|Saturday, 2 December 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-11-28
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Saturday, November 29, 1997
 Airline chiefs urge Russia to reduce overflight chargesBy Jean Christou
EUROPEAN airline chiefs yesterday called on their governments to press Russia to reduce charges for overflying Siberia.
The decision, and several others, were taken at a meeting of the Association of European Airlines (AEA) in Nicosia.
The 27-member association also called for a cut in airport charges throughout Europe, further regulation of competition, medical research into pilots' time limits, and for signatories to the Eurocontrol convention to fulfil their obligations.
British Airways (BA) Chief Executive Bob Ayling, who chaired the one-day meeting hosted by Cyprus Airways, said aviation is an important industry for travel, trade and communication.
"And a safe efficient and affordable transport industry is important," he said.
On Russia, Ayling said that its government was charging European airlines a total of $225 million annually.
"Unfortunately these funds are not invested in the infrastructure needed for safe air navigation over Siberia and Russia," he said.
"We want a proper policy initiated by the EU to ensure that charges are moderated and funds used for investment in infrastructure."
A dialogue is already under way with the Russian authorities and other European countries.
"We as airlines cannot do anything - that's why we are putting pressure on the political side," said Lufthansa chairman Jurgen Weber.
During the meeting the AEA members also studied a report from Cranfield University in the UK on the subject of airport charges in Europe.
"Some are quite efficient and some are not, and compared to airports in the US, European airlines face very heavy charges," Ayling said.
He said this is one of the reasons why air fares in Europe are so high.
"We have agreed to use the Cranfield report to press for airports in Europe to be more efficient so our charges can go down," he added.
International passenger traffic on the main European airlines last month was 8.8 per cent higher than in October last year. The final figure for the year is expected to be 10 per cent.
The BA chief said the report was "very complimentary" about the charges at Larnaca Airport.
Cyprus Airways (CA) became the 24th member of the AEA in 1992, chairman Takis Kyriakides said, stressing the importance of the meeting for Cyprus.
Thirteen AEA members serve the island, with scheduled flights to 17 destinations.
Turkish Airlines was invited by the AEA but did not attend the meeting, CA spokesman Tassos Angelis said, despite the fact that the AEA is a non- political organisation.
 Town Planning department slammed over Akamas projectBy Martin Hellicar
THE OMBUDSMAN has slammed the Town Planning department for endorsing planning relaxations for a hotel being built in the Akamas area by the family firm of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides.
In a report, the findings of which were released yesterday, Ombudsman Nicos Charalambous says the department acted to serve private interests.
He examined the department's role in the licensing of the controversial Thanos Hotels Ltd development on the Asprokremnos coast - within the area earmarked for a National Park - following a complaint from the Technical Chamber (ETEK).
Charalambous says the government department failed to give satisfactory reasons for recommending to a ministerial committee that the massive development be approved. Construction of the hotel began last year after the committee gave the final go-ahead, sparking protests from environmentalists.
The Ombudsman's report notes that by law relaxations to planning regulations can only be given for reasons of public interest. Thanos was given permission to build on a protected beach and to construct the complex higher than zoning for the area allows.
"The Planning Department effectively contributed to the violation of provisions it is meant to protect, without presenting any reasons of public interest which might justify the relaxations," Charalambous says in the report.
He says the department failed to prove the relaxations were in the public interest, and only presented "arguments aimed at proving the relaxations would not harm the public interest".
"Public interest refers to the good of the greater public, and cases where government aims exclusively to serve private interests do not have a legal basis," the report says.
Charalambous does not call for any action in his report because the relaxations were actually approved by the ministerial committee - which he has no remit to check - and not by the Town Planning department itself.
Legal provisions which enable the government to approve planning relaxations also come in for attack in the report. "The relevant regulations obviously leave much room for misuse and abuse of authority both by the Planning Department and the cabinet," Charalambous states.
The negative publicity which surrounded the granting of relaxations for the Thanos hotel was seen as a major factor in Alecos Michaelides losing his ministerial post in a recent cabinet reshuffle.
Earlier this year it was revealed that unlicensed extra floors were being added to the hotel.
