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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-07-13

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

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


Friday, July 13, 2001

CONTENTS

  • [01] Seatbelts to be law in the back seat
  • [02] A strong economy but an uncertain future
  • [03] Airport plan under fire again
  • [04] More civil servants than ever, despite cutback pledges
  • [05] Emissions safety standards needed, House hears
  • [06] Antenna 'could disrupt National Guard systems'
  • [07] Say cheese: 10,000 tons of it
  • [08] Michel's confederation comment 'unhelpful'
  • [09] At last, Pervolia is back in business
  • [10] Ministers to probe CoE racism report on Cyprus

  • [01] Seatbelts to be law in the back seat

    By a Staff Reporter

    IN A MOVE aimed at cutting the island's soaring road death rate, parliament yesterday made the use of rear-seat belts mandatory in all vehicles equipped with the safety devices.

    The new law, approved unanimously and without debate during the last legislative session of the House of Representatives plenum before deputies' summer break, covers both children and adults in rear seats of vehicles of less than 3.5 tonnes.

    Drivers are now liable if a child is riding in their car without a belt on. Adults in the back seat are themselves liable if they fail to wear a seat belt.

    Cars not equipped with rear seat belts are currently exempt from the new law, but the Communications Ministry is authorised to issue directives demanding the placement of rear seat belts in particular models. The directives will be subject to House approval.

    Cyprus has one of the highest road death rates in Europe, with more than a hundred people being killed on the road in an average year.

    Among the other 61 bills unanimously and summarily approved during a rushed three-hour plenum session yesterday afternoon, was one imposing tougher sentences for arson.

    Convicted arsonists now face up to five years in prison or a fine of 5,000, or both.

    Well over 100 forest, scrub and field fires have hit the island this year and arsonists have been blamed for some of these.

    The plenum is to convene again tomorrow morning for its traditional special session to condemn the 1974 coup.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] A strong economy but an uncertain future

    By Jennie Matthew

    CYPRUS fell two places in this year's United Nations human development index, and was ranked behind several Eastern European countries as a "potential leader".

    The annual UN Human Development Report assesses a wide range of economic and social indicators in order to rank 162 countries into categories of high, medium and low human development.

    Cyprus was rated 25th overall.

    But the Cyprus GDP per capita of $19,006 was the highest of all EU applicant-states and also beat higher-ranked countries including Greece, Israel and Spain.

    Cyprus per capita GDP was more than doubled by 12th-ranked Luxembourg, which has a per capita GDP of $42,769.

    In the technology achievement index, Cyprus was ranked 33 out of 72 countries - five from bottom in the second category of "potential leader".

    The message was clear: that although the economy is strong at the moment, the outlook for the future is less positive.

    Cyprus trailed behind less advanced European Union accession countries the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Slovakia.

    Malaysia, Croatia and Mexico were also listed as more probable "potential leaders".

    Instead, Cyprus narrowly beat Romania (34) and Costa Rica (35).

    Gender equality was the other cause for concern. In 1999, women earned just 49 per cent of salaries netted by their male counterparts: $12,511 per annum compared to $25,524.

    In the same year, Cyprus also had the lowest proportion of female MPs in the top 25 countries: just 7.1 per cent compared to nearest rivals Greece, with 8.7 per cent and France at 9.1 per cent.

    Women outnumber men in the service sector by 71 to 54 per cent, but just 18 per cent of women work in industry compared to 30 per cent of men.

    In terms of health, Cyprus has the highest proportion of doctors in the top 25 countries, at 255 per 1,000.

    Yet Cyprus and the United States have the joint highest infant mortality rate in the top 30 countries, at seven per 1,000 births.

    In terms of education, 3.1 per cent of the adult population are illiterate.

    The country also has the lowest number of tertiary students studying science, maths and engineering in the top 29 countries.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Airport plan under fire again

    By Rita Kyriakides

    THE government proposal to privatise Larnaca and Paphos airports came under fire from the Democratic Labour Federation of Cyprus (DEOK) at a meeting in Nicosia yesterday.

    DEOK believes that government officials have enough details to realise that handing over the airports to private investors was not in their best interests.

    DEOK and other trade unions have suggested that the cost of modernising the airports could be covered by slightly increasing the prices of services.

    Communications and Works Minister Averof Neophytou has said that by handing over the airports to private investors, modernisation will be completed by 2004, whereas state bureaucracy would delay the work until 2010.

    Voting on the bill at the House has now been postponed until October, as deputies will be on holiday for the next two and a half months. The plenum sat yesterday for the last time before the summer recess.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] More civil servants than ever, despite cutback pledges

    By Elita Eliades

    THE number of civil servants has reached nearly 50,000 -- despite government promises to lower numbers -- and many of them work only 35.5 hours a week.

    New figures issued by the Statistics Department show there was a 1.2 per cent increase in the number of public employees in 1999, raising the total to a record 49,764. In the previous year the number rose by 1.8 per cent. This is despite government pledges to lower the number of civil servants in an effort to trim budget deficits.

