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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-03-21

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, March 21, 2001


  • [01] Deputies demand action on local sex lines
  • [02] What will large families do about seat belt law?
  • [03] Teacher 'beat pupil for being late'
  • [04] Clerides hammers home the anti-nepotism message
  • [05] Avrupa editor: I'm not afraid despite the threats
  • [06] Cyprus not impressed by Turkey reform pledge
  • [07] New Lions centre offers hope for deprived children
  • [08] Currency fluctuations to blame for drug price swings
  • [09] Pilots postpone strike threat

  • [01] Deputies demand action on local sex lines

    By Melina Demetriou A SEXUAL fantasy could cost you more than you could ever imagine if you succumb to the lure of telephone sex lines.

    And if someone else in the household is using them you could end up, not only with a hefty bill, but an angry spouse demanding some nimble explanations.

    The warning was issued yesterday by the House Communications Committee, which wants to ban easy access to local phone sex and competition lines.

    Tempers flared at a committee meeting yesterday, where representatives of phone sex and competition services came under fire from deputies who charged that parents were being forced to pay thousands of pounds for calls made by their teenage children.

    There are about 30 local phone sex and competition lines and countless foreign ones, charging up to 1.45 per minute to offer sex chat or enter callers into competitions. The lines can be called from any standard or mobile phone.

    Representatives from the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA), which acts as a mediator between the services in question and consumers, were put in a tight spot by deputies asking for details of the agreement and CyTA's involvement.

    "A farmer had to pay 4,500 for calls made by his underage son. Another man had to pay a lot of money for his 18-year-old son-in-law's calls to a rendez-vous phone line, and a couple almost broke up when the mother and the father accused each other of making such calls when it was their child who had been guilty in the end," said DIKO deputy Zacharias Koullias, who tabled the issue before the Committee for discussion.

    "And money is not the only problem. Minors have easy access to those phone lines that provide sexually explicit information such as 'the size of a man's penis, the best sex positions, what drives men and drives women crazy in bed'. How can we let them tantalise our children in this way?" he asked.

    Yiangos Mikellides, a prominent psychiatrist called to the meeting, warned underage children could be severely traumatised by such experiences.

    " Minors have a lot of queries and concerns about sex. And when they call those lines they get even more confused when they hear things like 'the size of your penis must be so and so'. It could lead someone to commit suicide if he does not measure up," the psychiatrist said.

    Sociologist Nicos Peristianis added: "Adults are responsible for their actions. But children are vulnerable and we have a duty to protect them."

    Antonis Iniatis, representing Golden Telemedia, a phone line offering sex advice and organising competitions, defended the service he worked for: "We only provide professional sex advice. The doctor we have appointed for the job is Anaxagoras."

    "What proof do we have that this Anaxagoras is a real doctor?" asked Marios Matsakis of DIKO. "We want the Medical Association to come here and provide us with information about this man's qualifications and deem whether what he does is ethical."

    And Koullias accused Golden Telemedia advertisements of being misleading.

    "You can't even read the small letters saying how much you are charged to be on the line for one minute.

    "And you are put you on the hold for a long time to enter a competition. It's a deception," he charged.

    Deputies asked that access to such local phone lines from any phone be denied. They heard that adult consumers should be allowed access to such lines only when they made a request, warning that if CyTA did not comply the Committee would take stronger action to impose its will.

    CyTA chairman Efstathios Papadakis promised to call a meeting with the authority's council to consider the demand.

    Any new regulations could not affect overseas services.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] What will large families do about seat belt law?

    By Melina Demetriou DEPUTIES warned yesterday they would not approve the rear seat belt bill unless large families were granted the right to a duty- free car.

    They were expressing fears that parents with more than three children would be forced to compromise the safety of one or more of their children when it becomes mandatory for all passengers of vehicles weighing up to 3.5 tonnes to wear a seat belt.

    A government bill bringing Cyprus into line with EU road safety regulations is awaiting House approval.

    But House Communications Committee chairman Nicos Pittokopitis yesterday ruled out the possibility of the House approving the bill as it is.

    "What happens with families with more than three children? They must either be excluded from the scheme or given the right to buy duty-free cars that take six people or more. Most large families have five-seat cars and carry four children at the back. But back seats cannot have more than three seat belts," Pittokopitis said.

