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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-02-26

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, February 26, 2000


  • [01] Akel batters government over Echelon reaction
  • [02] Maid faces deportation over refusal to massage patient
  • [03] Top US envoys in Cyprus next month
  • [04] Disy holds talks with Turkish Cypriot party
  • [05] Market volumes remain low as investors sit on their cash
  • [06] Banished investors grumble in sparse ground floor exile
  • [07] Supreme court releases woman jailed for dud lottery cheques
  • [08] Promotional map leads police to sex shop door
  • [09] Government claims unemployment levels stable at 3.6 per cent
  • [10] Meningitis case ‘an isolated incident’
  • [11] Green anger at tree-felling plan
  • [12] Petrolina to import new cleaner fuel
  • [13] Too fat, too much TV B that's Cyprus children

  • [01] Akel batters government over Echelon reaction

    By Martin Hellicar

    MAIN opposition party AKEL yesterday did its best to score political points from the Echelon "spying" saga, claiming the government was making a fool of itself over the issue.

    The government again tried its utmost to rein in rampant media speculation about the issue, insisting it would only act on the basis of cold hard facts.

    Local newspapers and radio and television stations continued to report that Britain was using the Echelon monitoring network to spy on Cyprus.

    The spark for these reports was Wednesday's debate on the British-American monitoring network at the European parliament's civil liberties committee. A report tabled before the committee by British physicist and journalist Duncan Campbell suggested the satellite monitoring system tapped into the world's fax, telephone and radio exchanges.

    The report apparently notes that one of Echelon's ten ground monitoring stations is located within the British Bases on Cyprus. Cue a media frenzy about British "spying" activities on the island.

    Demetris Christofias, the leader of left-wing Akel, entered the fray in no uncertain manner yesterday.

    He took exception to the cautious reactions of Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos. On Thursday, both Papapetrou and Hasikos said the government would look into the Echelon issue but had no evidence of British spying against Cyprus.

    Christofias suggested the government's response to the Echelon "revelations" was pathetic and limp.

    "The government cannot react in this manner. This reaction shows a government that is at a loss," the Akel leader stated. By operating a monitoring station on the island, the British were challenging the sovereignty of the Republic, Christofias argued.

    The CyBC yesterday reported that not just one, but two Echelon ground stations were on the island.

    Christofias said Akel would be tabling the Echelon issue for emergency debate before the House of Representatives.

    Government Spokesman Papapetrou said the government would not react until it had had a chance to pore over Campbell's report.

    "Our first aim is to secure the report so we can see what it says, ascertain the facts about the allegations and act accordingly," he told his daily briefing.

    Papapetrou said he did not know of any representations having been made to London on the matter. He also said he did not know whether the issue had been brought up by President Clerides during his morning meeting with US Ambassador Donald Bandler.

    British Sovereign Base (SBA) authorities have declined to comment on the essence of the issue.

    The chairman of the House Defence Committee, Takis Hadjidemetriou has treated the Echelon reports as confirmation of what he called a "well- known" fact: that the bases are engaged in spying against Cyprus.

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [02] Maid faces deportation over refusal to massage patient

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE IMMIGRATION department has decided to deport a Sri Lankan house maid after she refused to include massaging a paraplegic's private parts in her household duties.

    The 25-year-old maid was arrested earlier this week after she went to the Labour department to seek a transfer, claiming she was not hired to help the wheelchair-bound man pass water.

    Acting Immigration chief Kyriacos Triantafyllides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that he had "no choice" but to deport the Sri Lankan because she had violated the terms of her contract with a Nicosia family. The maid had known from the start that the distasteful massage would be part of her duties, Triantafyllides said.

    The maid's case has been taken up by the office of the Philippines consul, lawyer John Erotocritou. A lawyer at Erotocritou's office told the Mail that the chairman of the House Human Rights Committee, Yiannakis Agapiou, had appealed for a review of the case yesterday, but apparently to no avail.

    "She is to be deported, in fact she may have already gone," Triantafyllides said early yesterday afternoon.

    The maid had been carrying out the onerous duties for the past six months, ever since she came to Cyprus.

    "The problem was that she came as a domestic help for a family that have a paraplegic and he needs massage because he cannot urinate," a lawyer at Erotocritou's office said.

