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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-10-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, October 25, 2000


  • [01] Akamas land haggle stalls tourism plan
  • [02] Archimandrite suspended by Holy Synod
  • [03] Dressing down for film censorship board
  • [04] De Soto: we made a qualitative step forward in New York
  • [05] Strike threat over shopping hours
  • [06] Flu vaccines still sitting in London airport fridge
  • [07] Cold drugs under review over side-effect fears
  • [08] Dunblane widower plans new life in Cyprus

  • [01] Akamas land haggle stalls tourism plan

    By Martin Hellicar

    HAGGLING over just how much Akamas land businessman Photos Photiades owns is stalling controversial government plans to sanction tourism development on the unspoilt peninsula, the House Environment Committee heard yesterday.

    Members of the committee are meanwhile considering an appeal to the European Court to try to block the development plan.

    On March 1 this year, more than 10 years after the state earmarked Akamas for national park status, the Cabinet decided to allow “mild and controlled” development in the pristine area, sparing only the already protected state forest and the Lara and Toxeftra turtle-nesting beaches.

    Yesterday, while the Green Party protested against the plan outside the House of Representatives, the committee grilled Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous over the development formula.

    Chairman Demetris Eliades demanded to know what had happened in the five months since the expiry of the Cabinet’s June 1 deadline for implementing the plan.

    Themistocleous said the government was still trying to find a compromise to satisfy local residents, landowners and greens. But the main stumbling block, the Minister said, was that Photiades insisted his Akamas plot was twice as big as the Land Registry said it was.

    The size of the plot is critical, as the Cabinet plan states Photiades will be allowed to develop an area roughly half its size.

    “We have a big problem due to disagreement about the extent of his land. He claims it is 1,050 donums, the Land Registry says it is 600 donums,” Themistocleous told the committee.

    On August 30, the Cabinet had decided to refer the matter to the Attorney-

    general’s office, Themistocleous said. “We must clear this thing up before we can go forward.”

    The Minister defended the March 1 Cabinet plan to the hilt, but obviously failed to persuade deputies it was not a sell-out to developers.

    After the session, Eliades said committee members had decided to appeal to the EU, on a political level, and to the European Court, on a legal level, in an effort to halt the Cabinet plan.

    “Our first, unofficial, thought is, as an environment committee, in our capacity as private individuals, to appeal to the European Court because the issue of saving the Akamas is a broader environmental issue which the EU has shown particular interest in,” Eliades said.

    During the committee meeting, the chairman told Themistocleous that a representative of the European Commission had made plain to the joint EU-

    Cyprus parliamentary committee that protection of the Akamas was a high priority issue for the EU.

    Themistocleous acknowledged that the EU had expressed a desire to see the whole Akamas protected. He insisted the government agreed with this approach. But deputies, who left no stone unturned in cross-examining the Minister, were hard pressed to see how the Cabinet plan would guarantee such protection.

    They homed in on the decision to allow Photiades, and not local landowners, to build within the otherwise strictly protected Akamas forest.

    Themistocleous defended the Cabinet decision, saying Photiades’ plot was larger than that of other local landowners and was the only one with coastal access.

    The Cabinet plan is for Photiades’ large plot at Fontana Amorosa, on the peninsula proper, to be exchanged for a much smaller plot further south, next to the Baths of Aphrodite, Themistocleous said. The businessman is to be allowed to build on this new coastal plot, within the Akamas forest.

    “Is the whole plan an effort to solve Photiades’ problems or to help the local communities?” AKEL deputy Christos Mavrokordatos demanded.

    “How do arrangements for Photiades’ land fit in with previous decisions on the Akamas?” his colleague Takis Hadjigeorgiou asked. A state-

    commissioned and parliament-approved 1995 World Bank plan for the creation of an Akamas National Park recommended complete protection of the peninsula.

