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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-03

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

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


Saturday, February 3, 2001

CONTENTS

  • [01] Hasikos attacks parliament after helicopter fiasco
  • [02] Second shooting suspect remanded
  • [03] Hope for progress in teachers dispute
  • [04] Deal signed for refinery to go to Vassiliko
  • [05] Sri Lankan Bank links up with Laiki for cash transfer deal
  • [06] Court shuts down polluting dye factory
  • [07] Ministers to decide next week on stricken ship
  • [08] Body is not that of Swiss student
  • [09] Lyssarides calls for action on drugs
  • [10] Clerides urges discretion on gas reserves
  • [11] Donors found for granny's knee op
  • [12] Bases remand illegal immigrants

  • [01] Hasikos attacks parliament after helicopter fiasco

    By George Psyllides

    DEFENCE Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday suggested that parliament's powers on arms procurement should be limited to carrying out procedural checks, and not deciding on what weapons should be acquired.

    He was speaking in the wake of Thursday night's plenary session in which the government failed to rally enough votes to approve the funds needed for the purchase of four Bell general-purpose helicopters for the National Guard.

    Hasikos said yesterday it would now take another two to three years for the National Guard to get the much-needed aircraft.

    Despite intense horse-trading throughout Thursday morning and well into the session, the government failed to muster a majority in favour of the 22 million budget needed to buy the helicopters.

    The vote ended in a tie - 26 to 26.

    Yesterday, a disappointed Hasikos questioned whether the House should have the power to disrupt the army's programmes every time a party disagreed with the military experts' choice of equipment.

    "This is not a legislative body; it governs.

    "It is a ruling House of Parliament," Hasikos said.

    Cyprus runs under a presidential, but the current government does not command a majority in parliament.

    The Defence Minister suggested that it was time for the government to keep parliament out of the process when it came to the procurement of weapons systems, limiting the task of the House Defence Committee to that of a watchdog.

    Hasikos conceded that the ministry's only choice now was to invite fresh tenders, warning that the Bell 412EP could again emerge as the most suitable aircraft for the National Guard.

    Despite the lost vote, the minister insisted that his party had on Thursday given lessons in political ethics, since it could have won the vote if it had allowed its deputy Christos Rotsas to take part.

    Rotsas had been asked to abstain because he is Bell's representative in Bulgaria and DISY feared his vote could give the opposition fresh ammunition against the government ahead of May's parliamentary elections.

    Former DISY leader and deputy Yiannakis Matsis was also absent from Thursday's vote.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Second shooting suspect remanded

    By a Staff Reporter

    A 22-YEAR-old man was yesterday re-remanded in custody for five days in connection with the attempted murder of two Russian women at a Nicosia nightclub last Sunday week.

    Andreas Christodoulou, arrested last week, is suspected of being the wingman of Christos Patsalides, also held in connection with the same case.

    The court heard how a gunman armed with an army G3 rifle had fired 17 rounds at the Dow Jones nightclub off Makarios Avenue at the centre of Nicosia.

    Two Russian women studying in Cyprus were injured by the shots, fired from around 50 metres across the road.

    At around 3.25am, gunmen sprayed a furniture shop on the corner of Larnaca and Grivas Dhigenis Avenues with 22 bullets, which ripped through the windows and furniture.

    The court heard that a ballistic test had matched the spent cartridges found near the furniture shop to the ones found outside the Dow Jones.

    The court heard yesterday that Christodoulou told police where to find the G3 used in the attacks, along with a revolver, a pistol, and a number of bullets.

    Ballistic tests showed the G3 had been the weapon used against the Dow Jones and the furniture shop, police told the court.

    Christodoulou, police said, had also pointed out the location of two more G3 rifles, together with a large number of munitions and explosives.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Hope for progress in teachers dispute

    By Melina Demetriou

    TALKS between the teachers' union OELMEK and the Education Ministry yesterday raised hopes the two sides might be close to reaching an agreement on pay, promotions and working conditions.

    The union submitted a draft proposal to the ministry yesterday after its members last month defied their leadership to vote down an earlier government offer.

    Union Secretary-general Sotiris Charalambous told the Cyprus Mail the ministry had reacted favourably to the new proposal and that minister Ouranios Ioannides had made suggestions on how the union's claims could be met.

    Charalambous said the union Council was due to convene on Monday to consider Ioannides' response to their suggestions.

    "We must act quickly to reach an agreement with the government so that a relevant bill is tabled before the House before parliament is dissolved in late April ahead of the May elections," he said.

    Charalambous was optimistic that the teachers' proposal would this time be approved by the union's membership.

