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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-02-28

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

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


Thursday, February 28, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Markides: Central Bank must release information on currency exports
  • [02] Bill to allow T.Cypriots to marry in Cyprus tabled
  • [03] Paphos fishermen drag out man's body
  • [04] Prison governor: everything is under consideration
  • [05] Cyprus welcomes UN stance
  • [06] Maurer: Cyprus should close remaining EU chapters in June
  • [07] Denktash faces heart surgery
  • [08] Immigrants group highlights rights' violation
  • [09] Greek singer cancels concert: club wants its money back
  • [10] 'Our children are starving'
  • [11] Roundabout decoration 'is a safety hazard'

  • [01] Markides: Central Bank must release information on currency exports

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday gave the Central Bank the green light to release classified information concerning the accounts of people and companies which allegedly exported huge profits made during the 1999 stock exchange (CSE) boom.

    The decision is expected to provide the House Watchdog Committee - currently investigating the CSE debacle in which thousands of investors lost millions - with vital information concerning the whereabouts of the money that has allegedly wound up in foreign accounts.

    The committee had requested the information from the Central Bank earlier this year, but its Governor Afxentis Afxentiou refused to release anything, citing bank confidentiality.

    The matter was referred to the Attorney-general, who yesterday delivered his ruling to the committee.

    In a hefty report, Markides said the information concerning citizens and companies should be released to the committee.

    Markides, however, told the committee that in cases concerning individuals there could be problems because of a recently passed data protection law.

    Any publication or leak of data submitted by the Central Bank constitutes a criminal offence, not only for the medium that transmits it, but for the deputy who passed on the information, Markides said.

    The ruling said such problem did not exist in the case of companies.

    The Attorney-general struck a note of caution about the report that the committee will draft to present its findings at the end of the investigation.

    As the report was a public document, Markides said, it should be handled with caution as it could contain the names and information handed over by the Central Bank.

    Markides said he would advise the committee when the report was ready to be drafted.

    Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou did not comment on the ruling, saying he had just received it.

    He said he would confer with the committee to see how they would proceed.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Bill to allow T.Cypriots to marry in Cyprus tabled

    THE CABINET yesterday approved a bill to allow Turkish Cypriots to marry in Cyprus, which will be tabled before parliament today.

    Turkish Cypriots were ignored in a 1990 amendment allowing civil weddings for Greek Cypriots, forcing any Turkish Cypriot wishing to marry in south Cyprus, to convert to Christianity and do so in Church.

    The issue shot to public attention last month when the government was forced to pay 8,000 in an out-of-court settlement to a Turkish Cypriot who had to go abroad to marry his Romanian bride in 1999 and then took the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

    The government has since promised to pay the cost of a foreign wedding for Turkish Cypriots living in the free areas who wish to marry, until the pill is passed.

    Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the Ministers had authorised Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou to table the bill before the House today.

    Christodoulou yesterday met Vice-president of the United Democrat Party George Christofides to discuss the case of a Turkish and Greek Cypriot prevented from marrying for the last 10 years.

    The Turkish Cypriot man and his Greek Cypriot partner have a 10-year-old child, but the law and lack of funds to travel abroad has prevented them from tying the knot.

    Christodoulou has promised to cover the expenses of a wedding in Britain.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Paphos fishermen drag out man's body

    FISHERMEN dragged the body of an unidentified man out of the sea close to Paphos Airport yesterday evening as dusk set in around 5.30pm.

    Sailors brought the gruesome find ashore at Kato Paphos port and handed it over to police.

    State pathologist Eleni Antoniou who examined the body said the man must have been in the water for several months, adding that there were no signs of a suspicious death.

    Police described the man, aged between 50 and 60, as well built, between 1.70 and 1.75 metres tall, wearing a white vest, a long-sleeved jumper with black and grey cheques, white underwear and brown trousers, possibly pyjamas.

    The body has been taken to the morgue at Paphos General Hospital.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Prison governor: everything is under consideration

    By Jean Christou

    PRISON Governor Haris Themistocleous has not ruled out resigning his position after the Justice Ministry placed a gag order on him last week, he said yesterday.

