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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-01-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, January 17, 2002


  • [01] De Soto steals the media show
  • [02] Family plead with victim's wife to clear mystery of 1985 murder
  • [03] Student anger at university expulsion policy
  • [04] Bank staff demand more security as robberies on the rise
  • [05] More divorces, less births, longer lives: a snapshot of Cyprus in 2000
  • [06] Government frees the price of bread
  • [07] Breakaway industrialists' union dissolves itself

  • [01] De Soto steals the media show

    By Jean Christou

    SAUNTERING casually along the road leading to the old passenger terminal at Nicosia Airport, Alvaro de Soto looked for all the world as if he were out for a stroll on a sunny morning instead of being about to host historic talks on the Cyprus problem. While journalists drove in convoy into the United Nations Protected Area (UNPA), the UN special envoy decided to make his way towards the talks venue on foot. As the media pack - over 100 strong - gathered in a cordoned-off area, the De Soto greeted patrolling UNFICYP soldiers and disappeared into the airport through a side entrance, avoiding the gauntlet of questions that usually accompanies his every move. Whereas the first meeting between Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash had taken place at the UN chief of mission's residence on December 4 under sheets of torrential rain, blue skies were on the menu for yesterday's event. With the talks expected to be lengthy, the UN had specially renovated the narrow red-roofed building, which dates from 1948 and directly faces the more modern terminal building of what was once the island's international airport The UN has set aside $1.4 million for the duration of the talks, including $5,000 dollars for minor alterations to the airport building. The finishing touches were only completed late on Tuesday night. Some $10,000 has also been set aside to furnish the building's conference room where the negotiations will take place three times a week. The furniture includes 30 conference chairs, eight office chairs and eight desks. Within walking distance of the old terminal building, an abandoned aircraft hangar, overgrown with weeds and sporting a rusted Cyprus Airways sign, provided a poignant reminder of why the two leaders were talking yesterday. President Clerides arrived first, five minutes early for the 10am meeting. The full insignia of the Republic was on display, and the President was accompanied by Attorney-general Alecos Markides, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Presidential Undersecretary and close confidant Pantelis Kouros. No statements were made. Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash arrived at 10.05am, his vehicle bearing the insignia of his breakaway regime and flying the flag. Denktash, with his special adviser Ergun Olgun by his side, smiled and waved at reporters briefly telling them he was there to talk face-to-face with Clerides. Five minutes later, the two leaders emerged for a photo opportunity, but De Soto was nowhere in sight. Disappointed, the photographers clamoured for his presence, and, like an actor returning for a final bow, the UN envoy duly obliged. We may have been there for a historic day in the Cyprus problem, but, once again, it was the dapper Peruvian diplomat who stole the show.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Family plead with victim's wife to clear mystery of 1985 murder

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE FAMILY of a London Cypriot murdered 17 years ago is begging for the victim's wife to answer outstanding queries about gaps in her evidence in a desperate attempt finally to solve the crime. Wealthy businessman Aristos Constantinou was shot dead in the London home he shared with his wife Eleni and three children on New Year's Day 1985. His family have put up a 250, 000 reward for evidence that may lead to an arrest and prosecution of the murderer. The ongoing British police investigation hinges around the key- witness - the victim's wife, who at the time, claimed an intruder murdered her husband and locked her in the bathroom. Just months after Aristos's death, she sold the house and flew to the United States with her three children to remarry, cutting off all contact with the Constantinou family. But nine months after the murder, Eleni suddenly changed details in her statement to police, leaving gaping holes that British police and family members want to see filled in. The victim's mother Eleftheria and his brother, Achilleas, appeared on a local television chat show on Tuesday night to highlight the plight of the unsolved murder. They urged Eleni, who now lives in Cyprus with her third husband, to return to Britain to clear up three major issues. The shells collected from the scene of the crime indicate that Aristos was killed with a .25mm calibre weapon. Although Eleni swore to police that there was no such weapon in the house, witnesses claim her husband gave her a similar pistol as a present. Police say there is a possibility that the gift and the murder weapon could have been one and the same. There is also confusion over her story about smashing the bathroom window to escape. Investigators say anyone crawling in and out three times, like she said, would have dislodged the vase from the windowsill, when in fact, its position remained intact. Compounding the confusion, Eleni said nine months after the murder that she recognised the voice of Michalis Tooulis in the house at the time of the killing. But despite his arrest and interrogation, police found nothing to link him to the crime. British police also think that new DNA techniques that have become standard practice since 1985 might help solve the crime. If she refuses to go to London, then British police could enlist help from their Cypriot counterparts in the framework of a bi-lateral agreement. Despite extensive British press interest in the case, police have been no leads.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Student anger at university expulsion policy

