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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-10

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, February 10, 2001


  • [01] Savvides pledges to answer civil service health plan objections
  • [02] Bases hit back at claims they ill-treated refugees
  • [03] Galanos urges strategic plan for plummeting market
  • [04] Two accused of pimping
  • [05] Confusion remains over where immigrants arrived
  • [06] Tsangarides to face three charges in 'pink slip' trial

  • [01] Savvides pledges to answer civil service health plan objections

    By Melina Demetriou

    HEALTH Minister Frixos Savvides has committed himself to satisfy civil servants' demand for changes to the government's national health plan.

    The promise was made during a heated discussion between the ministry and civil servants' union PASIDY at the House yesterday.

    The two sides met under the mediation of a Parliamentary Committeein an effort to iron out their differences on the scheme.

    The union repeated its line that the new state plan, which the government is trying to push through parliament, was not viable and would mark the end of state health care.

    PASIDY feels its own health plan is a better deal for its members than the proposed new state plan.

    Only civil servants and those on welfare are currently entitled to free state healthcare. Everyone else has to pay. The new scheme would provide free care for all.

    Savvides said after yesterday's meeting that, "we have decided to adopt any changes PASIDY suggests in order to reassure civil servants that they have nothing to worry about. But we need them to specify what it is that they are asking for. We commit to meet with their claims."

    The union's Secretary-general Glafcos Hadjipetrou replied that the government had the union's proposals so it could go ahead with the changes.

    But despite the seemingly positive outcome of the meeting, the talks between PASIDY and the government were held in a charged atmosphere.

    Savvides accused the union of not having the courage to admit that it did not want its members to contribute to the health plan.

    The minister reassured PASIDY that the government was not going to privatise public hospitals, adding that state doctors could maintain their civil service status if they wished.

    "Hadjipetrou wants to make sure that his grandchildren will work for the government," Savvides said sarcastically.

    Hadjipetrou hit back at the minister, claiming Savvides was not aware of the health plan's provisions and that he had tried to misinform the House.

    A Finance Ministry official at the meeting noted: "Half of civil servants don't use state hospitals anyway."

    Committee Chairman Christos Rotsas of DISY, who had called yesterday's meeting, nevertheless appeared optimistic that Savvides' promise to satisfy civil servant's demands spelled the end of the dispute between the two sides.

    "I am very happy with today's development and, despite the bickering at the meeting, I think that now we are on the right track," he said.

    PASIDY staged a two-hour strike last month, demanding that its members be excluded from the plan and have threatened to hold more strikes.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Bases hit back at claims they ill-treated refugees

    By Athena Karsera

    THE BRITISH Bases yesterday hit back at a newspaper report charging them with violating the human rights of 45 illegal immigrants living in Dhekelia pending deportation.

    The article in Haravghi claimed the immigrants were being kept in miserable conditions within a 100 square metre area and received an income of only 30 a month. It added they were being kept in the dark about their future.

    The paper quoted one of the immigrants as saying: "We live in a prison. They won't let us talk to anyone. We ask them what will happen to us and they won't tell us. We want our freedom. Our children are growing up without going to school. Almost two and a half years have passed. We are desperate."

    The immigrant also told the paper he had tried to escape from the Bases several times but had always been retuned by Cyprus police. He claimed he had once been put into solitary confinement for five days as punishment for running away.

    But speaking on behalf of the Bases yesterday, Captain Rupert Greenwood said the 45 immigrants lived in housing that had been used to house soldiers until their arrival.

    "I can categorically say, as someone who has seen the housing many times, that it is fine."

    He said any possible problems with accommodation might have been caused by the immigrants themselves. "The houses are in good nick, or at least they were to start with."

    He added the 45 enjoyed free medical care, and that a schoolmaster had been provided to teach their children.

    Greenwood said each male, whether he was single or the head of a household, received 35 a week and that an additional 14 per week was provided per wife or child, "so that is 77 a week for a family with two children, this is very much in line with general practice, including that in Cyprus. It should also be kept in mind that they do not pay rent."

    The Bases were yesterday unable to comment on whether the refugee who spoke to Haravghi had been put in solitary confinement.

    The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) confirmed that conditions at the Bases were adequate.

