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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-10-03

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, October 03, 2000


  • [01] House of Reps push for Government to act on water plans
  • [02] Andreas returns to a hero’s welcome
  • [03] Cyprus ferries in good condition
  • [04] Hasikos calls for lift on ‘arms embargo’
  • [05] Immigrants to return to Lebanon by Thursday
  • [06] Still searching for an illegal immigrant
  • [07] OSCE session begins in Limassol
  • [08] Papapetrou: Annan accepts Clerides’ point of view
  • [09] Turkish-Cypriot journalists attend Independance Day parade
  • [10] Petrol price hiked again
  • [11] Road toll in North soars
  • [12] Market slides to new year low
  • [13] All-day schooling starts
  • [14] Man dies after fall

  • [01] House of Reps push for Government to act on water plans

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE HOUSE of Representatives is threatening the jump the gun on the government over the creation of a unified agency to oversee state water policy.

    In its first session after the summer break yesterday, the House plenum decided to give the government just ten days in which to table its bill setting up a water agency. Otherwise, deputies warned, they would go ahead with thrashing out the framework for an agency on he basis of an opposition proposal.

    Various state departments currently have responsibility for water resource control and the aim of the agency plan is to end this inefficient arrangement. But the government and the opposition are divided over how best to do this.

    The opposition bill, drawn up by House agriculture committee chairman and AKEL deputy Christos Mavrokordatos, differs from government proposals in that is provides for an “independent” water authority under the aegis of the Agriculture Ministry, rather than a centralised government agency.

    Mavrokordatos’s bill was first on the agenda for debate at yesterday’s plenum session. In the end deputies decided not to move on the opposition bill at once, but rather to get House president Spyros Kyprianou to send a letter to the government asking for the relevant state bill to be tabled before parliament “as soon as possible”. Deputies made plain they wanted to move on the issue during the next plenary session, set for Thursday October 12.

    But Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous did not seem likely to be moved by parliament’s urgency.

    Speaking before the morning plenum session, Themistocleous said the government bill – prepared by a private consultancy – would be ready “in a few weeks time”.

    The Minister stressed that though the government and AKEL agreed on the absolute need for a new, centralised, water agency, they disagreed on the nature the new body should take.

    “The AKEL proposal speaks of creating a separate body, a water authority like the electricity authority and the telecommunications authority, while the government feels water issues must remain under state control as they always have been,” Themistocleous said.

    Mavrokordatos countered that there was no point in creating a new water agency if it was going to be just the Water Development department under a new name”.

    “That is not what we want; what we want is an independent authority with participation from all effected authorities,” he said.

    But he also added that his proposal was not for a fully independent water authority but rather for a body “under the control of the Agriculture Ministry”.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [02] Andreas returns to a hero’s welcome

    By Jennie Matthew

    ANDREAS VASSILIOU, made an emotional return to Cyprus yesterday, five months after surviving an operation to halt the spread of his leukeamia in Houston, Texas.

    Decked out in an American wild-west outfit, six-year-old Andreas, accompanied by his parents and grandmother touched down at Larnaca airport early this morning.

    A crowd of friends and family rushed forward to welcome the returning family.

    Tired, but clearly ecstatic to be home, Andreas removed his surgical mask, to thank everyone who had tried to help him.

    “I would like to thank all the people that tried to give blood for me,” he told reporters.

    The desperate hunt for a blood donor for Andreas and 13-year-old Turkish Cypriot Kemal Saracoglu united communities on both side of the Green Line.

    Despite a one in 35,000 chance, no match was found from the 50,000 Greek and Turkish Cypriots who gave blood.

    On April 24, surgeons at the M.D. Anderson hospital in Houston, Texas, gave Andreas a transplant, of white blood cells taken from a donor’s placenta.

    Andreas’ parents were overwhelmed at bringing their recovering son home a month after Kemal lost his battle with the same disease.

    “Words are never enough at times like this. Whatever you say is not enough. There is a God. We thank our President and all the people who have supported us: our friends, our acquaintances and our relatives. Praise the Lord that Andreas has come back a winner,” his mother, Soula told waiting journalists.

    A tearful Christina Vassiliou was delighted to have Andreas back. “I am very happy because I am with my brother again,” she said.

    Swinging Andreas aloft, Vasos Vassiliou, gave thanks for his son’s progress.

    “I feel very moved and happy. After 6 months we have managed to bring our baby back and he has won. I think we still have a long way to go, and a hard way to go, but I believe we will make it,” he said.

    Head of the oncology unit at the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia where he was first diagnosed, Dr Loizos Loizou, told the Cyprus Mail he was not expecting to see Andreas for further treatment.

