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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-07-13

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Thursday, July 13, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Rolandis hits out at selfish society
  • [02] Geneva talks take a 12-day break
  • [03] Many refugee homes 'will have to be abandoned'
  • [04] What the blazes? It's Fireman Richard
  • [05] CY hopes 2000 will be a bumper year
  • [06] Demolition should ease traffic flow
  • [07] More subsidies for grapes
  • [08] Number of tourist beds may be upped by 10,000

  • [01] Rolandis hits out at selfish society

    COMMERCE Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday hit out at what he called a spoilt Cyprus society that wanted to have Aeverything for nothing@.

    His outspoken remarks, contained in an official statement, were sparked by Nicosia Municipality=s alleged refusal to give permission for a new electricity substation for the capital.

    The Electricity Authority (EAC) says the major power cuts in Nicosia on Friday and Saturday could have been avoided had this extra substation been up and running.

    Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades has denied refusing to license an EAC sub- station.

    But Rolandis yesterday again backed the EAC line: substations were denied licences by officials pandering to Apublic fears and misconceptions@ about their safety.

    AIn Cyprus we want to have everything, but we do not want to give anything, @ Rolandis said. AWe want electricity, but not the &gt;bogie-man= -- as the Mayor of Nicosia, Mr Demetriades, called the electricity substation. So we have been left without the &gt;bogie-man= and without power.@

    Rolandis went much further, suggesting this &gt;not-in-my-back-yard= (NIMBY) attitude was not reserved just for electrical installations, but extended to almost every aspect of modern life on the island.

    AWe want water and fuel and prosperity, but we do not want desalination, or refineries or disturbance from too many tourists,@ an obviously irked Rolandis said.

    Government plans to solve the water shortage by building more desalination plants have been scuppered at almost every turn by local residents refusing to have such a facility sited near them. Plans to relocate the Larnaca oil refinery have met with similar local opposition. Rolandis=s reference to objections to Atoo many tourists@ was probably a dig at Greens, who want hotel building to be curbed.

    Much of Rolandis=s displeasure over the EAC substation issue was directed at Demetriades. He set out to prove Nicosia=s Mayor was wrong to claim that no EAC substation applications had been blocked.

    Rolandis released three pages of EAC information about delays in the licensing of substations and other electrical installations.

    AI ask my dear Lellos -- my 47-year friendship with whom shall not be effected by this case -- what he would have done in my position, given the substantiated information supplied by the EAC leadership?@

    Demetriades hit out at the EAC after the power cuts, claiming the semi- governmental public utility authority had been Acriminally negligent@ for failing to warn people of the weekend cuts.

    The mayor has also lambasted the EAC for its complaints about non-approval of its development projects, claiming it was trying to Apass the buck@ for the power cuts.

    The weekend power cuts caused major disruption to a city struggling to survive a searing heat wave. The blackout was caused by an explosion at a Nicosia transmission station, triggered by massive use of air-conditioners.

    Dozens of people were trapped in sweltering lifts, traffic came to a standstill as traffic lights blacked out, and shops were forced to close early as tills and air-conditioning went on the blink.

    Minor power cuts continued into this week as the EAC struggled to put things straight.

    Nicosia power supplies appeared normal yesterday, except for early disruptions in some areas caused by damage to an underground cable.

    It appeared it was the turn of the Larnaca District villages of Psevdas, Ayia Anna and Kalo Chorio to experience cuts yesterday.

    The EAC announced that the cuts had been caused by damage from a stray shell from the Kalo Chorio army firing range.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Thursday, July 13, 2000

    [02] Geneva talks take a 12-day break

    THE U.N. TALKS on Cyprus broke off for consultations yesterday after a week of secret shuttle diplomacy in Geneva.

    As expected, no breakthrough was announced, but the United Nations did say the proximity talks between President Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would continue on July 24.

    "I have not submitted any proposals to the parties but I have spoken to them about some ideas, asking them to reflect during the break and to give me their reactions when they return," UN mediator Alvaro de Soto told a news conference in Geneva.

    De Soto, who has overseen two earlier rounds of talks on Cyprus, said he had not given either side anything in writing. Citing a media blackout, he declined to go into specifics.

