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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-01-15

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

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


Tuesday, January 15, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] $1.4 million for 10 rounds of talks
  • [02] Meat is safe, officials insist
  • [03] Parliament to consider police union plea
  • [04] Markides: no need for sex offenders' register
  • [05] Shooting lessons for hunters
  • [06] Police measures avert snow traffic chaos
  • [07] De Soto meets Clerides ahead of talks
  • [08] Document on missing to be submitted today
  • [09] Checkpoint row scuppers bi-communal meeting
  • [10] Protecting children from unsuitable films
  • [11] Al Queda threat: no comment
  • [12] Masked men seize bank manager
  • [13] Pensioner dies in cigarette fire
  • [14] Share prices tumble

  • [01] $1.4 million for 10 rounds of talks

    By Jean Christou

    THE U.N. is setting aside $1.4 million to cover the cost of the new Cyprus negotiations, which will take place in Nicosia, Geneva and New York, a report by UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan revealed yesterday. "It is envisaged that there will be more intensive negotiations involving more and longer sessions. About 10 rounds of negotiations (one in New York, one in Geneva and eight in Cyprus) are envisaged," the report said. Annan made it clear that his good offices mission in Cyprus would continue at least for the duration of 2002 and that his special envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto would require the assistance of legal experts on technical aspects of the Cyprus problem. De Soto arrived on the island on Sunday to take part in the new round of Cyprus talks due to begin tomorrow inside the UN-controlled Nicosia Airport. President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash will meet face-to-face in an effort to make progress on the Cyprus problem before Cyprus closes its EU accession negotiations in June. "In order for the Special Adviser to adequately facilitate the intensive phase of the negotiations between the two Cypriot parties, it is anticipated that services of experts on substantive and technical issues will be required," the report said. The $1.4 million budget provides for one legal adviser and three experts for an aggregate period of 25 working months and covers their travel expenses in accompanying De Soto to the various locations of the talks. Some $570,000 will be provided to cover De Soto's travel expenses and those of his staff, the report said. A provision for operational costs includes $5,000 dollars for minor alterations of premises to be used for the negotiations between the parties inside Nicosia Airport, while $10.000 is being set aside to furnish the conference room where negotiations will take place. The budget will pay for 30 conference chairs, eight office chairs and eight desks. "The purpose of the present report is to seek the necessary funding in the biennium 2002-2003 for activities of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-general on Cyprus, on which actions have been taken by the Security Council," Annan said in his report.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Meat is safe, officials insist

    By Alexia Saoulli

    OFFICIALS yesterday sought to reassure consumers after the Veterinary Services announced they had confiscated a total of 19,218 kilograms of meat and fish last year. Official figures show that 5,262kg of beef, 1,937kg of fresh fish and 516kg frozen fish, 5,744kg of pork, 286kg of poultry, 2, 193kg of mutton and goat meat and 3,280kg of lamb were seized during 2001. But Veterinary Officer Petros Papasozomenos said yesterday the number was nothing unusual. "If you consider the amounts of meat consumed in Cyprus in a year, and the thousands of animals slaughtered daily, it is not a vast figure, especially since this number also includes imported meats," he said. He was quick to assure consumers that they had nothing to fear, saying the Veterinary Service was extremely thorough in carrying out its checks. "We are the leading country in all food controls, and only allow high quality meat to be sold on the market," Papasozomenos said. He added a confiscated animal was not even necessarily sickly, but could just be considered too small for consumer consumption. "We want consumers to have top quality meat on their dinner tables," he insisted. Choosing which animals are eliminated from the market is a meticulous process, he explained. "Before each animal is slaughtered, it has to undergo a general inspection by veterinary officials at the slaughterhouse. Some are not deemed fit for consumption and are discarded. Others are found to be satisfactory and the slaughter goes ahead," said Papasozomenos. Once the animals have been slaughtered, their carcass is inspected. "It's at the meat inspection phase that most of the animals are rejected," he said. They are then transported to freezers, where they are either packaged or sent on to various butchers. To reach the freezer stage, meat must have been inspected and stamped with the meat inspection seal, proving it is healthy and safe for consumption. However, there are times when meat is confiscated even after it has been sent to the butcher's, Papasozomenos said. "Reasons for confiscation could be due to an accident during transport, whereby the meat spoils or changes colour; or we might find that meat has been slaughtered illegally and is being sold without a veterinary services inspection stamp, in which case it hasn't had the necessary health checks and must be confiscated." Imported meat is also checked by the Veterinary Services. "Imported meat must be accompanied with certificates verifying its safety and it can only be imported from certain countries that have been deemed safe," Papasozomenos said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Parliament to consider police union plea

