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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-02-11

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

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


Thursday, February 11, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Lordos hotels threaten to sue pickets
  • [02] Government confirms leisure plan for Larnaca port
  • [03] Truckers descend on the Palace
  • [04] Ministers meet unions over Philoxenia future
  • [05] Michaelides seeks audience before the House
  • [06] Government backs call for deputy ministers
  • [07] Larnaca mayor leads desalination protest
  • [08] Olympic to introduce no-smoke policy on Cyprus routes
  • [09] New paper aiming high
  • [10] Courts seek to close sex toy loophole
  • [11] Ayia Napa blaze thought to be arson
  • [12] It'll be love for Jerusalem
  • [13] Record win puts Cyprus top of Euro 2000 group

  • [01] Lordos hotels threaten to sue pickets

    By Athena Karsera

    PICKETS at two Larnaca hotels will be prosecuted if they continue to block entrances, management warned yesterday.

    Lordos Holdings, the owner of the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels, came to the decision after 12 days of strike action.

    Hotel staff are striking for the reinstatement of 73 colleagues dismissed when sections of the two hotels were turned over to private contractors.

    The increasingly bitter dispute has seen pickets attempting to stop strike- breakers and suppliers form entering the hotels. Strikers this week also threatened to name strike-breakers, and incidents involving damage to property have been reported.

    In an announcement issued yesterday, Lordos Holdings said the company had sought and obtained two court orders, because "for the last 12 days obvious acts of violence in offence of the penal code... have been committed outside two of the company's hotels in Larnaca."

    The statement said the two orders from the Larnaca district court now explicitly prohibited such behaviour.

    Specifically, the orders ban strikers from preventing persons or vehicles from entering the hotels, either in person or by placing objects in front of the entrance. Strikers are also prohibited from verbally abusing anyone passing through the entrance or using rude gestures towards them.

    But Sek's representative on hotels Nicos Epistathiou yesterday dismissed the development and told the Cyprus Mail that strike action would continue.

    "It is up to the police whether on not someone blocks the way," he said.

    He added that the unions and strike committee would be meeting to discuss the next steps in the dispute after an "unproductive" meeting with Commerce and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday.

    The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve) and the Employers and Industrialists Federation (Oev) yesterday again condemned the strike.

    In its statement, Keve said the strikers were behaving "undemocratically" by not allowing suppliers to pass through the hotel entrances, and added that Keve had asked for the personal intervention of Justice Minister Nicos Koshis.

    The statement concluded that the unions "must not ignore Cyprus' reputation overseas."

    Oev said that while it respected the right to strike, "this cannot be done at the expense of other workers."

    Oev ended its statement saying it was the government's responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [02] Government confirms leisure plan for Larnaca port

    By Athena Karsera

    MINISTERS yesterday confirmed that the beleaguered Larnaca harbour would be transformed into a passenger port. But striking dockers were not impressed and continued their protest for a better future.

    Speaking after a meeting with the ministers of labour, tourism and finance, Communications Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou said that the harbour would in future focus on passenger ships rather than cargo freight.

    Ierodiaconou said the transformation would be handed over to a private company that would then have use of the harbour for a specific amount of time.

    Yesterday's meeting was prompted by 11 days of strike action by dockers and stevedores. The strikers on Tuesday threatened to escalate measures if they did not receive specific government proposals by yesterday.

    But Peo union representative Costas Christodoulou yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the strike would continue as "the minister said nothing new."

    Christodoulou said a representation from his and fellow unions Sek and the Stevedores' Association would be meeting with House president Spyros Kyprianou this morning in an effort to break the deadlock.

    He said the unions had requested a meeting with Ierodiaconou, but had received no reply.

    The 150 harbour workers have been demonstrating against the lack of work at the harbour and its generally uncertain future. Specifically, they are demanding rapid implementation of a Development Committee decision to upgrade the harbour, which would guarantee two to four more years of work, and complaining about a delay in voluntary redundancy packages.

    Since the strike began, the dockers have blocked the entrance to the harbour and marched through Larnaca in an effort to raise public awareness.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [03] Truckers descend on the Palace

    A CONVOY of some 300 trucks descended on the Presidential Palace yesterday lunchtime in a protest against liberalisation of the sector.

    Truckers caused traffic chaos in an effort to make known their distaste for a recent Licensing Authority decision to lift restrictions which had limited lorry drivers to operating within a single district.

