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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-29

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, April 29, 1999


  • [01] 'Tired' pilots threaten strike action
  • [02] US concern at anti-Nato feelings in Cyprus
  • [03] Bomb kills woman at Cypriot owned Athens Intercontinental
  • [04] Chernobyl blasts Radio Napa
  • [05] MP calls for benefits for three-child families
  • [06] Two held over stolen travellers cheques
  • [07] Cyprus welcomes McKinnon Commonwealth leadership bid
  • [08] Kilo of cannabis sat at airport for three weeks
  • [09] 70,000 for enclaved farmers
  • [10] Teaching children about human rights

  • [01] 'Tired' pilots threaten strike action

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) pilots warned yesterday they may go on strike because they are overworked and pose a danger to public safety.

    Pilots union Pasipy will hold an extraordinary general meeting tomorrow to decide on measures to take if their demands are not met.

    The union wants nine of its members promoted to Captain in CY and another nine new co-pilots hired, said Pasipy chairman Chris Christodoulou. It also wants CY to halt the promotion of two Eurocypria pilots to Captain until a report on 'common seniority' is completed.

    CY pilots have a long-standing claim on Captain vacancies in the charter firm, a claim disputed by their Eurocypria counterparts who work longer hours for less money.

    Christodoulou said that since the summer season had begun, pilots had been worked off their feet and were worried that exhaustion could bring CY's safety into question unless more crews were made available.

    He said the pilots would have to strike if CY did not take into consideration their position on heavy flight schedules, which they say is a serious danger for the public.

    "They (CY) are concerned about costs," Christodoulou said. "Where lives are concerned you can't cut corners."

    But a company source said CY pilots flew only 62 hours a month, below international standards and even less than the hours specified in the collective agreement signed between the company and the pilots.

    CY pilots are also among the best paid in the world.

    The source said the longest CY flight was to Manchester at just over five hours, after which pilots stay overnight before returning to Cyprus.

    He also said it was strange that only the Pasipy pilots, and not their 27 Cynika counterparts, were complaining of feeling tired. "They are only after the promotions," he said.

    Cynika chief Costas Demetriou told the Cyprus Mailyesterday his pilot members were not making any demands on the company and had no complaints about being tired. But he said if Pasipy decided to strike Cynika would discuss whether or not to participate. "We will consider the situation and act accordingly," Demetriou said.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said the pilots scare-mongering on safety was irresponsible. "It is well know that Cyprus Airways ranks among the safest airlines worldwide," he said.

    He said CY was governed by international regulations and by the British Civil Aviation Authority, which allow pilots to fly up to 10 to 12 hours at a stretch. "Pilots in other airlines fly 80 to 90 hours a month and our pilots 62 according to the collective agreement," Angelis said.

    "If Pasipy wants to change the terms of the collective agreement, then there are other ways to go about it than bringing up the serious issue of safety. We are very sorry that they use this issue every time they have a demand to make and they always bring it up at peak season."

    But Christodoulou said that CY's claim on the 62 hours was misleading. He said the pilots were talking about duty times rather that flying times. When it comes to working hours, he said pilots were putting in 180 hours a month, around 45 hours a week, "and even more".

    The Pasipy boss said that, on top of this, the roster was allowing pilots no more than a 12-hour break between working shifts on night flights, the minimum allowed under international regulations.

    Angelis rubbished the claim. He said international regulations allowed the pilots to do four night flights a week on three consecutive nights. "We put them on two consecutive nights once a month," Angelis said. "We believe our pilots are very well trained and have all the necessary qualifications to be as good as their colleagues in other airlines who fly more hours."

    Thursday, April 29, 1999

    [02] US concern at anti-Nato feelings in Cyprus

    By Jean Christou

    BRITAIN and the United States have expressed concern at anti-Nato feelings in Cyprus and their possible effects on nationals living in or visiting the island.

    In a statement issued to wardens this week, the US embassy alluded to the frequent demonstrations and to isolated anti-American incidents.