    "So she had to put I don't know what on him, creams or something. She did it for six or seven months - ever since she came out - but was constantly asking to be relieved. Her employers kept saying OK, they would bring someone else, a nurse," she said.

    "She's 25, young, and not a nurse," the lawyer added.

    Things got too much for the maid, and she decided to go to the Labour department to complain of her "extra" duties and ask for permission to seek work with another family.

    But the Labour department did not buy the 25-year-old's story.

    "The matter was researched by the Ministry of Labour... and her claims do not stand" Triantafyllides said.

    "The Labour Ministry's finding is that the girl knew from beforehand what she would be doing. She came to Cyprus to care for this paraplegic," the officer said.

    "She herself terminated her contract unilaterally and this is the reason she is being deported."

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [03] Top US envoys in Cyprus next month

    US PRESIDENTIAL Emissary for Cyprus Alfred Moses and State Department Co- ordinator Thomas Weston plan to visit the island between March 7 and 10, ahead of the third round of UN-sponsored Cyprus settlement talks set for May in New York.

    US Ambassador to Cyprus Donald Bandler said yesterday he told President Glafcos Clerides of the planned Moses-Weston visit during what he called an "extremely useful conversation" with Clerides in which they "exchanged views on the Cyprus problem."

    Bandler reiterated US commitment to a bizonal, bicommunal federation as the only solution to the Cyprus problem that "addresses the needs of all Cypriots."

    Such a settlement, he said, "can only be arrived at through negotiations among the parties - an agreement of the parties." He said the Americans would offer "ideas" towards reaching such a settlement during the third round of UN-sponsored talks in May.

    "The US and the international community - and I can speak very strongly about my country," Bandler said, "are committed to trying to assist the parties in arriving at such a resolution."

    "We want to build upon the experiences we had in the first two rounds of talks," Bandler said, "as we go into what we are hoping and expect will be a more intensive third round of talks in New York (in May), and then onward."

    But he noted that, while the US side is "prepared to help the parties with ideas, we do not have a plan or a specific proposal" for either side in those talks.

    This owes partly, he said, to the fact that "the settlement talks range widely. They are complex. They don't really lend themselves to an outside proposal or an overall proposal."

    "It is more a matter of providing our ideas when asked, and trying to move the negotiations along and to be sure that the process is set right, so that it can succeed," Bandler said.

    Weston will stop for talks in Athens before coming to Cyprus, while Moses is due to visit Athens and Ankara in April.

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [04] Disy holds talks with Turkish Cypriot party

    A DELEGATION of the Turkish Cypriot Patriotic Unity Party yesterday visited the offices of Disy in Nicosia.

    The two parties agreed during the meeting to issue a joint declaration regarding the settlement of the Cyprus issue.

    The two parties will closely co-operate and work for a peaceful solution of the Cyprus issue based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation model in accordance with UN resolutions, the declaration said.

    Both parties ascertained that Cyprus' accession to the EU would act as a catalyst for the solution of the problem and that the island's full membership in Europe would benefit both communities.

    They expressed their hope that the Turkish Cypriot side would agree to be represented in the accession talks.

    Disy and the Patriotic Unity Party reiterated their support for free bicommunal contacts, saying they were determined to intensify their efforts towards that cause.

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [05] Market volumes remain low as investors sit on their cash

    By Michael Ioannou

    THE STOCK market ended firmer yesterday but was again hamstrung by low volumes, which killed off any momentum for a substantive upswing.

    The benchmark index climbed 0.7 per cent, building on a firm open and oscillating between an intraday high of 616.43 and a low of 612.70 to close at 625.01.

    Traded value remained steady on Thursday's low of £14.9 million and on 2, 943 transactions, one of the lowest seen in months.

    "Bid and ask prices are not matching at the moment. Sellers are holding their ground waiting for higher prices," a trader said.

    The market has been moving sideways all week, losing 5.5 per cent in the first two trading days of the week to be followed by a two per cent jump on Wednesday, and further losses on Thursday. Weekly losses to the market reached 3.9 per cent, compared to an eight per cent jump for the week ending February 18.

    Traded value has also taken a knocking as money is still tied up in new issues and there are rumblings of dissent among brokers and investors concerned at delays in processing transactions.

