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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-01-05

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Cabinet agrees to teachers' demands
  • [02] Christmas tree goes up in flames
  • [03] Sellers blast CyTA in mobile phone war
  • [04] CyTA backs down on Internet rates
  • [05] Select stocks nudge Cyprus bourse higher
  • [06] Government plays down annexation report
  • [07] Making peace in the Church?
  • [08] Police search for hit and run driver
  • [09] Relatives cross north
  • [10] Race track will stay in Ayios Dhometios, government insists

  • [01] Cabinet agrees to teachers' demands

    By Melina Demetriou THE GAP between the Education Ministry and the secondary schoolteachers' union was almost bridged yesterday when both sides finally reached agreement on how to satisfy teachers' demands.

    But no other trade union will have its demands considered or discussed, let alone satisfied by the government until the May Parliamentary elections are over, President Glafcos Clerides announced yesterday after a Cabinet meeting.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the decision had been taken to keep ministers' and deputies' impartiality intact.

    "This way, no politician will succumb to any union's pressure in trying to influence public opinion ahead of the elections," he said.

    The President called on the House of Representatives and the political parties to respect his decision.

    Secondary schoolteachers' union OELMEK on Wednesday reacted favourably to a government proposal presented to unions last month over pay rises and the creation of new posts, at the same time as making some additional suggestions to the ministry over pay rises.

    The Cabinet, convening yesterday, positioned itself in favour of OELMEK's suggestions.

    OELMEK had initially dismissed the proposal as not being in line with established agreements with the government.

    After the Cabinet meeting, Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said he hoped yesterday's developments signalled the beginning of the end of the school crisis.

    The government is expected to submit a final proposal incorporating OELMEK's suggestions to the House of Representatives for approval.

    OELMEK chief Andreas Stavrou said the union's council was due to discuss the Cabinet's final proposal today and decide whether they were any loose ends.

    "If there are loose ends, then we shall ask to meet with the minister to sort them out. I hope the deal is finalised and I think it will happen if the two sides are willing to co-operate."

    But OELMEK's official views are not shared by all of its members.

    Union members of the left wing Prodeftiki movement, as well as some other hardliners, lashed out at the majority of the union council's members for having negotiated with the ministry.

    "We dismiss the ministry's proposal as not satisfying the secondary schoolteachers' demands," charged Sotiris Charalambous, OELMEK's secretary general and a member of Prodeftiki.

    The government proposal includes the creation of two new levels of position between those of teacher and principal. Specifically, it proposes an additional 23 headmaster places, and opens up 447 lower grade promotions.

    The primary schoolteachers' union POED argued last month that opening up new positions would downgrade the status of its teachers and says the proposal would cost millions of pounds to be implemented.

    The spat between the Education Ministry and the secondary schoolteachers began when primary schoolteachers went on strike demanding pay rises to bring them into line with the secondary sector.

    The secondary schoolteachers reacted by asking for an upgrade in their own salaries -- to maintain the existing difference with their primary school colleagues.

    Civil Servants' union PASIDY and Doctors' Union PASIKY followed suit by asking for pay rises of their own.

    The government has agreed to consider PASIDY's demands but cannot satisfy them until after the elections, according to yesterday's decision by President Clerides to freeze such procedures.

    Doctors are threatening to go on strike on January 12 if pay demands of their own are not met by then.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Christmas tree goes up in flames

    By a Staff Reporter PARALIMNI Municipality's 7,000 Christmas tree was completely destroyed by fire in the early hours of yesterday.

    A Municipality street-sweeper passing through Ayios Georgios Square spotted the blaze, immediately calling the fire brigade, which put out the flames before further damage was caused, but too late to save the tree.

    Police said the nine-metre decorated tree was spotted on fire at 4.15am and that flammable liquids and a melted oil container had been found around the tree.

    Laboratory tests had yet to reveal whether the fire was malicious or accidental, but Famagusta police chief Christakis Katsikides said initial indications pointed to a short-circuiting Christmas light.

    Famagusta CID began combing the scene for evidence at first light while Paralimni mayor Nicos Vlittis viewed the damage later yesterday.