    De Soto was expected to sound out the two sides on key issues including security, territory, distribution of powers and property issues as part of a settlement deal.

    The talks were overshadowed at the outset by renewed military tension on the island because of the advance of Turkish forces to the other side of the buzzer zone village of Strovilia, where they set up a checkpoint, and the leak of a Turkish Cypriot policy document with positions underlining entrenched differences between the two sides.

    "There are many ups and downs in the Cypriot talks... this will be a graph with many peaks and many valleys, I suspect. What you have to do is average them out," de Soto replied when asked if he felt better or worse after a week of consultations.

    In keeping with the ups and downs, Denktash struck a hard line earlier yesterday, accusing Greece of trying to kill the talks off, Reuters reported from Geneva.

    Bristling angrily at Greek criticism of his confederation proposals to settle the Cyprus conflict, Denktash said Greece should mind its own business.

    Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday a leaked Turkish Cypriot policy document advocating a Cyprus confederation showed the Turkish side had no wish to settle the Cyprus problem.

    "Who is he, deciding about the talks?" Denktash told reporters before meeting de Soto.

    "The talks are with the (UN) Secretary-general and this is an interference in order to kill the talks," he said.

    Diplomats had hoped the prospect of European Union membership for Cyprus and a thaw in relations between historical foes Greece and Turkey would aid settlement efforts.

    But the Turkish Cypriot policy document reaffirms that the two sides' concept of how the Cyprus log-jam can be eased is miles apart.

    Turkish Cypriots want a two-state confederation which would imply recognition of the breakaway &gt;state= in north Cyprus, which is recognised by Ankara alone.

    The government, adamant about not ceding sovereignty, wants a bi-communal federation with a strong central government, a formula which has been outlined in numerous UN resolutions.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 13, 2000

    [03] Many refugee homes 'will have to be abandoned'

    By George Psyllides

    SOME 8,000 refugee homes built on Turkish Cypriot land must be abandoned in the next 10 years because the government cannot legally grant title to them, the House Refugee Committee heard yesterday.

    The issue was raised during a Committee discussion on granting ownership titles to refugees living in government-build refugee estates.

    The Interior Ministry reiterated it would not issue ownership titles to residents of refugee homes built on Turkish Cypriot land or on plots partly owned by Turkish Cypriots.

    The government about a year ago began issuing titles to refugees. About 5, 000 were issued before the House of Representatives -- except for ruling Disy party members -- voted to halt the process, citing legal and political problems that might arise.

    The issuing of title deeds had fulfilled a pledge that President Glafcos Clerides made during his re-election campaign.

    Disy Deputy Lefteris Christoforou, who tabled the issue before the committee, said his party=s policy was to grant the deeds ultimately to all refugees.

    He said titles already given out had apparently not caused any problems. And he added that people who had missed getting a title before the process was halted were clamouring for their distribution to begin again.

    AWe believe we can find common ground with other parties to make our proposal reality,@ Christoforou said.

    Christos Artemiou, Chairman of the Pancyprian Refugee Union, said Attorney- general Alecos Markides had grave reservations about the legality of the title handovers.

    He said Markides held that the government could not give ownership titles to families in some 8,000 refugee homes built on Turkish Cypriot land, and that the dwellings would have to be abandoned within the next 10 years.

    The Committee requested submission of all information on the issue by September, when the House reconvenes.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 13, 2000

    [04] What the blazes? It's Fireman Richard

    (The only thanks he=s had so far was when a priest gave him two frozen chickens, a bag of oranges and a couple of beers)

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE FOREST Fire Control Unit is a one-man one-vehicle band -- 37-year-old Richard Ashton and a red truck equipped with professional fire fighting equipment, which doubles up as a family car when he=s not battling the forest fires that seasonally devastate the Cyprus countryside.

    He has been in action at more than 30 fires over the past four years and has not once had a word of thanks from either the municipal authorities, the fire department or the Cyprus government B the same government that was last month brought to its knees as the worst fires in decades swept across the island. In the end help from Greece, Israel and the British Bases, as well as local volunteers, finally extinguished the flames.