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE HOUSE Legal Affairs Committee is to examine police demands to be unionised like other civil servants. Committee chairman Panayiotis Demetriou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the Constitution banned members of the police from striking, but not from joining a trade union. But the law defines the police and National Guard as bodies safeguarding national security and public safety and does not allow them to be unionised. The Police Association recently sent a letter to the Committee asking for the law to be amended, saying the International Convention for Working Freedoms, the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly as well as European Police Council defended their right to union membership. "We have not started discussing the matter yet, but we shall start doing so soon," Demetriou said. "The Constitution bans policemen from striking but does not forbid them from having a union," he said. The Committee chairman admitted several European police forces had union rights, adding even some armies had demanded to be unionised. Deputies from DISY, AKEL and KISOS said their parties had not addressed the matter yet and therefore could not position themselves on the issue. Committee member Maria Kyriacou of DISY conceded that the House could look into the police demand to be unionised, but was adamant that "the right to strike cannot be granted to members of the force, especially if this is out of line with the Constitution".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Markides: no need for sex offenders' register

    By Alexia Saoulli

    CYPRUS has plans to set up a sex offenders' register, Attorney-general Alecos Markides said yesterday. He was speaking in the light of the conviction last week of musician and composer Doros Georgiades on charges of indecent assault against five under-age girls. The Attorney-general said Cyprus did not need such a register as criminal records were kept on all cases. Thus when a particular case is being investigated, the police know whether or not someone has had a similar prior conviction or not. "There is a law that states criminal records must be kept for at least over 10 years in some instances," he said: "In which case, the police can easily access someone's criminal file, and pinpoint who has been convicted, and for what crime." He added that the police knew how many prisoners were repeat offenders or how many times an individual had faced a fine thanks to these meticulously kept records. "Besides, a paedophile register is not a way of finding out who has been convicted of such a crime," he went on, pointing out that such convicted cases were few and far between on the island, which is why they attracted so much publicity. The Georgiades case emerged last August after the grandfather of one of the girls committed suicide after telling a TV reporter what had happened. The crimes were committed between 1988 and 1998 at Georgiades' recording studio in Nicosia. On January 9 this year, Georgiades was sentenced to two and half years in jail.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Shooting lessons for hunters

    HUNTERS will soon have to take shooting lessons and pass special safety exams before they can obtain their licence, Game Service head Pantelis Hadjigerou said yesterday after a meeting of the House Finance Committee examining the budget for his department. Hadjigerou said that according to new government policy aimed at improving safety standards, hunters would have to receive special training to be allowed to shoot animals and birds. Hunters are regularly injured in shooting accidents during the season. Hajdigeros added would-be hunters would have to pass special exams to get a hunting licence. Hadjigerou added that the number of hares on the island had increased in the past year, saying the Game Service would be conducting further studies on the number of hares in different areas. "We run polls like those conducted during election campaigns, to find out how many hares there are and how many are killed by hunters. We have found that between 50, 000 and 100,000 hares are hunted every year," said Hadjigerou, adding the total population was much greater.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Police measures avert snow traffic chaos

