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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-01-30

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

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


Thursday, January 30, 2003

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CONTENTS

  • [01] British forces test landing scenarios off Akrotiri
  • [02] The cost of peacekeeping
  • [03] Go back to school, AKEL tells Anastassiades
  • [04] De Soto: We can change the plan if everyone agrees
  • [05] CyTA on the route to liberalisation but not expansion
  • [06] EAC insists it has the right to cut power
  • [07] Strike threat looms over hotels as talks deadlocked
  • [08] Spate of viral infections keeping children at home
  • [09] Union denies harassing Orphanides staff
  • [10] Engineers add up damage from storms

  • [01] British forces test landing scenarios off Akrotiri

    By Alex Mita

    AT FIRST, the four tiny spots on the horizon off RAF Akrotiri looked harmless, but as they neared shore, they grew into landing craft, packed to the brim with camouflaged figures, armed to the teeth. With a war in Iraq looming, the message was ominous.

    In a matter of minutes, the first wave of a British Royal Marine reconnaissance team poured silently from the sides of four amphibious landing craft to secure the area around the landing site.

    The air of reality surrounding the exercise was given away by the broad daylight and over 30 journalists and photographers scurrying around the Commandos.

    Soon after the reconnaissance team vanished into the surroundings, a second wave of Royal Marines landed, followed by a third wave on bigger crafts who hurried along the beach and made their way to meet the other Marines.

    In the distance, the menacing shapes of the HMS Ocean and four other vessels from the 17-ship flotilla were safely anchored, while helicopters continuously patrolled the area.

    "This sort of exercise is carried out at night, and if the helicopters and Red Arrows weren't around you would hardly be able to hear the Marines as they landed," Major Simon Turner said.

    "What usually happens with an amphibious insertion is that the first team that comes in makes sure that the gradient was acceptable for the boats to come in.

    "Then, just prior to the attack the beach would be marked with light sticks or the GPS co-ordinates would be taken," Turner said.

    With an attack on Iraq now looking a strong possibility, Turner said the men's moral was high.

    "At the end of the day, you train for a job, and potentially we may be called upon to use that training in the near future," he said.

    "They are used to that and morale is very high, even though no decision has yet been made on an attack."

    The flotilla off Akrotiri is Britain's largest naval task force since the 1982 Falklands War. It arrived off Cyprus for military exercises on Monday.

    The 15 warships and support vessels are likely to head towards the Gulf later this week, joining US forces already in the region. There are about 5, 000 personnel aboard the vessels and the force includes a small number of US marines.

    Akrotiri is likely to play a key support role in any military action in the region.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [02] The cost of peacekeeping

    PEACEKEEPING operations in Cyprus cost over $41 million last year, it was reported yesterday.

    Expenditure for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for the period July 1, 2001 - June 30, 2002 reached $41,644,500, according to the latest UN performance report on the Cyprus peacekeeping force budget.

    The expenditure includes $1.3 million from the government of Cyprus.

    The report contended that bicommunal contact had increased last year, with 7,300 Cypriots from both sides participating in the largest-ever celebration of United Nations Day, as well as some 4,300 young people from the two communities participating in a youth event.

    Meetings with civilian authorities on both sides also took place at various levels.

    Regarding progress towards normalisation of the buffer zone, the report noted there had been an increase in co-operation between the communities in the mixed village of Pyla and across the ceasefire line. Cypriots from both sides, for example, came together in an agreement to resume repairs to a section of the Nicosia city wall at Roccas Bastion.

    The Civilian Police's reprioritisation of resources led to support in direct talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. They provided press and police liaison officers at each session of the talks from December 2001 until the end of the reporting period.

    As for security, the goal to ensure maintenance of the ceasefire in Cyprus was met with a calm situation reported both within the buffer zone and 1, 000 meters adjacent to both ceasefire lines.

    UNFICYP's mandate in Cyprus was established by Security Council resolution 186 of March 4, 1964.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [03] Go back to school, AKEL tells Anastassiades

    By George Psyllides

    CAMPAIGNING took a bitter personal twist yesterday as lieutenants of the two main rival candidates traded acerbic barbs about failed professors, dictionaries, and school desks.

