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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-01-19

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Opposition parties: we can't support the health plan as it stands
  • [02] Minister warns teachers there will be no more talks
  • [03] MacDonald's admits BSE case, but insists infected meat did not enter supply chain
  • [04] Powell pledges continued US commitment on Cyprus
  • [05] Rumours buoy hotel shares
  • [06] DISY delays contentious helicopter debate
  • [07] Anastassiades slams CyBC after poll shows DISY trailing AKEL
  • [08] Police probing theft of $300,000 ring
  • [09] Bank employee foils robber

  • [01] Opposition parties: we can't support the health plan as it stands

    By George Psyllides OPPOSITION parties AKEL and DIKO yesterday said they disagreed with certain provisions of the government's national health scheme plan, and could therefore not accept the scheme as a whole.

    The decision - which came as civil servants went on strike against the plan - deals a serious blow to government efforts to push the scheme through parliament, where it does not command a majority.

    During a closed session of the House Health Committee yesterday, AKEL and DIKO said they had serious concerns about various sections of the scheme, and therefore could not approve the plan as a whole. It was not clear yesterday what they specifically objected to.

    The chairman of the committee, Andreas Parisinos of governing DISY, said the committee's report on its deliberations would now be forwarded to the plenum, where the debate was expected to resume, since the bill could no longer be tabled for immediate approval.

    Parisinos said the committee had been looking into the matter for the past two years and it felt it had exhausted all discussion.

    "The plan is now in the hands of the plenum," Parisinos said.

    But there were suggestions from the House yesterday that the government could withdraw the plan and re-submit it after the general elections in May.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides, who attended yesterday's session, said the plan was meeting resistance from groups who did not want to give up their privileges.

    The union of bank employees, ETYK, held a two-hour strike on Wednesday, demanding to be exempted from the plan because it claimed its own employment schemes were better.

    The civil service union PASYDY, which also wants its members to be excluded from the plan, followed suit yesterday, stopping work from 10am until noon.

    Yesterday, they marched to the House protesting about what they said was the "sale of public health into private hands".

    PASYDY's Secretary-general Glafcos Hadjipetrou said the government was selling health to private interests, adding the plan had been locked in ministry drawers for four years because it was considered useless.

    Hadjipetrou vowed that civil servants would never accept what he described as the privatisation of state health care.

    Civil servants currently enjoy free health care paid for by the taxpayers, and are loath to contribute to a universal system.

    Bank employees are covered by plans from the banks' subsidiary insurance companies, at a cost deducted from their wages.

    ETYK claims bank schemes are better, but in case of serious illness, they cover only a proportion of the cost of therapy, while the rest of the bill is footed by the state.

    Under the proposed scheme, all employees would have to pay two per cent of their wages - 3.55 per cent if they are self-employed - the employer another 2.55 per cent and the state 4.55 per cent.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Minister warns teachers there will be no more talks

    By a Staff Reporter EDUCATION Minister Ouranios Ioannides warned secondary school teachers yesterday there was no question of reopening negotiations after they defied their union leadership to vote down a government offer on pay rises and new promotions.

    The offer had been agreed in talks between teachers' union OELMEK and the government.

    But the union membership on Wednesday voted not to accept the proposal by a majority of 55 per cent.

    Ioannides yesterday said the issue was closed and that the government would not negotiate anew.

    OELMEK's central council met behind closed doors for around five hours yesterday to examine the developments and decide what to do next.

    But heated discussions failed to reach agreement, and members of left-wing Proodeftiki and centre-left Synergasia tendencies walked out. The factions led the campaign against the pay offer.

    An OELMEK official told the Cyprus Mail the union was now working on restoring peace within its ranks, and said a serious step towards that had been made.

    On Wednesday, sources within the union appeared optimistic that further strike action could be avoided.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] MacDonald's admits BSE case, but insists infected meat did not enter supply chain

    By Jennie Matthew MACDONALD'S in Cyprus yesterday confirmed that an outbreak of BSE had been detected in a herd that caters for one of their major suppliers, but said that under no circumstances had the infected meat entered the human food chain.