    "Everything is under consideration," Themistocleous told the Cyprus Mail yesterday, adding that he would make a decision soon after reviewing his options.

    The gag was unearthed by the Cyprus Mail last week during a routine enquiry. The normally outspoken Themistocleous, brother of Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous, received a letter last week from the Ministry forbidding him to speak to the press unless he had their permission.

    On Tuesday, the Justice Ministry denied that it had gagged the Prison governor and said it had merely pointed out to Themistocleous the procedures that should be followed when speaking to the media, which means he should first clear his answers with his superiors.

    However, the Justice Ministry statement omitted paragraph three of the letter to Themistocleous, which told the prison governor that he was not allowed even to express his "thoughts or views" on issues pertaining to the prison.

    Since he took over as prison director in January 2000, Themistocleous, a criminologist who spent 27 years in Canada prior to returning to Cyprus, has not shied away from the press, talking openly about prison problems.

    He said from the beginning that the present prison system lacked a lot of things such as aftercare for released inmates and parole officers to help them reintegrate into society. Since then, he has commented publicly on such topics as life imprisonment, the treatment of psychiatric patients in prison, sex behind bars and other issues that he specialises in.

    Themistocleous has not discussed the gag order with Justice Minister Nicos Koshis.

    "They make the rules," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Cyprus welcomes UN stance

    By Jean Christou

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday welcomed a UN Security Council statement on the face-to-face talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    "The statement of the Council reflects the seriousness it attaches to the peace process and its desire to remain informed about these talks," Cassoulides said prior to his departure the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Australia.

    Cassoulides said UN the Secretary-general's Special Adviser for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, would be briefing the Security Council once a month. Depending on developments in the talks, the UN will decide whether to issue a statement or not.

    In its latest statement, the Security Council welcomed the start of the direct talks and the engagement in substantive discussions to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

    The 'Big Five' also urged both leaders to approach the resumption of the talks on March 1 in a spirit of compromise and with a sense of urgency and political determination, so as to narrow the differences between them.

    "The members of the Council share the view expressed by each of the two leaders that it should be the objective to reach agreement by June 2002 and that this objective is a feasible one," the statement said.

    "I consider this to be particularly important in relation to the intention of the Council and of the international community to monitor the peace effort," Cassoulides said.

    The Minister also welcomed remarks by current European Union Council president, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, that Brussels would decide on Cyprus' accession irrespective of any progress in the ongoing UN- led effort to find a negotiated settlement.

    Commenting on Aznar's flying visit on Tuesday, Cassoulides said the Spanish Prime Minister's comments had sealed EU decisions that the solution of the Cyprus question was not a precondition to the Republic's accession.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Maurer: Cyprus should close remaining EU chapters in June

    By Jennie Matthew

    NEGOTIATIONS for Cyprus to join the European Union will finish in June, Brussels and Nicosia announced yesterday.

    Chief Negotiator for Cyprus George Vassiliou and European Union Negotiator for Cyprus Leopold Maurer said yesterday that the five remaining chapters, out of 29, should be shut with the end of the Spanish Presidency in June - just over four years since they began in March 1998.

    "We're at a very good stage having implemented many laws and we're very optimistic that everything can be finalised up to June," said Maurer, speaking to the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce (KEVE) yesterday.

    "We're clearly at the end of the road and in practice there are really only three chapters left. The budget is not for negotiation and the tax reform bill should take care of taxation," said Vassiliou, making a late entrance after the National Council meeting.

    "Our various departments and ministries are working effectively. It's a huge task but we're confident. I think we all know how to swim, what we must do is swim well and efficiently," he added.

    Yesterday's meeting with KEVE took place at the end of Maurer's most recent visit to the island, accompanied by his largest ever team of 25 experts, to oversee the work still to be done and the implementation of legislation already approved.

    The remaining chapters still to be closed are taxation, competition, regional policy and agriculture.

