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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-14

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, March 14, 2001


  • [01] Huge Aphrodite statue at Paphos?
  • [02] Government blames overproduction on market forces
  • [03] Yugoslav banker hands over details on Milosevic millions
  • [04] More Cypriots question benefits of EU membership
  • [05] Police probe claims of private lessons scam
  • [06] Recycling scheme first step towards EU targets
  • [07] Heritage at threat from development plans
  • [08] Journalists' Union appeals for right to self-regulation
  • [09] Matsakis: It's an honour to be on a Turkish hit list
  • [10] Kyprianou's new car 'at no extra cost to the state'

  • [01] Huge Aphrodite statue at Paphos?

    By Jean Christou THE Commerce, Industry and Tourism Ministry is considering erecting a huge statue of Aphrodite in the Paphos area, government sources said yesterday.

    "We were presented with an idea and we are looking into it. It's a very good idea," the sources said. "But if we are going to have something effective we need something large, larger than life."

    The thinking is that if the statue were not large it would not attract attention. "It has to be like the pyramids or like the Colosseum," said the sources. "Unless it is large in size and large in inspiration you can do nothing. You just have another statue like so many others in the world"

    If the idea is approved by the government the gigantic Aphrodite will be located somewhere in the Paphos district but not necessarily near Aphrodite's Rock where legend has it the Goddess came out of the sea.

    "The idea is to have something grandiose and beautiful representing the spirit of Aphrodite, which is the symbol of Cyprus and the theme of tourism, and this is welcome as an idea," the sources said. "We are working on it."

    The ministry successfully pushed the idea of the Island of Aphrodite when canvassing to host the Miss Universe Contest last year. The contest was held in May.

    The sources said the ministry has lined up a number of new projects to boost tourism, details of which will be announced in three months.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Government blames overproduction on market forces

    By a Staff Reporter TOMATOES ending up in landfills were just the sad end result of market forces and the problem could not be blamed on poor government planning, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous said yesterday.

    Growers from Maroni and Tochni, in the Larnaca area, have been dumping tonnes of their tomatoes, claiming that government pressure to produce more had led to bumper harvests and driven market prices to "humiliating" lows.

    "You cannot programme production to match demand at all times. You will get dumping when there is overproduction and high prices when there is low production," Themistocleous said.

    He also defended state tomato policy: "Producers were encouraged to produce tomatoes of a certain set quality to meet EU demands but we cannot control production or the laws of supply and demand."

    "The phenomenon of tomatoes going to landfills is not uniquely Cypriot, it exists in all countries and will continue to exist," the Minister said.

    Tomato growers plan to protest about the problem outside parliament tomorrow, but have said they will not be dumping any tomatoes on the doorstep of the House.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Yugoslav banker hands over details on Milosevic millions

    By Jean Christou THE GOVERNOR of the Central Bank of Yugoslavia yesterday gave Cyprus specific details relating to the alleged transfer of money to the island by the country's former president Slobodan Milosevic.

    Mladjen Dinkic, who arrived in Cyprus on Monday, met yesterday with his Cypriot counterpart Afxentis Afxentiou and with Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides.

    Dinkic was invited to Cyprus to discuss the issue by the government and the Central Bank, which has consistently insisted it had no evidence of anything suspicious taking place on the island.

    After yesterday's meeting, Dinkic told reporters that he did have evidence of illegal activities, in which Cyprus was used by Milosevic and his associates for the illegal transfer of an estimated $4 billion out of Yugoslavia during the 1990s.

    According to reports that emerged earlier this month, Milosevic sent 173 kilos of gold worth $1.08 million to Switzerland between September and November last year and transferred the money abroad, much of it allegedly to a company registered in Cyprus.

    "We brought with us certain account numbers, company names, offshore companies and we will track these," Dinkic said. "There is a lot of data we want to track from 1989 until today."

    But Dinkic, who leaves the island today, noted that Cyprus was just one of many countries used by the Milosevic regime. "It was not the only one," he added. The trail also led to Germany, Britain, South Africa, Switzerland and China.

    In January, the Attorney-general gave the go ahead for the Central Bank to hand over the accounts of seven Yugoslav offshore companies to Carla del Ponte the Chief Prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

    Last October, the Cabinet froze the accounts of 12 such companies over possible links with Milosevic.

    Del Ponte paid a brief visit to the island at the beginning of October last year as part of a tour of countries in the region to gather information about 38 associates of Milosevic.

