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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-07-18

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

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


Saturday, July 18, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cyprus Airways pilots cancel strike
  • [02] Bishop will return, says adviser
  • [03] Counting the cost of the strike threat
  • [04] Government welcomes Solana backing for no-fly zone
  • [05] Israelis will not strike S-300s
  • [06] Ombudsman slams nurses' walkout
  • [07] HTI protestors escape expulsion
  • [08] Cyprus issues 350 million Euro bond
  • [09] Law tries to catch up with summer sales
  • [10] May arrivals up 14 per cent
  • [11] Faithful visit buffer zone chapel for Saint's day
  • [12] Greens blast quarry decision
  • [13] Police probe icon theft

  • [01] Cyprus Airways pilots cancel strike

    By Martin Hellicar

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) pilots yesterday called off next week's strike in the face of a management vow to bring in foreign charter firms to take over threatened flights.

    "It was agreed that the pilots union (Pasipy) revoke its strike measures and the two sides begin a dialogue in good faith to resolve their differences," said a Communications and Works Ministry statement.

    The strike, called on Tuesday for July 23 to 26, was cancelled after behind- the-scenes intervention from acting and House President Spyros Kyprianou and Communications Minister Leontios Ierodiakonou.

    On Thursday, CY chairman Takis Kyriakides warned pilots the government had agreed to liberalise temporarily the skies over Cyprus if the strike went ahead. This would allow the national carrier to charter foreign planes and pilots to transport some 25,000 passengers who had booked to fly with CY during the strike period, Kyriakides said.

    Pasipy called an emergency meeting later on Thursday, which went on late into the night and resumed early yesterday.

    Yesterday morning, union representative George Charalambous said pilots had been persuaded to call off the strike by a promise that the government would exert its influence on resumed talks over the renewal of collective agreements.

    Kyprianou said the government had undertaken a "certain responsibility to make its influence felt so that this dialogue (between union and management) is fruitful and productive and swift." Ierodiakonou is to oversee the talks. The minister said the first meeting between Pasipy and the company would be on Thursday.

    Pasipy's decision to call off the strike - which the Hotelier's Association calculated would have cost the economy 36 million in lost revenue - was welcomed by government spokesman Christos Stylianides. He said the fresh negotiations "must lead to positive results for the good of the company."

    The airline registered losses of 3.2 million last year and 4.7 million in 1996 and has been plagued by labour disputes.

    In an announcement, CY saluted the efforts of Kyprianou and Ierodiakonou in getting the strike annulled and expressed "readiness" to enter into "honest and constructive" dialogue.

    The strike was called after the collapse of talks for the renewal of collective agreements.

    The dispute centres on a Pasipy demand that CY co-pilots be allowed to jump the queue to get promotion as pilots with CY charter subsidiary Eurocypria.

    The deal hammered out obliges pilots to suspend industrial action, and the airline to stall any pilot promotions within Eurocypria while talks are in progress.

    [02] Bishop will return, says adviser

    By Charlie Charalambous

    BISHOP Chrysanthos of Limassol has not fled Cyprus to avoid questioning on allegations of fraud, his legal adviser said yesterday.

    Sotiris Karapatakis told CyBC radio the bishop would return next week to talk to British detectives investigating numerous allegations against him of financial wrongdoing.

    "He is willing to talk to detectives, he has nothing to hide," Karapatakis said.

    He added that Chrysanthos had left Cyprus to undergo medical checks in Athens and would return, possibly, next Tuesday.

    Scotland Yard detectives are due to arrive on Monday to question the bishop in connection with an alleged attempt to defraud a British investor to the tune of $3.7 million.

    Other allegations against the bishop include money-laundering, the misuse of church funds, misappropriation of charity donations and reneging on a $600,000 loan guarantee related to the purchase of a Platres hotel.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides is studying all allegations concerning the bishop's financial dealings.

    Karapatakis said his client was prepared to meet the UK detectives and co- operate with any line of enquiry.

    Markides said on Thursday that if Chrysanthos failed to return from his trip abroad then a warrant for his arrest would be issued.

    Local press reports suggested Chrysanthos had cancelled all his public engagements for next week before leaving.

    Further reports that Chrysanthos objected to his hand-luggage being checked at Larnaca airport were also dismissed by Karapatakis.

    Sigma TV, which has kept the story its main news item for weeks, claimed that the Limassol bishop had gone abroad in a last-ditch attempt to secure funding in order to pay off his debts.