    Maurer said there are "many technical problems" over agriculture, described the budget as possibly the most disputed, but said Brussels is optimistic that the government's unveiled tax reform package will solve the tax issue.

    But he said the European Commission would never accept Cyprus's request for a transition period until 2011 to fully harmonise the country's lucrative international businesses.

    If everything goes according to plan the accession treaty will be drawn up during the Danish Presidency before December 2002.

    The only issue remaining on the table after June will be the budget and Maurer said any outstanding problems would be solved by "autumn at the latest" when Brussels submits their final assessment of the island's readiness to join.

    The European Council will draw up the accession treaty in Copenhagen, before another final assessment and a vote in the European Parliament.

    All member states must decide to admit Cyprus.

    Bureaucrats hope the treaty will be signed in March 2003 then ratified by each member state before the treaty can come into force at the end of the year.

    Cyprus should then be eligible to elect her first European MPs in June 2004.

    Eight top European Union officials including Maurer answered questions from Cypriot businessmen, organised by KEVE.

    The majority of questions expressed concerns about adopting new legislation, suffering from heightened competition and the abolition of state subsidies.

    Experts advised businesses to start restructuring their companies as soon as possible.

    "To be fair and frank the Competition Commission works properly and fairly. We don't have to worry about being a small country, if anything the bias is in favour of the small and the weak," said Vassiliou in an effort to reassure.

    "We're convinced the majority of companies will benefit," said Maurer when asked which sectors will fare less well.

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis also spoke of the flexibility and dynamism with which Cyprus will enter the vast market of 450 million consumers.

    "Quality will become one of the pillars of our production, so will safety and competition," he said, head of a ministry saddled with almost 25 per cent of the harmonisation process.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Denktash faces heart surgery

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, 78, said yesterday he may have to undergo heart surgery in the coming months.

    Denktash and President Glafcos Clerides are due to resume talks tomorrow in their bid to resolve the island's division before the European Union accepts Cyprus as a member, probably in 2004.

    "My doctors' advice is that within the next six to 12 months I should give serious thought to heart surgery," Denktash told Reuters, saying the diagnosis coincided with his decision to ask Clerides to begin face-to-face talks in January.

    "That is why I said from the beginning, without disclosing this problem, that June is a convenient time to finish everything that we can," he said.

    Denktash said doctors would decide in June whether he should undergo immediate surgery, and if so, talks would have to break off while he recovered.

    He said doctors had found a blockage of his aorta and wanted to correct a heart valve problem. He said he felt fine but that he had had a few problems in recent months.

    He said he was told by doctors in Ankara and Istanbul that it would be better for him to undergo surgery before getting too old.

    Denktash, who has a history of heart trouble, said doctors had told him he needed to lose up to 15 kilos. He suffered a heart attack in 1996 and had surgery a year later.

    The Turkish Cypriot TAK news agency quoted Denktash as saying: "This (surgery) is one of the factors in resolving the Cyprus issue at some point."

    Denktash said he was trying to lose weight and that he had lost 1-2 kg so far.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Immigrants group highlights rights' violation

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE IMMIGRANT Support Action Group (ISAG) called a news conference yesterday to highlight the violation of human rights, the plight of women trafficking and summary deportation in Cyprus.

    President of ISAG Doros Polycarpou told Cyprus Mail last night that three recent cases drew attention to dubious policies pursued by Immigration: a Russian women deported immediately after an allegedly unfair divorce hearing, a Romanian housemaid sent packing after she complained of sexual abuse and a Filippina and her young son facing the same sentence to avoid granting the boy Cypriot citizenship.

    Polycarpou said Immigration are pressurising the Filippina into leaving the Cyprus only three years into her employment as a housemaid for a British diplomat.

    The maximum stay granted to foreign domestic workers is six years, but Polycarpou said the government was desperate to get rid of her before her four-year-old son, born during her student days in Cyprus, qualifies for a Cypriot passport on his fifth birthday.

    The woman, in her mid-20s, studied in Cyprus for three years before later returning as a housemaid with a separate visa on a fully approved contract.

