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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-01-27

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

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Clerides insists talks format cannot change
  • [02] 'Vote on health bill now or face another year's delay'
  • [03] Minister promises Akamas decision by summer
  • [04] Cyprus denies Yugoslav claims of Milosevic cover-up
  • [05] Private clinics offer maid free cancer operation
  • [06] Swimming pool review to ensure EU standards
  • [07] All-clear for Cyprus pork
  • [08] New plans to boost private colleges
  • [09] Sisters convicted of fraud

  • [01] Clerides insists talks format cannot change

    By Jean Christou

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides today made it clear to UN special adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto that the Greek Cypriot side would not agree to a change in the procedure for the UN-sponsored proximity talks.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told reporters after Clerides' two- hour meeting with De Soto that the President had underlined the need for UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan to set a date for the continuation of the proximity talks.

    If either of the two sides does not respond to the invitation, the issue should go to the Security Council, the President told De Soto.

    The Greek Cypriot side has already signalled its acceptance to return for a new round of talks on condition the format under which they have been held until now does not change. The talks had originally been due to resume yesterday in Geneva, but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is insisting he will not participate unless his breakaway regime in the north is recognised.

    De Soto arrived on the island on Thursday night in a last-ditch attempt to persuade Denktash to return to negotiations. He will meet the Turkish Cypriot leader on Sunday, which will be followed by a second meeting with Clerides on Monday.

    The UN has remained adamant that the format of the talks will not change, and De Soto reiterated that stance yesterday. Asked by reporters of a possible change in the procedure, he said: "I bring no proposal to that effect."

    Papapetrou confirmed that the UN has made no such proposal.

    "It has been made clear by the President of the Republic that there can be no change in the process and the procedure followed vis-a-vis the efforts for the solution of the Cyprus problem," Papapetrou said.

    "What is under way are the proximity talks, and there is a need for the continuation of these talks."

    He added that Clerides had told the UN envoy that the Greek Cypriot side was ready for proximity talks or even face-to-face talks.

    "It has also been stressed by President Clerides that the (UN) Secretary General must fix a date for these talks to be continued," Papapetrou said, adding that the Greek Cypriot side expected the meetings to continue within a reasonable timetable.

    De Soto had brought no proposals at all, he added.

    Replying to a question by a Turkish Cypriot journalist on what the Greek Cypriot side would do if Denktash insisted on his refusal to participate in proximity talks, Papapetrou clarified that the Greek Cypriot side and President Clerides did not aim at putting Denktash or Turkey into a corner.

    "What the Greek Cypriot side really wants is to continue the effort that started and build up the necessary political will for the necessary compromise to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem," he said.

    He said, however, that if Denktash and Turkey continued to be negative and avoid the negotiating table, "Then we are of the opinion that the Secretary General has the obligation to report to the Security Council and describe the real facts."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] 'Vote on health bill now or face another year's delay'

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE CHAIRMAN of the House Health Committee, Andreas Parisinos of DISY, yesterday issued a plea for the long-delayed National Health Plan to be voted on before parliament dissolves for the May elections.

    Failure to do so, Parisinos argued, would delay implementation of the universal health plan -- which he said would in any case only come some five years after House approval -- by at least another year.

    Parliamentary party leaders are dithering about when to put the contentious bill on the agenda for the House of Representatives plenum, wary of possible opposition to the proposed law from opposition parties AKEL and DIKO. The health plan is also opposed by the powerful civil servants' union PASYDY and the bank workers' union ETYK, who both want their members to be exempted from the news state scheme so they can stick with their own health plans.

    But Parisinos yesterday called for an immediate vote on the bill.

    "The next parliament won't be in a position to restart talks on the plan till October. That would be 10 months lost, and when debate restarts, by the time the new deputies have been briefed, we will have arrived in 2002 and we will still be discussing the bill," he argued.

    Opponents of the plan have expressed misgivings about the bill in its current form, but the Health committee chairman said there would be plenty of time to thrash out the details of the plan after the basic law was approved.