    Kyriacos Moustakas, of the Povek union representing truckers, said the abolition of restrictions would mean many of the island's 12,000 lorry and van drivers would be driven to the wall by the pressures of open competition.

    "The Licensing Authority made the wrong decision," Moustakas said.

    He added that the lifting of restrictions would also encourage "everyone and anyone" to take up lorry-driving.

    The truckers, many of whom had driven from Larnaca, Limassol or Paphos yesterday morning, handed protest petitions to Presidential under-secretary Pantelis Kouros before driving down to the Communications Ministry to hand a similar document to Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [04] Ministers meet unions over Philoxenia future

    THE MINISTERS of Commerce and Labour yesterday met with unions representing workers at the government controlled Philoxenia hotel to discuss the hotel's problems.

    Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis declined to reveal any details about the talks, but did say that a second meeting had been scheduled for February 18.

    "We looked at the history of the issue, where the problems lie," was all he would say yesterday.

    Peo and Sek were satisfied with the meeting.

    Rolandis and Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas met with the union representatives after Philoxenia staff staged a two-hour strike and picketed the Commerce Ministry on Tuesday. They were demanding an official decision on the hotel's future.

    Rolandis yesterday repeated that the latest Cabinet decision was that the hotel would be turned over to a third party or be used for a different purpose.

    The loss-making Philoxenia, of which the government is the main shareholder, needs some 2 million worth of refurbishing. The hotel's board is unable to finance this and wants the hotel to be closed down.

    The government has been barred by the House of Representatives from selling any shares in the limited company it created to oversee the running of the Philoxenia.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [05] Michaelides seeks audience before the House

    By Martin Hellicar

    INTERIOR Minister Dinos Michaelides yesterday asked for an audience before the House plenum to defend himself against persistent corruption allegations.

    Michaelides, vexed by accusations levelled against him by House watchdog committee chairman Christos Pourgourides, put his unusual request to House president Spyros Kyprianou yesterday.

    Kyprianou did not, publicly at least, commit himself either way on the minister's request, but promised he would bring the matter up at the weekly party leaders' meeting ahead of today's plenum.

    Such a ministerial address to the plenum would have to be approved as constitutional by Attorney-general Alecos Markides.

    Michaelides and Kyprianou have been arch political rivals ever since the minister's acrimonious departure from Kyprianou's Diko party late last year. But Michaelides' anger at the persistence of Pourgourides' attacks led him to swallow his pride and seek Kyprianou's help.

    In brief comments afterwards, Kyprianou described his meeting with Michaelides, which lasted more than an hour, as "friendly". Michaelides repeated that Pourgourides' 14 corruption allegations were nothing but hot air.

    "This issue should have been closed long ago," he said.

    Cabinet-appointed criminal investigators cleared Michaelides of any wrongdoing after a probe late last year.

    Disy deputy Pourgourides labelled the probe a sham and declined to testify before the investigators - Law Commissioner George Stavrinakis and Andreas Shiakas of the Auditor-general's office.

    "Mr Pourgourides had the chance to testify before the investigators about what he was alleging. He opted not to do this because he judged he could only appear before the investigators for coffee," Michaelides said yesterday.

    The corruption allegations remain the mainstay of the House watchdog committee's agenda despite the state investigators' conclusions.

    "The issue is over because the whole procedure reached a conclusion," Michaelides said. "Despite this, the issue is still troubling the watchdog committee, the plenum, public opinion and me and my family," he added.

    The accusations investigated by Stavrinakis and Shiakas concerned alleged abuse of power at the immigration department and alleged unlawful enrichment through the sale of apartments.

    Michaelides tendered his resignation after the two investigators were appointed, but President Clerides chose not to accept it.

    Media speculation has suggested Michaelides is due to lose his ministerial post in a rumoured reshuffle after his poor showing in recent opinion polls.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [06] Government backs call for deputy ministers

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday gave the thumbs-up to the idea of deputy ministers, fuelling speculation that a cabinet reshuffle was on the cards.

    But Attorney-general Alecos Markides said the creation of a new post of deputy minister would require a constitutional amendment.

    Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said President Clerides had adopted a relevant proposal made by the head of Cyprus's EU accession talks team, George Vassiliou, on Tuesday. Vassiliou had suggested the appointment of deputy ministers was a must if Cyprus was to keep pace with the growing demands of EU harmonisation.

    "We consider it more than necessary to increase the number of political staff in order to enable us to meet the demands of the EU and the more general need for modernisation," Stylianides told his daily press briefing yesterday morning.