    Sigma also said Cyprus authorities had asked the Greek police to ascertain Chrysanthos's exact whereabouts.

    [03] Counting the cost of the strike threat

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE CYPRUS Airways (CY) pilots strike may have been called off, but the troubled company still expects to suffer serious losses as a result of the strike threat.

    And CY spokesman Tassos Angeli said yesterday the fiscal losses were only one side of the coin - the other being the further damage done by the strike threat to the national carrier's already tarnished reputation.

    "We are not in a position at the moment to say exactly what the losses will be, and they certainly will be less than they would have been had the strike gone ahead, but damages do exist and they will be big," Angeli said yesterday.

    On Wednesday, the day after pilots union Pasipy called a strike for July 23 to 26, the company stated losses incurred would be around 2 million. But estimates seemed to expand, and the following day CY chairman Takis Kyriakides was talking of "tens of millions of pounds" in losses. The Hoteliers Association then stated the cost to the economy as a whole to be 36 million.

    Tour agents confirmed yesterday that many passengers who had booked to travel with CY between July 23 and 26 had switched to other airlines after the strike was announced.

    "A good number of the people who had booked to travel with Cyprus Airways thought better of it and booked with someone else," a Nicosia booking agent said. She added that it was unlikely these travellers would now switch back to CY even given the lifting of strike action.

    Other agents told a similar story.

    Angeli said the strike threat had even prompted travellers to choose another carrier when planning a trip abroad later in the Summer.

    "We have heard and know of people who wanted to travel in August and September, who saw there was a strike and that strikes were commonplace and so decided to book with someone else," he said.

    "But there is also the damage to the company's image and to the image of tourism in Cyprus as a whole to consider," the CY spokesman said.

    "The strike has added to all the other things going on in the airline and all the other negative publicity about Cyprus," he said.

    The debt-ridden airline, which has a history of antagonistic worker- management relations, has recently been rocked by incidents of pilots leaving passengers stranded short of their destination because their scheduled flying time was up.

    Cyprus's reputation as a safe tourist destination has been affected by the increased tension caused by the government's decision to order Russian-made S-300 missiles, originally due for delivery this Summer.

    [04] Government welcomes Solana backing for no-fly zone

    By Charlie Charalambous

    NATO'S BACKING for a no-fly zone and a reduction in the arms build-up was welcomed by the government yesterday.

    "The most productive way to achieve this is through President Clerides' proposal for demilitarisation," said government spokesman Christos Stylianides at his press briefing.

    During a visit to Washington, Nato Secretary-general Xavier Solana said the organisation was prepared to monitor a no-fly zone over Cyprus and expressed the need for a reduction in tension.

    "We agree with Mr Solana that the way to reduce tension and armaments must be found," said Stylianides.

    He added that Nato's willingness to monitor a no-fly zone proved there was international interest and consideration of the Greek government's initiative.

    Stylianides pointed out that a flight ban would be a step forward to realising the demilitarisation on the island.

    But the spokesman conceded that progress on the implementation of a no-fly zone, which the Americans are reluctant to enforce, preferring a "self- policed" zone, was less than satisfactory.

    "The facts we have before us cannot be considered as absolutely optimistic."

    And the spokesman went on to say:

    "However, we believe that there is yet time and scope to begin substantial talks and take steps towards demilitarisation, so that any weapons in Cyprus would be rendered unnecessary."

    Commenting on the US-proposed voluntary flight moratorium, Russian ambassador Georgi Mouratov said the deployment of S-300 missiles would, by itself, guarantee an overflight ban.

    Mouratov added that Russia supported any co-ordinated effort to reduce tension on the island.

    Solana has echoed US opposition to the missiles by describing the government's decision to order the system as a bad one.

    The government says it will discuss ways of reducing both tension and armaments when US State Department Special Co-ordinator for Cyprus Thomas Miller arrives in Nicosia next week.

    [05] Israelis will not strike S-300s

    THE ISRAELI government yesterday denied Turkish media reports that it would consider striking the S-300 missiles if they were deployed on Cyprus.

    "The Israeli army spokesman categorically denies the Turkish publications related to the Israeli Airforce Commander, in which they claim that he said Israel would consider attacking Cypriot missiles," a Defence Ministry statement said.

    Israeli Airforce Commander Eitan Ben Eliahu clarified that in his interview with Turkish TV he had said that Israel was not involved in the matter of missile deployment in Cyprus.

    He further added that Israel has "very good relations" with Cyprus, sentiments underlined yesterday by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides in response to the reports.