    Renos Andreou, the purchasing manager at the MacDonald's head office in Larnaca, insisted there was no need for concern.

    "BSE has not been detected in our factory, but only in a herd that supplies one of our suppliers. The infected meat did not enter the human food chain, " Andreou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    The Veterinary Department confirmed that there was no question of the infected meat getting into the food chain.

    All MacDonald's burgers sold in Cyprus are made by the Italian supplier, Inalca, which also supplies restaurants in Greece, Malta, Denmark and Italy.

    It was at a farm used by Inalca that the BSE-infected cow was found on January 9.

    Italian law complies with European regulations that insist infected carcasses be disposed of immediately and that the entire herd where the case has been detected be destroyed.

    The company insists that all burger meat is muscle meat, and does not contain cuts from the spine, brain and stomach, more prone to pass on the disease.

    "All our burgers are 100 per cent meat. I can't see MacDonald's serving hamburgers if they knew they were unfit for consumption," said Andreou.

    All MacDonald's meat is imported because there are no factories in Cyprus that meet MacDonald's standards.

    "Of course, people are concerned, but the customer on the street or in the restaurant doesn't know all the facts," he added.

    The company was informed immediately after the infected cow was identified. He said the matter was being discussed in London, Dubai and Italy.

    Andreou said that while customers did ask about the safety of beef, there had been no letup in the huge popularity of MacDonald's burger meals in Cyprus.

    "To be honest we haven't detected a sharp drop in beef sales. The scare will pass, so we're not worried that it will affect our business," he said.

    Health Ministry and Veterinary Department inspectors inspect every single consignment of imported meat intended for human consumption.

    The government's Senior Veterinary Officer, Andreas Orphanides, assured the Cyprus Mail that all meat imported to Cyprus met international rules and regulations.

    No meat comes from farms where BSE has been recorded in the last seven years.

    When beef comes from countries with a history of sporadic outbreaks, certificates must verify that the animals were not fed on meat and bone meal and that did not originate from infected farms.

    Beef products from the United Kingdom and Portugal are strictly prohibited.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Powell pledges continued US commitment on Cyprus

    By Jean Christou U.S. SECRETARY of State designate General Colin Powell has said Washington will remain engaged in the effort to find a settlement of the Cyprus question.

    Speaking at the confirmation hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said the US would try to play a useful role in Cyprus and encourage Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to engage in the UN peace process, which he said Washington would continue to support.

    Speaking of Turkey, Powell said it has been "one of our steadfast allies for so many years" and continued to contribute to Europe. He said Turkey was a stable nation in a region of instability with great oil reserves.

    "I think the Cyprus issue is very important, it has been a problem that has been lingering, festering as a sore in that region and as an irritation between those two countries most concerned with it, Greece and Turkey," Powell said.

    He said the US would "remain engaged and will support the UN Secretary General's actions, and encourage both parties to come to these proximity talks."

    The Turkish Cypriot side, with the backing of Ankara, has threatened not to attend the next round of UN-sponsored proximity talks in Geneva on January 26 unless their status is officially recognised.

    The international community says there are no plans to alter the format under which the talks have been taking place since December 1999.

    Powell said the US understood the difference of view between Greece and Turkey: the former, he said, was interested in the bizonal, bicommunal federation along the lines suggested by the UN, while the latter had a desire for "something slightly different."

    "We hope we can play a useful role, since we have friendly relations with both of those nations, and encourage them to not only support the process but to encourage Mr Denktash to engage as soon as he possibly can," he told the Senate Committee.

    Asked if the US continued to support the UN position that the proximity talks should continue without preconditions, he replied "I expect to do so, I have not discussed it with the president but it seems like the position we would support."

    He also said he would discuss with the president the issue of continuing to have a high level presidential envoy on Cyprus. The US has two envoys dealing with the Cyprus question at present, a presidential emissary and a State Department co-ordinator.

    Commenting on the role of Turkey's broader regional role, he said Turkey had been one of "our steadfast allies for so many years and I'm very proud of the relationships that I have had with Turkish leaders over the years in the Turkish armed forces, and I hope to be able to use those relationships as I begin my stewardship as Secretary of State.

