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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-07-09

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

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Friday, July 9, 1999


  • [01] Supreme Court to decide on corruption bill
  • [02] Jet-ski vendors cross into occupied waters
  • [03] Cyprus poised to cash in on diplomatic thaw with Libya
  • [04] Louis Cruises to become largest ever company IPO
  • [05] 12 years for 'ruthless' murder of Petrakides
  • [06] Woman says she saw gunmen execute Aeroporos
  • [07] Man held in connection with attempted murders
  • [08] Man admits sexually assaulting girl of six
  • [09] National Guard to parade T-80 tanks to dispel fuel furore
  • [10] Health Ministry issues warning as temperatures rise
  • [11] Potato farmers take their turn at the Presidential Palace
  • [12] Clerides calls off meeting with fishermen
  • [13] Clerides calls for unity at key time in Cyprus problem
  • [14] Cypriots lured to Iran for eclipse packages
  • [15] CyTA installs automatic transfer for Medic-Alert number change

  • [01] Supreme Court to decide on corruption bill

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE fate of a controversial anti-corruption law that would force public figures to declare their assets is set to be decided by the Supreme Court.

    The House of Representatives plenum yesterday approved the bill for the second time in a month, after it was referred back to the body by President Glafcos Clerides.

    This means Clerides - who maintains many of the bill's provisions are unworkable and unconstitutional - is now likely to exercise his right to challenge the constitutionality of the bill before the Supreme Court.

    During the often repetitive debate on the issue yesterday, many deputies agreed with the President's appraisal of the law and said the matter might as well be left to the island's top court.

    If the President didn't appeal to the Supreme Court then some citizen affected by the new law would be sure to, Diko deputy Tassos Papadopoulos argued. Disy deputy and self-declared anti-corruption crusader Christos Pourgourides countered that leaving the matter to the judgment of the Supreme Court was tantamount to the House reneging on its duties.

    Eleven deputies of governing Disy voted in support of the President's referral back to the House, but 26 deputies from opposition parties Akel, Diko, Edek and the United Democrats voted against.

    The bill provides for the periodic publication in the government gazette of the full assets of deputies, cabinet members, judges, top ministry officials and the owners and editors of all media outlets. The aim of the legislation is to prevent public figures abusing their position for personal financial gain.

    Clerides, basing himself on the advice of Attorney-general Alecos Markides, has argued that it violates the right to privacy and could compromise the independence of judges.

    The bill - which has been on the table for over a decade - was first approved on June 10, under the pressure of growing public concern about corruption in high places. The unlawful enrichment allegations which recently forced Dinos Michaelides to resign as Interior Minister had brought the issue to the fore.

    But the saga of the anti-graft law now seems set to continue.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [02] Jet-ski vendors cross into occupied waters

    By Anthony O. Miller

    AT LEAST 13 boats and a jet-ski driven by angry water-sports operators crossed the Maritime Security Line (MSL) into Turkish-occupied waters yesterday to protest at marine police attempts to arrest them and confiscate their equipment.

    "The police, first thing in the morning, came to Protaras, trying to collect equipment, trying to take people to prison," George Demetriou, former president of the Cyprus Water Sports Association, told the Cyprus Mail.

    The police were attempting to enforce new rules ordered by Communications and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou, moving water-sports rental sites and their sea-access corridors away from the vendors' accustomed hotel swimming areas, and out to the margins of the beaches.

    "They are fuming... The (vendors) in Protaras decided that instead of giving their equipment to police, they would go to Famagusta. They prefer to give everything to Denktash," he said.

    "They took all their equipment, they took their boats. They've had enough of this government. They want to find another government. They want to find other beaches to work and feed their families," Demetriou said.

    Marine police officer Antonicos Panayii said. "If they want to go to the Turkish-occupied area, they can do it. We cannot stop them."

    Sarah Russell, spokeswoman for UN forces in Cyprus (Unficyp) said UN troops near the MSL confirmed that shortly after noon yesterday, 13 Greek Cypriot motor-boats and a jet-ski did cross into Turkish-occupation waters.

    Two of the boats and a jet-ski sped some 1,700 metres into occupation waters, while a third boat penetrated 1,000 meters into the Turkish zone, Russell said.

    Another 15 Greek Cypriot boats later gathered at the MSL, 10 of which later crossed as far as a line of buoys erected by Turkish occupation forces, shouted at crews of Turkish boats standing by, and then withdrew, she said.

