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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-02-20

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

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


Saturday, February 20, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Mavros refuses to answer police questions on Ocalan passport
  • [02] 'We'd give our passports to Ocalan any day'
  • [03] Pangalos: missile order was a 'colossal mistake'
  • [04] Cassoulides working on demilitarisation plan
  • [05] European ruling exposes rent discrimination against foreigners
  • [06] Larnaca hotel shut-down heralds new wave of strikes
  • [07] New bill could put sex shops out of business
  • [08] Parents blamed for overweight bags
  • [09] Bases agree to postpone Akamas exercises
  • [10] Price of coffee set to fall, while milk could rise
  • [11] Meningitis boy improving
  • [12] Pefkos immigrant accused of beating policeman
  • [13] Government moves to unification of water administration
  • [14] Residents appeal to Supreme Court to block desalination
  • [15] Man winched to safety after cliff fall
  • [16] Cyprus shipping will be an asset to the EU
  • [17] Unficyp cost $47 million last year
  • [18] Students to debate subsidy offer

  • [01] Mavros refuses to answer police questions on Ocalan passport

    By Charlie Charalambous

    ATTORNEY-GENERAL Alecos Markides said yesterday that the Cypriot passport found on captured Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan was definitely forged, but could not rule out that it had originally belonged to journalist Lazaros Mavros.

    And Markides conceded that he was still "in the dark" about what had really happened, because Mavros has failed to answer police questions.

    "In the course of the investigation, police questioned Mr Mavros, but he refused to answer any questions, which is his right," Markides told a news conference yesterday.

    He added: "an extensive search by investigators did not lead to the discovery of the passport."

    Although Mavros failed to produce his passport, Markides said this was not an offence under the law.

    "Failing to produce your ID is illegal, but not your passport. There is a vacuum in the law of which I was unaware."

    The Attorney-general said the passport was definitely a fake in the sense that Ocalan's picture had been pasted where that of the holder, Mavros, should have been.

    "On July 10, 1995, the Cyprus authorities legally issued a passport to Lazaros Mavros with the number C015918. There is no doubt that that passport was issued legally with the picture of Mr Mavros."

    The passport number is the same as that on the 'Ocalan passport'.

    Despite an exhaustive investigation by police, Markides said there was no admissible evidence to suggest that an offence had been committed by anyone in Cyprus.

    "The criminal investigation in the free territories of Cyprus should be deemed exhausted, but the whole investigation is incomplete."

    Markides said Cypriot experts would need to travel to Turkey to examine the passport before the whole story was known.

    "Clearly, in view of the political situation, it is not possible to go to Turkey and find out," said Markides.

    "I am in the dark about what really happened," he admitted.

    He was unhappy with the initial police report he received on Thursday and gave fresh orders for a further investigation.

    CID investigators yesterday afternoon handed over the additional information on claims that Mavros' Cypriot passport had come into the hands of captured Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan.

    It was also confirmed yesterday that Mavros had not reported his passport stolen or missing to the police before Turkish television displayed it to the world on Tuesday.

    Ankara's political time-bomb has been met with a stoic response from the government.

    "President Clerides is not concerned about the issue harming the credibility of the Republic," government spokesman Christos Stylianides said yesterday.

    The government has steadfastly rubbished any accusation that it might have issued Ocalan with a diplomatic passport, but said all legal procedures would be taken to find out exactly what had happened.

    Claims by Kenyan officials that Ocalan had travelled with another Cypriot passport in the name of Aristos Aristidou, when he arrived in Nairobi on February 2, have been dismissed.

    Mavros is a popular television and Radio presenter and is vice-president of the Cyprus-Kurdistan Solidarity Committee.

    The father-of-three took up the pro-Kurdish mantle in Cyprus after fellow activist Theophilos Georgiades was shot down by masked gunmen outside his Nicosia home on March 20, 1994.

    The Cyprus government blamed the killing on the Turkish secret service (MIT). The culprits were never found.

    Cyprus intelligence fears Mavros could also be a target for MIT hit men because of his high-profile pro-Kurdish activities. He is understood to enjoy special protection.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [02] 'We'd give our passports to Ocalan any day'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    LEFT-WING leaders Demetris Christofias and Vassos Lyssarides have said they would gladly have given up their diplomatic passports to save Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan from a Turkish prison.

    Both politicians took the stance when asked in a CyBC television interview what they thought about Turkish allegations that Ocalan had carried a Cypriot passport belonging to local journalist Lazaros Mavros.

