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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-05-09

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Saturday, May 9, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Turk Cypriots pay international rates to call free areas
  • [02] National Council discusses Holbrooke's visit
  • [03] Seminar examines racism in Cyprus
  • [04] Do your EU homework, Vassiliou warns
  • [05] IMF advises CoLA should be scrapped
  • [06] Limassol braced for a summer of dust and ditches
  • [07] Forest fire warning as summer approaches
  • [08] Two killed in head-on crash
  • [09] Highway roadworks start next week
  • [10] Build motorway now, Famagusta mayors say
  • [11] Government wants port to become passenger terminal
  • [12] Cyprus airways in promotion spat
  • [13] Cypriot drowns in heroic rescue attempt
  • [14] Vote for your Eurovision favourites
  • [15] Anorthosis will win against Evagoras - it's official

  • [01] Turk Cypriots pay international rates to call free areas

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Cypriots are paying a sky-high price for Richard Holbrooke's bicommunal breakthrough linking the two sides with an automated phone system.

    The UN confirmed yesterday that the breakaway regime planned to charge Turkish Cypriots international rates to call Greek Cypriots a stone's throw away across the Green Line.

    The Turkish Cypriot side says international rates must be imposed because the calls are being made "beyond TRNC borders".

    Last week, Holbrooke, US envoy for Cyprus, inaugurated the first direct telephone lines between the two sides in 24 years.

    In the five days since the launch, some 20,000 calls per day have been recorded, despite a series of technical difficulties on the Turkish Cypriot side.

    But UN sources say the Turkish Cypriot plan to charge international rates is totally unacceptable. "This is ridiculous," a senior Unficyp official said last night.

    The original plan -- backed and paid for with American money -- was that callers on both sides would pay the local rate charged per call to the UN switchboard. Charges from there were to be paid by the US.

    "The Turkish Cypriot side is logging the entire duration of the calls made from there and charging whatever they like," the Unficyp sources said.

    "It seems that this is to discourage Turkish Cypriots from calling."

    Unficyp intends to raise the issue with the US embassy in the hope that it brings it up with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Denktash has banned any bicommunal contact between the two sides since the EU's Luxembourg decision in December to open accession negotiations with the Cyprus government.

    The installation of the new phone system had taken on an added importance in view of the ban as a means for the two sides to communicate.

    The 20 new automated telephone lines -- dubbed the 'Alo Hasan' project in the north -- replaced the UN-operated three-line system which became ineffective due to increased demand in recent years.

    The old system could only handle around 100,000 calls between the two sides each year compared to the 750,000 the new lines will be able to cope with. The system cost 40,000.

    Callers dialling from the Greek Cypriot side who wish to use the new system should dial 0139 to hear a tone, then dial the number in the north. Callers from the north must dial 0123 and then the required number in the south, dropping the 0 in the area code. Faxes can also be sent.

    [02] National Council discusses Holbrooke's visit

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    THE NATIONAL Council, top advisory body to the President on the Cyprus issue, met in a marathon session yesterday to discuss the recent visit by US presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke.

    Holbrooke's much awaited visit failed to break the deadlock and bring the two sides back to the negotiating table because of preconditions set by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    The council adjourned late in the afternoon. "A new meeting will be held next week", said government spokesman Christos Stylianides. He said yesterday's meeting was an exchange of views between President Clerides and party leaders "on future handling of the issues."

    The meeting focused on Holbrooke's controversial claim that Denktash is elected through a political process in the north and that President Clerides "does not represent, or have control over, the people of northern Cyprus."

    Diplomatic sources say Holbrooke's aim is to press the Greek Cypriot side to recognise the "reality" of the situation in Cyprus, namely that Denktash is an elected leader and controls a specified geographical area.

    Foreign Minister Ioannis Cassoulides has distributed a memo to all embassies in Cyprus stating that the government will never recognise this so-called "reality" because it was imposed by military force.

    The National Council also dismissed as unacceptable Denktash's demands for recognition of his illegal regime and the withdrawal of Cyprus's European Union entry application. It stressed that Cyprus's bid to join the EU was a "catalyst" in efforts to reunify the island and that Turkish Cypriots have more to gain by such entry because of their low standard of living.