    The draft proposal tabled before the Education Ministry calls for the creation of new promotions for ordinary teachers and for cuts in working hours.

    OELMEK's left wing Proodeftiki and centre-left Synergasia tendencies had campaigned against the earlier proposal as applying only to senior promotions.

    The right wing Allayi faction had backed the offer.

    Proodeftiki said yesterday they and Synergasia were likely to approve the latest proposal.

    But Minister Ioannides did not give much away after yesterday's meeting with OELMEK.

    He said teachers' claims for a reduction in working hours should be tabled before the Cabinet for approval.

    "The Cabinet is the body to have the last word on this," he said.

    Ioannides also called on his ministry's Education Committee to address the matter, "and see how specific demands can be met".

    "If teachers' claims are to be satisfied by the government, then we are talking about a new state budget for teachers," the minister said.

    Ioannides declined to comment on the union's demands for the creation of new posts.

    There are fears that infighting could still split the union, but the differences appear to have been set aside for the time being while the union is conducting talks with the government.

    Union sources have said OELMEK is unlikely to stage any further strikes in the near future if the ministry fails to meet teachers' demands.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Deal signed for refinery to go to Vassiliko

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE GOVERNMENT and Larnaca municipality yesterday signed a deal for the relocation of the town's oil refineries to Vasiliko, an industrialised coastal site half way between Larnaca and Limassol.

    The agreement, signed by Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis and Larnaca mayor George Lykourgos, provides for the polluting refinery to be closed down by 2010. The current refineries site, a busy coastal stretch just East of the town, will be opened for tourism development in 2012.

    The agreement, the first contractual deal between the state and a local authority, also provides for the refinery to be upgraded before it closes down.

    Lykourgos heralded the deal, saying it would, in combination with efforts to turn the ailing Larnaca port into a cruise ship terminal, give the town's tourism a major boost.

    Rolandis added that a new marina would also be built for Larnaca before 2012.

    President Clerides, who watched over yesterday's signing ceremony, said moving the refineries from their present, built-up, environment was a safety necessity.

    Oil companies are to be compensated for the cost of moving their operations to Vasiliko.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Sri Lankan Bank links up with Laiki for cash transfer deal

    By Jennie Matthew

    SPECIAL arrangements have been made to improve banking services for Sri Lankan workers in Cyprus, thanks to long-standing collaboration between Laiki Bank and Seylan Bank.

    The arrangements allow Sri Lankans to send money home more quickly and easily. Until now, cheques waited in the post for up to six days or more, with a significant risk of getting lost.

    All of the 10,000 Sri Lankans who work in Cyprus can benefit from the scheme, provided they open a bank account at Laiki.

    Any amount of money can be immediately dispatched to Sri Lanka, straight from their account into that of the beneficiary within two working days, at a cost of $10 (6.17) each time.

    It is the first firm arrangement to send remittances back to Sri Lanka from Cyprus.

    "If you give the money today, the funds will be credited to the beneficiary's account in Sri Lanka within two working days," the chief manager of the foreign currency centre at Seylan Bank, Asoka Wijegunawardene, told the Cyprus Mail.

    He estimated that the 1.5 million Sri Lankans working abroad send a total of $1 billion home each year.

    Unemployment problems have sent huge numbers of Sri Lankans flocking abroad on temporary work visas in the hope of financing a better life for their families.

    The Middle East has long been a favoured destination, particularly Saudi Arabia, where the Sri Lankan work force numbers 150,000.

    Cyprus has emerged as a growing market in the last four years, with many attracted because of comparatively high wages.

    Domestic workers earn 150 a month in Cyprus.

    After a series of meetings with Laiki, Wijegunawardene is to meet 2,000 workers in Limassol and Nicosia this weekend, before flying home on Monday.

    The Sri Lankan Association has arranged two mass meetings with workers on Sunday - the weekly day off for domestic workers - in Nicosia in the morning and in Limassol in the afternoon.

    "They are very keen. They are anxiously waiting to open new accounts with Seylon Bank," Wijegunawardene said of feedback so far.

    Workers will be able to open back accounts on Sunday at the meetings. From then on, they can walk into any branch of Laiki Bank and make the necessary arrangements.

    Seylan Bank began to consider extending the scheme to Cyprus a year ago. Five months ago, one of the bank's directors, Rohini Nanayakkara, visited Cyprus to initiate negotiations with Laiki.

    Seylan, the second largest private bank in Sri Lanka, prides itself on making profit whilst offering services to the community.

    If all of the 1.5 million migrant workers abroad had access to the system, and all made just one remittance a year, that would take in a turnover of 15 million.

