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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-08-29

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

<title>Cyprus Airways ponders air rage response in wake of passenger ‘hijack’ </title>

Tuesday, August 29, 2000


  • [01] Cyprus Airways ponders air rage response in wake of passenger ‘hijack’
  • [02] Opposition hits back at Neophytou over civil service claims
  • [03] Bourse relocation a ‘top priority’
  • [04] Market returns from holiday slump
  • [05] Kurd breaks his hunger strike
  • [06] Government protest over Denktash Strovilia visit

  • [01] Cyprus Airways ponders air rage response in wake of passenger ‘hijack’

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways is looking at measures to combat air rage following Saturday’s Athens airport passenger ‘hijacking’ of a Paphos-bound flight, the airline’s chairman Haris Loizides said yesterday.

    "We are studying the incident and gathering evidence from the crew, and we will decide when we have a clear picture of the behaviour of various passengers," Loizides said.

    Angry Cypriot passengers clashed with police and airport officials in Athens in the early hours of Saturday an attempt to stop a Paphos-bound flight being diverted to Larnaca, its final destination.

    The Airbus A310 had undergone two hours of repair after a high loader servicing the plane damaged the luggage compartment. The pilot, in consultation with a Greek engineer, deemed it safer to take the plane directly to Larnaca.

    Paphos passengers, who were told by the company they would be transported from Larnaca by bus, became angry and tried to prevent the plane from leaving, delaying departure by another three hours until 5am.

    CY said some of the passengers surrounded the plane, blocked the entrance and insulted the Greek engineer before about 70 of the 240 people on board opted to remain at an Athens hotel for the night at company expense.

    "If this had happened on British Airways or KLM, or any other company other than Cyprus Airways, do you think these Cypriot passengers would have reacted in this way?" said Loizides.

    "They would have accepted the crew’s directions and would have acknowledged the fact that the captain was doing his job well. But because it was a Cyprus Airways flight they all tried to look like experts on the issue."

    Loizides said the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) was closely monitoring the increasing number of incidents of air rage.

    The airline’s get-tough attitude contrasts with its laissez-faire reaction when a flight had to be diverted to Athens after a drunken passenger groped a stewardess in May. Greek police offered to arrest the passenger on landing, but Cyprus Airways declined to press charges, saying it was content simply to get the man off the plane and didn’t want to take the matter further.

    Though CY says it has fewer air rage incidents than other airlines, the last year has seen a steady increase of incidents involving abusive passengers and people who refuse to comply with no smoking bans.

    "There are passengers who create trouble on flights and there has been an increase recently, not the same type of incident (as on Saturday), but passengers under the influence of alcohol attacking other passengers or crew," Loizides said.

    "This problem is being closely followed by IATA, which is studying measures for tackling the problem, because at 30,000 feet the possibility of restraint is difficult."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Tuesday, August 29, 2000

    [02] Opposition hits back at Neophytou over civil service claims

    By Martin Hellicar

    COMMUNICATION Minister Averoff Neophytou’s caustic attack on "foot- dragging" civil servants sparked a major political row yesterday, with opposition parties accusing the Minister of having a hidden agenda.

    The government meanwhile did its best to dampen the situation, insisting "freeloading" public servants were the exception rather than the rule.

    The seeds for the dispute were sown on Friday, when Neophytou, fresh from a surprise inspection of Paphos government departments, charged that certain civil servants were "simply not productive enough to justify their salaries".

    Unsurprisingly, the Minister’s statement brought a reaction from the powerful public service union, Pasydy. In a statement yesterday, the union expressed "intense displeasure" at Neophytou’s "generalised" statements. Pasydy called on the Minister to look to his own responsibilities in the matter and to avoid self-projection.

    Opposition parties, with ‘big guns’ Akel to the fore, quickly joined the fray, charging that Neophytou’s covert aim was to drag down the civil service in order to usher in privatisation.