    Themistocleous said that Photiades’ new plot would be a fraction of the size of his Fontana Amorosa land. Deputies countered that the Fontana Amorosa land was designated as agricultural, whereas the new plot would be zoned for tourism development.

    Another bone of contention was recent improvement work on a steep track leading from the Baths of Aphrodite towards Fontana Amorosa. Deputies put it to the Minister that this was a precursor to developing the area.

    Themistocleous insisted the track was being widened solely in order to allow fire trucks better access to the peninsula in case of emergency.

    “We will not open the track to the public… we will make sure it is physically closed,” he vowed.

    Eliades remained sceptical about the road improvement: “It will provide security for those who use it and insecurity for those monitoring the situation.”

    Wednesday, October 25, 2000

    [02] Archimandrite suspended by Holy Synod

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE Holy Synod yesterday indefinitely suspended the Limassol archimandrite who has spearheaded a campaign to have Bishop Athanassios of Limassol ousted as a homosexual.

    Archimandrite Andreas Constantinides' increasingly lurid claims about his superior have been grabbing headlines and shaming the church for months now. Athanassios has always flatly denied the claims. His many supporters have accused Constantinides of heading a plot to get rid of their favourite.

    Athanassios had already suspended Constantinides from his Limassol diocese, but the Synod's move is a major slap in the face for the archimandrite.

    The reasons for Constantinides' punishment were not made known after yesterday's marathon session of the Holy Synod.

    The Synod had convened to examine the homosexuality claims against Athanassios but was also believed to be looking at allegations that Constantinides is the father of two illegitimate children belonging to a woman who worked at his Limassol shop. The archimandrite denies the claims.

    The Synod's secretary, Father Marios Demetriou, was giving nothing away after yesterday's marathon Synod meeting. “The man has been suspended indefinitely,” he said of Constantinides. “I have nothing more to add,” the Synod secretary said.

    His only other comment was that the Synod had considered Archbishop Chrysostomos' suggestion that a Major Holy Synod be called to consider the Athanassios issue.

    Chrysostomos, who has backed Athanassios throughout, spoke of calling a Major Synod - made up of the island's Bishops plus a representation of their peers from the wider Orthodox Church - after the Synod decided that Athanassios should answer to the charges against him before a church committee of inquiry.

    The inquiry committee was set up following a lengthy probe into the gay claims by a Synod investigating committee. The committee heard evidence from a number of men claiming to have been the Bishop's lovers. Two of the witnesses later withdrew their testimonies, claiming they had been bribed to tell lies.

    Police are currently investigating these allegations.

    On Monday, Constantinides threatened to “reveal all” about these two “repentant” witnesses if they did not appear before the Synod yesterday and re-state their claims against Athanassios. The archimandrite said he would make recordings of his conversations with the witnesses public. He said the recordings would prove the two men's original testimonies against Athanassios were true.

    Constantinides' claims against the Limassol Bishop have included repeatedly accusing him of turning the Limassol Bishopric into a “den of homosexuals”.

    The shamed archimandrite's biggest ally has been the Bishop of Paphos, Chrysostomos.

    Church observers suggest Chrysostomos of Paphos is trying to undermine Athanassios because the Limassol man has ousted him from the position of favourite to succeed the Archbishop.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2000

    [03] Dressing down for film censorship board

    By Jennie Matthew

    OMBUDSWOMAN Eliana Nicolaou yesterday condemned the board of censors' decision to ban the French film Romance and send the police to the offending cinema to confiscate the print.

    The Cyprus board of censors banned the sexually explicit movie in June, as an offence to public decency.

    The Acropole Cinema Club screened 15 private showings of the film in September before police barged in and confiscated the print, at the behest of the censorship board.

    The move sparked a fierce public debate about censorship, during which the board was heavily criticised for its approach.

    “When there are so many films that contain so much violence, every adult comes to the cinema knowing at least the broad content of the film he's going to watch. He's able to judge and decide whether to accept whatever ideas are shown in a film, without state intervention,” she said.