    The white blood cell transfusion has a 40 to 50 per cent chance of success.

    The Karaiskakio Foundation in Nicosia is still shifting through donors’ samples. If Andreas falls out of remission, he may need a bone marrow transplant in the future.

    Doctors say it will take up to three years before they can be confident about Andreas’ long-term health.

    One man from Greece, who flew to the States just to accompany Andreas back to Cyprus, is proof of the deep feelings the little boy has aroused.

    Theodoros Samoulis flew to the US for a mere 35 hours in order to accompany the boy back to Cyprus.

    “I waited for six months. I was convinced that we’d come back together, even though I was in Greece three days ago. I went to America, I was there for 35 hours and I accompanied Andreas back to Cyprus as I said I would,” he told journalists.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [03] Cyprus ferries in good condition

    By Athena Karsera

    The Communications Ministry has given assurances that Cyprus’ boats are in ship-shape after the confinement of 65 Greek ferries and cruise ships to port for failing to meet safety requirements on Sunday.

    Ministry director-general Tassos Pyrgos said yesterday that Cyprus’ cruise ships went through though stringent testing on an annual basis as well as being regularly tested at their ports.

    “Cruise ships are inspected systematically every year. On top of these expert inspections, the boats are also checked at the harbours they visit in Greece, Israel and Italy mainly and of course in Limassol.”

    Pyrgos said that the ships were examined for their, “Sea-worthiness, general condition, engine, equipment, the rescue equipment it needs, everything.”

    He continued that the crews’ qualifications and training were also inspected according to conventions signed both with the EU and internationally.

    Part of the stringent testing, the Ministry official said was due to Cyprus’ “flag of convenience,” reputation but that this image was improving “in leaps and bounds over the last years.”

    He also said that Cyprus’ popularity for identifying flags has gone down in place to the country with the sixth most-used flag on ships since many customers had become fed up with the frequent tests.

    On the smaller, pleasure cruise boats, Pyrgos said that while legislation had been lacking for these vessels until recently, they were now checked for seaworthiness every year. Speedboats and other craft operators also have to hold the relevant licence, he said.

    Pyrgos continued that a meeting on shipping safety would be held at the Ministry today for new developments to be discussed.

    Boat safety in the region has been put under the microscope since the tragic death of at least 79 people when the Greek Express Salamina went down near Paros last Tuesday.

    Since then two other incidents, both involving Greek ships, have brought concern even more sharply into focus.

    The Zeus Three sank in relatively calm seas late on Saturday not far from where the Express Salamina sank while early on Friday the ferry Express Artemis ran aground near the port of Naxos.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [04] Hasikos calls for lift on ‘arms embargo’

    By Athena Karsera

    DEFENCE Minister Socrates Hasikos yesterday called on European Union countries to end their unofficial arms embargo on Cyprus.

    Speaking at a seminar in Athens, Hasikos said that most of the countries maintained the arms embargo against Cyprus but freely supplied Turkey, and the occupied areas by extension.

    The Minister said that Cyprus had only managed to keep up its defence supplies through assistance from the Greek government, Greek weapon manufacturing companies and Russia.

    “The climate created by the Turkish side’s intransigent stance and the continuous reinforcement of the occupation troops forces the Cyprus Republic to try build up its defence capability, along with its effort for a peaceful settlement.”

    Hasikos, however, continued that this type of solution was not ideal since the money spent on weapons could have been used for better equipment, the Republic’s choice of defence systems was limited, their were sometimes compatibility problems between pieces of equipment and because many countries agreed to supply equipment before pulling out at the last minute when not receiving permission from their governments.

    “Developments in the EU, especially in the field of the Common Foreign and defence policy, along with Cyprus’ European prospects create new conditions that must make the European countries re-examine their restrictions.”

    Hasikos did, however, note that Cyprus did not disagree with the control of arms exports, as this, he said, was the only way to avoid the building of arms in countries that do not accept UN principals and respect human rights.

    The international seminar entitled ‘Weaponry, cooperation and economy,’ this year organised for the second year running by the Greek Weapons Manufacturers Association, ended yesterday afternoon while a defence weapons exhibition, ‘Defendory 2000,’ also to be attended by Hasikos begins today.

    Meanwhile, also speaking from the platform of the seminar, Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsokhatzopoulos yesterday responded to a Sunday statement by Greece’s main opposition party leader, New Democracy president Costas Karamanlis that Cyprus should not be sacrificed on the altar of Greece and Turkey’s good relations.

    Speaking after meeting President Glafcos Clerides before Sunday’s Independence Day parade, Karamanlis said, “Cypriot Hellenism can not be given away and should not become a victim to so-called Greco-Turkish friendship, without the obvious prerequisite of a viable solution to the Cyprus problem.

