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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-05-20
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Kyprianou: Iran bomb was attempt to disrupt improving tiesBy Charlie Charalambous
THE TWO people arrested for the attack on the Cypriot embassy in Teheran were trying to disrupt relations between Cyprus and Iran, House President Spyros Kyprianou said yesterday.
"The conclusion of the investigation so far is that those who are responsible for what happened there intended to create a problem at a time when relations between Cyprus and Iran were being strengthened," Kyprianou said on arriving at Larnaca airport from Iran.
Security around the Cyprus embassy in Teheran has been stepped up after a guard was attacked and a bomb left outside the building on Sunday night.
An embassy guard was "viciously beaten" and needed hospital treatment after being attacked by a gang who tried to force their way into the adjacent ambassador's residence. Two suspects are being questioned by the Iranian authorities in connection with the incident.
"What I can say is that these actions came from people who didn't want Cyprus-Iran relations to improve," Kyprianou said yesterday.
But he urged reporters not to "dwell on this or blow it up".
In the wake of the incident, the government called on the Iranian authorities to provide round-the-clock security for its ambassador George Virides and his family.
On Tuesday the government had to deny reports claiming that Kyprianou was the target of a bomb attack during his official visit to Teheran.
But although the government dismissed Iranian reports that a bomb exploded when Kyprianou's convoy approached the Cyprus embassy, it did admit an explosive device had been removed from the compound hours before he arrived.
The government is not linking the incident with Kyprianou's visit, and believe it is a clear case of extortion.
The incident followed a letter sent to Virides on May 13, which threatened to blow up the embassy if $300,000 was not paid up.
Kyprianou was said to be "unhappy" at not having been informed about the threats against the embassy before his Teheran visit.
But yesterday the House president tried to play down the political ramifications of the ministry's faux pas.
"I was not informed... It is an issue we will discuss with the Foreign Ministry."
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Airport staff strike to press demandsBy Anthony O. Miller
STRIKING civil service workers halted all flight operations at the island's two airports, in Larnaca and Paphos, for two hours yesterday over work assignments, wages and the threatened loss of civil service protection if their jobs are privatised.
Priamos Loizides, a spokesman for the striking workers' union, Pasidy, told the Cyprus Mailthe union's next move would be a 24-hour strike at the two airports if the government failed to move towards meeting the airport service workers' concerns.
The strike by airport service workers, from 10am to noon, forced five inbound flights - four at Paphos airport and one at Larnaca - and a single outbound flight from Paphos to reschedule their arrivals or departures to later times, the airports' directors said.
The affected inbound flights included Sobelair and Virgin charters from Brussels; a Crossair charter from Zurich, an Israir charter from Haifa, and a commercial Iranair flight from Tehran.
A Cyprus Airways flight from Larnaca, via Paphos, to Frankfurt was the only outbound take-off affected, Cyprus airways spokesman Tassos Angelis said.
Angelis said the airport service workers deliberately chose the two hours between 10am to noon to strike, as this would have inconvenienced the fewest number of flights.
Larnaca Airport Director Iacovos Demetriou confirmed this, adding that advance notice of the walkout sent to the affected airlines by the Civil Aviation Department helped minimise the strike's inconvenience.
Both Demetriou and Paphos Airport Director Antonios Lemesianos said they had not received any complaints from passengers due to the strike.
Loizides said the strike was "one way to press for implementation" of a recent Pasidy agreement with the government, providing for redefining the airport service workers' duties and increasing their pay. He said the government was using "delaying tactics" to keep from honouring the agreement.
Loizides said the strike also dramatised the workers' fears of losing their civil service protection if a private investor comes in to form a joint venture with the government to operate the two airports and converts their jobs to private-sector posts.
He said his union had evidence the airports, as currently operated, had turned a profit, so did not need to be run by any such joint venture.
Loizides said private investors would seek only "private profits" if they were allowed in.
The Pasidy strikers included Civil Aviation Department employees who guide inbound airplanes to their parking slots, as well as inspectors and control- tower information and accounting officers, Lemesianos said. He said no flight controllers took part in the strike.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Half of ships inspected this year were deficientBy Jean Christou
ALMOST half of all Cypriot-flagged ships inspected in the first quarter of this year were deficient, the Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS) said yesterday.
Six of the companies asked by the DMS to carry out additional inspections and further maintenance on their vessels instead pulled them from the registry.
Cyprus' open registry, or Flag of Convenience (FoC), was the world's sixth largest at the end of last year, with 2,600 vessels, and has come under fire on numerous occasions over the state of its vessels.