    [03] Seminar examines racism in Cyprus

    By Jean Christou

    IMMIGRATION problems are something which will not go away, acting head of the EU delegation, Philippe Combescot, said in Nicosia last night.

    He was speaking at the opening of an international seminar on racism and immigration in Europe and Cyprus.

    He said immigration was a matter of major importance in the EU and warned that Cyprus would also have to conform with EU legislation on asylum seekers.

    "It is a problem which will not go away, but erecting barriers is not a long-term solution," he said, calling for more co-operation between local authorities and non-governmental organisations.

    Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades, who also addressed the opening, pledged to raise the problems of foreign workers in Cyprus with the Union of Municipalities at its next executive council meeting.

    He referred to the "sad faces" of those who attend the Catholic Church service at Paphos Gate every Sunday and those of foreign workers who gather at the municipal park afterwards.

    Demetriades also pledged to set up an information stall opposite the church for foreign workers and promised some cash for renovation if they managed to rent a building the same area. "This kind of help we can do," he said.

    The seminar, entitled 'Different But Equal', is the first undertaking of ISAG, the newly-formed Immigrant Support Action Group, and is being held under the auspices of the European Commission.

    Subjects to be covered include global and European racism, racism in Cyprus, the island's laws and other issues relating to immigrants.

    A cultural programme, including a film and photography exhibition, will run parallel to the seminar.

    Speakers will come from Cyprus, the UK and Germany.

    ISAG is a voluntary citizens' group whose members aim to help safeguard the human rights of immigrants and to improve the working and living standards of foreign nationals in Cyprus.

    Its president Doros Polycarpou said that although there were many instances where the behaviour of Cypriots towards immigrants was beyond reproach, "there are cases - and they are not few - which should make us ashamed of our behaviour towards these people".

    [04] Do your EU homework, Vassiliou warns

    CYPRUS has not done its homework on EU accession, the island's chief negotiator for membership talks bloc said yesterday.

    George Vassiliou, who is also a former President of the Republic, was speaking at the 'Cyprus and the European Union' symposium organised by Intercollege in Nicosia.

    "I do not know of any serious studies that look at the problems of accession for the various sectors of the economy and for society in general, " Vassiliou said.

    "We have to learn to live in a different world. We have to live in a single market that entails the freedom of movement of people, goods and capital."

    Vassiliou said there tended to be some confusion between the market criteria for accession to the EU.

    "Cyprus meets the criteria by which a country is judged eligible for accession, such as respect for human rights," Vassiliou said, but added: "If you want to be an equal member, your have to meet the Maastricht criteria."

    "There was a time when only Cyprus and Luxembourg met the Maastricht criteria, but today unfortunately Cyprus is one of the few countries that has moved far away from them," he said.

    He said the most important issue was the island's three per cent deficit. "We have a tremendous task as to how we must reform our economy and achieve a lower deficit."

    Vassiliou also said harmonisation "is a price we have to pay in order to call ourselves members of Europe".

    "It is a price we have to pay, not to Europe, but to ourselves," he said.

    [05] IMF advises CoLA should be scrapped

    THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund's (IMF) preliminary report on Cyprus has recommended further thought on the scrapping of the Cost of Living Allowance (CoLA), Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday.

    Speaking after a Nicosia meeting with the IMF delegation, Christodoulou said the delegation's report recommended additional consideration of the matter, taking into account the relevant regulations in other countries.

    Christodoulou described the report as "good", saying it

    recognised that economic growth and stabilisation had had a satisfactory recovery after the problems of 1996 and 1997, and that it also pointed out that economic stability remained prevalent in Cyprus.

    But he also said the report called for measures to reduce the fiscal deficit within the next couple of years, keeping in line with relevant Maastricht criterion.

    The report's suggestions would, the Finance Minister concluded, "be seriously taken into consideration".

    [06] Limassol braced for a summer of dust and ditches

    By Andrea Sophocleous

    TOURISTS -- and locals -- can look forward to another summer of noise and falling into ditches on Limassol's popular coastal road after a Ministerial Committee this week failed to make any progress on the issue.