    By Alexia Saoulli

    POLICE said yesterday their safety measures had averted further chaos as motorists trooped up to see the snow in Troodos on Sunday. "You cannot imagine what the situation in Troodos would have been like if we hadn't taken the steps we had," Chief of Traffic Police Andreas Papas said yesterday. On a normal day, Troodos can fit 200-300 cars easily, he said. But on Sunday, with copious amounts of snow packed up on both sides of the road, only 80 cars could squeeze in. To make matters worse, the Troodos car park normally holds only 40 cars, and on Sunday it could only hold 25. Apart from the Ayios Nicolaos to Pedhoulas road, which was closed to all vehicles, other mountain roads were open to four-wheel-drive cars. "Only four-wheel drive vehicles, or cars clad with chains, were allowed up to Troodos Square. The rest weren't allowed past Karvounas," Papas said. He added a police announcement had been issued on Saturday warning motorists of this fact, and that police could not be blamed if some people had gone up anyway and been disappointed when they were turned back. Even those who were allowed through did not necessarily make it to the highest peaks. After queuing for hours to get to the Square, late day-trippers found themselves barred from entering the village perimeters. "The village only held so many, so we were forced to turn away a number of cars, " Papas said. Buses had also been banned from entering the Square, since there was no room for them to park. Key points into the area were manned by four or five police officers each, he said, ensuring that things ran smoothly. "We had to be strict with our measures and limit the number of cars passing through; say there had been an accident, for example, and one car collided with another, there would have been no room to turn around. It really was very tight going up there as lanes had been narrowed extensively due to the snow on either side, making manoeuvring all the harder." Thankfully there were no accidents and overall people seemed happy, he said. "I even heard some people who had been turned away were not too disappointed because there was plenty of snow further down the mountains." He said it was too early to say what measures would be taken this coming weekend, but that an announcement would be made no later than Friday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] De Soto meets Clerides ahead of talks

    By Jean Christou

    U.N. ENVOY Alvaro de Soto yesterday met with President Glafcos Clerides to discuss preparations for tomorrow's start of direct talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. De Soto was due to meet Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash later yesterday and did not rule out a further meeting with Clerides today. Speaking after the 50-minute meeting between Clerides and De Soto yesterday, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, who attended the meeting, said the two men had been making preparations for tomorrow's talks. Also present at the meeting were Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and Attorney-general Alecos Markides. Papapetrou said there was nothing unusual in the fact that senior government officials had joined the meeting, even though Clerides usually received De Soto only in the presence of his undersecretary Pantelis Kouros. De Soto, accompanied by his own aide Robert Dann, refrained from making any statement to reporters yesterday. On his arrival on Sunday afternoon, the UN Secretary-general's special adviser on Cyprus merely told reporters there were grounds for hope and optimism and that the international community was encouraged by recent developments in Cyprus. De Soto conducted five rounds of proximity talks between the two sides between December 1999 and November 2000 and is expected to put forward a draft comprehensive agreement during the coming talks. Clerides and Denktash surprised the international community last month by agreeing to resume direct talks. The two leaders also made history by crossing the Green Line to dine at each other's respective homes. Turkish Cypriot papers yesterday quoted Denktash as saying that both he and Clerides were making a tremendous effort and that Clerides appeared to be eager and to have the necessary good will.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Document on missing to be submitted today

    By Jean Christou

    THE GREEK Cypriot side will today submit to the Turkish Cypriots a document detailing a series of practical measures to help resolve the issue of missing persons. The document will be handed to the UN for delivery to the Turkish Cypriot side, which is expected to give its views and also reciprocate with a paper of its own, Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Takis Christopoulos told journalists yesterday. A series of top-level meetings took place yesterday on the missing persons issue, following a breakthrough agreement between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash last week to resolve the issue on humanitarian grounds. Representatives of Relatives of Missing Persons met Clerides early in the day, while a second meeting took place later in the day with Attorney-general Alecos Markides. No statements were made after the meetings, and journalists were barred from both venues. Markides told reporters it would be impossible to negotiate successfully on the issue if public statements were made. However, Turkish papers yesterday quoted Denktash as saying that nothing had yet been accepted on the issue. Asked by journalists about reports that he had accepted DNA testing but not the opening of graves, Denktash said: "No, the issue is still under discussion and we haven't accepted anything yet. If the graves are not opened, on what will they make DNA tests?" Commenting on statements by the leader of Republican Turkish Party, Mehmet Ali Talat, proposing the joint use of the bicommunal Institute of Neurology and Genetics, Denktash said the issue was being discussed but no decisions had been taken. Denktash said he had talked with the family of a missing person and that the family wanted DNA testing and the return of remains. "What I think is to make one grave on which everybody's name will be written. How can you find everyone one by one," he said. "It can be symbolic. But, they say 'no' and want the bones. We will try to achieve it if they want this," he added. The identification of remains from two cemeteries in Nicosia through DNA testing have helped reduce the original list of 1,629 Greek Cypriot missing persons to 1,480. The Turkish Cypriot side lists some 800 people as missing between the outbreak of intercommunal troubles of 1963-64 and the Turkish invasion ten years later.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Checkpoint row scuppers bi-communal meeting

