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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-02-21

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, February 21, 2001


  • [01] Pyla destabilisation rumours 'no surprise'
  • [02] Police: we carry out daily checks for underage drinkers
  • [03] AKEL: government has failed to prepare schools for children with special needs
  • [04] Ministry blacklists dangerous fertilisers
  • [05] 'Why are there no dams around Nicosia?'
  • [06] Minister 'should resign over fire compensation'
  • [07] Two held over armed robbery bid

  • [01] Pyla destabilisation rumours 'no surprise'

    By George Psyllides THE government said it was closely following the situation in the mixed village of Pyla following revelations by the family of a man abducted by the Turks, claiming they had been approached by agents promising his release if they carried out bombings or abductions in the Larnaca district village.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday said the revelations did not come as a surprise as it was not the first time the Turkish Cypriot regime was trying to raise tensions in Pyla in an effort to show that Greek and Turkish Cypriots could not live together.

    Building contractor Panicos Tsiakourmas, 39, was snatched last December on British Sovereign Base Area land near Pergamos.

    Tsiakourmas, who suffers from diabetes, is accused by Turkish Cypriot police of possession of cannabis. Bases police say no traces of cannabis were found in his car, which was left abandoned with the engine running and the lights on within SBA territory.

    On Monday, furious relatives gathered outside the Presidential Palace claiming the government was indifferent to Tsiakourmas' plight.

    The relatives told reporters that Turkish agents had approached them and offered to free Tsiakourmas if they bombed Pyla or abducted a couple of Turkish Cypriot residents of the village.

    Yesterday, Papapetrou said Pyla was very important because of its status and that any Turkish provocations should be avoided.

    The spokesman ruled out any police measures around the village, adding that authorities were collecting information about the situation.

    Since 1974, Pyla has remained as a mixed village in the buffer zone, under the jurisdiction of the United Nations.

    No police or military forces are allowed in Pyla, but the Turkish army maintains a visible force on a ridge overlooking the village.

    Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said the Turkish threat against the free areas was constant and that nothing in Pyla indicated that it had changed.

    Hasikos repeated that the armed forces were vigilant and that all necessary measures had been taken.

    "The situation is closely watched and we are capable to deal with any development in the Pyla area."

    The minister suggested the Turks were trying to find a way out of their political predicament and therefore attempted to divert public attention elsewhere.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Police: we carry out daily checks for underage drinkers

    By Athena Karsera POLICE yesterday insisted that they carried out "daily" checks on discotheques in an effort to control underage revelling.

    They were responding to reports in Politis that children as young as 13 were regularly hanging out in nightspots. "You rarely see people over 16 in some places," one man was quoted by the paper as saying.

    But a senior police official yesterday told the Cyprus Mail: "People have to be aged 16 or over to be let into clubs and 18 to drink alcohol. The police visit clubs every night, officers from all the departments, especially the Crime Prevention Division. The owner is charged if we find any underage people in his facility."

    Ironically, the growing public concern about drink and drugs comes as a European survey puts Cypriot children at the bottom of the substance abuse table.

    Research released yesterday by the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs put Cyprus among the countries least affected by underage alcohol and drug abuse. Britain topped both tables.

    Police were less reassuring, however, when it came to underage cinema entries, saying it was up to individual owners to adhere to film categories at the door. "If we have a complaint, however, we do go and talk to the owner," another officer told the paper.

    He said it was up to cinema owners to keep tabs on their premises unless a complaint was made. "I imagine some of them do let underage people in," he added.

    One cinema owner in Nicosia said its policy was very strict and probably unique.

    "Even if a film is given in a category that allows children to view it, if we believe they might get the wrong impression from the film, we do not allow them in. We sometimes have complaints from parents who accompany their children and demand that they be allowed in, but even in these cases we refuse to sell them tickets."

    But other cinemas do not appear to have such scruples, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that adult films were often packed with children. One mother of two children aged 11 and 14 admitted yesterday: "I often take my kids to the cinema and usually the movies they want to see have a rating higher than their age. They've never had a problem getting in, even when I wasn't with them. I let them go because they can watch worse stuff on television anyway."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] AKEL: government has failed to prepare schools for children with special needs

    By Jenny Curtis AKEL has accused the government of failing to make the necessary changes that would allow children with special needs into mainstream schools in September.

    The left-wing opposition party says that despite the fact that a law was passed two years ago, little effort has been made to prepare the buildings, teachers and other pupils for their arrival.

    "It has reached the stage where everyone is concerned and we felt prompted to put extra pressure on the government to do something about it," Neoklis Sioikiotis, the party's education spokesman told the Cyprus Mail.

    The party argues that teachers have yet to be trained to use alternative methods in lessons, such as those incorporating a greater emphasis on sight and sound for children with hearing or sight difficulties.

    It has also raised concerns about the fact that class sizes have not been reduced to allow for the extra children.

    AKEL says the various committees that were set up to pave the way for the law to be implemented were either formed too late or in some cases members had failed to even hold their first meeting.

    "I don't think the government is in a position to say schools will be ready in six months' time, especially in view of the fact that the House must close just after Easter because of the coming elections, which leaves us very little time," Sioikiotis pointed out.

