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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-01-20

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Government hits out at health critics
  • [02] Suspended ambassador to face criminal case
  • [03] Back to banks as trade focus shifts
  • [04] Minister pledges Akamas decision by the summer
  • [05] Armenians in Cyprus welcome 'noble' French gesture
  • [06] Paphos bishop calls on Archbishop to apologise
  • [07] Open war on sales

  • [01] Government hits out at health critics

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE GOVERNMENT has denounced attacks claiming its national health plan was a back-door attempt at privatisation as ignorant and unfair.

    AKEL, DIKO, the Bank Employees Union ETYK, and civil servants union PASYDY have all denounced the scheme, passed on to the House Plenum after parties failed to reach consensus in committee on Thursday.

    "It's stupidity. Nobody wants to privatise hospitals: what we want to do is update the system and give hospitals more self-control. The plan allows people to choose their doctor, public or private. If you want an operation, you can choose freely and waiting lists will go," said Andreas Polynikis, chairman of the committee for the Introduction of the National Health Scheme.

    The government sees the plan as the solution to the problems of an old- fashioned, time-consuming and unfair health system.

    "At the moment, civil servants work between 7.30am and 2.30pm. Patients don't fall sick only in the morning. It's unbelievable that we have such sophisticated operation theatres, with the most expensive technology, and people only work six hours a day," Polynikis said.

    The scheme aims to make costly private care available to all, making the sector more competitive and ironing out the inefficiencies and excesses of the two systems.

    PASYDY secretary-general Glafcos Hadjipetrou disagrees:

    "The scheme won't solve the major problems, such as the waiting lists. We never said we didn't want to pay. We will pay. We're not opposed the introduction of a scheme, but government hospitals must remain the basic service to people, albeit in co-operation with the private sector," Hadjipetrou said yesterday.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday lashed out at the civil servants.

    "It's absolutely unfair, because they don't even have the courage to say that they don't want to be part of it because they don't want to pay for it. The bulk of and the backbone of health care at all levels will be the hospitals," Savvides told the Cyprus Mail.

    "The government hospitals are the best premises to provide medical care. They have the best infrastructure and the new Nicosia General will be a five-star hospital - the best in the eastern Mediterranean. It will be a referral hospital for everyone," said Polynikis.

    According to the Health Ministry, the scheme will increase government health funding, not bolster up private care.

    Estimates say the government currently funds 46 per cent of healthcare carried out in Cyprus.

    "If we don't implement the plan, health care will become privatised," said Savvides.

    According to Polynikis, the national health plan will raise the state share to 55-60 per cent.

    On top of the 4.55 per cent of each person's wage paid by the State, the government must also cough up an additional 2.55 per cent for each of its employee's wages.

    As the largest single employer in Cyprus, that makes the government the biggest contributor to the health scheme.

    "We have a programme to update management, computerise systems and make all patient records electronic," said Polynikis.

    But, opposition DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis and PASYDY both criticise the government for a poor track record of modernisation, despite the rhetoric.

    According to Matsakis, promises that serious changes in hospital structure would precede the health scheme have not materialised.

    "We don't even have legislation regarding the monitoring of private hospitals. It was only presented to the House yesterday and God knows how long it's going to take to approve," he said.

    "Limassol has no oncology unit. More than 4,000 cancer patients have to go to Nicosia for treatment. Why not build an oncology unit for Limassol? None of the six intensive care units have a specialist. There is no single such unit for children. None of the hospitals have a microbiologist doctor. These are straightforward changes that would bring immediate improvements in healthcare. The plan will only help the government, politically, on paper, to show that they have managed to pass through legislation," Matsakis said.

    Savvides said modernisation was continually under way. He said facilities would continue to improve under the health plan.

    "When we were preparing the proposals, we were looking well into advance. What was suggested for Cyprus is being applied in all European countries to modernise. The know-how of health systems is a science and all of the critics are ignorant. Don't forget that there are many vested interests in the health care sector," added Polynikis.

    Matsakis denounced the scheme as a risky experiment based on flawed models in Greece and the UK.

    The Health Ministry say the scheme draws on models in Canada, Australia, Germany and Finland and the UK, but not Greece.

    It claims budgeting is modelled on the German system - one of the best in Europe.

    Employees will have to pay two per cent of their monthly salary towards the scheme. The government call this a fair leveller, which stands to benefit those at the lower end of the income bracket.

    Savvides said on no account would the government withdraw the health scheme bill. He said support from KISOS, DISY and the United Democrats was enough to pass the legislation, despite opposition from AKEL and DIKO.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Suspended ambassador to face criminal case

    By Jean Christou

    CRIMINAL proceedings will be filed against suspended Cypriot ambassador to Egypt Charalambos Kapsos, Attorney-general Alecos Markides said yesterday.

    "There is going to be a prosecution," Markides told the Cyprus Mail. He said the case would be tried at the Nicosia assizes. "We are going to file proceedings in a few days' time," he added.

