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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-08

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, March 8, 2002


  • [01] Why 42,000 a year is not enough for a minister
  • [02] News in brief
  • [03] Toxic waste to be shipped to Greece
  • [04] Farmers' fury at tiny EU subsidies
  • [05] Fighting over the Middle East in Cyprus
  • [06] House urges ban on tobacco advertising
  • [07] 'We can do something together for Athens 2004'
  • [08] Draconian security for Serdaris trial
  • [09] Markides urges deputies to allow Turkish Cypriot civil weddings
  • [10] Man held over 5,000 whisky raid

  • [01] Why 42,000 a year is not enough for a minister

    By Jean Christou

    COMMUNICATIONS and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday admitted he might lead a champagne lifestyle, but insisted his comment that ministerial salaries were too low had been misinterpreted.

    In a candid phone interview with the Cyprus Mail, the 41-year-old bachelor minister, said he netted only 2,300 a month after tax from his 42,000 per annum salary, adding he was only trying to point out that, on current salaries, political life in Cyprus was only an option for the rich.

    Following a House Committee debate on the issue on Tuesday, Neophytou said his salary was only enough to cover the first 15 days of the month, adding that if he did not have an additional source of income, he would not be able to manage. He wondered how married colleagues with children, especially those studying abroad, could cope.

    "First, I would like to repair what has been written about my statement," Neophytou said. "What I said is that for me the salary wasn't a factor in taking the decision to accept my appointment as a minister and that the money doesn't play any role in my life, otherwise I wouldn't be a politician. I would have been a businessman."

    Neophytou said the question he had been trying to get across was did the people of Cyprus want everyone to have a chance of becoming a minister or did they want the island to reach a stage where only rich people, with additional personal incomes, could become politicians.

    "Personally I couldn't care less if the salary was 2,000 or 10,000 or even if they tell me to pay them 2,000 per month to be a minister, but we have to look at this issue," he said. "We have to take this issue and have a real public debate about this."

    Neophytou nevertheless admitted to having a full social diary and an image to uphold, but said that since his appointment 28 months ago he had never once taken someone out to lunch or dinner and presented a receipt to his ministry. He also maintains a working office in Paphos where he began his political career, first as Mayor of Polis and later as a deputy.

    "I don't complain about my salary. But the issue is whether the salary of a politician is enough to entice the right people to get involved in politics. That for me is a very serious issue," he said. However, he admitted that if the salary was 10,000 a month it might tempt people into politics just for the money.

    "If the salary was this high, of course everyone would want to become a minister. Then again here, even with zero salaries, everyone would like to become ministers," he added.

    Speaking of his own lifestyle, Neophytou said: "I think it's not too expensive, but it's not too cheap either."

    The Minister said he did a lot of socialising and entertaining and as a minister got invited to engagements, weddings and christenings.

    "When you get an invitation from a friend you can go without taking anything or you can not even think of inviting them in return. It depends on character. Some people don't like to socialise and others do. Some take a present of 5 some others may take one of 20.

    "Some people can wear a tie from Jet for 5. Some people can wear a Hugo Boss tie for 40 or Boss shoes for 400," Neophytou said.

    Asked which category he fell into, he said: "I'm in the Argaka village category. If you want to live the Gucci lifestyle you'd need a salary of 10,000 per month."

    Neophytou said the bottom line for him was that Cyprus had to decide if it wanted the political arena to be accessible to the rich and the poor and the middle classes alike.

    "Or will it always only be accessible to a specific category of our society?" he said. "And by the way," he added in case anyone might be feeling sorry for him. "I don't need any donations and I don't need any money, thank God."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] News in brief

    Tourist attacked in Limassol

    A 16-YEAR-OLD girl from Finland was attacked by a group of masked revellers in Limassol who ripped off her clothes and left her half-naked in the street, police said yesterday.

    The incident happened at 4.30pm on Athens Street during the carnival celebrations.

    A large group of masked youths assaulted the tourist and ripped off her clothes.

