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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-02-23
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Saturday, February 23, 2002
 New measures to include on-the-spot fines and total advertising ban 'We mean business on smoking'By Alexia Saoulli
PARLIAMENTARY amendments to the government's smoking bill aim to protect the rights of all non-smokers, and children in particular, the Chairman of the House Health Committee DISY deputy Antonis Karas said yesterday.
Karas told the Cyprus Mail the committee had suggested imposing £30 on- the-spot fines for motorists seen smoking with underage passengers, and giving pregnant women and other non-smokers the right to take smokers to court for lighting up in a car, with a maximum fine of £1,000.
Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday he agreed with the suggestion, although he had initially recommended banning all drivers from smoking at the wheel - with a £1,000 fine for offenders.
The Health Committee rejected this proposal outright on Thursday, Karas saying it would cause more problems than it solved.
"If smokers are in their car and choose to have a cigarette, then it's up to them," he said. Karas added that if people were forced to pull over onto the side of the road to have a smoke, then this would be dangerous for other motorists - "a stationary car is more hazardous to the motoring public than a driver who's smoking."
"We are particularly worried about long-haul lorries," he said, "because if they have to pull over every 20 minutes to have a cigarette, think of all the lorries that will pile up on the side of the road."
This is why he said drivers would be allowed to continue to smoke in their cars when they were either alone or with other adult smokers.
"Our aim is to protect children and non-smokers from smokers. So if non- smokers or pregnant women don't want you to smoke in the car and you do, then he or she has the right to take you to court and you can be fined up to £1,000.
"But because our primary goal is to protect children from smokers, we have submitted a proposal that police give out on-the-spot £30 fines, irrespective of whether or not the driver is the parent. This is to ensure our measures are effective and decisive and so that the public learns we mean business when it comes to children's health. Our philosophy is you do not have the right to endanger young lives."
However, in the case of expectant mothers, he admitted it would be trickier to impose on-the-spot fines.
"The police cannot be expected to tell whether or not a woman is pregnant, nor can they determine whether or not she really is pregnant just because she says so," he said. "Therefore, it is up to the woman to file a complaint against the driver and to take him or her to court. It is then up to the judge to impose an appropriate fine of no more than £1,000". He added that the same procedure applied to non-smokers.
The fines are not only applicable to drivers, but to anyone in the car.
Health Minister Savvides also said smoking would be banned in all public buildings, including banks.
"Any area that involves public contact will be classed as non-smoking," he said.
Karas confirmed this, adding that even restaurants, cafés and bars would now have to have separate smoking areas with adequate ventilation.
However, he agreed that if a nightclub wanted to be classed as a smoking establishment it could be, though he added the issue still had to be examined in detail.
Karas also stressed the importance of the committee's decision to ban all forms of direct or indirect tobacco advertising.
"No ads of any sort will be allowed. At the moment, we have adverts with pictures of strong men riding galloping horses with the cigarette brand name underneath, or we've had pictures of powerful cars with the name brand on the side. This is indirect advertising and will now be banned. They will no longer appear on billboards, in magazines, or even on the side of rally cars."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Asylum seekers told they had landed in ItalyBy Elias Hazou
POLICE rounded up 21 asylum seekers early yesterday morning, apparently just hours after they set foot on Cypriot territory.
The immigrants - 19 Iraqis and two Syrians - were picked up by police at different spots in the Paralimni area after swimming ashore from a boat that dumped them 100 metres off the coast. They were taken to the local police precinct and provided with food and a change of clothes. The immigrants, aged between 21 and 37, told police they had been made to swim ashore, explaining why their clothes were wet; but police believe the boat set ashore in Turkish-controlled territory and authorities there directed the immigrants to Paralimni.
Some of the Iraqi immigrants claimed political asylum, telling police their lives would be in danger if repatriated. "If you send us back, Saddam will cut our heads off. We want to go to America," one of them shouted as they were taken to court.
Acting on a tip-off from a Paralimni taxi driver, police were alerted to one group of the immigrants, who had asked to be taken to Limassol. The taxi driver suspected something amiss when the drenched and exhausted immigrants showed up, and alerted police. Meanwhile increased patrols in Paralimni rounded up another group, while the third wandering group practically walked into the hands of the police, who picked them up just outside the Famagusta police headquarters building.
In testimony in court yesterday, the immigrants said they had paid $3,000 each to be taken from Tripoli in Lebanon to Italy, but apparently the boat's captain took a detour to Cyprus, telling them they'd arrived in Italy. They told the court they had been unaware of their whereabouts as they had arrived at night.
The Famagusta District Court ruled the 21 immigrants be remanded in custody for seven days on suspicion of illegal entry into Cyprus. Police meanwhile are investigating the circumstances around the latest batch of immigrants, who carried no passports or other documents.
Famagusta police chief Christakis Katsikides has ordered more frequent patrols of the coastal town as authorities suspect a new batch may be attempting to land on the island sometime soon.
