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

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, September 05, 1998


  • [01] After ex-foreign minister is flown to Amsterdam, not Athens
  • [02] Doctors deny nurses' claims of malpractice
  • [03] New boatload of migrants dumped off Protaras
  • [04] New estimate values EAC land at half the amount paid
  • [05] New deadlock in hotel dispute
  • [06] Students back down in fee dispute
  • [07] Kyprianou hails NAM resolution
  • [08] 4,000 Turkish Cypriots get UK visas this year
  • [09] Water prices should rise
  • [10] Baby born to Aids parents shows no sign of virus
  • [11] Computer glitch blocks overseas calls
  • [12] Heart attack kills British tourist

  • [01] After ex-foreign minister is flown to Amsterdam, not Athens

    Brits end up in Cologne instead of Saudi Arabia

    By Charlie Charalambous

    TWO BRITISH businessmen were yesterday given the same VIP treatment as ex- foreign minister Alecos Michaelides... sent a thousand miles in the wrong direction, courtesy of Cyprus Airways.

    On Monday, bungling Cyprus Airways officials flew Michaelides to Amsterdam, instead of Athens. Now, the national carrier has completed a rare double whammy at Larnaca airport inside a week.

    A catalogue of errors and a computer error saw two British businessmen destined for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, bussed across the runway to a Eurocypria plane bound for Cologne - a different continent altogether.

    Although the airline has tried to keep a lid on the high-profile mistakes - the latest episode happened on Thursday morning - the unwanted publicity has caused a sudden loss of face at head office. "It's all very embarrassing," is all that one company source could tell the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    An insider at Larnaca airport told the Mail: "Before Michaelides we never had this problem, now we've had two incidents in a week." The source added: "A lot of mistakes have to be made before a passenger ends up on the wrong aircraft, it's not that simple."

    On Thursday morning, the two British businessmen, whose names have not been made public, checked in for the 8.30am Cyprus Airways flight to Riyadh. At the same time, a Eurocypria flight was due to leave for Germany.

    However, the Cyprus Airways captain refused to take off when a body count on board revealed that two passengers were missing. There was a long delay as the captain demanded that their luggage be unloaded as a security precaution.

    The suitcases belonging to the businessmen were found on board - but it was too late to stop the Cologne flight carrying the missing passengers.

    It is understood that the outraged Brits were eligible for the airline's frequent flyer scheme, taking into account the long haul back.

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [02] Doctors deny nurses' claims of malpractice

    By Elias Hazou

    THE Government Doctors Association yesterday denied allegations of malpractice put forward by nurses.

    Nurses claimed that recently a goverment doctor operated on a young girl with the help of a nursery teacher posing as a medical intern.

    A swift response came yesterday from the doctors' association, attributing the rumours to "conscious efforts by the nurses, acting on behalf of Pasidy (civil servants' union) to besmirch our reputation."

    They said the nurses' attack was an attempt to shift focus away from the recent scandal at Makarios Hospital when government nurses walked out for a lunch-break forcing children's surgery to be postponed.

    The Government Doctors Association was recently formed when a number of doctors left Pasidy, arguing that their concerns were not heeded by the union.

    For its part, the nurses association yesterday dismissed arguments that this was a dispute between unions, adding that they had evidence of "even worse cases of malpractice".

    The Ministry of Health yesterday withheld comment, but a spokesman for the ministry said the matter would be investigated.

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [03] New boatload of migrants dumped off Protaras

    By Charlie Charalambous

    FEARS raised by the local authorities that a tidal wave of illegal immigrants from Lebanon would soon sweep across the island came true yesterday.

    Fifteen illegal immigrants were arrested in the Protaras area just after midnight yesterday after being dropped off by a fishing boat.

    Police said that the eight Indians, one Pakistani, two Sri Lankans and four Kurds said they had paid $3,000 each for the 18-hour journey from the Lebanese port of Tripoli to Cyprus.

    But police believe a total payment of $45,000 is unrealistic, and are suspicious of the true circumstances of how and why they arrived on the island.

    None of the immigrants possessed travel documents, police said.

    Earlier this week, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis said that the security forces had received information that around 5,000 people - deemed as "undesirable" by the Lebanese government - were targeting Cyprus as a place where they could find work.

    The government also fears that the Lebanese authorities are ready to kick out their illegal immigrants, with Cyprus being their first port of call.

    Furthermore, government officials say that Beirut has made it quite clear that it will not accept any immigrants back, if they are not Lebanese nationals.