 Can Cyprus meet the Millennium Bug challenge?By Hamza Hendawi
THE TIME is new year's eve in 1999. The place is London. Revellers throng Trafalgar Square in their thousands as Big Ben's 12 midnight bongs begin, ushering in the new millennium.
Barely have the customary whoops and cheers begun to fade when traffic lights dim and the city starts to black out bit by bit. Train services grind to a halt; operating theatres and intensive care units shut down in hospitals all over the land.
This is the nightmare scenario of the millennium computer bug, as portrayed in a video released recently by a British railway company for a seminar on the problem. Its purpose was to remind everyone of the magnitude of the dilemma, and to caution against complacency in dealing with it.
The problem is real enough. According to some predictions, it threatens a liquidity lock-up that could send world markets crashing; it could activate and even release nuclear weapons, render plastic money useless, and interfere with phone services, microwaves and the worldwide web.
It is the kind of end-of-the-world scenario you would expect to see only in movies. But this one is not part of a James Bond plot - and the saviour would not be agent 007, but rather hundreds of thousands of computer programmers, hardware and software manufacturers in every corner of the world.
Their task would be to remedy the problem between now and December 31, 1999 - at an estimated cost of $1 trillion.
The problem of the millennium bug arises from the fact that most computers and programs are designed to read only the last two digits in a date, which means that the year 2000 could cause a massive and global problem. Computers and programs which have not been rewired by then will read dates as if they were a century old, recognising January 1, 2000 as January 1, 1900.
In Cyprus, where the computer culture has flourished so much in recent years that its per capita computer ownership is among the highest in the world, work to raise awareness of the problem kicked off only this week when the island's computer society organised a one-day seminar on the millennium bug.
"The best way to handle it is to treat it as a virus," said Andreas Hadjioannou of the Cyprus-based NetU Consultants Ltd.
"Small and medium-sized enterprises will face the biggest problem because they don't have access to the latest information on the problem," according to Panicos Masouras of the Higher Institute of Technology's Information Technology Department.
"Is there a silver bullet? The answer is no and the options are limited," he said.
"The 'do nothing' approach is one that I don't recommend - because it will be like putting an expiry date on your organisation," he warned some 150 participants, who included programmers, vendors, representatives of manufacturers and consultants.
"Any time between June and September next year should be the real deadline for the rewiring, because you need the rest of the century to test your new programs," he said.
Another warning came from Harris Hartsiotis, marketing manager of British- based consultants Millennium (UK) Ltd. "The problem is global and the date is immovable. The alternative to dealing with the year 2000 problem will be going out of business," he said.
Hartsiotis advised Cypriot businessmen and users of personal computers not to waste any more time in dealing with the problem. "The resources will become scarce and more expensive, and we advise that the work should be done by September 1998 to give your systems a year for testing."
But if speakers from the Bank of Cyprus, the Popular Bank and the government are to be believed, the advice from Masouras and Hartsiotis was old hat.
"December 1997 will mark the end of our reprogramming, and the implementation phase will be completed by the end of next year," announced Philippos Leandrou of the Bank of Cyprus' Year 2000 project.
"Our aim is to get into 1999 with a clean 2000-compliant system," he told the seminar.
An address by senior Popular Bank systems analyst Marios Tsakalakis was equally reassuring, while Xenia Eleftheriou of the government's Information Technology Services Department informed listeners that the government was on top of the problem.
She said the government began its reprogramming process in January this year, and that the whole project was scheduled to end by November next year.
In addition to in-house resources, she said, the programme is costing the government £36,000, a figure which many participants thought to be inexplicably low.
Already, said Costas Agrotis of the Finance Ministry, computers at the Inland Revenue Department have been made 2000-compliant.
 Spyros keeps mum on mystery manBy Martin Hellicar
DIKO LEADER Spyros Kyprianou yesterday again refused to reveal the identity of his party's 'mystery' candidate in next February's presidential elections.
Despite most observers agreeing that Attorney-general Alecos Markides is the man, Kyprianou repeated that he could not say anything yet. "I'm not being petty - I have an agreement not to reveal the candidate's name yet," he told reporters.