    Months of protests by shop owners and hoteliers against the mayhem created in the city by the prolonged road-works led to Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis springing somewhat belatedly into action this week in a session of the newly-formed Ministerial Committee given the task of studying the coastal road's construction.

    Rolandis agreed with claims by shop owners and hoteliers that the mess on the road threatened to put them out of business at a time when Cyprus tourism was facing acute competition, but he stopped short of offering a solution.

    In statements following Monday's Ministerial Committee meeting, the Minister called for the acceleration of the road works and added that "if it is an issue of extra cost, we should not think of that cost because we might be destroying tourism, particularly in Limassol."

    Such a prospect was echoed by the president of the Limassol branch of the Cyprus Hotels Association (CHA), Heraklis Herakleous, who argued that despite forecasts that Cyprus would receive 10 per cent more tourists this year, this increase was not expected in Limassol.

    "I'm not denying there will be tourist movement in Limassol in the summer months," he explained, "but this disorder on the streets will exist, tourists will complain to their hotels and to their tour operators, and this will have a negative effect on Limassol's tourism."

    And he pointed to figures showing Limassol's tourism share down in comparison to other areas, such as Paphos and the free areas of Famagusta.

    Kyriakos Moustakas, general secretary of the Limassol branch of the shop- owners union (Povek), painted an even gloomier picture, arguing that, according to his members, "business has fallen by 100 per cent. In some sections of the road where tourists can easily approach the shops, we have seen only a 50 per cent decrease. But in the fenced-off areas where the footpath is being widened, where the work is actually going on, the shops are 100 per cent closed. And you understand that after the sewage works and now with the long delays experienced with the current works, it is only natural for some shop owners to be threatened with closure."

    Construction work for the sewage system on Limassol's main coastal strip, where the city's tourism industry is concentrated, began in the summer of 1992. The project was not completed until autumn 1995.

    The current road works are designed to improve the city. Work began on October 20 last year and focuses on widening the footpath and turning the road into a dual carriageway.

    Despite Rolandis' sympathy for the hoteliers and shop owners, Monday's meeting failed to meet their demands. The Cyprus Hotels Association, in proposals made to Rolandis weeks ago, suggested the work be accelerated, with round-the-clock shifts, so that it could be completed by the end of May, or alternatively that further work, particularly in front of hotels, be postponed until the end of the summer tourist season.

    The Committee, however, concluded that none of these options were possible.

    According to Yermasoyia Mayor, Panikos Louroutziatis, whose Council is overseeing the current wave of road constructions, "suggestions are easily made, but things are difficult when we have to take a series of factors into consideration. Tour operators tolerate the current situation, knowing we will be finished in October. Everything is being done for the work to be finished on time."

    He argued that postponing the works until autumn would not bring calm to the area. "You will have some areas completed, other sections will remain in their old form, sections of the road with two lanes will suddenly run into four lanes, thus we will have even greater confusion."

    As for working in 24-hour shifts, the Mayor argued that doubling the hours did not simply double the cost, it increased it six-fold.

    "And who pays for it?" he asked, suggesting "the citizens' purse cannot withstand a six-fold increase in costs."

    "That is one problem. The second is, if we complain about the hardship and inconvenience now and we cannot stand the works while they are being conducted in 12-hour shifts, who will endure living next to a site where the work goes on 24 hours a day?"

    The Tourism Minister blamed Cyprus' working system for the prolonged road works, saying the way local authorities operated ruled out 24-hour shifts -- something that is common practice overseas.

    "The whole world can work 24 hours a day, but we can't for various reasons, " Rolandis said. "Contractors can't work, the various suppliers do not work, government services do not work, so nothing that has to be done can be done quickly."

    He also said that the option of interrupting the road works during the summer tourist season was not feasible due to technical problems on the side of the contractors.

    Adding to the confusion, however, is the fact that three different companies are involved in the works, thus ensuring poor communication.

    Mayor Louroutziatis said the decision to employ three companies had been made so that the work could be completed as soon as possible.

    Rolandis, however, claimed the fact that the road was divided into three separate pieces made it difficult for contractors to find specialised personnel to work longer hours or more shifts.

