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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-07-12

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

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


Sunday, July 12, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cyprus could stall missile deployment if talks resume
  • [02] Pilots warn of more Eurocypria disruption
  • [03] Only six months' water left
  • [04] Civil servant held on bribery charge
  • [05] Cyprus Airways on the lookout for fake students

  • [01] Cyprus could stall missile deployment if talks resume

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS is willing to postpone the controversial missile deal if political talks resume and will consider cancellation if progress is made on demilitarisation, President Clerides said yesterday.

    Speaking at Larnaca Airport before his departure for Moscow, where he will hold talks with Russian President Boris Yeltsin tomorrow, Clerides said the government had made its position clear in a letter to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

    "If talks on the Cyprus issue begin and substantiative progress is made, then we would delay the arrival of the missiles," Clerides said. "We would not want to be blamed for blowing up the negotiations".

    Clerides said after arriving at Moscow airport that he would discuss military co-operation at talks with President Boris Yeltsin and Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

    Negotiations on the Cyprus problem stalled a year ago after the failure of the UN-led intercommunal talks at Glion in Switzerland.

    The situation was exacerbated in December when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash declared the talks "dead" in the wake of the EU's decision to open accession talks with Cyprus.

    Subsequent attempts by the UN, the US and Britain to restart the negotiations have all failed. The most recent effort was made by UN special envoy Diego Cordovez only last week.

    The international community opposes the deployment of the controversial S- 300 Russian missiles; the government confirmed this week that there had been an exchange of letters on the issue between Clerides and Albright.

    The US has also promised to look into a Greek proposal for a no-fly zone over Cyprus as a means of reducing tensions, which could lead to the non- deployment of the missiles.

    "If we see that there is progress towards a solution, then within the framework of Cyprus' demilitarisation we could discuss this issue," Clerides said.

    But he warned that the government would not accept the creation of a no-fly zone without guarantees.

    Referring to recent comments by Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz that missiles would be deployed in the occupied areas if Cyprus went ahead with its S-300 deployment, Clerides said this would be an illegal act.

    Clerides is accompanied on his visit by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides. He is officially the guest of the Mayor of Moscow, who invited him to attend the World Youth Games, but his visit comes at a time of growing tension over the missiles.

    In Moscow, Clerides joined Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou, who attended a test-firing of the missiles in southern Russia on Thursday, and Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, officially in Russia for talks on a double taxation treaty.

    Omirou on Friday met Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev in talks understood to have included discussions of the missile system.

    [02] Pilots warn of more Eurocypria disruption

    By Jean Christou

    MAVERICK pilots who have disrupted Eurocypria flights in a row with management have not ruled out doing it again, a representative said yesterday.

    But the majority of the charter firm's pilots have condemned the actions of a handful of captains seconded from Eurocypria's parent company Cyprus Airways (CY).

    The Eurocypria pilots, who have formed their own union under the umbrella of Sek, are angry at being tarred with the same brush as the CY imports causing the trouble, and accuse them of trying to close down the company for their own financial gain.

    Of the 35 pilots who work at the low-cost airline, 17 are captains and the remainder are first officers.

    Ten of the captains are members of the CY pilots union, Pasipy, and were promoted from Cyprus Airways to Eurocypria as part of a deal to keep the charter firm "Cypriot".

    The remainder of the pilots, including the other seven captains, are original Eurocypria stock, who believe a clique of three or four of the ten CY pilots want to ruin the charter firm.

    On at least four occasions -- two in the past fortnight alone involving Dublin -- members of the same 'clique' have disrupted flights carrying hundreds of tourists.

    In one case, the Irish passengers were taken to Athens instead of Larnaca.

    Furious tour operators have threatened to ditch the charter firm, which lost hundreds of thousands of pounds by having to send fresh crews to bring stranded tourists for their holidays.

    The pilots involved and their union Pasipy claim that they are not allowed to work more than twelve and a quarter hours during a single shift.

    They blame the disruption on bad scheduling by Eurocypria management on the Dublin run, which is reportedly plagued with problems on the ground that consistently delay flights.

    Pasipy claims its members' refusal to overshoot the time-limit is motivated by concern for passenger safety; management counter that pilots have the discretionary power to extend their shift time by an extra three hours.

    But Pasipy representative Andreas Constantinides said that discretionary power should only be used in extreme cases, and not in response to routine delays, such as those at Dublin Airport, where Eurocypria pilots have just one hour on the ground before the return flight.

    "Captains have on several occasions put in reports about delays on the ground at Dublin, but nothing has been done," Constantinides said yesterday.

    "I can't say for sure if there will be more delays. If things improve in Dublin, planes will not be delayed, but if things remain as they are it could happen again."

    A source close to Eurocypria management rubbished Pasipy's claims on the Dublin delays. "In the last incident, the pilot was given four slots from which he could have flown out, but he delayed the departure each time," the source said.

    The source admitted that Eurocypria did have a tight schedule, but said this was the lot of a low-cost charter airline.

    And management at Cyprus Airways believes those pilots promoted from first officer at the national carrier to captain at Eurocypria have a hidden agenda.

    "The point is that they want Eurocypria closed so as to go back to Cyprus Airways as captains to get more money," the source said.

    Some Cyprus Airways pilots are among the highest paid people on the island. Salaries at Eurocypria are only 60 to 70 per cent of those paid at CY.

    "The aim is to eliminate Eurocypria as a separate company and have it brought back under the control of Cyprus Airways so they can control the promotions in the charter company," the source said.

    The source was referring to a recent unresolved row involving vacancies for captains at Eurocypria.

    Pasipy wants the top jobs to go to CY pilots by claiming seniority over their Eurocypria colleagues, while Eurocypria staffers say the promotions should be made from within the charter firm, since it is a separate company.