    The bank also offers a foreign currency account scheme, which includes loans to help them resettle at home, a free life insurance scheme worth up to $10,000 and interest in foreign exchange.

    For details of the Sunday meetings, please contact the Sri Lankan Association.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Court shuts down polluting dye factory

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE SUPREME Court yesterday ordered the permanent closure of a Paleometocho dyes factory that for years disposed of its toxic waste by sprinkling it over surrounding fields.

    The Supreme Court decision overturned an earlier District Court decision on the polluting legacy of the Rainbow factory, which had allowed the company to continue operations after paying a fine of 1,500. The factory manager had also been fined 1,000.

    The Attorney-general, Alecos Markides, appealed against the decision of the lower court, demanding that the Rainbow factory be closed. Factory operations were suspended in 1999 pending the outcome of the appeal.

    In a decision released yesterday, the three-judge Supreme Court expressed surprise that the lower court had allowed the Nicosia District factory to continue operations despite the obvious pollution risks.

    "The owners and manager of the factory had pleaded guilty to charges of disposing of liquid wastes from the clothes dying factory. without license, " the court judges stated in a nine-page ruling. "The creation of wastes and their disposal was the unavoidable result of the operation of the factory and they had installed a pipe which transported the wastes to neighbouring fields, where it was discharged in the form of artificial rain, " the court added.

    The polluting practice had carried on without government licence for over four years, from January 1995 to April 1999. The disposal practice had only been licensed for a six-month period prior to January 1995.

    The Supreme Court noted that the District Court had identified "special circumstances" which it considered grounds for allowing the factory to continue working. The District court stated that, with the encouragement of the relevant authorities, Rainbow had, after its six-month waste disposal permit expired, submitted no fewer that six alternative proposals for dumping the waste, all of which were rejected by the licensing authority.

    But the Supreme Court rejected these "special circumstances", noting that the District Court had heard testimony about the adverse impacts the factory wastes - which included high levels of Sulphur Nitrates - could have on the local soil and groundwater.

    "The issue of a closure order is, under such circumstances, an obvious legal requirement," the Supreme Court judges concluded.

    The decision will please local residents, who for years protested against the factory.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Ministers to decide next week on stricken ship

    By Jean Christou

    THE CABINET is expected to decide on Tuesday whether to give shelter to the stricken Cypriot-flagged Castor so it can salvage its explosive 23,000 tonne cargo of unleaded petrol, the Merchant Shipping Department (MSD) said yesterday.

    Cyprus is the only country in the Mediterranean, which, under certain conditions, appears willing to give shelter to the damaged ship to allow salvors to transfer its cargo safely to another vessel.

    "There is no way there will be a decision not to allow the Castor to come here," said MSD senior surveyor Captain Andreas Constantinou. He said a decision had not been taken this week because the Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Ministry had sought additional information.

    Fears that the petrol might ignite prompted several countries in the western Mediterranean, including Spain, Gibralter and Morocco, to refuse shelter to the Greek-owned Castor, which has been seeking shelter since New Year's Eve, when crew reported a deck crack off the coast of Spain.

    Yesterday, the Castor was still in the same position it had been early in the week, some 100 miles west of Malta on an eastward route, and apart from the initial removal of 6,300 tonnes of its original 29,5000-tonne cargo, no further transfer has taken place because of the continued bad weather.

    Requests for shelter from Malta have not been answered yet.

    "The weather is not favourable and in the last few days the ship has not moved," Constantinou said. "The tugs are trying to keep the ship in one piece and no more salvage work has been undertaken."

    Lloyds List reported that stormy weather had caused the Castor to pitch five metres and take in water aboard the damaged deck.

    A London based spokesman of the Greek owners of the ship told Lloyds the salvors had no fixed destination and hoped to resume transfer of the cargo as soon as weather permitted

    Salvage had to be suspended last week because of the bad weather. The salvors moved the ship in the hopes that conditions might be better in the eastern Mediterranean.

    The ship is expected to continue an eastwardly direction and could make it to Cyprus, although fears were expressed earlier this week that it would sink before reaching the island.

    Technical experts have recommend the ship be allowed shelter in Cyprus.

    Two weeks ago, Cypriot authorities were toying with the idea of blowing up the Castor at sea in a worst-case scenario, amid the increasing risk that the ship would either experience further structural failure, sink of explode.

    However it was decided to go ahead with the salvage as the only option in order to prevent or eliminate the threat of pollution to the marine environment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Body is not that of Swiss student

    By a Staff Reporter

    DNA TESTS have proved that the body found hanging from a tree in Yermasoyia 14 days ago is not that of a Swiss student who went missing in July 1999, as initially thought.