Diko announced it had found a new candidate it said would garner support from all parties after failing to secure any support from other parties for Kyprianou's own candidacy.
Markides has stoutly refused to comment on the speculation, but has nonetheless drawn criticism from the government, which has suggested he is "partly responsible" for rumours deemed to be "effecting" the institution of the attorney-general.
Governing Disy, for whom Markides was a deputy, have sped to quash suggestions that a Markides candidacy might attract some Disy members to abandon the Clerides re-election bandwagon. Party leader Nicos Anastassiades has warned would-be dissenters that they risk being ostracised from the party.
Meanwhile, other reports yesterday suggested that former Attorney-general Michalakis Triantafyllides was a possible alternative candidate for Diko, in the event that Markides proves unwilling. Triantafyllides said he had not been approached by any party wanting him to stand, but added that he would "seriously" consider such an offer if it came.
A clear favourite for the elections had yet to emerge yesterday, with no two major parties in agreement on a common candidate.
Communist Akel has been sweet-talking Diko of late, but Kyprianou's party is unlikely to back Akel's chosen candidate, former Foreign Minister George Iacovou. Socialist Edek is backing its own veteran leader, Dr Vassos Lyssarides, while the United Democrats are firmly behind their leader, former President George Vassiliou.
The other candidate in the running for the post is the leader of the minority Liberal party, Nicos Rolandis, who called a press conference yesterday to appeal for people to vote for him - even though he had no chance of getting into office.
Rolandis said a vote for him would not be wasted because it would give him more power to make his voice heard should the elections go to a second round.
Rolandis did not reveal who his chosen candidate would be in a second round of voting, saying that the election picture was not yet clear enough.
 Dud dollars trial set for JanuaryTWO Lebanese men suspected of circulating counterfeit $100 bills will go on trial at Larnaca Assizes on January 8.
Rakha Jaafar pleaded guilty before the Larnaca District Court yesterday to tendering two fake $100 bills in a Larnaca shop. His compatriot Andrios Kossifi is suspected of acting as an accomplice to Jaafar by driving him to the shop.
Police believe the two men brought 21 fake bills into the island, but Jaafar has told the court he only said he had brought that many notes into the country when faced with intimidating police interrogation.
Jaafar said he bought three $100 bills in good faith in Lebanon - one of which he later lost in Cyprus.
The two suspects were released on £10,000 bail on condition they report to their nearest police station daily until their trial.
 Farmer dies after tractor accidentA 69-year-old Paphos villager airlifted to Nicosia by police helicopter on Thursday after being flung from his runaway tractor has died of his injuries.
Police said farmer Dimitris Nearchou, from Kelokedara village, died in Nicosia general hospital yesterday.
Nearchou was badly hurt when his tractor suddenly accelerated out of control down a steep lane in his village, crashing into a house and throwing him over a garden wall on to a concrete courtyard two metres below.
 Bribery charges dropped in helmets caseLIMASSOL businessman Evros Maliotis walked free from court yesterday after bribery charges against him were dropped due to lack of evidence.
Maliotis had been accused of attempting to bribe a senior National Guard officer to pass defective helmets he was due to supply to the army in 1994.
Yesterday Limassol court dropped the charges after the defence successfully argued that the testimony of a prosecution witness was insufficient to convict Maliotis.
The witness, Demetris Kaias, a senior officer in charge of supplies at the time, had told the court Maliotis had tried to get him to agree to pass the helmets, even though they had failed ballistic tests.
Kaias said that samples from 1,880 helmets which were part of a larger consignment had been put through two tests. Of the five helmets tested three had failed.
A few days later, Maliotis allegedly approached Kaias at his office and asked him to help have the helmets passed.
Kaias claimed Maliotis told him he could have anything he wanted.
A few days later he allegedly returned to Kaias and asked for four of the 'good' helmets to run his own tests.
Kaias claimed he then asked Maliotis for £3,000 as a test, and the businessmen allegedly agreed.
But the defence argued that because Kaias had failed to make an immediate complaint regarding Maliotis' alleged behaviour, or a recording of the conversation, the testimony given in court should be considered unreliable.