    During that fire he was away from his work at a Limassol golf course for four days. On the first day alone he worked until 10pm, mobilising eight ex- British army fire beaters, gathering his digging tools, five assorted fire extinguishers and his 500-litre water tank.

    No detail is too small: he even snatched an old woman=s washing from the line and dunked it in barrel of water to save it from being licked by the flames.

    The only thanks he has had so far came from a local priest, who gave him two frozen chickens, a bag of oranges and two beers for his efforts.

    For his pains, last Saturday Richard Ashton was hauled into Limassol CID and subjected to interrogation as policemen questioned his motives in helping to contain fires so quickly.

    After he had worked to contain a small fire on the same day, getting by on a diet of just cough sweets, water and biscuits, a policeman from Lefkara implied Ashton was guilty of starting the fires himself. For how else did he manage to get to the scene so quickly?

    This came as a kick in the teeth for a man who struggles to beat the fire battle in Cyprus and bring up four children, all on a budget of just ,100 a week.

    His wife Douxoulla is outraged.

    AI was very, very angry, that for four years he has been doing all this and all they can do is accuse him of starting the fires himself. I was ashamed to be Cypriot,@ she said.

    His friend and new fire-fighting partner Alex Ruddick was more forthright: AI think it=s about bloody time that Cypriots recognise what he=s doing and bloody well thank him. Personally I think he deserves a bloody medal.@

    Ashton resents people who call what he does a &gt;hobby=. Apart from his other equipment, he carries a first aid kit, two gallons of drinking water, a chain saw, a safety belt and rope. He has fire-fighting foam and has even manufactured his own tool to quench fires from inside trees, copied from a catalogue because he couldn=t afford to buy the real thing.

    His devotion knows no bounds, and it=s not uncommon for him to return from work with red, swollen eyes because of the heat and lack of sleep.

    AYou need a lot of effort, hard work and dirty work to stop a fire. You have to go to the fire: you can=t wait for the fire to come to you. If it comes to you it=s too late.@

    He works as a greenkeeper a golf club from which he can spot smoke for miles -- from Troodos, past Lefkara, nearly to Kalavassos. At the first sign of trouble, he jumps in the truck and heads for the fire.

    He has worked all over the island, but neither the fire authorities nor the forestry department are officially allowed to call him. His four-year bid for recognition has been passed from hand to hand, but with no success.

    Last month Sotiris Sophocleous, chief of the Limassol fire department, came the closest to an indirect thank you. Ashton overheard him saying Ahe=s got a name as the mad English fireman -- but I wish we had more like him@.

    The future is bleak. His car is falling apart, crippled by the wear and tear of its unorthodox demands. He needs a new one as well as proper breathing equipment, but money is tight and all he can do is repair the car piece by piece.

    He=s just spent ,600 on a new gearbox and his manager docks his wages for the time he spends away fighting fires.

    AHe doesn=t even have any proper fitting boots and I want to get him some ex-Russian army field binoculars. I think it is getting to him a bit,@ Ruddick told the Cyprus Mail.

    Ruddick recently spent ,17 on buying him 50 metres of new hosepipe, after accompanying Richard on a trip.

    But there=s a possible saviour on the horizon: Limassol deputy Marios Matsakis has taken up his plight, after watching him in action. AI think that as a society we owe him a big thank you,@ Matsakis said. AHe has used his own initiative, he has a very good fire-fighting vehicle and not asked for a penny from the government.@

    Matsakis has invited Richard Ashton to his village, Pyrga, to help train villagers about what to do in case of fire and earthquakes, and the deputy also intends to bring up the matter of funding and recognition with Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou at the earliest opportunity.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 13, 2000

    By Noah Haglund

    A 24-hour, air-conditioned &gt;cool down= centre near Nicosia=s Famagusta Gate will give local residents, especially the aged and the infirm, a place to escape the heat through the rest of the summer.

    Nicosia municipality has equipped the new centre with air-conditioners and back-up generators, so people especially vulnerable to heat, due to age or illness, can have a safe haven, even if power cuts leave their homes without electricity.

    The centre is Aa breath of fresh air@ in the words of Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demitriades, who was on hand for the official opening at 8am yesterday.