The DMS has for years been attempting to clean up the island's image and has appointed several new inspectors, both at home and abroad.
"Inspections of Cypriot vessels have been increased on a systematic basis in an effort towards the objective the present prominent position with regard to the size of the Cyprus fleet by focusing on quality objectives," a DMS statement said.
"it is believed this policy will lead to the reduction of port state control detentions and casualties, to percentage rates below the respective averages for the world merchant fleet."
According to the DMS, a total of 95 vessels were inspected between January and March this year, of which 45 were found to have deficiencies.
Of the 20 checked by DMS inspectors, deficiencies were recorded in 18. The remaining 75 vessels checked were inspected at various ports abroad; 27 of these were found to be deficient in some way.
"The deficiencies found have either been rectified before sailing or the vessels were flagged out of the Cyprus Registry," the DMS said. It says six vessels chose the latter option.
Cyprus caused a stir in shipping circles earlier this month by taking the unprecedented step of criticising a number of unnamed classification societies it uses to survey its ships abroad.
Two Cypriot-flagged vessels deemed seaworthy by an international classification society were only fit for the scrap heap, a DMS official said at time. Both are to be deleted from the register.
"In cases where it is proved that serious deficiencies reported on Cypriot vessels were due not only to the lack of maintenance on the part of shipowners but also to the negligence of the surveyors of the classification societies, strong representations will be made to the latter, and whenever the Department is not satisfied by the follow up action, it is requested that sanctions are imposed on the surveyors concerned," the DMS said in yesterday's statement.
It added that a classification society surveyor in India had recently been barred from conducting surveys on any Cyprus-flagged vessel, while two others in Indonesia were barred for a period of three years and another in Mexico for a period of six months.
Earlier reports suggested that Cyprus had also asked for a surveyor in Romania to be barred indefinitely.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Trouble brewing at EurocypriaBy Jean Christou
TROUBLE is brewing between Cyprus Airways (CY) management and pilots at Eurocypria who want the company to stop stalling on an agreement to fill promotions.
CY has promised to fill the captain vacancies from the Eurocypria ranks under an agreement with the charter firm's pilots.
However, management is stalling because the powerful CY pilots union Pasipy wants the vacancies for its own members under a policy of "common seniority".
"If they try to force it, we won't accept it," a Eurocypria source said yesterday. "They are afraid of Pasipy".
A study on common seniority in foreign airlines has been carried out, but no decisions have yet been taken. Pasipy wants the Eurocypria promotions put on hold until consultations are completed.
Reports yesterday that CY Chairman Takis Kyriakides would ask union representatives for Eurocypria temporarily to freeze the agreement confused the issue and could not be confirmed.
The Eurocypria source said that if this was the case they intended to reject the proposal. A meeting is due to be held tomorrow between Sek union, representing the Eurocypria pilots, and CY management.
The source said that last year the situation had been resolved by temporarily bringing in a pilot from outside, but Eurocypria pilots were not willing to go down the same road again.
The charter pilots agreed last year that the move would be a one-off, the source said, and only on the basis that the vacancies would subsequently be filled from within the charter firm.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Basic precautions could have saved British touristBy Charlie Charalambous
THE TRAGIC death of a British tourist who was stung by a hornet could have been avoided, state pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous said yesterday.
"He died from an allergic reaction to the sting which caused him to suffocate," said Sophocleous.
"The victim knew he was especially allergic to hornet stings because he nearly died following a similar attack in England, but he didn't carry an antidote with him," the pathologist added.
Sophocleous carried out Tuesday's post mortem on 55-year-old David Williams, from Somerset, who died suddenly after suffering an allergic reaction to the hornet sting.
The incident happened when Williams was swimming in a Pissouri hotel pool on Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after arriving with his wife Mandy for a Cyprus holiday.
But despite knowing he had a serious allergic reaction to hornet stings, David Williams did not come prepared with the life-saving antidote that sufferers are advised to carry.
"If he had the drugs with him, he could have been saved," said Sophocleous.
Allergy specialist Andreas Liveris agreed that what happened
to Williams had been unnecessary.
"What happened is a real shame because this was a treatable and preventable allergy," Liveris said.
He said it was obvious that Williams had an allergy because a victim can only develop an adverse reaction if previously stung.
"The one thing about such an allergy is that if you've never been stung by a bee or a hornet then it's impossible to be allergic," said Liveris.
"If you've never come into contact with a bee then you have not been sensitised."
The first sting - from a single insect - is never deadly, but the third, fifth or one hundredth could be.
"You can never predict which sting will be deadly, there is no logic between stings, there is no natural progression," the allergist said.
