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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-10-30

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, October 30, 2001


  • [01] We'll never come back to Cyprus again
  • [02] Cypriot doctor's breakthrough on Down's Syndrome detection
  • [03] Four names and a mystery fifth for Nicosia mayor
  • [04] CY defends contract award
  • [05] Minister pledges no cover-up in land scam probe
  • [06] Tainted olive oil withdrawn from sale
  • [07] President's brother dies
  • [08] Two die on roads

  • [01] We'll never come back to Cyprus again

    By Jennie Matthew

    LARNACA airport came to a standstill yesterday when airport staff from four unions went on strike between 3 and 7pm, grounding more than 50 flights and leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

    SEK, PASYDY, PEO and DEOK threatened industrial action last week to protest against the government's decision to transfer the renovation and running of Larnaca and Paphos airports to private investors.

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou said not one employee would lose his job, but it wasn't enough to avert the strike.

    Neither were appeals from union bosses not to strike at a lunchtime meeting in the airport's cafeteria.

    Porters, cleaners and drivers defied the advice and headed for the picket line.

    By 4pm, between 120 and 150 strikers had huddled outside the airport's main entrance, smoking, chatting and parading sandwich boards shrieking, " No to selling off the airport" .

    Inside, the check-in hall was crammed with thousands of passengers, mainly tourists - a maze of disorderly queues zigzagging across the floor, tetchy children, anxious mothers perched on luggage and pensioners slumped against suitcases, dozing off to ease the boredom.

    Teenagers sat on the floor playing cards on upturned suitcases as the cafeteria did a roaring trade.

    Some 45 flights were due to take off and land between 3 and 7pm. All departures were postponed; arrivals were delayed as the loading bays filled up with grounded craft.

    With no drivers and porters at work, passengers were stranded on the planes, presumably with dwindling refreshments and the no-smoking rule still enforced.

    Passengers on board the 3pm British Airways flight from London were only able to leave after BA staff personally hauled the steps up to the aircraft and emptied passengers' luggage onto the carousel.

    A London-based businessman said it took two and a half hours from landing to leaving the airport.

    " I'm furious. I can understand people having a strike, but once the unions told them not too? The government should stand firm and just fire them. They give such a bad name to the country,"said Chris Christoforou.

    He was one of the lucky ones. Hundreds of passengers from three charter flights, which flew in before 3pm, were still waiting for baggage that showed no sign of materialising.

    " It was pandemonium,"he said.

    Back in the check-in hall, neither tour operators nor airport authorities told passengers what was going on.

    The pile up grew larger as yet more busloads of fresh-faced ignorant passengers arrived from the beaches.

    A few knew there was a strike, but at 4pm none knew it would last another three hours.

    Most said they had no intention of returning to Cyprus.

    " Cyprus depends on tourism. No tourism, no Cyprus economy. We had a wonderful time, but it's my first trip and my last,"said Michael Kirkwood from Leeds.

    " I'm feeling very disappointed with Cyprus and with the authorities in general. There are lots of young mothers and children. They have no idea what's going on. Why can't they solve their disputes sensibly in a normal democratic way?"said another.

    " We've been here 10 times, but we'll not come back to Cyprus again,"said Alan Brown from Belfast, on holiday with his wife.

    Frayed tempers were soothed by an off the cuff performance from Irish band Breaking Strings, who flew to Cyprus to perform at the opening of an Irish Pub in Limassol.

    " We started playing to keep ourselves amused and people entertained.

    We're not too happy like. Hopefully it won't be too long,"said violinist Neil McClean from County Down, speaking at 4.30pm.

    " We're supposed to have a gig tonight in Bangor at 10pm, but somehow I don't think we'll be there on time,"he added.

    But outside, the picket line was more like a coffee shop than the charged anti-privatisation battles of Thatcher's Britain.

    " We're striking against privatisation. If a private firm takes over, our jobs are only guaranteed for a year. What happens after that? Will we lose our jobs after a year? We can't plan our future,"said George Georgiou, father of three from Larnaca.

    But for the men on the ground, the goals of industrial actions were hazy.

    Asked if strikes would continue today Polychronis Demetriou, a refugee from Famagusta replied: " They say, but I'm not sure what time."

    Asked what would make them go back to work, he said he didn't know and referred us to PEO union bosses.

    Most of them gossiped among themselves. One group only started shouting their mantra against privatisation as soon as they saw the microphone from a radio station.

    About the inconvenience, Demetriou said he was really sorry, but strikes were the only way to solve the dispute.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Cypriot doctor's breakthrough on Down's Syndrome detection

    By Jennie Matthew

    A CYPRIOT foetal expert, Professor Kypros Nicolaides, has made a potential breakthrough that could make the identification of babies at high-risk from Down's Syndrome 97 per cent reliable.

    Initial research conducted over a six-month period suggests that 75 per cent of embryos without a visible nasal bone at 12-weeks have Down's Syndrome.