    On his part, Tsokhatzopoulos yesterday said that any real improvement in Greece and Turkey’s relations could only come after Turkey’s positive influence towards the solving of the Cyprus problem.

    He also said there had been no change in the in the Greek government’s approach to the Cyprus problem and that his government was in favour of the UN Resolutions on the Cyprus problem being applied as soon as possible.

    Tsokhatzopoulos continued that he hoped the ongoing UN-led negotiations on the Cyprus problem would lead to a solution sooner rather than later.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [05] Immigrants to return to Lebanon by Thursday

    By Athena Karsera

    THE 275 illegal immigrants being hosted off Limassol since September 13 will be returned to Lebanon by Thursday, the Interior Minister said yesterday.

    Speaking after an afternoon meeting with ministry officials and the police Christodoulos Christodoulou said, “After lengthy efforts we have come to an initial agreement that the immigrants will be returned to the land they came from within the next 48 hours.”

    The Minister continued that their return to Lebanon would be taking place within the framework of a bilateral agreement on illegal immigrants between the two countries that provides their return from the port they left from.

    Christodoulou had on Sunday said that he was optimistic the Lebanese authorities would honour its agreement with Cyprus since a meeting with the country’s representatives earlier that day had shown that both the Cypriot and Lebanese investigations coincided.

    The illegal immigrants were rescued from a sinking boat on September 13 with negotiations continuing between the Cyprus government and the Lebanese authorities on the immigrants’ fate until yesterday.

    Meanwhile, two members of the Rapid Reaction Squad (MMAD) were injured yesterday when some of the 275 illegal immigrants being temporarily housed on a large boat in Limassol harbour began throwing things at them.

    Scuffles broke out when the officers boarded the Mary-John cruise ship to ask one of the immigrants to come ashore for questioning. Some of the immigrants began throwing bottles, rubbish and chairs at the officers, slightly injuring two.

    The officers were taken to Limassol general hospital and released after receiving first aid.

    One of the illegal immigrants was taken ashore to answer the police's questions once tempers had calmed.

    Since arriving they have caused several disturbances besides being moved to bigger boats with better facilities. Incidents have included a number of the immigrants threatening suicide, saying they would throw their children overboard and refusing to accept food and medical rations.

    In a separate action, Famagusta district police yesterday continued searching for four illegal immigrants believed to have landed at Cavo Greco in the early hours Sunday.

    Four other illegal immigrants travelling with the four being searched for were arrested on Sunday morning and remanded for eight days later on Sunday.

    Requesting the four’s remand, investigating officer Stephanos Theodoulou told Famagusta District Court, which intervenes in Larnaca, that officers from Ayia Napa police station were called to Cavo Greco at approximately 4.50am after a tip-off that three people were acting suspiciously on the beach.

    Two men, believed to be of Syrian origin, were apprehended at the beach while a third escaped the police. The two men told the police that they had come to Cyprus from Lebanon, aboard a fishing boat.

    Later, Theodoulou said, three more men were spotted and two of them apprehended, with the third man also escaping.

    The investigating officer said that the four men arrested and another four, including the two that escaped arrest, were believed to have travelled from Syria to Lebanon before engaging the fishing boat for £1,000 each. The boat’s captain, the men told police, left them at Cavo Greco and returned to Lebanon.

    Theodoulou also said that two of the men had come to Cyprus illegally in the past and were last deported two moths ago.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [06] Still searching for an illegal immigrant

    By Staff Reporter

    LIMASSOL police are still searching for a 28-year-old suspected illegal immigrant, who fled custody on Friday afternoon.

    Firoyzkarai Baba from Iran has been missing for 4 days after he jumped over a wall whilst in the exercise yard.

    Originally from Iran, police say the man flew into the occupied areas from Turkey on June, before crossing to the government-controlled area a few days later.

    Baba disappeared from sight after scaling a wall of the First Technical School, adjacent to the police station’s exercise yard, when an officer let him out for fresh air.

    Regular police patrols have still not resulted in a sighting.

    Baba is described as dark, with short, straight black hair, 1.80 metres tall and of regular build.

    He was last seen wearing beige Bermuda shorts, a distinctive yellow T-shirt with black horizontal stripes and sandals. He has a scar on his left knee.

    Limassol CID is appealing to anyone with information about the escape to contact them.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [07] OSCE session begins in Limassol

    By Staff Reporter

    THE EXPANDED bureau of the parliamentary assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) began its first-ever session in Cyprus yesterday with a closed-doors meeting in Limassol.

