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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-11-26

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, November 26, 1997


  • [01] Stark warning about old cars and sulphur levels
  • [02] Union says Cyprus Airways wasting thousands
  • [03] 'How can Turkey be afraid of us?'
  • [04] Anger over lack of consultation on Limassol road plan
  • [05] Aeroporos trial adjourned over defence plea
  • [06] Facelift plan for Troodos square
  • [07] Child health programme targets diet and exercise
  • [08] Efforts under way to reopen Neurology Institute to Turkish Cypriots

  • [01] Stark warning about old cars and sulphur levels

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    OLD BANGERS proliferate on the island's roads, and the cost is not just loss of life and limb, but pollution.

    Figures given to the House Communications Committee yesterday suggested that as many as two in three older cars might be problematic, and therefore potentially unsafe.

    Sulphur levels in diesel are as much as 20 times higher than limits imposed by the European Union.

    Vehicle inspection units were equipped in 1991 but remain unused because of lack of staff. The ministry has not inspected private vehicles - except for imported second hand cars - since 1982, and public vehicles since 1996.

    The onus has fallen on police. In the past three years, the force stopped and inspected more than 7,000 cars. Two out of three had mechanical problems and owners were taken to court.

    Communications Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou acknowledged that there was a problem. Lack of staff because of retirements and a freeze on government appointments has hampered the department. Twelve posts have now been "unfrozen" and a supplementary budgetary request would soon be sent to the House for the appointment of another 19 employees.

    This would make it possible to inspect all public vehicles once a year. Some 40,000 high risk vehicles, such as vans and pick-ups, as well as very old cars will be inspected every two years.

    But he warned that the appointment procedure could take 18 months, adding that the Ministry was still studying whether and under what conditions it might bring in the private sector; but the idea is that there will be a fee.

    Deputies were critical. Disy's Andreas Mouskos, who took the issue to the committee, said poor people who could not afford costly cars were being "left to the mercy of God." Diko's Nicos Kleanthous spoke of the "non- existence of the state".

    And there was more bad news from the Auditor-general, Spyros Christou, who has carried a special inquiry into the problem.

    He spoke of sulphur levels 20 times higher than those acceptable in Europe. And he said that even though the police said mechanical problems accounted for just one per cent of the accidents, figures from Germany were as high as 10 per cent. There are glaring gaps in the law, and 80 per cent of cars over eight years old - some 150,000 vehicles - have some kind of problem, either mechanical, or, for example, with their lights or tyres.

    Police traffic head George Voutounos confirmed that mechanical and other problems were a road risk. The police has two specialised inspection units. Their checks over the past three years have shown that "two out of three cars of a certain age have problems," he said.

    Car importers, used cars dealers, the Chamber of Commerce, the Employers Federation and consumers all came out in support of urgent start to regular inspections. The private sector said it was ready to join in, perhaps through the introduction of government regulated private units.

    John Leontis of the Larnaca oil refinery, meanwhile, confirmed that sulphur levels were higher than in Europe. He said that, even though they were in line with local rules, the refinery had decided to invest in a new plant to produce diesel with 0.035 per cent sulphur levels to conform with new EU guidelines for the year 2000.

    [02] Union says Cyprus Airways wasting thousands

    CYPRUS Airways (CA) is losing thousands of pounds by pairing two captains on flights, pilots union Pasipy claimed yesterday.

    As the company was presenting the airline's new strategic plan to pilots, Pasipy was issuing statements relating to differences of opinion with the company.

    One of the statements said CA was wasting thousands by flying two captains together instead of a captain and a copilot.

    "The Cypriot taxpayer should know that this mentality is surely the result of a lack of planning by those responsible," the Pasipy statement said.

    The union said it had agreed to allow surplus captains to be used as co- pilots to offset shortages in that area over the summer period, which ended on October 31.

    Now it says the airline is continuing the same practice, "even when co pilots are available".

    This, the union said, was "violating the spirit of the agreement."

    It said allowances paid to captains during their shifts were greater, so the practice of pairing two captains together meant the total cost of the crew was higher.

    The pilots agreed to the deal earlier in the year, a day after the cash- strapped airline began the paperwork to have four pilots declared surplus and advertised in a local paper for two co-pilots.

    A second statement from Pasipy yesterday said the two sides had reached a "complete deadlock" in talks aimed to solve the long-running dispute over the alleged transfer of CA flights to its charter firm Eurocypria.

    The latest meeting on the issue was on November 18, Pasipy said. The union said management had insisted on its position that flights could be shared between the two companies.

