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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-09-22
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Friday, September 22, 2000
 ‘Captain’ his on immigrant shipBy Martin Hellicar
POLICE yesterday arrested a man suspected of captaining a trawler crammed with 266 illegal immigrants that sank off Paphos on September 13.
The man was found hiding in the hold of another vessel anchored in Limassol port. The boat, guarded by police, has been playing host to the 266 boat people ever since they were rescued from the floundering fishing boat.
The fate of the mostly Kurdish and Iranian boat people remained uncertain yesterday, with the government getting nowhere fast in its efforts to have them returned to Lebanon, from where they are thought to have started out.
Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said the suspected people- smuggler was a Turk by the name of Ibrahim Muhammad Farrah.
Police did not confirm the identity of the arrested man yesterday.
The suspect is expected to appear in court today.
After the rescue of the illegal immigrants, police said the captain of the sunken vessel had been a Syrian who had abandoned ship shortly after it set off from the Lebanese port of Al Uzai on September 11.
Christodoulou said the captain had been arrested in the hold of the prison vessel after being identified by some of the boat people.
Reports suggested police had known all along that the captain was among the immigrants but could not get any of them to finger him. A middle-aged man reportedly identified the Turkish captain yesterday. The same reports suggested the immigrant, who had led police to the captain, had been placed under police protection away from the vessel.
The situation on board the boat was calm yesterday following fighting between some of the immigrants over the distribution of welfare handouts on Wednesday afternoon. The assistant chief of port police, Yiannakis Eliades, said the situation on board the holding vessel was now “under control”. Thirty-five police officers have been detailed to watch the vessel.
Eliades added that a heavily pregnant woman among the boat people had been taken to Limassol hospital yesterday.
There are already many young children among the immigrants. The boat people were yesterday surviving their eighth day on government handouts on board the cramped ship.
Interior Minister Christodoulou yesterday had a final meeting with two Lebanese officials sent in response to Nicosia’s demands that Beirut accept the boat people.
Christodoulou said the officials had left without committing their government on the issue.
“The Lebanese officials have said they will further investigate the evidence we have given them…and then come back to us. At this stage we do not have a rejection or acceptance from the Lebanese authorities,” the minister said after the meeting. “I asked only that we have their final position as soon as possible,” Christodoulou added.
Cyprus and Lebanon have an agreement for the return of illegal immigrants originating from each other’s ports.
Christodoulou said there was no doubt the 266 boat people had come from Al Uzai.
“All the evidence points overwhelmingly towards them coming from Lebanon, and on the basis of the existing agreement between our two countries, Lebanon is obliged to take back the illegal immigrants,” he said.
Given Lebanon’s reluctance to take in the boat people, Christodoulou said facilities for holding the 266 would be looked at again. He said his vote would go for moving the immigrants to a larger, more comfortable, vessel.
The Interior Minister argued against giving permanent shelter to the boat people, saying such a move would only encourage more immigrants to head for Cyprus.
Illegal immigrants have become an increasingly large problem for all Mediterranean countries in recent years.
The 266 immigrants are believed to have paid £2,500 each to be taken from Lebanon to Italy.
Friday, September 22, 2000
 Parameters allow for optimismBy Athena Karsera
THE UN-led proximity talks on the Cyprus Problem were yesterday dogged by rumours that the international organisation had put forward a map outlining the return of specific occupied villages to the Republic.
Denying the reports from New York yesterday government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said, “I would like to repeat for the umpteenth time that there is no map and no mention of any villages has been made. There has not been discussion on this issue. Some criteria and parameters have been discussed which allow for some optimism, nothing else.”
Responding to a question on how many Greek Cypriot refugees were expected to be allowed to return to their properties Papapetrou said, “The majority. The Greek Cypriot side’s position on this is immovable and is that most of the refugees will be allowed to return home under Greek Cypriot rule with the remainder having the choice to return under Turkish Cypriot rule.”
The spokesman continued: “We are in new negotiations and things will be clearer in the next weeks and months when proposals on the map will probably be made. So let’s not rush things.”
He also described the naming of certain villages rumoured to be up for return as “fantasies”.
Persistent rumours circulating out of New York, however, talked of the return of approximately 40 villages and for a decrease in the mass of land under Turkish Cypriot control from the now occupied 35.8 per cent to 28 per cent.
While President Glafcos Clerides did not make statements of essence following his meting with the UN Secretary-general’s special representative Alvaro de Soto, sources said that the constitution issue was discussed with the issue of properties earmarked for today.