    Andros Kyprianou, a member of the Akel political office, continued the attack on Neophytou yesterday.

    Kyprianou admitted that there were indeed problems within the civil service, but said the Minister was deliberately exaggerating the situation.

    "Mr Neophytou never misses a chance to give excessive dimensions to certain problems within the civil service with but one aim, that is that everything Mr Neophytou states translates into a drive to have privatisation of the public sector," Kyprianou said.

    Doros Theodorou, a deputy for Kisos, said the Minister was out to "make an impression". Kyprianou and Theodorou agreed that Neophytou was often prone to exaggerating for effect.

    Theodorou said the Minister’s attack on civil servants was "unacceptable and unjust".

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou rushed to the defence of his cabinet colleague yesterday. Christodoulou insisted the government was not after privatising the public sector. The aim, the Interior Minister said, was to liberalise the sector, in order to come into line with EU norms.

    Christodoulou did, however, also admit that the measures needed to solve many inefficiency problems in the civil service had not been implemented yet.

    Minister Neophytou stuck to his guns yesterday, calling a news conference during which he divulged some of the details of the "inefficiencies" he had discovered during his spot-checks of government departments.

    The general secretary of the Communications Ministry, Vassos Pyrgos, described these findings. He said a supervisor at a vehicle inspection centre had been found missing from his post at 8.30 am. The supervisor rang the centre at 9 am on the morning of Neophytou’s unannounced visit to say that something had come up and he had been unavoidably detained, Pyrgos said. Another example, the Ministry official said, was a supervisor at a Paphos district Public Works department office who had gone on leave without informing the office managers.

    Neophytou, who vowed that his surprise spot-checks would continue, said the public service was "ailing and in desperate need of improvement". He spoke of "sacred cows" within the public service that "no one dared to touch". The Minister promised things were about to change: "We are not afraid to put our hands in the hot coals. I think it is time for some bitter truths to be told."

    But he was not all fire and thunder, insisting that his criticisms were aimed only at a minority of civil servants. Most government employees were conscientious individuals, Neophytou said.

    He also called for an end to squabbling over the issue, pointing out that no one disagreed over the need to improve the civil service.

    "There is no room for colours in these things, we must not colour them red, white or blue, we must not assign party labels because we believe that quality service for citizens is among the aims and goals of all, whether in government or in opposition."

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou appeared keen to defuse the situation by stating that it was a "small number" of civil servants who were giving the whole sector a bad name.

    Papapetrou said most public servants did their best to produce in the face of "bureaucratic and antiquated" systems.

    "Despite this, despite the shortcomings and gaps in the system, despite the irresponsibility of (some) staff, the government believes that the public service as a body carries out a noteworthy job, though there is of course much room for improvement."

    The spokesman called on everyone to work together to improve the civil service.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Tuesday, August 29, 2000

    [03] Bourse relocation a ‘top priority’

    By Jean Christou

    THE FINANCE Minister has requested an early decision on the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) transfer to the IMC, a move bourse chief Nondas Metaxas said yesterday was of vital importance.

    Responding to journalists’ questions on the controversial move yesterday, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said he had asked the Committee for Building Relaxations, which is examining the issue, for an early decision on the matter.

    "I have pleaded with the committee to take a decision as soon as possible so their suggestions will be tabled to the cabinet," Klerides said.

    "I’m not saying the committee has been delaying but because it’s an urgent matter. I except their work will be completed soon so that the cabinet will be able to take its decision."

    The CSE needs planning relaxation to move to the Latsia IMC site, which is situated in an industrial area.

    If the relaxations committee does not allow the move, Klerides said the CSE would have to find an alternative site. The exchange has already budgeted for a move.

    The IMC option is vehemently opposed by Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades, who says the bourse should remain in central Nicosia and threatens to take the matter to the Supreme Court if the cabinet allows the move.

