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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-12-07

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Sunday, December 7, 1997


  • [01] We're becoming a nation of old people
  • [02] Greens urge government to press ahead with Akamas park
  • [03] 'Chauvinistic Cypriots' blamed for Washington taunts
  • [04] Sailor held over Spanish drug charges
  • [05] Disy rejects coalition proposal
  • [06] Highlighting the dark side
  • [07] UN slams deadly Green Line laser game
  • [08] Big business calls for halt to local tax rises

  • [01] We're becoming a nation of old people

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS is fast becoming a nation of old people and steps must be taken immediately to counter the negative effects on the economy.

    This hard-hitting statement was made by Labour Minister Stathis Papadakis at an inter-governmental conference on aging populations in the Mediterranean, which ended yesterday in Malta.

    The minister's report said the number of elderly people and their ratio of the total population will have risen sharply by the first quarter of the year 2000.

    It cited better medical care coupled with a reduction in fertility rates, which are predicted to drop further - even to below replacement rates.

    By 2028 the under 15s will constitute only 20 per cent of the island's population from the current 24.6 per cent, while the over 65s will jump from a population share of 11 per cent today to 17.6 per cent by 2008. The number of over 75s is expected to almost double to nearly eight per cent in the same period.

    "The working age population will increase in numbers but it will also age, a trend which will be strongly felt in ten to 15 years' time," Papadakis said.

    Even today some 10 per cent of over 65s are still active in the workforce, as are at least four per cent of the over 75s, the report said.

    "It is evident... that population aging is expected to have far-reaching consequences in the labour market and the economy of Cyprus in general, and measures should be taken urgently to mitigate the adverse effects," Papadakis said.

    He cited low motivation and productivity and slow adaptation to technological change as negative indicators of an aging workforce.

    Papadakis said policy makers must realise that the elderly constitute a sizeable reserve of valuable labour resources possessing accumulated experience.

    He said they can contribute significantly to economic development if the right incentives and facilities such as re-training programmes were provided for them.

    Papadakis, who is also the minister responsible for welfare, said current geriatric care is inadequate and does not take account of the growing number of elderly people. "We feel we are responding too slowly to their real needs," he said.

    "This triumph of medical science over death would not be complete if we did not tackle the complicated problems associated with old age. It is of the utmost importance that the years gained are happy and productive, and not years of neglect, isolation and misery."

    [02] Greens urge government to press ahead with Akamas park

    By Martin Hellicar

    GREENS are pleading with the government not to give in to pressure from developers and to press on with plans to declare the Akamas a national park.

    "Twelve years of campaigning by environmentalists is not about to be sacrificed for the sake of the interests of an isolated group of developers, " the Friends of Akamas group vowed in a letter sent to President Clerides this week.

    "We are prepared to resist development using all means at our disposal," they warned.

    The group alleged landowners were using methods both fair and foul in an effort to pressure the government into sanctioning tourism development in the unspoilt area. They claimed these developers were hoodwinking local communities by saying hotels would mean riches for all in the area.

    The Friends of Akamas, who have campaigned longest and hardest to protect the remote peninsula, said developers had even resorted to hiring what they called a bogus green group to prepare Akamas management plans which conveniently propose tourism development as the key to preserving the area. Their concerns were echoed by the Ecological Movement group.

    Friends of Akamas urged Clerides to stick to the proposals set out in a government-commissioned World Bank plan for an Akamas national park.

    The report suggests tourism development in the area should be limited to within existing village boundaries with the rest of the Akamas being preserved as wilderness.

    But local mukhtars and church leaders have opposed the plan, claiming it would signal the death of the local economy. Village leaders recently sent letters to Clerides calling for the national park to be limited to state forest land and tourism development to be allowed on the rest of the peninsula.

    The Bishop of Paphos, Chrysostomos, has supported these calls. He has threatened to charge a toll on cars driving through church land to visit the Avagas gorge beauty spot - on the West Akamas coast - unless the government sanctions hotel-building on church land in the area.