    The incident was noticed by several shop owners who rushed to the girl's aid.

    They gave her clothes and notified the police but there was little they could do as the youths mixed with the crowd.

    Verheugen: Cyprus is on target for EU

    EUROPEAN Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen said yesterday that the time schedules for Cyprus's accession would remain unchanged and hoped an initial settlement to the Cyprus problem would be reached by June.

    He flew in yesterday for a two-day official visit of the island and a series of top-level contacts.

    Speaking after a dinner with President Glafcos Clerides Verheugen said that the EU was preparing for the accession of a united island for technical reasons and repeated the EU's offer of 260 million euros for the development of the occupied areas.

    The EU Commissioner reiterated that Cyprus would be in the first wave of countries to join the 15-member bloc without the solution of the Cyprus problem being a prerequisite.

    Clerides said that it was obvious from the timetable they had in mind that the proposals regarding which countries to accede would be ready in October.

    The President stressed that all chapters should be completed by then, though some would be closed shortly after the German elections.

    Verheugen praised Clerides for his role in the talks to find a lasting settlement to the Cyprus problem and encouraged him to continue in the same way.

    The Commissioner will meet Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and UN Special Adviser to Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, today.

    Greece demands law reform

    THE GREEK Expatriate Council yesterday demanded the amendment of a controversial citizenship law, which could force people born on or after August 16, 1960 to a Cypriot mother and foreign father serve in the National Guard.

    In a written statement the council said it agreed with the philosophy of the law to equalise the status of the two sexes but stressed that its retroactive nature created obligations and demands from people who until now were deprived of equal opportunities.

    The council said the law should be amended to take effect from the day it was passed - December 31, 2001.

    The Greek expatriates complained that they had not been informed prior to the law's approval but they said they trusted that the government and House as well as political parties would overturn any injustice deriving from the law.

    But what could raise eyebrows is the council's plea to the Greek ambassador to "safeguard the rights of Greek citizens from the potentially inconsiderate and extreme actions of various officials of the Republic of Cyprus".

    The law, which has caught the state mechanism unawares, could force people up to 42-years-old to join the army and serve for 26 months.

    Those eligible await the ruling from Attorney-general Alecos Markides who was asked to study the law's retroactive nature.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Toxic waste to be shipped to Greece

    By George Psyllides

    A CONTAINER full of potentially dangerous toxic material that has been sitting in the Limassol port since 1997 will be transferred to Greece as soon as possible, a senior customs official said yesterday.

    The issue, which has caused concern among port workers and state officials who were apparently caught unawares, emerged a few days ago after DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis revealed that the container, loaded with hazardous toxic material used for making detergents, had been dumped in the port's storage facility for five years.

    On Wednesday, Health Minister Frixos Savvides vowed to find why it had been left there, not ruling out the possibility it had been dumped by organised rings, which get paid to get rid of such material illicitly.

    Yesterday, Senior Customs Official Iakovos Antoniou said that a private company had undertaken to transfer the container to Greece, where it would be destroyed in a special incinerator without any harm to the environment.

    Until then, the container will be stored under a special shelter in the port.

    The government will foot the bill for the transfer.

    Meanwhile, Port Authority Chairman Christos Hadjimanolis said yesterday that the authority had decided to request from the court to lift the detention of a ship loaded with around 3,000 tonnes of acetylene anchored just outside the port.

    Acetylene mixed with water could cause a massive explosion, experts warn.

    The ship has been arrested by authorities because of financial differences.

    The port authority, however, wants the arrest lifted so the ship can leave Cyprus waters and head for its original destination, India.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Farmers' fury at tiny EU subsidies

    By Melina Demetriou

    HOUSE Agriculture Committee chairman Christos Mavrokordatos yesterday slammed as catastrophic a European Commission proposal providing for low subsidies to Cypriot farmers.

    The Committee yesterday convened to discuss the proposal with EU chief negotiator George Vassiliou, who also opposed it.