    He acknowledged the constitutionality of the creation of the new posts would have to be looked at by the Attorney-general.

    "We realise the matter has two aspects, one legal and one political." Stylianides said.

    "The legal aspect is up to the Attorney-general and it is expected that when the President puts it to the Attorney-general we will have his ruling on it. Concerning the political aspect, we believe we cannot face the challenges of EU harmonisation with institutions established in 1960."

    Later in the day, the leader of left-wing opposition party Akel, Dimitris Christofias, said he did not support the creation of the new posts. There were other ways of meeting the demands of EU harmonisation which would not involve constitutional amendments, Christofias said. Vassiliou, for example, did not have a ministerial post but was doing much for EU harmonisation, the Akel leader said.

    Markides said the constitutional amendment necessary for the creation of the new posts would require the support of two thirds of deputies in the 56- member House.

    If Akel's 18 deputies planned to vote against such an amendment, then discussion of the proposal became "purely academic," he said.

    Yesterday's talk of new cabinet posts lent weight to rumours that Clerides is considering a reshuffle in the wake of poor opinion poll showings for many of his ministers. The government's ratings have been hit by the controversial decision not to bring the S-300s, by corruption allegations against top officials and by rising crime.

    Stylianides has dismissed the reshuffle speculation as groundless.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [07] Larnaca mayor leads desalination protest

    By Anthony O. Miller

    LARNACA Mayor George Lycourgos kept his word yesterday, mustering a cross- section of his townspeople and officials to block traffic at the Larnaca Airport roundabout in protest against siting a permanent desalination plant in his city.

    And they drew up a petition asking President Glafcos Clerides to intervene and stop all work locating the desalination facility in the protected Alikon area of salt lake.

    Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous yesterday faced protests by residents of Ayios Theodoros and Zakaki during visits he made to the two villages, where he plans to erect two 'mobile' desalination plants this Spring.

    The villagers do not want the two plants located as close to their villages as planned. They say the area is protected and frequented by tourists, and suggested moving the two 'mobile' plants to more "industrial" areas.

    The Larnaca protest was orderly and brief, without arrests or other problems. Police let the demonstrators close the roundabout for about 10 minutes just after noon, protecting them from stranded drivers for the duration of the protest.

    Larnaca residents oppose locating the permanent desalination plant - which would be the island's second - near Larnaca Airport, as they already feel under seige from air pollution from the airport south of the city and the oil refinery to the north.

    They also fear the facility and the electricity pylons and wires erected to power it will adversely affect the ecologically fragile environment of the Alikon salt flats area.

    Their petition to Clerides, drawn up by the Municipality and its Development Committee, expressed regrets that it appeared the central government was again ignoring the "chronic problems of the town and the area," despite promises to the contrary.

    It noted that last June 16, Larnaca Municipality had pledged to "take strong measures" to press the government to keep promises it made to town authorities that same May 23.

    The petition said that, with those promises still unkept, the decision to site the desalination plant outside the environmentally area seemed merely to "seal the government's indifference" to Larnaca's problems.

    Those promises include a old government pledge to move the oil refinery out of Larnaca, as its fumes have long irritated city residents. However, questions of cost may prohibit this.

    The petition charged that siting such a facility in an area already ecologically-challenged "breaks every rule of town planning and provocatively ignores local authorities as well as procedures calling for preparation of an environmental study."

    The decision was particularly wrong, they said, "because we are in a period of trying to harmonise with the European Union."

    Besides asking Clerides to intervene and halt the construction, the Larnaca petition sought to arrange talks between the city and the government to discuss where else to site the desalination plant.

    In meeting with the Ayios Theodoros and Zakaki residents, Themistocleous said "the government is determined to solve the water problem." He called "unacceptable" the fact that during the drought last summer, people had to buy water from water-truckers.

    The minister said he would study proposals to move the desalination sites slightly from the locations planned for them now in the two villages. He was no more specific.

    Meanwhile, the Environmental Movement of Cyprus yesterday called desalination "a desperate solution" to the drought, and urged the government to shelve plans to erect more such plants and consider alternatives.

    If such plants are absolutely necessary, it suggested siting them only after proper environmental studies, and said, "at least 20 per cent of the energy used (to power the de-salting units) should come from solar power."

    The government plans to use voltage from the oil-fired government power plant to run the Larnaca desalination unit. The same power source now runs the Dhekelia Desalination Plant.