    It specifically mentioned the expulsion of an American citizen from the Palace College (several Britons were also expelled), as well as cases of shops posting signs saying British and American citizens were not welcome and anti-American graffiti scrawled on highway bridges.

    "The embassy is concerned as to whether the situation impacts on the safety and well-being of American citizens residing in or visiting Cyprus," the statement said. It also asked US citizens to pass on details of any such incidents in order to keep the embassy informed.

    Speaking later in the day US ambassador Kenneth Brill sought to play down the circular, saying the embassy was just doing its duty in looking after its nationals. "We're... just seeing if there is any problem out there... We just heard one or two small things. we are looking into them to see. It may not even be true."

    British High Commission spokesman Piers Cazalet said they had heard similar reports from British residents in Cyprus. "At the moment, the British High Commission is not going to circulate anything like the US embassy has done, but we are keeping a close eye on the situation," Cazalet said.

    The British Bases have been keeping a low profile since hostilities broke out in Yugoslavia, but a spokesman there confirmed yesterday that a young soldier had made a complaint with Cyprus police that he had been head- butted at an ATM in Yermasoyeia on April 3 at 3am. The complaint was later withdrawn.

    "The young man alleged he was head-butted by an unknown male who said: 'This is for your queen and this is for Serbia'," the spokesman said

    But he said that apart from that and anti-Nato slogans on the highway, bases personnel had not noticed any change in attitude towards them. However, as a precaution, the spokesman said soldiers had been told to stay away from Limassol during a recent anti-Nato concert in the town.

    The Cyprus Mailwas contacted this week by a British tourist who recently returned to the UK. Brian Edwards, 57, from Rochdale, said he had been to Paphos seven or eight times but had this time noticed a difference in attitude.

    "It was the general atmosphere and the kids out demonstrating. It was all one-sided and for the Serbs," he said. "I and other people going back on the plane felt we were being given the cold shoulder because of the war."

    However, both Thomson Holidays and First Choice, two of Britain's biggest operators, said they had received no negative feedback from British holidaymakers. "We are aware of the protests but they are no more than those in other countries," a Thomson spokesman said, adding they had no reports of incidents against tourists.

    A Western diplomatic source said it was more of a "feeling" of hostility towards Nato countries and of "feeling" unwelcome rather than any specific incidents. "It's not the sort of thing you would complain about, but rather the sort of thing you would talk about with friends when you go home," the source said.

    "Tourists coming here from Nato countries are not expecting to find this sort of thing. They expect Cyprus to be on their side."

    A Paphos travel agency said yesterday there was a bit of anti-Nato activity in the town, with protests and car stickers saying 'Nato Murderers' or referring to British Prime Minister Tony Blair as 'Tony Blinton', but none of their clients had complained.

    Thursday, April 29, 1999

    [03] Bomb kills woman at Cypriot owned Athens Intercontinental

    A CYPRIOT-OWNED Athens hotel was yesterday counting the cost of a bomb attack by an extremist group, which left one of its guests dead.

    The bomb went off at the Intercontinental Hotel on Syngrou Avenue near the city centre just before midnight on Tuesday, killing Virginia Constantinou, 39, and injuring Yiannis Kanavas, 28.

    Responsibility for the blast was yesterday claimed by 'Epanastatiki Pirines' (Revolutionary Cells), described as a left-wing terrorist group by Greek police. The group, which gave a 10-minute prior warning of the attack, said they had targeted the hotel because it was to host a conference by US magazine The Economist. The stated aim was to target US interests in retribution for the Nato air strikes on Yugoslavia.

    Constantinou and Kanavas were both working for the firm setting up the Economistconference, which was to start last night.

    The Intercontinental - which suffered thousands of pounds' worth of damage in the blast - is owned by Cypriot businessman, Dakis Ioannou. Cypriots in general are strongly opposed to the Nato strikes.

    Thursday, April 29, 1999

    [04] Chernobyl blasts Radio Napa

    By Andrew Adamides

    THE INFAMOUS Chernobyl computer virus has made its presence felt in Cyprus over the past few days, but damage fortunately seems to have been minimal.