    Russell said none of the Greek Cypriot boats or their crews were seized or arrested by Turkish forces for breaching the MSL. Cyprus Police and other sources confirmed this scenario.

    "We have protested to the Government of Cyprus to express our concern about the increase of violations of the Maritime Security Line. And so, obviously we're concerned about safety," Russell said.

    "We've done our best to highlight where the (MSL) is. The more violations there are, the more concerned we get," she said.

    On hearing some of his members had bolted for the MSL, Demetris Hadjidemetriou, the new president of the Cyprus Water Sports Association, said he raced to Protaras from Limassol, boarded a boat and "managed to bring them all back" into waters controlled by the Republic.

    He said when the water-sports operators returned to the Victory Beach area of Protaras, marine police drew up threatening to arrest them if they headed back out to sea, while "land police" threatened to arrest them if they touched shore.

    By late afternoon yesterday, the police had backed off, leaving the sea- sports operators pondering their next move, Hadjidemetriou said.

    "The police said that if any boats go into the water (today), they will arrest them," he said. "The strange thing is that we are still planning to meet with the minister (Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis). Normally if you are negotiating something, there is a cease-fire."

    The sea-sports operators' angry run to the MSL was partly in reaction to their unsuccessful meeting with Ierodiaconou on Wednesday, in which the minister dashed their hopes that he might suspend the new regulations for the rest of this year, and review the need for them over the coming winter.

    The new rules are the government's reaction to at least three jet-ski accidents last year that killed one British tourist and seriously injured three others.

    The operators say the new corridors bunch them together far from the seafront hotels, concentrating competition, and forcing tourists to walk great distances from their hotels to rent jet-skis, motor-boats and other sea-sports equipment.

    The sea-sports vendors are to meet today with Commerce and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis to try to iron out their differences over new rules.

    Yesterday's incident follows an angry demonstration outside the Presidential Palace on Monday in which three people were arrested after scuffles broke out between protesters and police.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [03] Cyprus poised to cash in on diplomatic thaw with Libya

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS is on the road to renewing lucrative trade ties with Libya following the cabinet's decision to fall into line with the suspension of UN sanctions on the north African country.

    Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis told the Cyprus Mailthat an official delegation, headed by him, had already visited Tripoli.

    "We met five ministers and other important people and it appears that we are ready to re-establish relations," Rolandis said. "We were among the first to visit them."

    Cyprus suspended seven years of sanctions in line with the UN's decision to do so in April after Libya handed over the suspects for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The UN sanctions were imposed in 1992.

    Britain has also this week re-established ties with Tripoli, but the US won't budge on its embargo on Libya.

    An official government announcement said that -- in line with the EU's position -- Cyprus had not suspended sanctions relating to the export of arms and military equipment.

    It has also retained restrictions in the movement of diplomatic personnel and a strict procedure in the issuing of visas.

    Trade between the two countries is, however, expected to boom in the coming months. Rolandis said exports to Libya were once worth $70-80 million. They mainly consisted of clothing and footwear, he said.

    Rolandis said although these sectors had declined in the last seven years, there were several other products Libya was now interested in buying, such as machinery and solar heaters.

    He said the Ministry was organising a trade delegation to Libya to further cement business ties at the end of September.

    Another area where contacts may be resumed is air transport.

    Although there was no answer from the Libyan Arab Airlines offices in Nicosia, Cyprus Airways (CY) said it would probably look into the possibility of re-establishing air links.

    "We are interested in flying to Libya in the future," said CY spokesman Tassos Angelis. "But we would have to study the situation first and see if there was a market demand."

    He said CY used to fly to Tripoli. "We have to see if there is still an interest," he said.

    A spokesman at the Libyan embassy in Nicosia declined to comment on new relations between the two countries.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [04] Louis Cruises to become largest ever company IPO

    By Hamza Hendawi

    LOUIS Cruise Lines Ltd, a part of giants Louis Tours, formally announced its much-heralded IPO yesterday, saying applications from the public would be received for four days starting next Monday.

    A statement by the company, among the biggest operators in the Mediterranean, said 23.27 million shares at 40 cents apiece would be offered to the public, while shares worth 8.95 would be sold in a private placement to investors, certain individuals and business partners.