    Nicolaou accused the censorship board of hiding behind an anachronistic law. She said the board was fully aware that pending changes to the censorship law would have been likely to approve the film for adult viewing.

    The bill has been drawn up, but still has to be approved by Parliament.

    Nicolaou said members of the Cypriot censorship board were unqualified for their job. According to her report, the committee that rejected Romance included two housewives, a retired civil servant, an employee of a commercial company and an actor.

    “They are not at all suitable for their position. It's something we've said for a long time and obviously has to be part of the way the new law operates,” Susan Papas, owner of the Acropole cinema told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    The film was approved for adult showing throughout Europe. The relevant committee in Greece was made up of directors, film critics, sociologists, educationalists and psychologists. They approved the film.

    Nicolaou said the censorship board was also at fault in urging police to intervene. According to her report, they were fully aware that Cine Studio had in the past been acquitted of similar charges for screening a banned movie to their cinema club.

    The report claimed police would never have confiscated the tape without the board, adding that intervention smacked off double standards.

    “It is after all well known that police don't intervene for public protection when it comes to the pornographic films shown in the cinema opposite Paphos Gate police station,” the ombudswoman added.

    “I am very pleased by the report and I'm impressed by the breadth of it, which covers every aspect of the Romance censorship affair,” Papas said.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2000

    [04] De Soto: we made a qualitative step forward in New York

    By Jean Christou

    U.N. SPECIAL adviser Alvaro de Soto yesterday met the island's party leaders as part of his seven-day visit to the island to gauge the climate for the resumption of proximity talks in Geneva next week.

    Speaking after a meeting with DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades, De Soto said the two parties involved in the Cyprus negotiations were firmly engaged in the substance of the Cyprus problem and that a qualitative step forward had been achieved in the fourth round of talks in New York in September.

    He later met AKEL general-secretary Demetris Christofias.

    "There is no question in our minds that we are firmly engaged in the substance and we took a qualitative step forward in that direction in New York,” he said. “But this does not mean that we are out of the woods yet. A lot of work needs to be done, but clearly we are in a different phase now.”

    Asked to comment on reports that three additional rounds of talks have already been scheduled, De Soto said he could not foresee the number of rounds that lay ahead.

    Anastassiades said De Soto had explained the methodology he would be using at the talks, and that the UN would continue to give ideas to the parties until they felt a comprehensive framework of a solution could constitute the basis for substantive dialogue, probably a face-to-face dialogue.

    The DISY President said he expected UN officials to avoid making statements, which could be misinterpreted or exploited by the Turkish side.

    After his meeting with De Soto, Christofias said he had outlined his party's views on the talks and pointed out that any documents the UN presented to the two sides would have to be based on UN resolutions.

    "I would like to think that our views will be taken seriously into consideration by the UN and others," Christofias added.

    During his stay on the island, De Soto will continue his separate meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, as well as the party leaders of the two communities.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2000

    [05] Strike threat over shopping hours

    By Melina Demetriou

    SHOPKEEPERS Union POVEK yesterday threatened its members would go on strike if the House approved government plans to allow Saturday and Wednesday afternoon shopping and abolish the traditional afternoon siesta.

    The Cabinet last week gave the green light to a proposal abolishing the 1pm to 4 pm summer closing hours as well as Wednesday and Saturday afternoon closing.

    The proposal still has to be passed by the House of Representatives.

    Melios Georgiou, POVEK's secretary general, told a news conference yesterday the Union would bring its several thousand members out on strike against the measures, which he says will drive small shops out of business.

    “At the moment, we will not take strike measures. We are contacting deputies to detect whether the House Plenum will vote for the bill and if we come to this conclusion we will definitely go on strike, maybe even on hunger strike, as well as demonstrate. But we are striving to convince MPs to see eye to eye with us. A lot of them already do.”

    If the government goes through with its plan, the small shop retailers will never be able to keep up with the competition, Georgiou said.

