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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-10-06

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, October 6, 2001


  • [01] Government defends granting USAF's airspace request
  • [02] Louis keeps on cruising
  • [03] All quiet on the CSE front
  • [04] Time running out, says former Afghan foreign minister
  • [05] Neophytou leads the charge on privatisation
  • [06] Man sought after assault on traffic cop
  • [07] Long-term tourism outlook 'positive'
  • [08] Meningitis vaccine 'should be available, despite the cost'
  • [09] First human clone in four months, says Zavos

  • [01] Government defends granting USAF's airspace request

    By George Psyllides

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday defended a government decision to allow the US Air Force to use Cyprus airspace and airport facilities, while opposition parties said the issue should have been discussed in the National Council.

    On Thursday the cabinet decided to grant the American request, submitted on Wednesday.

    Cassoulides said the government chose to reply immediately lest it be perceived to have reservations.

    "I think if our offer was to have been of any value it should have been given without hesitation, as in Cyprus' decision to side with the international community in the fight against terrorism," Cassoulides said.

    He said it was an urgent matter and there was no time to discuss it with the party leaders, adding that asking for something in return would not have been a good idea at this point.

    "It would be politically and morally wrong at this moment to raise an issue of political returns," the foreign minister said. "We believe in the need to fight terrorism, this international network aiming to destroy civilisation and impose dark and mediaeval fanaticism, something completely alien to our values and principles," Cassoulides added.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou echoed this view: "It was an urgent issue. Cyprus' speedy reaction was important; we couldn't show that we had reservations."

    Papapetrou assured the party leaders that there was no special reason why they had not been briefed beforehand.

    House President and AKEL leader Demetris Christofias conceded that the government had been put in a difficult position by the American request.

    He suggested, however, that the government should have set the condition that the island's airspace and airports could not be used for military purposes against neighbouring Arab states.

    In a statement issued yesterday morning, AKEL said the decision to facilitate the US Air Force was a serious issue that should have been discussed in the National Council.

    The statement also condemned terrorism, adding that Cyprus could not be absent from the international mobilisation against it.

    It said: "AKEL is categorically against using the island for any attack against neighbouring Arab countries and in general, strikes whose victims would be innocent people and not those responsible for terrorism."

    DIKO said it was in no position to comment on the government's decision since it had not been briefed.

    But the centre party criticised the president for failing to table the issue before the National Council.

    KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou said his party agreed that Cyprus should co- operate with the international community in its fight against terrorism, but he too was critical about the government's decision not to consult the party leaders before deciding to accede to the American request.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Louis keeps on cruising

    By Rita Kyriakides

    LOUIS Cruise Lines is still offering cruises to Egypt despite the cancellation of most trips to the Middle East.

    Louis Marketing Manager George Michaelides said yesterday the company is still offering cruises to Egypt from Cyprus twice a week on Mondays and Wednesday. These cruises usually attract up to 600 passengers, mainly from England, he said.

    Louis also operates a weekly cruise to Rhodes every Friday, which usually has around 700 passengers on board.

    Despite a decrease in tourism due to the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, Louis Cruise Lines has only had to stop one cruise ship.

    Michaelides said this is not unusual for this time the year as the high season draws to a close.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] All quiet on the CSE front

    IT WAS another quiet and uneventful day on the stock market yesterday, as volume notched up a mere 2.48 million, leaving the index to fall 1.31 per cent to 110.78 and the FTSE down 1.29 per cent to 4858.58.

    Seventy-one shares fell, 35 went up and 38 stayed the same, with what little activity there was focused on Bank of Cyprus and Cyprus Popular Bank.

    Both opened and closed at the same price -- 1.73 and 1.35 respectively.

    Universal Savings Bank (USB) fell 2.73 per cent to close at 1.07, Hellenic Bank dwindling at 79 cents on the back of a fall of 1.25 per cent.

    Stockbroker Stavros Agrotis said Thursday's 3.05 per cent increase in trade provoked yesterday's liquidity, given the continuing instability internationally.

    The 'other' sector saw the biggest losses with a drop of 3.09 per cent. Tourism companies did close far behind -- down 2.04 per cent, with the island's main breadwinner still gripped by uncertainty over its immediate future.