    Cassoulides said yesterday that since then the government had frozen an additional 18 offshore company accounts at the request of the tribunal.

    "It has always been our policy that given the evidence, we are ready to co- operate," he said.

    "As the Yugoslav government has said, they have some indications, and now they have passed the information on to us, which is what we wanted all along to get the first lead."

    Cassoulides added that there were strong historical and cultural links between Cyprus and Yugoslavia and that the government wished these to be maintained. He also said Cyprus was the first country to co-operate with the Yugoslav authorities on the issue.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou also commented on Dinkic's visit yesterday.

    "This issue is something that is troubling the government," he said. "I can't hide from you the fact that we are not happy about the negative publicity surrounding Cyprus' name, but I repeat that the government has always co-operated fully with anyone asking for information within the framework of investigating these cases."

    On Tuesday, Washington said it was looking for the "fullest" co-operation from Cyprus in tracking down the 'Milosevic millions'.

    "There is some co-operation which is obviously welcome, but we would look for the fullest possible co-operation between Cypriot officials and the UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague," State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said.

    "It's not a matter between the United States and Cyprus so much as it is a matter between Cyprus and the new government in Belgrade, between Cyprus and the international tribunal, and between Cyprus and its international obligations under the United Nations."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] More Cypriots question benefits of EU membership

    By Athena Karsera CYPRIOTS have become increasingly disillusioned with the benefits of the island's accession to the EU, if a survey published yesterday is to be believed, with more than three quarters of respondents also complaining about not being properly informed of developments.

    Their opinion on Cyprus' EU accession was only one of many questions put to a sample of the island's population for the 'Cyprobarometer 5', the fifth annual survey carried out on behalf of the Laiki Group's Planning and Economic Research Service.

    According to the report's section on Cyprus and EU, "year by year, Cypriots appear to be less optimistic about Cyprus' benefits from its accession.(but most) still have a positive view on the accession of their country."

    According to the survey, carried out between October 23 and December 4 last year, people believe the most important benefit from EU accession would be economic development, followed at a distance by national security. This showed a significant change from 1998's 'Cyprobarometer 3', which reversed the concerns.

    Some 79 per cent of the 1,000 permanent Cyprus residents aged between 18 and 75 questioned for 'Cyprobarometer 5' complained that they were not being adequately informed about developments linked to Cyprus' accession.

    Cypriots have also become less optimistic about the economy: the survey showed that only 18 per cent of the people questioned expected the economy to improve this year, while twice as many expect things to get worse.

    The prevailing public feeling (81 per cent) is that the gap between rich and the poor will grow over the next few years, with most blaming insecurity caused by the Cyprus problem and the government's economic policy.

    Sixty per cent of those asked opposed privatisation of the water board, post-office and medical care while also disagreeing to a lesser degree to the privatisation of the airports, ports, Electricity Authority and Forest Industries.

    When asked how they would invest a large amount of money, the largest number of those questioned (35 per cent) said they would put it in the bank, with 25 per cent saying they would buy land and 16 per cent giving the money to their children. Only two per cent would buy shares in public companies.

    This was just one indication of bitter disappointment with the Stock Market, with most feeling that current problems would continue and 93 per cent believing that the Stock Market had failed.

    Nine out of every 20 people questioned said they had invested in the Stock Exchange during 2000, almost twice as many as in 1999.

    Most said they were in the game for long-term profit (42 per cent) with 34 per cent after short-term gain and 22 per cent seeing it as an alternative to bank deposits.

    The majority of investors said they looked at the financial condition of a company they would invest in (61 per cent) and 40 per cent at the sector the company was part of; 28 per cent said they followed rumours while 27 per cent followed their broker's advice.

    Most financed their investments with personal savings with others resorting to bank or co-operative loans.

    The most dominant problem in society remained the Cyprus problem, followed by unemployment, drugs, traffic accidents, inflation, crime and finally foreign workers.

    Most (87 per cent) believed there was a decline in Cyprus' institutions, with a significantly smaller proportion than in past surveys concerned about the police force.

    Those questioned saw the ideal civil servant as someone who was kind, willing to help and instructive, who did not take advantage of his or her position for personal interests, and who was discrete.

    Policemen, meanwhile, should resist illegalities and disclose scandals and act in accordance with the law, the majority felt.