    The share issue will represent 30 per cent of the company's share capital, leaving the remaining 70 per cent in the hands of the Louis Organisation.

    The statement said the Initial Public Offer (IPO) of Louis Cruise Lines Ltd was set to be the largest ever by a company in Cyprus, and that its forecast market capitalisation of 61.1 million would place it in fifth place in the Cyprus Stock Exchange.

    Louis Cruise Lines made a profit of 5.2 million in 1998 and yesterday's statement said the company was expected to make a similar profit this year.

    Louis is expected to hit the market during the first week of August in what may turn out to be a welcome injection of new energy in a bourse that may be losing direction after more than 80 per cent appreciation in the first six months of the year.

    Another eagerly-awaited market entry is that of investment and brokerage powerhouse Severis & Athienitis Financial Services Ltd.

    In the market yesterday, things may have been heating up in the tourism sector in anticipation of Louis' debut. The tourism sector was red hot yesterday with its sub-index shooting up by an eye-popping 8.05 per cent on a volume worth 2.08 million.

    It was one of only two of the market's seven sectors to finish in positive territory yesterday, the other one being that of the banks.

    Between them, the two sectors helped the all-share index reverse the downward trend of the past two days which shaved just over three per cent of the market's value. The index finished up 0.83 per cent at 168.28 on a volume worth a respectable 12.36 million.

    The day's undisputed tourism star was Libra Holidays, which rose by 31.50 cents to finish at 1.68. The share, fresh from a two-week voluntary suspension for a five-for-two split, attracted trade worth 1.87 million, an unusually high sum for a tourism title.

    In the traditionally boisterous banking sector, the Bank of Cyprus finished up a meagre two cents at 7.10, while the Popular Bank and Hellenic Bank finished up at 4.04 and 5.11 respectively.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [05] 12 years for 'ruthless' murder of Petrakides

    By Martin Hellicar

    GEORGE Zavrantonas was yesterday sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for the "ruthless" killing of former special policeman Fotis Petrakides.

    "The accused proved himself a ruthless predator of the victim. He shot him even after he was dead. His behaviour was inexcusable," the three-bench Assizes court stated in its decision.

    Zavrantonas, 22, from Aradippou, had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of father-of-three Petrakides, 56, from the Engomi suburb of Nicosia, at Koshi outside Larnaca on April 2. Police frogmen pulled Petrakides's bullet- riddled body out of Aradippou dam, five kilometres from Koshi, three days later.

    Court president Georgios Aresti yesterday read out a detailed account of the events surrounding the murder.

    Zavrantonas met Petrakides at an abandoned factory outside Koshi to discuss 7,000 he had given the ex-policeman to pay for illegal weapons. Zavrantonas went to the rendez-vous well-armed, intending to ask for his money back, Aresti stated.

    The Larnaca court acknowledged that Zavrantonas was provoked into shooting Petrakides after the victim pulled a pistol on him. But, Aresti added, Zavrantonas continued to shoot Petrakides even after the first pistol shot had immobilised his victim.

    Zavrantonas had also paid 30-year-old Christos Tziakouris 1,000 to hide out near the old factory as his body-guard, Aresti said. The court noted that the accused had claimed Tziakouris had prompted him to "finish off" Petrakides. Tziakouris handed Zavrantonas a Kalashnikov after Zavrantonas had shot the victim twice with a pistol, the court stated.

    But Aresti emphasised that the victim was dead when Zavrantonas shot him for a fifth and final time.

    Zavrantonas turned to his family at the back of the courtroom and smiled as sentence was passed. His mother fainted and had to be carried from the court.

    Tziakouris, from Yeri outside Nicosia, is on trial before the Larnaca District Court in connection with the killing.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [06] Woman says she saw gunmen execute Aeroporos

    By Charlie Charalambous

    A FEMALE eyewitness yesterday told the criminal court how she saw masked gunmen execute Hambis Aeroporos after chasing him down a Limassol street.

    Ellena Kollemou told the court she was only fives metres away from the hooded killers when they fired on Hambis while he was on the ground.

    "I saw two masked gunmen shoot the victim, they were both carrying guns," the eye-witness said.

    She added: "I saw the victim fall to the ground as two men followed him; the masked men then came up to him and shot him."

    The prosecution witness said she was driving from Limassol to Ypsonas in her Mitsubishi Pajero when she saw the cold-blooded killing, which took place near the town's new hospital.