    The only industries to profit yesterday were construction, up 2.26 per cent and investment, up 0.23 per cent.

    Nevertheless Agrotis still found room for a degree of optimism: "The good news is that the international markets mostly seem to be moving horizontally," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Time running out, says former Afghan foreign minister

    By George Psyllides

    THE SPOKESMAN for the Cyprus Movement for Peace in Afghanistan yesterday reiterated the determination to unite with other peace groups to form a broad-based government to oust the ruling Taliban.

    Speaking at a news conference in Nicosia yesterday, former Afghan Foreign Minister Homayun Jarir said time was running out but he hoped that a meeting of all peace processes would be held inside Afghanistan under the umbrella of the United Nations.

    The government last week dashed hopes that the meeting would take place in Cyprus, saying it did not want to interfere with internal Afghan affairs or host an anti-Taliban meeting, for fear of terrorist reprisals.

    On Thursday, however, the government gave the green light to the US Air Force to use its airspace and all airports -- including the Paphos military base -- therefore laying itself open to possible future conflict in the Middle East.

    Jarir was tight-lipped yesterday about any discussions with the government. "I did not have any official contacts," he said.

    "I have to go back to Teheran and discuss the matter with the executive committee," he added.

    The Cyprus Movement for Peace in Afghanistan has held bi-annual meetings in Cyprus for the past two years to discuss a future government for the war- torn country and to bring about peace to the Afghan people.

    The group consists of former Afghan civil servants, members of the Northern Alliance, tribal chiefs, academics, dissidents and Taliban sympathisers.

    Jarir said his movement now wanted to co-ordinate with a similar group in Rome, fronted by exiled Afghan king, Zahir Shah, and another in Bonn.

    "We want to have a co-ordinating committee of all processes working for peace and we're trying to organise ourselves with the Rome and Bonn process."

    He added that Washington backed their efforts: "We have been in contact with the US State Department for two years and they are happy to see a co- ordinated committee of all peace processes."

    Jarir said some commanders in the Taliban movement were disillusioned with their leaders and terrorism and are deserting the party.

    "The Taliban only have guns, they have no support from the Afghan people who are waiting for a broad-based government to bring peace."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Neophytou leads the charge on privatisation

    By Jennie Matthew

    A BRITISH Council seminar on privatisation and liberalisation yesterday turned into a rallying cry for the merits of selling up the state sector, with the government leading the charge.

    Minister of Communications, Transport and Public Works Averof Neophytou told the seminar in Nicosia of the absolute determination of his ministry and the government to plough ahead with liberalising all semi-governmental monopolies, in line with European Union harmonisation requirements.

    "In our ministry, in our government, we will continue to fight for changes, " he said. "We will continue to fight to change the old tradition. We will try to implement liberalisation and competition and we will not be afraid to privatise all sectors."

    When the House of Representatives reconvenes on October 18, deputies will be asked to approve bills to change the status of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority to a limited share company, and also to agree to private finance initiative for the development of Larnaca and Paphos airports, a plan the government hopes will save taxpayers 200 million.

    The bill would transform CyTA, the most profitable corporation in the country, into a private company; six per cent of the company's value will be made available to company employees, while the rest will be owned by the government.

    Neophytou said CyTA had reserve funds running into "the billions" with which to overhaul its structure, and spoke of the advantages of removing lumbering bureaucracy from profit-making enterprises.

    He said the current system takes two years to equip CyTA with up-to-date technology -- which then goes out of date immediately.

    He promised that employee rights under the new limited company would be secure, given that the government will retain ownership of 94 per cent of the firm.

    Neophytou said the government has worked on airport re-design for 14 years, and said there could be no question of waiting another 14 before progress is made.

    "I hope October 18 will open a new era for Cyprus. We expect the House to approve the new plans for our airports, which have failed to adapt fast enough to the cope with increased traffic. Of course we know the resistance of [civil servants' union] PASYDY and the labour force, but we are determined to go ahead," he said.