Earlier this week, the tenders' board approved a £7.6 million bid from an Israeli company to provide Cyprus with a coastal radar system that authorities hope will help them in their efforts to keep boats carrying illegal immigrants away from Cyprus' shores.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Tempo rises ahead of controversial enthronementBy Elias Hazou
TAUNTS, bravado and defiance were displayed yesterday among prominent ecclesiastical figures, as the Archbishop strived to maintain some semblance of unity in the tarnished Church of Cyprus.
The latest spat among the factions revolved around the ordination of Kykkos Abbot Nikiforos as bishop, prompting his detractors to level allegations of bribery.
Nikiforos' investiture, attended by all nine bishops earlier this week, followed his promotion to bishop after the Holy Synod voted 6:3 in favor. Three bishops - of Kyrenia, Limassol and Morphou - were opposed. Bishop Pavlos of Kyrenia, seen as one of the key players in the manoeuvring for the Archbishop's succession, claimed canon lawyers had been bribed to facilitate Nikiforos' promotion.
The formal enthronement ceremony will be held on Sunday at Kykkos monastery. This time round, though, the event will be marked by some notable absences: Kyrenia's Pavlos and Morphou's Neophytos.
In defiant mood, the Morphou bishopric yesterday issued an announcement expressly indicating that Neophytos would be presiding over his own liturgy held in a small parish church.
Other church leaders tried to play down the media-hyped tensions in the Church, saying that it was not imperative for all bishops to attend an ordination ceremony.
"There is nothing wrong with some (bishops) not being there," Paphos Bishop Chrysostomos said yesterday. "Besides, people from abroad will be attending, so you can imagine that the church will be packed."
But Chrysostomos was also asked to deny or confirm rumours that he would not be attending because his nemesis, Bishop Athanassios of Limassol, would be there. "Nothing could be further from the truth. we will both attend the ceremony," Chrysostomos said.
He also denied reports that Nikiforos' status as a full member of the Holy Synod would come under question, adding that if the matter did come up it would be put to the vote.
Some bishops have claimed Nikiforos should not be admitted to the Synod because he falls short of four requirements in the Church constitution.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Chrysostomos was yesterday also taken to task by reporters asking whether he was promoting Nikiforos' rise through the ranks. "We neither support nor hinder anyone," the elderly Chrysostomos said, adding in a lighter tone that, "we still have a long way to go."
The Archbishop is said to be suffering from memory lapses because of his age; Paphos Bishop Chrysostomos this week suggested the Archbishop was "forgetful" and required an aide by his side at all times to assist him in his duties. Asked to comment, the Archbishop remarked, "yes, some things I choose to forget, others I do not."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 CSE calls tenders for new homeBy Jean Christou
THE CYPRUS Stock Exchange (CSE) said yesterday it had already launched an invitation to tenders for the construction of new premises on the site of the old GSP stadium in Nicosia.
Commenting on recent press reports detailing concerns over the financing and other issues surrounding the new building, a CSE announcement said the board had to implement a Cabinet decision concerning the construction over the next five years.
The CSE is currently housed under a temporary licence at the former International Merchandising Centre (IMC), a huge complex on the outskirts of the capital, planned as a stopgap measure until new premises could be constructed.
"The CSE Council has made every effort to adhere to the time schedule and following intense preparations it has launched an invitation for tenders for the architectural plan of the building," the announcement said.
"The financing of the project is of course of concern to the CSE Council, which is currently examining several possibilities, based on current data and conditions, in order to make the most expedient decision. When the CSE Council has established its own positions, it will discuss them with the competent ministry."
Earlier this week, a leading Nicosia broker warned the CSE against going overboard in its plans to build new premises. He suggested the new building be constructed without a trading floor, which would enable brokers to work from remote locations, allow staff reductions and save one-fifth of the estimated cost of construction.
According to reports, the cost of a new building has been estimated at £10 million, plus another £6-£7 million for IT equipment and other fittings.
Concern has also been raised that the cost of the building would effectively use a substantial portion of the CSE's reserves in a declining market situation while other concerns centred on possible traffic problems in the GSP area, which is also the site for a new government buildings complex, and the future House of Representatives.
Some people have suggested the construction be delayed until the market's future was clearer.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Cyprus market among worst performers of the regionBy Jean Christou
THE CYPRUS Stock Exchange (CSE) is the third worst performing market in the region so far this year, figures released yesterday revealed.
According to the statistics published in Phileleftheros the Cyprus bourse has dropped 10.1 per cent since the beginning of the year. It ranks ahead only of Turkey and Israel, which have lost 19.8 and 10.4 per cent respectively.
Topping the list of successful emerging markets in 2001 was Croatia, which has added 15.9 per cent this year, followed by Slovakia up 6.2 per cent, Russia up 6.0 per cent, Latvia 5.5 per cent, Kuwait 3.2 per cent and Slovenia 3.0 percent. Jordan and Egypt were also ahead of Cyprus with gains of 2.5 and 0.7 per cent respectively.