    Following approval of the bill, the government would set up a health plan board, including representatives of worker and employer organisations, which would draw up the regulations for the government scheme.

    "I cannot imagine that those on the board representing the hundreds of thousands of workers will not do their very best, their utmost, to get this institution to work," Parisinos said.

    He also said it would probably take "about five years" before these implementation regulations could be worked out, which he said was another reason to pass the bill immediately.

    Parisinos dismissed scepticism over the suitability of the National Health Plan: "It will at last give everyone the right to equal treatment, equal chances," he said.

    The health plan provides for all citizens' health needs to be covered in exchange for a standard contribution amounting to two per cent of their salary. Self-employed people will contribute 3.55 per cent of their earnings.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Minister promises Akamas decision by summer

    By Martin Hellicar

    INTERIOR Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday promised the future of the Akamas wilderness should be finally decided by this summer, a year after the verdict was officially due.

    "My feeling is that the issue should be over by the summer," Christodoulou, who is on the ministerial committee for Akamas, said after meeting to discuss the controversial issue with the chairman of the Technical Chamber (ETEK), Nicos Mesaritis.

    On March 1 last year, the Cabinet announced a controversial decision to sanction "mild and controlled" tourism development on the unspoiled peninsula and gave the relevant ministerial committee, chaired by Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous, three months in which to thrash out a blueprint for implementing the plan. But Themistocleous recently launched yet another round of contacts with all interested parties.

    Christodoulou conceded yesterday that a decision on the final status of the remote peninsula, earmarked for National Park status some 15 years ago, was long overdue.

    The government appears loath to close the matter, wary of the demands for greater development from local residents and landowners and environmentalists' demands for the March 1 plan to be scrapped in favour of a more protective regime.

    The green lobby is supported by parliament and ETEK.

    The Cabinet decision allows for "mild" development in all parts of the peninsula except the state forest and the Lara and Toxeftra turtle-nesting beaches. It also allows businessman Photos Photiades, alone among Akamas landowners, free rein to develop an area of forest land on the peninsula's north coast.

    Christodoulou was giving little away yesterday about which way the Akamas pendulum was swinging.

    He repeated the standard government line that the need to conserve the peninsula's wildlife had to be balanced with the need to help local villages develop. But he also said he "did not disagree" with ETEK's stand on the issue.

    Mesaritis repeated the conservationist line, insisting that protecting Akamas wildlife did not preclude development. But he said this development had to follow "a different model to the one we have become used to".

    Greens support implementation of a state-commissioned and parliament- approved 1995 World Bank report, which recommended Akamas be preserved as a 'Biosphere Reserve' with tourism development kept within existing village boundaries.

    Mesaritis homed in on the greens' bugbear: the March 1 plan's special stipulations concerning Photiades' land. The ETEK man said Akamas landowners should be given land outside the area to develop in lieu of their Akamas land.

    Christodoulou said he felt this principle should be applied only if the Akamas land in question was environmentally "sensitive". He did not say if the land the Cabinet plan allows Photiades to develop qualified as "sensitive" or not.

    Photiades has been playing his own part in delaying a final decision on the March 1 plan by insisting his Akamas holding is twice the size of what Land Registry department records show.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Cyprus denies Yugoslav claims of Milosevic cover-up

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS yesterday denied allegations by Yugoslav National Bank Governor Mladan Dinkic that it was one of the countries "covering up the financial abuses of the previous [Milosevic] regime" by refusing to hand over information on secret accounts.

    The claims were yesterday refuted by the government, with both the Government Spokesman and the Foreign Minister expressing "dismay and surprise".

    Dinkic made the claims following a recent meeting with Carla del Ponte, the Chief Prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal in the Hague. He criticised the international community for insisting Yugoslavia should co-operate with the Hague tribunal while simultaneously "covering up" the financial abuses of the Milosevic regime. He went on to say the Yugoslav National Bank had information that Milosevic and his associates held Swiss accounts and that it suspected there were other secret accounts in Greece and Cyprus.