    "We do not see the S-300s as a danger, because we have no conflict with Cyprus or with Greece and of course not with Turkey," Eliahu is quoted as saying.

    Asked to comment on the S-300 radar capabilities, the Israeli ambassador in Ankara Uri Ber-ner said: "do excuse me for the comparison but no one can impregnate us."

    He added: "We are not afraid of the S-300 radar. US technology on the issue is at the highest level and we have that technology."

    Responding to anti-missile comments coming from the US and the EU among other, Russian ambassador to Cyprus Georgi Mouratov yesterday called it a "fuss over nothing".

    After a meeting with Cassoulides, he said it was "no use making a fuss on the missiles, because this is what all those opposing the contract want."

    Underlining Russia's pledge to honour the deal, he said "no one should create, especially in an artificial manner, a climate of tension."

    The Turkish Cypriot press was full of S-300 war scenarios yesterday when reporting a Russian newspaper article on how the missiles would be shipped to Cyprus.

    According to the Ruskii Telegraf, the missiles will be shipped in the holds of Russia's Atlantic Fleet warships escorted by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.

    The paper also claimed that pilots of the 36 SU-27 fighter planes on the carrier had been given "war flight" instructions.

    Apparently the route to be taken is down the Atlantic, through the Gibraltar strait into the Mediterranean.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris published the Russian report under the headline "Blackmail with War".

    [06] Ombudsman slams nurses' walkout

    By Elias Hazou

    LAST WEEK's nurses' walkout at the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia was a blatant violation of patients' rights, Ombudsman Nicos Charalambous reported yesterday.

    Presenting the findings of his report on the controversial incident, Charalambous concluded that the nurses' action had been wrong, as their union had not given prior warning of any work to rule. The walkout therefore meant that scheduled operations could not carried out on time.

    By their actions, the Ombudsman added, the nurses had violated basic patient rights and caused much discomfort and worry both to the children involved and to their parents.

    Four children waiting for operations had be sent home last Thursday after nurses walked out of the operating theatre to take a lunch break.

    Charalambous' report, which is not binding, will be forwarded to Health Minister Christos Solomis. An official Health Ministry report on the incident is expected to come out in the next few days.

    Christos Eliades, chairman of the Patients' Rights Association, said yesterday he was pleased by the tone of Charalambous' findings.

    Last week's nurses' walkout caused controversy on more levels than one. Civil Service union Pasidy clashed with top surgeon Eleni Theocharous, claiming she had crammed too many operations into a tight schedule; Theocharous for her part threatened to resign over the issue. The uproar prompted the government to order an official inquiry into the incident.

    In the wake of the fiasco, Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas has prepared a draft bill regulating the right to strike in essential services. The bill was forwarded to the unions yesterday and will be brought before the House in October for ratification.

    If passed, the bill would bar impromptu strikes in services deemed essential to government security and public order. Such services would be electricity, water supply, communications, air transport, hospitals, prisons, equipment maintenance in the armed forces, the police and the fire department.

    The new bill brings tighter regulation on such strikes, but tones down sentencing on the existing law, passed in 1995, by which illegal strikes were punishable by prison terms. The new law would provide for fines.

    Another new feature will be the appointment of three independent "referees" who would act as mediators in case of labour disputes.

    [07] HTI protestors escape expulsion

    TWENTY-EIGHT of the striking students of the Higher Technical Institute (HTI) yesterday narrowly escaped being expelled for having an unacceptable amount of absences due to their industrial action.

    The HTI had threatened to expel the second-year students who had accumulated more than the permitted amount of unexplained absences, but the Central Academic Committee yesterday decided to allow them to repeat the year.

    However, HTI Director Dimitris Lazarides warned that anyone trying the same thing this year could expect much harsher treatment.

    "This will not happen next year." he said, pointing out that students must adhere to the HTI's regulations.

    There were, he added, still 12 students from the mechanical engineering department who had been failed because of their academic performance: they could face expulsion.

    The council's decision to allow the students to stay was unanimous.

    Earlier in the year, the students caused havoc with their protest strike, demanding higher recognition of their graduation diplomas and the creation of a specific civil service post for HTI graduates. The strike saw them camping outside the presidential palace, and resulted in the extension of the HTI's academic year.

    [08] Cyprus issues 350 million Euro bond

    THE GOVERNMENT has issued a 350 million euro-denominated bond in order to raise the equivalent of $400 million to help cover its deficits for this year.