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE STUDENTS' Union plans to picket a Cyprus University expulsion meeting this Friday in an attempt to bar Senate members from attending. Every semester, the Senate convenes to discuss which students should be expelled on the grounds of exam failure or lack of attendance on the course. The Senate is made up of 24 members: the Dean, department heads, the school librarian and three student representatives. The members then assess the expulsion candidates, and come to an agreement on who should and should not be expelled, University Dean, Nicholas Papamichael, said yesterday. However, the Protoporia (vanguard) Students Union is totally opposed to expelling fellow students for failing, without first giving them a chance to re-sit their examinations the following semester, and intends to express this view by way of a peaceful demonstration on January 18. The student body will place banners across the doors of the Hall where the Senate intends to meet and gather outside, seeking to prevent access to the room, so that their demands are heard. Although the Union had not wanted to go this far, its President Nektaria Kakoutsi said yesterday that over the last six years it had repeatedly approached the Dean and the Senate with its proposals, but were completely ignored, and even ridiculed. This demonstration was a way of getting their point across, she told the Cyprus Mail, since no one in authority was taking them seriously any more, adding that she did not believe the Union's demands were unreasonable. "The Union is not against expelling students who do not attend class or show up for examinations," she said. "Obviously, those individuals are not interested in continuing with their studies and so are happy to go. We are referring to those weaker students that are expelled for failing their exams." According to Kakoutsi, students are expelled if they do not achieve an overall 50 per cent grade in their exams or if they fail a core module twice. She wants students that have not managed to achieve a 50 per cent pass mark to be given the opportunity to repeat their exams. "Weaker students, that nevertheless want an education, are being forced out of University and we are completely opposed to this. We believe that they should have a second chance at passing their exams and a maximum of six years to complete their degree." Kakoutsi stressed that this did not mean they wanted four-year degree courses to be lengthened into six-year courses. "We just want weaker students to be given a maximum of two more years to complete their degree if they need it. If after six years they have not achieved the necessary credits to award them a degree due to exam failure, then by all means they should be expelled," she said. However, University Dean Papamichael is completely opposed to Friday's demonstration, which he described as "forceful, and entirely opposed to the University's democratic nature". He said yesterday he hoped it would not go ahead. "Only 0.3 per cent of the student population is expelled each semester," he said, saying it was hardly a figure to be alarmed about. Of those expelled, half were usually students that had not attended lectures or examinations. "The remaining students are expelled when the Senate has decided that they are academically unable to continue with the course," he said. This was done with the student's best interest at heart, Papamichael said, since it would be a waste of their time to continue struggling with a course they was finding so difficult. Although this method might maintain University standards, academic performance was not, he stressed, the motive behind the Senate's move. "We feel these students would be better off choosing a course that is suited to their capabilities," he said. If this included changing course within the University, and they met the Department's requirements, then that could be an option. "We give students second, third and even fourth attempts at passing their exams," he said, denying the union's claims to the cont

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Bank staff demand more security as robberies on the rise

    By Rita Kyriakides

    BANK employees are voicing increasing fears for their safety, as bank robberies seem to be on the rise. Police statistics show that 11 bank robberies took place during last year, with seven of them in the last six months, three during December alone. Last week, masked men seized a bank manager on his way home from work in Limassol in a failed attempt to get him to open up the safe. No arrests have yet been made. Only five of last year's 11 robberies have been solved, with six men being sentenced for six to ten years in prison. The General Secretary of the Bank Worker's Union (ETYK), Loizos Hadjicostis, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that bank workers were asking for several safety measures to be introduced into the workplace. "I believe that if the measures we are asking for are put in place then there will be less possibilities of a robbery," he said. Some of the safety measures include the installation of special doors that could be controlled by a guard who would be able to refuse admission if he saw anything suspicious. The doors would also have built-in metal detectors to detect possible weapons. Hadjicostis also said that surveillance systems in banks would need to be improved and increased. Bulletproof partitions should be installed with wider counters so that customers could not have physical contact with the bank tellers. "If someone sees thousands of pounds in front of him or her they might be tempted. The tellers should not have so much money in their cash drawers," he said. Hadjicostis referred to last year's biggest robbery in Protaras at a branch of Arab Bank, when the thief stole 160,000 from one employee. Another safety measure would be the installation of time delays on the safes. "For example, if a robber walks into the bank, he would not wait for 15 minutes for the safe to open," he said. Limassol had the highest rate of bank robberies last year with six out of the 11 robberies that occurred. Co-operative banks proved to be the easiest targets, with five branches being robbed. Only 2,147 out of 17, 101 stolen from the co-operatives has been recovered. Three branches of the Laiki Bank were robbed, resulting in a loss of 112,000 and the two branches of the Bank of Cyprus robbed lost around 50,000.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] More divorces, less births, longer lives: a snapshot of Cyprus in 2000