    Akel leader Christofias said he would have gladly have given his if asked to do so by the Kurds.

    "If the Kurds came and asked me to give up my passport to Ocalan at the time the whole of Europe was after him, I would have him given six passports not one," Christofias said during a television interview on Thursday, aired by CyBC radio yesterday.

    The politician's views are unlikely to cause a stir among a Cypriot public that strongly supports the Kurdish cause against the common Turkish enemy.

    Christofias said he would have handed over his blue diplomatic passport without hesitation.

    The leader of the second largest party in Cyprus saw no problem with whether Mavros might have handed over his passport or not.

    "As a Kurdish sympathiser and solidarity committee member it's natural he would give up his passport to the Kurdish leader," said Christofias.

    Edek leader Lyssarides said he would congratulate any person who gave Ocalan a passport.

    "I don't think there is a decent man with a conscience who would not give his passport to Ocalan to save him from a Turkish prison," Lyssarides told the CyBC interview.

    Although the government has categorically denied any involvement in the Ocalan passport saga, Lyssarides said the affair should be a matter of pride, not indignation.

    "I approach the issue with great importance; it is the cause of some pride."

    Some 50 Kurdish protestors ended their three-day hunger strike outside the Greek embassy in Nicosia yesterday.

    In a resolution handed over to the embassy, the Kurds said Ocalan's arrest "still remains the responsibility of the Simitis government", despite the resignation of three Greek ministers over the issue.

    "Costas Simitis should resign and save the dignity of the Greek people," the resolution said.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [03] Pangalos: missile order was a 'colossal mistake'

    EVEN with the contracts for their deployment to Crete fully signed and sealed, the spectre of the S-300 missiles refuses to go away, with bitter exchanges yesterday between Greece and Cyprus as to who exactly knew about the original purchase deal.

    Speaking on CyBC television, President Glafcos Clerides said that Greece had been fully informed of the Cypriot plans to purchase the S-300s; in fact, Cyprus had only decided to go for the S-300s after Greece suggested it.

    He added that, even if Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis had not been fully aware of Cypriot intentions, his defence ministry certainly was. At the time, he said, Cyprus had been looking at buying other, smaller weapons systems from Russia, but had decided to plump for the S-300s on Greece's recommendation.

    "Russia didn't want to sell us these weapons," he went on, adding that the sale had only gone ahead after he had intervened personally.

    But speaking on Greek television, former Greek foreign minster Theodoros Pangalos - who resigned on Thursday over the Ocalan affair - described Cyprus' decision to order the S-300s as a "colossal mistake".

    As a result of the débâcle, he went on, Hellenism had turned the United States against it, and, in order for a Cyprus solution to be achieved, it was important to have American support.

    The decision on the missiles had been taken by then former Defence Minister Yerasimos Arsenis, Pangalos said, and neither he, nor the Prime Minister nor current Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos had been involved.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [04] Cassoulides working on demilitarisation plan

    THE GOVERNMENT could put forward a plan under which Cyprus would be demilitarised in order to reduce tension, Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said on Thursday.

    Speaking in Washington, he said that, according to the plan, which is still at the preparatory stage, an international force would replace the armed forces in both the government-controlled and Turkish-occupied areas. The force would be on a UN mandate, he added, and could be partly funded with the money that Cyprus would then no longer need to spend on arms.

    "If we withdraw the arms, it ends the arms race," Cassoulides said.

    He made no comment as to how the proposal was viewed by the US officials he is meeting during the week, saying that the main topic of discussion was the continuing effort to find a Cyprus solution.

    Meanwhile in Nicosia yesterday, the acting president of the House Defence Committee, Antonis Karras, said that the committee would soon finish examining the 1999 Defence budget and that there were no proposals for any cuts.

    He refused to discuss rumours about any possible new systems that Cyprus might order in place of the S-300s, but admitted that the goal was still to strengthen the armed forces.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [05] European ruling exposes rent discrimination against foreigners

    By Martin Hellicar

    NON-NATIVES have no rights as sitting tenants in Cyprus, but a European Court of Human Rights ruling publicised yesterday could change all that.

    On Thursday, the Strasbourg court upheld a retired Cypriot civil servant's appeal against a local court order evicting him from his rented state-owned home.

    The European court ruled that 62-year-old Nicosia man Xenis Larkos was, under Cyprus' 1983 Rent Control Law, a protected tenant, like any individual renting from a private landlord. The Strasbourg court rejected the government position that Larkos had rented the home (in 1967) by virtue of his position as a government employee.

