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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-04

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, May 04, 1999


  • [01] Passengers stranded as 'exhausted' pilots fall ill
  • [02] Kyprianou 'pioneered' efforts to release US soldiers
  • [03] EIB tells Cyprus it must scrap rate ceiling
  • [04] Two held over separate rape claims
  • [05] Telephonists strike for more pay
  • [06] Doctors call off strike threat
  • [07] Dairy products drive rising exports to the States
  • [08] Three killed in weekend crashes
  • [09] Two more held over stolen cheques
  • [10] Understanding Turkey
  • [11] Woman killed by bee

  • [01] Passengers stranded as 'exhausted' pilots fall ill

    By Jean Christou

    A SPATE of illness has struck Cyprus Airways (CY) pilots two days in a row, causing flight delays and inconvenience to hundreds of passengers.

    The reports of illness among the pilots comes in the middle of a dispute between CY management and pilots' union Pasipy over promotions within the airline and in its charter firm Eurocypria.

    On Sunday, three CY pilots reported in sick, delaying the Larnaca to Paris flight for nine hours, and the Amsterdam flight for three hours, CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said yesterday.

    He said there had been a repeat performance yesterday, when three more pilots called in sick, again delaying the Paris flight for seven hours.

    Angelis said 140 passengers were waiting in Larnaca to take the Paris flight, with an other 120 in Paris waiting for their flight to Larnaca. He said the illness of the other two pilots had not affected any flights.

    "It's a strange coincidence that they all suddenly got sick at the same time, and the company is looking into it," Angelis said.

    He added that no less than eight pilots had called in sick on the same day during the busy Easter period.

    Pilots have complained over recent weeks of colleagues fainting and complaining of exhaustion due to their "heavy workload" and long hours on duty.

    The pilots say they are overstretched because the company needs an extra nine crews for its busy summer schedule.

    Pasipy president Chris Christodoulou yesterday dismissed as "nonsense" the company's suggestion that the spate of illness among pilots might not be coincidental.

    "Cyprus Airways is trying to turn the pilots' sickness into an industrial dispute," he said. "Every person has a right to be ill". He added that three out of 140 pilots becoming ill at the same time was not beyond the bounds of possibility.

    Christodoulou also said the law was categorical in the case of pilots who are ill. "The law says they shouldn't fly."

    He said the pilots who fell ill had all seen the company doctor, who had diagnosed "excessive fatigue" and given them ten days' sick leave.

    He also hinted that the airline was leaving itself open to legal action by suggesting the pilots in question were not really sick.

    And Christodoulou blamed the company for not having enough stand-by pilots to cover when someone fell ill.

    "If a pilot's car breaks down on the way to the airport, should the flight be delayed?" he asked.

    "The company should deal with this to safeguard a serious situation. It's down to them. Every time they have a problem, they blame the pilots."

    However, airline sources said the pilots' illnesses were nothing more than a means of putting pressure on the company over their demands for extra crews at CY and the captain vacancies at Eurocypria.

    CY pilots have long laid claim to promotions at Eurocypria, whose own pilots fly longer hours for less money.

    Pasipy says it is waiting for a report on "common seniority" in airlines abroad and wants the Eurocypria promotions to remain unfilled until then.

    However, Eurocypria pilots have said they will not tolerate their CY counterparts muscling in on their promotions and warned that unless the charter firm made the promotions as soon as possible Eurocypria will not be able to fulfil its commitment to tour operators this summer.

    Eurocypria pilots say they had no part in the "common seniority" report and that under their collective agreement the promotions should go to them.

    But Pasipy's Christodoulou said yesterday that his union members last Friday voted to take strike action if the Eurocypria vacancies were filled before the report was finished.

    "We don't want to be unfair to the lads in Eurocypria, but we want to be fair to everyone in the prospects for promotion, which are limited because of the company's lack of expansion," he said.

    Tuesday, May 04, 1999

    [02] Kyprianou 'pioneered' efforts to release US soldiers

    By Jean Christou

    THE YUGOSLAV embassy yesterday said House President Spyros Kyprianou had played an important role as the initiator of the effort to release three US soldiers.

    The embassy issued a statement in response to press reports over the past few days concerning the release of the three soldiers.

    The soldiers were finally released on Sunday after efforts by American civil rights activist The Reverend Jesse Jackson.

    Kyprianou announced last month he was on his way to Belgrade to work for the soldiers' release, but returned to the island empty handed three days later.

    He said he could not understand why his request to Nato for a short cease- fire had been ignored, adding he was sure this had contributed to Belgrade's refusal to release the soldiers.