    The draft proposal from the Commission allocates to Cypriot farmers upon expected accession in 2004 just 25 per cent of what it gives as financial aid to their counterparts in existing EU member states.

    "According to the proposal, in 2005 farmers will receive 30 per cent of what their counterparts get and in 2006 the amount will go up to 35 per cent," Mavrokordatos said.

    The Committee chairman and AKEL deputy charged such a development would make it impossible for Cypriot farmers to face competition in the European Union, adding that the government would not be able to save the day by subsidising farmers itself as this would probably drive its budget out of kilter with the EU's Maastricht criteria.

    Mavrokordatos accused Vassiliou of concentrating on accession at whatever cost, omitting to voice the problems and needs of Cypriot citizens to the EU.

    "The accession negotiations have achieved nothing for farmers," he charged.

    An announcement issued yesterday by the National Organisation of Cow- breeders and handed to reporters at the House went further, accusing the government of keeping its members in the dark about negotiations concerning their future.

    "Vassiliou wanted us to attend vital meetings between government officials and negotiators but unfortunately the ministry managed to shut us out so that it could impose its views more easily," the announcement charged.

    But Vassiliou defended himself from Mavrokordatos' charge, arguing the Cypriot negotiating team had opposed the subsidy proposal.

    "This proposal is fairly new and informal. Currently, it is just an internal document of the Commission, which we don't like either," he explained.

    Vassiliou said that until a month ago the Commission had insisted that Cypriot farmers should not be allowed any financial support from the Union.

    "They consider Cyprus part of Central and Eastern Europe, which they don't want to support when it comes to agriculture because of its communist past. But we have never been part of the Soviet Union, so they should treat us differently.

    "If they insist to treat us like a Central European country they have to consider us eligible for participation in other EU programmes that help these countries financially," Vassiliou argued.

    "They didn't make any promises, but we will not give up efforts, Vassiliou said.

    Mavrokordatos toned down his comments after Vassiliou's replies, but still complained about low subsidises currently offered to farmers by the government.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Fighting over the Middle East in Cyprus

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE ISRAELI Ambassador to Cyprus yesterday attacked Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat as a weak man, justifying his house arrest.

    But he clashed with the Palestinian Representative in Cyprus over whether Arafat could attend the Arab League summit in Beirut at the end of the month.

    Ambassador Michael Eligan said Arafat would have to ask permission from the Israeli government to travel to Lebanon, where the Arab-Israeli conflict will be tabled for discussion.

    "He can ask. He didn't ask. If he does I think we will consider it," said the ambassador.

    "Certainly he will try to go if he is free to go," replied Palestinian representative Fayez Younes. "He's not a subject of the Israeli government. He's head of a state in accordance with agreements signed between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and three Israeli governments. So he's not supposed to ask permission. We'll wait and see if the Sharon government will try and prevent him," said Younes.

    Despite claiming some Islamic groups operating against Israel were under Iranian and Syrian control, Eligal criticised Arafat for failing to check them.

    "If he can't control all the militias operating in the name of his people then how can we talk? We as a state assume full responsibility for what is happening within the borders of Israel, but on the other side we don't see any efforts to control," he said.

    "Do the Israelis expect the Palestinians to be just slaughtered like goats, without resistance? In the first three months of the Intifada, 96 children were shot," said Younes. "Certainly the Palestinian Authority condemns all acts of violence against Palestinian and Israeli civilians," he added.

    But Eligal said Arafat had failed to digest that Palestinian violence only isolated their cause. It weakened support amongst the previously sympathetic left, he claimed, adding Arab States would only ever pay lip service to the Palestinian cause, as they refused to sacrifice their national interests in their foreign policy.

    "I don't think he's able to make the switch from a militia boss to political leader able to make a comprehensive settlement and create a national state," Eligal said.

    "We have huge support from the United States regarding the situation in the Middle East, and Arafat is the only one that can be blamed. He's not a victim in this conflict," he said.