    The significance of the February 18 ruling for expatriates living on the island is that it throws local rent control law - which discriminates against foreign tenants - open to question, lawyer Achilleas Demetriades told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    As things stand, non-natives whose rental contract with a landlord expires do not enjoy the same rights as sitting tenants that Cypriots in the same situation do.

    "This judgment opens the road to scrutiny of the rent control act," the well-known lawyer said.

    "For non-Cypriots, it is particularly important as currently they are not covered by the act. It could very well mean that non-Cypriots and companies controlled by non-Cypriots may also become statutory tenants, as there is no justifiable reason for this blatant discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin," Demetriades said.

    The European court ruling could be an important weapon in the hands of foreigners facing eviction, the lawyer suggested.

    The court decision is also important for all Cypriots living in state-owned properties, as it defines them as statutory tenants.

    Larkos appealed to the Strasbourg court in November 1995 after the Cyprus Supreme Court unanimously rejected his appeal against a Nicosia District court decision upholding a government eviction order. For the past 12 years, the retired civil servant had been living with the threat of eviction hanging over him and his family. The government ordered him to leave his home in December 1986.

    The European court ordered the government to pay Larkos £3,000 damages for the stress and anxiety he suffered over the 12-year period. Larkos was also awarded £5,000 compensation for legal costs.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [06] Larnaca hotel shut-down heralds new wave of strikes

    By Athena Karsera

    A TWO-HOUR stoppage at all Larnaca hotels yesterday heralded the start of an escalation in the Lordos hotel dispute, with strike action threatened in other towns next week.

    In a show of support for their colleagues at the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels, who had been picketing for 22 days yesterday, all hotels in the Larnaca district ground to a halt from 10 am to noon yesterday.

    Hotel workers also blocked the Larnaca to Dhekelia road for 15 minutes.

    Speaking on state radio yesterday, Sek's hotel representative Nicos Epistithiou said that the action of blocking the road had been taken "to inform tourists about our problem."

    Speaking about the strike, he warned that yesterday's action was "the first measure; next week similar action will be taken in the other towns."

    Peo's Yiannakis Phillipou added: "Today there was a general strike in Larnaca with only very basic staff remaining at work to offer the minimum of services."

    Phillipou then outlined the strike action to be taken in other towns.

    He said that hotels in the Famagusta district would be striking for two hours on Wednesday, Limassol hotels on Thursday, Paphos hotels on Friday and Nicosia hotels the following Monday.

    They announced that they had already held general meetings in the other towns to inform hotel workers about the planned strikes.

    Both union representatives expressed the hope that Lordos Holdings, the company controlling the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels, would come to the negotiating table to make the escalation unnecessary.

    Hoteliers' association Pasyxe yesterday criticised the unions, condemning the wave of sympathy strikes and saying the dispute was with one particular company. The hoteliers also called Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas to intervene.

    Hotel workers have been striking over the dismissal of 73 of their colleagues from three Lordos Holdings hotels, one of which has been closed for the winter season.

    The 73 were dismissed when sections of each hotel were turned over to private contractors to cut down costs.

    Staff who have continued to work through the strikes at the two hotels on Thursday announced that they were suing the unions that ordered the walk- out.

    This was the unions' second brush with the law after Lordos Holdings last week took out court orders prohibiting pickets from blocking the hotel entrances or preventing people from entering the hotels.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [07] New bill could put sex shops out of business

    By Andrew Adamides

    THE DAYS could be numbered for vibrators and other items currently on offer at Cyprus' burgeoning sex shops.

    It was announced yesterday that on January 27, in an effort to get sex toys off the shelves, the Cabinet had approved an addendum to the 1963 Obscene Publications Act in order to extend its coverage to objects such as vibrators, love eggs and inflatable sex dolls.

    The bill must still go before the House for approval.

    The situation stems from a court case in which sex-toy importers challenged a government order banning them from bringing the products into Cyprus, arguing there was no law preventing them from importing the goods.

    The Supreme Court agreed, reasoning that, under the Obscene Publications Act, "publications and issues" were covered, but not objects.

    As a result, the justice ministry petitioned for the vague term "issues" to be broadened to include objects.

    Over the past few years, sex toys have enjoyed an ever-higher profile on the island, with adverts openly depicting the love aids in newspapers and on television.

    A perusal of the "personal" section of any small-ads paper lets the reader feast on a cornucopia of love gimmicks. Items jostling with the lonely hearts include vibrating love eggs, edible underwear, assorted creams, lotions and pastes, fuzzy handcuffs, novelty condoms and vibrators - including one aptly called the S-300.