Walking free from the court yesterday, Maliotis told journalists: "I'm very happy and I feel vindicated because this whole case has plagued me for months."
 Police to investigate complaint of beatingPOLICE yesterday promised to investigate allegations that immigration officers had beaten up the Egyptian husband of a local woman on Thursday afternoon.
Kyriaki Charalambous, from Dhenia village, complained to police that her husband, Lotfy Nashat Monir, had been assaulted by immigration officers at a friend's home in Kaimakli, Nicosia.
According to Charalambous' complaint, the officers began hitting Monir after asking him for his particulars. Her husband had to be admitted to Nicosia General hospital for treatment to his injuries, Charalambous claimed.
 New hoard includes 150 looted frescoesJean Christou
INITIAL examination of a new hoard of Cypriot Byzantine artifacts discovered in Germany has revealed some 150 icons and frescoes.
Police said yesterday the new haul had been found hidden in the cellar of a two-bedroom flat in Munich.
The flat was rented by Aydin Dikman, 60, a Turk who claims to be an archaeologist, but the property was registered under another name, police said.
Dikman was arrested in October after hundreds of Cypriot Byzantine treasures were discovered in two Munich apartments belonging to him. He is currently in the custody in Germany.
According to Cyprus police the latest haul was uncovered on Wednesday after an examination of papers in Dikman's possession.
A search of the cellar revealed 30-40 crates containing archaeological and church treasures which have been taken to the Munich National Museum for examination.
An initial inspection revealed 130 icons, 25 frescoes and two mosaics.
"It is most likely they came from the Church of Panayia tis Kanakarias," a police statement said yesterday.
It said German police also found 15 crates with archaeological artifacts and a Picasso painting "which has not yet been authenticated".
The Archbishopric in Nicosia has been informed of the haul and a local expert has gone to Germany to examine the items.
Some 15,000-20,000 icons are estimated to have been removed from the occupied areas and several dozen major frescoes and mosaics dating from the 6-15th centuries AD have been segmented for sale abroad. Some have been destroyed for ever.
The first breakthrough for the Church and the government in recovering the items came in the eighties with the confiscation of the four Kanakaria mosaics by the United States.
The mosaics were returned to the island in 1992 after a lengthy court battle against American art dealer Peg Goldberg.
The October raid on Dikman's two Munich apartments uncovered 14 boxes containing icons and mosaics. A subsequent search revealed another 15-20 boxes.
 Soldiers face jail for theft and damageTHREE British soldiers will be sentenced next week for a burglary spree and trashing the accounts office of a Larnaca hotel, their lawyer said yesterday.
The three members of the Kings Regiment stationed at Dhekelia face imprisonment by law for the charges against them.
"My plea to the judge is to give suspended sentences," lawyer John Mylonas told Reuters news agency. He said the court will sentence the three on Tuesday.
Carl Townes and Phillip Hughes, both 19, have pleaded guilty to charges of causing criminal damage to a hotel near Dhekelia on November 16. Both were drunk at the time.
They had been absent without leave from their regiment for more than a month at the time of their arrest, British military authorities said.
A third defendant, Keith Hollywood, 23, has pleaded guilty to involvement in a spate of burglaries in the Famagusta district earlier in the year when items worth some £17,000 were stolen.
Paul Walsh, another soldier wanted in connection with the burglaries, is still being sought.
 HND students demand recognitionHIGHER Technical Institute (HTI) students demonstrated outside the presidential palace yesterday in protest at the lack of government recognition of the Higher National Diploma (HND) awarded to HTI graduates.
They said many of them had to seek further education in British and US universities which they could ill-afford. If they didn't do this, they stood a lesser chance of getting a job, they said.
In Greece and the UK, they said, graduates with HNDs gain respectable jobs and salaries.
The students want the Finance Ministry to join the Labour and Communications Ministries in recognising Institute graduates in an intermediate class above Technical school graduates and below those of universities.
 Brazilian trio to test Anorthosis title credentialsLEAGUE leaders Anorthosis today take their 100 per cent record to Larnaca where they play an improving Aek side spurred on by a Brazilian trio.