    On the Church, most believed that the clergy should preach love and set standards through their own way of life. A smaller percentage believed that they should also defend Greek values, beliefs and language with a yet smaller percentage feeling they should support charities.

    Deputies should put the interests of the people before their own, the majority of those questioned said.

    More Cypriots than ever before, meanwhile, have shown concern about the future.

    Most fear that political and economic crises will be created by the discovery of natural gas in Cyprus seas, with other pessimistic predictions including more wars and violence in the world and people turning away from God.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Police probe claims of private lessons scam

    By George Psyllides POLICE yesterday confirmed that they were investigating complaints that a Nicosia district high school teacher deliberately failed students and then offered to give them private lessons costing 300-400 so they could pass his class.

    According to yesterday's Politis, parents, who feel they effectively had to bribe the teacher for their children to pass the year, had in the past considered reporting the teacher, but hesitated fearing it could possibly backfire on their children.

    The Cyprus Mail has learned that the practice has allegedly been going on for at least two years.

    The teacher, who teaches in a village high school south of Nicosia, was reportedly so blatant in his actions that he went around bragging to students about the car he bought with their money.

    Last year, from a class of 22 pupils the teacher failed 18, who were forced to re-sit the exams in September.

    The Cyprus Mail contacted the headmaster of the school, who denied any knowledge of the case, adding that he had not yet been contacted by police.

    He merely said: "Pupils always say these things about teachers."

    Politis said the teacher and the Education Ministry had not been notified by the police, who are expected to wrap up the investigation in the next few days and forward the case file to the Attorney-general, who will then decide whether to prosecute the teacher.

    Police have gathered testimonies from parents, who claimed the teacher had failed their children, then, when asked what should be done, had told them their children could pass the exam with a few private lessons.

    Parents said that the teacher had in several cases contacted them himself, and told them that their child would need 10 lessons costing between 300 and 400.

    Police were also investigating a report that when one pupil failed to pass the catch-up exams in September, despite the extra lessons, the teacher went to his house and answered the questions together with the pupil.

    The Secondary Education Teachers Union, OELMEK, have that they would wait for the police investigation to be completed before taking any action.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Recycling scheme first step towards EU targets

    By Martin Hellicar THE GOVERNMENT yesterday took a first step towards solving the island's massive rubbish problem, by officially launching a pilot recycling scheme in five municipalities.

    "In Cyprus, recycling has particular importance as, per capita, we produce 500 kilos of trash a year, which, unfortunately, puts us in the lead in this field; the EU average being 400 kilos per person," Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous stated in presenting the "Co-operation for Recycling" programme at a news conference yesterday.

    Large plastic bins for paper, aluminium, plastic and clear and coloured glass have been placed in nine recycling 'islands', four of them in the Nicosia suburb of Ayios Dhometios and one each at Latsia, outside Nicosia, Limassol, the Limassol suburb of Mesa Yeitonia and at Polis Chrysochou.

    The government hopes the recycling islands, coupled with an education campaign aimed mainly at schools, will enable Cyprus to meet recycling targets set by the EU.

    The director of the Agriculture Ministry's Environment Service, Nicos Georgiades, said Cyprus had to recycle 30 per cent of its packaging waste by 2002 and 65 per cent of such waste by 2005. The EU also defined lower targets for other types of rubbish, such as organic waste and paper.

    The EU is footing half of the 300,000 bill for the initiative through its LIFE programme. The European Commission's representative in Cyprus, Ambassador Donato Chiarini, said he was confident the pilot recycling effort would do the trick: "The grass-roots approach adopted will lead to a snow-balling effect and recycling will be adopted by all Cypriots," he said.

    "We want to get the message across that recycling is necessary both for the environment and for economic reasons," Minister Themistocleous stated. He said the eventual aim was to make recycling a commercially viable sector of the economy.

    The Minister said the pilot scheme, set to run till July, would serve to point the government in the right direction for possible nationwide schemes in the future. "We will get a good picture from the pilot scheme, as we know what is produced in each category of trash in each participating municipality and can gauge the response," Themistocleous said.

    Environment service officer Costas Papacostas pointed out that recycling was only one way of tackling the island's waste management problems and not an end in itself. "The aim has to be to cultivate some consumption awareness and not just to collect some cans," he said.

    He said an infrastructure for recycling the wastes collected in the bins had to be encouraged locally. At the moment, only small quantities of aluminium, plastic and glass are recycled in Cyprus.