Rather be safe than sorry is Liveris' advice to all those who had an adverse reaction to a sting: take a simple blood test that will determine the course of treatment necessary.
And maybe his advice should be heeded considering that bee and hornet stings are the number one venomous killers.
"Bee stings are the number one cause of death of any kind of venom injection, and that includes snakes, scorpions and spiders put together," said Liveris.
Young babies, however, are not susceptible to such sting allergies.
"Children younger than three months have no mature immune system so cannot develop an allergic reaction."
Doctor Cecilia Stephanou said that most European travellers were less "allergy aware" than their American counterparts, who are more accustomed to carrying special kits with the correct dose of injected adrenalin or anti-histamine on their holidays.
"Unless you test yourself most people are not aware they're allergic, but the Americans are more inclined to carry with them special kits," Stephanou said.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Government hits back at Greenpeace claims on AkamasBy Martin Hellicar
THE GOVERNMENT yesterday hit back at Greenpeace claims that it was dragging its feet over declaring the Akamas peninsula a National Park.
Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous also accused the International pressure group's Mediterranean branch director, Mario Damato, of being ill- informed.
On Tuesday, Damato announced in Nicosia that Greenpeace were internationalising their Akamas campaign because the government had broken its promises to protect the pristine peninsula.
Damato also claimed Justice Minister Nicos Koshis had a hand in ensuring a company owned by a relative of his got planning permission for a new hotel in the area.
The government pledged to turn the Akamas into a National Park some 10 years ago, but strong opposition from local residents has made the cabinet wary of rubber-stamping the declaration.
"The government has not broken any promises," Themistocleous stated yesterday. He said that, just as he had promised Greenpeace earlier this year, a ministerial committee tasked with making a final decision on the Akamas had already met.
"At the meeting, certain issues came up which were forwarded to committees of technocrats from the various ministries making up the ministerial committee and a second meeting of the ministerial committee is expected very soon," Themistocleous said.
"So overall there is no delay. The issue is being studied and I hope there will be a conclusion soon," he said.
Themistocleous tried to deflect blame for the decade-long delay from the government by pointing out that deputies had taken two years to study a state-commissioned World Bank management plan for the Akamas. The House plenum unanimously approved the World Bank plan - welcomed by greens - last June.
Turning to the issue of the planning permission for a new hotel on the Asprokremnos coast West of Latchi port, the minister said Damato did not know what he was talking about. "I have to say that journalists have to be a little bit careful when people who are not very well informed about an issue comment on an issue, just as Mr Damato did," he said.
He did not comment directly on Koshis' alleged links to the developers but did say there was no reason to assume the new hotel would be built. The developers still have to secure a building permit for the hotel.
"No hotel has been built, beyond the well-known instance of the hotel that has been built," he said.
The family firm of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides secured planning relaxations to build a massive hotel on the Asprokremnos coast.
Themistocleous said there was no doubt the government would press ahead with Akamas National Park plans.
"This is certain. The decision that the Akamas will be declared a National Park is a given government position," he said.
The granting of planning permission for a new hotel on the peninsula has enraged environmentalists and the House Environment committee. Both fear the area will be destroyed by creeping development before the government gets round to granting it protected status.
Later in the day, the Interior Ministry issued a statement defending the decision to grant planning permission for the new hotel. The ministry said the World Bank plan provided for three possible designations for the coastal stretch concerned, "some of which do not preclude the possibility of developments such as this."
The ministry also sought to clear Koshis of any wrongdoing by stating he was not in office in 1992, when planning permission for the hotel was originally granted.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Union says hotel strike part of an 'international conspiracy'A UNION representative yesterday added a whole new dimension to the continuing strikes at two Larnaca hotels, claiming the dispute was all part of an international conspiracy against the union movement.
Peo's secretary-general on hotels Yiannakis Phillipou told CyBC radio that Constantinos Lordos, the director of Lordos Holdings, the controlling company of the two hotels at the centre of the dispute, was employing a "foreign-inspired policy" at the hotels.
Phillipou said top US diplomatic trouble-shooter Richard Holbrooke and various international "magnates" had already employed such an anti-union policy across Europe and the United States: "Now they are trying it here with Lordos taking on a role."
Holbrooke sought in vain last year to bring Greek and Turkish Cypriots back to the negotiating table to restart stalled Cyprus settlement talks. He is best-known internationally for brokering the Dayton peace accords that ended the war in Bosnia.
Peo's Phillipou said yesterday the main goal of a May 27 nationwide hotel strike was to prompt the government into taking more dynamic action on the almost five-month long Lordos strike.
