|Monday, 11 December 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-09
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Saturday, March 9, 2002
 Women in uniform (but they've got to buy their own)By Alexia Saoulli
THE DEFENCE Ministry has submitted to the House a bill that would allow women between the ages of 18 and 40 to volunteer for military training, spokesman Andreas Yiorkas said yesterday.
But Colonel Anastasios Kanelopoulos of the National Guard said the House had not yet approved the bill and so was unable to give specific details.
"We have to wait and see whether it is approved or not," said Kanelopoulos "before we start making statements and voicing opinions. At this time it is just a proposal".
Yiorkas said the idea was not a new one, only that it had been a topic that had needed to be examined in great depth before a proposal was drawn up.
"These women will not be permanent professional military personnel," he said, pointing out that women already served in the army, often outranking any number of men.
"That's an entirely different issue. We are not talking about a military career; instead this is about giving Cypriot women the opportunity to offer their service to this country if they want, so that, during a moment of national crisis, they can be called up to utilise the military skills they were trained in," he said. He added that training could be anything from handling weapons to learning how to use Morse code and a radio.
But, Yiorkas confirmed, until the law was approved all the details could not be explored.
"Once the House passes the law, the Cabinet will then fine-tune all rules and regulations such as, how long the training will last, what weapons they will be trained to use, and where they will be trained."
He said it would be a waste of time to explore too many possibilities before the law had been passed, because if it was rejected it would all have been a waste of time and effort.
"These details can be ironed out later on. The important thing is getting the law passed, and that is what we must wait for," Yiorkas said.
He insisted this would be a purely volunteer option for women wanting military training.
"It's just so that they can be trained to use weapons, the way male conscripts do, without making a career of the army. These women will still hold down jobs and merely train with the National Guard so as to learn how to defend their country."
He added that, since the service would be voluntary, the women would have to buy their own uniforms. Yiorkas said this would be no different to buying a girl scout's outfit, since it was not a professional position.
"We do not have any guarantee that these women won't change their minds," he said. "Unlike professional army women, these volunteers will not have to commit to the army in any way. Therefore just imagine the financial burden this would have on the State if 1,000 women show up for training, and then in a week 500 decide they don't want to continue anymore. What would happen to those uniforms? It's not like we can give them to another woman," he pointed out.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Women clash with Hasikos over army quipBy Alexia Saoulli
THE SOCIALIST Women's Movement yesterday reacted angrily to the Defence Minister's comments that plans for voluntary military service for women were a "present" to mark international women's day.
The organisation was distinctly unimpressed with Minister Socrates Hasikos' quip that the proposal was "a present for the women of Cyprus on the occasion of International Women's Day", which was celebrated around the world yesterday.
But Hasikos yesterday defended himself and said that he had been joking and had not intended to offend anyone.
"It was the media that took me seriously," he said "and printed it in that way".
Nevertheless, joke or not, Roulla Mavronicola who heads the Women's movement, said Hasikos had managed to detract from Women's Day.
"By bringing this issue up the night before Women's Day, everyone wants to talk about that, instead of focusing on the good that women have accomplished.
"The government should have been talking about ways to make the quality of women's lives better within Cypriot society and not announcing volunteer army training," she said.
However, Hasikos still maintained he could not understand why the organisation had been so upset.
"What do they want?" he asked. "I don't see what the problem is? Do women want to be forced to have compulsory military service instead?"
"This may be on a volunteer basis, but I believe that it is a chance for women to prove themselves," the Minister told the Cyprus Mail. "I think it is a Cypriot woman's right to do the army and it could quite have easily been made compulsory the way it is for men (who currently serve for 26 months after leaving school).
"Since it isn't compulsory, however, this is a chance for women to prove how much they want to go to the army and to stop saying 'we want to train with the army'. Well here's your chance, I say! Show me that you can do it and that you are prepared to take responsibility for your duty as a citizen."
But Mavronicola was afraid that, the way the proposal has been outlined, very few women would volunteer and women would have the finger pointed at them for the failure of the scheme.
"I'm not saying we want to have compulsory military service like the men," she said, "but I do believe that it could be included for a two-month period during the compulsory female civil defence training, because that way all women would learn how to use a gun".
She said the organisation believed women should be trained, but that it had nothing to do with equality or international women's day.
"Joining the army is the last thing that equalises men and women in an occupied country. If 40 per cent of the Turkish army were not on the island, National Guard training would not be an issue for women. Instead we would want to address everything else that is wrong in today's Cypriot women's lives first and leave the army till last.
"If there is a war tomorrow, we believe that it is every Cypriot woman's right to defend herself and her children, and to know how to do so by being trained in using a weapon. In 1974, even if women wanted to, they could not defend themselves because they didn't know how to. This training should have been offered a long time ago and should have been worked into women's civil defence programmes.
"Does the government really think that after a life of suppression we will feel more equal to men just because we go the army? We should be looking at ways to help single mothers or placing women in decision-making positions and protecting them against violence."