    Meanwhile, a handful of environmentalists staged a protest yesterday on the northern Akamas coast near a hotel being built by Thanos hotels - the family firm of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides.

    The greens unfurled a massive banner along the Asprokremnos cliffs calling for the protection of the marine ecosystem around the Akamas.

    Paphos police said the protest passed off without incident.

    The Thanos hotels development - made possible by cabinet-sanctioned relaxations to planning restrictions - has become a favourite target for environmental protestors both local and foreign.

    [03] 'Chauvinistic Cypriots' blamed for Washington taunts

    THE Washington DC representative of the self-declared 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' found himself in hot water on Friday while addressing a group of Baltimore college students.

    Anatolia news agency reported that Ahmet Erdeniz was delivering a speech at Loyola College in which he said the 'TRNC' should be recognised by the world, and he accused the European Union of obstructing progress towards a Cyprus solution.

    When given the chance to ask questions at the end of the speech, Greeks and Greek Cypriots in the audience turned on Erdeniz, taunting him. Tensions escalated and a brawl was only averted by the intervention of security guards.

    William Cooke, chairman of the Leadership Foundation which had invited Erdeniz to talk, later sent him a letter after the incident in which he said the protesters' actions would "only harm their own image".

    Cooke added that from the audience's behaviour, he "got the impression that chauvinism is a widespread obsession among Greeks and Greek Cypriots".

    Cooke said Erdeniz behaved like a "genuine diplomat", Anat

    [04] Sailor held over Spanish drug charges

    A GREEK ship's engineer was arrested in Larnaca early yesterday in connection with six-year-old Spanish drugs charges.

    Vassilis Vassiades, 58, was working aboard the merchant vessel Ellen when it docked at Larnaca on Friday. His name had been placed on the international stop-list by the Spanish authorities in 1995 and he was arrested by local police at around 1.15am.

    Vassiades is suspected of smuggling 52 packets of cocaine into Spain in 1991.

    He is expected to be remanded by Larnaca District Court today and will be held until extradition documents arrive

    [05] Disy rejects coalition proposal

    By Martin Hellicar

    DISY yesterday officially rejected Diko's proposal that the two parties resurrect their right-wing coalition to support Attorney-general Alecos Markides in the February presidential election.

    The anticipated rejection was confirmed by Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades, who said Diko would have his party's answer in writing later this week.

    Diko decided on Thursday to back Markides, even though he has yet to announce his candidacy, after failing to secure backing from Disy - or anyone else - for the candidacy of its own leader, Spyros Kyprianou.

    Disy is throwing its weight behind President Clerides for re-election and threatening to ostracise any party member not backing his bid.

    Diko has ruled out supporting Clerides again as it did in the 1993 elections, with Kyprianou, 65, claiming the 79-year-old president is too old to continue in the post.

    Kyprianou has repeatedly accused Clerides of keeping him in the dark on the national issue and has criticised his handling of it.

    In a speech to expatriate Cypriots in London on Friday night, Clerides went on the offensive, claiming Kyprianou had been happy to support his handling of the Cyprus problem until Disy declined to back his candidacy for president, whereupon he changed his tune.

    Markides, a former Disy deputy, has promised to make his decision concerning the elections known "as soon as possible". Kyprianou has said the attorney-general would complete contacts with other parties before making his final decision.

    [06] Highlighting the dark side

    By Aline Davidian

    DRUG abuse - the darker side of Cyprus' westernisation - will be the subject of a five-day visit by British MP Mike Hancock, who arrives on the island tomorrow.

    Anti-drugs campaigner Hancock will work closely with the Cyprus Association of the Friends of the Child (AMADE-CHYPRE), in warning of the dangers of drug abuse.

    This coincides with a newly launched awareness campaign by AMADE-CHYPRE at the Municipal Theatre of Nicosia. Hancock will also attend to give a presentation of his own anti-drugs project - Stop Now and Phone (SNAP).

    A member of the Liberal Democratic party for Portsmouth South, Hancock was Director of the Alpha Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Portsmouth and Southampton from 1971 to the mid 1980s, travelling widely to lecture on the subject.