    He said he was optimistic that airport contracts would be signed by mid- 2002 at the latest, putting a new terminal in Paphos by the beginning of 2004 and in Larnaca by early 2005.

    Answering questions, Neophytou said it was impossible to embark on 100 per cent privatisation schemes, given the deep-rooted opposition of parliament.

    But he agreed that the changes would be made irrespective of the requirements of the acquis communautaire, the body of European law to which Cyprus must agree and implement upon accession to the European Union.

    "Even if we decided not to join the EU, then these changes should have been made for the benefit of our citizens and consumers," he said.

    But there will still be strong resistance to the government's plans. As economist Costas Apostolides pointed out, the post-1974 economy, according to the UN the most successful post-colonial economy since the Second World War, was built on the back of the centralist French model. Government, business and trade unions were given an equal voice in steering growth and trouble-shooting.

    That successful and strong tradition distances Cyprus from the aggressive rightwing, market-orientated policy that brought privatisation to the UK.

    It was left to Peter Benson, former chairman of the Coopers & Lybrand International Privatisation Group, to expound on the merits of liberalisation for government, customers, workers, employers and the economy as a whole.

    Urging the government to set its objectives and realise its aims, he reminded the audience of the huge scepticism to privatisation in the UK, which he said rescued the British economy from the abyss of 1979.

    "Governments can't run businesses," was Benson's definitive conclusion.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Man sought after assault on traffic cop

    By a Staff Reporter

    POLICE are hunting a 45-year-old man from Limassol after an assault on an officer on traffic duty.

    According to a police report, the suspect was driving his motorcycle in the Pentadromos area, when a police officer signalled him to stop. The man, who was carrying a passenger, refused to do so.

    A few minutes later, the passenger returned to where the police officer was standing, and started to explain why he and his companion had not pulled over.

    Then the driver also arrived on the scene, at which point he started using offensive language. He then started punching and kicking the police officer, who tried to arrest him, but the man fled. The officer later received treatment at hospital and was given sick leave.

    An arrest warrant has been issued for the suspect in connection with causing actual bodily harm, using offensive language against a police officer, and evading arrest.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] Long-term tourism outlook 'positive'

    By Elias Hazou

    CYPRUS will initially suffer from the economic consequences of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US, but the long-term outlook is positive, Minister of Commerce and Industry Nicos Rolandis has said.

    Yesterday he met representatives of the hoteliers' association amid concerns over the future of tourism. After the meeting, Rolandis said the ministry was preparing a "detailed memorandum" with proposals on countering the slump in tourism. These proposals would be submitted over the next couple of days to the Cabinet, which would decide on further action.

    Already there have been massive cancellations in reservations to Cyprus from a number of European countries. Rolandis yesterday cited estimates that 50-70 per cent of visitors from the UK had made cancellations, while the figure for German tourists was 20-25 per cent. Tourist arrivals dropped slightly in September and a steeper fall is expected over the coming months, he said.

    Given that revenue from the tourism industry accounts for just under 40 per cent of the island's GDP, economic analysts are predicting that the Cyprus economy will be hard-hit in the aftermath of the World Trade Centre bombings.

    But Rolandis yesterday tried to allay concerns. "Things will get better," he said. "We have reason to be optimistic about the long-term future; for one thing, we know that Europeans still consider Cyprus a safe destination."

    Meanwhile, in what was described as an example of the government's "vigilance" over possible economic side-effects, a delegation of the House Commerce and Industry Committee yesterday carried out an on-site visit to the Famagusta area, where they met local hoteliers and tourism businesses.

    Speaking after the meeting, committee chairman Lefteris Christoforou said a proposal would be forwarded to the government on ways of boosting summer and winter tourism and on the completion of major infrastructure projects planned in the Famagusta area, a major tourist destination.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Meningitis vaccine 'should be available, despite the cost'

    By Elias Hazou

    A VACCINE protecting against a rare but dangerous form of bacterial meningitis will not be coming to Cyprus any time soon, if the government has its way.

    After the summer outbreak of viral meningitis, the Health Ministry commissioned a study on the disease and ways to control it. Among its findings, the study concluded that one type of bacterial meningitis, meningococcal type C, was too rare to warrant making the vaccine available for the general public.