"This army issue is not an equality matter. It is a matter of need due to the political situation in Cyprus," she said.
Although Hasikos agreed the country did need more conscripts, he denied this was the motive for the move.
"If the proposal had been made purely out of need," he said, "we would have proposed that women also complete a compulsory term of military service".
He also said this had nothing to do with EU harmonisation equality protocols, but that it was something the government wanted to do and had been thinking about for a long time.
"But women should know that once they enter the army camp, they will have to behave according to the law and abide by the military code that all soldiers follow," he said.
As for them buying their own uniforms, he added, the State would end up footing the bill.
"I had to say they would have to buy their own uniforms," he told the Cyprus Mail, "because I don't know how many women will show up to volunteer, so I didn't know how many uniforms to order".
But this was just another one of the technicalities and difficulties that would be ironed out over time, if and when the bill was approved by the House, he said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Woman claims welfare told her to leave her husband,Minister says she's netting £1,000 a month in benefit
By Rita Kyriakides
A WOMAN yesterday took her six children down to the Interior Ministry, claiming the Welfare Department was forcing her to kick her husband out if she wanted to continue receiving benefit.
The Labour Minister categorically denied her claims, saying she was netting £1,000 in various benefits every month.
Sofia Loizou has six children between the ages of one and 12.
"I'm in danger of getting thrown in jail because of my debts and the Welfare Department doesn't care. They said I should blame the politicians I voted for," Loizou told the Cyprus Mail.
She said her children had not been christened because she could not afford to pay for christenings.
"I just want to live with my husband, if he will take me back. How many times will he want me back if I keep chasing him away?" she said.
Loizou said her husband, Panicos Harris, was unemployed because he had certificates from several doctors stating he was unstable and could not work.
Four months ago, the Welfare Department stopped paying Harris benefit after he failed to appear before a medical board to prove he was sick.
"They say they sent us notices but we didn't receive anything. My husband is not dangerous. He doesn't hit us or shout at us," said Loizou.
Loizou claimed her children did not have clothes and the Welfare Department did not ask if she needed anything for the children.
"I get £70 in September for clothing for my two oldest children who attend school. That isn't enough to buy bags, blazers and jerseys," she complained.
Harris owns a house in Turkish Cypriot settlement in Larnaca that is run down and the family has been calling on the government to fix so they can live in it to save money on rent.
"I have had an operation on my hand and I need another one. Who will take care of my children? They offered to send someone to my house for two hours a day. I have six children. What will two hours help?"
But Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas said yesterday the woman was distorting the facts.
"She gets £790 from the Welfare Department, her husband gets £31 in benefit and she gets £180 because she has a large family. She receives £1,000 from the government every month to take care of her children," the minister told the Cyprus Mail.
Moushiouttas claimed he did not know who had been telling Loizou she should leave her husband, but said such claims were giving the Ministry a bad name.
"If she were to chase away her husband, she would only receive £30 more then she does now," he said.
Moushiouttas said that as soon as he had heard about the woman's case, he had asked for information from the Welfare Department in an attempt to resolve the situation.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Calling volunteers for Athens 2004By Melina Demetriou
THE ORGANISING Committee for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens yesterday asked for volunteers from Cyprus to contribute in the organisation of the event.
Committee chairman Yianna Angelopoulou Daskalaki, on an official visit to Cyprus, yesterday made the appeal at a news conference on 'Volunteerism and the Olympics'.
"Half the people that will be working for the 2004 Olympics will be volunteers. If you are over 18 and wish to help with the organisation of the Games you can send us a letter or an e-mail asking for an application form," Daskalaki said, noting that applicants would have to specify which area they could or would like to get involved with.
"We will need drivers, translators, doctors, nurses, technicians, IT consultants and other kinds of helpers. You don't need to be a professional to be accepted as a volunteer," the Committee chairman explained.
Volunteers will have to spend 17 days in Athens working full time for the duration of the Games. It is not clear yet whether their accommodation expenses will be covered.
Daskalaki appeared satisfied with Cypriots' response to the appeal of the Committee.
"The Cyprus University has committed to help us in any way they can, and many individuals have already applied to work for the Games on a voluntary basis," she said.
Daskalaki cited a moving example to stress the importance of volunteerism.
"Pupils of an elementary school in Greece offered to help but we told them there was nothing that they could do, so they wrote us back asking if they could just stand somewhere and smile to the arrivals to give them a taste of Greek hospitality."
She said the Greek Committee "needs everyone that is willing to help."
Daskalaki also noted that the Olympic Flame would be carried around the world, covering the longest distance it had ever done. As the Olympic fire burns in Olympia, Greece, the Olympic Flame will be carried round the world to end up in Athens, with Cyprus being the last stop before it arrived.