    Kyriacos Pantopolis, manager of Nicosia's new Bodysex sex shop, said his shop could be forced to close if the amendment was passed.

    "It would not be right, because if we want to fit in with the EU, we must accept certain things that go with the EU," he said, citing the cases of Holland and the UK, where sex toys are openly available.

    Pantopolis said that Bodysex's sales were disappointing at the moment, but that demand had shot up around Valentine's Day and on other special occasions. There were still social taboos about buying sex toys, he said, but he did expect sales to hot up - as long as the law was not passed.

    Bodysex opened its doors just before Christmas, and reported brisk business at first as Nicosia's first proper sex shop. A respectable-looking modern establishment, it follows the lines of the UK Ann Summers chain rather than of stereotypical backstreet hangout for old men in raincoats. The traditional vibrator was Bodysex's best-seller in the run-up to Christmas.

    Another representative of a sex shop, who preferred not to be identified, stood up for his wares yesterday: "These things are not obscene, we've helped many people with these things, both couples and lonely women."

    He too cited Cyprus' EU aspirations as a reason why sex toys shouldn't be banned, adding that if the island wanted to join the EU, it had to cast off its inhibitions.

    He also pointed out that television channels were allowed to screen hardcore porn, something far more offensive than sex toys, which aren't beamed directly into the home.

    He slammed the bill as a violation of civil rights, which do-gooders were trying to force onto the public.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [08] Parents blamed for overweight bags

    By Charlie Charalambous

    PARENTS are being blamed for sending their children to school with crippling overweight bags.

    Following an Education Ministry circular banning unnecessary books from being carried to school, elementary teachers union Poed is saying that responsibility lies with the parents.

    The ministry has sent a circular to elementary school heads reminding them to enforce regulations concerning the dangers of over-burdened school bags and to introduce inspections.

    This has been welcomed by teachers and parents alike, who fear that children could suffer spinal injuries if they continue to lug school bags that are half their weight.

    However, Poed said that most of the 60,000 elementary school population were not following instructions and were bringing unnecessary books and exercise books to school.

    Some bags have tipped the 14 kilo mark after being weighed, Poed member Sophocles Constantinou said.

    He said parents were largely responsible for the problem because they should be checking their children's bags on a daily basis.

    The union also rejects parents' gripes that teachers issue too much homework to youngsters, which they say is the reason for the bulging bags.

    Nevertheless, the Elementary Parents Association backs teachers in efforts to make parents more aware of the dangers of heavy bags.

    "If parents checked bags then we wouldn't have this problem," association vice-president Dinos Ellinas told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    And Ellinas argued that children were suffering because their parents had a couldn't care less attitude to all things educational.

    "It seems most parents aren't interested in their children's school or what they do in their lessons," said Ellinas.

    To help ease the situation, Poed is proposing that personal lockers be introduced in schools for children to keep their excess books.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [09] Bases agree to postpone Akamas exercises

    THE BRITISH Bases yesterday agreed to postpone military exercises in the Akamas for the second time in a month.

    The postponement was agreed after further talks yesterday between the bases and the government aimed at finding an alternative site for the controversial war games. The government has offered the bases limited use of the National Guard firing range at Kalo Chorio, in the Larnaca district.

    "As a result of the progress made in the negotiations it was agreed that the exercises planned for next week be postponed," British High Commission spokesman Piers Cazalet said.

    He said "good progress" was being made towards agreeing an alternative exercise site.

    A government announcement said that British exercises planned for February 21 to 26 had been called off following "constructive" dialogue yesterday.

    Exercises planned for earlier this month were also postponed amid growing opposition from environmentalists and anti-bases activists.

    The Akamas area is earmarked as a National Park and greens claim the British exercises cause untold damage to the peninsula's unique ecology.

    The bases have made it clear they are happy to use any suitable alternative site offered.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [10] Price of coffee set to fall, while milk could rise

    WHETHER coffee will soon cost less and milk cost more is to be decided next week by the Advisory Price Commission, its director, George Mitides said yesterday.

    Even then, the final word rests with Nicos Rolandis, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, he said.

    At present, the dairies want a price rise of two cents per litre of pasteurised milk, while the Commission wants to lower the price of coffee roasted and ground on the island by 50 cents per kilogram, Mitides said.

    While many on the Commission appear willing to allow both, Mitides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that "liberalisation of prices is, in my opinion, the best solution," especially in light of the day-to-day fluctuations in world coffee prices.

