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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-06

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, March 6, 2002


  • [01] Ayia Napa welcomes crackdown plans
  • [02] Disused mine is giving us cancer, residents claim
  • [03] Ambulance drivers to be trained as paramedics
  • [04] Bus drivers stand firm in dispute with management
  • [05] Life looking up for hungry family of six
  • [06] Oil talks: Cyprus could end up with more sea than its land mass
  • [07] Officials stand by work ban for foreign students
  • [08] Tractors block highway in social insurance protest

  • [01] Ayia Napa welcomes crackdown plans

    By Jean Christou

    HOTELIERS and nightclub owners in Ayia Napa yesterday welcomed new moves by the government and local authorities to clamp down on the rowdy element in the popular resort this summer.

    Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minster Nicos Rolandis is spearheading a campaign to put an end to cowboy operations that offer after-hours drinks to young clubbers, which leads to drug pushing and violent incidents.

    Proposals include measures to amend legislation to define opening and closing hours more clearly, as well as the status of different establishments. Rolandis revealed that a handful of hotels were serving up alcohol to non-guests after clubs closed at 4am.

    Lakis Avraamides, the Hoteliers' Association spokesman for the Famagusta area, yesterday welcomed the measures and defended the majority of hotels in the Ayia Napa area as complying with the law.

    "We are talking about very very few premises which are offering these drinks after 4am," he said, adding that most hotel bars closed before 2am. "The other premises - there must be around 12 or 14 all over Ayia Napa which are offering alcohol after the discos close."

    Avraamides said these premises advertise themselves as "Open till morning" or "Open till sunrise". Some even have separate entrances and manage to flout the law by claiming that their establishments are on hotel premises. Another way that some hotels get around the problem is to insist that they are allowed to serve drinks to guests of their clients within the premises.

    Avraamides said all these legal loopholes needed to be addressed if the image of Ayia Napa, seriously flawed in recent years, is to be restored.

    "Ayia Napa has always been an entertainment resort. The problems have been created in the past two years," he said. "The problems are caused by those staying out after 4am. Imagine someone drinking from 10pm till 8am, going from one pub to another and then to a disco and then to somewhere else. When people are going out to work in the mornings, they find all these people lying in the streets."

    Avraamides said it was also during the early hours that drug dealing took place, but he emphasised that these kinds of problems were caused by a small minority of tourists to the resort.

    "We can do without these kind of people. They are not many," he said. "It will improve the image of Ayia Napa and that is what we are trying to do and this is one issue that is causing problems," he said. "No one who stays consuming alcohol until 7am in the morning will be in normal condition."

    Linos Melas, representative of the nightclub owners at the resort, said he had not been informed of the measures to be taken, but said the club owners would support a stricter implementation of current regulations.

    He said that under the current law, pubs were obliged to turn off the music at 1.30am. "But obviously there are bars that keep the music going till 2.30am. This is not legal and it affects everyone else," he said.

    "If they are going to implement measures to control the nightlife that will be fair to everyone, I agree. But if they are measures to support part of the business community in Ayia Napa which will destroy other businesses, we will not agree with it."

    In general, however, Melas agreed that more control was needed in the resort - branded as the clubbing Mecca of the Mediterranean. "We want to keep the tourists and if we want to keep the tourists we need control," he said.

    A Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) spokesman said the measures should be supported, as long as they were not too draconian, which might scare away young clubbers.

    "I don't think we have before us the choice of closing the doors to the majority of these young people," he said, referring to the global slump in tourism since September 11.

    "I think that young people who enjoy the clubbing atmosphere of Ayia Napa are still very welcome to come, but certain sort of boundaries have to be set, which will not be too restrictive," he said. "I don't believe that most of the people who came here are out looking for places to consume alcohol after 4am. Most people go home at closing time, and I don't think they have the energy to continue."

    Ayia Napa Mayor Barbara Pericleous was pleased with the possibility of extra policing at the resort. "We need extra police," she said. Commenting on all-night drinkers, Pericleous said that "obviously Ayia Napa does not want a reputation for that".

    "Nobody can drink like that without causing problems to themselves and others," she said. "If we give them certain regulations, they will obey. Ayia Napa has always had laws and people have to respect them. The measures are designed to improve the situation for everyone so they will have more fun and feel safer."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Disused mine is giving us cancer, residents claim

    By Melina Demetriou

    ARGAKAS residents yesterday blamed the remains of an old mine in Polis Chrysochous for what they say is an increase of cancer cases in their village.