    Vlittis was unavailable for comment, but a Municipality employee said the town had been saddened by the event. "The police are still carrying out investigations but it would have been a terrible waste if the tree was deliberately set alight."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Sellers blast CyTA in mobile phone war

    By Martin Hellicar MOBILE phone sellers yesterday charged the Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) with breaking the law and violating the rules of free competition in a bid to undercut their sales.

    CyTA flatly denied the accusations, but "war" over the island's top consumer item appeared unavoidable yesterday, with the private sellers determined to fight their corner.

    The private mobile phone sellers -- represented by the recently formed association of telecommunications companies (PASET) -- have seen their sales plummet by more than 50 per cent since CyTA began selling mobile phones on December 11.

    PASET insists the law does not entitle CyTA, as a semi-governmental organisation, to offer any kind of phone for sale to consumers.

    "In absolutely no case does CyTA have the right under the law governing it to sell telephone devices of any form to the public," PASET spokesman Sotiris Christou stated at a news conference yesterday.

    Christou said CyTA was also guilty of indulging in "unfair" competition in a bid to "strangle" private mobile phone sellers out of the market before the telecommunications sector is liberalised in January 2003. He said the authority was undercutting private sellers by selling mobile phones at a loss and making good its losses through its charges for other services.

    "We want CyTA to keep within the law. If it wants to compete in mobile phone sales, then it must set up a separate company and compete on the same basis and not by using CyTA facilities," the PASET spokesman said.

    PASET has appealed to the state Protection of Competition Committee over what it sees as CyTA's misdemeanours. Christou added that an appeal over CyTA's tactics would be made to the European Court of Human Rights.

    But the authority do not quite see things PASET's way.

    George Tillirides, of CyTA's consumer services division, said the authority had every legal right to sell phones (known in the industry as `terminal devices').

    "I have before me the law on telecommunications, which states that `the authority can, if it decides so, also supply terminal telephone equipment for sale', so the matter is clear-cut," Tillirides told the Cyprus Mail.

    The CyTA man said the authority was not out to undercut private sellers: "We are not trying to compete with anyone, indeed we have prepared packages with a combination of mobile phone and pre-paid card, and are ready to make deals with the companies selling terminal devices so they can sell these packages."

    PASET said they were not interested in the CyTA packages or any form of co- operation with the "cheating" semi-governmental authority.

    Tillirides denied the PASET claims that CyTA was selling mobile phones at knockdown prices. "Our prices are not at all lower than theirs, this is wrong. Our problem is that we have to buy phones from official representatives, whereas they can buy from exporters and others. We actually have a disadvantage rather than an advantage."

    PASET claim CyTA's "artificially" low prices make private sellers look like "thieves".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] CyTA backs down on Internet rates

    By Athena Karsera THE CYPRUS Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) yesterday settled a dispute over its Internet connection charges, bringing them back to the original rates approved by parliament.

    In an announcement, CyTA said the change was being made "as a mark of respect to the authorities" and that immediate action would be taken for the system to be revised.

    "The approved rates will be implemented as soon as technically possible. the new charges should appear on subscribers' accounts for February."

    The House last year passed a law setting Internet rates at 1.3 cents per four minutes, but CyTA instead introduced a pricing scheme charging 2 cents for every six minutes and 10 seconds, claiming it worked out to the same thing.

    Welcoming the CyTA climbdown yesterday, United Democrats deputy Giorgos Christofides, said it had come about once CyTA realised how their actions would affect their image.

    "When this whole discussion took place in the media they realised the political consequences and the seriousness of the issue," he said, adding that at least Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou had admitted CyTA's error and that the company had acted to rectify it.

    "I believe that the rise was probably (due to) some scheming or arrogance that stems from CyTA being by a monopoly - one, I dare say, that has to be carefully watched," Christofides said.

    He said CyTA would have to be careful in ensuring that consumers got their money back. "They should be generous and even pay a bit out of their own pockets if it is difficult to determine the exact figures."

    Though CyTA's earlier rate made little difference to people surfing the Internet for longer stretches, its critics argued the pricing scheme was unfair since every time users logged onto the web they were automatically charged for the full six minutes, even if they disconnected after just 30 seconds.

    CyTA claimed technical reasons for keeping a two-cent rate, saying earlier proposals had been made for a pricing scheme of 2 cents for four minutes, which was then scaled back by deputies to 1.3 cents per four minutes. CyTA had in the meantime switched to the 2 cents charge and did not have time to change to the 1.3 cents system, charging 2 cents for six minutes instead.