For his part, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who was due to meet with de Soto after Clerides, on Wednesday said that he had entered into negotiations in spite of initially demanding recognition before taking part, ” We are actually negotiating of course we are…on all issues”
Friday, September 22, 2000
 Talks to continue next week, says CleridesBy Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides said yesterday that the UN-led peace talks would continue into next week.
Speaking after yesterday's meeting with the UN secretary-general’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, Clerides said no date had been fixed for the next round of talks.
The meeting focused on the territorial and safety issues with special attention given to demilitarisation and the deployment of a multi-national peace force on the island.
Clerides also asked the Security Council to inform him of its intentions to act effectively to restore the status quo in Strovilia where the Turkish occupation forces violated the status quo recently.
In a letter to the Security Council president Moctar Ouane of Mali that was made public yesterday, Clerides referred to remarks made by Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem advocating a two-state settlement for Cyprus and said he had waited long enough for the Security Council to take steps to restore the status quo.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou in the meantime has again expressed his county’s support to the implementation of a bi-zonal, bi- communal federation and said that Greece would not allow Turkey to have its way and establish a confederal arrangement in Cyprus.
Yesterday de Soto met with representatives of Greece, Turkey and Britain to discuss security concerns relating to the peace talks.
The UN chief's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said there was nothing unusual about the meetings and did not disclose anything further.
He would only say: “It is routine for the special envoy to brief the representatives of the guarantor powers and to stay in touch with them. I do not think there is anything unusual about that", he said, adding that he could not say anything further because of the news blackout imposed by the UN on the talks.
Eckhard did not reveal whom de Soto met, restricting himself to saying that de Soto “has seen a number of representatives of the guarantor powers.”
UN-led proximity talk involving separate meetings with Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, began last December and a fourth round is underway in New York.
Friday, September 22, 2000
 Bourse in waiting for BOC’s Athens launchBy Jennie Matthew
THE STOCK exchange wilted for the fourth day on the trot yesterday, as transactions clocked up a meagre £14.13 million and the index shed 4.38 points to close at 369.9.
Only twenty companies recorded a price increase, whereas 101 lost value, with 39 firms on the even keel.
The all-share index plummeted as soon as trading opened. It rubbed along the 369 mark for the last hour of business. After a fleeting drop below the line, there was a marginal pick up to finish at 369.9 – 1.15 per cent down from Wednesday.
Stockbroker Stavros Agrotis suggested that the sluggish trade was due to the number of impending IPOs.
“Liquidity is the main problem at the moment, made worse by the IPOs. There is no direction either here or in Greece, which is generating lowers volumes,” he said.
Insurance companies saw the biggest losses, with a 3.48 per cent decline and a tiny £330,789 in transactions. No insurance company put in a positive showing.
“The economy and economic fundamentals are very good. For some companies, their prospects are exceptionally good. What needs to change is the psychology and there must be a switch to fundamental thinking,” said Agrotis.
The tourism sector shed 2.68 per cent of their group value on the back of a volume of £774,487.
In the manufacturing sector, G&K Exclusive Fashions Ltd backfired on Wednesday’s progress, shedding 7.03 per cent, or 9 cents of their share price, to finish up at £1.19.
The group as a whole dwindled by 2.12 per cent, but cornered a significant proportion of interest. Volume reached £1.06 million, close on the heels of the £1.69 million generated by the banking sector.
There was little movement for the generally solid banks yesterday, loosing just 0.55 per cent.
Bank of Cyprus (BOC) and Hellenic Bank (HER) neither lost nor gained, but Cyprus Popular Bank (CPB) shed 14 cents, a drop of 1.45 per cent to finish in at £9.54.
Other companies clocked up transactions worth £8.01 million, dropping 1.33 per cent in its share of the index.
GlobalSoft (GLC) put in a steady performance. The share gained 3 cents, (up 0.55 per cent) to finish at £5.53.
Sharelink Financial Services (SFS) closed six cents down, slipping 2.96 per cent to weigh in at £1.97.
Europroft (ERP) lost 6.54 per cent of its share value after the company announced a fall of some £2.62 million in its CSE portfolio for the first six months of 2000.
Approved investment companies slipped 1.75 per cent with some £1.02 million changing hands.
Finikas Ammohostou Investments, (FIA) shed 18 cents, (13.04 per cent) to bring the share price to close at £1.20.
Marketers hope investor confidence will pick up by the end of October when listed companies have all declared their company reports for the first half of 2000.