    He was echoed by a large families' representative: "It's like they urge us to kill our fourth and fifth child who will not wear a seat belt. We don't want to be excluded from the plan. We want the government to give us the right to buy new duty-free cars. A car of that size is too expensive for most large families to buy," said Dimos Pissourios.

    The government currently offers 2,000 to each large family to buy a car and has dismissed an AKEL's proposal to allow those families buy duty-free cars, deeming the plan as too costly.

    "It doesn't matter how much it will cost the state. What matters is how many lives will be saved," Pissourios argued.

    Traffic Police Chief George Voutounos stressed the necessity for all passengers to wear seat belts.

    "We realise large families will face some problems in complying with the law in question. It is unfair to ask parents choose which child's life to put in danger, automatically making it a candidate for road casualty. We worry about parents having to face a tragic dilemma," Voutounos said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Teacher 'beat pupil for being late'

    By George Psyllides A LIMASSOL pupil was beaten by a teacher because she was late for class, the House Education Committee heard yesterday.

    Committee Chairman Sophocles Hadjiyiannis of DISY revealed that a teacher had beaten a pupil at a Lyceum in the city because she was late in going to class. The alleged incident took place last week.

    But the deputy came under fire for identifying the school, the teacher and the pupil during the public committee session.

    Hadjiyiannis said the incident had happened just after the bell had just rung.

    Some pupils, including the girl allegedly beaten, had remained outside the classroom after the bell rang. He added that the girl had been sitting on the stairs when the teacher allegedly assaulted and her and beat her "brutally", with no apparent reason.

    "It was an unprovoked brutal assault against the pupil; I think such behaviour cannot be tolerated in our schools," Hadjiyiannis said.

    Asked to elaborate on what he meant by a "brutal assault", the deputy replied: "She was repeatedly hit. I wasn't a spontaneous slap. It was a continuous assault with repeated blows."

    According to the deputy, the girl's parents have reported the incident to police and are demanding that the Education Ministry looked into the incident.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said his ministry was indeed investigating possible disciplinary offences committed by the teacher, while police were investigating any criminal case.

    But Hadjiyiannis came under fire for bringing the case to committee.

    The Chairman of the Secondary Teachers' union (OELMEK), Andreas Stavrou, said it was not a deputy's job to investigate such an incident, but that of the ministry.

    He said OELMEK had in many cases publicised such problems, and if anyone was trying to cover it up, it was more likely to be an official than anyone in the union.

    The parents' association reacted in similar manner.

    Its Chairman Elias Demetriou stressed that the deputy's decision to name both teacher and pupil in open committee had been unethical.

    "This does not help and does more harm than good," Demetriou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Clerides hammers home the anti-nepotism message

    By Martin Hellicar 'DO NOT come to me with your complaints,' was the message to the public from President Glafcos Clerides yesterday as he tried to ram home his anti-nepotism drive.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the President wanted to make it clear to all that a new law making nepotism a crime meant he would be culpable if he personally intervened to 'right' what a citizen perceived to be a 'wrong'. Those seeking favours from the President were also guilty, Papapetrou said: "Citizens who ask the President to intervene in their favour are, according to the law, perpetrating a criminal offence."

    On March 1, Parliament approved a law making nepotism a criminal offence punishable by up to 12 months' imprisonment.

    On Monday, Papapetrou said Clerides was determined to wield this law as a weapon in the battle against nepotism, a problem widely acknowledged to be rife in governmental and semi-governmental bodies. The spokesman said the President had sent letters to all in authority telling them to implement the law strictly, and had asked police chief Andreas Angelides to give him a monthly report on the number of nepotism offences being reported.

    Papapetrou returned to the issue yesterday, conveying a message from Clerides that dealing with injustice in job appointments, transfers or promotions was a job for the courts alone.

    Those seeking favours always thought they were only out to right a wrong, the spokesman said: "All nepotism takes the form of a request not to be treated unfairly. If you are treated unfairly, you go to court and the court vindicates you. The law voted in does not give the President the right to replace courts and the President has to respect the law."

    Main opposition party AKEL has attacked Clerides' anti-nepotism drive as an attempt to win votes for the government ahead of the May parliamentary elections. But Tassos Papadopoulos, of opposition party DIKO, yesterday praised the President's effort as "a step in the right direction".

