and was also taken to a tie- breaker. He took it 7-5 to book his first appearance in a Grand Slam final.

    Speaking after the semi-final his father, Omar, said Marcos was “quietly confident” and was hoping that his son could go on and claim his first Grand Slam title.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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