"Mostly this strike is to sensitise these thick-skinned authorities, who don't care to put an end to this conflict."
The Labour Ministry has sought to bring unions and management to binding arbitration, but the unions have refused.
"We care about tourism, but we will still have a national strike," Philippou added.
He said the nationwide strike would be in sympathy for the sacked workers at the Golden Bay and Lordos Beach hotels, but said the general issue was "relevant to other workers too".
Workers at the Golden Bay and Lordos beach hotels have been on strike since January 31, seeking the reinstatement of 53 of their colleagues dismissed when sections of the hotels were turned over to outside contractors.
Unions claim the dismissals were in violation of collective agreements, while Lordos Holdings says that no agreements were signed and that any company has the right to dismiss staff in order to function more efficiently. Hotel management says its decisions were essential to overturn mounting losses at both hotels.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Loucas Fanieros jailed for 18 monthsCARRYING a hunting gun into a cabaret yesterday cost Loucas Fanieros 18 months in prison.
Fanieros, 32, had previously admitted to carrying a hunting rifle into a Larnaca cabaret where rival gang member Michalis Aeroporos and friends were being entertained.
The incident, which saw a shot fired at the cabaret's ceiling, took place last September at the Crystal night-spot in Larnaca.
Fanieros' father Antonis, who survived a drive-by shooting outside his Larnaca gambling club in May 1997, was on Tuesday acquitted of the same charges.
Fanieros father and son had allegedly stormed into the cabaret after hearing that Aeroporos, who they hold responsible for the drive-by shooting, was there. Michalis' Aeroporos three brothers were acquitted of the attempted murder. Two of them have since been shot dead.
The Crystal cabaret is just 500 meters from Fanieros' apartment.
Passing sentence, the Court yesterday took into account the fact that Fanieros' action had not been premeditated and that he had given up his gun to police immediately after the incident.
The Court also kept in mind the fact that Fanieros had tried to restrain his father, and that he had a child in Ukraine whom he had not yet met.
Fanieros told the Court that he was planning to settle permanently in Ukraine once the Court proceedings had ended.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Man held for threats against MamasA LIMASSOL man was remanded in custody yesterday on suspicion of threatening to kill Sigma TV journalist Demetris Mamas.
Nicosia District court heard that Charalambos Charalambous, known as Terlas or Katouris, left two threatening messages on Mamas' mobile phone on Tuesday. Katouris apparently wanted the high-profile reporter to "pull" a report on the unsolved 1994 murder of Stallo Ioannou due for screening that night.
The suspect also threatened to "burn down" Sigma television station if the episode of Mamas' weekly talk-show was shown.
Katouris, 27, was arrested on Tuesday night after Mamas complained to police, and the show - which hosted the murder victim's parents - went ahead.
Katouris was yesterday morning remanded in custody for four days.
Simerininewspaper - published by the Dias media group, which also owns Sigma - yesterday carried a transcript of the threatening messages left on Mamas' mobile phone by an unknown caller on Tuesday afternoon.
"Mama, stop the trailers for your show about Stallo tonight. I'm going to chop off your legs and head. I'll break your bones right where I find you. Stop while you've still got time," was the first message.
The next message was: "Don't do the show about Stallo tonight, because I'll break your ribs and your fingers, do you hear me...?"
 Vast majority want more desalinationBy Anthony O. Miller
OVER 90 per cent of Cypriots want more desalination plants built to end the island's dependence on increasingly unreliable winter rains, a recent survey shows.
Over 92 per cent of respondents in Nicosia and 94 per cent in Larnaca said they wanted more desalination plants to get the island through the current drought and future dry spells, the survey showed.
Preliminary data showed at least 94 per cent of respondents in Limassol, Paralimni and Ayia Napa also want more de-salting units, according to Erineos Koutsakos, director of Hydro Med Consultant Services of Nicosia, which conducted the survey.
The survey of over 1,000 households indicated 74 per cent of Larnaca households and 54 per cent in Nicosia were dissatisfied with the quantity of water supplied by the Water Development Department (WDD).
To cope with continuing rationing, 64 per cent of Nicosia residents and 50 per cent in Larnaca said they had installed extra water storage tanks.
Additionally, 74 per cent of Larnaca homes are not satisfied with the quality of government tap water and tend not to drink it, the survey showed. Of those, 54 per cent drink bottled water, 11.8 per cent drink water from tanker trucks, 11.7 per cent use private bore holes, and 24 per cent haul their own spring water.