    Relocating from their cramped premises is a top priority for the CSE board, not only for their own comfort, but because it is one of the factors which will be taken into account by the European Federation of Stock Markets to which is has applied for associate membership.

    A three-man delegation from the federation will pay a one-day visit to the island on Friday to reassess the CSE application for membership.

    "The federation is not interested in our address," Metaxas told the Mail yesterday. "But they are interested in making sure the premises from where we operate are acceptable for allowing the exchange to perform its daily tasks."

    He said it would take the CSE several weeks to move, but he could not say at this stage whether the bourse would suspend trading for any period of time.

    Metaxas said the CSE board had wanted to move before the delegation arrived. "They saw the problems we were facing when they came last November and now the problems have worsened," he said.

    He said more people had been hired and more equipment bought due to the rapid expansion of the bourse over the past five years. "Obviously there is no room for more people and hardware," he said. "To solve this issue is of vital importance."

    Other issues of interest to the European delegation are Cyprus` compliance with EU stock exchange regulations and directives, problems within the economy that might affect the market, and any other problems, which might hinder the operation of the CSE.

    Federation delegates shelved the CSE’s application after the last visit.

    "Last time when they came it was November 1999 when we had the problem of the uncleared titles and they said they would not make a recommendation at that stage," Metaxas said. "Well we solved the problem and we notified them that we had and here we are."

    The federation is also interested in the economy and its effects on the market such as the liberalisation of interest rates, exchange control and privatisation.

    Associate membership to the European federation would give the CSE official recognition as a European stock exchange, some influence in decision-making and access to direct information on alliances and developments on European markets.

    "As far as the EU is concerned, our legislation is compatible with EU directives, but yes, there are areas which need improvement," Metaxas said. "Also there are gaps in the legislation and we have many suggestions, some of which have already found their way to parliament while others are still being studied."

    On the sometimes-incomprehensible movement of stocks on the CSE, Metaxas said the bourse was not any different from others around the world.

    "The stock exchange is affected by a general psychology and many movements in the price of stocks are not explained by economic fundamentals but by the psychology of the investor," he said.

    "If only economic fundamentals determined the price of stocks, then the exchanges would be very easily predicted, which they are not. There are psychological fundamentals that influence investors and in a small country like Cyprus they become more important."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Tuesday, August 29, 2000

    [04] Market returns from holiday slump

    Jean Christou

    As the island’s holiday season drew to a close yesterday the market rebounded sharply after a seemingly endless losing streak, to close 1.6 per cent up at 388.33 points on a volume of £29.2 million

    The all-share index opened on a downward note hovering around the 373-point mark until mid-session before climbing steadily to gain another five points by closing.

    All sectors ended in the black with the ‘other’ companies sector leading the way showing gains of 3.94 per cent, the trading sector 3.22 per cent and tourism companies 3.17 per cent. Modest gains of between one and two per cent went to the manufacturing and insurance sectors, while banking stocks appear to have missed the boat, gaining only 0.09 per cent.

    Bank of Cyprus (BoC) lost three cents to close at £6.41, while Laiki Bank ended at £9.33, up five cents. Hellenic Bank also gained slightly adding one cent to finish at £2.14.

    Star performers yesterday were Toxotis, which jumped 27 cents to close at £2.95 with 1.39 million shares changing hands. GlobalSoft, amid heavy trading, and Salamis Tours both gained 27 cents to close at £5.10 and £2.30 respectively.

    Other heavily traded stocks included Multichoice which gained seven cents to end at £1.17 as 1.04 million of its shares were traded, and Dodoni which added four cents on a traded volume of 1.55 million shares to close at 13 cents.

    Broker Demos Stavrides said most of the trading took place in four major stocks with shares being bought in blocks of between 10,000 and 20,000 indicating that institutional investors had hogged the floor.

    "We expect this to continue for a few days if the stocks manage to maintain a healthy increase and not lose the feeling among investors might change," he said.