    He said the &gt;cool down= centre is not a medical facility, but Asimply a room that was used in the past for the needs of elderly people@. It is in a section of a senior citizens= centre that co-ordinates social activities and medical services.

    The centre will not only be a hide-out from the summer=s heat, but will also provide a warm place for the elderly and infirm in winter.

    Specialised personnel will be on hand during working hours.

    While no one had come by late morning yesterday specifically to &gt;cool down=, a close-knit group of regulars from the adjacent senior citizen centre took full advantage of it.

    Demetriades said the city is considering two other centres, which could be opened within 24 hours, should the present one become overcrowded. They may be needed soon.

    Dr Cleanthis Philaniotis, Director of the Cyprus Meteorological Service, forecast today would be Anasty@, with temperatures topping 43 degrees Celsius in the central plains.

    He said increasing humidity is making the situation worse, along with an almost total lack of cooling breezes.

    Cooling is likely to begin tomorrow afternoon and become noticeable by Saturday, he said, with the mercury expected to return closer to normal for the season.

    But he said Cyprus will still be hot, since the average high temperature for this time of year is 36 degrees Celsius.

    While temperatures stayed high yesterday, as of late afternoon there were no new hospital admissions due to the heat.

    Dr Constantinos Mallis, Director of Health Ministry Medical Services, said there had been no new cases of heat stroke since Tuesday morning. He said this shows people are beginning to apply the rules for avoiding heat stress.

    Hospitals remain on alert, however, as the heat wave is not expected to subside before tomorrow afternoon. Mallis also denied earlier reports of a fifth heat-related death in Larnaca on Tuesday.

    He said the 62-year-old woman in question died of a heart attack, and while heat may have been a contributing factor, the Health Department did not list it as heat-related.

    Health Ministry data show the current heat wave has caused four deaths and sent 33 people to hospital with heat stroke.

    In another heat-related development yesterday, opposition party Akel called for simplifying existing laws so labourers do not have to work outside during heatwave conditions.

    The Sunday Mail reported on July 9 that, according to the Labour Ministry and Cypriot labour unions, there is no law permitting manual labourers to stop work after temperatures pass a certain mark, debunking a common myth on the island.

    That myth had listed 42 degrees Celsius as the cut-off point for labourers to down tools.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 13, 2000

    [05] CY hopes 2000 will be a bumper year

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) is expecting a record income for 2000, Chairman Haris Loizides told shareholders yesterday at the airline=s annual general meeting in Nicosia.

    Loizides said income for the first six months of this year increased by nine per cent and the airline=s load factor by three per cent. Fares also increased on average by three per cent.

    Last year was a record year for the national carrier in terms of income which clocked in at ,128 million.

    AWe are expecting a new record income despite intense competition,@ Loizides said. AHowever an accurate forecast cannot be made because of this year=s increase in fuel prices.@ He said CY had estimated fuel costs for 2000 at ,8.5 million, prior to the hike, but the final figure remained to be seen.

    In 1999 the airline=s fuel bill totalled ,11.9 million, a 28 per cent increase over the previous year, mainly due to a rise in the price of jet fuel in the second half of the year.

    CY recorded pre-tax profits in 1999 of ,3.6 million compared to ,5.3 million in 1998, while group profits stood at ,8.8 million last year compared to ,10 million in 1998.

    The only complete six-monthly results which Loizides gave were in respect of the group=s Duty Free Shops with sales up 27 per cent or ,18.7 million pounds, compared to a 14.7 per cent increase in the same period last year.

    The airline also managed to cut costs and increase productivity recently, saving some ,500,000. AThe results are very encouraging,@ Loizides said.

    Loizides told shareholders the company was gearing up for air liberalisation in the face of the island=s EU accession, and had drawn up a new strategy plan which includes the leasing of an additional Airbus A320 for delivery next year.

    CY is also close to a decision on renewing its fleet of four A310s but will retain its eight existing A320s, three of which it leases to its charter subsidiary Eurocypria.

    Loizides said CY also intended to strengthen its existing agreements with other airlines such as KLM, Alitalia and El Al, and look out for other possible alliances.