In Nicosia, 54 per cent do not like the taste of government tap water, and 92 per cent said they use other water for domestic needs. Of these, 34.6 per cent use bottled water, 17.3 per cent use water from tanker trucks, 7.6 per cent use private bore holes, and 32.9 per cent haul their own spring water.
Cyprus has only one desalination plant, in Dhekelia. Its maximum daily output is 40 million litres of water.
Environmental studies are under way for a second unit to be sited outside Larnaca. The WDD hopes to break ground next month and complete work by January 2001, but WDD senior water engineer Nicos Tsiourtis said yesterday a government Environmental Committee had to evaluate - and approve - the EIS before work could begin.
Meanwhile, the WDD is still trying to unsnag construction of two smaller de- salting plants near the villages of Ayios Theodoros and Zakaki. Each would have a maximum daily output of up to 20 million litres of water.
But protests by residents have prompted the government to rethink its plans to locate two plants outside the villages.
Acting WDD Director Christos Marcoullis has said one of the units will be sited in Zakaki, though its location may be moved slightly from the site first proposed. But he said the WDD was likely to site the second unit near Ayios Theodoros as originally proposed.
Tsiourtis conceded yesterday that government delays in picking a winning bidder to build the two smaller units meant it would be at least six weeks before work could begin - even if new tenders were sought immediately.
The government has asked the tendering contractors - whose original bids were opened on November 17 last year - to extend the validity of those bids for two months.
Tsiourtis said it would probably take some weeks for the Attorney-general to decide whether the WDD had to seek new tenders, or could rely on the original ones.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Turkish military exercises wake up NicosiaRESIDENTS of Nicosia were abruptly woken up by 20 loud blasts early yesterday morning.
The explosions were heard in rapid succession at around 7am throughout the capital.
Police said the blasts were part of military exercises being carried out in the occupied areas.
On Tuesday, a Kaimakli resident reported that a shot had been fired across the Green Line from the occupied areas, damaging his veranda door.
Andreas Constantinou of Larisis Street in the east Nicosia suburb told police that the shot had been fired at around 9.30am. He said it had been fired from the occupied areas, which begin just 200 metres from his home.
Police found a spent cartridge on Constantinou's property, which was taken away for examination.
Thursday, May 20, 1999
 Cyprus completes EU talks on three more sectorsCYPRUS yesterday finished substantive negotiations on a further three chapters of the EU acquis communautaire.
The chapters deal with consumer and health protection, external trade relations and customs union.
Cyprus' chief EU negotiator, former president George Vassiliou, expressed full satisfaction with the accession course, saying Cyprus was still leading the other five aspirant member states, which opened accession talks at the same time as Cyprus last November.
So far, 14 out of 27 chapters have been examined, while substantive negotiations on nine have been fully completed.
Thursday, May 20, 1999</o:p>
 Louis optimistic on summer cruise prospectsBy Jean Christou
OVER 60,000 Cypriots are expected to book a package holiday abroad this year, the Louis tour company said yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference to launch its joint travel card with the Bank of Cyprus, the "Louis Blue Card", the company's marketing manager George Michaelides said prospects for 1999 looked promising.
In addition to the 60,000 Cypriots who would book a package abroad, mostly to Greece, Michaelides said another 20-25,000 Cypriots would buy air tickets and make their own hotel arrangements, while a further 30-40,000 were expected to take a cruise.
To assist ticket-only buyers, Louis has issued a booklet with details on over 300 hotels in more than a dozen countries.
This year's addition to the cruise programme includes a two-day cruise to Rhodes and a longer lay over in Beirut for passengers to visit the famous Casino du Liban. The two-day cruise used to set sail around 8pm from Beirut but will now be leaving after 1.00am on the return leg to Cyprus.
Michaelides said it was too early to determine whether the war in Yugoslavia would affect outbound tourism as Cypriots were notorious for booking their holidays later rather than sooner.
Bookings into the island have stagnated, as Europeans adopt a "wait and see" attitude to travel, which has affected local hotels.
Michaelides said it appeared northern Greece would be affected most by the Kosovo crisis in terms of driving holidays and camping. Crete and Rhodes were not affected, he said.
Under the Louis/Bank of Cyprus venture, travellers will be issued with a specially designed "Blue" MasterCard under which they can earn points both with Louis and with the Bank, in the same way as on an ordinary credit card.
The difference is that users can also earn prizes such as hotel stays and free cruises. Points are calculated on the basis of one for every £10 spent.
Seventy points gives a free night for two in a listed three star hotel. The card also gives free travel insurance and can be used abroad.
Louis Cruise Lines is expected be listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange by the end of June, Michaelides said.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999