    Mitides said he opposed price fixing, despite the fact that his Commission still fixes the prices of at least half a dozen items. These include cement, petroleum products, wood produced by the Cyprus forest industries, pasteurised milk, locally processed coffee, and 'common bread', Mitides said.

    Mitides said he believed market forces ought to govern price levels. He said this was more in the interest of competition and the consumer.

    He added that he believed price fixing violated the Treaty of Rome, the foundation of the European Union, which prohibits anything that interferes with the free flow of money, goods and labour across EU member country borders.

    While Cyprus is only in the EU accession stages, it is nonetheless being held to account for the harmonisation of its laws with those of the European Union as if it were a full-fledged member. Price fixing violates both the spirit and letter of the Treaty of Rome, Mitides said.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [11] Meningitis boy improving

    THE CONDITION of the teenager diagnosed with bacterial meningitis was steadily improving yesterday, doctors said.

    The victim, now identified as 14-year-old Dimitris Michaelias, was rushed to Nicosia General hospital late on Wednesday night. Doctors said on Thursday that he had been brought to the hospital in time for treatment.

    His school, the Archangelos Gymnasium in Nicosia was yesterday functioning as normal. Health Ministry officials have warned staff and pupils about the symptoms of the disease and anyone in direct contact with Michaelias has been immunised.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [12] Pefkos immigrant accused of beating policeman

    POLICE were yesterday investigating an alleged attack on a policeman by one of the boat people held at Limassol's Pefkos hotel since June last year.

    The alleged attacker, Liberian Yaha Rabily, is one of 12 immigrants due to testify against police inspector Charalambos Mavros, the man who ordered the brutal police quelling of a riot by some of the immigrants at Larnaca holding cells they were being held at last October. Mavros is accused of dereliction of duty.

    At around 6.45pm on Thursday, Rabily struck one of the officers detailed to guard the immigrants still at the Pefkos in the face, police said. The officer suffered mild concussion and bruising to the forehead, police said. Rabily was arrested after the alleged attack.

    The suspect was yesterday released to return to the hotel while police investigated the incident.

    A total of 113 Arab and African immigrants were rescued off a Syrian- flagged fishing boat found stranded off Cyprus on June 29 last year.

    Only the 12 witnesses now remain on the island. Twenty-three boat people have been granted asylum, while the rest have been deported or repatriated.

    None of the riot squad (MMAD) officers involved in the October beatings face prosecution.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [13] Government moves to unification of water administration

    THE GOVERNMENT has moved a small step closer to consolidating all its water laws and responsibilities under a single entity, acting Water Development Department (WDD) director Christos Marcoullis said yesterday.

    The Council of Ministers has approved, and the Agriculture Ministry has sent to the Attorney-general, a proposal that would consolidate the island's water laws and place responsibility for their oversight and enforcement with an expanded WDD, he said.

    Currently, some aspects of Cyprus water law come under the Ministry of the Interior, while others - the majority - are the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, under which the WDD falls. The new law would end this division of responsibilities.

    Marcoullis said Attorney-general Alecos Markides intended to hire a private law firm to draft the legislation needed to consolidate the island's water law under and streamline the WDD's functions to accommodate its expanded new role.

    "People will have a single body to deal with," regarding water law and water policy, Marcoullis said. This includes bore hole permits, which are now issued by district officers. Under the new regime, the WDD will issue bore hole permits islandwide.

    However, Marcoullis admitted, even an expanded WDD will not be able to rein in all the bore-hole permits that have been issued in the past, or control the amount of groundwater being pumped by them.

    WDD officials have admitted that the bore hole situation on the island is out of control, and that the government is powerless to police the private pumping of the island's aquifers.

    As a result, farmers and private citizens are currently extracting as much groundwater as they like from the island's dwindling aquifers.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [14] Residents appeal to Supreme Court to block desalination

    THE AYIOS Theodoros village authority yesterday submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court against a government decision to site a mobile desalination plant in its "back yard".

    The appeal is backed also by two Ayios Theodoros villagers, who allege their beach-front properties would be affected by the sea-borne plants.

    The plaintiffs claim the cabinet decision to locate the desalination plants near the village violates the provisions of the Coastal Protection law, which designates the Ayios Theodoros coast a protected zone.

    The court set the first hearing for the case for March 5.

    Government plans to site mobile desalination plants off Ayios Theodoros and Zakaki in Limassol - a £630,000 drought-relief effort - have met with strong protests from residents in both areas.