    But this week the Paediatric Society of Cyprus, an association of public and private physicians, claimed there were other reasons behind the ministry's decision not to bring in the vaccine. The association said the figures cited in the ministry's epidemiological study were "incomplete", and suggested the vaccine's high cost (29) was why the government would not make it available.

    Nikos Persianis, the paediatric society's chairman, told the Cyprus Mail the same government policy was followed a few years back, when a vaccine became available for another form of bacterial meningitis, haemophilus influenza B, commonly known as HIB. While private physicians started administering the HIB vaccine, the Health Ministry did not recommend it. Recently, the vaccine became available at public hospitals, probably because the price went down, Persianis suggested.

    The vaccine for type C bacterial meningitis is available from private doctors in Cyprus, but patients are charged a total of 40 for consultation and its actual administration.

    The Paediatric Society says it highly recommends the type C vaccine. According to Persianis, the vaccine is administered at infancy by the NHS in Britain, and it is estimated that this saves around 60 lives last year. Statistics in the UK also showed a 75 per cent fall in recorded cases since the vaccine started being administered.

    "We estimate that, at the most, there are seven to eight type C meningitis cases a year in Cyprus," Persianis said. Official Health Ministry figures speak of two to three cases annually. "Yes, it's rare, but the point is, if we can save two or three children's lives a year, then it is definitely worth it. Does the ministry need some quota on expected deaths before bringing in the vaccine?"

    Persianis said there was no cause for alarm and that the society's recommendations were being made for purely preventative reasons.

    Government Health Services officers were yesterday unavailable for comment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] First human clone in four months, says Zavos

    By Michele Kambas

    SCIENTISTS could create the first cloned human before the end of the year, a Cypriot doctor working on the controversial project said yesterday.

    Dr Panayiotis Zavos, who along with his Italian colleague Severino Antinori has triggered worldwide alarm with plans to create tailor-made offspring, said research was going faster than initially expected.

    The team has been banned from carrying out research in most European Union countries, but Zavos, speaking in Cyprus, said that was not hindering progress.

    "It is going well enough so we may attempt the first production of embryos, cloned embryos in the very near future. That is, three or four months from now," Zavos told Reuters in an interview yesterday.

    Human cloning could effectively create a replica of another living or dead person. But Zavos, who said the "genie was out of the bottle" when researchers cloned the first mammal, Dolly the Sheep, insisted there was nothing sinister in the endeavour.

    He said he was not in the business of creating "genetically-modified doppelgangers", but in helping infertile couples have a child. "We are not interested in cloning the Bin Ladens of this world, the Michael Jacksons or the Michael Jordans of this world," the Kentucky-based fertility specialist added.

    "We are not interested in the replica of dead people. We are interested in assisting a father who does not have the sperm to have a biological child of his own... in assisting couples to reproduce."

    Countries like France and Germany have appealed to the United Nations to get human cloning banned in an international treaty. Religious groups are also enraged at the doctors' attempts "to play God".

    But Zavos, whose partner, Dr Antinori, hit the headlines by helping a woman of 62 have a child in 1994, dismissed suggestions they were only interested in cloning for its own sake. He said thousands of childless people from all over the world were helping in their research.

    Though regarded something of a maverick in the medical world, Zavos' medical accomplishments are a source of pride for many Cypriots. He emigrated to the United States more than 30 years ago but retains close family ties with the island.

    Zavos declined to say where the research was under way, but indicated it was in more than one country. He added that governments which had banned human clone tests were making a mistake in mixing politics with medical issues.

    "They are trying to make a political decision for a procedure which is medically oriented. This is not a political decision, this is a medical decision that needs to be made by physicians and their patients and not by politicians."

    But Zavos said the ban was not in any way hindering progress. "We have options we are exercising, beyond Europe, of course. This is the world we are talking about, this is not Europe, this is not America."

    Zavos said countries which took a stand against cloning embryos could possibly end up at a disadvantage because the technology would inevitably catch up. "This is not an issue of morality, this is not an issue of being ethical or unethical, but rather assisting people to have children and that is the business we are in."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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