This is only the second genuinely difficult game of the season for Anorthosis, whose impressive run of nine wins had been against the league's weaker sides. They were fortunate to take all three points from their one tough tie against Apoel.
As if Anorthosis, boasting undoubtedly the strongest squad in the first division, also needed the added advantage of helpful league fixture list. All their difficult games come at the end of the first round - after Aek they play Achna, Omonia and Apollonas.
In the meantime they have built a handsome six-point lead at the top of the table, as the other title challengers had been busy taking points from each other.
Neutrals will be rooting for Aek who would help maintain interest in the championship by ending Anorthosis' 100 per cent record. Aek who have won their last two games will also take encouragement from the fact that their boys from Brazil have started performing well and scoring goals.
Third-placed Apollonas will be praying for an Anorthosis slip when they take on Apop in Limassol. After a good start Apop have been going through a sticky patch and will be looking for a point that would arrest their sudden decline.
Paralimni will be hoping for their fourth away win of the season when they make the short trip to Achna to play Ethnikos who are riding high in fifth place. Unable to win at home - one point from four games - but very successful on their travels, Paralimni should give Ethnikos a stern test.
Third from bottom Evagoras will be looking for their first win of the season in Paphos where they play host to 10th-placed Ael who have taken two points from the last four games.
On Sunday Salamina are at home to bottom club Ethnikos Ashias, while Anagennisis, under new coach Adamos Adamou - after the departure this week of Andreas Kissonergis - entertain second from bottom Alki who last week scored their first win.
 Apoel paying price of persecution complex?By George Christou
APOEL will go into tonight's Nicosia derby against Omonia with only two foreign players, as Austrian midfielder Alfred Hertnagl refuses to play because of a pay dispute with the club.
The Austrian, who had refused to go to training until his salary had been paid, has sought the services of a lawyer. Angered by his attitude, the Apoel board was considering terminating his contract and playing out the season with only two foreigners.
Apart from this internal problem, Apoel will also have their persecution complex to deal with. Going into every game thinking there is a refereeing conspiracy against them cannot be good for the morale of the players who are too busy questioning the ref's decision to concentrate on the football.
The chief culprit in perpetrating the myth that refs are out to harm Apoel is the club's board. It has made a habit of issuing absurd statements after every match, claiming that "blatant penalties" had not been awarded.
This is what the board had to say after lst weekend's 2-2 draw with Apollonas: "Last night's refereeing by Tassos Papaioannou proved the point. Two crystal clear penalties and the ref's ignoring of the foul that preceded Apollonas' first goal was the final straw. The last vestiges of good will and understanding towards referees has evaporated."
This would not be so bad if the decisions Apoel complained about were as clear-cut as they would have us believe. They were not. As for the first penalty claim, Ioannou had quite clearly dived in the box looking for a spot-kick.
Apoel's totally irresponsible attitude does not end there. A second official statement, said that, given the prejudice of the referees, the club could not take responsibility for any misbehaviour by fans.
This seems perilously close to justifying, if not encouraging, crowd violence. Perhaps the police should look into the matter as the Football Federation will do nothing.
On the football field, Apoel have not been doing badly performance-wise, although their points haul, one from the last three games, has been disastrous. They were unlucky in the big games - they merited a point against Anorthosis, and had the chances to have beaten Apollonas.
In fact their second half performance last weekend, which drew the praises of new coach Andreas Mouskallis in his first game in charge, dispelled any suggestions that the club was struggling. Playing with a power and commitment that was absent from the first half, Apoel's domination was absolute.
Omonia have had no such problems despite a poor start to the season which saw them lose two of the first three games. Since then they have won six in a row, scoring 28 goals and conceding only one. This run has taken them to second place, within six points of leaders Anorthosis.
They have Malekkos to thank for their run. He has been in inspirational form and should play tonight despite a niggling injury that had prevented him from training this week. The lanky German striker Raufman who has been scoring regularly - he tops the goalscorers table with 11 -has also contributed to Omonia's revival.