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE TOTAL Cyprus population stood at 759,100 in the year 2000, a 0.6 per cent increase on 1999, as recorded by the island's demographic report for 2000. The report has been published annually for 39 years, and aims to provide comprehensive information on demographic developments in the population of Cyprus, said government Statistical Service director Pambis Phillippides. "The report provides population and other demographic estimates for the whole country including Turkish Cypriots," he said. "Figures for the Government Controlled Area are presented separately including population, households, births, deaths, marriages, divorces and migration." The population of the Government Controlled Areas (GCA) was estimated at 671,300 by the end of 2000, up 4,500 from the year before. However, these statistics do not mirror birth rates, as there were fewer births during the same period, indicating a gradual increase in the proportion of old-aged persons instead. Women are still outliving men by a good five years, according to the report. Expectation of life at birth is estimated at 75.3 years for males and 80.4 years for females, with number of infant deaths on a steady decline. The main cause of death as reported in 2000 were diseases of the circulatory system, neoplasms, diseases of the respiratory system, accidents, injuries and poisoning. There is something to be said of the 'seven year itch', according to the report, since the average duration of failed marriages standing at seven years in 2000, with one in five marriages ending up in divorce. This did not deter couples from going to the altar, however, as the number of marriages increased to 9,282 from 9,080 the year before. And the number could very well have been larger, taking into account superstition against marriages celebrated during leap years. Gone are the days when the norm was for 22-year-olds to walk down the aisle. Since 1997, the age for first marriages has steadily risen for both men and women. The average age for grooms is 28.9 and for brides is 25.9, although there is still a tendency for couples in villages to tie the knot earlier than their urban counterparts. However, rural weddings are less likely to end in divorce, accounting for only 19.8 per cent of total divorces, compared to 76 per cent in towns. By the time they are 29, most women in the government-controlled areas have given birth to at least one child. Women in rural areas begin childbearing much earlier, when they are just under 25. In general, the demographic characteristics of the population of Cyprus are much closer to those observed in European countries than to those of developing countries in the Middle East. But the proportion of the old-aged is still lower than more developed countries, because Cypriot birth rates started dropping a lot later than elsewhere in the West.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Government frees the price of bread

    THE PRICE of common bread will be liberalised on Friday, the Commerce and Industry Ministry announced yesterday. Last month, the government's Prices Committee, which is made up of advisory representatives from various unions, the Finance and Commerce Ministries, the Planning Bureau and the Consumers Association and is responsible for examining and discussing price suggestions, met to discuss the remaining three price-controlled products on the island: common bread, milk and cement. The results were then presented to Minister Nicos Rolandis in detail, so that a decision could be reached. Bread is the first product to be liberalised. Milk and cement will follow suit in the next few months, the Ministry said. This liberalisation is in accordance with European Union requirements that all prices must be liberalised in member states.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Breakaway industrialists' union dissolves itself

    THE UNION of Industrialists (EVIK) yesterday announced that it was dissolving itself and donating the remainder of its funds to the defence fund. An announcement from EVIK said the union had decided to shut down at an extraordinary general meeting held yesterday. EVIK was set up five years ago as an alternative to the island's two main industry organisations, the Chambers of Commerce (KEVE) and the Employers and Industrialists' Federation (OEV). EVIK president Panos Ioannides said in the union's announcement that the two rival organisations had sold out, accusing KEVE and OEV of influencing officials to belittle the smaller organisation and of violating their own charters. Ioannides said that EVIK had been stopped from improving the state of Cyprus industry at every turn and accused the Commerce and Industry Ministry, Parliament and the Central Bank of playing a part in the union's demise. He said the bleak future of the Cyprus economy was now in the hands of those who had caused its demise in the first place. "The Commerce and Industry Ministry did not co-operate (with EVIK) on strict instructions from the President of the Republic," Ioannides claimed. "The House didn't bother to take into consideration the severity of the matter and the Central Bank acted directly in opposition to how it said it would act and the industry people dealt only with little things and unimportant matters, treating the union as if it was competition for them."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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