    For lack of time to run electrical wires to the villages of Ayios Theodoros and Zakaki, Themistocleous said he planned to power the two 'mobile' desalting plants slated for there by electricity from diesel-powered generators.

    Villagers object that the diesel generators will be too noisy and pollute the air. An Ayios Theodoros residents committee is threatening to sue the government over the issue.

    The government last week awarded an Israeli joint-venture the contract to build the Larnaca desalination plant. Bids to award contracts to build the two 'mobile' units planned for Ayios Theodoros and Zakaki are expected to be opened this week.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [08] Olympic to introduce no-smoke policy on Cyprus routes

    FOLLOWING in the footsteps of competitor Cyprus Airways, Greece's national carrier Olympic Airways will operate no-smoking flights on its Larnaca to Athens route.

    Olympic already operates a no-smoking policy on domestic routes, reflecting the growing trend for smoke-free air travel in Europe and North America.

    From February 15, all flights from Larnaca to Athens and Athens to Larnaca will be non-smoking and all passengers will be informed when making a reservation.

    CY launched its own non-smoking flights last month after initial attempts to introduce a ban met with a hostile reaction from cabin crew demanding equal puffing rights enjoyed by pilots.

    The smoking ban was supposed to start on a trial basis last November but the unions put a spanner in the works. CY finally got its smoke-free flights to London and Athens off the ground on January 25.

    The trial period will end on March 28, when CY will decide whether to make the ban permanent.

    The airline says its no-smoking flights have so far been successful and without major incident.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [09] New paper aiming high

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A NEW Greek-language daily will hit the already-crowded news stands tomorrow, hoping to make an impact with a younger generation tired of party politics.

    The tabloid-format Politis ('Citizen') will be packing a minimum of 48 pages divided into three different sections - politics, sport and lifestyle - and determined to add a splash of colour to the print media.

    The newspaper's owner, Yiannos Papadopoulos, told the Cyprus Mail that he was aiming high and believed Politis could be the second-biggest circulation newspaper on the island in no time at all.

    "We hope to create a new market and be the second most popular newspaper," said Papadopoulos.

    He said the paper was looking to reach a circulation of 10,000, which would put it behind top-selling daily Phileleftheros (which sells well over 40, 000 copies a day) but in front of Alithia and Simerini.

    But Papadopoulos is aware that there is a long way to go before the paper establishes itself or even gains a foothold in a market accustomed to seeing new ventures fold as soon they arrive.

    So what does Politis have up its sleeve to buck the trend and not go the way of Agon, Eleftherotypia and Vima?

    "I think the newspapers that folded were of a previous generation and attached to the parties. Political groups have realised it's more effective to communicate through non-partisan media," said Papadopoulos.

    The fledgling newspaper publisher said Politis would stand up for issues which interested its readers, not pander to party lines.

    "People want a balanced view of news and issues, which is why party papers have declined," Papadopoulos said yesterday.

    "People want to know about day-to-day issues and we will stand for issues that our readers are concerned about."

    And winning the hearts and minds of young Cypriot readers does not come cheap.

    "We've sunk around 1 million into this venture and we don't expect to get a good return for three or four years," said Papadopoulos, breaking into a laugh.

    Politis will not only try to avoid political bias, but also to put fresh emphasis on international news and cultural issues, which are somewhat neglected by the Greek Cypriot press.

    Only time will tell if the publisher has wisely invested in producing the bulkiest newspaper on the market. Its 30-odd journalists are keeping their fingers crossed as well.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [10] Courts seek to close sex toy loophole

    ANYONE planning a shopping trip to spice up their love life had better make it soon, because if the Supreme Court has its way, vibrators and other love aids will soon be a thing of the past in Cyprus.

    According to press reports, the Supreme Court will be asking the Council of Ministers to look into closing the legal loopholes allowing the products onto the island after a case against an importer had to be thrown out of court after it was found he was doing nothing illegal.

    The sex-toy business in Cyprus has mushroomed recently, with the opening of Nicosia's first "respectable" sex shop, selling both serious sex aids and party gimmicks, while small ad papers are jam-packed with adverts for items including flavoured condoms, assorted creams and lotions, fuzzy handcuffs, edible underwear and assorted vibrators. All are graphically portrayed and named: they now include an S-300 vibrator. The edible underwear has also been advertised on TV as a suggested "special gift" for Valentine's Day, while special gift packs are also available.