    Current civil service employee numbers are 36,924, but add to this those working in semi-government organisations (9,040) and the 3,800 working in District offices and the new total is just 236 short of the 50,000 mark.

    The Education Ministry employs the greatest number of people -- 10,049 -- followed by the Justice Ministry at 5,710 and the Health Ministry at 5,132.

    In terms of working hours, community and social workers work the least hours at 35.5 a week, followed by Electricity Authority and Water Board employees who put in 37.5 hours. Public servants and CYTA employees work 38 hours a week.

    The Statistics Department says the financially active sector of the population has increased by 5,000 people and the overall number of Cypriots working has increased by 4,000. The total workforce registered in Cyprus is 290,000, 3,000 more than in 1998.

    The greatest increase in the intake of employees occurred in the third- generation sector (young people starting work for the first time) which saw an increase of 4,700 people in 1999.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Emissions safety standards needed, House hears

    By Melina Demetriou

    EXPERTS sounded the alarm yesterday about possible health risks involved in the operation of a giant antenna Britain plans to put up at the Akrotiri salt lake.

    A meeting of the House Health Committee discussing the matter was told of the necessity for Cyprus to establish safety standards with regard to electromagnetic emissions.

    They warned that such standards varied from country to country, even in Europe, and that it was unwise to "base a decision on the aerial on them".

    A British bases (SBA) decision to begin groundwork on the new 190-metre communications mast at the Akrotiri mast site sparked bloody anti-bases riots last week. Some 50 people were hurt during clashes at the Episkopi SBA police station and the salt lake aerial site.

    Local residents and greens insist electro-magnetic emissions from the new antenna will increase the cancer risk posed by the site and harm local wildlife. Britain says the masts are not dangerous.

    While a 1997 British study identified no impact from the aerial site, a recent study by two Greek experts spoke of damage to rare salt lake flora and fauna.

    Earlier this week, with work on the new mast put off by the rioting, Cypriot experts were allowed into the antenna site to measure emissions.

    The Foreign Ministry and British High Commission in Nicosia have begun intensive consultations over the antenna issue.

    Atomic medicine expert Sophoclis Sophocleous said environmental tests run by the British at the Akrotiri area were "superficial".

    "They went there for three minutes to run emissions tests. They should have stayed for at least 24 hours to get the real picture. And they should definitely measure emissions in the bedrooms of sick children in nearby buildings," he said.

    Local residents attending the meeting said that 12 people, including children, had developed some kind of cancer in the past 10 years. They said half of them were now dead.

    About 3,000 people, including Greek Cypriots and Britons, live or work in the area.

    All four experts at the meeting cited European studies to point out that even low-power emissions could cause cancer in both adults and children.

    "The aerial in question, which would produce medium-power emissions, could, according to several studies, destroy the body cells of people who have already suffered from cancer," said Panos Razis, Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Cyprus.

    "Combined with other factors such as atmospheric pollution, those emissions could affect anyone."

    Razis supported the view that the guideline levels used by the British and others to assess dangers of electromagnetic emissions were "arbitrarily set".

    "There are clear signs that children have died of leukaemia because they were exposed to such emissions which, according to those levels, were perfectly harmless."

    He cited the 'precautionary principle' referred to in international conventions, to argue that "until the matter is cleared scientifically no such aerial should be installed".

    Christakis Evelthondos, chairman of the Akrotiri residents action committee, submitted a memorandum to deputies reiterating residents' concerns about the impact on health of the new antenna.

    The group pleaded with deputies to push for tests to identify health threats posed by aerials already operating in the area.

    "Local residents suffer from dizziness and headaches which could be caused by the aerials' emissions," the memorandum said.

    The House Committee said that the experts' views should be taken into serious consideration by the government and the British Bases.

    Health Ministry representative Andreas Georgiou confirmed reports that Britain and Cyprus were close to agreeing on a jointly funded year-long epidemiological study to assess the health of local residents.

    Meanwhile, the government has proposed that independent experts be brought in to assess the environmental and health impact of the new antenna, but the British High Commission has said it will have to consult London on the matter.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Antenna 'could disrupt National Guard systems'

    By Melina Demetriou

    DEFENCE minister Socratis Hasikos said yesterday it was possible that the giant antenna Britain wants to erect at the Akrotiri salt lake could interfere with National Guard communications systems.

    During a marathon meeting of the House Defence Committee yesterday, Hasikos said: "Considering that even a mobile phone or a radio can interfere with a communications system, then imagine what a giant aerial can do."

    The Minister said that the government had requested information on the matter from the British Bases which have begun groundwork on the new 190- metre communications mast at the Akrotiri mast site.

    But Hasikos also said that according to ministry experts the army's radars would not be affected by the aerial.

    DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis argued, though, that the new antenna would be so sophisticated that "it could interfere with our radar".

    "We are not talking about an ordinary aerial. It is called 'over-the horizon radar' because it can spy on both aircraft and ground troops," he said.

    Matsakis doubted that the British would ever give the government vital information about the capabilities of the aerial in question.

    Meanwhile the British Bases administration yesterday dismissed a report by Antenna television suggesting that a receiver site in Ayios Nikolaos in the Famagusta District posed a threat to health.