Brokers and investors are looking ahead to BOC’s planned entry onto the Athens’ Stock Exchange to spark off liquidity.
Friday, September 22, 2000
 Strike will hit Eurocypria pay packetsBy Athena Karsera
EUROCYPRIA pilots will get smaller pay-cheques this month because their warning strike this week cost the company £100,000 and their salaries are partly linked to profitability, Cyprus Airways (CY) said yesterday.
Taking a break from negotiations with the parties to the dispute, CY chairman Haris Loizides said Wednesday's strike over promotions had not only hurt the economy and Eurocypria's good name, but also the workers themselves.
“All I would like to say is that this type of strike action does not benefit anyone, not the company and not its name internationally; not tourism or our economy and it definitely does not benefit the workers themselves, because this £100,000 that the strike cost will affect staff wages as their salaries are tied up with the company's profits.”
Attempts to find a solution to Eurocypria's protest at the “theft” of their promotions by Cyprus Airways pilots began early yesterday afternoon, continuing into the evening.
The meeting took place between representatives of the Labour Ministry, Eurocypria, Cyprus Airways and the SEK trade union. Eurocypria is the charter subsidiary of Cyprus Airways.
The parties agreed to carry out intense discussions on the matter to be completed within a month.
SEK secretary-general Alecos Tassouris said further action would be decided if no solution was found.
“If a solution to the deadlock is not found, the pilots will decide on the kind of battle we will fight. When we talk about a battle you understand what we mean.”
Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou said that while strike action cost the country money, workers' right to strike also had to be respected.
“I would not like to get into the essence of the argument but would like to say that everyone must realise that whatever our rights, we have to be careful in obtaining our rights that the country's economy does not to pay the price.”
The Minister warned strikes such as the Eurocypria strike could seriously damage the image of a tourism-geared economy. “No one is denying them the right to strike but we also have to expect people to consider the consequences their actions could have on the nation.”
Eurocypria's 24-hour warning strike began at 4.30am on Wednesday with ground staff and cabin crews also striking in sympathy with the pilots.
Eurocypria pilots accuse management of pandering to CY pilots by allowing them to take up Eurocypria captain posts, while Eurocypria pilots cannot get promotions in CY.
Wednesday's strike action was sparked by a recent CY decision to again offer a number or Eurocypria captain posts to CY pilots.
A year ago, an arbitration board ruled that only Eurocypria pilots could take up captain posts within the charter subsidiary.
The striking pilots insist that this arbitration should be final but CY management say they want to achieve consensus on the issue.
Six flights were grounded during the strike, affecting 1,700 travellers who were offered alternative flights wherever possible or hotel accommodation.
Friday, September 22, 2000
 Leave your car at home tomorrowBy Staff Reporter
IF YOU see your car as an indispensable extension of your psyche, then steer clear of Makarios Avenue and its side streets tomorrow.
For the capital's main shopping thoroughfare is to be the setting for a half-day experiment in car-free transport, going under the name of 'In Town Without a Car'.
Police will be cordoning off Makarios Avenue and its side streets (Arnaldas, Aphrodite's, Agias Elenis, Grigori Xenopoulou, Stasandrou and Theotokou) between 7am and 3pm.
During these hours, these roads will only be open for pedestrians, bicycles, taxis, emergency services vehicles and buses.
While the event lasts, bus rides will be free, not just along the sectioned off streets, but in Nicosia as a whole.
The idea is to demonstrate how much cleaner, quieter and healthier our living spaces could be if cars were kept away.
The event is being organised by the Cyprus Green party in conjunction with the Nicosia municipality, the Town Planning Department and police.
'In Town Without a Car' day is being organised in 13 European countries today. The Green party wanted to have the Cyprus event - the first of its kind on the island - today and to extend it to much more of the capital and to other towns.
But the co-organisers shied away from organising the event on a working day and insisted it be small-scale.
Friday, September 22, 2000
 CY boss confirms price rise imminentBy Staff Reporter
CYPRUS Airways is to raise ticket prices in the next few days to offset the soaring cost of fuel.
Chairman Harris Loizides said yesterday the rise would be around four per cent and was unavoidable.
“It is now widely known that the price of fuel has increased so much in the last 10 months that it would be impossible for us to go on as is.
“We have already absorbed a significant percentage of this rise over this time but it is our turn, like almost all the European airlines, which have already announced three to seven per cent rises on all their routes.”