    There is no indication as to when the law might be tightened, but the courts have called for swift action on the issue.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [11] Ayia Napa blaze thought to be arson

    POLICE are treating as arson a fire that destroyed a car in Ayia Napa yesterday morning.

    Sophia Andreou's 20,000 Toyota Celica was completely gutted by the fire, which broke out at 5am.

    Famagusta CID said yesterday they were treating the incident as suspected arson.

    Sophia's husband Manolis owns a pub in Ayia Napa.

    The vehicle, which is covered by insurance, was parked outside the couple's home, next to the pub in Ioannis Ritsos street.

    Manolis told police he believed the fire could have been started by business rivals, although he said he wasn't in dispute with anyone.

    Police are continuing their investigation.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [12] It'll be love for Jerusalem

    By Andrew Adamides

    CYPRUS will be represented at the 1999 Eurovision song contest by Marlain Angelidou with her song Tha'nai Erotas (It'll be love).

    The song was voted top out of nine contenders at the finals of the Cyprus Eurovision contest on Tuesday night. The event was held at Limassol's glitzy Monte Caputo Nightspot, where a panel of high-profile media personalities awarded Tha'nai Erotas 225 points. In second place was Demos Beke, who represented Cyprus at the contest as part of a duo several years ago. Beke provides the theme song for Sigma TV's magazine show Katerina.

    The first round of the contest was held at CyBC last month, when the jurors, listened to a whopping 66 anonymous entries. These were narrowed down to 30, of which the top ten were picked. At the last minute, however, one of the songs was pulled out. Production problems were cited as the reason why 24 Years, a political ballad about the Cyprus problem, had been withdrawn.

    Blonde winner Marlain is already well-known to local audiences after her performance as Aphrodite/Galatea in the original production of Stavros Sideras' musical Pygmalion. She has studied music and theatre in England and the US and has made countless other appearances in theatrical productions and musicals, including a turn as Miss Hannigan in Annie at the Edinburgh Drama Festival.

    At last year's Cyprus Eurovision contest, she came in second as part of a duet behind Michaelis Hadjiyiannis' Genesis.

    This year, the contest, which is hugely popular in Cyprus in spite of the fact that the island has never won, is to be held on May 29 in Jerusalem. Traditionally, the contest is hosted by whichever country won the previous year. The 1998 contest was won by Israeli transsexual Dana International with her song Diva. Dana, who is currently recording with Barbra Streisand, recently visited Cyprus and performed at top Nicosia nightclub Zoo.

    Thursday, February 11, 1999

    [13] Record win puts Cyprus top of Euro 2000 group

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRUS went to the top of group 6 after beating San Marino 4-0 at the Euro 2000 qualifying match in Limassol last night.

    The unfancied Cypriots, ranked 78th in the world by Fifa, now top their group by two points, ahead of Austria, Spain and Israel who all have games in hand. Luckless San Marino stay bottom with four defeats.

    It was a night of records in Limassol, with Cyprus scoring their biggest ever international victory. Their previous best score was a 3-0 defeat of Malta in a friendly,

    Cyprus now go to Tel Aviv on March 28 full of confidence to play Israel as group leaders.

    Midfielder Milenko Spoliaric nearly put Cyprus ahead as early as the 3rd minute, but San Marino goalkeeper Federico Gasperoni made a brave save at his legs from close range.

    However, the inevitable breakthrough came after 18 minutes, when Vassos Melanarkitis scored from six yards after the goalkeeper had failed to hold a long-range shot from Spoliaric.

    The second goal came just past the half hour after some excellent wing play on the left by Costas Malekkos, who went past two defenders and put in an inch-perfect cross which found Michalis Constantinou unmarked in the box.

    Constantinou, the 20-year-old who plays his football for Iraklis in Greece, scored his second goal of the night just before half time when he beat the off-side trap and slotted the ball home low past the despairing Gasperoni.

    San Marino failed to get a shot on target during the first half and only had a few half chances near the end of the game, when the Cypriot defence got tired. The visitors' best chance fell to substitute Nicola Bacchiocchi on 54 minutes, when he intercepted a back pass by Pambos Pittas, but Cyprus goalkeeper Nicos Panayiotou rushed quickly off his line to smother the danger.

    Although Cyprus were the better side throughout, they seemed to take their foot off the pedal in the second half, with Marios Christodoulou's last- minute headed goal the only attempt on target of the half.

    The only other highlight of a disappointing second half had earlier been an extravagant lob from 40 yards by Malekkos - the best player on the night - which just missed the target.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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