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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-06-22

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, June 22, 2000


  • [01] Drug use stats ‘tip of the iceberg’
  • [02] Can you find a wheelchair in the hospital?
  • [03] Underage sex still rare in Cyprus
  • [04] Limassol teenagers deny killing British tourist
  • [05] Cyprus to ignore EU brain ban for as long as it can
  • [06] Party leaders expect little progress in Geneva
  • [07] Barsony says actions were misinterpreted
  • [08] Share prices down in confused market
  • [09] CTC to offer bonus shares as profits double
  • [10] Clerides meets party leaders in bid to escape oil impasse

  • [01] Drug use stats ‘tip of the iceberg’

    By George Psyllides

    DRUG use in Cyprus rose by 45 per cent in the first five months of the year, Drug Squad Chief Christakis Katsikides said yesterday. And he admitted that this figure may be just the tip of the iceberg.

    Speaking at a news conference to mark June 26 as ‘World Day Against Drugs’, Katsikides said the recorded increase involved users of all ages.

    By May 31, police had dealt with 126 drugs cases involving 175 people, he said. Of those 175, 120 were Cypriots and 55 foreigners.

    Drug confiscations for the first five months of the year led police to assert that many Cypriot users had switched to harder drugs. Many had shifted from so-called soft drugs like marijuana and hashish to heroin and cocaine and synthetic substances such as Ecstasy, Katsikides said.

    He stressed that more and more young people were involved in drug-related offences. The largest number of users -- 62.15 per cent -- involved people between the ages of 20 and 34, while 35-year-olds and above claimed 23.16 per cent.

    A further 14.69 per cent of users were between the ages of 15 to 19, a 100 per cent increase on 1998.

    Katsikides put down the increase to young people being attracted to the ‘forbidden fruit’. "Pushers even offer drugs for free so they get the first- time user addicted," he said.

    "These statistics are only the tip of the iceberg in relation to the spread of drugs on the island," Katsikides added. "The dimensions of the problem will remain essentially unknown until an epidemiological study is complete and the results publicised," he said.

    Katsikides said the police policy was prevention, not persecution, and he urged the public to co-operate with police to help them succeed in their task.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Thursday, June 22, 2000

    [02] Can you find a wheelchair in the hospital?

    By Athena Karsera

    NICOSIA general hospital has fallen victim to wheelchair thieves, the hospital's casualty department chief revealed yesterday.

    Dr Costas Antoniades told the Cyprus Mail: "I had six wheel-chairs here at the department and they have all been stolen by various patients. They take them home with them."

    The shortage came to light after a woman called the Cyprus Mail to complain that no wheelchair had been found to carry her 59-year-old husband from their car to the emergency room after he broke his ankle.

    Antoniades said he had had the wheelchairs replaced several times, something that involved a protracted ordering process, only to have them disappear again: "I can't buy six new wheelchairs every day... They aren't like pins that fall on the floor and get lost either."

    Antoniades said it was not the department that was at fault but the mentality of certain patients: "Some people have no conscience and simply put the chair in their car and take it home with them."

    He said it was impossible to keep an eye on the wheelchairs 24 hours a day: "I can't police the chairs or put tracking devices on them."

    Antoniades added the hospital seemed to have lately fallen victim to a particular set of pranksters.

    "We have been getting a lot of calls from the police saying that a wheelchair as been abandoned in Eleftheria Square," just down the road from the hospital.

    A senior hospital official could not say how many wheelchairs were assigned the general hospital without Health Ministry clearance, limiting her comment to: "We have plenty."

    But when dentist Akis Christofides turned up at casualty with a broken ankle on Monday night, he was told there was no wheelchair to take him from his car.

    His wife Lella told the Cyprus Mail what had happened: "We went to first aid at the general hospital. I was looking for a wheelchair to carry him from the car to the casualty department. And they said to me ‘We don't have any’. I thought they were joking."

    Christofides said had no choice but to help her husband, who was in great pain, hobble from the car to the hospital. "Then they did an x-ray for him and the doctor in charge said he had to go upstairs to get the foot dressed."