    Traded values were some 31 per cent lower this week than last, averaging £17 million daily.

    "There is some negative sentiment still prevalent among investors and the bottleneck in processing new listing applications is not helping things," said a trader.

    Negative sentiment over delays in the Bank of Cyprus listing in Greece and confusion over allegations of money laundering at the bourse have kept some investors at bay, she said.

    The market was expected to focus itself only after Bank of Cyprus makes its debut in Athens, she added.

    Floor traders said the market had developed a strong support level at 600 points and said it was unlikely that that level would be tested in the short-term.

    Smaller cap stocks like industrial and commercial shares outperformed the broad market as each sector climbed more than one per cent. The banking sector, about 51 per cent of an estimated £12.4 billion capitalisation, advanced 0.9 per cent on the back of a 14 cent rise in Bank of Cyprus and 11 cent increase in Cyprus Popular Bank.

    Out of 90 securities traded, 42 stocks advanced and 37 declined, while 11 remained unchanged. The small-cap K&G Complex dominated market turnover with 712,000 shares changing hands, followed by Bank of Cyprus with 376,000 shares.

    The bourse said yesterday press distribution firm Cronos, internet provider Spidernet and Worldmax Investment had applied for permission to list their shares .The applicants bring the total number of companies awaiting a listing to 40. Brokers say more than 100 other companies are also preparing to file applications.

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [06] Banished investors grumble in sparse ground floor exile

    THINGS just haven’t been the same since investors were shunted downstairs and isolated from their brokers on the second floor of the Cyprus Stock Exchange.

    Gone are the days when a middle aged investor or a retired civil servant could slip a piece of paper on the desk of his or her preferred broker and get that instant buzz of having clinched a good deal. Since last week, investors have been evicted from the market floor and turned out on to a makeshift ground floor room.

    So the 50-odd investors who turn up rain or shine are now housed inside a street-level shop underneath the exchange. It’s a barren space sprinkled with a few television monitors, which doesn’t quite have the same ambience of the cosy old trading/investor community upstairs.

    There have been rumblings among investor, who believe they’ve got the short end of the straw in order to allow the burgeoning number of brokerages elbow room upstairs. The problem of investors being detached from their broker was all too apparent on Thursday, when a glitch in the GSM mobile network in Nicosia left investors without a lifeline to their traders. Mobiles are now the essential kit of the downtrodden investor, and if the system is out of action, then shares are unlikely to move either.

    Thursday’s technical fault in the GSM system caused phones to cut out as mobile phoning investors jammed the network trying to communicate a buy or sell order at the exchange. CyTA said a small problem at Nicosia central terminal had been exacerbated by the market meeting at around 11am when transactions reach their peak.

    Following the network jam, investors charged upstairs with their bid orders only to be blocked by Group 4 security. A tense standoff ensued but tempers calmed and the traded value also cooled to the lowest of the year ata mere £14.7 million. Yesterday’s glitch-free trading fared a little better when the market ended slightly up on a volume of £14.9 million. The market has been no stranger to power failures this year with the exchange having to cut short sessions on at least two occasions. A planned moved to the IMC on the outskirts of Nicosia in the next few months should solve the problem. But investor psychology has proved delicate over the past year and another GSM failure could bring the market crashing down.

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [07] Supreme court releases woman jailed for dud lottery cheques

    A LOTTERY mad Limassol woman jailed for two months for issuing £79,000 worth of dud cheques has had her sentence revoked by the Supreme Court.

    The Limassol District court had handed down a prison sentence to Sophia Vassiliou, who was accused of issuing four bounced cheques worth £79,100 to play the Lotto and Proto between 1998 and 99.

    The Supreme Court upheld the woman’s appeal against the sentence, agreeing with the defence lawyer that criminal proceedings against her were taken for the sole purpose of forcing Vassiliou to pay up in a subsequent civil action.

    Opap (the Greek state lottery organisation) representative Marios Markides made clear to the court that his aim was to secure the outstanding money rather than seek retribution. The defence argued that the lower court should have stopped proceedings on realising his motives.

    In passing judgement, the Supreme Court said the twin aims of taking criminal action were to do with punishing the crime and preventing it from happening again. Any other motive was therefore an abuse of the system.