    Papadopoulos said he had never in his 30 years in politics been guilty of nepotism. He said that on the "three of four" occasions he had intervened in an appointment issue, his effort had always taken the form of a written reference for a particular candidate.

    In making nepotism a crime, parliamentary deputies acknowledged their approving a relevant bill was unlikely to stamp out the widespread scourge.

    Papapetrou says the number of politicians who have never been guilty of nepotism can be "counted on the fingers of one hand".

    The chairman of the parliamentary watchdog committee, Christos Pourgourides, a seasoned anti-corruption campaigner, recently admitted that he too had at times in the past been guilty of nepotism.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Avrupa editor: I'm not afraid despite the threats

    By George Psyllides THE EDITOR of the outspoken Turkish Cypriot newspaper Avrupa, Sener Levent, yesterday said he was not afraid for his life, despite warnings that he might be murdered in the free areas.

    In an editorial entitled "Twilight and Ambush", Levent said a friend he had not seen for a long time had warned him that there were plans to murder him in the free areas.

    The man then left without revealing who was plotting to kill Levent.

    In the editorial, Levent wonders what would happen if a Turkish Cypriot living in the north were killed in south or vice versa.

    "Who would accuse whom?" he asks, suggesting the Turkish secret services would have perfect cover if they killed one of their own in the government- held areas.

    He added: "Would anybody think it was the Turks who killed the Turk while he was in the south, that it was the Greek Cypriots who killed the Greek Cypriot while in the north?

    "It would be a mess; no one would be able to sort it out," the editorial said.

    Speaking through an interpreter, Levent confirmed to the Cyprus Mail what he had written in his editorial.

    "How would it look if a Turkish person was killed in the Greek side or vice versa?"

    Levent did not say who might be plotting against him, but in the editorial he quotes a retired intelligence chief saying that either side could resort to provocations and acts of sabotage.

    The article cited precedents from the past, where communities carried out attacks against their own members to raise tensions by pinning the blame on the other side.

    Levent said yesterday that he used to visit the south, but now could not because his travel documents had been seized by the Turkish Cypriot authorities.

    Avrupa had been sued by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for libel.

    The newspaper was ordered to pay a huge amount in compensation, aiming effectively at putting it out of business.

    But even after the trial was over, Levent's documents were kept without explanation.

    The dissident editor assured that he would resume his visits to the south as soon as he gets his papers back, and, of course, as soon as he was given permission to do so by the regime.

    He said the first person he would see was the Chairman of the Journalists' Union, Andreas Kannaouros, to thank him for his support throughout the trial.

    He would then visit President Glafcos Clerides to talk about the deadlocked Cyprus problem.

    And Levent insisted that he was not afraid for his life.

    "If I feared, I would not publish the newspaper and write this article," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Cyprus not impressed by Turkey reform pledge

    By Martin Hellicar TURKEY'S new reform programme for joining the EU got a distinctly chilly reception from Nicosia yesterday.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said Ankara was failing to make the effort to contribute to a Cyprus settlement demanded by the EU. He called on the block to stick to its guns and push Turkey to change tack.

    Much to Ankara's annoyance, the EU has linked Turkey's accession prospects to progress on the Cyprus problem. The sweeping reform package announced by the Turkish government on Monday includes measures strengthening human rights and democracy. But Papapetrou said the package failed to support the UN-led Cyprus settlement effort.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has boycotted further peace talks, and is insisting on recognition of his breakaway occupation regime.

    "In the programme, the Turkish government speaks of a 'mutually acceptable (Cyprus) solution', trying, of course, in this way, to hide behind the extreme positions of Mr Denktash," Papapetrou said yesterday.

    "It is, after all, known that Turkey, in co-operation with Denktash, has torpedoed the talks process and has blocked the continuation of proximity talks," the spokesman said.

    Papapetrou said Nicosia hoped the EU would adopt a get-tough policy with Ankara over Cyprus: "What we expect is for the EU to stand by that which it itself decided and ask Turkey to change this text."

    Turkey's reform programme fails to address a number of the issues considered important by the EU, such as granting cultural rights to Kurds, abolishing the death penalty and curbing the military's influence in politics.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] New Lions centre offers hope for deprived children

    By a Staff Reporter THE LIONS Care for Youth Foundation yesterday unveiled its centre for unprotected children in old Nicosia, 13 years after the charity was set up.