    Christofides said she asked the doctor how she could get her husband upstairs, only to be told again that no wheelchairs were available. "He told me to look in the corridors and bring one in if I found one."

    She went up to the wards and asked the nurses if they could lend her a wheelchair used by in-patients, but they replied they were under strict instructions not to lend out wheelchairs because patients stole them.

    Christofides finally ran into an acquaintance that worked as a technician at the hospital. "He saw how upset I was and said he would see what he could do."

    A hospital orderly with a stretcher was called and he and the technician carried the patient upstairs, only to be confronted by a screaming nurse saying the stretcher was unsuitable for patients.

    "At last we finished with this. But I was very upset by the whole thing. They should just close down the hospital. That's what I told them. Just close it down and say, ‘Sorry, we don't have a public casualty department, go to a private clinic.’ That's my opinion."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, June 22, 2000

    [03] Underage sex still rare in Cyprus

    By Jennie Matthew

    A SURVEY published this week in Britain, which states that nearly a quarter of girls have sex before the age of 16, highlights just how distant Cyprus still is from social trends in northern Europe.

    The British survey was carried out by the National Statistics office after the government made a commitment to cut the rate of teenage pregnancy and reform sex education in schools.

    But the government in Cyprus has never conducted such an investigation, and the expense of such an undertaking deters private organisations.

    Cyprus does not have a teenage pregnancy problem as such and there are no figures available for when young people first have intercourse, or how many use contraception.

    The best indication comes from the Family Planning Association (FPA), established in 1971, which only launched a study into the sexual and reproductive behaviour of teenagers in January this year.

    The clinic, open to people between the ages of 16 and 25, gets an average of 20 visitors a week. The Association’s senior programme officer, Despo Hadjiloizou, stressed it was extremely rare for anyone younger than 16 to show up, and that if they did, they tended to come with their parents. In the UK, 22 per cent of those aged between 16 and 19 use family planning clinics.

    Hadjiloizou added, however, that some people calling the centre’s advice hotline did not give their age, suggesting there may be more adolescents under the age of consent seeking advice than official information indicates.

    Nevertheless, all the sources indicate the figures are marginal. The 200 active members of the FPA’s youth group are all aged between 16 and 30.

    Dr Andreas Papapetrou, a gynaecologist at the biggest abortion clinic in Cyprus, underlined the insignificance of the issue.

    "These abortions [for young, single girls] are getting less and less and less. The girls know much more about these things and whether you believe these things or not, the number of abortions went rapidly down after the Aids era," he said.

    "The number of girls aged 15 to 17 who need abortions is next to nothing, let’s say a couple of cases a year," he added. The rate of teenage pregnancy in Britain is 46.5 per thousand.

    While Papapetrou sees a big improvement in sex awareness in recent years, Hadjiloizou still sees the need for much more extensive sex education, beginning in elementary school, rather than just a few talks to 16-year- olds.

    Since January, the Family Planning Clinic has dispensed morning-after pills to eight girls, mostly between 18 and 20, and six pregnancy tests.

    "This must mean that people are still not taking the right precautionary methods," she said.

    The contraceptive pill is not available from general hospitals, only from private clinics, but at £10 for the one necessary visit and £3 for a month’s worth, is not expensive.

    Unlike among British adolescents, old-fashioned attitudes and double standards still prevail among Cypriot teenagers, with the majority of young men claiming they expect their wives to be virgins, despite their desire for an active pre-marital sex life.


    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, June 22, 2000

    [04] Limassol teenagers deny killing British tourist

    TWO 18-year-old Limassol men held in connection with the murder of a British tourist yesterday pleaded not guilty to the charges they face.

    Christos Christodoulou, alias Cattos (cat), and Andreas Panovic, alias Panouris, were arrested in April following the murder of 41-year-old Graham Mills from Tring in Hertfordshire.

    Mills was found battered to death early near the old Limassol port.

    During the first remand hearing, Christodoulou, who appeared without a lawyer, admitted to beating Mills, claiming they had both been drunk.