    The appeal court ruling said that launching a criminal procedure should not be used as a form of blackmail, and cited as evidence the fact that Vassiliou had decided to repay the debt.

    The woman came to an agreement with the other party to settle her outstanding account by 2004, before the lower court passed sentence.

    Cypriots spend millions on playing the Greek lottery games Lotto and Joker, which combined with other forms of licensed betting earn the government an estimated £130 million a year.

    They have a reputation for being among the world’s most addictive gamblers with a love of betting on horses and fixed odds football as well as the lottery.

    However, these more traditional risk-takers were last year eclipsed by stock market speculators, whose penchant for equities has put the value of the exchange at more than treble the GDP.

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [08] Promotional map leads police to sex shop door

    A NICOSIA sex shop owner accused of littering the capital with obscene flyers was arrested after police followed the map on the leaflet to his premises.

    "The crime prevention unit searched Lover’s sex shop in Engomi yesterday and arrested the 34-year-old owner after finding obscene materials such as vibrators, which were confiscated," a police spokesman said yesterday.

    The man was later released to be charged at a later date, police said.

    Nicosia drivers were shocked when an unusual advertising campaign placedleaflets on their cars promoting the use of sex enhancing appliances.

    Many automatically threw the leaflets aside, but when youngsters started picking them up and showing them to their friends, the full horror of the situation was brought home to outraged parents. Lewd photos on the leaflets apparently left nothing to the imagination and angry residents filed a complaint to police.

    It didn’t take a crack unit from the vice squad to track down the culprit, as the offending material had a well illustrated map leading police to the door of Lover’s sex shop in Engomi.

    Sex shops have only started springing up on the island in recent years, and the law governing obscene materials bans the sale of vibrators.

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [09] Government claims unemployment levels stable at 3.6 per cent

    By Athena Karsera

    THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday unemployment had not risen since last year, adding it was determined to protect local jobs by stepping up measures against illegal workers and their employers.

    Speaking after a Ministry meeting on unemployment yesterday, Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas said that current unemployment levels were hovering at 3.6 per cent, approximately the same level as at this time last year.

    He said, however, that the proportion of women in that number had risen and that the number of foreign workers in Cyprus had been calculated at 40,000, 12,000 of which were illegal.

    "The initial findings we have in our hands at this time show that unemployment has remained at the level of approximately 3.6 per cent," he said.

    "It is encouraging to see that the upward trend of unemployment previously noted in the construction sector has stabilised."

    The Minster said that what remained was for the government to further examine the issue of issuing work permits to foreigners. "This will be done by the Ministerial Committee," he added.

    The Committee, made up of Moushiouttas, Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou and Justice Minister Nicos Koshis, recently decided to extend until May 31 the moratorium against issuing foreigners with work permits.

    Moushiouttas said the state would also be making efforts to speed up the rooting out of illegal workers and their deportation.

    He said that a previously announced plan to place unemployed Cypriots in places occupied by foreign workers was proceeding well, "and should be showing results soon."

    The unemployment figures were, however, contested by left-wing Peo union yesterday. In a statement following their three-day conference on `Work, Unemployment, Foreign Workers and Financial Refugees,' Peo said unemployment had had "a steady upward trend since 1992 and according to our calculation has gone over five per cent of the active work force."

    The union called on the government to take action to bring the figure down.

    Union suggestions to this end included encouraging young people to take up technical skills, re-training the unemployed to carry out specialist tasks and implementing the law on illegal foreign workers.

    [10] Meningitis case ‘an isolated incident’

    By Athena Karsera

    THE HEALTH Ministry yesterday sought to reassure the public after a 10-year- old boy was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis this week.

    Health Ministry doctor Panayiota Protopapa told the Cyprus Mail that the incident was an "expected isolated case".

    "It is just one case of bacterial meningitis. The patient was examined at the general hospital in Nicosia and was then transferred to the paediatric department of the Makarios hospital. The patient underwent all the examinations and was provided with the appropriate antibiotic treatment."

    Protopapa said the boy was responding to treatment, was doing well and was now in a satisfactory condition.

    She said the other children in the child's class and his teacher had been given preventive treatment by the Health Ministry, as had the boy's family, friends and classmates in an after-school English class.