    The mobile plants are due to begin operating in June.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [15] Man winched to safety after cliff fall

    AN EPISKOPI fisherman was recovering in hospital yesterday after he plunged down a cliff-face, before being winched to safety by a British Bases rescue team.

    Antonis Georgiou, 36, of Avdhimou village, had been fishing

    with friends and was walking along the cliffs at Melanda on Thursday afternoon. Loose rocks gave way beneath his feet and he fell 20 feet onto the rocks below.

    One of his companions alerted police, who in turn contacted the British Forces Rescue Control.

    A team from the Defence Fire Service was called out and a helicopter put on standby. The team was eventually able to winch Georgiou up the cliff. He was taken to Limassol General Hospital with a leg fracture.

    Command Fire Officer Ken Gough said of the rescue: "It was a difficult rescue in so much as the face of the cliff continued to break away as we tried to get him up and there was a small risk of someone else going over. Anyone who went near the edge of the cliff was roped off."

    But he concluded that apart from that difficulty, the operation had been "routine".

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [16] Cyprus shipping will be an asset to the EU

    THE CYPRUS Shipping Council (CSC) believes that the island's shipping fleet would be an asset to the European Union, especially once Cyprus gets rid of its sub-standard ships.

    Efforts do, however, need to be made to redeem the Cyprus flag's reputation in the shipping world.

    Members of the company's Executive Committee were addressing a news conference yesterday to brief the public on current national and international shipping developments in view of CSC's tenth anniversary.

    CSC president Jurgen Hahn said that around 80 per cent of the world's shipping came out of Greece and Cyprus and that Cyprus was "an asset to the EU from this point of view."

    Hahn continued that "80 or 90 per cent of the world's trade involves shipping," and that "Cyprus has an ideal position in the Eastern Mediterranean" for trading purposes.

    In his address, CSC's vice-president Andreas Droussiotis spoke of the need to upgrade the island's shipping image.

    He said that the previously coveted Cyprus flag had lost its popularity because several sub-standard ships had made Cyprus-flagged ships the target of harbour inspections.

    Ships on call at international ports are regularly inspected, and any deemed to be sub-standard are detained.

    Statistics are then compiled and analysed, and if a specific flag has more than a certain percentage of detained ships, it is considered to be sub- standard.

    Ships flying these flags are then targeted for inspection, which can create unnecessary delays for ship owners with quality ships.

    The CSC believes that possible customers have been put off by this and opt for other flags as a result. To combat this, the CSC has called on the government to strike sub-standard ships from its register.

    Droussiotis said bureaucratic delays had held up 1995 and 1996 announced plans to upgrade the flag's image.

    The plans include the complete computerisation of the Shipping Department and for the Communications Ministry to enlist an international body of independent inspectors in order to eliminate sub-standard ships from the Cyprus fleet.

    Droussiotis went on to note that shipping contributed between £120 and £140 million to the Cyprus economy per year. He added that around 4,000 people were employed by Cyprus' shipping industry, more than half of whom are Cypriots.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [17] Unficyp cost $47 million last year

    THE UN spent over $47 million financing its peacekeeping force in Cyprus during the last financial year.

    In its report to Secretary-general Kofi Annan, published yesterday, the UN General Assembly states that maintaining the Unficyp force in Cyprus between July 1997 and June 1998 cost a total of $47,822,300.

    This expenditure was $178,500 lower than budgeted.

    The saving resulted from a reduction in the number of Unficyp soldiers stationed on the island and a freeze on staff recruitment as part of a downsizing effort.

    During this period, the UN had 1,225 soldiers, 35 civilian police, 42 international staff and 287 local staff on the island.

    Saturday, February 20, 1999

    [18] Students to debate subsidy offer

    UNIVERSITY students' union Phepan is to hold an emergency general meeting next Thursday to decide whether or not to accept the government's offer of a £500 subsidy to students, instead of the £1,000 demanded by the union.

    Phepan wants the subsidy set at £1,000 to come in line with that given to students who study overseas.

    Internal squabbling has split the union, with the right and centre factions saying the £500 is acceptable, while the left-wingers want to stick out for the full £1,000.

    At the general meeting, expected to be attended by all members, the union will decide whether or not to take further action.

    The left-wing faction said the £500 offer shouldn't be accepted because it was "discrimination" against those who studied in Cyprus.

    The subsidy was originally given to students in order to try and help them offset the huge cost of studying abroad. Non-EU overseas students in the UK must pay up to three times the fees charged to home students.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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