    "We hit him, but when we left he was breathing. It was not premeditated," he said.

    Yesterday, the two suspects denied charges of manslaughter and robbery with actual bodily harm.

    After their arrest, the suspects had allegedly told police they had taken most of their victim's money, but left some behind along with his ring and watch in an attempt to mislead the authorities.

    Police initially ruled out theft as a motive for the attack.

    The pair also showed police where they could find the bloodstained rock they used to kill Mills.

    The trial continues.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, June 22, 2000

    [05] Cyprus to ignore EU brain ban for as long as it can

    By Jennie Matthew

    CYPRUS looks set to ignore a European Union directive calling for the banning of specific meat products by July 1, despite the government’s aim to complete the harmonisation process by the 2003 target date.

    The directive bans the consumption of all animal spleens, and the brains and heads of animals older than 12 months.

    Eight EU member states, including Britain, have already banned the products. Seven countries have yet to do so, including France where the proposal has been met by outrage from restaurateurs and gourmets.

    Government sources indicated that Cyprus would only adopt the proposal once it became EU law and once the island became a fully-fledged member of the Union.

    The directive aims to prevent any possible transmission of BSE -- mad cow disease -- to humans through the food chain.

    In the UK, there have been 54 confirmed cases of the human variant CJD. Health fears were compounded after sheep also fell foul of scrapies through the feeding of cattle offal.

    The Director of the Veterinary Services, Pavlos Economides, who is responsible for the matter, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the EU directive was for "precautionary reasons" only, and that the chances of BSE and scrapies being passed on to humans was "remote".

    But he emphasised the government’s stringent measures to keep the island BSE-free, regardless of the proposal.

    Since the 1990s, Cyprus has operated a strict surveillance of all herds. The one suspected case on the island was dispatched to Switzerland immediately for examination and came back negative.

    "We feel that Cyprus is free in accordance with international rules," Economides said.

    Indeed there is currently no firm evidence -- only experimental work -- to suggest a link between the consumption of these products and the transmission of the disease to humans.

    But it is doubtful whether Cypriots will kick up as much fuss as French gourmets over the banning of brain from the menus.

    The chef at the Hilton Hotel in Nicosia, Andreas Gregoriou, was not overly concerned at the prospect of an eventual ban. "Only Easter dishes such Kokoretsi and Mayiritsa will be affected," he said.

    One avid aficionado, however, fumed at the EU proposal. "They won’t manage to ban it in Cyprus, it’s like people going to England and telling them they can’t eat Yorkshire pudding any more," said Vassos Yiazos, 28.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, June 22, 2000

    [06] Party leaders expect little progress in Geneva

    By Athena Karsera

    PARTY leaders were yesterday pessimistic over chances for progress in the upcoming third round of UN-led proximity talks, due to begin in Geneva early next month.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has threatened to pull out of the talks in protest at the UN’s withdrawal of an addendum marking Turkish Cypriot approval of Unficyp. He has also said he wants to take a break from the talks, expected to begin on July 5, to return to the occupied areas for July 20 celebrations of the 1974 invasion.

    Emerging from a meeting of party leaders with President Glafcos Clerides yesterday, Disy chief Nicos Anastassiades said: "Our side is ready. No closing date for the talks has been set and those who are truly interested in the Cyprus problem should now make moves towards Denktash and especially Ankara."

    Akel chairman Demetris Christofias said he believed Denktash would attend the talks, but that he was not optimistic about the dialogue that would take place.

    "No one wants to say anything with certainty because a lot depends on Denktash and Ankara. The opinion of a Turkish Cypriot party leader (Republican Turkish Party president Mehmet Ali Talat) who we met yesterday was that Denktash will probably go."

    Christofias said Talat agreed with Akel’s analysis that Denktash was unlikely to budge, "and that once again we will not have constructive and substantive dialogue."

    Christofias said that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message that he would be in Geneva on July 5 was an indirect message that the talks would begin on that day.

    But he added: "From what I understand the President has not yet been informed by the Secretary-General that the talks will be on the fifth. We will have to wait."