    The head of UNHCR in Cyprus, Sharon Cooper, said: "The conditions may not be ideal but we believe that the SBA authorities are providing the best possible treatment considering they are military bases."

    She said the military base status meant that limitations regarding the freedom of movement of all persons in the areas had to be expected.

    Cooper added UNHCR had been in continuous dialogue with the Bases administration since the immigrants' arrival, to ensure that the basic principals of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees were accorded to them.

    Journalists visiting the immigrants yesterday were greeted by the sight of satellite dishes, mobile phones and even some cars.

    One noted that the immigrant children spoke English with a good accent picked up from their teacher.

    Some said yesterday that their only complaint was being sent back to the Bases whenever they ventured outside and the fact that some of them did not have transport to go shopping within the Bases and usually had to walk several kilometres.

    The 45 Iraqi, Syrian and Sudanese nationals, 22 of whom are children -- of whom six were born after their parents' arrival in Cyprus -- were among a group of some 70 boat-people who disembarked on Episkopi Base shores on October 8, 1998.

    They remained there until December 1999, 25 were granted political asylum and the other 45 were rehoused in Dhekelia

    Bases spokesman Rob Need said yesterday the 45 had been granted temporary leave to remain at the Bases until deportation arrangements were finalised. He added there was no indication how long that could take.

    "Some (of the original 70) have been given refugee status following the first stage of the asylum applications handled by the Bases Administration and the Head Offices in the UK. At the end of this, some of the illegal refugees (not granted asylum) appealed this decision and this process was undertaken by the UNHCR. They were declared illegal. The matter is now closed and the illegal immigrants will eventually be deported."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Galanos urges strategic plan for plummeting market

    By George Psyllides

    FORMER House President Alexis Galanos yesterday urged the government to take immediate measures to support the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) in order to reverse the current downward spiral.

    Speaking at a news conference, Galanos said the main problem was the absence of a strategic plan for the CSE, which forced the government to take indecisive measures for its support, effectively leading it to the current situation.

    "Many measures are taken under pressure and unfortunately many deputies have no knowledge of CSE issues," Galanos said.

    He added that there were deputies who voted for something concerning the CSE without having a clue what they were deciding on.

    He said the CSE should be privatised and government intervention ultimately eliminated, but added that could not be done now because of the poor state in which the CSE currently found itself.

    "The government should move in with determination immediately," Galanos said.

    "Things should not have been allowed to reach such a point," he added.

    He suggested the government should set up a stability fund to save the CSE instead of pondering on spin-off problems created by the fall.

    The social insurance fund could be used to guarantee investment loans, Galanos suggested.

    The opposition opposes any attempts to use social insurance funds as collateral.

    But Galanos said the social insurance fund had been used in numerous occasions in the past to guarantee internal and external lending or even pay civil service wages.

    He added that lower interest rates would also benefit the CSE.

    "Interest rates today are high and are damaging the CSE and the economy; the economy's course does not justify such a tight interest rate policy," he said.

    Galanos also condemned party political involvement in the operation of the CSE, arguing politicians should stay away from the matter.

    "Party bickering over CSE issues for the sake of the May elections only causes more damage," he said.

    Galanos added that many politicians were deeply involved with public companies, often creating a conflict of interests and undermining public confidence.

    He said that when he had been a member of the House, he had worked for a long time to pass the anti-graft law, but the bill, through numerous amendments, had now been turned into a monstrosity that could not be approved by the plenum.

    Galanos said more transparency was needed in political life if the public was to regain trust.

    The upcoming elections were a good chance for new deputies to put transparency into practice.

    They could declare their assets, and possible participation or connection with any public companies, before they came to office, and declare them again after their term ended.

    Political parties should follow suit, Galanos said.

    He said the parties should also state their sources of income, especially when they came from public companies or large brokerages.

    If they failed to give a clear picture about their financial status, the government should stop handing them taxpayers' money.

    He added it would be wise for deputies who practised law to disclose the names of the companies they represented in order to clear suspicion from peoples' minds.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Two accused of pimping

    By George Psyllides

    TWO men were yesterday remanded in custody for six days on suspicion of pimping and illegal employment of a foreigner.

    Rolandos Ananakides, 31, a Pontian Greek from Georgia, and Michalakis Pavlou, alias Kitsios from Nicosia, were arrested after a police sting operation at a bar owned by Kitsios.