    "We've seen several other cases with the same problem, where they don't want the child to stay for fear that they'll qualify for a longer stay in Cyprus," he said.

    ISAG added that the British High Commission wanted to extend the woman's residence and work permit and that the High Commissioner is prepared to intervene on her behalf.

    In a separate case, a 29-year-old Romanian woman was allegedly deported after only 10 days into her job as a housemaid in Nicosia.

    She filed a complaint of sexual abuse against her employer to police, despite the difficulties of proving an offence that falls short of rape, with no witnesses.

    "The tragedy is that the Immigration Officer sent police to remove the woman after they got information that she said she was abused," said Polycarpou.

    He added that the issue of women trafficking had also been discussed in general, without resort to individual cases.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou dismissed ISAG's allegations, pointing out that Cyprus has well-developed and internationally recognised laws surrounding the treatment of foreigners.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Greek singer cancels concert: club wants its money back

    By Alexia Saoulli

    A NICOSIA nightclub said yesterday it was a taking legal action to recover a 13,000 advance from a top Greek singer who cancelled a performance at the eleventh hour, claiming the facilities weren't up to scratch.

    The concert by Giorgos Alkaios and Dionysis Skinos had been scheduled for last night, but was cancelled at the last minute.

    It was to be held at The Gate, a new Nicosia nightclub on Salaminos Avenue, but was called off on Tuesday morning after Alkaios refused to perform, saying the club's technical system did not meet his demands, one of the Club's owners Christoforos Christoforou said yesterday.

    "As far as the club is concerned," Christoforou said, "the cancellation is entirely Mr. Alkaios' fault. We made all the necessary arrangements within the club to meet his demands; he even had his local manager, Demetris Charalambides, study the space provided, his sound technicians checked everything out and the concert was given the go-ahead.

    "Then, on Tuesday morning, the singer himself flew into Cyprus, visited the club, and said he refused to perform the following night as planned due to technical problems."

    But Alkaios had not returned the 13,000 advance the club had given him 20 days ago, Christoforou claimed.

    He said the club had now started legal proceedings, both in Cyprus and in Greece, in an effort to get their money back and to cover the cost of preparations for the concert.

    "I have paid Mr. Alkaios, but he is denying it," he said. "I asked that he be stopped at the airport by immigration on Tuesday so that we could get our money back, and it turns out he was very offended and claimed we had never paid him in the first place. In the meantime, his manager said we would have our money returned by 6pm on Tuesday, but we have had no word from him since and now we cannot find him."

    "I find his attitude completely unprofessional. A serious artist examines a place technically before the last minute," he said.

    "Obviously Mr. Alkaios is a bigger prima donna than I'd thought, and only Wembley Stadium is good enough for him," Christoforou said, adding The Gate was the largest club in Cyprus and far bigger than any of the venues he was used to performing in at home. Despite this, Alkaios insisted on a 10-meter stage for him and his band, Christoforou added.

    He said the club had sold 500 tickets for the concert, and that all the money would be reimbursed. Tickets had cost 25 for table seating and 15 for standing places.

    But the artists' fees were not the only expense the club had incurred.

    "The changes we made to the club in preparation of this night were very costly and I don't know who is going to pay for that."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] 'Our children are starving'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE WELFARE Department has stopped paying benefits to a repatriated Cypriot family, leaving four children under the age of 10 on the breadline, their father Frederick Bryan said yesterday.

    The 46-year-old computer technician - whose mother was Cypriot - arrived at Larnaca airport on October 3 last year, when he and his family decided to move to Cyprus from Switzerland.

    "Life in Switzerland was getting too expensive," he said "and even though I was offered a job in London, I didn't want to spend my life working and never seeing my family. Therefore my wife and I decided to move to Cyprus instead."

    He and his German wife Annett, 36, came to Cyprus with their four children - Mark aged 10, Pearl eight, Jack six and Nicholaki aged two.

    He soon found a job with a local firm, but at the end of November was forced to resign and has not been able to find work since then.