    Rumours that Milosevic channelled millions in funds to Cyprus have abounded for years, with both the government and the Central Bank consistently denying the island was involved. In December, US Treasury investigators suggested $1 billion had been transferred from Yugoslavia to Cyprus during Milosevic's presidency, but the US government later distanced itself from these reports.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday told reporters that the government and the Central Bank had offered every assistance to Yugoslav authorities, adding that, on January 8, Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou had replied in writing to a letter from Dinkic dated December 15, 2000, in which the Yugoslav official said he would be visiting Cyprus to discuss the controversial accounts.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides pointed out that the government had satisfied Del Ponte's demand on freezing certain accounts. "I therefore feel that this reference to Cyprus is most unfortunate, and I shall instruct our ambassador in Belgrade to convey a protest." Asked why Cyprus had been repeatedly named in such scenarios, Cassoulides said the question should best be directed at the Yugoslav authorities.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Private clinics offer maid free cancer operation

    By a Staff Reporter

    TWO PRIVATE clinics are understood to have offered a Filipina housemaid free treatment after her employer reportedly refused to cover the cost of a cancer operation.

    One of the doctors who made the offer, Sotos Demetriou, told the Cyprus Mail that his clinic would be willing to perform the operation and offer post-operative care "with great pleasure".

    "I gave the offer without a cent, as a doctor and a human being," he added.

    Contracts for domestic workers stipulate that employers must pay for all necessary medical expenses incurred during the maid's period of employment.

    According to the Immigrant Support Action Group (ISAG), which set up a fundraising initiative to raise money for the woman's operation, the employer refused to meet the cost of the operation at the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia.

    Doctors at the hospital were willing to operate on her yesterday, if funds were forthcoming.

    But last night, Demetriou had received no reply from the woman regarding his offer.

    The Philippines Consul, Yiannakis Erotokritou is thought to be handling the case, after reportedly arranging a meeting with her, her employer and immigration officials yesterday morning.

    He was unavailable for comment last night. The ISAG yesterday welcomed the offers from the two clinics, and urged the woman to accept one of them.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Swimming pool review to ensure EU standards

    By Jennie Matthew

    SWIMMING pools were yesterday the latest issue to be passed through the prism of European Union harmonisation, with government calls for an island- wide clean up of health and safety regulations.

    The Ministry of Interior has sent a request to the Attorney-general to ask for an international swimming pool expert to initiate a national investigation into what's going right and what's wrong in the island's pool regulations.

    The government believes over 600 public swimming pools could fail international standards.

    A report in Politis yesterday put the figure at 725, citing 20 pools in Nicosia, 55 in Larnaca, 128 in Limassol, 188 in Paphos and 274 in the Famagusta district.

    The only reported prosecution of a swimming pool owner for not meeting licence requirements was in September 1998.

    The Ministry is calling for the law to be revised in order to embrace British health and safety standards - in the government's opinion, the highest in the world. They also want to consult Australian expertise on day- to-day running of water parks - a fast growing tourist attraction in Cyprus.

    But the government was yesterday unwilling to admit there were big practical problems with swimming pools as they operate at the moment.

    One source said they got persistently good reports from British tourist organisations.

    Ayia Napa municipality yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the council checked each of the 157 pools in its district every year, adding they were confident that all complied with current regulations on water, hygiene and equipment.

    Public Health Inspector Lakis Anthousis yesterday confirmed that the Health Ministry granted health certificates to pools lying outside municipal boundaries.

    Anthousis said standards of pool cleanliness on the island were high.

    But the general manager of the Aphrodite Water Park, Andreas Nicolaou, yesterday claimed his was the only properly licensed pool in Paphos.

    He said the park tested the quality of the water weekly and that the municipality conducted frequent hygiene checks.

    The new legislation aims to synchronise the current regulations and ensure that all meet EU standards.

    Government estimates hope the new law could be drawn up within six months of the expert's advisory visit - for which applications of tender will be invited after the Attorney-general's office has reviewed the matter.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] All-clear for Cyprus pork

    By a Staff Reporter

    CARNIVORES can pig-out without concern in Cyprus, the Veterinary Services said yesterday.