    Yesterday's announcement said CyTA "expresses its regret for the uproar created over the issue and would like to assure the House and the government, as well as its customers, that it respected the House's decision from the first moment. believing that the short timeframe available satisfied the spirit of the House's decision."

    In addition to the Internet connection fees, CyTA has hiked the prices of phone line connection fees and local rate calls. These had been long subsidised by steep international rates, which have been cut.

    The changes are in line with EU directives stipulating that government organisations cannot subsidise services. Cyprus is set to liberalise the telecommunications sector by January 2003.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Select stocks nudge Cyprus bourse higher

    By Jean Christou SHARE prices inched higher yesterday, with trading in a few select stocks taking the all-share index to 242 points, a rise of 0.6 per cent.

    The FTSE/CySE outperformed the general index for the second day running with gains of 1.33 per cent, taking it to 1,035. Volume, however, was dismally low, standing at only 8.4 million.

    Trading opened on a high note, but within ten minutes the index went into freefall, followed by a short-lived rally, which fell victim to profit taking for the remainder of the session.

    Despite the overall gain, over half the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) sub- sectors ended in the red, and the only substantial gain, 3.9 per cent, was recorded in the technology sector due to heavy trading in GlobalSoft.

    GlobalSoft stocks have made a phenomenal recovery in the last two trading sessions. Following a 41-cent jump on Wednesday, the share rallied again yesterday to notch up another 23 cents and end at 5.14 on a volume of 1.2 million.

    Banking stocks were also popular, with the sector adding 0.9 per cent.

    Bank of Cyprus (BoC) went up six cents to close at 3.24 and Laiki gained one cent to 3.05.

    Louis Cruise Lines was also heavily traded, with over a million shares changing hands. The stock added almost one cent to end at 46 cents.

    In the red corner, the fish farms sector shed 5.67 per cent due to losses sustained by Blue Island, which dropped 19 cents to 2.

    "Talk about uncertainty. Investors just couldn't make up their minds today, and as a result the index took a wild ride," said one CSE analyst.

    "Volume was rather dismal and regardless of today's gains, investors seem to be very nervous and are not willing to stay in for the long-term. There is still a along way to go before we finally see some stability in the CSE."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Government plays down annexation report

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE GOVERNMENT has dismissed a Turkish press report claiming Ankara had plans to annex the occupied areas, saying any such action would signal the end of Ankara's European policy.

    An article in the mainland Turkish Sabah newspaper on Wednesday claimed plans were afoot to turn the occupied areas into Turkey's 82nd province.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday such an action would not prevent Cyprus from becoming a member of the EU, while DISY president Nicos Anastassiades said such a move would have serious consequences for Turkey itself.

    "Without a doubt if this step is taken it will have a serious political cost for Turkey and it will not give us, or Europe I believe, any choice but not to remain plain observers."

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has said Turkey's European Union accession course clearly indicated Ankara's obligation to contribute to an overall settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking on Wednesday, Papapetrou said, "Turkey's application for EU membership concerns its geographical area and not the areas of Cyprus that it occupies illegally since 1974. Any attempt to incorporate these areas into Turkey would mean the end of Ankara's European policy."

    He said EU summit conclusions made it clear that the solution of the Cyprus question should be on the basis of UN resolutions, and pointed out that Turkey's EU partnership agreement referred to its obligation to contribute to a comprehensive settlement.

    Papapetrou said the government had been working "quietly, systematically and with caution to such designs and has often raised this issue at various meetings."

    He said Cyprus' application to join the EU related to the entire territory of the Republic, including the areas now under Turkish occupation.

    "We are requesting the implementation of the acquis communautaire in the areas the government is now controlling and extension of the acquis to the occupied areas as soon as the government regains control of these areas, " he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Making peace in the Church?

    By a Staff Reporter WITH the dust from the Bishop Athanassios saga settling, Archbishop Chrysostomos and his namesake the Paphos Bishop are tomorrow expected to provide further evidence of having `buried the hatchet' by jointly presiding over an Epiphany service in Paphos.

