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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-09-27

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

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


Thursday, September 27, 2001

CONTENTS

  • [01] Pay restraint plea as recession looms
  • [02] Health Ministry working on biochemical defence, but plays down fears
  • [03] ADSL: what is it and can you get it?
  • [04] Confusion as government prepares to take over asylum process
  • [05] Court told British woman was raped by fellow tourists

  • [01] Pay restraint plea as recession looms

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE CABINET yesterday announced an emergency plan to protect the economy, calling for financial restraint in all sectors in the face of the looming global economic crisis.

    Ministers called on employers and trade unions to show financial restraint.

    Speaking after the meeting, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said both private employees and civil servants would have to give up on some of their demands, even if that might affect collective contract agreements.

    The government fears the world will spiral into economic recession if America goes to war against terrorism after the September 11 attacks.

    " There are only insignificant signs of a recession in Cyprus at the moment but come a global crisis, the country would not be able to escape the negative consequences, considering that a big part of our economy relies on tourism, which is particularly vulnerable at such times.

    " So current developments raise serious questions about the future of the Cyprus economy, which might suffer blows. How severe the situation will be depends on the kind of military action the US will take,"said the minister.

    Klerides urged businesses to take " immediate actions enforcing financial restraint and sensibility as much as possible"in order to limit the damage that Cyprus could suffer.

    The minister noted that the Cabinet's appeal had also been made with an eye on running negotiations between employers and employees concerning collective contract renewals.

    " There are some union demands at the moment, so the Cabinet is calling for self-restraint to avert economic destabilisation,"Klerides said.

    The minister warned that the public sector could not be excluded from the general plan and said that negotiations between the government and civil servants' union PASYDY about pay scales and salaries would also be affected.

    Klerides said cutbacks would not affect development projects, but said the state budget for 2002 could be subject to changes.

    Teachers' union 'New Movement' chairman Kyriacos Mitrou told the Cyprus Mailyesterday that he agreed with the government's plan to protect the economy, but insisted that a promotions agreement reached between secondary schoolteachers and the Education Ministry last spring had to implemented.

    " If we voice new demands now and the government says that they cannot be met because it is a difficult time we will respect that, but agreements already made have to be respected too,"he said.

    Mitrou said " the burden should fall on all employees' shoulders equally. It is all about fair distribution of wealth."

    In a written announcement responding to Klerides' call, the general secretary of the powerful PEO union, Bambis Kiritsis, yesterday complained the government was taking decisions while keeping unions in the dark.

    " I don't think that it helps to make dramatic appeals of this kind when unions have not had any briefing about the situation,"Kiritsis said.

    " We proved many times that we are very understanding in critical times, but we want to make clear that we shall not consent to the current situation being used to compromise workers' rights or their living standards,"the PEO chief warned.

    Kiritsis said the union was willing to discuss the situation with the government in order to find ways to address it.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Health Ministry working on biochemical defence, but plays down fears

    By George Psyllides

    THE HEALTH Minister yesterday remained tight lipped over measures to defend against any biochemical terrorist assault against Cyprus.

    The issue emerged after the terrorist attacks in the United States, but was given prominence on Tuesday when the Director-general of the World Health Organisation Gro Harlem-Brundtland warned that the unleashing of killer diseases against the West was no longer unthinkable.

    " We must prepare for the possibility that people will be deliberately harmed with biological or chemical agents,"she said, urging western governments to gear up to cope.

    Yesterday, Health Minister Frixos Savvides acknowledged that the issue has caused worldwide concern, adding that Cyprus was not in a better or worse position than other countries.

    Like the Interior Minister on Tuesday, Savvides tried to play down the fears, saying a biochemical war was unlikely.

    He declined, however, to reveal what his ministry was doing to prepare for the possibility.

    " We have decided not to make public statements on what we're doing to deal with the very unlikely possibility of a biochemical war,"Savvides said.

    He said the ministry was co-ordinating with other departments in planning how to deal with such a possibility, at the same level as it would be dealt with by all countries.

    He added: " Allow me not to reveal any details."

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday reiterated the government's intention to procure additional equipment for protection against toxic gasses, but ruled out getting enough for the whole population.

    " We will increase our potential in necessary equipment though it won't be large enough to cover the whole population because there is no likelihood (of all out biochemical war)"Christodoulou said.

    Christodoulou said the equipment would be increased from 150 units - each unit includes mask and suit for one person - to 1,200 or 1,500, but " we can't see what good it would be apart from boosting our potential" .

    He added that the government had plans to educate people on potential hazards and how to deal with them, without spreading panic.

    Reports from the UK and USA said people there were buying gas masks by the dozen amid growing anxiety.