    By Jennie Matthew

    A MEETING between Greek and Turkish Cypriot businessmen was postponed yesterday when the Greek contingent was unable to cross into the north, two days before the two sides start reunification talks. The bi-communal meeting between the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce (KEVE) and the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce had been due to discuss the distribution of 1.5 million euros in European Union aid for small-to-medium-sized businesses. The Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce had planned a full programme for the KEVE visit, less than a month after they attended KEVE's 75 thbirthday party in the presence of President Glafcos Clerides. So far, Turkish Cypriot businesses have been deprived of financial aid from the EU because the regime has refused money channelled through the Cyprus Republic. But a misunderstanding broke out at the checkpoint when the Greek Cypriots were asked to complete and sign forms. The 11 members of the KEVE executive committee had been told that identification cards would be enough to get them across. They objected to the forms on the grounds that they implicitly recognise the legitimacy of the breakaway regime. After some negotiation, checkpoint staff said they would accept completed, but unsigned forms. The Turkish Cypriot businessmen completed the forms on their colleagues' behalf, but the 'police' rejected them, insisting that they be filled out by the applicants themselves. The dispute took one and a half hours. Fed up, the businessmen cancelled the meeting. The Secretary-general of KEVE, Panayiotis Loizides, told the Cyprus Mail that on his three previous visits to the north, identification cards had been deemed sufficient for entry. "In the past, no such procedure was asked for. They had our names in advance. The president of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce had made all the arrangements. We were told there was no problem. But to fill in the same form twice? Something else was behind it," he said. It was to be KEVE's first visit to the occupied areas since 1995. "We are ready to meet them anywhere. In the north or the south, but we need permission from [Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf] Denktash," said Loizides. KEVE hopes that a second meeting will be re-arranged next week before EU officials arrive at the end of the month or the beginning of February to discuss the final details of the grant.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Protecting children from unsuitable films

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE HOUSE Interior Committee met yesterday for the second time in three weeks to discuss amendments to the cinema film classification law, how to ensure its implementation, and how best to protect young people from films that are unsuitable. Representatives from the Attorney-general's office, the police, the press and information office, parents' associations, the Film Classification Board, the Cinema Owners' Association and the Acropole Cinema Club were all present. The current law states that all films must be classified under three categories: universal, children accompanied by a responsible adult, and over 18s. Under the amended legislation, the categories would be split into five categories: universal, 12, 15, 18 and an MK category, which may include sexual or violent scenes. However, the problem does not only lie in the classification of films, which all have to be classified by a committee of five members belonging to the Cyprus Film Classification Board. It also lies in forcing cinema owners to bar under age individuals from viewing such films. Deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides said the police were not able to control who was allowed into the cinema and who was not. However, Olga Demetriades of the Classification Board said she remembered a time when police waited outside the cinemas and checked up on the ages of children entering the cinema. Demetriades said another important factor in protecting young people was to ensure that film classification took account of the "social evils" of the day. She pointed out that drugs and sexual violence did not exist for cinema viewing 20 years ago, so classifications should adapt to take these factors into account. Newspapers and advertisements should conspicuously include the film's classification so that parents knew what their child was going to see, she added. "Only the Cyprus Mail," Demetriades told the committee, "lists the classifications beside the film titles. No other paper or poster advert does this". She added that films that had been rated a 12 certificate should not then have an 18 rated trailer, as often happened. Police representatives charged that some cinema owners had taken advantage of a 'cine club' status, and were showing films that had been banned by the board, such as Crash four years ago, and Romance last year. Under the club status, only members can view such films. But police and the deputy Attorney-general said that when those two films had been showing, anyone could pay a membership fee on the spot and watch the film. Clerides added he would be looking into such clubs, charging he would not have the law "ridiculed" in this way. Police suggested heavier penalties including jail might drive the message home to cinemas breaking the law. Demetriades suggested punishing them financially and cited a case in London's Leicester Square in 1975 when the film Shampoo had been showing. "The cinema owner had sent the film for classification, but had cut several scenes from the film making it suitable for a younger audiences. A member of the board went to see the film once it was showing and saw these uncut scenes and the next day the cinema was closed down for a week," she said. She said this sort of punishment would then deter others from acting in the same way. The committee also heard that although cinema films were classified, videocassettes rented out at video stores were not. Representatives of radio and television stations urged deputies to change the law, since home viewing cannot be controlled and can be viewed by anyone. Demetriades, an observer on the British Film Classification Board, said that video and television classifications were much stricter in the UK and that Cyprus should follow suit.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [11] Al Queda threat: no comment