    Kyprianou had been hopeful of success when he left Cyprus and had asked for a 24-hour cease-fire to complete his mission. Instead the bombing was intensified during his stay in Belgrade.

    Kyprianou said on Sunday that he had been informed on every step of Jackson's efforts.

    This was backed up by the Yugoslav embassy statement which said Kyprianou "was the pioneer of the initiative for the release of the soldiers for humanitarian reasons", and that the Yugoslav government has immensurable respect for his diplomatic initiative.

    "Mr Kyprianou was kept informed from the beginning on the efforts for the release of the soldiers, and the whole process took place with his full knowledge and we appreciate his attempts," the embassy said.

    A spokesman for Kyprianou said yesterday that the House President had indeed been aware of Jesse Jackson's plans. He said that Kyprianou had been the first one to work on the initiative.

    "It is not important who got them freed," the spokesman said. "What is important is that an opening was made which helped to solve the issue, and what is important is that they are free and that this will lead to more developments towards peace."

    Meanwhile the government yesterday repeated that if the European Union asked candidate states to align with EU sanctions against Yugoslavia, Cyprus' response would be dictated by the national interest.

    Spokesman Costas Serezis was responding to press reports that Nicosia was concerned that the EU would demand the implementation by candidate states of a package of sanctions against Yugoslavia that would include the freezing of Serb assets.

    "When decisions are taken (by the EU) and we are asked to implement them, we will examine them," Serezis said, adding that for the time being no one has approached the Cyprus government.

    Serezis said the government had "a specific policy" on the issue, and it was examining all matters raised bearing in mind the national interest.

    He said Cyprus had not yet asked to freeze Yugoslav assets, but would be complying with the EU oil embargo against Yugoslavia.

    Socialist Edek party leader Vassos Lyssarides left yesterday for Bonn, where he will convey a letter to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder from President Glafcos Clerides on the Cyprus issue and EU accession.

    "The visit is taking place in a bid to convince European countries to speed up Cyprus' accession course and not allow any linking of accession with a prior settlement to the Cyprus problem," Lyssarides told reporters at Larnaca airport before his departure.

    Referring to the Yugoslav crisis, Lyssarides expressed the conviction that "a countdown has begun", and said "Europeans must understand that the prolonging of this crisis and bombing destabilise Europe."

    Tuesday, May 04, 1999

    [03] EIB tells Cyprus it must scrap rate ceiling

    By Jean Christou

    THE EUROPEAN Investment Bank has called on Cyprus to lift its ceiling on interest rates if it wants to become a member of the European Union.

    Euro-bank Chairman Sir Brian Unwin yesterday described moves by the government to remove the cap on interest rates as "absolutely essential for Cyprus if it is to qualify for Union membership".

    He added that Cyprus would benefit greatly from such a move.

    Speaking after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides, Sir Brian said that the restrictions on the capital market were preventing the Bank from issuing bonds in Cyprus, as it did in other candidate countries to help them develop their capital markets.

    "The issue of bonds by the EIB in Cyprus pounds convertible into euros will itself be a significant boost to the standing of the reputation of the Cyprus market," he said.

    Sir Brian said that Cyprus had the highest per capita lending in relation to its population of any country in which the EIB operated, and said that over the next three years as much as 400 million euros could be made available to local projects.

    Cyprus has a population of around 760,000 and in the past three years it has received some 200 million euros from the bank for sewage, water and electricity projects.

    The bank chairman said future funds could go to help finance projects for water development, for the Nicosia sewerage system, for improvement at Paphos and Larnaca International Airports and major road projects.

    Sir Brian said the EIB was a larger lending institution than the World Bank and that Cyprus received loans through a general Mediterranean lending package and a special EU pre-accession facility.

    He said the EIB had lent 130 million euros to the Cyprus Development Bank, which they subsequently lent to small businesses, following EIB approval.

    The liberalisation of interest rates was also on the agenda in meetings that Finance Minister Takis Clerides held yesterday, first with the House Finance Committee, and later with Akel leader Demetris Christofias.

    It was Clerides' first address to the House committee as part of an ongoing briefing on the proposed interest rate liberalisation.

    Speaking after the meeting, Clerides said his ministry was preparing a three-year programme for the economy, which would be presented to the House in a month's time.

    Following his meeting with Clerides, Christofias said Akel would work with the government on topics where there was mutual agreement, including on the issue of the interest rates.

    Tuesday, May 04, 1999

    [04] Two held over separate rape claims

    A 27-YEAR-OLD man was remanded in custody for eight days on Sunday, suspected of raping his sister-in-law.