    “We will need to hire extra employees to keep a shop open from 8am to 9pm. We could never afford that, or the bigger bills such as electricity and heating. That would result in big stores who can afford the extra burden working much longer hours than us, and putting us out of business.”

    The Povek Secretariat, which met last Saturday, concluded that: “Despite our repeated pleas to the Labour Minister to take into account the losses which the small and average shops will suffer if the new timetable is implemented, he adopted the position of a few hypermarkets and shopping centres.”

    “The minister must have something in mind. I let the people be the judge of that,” Georgiou replied when asked if the minister was supporting the interests of the rich business owners.

    “KEVE, OEV, ENELEK unions which back the government plans to allow a flexible timetable do not represent more than twenty entrepreneurs, whereas Povek represents thousands of shop owners.”

    But Labour minister, Andreas Moushiouttas said earlier yesterday that the two big trade unions, PEO and SEK, also backed the plan.

    Povek has given its approval to plans for shops to stay open until 8pm in the summer, until 7.30pm in autumn and spring and until 6.30pm in the winter.

    The Union is also willing to accept shopping hours extending to 3pm on Saturdays, but it rules out the abolition of afternoon siesta.

    Georgiou pointed out that shops in Europe worked on fixed timetables, not exceeding 56 hours a week, and said it was not a prerequisite for EU accession for Cyprus to adopt a flexible timetable.

    “We have asked from the Commerce ministry to implement measures to support small and average shop business, but we have not seen anything done yet,” said Georgiou, who warned that shops were closing one after the other due to increased competition caused by shopping centre operation.

    “We were told by European specialists that there are way too many shopping centres and hypermarkets in Cyprus for its small size and population.”

    Wednesday, October 25, 2000

    [06] Flu vaccines still sitting in London airport fridge

    By Anthony O. Miller

    DESPITE three days of delivery promises and doctors' warnings of an imminent flu outbreak, British Airways (BA) had yesterday still had not delivered 23,000 doses of flu vaccine to Cyprus for the island's government hospital system.

    And no one at BA or at the medicine's local importer was able to say yesterday why the 23,000 flu shots still sat in a London airport refrigerator instead of being loaded into the cargo bay of a BA tourist flight to the island.

    However, Marianna Trokoudes, BA sales manager for Cyprus, assured the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the critical immunisations would leave London at 8pm last night aboard BA flight 664 and arrive in Larnaca at 2.35am today - to the relief of angry government and commercial personnel involved.

    Panayiota Kokkinou, Health Ministry Acting Director of Pharmaceutical Services, was upset yesterday at being unable to distribute the vaccines to state hospitals, as the window for immunising those most “at-risk” crept closer to closed.

    She said the flu shots' local importer, Xanthos-Lyssiotis & Sons - based on BA promises to them - had assured her by fax that the vaccines would arrive about 2am on Tuesday.

    “Unfortunately we don't have it… They did not bring it again. Although they sent me a fax (on Monday) that it would be in Larnaca Airport (that night), it remains still in London Airport,” she said.

    “British Airways did not bring it… and I made it very dramatically clear to them that they may have to bring it in by hand if they cannot (fly it in as cargo), but we do need it,” Kokkinou said. “They are in a fridge in London Airport waiting for British Airways to bring us them in Cyprus,” she said.

    George Mavrogiorgos, accountant for Xanthos-Lyssiotis & Sons of Nicosia said he had complained “three times” to BA about the vaccine no-shows at Larnaca Airport, noting the airline “said on Sunday they would arrive at 2am” on Monday.

    Later that day “they promised twice that they were going to send an urgent message to London in order to load the goods” for Tuesday arrival. Unfortunately they didn't succeed, he said.

    The mounting delivery delays took on all the more urgency since last year's flu outbreak in Cyprus “started on the first of December,” local epidemiologist Dr. Michalis Voniatis said, instead of “usually around Christmas.”