    "At first I was in shock, then when I realised what was happening I had to get away and made my escape via a nearby field."

    Kollemou's said she saw no other people around at the time of the shooting.

    She said it was impossible to identify the killers despite being only metres away because their faces were hidden.

    "I stayed in the car and saw nobody else at the scene," she said.

    Defence lawyers for the five accused did not cross-examine the witness.

    On trial for the December 16 murder are special constable Savvas Ioannou, 33 -- alias Kinezos -- policeman Christos Symianos, 35, waiter Prokopis Prokopi, 35, cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis, 43, and his 51-year-old sister and hospital cleaner Zoe Alexandrou. All have pleaded not guilty to charges of involvement in the killing.

    During yesterday's proceedings, the prosecution called three police witnesses to suggest that Symianos and Kinezos were in constant phone contact on the eve of the murder.

    The trial continues.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [07] Man held in connection with attempted murders

    LIMASSOL court yesterday remanded a man for eight days in connection with two attempted murders, while also reprimanding police for delays in investigations that allowed the suspect to travel overseas.

    Stelios Costas Christou, 27, was arrested on Wednesday after arriving at Limassol harbour at 11am.

    He had been travelling on a cruise ship from Greece, where police believe he escaped with his brother, Christakis, 30, who is believed to be the second person wanted in connection with the same case.

    Police had been looking for Christou since July 1 in connection with the attempted murders of Antonis Loizou, also known as Serina, and Charalambos Charalambos in a bomb attack on December 27.

    He is also suspected of causing damage with explosives to the property of Evanthis Ioannou in Yerasa and for a break-in at the Ypsonas home of Thanasis Athanasiou.

    Two shotguns, jewellery and a camera worth a total of 3,000 were stolen from Athanasiou's home.

    Christou has denied involvement in any of the cases.

    The court reproached the police for allowing Christou and his brother to leave Cyprus on June 31, when they had in their possession testimony implicating them in the crimes.

    Police said they had let the two brothers go in exchange for information on other cases and because the brothers said they feared for their life and would be going to Australia.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [08] Man admits sexually assaulting girl of six

    A FATHER of two yesterday pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault of a minor and indecent exposure on a public beach.

    Andreas Krambis, 38, had been remanded in custody by a British bases court on July 1 in connection with an alleged incident on June 26 at the Romanzo beach, which is within the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area.

    The suspect was charged yesterday and pleaded guilty. He opted for trial by the SBA court when asked whether he would prefer to stand trial in the Cyprus Republic's courts.

    Calling for Krambis to be charged, the prosecutor told the court of five specific incidents involving one child at the beach on June 26.

    The court heard that Krambis had exposed himself to a six year-old-girl who was with her 11 year-old brother at the time, that he had fondled her and had made her touch him.

    The man was an acquaintance of the children's family and so their parents, who were 100 metres away fishing, did not suspect what was happening, the prosecutor said.

    The court heard Krambis had allegedly tried to distract the girl's brother from what was going on, telling him to look at the sky or count to 100, or to go and find out how many fish his parents had caught.

    Krambis assaulted the little girl over a four-hour period, the court heard.

    The boy mentioned the incident to his parents when they left the beach at about 8pm, and they immediately went to the police.

    Krambis was arrested shortly after.

    He is set to be sentenced on July 22.

    During the course of the investigation, other families came forward with similar allegations, which SBA police believe could be linked to Krambis.

    The suspect was picked out in a police identity parade on June 26.

    Police say Krambis was known to the welfare services, who had in the past investigated allegations that he had abused his own children.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [09] National Guard to parade T-80 tanks to dispel fuel furore

    By Charlie Charalambous

    THE NATIONAL Guard's entire arsenal of Russian T-80 tanks will be paraded before the media today in an attempt to prove that the fuel fiasco was no more than a storm in a tea cup.

    Not only that, but President Clerides will be at hand to inspect the tanks in person and give them his seal of approval.

    Government spokesman Costas Serezis announced the tank's very public appearance during yesterday's briefing.

    "The President will attend military exercises in Kalo Chorio Larnaca tomorrow at 6pm... he will have the opportunity to witness the readiness and capabilities of the tanks," Serezis said.

    He explained that the exercises were part of the National Guard's efforts to be battle-ready, as well as an opportunity to put paid to bad publicity.