    AThere is a new strategy for the future which is directly connected with liberalisation which has been completed in Europe and in Cyprus is at an advanced stage,@ he said. AProtective measures concerning air travel to and from Cyprus have already been lifted or are in the course of being lifted.@

    Some 40 companies operate scheduled services to Cyprus and 80 other companies operate charter flights. The government has recently opened up the Greek market but CY is still protected on the Athens route, along with London Heathrow and Tel Aviv, the airline=s three most profitable routes.

    For the first time ever this year, several Cypriot companies have also been granted charter licences to fly from the island, one of which, Helios, began operating last month.

    AThe results of these developments are more competition and complete detachment from state support of any kind,@ Loizides said. AWe don=t have the luxury of talking. Now is the time for work. Liberalisation is here and it has to be dealt with decisively.@

    Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 13, 2000

    [06] Demolition should ease traffic flow

    By Athena Karsera

    PLANS to remove one of Nicosia=s worst traffic bottlenecks, the Gavrielides traffic lights, are closer to fruition after the demolition of a second house near the intersection.

    The demolition of another building late last year was the first under a plan originally drawn up in 1991 to permit smoother traffic flow there.

    The first demolition, of a crumbling old private academy, meant traffic could now be directed from Kyriakos Matsis Street to Grivas Digenis Avenue without passing through the intersection=s traffic lights.

    This change noticeably eased traffic B and tempers -- on one of Nicosia=s busiest junctions. Besides allowing this access lane, the first demolition also enabled the widening of Grivas Digenis by another lane, stretching it to the same two lanes of the other roads intersecting there.

    Further plans include widening Grivas Digenis Avenue and Themistocleous Dervis Street.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 13, 2000

    [07] More subsidies for grapes

    By Athena Karsera

    THE ministerial committee reviewing plunging grape exports yesterday continued subsidising vine owners amid expectations they will dump 50,000 tons of grapes -- 40 per cent of the expected harvest for the year B for lack of demand.

    Sultana farmers will get a subsidy of five cents per export kilogram throughout the year in a programme begun in 1999. Table grape growers will get a subsidy for exports after August 9, 2000, to cover their increased costs amid demand drop-off.

    The ministers of Commerce, Finance and Agriculture plan to discuss the crisis in the grape industry at their next ministerial committee meeting.

    Earlier this week grape producers said they expected to dump 50,000 tons of grapes -- 40 per cent of the expected harvest for the year -- due to a lack of demand.

    Two factors blamed for the threatened dumping include overproduction and lower prices in European markets.

    The government, meanwhile, plans to implement a strategy that reduces the acreage of more common table-wine grapes, and focuses on cultivating higher quality fruit that will produce fine, higher-priced wines B the kind that are beating Cypriot wines out of market share in European markets.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Thursday, July 13, 2000

    [08] Number of tourist beds may be upped by 10,000

    By George Psyllides

    THE GOVERNMENT is looking into the possibility of increasing the number of tourist beds by around 10,000, Tourism and Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    The move comes in response to the increased tourist flow, which at times finds the island=s services unable to cater to their needs, he said.

    Currently there are 87,000 beds, and an additional 7,000 new beds are under construction, but in real terms the number could be increased by another 15, 000 by the addition of a third and even fourth bed to approved facilities.

    Rolandis said the government was thinking of lifting current financial constrictions which prevent the building of additional facilities.

    Under the existing measures, businesses can have their plans approved by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation but they are not then allowed to finance the project with funds from local or foreign organisations.

    AIf they have their own funds they can go ahead and build,@ Rolandis said.

    He said the government wanted to increase the number of tourist beds, but only by construction of hotels, tourist villages, and villas B not apartments.

    He said the idea was still being studied, but that a decision should be expected before the end of August.

    AI think the economy has this need,@ said Rolandis. AWe have come to a point where we stop sales, and have many complaints from tourists.@

    He explained that tour operators are not bound in any way to fill hotels. They can book 100 rooms but can withdraw at any time.

    One the other hand, he said, hoteliers over-book their hotels and if all reservations show up they then have to turn guests away, resulting in chaos because visitors cannot easily find anywhere else to stay.

    If the government decides to go ahead with its plans it is expected that Cyprus will be able to accommodate up to 125,000 tourists at a time.


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