    Defence experts, however, caution there is no defence against a biological attack.

    John Eldridge, editor of Jane's Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence, was quoted in The Guardian: " The threat of chemical or biological attack has become much more likely, but I don't think people should panic about it. If you buy a respirator or a suit, what are you going to do; wear it all the time?"

    Masks or suits would be unlikely to protect against biological weapons because a virus or other infection would stealthily spread through the population, from one person to another, he said.

    According to the World Medical Association, it would be possible for the authorities to be unaware that an attack had taken place until people actually began to get sick.

    Meanwhile, the government yesterday decided to increase the number of police officers at airports and expedite the procurement of security equipment.

    Speaking after a meeting held to discuss security measures, Transport, Finance and Justice Ministers said the equipment had been on the order books anyway, but the current international situation forced the government to expedite their acquisition.

    The ministers said they had not discussed the possibility of placing police officers on board flights, but a committee had been assigned the task of looking into improving security measures at the island's ports.

    A Larnaca airport official yesterday told the Cyprus Mailthat security officers have been collecting a large number of sharp objects banned from being carried by passengers in the aircraft cabin.

    The official said sharp objects were never allowed on board, even before the terrorist attacks against America.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] ADSL: what is it and can you get it?

    By Rita Kyriakides

    A CYTANET customer is accusing the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) of falsely advertising the availability of a digital line used by Internet Service Providers.

    An Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) provides high-speed digital connectivity and enables service providers to deliver high-speed services such as video, audio and Internet.

    Kyriakos Kyriacou from Liopetri applied for ADSL about five months ago through his local CyTA office.

    He had seen television adverts advertising the service and decided to phone Cytanet to ask when they would be able to install his line, only to discover his application had been turned down because the equipment has not been installed at his local digital exchange server, but was up and running at servers in Paralimni and Vrysoulles.

    Kyriacou called Cytanet again to ask why they had installed the equipment in Vrysoulles, and not in his area.

    He was told that it was because there was more a demand from British bases users in the Vrysoulles area than from the Cypriot users down in Liopetri.

    " In CyTA's eyes, it was better business sense to install the equipment at Vrysoulles first,"Kyriacou complained.

    Kyriacou currently has an ISDN connection and pays around 60 to 80 per month because of his frequent use of the Internet. Once installed, ADSL costs a flat rate of 35 a month including unlimited Internet use and subscription.

    " I don't see why I should pay so much money for my ISDN line when other people can use the ADSL line for much less,"he told the Cyprus Mail .

    Kyriacou complained that CyTA's advertising was misleading and that they should include the fact that ADSL was for now limited to certain areas.

    " If they are not going to install the equipment then they should at least offer unlimited use for ISDN lines. It's up to CyTA to offer the same services to all of their customers,"he said.

    Lia Malioti, the Product Manager for i-choice, the department responsible for ADSL, told the Cyprus Mailyesterday the department had decided which areas to supply with ADSL after carrying out a market survey to determine where there was the highest demand.

    Malioti said that 300 out of 500 Vryssoules residents had applied for ADSL, whereas in Liopetri only 50 residents were interested.

    " I e-mailed Mr Kyriacou and told him that in the second phase we would consider installing the equipment in Liopetri, but once again it will depend on the amount of applications. We cannot install thousands of pounds worth of equipment for one user,"she said.

    Malioti also said that in a year or two all villages would be supplied with the ADSL equipment.

    CyTA began accepting applications for ADSL at the State Fair in April but have only recently started to process them because of unforeseen technical problems while installing the equipment.

    It seems that some of the exchange severs cannot support the ADSL equipment and need to be upgraded.

    There are two factors that determine whether an ADSL can be installed in a customer's home.

    The local exchange, where the telephone line is connected, has to have the necessary equipment to support ADSL, and the distance between the customer's home and the local telephone exchange has to be less than four kilometres, while the quality of the line has to be adequate.

    Installation of ADSL is charged at 40, which includes a special modem and a filter that splits the phone line so there can be unlimited access to the Internet without engaging the phone line

    There is also a monthly charge of 35, made up of 23 for ADSL and a 12 subscription fee for the Internet Service Provider.

    Applications take at least a month to be processed depending on how many applications have been made.

    Customers can check the availability in their area by either calling the Cytanet help line at 0800 8080 or visiting the i-choice website at www.i- choice.cyta.com.cy .

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Confusion as government prepares to take over asylum process

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE GOVERNMENT, activists and UNHCR are preparing for January 1, when Cyprus takes over from UN body the responsibility for processing asylum applications with the establishment of a Refugee Authority. But tensions and poor co-ordination appear to be hampering the build-up.