    "They (CY pilots) are using these flight disruptions as a way to force the company to give in to their demands," a Eurocypria staffer said.

    "There has never been a case of a plane being left abroad by any of the original Eurocypria staff, except in the case of a breakdown."

    The Eurocypria pilots say they can do little to prevent the disruptions by their CY colleagues. They say they have tried to have the culprits put on shorter-haul flights to eliminate the "12-hour shift" problem, but the vast majority of the charter firm's flights are long haul.

    "To resolve the problem either Dublin has to move near to Cyprus or Eurocypria has to buy a Concorde," the staffer said.

    "There is little we can do except shout about the fact that we are not part of it."

    [03] Only six months' water left

    By Martin Hellicar

    ONLY six months' water supply remains in reservoirs, so the government is looking to squeeze every last drop from other sources and trusting in God to provide.

    "Supplies will last, we hope, until the next rainy season, and we certainly will add from underground sources if need be, but from then on it's down to God," Dr Georgios Socratous, a senior Hydrologist at the Water Development department said.

    Socratous described the current water situation as "very tragic" and said things would become desperate if last year's pattern repeats and the expected rainfall fails to materialise this winter.

    There are currently only 33.5 million cubic meters behind dam walls, which amounts to 12.5 per cent of capacity. At the same time last year, after another very dry winter, there were 53.2 million cubic metres in reservoirs, or 19.8 per cent of capacity.

    With water cuts as deep as they can go, the government is pulling out all the stops to get a second desalination plant built as fast as possible, but this is not expected to start operating before the year 2000.

    Socratous detailed what other sources remained to be tapped.

    "There are some more distant underground water sources, but we need works - conveyors - to get the water to where it's needed," he said. He said plans for such conveyors were already drawn up and they could be ready "soon" if necessary.

    "We can also requisition more private bore-holes, though we don't like to, so we try to negotiate to buy the water from owners," Socratous said.

    The state is already using water from a large number of private wells.

    It is also providing subsidies for home-owners to sink fresh bore-holes to provide water for toilets and irrigation.

    Socratous admitted that this policy would lead to a further lowering of the water table, but said this was not something to worry about.

    "The 15 to 20 cm drop in the water table caused by increased pumping will not affect trees one way or another because trees have their roots in the top few centimetres of soil anyway," he said.

    He said the water pumped from subsidised bore-holes was in any case polluted by years of seepage from cesspits and was therefore not suitable for drinking or even crop irrigation.

    "We are very careful about where we subsidise wells. We do it in built-up areas where pollution means the (underground) water cannot be used for anything else," he said.

    The high bacterial counts in groundwater under major conurbations also explains why -- despite the prolonged drought -- municipality trucks can be seen out pouring tons of precious water on roadside greens.

    "Municipalities use (irrigation) water from non-suitable sources, like from the Nicosia water table which is recharged by cesspit water and so is unfit for any other use," a senior Nicosia Water board engineer said.

    [04] Civil servant held on bribery charge

    A CIVIL servant was remanded in custody yesterday on suspicion of accepting 2,650 in bribes from a business consultant.

    Grigoris Tsangarides, who works for the Industrial Training Authority, allegedly accepted cash and gifts from business consultant Dr Chrysanthos Maldapittas to promote certain subsidised training programmes within the authority.

    Nicosia District Court heard that the 39-year-old public servant was arrested on Friday after a police sting operation. The sting was arranged in a Nicosia restaurant after Dr Maldapittas went to police with allegations that Tsangarides had been demanding back-handers from him for the past two years.

    Police gave the businessman 25 20 notes to hand to the civil servant as a bribe during their meal. The notes had been photocopied by police for recognition and were allegedly found on Tsangarides when he was arrested as he left the restaurant, the court heard.

    A subsequent search of Tsangarides's home in Strovolos, Nicosia, turned up a computer, a printer, two Delsey travel bags and a personal organiser, which were taken as evidence, police said.

    Police told the court the civil servant had accepted 1,650 in cash and 1, 000 worth of gifts from Dr Maldapittas during 1997 and 1998.

    The court remanded Tsangarides for six days.

    [05] Cyprus Airways on the lookout for fake students

    By Andy Georgiades

    IT WILL take a lot more than just 'looking young' for somebody to take advantage of Cyprus Airways' special student rates when travelling to destinations across Europe.

    To qualify for the discounted fares, a representative of the airline told the Cyprus Mail that a valid student identification card should be shown to travel agents prior to the purchase of the ticket.

    Mihalis Constantinou said that any travellers who later failed to produce a student I.D. at the check-in counter would "have to pay the difference" there and then.

    A boarding pass will not be issued otherwise.

    But one travel agent in Nicosia said that "student cards are not always necessary to be shown" prior to payment for the ticket. He sells on the good faith that the client is telling the truth.

    He added that, because British Airways has a general youth fare (which applies regardless of whether one is a student or not), it may be easier for some people to get away with paying a lower rate.

    But Constantinou warned that, despite what the travel agents might do, Cyprus Airways would be "double-checking" at the check-in counters.

    Cyprus Airways takes pride in offering student discounts all through the year, including the Christmas and Easter holidays, "not just in summer," said Tassos Angelis, spokesman for the airline. He added that the rates were "especially good for those students studying in Greece."

    For example, the regular rate to Athens can cost up to 153, but a student will pay 105. That amounts to savings of more than 30 per cent.

    On the other hand, students travelling to London can only save about 20 per cent.

    For Greece, discounts apply to those students who are 28 and younger. For Britain, you can be 30 and under.

    A frequent flyer student plan is also available, but some restrictions apply during holidays.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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