    The only solution reached by Rolandis and the Ministerial Committee was a plan of action to attempt to raise the hours worked by one hour a day, perhaps a little more.

    Much ado was made over the announcement that this measure would "speed up" the road works, so that they would be completed before October 20, the planned completion date.

    The Hoteliers' Herakleous said his association was not satisfied with the results of the meeting, but nevertheless thanked the Minister for his try. "We are not happy, but we cannot do anything else," he said and pointed out that the problem was beyond the powers of the Minister. "It has to do with contractors and government services."

    Herakleous admits that "the upgrading of the coastal road is a project of the highest significance for Limassol and a project we all wanted, pursued and pushed for, and I believe it will improve Limassol's tourist product in the future. We expected some hardship and disorder, but we were hoping it would be conducted as painlessly as possible. But the whole situation has gone on too long... Hopefully this will not affect Limassol's tourism in the long run. We have not heard of tour operators excluding Limassol, but they do warn their clients of the situation here -- which has a similar effect. "

    The Mayor dismisses such complaints, describing them as exaggerated. "I hear hoteliers protesting. But I have yet to encounter a hotel owner who has suffered cancellation of contracts due to the construction of the coastal road. No hotelier I've met -- and I have just come from meeting one, has complained of tour operators cancelling deals.

    "It was always unrealistic to expect this road to be improved without the creation of problems. Our aim is to complete the project with the least possible hardship. It is only natural that both shop owners and hoteliers will experience some hardship."

    Tourists finding their way around workmen and machinery along the otherwise popular coastal strip of Limassol complained of dust, mud and noise: "When it's raining, it's just a nightmare. Walking through all the mud and everything," one said.

    Despite assertions by Herakleous that tour operators are guiding tourists away from Limassol with warnings about the road upheavals, all the tourists approached by the Cyprus Mail claimed they were not told of the situation before their arrival. One British tourist said, "there is no indication in the UK that this is going on. I've never heard anybody say anything about it. The tour operators kept quiet about it."

    A British couple who has been coming to Cyprus since 1977 exclaimed their surprise that the roadworks had "been going on for four to five years now," while another tourist claimed she would not recommend Limassol to her friends because of the "road mess".

    In general however, tourists who considered the situation temporary displayed understanding and said it did not affect their holiday.

    The Tourism Minister, however, raised the serious problem of tourists returning to their countries and taking legal action. "We cannot sell a product that is more expensive than the product of other countries and bring them here so they can fall into ditches," Rolandis said.

    Nonetheless, the prospect of falling into ditches will continue for some months yet while Cyprus' inflexible working habits and lack of co- ordination between various services continues to be blamed. In the meantime, the voices of protest will go on.

    [07] Forest fire warning as summer approaches

    A WARNING about increasing deforestation in the Mediterranean was at the centre of a message delivered yesterday by Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Costas Themistocleous.

    The minister appealed to the public and to private as well as government bodies to contribute to the fight against forest fires in view of Forest Protection Week which began yesterday.

    According to international statistics, the annual rate of deforestation in Mediterranean countries between 1981 and 1990 was 1.1. per cent, a figure higher than corresponding proportions from tropical countries.

    The main cause of deforestation in the Mediterranean is the destruction caused by fires.

    "Cyprus, as part of this sensitive region, is almost constantly exposed to the danger of fire, particularly during the summer months when weather conditions are very unfavourable to the protection of forests and other wild vegetation -- the negative consequences of which are intensified by the increased number of tourists to our forests," he said.

    The minister stressed that prevention was the best way to fight the fires. "The Forestry Department and the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Ministry," he said, "are aware of the many contributions that forests make to everyday life, and thus take all necessary prevention and checking mechanisms towards their effective protection... But for effective control of the problem we need the contribution of every member of the public."

    Limassol Fire Department Chief, Soteris Sophocleous said the public could help the fight by not lighting fires between April and October when temperatures are at their peak, by not throwing cigarette butts in the open and by making sure they did not have barbecues in areas other than the specially designated areas.

    The island's forests are plagued by four to five thousand fires every year.