    The union said this wasn't logical and was not provided for in any agreement between the two parties.

    [03] 'How can Turkey be afraid of us?'

    IT IS "comic" to believe that the Greek Cypriots with a population of half a million can pose a threat to Turkey, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides has told a Turkish television station.

    "We are not fools to antagonise any country," Cassoulides told NTV.

    But the foreign minister repeated that if a solution to the Cyprus problem was not found by September 1998, then Russian S-300 missiles would be deployed on the island. He stressed, however, that the weapons were purely defensive.

    He said a federal Cyprus would not have arms and soldiers, and that Turkey's security would not be under any threat. "Turkish Cypriots will have security as well. If we do any wrong, Turkey is only a few miles away. Besides we are talking about an international force that would guarantee the security of both sides," Cassoulides said.

    He also called on Turkey to put its house in order by December 13, when EU leaders will gather in Luxembourg to decide which candidate countries will join the next wave of enlargement.

    Without gestures such as improvements in human rights and a move towards resolving the Cyprus problem and Aegean disputes, Turkey's membership prospects were bleak, Cassoulides said.

    "Turkey should stop waiting for others to do things for it, but try to help itself," he said.

    The Foreign Minister also explained the Greek Cypriot side's fear of what would happen if the Denktash regime was recognised.

    "What would happen if we said 'we have recognised you,' and the other side says, 'I got what I wanted, thank you' and goes? Division will last forever."

    Cassoulides said that in a federation the human rights of all citizens would be safeguarded, and everyone would have equal rights. A security scheme that would answer the security needs of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities, would also be established.

    He said a settlement of the Cyprus problem would become possible if the two sides agreed on the principles of federation within the framework of the EU.

    He added that the international community was seeking a settlement to the Cyprus problem; if Denktash and Turkey failed to convince the world that they had the political will for a settlement, then the EU would accept Cyprus as a member and the regime in the occupied areas would be further isolated from the world.

    [04] Anger over lack of consultation on Limassol road plan

    By Bouli Hadjioannou

    WORK has finally begun on the Limassol coastal road, but, despite years spent planning the multi-million pound project, the state's Environment Service was not even asked to give its opinion.

    The revelations, made at the House Environment Committee yesterday, drew an immediate, critical response from its chairman Demetris Eliades and other deputies.

    He said it was "disappointing, sad and unacceptable" that the authorities had decided to waive regulations requiring an environmental impact study.

    Officials' response was that the Council of Ministers had felt an environmental impact study would only further delay a very urgent project.

    "There was a great deal of pressure from local authorities, from hoteliers and others that this project had to be carried out as quickly as possible. At the moment, the project has started and any delay or changes would be catastrophic," Interior Ministry officials said.

    This only prompted fresh criticism from Eliades that the House was being confronted with a fait accompli, and given the option of either accepting it or bringing crucial works to a standstill.

    At issue is the 17 million Limassol coastal road project, for which plans first began 21 years ago. The committee hearing followed concern by environmentalists about the impact of the new road on the Dasoudi - a stretch of wood in the heart of Yermasoyia, Limassol's tourist area and one of the only expanses of green in the city.

    The road will become a four-lane highway, with a four-metre wide traffic island, a cycle lane, pavements, and a "green island."

    The hearing soon revealed that others had their share of doubts. A Forestry Department official said it would mean that 85 acacias, 12 eucalyptus trees, and 33 pine trees, planted more than 35 years ago, would have to be cut down. He suggested the possibility of reviewing part of the plans in order to save some of the trees.

    The Cyprus Tourism Organisation said it had argued against a four-lane road in this important tourist area. Its main concern was to use the extra width to benefit pedestrians, rather than vehicles.

    Government officials countered that the traffic needs were such as to make a four-lane road essential. They said this was borne out by traffic studies for the whole town.

    Consultations had been held with sceptics and critics, and their concerns addressed to the greatest possible extent. An initial plan to construct a roundabout at Dasoudi has therefore been ditched, while on closer examination the number of trees to be cut would be restricted to some 45, they said.

    There was a spirited defence of the project by Yermasoyia mayor Panicos Louroutjiatis. He said that some trees may be cut, but another 1,500 would be planted in the traffic island.

    "Dasoudi is not a forest like Troodos, it is basically an urban park and as such needs infrastructure," he said.

    [05] Aeroporos trial adjourned over defence plea

    THE AEROPOROS brothers' trial was adjourned for a week yesterday after the prosecution asked that a complaint statement one of the accused had made to police in 1996 be admitted as evidence.