    Generating support for families and children struggling with drug-abuse, Hancock's efforts stem both from the conviction that drug-abuse truly merits attention. A close friend of his also died because of drugs.

    His visit is being funded by the British Council in Nicosia.

    [07] UN slams deadly Green Line laser game

    By Jean Christou

    NATIONAL Guardsmen along Nicosia's Green Line have been playing a deadly game with a potentially dangerous children's toy, Unficyp has confirmed.

    According to information obtained by the Cyprus Mail National Guardsmen were recently engaged in repeatedly aggravating their Turkish Cypriot counterparts by using laser pointers.

    Sold as pens or key rings at toy shops and kiosks, the pointers project a high intensity red laser beam.

    If shone in the eyes the beam can cause serious damage and even permanent blindness. The potentially dangerous toy faces a ban in the UK where police and firemen have been victims.

    But in Cyprus, where they are not outlawed, their use in aggravating a nearby opposing force is a recipe for trouble.

    In some areas of Nicosia the Greek Cypriot and Turkish positions are just a few metres apart along the ultra-sensitive Green Line.

    The Greek Cypriot soldiers' thoughtless self-amusement was also affecting UN patrols, the force's spokesman Waldemar Rokoszewski said.

    Confirming the Cyprus Mail information, the Unficyp spokesman said: "On at least one occasion there was a complaint from the Turkish Cypriot side that Greek Cypriots were directing a laser pointer at their positions repeatedly. We raised the matter with the National Guard."

    "It has also happened that kind of equipment has obstructed UN mobile patrols and the matter was again raised with the National Guard," he added.

    The incidents have now ceased entirely, Rokoszewski said, but he referred to them in terms of a "serious lack of discipline".

    "If these are pointed in their eyes (the Turkish Cypriots), they can blind them," Rokoszewski said. "It also makes them nervous, which can spark tensions."

    Occasional gunshots, stone-throwing, pointing of weapons and shouting of abuse between the opposing forces on the Green Line is nothing new. Hundreds of such episodes take place every year, according to official UN reports.

    Although minor in themselves, they reflect the tension that continues to exist between the two sides along the ceasefire lines.

    The UN has proposed a package of measures to reduce tensions which have been the subject of so-far unsuccessful discussions between the National Guard and the Turkish military for more than a year.

    The package envisages the extension of the 1989 unmanning agreement, the prohibition of loaded weapons along the buffer zone, and a code of conduct for soldiers.

    However it was revealed several months ago that although the Turkish side has agreed to the entire package, the Greek Cypriot side has not, and is being held responsible for the lack of progress.

    It is expected that UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan will make extensive reference to this in his six-monthly report on Unficyp's mandate which is due out this week.

    [08] Big business calls for halt to local tax rises

    By Martin Hellicar

    UNIMPRESSED by cries of poverty from local authorities, the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce (Keve) has called for an end to increases in municipal taxes.

    "Municipalities must find ways to reduce running costs," Keve chairman Vasilis Rologis said in a letter to the Ministries of Finance and Commerce, released yesterday.

    "We are totally opposed to constant massive increases in municipal taxes and charges," Rologis said, adding that higher levies crippled businesses. "Keve is not asking for no taxes, but notes that these taxes and levies should only be increased where there is a real need," he said.

    Mounting debt has prompted municipalities to ask the government to grant them greater tax-raising powers.

    Rologis called on the government to rule out such tax increases, and tabled a Keve suggestion for how municipalities could better manage their finances. "Municipalities that border each other could unify certain services in order to reduce running and other costs," Rologis said.

    He listed services that would lend themselves to unification as rubbish collection, tax collection, the issuing of building permits, park maintenance, and public health services.

    "Furthermore, every municipality could save funds by promoting early retirement schemes wherever excess staff exists," Rologis said.

    The Union of Municipalities has also called for state subsidies to local authorities to be increased.

    Mayors have threatened to stage a protest march through Nicosia if the government fails to respond to their

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1997

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