    “So we have to do as much as possible now and begin in November to immunise those most at-risk,” he said, lest complications from the flu cause needless deaths.

    Voniatis said those most at-risk are all people over 65, and “those with chronic respiratory problems like bronchitis, asthma and frequent chest infections, plus people with diabetes mellitus, chronic cardiac problems, coronary artery disease, chronic kidney failure.”

    Wednesday, October 25, 2000

    [07] Cold drugs under review over side-effect fears

    By Staff Reporter

    THE Drug Council will tonight discuss whether to pull from pharmacy shelves nine non-prescription cold drugs that US medical authorities fear could have dangerous side-effects.

    Giorgos Antoniou, a Health Ministry Pharmaceutical Service Officer, yesterday refused to name the nine drugs -- which in the United States are also sold as slimming drugs -- fearing teenagers might rush to buy them and risk harm in their quest to stay thin.

    None of the nine drugs is an antihistamine, which is often used to treat colds, Antoniou said. But while they treat cold or flu-caused sinus and nasal congestion like antihistamines, unlike them they contain phenylpropanolamine, a compound he said was worrying US medical experts.

    This is because of the side-effects of the nine drugs that are sold over the counter in America and in Cyprus, “but in the United States they're approved for use as aides to losing weight,” he said. “But not in Cyprus,” he added, since “in Cyprus we do not have products for losing weight.”

    “An FDA advisory committee suggested the FDA should place some restrictions or withdraw preparations that contain phenylpropanolamine … because of the side-effects,” he said.

    “Those that alerted the (FDA) committee are mainly heart attack problems, high blood pressure, previous history of heart disease or people who are using other products to lose weight.”

    “In Cyprus these (weight-loss) products are not circulated,” he said. “But the combination of these preparations containing phenylpropanolamine with other products for controlling appetite” could be lethal.

    “For the time being, we will put all the information we have before the Drug Council (tonight),” he said, including the fact the FDA warning and either restrict the nine drugs to prescription-only, or pull them from the market, he said.

    “But no country has withdrawn products (containing phenylpropanolamine), not even the US,” Antoniou said, adding: “I wrote the US, and the FDA reply said it had not yet made a decision.”

    “Its advisory committee's recommendation was just a recommendation; it doesn't clarify whether to withdraw such products from the market” or make them prescription items, he said, so the dangerous diet pills and tonics are still out there.

    “It concerns us,” Antoniou said, that a Drug Council decision to name the culprit drugs might do as much harm to weight-conscious teenage girls as not naming them might do to patients at risk of stroke or heart attack from taking them.

    “So I would much prefer to have the decision of the Drug Council before publicising the names,” he said.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2000

    [08] Dunblane widower plans new life in Cyprus

    By Staff Reporter

    THE WIDOWER of the schoolteacher murdered in the Dunblane massacre four years ago is to move to Cyprus to begin a new life with her sister.

    Rod Mayor, 56, revealed on Monday that he and his former sister-in law, Joan, 51, whom he married in 1998, two years after the massacre, had sold their farmhouse near Stirling and decided to move abroad.

    Gwen Mayor was shot six times as she tried to protect the 16 primary school children killed by Thomas Hamilton at Dunblane primary school in March 1996.

    Rod Mayor, a self-employed engineer, said they were not leaving Scotland to “escape the memories”, but had fallen in love with the island during a holiday earlier this year.

    “The climate is warmer, the people are very friendly and everything is so much more laid back than in Scotland.

    “Gwen and I talked about retiring abroad when she was alive, so it's always been something I have wanted to do.”

    Mayor said he and his new wife had found a place to stay on the island but were not coming to Cyprus until August next year.

    The couple plans to go back to Scotland for four or five weeks every year.

    Rod Mayor was comforted by his sister in law Joan in the months after the tragedy and she moved to Scotland to live with him in the summer of 1997. Her daughter is moving to Cyprus too.

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