    He is also very unhappy about the lack of financial preparation and says the budgets for 2001 do not include any expenses for the incorporation of the new pupils and that the Council of Ministers has yet to approve the expenses that will be used to purchase special equipment and the hire of additional staff to help the children.

    "We've heard that the Radiomarathon Foundation, which provides trained adults to accompany special needs children to school, is going to stop from July, because it was under the impression that the new law would have been fully implemented by then - so that leaves us with yet another problem," Sioikiotis complained.

    He said the only evidence of preparation that he had seen was in elementary schools and in new buildings with ramps for wheel chair users. "Basically, if we want to see the new system in operation, a lot more needs to be done over the coming months."

    AKEL has accused the DISY-led government of treating the proposed changes as

    a headache and not an obligation -- and it says the government is completely insensitive to the needs of the children.

    However, Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides has said all procedures are going on as planned and that the goal of having everything ready by September had not been abandoned. In addition, he pointed out that in respect of expenses, the money will come from special additions to the state budget.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Ministry blacklists dangerous fertilisers

    By a Staff Reporter THE Agriculture Ministry has blacklisted two fertilisers as dangerous and given retail outlets18 months to get rid of stocks.

    Producers have also been advised to stop using a specific insect repellent found on Cypriot coriander exported to the UK.

    A list of fertilizers thought to be less dangerous has been dispatched to traders in the business.

    A chain of British stores found traces of pesticides over EU limits after sending a sample of Cypriot vegetables for analysis two weeks ago.

    "I don't know why such a big deal is being made out of this. We're carrying out a campaign to inform farmers about dangerous pesticides. The list was issued in line with EU harmonisation," an official from the agriculture ministry told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    He refused to name the outlawed brands.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] 'Why are there no dams around Nicosia?'

    By Melina Demetriou THE GOVERNMENT came under fire at the House Agriculture Committee yesterday from deputies claiming it was doing nothing to address the irrigation problem in Nicosia.

    There are currently 102 dams in Cyprus, only three of which are near the capital.

    Deputies and farmers unions' representatives present at a Committee meeting charged that the government had for years been ignoring the growing problem of irrigation around Nicosia.

    Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous told the Committee that one dam was already under construction in Tamasos and that work on another one should begin sometime soon in Akaki.

    The first dam is expected to be up and running by next year.

    "Just after the establishment of the Republic in 1960, Archbishop Makarios' government drew plans for the construction of adequate dams in every town. But successive governments did almost nothing except make promises as far as the Nicosia district was concerned," Takis Hadjidemetriou of KISOS complained.

    "You have no policy to deal with the problem," DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis charged.

    Andreas Parissinos of ruling DISY shared his colleagues' views.

    Themistocleous replied by pointing to the government's desalination policy: "This government has solved the water problem once and for all. We announced last December there would be no more water cuts."

    But Pittokopitis replied: "This is the slogan you always use but we are not talking about the general water problem here, but about an irrigation problem."

    The Committee asked the minister to submit a timetable to the House, outlining government plans to build dams in the Nicosia district.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Minister 'should resign over fire compensation'

    By Melina Demetriou DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis yesterday called on the Agriculture Minister to resign during a heated House discussion on state compensation for farmers' losses caused by last summer's fires.

    The issue was on the agenda of the the House Agricultural Committee in the presence of Minister Costas Themistocleous, who came under fire from deputies for allegedly doing little to compensate farmers suffering losses from the catastrophic fires, which last June ravaged 50 square kilometres of vegetation.

    Farmers claim poor infrastructure and disorganised administration contributed to the fires.

    "If you want to do something for this country you should step down," the outspoken Paphian deputy told Themistocleous.

    But the minister had a reply at the ready: " Paphos will get back at you at the elections."

    "We'll talk again next week," Pittokopitis retorted, referring to the Communications Committee meeting which he chairs.

    The Committee complained that Paphian farmers had received no compensation at all, while others in Larnaca, Nicosia and Limassol had received compensation for only 60 per cent of their losses.

    But the minister defended the government's record: "As it happens everywhere in the world, the state supports these people not financially, but by offering them land and seeds to replant their trees and other crops. But we made an exception with Larnaca farmers offering them money because Larnaca fire was the worst to hit the country since the 1974 invasion," the minister said.

    Committee Chairman Christos Mavrokordatos of AKEL was not satisfied: "All farmers should receive financial help. It doesn't make a difference to an individual if his field was destroyed in Larnaca or anywhere else."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Two held over armed robbery bid

    By a Staff Reporter TWO GEORGIAN men were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days in connection with an attempt to rob a Limassol kiosk at gunpoint.

    Police are looking for a third person thought to have been involved in the attempt.

    Dionisis Manisarides, 22, and his 20-year-old accomplice Thomas Dolesidis, both Paphos residents, were arrested while trying to escape in their car.

    The court heard three men tried to rob the Papagalos kiosk on Nicos Patichis Street, which belongs to Lucas Papademetriou.

    The men entered the kiosk at 3am and demanded the money while threatening Papademetriou with a rifle, thought to be a military issue.

    But Papademetriou refused and resisted, forcing the two suspects to flee in a car, while the third ran through the fields with the rifle.

    A passing taxi driver chased the pair in his car, forcing them to crash to a standstill at the traffic lights on Macedonia Avenue.

    Officers who rushed to the scene arrested the suspects.

    Police found two bullets in the car, along with other military items.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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