    "I actually had to borrow five pounds for petrol to come here and talk to you today," he admitted to the Cyprus Mail.

    He has a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Maths, Statistics and Computing and is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer with considerable experience.

    "Despite this," Bryan said, "I cannot find an I.T. position because they say I am either over-qualified, too old, do not know enough Greek, or the companies only want to pay well below the market rate and sometimes even below the minimum wage."

    At the moment though, he and his family have reached a desperate state, and he would do anything to earn a decent wage to be able to support them.

    During Christmas, he tried to find work but it was impossible. His wife was qualified to accept a position as an engineering lecturer at a Nicosia college earning 1,000 a month, but says she was rejected when they found out about her alien status.

    "I could work to support my husband," she said, on the verge of tears, "but they will not help me by changing my residency status. My children are hungry. They have lost weight and even the school they are at in Larnaca has noticed their weight loss.

    "It got so bad over Christmas that they gave us a hamper with food, and other parents recently gave us a few bags of groceries".

    Bryan said his wife sometimes skipped meals so her children would have more to eat and that this had caused her to lose 10 kilograms in the past two months.

    "I've even had to water down the milk because the price has gone up and I need it to last longer for less money," said the desperate mother. "My children haven't eaten chocolate or biscuits in months. I can't even afford to buy cheese or meat to put in their sandwiches, and have to resort to jam."

    So why are the Social Services not helping them out?

    At first, Bryan tried to claim unemployment benefit, but was told he had earned 100 less than the qualifying figure and so his application was rejected.

    The family was able to claim welfare benefit to survive the Christmas period and the New Year. They received 509.31, but were told it was a one- off.

    When they asked for assistance to find a cheaper flat because theirs was 270 to rent, "we were told it was our problem and had to deal with it".

    Then at the end of January and the beginning of February they were given a total of 631.32 in two instalments, to cover their January expenses.

    "Now, however, we have been told that we will not receive any more welfare. They are trying to force me to take cleaning jobs or factory jobs that pay less than the minimum wage. How can I support my family on 250-290 a month, particularly if the state won't top up the sum?" he asked.

    The Bryans are now disillusioned with Cyprus. They expected things to be different based on the Repatriation Handbook they were given at the High Commission in London and information from the Cyprus consulates in Zurich and Geneva.

    They cannot go back to Germany because Annett no longer qualifies for welfare benefits there either, having been out of the country three years.

    "The point is I can't even afford to go anywhere anyway," she said.

    Asked how long their savings from Bryan's job in Switzerland would last, they said: "Next week we'll be in hospital on drips."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [11] Roundabout decoration 'is a safety hazard'

    By Rita Kyriakides

    THE NEW decoration of the Nicosia motorway roundabout might be original but it is dangerous for drivers, a leading architect has warned.

    Architect Georgios Phedonos has lashed out against the roundabout, which has recently been decorated with jagged lumps of mountain granite.

    "The landscaper might have thought the design was original but did he think about safety? And there is also the question of keeping the roundabout clean," said Phedonas.

    He said roundabouts were supposed to have a 'soft' centre, made of earth and grass with bushes in the centre so that if a driver does drive onto the island, they will be stopped by the bushes, and will most likely only be injured, not killed.

    "But what happens if a driver crashes into the Nicosia roundabout? The rocks will increase the likeliness that they will be killed, especially for those driving motorcycles," he said.

    Phedonos described the rocks as "dragon's teeth" because they were jagged and sharp.

    He said the landscaper had claimed in his defence that a border of four metres had been left around the roundabout for safety reasons, claiming that if you were thrown four metres you would most likely be killed, no matter what the island had in the centre.

    "Another question is how they expect to keep the roundabout clean. Rubbish and dust will be blown on to the rocks and weeds will grow between the rocks. I suggested that they get goats to graze on the roundabout," said Phedonos.

    He predicted that the rocks would be removed when authorities realised the danger to drivers.

    Communication and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou, who has spearheaded the projects to decorate roundabouts, was unavailable for comment as he is currently in Chicago, USA.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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