    "After the exercise, the President will inspect the T-80s which will be taking part," the spokesman said.

    However, when pressed about why the tanks would be paraded before the media, Serezis confessed it was "no coincidence" that the fuel fiasco had played a major role.

    "It was a scheduled exercise but it's also about showing the public and the troops -- as we have emphasised many time before -- that the tanks are battle ready."

    A string of front-page stories have claimed that the tanks performance had been badly impaired because the wrong fuel was used.

    Defence Minister Yiannakis Chrysostomis declared the National Guard was to blame because it had been ordering the wrong fuel for the past three years.

    The minster has called an internal investigation to determine responsibility for the fiasco, but insists no lasting damage was done to the tanks -- which he described as being in optimum condition.

    The House Defence Committee met Chrysostomis yesterday to discuss the issue, and while it was happy about the condition of the tanks, it will hold its own investigation into the fuel fiasco.

    [10] Health Ministry issues warning as temperatures rise

    SWELTERING temperatures yesterday prompted the Health Ministry to issue an information bulletin to warn people on the dangers of the heat.

    Fearing another heat-wave like that which killed some 70 people last summer, the bulletin said there was considerable danger of heat exhaustion, sunstroke and severe sunburn during the searing months of July and August.

    "Heat exhaustion is usually indicated by weakness, paleness, cool skin, listlessness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, cramps in the legs and stomach, fast breathing, speeding pulse and possibly fainting."

    Sunstroke is caused by high temperatures and humidity, the announcement said, and should be treated by a doctor immediately.

    Symptoms are headaches, dizziness, excitement, a fever of 40 degrees or more, listlessness, breathing difficulties, confusion fainting and falling into a coma.

    Both conditions can be treated by taking the sufferer to a cool environment and combatting dehydration by replacing lost water and salt, giving the victim a glass of cold water with three teaspoons of salt or a chilled clear soft-drink.

    Sunstroke victims should be taken to a doctor while their clothes are removed and they are wrapped in a wet sheet and fanned with cold air. These attempts should aim at bringing the sufferer's temperature down to 38 degrees Celsius but no lower.

    Children, the elderly and people who are not used to working in a warm and humid environment are particularly vulnerable.

    People suffering from heart conditions, diabetes, kidney illnesses and breathing difficulties are also at risk.

    The Health Ministry announcement said that the best prevention against heat exhaustion and sunstroke was avoiding extended exposure to the sun, limiting movement and heavy physical exercise, avoiding alcohol and heavy foods. Hot baths should also be avoided.

    Hats and loose clothes should be worn and air-conditioners and fans used. Salt and water should be consumed to replace those lost through sweating and light foods preferred.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [11] Potato farmers take their turn at the Presidential Palace

    POTATO growers took their turn to protest outside the Presidential Palace in Nicosia yesterday, despite Wednesday's promises of state support.

    The palace has, over the past eight days, played unwilling "host" to protesting Akamas villagers, fishermen and jet-ski owners.

    The potato growers have been hit hard by competition for UK and European markets from cheaper Italian and Spanish exports.

    The cabinet has decided to come to the aid of the island's cash-strapped growers, setting up a ministerial committee to determine the level of compensation they should receive.

    But the farmers, who are demanding 150 million in state aid, were not impressed and were yesterday out in force to voice their grievances. No incidents were reported.

    Potato growers rely on exports to the UK and the rest of Europe to make their money. The Cyprus potato has traditionally sold well in Britain and Europe, but a disastrous 1997 crop meant local growers lost their foothold in the European market, allowing producers from other countries to take over.

    Even though subsequent years have seen bumper crops, the local growers cannot produce as cheaply as their Italian and Spanish counterparts and are therefore poorly placed to win back market domination.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [12] Clerides calls off meeting with fishermen

    PRESIDENT Clerides announced yesterday that he would no longer be meeting with representatives from the Professional Fishermen's Union, as they had continued to threaten more radical action if their demands were not met.

    The fishermen on Wednesday called off an indefinite demonstration outside the Presidential Palace when they heard the President would be meeting them next week.

    Announcing Clerides' decision yesterday, government spokesman Costas Serezis said the President could not give in to threats.

    Some 200 fisherman demonstrated outside the Palace on Tuesday, threatening a rotating picket action until they were granted a meeting with Clerides.