    "I am committed to a strong Turkey, a Turkey that is making a major contribution still in Europe, and I hope that some of the problems that currently exist between Turkey and its other European partners with respect to how to integrate the EU and the non-EU contributors, NATO contributors, to the European Defence and Security Initiative can be worked out, and I hope I can perhaps play a role in that," Powell added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Rumours buoy hotel shares

    By Jean Christou BANKS TOOK a back seat to hotels again yesterday as speculation continued about pending acquisitions and cooperation agreements in the sector.

    Although trading opened on an optimistic note the index fell five minutes into the session ending at 240.4 points, a 0.27 per cent drop.

    The FTSE/CySE performed slightly better but also ended in the red, down 0.21 per cent at 1,023. Total volume dropped back to 11.8 million with blue chips accounting for only 21 per cent.

    Tsokkos Hotels topped yesterday's most active list with a volume of 2.6 million and a whopping 5.4 million shares traded. The stock ended one cent down at 49 cents.

    Greek daily Phileleftheros said yesterday the sudden interest in Tsokkos was a mystery but that the hotel had been linked with the mergers and acquisitions rumours

    The paper said the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may contact Tsokkos to request clarifications and urge them to make an announcement to the CSE authorities in the interest of shareholders.

    Analysts yesterday urged investors to be cautious. "It's not the first time investors have been burned by these kind of vague rumours," said one. "But such is often the reality of the market in Cyprus."

    Aquasol Hotels also made it to the most active list yesterday gaining one cent to close at 55 with over 800,000 shares changing hands.

    The two main banks and GlobalSoft, mainstays of the market did not get a look in yesterday. Both Bank of Cyprus (BoC) and Laiki ended the day without change at 3.26 and 2.97 respectively while GlobalSoft shed one cent to 4.77.

    They were replaced on the active list by Laiki Investments which came in second dropping six cents to 81 cents, G&K Exclusive Fashions which jumped seven cents to 69 cents and CLR Investments which added one cent to 30 cents.

    All but two sectors, fish farms and financial companies, finished slightly in the black. The financial sector ended 3.48 per cent down and fish farms 1.84 per cent.

    "It look likely the index will continue to hover around the 235-245 points mark for another while," the analyst said. "Speculators are still running the show for the moment."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] DISY delays contentious helicopter debate

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE HOUSE of Representatives plenum yesterday ducked a potentially explosive debate on the proposed purchase of Bell helicopters, after deputies for governing DISY insisted on a postponement to give them more time to ponder the issue.

    Approval of the 22 million budget to buy the US-made helicopters for the National Guard has now been put off five times as a showdown over the issue between DISY and main opposition party AKEL has intensified.

    AKEL insist the chosen Bell-412EP helicopters, already used by the police, are useless as military hardware. DISY and the Defence Ministry beg to differ, but the two other big parliamentary parties, DIKO and KISOS, appear to be siding with AKEL, putting DISY in a tight spot.

    Deputies turned out in force for yesterday afternoon's plenum session, with all eyes on the helicopter issue, the last item on the agenda.

    But, in the end, discussion of the issue lasted barely 10 minutes.

    DISY parliamentary spokesman Panayiotis Demetriou was first to speak: "The issue of the helicopters has become a hotly debated one. DISY had set aside yesterday to discuss the matter and review its positions but we had no time, so we are asking for a postponement of 15 days," he said.

    "Why don't we put it off till after the elections?" quipped AKEL leader Demetris Christofias, suggesting the governing party was keen to avoid losing a vote on such a 'hot' issue in the run-up to the May parliamentary elections.

    Other AKEL deputies also objected to a postponement, while some DIKO deputies protested they would be away in two weeks' time and so would miss the debate if it was rescheduled for then.

    An intervention from KISOS leader Vassos Lyssarides settled the matter. The veteran party leader proposed that the debate be put off, with the new date being set by parliament's back-room staff to ensure no one missed out.

    Lyssarides' suggestion was put to the vote and was carried with 31 votes for and 17 AKEL votes against.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Anastassiades slams CyBC after poll shows DISY trailing AKEL

    By George Psyllides DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades yesterday stepped up his attack against state controlled CyBC, accusing its board of being indifferent and irresponsible.