"Cypriots will therefore have a chance to be among those carrying the Flame, a symbol of peace and revival of the Olympic ideals," she said, noting, however, that the Flame could not be carried across the Green Line "because of the policies of the International Olympic Committee, which shuts out states that don't respect its principles."
Daskalaki said the Greek government had undertaken an effort towards a universal ceasefire during the 2004 Olympic Games.
"Miracles do happen, especially when the Flame travels round the world. North and South Korean athletes paraded side by side in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and no one could believe their eyes. I wish all fighters could throw away their weapons just for this time."
The Games are returning home to the country that gave birth to the Olympic celebration more than 2,000 years ago and the city that staged the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. to undertake the task of organising and hosting Olympic Summer Games. To respond to this challenge, the country has engaged in an organisational effort with the Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. of delivering unique Games on a human scale.
Volunteers can send their letters of apply to the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Athens 2004 S.A, 7 Kifissias Avenue, 115 23 Athens Greece.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Police under the spotlight over brutality allegationsBy Elias Hazou
ALLEGATIONS of police brutality this week have prompted the Attorney- general to authorise a probe, as more people have come forth claiming ill- treatment at the hands of police officers.
Earlier this week, Giorgos Mouzouras, a 62-year-old pensioner from Limassol, filed a formal complaint to the Attorney-general claiming he had been handcuffed and beaten by two policemen after protesting against an alcohol test. The man's letter was delivered via an AKEL deputy, a personal acquaintance of his, and was also addressed to the chief of police and the Minister of Justice.
Mouzouras said that on Monday night his wife had fallen ill with food poisoning, and that on their way to the local hospital they had been pulled over by two policemen who asked the man to do an alcohol test. The man protested he was in a hurry to get to the hospital, but agreed to take the test. When it came out clean, he said, the two officers told him to wait for another half hour to take a second test.
At that point, Mouzouras admitted, he lost his nerve and began verbally insulting the policemen, who then handcuffed him and allegedly started kicking and punching him. Mouzouras was seriously injured in the arms, legs and head, and was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.
His allegations were refuted by the Limassol police chief, who said Mouzouras had in fact physically assaulted and injured the two officers on duty. But AKEL deputy Yiannakis Thoma, an acquaintance of Mouzouras', wondered how an elderly and frail man with heart trouble was up to that. He added that Mouzouras, who had fainted from the beatings, was in "very bad shape when I visited him in hospital."
Attorney-general Alekos Markides yesterday confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that a probe by an independent investigator would get under way soon. He added that, if incriminating evidence against the two officers came up, it was completely in the police chief's discretion to suspend them. Markides has instructed that the investigation be completed as soon as possible.
Although the probe will focus only on this case, yesterday Thoma said he had reliable information on at least two other cases of police brutality. In one case, dating back to August last year, police officers from the same Episkopi precinct conducted a check of a family's premises. Nothing incriminating came up, and when tempers flared and the family members protested, the police placed the eldest son under arrest. When the mother tried to step in, she was reportedly beaten away by the policemen; she was still recovering from a recent kidney transplant operation. Her nine-month pregnant daughter-in-law, who tried to break up the argument, also allegedly received blows for her efforts.
Thoma said the victims planned to hold a news conference to describe in detail their abuse at the hands of police.
A police spokesman meanwhile said yesterday that the force had no comment on the allegations and would "wait and see" how the investigation turned out.
Police misconduct and transgressions are reported either to the district chiefs, the head of the force or the Attorney-general, as the Cyprus police force currently lacks an internal affairs department.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Clerides opens three-day Kykko peace meetingBy a Staff Reporter
THE three-day World Meeting of Religions and Cultures opened last night at the Cultural Foundation of the Monastery of Kykko in Lakatameia, Nicosia.President Glafcos Clerides formally opened the event in front of a packed gathering packed of religious leaders and local and foreign dignitaries from around the world.
His welcome was followed by an introductory speech from Archbishop Chrysostomos and representatives of Buddhism, Judaism and Islam. Messages via a television satellite link were sent by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos, Pope John Paul and the Dalai Lama.
Participants at the symposium will discuss ways to achieve peaceful co- existence within a multi-cultural and multi-denominational society.
Political leaders, academics, musicians, film directors, diplomats, writers and representatives from international organisations are attending the weekend's conference.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 When is a school not a schoolBy a Staff Reporter
SUMMER schools will soon be forced to change names, as parliament is set to pass a revised law enforcing stricter controls over descriptions given to tutorial establishments.
According to the new law, profit-making businesses not part of the public or private education system, including kindergartens, will not be allowed to use the "school" tag unless they obtain permission from the Minister of Education.
An Education Ministry report compiled recently noted that consumers were often misled into paying for establishments that were not specifically geared to providing education.
The move is aimed at clamping down on abuse of the term, as a number of self-styled "summer schools" are akin to clubs offering youngsters non- curricular classes for the most part: activities such as swimming, dancing, martial arts and painting lessons, with a foreign-language course to boot.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002