    "Yasser Arafat is the national leader of the Palestinian people. He is the symbol of their resistance. And certainly if the basic rights of the Palestinian people are made, he is ready to sign a historic compromise," said Younes.

    But Eligal chastised Arafat for missing "two opportunities" in 1997, when he rejected the UN resolution that gave Palestinians the right to create a state and 2000, for pulling the plug on the Camp David agreement.

    That "mistake", he said, swept Ariel Sharon to power, precipitating the escalation of violence between the two sides over the last 17 months.

    But Younes refused to accept the Ambassador's interpretation.

    "They are always trying to twist the facts. The reason of resistance is the occupation and the failures of the Israeli government to implement any of the agreements that were signed with the PLO, sponsored by the Americans, the Europeans and the UN."

    "The Camp David agreement fell short of UN expectations. It's not a question of internal Israeli politics, it's about basic Palestinian rights, " he said.

    In a friendly briefing session, designed to counter pro-Palestinian sympathies in the Cypriot press, Eligal stressed the need to understand Israel as a democracy with a highly developed civil society.

    He cited the death of more than 300 Israelis in the last year, 75 per cent of them civilian, insisting that Palestinian women and children were only ever killed by accident.

    The ambassador refused to compare indiscriminate suicide bombers targeting commercial and residential areas to stray Israeli bullets or bombs that killed Palestinian civilians.

    He said Israeli policy would continue until terror organisations collapsed, deprived of their infrastructure, weapons and fuel.

    "At this point the international community, mainly the US, will see opportunities to facilitate the dialogue between the two parties," he said.

    Neither side criticised US Secretary of State Colin Powell's comments about Israeli violence on Wednesday night.

    The Embassy said US-Israeli friendship was as strong as ever and Younes welcomed his remarks as reversal of blanket approval for Israeli policy.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] House urges ban on tobacco advertising

    THE HOUSE Health Committee wants to ban all tobacco advertising and fine offenders up to 30,000 or throw them in jail, Committee chairman Antonis Karas said yesterday.

    The relevant proposal was yesterday discussed in a meeting of the Committee, which has launched an anti-smoking crusade to protect public health and bring Cyprus into line with European practices.

    "We want to ban the advertising of tobacco products and charge offenders between 1,000 and 30,000, and in some cases punish them with imprisonment, " Karas told reporters after the meeting.

    "We will listen to what smokers have to say, but since we admit that smoking is very harmful to health we will not allow practices promoting it, " he argued, adding that smokers were free to continue smoking.

    The Committee chairman said a ban on tobacco advertising was necessary because such ads were mainly targeted at non-smokers, "especially innocent people and minors".

    He said many European countries had already outlawed such advertisements, while the EU was also planning to ban it.

    "These advertisements benefit no one except the tobacco producers," Karas said.

    The anti-smoking bill is not expected to be voted on this month.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] 'We can do something together for Athens 2004'

    THE PRESIDENT of the Athens Olympic Committee Yianna Angelopoulou- Daskalakis had lunch with President Glafcos Clerides yesterday to discuss the island's contribution to the Athens 2004 Games.

    Speaking to reporters after the lunch, Angelopoulou said the Cypriot contribution to the Games would not just be financial, tourist, infrastructure and investments, but something more symbolic.

    "[With Cyprus] we feel that we're more, that we're stronger. That we can really remind the world, showing a past and civilisation, which is unique of what Greeks can do and accomplish for the future," she said.

    She praised the Cypriot spirit of volunteerism and struggle, evident for so many years, expressing her happiness at being on the island.

    In the evening she hosted a dinner for Greek and Cypriot journalists at the upmarket Nicosia club-restaurant Zoo.

    Today, Angelopoulou holds meetings with the Cyprus Olympic Committee, before giving a news conference.