    DISY chief Nicos Anastassiades rejected claims that President Glafcos Clerides had made concessions in the Annan plan on refugees and invited AKEL leader Demetris Christofias to refrain from language that debased the level of election campaigning and make his own suggestions on the Cyprus problem that would not hurt refugees.

    Anastassiades censured Christofias' description of Clerides as a "failed professor who would have his licence revoked by the people" and his suggestion that the President had done enough and it was time for him to go home.

    The outspoken DISY chief reminded Christofias that a month ago he was congratulating Clerides for "his correct handling of the Cyprus problem" during the European Union summit in Copenhagen, stressing that as AKEL leader he could say whatever he wanted but as House President he should be careful.

    Anastassiades described Christofias' comments as pure abuse not becoming to the president's constitutional number two.

    And he saved a lashing for DIKO chief Tassos Papadopoulos, who is backed by AKEL, saying he was unfit to be president as a man who had rejected United Nations blueprints for a settlement on several occasions in the past.

    Anastassiades said AKEL were Papadopoulos' "foster parents" who, as the elections drew closer, insisted they would stand next to him and provide the guarantees that he would fall in line with their policy.

    The DISY chief promptly received his reply from AKEL spokesman Nicos Katsourides, who in acerbic style pointed out that Anastassiades needed to study his dictionary and return to his school desk.

    "When I hear him saying that Christofias is abusing the President in saying he has failed, I think that one needs to take a look at the dictionary and go back to his school desk," Katsourides said.

    He claimed the government camp was insulting the Cypriot people on a daily basis by embarking on a risk-mongering campaign whose theme was that "if it's not Clerides then we're lost".

    Katsourides explained that Christofias had congratulated the President for a specific occasion - Copenhagen - during which Clerides, despite advice from his negotiating team, had refused to initial an agreement before Turkish intentions were made clear.

    "When we congratulate it's okay, when we criticise it's abhorrent," Katsourides said.

    He challenged Anastassiades to silence the opposition and make them apologise 24 hours a day by telling the people that no compromises had been made.

    Katsourides said Papadopoulos' views on the UN plan were no different to Clerides', adding that it may be hard for Papadopoulos to give his word but when he did, he did not take it back.

    Christofias accused the DISY chief of using various arguments in an effort to cling on to power.

    He added such behaviour was unprecedented and should be avoided in the name of order and ethics.

    "I think the attempt to stay in power, not by Mr. Clerides but by Mr. Anastassiades is evident and he should be more careful," the AKEL leader said.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, who has entered the election fray in earnest, suggested Christofias had been irritated when he made Tuesday's comments that Clerides could not cut it any more.

    The minister wondered if Clerides had been capable in Copenhagen, prompting Christofias' congratulations.

    "Can't he cut it for a few more months?" he asked.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [04] De Soto: We can change the plan if everyone agrees

    By George Psyllides

    UNITED Nations special envoy Alvaro de Soto said yesterday that if the two sides on the island and Greece and Turkey agreed, then the UN plan for the settlement of the Cyprus problem could be amended.

    "But we must see if an agreement is reached or not," De Soto said in Ankara.

    Speaking after meeting Turkey's ruling party leader Tayyip Erdogan, De Soto said he had not presented any maps to him, but they had discussed the issue in detail.

    The UN envoy refused to say whether he had observed any contradiction between the views of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Erdogan.

    He said Erdogan's views were clear, adding that the question should be addressed to Erdogan himself.

    On Tuesday, De Soto met with Prime Minister Abdullah Gul and Foreign Ministry undersecretary Ugur Ziyal.

    After the meeting, he said an agreement on Cyprus was possible but the two sides must have the political will and work hard.

    De Soto said the Turkish Prime Minister had stressed his country's strong commitment to a solution, adding that during the meeting they had discussed the urgency of the solution.

    "I had a very useful meeting with the Prime Minister and we talked about the plan presented by the Secretary-general to the Turkish and Greek Cypriots on the settlement of the old problem.

    "We talked about the urgency of finding a settlement in the coming weeks.