    Informed newspaper reports said Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides was preparing to visit Lebanon to raise concerns about the growing number of illegal immigrants entering the island from the neighbouring country.

    Police yesterday took the 15 to court for a remand order, but the hearing in Larnaca was postponed until today because of a lack of translators.

    On June 29, 113 near-starving people, including eight children and two pregnant women, were rescued off the Syrian-flagged trawler Rida Allah after leaving Tripoli two weeks earlier.

    Twenty-five have since been sent home, and the remaining Africans and Asians are awaiting a similar fate.

    Michaelides said last week that the expense of accommodating the boat people at a Limassol hotel and in holding cells had so far cost the government over 1 million.

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [04] New estimate values EAC land at half the amount paid

    By Elias Hazou

    A CHAIN reaction of developments yesterday followed investigations into a controversial land sale by the Limassol bishopric to the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC).

    Tourism and Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday repeated his call for tighter ministry controls over semi-government organisations, saying such controls were necessary because, the financial activities of such bodies should have certain "limits".

    Rolandis was speaking to reporters at Larnaca airport before departing to Salonica on an official visit.

    He revealed that yesterday he had received a second estimate, carried out by a private surveyors' company, of the value of the land sold to the EAC.

    The new estimate indicated that the land was worth no more than 724,000, instead of the 1.4 million paid. The minister added that he would put the matter to the Cabinet on his return on from Greece on Monday.

    An estimate carried out by the government Land Surveys Department on Thursday placed the land's value at some 800,000.

    Rolandis has questioned the EAC's failure to obtain its own estimate, relying instead on an estimate commissioned by the Limassol bishopric.

    Amid rumours of fraudulent handling in the transaction by the bishopric and possible commissions paid to EAC officials acting as middlemen, Auditor- general Spyros Christou yesterday confirmed that the EAC had sent out separate tenders for land purchase, adding that the first round of tenders had been cancelled after the bishopric's offer came in too late for the deadline. The EAC then called for a second round of tenders, allowing the bishopric to get its offer in on time.

    But on Wednesday Savvas Teklos, the bishopric's accountant, told CyBC radio that the bishopric's first offer had reached the EAC, which later decided to cancel its first tender and announce a new one.

    And speaking to reporters yesterday, Bishop Chrysanthos denied any wrongdoing by his bishopric in the land sale.

    Meanwhile reports yesterday said that the House Finance Committee would launch an inquiry into the controversial land sale. The committee's chairman Nicos Galanos yesterday told CyBC that it was "a shame that the Church is giving the image being all about big business, instead of appearing closer to the average person, the poor Christian."

    Galanos also said the Attorney-general would investigate the matter once it had looked at another pending case, again involving Church finances.

    A number of deputies have already called for tighter state control of Church finances. The Church currently enjoys special status on taxation. Last week, the Auditor-general said the Church owed the government some 7 million in capital gains tax.

    The government's attention to Church finances was drawn after Justice Minister Nicos Koshis briefed a House ad hoc Committee on Crime on the web of allegations of shady business dealings against Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos.

    Chrysanthos has been termed a "suspect" in a $3.7 million fraud case originating in Britain.

    Meanwhile, the embattled cleric yesterday told reporters he was in no way connected to the group of Portuguese businessmen, who claim in a separate case that the bishop has swindled them out of $1.5 million.

    "I do not know these people, not have I ever received any of their money," Chrysanthos said.

    "I am confident that at the end of the day, the truth will shine and right will prevail."

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [05] New deadlock in hotel dispute

    By Athena Karsera

    AN UNOFFICIAL deadlock was declared yesterday in hotel workers' negotiations with hoteliers' association Stek.

    Unions had reached a similar impasse last week with the other hoteliers' association, Pasyxe, and a strike at Pasyxe represented hotels is set to begin on Sunday.

    One of the unions representing hotel workers, Peo, announced its disappointment at Stek's decision not to go ahead with an Administrative Council meeting on the issue, which had been programmed for yesterday.

    Spokesman Yiannakis Phillipou said: "We are upset about this cancellation because, until now, we have had serious talks and had reached an unofficial agreement."

    But he added that the decision to declare a deadlock had been prompted by the end of the tourist season and the resulting weakening of the union's bargaining position.

    According to Phillipou, Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas will be officially notified of the deadlock on Monday, provided there is no change in Stek's position until then.