    Nicolaides made the observation based on the ultrasounds of 700 babies at King's College Hospital in London.

    His findings will be published in The Lancetmedical journal in a few weeks' time.

    He then hopes to pioneer an international study based on 20,000 women from all over the world to prove his initial finding, before the examination makes its way onto the hospital ward.

    The British Medical Journalconsiders the 12-week nuchal translucency test - developed by Nicolaides in 1992 - plus ultrasound, the most effective way of predicting whether unborn babies are at high-risk from Down's Syndrome.

    The current tests are 90 per cent accurate in determining whether a foetus is at high-risk from Down's.

    Foetuses grouped in this category are then subject to an amniocentesis for a definite diagnosis, a test that carries a very high risk of miscarriage.

    Minimising the percentage of women that go for further tests would reduce the number of miscarriages, which kill healthy foetuses.

    Ioannis Kallikas, gynaecologist at the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia and close associate of Nicolaides, said that, if proved right, the nasal examination would be incorporated with the current 12-week tests.

    " If the nasal bone is incorporated with the current 12 weeks tests, then it could mean that doctors can predict downs 95 to 97 per cent successfully. So on a gross level, this observation improves that by another 10 per cent,"he said.

    Nicolaides told the Cyprus Mailthat he made the breakthrough based on the simple observation that Down's children have flat faces and small noses.

    Research shows that normal foetuses tend to develop an identifiable nasal bone at 11 weeks. Given a delay in the ossification of the cartilage, Down's babies don't do so until 16 or 18 weeks.

    Therefore, an ultrasound at 12 weeks can be a crucial determinant.

    " I started on the nasal bones then it was incredible,"said Nicolaides.

    His nuclear translucency scan was developed 10 years ago, after reading a description of Down's babies written by a London doctor in 1860 - remarking that they have a short, thick neck.

    Nicolaides was born in Paphos in 1953. He is director of the Harris Birthright Research Centre for Foetal Medicine at King's College, where he heads a team of 30 doctors.

    In 1999, he was conferred the Ian Donald Gold Medal from the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Four names and a mystery fifth for Nicosia mayor

    By Melina Demetriou

    FOUR names appeared yesterday on the cards for the opposition coalition's campaign for Nicosia mayor, plus one possible unnamed candidate.

    Opposition parties AKEL, DIKO and KISOS on Thursday formed a coalition to fight the December 16 municipal elections.

    The parties agreed to share out a total of 24 municipal posts, but have still not decided who they are going to back in the capital. Intensive discussions this week are to decide most of the coalition's candidates, including the Nicosia one.

    DIKO secretary general Andreas Angelides, whose party will get to name the Nicosia candidate, yesterday announced the names of four possible candidates: " Stelios Ieronimides, Pavlos Theodotou, Nicos Mesaritis and George Collocassides."

    Angelides added there was another name on the list, but did not want to disclose it.

    The only thing he revealed was that, " this person stands somewhere between the right and the left and has always had good relations with DIKO" .

    The secrecy shrouding the mystery fifth candidate suggests he or she might spark strong reactions, either positive or negative or both. There was speculation last night Angelides might have been referring to KISOS veteran Takis Hadjidemetriou.

    AKEL and DIKO have applied pressure on KISOS to accept a proposal for its man to run for Nicosia Mayor while letting go of either the Strovolos or Paphos municipalities it currently holds.

    After months of wrangling, KISOS turned down the proposal, but called the other two parties to back Hadjidemetriou irrespective of any horse-trading.

    Angelides said yesterday that DIKO would make a final decision on the Nicosia candidate today or on Thursday.

    Mesaritis confirmed yesterday he had expressed his interest in running for Nicosia mayor. He added he had a support group of between 10 and 20 people.

    Collocassides, a young DIKO politician and failed candidate in the May Parliamentary elections, said yesterday he was not sure he wanted to stand for the Nicosia post.

    " I have not been officially proposed, I was only asked if I was interested, "he clarified.

    Meanwhile, DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades yesterday boasted his party " does not share out posts with others but chooses the most competent candidates instead" .

    Anastassiades compared the opposition coalition to the Cyprus Stock Market.

    " It remains to be seen whether this effort is like the CSE, where many invested to become rich but instead lost everything. It's all down to a stock market which is called 'the people's will',"he argued.

    KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou dismissed Anastassiades' comments.

    He said the three opposition parties had agreed a political co-operation.

    Some, however, are trying to portray this co-operation as something demonic, "he said.

    DISY has already announced the names of 13 candidates to seek election to mayoral posts and today plans to announce eight or nine more. DISY is today expected to decide who will fight Demetris Condides, the coalition's candidate in Limassol and current Mayor of the town.

    But the ruling party was not the only one to criticise the opposition alliance yesterday.

    Greens' Representative George Perdikis accused the three parties of acting like " shopkeepers" .

    " Local authorities must not be entrapped in party politics,"Perdikis said.

