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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-15

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, March 15, 2002


  • [01] Cypriots unite in emotional farewell
  • [02] A state funeral and a high security football match: a busy day for police
  • [03] Cassoulides: talks do not justify optimism
  • [04] Zivania unlikely to escape EU excise duty
  • [05] Prepare for an extra 20 per cent on your electricity bills
  • [06] Baby going to prison
  • [07] Drawing up an e-commerce strategy
  • [08] Billboard issue in limbo
  • [09] Gypsies apprehended

  • [01] Cypriots unite in emotional farewell

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE funeral of former President Spyros Kyprianou was a rare display of national unity yesterday, as rich and poor, politicians and members of the public came to pay their last respects to a man whose life had come to be intertwined with the history of the Republic.

    All eyes were centred on the coffin, draped in the Cypriot and Greek flags, adorned with a crucifix of white flowers and two candles.

    And the crowds came early to file past, kiss the glass, touch the wood and shake hands with Kyprianou's eldest son Achilleas.

    Widowers, old men, students, children, soldiers and young professionals flooded into the Church, bunched up in the gallery, bagging their seats to get the best view.

    Peering over the edge, nudging each other to exchange confidences as people arrived, the atmosphere was nonetheless deeply subdued.

    The aisles were packed with people straining to see the comings and goings at the front; the three great doors flung open so as many as possible could gather inside the portal to listen to the liturgy relayed on loudspeaker.

    Others were content just to listen. One elderly woman crouched in darkness behind the seated bishops, fanning herself so she could breathe despite the multitude of bodies pressed in around her.

    Another two perched on the steps of the pulpit. The sea of black was dotted with service uniforms, senior Army officers, firemen and police chiefs.

    The crowd split themselves into politicians on the left, family and friends on the right.

    Regardless of faith and custom, almost all foreign ambassadors attended the service.

    DIKO MP Marios Matsakis stood erect, guarding the coffin for nearly four hours before the service, deep in reflection.

    Kyprianou's successor as DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos took up position in the centre of the front row, next to political rival DISY chairman Nicos Anastassiades, who was wearing black shades.

    The mourners varied from the grief-stricken, to the meek and perfunctory.

    Kyprianou's sister-in-law broke down over the casket, before relatives could help her to her seat.

    Others also seemed reluctant to gaze at the face of the former President in the open coffin. Attorney-general Alecos Markides and Defence Minister Socrates Hasikos avoided a direct gaze and Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou gave it an uncomfortable, formal nod.

    Justice Minister Nicos Koshis kissed Achilleas, while Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou lingered by the coffin before also consoling Kyprianou's visibly moved son.

    Ushers had to part the swelling crowd to allow the Kyprianou family, his wife Mimi, second son Marcos, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters, to make their way to the front, greeted by a standing ovation.

    Flanked by her sons, Mimi was composed throughout the service. One of her twin granddaughters, dressed in matching black outfits, stood up for the first half of the liturgy.

    The lid of the casket was removed just before the liturgy started, accompanied by a flurry of photographers, elbowing their way past the bishops to snap the late President's face, framed by white silk and white flowers.

    Bodyguards escorted an extremely sombre President Glafcos Clerides to his seat opposite Archbishop Chrysostomos, just as the liturgy began.

    Outside in the courtyard, women set up stalls collecting money for charities such as the Red Cross and cancer groups next to enormous TV trucks broadcasting the service live.

    Police had cordoned off all the streets outside the Church, reserved for parked ministerial, Church and diplomatic BMWs and Mercedes.

    Above the sound of the relayed liturgy, their drivers' and security guards' intercoms crackled with the occasional message.

    When the service was finished, the coffin was led out of the Church to standing ovation, down the steps, through the gates and into the waiting hearse, to the sound of the tolling bell and Chopin's funeral march from the Police Band.

    The pallbearers walked through lines of National Guardsmen stood to attention, showered with flowers from onlookers.

    Shopkeepers shut for the day, children, local residents and a handful of Chinese students gathered on the curb to applaud, staying to watch the flood of mourners spill out into the street and make their way home.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] A state funeral and a high security football match: a busy day for police

    By Jennie Matthew

    IT WAS one of the busiest days of the police calendar for law enforcement officers yesterday, battling to supply security cover for the funeral of former president Spyros Kyprianou and last night's UEFA cup match between Hapoel Tel-Aviv and AC Milan.

    A police spokesman told the Cyprus Mail that 1,214 officers were out on the beat covering the two occasions yesterday, with 1,000 earmarked for last night's game at the GSP Stadium outside Nicosia.

    The day started early and finished late for police, lingering well into the night when fans departed after the match, scheduled for a 9pm start.

    One officer co-ordinating the police operation for the funeral said 25 traffic policemen had cordoned off all roads within 1km of the Church.

    Two police cars then accompanied the funeral car on its journey from Nicosia to the cemetery in Limassol, along an evacuated highway, lined with patrol cars.

    A Nicosia ambulance accompanied the motorcade to Kofinou, where Limassol paramedics took over.

    For the Limassol burial, 16 regular policemen were mobilised, along with the town's entire Traffic Police contingent.