    Christofias repeated his party's position that party leaders should accompany Clerides to Geneva.

    Diko leader Spyros Kyprianou also said he believed Denktash would attend the talks, but would put his proposal for confederation on the table.

    "From sources, from foreign diplomats, I have got the impression that the talks will start on July 5 but this is not definite. No one can take this for granted. They are waiting for Denktash's answer."

    Kyprianou continued, "Another thing I have been hearing from foreign sources is that Denktash will put forward his confederation plan at some time."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, June 22, 2000

    [07] Barsony says actions were misinterpreted

    By Athena Karsera

    ANDRAS Barsony yesterday sought to reassure the government that the Council of Europe recognised only the Republic of Cyprus.

    The CoE’s rapporteur on Cyprus has since Tuesday been at the centre of a furore following accusations that he violated protocol by spending the night in the occupied areas and addressing Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash as ‘president’.

    President Glafcos Clerides yesterday met with Barsony and, according to sources, expressed the government's displeasure at his behaviour.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou later told his daily briefing: "The whole issue is considered closed even though the situation will be closely monitored."

    Papapetrou said that even if Barsony had had the best of intentions, some of his actions had given Denktash the opportunity to make political capital.

    Barsony said his overnight stay in the occupied areas had been misinterpreted in the local press.

    Speaking after his "very successful and fruitful" meeting with Clerides, Barsony said: "I have to assure you that the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly's position was quite clear in its dealings with the political problems on the island of Cyprus. The position of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly never changed. It recognises the sole entity on the island, the Republic of Cyprus and its government as it stands in every document of the Parliamentary Assembly."

    He said his visit had been organised in the same as his pervious ones and that staying the night in the occupied areas was a usual practice he had never been criticised about before. "I don't think that an overnight stay is something that could be introduced as recognition or acknowledgment of a non-existing state."

    The Hungarian deputy said he had wanted to visit both parts of the island in order to contribute to the improvement of conditions for the approximately 600 enclaved Greek Cypriot and Maronites living in the occupied areas.

    He said he had never called Denktash ‘president’ in his capacity as leader of the illegal regime, and noted that he himself was sometimes referred to as ‘president’ because of his term at the Political Affairs committee Presidency.

    But Barsony said he understood politicians’ reactions because of the delicacy of the issue.

    "I understand that the emotional background, the lack of political openness and willingness to achieve a political solution from the Turkish Cypriot community leaders can cause even more tensions in the Republic."

    House president Spyros Kyprianou and Kisos leader Vassos Lyssarides on Tuesday cancelled their meetings with Barsony in protest at his actions in the occupied areas.

    Barsony said yesterday his report to the Council of Europe would be objective and free of personal sentiment and said that certain reports in the local press had been, "not 100 per cent justified... misinterpreting a visit in the occupied territory."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, June 22, 2000

    [08] Share prices down in confused market

    By Michael Ioannou

    SHARE prices ended 0.8 per cent in the red yesterday as equities bucked a firmer open on intense intraday speculation.

    The CSE benchmark lost 4.3 points to close at 510.68 points, in a band of 514.53 to 510.17, oscillations that underlined confusion among investors, traders said.

    Traded values reached £43.7 million on 22.3 million shares traded.

    One unlikely high performer was the state-controlled Cyprus Forest Industries, which lurched more than 30 per cent from its opening price to close at £6.62, a double limit up from Tuesday's closing price.

    Traders said they could see no apparent reason for a sudden run on the stock, where trading is usually subdued.

    Some, however, speculated it could be related to government plans to offload shares in companies it has a controlling stake in.

    "The market is very confused. If you check intraday trading on individual stocks they are moving wildly up and down. People are playing speculative games," said CISCO senior trader Stavros Agrotis.

    There has been a run on small cap shares for the past three weeks. Smaller companies are being increasingly targeted by players on the perception that they offer quicker profits.

    "It is a strange game which is being played. There are no long-term investors. Speculators are winning at the moment and everyone is following them," said trader Nicos Efrem.

    Shares of several small firms are also sought on the belief that they could be acquired by larger firms looking for an easy route into the stock exchange.