    The court heard that undercover police went to La Fortuna bar on Stovolos Avenue in Nicosia on Thursday, and ordered drinks while chatting to a 20- year-old Moldavian woman - one of two who worked there.

    An officer asked the woman if they could have sex and she told him he had to arrange it with Pavlou.

    The officers revealed their identities and arrested the woman and Pavlou, who, the court heard, claimed: "the girls are not mine, someone dropped them off and left them here."

    According to the investigating officer, the woman had answered an advertisement in Moldavia, asking for women interested to work in Cyprus.

    She contacted the number and later met Ananakides, who promised her a job on the island working at a bar.

    Ananakides allegedly told her that she would sit with customers and take 1 for every drink they bought her.

    The suspect said that if she wanted to have sex with a customer she would get 20 each time.

    The woman told police that she accepted the job offer because of her bad financial situation.

    Police said they had flown to Cyprus together with Ananakides, and that they were picked up at the airport by Pavlou, who brought her to Nicosia and showed her the flat where she would be staying.

    According to her testimony she began work the next day - January 31.

    The court heard that at around 2am, Pavlou gave her 20 and said only one word, "sex," at the same time pointing at the 'customer'.

    She said the same thing happened every day at around the same time.

    The 20-year-old also claimed that Pavlou had started bringing customers up to her flat during the day.

    He would open the door with a spare key, give her the 20, and say: "sex".

    Moments later the man would show up in her room, the court was told.

    But she started keeping a diary with the names of the men she slept with, after Pavlou failed to give her the 1 per drink promised to her by Ananakides.

    The diary was now in the hands of police, who were eager to talk to the 'customers' in order to build their case against the suspects.

    The suspects' defence lawyers had no objection to the prosecution's demand for a six-day remand order, which was agreed upon after intense horse- trading.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Confusion remains over where immigrants arrived

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE FATE of the 17 illegal immigrants found 10 days ago hiding in reservoirs in the southeast of the island was still not clear yesterday, as police continued investigations to determine the exact port of entry.

    Fifteen of the 17 immigrants, all established to be Iraqis, were found in the village of Achna in the British Sovereign Bases, and were located after the other two, found in Xylotymbou village, led Cyprus police to them. The 15 are currently being sheltered at the bases. They told bases police they had not initially realised they were in Cyprus and that they had paid an unknown crew 1,000 to be taken to Italy.

    A British bases court yesterday remanded the 15 for another seven days on charges of illegal entry to the bases and illegal entry into Cyprus via the sea. SBA spokesman Captain Rupert Greenwood explained to the Cyprus Mail that "their status is still not clear," and this was why the suspects would re-appear in court for possible sentencing next Friday.

    If found guilty of illegal entry, the immigrants could face deportation, although they have said they intend to seek political asylum.

    This week, a Paralimni court sentenced the other two illegal immigrants to two months' imprisonment for illegal entry into Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of the Interior are continuing their negotiations with the British High Commission over who should take jurisdiction over the 15 found at the Achna reservoir. Interior Ministry sources noted that it was not clear who had jurisdiction over people found within two nautical miles off the bases' coastline, since there was no precedent to such a case.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Tsangarides to face three charges in 'pink slip' trial

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE trial of ruling Andreas Tsangarides, DISY's former organisational secretary, was adjourned until March 2 yesterday, after the Nicosia Criminal Court threw out 27 of 31 charges in connection with a fake permits scam.

    Andreas Tsangarides was arrested in 1999 after police launched a probe into alleged corrupt pink slip practices.

    Tsangarides is related by marriage to sacked former immigration department chief Christodoulos Nicolaides, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery and corruption, in allegedly arranging pink slips for cabaret girls.

    Tsangarides denied involvement in the permits scandal, saying he was the victim of a slur campaign.

    The probe has led to the charging or arrest of a number of other officials and members of the police force.

    Senior Immigration officer Nicos Vakanas, suspended from office along with Nicolaides, has been charged with offences similar to those of which his boss is accused.

    Three police officers were also been arrested in 1999 in connection with the case.

    Yesterday, the Assize Court dropped 27 charges against Tsangarides, but decided there was a prima facie case against the suspect on four counts of collaboration in the illegal employment of foreigners.

    The court said the defence could present its case on March 2.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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