    "The installation at Ayios Nikolaos is a receiver site. It poses no risk to health and the only transmissions emanating from this site are directly comparable in terms of power and frequency to those of typical telecommunications links throughout Cyprus and indeed Western Europe," a bases announcement said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Say cheese: 10,000 tons of it

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRIOTS are a nation of halloumi lovers, consuming a vast 10,000 tons a year.

    A total of 13,000 tons a year of dairy products, such as halloumi and feta, are produced every year in Cyprus. These are worth 32 million, Agriculture and Environment Minister Costas Themistocleous said during a visit to the Dairy Production Company A.A Vouyiouklaki Ltd.

    "Three thousand tons of these products are exported, and the government is hoping for further increases that will bring benefits to the Cyprus dairy industry," Themistocleous said. He said he was pleased that such industries had modernised dairy production methods to the standard of similar companies abroad.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Michel's confederation comment 'unhelpful'

    By Jean Christou

    THE government will seek a meeting with Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel over comments he made mooting the idea of confederation as a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday that comments such as Michel's did not help efforts to address problems related to the Cyprus question and the island's accession to the European Union.

    Michel was reported as saying before the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee that a proposal put forward by the Turkish side for finding a solution to the Cyprus question based on confederation had "some pros".

    Papapetrou said that such statements could give the impression that Belgium or the EU presidency might consider a solution based on confederation, the basic demand of the Turkish side.

    The spokesman said such statements were contrary to the relevant Security Council resolutions and EU decisions, which exclude a solution based on confederation.

    The Cyprus talks have been stalled since last year in the wake of Turkish Cypriot demands for sovereignty and a confederal solution, and show no signs of being resumed although speculation is rife that the UN is working on a way to bring the sides back to

    negotiations.

    Reports over the past few days suggesting that UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan will invite the sides to talks in September have been dismissed by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who said they will not go to the table to face a fait accompli.

    Denktash said he expects UN envoy Alvaro de Soto to come to Cyprus this month or next month to "have discussions and then move on".

    Reports suggest that de Soto has prepared a document in the form of a draft solution and that the maps and percentage of territory ratios are ready, and that there is also pressure from Ankara on Denktash to attend any proposed talks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] At last, Pervolia is back in business

    By Jennie Matthew and Elita Eliades

    FOR THE first summer in two years, Pervolia village is open for business as usual -- free from the road works chaos that jeopardised local businesses and made tourists avoid it.

    Less than five miles south of Larnaca airport, with a charming church and traditional nightspots, Pervolia is known for quality tourism in an area that depends on holidaymakers for income.

    But for 31 months, from April 1999 to December 2000, the main street running from the centre of the village to Pharos beach was closed in order to lay electricity cables, re-surface the road and redesign the town's square.

    Beach-goers were forced to make a 2- km detour to get to the sea, while tavern and supermarket owners watched in dismay as their profits dwindled with customers turned away by rubble and bulldozers.

    But yesterday, tourists and locals sat in peace - drinking coffee and having lunch alongside a main road free from earth-moving equipment.

    Tavernas that were losing up to 2,000 a weekend last summer are now gearing up for a bumper season in the coming months.

    Village Muktar Christoforos Pantelis told the Cyprus Mail that the 650, 000 renovation project had significantly improved the quality of life of local residents.

    He said tourism had improved already and that businessmen were delighted with the result.

    But even so, there's yet more work to be done. The municipality still has to move electricity poles, left marooned in the middle of the road when the street was widened, to the pavement.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Ministers to probe CoE racism report on Cyprus

    By Jean Christou

    THE government will set up a ministerial committee to examine a report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe (CoE), spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    The report, published in Strasbourg on July 3, refers to racism, discrimination and xenophobia in Cyprus and expresses its concern over the use of excessive force by police against illegal immigrants.

    Papapetrou said the issue was raised at Wednesday's Cabinet meeting, which decided to set up a three-member ministerial committee made up of the Ministers of Interior, Labour and Social Insurance and Justice and Public Order.

    He said the committee would deal with suggestions made by the CoE in a positive way. The committee will submit its recommendations to the Council of Ministers, which will take decisions with the aim of improving the situation, Papapetrou said.

    According to the report, racism, xenophobia and discrimination persist in Cyprus, particularly in relation to immigrants. "The rights of immigrant workers, notably domestic employees, are often not respected and the remedies available in these cases are not always effective," it said.

    Concern was also expressed at reports of discriminatory checks on the part of immigration officers of non-whites coming into Cyprus and the lengthy detention periods for illegal immigrants.

    "While sentiments of rejection and hostility vis a vis immigrants and foreigners cannot be said to be generalised in Cyprus society as a whole, there appears to be a growing tendency towards the perception of the immigrant and the foreigner as a potential threat to the Cypriot standard of living," the report said.

    "In this instance the ECRI deplores instances of racially inflammatory speeches by public figures targeting these groups and urges the Cypriot authorities to take all possible measures to prevent such a trend from evolving into more overt and generalised manifestations of hostility vis a vis members of minority groups."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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