    The doctor added that other people with whom the child had been in close contact on the days leading up to his illness had also been treated. "Everything was done in the proper way."

    The 10-year-old boy is in the sixth class of a Nicosia elementary school.

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [11] Green anger at tree-felling plan

    LOCAL environmentalists yesterday threatened to take direct action to halt the felling of trees to create a fire-break in the heart of the Paphos forest.

    The Ecological Movement group claimed the fire-break was only being cut to provide timber for saw-mills of the ailing state Forestry Industries.

    The greens said forestry experts had confided to them that the proposed fire-break would destroy "ancient" pine trees in the Avggoulina area of the Paphos forest.

    "The Ecological Movement calls on the Director of the Forestry Department to call off the destruction of the trees," the green group stated in a press release.

    "We hope the Director will respond to our pleas. Otherwise, we will be forced to take direct action," the statement added.

    The group did not specify what form this "action" might take.

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [12] Petrolina to import new cleaner fuel

    By George Psyllides

    PETROLINA (Holdings) yesterday announced the introduction in Cyprus of low sulphur diesel and super unleaded petrol.

    The import was decided in order to satisfy the needs of consumers in higher quality fuels for their cars, a Petrolina spokesman said.

    Even car importers had complained that the fuel used on the island was of poor quality and ruined car engines, he added.

    New cars with Euro 1 and 2 diesel engines demand this type of low sulphur fuel.

    The diesel produced locally contains far higher sulphur quantities that not only pollute the environment but damage the engine in the long run.

    "Diesel LS (low sulphur) not only helps stem sulphur emissions in the atmosphere but it will also add life to the engine," the spokesman said.

    Similarly, seeing the market upsurge in cars with unleaded engines, the company decided to import Super Unleaded 98-octane petrol.

    Cyprus can only produce 95-octane petrol.

    Super unleaded 98-octane petrol complies with European Union standards and car manufacturer specifications.

    The company revealed the new fuels will cost more to them to import but they will market them at the existing fuel prices.

    The new products will be available on the market from March 1, at selected Petrolina, Lina, and Agip stations.

    The company said the products would only be sold at 30 stations initially because time was needed to prepare the facilities in all 91 stations affiliated to Petrolina.

    Saturday, February 26, 2000

    [13] Too fat, too much TV B that's Cyprus children

    By Athena Karsera

    HALF OF the children and adolescent population of Cyprus are overweight or even obese, the results of a nationwide study revealed yesterday.

    The Children's Health study, jointly carried out by the health and education ministries, showed that 40 per cent of children were overweight and another 10 per cent obese.

    Announcing the results of the study yesterday, the consultant in charge of the project, Dr Michalis Tornaritis, also said the majority of children and adolescents examined did not eat properly and that most were in bad physical shape with low stamina. He said half the primary school children examined had a cholesterol count higher than the maximum regarded as healthy for their age.

    Tornaritis said that 28,000 primary school children had been examined in the study, along with 1,100 pupils from middle and upper higher schools. When added to the 50,000 parents also questioned, the study covered a full 10 per cent of the republic's population.

    Another sector of the study showed that Aa large percentage' of children tested watched an excessive amount of television -- excessive was judged to be more than 14 hours per week.

    Tornaritis said such compulsive viewing had been linked to many health problems. "The number of overweight boys and girls is rising along with excessive television watching. Those who watch too much television have worse health than those who watch less," he said.

    The 'couch potato' children also consumed more calories than those who watched less television and that these calories were obtained from foods of little nutritional value such as chocolate and soft drinks. The test, Tornaritis said, also revealed that girls who watched more television had a higher percentage of damaging cholesterol than girls who were not in the 'couch potato' category.

    The study showed that children's leisure time was being monopolised by television and computers, and this, when added to time spent at school and in private afternoon lessons gave them little time for sport or other exercise. The research also revealed that most children and adolescents knew the benefits of healthy eating and exercise but did nothing about it.

    In addition, the study showed that higher incomes often led to families buying more convenience foods.

    Tornaritis advised that the best reaction was a return to the traditional Mediterranean diet and cautioned that many adult illnesses took root during childhood. The study was sponsored by Popular Bank.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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