    The Lions House, lovingly restored, is to be a place for children to congregate and offers temporary overnight shelter to those who may need it.

    The LCFYF works on behalf of orphans and children who live in unstable family environments, in order to supplement the funds handed out by the Welfare Department.

    They aim to offer youngsters, up to the age of 25, a degree of warm family affection, as well as extra funds for private tuition, developing their talents or establishing young adults in a profession.

    "This new building is thanks to vision, faith and persistence of realising a dream. This project has multiple uses and contributes a lot to the efforts to preserve our architectural heritage," said the chairwoman of the board of directors, Ellie Steliou Ioannou.

    She extended her thanks to architect Christos Mitsinga for saving the building from rubble and appealed for help to continue the foundation's work.

    "Like all voluntary efforts we need financial help. Any effort, however small or large, will help us to continue. So I call on everyone to pull together to help our unprotected children and to invest in the future of this place," she said.

    "Who knows, maybe these children we help today will become tomorrow's good citizens. Life teaches us that without giving, we can't expect anything in return. Life is short. All that remains is the good things that we do," she said, choking back the tears.

    The foundation supports unprotected children in every possible way; helps them reinsert themselves into society, boosts their self-confidence, covers any emergency needs they may have and tries to find them jobs.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Currency fluctuations to blame for drug price swings

    By Jennie Matthew CUSTOMERS buying medicines faced a bewildering swing in retail prices this month, with the cost of some drugs soaring while others fell significantly.

    The new Health Ministry price list came into effect on March 1, with currency fluctuations to blame for the price discrepancies.

    The strong performance of the dollar has pushed up those pharmaceuticals priced in dollars, while medicines traded in euro-zone currencies such as the Deutsche Mark and the Drachma have fallen dramatically.

    For example, the anti-allergy drug Celestone, shipped over from Germany, is now down 52 cents at 1.57, compared to a retail price of 2.09 last month.

    Fungustain, dispensed for fungus infections and traded in Drachmas, now costs 8.10 compared to 8.45 in February.

    Pharmacist George Ktenas told the Cyprus Mail that most drugs sold in dollars had only increased a small amount.

    But Decadrandron, prescribed to child asthma sufferers has leapt from 4.06 to 6.08.

    The Health Ministry said yesterday the price changes came into effect on March 1 and would be applicable until February 28, 2002. Drug prices are reviewed annually.

    Liberalisation laws due to be passed by Parliament, could halve drug prices, which in many cases cost more than twice the retail price in other European countries.

    The Cyprus Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (CAPC) still operates a monopoly on the import of drugs, but the decision to axe their stranglehold has already been approved by the Cabinet.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides has promised that widely used drugs will become dramatically cheaper, although the law is expected to make little difference to high-tech patented drugs.

    As they stand, government price regulations ensure that wholesaler and retailer make a 30 per cent profit, factoring in a 6.5 per cent variance that reflects the rise and fall in currency valuations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Pilots postpone strike threat

    By Jean Christou EUROCYPRIA pilots yesterday agreed to postpone strike action to give Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas a chance to resolve the dispute they have with Cyprus Airways over captain promotions.

    "We held a general assembly and as was expected it was agreed to postpone any strike action for the time being," said Eurocypria pilot Andreas Varnavides.

    He said the measures had not been officially cancelled, but that talks would continue to resolve the dispute.

    The pilots will give at least a week to the see how far the minister can take his initiative.

    Eurocypria pilots gave notice of strike action on March 2, when long- running efforts to solve a dispute with CY pilots over promotions in the charter firm reached another deadlock.

    The issue came to a head three weeks ago when CY pilots union PASIPY allegedly ordered the company to halt the promotion of a Eurocypria first officer.

    Negotiations with the company had already broken down before the incident when CY allegedly went against an agreement with Eurocypria pilots and brought in six more pilots to the charter firm.

    Varnavides said that the assembly had yesterday voted in favour of retaining their policy of refusing to fly with their CY counterparts.

    CY's collective agreement with the charter firm clearly states that captain vacancies can only be given to Eurocypria pilots with at least three years experience within the company.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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