    "I am very happy to report that I received encouragement from the Prime Minister to come to a solution and that Turkey wants to reach a solution; I hope that in the coming weeks something will come out," De Soto said.

    But comments by Denktash on Tuesday gave little hope for an agreement.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader claimed he was waging a struggle to save the Turkish Cypriots from becoming slaves of the Greek Cypriots and for Turkey to retain its guarantor status on the island.

    Denktash said Turkish Cypriots were being misled into thinking he had serious differences with Turkey.

    He said he had tabled his amendments to the UN plan, adding that a solution could only be achieved if a significant number of those changes were accepted.

    "If these changes are rejected, it will no be us who will be raising obstacles on the path.

    "We will not give up our rights," Denktash.

    Concerning the map included in the solution plan, Denktash said: "Forget about the map.

    "Neither we, nor Turkey, nor the army accept this map."

    He added: "I have some principles to defend and I am trying to defend them; let the parliament in Turkey and the parliament here tell me 'abandon these principles'.

    "Then they will find someone else and make him sign."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [05] CyTA on the route to liberalisation but not expansion

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    A HOUSE majority has blocked CyTA's expansion plans for investment in Greek telecommunications company, Q-Telecom, despite parliament previously approving 30 million for the project last April.

    CyTA chairman, Efstathios Papadakis, reportedly blamed election motives for the decision, saying that the board should seek privatisation of the semi- governmental organisation after the elections, or suffer the consequences of decline.

    DISY and KISOS deputies had already given the go-ahead for CyTA's investment while DIKO rejected it last week. Approval rested in the hands of communist party, AKEL's deputies, who informed Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou on Tuesday of their refusal to endorse the investment.

    Q-Telecom is the fourth company to acquire a service provider licence for mobile telephony in Greece. Papadakis maintained that all the studies proved that the investment was a good one and expressed his deep regret at the collapse of the project. He criticised deputies for failing to pass the privatisation bill in 2001, when Neophytou was convinced not to submit the bill to the House during the run-up to parliamentary elections. He emphasised that the key to progress now was for the privatisation of CyTA.

    Neophytou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that he could not explain why the investment had been rejected after months of negotiations with Q- Telecom. "The feasibility studies, surveys and so on were all positive. I can see no reason why it was rejected in parliament." Regarding privatisation, the minister said that, unlike liberalisation, it was not an EU harmonisation requirement.

    Meanwhile, with the departure of EU negotiator on Cyprus, Leopold Maurer, the Communications Ministry is moving swiftly along with the liberalisation of CyTA. Three important decisions were announced on the future of telecommunications in Cyprus: First, a new licence will be given to another organisation for second generation mobile telephony (GSM), the licensee to be announced on June 26. Second, free licences for third generation mobile telephony (UMTS) will be given for no fee to both CyTA and the new company, on the condition that the two develop third generation networks separately to cover 60 per cent of the island within 10 years. And lastly, the possibility of issuing a third mobile telephony licence will be re-examined after five years or in the event that the incoming company penetrates 35 per cent of the market.

    Telecommunications regulator Vassos Pyrgos set the date for a public hearing, February 10, for all companies interested in competing in fixed telephony, satellite telephony, internet, phone book services, pay phones, digital voice and data transfer and all services that do not require a radar frequency. An unlimited number of licences will be given to companies that fulfil the criteria.

    Regarding third generation mobile telephony, which facilitates high speed data transfer, the minister took into consideration the huge problems faced by international companies that paid billions of dollars for licences and then could not afford to set up the network as a result. "This way, you buy one, get one free, as long as you set it up within 10 years," said Neophytou.

    Currently, mobile telephony holds a 62 per cent stake in the Cypriot market.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [06] EAC insists it has the right to cut power

    By Alex Mita

    THE Nicosia District Court has issued the Electricity Authority (EAC) with an interim order barring the utility from cutting power to a customer who refuses to pay a 90,000 bill.

    The EAC has charged plaintiff Andreas Diavastos 90,000 in owed electricity money, claiming he metres at his outlets had been tampered in order to show less consumption.