    Bishop Chrysostomos was the main force behind last year's campaign to get Athanassios, his popular Limassol counterpart, ousted as a homosexual. The Archbishop sided with Athanassios, who insisted he was innocent, and eventually convened a Major Holy Synod to clear the Limassol cleric's name.

    The bitter, rumbling saga brought relations between the Archbishop and the Paphos Bishop to an all-time low, with the Paphos cleric publicly questioning his superior's faculties.

    But, with the Athanassios affair over, the two top clerics appear eager to patch things up. On Tuesday, the Paphos Bishop attended a meal the Archbishop hosted at his home village of Statos in the Paphos forest area.

    The following day, Chrysostomos of Paphos declared there were "no problems" in his relationship with the Archbishop.

    The two clerics are now expected to preside over tomorrow's Epiphany day service at the Panagia Theoskepastis church in Kato Paphos together.

    Athanassios' supporters claim the Paphos Bishop wanted to label their favourite a homosexual and thus get him out of the way because the Limassol Bishop had taken Chrysostomos' place as favourite to succeed the Archbishop.

    The Paphos and Limassol bishops have yet to appear in public together since the bitter gay saga.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Police search for hit and run driver

    By a Staff Reporter A 15 YEAR-OLD boy has been seriously injured in a hit and run accident in Paphos. The police have named the man they are looking for as 28 year-old Sean Houliotis, who was driving a pick-up truck at the time.

    The accident happened on Wednesday night, when Houliotis' car collided with the motorcycle ridden by Antonis Antoniou, before ploughing into another vehicle. Houliotis, has, however, since disappeared.

    A passer-by called an ambulance and the boy was taken to Paphos General Hospital, before being transferred to Limassol for a head scan to check for brain injuries. He was then returned to Paphos, where he was put on a ventilator.

    "He has serious head injuries, but the fact that he was wearing a crash helmet prevented

    them from being worse than they are," a doctor at Paphos hospital said, adding that despite the protection he was still suffering from severe concussion.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Relatives cross north

    By a Staff Reporter THE WIFE and three sisters of abducted Greek Cypriot contractor Panicos Tsiakourmas yesterday morning visited him in the occupied areas, where he is being held on drugs allegations.

    An UNFICYP spokesman confirmed the visit had gone ahead as planned, but said there had been no developments with regard to his release by the Turkish Cypriot authorities.

    UNFICYP personnel are due to visit Tsiakourmas today, the spokesman said.

    Tsiakourmas, 39, who is diabetic, was abducted from his car within the British Sovereign Base (SBA) of Dhekelia close to the occupied areas, as he was going to pick up Turkish Cypriot workers near Pergamos on December 12. He is being held in the north pending trial on February 25, accused of possession of 1.5 kilos of cannabis.

    He was taken in retaliation over the arrest of Omer Tekoglu, a Turkish Cypriot from the mixed village of Pyla, accused of possession of two kilos of heroin. Police say he was arrested outside the UN-controlled buffer zone village, but the Turkish side he was illegally arrested inside the village and are seeking a direct swop, a move the government has ruled out. Tekoglu is due to appear at Laranca court next Wednesday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Race track will stay in Ayios Dhometios, government insists

    By a Staff Reporter THE GOVERNMENT has assured a worried Ayios Dhometios municipality that plans for an out of town horse training centre do not mean the Nicosia race track is about to be relocated.

    The racetrack is the municipality's financial life-blood, providing fully half of its income through taxation on horse betting. News that 500 donums of government land at Mosfiloti, in the Larnaca district, had been earmarked for a new horse-training centre set the alarm bells ringing in the heads of Ayios Dhometios municipal councillors.

    The municipality's cause was taken up by AKEL deputy Aristophanis Georgiou, who on Tuesday sent a letter to Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou demanding to know what was going on.

    The Minister replied that Ayios Dhometios had nothing to worry about.

    "In no case will we allow the race track to be moved from Ayios Dhometios," Christodoulou told journalists on Wednesday, adding that the government was well-aware of the fact that Ayios Dhometios was "half-occupied" by the Turks and thus had limited development prospects. He added, however, that the Nicosia suburb simply did not have enough land to accommodate a horse training facility and so alternative sites had to be sought.

    Christodoulou said the Mosfiloti development had not yet been rubber- stamped by the government.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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