    The virus, also known as the space-filler virus, attacks every year on the anniversary of the Russian Chernobyl disaster on April 26, 1986, making Monday this year's D-day.

    Although computers operated by government departments and major financial institutions escaped unscathed, a local computer company reported that it had had "quite a few cases" of the virus attacking both home and business computers.

    Among the more high-profile companies hit by the bug was the popular Radio Napa, which was sent offline for three days by Chernobyl.

    "It was fine on Sunday, but on Monday morning, everything was gone," the station's Nathan Morley said. Fortunately, the station's studio is not computerised, and so broadcasting was unaffected.

    The Chernobyl virus is completely ruthless, wiping all data from a computer's hard-disk. Once the information is gone, there is no way to get it back, but a computer with an anti-virus programme will detect Chernobyl and destroy it before it's too late.

    And while the official Chernobyl virus only strikes on April 26, computer- users are warned that other versions of it can strike on the 26th of any month.

    Elsewhere in the world, especially in Turkey, government and bank computers were attacked by the virus causing widespread damage.

    Thursday, April 29, 1999

    [05] MP calls for benefits for three-child families

    DISY deputy Lefteris Christoforou is proposing that families with three children get the same benefits as currently enjoyed by those with four or more.

    Christoforou, whose bill was discussed at the House interior committee yesterday morning, said the aim was to reverse the slump in the birth rate on the island. Cyprus currently has a lower birth than death rate.

    "This (amendment) would benefit between 22 and 23 thousand children and would certainly provide a strong incentive for improving demographic indicators," Christoforou told the committee.

    Families with more than three children enjoy a number of advantages under the large family (polytekni) law: state benefits, free health care, entitlement to a duty free car and exemption from army service for the oldest son.

    Interior Ministry representatives at the committee did not commit themselves on Christoforou's proposal, but said they were currently preparing a wide-ranging plan for "improving" demographic indicators.

    When would this plan be ready, wondered committee chairman Nicos Katsourides. No answer was forthcoming and Katsourides responded that if, by the next committee session, the ministry men could not say when the plan would be ready, deputies would push ahead with Christoforou's bill.

    Christoforou said his proposal would cost the government about 7 million a year. The state currently spends 15 million on polyteknifamilies.

    Meanwhile, Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas yesterday said people were living longer and longer on the island. Life expectancy had risen to 75.3 years for men and 79.8 years for women, he said.

    Today, just over 11 per cent of the island's population is classified as elderly, whereas at the turn of the century they represented only 4.2 per cent of the populace.

    "In 30 years time, it is predicted that the elderly will exceed 20 per cent of the population," Moushiouttas stated.

    Thursday, April 29, 1999

    [06] Two held over stolen travellers cheques

    TWO PEOPLE were remanded in custody yesterday suspected of trying to cash thousands of pounds worth of travellers cheques stolen from a UK travel agents last March.

    The cheques are thought to have come from a 200,000 batch stolen from travel company Lunn Poly in the UK.

    Police believe that hotel employee George Lyras, 50, from Ayia Napa, and Maria Christofi, 29, from Nicosia, tried to cash the stolen American Express travellers cheques at various local banks.

    During the investigation, an American Express representative in Cyprus told police that the travellers cheques were among the 194,000 stolen from Lunn Poly travel agents in the UK, Larnaca court heard yesterday.

    Christofi was arrested after she tried to cash $10,000 and 12,000 Sterling in travellers cheques using a false US passport at an Ayia Napa bank.

    Lyras allegedly agreed to receive the money from the cheques, which Christofi would cash.

    Police said the robbery took place on March 16 and their investigations would spread to Greece and the UK.

    Two other suspects are also being sought in connection with the offence, police said.

    A Larnaca court yesterday remanded the two suspects in police custody for five days.

    Thursday, April 29, 1999

    [07] Cyprus welcomes McKinnon Commonwealth leadership bid

    By Charlie Charalambous

    CYPRUS said yesterday it welcomed New Zealand Foreign Minister Don McKinnon's attempt to become the next Secretary-general of the Commonwealth.