    Vassilis Vassiliades, of the Cyprus Association of Recyclers, said members were willing to pay municipalities for the waste deposited in recycling bins.


    Ayios Dhometios, Nicosia

    Primary School A - Kyriacos Matsis Avenue

    Primary School B - Kentavrou Street

    Primary School C - Junction of Pentelikou and Promitheos Streets

    Ayios Dhometios Gymnasium - Junction of Ayios Pavlos Avenue and Demokratias Street.

    Latsia, Nicosia

    Primary School and Gymnasium C - October 28th Street

    Mesa Yeitonia, Limassol

    Kalogeropoulou Gymnasium - Junction of Marcos Drakos and Mykinon Streets


    Tsirion Gymnasium - Thespios Street, Ayia Phyla

    Polis Chrysochou

    Marios Avenue

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Heritage at threat from development plans

    By Melina Demetriou IN A half empty room, the House Environmental Committee held a meeting with three deputies and other officials to discuss the problem of sporadic development plans threatening national heritage and the environment in areas of cultural importance.

    The Town Planning Department was asked to come up with a plan to monitor and co-ordinate development.

    Six out of the nine deputies on the Committee were absent from yesterday's meeting, two months ahead of the Parliamentary elections.

    So the discussion was conducted mainly among the non-deputies.

    Only AKEL's Kyriacos Tyrimos and Katy Clerides of DISY were present at the start of the meeting, while Christos Rotsas of DISY showed up half an hour into the discussion.

    The Committee convened to respond to concerns over construction works in Fikardou village in the Nicosia district.

    Fikardou, set on a hillside, has been declared an ancient monument to preserve the remarkable woodwork and folk architecture of the 16th and 18th century buildings. Two houses have received awards from Europa Nostra in 1984. The village has 10 inhabitants.

    Christina Pandazi from the Agriculture and Environment ministry's Environmental Service warned that construction plans were threatening the village's unique character and unspoiled environment.

    "The farmers are preparing land to grow olive trees about a mile from the village's inhabited area. What worries me is the sporadic development in the village that is not in line with the government's town planning policy. The government has decided that any development plans in such areas must be part of general town planning schemes and not the results of individuals' initiatives," Pandazi said.

    However, Yiannakis Charalambous, the assistant to Nicosia's district officer, played down concerns about the two farmers' plans, saying that they did not affect the village's character and environment. He added that the Town Planning Department was now in control of the situation.

    Clerides, acting chairwoman of the Committee, felt the moves were "not so terrible".

    But Pandazi also complained about the demolition of several traditional houses to make way for a four-metre-wide road linking Fikardou to Klirou.

    Pefkios Georgiades, Secretary-general of the Pancyprian Organisation of Architectural Heritage, raised the alarm, saying that most areas of the island's countryside suffered from sporadic development.

    "You must understand that Cyprus' only heritage are its stones, its buildings, its environment. We have nothing else apart from that so we must protect it. But we keep constructing roads and buildings in the wrong places, with no government plan to supervise and co-ordinate development. It's happened in many places like Fikardou and the area around Choirokitia in the Limassol district. This way, we are destroying the environment and the traditional character of our villages," he warned.

    Georgiades and Pandazi called on the Committee to strengthen the existing law providing that development in areas of cultural or environmental importance should fall in line with general town-planning schemes.

    The Town Planning Department's Theodoros Hadjigeorgiou reassured the Committee that his department was already looking into the matter.

    Clerides asked Hadjigeorgiou to take in account the issues raised at the meeting.

    But Christos Rotsas of DISY looked at the matter from residents' point of view.

    "Residents of Fikardou and other areas who want to build houses for their children cannot do it in their village because the law does not allow it," he complained.

    Clerides said the matter was worth looking at but pointed out that the Interior Committee was the one that should address it.

    Asked about the small number of deputies at the meeting and whether it had anything to do with the fact that deputies' main concern now was the elections on May 27, Clerides replied: "We intend to continue working until the end of our term on April 19."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Journalists' Union appeals for right to self-regulation

    By Athena Karsera THE Journalists' Union said yesterday it would be approaching the authorities to suggest changes to the recently passed law forbidding journalists, photographers and cameramen from approaching individuals appearing in court.

    An announcement said a Union board meeting had yesterday come to the conclusion that while some journalists had crossed the lines of journalistic ethics, there was still margin for self-regulation when it came to court cases.