    Opening statements were made by assembly president Adrian Severin and the head of the Cyprus delegation, DIKO’s Marcos Kyprianou. The OSCE parliamentary assembly session will conclude today.

    Tomorrow, the same delegates will be taking part in a two-day OSCE seminar on organised crime and corruption.

    House president Spyros Kyprianou is expected to address the seminar, which will look at ways of combating corruption, drug trafficking and money laundering.

    The seminar will conclude on Thursday.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [08] Papapetrou: Annan accepts Clerides’ point of view

    By Athena Karsera

    GOVERNMENT spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday gave a new interpretation to UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan’s continuing silence over his opening statement at the proximity talks, saying that his lack of response means that he accepts Clerides’ position.

    Annan’s initial statement, which caused a furore amongst the Greek Cypriot political leadership, said that each side must recognise the political equality of the other.

    Annan has yet to clarify his statement in writing in spite of President Glafcos Clerides twice requesting him to do so through letters.

    His special representative Alvaro de Soto later said that Annan was referring to the two sides in the framework of a mutually acceptable solution.

    Speaking during a media briefing yesterday Papapetrou said Annan’s silence was accepting Clerides’ sentiments.

    “It is a basic legal principal that when an interpretation is put forward by one party and there is silence on the on the other part there is essentially an agreement by contact. There is no doubt that with his silence the Secretary-general accepted the President’s interpretation and understanding.

    “Beyond this, however, I would like to say that any danger of the statement being interpreted as recognition of the occupied areas recognise was previously prevented by de Soto.”

    Papapetrou also said that talks of the Cyprus problem negotiations backsliding into acceptance of a confederation solution were “out of place and time.”

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [09] Turkish-Cypriot journalists attend Independance Day parade

    By Staff Reporter

    A journalist for Turkish TV station TRT reporting from the Independence Day military parade held in Nicosia on Sunday.

    This was the first time Turkish-Cypriot journalists were invited to attend the event, described by the press in the north as the “so-called Independence Day.”

    The parade featured the newly-acquired Exotech missiles, TOR-M1 missiles, helicopters and armored vehicles.

    Newspapers in the north have criticised the Greek-Cypriot administration for its pledge to turn “every house into a castle” and “every Greek Cypriot into a National Guard.”

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [10] Petrol price hiked again

    By Martin Hellicar

    PETROL pump prices went up by 1.1 cents a litre as from midday yesterday – the second fuel price hike on the Island in the space of a month.

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said the price increase had been inevitable because of the high price of crude and the Cyprus pound’s low pegging against the dollar.

    Yesterday’s increase was the result of a new pump price setting mechanism that tracks the cost of Brent crude on the International market and the value of the Cyprus pound against the dollar.

    The system was adopted earlier this year after the Finance Ministry rebelled against having to pump more and more money into oil import subsidies. The aim was also to avoid lengthy political wrangling over unpopular pump price rises.

    The relevant price adjustments, drawn up by the Commerce Ministry, were yesterday tabled before an extraordinary 11am session of the House plenum. They were accepted without debate and came into effect immediately.

    The new fuel prices approved yesterday are:

    98 octane (Super) petrol: 46.2 cents a litre

    92 octane (Regular) petrol: 44.1 cents a litre

    Unleaded 98 octane (Super) petrol: 46.2 cents a litre

    Unleaded 92 octane (Regular) petrol: 44.1 cents a litre

    Kerosene: 19.3 cents a litre

    Diesel: 19.3 cents a litre

    Low Sulphur Diesel: 23.7 cents a litre.

    The price rises had been expected to be closer to 2 cents a litre, but a recent slight fall in the price of crude spared the consumer’s pocket.

    Pump prices last went up on September 1, after Brent hit a 10-year high of a barrel. The cost of crude showed was still high yesterday, shooting above per barrel during trading.

    The Cyprus pound, recently pegged to the Euro, remains low against the dollar, hovering at around 1.54 dollars to the pound.

    The new system for setting petrol pump prices is based on crude prices and the standing of the pound averaged over a month.

    Half the increase in international oil prices is meant to be covered through pump prices rises and the other half by state subsidies for oil importers.

    The House has set £16.97 per barrel as the benchmark Brent Crude price against which fluctuations are measured. Pump prices rice one cent for every £1.75 that crude rises over the benchmark value on a monthly average.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [11] Road toll in North soars

    By Staff Reporter

    FORTY-THREE people have died in car accidents in the occupied north over the past nine months, despite efforts to curb road deaths.

    According to a report in Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris yesterday, awareness campaigns and stiffer penalties for driving offences are failing to have the desired effect.

    The paper reports 679 road accidents in the occupied areas since the turn of the year.