    "Mr McKinnon has announced to us his candidacy to become Secretary-general of the Commonwealth, and we expressed our satisfaction with his contribution to the Commonwealth," Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said at a joint news conference in Nicosia yesterday.

    "We feel he meets all the criteria for the job if elected; our position (on the candidacy) will be made public at a later stage," he added.

    McKinnon is on a two-day visit to the island. Improving trade, the Commonwealth, the Cyprus problem and the Kosovo crisis are all on the agenda.

    On the question of trade between Cyprus and New Zealand, McKinnon said: "There is a little trade between the two countries which could be increased."

    The foreign minister said his country supported the island's EU accession process and backed his compatriot, Unficyp Chief of Mission, Dame Ann Hercus to help broker a Cyprus solution.

    "I am well aware of the thumping of feet of the many envoys who come here," said McKinnon.

    "But as a former parliamentary colleague of mine I know Ann Hercus and she is a very hard working person and she can make a contribution."

    Ann Hercus is being widely tipped to replace Diego Cordovez as the special envoy for Cyprus. Cordovez stood down from his post earlier this month amid rumours he was being marginalised by America and Britain.

    Although New Zealand is a long way from Kosovo, McKinnon said his country was no novice in the Balkans, sending troops as part of the UN protection force in Bosnia and with a medical unit currently operating in Skopje.

    "Like everyone else, we hope to see a sustainable solution to the crisis in Kosovo," said McKinnon.

    The minister leaves the island this morning.

    Thursday, April 29, 1999

    [08] Kilo of cannabis sat at airport for three weeks

    MORE than a kilo of cannabis sat unclaimed in a suitcase at Larnaca airport for almost three weeks, Larnaca District court heard yesterday.

    The bag arrived on a flight from Athens on April 8 and was left on the baggage reclaim conveyor, Drug squad officer Christakis Papadopoulos said.

    Customs officers examined the case and found it contained 1,180 grammes of cannabis. Drug squad officers examined the passenger list for the flight from Athens and identified three "possible suspects," Papadopoulos told the court.

    On Tuesday, one of the suspects - 37-year-old Dutch national Amiri Taimoor - was tracked down in Limassol and taken in for questioning. Papadopoulos told the court that Taimoor, who is of Iranian origin, had admitted to police the suitcase was his and that he had brought the illegal narcotics into the country to sell on to others. He apparently told police the drugs had come from Bangkok via Athens.

    The court remanded Taimoor in police custody for eight days on suspicion of illegally possession and import of drugs with the intention to sell.

    Thursday, April 29, 1999

    [09] 70,000 for enclaved farmers

    THE COUNCIL of Ministers yesterday decided to give 70,000 in aid to enclaved farmers.

    Announcing the decision, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous said the money was being given to help relieve farmers from the drought of recent years.

    "The government decided to help farmers' efforts to support this population, which lives under difficult conditions in an area which is under occupation."

    Themistocleous added most of the Greek Cypriots still living in the occupied areas were farmers.

    [10] Teaching children about human rights

    PRIMARY school children have been provided with an enjoyable way to learn about human rights.

    The Committee for the Restoration of Human Rights in All of Cyprus has compiled and published a free colouring book with the aim of making the 30 articles of the Declaration of Human Rights more understandable for children.

    Developed with the co-operation of the Bank of Cyprus, the book follows the adventures of a little boy and a girl Kypros (Cyprus) and Elpida (Hope).

    According to the book's foreword, "The names of the little heroes represent the hope Cyprus has in human rights for a fair solution to the Cyprus Problem."

    Committee representative Loukia Socratous said yesterday that 10,000 copies of the book had already been distributed to children at primary schools all over the island.

    "This is just the first stage and the Education Ministry has been very enthusiastic about the book," Socratous said.

    She added that if the first edition proved popular, the Ministry would be taking over the book's publishing. "The Ministry has already given us a lot of assistance in compiling the first edition; government sociologists and psychologists read it and advised us on changes and improvements."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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