    Kapsos was suspended in August 1999 after the Foreign Ministry ordered an inquiry into his activities following allegations he had smuggled 372 cases - over 4,000 bottles -- of Cypriot wine into Egypt by declaring the container as inexpensive personal effects, thus avoiding the 300 per cent import duty levied by Egyptian customs.

    Kapsos was also under investigation for hosting a bouzouki night at his residence in Cairo to promote the island's political cause, complete with Romanian dancing girls and the allegedly smuggled wine, where he is said to have charged 170 dignitaries $60 a head.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides was said to be furious with his ambassador charging foreign diplomats to attend what was supposed to be a promotional event for Cyprus.

    Kapsos has denied allegations that he personally intervened to have foreign artistes dance at his residence

    Kapsos reportedly passed off the wine as garden furniture and kitchen utensils, but the Egyptian authorities became suspicious and asked the ambassador for a more detailed explanation.

    Auditor-general Stella Yiorkadjis sent an investigator to Cairo to uncover what exactly went on. She passed on her findings to the Attorney-general's office and the Foreign Ministry, she said in her 1999 report.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Back to banks as trade focus shifts

    By Jean Christou

    STOCK WENT down hill yesterday ending a week of stagnation and lacklustre trading which left the all-share index 1.05 per cent down at 237.9 points.

    Hotel stocks returned to oblivion yesterday and banks came back out of the closet as the market's busiest performers but heavy pressure on the big two dragged the FTSE/CySE to 1,008 a fall of 1.45 per cent.

    Volume appears to have stabilised around 10 million mark after the index opened down and ended further down.

    Heavy losses were sustained in the financial services sector, down 4.21 per cent following a plunge of six cents in Sharelink stocks to 1.15.

    Other who ended in the red included the technology sector 1.81 per cent; the construction sector 1.24 per cent and the banking sector 1.19 per cent.

    Laiki was the most actively traded share shedding seven cents to 2.90 by the end of trading followed by Bank of Cyprus (BoC) which dropped four cents to 3.22.

    CLR also came under heavy pressure losing three cents on a traded volume of 2.7 million shares and closing at 30 cents.

    GlobalSoft kept out of sight in the volume stakes but ended the day ten cents poorer at 4.67.

    Star of the week Tsokkos deflated slightly, almost a cent to end at 48 cents with just over a million shares changing hands compared to some five million earlier in the week when rumours had been rife about mergers and acquisitions in the hotel sector.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned investors yesterday against paying too much attention to speculation and rumour on the market, particularly in relation to investment companies.

    "Attention must given to investment decisions based on actual economic data and prospects of companies and not to rumours concerning acquisitions," an announcement from the SEC said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Minister pledges Akamas decision by the summer

    By a Staff Reporter

    AGRICULTURE Minister Costas Themistocleous yesterday pledged that the contentious issue of the Akamas peninsula would be resolved by the middle of the year at the latest, adding that the relevant ministerial committee would submit a comprehensive proposal to Cabinet in a month's time.

    Following an Environment Council meeting to discuss the Akamas and other environmental issues, Themistocleous said negotiations were still under way with the interested parties: local residents, landowners, the Technical Chamber ETEK and the Federation of Environmentalist Organisations.

    The Cabinet had given the same ministerial committee until June 2000 to come up with a final formula for the peninsula's development, but the affair has dragged on, with the government wary of taking a controversial decision ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

    Both conservationists and developers have expressed dissatisfaction with last year's government plan for "mild and controlled tourism development" of the unspoiled peninsula.

    The ministry's head of the Environment Department yesterday noted that "significant progress" had been achieved in Cyprus-EU negotiations and that the government hoped to close the issue of the environment chapter within the year.

    The EU has warned the government it is closely monitoring the Akamas developments with an eye on Cyprus' commitments to European conservation programmes. A 1995 World Bank report recommended that the area be preserved as a "Biosphere Reserve" with tourism development limited to within existing villages.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Armenians in Cyprus welcome 'noble' French gesture

    By George Psyllides

    THE ARMENIAN community in Cyprus has warmly welcomed the French parliament's recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide.

    On Thursday, the French National Assembly unanimously adopted a bill recognising as genocide the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

    Yesterday, Bedros Kalaydjian, the Armenian representative to the House of Representatives, said his people were grateful for the official recognition of the indisputable fact of the Armenian genocide.

    The French vote has infuriated Turkey, which recalled her ambassador to France, warning the decision would hurt commercial and diplomatic ties between the two NATO allies.

    The decision was seen as a victory for the Armenian diaspora, which had lobbied hard for the bill.

    Kalaydjian said yesterday that, "the Armenian community considers the move as a noble and courageous gesture made in spite of tremendous opposition and threats from Turkey."

    In a written statement, Kalaydjian said the Armenian people were very grateful to the French parliament for officially recognising the genocide.

    "Even though there is not an Armenian family in the world without at least one victim of the genocide, the Armenian nation is united, not in its desire for revenge, but its wish for international recognition and acknowledgement of the horrific crime that was committed by the Turkish regime against it and humanity in 1915," Kalaydjian said.