    There has been continuous friction between the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), currently responsible for administering asylum applications, and the government, which will have to take on responsibility in line with the Refugee Act, ratified in January in line with European Union directives.

    Although Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of the Interior, Kyriacos Triantafyllides looks set to become chairman of the new Refugee Authority, he was ignorant of a UNHCR initiative to set up a National Committee for the Support of Refugees and Asylum-seekers in Cyprus, to work alongside the new Authority and tackle racist sentiment in Cyprus.

    Instead, representatives from the European Delegation, political parties, the Cyprus Red Cross Society and the Ministry of Education were invited to join.

    " The positive thing is that everyone there showed a real interest. The pessimistic thing is that no one was there from the Ministry of Interior or the Refugee Authority,"said one participant.

    But Triantafyllides felt snubbed.

    " I wasn't aware of the meeting and I would like to know because we want to have absolute co-operation with the UNHCR,"he said.

    " The idea is to complement the work of the Refugee Authority and to support wholeheartedly the abolition of any kind of racial discrimination, "said committee president George Stavrinakis.

    " We need a co-ordinating body and public opinion has to be developed,"said UNHCR training and public information officer, Amelia Strovolidou.

    She said the president of the Refugee Authority, Costas Papamichail had been invited but he was unable to attend the first meeting on Tuesday.

    The government has clashed in the past with the UNHCR over allegations that asylum seekers are deported before their cases are reviewed and over the government's 'no landings' policy on refugee boats.

    Triantafyllides said yesterday that policy change was not on the agenda at the moment.

    The Committee has to decide whether to register as an independent association or perhaps, more likely, become a branch of the National Committee for the Protection of Human Rights, of which Stavrinakis is also president.

    On Tuesday, they appointed a sub-committee to consider the way forward before meeting again.

    " I think we're at the very first stage. I think a lot of work has to be done. It's a very new thing. It's a very difficult thing. Society in Cyprus isn't yet ready to accept immigrants and up to now I don't think the government knew what 'refugee' and 'asylum seeker' meant,"said participant, Takis Hadjidemetriou.

    Stavrinakis said he was considering a survey to assess the extent to which racism is a problem in Cyprus.

    In the meantime, the Ministry of the Interior is finalising arrangements for the Refugee Authority.

    Parliament has to pass amendments to the law to make the appeals procedure independent from the Ministry and agree on the status of the authority's chairman, before the body can operate.

    The bill is to be presented to the House when it re-opens next month.

    The Permanent-secretary at the Ministry of the Interior looks set to become chairman, to bypass confusion between the three current director-generals, Triantafyllides and his counterparts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Justice, Michael Attalides and Lazaros Savvides respectively.

    Three appointed officers and border policemen are currently undergoing training with the UNHCR before the provisional hand-over date on January 1, 2002.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Court told British woman was raped by fellow tourists

    By George Psyllides

    A BRITISH tourist was raped repeatedly by two men who had forced her to take an unknown drug, a Paralimni court heard yesterday.

    The court heard how a 23-year-old woman from Sheffield, England, told Famagusta police how two men, also from Sheffield - one aged 31 and the other 34 - allegedly raped her on Monday after she had been drugged.

    Police investigator Panayiotis Paraskevas said the two men were suspected of rape and possession, use and trafficking of drugs.

    They were remanded in custody for eight days.

    Paraskevas told the court that, according to the woman's testimony, she had met the two suspects at a nightclub in Ayia Napa in the early hours of Monday.

    She claimed the two men, who invited her to join them at their table, had given her a drink, which made her feel strange.

    In the meantime, the woman's friends had left the establishment and the two men led her to their flat where they all smoked cannabis.

    The woman said the first man, aged 31, then threw her on the bed and raped her while the other held her mouth so she couldn't scream.

    The two suspects then switched, with the 34-year-old man raping the woman without using a condom, the court heard.

    The investigator said the men had then forced her to take a white powder she thought was amphetamine. She said she felt drowsy and weak when the first man raped her again. The second suspect then started raping her while his companion took pictures, the court heard.

    Paraskevas said the two suspects then threw the woman out of their flat, wearing her dress only. Her underwear was later found under the bed where the alleged crime happened.

    When the young woman returned to her hotel, she told a friend and together with their tour rep they went to police.

    The two suspects were arrested at the swimming pool of the hotel where they stayed.

    In a written statement the 31-year-old suspect claimed everything had happened with the woman's consent.

    State pathologist Eleni Antoniou examined the woman and found lacerations and bruises in various parts of her body.

    The two suspects were remanded in custody for eight days.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001


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