    The Platres Improvement Board employee from the nearby village of Fini was remanded by a Limassol district court after a relative of the 23-year-old alleged victim filed a complaint to Platres police.

    Apart from rape, the suspect could face charges of illegal possession of a hunting rifle and firing shots in a residential area, police told the court.

    The rape is alleged to have taken place in an isolated spot between Kato Platres and Fini after the woman and close friends had spent a night out with the suspect.

    However, when the woman requested to be taken home in the early hours of Sunday morning, the suspect allegedly refused, driving her instead to a desolate spot where he raped her before taking her home.

    Police said that once the suspect had heard that the woman had told her parents and that they had told police, he took his shotgun and fired shots at her home.

    In a separate rape case, a 22-year-old man from Vorio Polos was remanded in police custody for three days yesterday by a Nicosia district court. He is suspected of beating and raping his former girlfriend.

    The man is alleged to have intercepted the car of his former girlfriend on April 10, pulled her out by the hair, then proceeded to kick and punch her while she was lying in the road.

    Eighteen days later, according to the woman's accusation, the suspect forcibly abducted her then drove her to his Nicosia home where he raped her, police said.

    Tuesday, May 04, 1999

    [05] Telephonists strike for more pay

    By Andrew Adamides

    SIXTY-EIGHT government telephonists picketed the Presidential Palace yesterday, demanding that their pay scales be upgraded and that more personnel be taken on to swell their ranks.

    The telephonists are also staging a 48-hour strike which began yesterday morning at the same time as the picketing began.

    The pickets were yesterday demanding to see President Glafcos Clerides about their woes.

    Andreas Nicolaou, President of the telephonists branch of civil servants union Pasydy, said that by midday, they had seen nobody from the Palace, but that they would remain outside until they did.

    Nicolaou said the telephonists, who have previously staged brief work stoppages over the same demands, had not bothered to present a petition yesterday as they had already sent so many.

    He added that if nobody came out to see them by the end of the day, they would be back to picket the palace again today.

    The union official said that, although they had also submitted their demands to the Finance Ministry, there had been no reply from there either, and that the ministries had been too busy working on the problems of the government doctors, who were also threatening to strike. "Congratulations to the doctors that their problems were solved but I just wonder: are we second rate citizens?" Nicolaou asked.

    The government doctors broke away from Pasydy last year in an acrimonious dispute, claiming the public sector union had failed adequately to defend their interests.

    Emergency numbers remain operational despite the strike.

    Tuesday, May 04, 1999

    [06] Doctors call off strike threat

    GOVERNMENT doctors have called off the strike planned for today after new overtures by the government.

    The breakaway doctors' union Pasiki issued a statement yesterday saying they had decided to postpone the strike in response to the new initiative by the government late last week.

    It said the doctors would be waiting to see the outcome of a May 12 Health Ministry Committee meeting before deciding how to proceed further.

    The union had planned to strike for 24 hours today and on Friday. The measures had originally been planned for November 28 last year. The union says the government has refused to listen to its members' demands on working conditions and other aspects of the health service.

    Tuesday, May 04, 1999

    [07] Dairy products drive rising exports to the States

    CYPRUS' exports to the United States are on the rise, according to the Cyprus Embassy Trade Centre in New York, but latest figures released at home show a significant decrease in overall exports.

    According to figures released by the US Department of Commerce, Cyprus exports to the US have been increasing over the past decade.

    Ann Corro, the Cyprus Trade Specialist at the Department, said the annual value of Cyprus exports had reached a record overall high of $21 million (10 million) in 1998, and that the figure could rise as high as $31 million (15 million) once statistics were finalised.

    Cyprus' Trade Commissioner to the US, Dennis Droushiotis, said exports of dairy products, especially halloumi cheese, had jumped 22 per cent over 1997, adding that new Cyprus cheeses, such as feta, kaskavali and anari, had appeared in the US market in 1998.

    The same statistics indicated that Americans drank nearly half a million dollars worth of Cyprus wines in 1998 - up by 113 per cent. Light industry products such as clothing exports reached $5.2 million and footwear $3.9 million.

    Impressive gains were also registered in exports to the US of machinery, precious stones, and metals, reflecting Cyprus' growing position as a regional commercial and shipping hub, with sophisticated transit trade, banking and insurance sectors.

    However, the US still remains a relatively small market for Cypriot products. According to the latest import-export figures, 54.2 per cent of domestic exports went to EU countries and another 20 per cent to Arab countries.

    But overall exports are in decline and imports still on the rise.

    Domestic exports including shipstores fell to 12.9 million in January 1999, from 18 million in January 1998.