    Perdikis said his party would back Christakis Iossifides as candidate for Athienou Mayor and possibly Stelios Markides for Mesa Yitonia.

    Perdikis said the Greens were looking for " independent candidates"to support for several posts, including Nicosia.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday that ministry officials were working at " full speed"on preparations for the elections.

    " At the moment we are working on the procedures for four elections: municipal, communal, school authority and refugee elections,"Christodoulou said. " However, two of them, the school authorities and the refugee elections might be postponed. I'd say the school authorities elections will most probably be put off,"he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] CY defends contract award

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) yesterday defended its decision to award a lucrative computer contract to a company owned by a CY board member.

    Earlier this year, CY subsidiary Zenon National Distribution Centre Ltd, awarded the 300,000 contract for 400 computers to Micrologic, a small well- established computer company in Limassol, which is owned by CY board member Tonis Antoniou.

    According to the law, anyone appointed by the President or the Council of Ministers is a public servant - including CY board members. But Cyprus Airways operates under company law, which only forbids tender applications from employees of the commissioning company. Board members are not classed as employees.

    However, in an announcement yesterday CY said that Zenon worked autonomously and independently of the national carrier and had its own board of directors and management.

    It added that the entire tenders procedure had been carried out legally and out in the open and that the contract was given to the lowest bidder for the overall good of the company.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] Minister pledges no cover-up in land scam probe

    INTERIOR Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday he could not rule out more arrests in the Turkish Cypriot property scam, which has already seen four civil servants remanded in custody.

    Christodoulou told reporters the government was determined to uncover all incidents involving the illegal transfer of land.

    The Minister said there would be no cover-ups and no favours to anyone implicated in the scandal.

    Four employees of the Lands and Surveys Department were remanded in custody for eight days on Saturday on suspicion of being involved in the illegal transfer of Turkish Cypriot land in the remote Tylliria area east of Polis.

    The land was later allegedly sold to an investment company for around 1 million.

    " I think we can crack this case in court,"Christodoulou said yesterday. " It won't be easy because we do not know the full extent, but we have decided to investigate it thoroughly."

    Christodoulou said so far the issue involved around 10-12 cases and said he could not rule out more arrests in the near future.

    There won't be any favours shown to anyone,"he said. " Police have been ordered strictly to enforce the law concerning everyone involved."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] Tainted olive oil withdrawn from sale

    By Rita Kyriakides

    MACHERAS olive oil has been found to be unsuitable for human consumption and has been removed from the shelves of supermarkets.

    Chief Health Ministry Inspector Lakis Anthousis yesterday told the Cyprus Mailthat tests done on the oil showed that it contained certain hydro- carbonates unfit for human consumption.

    Members of the Health Ministry visited stores to remove the tainted oils a month ago and sent samples to England for testing.

    In an announcement on Friday, the Health Authorities said that tests carried out abroad had found that the Macheras olive oil was unsuitable.

    It was discovered the oil had not been properly refined.

    " This product will be retained and refined until the manufacturers can satisfy the Health authorities that it is within permissible standards or else it will be destroyed,"said Anthousis.

    According to the health inspector, the Macheras bottlers, based in Larnaca, had agreed to withdraw the tainted consignment from the market.

    Supermarkets contacted yesterday all said the oil had been removed from their shelves.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] President's brother dies

    XANTHOS Clerides, brother of President Glafcos Clerides died yesterday at the age of 78 from serious lung problems.

    Xanthos Clerides was being treated at a private clinic in Nicosia.

    Clerides was born in 1925 in Nicosia. He joined the Cyprus Regiment in 1942 as a volunteer and served in Greece and the Middle East.

    Clerides later studied law in London. He has also served as secretary of the Cyprus Lawyers' Association and of the Bar Council. Clerides was elected United Party deputy in 1974 and replaced his brother Glafcos as House President when the latter was in Geneva for talks.

    President Clerides cancelled all his meetings yesterday and those for today. Xanthos Clerides' funeral is due to take place today at the Constantinos and Eleni Church in Nicosia at 11 am.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] Two die on roads

    By Rita Kyriakides

    A 19-YEAR-old man was killed in a road accident in the Famagusta district on Sunday.

    Dimitris Lytra was killed when he crashed into the car in front of him while riding a motorcycle he had borrowed from a friend. He then lost control of the motorcycle, crashed into a cement barrier on the side of the road and crashed into an electricity pole. He died instantly.

    He was taken to the Larnaca General Hospital were he was pronounced dead.

    Famagusta Traffic police are investigating the accident.

    On the same day, 78-year-old Costas Mavrokordatos had died after being involved in a road accident in Larnaca.

    Mavrokordatos, from Larnaca, crashed into a car driven by 23-year-old Stelios Antoniou at the Makarios Avenue and Dimitras Road junction at 9.10am.

    Mavrokordatos was seriously injured and taken to Larnaca General Hospital were he died at 4pm while in surgery.

    Larnaca Traffic police are investigating.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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