    [08] Two killed in head-on crash

    TWO MEN died yesterday after their cars were involved in a head-on collision late on Thursday night.

    National Guardsman Carolos Sideris, 20, from the Nicosia suburb of Acropolis, and Andreas Aristidou, 55, from Ergates collided on the Palehori to Anthoupolis road at 11.40pm.

    Both were severely injured and died later in hospital. Traffic police are investigating the cause of the accident.

    [09] Highway roadworks start next week

    THE MINISTRY of Communications and Works announced yesterday that sections of the Nicosia-Larnaca Highway would be closed for roadworks from next week.

    Beginning from Monday, sections of the highway will be closed off between the Latsia and Aradippou exits. Work on the length of the highway is expected to continue for the next 10 weeks.

    [10] Build motorway now, Famagusta mayors say

    FAMAGUSTA district is demanding that the government speed up construction work on the Larnaca to Famagusta highway, and declare the project "urgent".

    A meeting between the mayors of Paralimni, Dherynia and Ayia Napa yesterday decided on a plan of action demanding the immediate start of work on a dual- carriageway road between Xylophagou and Paralimni and Ayia Napa, and its connection with the Protaras and Dherynia tourist area.

    A possible course of action towards the land registry office, which is responsible for the acquisition of the land, was also decided and the Mayor of Paralimni will now seek a joint meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, the Commerce Minister, the Minister for Communications and Works and the Interior Minister for a final decision and a speedy start to works.

    The mayors and Famagusta members of parliament who also attended the meeting, stressed that the district of Famagusta must claim its rights and demand the start of the construction works as essential for the continued growth of the first ever tourist area in Cyprus.

    [11] Government wants port to become passenger terminal

    THE COMMUNICATIONS and Works Ministry favours the idea of Larnaca port being turned into a passenger terminal and receiving occasional special cargo.

    This was the message from Communications and Works Minister, Leontios Ieorodiaconou after his meeting with representatives of Larnaca port workers yesterday.

    The meeting had been called after strike action by port workers protesting at government inaction over the port's dwindling business.

    The minister admitted he discerned "some opposition" to the government's policy in relation to Larnaca port, but said he believed it would be overcome.

    Questioned on the issue of compensation for the port workers, Ieorodiaconou said it would be a matter for negotiation with union representatives.

    The unions want the government to invest money into the port so it can become cargo oriented. The government, however, argues this would cost too much -- upwards of 20 million -- and is not worth the potential return.

    [12] Cyprus airways in promotion spat

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) yesterday dismissed complaints by its biggest union Cynika over a managerial promotion.

    An airline source said yesterday the company had filled three vacancies, one of which was given to someone outside the ranks.

    "Apparently they are complaining about this because there were some candidates from within the company," the sources said. "But Cynika has no jurisdiction over appointments to managerial positions."

    A statement from Cynika said yesterday the union was taking the issue very seriously and intended to look into the situation.

    It said the company did not take into account the suggestions of the union when considering the promotion.

    [13] Cypriot drowns in heroic rescue attempt

    THE BODY of an English Cypriot man who tried to save a drowning woman in the Thames has been found by British authorities.

    Vakis Pavlou, 28, drowned after a heroic attempt to try and save a British woman who cried for assistance while being carried away by the River Thames in London.

    According to eye-witness accounts, the Cypriot was the only person among many bystanders who risked his life to save the woman.

    Although a police rescue helicopter was in the area at the time, it could not prevent the two from drowning in the river.

    Pavlou's body was found last week, a few miles from where the incident happened and within a few days of the British woman's body being located.

    [14] Vote for your Eurovision favourites

    FOR THE first time ever, Cyprus' many Eurovision Song Contest fans will be able to vote for their favourite song by telephone during tonight's broadcast of the event.

    Each of the 25 songs has been allocated its own number, and can be voted for by dialling that number. Numbers will be displayed on screen during the contest, and lines will be open for a certain time after all the entries have been sung. Calls will cost around 15 cents.

    However, telephone voters will be unable to vote for their own country's song, as countries cannot award themselves points. The phone-in voting system has been introduced in several countries over the past couple of years.