Loizides said the rise would be announced by early next week and would range “between three and five per cent -- probably somewhere around four per cent, although this would provide only a small increase in our finances in comparison to the huge expense from the cost of fuel.”
Cyprus Airways last raised their ticket prices to cover higher global fuel prices in early April. The rise at the time was of three per cent.
Friday, September 22, 2000
 Hasikos: We won't back down on Troodos radarBy George Psyllides
DEFENCE Minister Socratis Hasikos said yesterday a National Guard radar on Troodos would not be moved despite British complains that it was disrupting the operation of their own radar.
Speaking after a House Defence Committee meeting at which he briefed deputies on reports that Britain had called on the National Guard to move its radar from Troodos, Hasikos said he would not concede on any issue that would create a security problem to the Republic.
He insisted that the problem was technical and not political.
“The issue is technical. If some wish to elevate it to a political one, that's their problem,” Hasikos said.
“The matter should have been political for us, since they are trying to prevent the Republic from exercising its sovereign rights,” he added.
Hasikos argued that from its previous location the National Guard radar was not working at optimum level.
Sources in the Defence Ministry told the Cyprus Mail that in its earlier position, around 600 feet further down on the mountain, the radar was effectively blind in a certain direction.
The sources said British claims that the Cypriot radar was now interfering with their own were unfounded, unless the British had other electronic equipment up there that was being disturbed.
The Defence Ministry dismisses claims that there has been any violation of the Treaty of Establishment, which grants Britain the right to the Olympus facility, saying the National Guard radar is firmly on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
Hasikos said yesterday he had not come under any pressure over the issue, but added any complaints would have been directed to the Foreign Ministry.
Unconfirmed reports yesterday suggested the British were using the island's European accession as a lever on the matter.
Hasikos repeated that the problem was technical and urged the British to co- operate with National Guard experts to solve any dispute.
“If the British have a problem, they should get together with our technical staff and solve the problem.”
Defence Committee Chairman Takis Hadjidemetriou, echoed Hasikos: “The Republic is a sovereign state and not a colony as some continue to think.
“The president's sensitivity on air defence is well known, and I am sure he would not do anything to undermine the air defence capabilities.”
Friday, September 22, 2000
 New delay in paramedic plansBy Anthony O. Miller
HEALTH Minister Frixos Savvides conceded yesterday he could not keep his pledge to have paramedics in all Cyprus ambulances by December. The reason, he said, was money.
“I don't think I'll be able to do it,” he said of his December deadline. “We don't have the funds. They're in the budget” that is go before Parliament when it reopens, he said.
“I would say that by June 2001,” paramedics will be in all major Cyprus cities, but admitted even this was not sure.
“We are expecting the funds from Parliament when it opens so we can set up a course at the Nurses' Training School in parallel with the nursing program,” he said.
This is the latest delay in a proposal that has languished at the Finance Ministry for some six years. But Savvides would not blame red tape:
“It's in the budget,” he said. “I don't think Parliament will refuse. It's not a lot (of money). We're talking about training a certain amount of people every year. I think it's £150,000 per year for five years.”
A 1994 World Health Organisation (WHO) study flunked the ambulance system and urged a paramedic service replace it by 1995. A 1996 British paramedic consultant concluded that, two years on, no WHO suggestions had been implemented.
Cyprus Medical Association President Dr. Antonis Vassiliou yesterday said he backed Savvides' plan.
Vassiliou once said Cyprus doctors “should be outraged” at the 'meat-wagon' ambulance service the island has. “It's years behind what we need,” he said, and should have been replaced “yesterday”.
An eight-year, £5-million plan of Ambulance Chief Andreas Kouppis would have done just that. But a government official, who requested anonymity, warned this year that continued Finance Ministry Planning Bureau resistance to the idea might preclude Savvides' keeping his December deadline.
Savvides last October pledged to open a paramedic school this month and have its first graduates in urban ambulances by mid-2001 and throughout Cyprus by 2003.
In February he advanced that timetable so the first paramedics would instead be working “before the end of the year.”
He insisted his change of heart and deadline merely followed - and were not due to - a horrendous minibus accident in the Troodos in January that killed at least seven people and took most ambulances 40 minutes or more to attend.
The quality - or lack -- of crew training and proper equipment in the ambulances, coupled with their times of arrival, were critical in determining what victims survived the crash.
“We are waiting for the Ministry of Finance,” Kouppis said. “Every time I see an accident, I say: 'Why, why, why?' Every day I wonder why Cyprus has no paramedic service” despite having the third-worst road fatality rate in Europe.