    He added: "Even thought the Armenian Genocide was perpetrated almost a century ago, no Armenian can ever forget its terrible nature or indeed its tragic consequences."

    In the occupied north, however, the reaction was very different, echoing the strident tones of condemnation heard in Ankara.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash urged the Turkish Assembly to adopt similar resolutions on killings in territories colonised by France in the course of history.

    The chairman of the National Unity Party, Dervis Eroglu, condemned the resolution, accusing French deputies of distorting historical facts for the sake of Armenian votes.

    Eroglu added that the resolution was an indication of the extent to which European Union members respected their so-called "sacred EU criteria".

    No parliament had the right to criticise or condemn Turkey on the basis of "false allegations", Eroglu said.

    A group of Turkish Cypriot intellectuals also condemned the ratification of the bill, adding: "imperialist France must first of all clean the blood on her own hands."

    Turkey has consistently denied that there was an Armenian genocide and lobbied hard to prevent the bill from going through the French Parliament.

    A similar resolution before the United States Congress was thwarted last year after President Bill Clinton warned its passage would seriously hurt relations between the USA and Turkey.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Paphos bishop calls on Archbishop to apologise

    By a Staff Reporter

    JUST two months after the Church thought it had buried the hatchet on the Bishop of Limassol case, fresh trouble was brewing yesterday with the Bishop of Paphos demanding that his name be cleared of allegations that he had conspired with the Bishop of Arsinoe to brand Athanassios of Limassol a homosexual.

    In November, a Major Synod, only the second to convene in Cyprus Church history, cleared Athanassios of the gay allegations, which had plagued the Church for months.

    But the scandal re-emerged this week during the trial of two clergymen and three laymen charged with conspiracy against Athanassios.

    The three laymen are accused of falsely testifying against Athanassios before a Church committee tasked with probing the gay allegations.

    Archimandrite Andreas Constantinides and fellow-Limassol cleric Chrysostomos Argyrides are charged with bribing the three laymen to lie before the investigating committee.

    But the Major Synod and the state have never looked into conspiracy allegations against bishops Chrysostomos of Paphos and Georgios of Arsinoe, accused of being the masterminds of a well-orchestrated plan to oust the popular bishop of Limassol.

    The outspoken Paphos Bishop yesterday attacked the Archbishop, who he accused of being among those backing the conspiracy claims.

    "Some people, including the Archbishop, should prove there was indeed a conspiracy or apologise to the people," Bishop Crysostomos said.

    Claiming that neither he nor the Bishop of Arsinoe had conspired, Chrysostomos said he had repeatedly challenged the Archbishop to present any evidence he may have.

    "I asked the Archbishop to submit all evidence before the so-called Major Synod.

    "I also challenged him to hand them over to the Attorney-general, which he did not.

    "They owe us an answer and they should have the courage to declare there was no conspiracy, and apologise to the people," Chrysostomos said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Open war on sales

    By Elias Hazou

    WITH THE winter sales period kicking in from Monday, small shopkeepers yesterday lashed out large supermarkets and chain stores, accusing them of breaking the law by starting sales ahead of the official date.

    The Union for Small Businesses and Retailers, POVEK, said large stores were breaking the sales law, advertising sales from as early as January 4. The official sales period starts on Monday, January 22 and ends on March 10.

    POVEK claims that small shopkeepers are being stifled by chain stores, with which they cannot compete, conceding that a "small number" of small shopkeepers were also being forced to break the law in order to survive. The union said such a situation ultimately hurt consumers, who were unable to shop around for the best deals.

    POVEK argued consumers should be offered real sale prices on leftover clothes from a specific commercial period that is ending, and not be "misled" by offers on goods specially manufactured for the sales and sold at a price they would have been sold at anyway.

    In a news conference yesterday, POVEK secretary-general Melios Georgiou blamed the Commerce Ministry for failing to implement the law, noting that "had the ministry clamped down on some offenders right from the start, then the problem would not have spiralled out of control."

    He added that, "a handful of big businesses simply cannot ruin the businesses of some 25,000 small shopkeepers: that is just plain wrong."

    He went on to say that hypermarkets and chain stores used loopholes in the law, for example by issuing cards for members offering up to 30 per cent discounts.

    Chain stores counter by saying that small shops have the flexibility to offer reduced prices at any time, for example by taking advantage of more personal relations they cultivate with customers, while as larger organizations they are obliged to follow rigid policies.

    The law provides for up to a 750 fine and/or six months imprisonment for breaking the sales law, but Georgiou pointed out the measure was ineffectual for two reasons: first, the fine was too small to scare off big businesses, and second, courts rarely imposed the full penalty.

    For its part, the Commerce Ministry said it could do little to control the situation, claiming both small shopkeepers and chain stores were flagrantly breaking the law. Michalis Ieroudis, head of the Ministry's Competition and Consumer Protection Department, told the Cyprus Mail the ministry was seriously understaffed and that the few inspectors employed were doing all they could. He added that, pursuant to the Freedom of Speech Act, shops were allowed to advertise sales and reductions during non-sales periods, but actually making sales meant breaking the law.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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