Omonia's title credentials will be seriously tested in tonight's derby game. It should be noted that their six successive wins were scored against the league's weaker sides, while they lost both of their tough games, against Aek and Apollonas.
It will not be easy for Omonia against an Apoel side desperate for their first win in four games. Having lost Hertnagl, Apoel welcome back international stopper George Christodoulou, whose absence from the defence may partly explain why his side had been leaking goals.
With Mouskallis having set a target of maximum points from the next four games, Apoel's players, who were warned this week to stop behaving like public servants, know this is a game they have to win. And they are well capable of ending Omonia's run, as long they put the refereeing conspiracies out of their mind, stop the protest to the ref and concentrate on the game.
 Cyprus says settlers must return to TurkeyBy Jean Christou
THE INFLUX of Turkish settlers to the north is a huge threat and their departure must be included in a solution, the government said yesterday.
In separate statements, government spokesman Manolis Christofides and Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides made it clear the Turkish settlers remain unwelcome.
Cassoulides said on his return from London yesterday afternoon that a solution to the Cyprus problem "is not feasible without the return of the settlers".
Earlier, Christofides said the deliberate transfer of settlers from Turkey was "an international crime which must be tackled by all of us on a global level".
The spokesman was commenting on census statistics published in the north for the first time which put the population of the occupied areas - excluding the 35,000 Turkish occupation troops - at 200,587.
Most of these cannot be Turkish Cypriots, the government says, because in 1974 they numbered only 120,000 and at least 50,000 of them are known to have left the island since the invasion. The government in fact estimates that there are now fewer than 80,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the north and that Turkey has brought in at least 100,000 settlers since 1974.
The issue was highlighted this week when Britain's special Cyprus envoy Sir David Hannay caused a storm by saying that many Turkish settlers would probably remain in Cyprus after a solution because they had Turkish Cypriot 'citizenship'. He said this was "reality".
Following a meeting with Sir David in London on Thursday Cassoulides said the British envoy had informed him he was never of the opinion that the settlers should stay in Cyprus, only that some humanitarian special cases would crop up.
However, on his return yesterday Cassoulides repeated earlier statements he made to London Greek radio that Sir David's objectivity and usefulness as a mediator had been tarnished by his remarks.
Cassoulides said he told Sir David that the principle of repatriating settlers to Turkey must be part of a solution.
"Once this principle is accepted, only then will we be ready to discuss humanitarian cases related to settlers," Cassoulides said.
He said Sir David had told him he neither intended to speak in favour of colonisation nor to accept it in principle.
 Taxi driver 'smashed warden's moped'By Jean Christou
POLICE are investigating claims by a Nicosia traffic warden that a taxi driver threatened her and damaged her moped on Thursday.
A police bulletin yesterday said Despo Xenofontos, a young female warden working for Nicosia Municipality, accused George Constantinou, 25, of threatening her when she went to book him for parking his taxi illegally.
The car was parked with others from the Ethniko taxi company which employs Constantinou and operates from Solomou Square.
Xenofontos claims Constantinou took her pen from her hand and told her: "If you write me a ticket I will hit your moped with the car," a threat he allegedly carried out.
Much of the incident was captured on film and published yesterday by Phileleftheros photographer Andreas Manolis.
Manolis has also lodged a complaint with police against a taxi driver. He claims that while he was photographing the incident he was threatened by another driver Savvas Georgiou, 38, who allegedly said that if Manolis published pictures of his wife - who was in the taxi office at the time - he would hit Manolis with his car.
Police are also investigating a complaint that during the Xenofontos- Constantinou quarrel, taxi drivers blocked traffic to Solomou Square by parking in the middle of the road.
Phileleftheros said a second traffic warden went to the area later and also encountered hostility from the taxi drivers.
The paper quoted a third warden who said he had had similar problems two months ago and had complained to police, who allegedly asked him: "What can we do?"
It was also claimed on Thursday that police at nearby Paphos Gate had failed to assist Xenofontos in carrying out her duties when she ran into trouble but that Justice Minister Nicos Koshis had intervened behind the scenes.
Yesterday seven taxi drivers were booked in the same area for illegal parking.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997