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday refused to comment about reports that Cyprus could become a target for al Qaeda terrorists operating out of Lebanon. A front- page article carried by Phileleftheros yesterday claimed that Washington had warned Nicosia that al Qaeda might unleash mayhem in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. According to the report, fleeing members of the world's most wanted terrorist network have taken refuge in Lebanon, from where they are likely to attack neighbouring countries. Cyprus, Greece and Turkey were named as possible targets, and in particular British and American interests there. But police, embassies and the government yesterday refused to comment on security matters. "I can neither confirm nor deny this story," said Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou. "I have nothing to say about this. You must understand," said Andreas Stefanos, assistant chief of police operations. "I can't comment on security matters," said British High Commission spokesman Jonathon Allen. The government tightened up security measures immediately after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, for which al Qaeda have been blamed. Justice Minister Nicos Koshis at the time said Cyprus was not a target, but security at airports and embassies was stepped up. The government is in constant contact with foreign law enforcement agencies, such as Interpol and Europol and with allied governments.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [12] Masked men seize bank manager

    TWO hooded men last night abducted a bank manager from his home in Limassol's Mesa Yitonia at gunpoint in an attempt to force him to open the bank vault where he worked. The two men pounced on Philippos Avraamides, the manager of a Bank of Cyprus branch at Kato Polemidhia, at around 6.30pm as he arrived home from work, and forced him to drive with his car back to the bank. But Avraamides was unable to get into the building and the thieves had to abandon their plans. They then dumped Avraamides in an area near Ayia Philia, stealing his keys, his mobile phone and briefcase and beating him slightly before driving off in a second car driven by a third hooded man. Avraamides alerted police and was taken to Limassol hospital for examination. Police said it appeared the robbers were Cypriot.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [13] Pensioner dies in cigarette fire

    AN ELDERLY man was burnt to death in his sleep yesterday, when his smouldering cigarette fell into his bedclothes and caught fire. Christos Pericleous, 73, from Kato Varosi in Larnaca, died in the early hours yesterday just days after the hospital refused to admit him because they did not have enough beds. Pericleous was bed-ridden and suffering from back problems. He lived alone in a refugee house in Florinis on the Ayios Georgios estate in Larnaca. According to state pathologist Eleni Antoniou, who carried out the autopsy, the victim probably drifted off to sleep and his burning cigarette dropped into his sheet and coverlet. His daughter, Vasoulla Demetriou, found her father's remains at 7.30am, when she came to wake him up for a doctor's appointment at 8am. Pericleous leaves behind four grandchildren.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [14] Share prices tumble

    SHARE prices took a 1.05 per cent tumble yesterday, dragging the all-share index back to 132.9 points. Blue chips were the main targets for sellers, forcing the FTSE/CySE down 1.06 per cent to 534.3 points, while volume clocked in at only 2.2 million. Sub sectors ended in the red across the board, with losses ranging from 0.12 per cent for fish farms to a substantial 2.86 per cent in the insurance sector. Tourism companies were also hard-hit, dropping 2.63 per cent while banks lost 0.81 per cent. Both Bank of Cyprus and Laiki made the most-active list, each dropping two cents to end at 1.95 and 1.59 respectively. Analysts said yesterday that the resignation Laiki's Managing Director Marios Lanitis last week had shocked not only bank insiders but also the entire investment community. In an announcement, Lanitis had said he was resigning due to his increasing responsibilities at the Lanitis Group, but speculation has been rife within the business community that he had other reasons. A market analyst on the xak.com website yesterday warned the resignation "should cause major concern in the banking and CSE communities".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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