    Responding to fears following revelations that large quantities of Austrian and German pork had been tainted by the use of dangerous hormones and antibiotics, Services director Pavlos Economides said: "There is no cause for concern here because we do not import pork from Europe or anywhere else."

    He said the Veterinary Services also kept a close eye on local pork producers: "We have been testing for Clebyterol (an artificial hormone) since 1995 and we have never come across any samples containing this substance. Also since the 1980s, so for about 20 years now, we have been checking all types of meat for hormones and have not found any."

    Economides said that the only possible concern involved the use of unnecessary antibiotics by some pig farmers. "We have been investigating to find out where and for what reasons the antibiotics were being used and have advised the farmers to stop, informing them about the dangers."

    But he added that Cypriots could "feel secure in the knowledge that no dangerous pork is ever allowed to leave the slaughterhouse. We use these measures to check every piece."

    Nine hundred pig farms in Germany and 500 in Austria have so far been found to be illegally using hormones and antibiotics to make their pigs grow more quickly.

    Clebyterol was widely used, but has recently been found to have dangerous side effects on human health, including cancer of the womb in young women.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] New plans to boost private colleges

    By Athena Karsera

    THE GOVERNMENT is set to join forces with the private colleges in an international campaign to inform foreign students about their rights and obligations.

    Announcing the move yesterday, Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said: "The campaign will be taking place all over the world, with special emphasis put on China."

    There has been a notable rise in recent years in the number of Chinese students coming to Cyprus.

    The Minister also said the Cabinet would begin discussion next month on giving certain private colleges university status.

    "We estimate that all the suggestions for legislation on the matter will be presented to the Cabinet in about one month from today," he said.

    Ioannides added that courses at two more private colleges had received government accreditation, namely CDA College and the Tsaousis Secretarial College. More than 10 other institutions had failed to pay the necessary evaluation fee and, while some of their courses contained the necessary criteria, they would not be officially recognised until this was done.

    A wide range of courses from various colleges throughout Cyprus were awarded with government accreditation on January 17 last year.

    The Minister said that while support to public institutions would continue, mainly because they were often targeted at the less financially well off, private colleges would also be encouraged in their growth as this would cultivate a more competitive market.

    He said special attention had to be paid to the government-run Higher Technological Institute and the Higher Hotel and Catering Institute. "We have seen that the public tertiary educational institutions that existed before the University of Cyprus have a double problem because, although classes are taught in English, they are eclipsed by the colleges in terms of private students, while less and less Cypriot students are opting to attend."

    The president of the committee set up to evaluate the colleges for government accreditation, Costas Papanicholas, said yesterday that 57 per cent of all Cypriot students studied at private colleges.

    He said that since certain diplomas and degrees had received recognition, 40 per cent more students had registered to take them, while non-accredited courses had seen a corresponding decline.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Sisters convicted of fraud

    By a Staff Reporter

    A NICOSIA criminal court yesterday found lawyer Andri Iracleous, 49, and her sister, chemist Maria Ioannou, 42, guilty of defrauding an elderly man from the Engomi suburb of Nicosia. The defendants were charged with using false assurances in the transfer of a mortgage, accepting to transfer property of a party deemed incapable of handling his/her wealth, and extracting a power of attorney under false pretences.

    The plaintiff, 80-year-old Antonis Kei, claimed he was swindled by Iracleous into granting her power of attorney over his 56,000 house in Engomi. For their part, the defendants claimed Kei had willingly signed over his home a few years back, but Kei insisted he did not know what he was signing at the time.

    Kei earlier testified in court that Iracleous had swindled him out of the "earnings of 10 years' of hard work" in Australia, from where he and his now deceased spouse returned in 1993, when they bought the house from Iracleous.

    The defendants will be sentenced on Thursday, following defence pleas for mitigation. The court ruled that Iracleous and Ioannou should remain in custody until that time.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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