    But Stek director general Phidias Karris told the Cyprus Mail that the Administrative Council meeting had been cancelled because the hotel association's convention did not allow a meeting to be held "at such short notice"; besides, he added, many Administrative Council members would have been unable to attend the meeting because of previous commitments, and therefore no valid majority could have been attained.

    Karris stressed that he did not see the cancellation of the meeting as a valid reason for a deadlock in talks to be declared, adding that rumours of disagreement within the association over the issue were completely unfounded.

    Meanwhile, the parallel dispute with Pasyxe hotels is one step ahead, with Peo and Sek unions promising strike action from Sunday.

    Sek yesterday announced that the action would leave affected hotels with just a skeleton maintenance staff and telephone operator. Sek's general secretary for the hotel sector, Nicos Epistathiou, told the Cyprus Mail that all serving staff, including waiters and chamber-maids, would be on strike.

    Hotel workers and hoteliers' associations have been holding lengthy negotiations over workers' demand for alterations to their collective agreements. Demands include higher salaries, an extension of maternity leave from 12 to 16 weeks and a larger amount to be paid to medical funds.

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [06] Students back down in fee dispute

    STUDENTS moved to break the deadlock at the Cyprus University yesterday, with the Union of Postgraduate Students announcing they would pay part of their tuition fees to register for the coming academic year.

    Postgraduate students had been refusing to pay tuition fees, arguing that they were discriminated against since undergraduates at the university receive free education.

    But in yesterday's announcement, the postgraduates said they agreed to pay at least 500 to enrol, as required by the university.

    The announcement went on to say that this was a "temporary settlement", and that the students would continue their "struggle for free education."

    Tuition fees for the postgraduate programme stand at about 2,000 a year. The university has about 100 postgraduates.

    The compromise comes on the eve of the start of the academic year on Monday, averting the danger that this year's postgraduate programme might have had to be scrapped.

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [07] Kyprianou hails NAM resolution

    By Elias Hazou

    ACTING President Spyros Kyprianou yesterday hailed the resolution on Cyprus passed by the Non-Aligned Movement's (NAM) summit at Durban in South Africa, saying it "opened the way" for discussion of latest developments on the Cyprus Problem at the UN's Security Council.

    The NAM resolution passed late on Thursday "reaffirmed all previous positions and declarations of the Non-Aligned Movement on the question of Cyprus," and "expressed deep concern and disappointment over the fact that no progress has been achieved in the search for a just and viable solution due to Turkish intransigence."

    It also called for the "effective implementation of all UN resolutions... and to that end, for the Security Council to take resolute action... including the holding of an international conference and (steps towards) the demilitarisation of Cyprus."

    Speaking at a press conference in Nicosia yesterday, Kyprianou also described as "positive" the outcome of Thursday's meeting between President Glafcos Clerides and UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, after which the UN chief promised a new UN initiative on Cyprus. Annan also confirmed that the Security Council would not waiver from its stance of insisting that Cyprus peace talks be held on a bi-communal basis.

    Addressing the NAM conference, Clerides had rejected Dentkash's recent proposals for two separate states within a Cyprus confederation as "totally unacceptable."

    Commenting on reports of a new American initiative on Cyprus, Kyprianou said that as yet there was no time framework for such an initiative, but indicated that any such effort should be based on international law and UN Security Council resolutions. Provided these conditions were met, he said he would welcome any US initiative, since Washington "was in the best position to promote a just solution to the Cyprus problem."

    On the question of Britain's "lukewarm" reaction to Turkish Denktash's latest proposals for a loose confederation, Kyprianou said that he had later received "assurances" from the British government that London's position was unaltered.

    According to Kyprianou, the UN has not linked Denktash's proposals to the controversial deployment of the Russian-made S-300 missiles by Cyprus, adding that both issues would be discussed on Monday by the National Council.

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [08] 4,000 Turkish Cypriots get UK visas this year

    By Jean Christou

    ALMOST 4,000 Turkish Cypriots have received visas from Britain since the beginning of the year, newspapers in the north reported yesterday.

    Quoting British High Commissioner David Madden, Kibris said 3,797 Turkish Cypriots had obtained visas for entry into Britain.

    Britain imposed visa restrictions on Turkish Cypriots after receiving thousands of applications for political asylum from people in the north.

    Kibris also quoted Madden as saying the number of people who had applied for asylum had dropped from 1,500 families in the three years 1995, 1996 and 1997 to only two families so far in 1998.

    Britain said in January it was withdrawing the right of people from the occupied areas to enter the UK without a visa after processing almost 1,000 unfounded asylum claims over a two-year period.