    The number of road deaths in the north is markedly less than the rate in the government-controlled areas, where, on average, over 100 people die on the roads every year. But the number of cars in the occupied areas is a fraction of the 433,000 vehicles licenced in the South.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [12] Market slides to new year low

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE STOCK market showed no signs of recovery yesterday as the all-share index dropped to 352.31 -- the year’s third successive low-point in a week.

    “Investors are horrified and desperate. I really don’t know when they will stop selling and I think it will be worse on Tuesday (today),” said investment consultant Demos Stavrides of AAA Stockbrokers.

    Overall volume was lower than recent days at £19.17 million.

    Brokers are complaining about panic transactions, fuelled by desperate rumours rather than the advice of investment consultants – exacerbating the chaotic market.

    “Clever investors always win, but amateurs who call themselves professional will lose money even if the index goes up, such is our amateur stock exchange,” said one industry analyst.

    The two big fall-outs of the day were Europrofit Capital Investors Ltd and Cosmos Insurance Co Ltd (COS), as they stand on the brink of even more losses.

    Europrofit shed 10 cents during the morning, opening at £1.90 only to close down at £1.80. COS began trading at 75 cents, only to nosedive nine cents, to weigh in at 66 cents by noon.

    “They are very risky shares. There have been rumours of big announcements in the last 15 to 20 days, but today we saw the reality. It’s very annoying for investors. They lost a lot and there’s worse to come,” said Stavrides.

    Brokers are stressing the need to look towards long and medium-term investment opportunities as a way out of the spiraling misery.

    Bank of Cyprus is a typical choice, which yesterday opened at £6.59, only to fight back from £6.52 to close at £6.65 in the last ten minutes of trading.

    “While the share could decline eight, ten or even 12 cents on Tuesday, the Bank is a good medium to long-term investment. The growth in the last 10 minutes is good for the psychology of investors,” said Stavrides.

    The depression offers investors enticing low prices, which could grow into serious profit, if they sit still for a few months.

    Golden Sun Leisure is one example of a very good company with huge prospects. Before its listing debut, the share price was valued at about £2.50. On Tuesday it finished up at 94 cents.

    Yesterday was also the first day of activity for five new sector categories. Some 30 per cent of companies listed in the “other companies” sector were rearranged into constructions, technology, hotels, finance and fisheries.

    The breakup has knocked the wind out of the huge volume of transactions traditionally clocked up by the group, which yesterday took a 5.58 per cent dive as volume scraped just £3.18 million.

    The new technology group amassed the day’s biggest volume, of £8.1 million, propped up by the index’s healthiest share, GlobalSoft.

    The company has been the only blue chip to power through the crisis. Yesterday’s most traded share galloped up 10 cents to close at £5.94.

    CLR Investment Fund Ltd also kept up its reputation as a high activity share with static prices. Despite some 1.27 million transactions, the price closed down barely a whisker from 38.0 to 37.3 cents.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [13] All-day schooling starts

    By Athena Karsera

    TWENTY-FOUR of Cyprus’ 106 elementary schools yesterday began taking part in the all-day school programs.

    Three schools were withdrawn from the extended hours program after making demands to bend the criteria.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said that the three had requested special treatment after being chosen to take part in the experiment were excluded after requesting certain preconditions.

    “Mamari (one of the excluded schools) asked said that they would not keep the children until 4pm, only until 2pm. We refused this request since we cannot have a different leaving time for each area.”

    Ioannides continued that a different problem had occurred with Polemidhia, “They wanted to implement the system next year, so we replaced them with another school.”

    The Minister continued that with the exception of two large urban elementary schools, the remaining 106 were in the countryside where less interest had been shown in the all-day school plan.

    The all-day school schedule incorporates three extra periods in the afternoon, the first covering homework, the next creative projects or help to students with difficulties in classes and the third for individual interests.

    These classes are available to any student who wishes to take part.

    These periods will end at 4pm to 4.15pm and will be supervised by teachers.

    Lessons in specific subjects can be included if at least eight children at a school showed an interest in it.

    If one of the school’s teachers is not available or qualified to teach that class, a private teacher is engaged.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2000

    [14] Man dies after fall

    By Elias Hazou

    A 38-year-old man was killed when he fell down a 40 metre dry well on Sunday.

    Stelios Papalas was hunting near the village of Tremithousa when he failed to notice the uncovered well.

    A passerby heard Papalas’ calls for help around 6am and notified Paphos police.

    The fire department mounted an hour-long rescue operation and Papalas was rushed to Paphos hospital, but died on the way.

    Authorities are concerned over the fact that a large number of wells in the area are uncovered.

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