    He is one of dozens of individuals and businesses suspected of having their meters tampered. The case emerged last year when a former EAC employee, Michalis Masouras, was jailed for defrauding the EAC, after it was proved he had tampered with 119 electricity meters.

    Last week, the EAC began cutting electricity to customers refusing to pay outstanding amounts, estimated against previous consumption.

    Diavastos went to court to prevent the EAC cutting him off, and the interim order was issued after a request from his lawyer, Savvas Angelides. Angelides told the court that cutting the power at Diavastos' restaurants would ruin him.

    Angelides claimed the EAC's intention to cut the power to his client's restaurants were illegal because the authority had not proved that the metres had been tampered with.

    The court ruled the EAC should not cut Diavastos' power until the case had been fully investigated.

    EAC Spokesman Costas Gabrielides yesterday insisted it was the company's legal right to cut power to customers who didn't pay their bills.

    "In this particular case, the court issued an interim order which stops us from cutting the power in that man's restaurant until investigations into the case are concluded," he said.

    "The court just said, there is no need to rush into things since the man could be ruined from the loss of electricity.

    "However, it is our legal right to cut the power whenever a customer does not pay the bill," he added.

    Gabrielides said the company had estimated the amount owed by Diavastos by comparing the amount of power he used the year before the case was brought to court.

    The Authority says it is still owed a total of 2.8 million in illegally used electricity.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [07] Strike threat looms over hotels as talks deadlocked

    By Sofia Kannas

    HOTELS across Cyprus face the threat of strike action following the refusal of the Cyprus Hotel Association (PASYXE) to accept a collective agreement approved by hotel employees.

    On Tuesday, Hotel Association members were presented with a proposal drawn up by the Labour Ministry, but rejected it.

    Nicos Epistithiou, General Secretary of the SEK Cyprus Hotel Employees Federation told the Cyprus Mail yesterday: "Following PASYXE's rejection of the proposal on Monday, another meeting was held and we examined the situation again. As a federation, we decided that if PASYXE does not review its position then maybe next week we will go on strike and visit each hotel separately to ask them whether or not they will accept the proposal.

    "We are not that happy with the Labour Ministry's proposal because it doesn't represent all our interests. But bearing in mind the possibility of war with Iraq, we don't want to put the hotel industry in a worse position than it is already. We're accepting the proposal as a minimum, in the industry's best interests.

    "We will ask PASYXE to reconsider once again, especially since the Labour Ministry has declared that the proposal is the final one."

    Labour Ministry mediator Marios Avramides confirmed yesterday that the ministry would not be revising its proposal.

    "We had a meeting yesterday and we have no intention of changing the proposal in any way. Besides, PASYXE objected to most aspects of our proposal, particularly the proposed increments to salaries and the increase in minimum wage.

    "We will have to wait and see what happens," he added.

    Zacharias Ioannides, Director General of the Hotel Association said the issue was to be discussed in a board meeting today.

    "Hotel Association directors will be informed about our meeting with the Industrial Relations Department, in which we elaborated on and explained why we find it impossible to accept the Labour Ministry's proposal. We have called for the Ministry to revise their proposal along the lines of our own suggestions."

    Asked why PASYXE objected so strongly to the proposal, Ioannides said: "We rejected it because it does not incorporate and safeguard the concessions given to hoteliers in the 1998 collective agreement, such as flexible working hours and six-day-week programmes.

    "We are not asking for new concessions, just the re-implementation of the old ones. These are concessions which contribute to productivity and competitiveness after all."

    Ioannides said PASYXE was optimistic about the possibility of a settlement of the dispute.

    "The Hotel Association always works with an optimistic, constructive and open-minded approach to resolving disputes."

    Ioannides declined to comment on what action the Hotel Association would take if the deadlock continued.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [08] Spate of viral infections keeping children at home

    By Alexia Saoulli

    DOZENS of children have been forced to stay home from school because of a spate of viral infections, reports said yesterday.

    According to Health Ministry officials, a number of children and infants have recently been infected with the flu, as well as bronchiolitis.

    Over the past two weeks, a number of children have been suffering from symptoms including headache, high temperatures, diarrhoea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Several have even been admitted to hospital for 48-hour re-hydration, news reports said.