Analysts say some of the emerging markets, especially those from Eastern Europe, have performed better than many in developed nations. They put this down to these countries capitalising on their EU accession course.
"In Cyprus, investors have lost interest in the market since its decline," said one analyst yesterday. "Everyone wants a slice when things are going well but no one wants to support the market in the long term. As long as there was a quick buck to be made, Cypriots could not be stopped from investing, but no one wants to invest for the long haul."
He said investors seemed to ignore whatever was happening in the economy and the fact that the island was close to EU accession in favour of speculating when they had some spare cash. "Other candidate countries use their accession progress to boost interest in their markets," the analyst said.
The Cyprus bourse began heading into an irreversible decline two years ago after the all-share index hit 800 points. Today, it hovers just above 100 and some stocks have lost up to 97 per cent of their value.
Since the beginning of the year, the index has been taking one step forward and two steps back. "The much-hoped for 'correction' that everyone was talking about for the past two years hasn't materialised yet," the analyst said. "The Cyprus market is like a sitting duck."
Commenting on yesterday's reports the market analyst on the xak.com website said: "While the majority of emerging markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa are holding on or even posting gains since the beginning of the year, the CSE continues to serve as an endless source of pain and misery."
Stocks fell another 1.78 per cent yesterday after a week where minor gains failed to outpace losses. The all share index ended at 114 points while the blue chips FTSE/CySE index closed at 469 points, a drop of 1.74 per cent. Volume remained around the two million pound mark at £1.9 million after falling under a million earlier in the week.
Trading opened at Thursday's closing levels, but the index sank rapidly after heading into a steep decline without rebounding, leading 71 stocks downwards compared to only 17 gainers. Around 50 titles closed unchanged.
Selling pressure took its toll on all sub sectors except construction, which managed a 0.4 per cent gain. Losses in other sectors ranged from 0.98 per cent in the hotels sector to 2.45 per cent in the technology sector.
The banking sector lost 1.78 per cent as heavyweights Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank topped the most-active list. BoC dropped two cents to close at £1.77 and Laiki shed four cents to £1.32.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 De Soto briefs Annan on talks so farBy Jean Christou
UN SPECIAL envoy Alvaro De Soto yesterday briefed Secretary-general Kofi Annan on the outcome of the first round of face-to-face talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
The first round of direct talks began on January 16 and ended on Tuesday. The talks resume next Friday.
The United Nations refrained from making any comment on Annan's meeting with
De Soto, which took place in New York. The special envoy was also due to meet Russia's special representative on Cyprus Vladimir Prygin and is expected he meet US State Department special co-ordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston.
On Monday, De Soto will brief the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and on Tuesday he will talk to the 15 Council members. UN sources told the Cyprus News Agency that, depending on the briefing, Security Council members would decide whether to issue a statement on Cyprus.
Turkish Cypriot papers yesterday reported that Denktash had briefed the political parties in the north on the first round. In a statement before the meeting, Denktash said the parties would convey their views to him before March 1. He declined to make any statements to the press on the talks, but was quoted in another newspaper commenting on the issue of territory.
Denktash said the Greek Cypriot side had put forward a proposal for 24 per cent of territory to be allocated to the Turkish Cypriot side. Turkish troops now hold 37 per cent of the island.
"We believe that any talk on territories is futile and unnecessary as long as our sovereignty is not accepted," Denktash said. "If they want territory from us this must mean that they accept that we are holding this territory and that it belongs to us."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Students fight at education fairA BRAWL broke out among Lyceum students at the State Education Fair in Nicosia yesterday morning, said police.
What started out as a dispute over football teams reportedly turned into a punch up between Paralimni and Limassol teenagers, leaving one student injured and several security guards slightly hurt.
Police were called to scene to restore order and the Education Ministry was informed of the incident.
Witnesses described the ninth education fair as a battlefield with tables and chairs upturned, and a number of material possessions left broken.
But the Ministry's Head of Secondary Education, Andreas Skotinos, said this was an exceptional incident that should not be blown out of proportion.
"This is an isolated incident that took place between students from two different schools. The squabble took place outside the actual exhibition area and was brought completely under control. We are still investigating the details of the fight, but its proportions should not be exaggerated," he stressed.
However, this was a fight that left one student with a head injury that required three stitches at Nicosia General Hospital, police said. He was later discharged.
Although the Ministry considered the fight a serious matter, and was considering various measures to avoid such future occurrences - such as limiting the number of schools per exhibition visit, Skotinos he maintained this was indeed a one-off incident.
Police Spokesman Stelios Neophytou also said it was "an isolated matter that is over and done with.
"It started over a silly argument, but was soon brought under control."
The cost of damages is yet unknown and police are still investigating.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002