    More than 100 companies are waiting for a listing and there have been many complaints of a bottleneck in processing transactions.

    "The solution is not to prevent speculative trading, but to make the entry process for these companies easier," said Agrotis.

    Laggards had a strong lead over winners 68 to 31 and 11 titles were unchanged on 110 traded. There were 8,254 deals.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, June 22, 2000

    [09] CTC to offer bonus shares as profits double

    CYPRUS Trading Corporation plans to issue bonus shares and free warrants to shareholders this year, it said yesterday.

    The bonus shares will be issued at a ratio of one for every three shares held, or for every 1.5 warrants held or 3,375 debentures. For every five bonus shares a free warrant will also be given.

    CTC chairman Nicos Shacolas said the issues were subject to shareholders' approval at an extraordinary general meeting scheduled for July 25.

    Company results for 1999 circulated before an annual general meeting late yesterday showed the group's turnover increasing 18 per cent to £75.6 million and net profit more than doubling at £5.2 million.

    "I can confidently say I expect net profits to exceed 10 million this year, " Shacolas told a news conference.

    The group has expanded rapidly in the past twelve months, branching out into technology in addition to its core of fast moving consumer goods and household appliances.

    Last year it struck a deal with Greece's Germanos for a chain of electrical appliance stores on the island.

    Shacolas said plans to list CTC and associate company Woolworth on the Greek Stock Exchange had not changed.

    "We had said that when legislation was amended and authorities there in a position to promote the listing applications of foreign companies we would proceed with the flotation... we will soon start promoting it again," he said.

    He declined to be specific as regards timing, and said he was not making the announcement simply to build up the value of the share on the bourse.

    [10] Clerides meets party leaders in bid to escape oil impasse

    By Martin Hellicar

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides yesterday had successive meetings with all parliamentary party leaders in a bid to find a compromise to defuse a looming fuel crisis.

    The issue was then discussed by the Cabinet, but no decisions were announced afterwards.

    The sky high price of crude oil and the low value of the Cyprus pound have put the government in a tight spot, with the House of Representatives refusing to approve petrol pump price rises and oil importing companies threatening not to bring in any more crude unless their income is boosted in some way.

    The government is loath to continue subsidising oil imports, a practice that has cost already depleted state coffers £14 million since the turn of the year.

    With oil reserves set to run dry by the end of the month, the country could grind to a halt unless this deadlock is broken.

    President Clerides now appears to be suggesting alternatives to unpopular pump price rises or costly state subsidies.

    According to Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades, the other options being discussed are liberalisation of fuel prices or partial subsidisation of pump prices, or both. Details of the government ideas were not clear yesterday.

    Anastassiades' ruling party will be easier to convince of the merits of government fuel proposals than will the other parties.

    Any pump price hike or other change in the way fuel prices are set would have to be approved by the House plenum, which convenes for its weekly session this afternoon. Parliamentary parties have refused to approve pump price hikes twice this year.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said after the Cabinet meeting that he was "hopeful" a solution to the issue would have been found "in a matter of days". The spokesman said the government would wait to hear the final positions of parties before making its next move.

    Party leaders were giving little away after their morning meetings with the President.

    The leader of main opposition party Akel, Demetris Christofias, said the government was seeking a long-term solution for the fuel price problem. He said his party was unhappy with the current system, which guarantees oil importing companies a certain minimum profit.

    Kisos leader Vassos Lyssarides said his party's positions were quite close to those of the President. He said a solution had to be found to minimise the impact on state finances and end the guaranteed profits for oil companies.

    Oil companies say costly crude and a weak pound mean they are currently loosing £5 million a month.

    Pump price hikes did in fact come into effect for about 29 hours late last month.

    Prices were raised when a relevant bill was tabled before the House on the afternoon of May 31, only to be adjusted downwards again when the bill was thrown out by the House plenum on June 1.

    The price hikes the cabinet tried to get through the House would have seen petrol going up to 44 instead of 40 cents a litre and diesel to 16.6 instead of 14.6 cents a litre.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

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