    Cyprus' 1998 entry is Genesis, sung by local singer Michael Hadjiyiannis, who shortened his first name from Michaelis in order to make it easier for non-Cypriots to remember. Genesis is number 17 in Saturday night's running order.

    Hot favourite to win tonight's 43rd Eurovision Song Contest is Britain's Imaani, with Where are you Now? although Germany's pop-satirist group Guildo Horn and the Orthopaedic Stockings are hoping for victory with the help of their massive German following.

    There have been reports of German fans planning to travel to neighbouring countries in order to phone in votes for Guildo, and of plans for house- swapping with families on the British Bases in Germany so those remaining in the country can also vote for him, as these calls will be registered as coming from Britain, and not Germany.

    Horn's song, which satirises traditional banal Eurovision compositions, is entitled Guildo Loves You.

    [15] Anorthosis will win against Evagoras - it's official

    By George Christou

    ANOTHER LEAGUE season ends this weekend, with football clubs doing their best to discredit the game. Events over the past few weeks have shown that the Cyprus championship is little more than a mockery, and that `fair play' are dirty words.

    Anorthosis, for instance, celebrated winning the championship last weekend after drawing 2-2 with second-placed Omonia in Nicosia. But had they won it?

    Coach Dusan Mitosevic was in no doubt, saying after the match: "This draw has given us the title... this year's title is much sweeter for us." The players thought so too. As for the club board, last night it began three days of celebration parties to which all supporters have been invited.

    The fact is that second-placed Omonia are only two points behind Anorthosis with a game to play. In theory, if this was an honest league, there would still be a chance for Omonia to win the title.

    If Anorthosis fail to beat Evagoras at home tonight and Omonia beat Ethnikos Achna, then the Nicosia side, who have a better goal difference, will be champions. But Anorthosis are so certain they will beat Evagoras today that they began the official celebrations of winning the championship last night.

    Perhaps this writer does not know very much about football, but he was under the impression that one of the joys of the game was its unpredictability and the ability of underdogs to cause last-minute upsets. In theory when two sides meet either can win, regardless of differences in strength.

    Not so in Cyprus, apparently, where Evagoras' chances of not losing at Anorthosis today are zero. What kind of football match is it when only one of the two sides can win?

    People will say that Evagoras, after their victory over Paralimni last weekend, have ensured their stay in the first division, and will thus have nothing to play for tonight. This may be true, but does it also mean they will not avoid defeat? Anorthosis seem to think so...

    A week before losing to Evagoras in Paphos, Paralimni were at home to Omonia and they went all-out to win. They were the better side, and had they not been reduced to 10 men early in the second half, they could have held the visitors to a draw. In the end they lost 3-1, thanks to two late goals by Omonia.

    A week later in Paphos, Paralimni was a different team - lazy, casual and with no interest in winning the game, they gave the impression they had all taken tranquilisers before the match. Evagoras managed to win 1-0 and ensure their stay in the first division.

    Had they drawn or lost against Paralimni, tonight's game against Anorthosis would have been critical to their chances of survival.

    At the other end of the table the only game of interest will be the relegation clash between 10th-placed Salamina and 11th-placed Apop. Apop need to win to stay up, while for Salamina a draw would be enough.

    Of course if Alki lose at Ael today the Larnaca club, who currently occupy the third relegation spot, will go down and then both Apop and Salamina would be safe.

    But Ael have made it quite clear they will make things easy for Alki by announcing their intention to field a reserve side. Coach Misoi, explaining his decision, said that first-team players are injured while he wanted to protect those who have yellow cards from suspension, which would be effective in the new season!

    Apop has protested, saying that Ael's decision was against any notion of fair play. Misoi, said that no-one had a right to complain given the many strange results over the past few weeks. "We all know what is going on," he said coyly.

    In today's other matches Aek are at home to Apollonas while second from bottom Anagennisis can avoid relegation if they beat Paralimni and both Apop and Alki lose - a higly unlikely eventuality.

    Finally on Sunday, Apoel are at home to relegated Ethnikos Ashia. Will Apoel again concede six goals to such lowly opposition, as happened in their last two games against Anagennisis and Salamina? Probably not - because Ashia are already relegated.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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