    The decision to impose visas was greeted with outrage in the north and prompted a series of counter-measures by the Turkish Cypriot side, including the imposition of 'visa charges' on Greek Cypriots and others crossing to the north.

    In the past, Britain had accepted 'TRNC' travel documents as proof of identity and allowed Turkish Cypriots to enter the United Kingdom without visas, but a significant number of unfounded asylum claims by people travelling with such documents prompted a rethink.

    Turkish Cypriots holding passports of the Cyprus Republic can travel to the UK without a visa.

    Recent reports in the Turkish press suggested around 10,000 Turkish Cypriots had applied for and received passports from the Cyprus government.

    The Cyprus government estimates that Turkey has brought in at least 100,000 settlers since 1974. It was reported last year that many of these Turkish settlers were taking advantage of 'TRNC citizenship' rights to enter the UK by the back door.

    It is estimated that some 50,000 of the 120,000 Turkish Cypriots who lived on the island in 1974 have emigrated.

    A census by the Denktash regime carried out last year put the entire population of the occupied areas at 200,587. The figure does not include the 35,000 Turkish troops stationed in the north.

    There are thought to be less than 80,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the occupied areas now.

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [09] Water prices should rise

    THE PRICES Advisory Board is in favour of increasing the price of domestic water supplies, and is likely to recommend such a move to the Agriculture Minister.

    Although no decision was taken at yesterday's meeting of the board, Consumer Protection chief George Mitides said after the proceedings: "I personally believe that there should be a scaled rise in the price of water so we can eliminate waste and achieve a lower consumption."

    The increase being discussed would see the price of water rise from the current 33.5 cents per ton to 38.5 cents per ton.

    The issue is expected to be discussed again before any final decision is taken.

    The island's reservoirs are now less than ten per cent full after three years of severe drought.

    Last week, the Consumers Association blasted the government suggestion to increase the price of water.

    The Association said it was "unthinkable and unacceptable", and accused the government of making consumers pay for the water shortage.

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [10] Baby born to Aids parents shows no sign of virus

    A SECOND baby has been born in Cyprus to parents who are both HIV-positive, but Makarios hospital doctors say the child shows no signs of having contracted the Aids virus.

    Doctors at the hospital say the child was put on a course of preventive treatment and is being monitored very closely for any change in condition.

    The mother also received a cocktail of drugs during her pregnancy to prevent her transmitting the virus to the baby.

    The chances of the mother infecting the embryo are around 40 per cent, but the specialised preemptive treatment reduces the risk to around seven per cent.

    However, doctors say they will not be a hundred per cent sure that the child has not contracted the deadly virus until several months have passed.

    The hospital is nevertheless confident that with intensive treatment over the next six weeks and the pre-birth medical care given to the mother, the child will lead a healthy life.

    The first baby to born in Cyprus to parents who were both HIV-positive was last year and doctors say that until now the child shows no signs of inheriting the virus.

    Latest official statistics issued for the end of July reveal that 290 people on the island have been diagnosed as HIV-positive, 172 of whom are Cypriots.

    The majority of those Cypriots infected are males aged between the ages of 20 and 40.

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [11] Computer glitch blocks overseas calls

    A BREAKDOWN in software was behind difficulties in the transfer of calls to and from some overseas locations on Thursday night.

    The Cyprus Telecommunications Authority's (Cyta) Head of Public Relations, Rita Karatzia, said yesterday that the problem had begun at approximately 7 pm.

    The software breakdown occurred in Nicosia at one of the island's two exchanges for international calls. Overseas calls were therefore all relayed to the second exchange in Limassol, resulting in serious congestion.

    Karatzia told the Cyprus Mail that the congestion on the Limassol exchange affected some callers, "depending on the time and destination" of their call, though "some didn't experience any problems at all."

    Repair work began at midnight and the Nicosia exchange was fully functional again by 1 am.

    Saturday, September 05, 1998

    [12] Heart attack kills British tourist

    A 71-YEAR-OLD British tourist who died less than 24 hours after arriving in Cyprus was the victim of a heart attack, according to an autopsy carried out yesterday.

    It was first thought that William Thomas Mason from Manchester had been the victim of a tragic accident when he cracked his head on the bath after losing consciousness.

    But an autopsy carried out by state pathologist Panicos Stavrianos confirmed yesterday that cause of death had been from a heart attack and not a blow to the head, police said.

    Mason was found dead at his holiday flat in Pervolia on Thursday morning. He had only arrived on the island the day before.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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