    Because the flu was a viral infection, antibiotics were not being administered, unless there were complications such as sinusitis (inflammation or infection of sinuses), otitis media (an inflammation in the area behind the eardrum that is usually associated with a build-up of fluid) and pneumonia, said Dr. Panayiota Protopapa.

    Bronchiolitis is an infection of the small air passages of the lungs, usually caused by Respiratory Syncytial Virus, which brings on an inflammation, with the result that a child has difficulty breathing in and out. It occurs during the first two years of life, peaking at the age of six months, and is most common in the winter and early spring.

    The first symptoms are the same as those of a common cold: stuffiness, runny nose, mild cough and loss of appetite. These symptoms last a day or two and are followed by gradually increasing breathing difficulty, characterised by wheezing, rapid, shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat, retractions and cough. A high temperature was not uncommon, said Protopapa.

    Since a virus caused bronchiolitis, babies generally got better without any treatment, she said, adding it had been proved that antibiotics did not help.

    But, in some cases babies had to be admitted to hospital because symptoms became more severe, said Protopapa.

    According to experts, the best thing to do was make the baby as comfortable as possible, to keep its nose clear by using a bulb suction, to encourage drinking fluids and to humidify the air.

    In order to help prevent babies from contracting bronchiolitis, experts advise parents to keep them away from smoke, from places where there are a lot of sick children, such as day care centres, and to wash their hands frequently.

    Avoiding contact with a virus was a common form of prevention, which was why a number of children were being kept at home these past two weeks, said Dr. Protopapa.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [09] Union denies harassing Orphanides staff

    Sofia Kannas

    WORKERS' union PEO yesterday denied allegations that they had accosted employees at Orphanides Supermarkets.

    Panicos Theodorou, General Secretary of PEO Union, told the Cyprus Mail that his union had never harassed the supermarket employees in an attempt to force them to join unions.

    "On the contrary, we have a significant number of signatures from Orphanides' employees who want to join our union. But unfortunately their employer won't let them.

    "They have even fired a couple of employees for trying to join unions. In fact rumour has it that there is a list circulating in the shop demanding employees promise not to join unions - whoever refuses to sign it risks losing their job."

    Theodorou denied claims that union members visited homes of the supermarket chain's employees and attempted to blackmail them into joining a union.

    "We visited their homes because we are not able to approach them on the work premises. If we try and enter the supermarkets we are turned away before we are able to speak to the employees. And they are not allowed to approach us either. So this is why we are reduced to visiting them at home.

    "It was the only option left to us," he added.

    Asked what the unions planned to do about the matter, Theodorou said a meeting would be held today.

    "We will have a meeting with Orphanides at the Labour Ministry to try and resolve the issue."

    Christos Orphanides, owner of Orphanides supermarkets was unavailable for comment yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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    [10] Engineers add up damage from storms

    OVER 900 properties were damaged in Monday's tornadoes in Limassol, authorities said yesterday. Four hundred and twenty cars, a boat and several greenhouses were also wrecked.

    On Tuesday, Interior Ministry clean up crews struggled to calculate the total damage caused by three tornadoes that ripped through Limassol's town centre during rush hour on Monday morning.

    By last night, civil defence and district officer engineers and technicians were expected to present the Ministry with a preliminary evaluation of the cost of damages to homes, so that a full report could be prepared for the Cabinet meeting today. By yesterday afternoon, the tally stood at 400 buildings damaged in the Polemedia district and a further 500 in central Limassol.

    Today, Ministers plan to discuss compensation for families that lost their homes. Priority will be given to houses damaged in the centre of Limassol town, which was hardest hit, and to a Turkish Cypriot community, who were temporarily being housed in hotels or with relatives, said Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou.

    Officials are then expected to try and calculate the cost of damage to merchandise, which should be more complicated. This would include damage to Limassol's new port, which saw metal transport containers torn off trucks and newly imported vehicles destroyed in the freak storm.

    President Glafcos Clerides has already said the government will compensate victims from the state's natural disaster budget, until the full cost of the damage can be calculated and approved by the House.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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