    Addressing the House Environment Committee, convening on the matter yesterday,

    Argakas community leader Kyriacos Christofis said that between four and five new cases of cancer were reported in the village every year, while nearby communities did not face the same problem. Christofis insisted that the remains of the old mine in nearby Polis were responsible for the cases.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides, present at the meeting, promised to order an epidemiological study if he deems it necessary, noting, however, that a preliminary investigation found that there was no unusual increase in cancer cases in the Paphos district village.

    "If we decide that there are justified fears, we will definitely conduct an epidemiological study," he said.

    But Committee Chairman George Lillikas of AKEL insisted there were traces of toxic waste in the old mine, urging the ministry to investigate the situation, "even if that will only save one life."

    The old mine is owned by the Shacolas Group of Companies, which now intends to develop the area around it, including the Polis Lake, into a tourist resort.

    Shacolas Group consultant Kyriacos Chrystofi told the Committee of "mild tourist development plans to revive the area" by building among others a hotel, a golf court, a mine museum and a guesthouse.

    But Myroulla Hadjichristoforou from the Environmental Services slammed the Group's plans, arguing that such projects would cause environmental damage to the Lake and harm the caretta caretta sea turtles, a protected species which nest their eggs in the area. Green groups represented at the meeting shared her views.

    Briefing reporters after the meeting, Lillikas said Attorney-general Alecos Markides had been asked to rule whether the development plans should go ahead and whether the land where the mine lies should be given back to its previous owners.

    The land used to belong to local farmers before it was legally expropriated to build the mine. According to a relevant law, since the mine is no longer in use the land should be returned to its previous owners.

    "We have asked the Attorney-general and the government to rule on ownership and development matters," Lillikas said, adding that the House Plenum would probably discuss the issue in two weeks.

    But there are more problems to address in the Polis area.

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou, who was also at the meeting, said that the sea's tide often put beach houses in danger.

    "The ebb-tide moves the coast one or two metres every year," he said.

    Neophytou said the Metsovio Polytechnic in Greece had been contracted with a study to find a way of addressing the problem.

    "We need to build special fences to protect the beach," said Neophytou.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Ambulance drivers to be trained as paramedics

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE MEDICAL Services yesterday announced that ambulance drivers would be offered one year's advanced trauma training in September to equip them to co-operate with nurses on call-outs.

    The training, to be offered by the School of Nursing, is part of a range of steps designed to transform the ramshackle Cyprus ambulance service into a European paramedic outfit.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides hopes that an island-wide ambulance dispatch centre will be set up by the end of the year to quicken response times and cut across the fiefdoms of regional health centre authorities.

    New ambulance stations will be built in the districts of Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca to cut response times and scramble the nearest vehicle to the scene of the crisis.

    In time, the Advance Trauma Life Support (ATLS) classes will weed out ordinary drivers from the ambulance service, to be replaced by graduates of the course.

    Drivers not able or willing to participate in the training will be moved to other areas of the health service.

    "Instead of just driving, he will go there and have the knowledge to help and co-operate with the nurse for the benefit of the injured party. He won't be just a driver," said Andreas Kouppis, director of the ambulance service.

    "We're giving the chance to existing drivers who have the necessary standard of education, at least high school, to become paramedics," said the Minister.

    Both Kouppis and Savvides fended off fierce criticism that the initiative falls short of paramedic patrols in the European Union and North America.

    "We are in line with European standards. We are not doing something inferior. I don't agree because the training of our nurses, combined with advanced trauma is much more than normal paramedics receive. Don't ask me why it hasn't been done already. I could have been a magician. Things have been in place for decades. People don't like change," said Savvides.

    "Gradually they will develop into the paramedics that we know abroad, but we can't automatically jump overnight to that system because we're not ready. Other countries did it gradually too. We've got young drivers who are very good, so why not use them? They have the right education, so why not give them the right?" said Kouppis.

    The one-year ATLS sandwich course, approved by experts from Chicago two months ago, will be taught at the School of Nursing to qualified drivers and nurses.

    Professors from Athens and Lincolnshire taught the same course to the teachers.

    Although the Minister hopes lessons will start in September, there is no indication of how many current ambulance drivers will be interested in the course.

    In terms of a central ambulance response centre, Kouppis said suggestions had been made along the lines of the Greek system.

    A special committee is to examine the proposals this week.

    "It's going to be done as soon as possible. If everything goes OK, may be it'll be in place by September," Kouppis said.

    "The centre needs organisation and machinery. It will be an expensive project, but I'm hoping it will be in place by the end of the year," said the Minister, adding the project had the full backing of the Ministry of Finance.

    He also thanked doctors who had supported the Ministry's initiative.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Bus drivers stand firm in dispute with management

    By George Psyllides

    THOUSANDS of Nicosia residents were left stranded for the second day running yesterday by a 48-hour strike by bus drivers, while the bus company that employs them accused the government of not delivering on promises made as far back as 1996.