    The angry attack was prompted by a CyBC-sponsored poll, which found that DISY had the support of only 25.5 per cent of those asked, well behind the 30.1 per cent garnered by opposition AKEL.

    The results of the poll were presented on CyBC on Wednesday night.

    Speaking before DISY's superior council on Wednesday, Anastassiades questioned the logic behind presenting the results now of a poll carried out around a month ago, when everyone knew that such polls mirrored the opinions recorded at that moment.

    He added that those entrusted by DISY with places on the semi-governmental boards were "turning a blind eye to games played inside the organisations".

    Yesterday, Anastassiades accused CyBC's board of being indifferent and irresponsible, arguing they should have stated the period when the poll was carried out, and "not presented a twisted picture that depicts a 10-day period at the end of November beginning of December".

    He questioned the timing and type of questions, adding they should have been given to the parties for approval.

    CyBC Chairman Antonis Drakos, who is a DISY member, refrained from engaging in a public debate with Anastassiades, saying it would probably hurt the party's image.

    Drakos, however, stressed the poll was impartial and objective.

    "We followed all procedures necessary to carry out a trustworthy and scientific research," he said.

    He said the poll was completed by the same people who undertook a 1998 survey, which showed that Glafcos Clerides would win the presidential election.

    Back then, DIKO reacted by complaining it was a biased poll, but as proven later it had been correct, Drakos said.

    Drakos' reaction to DIKO's attack then had been simple: "When a mirror shows you are ugly you do not break it."

    Opposition AKEL was more forthright in its criticism of Anastassiades.

    In a written statement, AKEL described the DISY chairman's reaction as "an explosion of autocracy with anachronistic ethos and spirit".

    It accused Anastassiades of wanting the state's institutions to serve DISY and not the public.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Police probing theft of $300,000 ring

    By Jenny Curtis AN AMERICAN woman claims to have had a $300,000 ring stolen while staying at the Hilton Hotel in Nicosia this week. Forty-five year-old Jana Adalerjaffe was accompanying US Presidential Emissary Alfred Moses and US State Department Co-ordinator Thomas Weston during a visit to the island.

    The ring disappeared on Monday morning between 9 and 10 am as Jana and her husband were eating their breakfast. She says she left it on her bedside table and when they returned it was missing. Hotel security guards were informed and internal investigations were carried out, but no progress was made.

    The police, who were not informed until 48 hours after the alleged theft, are now carrying out their own investigation. "According to the woman, the ring was made of 20 or 22 carat white gold, in which a heart-shaped diamond was set. It was a present from her former husband and apparently not insured," a spokesperson from CID said, adding that officers had found no sign of a break-in and had no idea how the thief had entered the room.

    A spokeswoman for the Hilton said she was unable to make any comment on the matter, as it was now in the hands of the police. Walter Douglas, from the American Embassy, could only confirm that Jana had not been here on official business and that she had not registered with the embassy.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Bank employee foils robber

    By a Staff Reporter POLICE were yesterday looking for a man who attempted to rob a Paphos bank at gunpoint on Wednesday, but was chased away by an employee.

    Police said the hooded man entered the Letymbou co-operative bank at around 6.10pm, wielding a gun and demanding the money from Christofis Tryfonos, who was still at his desk.

    "I was doing some calculations when I heard a tap on the counter," Tryfonos said.

    "I lifted my head up and saw a hooded individual pointing a pistol at me and demanding the money in broken Greek."

    Tryfonos asked the robber: "which money?"

    "The money," the robber replied.

    Tryfonos then attacked the robber, who turned around and ran.

    He fled into a pick-up van, but Tryfonos managed to note down the licence plate.

    Police found the vehicle abandoned some two kilometres from the scene with a punctured tyre.

    The owner of the van was found to be a resident of Lysos village, who had died two months ago.

    The car had been parked in the deceased man's yard with the key on the ignition.

    Police were yesterday combing the area around where the car was found for further clues. No arrest had been made by last night.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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