    Three men were arrested after skirmishes broke out between the fishermen and police.

    The fishermen abandoned their demonstration after they were promised a meeting with Clerides next Wednesday.

    The president of the professional Fishermen's Union, Andreas Adamou, welcomed the government's offer but warned that if their demands were not met they would escalate their action.

    The fishermen want more government compensation for the damage that dolphins and turtles do to their nets, and are calling on the government to take action to keep the animals from damaging their nets.

    They also want a stop to fishing licences being handed out "indiscriminately."

    The Union is set to meet with other Agricultural union this afternoon to discuss further action.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999


    [13] Clerides calls for unity at key time in Cyprus problem

    THE CURRENT stage of the Cyprus problem is the most difficult yet, President Clerides said in a statement yesterday, as he called for political unity in this crucial time.

    In the two-page statement, read out by Government Spokesman Costas Serezis at his daily briefing yesterday, Clerides was answering comments by left- wing Akel, which had described the Cyprus problem as being at its most difficult stage yet. If a solution wasn't found after all the international interest currently being shown in the problem, Clerides said, then greater problems would arise.

    He also said that while the government had the utmost respect for Akel and did not want to have disagreements with any of the political parties, it too had a right to its own opinion.

    Clerides added that anyone concerned that the recent interest shown in the Cyprus situation by the G8 countries might result in the Cyprus problem being taken out of the hands of the UN, should not worry, as the G8 interest would rather be of additional help.

    Meanwhile, during a meeting with Cyprus' chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou, Dr Friedbert Pflueger, a representative of the delegation from the committee on European affairs of the German Bundestag, said Germany cold not see any way that Turkey could

    veto Cyprus' EU accession.

    Speaking after the meeting, Vassiliou said "the Germans underlined that they would like to see a solution to the Cyprus problem and at the same time said they could not understand a third country, in this case Turkey, threatening to veto Cyprus' accession."

    Pflueger is visiting with his delegation, which arrived on Wednesday. They also met yesterday with President Glafcos Clerides.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [14] Cypriots lured to Iran for eclipse packages

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRIOTS are being lured to Iran in package deals for the best view of the August 11 eclipse of the sun.

    A spokesman at Iran Air told the Cyprus Mailthere had been a tremendous amount of interest and they expected much more next week once the package is officially announced.

    "I believe a lot of Cypriots are planning to go," the spokesman said.

    Nasa has announced that the best place in the world to view the eclipse will be Iran, where 96 per cent of the phenomenon will be visible to the naked eye.

    The eclipse will begin with sunrise on the west of the Atlantic Ocean, and after covering central Europe, Turkey and northern parts of Iraq, will cover Iran on the west.

    Because of the cloudy skies over Europe, Iran also has the edge with its clear climatic conditions.

    The Iranians say the best place to view the eclipse, based on astronomers' calculations, will be the historical sites of Isfahan and Yazd.

    The Nicosia spokesman said the one-week package would cost between 400 and 500, and would include travel and full board in a five-star hotel.

    Iran Air operates two flights a week from Larnaca to Tehran.

    Cypriot astronomer George Fakas told the Cyprus Mailyesterday the eclipse would be 80 per cent visible over the island.

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    Friday, July 9, 1999

    [15] CyTA installs automatic transfer for Medic-Alert number change

    PEOPLE with Medic-Alert bracelets will not need new ones to compensate for the recent change in the service's emergency telephone number, the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CYTA) said yesterday.

    This is because CyTA is installing an automatic switching system, so people dialling the old Medic-Alert emergency number will immediately get through to the new number - 1442 - without losing any time or safety, CyTA spokeswoman Rita Karatzia said.

    Press reports had suggested yesterday that Medic-Alert wanted CyTA to pay the estimated 30,000 it would cost to provide wearers with new bracelets, now that the emergency number on the wrist-bands had been changed.

    With the new switching system, this will not be necessary, Karatzia said, adding that CyTA planned to keep the system in operation until at least the year 2001, and probably indefinitely beyond.

    She said CyTA was trying to deal "compassionately" with the problem, and in no way wished to inconvenience Medic-Alert patrons or cause them anxieties about their security now that their emergency phone number had been changed.

    She said proof of CyTA's concern was the issue of a four-digit number -- 1442 -- to Medic-Alert in the changeover, something she said was extremely "rare" and hard to obtain.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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