    The drivers, who number around 100, complain that the company has not fulfilled its side of a collective agreement. The company does not deny this, but says it does not have the cash for promised pay rises as the government has failed to pay around 500,000 in subsidies.

    Yesterday, the drivers and their union leaders took their protest to the Labour Ministry, where they met with Minister Andreas Moushiouttas.

    In a petition given to the minister, the drivers rejected the company's defence, arguing that implementation of the collective agreements should not be linked to any other issues affecting the company.

    The drivers also criticised the company for hiring drivers on a 30-hour- week basis, something they feel violates the agreed schedule. They accuse the government of creating two classes of driver, a move they say could destabilise the collective agreement that has been in place for decades.

    The petition urged the minister to intervene to resolve the dispute with the company.

    The strikers decided to await developments in negotiations between the two sides before announcing further action.

    But the Nicosia bus company yesterday turned on the government, accusing it of doing nothing despite declarations made in 1996 to support public transport.

    The government at the time ordered a price freeze on bus fares to keep them low enough to attract passengers. But it also undertook to cover the resultant losses and underwrite a reasonable profit for the transport companies, the company said.

    It went on to say the measures had been announced because the government had failed to implement its 1987 Traffic Management Study. Six years on, however, traffic congestion had reached outrageous levels and was running out of control, the company accused.

    Negotiations between the two sides in the dispute, with the input of a Labour Ministry mediation team, start at 10am today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Life looking up for hungry family of six

    By Alexia Saoulli

    LIFE is not looking quite so bleak for the Bryan family anymore, despite the fact that Frederick Bryan is still out of work and two of his four children are in hospital.

    The 46-year-old repatriated Cypriot first approached the Cyprus Mail last week, distraught that the social services had refused to pay him, his German wife, and four underage children any welfare money to see them through the month of March until he could find a job.

    His family was hungry and he, his wife and children had lost a drastic amount of weight since he lost his job in November. Bryan said he was barely able to make ends meet to keep a roof over their heads, let alone facing the trauma of having no money to feed his children.

    On top of not being able to find work, his wife had not been granted Cypriot citizenship, which would have enabled her to work. He said this meant she had lost the opportunity to teach engineering at a Nicosia technical college, a position that would have been more than enough to sustain the family of six.

    But a week later things are looking slightly better for the Bryans.

    "I don't know whether it's a coincidence or not, but on Friday last week my wife was granted Cypriot citizenship and we were given 630 by the Welfare Department to see us through this month," said a relieved Bryan.

    He said this meant his wife could now try and re-apply for the teaching job after having her degrees translated and obtaining a Cypriot passport.

    "I don't know if they'll have a position left, but it's worth a try," he said, hopeful that with her new status she would be able to find work somewhere.

    As far as him finding work, it has been tough. Although he has an HNC in Maths, Statistics and Computing and is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer with vast experience, he has been unable to find any IT work.

    "The Labour Ministry recently sent me for an interview and told me all I'd have to do was light packing. When I got there, it was a laundry and I had to haul 150kg of wet towels into a trolley. Now it's not that this work is beneath me," he stressed, "it's just I have a problem with my back and within two weeks of work like that I'll be in hospital. I tried explaining to the Ministry but they won't listen. I'm only terrified that I'll jeopardise my welfare money next month because I was unable to take the job. If they had offered me work in a junior administration position that would be fine, because even if the money wasn't enough to support my family, the Ministry would top it up to 630".

    To make things worse, he would not have been able to start working for the laundrette on Monday anyway because his two-year-old son became seriously ill, soon followed by his six-year-old brother.

    "On Sunday, Nicholas came down with gastroenteritis and had to be taken to hospital and put on to a drip. He only came out today at 2pm, but by that time Jack had been admitted for the same problem. I'm just terrified that my wife and I will get sick because then I don't know who will look after them. Therefore getting a job this week is difficult because someone has to look after the children, while my wife stays at the hospital," he said.

    He added that Annett believed her children were getting so sick because they had not been eating properly for so long and that this was their bodies' way of saying: "enough is enough." In fact, Bryan said Nicolas had been so sick he had been throwing up lumps of phlegm and was unable to keep anything down.

    As Bryan himself admits though: "It's definitely an improvement. The children are now eating, we've been given money by people to help us along (200 from a considerate reader, to whom Bryan sends his heartfelt thanks), my wife is allowed to work, so now all I need is a job," he said, adding he was considering moving to a village where the cost of living would be cheaper and he could possibly find work as an IT technician.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Oil talks: Cyprus could end up with more sea than its land mass

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday that talks to determine the country's share of natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean were at an advanced stage, in a process that could award Cyprus an area of sea larger than its land mass.