    The Aeroporos brothers Hambis, 35, Andros, 30, and Panicos, 25, are charged with the attempted murder of gambling club owner Antonis Fanieros, 57, in Larnaca on May 29.

    Prosecution consul Petros Clerides told the Nicosia Assizes that a statement Hambis made to police following an attempt on his life in 1995 was relevant to the current case. He claimed the statement would throw light on claims by chief prosecution witness Tassos Simellides that Hambis wanted Fanieros dead because he believed he had been behind the 1995 attack.

    Twenty-eight-year-old Simellides, who is serving a sentence for acting as get-away driver for the attack on Fanieros, has named Panicos as the hit- man and his two brothers as architects of the attack.

    The father-of-three has claimed Hambis wanted to shoot Fanieros himself but was forced to let his younger brother do the job because of injuries he suffered in the 1995 gun-attack.

    The three-judge bench stopped proceedings to consider whether a statement a defendant had made in the past as a plaintiff was admissible as evidence against him. After a long break, the judges decided to postpone their decision till Tuesday.

    The court heard there was no similar local precedent for the court to refer to.

    [06] Facelift plan for Troodos square

    THE GOVERNMENT has approved an ambitious facelift for Troodos square, but the project is still subject to an environmental impact study, the House Environment Committee heard yesterday.

    The green light was given by the Council of Ministers on November 7, but the government also then ordered the study, Interior Ministry officials said.

    The first phase of the plan will cost 1.1 million - with 300,00 for buildings and 800,000 for road works.

    It provides for two restaurants, one kiosk and an information pavilion. The restaurants will be "pushed back" and "downwards" to make room for the public.

    All illegal additions and other sheds will be removed. Contracts to operate the restaurants will be renegotiated, with priority going to existing tenants.

    The Environment Service of the Agriculture Ministry has some reservations about traffic arrangements at the square, and particularly two roundabouts at the two ends.

    The project will be paid for by the state, carried out under the supervision of the Town Planning Department and managed by the Troodos Improvement Board.

    [07] Child health programme targets diet and exercise

    ONE IN two children in Cyprus suffer from obesity and high levels of cholesterol in their blood, according to the results of a recent Health Ministry survey.

    These statistics were presented yesterday to draw attention to the 'Health of the Child' programme instituted by the Health and Education Ministries and sponsored by the Popular Bank. The programme aims to examine the health of all children in the sixth class of elementary school; effectively almost 11,000 students.

    The survey, which took place from January till June, targeted school children from the island's agricultural regions. Taken generally, the health of the children was within acceptable limits, but there was the potential for future health problems to develop.

    Health Minister Christos Solomis said 35 per cent of known cancers "could be prevented" through proper dietary habits. Cypriots, he added, "know very well about the importance of diet to their health," but fail to act accordingly.

    "The health levels of children may be improved through a correct diet, exercise and proper training of parents and teachers," he said. Stressing the role of parents in fighting the problem, Solomis said people were "under the misconception that we become bad parents if we deny our children anything."

    Greater analysis of the survey's results was given by programme leader, Dr. Michalis Tornaritis, who stated that 43 per cent of children had cholesterol levels higher that the optimum level. Obesity was to be found in 52 per cent of the girls examined, whilst the same held true of 37 per cent of the boys.

    These results made the work of the Health programme "exceptionally important," said Education Ministry senior official Michalis Stavrithis, since they gave "target and shape" to the Education Ministry in heightening awareness of the problem among schools. The programme encouraged students to "develop a positive and healthy prototype for life," said Stavrithis.

    [08] Efforts under way to reopen Neurology Institute to Turkish Cypriots

    THE DESIRE to restore the original bi-communal character of the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics was voiced yesterday by the Turkish Republican Party.

    Party president Mehmet Ali Talat, who visited the Institute on Monday, said Turkish as well as Greek Cypriot patients and professionals should be allowed to use its services again.

    Turkish Cypriots had been treated by the Institute until the summer of 1996 when two Greek Cypriots were killed during anti-occupation protests in the Dherynia buffer zone.

    Institute Director Dr. Lefcos Middleton said yesterday that "we want to keep offering our services to the Turkish Cypriots", adding that "our door is always open to them". He told the Cyprus News Agency that discussions were taking place to allow Greek and Turkish Cypriot professionals to continue holding joint meetings and seminars.

    The Institute of Neurology and Genetics was founded in 1990 through funds provided by the US government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It was intended as a bi-communal project, offering specialised services like treatment for thalassaemia and muscular dystrophy to both communities.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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