    Proceeds from 10-year Eurobonds, issued on the international markets, will go towards covering the development budget for large-scale projects and to ease the balance of payments.

    Cyprus' second-ever Eurobond offering aroused substantial interest in the financial markets, according to dealers.

    Like all euro-denominated bonds, Cyprus' deal will be tradeable in Ecu until the Euro is introduced next year.

    The fiscal deficit last year stood at more than five per cent of GDP and is said to leap above seven per cent by the end of 1998.

    The government looked abroad to raise the necessary loan because lending rates are cheaper.

    [09] Law tries to catch up with summer sales

    ZEALOUS shopkeepers have given their customers an extra two weeks to take advantage of their summer sales.

    The discount season officially began yesterday, despite a recent law that forbids the launching of sales before August 3 this year, according to the director of the consumer protection agency, George Mitides.

    The law would have had sales begin on August 3, but because it was passed on July 2 -- after the sales had already begun -- the minister granted a retroactive extension.

    "We cannot just stop the sales right now because they have already started, " said Mitides.

    "But the sales will end on August 29 as provided by the bill," he added.

    As of next year, sales will begin on the first Monday of August and end on the last Saturday of the month, as outlined in the law.

    Mitides said it would not be necessary to make another ruling on the law, "unless the shopkeepers decided to change the dates of the sales" again.

    The summer sales period can only be extended to a maximum of 45 days.

    Usually, when a change in the dates occurs, sales are moved forward or backward by one week. This year, Mitides said the start date had been moved ahead by two weeks in order to remain consistent with the new law.

    [10] May arrivals up 14 per cent

    THIS MAY saw the number of arrivals to Cyprus rise by 14 per cent over May last year, according to figures released yesterday by the Department of Statistics and Research.

    May 1998 saw 289,395 people arriving in Cyprus, while the number of those leaving the island also rose by 10.7 per cent over last year, reaching 262, 478.

    The vast majority of May's visitors -- 87.5 per cent -- came from European countries. Almost fifty per cent came from the UK, followed by Germany with 7.5 per cent, Israel with 7.4 per cent, Greece with 6.2 per cent, Russia 5.8 per cent, Sweden 5.6 per cent, Switzerland 4.3 per cent and the Netherlands 2.6 per cent.

    Of those to come to the island in May, 242,833 were tourists, up from 179, 452 in April. The average age of Cyprus' May tourists was 40.6 and more of them were female (54.6 per cent) than male. The average length of stay was seven nights.

    Of the 31,442 Cyprus residents returning from abroad in May, most (28.6 per cent) had visited Greece, with the UK the next most popular destination with 18.2 per cent. Israel (7.7 per cent) came next, followed by the US (5.7 per cent) and Russia (5.5 per cent). Most said they had travelled aborad for holidays.

    [11] Faithful visit buffer zone chapel for Saint's day

    A SPECIAL visit was organised to the Agia Marina chapel in the buffer zone in honour of the Saint's day.

    In co-operation with Unficyp, people were allowed through to the chapel between 6.30 am and noon. The mostly elderly faithful were searched and then taken by UN vehicles to the chapel to attend a morning service.

    The 16th century chapel near Dherynia was built between two slopes so that it is not visible by land or sea. This was to protect it from marauding pirates.

    The chapel burnt during the 1974 invasion but was restored in January 1990. Since then, a service is held there every year on the saint's day.

    [12] Greens blast quarry decision

    THE ECOLOGICAL Movement yesterday condemned the government for its recent decision to renew a licence for quarrying at Astromeritis.

    The quarry, situated on the Astromeritis river bank and next to the Nicosia- Troodos road, violates town-planning zones, a statement from the greens alleges.

    According to the Ecological Movement, the quarry also destroys the river bank and has a damaging processing unit in the river itself. The statement mentioned similar cases in the Mitsero and Aghii Iliofoti areas where "there has been destruction and unpleasantness".

    The Movement points out that the authorities in charge of town-planning and protection of the environment had expressed their opposition to the renewal of the Astromeritis quarry's licence.

    However, their recommendation was apparently overruled by Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous.

    The Ecological Movement calls the government to stop its "partial policy in the favour of the quarry industry."

    [13] Police probe icon theft

    POLICE said yesterday that a monk from Stavrovouni had reported the theft of an icon from his monastery.

    But details are sketchy as the monk claimed that the icon, which measures 50 by 39 centimetres, had been stolen by an unknown person sometime during the last two years.

    The icon is 85 years old and is said to be valuable. Police are investigating.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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