    She and her advisers return to Athens on Sunday. Angelopoulou will return to Cyprus after forthcoming trips to associates in Olympic cities.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Draconian security for Serdaris trial

    65-YEAR-old Larnaca musician George Serdaris yesterday pleaded not guilty to 17 charges of indecent assault against under aged girls that he used to teach.

    Procedures at the Larnaca Assizes court were held amid draconian measures designed to protect the identities of the girls, who will testify against Serdaris.

    The hearing kicked off with the testimonies of two police photographers, who took pictures of Serdaris' studio, where the offences are alleged to have taken place over the past three years.

    Shortly before noon, the court heard the testimony of the first witness, who was sitting behind a specially made screen to keep her from being seen.

    Defence cross-examination of the witness was postponed until today.

    Public access to the courtroom has been banned and corridors leading to it have been closed with screens.

    Windows were also screened, after court authorities realised witnesses could be seen from outside.

    The court has banned any publication of the proceedings and will only issue brief statements for the public.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Markides urges deputies to allow Turkish Cypriot civil weddings

    By Melina Demetriou

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday urged Parliament to approve a bill allowing Turkish Cypriots to marry in civil ceremonies by mid April in order to satisfy EU demands.

    The Interior Ministry two weeks ago submitted the relevant bill to Parliament, aiming to bring Cyprus into line with European practices.

    The 1960 Constitution had no provision for civil marriages. When a law was passed allowing civil marriages a few years ago, Turkish Cypriots were not included because such issues were constitutionally in the domain of the Turkish Cypriot community, leaving those living in the free areas in limbo if they did not want a religious wedding.

    The new law would now plug the loophole by extending the right of civil marriage to Turkish Cypriots.

    The House Legal Committee yesterday convened to discuss the proposal with Markides, as well as a separate proposal aiming to create a new law to govern all marital issues.

    The proposal calls for a simplification of procedures and provides that relevant cases all be handled by the same court.

    The Committee reacted favourably to both proposals, but cited certain loose ends, which Law Commissioner George Stavrinakis promised to sort out.

    The Attorney-general stressed that the House should approve the bill concerning Turkish Cypriots by mid April, saying Cyprus had already been taken to the European Court of Human Rights for not allowing a Turkish Cypriot to marry his Romanian girlfriend in Cyprus. The government settled out court, paying the couple the cost of a wedding overseas.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Man held over 5,000 whisky raid

    By George Psyllides

    A 28-YEAR-old English Cypriot man was yesterday remanded in custody for eight days in connection with the armed theft of 30 cases of whisky worth 5,230 last month.

    Two other suspects thought to have taken part in the robbery were still at large, police told the court.

    Angelos Achilli was arrested on Wednesday after police matched DNA samples lifted from the scene at the Carlsberg outlet in the Aradhippou industrial estate.

    Police told the court that three men took part in the robbery and not two as it was initially thought.

    The hooded perpetrators, clad in black outfits, stormed the outlet at 6.50pm on February 28, and held employees Andreas Kyriakou, 50, and 48-year- old Maroulla Hadjipetri at gunpoint.

    The robbers put a hood over Kyriacou's head and used tape to tie him to a chair.

    Hadjipetri managed to get away but was caught by one of the men as she reached the building's exit.

    One of the men also tore Kyriacou's pocket with a knife and grabbed the car keys along with 550 in cash. Kyriacou was also hit with a pistol on the right cheek, police said.

    The men then loaded 30 cases of whisky worth 5,230 and fled.

    Hadjipetri notified police who scrambled to the scene to find Kyriacou still tied to the chair.

    Police said they found evidence on the crime scene as well as in the getaway car, which was found in the Pervolia area the next day.

    Among other things police found surgical gloves worn by one of the men to tie Kyriacou, which apparently remained stuck on the tape.

    The court heard that DNA samples taken from the glove and a cigarette butt smoked by the suspect matched.

    In the suspect's flat, police found 2,035 in an envelope and various items of clothing including a blood stained T-shirt.

    The suspect claimed he was somewhere else at the time of the robbery but police said his alibi had not checked out.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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