    Lebanese Energy Minister Mohammad Abdel Hamid Beydoun flew in for a two-day official visit on Monday to broker Beirut and Nicosia's exclusive economic zone in the sea separating the two states.

    He held meetings with Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis and Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous yesterday morning to initiate a treaty in line with the 1982 UN Law of the Sea Convention.

    Talking to the Cyprus Mail, Rolandis said he was satisfied that the process was proceeding "very well".

    The existence of natural gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean at an equal axis between Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon and Egypt was made public last year.

    Rolandis said talks with Lebanon had reached an advanced stage, which could be finalised in two to three months' time.

    "Trying to negotiate the boundaries is quite a strenuous effort, because countries opposite us have larger shorelines and negotiating a middle line is not always easy," he said.

    He added that, as an island, Cyprus qualified for a significant segment of the sea in question, equal or even bigger than the country's land mass.

    Government experts have enlisted the help of academics from the University of Southampton to assist with the technical complexity of poring over the maps in an effort to reach an agreement by May or June.

    Although preliminary contacts have also been brokered with Syria, Israel and Egypt, unresolved political and national problems in the eastern Mediterranean are likely to hold up treaty agreements with other governments.

    Part of the disputed sea belongs to the Palestinian Authority, but given the emergency situation in the Middle East, Nicosia has not yet made any overtures to the Palestinians and talks with Israel have yet to get further than first base.

    There are also likely to be some hiccups in forging a document between the Israelis and Palestinians, given the state of virtual war between the two.

    Turkey is also excluded from negotiations, given the lack of diplomatic contact between Nicosia and Ankara.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Officials stand by work ban for foreign students

    By Alexia Saoulli

    UNLIKE Cypriots studying in the United Kingdom, foreigners studying here are not allowed to work, a Labour Ministry official said yesterday.

    He said the law in Cyprus stated that students studying here could only work if it was included as part of their studies, such as hotel management or catering courses.

    "If they do not think that is fair, then they do not come here. It's all written out clearly in the legislature that has just been passed, so it is not as if they are tricked into thinking they can work here part time and support themselves," he said.

    As for European Union students, the law that is being drawn is in line with EU harmonisation laws.

    "Whatever the law says in the EU, we will follow to the letter in Cyprus," he said. "If EU students are allowed to work in EU countries when they are studying, then they will be allowed to work here too."

    Cypriots studying in the United Kingdom on the other hand, are allowed to work during the academic year and holidays to cover their expenses, irrespective of whether or not it is part of the course, the British Council announced yesterday.

    Also, foreign students enrolled for a study period of more than six months, are not expected to pay for medical treatment as they can register with the UK's National Health Scheme (NHS) and are eligible for free health insurance.

    Although studying in the UK for non-EU students is a huge investment for parents, running into thousands of pounds for tuition fees alone, plus an extra 10,000-20,000 per year to make ends meet, the number of Cypriots studying there is on the increase. During the academic year 2000-2001, 3, 664 students alone were registered as studying in the UK, with Cyprus ranking eleventh on the list of all non European Union students studying at British Higher Education institutions.

    But the British Council maintains that studying in the UK is in actually cheaper than most people think because the study period lasts for three years, instead of four as in Cyprus, Greece and much of continental Europe.

    The annual British Educational Fair is at the International Conference Centre in Nicosia from March 7-9 from 3pm-8.30pm.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Tractors block highway in social insurance protest

    FAMAGUSTA district potato growers and farmers yesterday used tractors to block the Ayia Napa to Xylophagou road for an hour, demanding the resignation of Labour Mninister Andreas Moushiouttas in protest at being forced to pay social insurance for seasonal workers they employ for three months. The farmers say they cannot afford the burden of paying social insurance for these workers and insist the situation cannot go on.

    They claim that no foreign worker will benefit from the money they pay, as Cyprus does not have any reciprocal agreements with the countries they come from.

    According to farmers' unions, the cash owed by farmers to the social insurance fund has reached one million pounds.

    The farmers threatened that if the government insisted in collecting this debt, they would escalate their measures, and did not rule out converging on Nicosia.

    Yesterday, the road was cut at around 9.30am by tractors and other farming equipment, which formed columns from the Kokkinochoria villages and met in the area near the Liopetri River.

    Tensions rose 20 minutes later, as farmers demanded that the social insurance office allowed them to bring in more foreign workers. The office has refused to give permission because of the unpaid dues, while farmers claim they cannot pick their crops without help.

    The producers said they would have a meeting on Monday at 7pm at the village of Sotira to discuss further measures in their effort to avoid paying social insurance for foreign workers.

    The farmers' organisations also want a meeting with the Labour Minister to thrash out the issue.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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