    "The Journalists' Union, in line with international principles on the matter, disagrees with the criminalisation of journalistic ethics and insists on self-regulation by the Mass Media itself," the statement said.

    The union said its goal was for a balance to be found between the right to information and the rights of suspects and convicts.

    "Towards this goal, we have (in the past) called on the Media Ethics Committee and the Radio and Television Authority in particular to look into incidents and examine the issue with the Mass Media. Unfortunately not everything that should have been done was don.and the result was this law," the announcement said.

    It then called on journalists to act in accordance with professional ethics, which would help the Union's efforts to have certain "extremes removed from the law".

    The union plans to meet with the head of the Supreme Court, the House Legal Affairs Committee and the Attorney-general on the matter.

    The law was unanimously passed by the House Plenum last Thursday, but has yet to be approved by the President and appear in the Official Gazette.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Matsakis: It's an honour to be on a Turkish hit list

    By Athena Karsera DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis said yesterday he was "honoured to be considered a threat by Denktash" after reports that his name was on a Turkish secret service hit list.

    Former National Guard chief Demetrios Demou told the Athens' daily Eleftheros Typos that the had UN told him of a plot against Matsakis during his service on the island.

    Matsakis yesterday told the Cyprus Mail he had been aware of the threat since 1996.

    "There have been numerous threats to my life, information about which has been passed on to me through the Cyprus police, the British police, the Justice Ministry and other agencies," Matsakis said.

    "I live with the threat and take certain precautions. It is something I have learned to live with and I do not think it has in any way affected the action I take."

    Matsakis said that the fact that he was still on the hit list indicated how effective he was.

    Demou served as National Guard chief for two years from 1998. He told Eleftheros Typos that the UN "knew everything about the planned assassination of the deputy. I myself collected a lot of information on the matter from military sources during my term in Cyprus."

    The authorities have been aware of a Turkish Secret Services hit list since the assassination of Kurdish sympathiser Theophilos Georgiades seven years ago.

    Matsakis, who will not be running in the upcoming parliamentary elections, is well known for his outspoken campaigns against the Turkish occupation

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Kyprianou's new car 'at no extra cost to the state'

    By Martin Hellicar STATE coffers were not dented by a demand for a change of official limousine from House President Spyros Kyprianou, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou vowed yesterday.

    But the spokesman also rubbished Kyprianou's claims that the luxury car originally granted him by the state was "problematic".

    Kyprianou's insistence that he be given a top-of-the-range BMW to replace the 100,000-plus S320 Mercedes provided by the state has drawn criticism from Politis newspaper.

    Kyprianou has dismissed the Politis criticism as "ridiculous" and insists he is entitled to whatever car he wants - subject to Finance Ministry approval. As former President, 69-year-old Kyprianou gets to keep the brand new state-provided BMW when he hangs up his political boots come May.

    Papapetrou yesterday said the government had only acceded to Kyprianou's demand for a change of official conveyance after making sure this would not mean added cost to the taxpayer. He said the unwanted Mercedes would be given to Kyprianou's successor as House President.

    "The government, in view of fact that Mr Kyprianou is very soon leaving his post as House president and, as a former President of the Republic, is allowed a car, considered that because there would be no additional cost for the Republic or state funds it should go ahead and satisfy Mr Kyprianou's request for another car and use the car he rejected for the next entitled person, who will be the president of the next House," Papapetrou said.

    But Papapetrou also dismissed Kyprianou's claims that the Mercedes was imperfect: "The car is suitable for use, but we decided to do this (give Kyprianou a BMW) after Mr Kyprianou's insistence," he said.

    Kyprianou had repeatedly complained that the Mercedes, given to him only nine months ago, had problems, but mechanics had declared it problem-free, Papapetrou said.

    Politis has also accused Kyprianou of pocketing a $25,000 prize given to him in Moscow in January for his "contribution to Orthodox unity". Kyprianou insists the prize money was given to him personally and he therefore had every right to keep it. The ch airman of the House watchdog committee, Christos Pourgourides, has suggested Kyprianou's actions vis-a-vis the Moscow prise raised "ethical questions".

    Papapetrou was cautious in commenting on the prize money issue yesterday, saying only that such things were "ethical" matters which different people had different takes on.

    Kyprianou yesterday carried out his threat to sue Politis over the prize money allegations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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