    The biggest loser yesterday was Glory Worldwide Holdings, which slipped 24 cents to end at £5.16.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Tuesday, August 29, 2000

    [05] Kurd breaks his hunger strike

    By Melina Demetriou

    KURDISH asylum seeker Mehmet Dhogan yesterday ended his seven-day hunger strike, aimed at putting pressure on the government to allow him to seek asylum in a third country so he could be reunited with his family.

    Although Dhogan had previously threatened to starve himself to death unless the government satisfied his demands, he gave up his protest yesterday without having got any reassurance over his plight.

    "I will now have to wait and see," he told the Cyprus Mail yesterday, insisting that if he went back to Turkey to be with his family, he would be imprisoned.

    Dhogan, 33, from Mash in Turkey, fled Turkey five years ago living his pregnant wife and an 18-month old son behind, initially going to the occupied areas, where he stayed for three years. He then moved to the free areas, where he has been living for two years. In that time, he has been twice stopped from leaving the country.

    Dhogan asked Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou a month ago to allow him seek asylum in another country.

    "I do not know what to do. Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou promised he would do what he could for me but I have not heard anything from him for a month now," Dhogan said yesterday.

    George Theodorou, a senior official at the Immigration Department told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the Interior Ministry’s hands were tied, insisting Christodoulou had never promised anything to the Kurdish man.

    Dhogan two years ago applied to the UN High Commissioner For Refugees to recognise his claim for political asylum. But the UNHCR turned down his appeal after an investigation into his case proved it to be very weak.

    "Cyprus cannot serve as a means for illegal immigrants to travel to Europe, " Theodorou said yesterday.

    "Our government has no say in this. It is a matter for the UN," he added.

    But Dhogan, who has not seen his family for five years, told the Cyprus Mail that if he went back to Turkey he would face at least 15 years in prison.

    "My family cannot come here because they are Turkish. The only way out of this is to live with them in another country," he said, adding he had had "a very tough time in Turkey".

    The Immigration Department is allowing Dhogan to remain in Cyprus, and he receives monthly benefit payments from the welfare department.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Tuesday, August 29, 2000

    [06] Government protest over Denktash Strovilia visit

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT is preparing a written protest to the UN Secretary-general and the Security Council after Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash visited the disputed village of Strovilia on Saturday evening.

    Denktash went to the village with a full media entourage and was briefed by Turkish soldiers manning the controversial checkpoint.

    "The government sees the presence of Mr Denktash in Strovilia as an additional provocation concerning the issue," Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told his daily briefing yesterday. "The government is protesting to the UN Secretary-general and the Security Council about the new provocation and demanding the return of the status quo in the Strovilia area. There will be a written protest by the Foreign Ministry."

    On July 1, Turkish troops moved their positions forward by 300-400 metres towards the fringes of the Dhekelia SBA in order to block UN access to the north.

    The move was in retaliation at the Security Council’s alteration of Unficyp’s renewal mandate, which removed mention of the Turkish Cypriot side’s approval of the force.

    In addition to hindering Unficyp movements across the line, the Strovilia move put the village of Strovilia, home to three Greek Cypriot families, behind Turkish lines.

    Papapetrou said the government considered Denktash’s visit on Saturday as a provocation and that the protest to the UN would demand a return to the status quo in the area. He said the government wanted the issue tabled at the Security Council.

    Papapetrou said that a return to the original situation would be a measure of the credibility and status of the UN in Cyprus. But requests, demands and protests by the UN to the Turkish Cypriot side have so far remained unsuccessful.

    Unficyp chief of mission Zbigniew Wlosowicz said yesterday the UN was doing all it could both on the island and through UN headquarters in New York to have the restrictions lifted.

    "I want to assure you that we ha have been trying to do all that we could in order to change that. And I am still hoping we will be able to change it, " he said after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides. "We are trying to get back to the normal way of operating and the situation known before June 30. It does not make our life easy."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

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