    The 54 per cent of exports going to EU countries in January 1999 fell from 61.3 per cent in the same period last year.

    A significant drop was also recorded in exports to Arab markets dropping from 27.7 per cent in January 1998 to 20.6 per cent in January this year.

    Tuesday, May 04, 1999

    [08] Three killed in weekend crashes

    THREE people were killed in separate accidents over the May 1 holiday weekend.

    Yesterday morning, 21-year-old Sofronis Sofroniou was killed instantly when his car collided with a pick-up truck at approximately 6 am.

    The pick-up truck's driver Andreas Kyriakou, 54, was seriously injured and taken to Larnaca general hospital for treatment.

    Sofroniou was travelling from Kiti to Tersifanou village in order to catch a bus to Limassol where he worked as a plumber.

    On Saturday a 19-year-old National Guardsman died after his motorcycle was hit by a pick-up truck outside Sotira in the Famagusta district. The accident happened at 8.40pm, with a head-on collision between the pick-up truck, driven by builder Costas Fellas, 20, and soldier Panayiotis Moleski.

    After hitting Moleski, Fellas' car collided with a second vehicle before coming to a stop. The driver of the second vehicle was not seriously injured but police reported that all the vehicles were extensively damaged.

    Police believe Fellas lost control of his vehicle, veering into the oncoming motorcycle. Moleski was immediately taken to Paralimni and later Larnaca hospital, where he died at 2.15am on Sunday morning during surgery.

    Fellas failed an alcotest and was arrested on Sunday morning. He was remanded in custody but released yesterday.

    Also on Saturday, a 68-year-old woman was run over and killed while trying to cross a Nicosia avenue.

    The accident happened at approximately 9pm when car mechanic Antonis Heilis hit pedestrian Eleni Evangelou.

    Evangelou was taken to Nicosia general hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries shortly after midnight.

    Heilis was arrested the next morning and held in custody but released later that day.

    A police announcement yesterday asked anyone who had witnessed the accident to contact their nearest police station.

    Tuesday, May 04, 1999

    [09] Two more held over stolen cheques

    TWO MORE people were remanded in custody yesterday in connection with a UK robbery in which nearly 200,000 of travellers cheques were stolen.

    Businessman Panayiotis Zintilis, 45, from Ayia Napa, and Haris Theocharou, 35, from Paphos, are suspected of possessing and trying to cash travellers cheques stolen from UK travel agents Lunn Poly in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, last March.

    They were brought before a Larnaca court yesterday, where they were remanded for eight days in police custody.

    The two men were named by Maria Christofi, 29. She was arrested last week trying to cash $10,000 and 11,400 Sterling worth of stolen travellers cheques at an Ayia Napa bank.

    Christofi was re-remanded for eight days yesterday. A third person, hotel employee George Lyras, 50, was remanded in police custody last week, but did not appear in court yesterday.

    Police say they are looking for a third person who they believe could be in possession of around 100,000 worth of stolen travellers cheques.

    The police investigation will spread to Athens and Britain in an effort to solve the case.

    [10] Understanding Turkey

    A SYMPOSIUM on 'Current Issues in Turkey and the Turkic World and their historical dimensions' opened yesterday in Nicosia.

    Professors from universities in Germany, Holland, Israel and Cyprus took part in the one-day symposium which was organised by the Department of Turkish Studies of the University of Cyprus and the Office for the Study of the Cyprus Problem at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    Addressing the symposium, the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Cyprus University, Yiannis Ioannou, said: "The Turkish world is historically, culturally and politically part of the experience of Cyprus."

    "Whether one thinks in terms of coexistence or in terms of conflict, this relation necessitates an ongoing exploration," he added.

    Ioannou said that "as the bonds of friendship are strengthened by knowing and understanding the other, similarly the bonds between two historically different cultures necessitate a deeper knowledge and understanding of the other."

    He expressed the hope "in the long-term this relation with the Turkish world will be based on the principle of peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding".

    The Office for the Study of the Cyprus Problem and the Department of Turkish Studies are also today organising a panel discussion on the subject of 'Turkey after the elections'.

    Tuesday, May 04, 1999

    [11] Woman killed by bee

    A WOMAN died over the weekend after being stung by a bee at her home.

    Loulla Porpatzia, 65, from Vavla, died after the bee sting left her unconscious on Saturday morning.

    Although Loulla managed to call for help, her neighbours found her unconscious on the floor.

    The woman was initially taken to Nicosia General hospital then transferred to Larnaca General hospital where she was pronounced dead.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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