    The body was found hanging from a carob tree in the Paniotis area of Yermasoyia on January 20.

    First reports suggested that it might be the body of Peter Rieder, 32 who disappeared after taking part in geological studies in the mountain village of Agros.

    Police are now seeking to identify the corpse by searching through the data bank of missing people.

    State pathologist, Sophocles Sophocleous was adamant that the body had been there for over three months before being discovered.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Lyssarides calls for action on drugs

    By a Staff Reporter

    SOCIAL Democratic party leader Vassos Lyssarides yesterday called on the government to set up an action plan to tackle the drug problem, after a visit to Nicosia Hospital's Rehabilitation Unit.

    His visit came at the end of a week dominated by claims that hard drug use is on the rise. Last month, the mother of a youth arrested on heroin charges said her son had tried and failed to get help to kick the habit.

    As he left the clinic, Lyssarides told reporters yesterday: "People who are addicted to drugs must not be treated as criminals. What they really need is for society to support them."

    The KISOS leader added the penalties imposed on drug dealers were too lenient to act as a deterrent.

    Lyssarides also suggested the drug squad should employ sociologists and psychologists to provide support to drug users.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Clerides urges discretion on gas reserves

    By Martin Hellicar

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday pleaded for an end to the rumbling public debate about what Cyprus should or shouldn't do about deposits of oil and natural gas in the deep off the island's south coast.

    "It is a pointless and silly debate, which does not protect the interests of Cyprus," Clerides complained when asked about what has become a 'hot' issue. "There are things which have to be done silently, and this is happening," the octogenarian President added, sticking to the government line of saying as little as possible about the matter.

    Oil and gas deposits have been discovered in the sea between Egypt and Cyprus, some of which may lie in Cyprus territorial waters. Egypt has already set its own concession areas for exploiting some of these undersea riches.

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis has been reticent to comment on relevant reports, confirming only that he has met with Egyptian officials to discuss the situation and stressing the need for careful handling of the issue away from the media glare.

    Former President George Vassiliou turned up the heat on Thursday by insisting the government had to act fast to secure its rights to exploit any oil or gas within its territorial waters, which extend 200 miles from the island's coats.

    He said the possibility of oil and gas reserves in the region had first emerged some 10 years ago, while he was President, and efforts had immediately been made to define concession areas. Vassiliou said international treaties on territorial waters were not enough to guarantee Cyprus's exploitation rights, a position backed by oil experts. The ex- President suggested the Clerides government had failed to continue his administration's work in this area.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou came to the government's defence on the issue yesterday. While giving no details away, Papapetrou insisted the Clerides government had not been "remiss" when defining the legal limits of the island's marine territory. "Cyprus' interests are not in danger," the spokesman stated.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [11] Donors found for granny's knee op

    By a Staff Reporter

    A CYPRUS Mail appeal to find donors with the rare blood type needed by a granny facing a knee replacement operation seemed to have done the trick yesterday.

    About 10 people with the O negative (O-) blood that 80-year-old Paphos resident Freda Worsnop needs contacted our offices yesterday to offer to act as donors.

    Freda's operation, which on Wednesday had to be put off after Paphos hospital found it did not have enough O- blood I stock, has now been rescheduled for March 22.

    Two of the four donors needed to build up enough blood stocks for the operation had already been found when the Mail launched its appeal in yesterday's issue. The solid response to yesterday's article means the 80- year-old's operation should now be able to go ahead without a hitch.

    Freda, who served as a rigger in World War II and had to flee her Kyrenia home during the Turkish invasion, was bowled over by the public response to her plight. "She is delighted and overwhelmed by the response," a friend said.

    The names of the prospective donors have been passed on to Freda's friends, who will be contacting them in the run-up to the March 22 operation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [12] Bases remand illegal immigrants

    By a Staff Reporter

    FIFTEEN of the 17 suspected illegal immigrants picked up in the south east of the island on Wednesday were yesterday remanded by a British bases court.

    It was still not clear yesterday whether the 15 Iraqis, now thought to have crossed from the occupied areas on Tuesday, had actually arrived on the Dhekelia base. But they were brought up before the bases court because they had been found near Achna dam, within the British base.

    The suspects were remanded for seven days for illegal entry.

    The other two suspected Iraqi illegal immigrants, who were picked up in the Xylotimbou area by Cyprus police on Wednesday, are being held in police custody. It was these two suspects who led police to the other 15 hiding at the Achna dam on Wednesday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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