    Last night's high profile football match was relocated to Cyprus when UEFA suspended all European competition matches in Israel because of spiralling violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

    Fear of possible Palestinian attack has coerced the government into providing maximum cover.

    "The Cyprus government is taking more security precautions than usual for a football match," said spokesman for the Israeli Embassy Eli Belotsercovsky, underlining that his government was providing no extra cover.

    "We don't see this game as something extraordinary. It's normal for us," he said, nonetheless admitting that 'normal' security for Israelis was not 'normal' security for other countries.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Cassoulides: talks do not justify optimism

    By Jean Christou

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said yesterday that the progress of the current face-to-face talks did not justify any optimism for a solution.

    Speaking to reporters before leaving for the EU's Barcelona summit, Cassoulides said he too wished to see a united Cyprus joining the EU, echoing the hopes of EU Commissioner for enlargement Gunter Verheugen who earlier expressed his optimism for a solution in 2002.

    "Allow me to continue to be somewhat reserved in my outlook with regard to a settlement because what is taking place in the UN-led talks does not justify any optimism," Cassoulides said, commenting on Verheugen's remarks.

    Verheugen told the European Parliament on Wednesday that he was satisfied with the result of his recent meetings in Cyprus with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Verheugen said the two community leaders had given him the impression that they were seeking constructive outcome to the peace talks, which would lead to a lasting settlement.

    But despite his note of pessimism for 2002, Cassoulides would not rule out some optimism further down the line.

    Commenting on the possibility of seeing minor concessions by the Turkish Cypriot side at the talks, Cassoulides said: "All those who are in a position to assess the state of play at the talks, and consequently follow the talks through in the future, they will be in a position to make a correct evaluation and decide whether something is a real concession or not."

    He also said mediators did not act on the basis of what Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said in his statements, but on what went on behind closed doors at the negotiating table.

    Referring to the Barcelona summit, which will also be attended by President Clerides, Cassoulides welcomed the decision of the EU Spanish presidency to invite the candidate countries to air their views on various issues concerning the EU, in a bid to ease their integration into the European family.

    "We have to deal with other core European issues and not only with EU enlargement," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Zivania unlikely to escape EU excise duty

    By Jennie Matthew

    GEORGE Vassiliou said yesterday the chances of getting Zivania registered as a traditional drink to bypass EU excise duties were minimal.

    The Chief of the Cyprus Negotiating Team for European Accession said the request had been lodged with Brussels some time ago, but he was doubtful about getting the thumbs up.

    EU harmonisation would slap the same excise duties on Zivania as other imported spirits, just as national drinks made in Germany and Sweden have been forced to bite the bullet in the past.

    Neither is he optimistic about an alternative request for a transition period to give Zivania producers more time to cut production costs to maintain their competitive edge over international rivals.

    "It's a matter of uniformity and I don't think it's unreasonable. It's not tragic," Vassiliou said of the pending 'no' from Brussels.

    Zivania producers are frightened the ensuing price increases will squeeze out their competitive advantage over another Cyprus favourite, whisky.

    Zivania sales have soared in recent years and now threaten to dislodge whisky from the top slot.

    The drink is currently taxed at an excise rate of 1.50. Harmonisation will bring the cost up to 3.40.

    According to Vassiliou, the hikes will put a 60 to 70 cent excise tax on a litre bottle of Zivania on the supermarket shelf, and add about 20 cents to the price of a shot in pubs and restaurants - nothing too lose sleep over.

    "Our main argument is that it will simply lead to an increase in illegal production," said Vassiliou.

    The British Colonial regime banned the drink in 1948 because they found it too difficult to collect excise duties, sending production underground.

    The law was only overturned in 1999, allowing producers to market it under its proper name, rather than pseudonyms such as Genevriere, Zivana or monastery sweet aperitif.

    Industry sources say the bootleg industry costs the government 200,000 in lost income today.

    "All I can say is that they're considering it," said Vassiliou.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Prepare for an extra 20 per cent on your electricity bills

    By Jean Christou

    NEGOTIATIONS to raise the price of electricity to consumers by around 20 per cent are in their final stages, Electricity Authority (EAC) spokesman Tassos Roussos said yesterday.

    He said the entire change in the charging system would have to be in place by January 2004, but that the 20 per cent increase would begin to be implemented gradually, starting just as soon as the government approved the move.

    Electricity charges must rise under the EU harmonisation process, which decrees that no subsidies are allowed. Currently, domestic consumption is subsidised by higher tariffs on the industrial and commercial sectors.

    "Our tariffs as they are now consist of some cross category subsidies," Roussos said. "The EU has two major golden rules. Cross subsidies are not allowed and each consumer category should pay for the cost incurred on the network as a result of supplying them with energy. In other words, everyone should carry their own weight."

    The result will be an increase on domestic charges in the region of 20 per cent.

    "The new tariffs have been prepared by us and submitted to the relevant ministry, which is the Ministry of Commerce, in August last year" Roussos said.

    "The Ministry is looking at the issue in co-operation with some outside consultants and the situation is at the stage of negotiations to finalise what will go through in the end, but an increase will go through gradually in stages. It won't be all at once but it must be in place by the time we join the EU."

    And if that weren't enough, consumers also face a further five per cent hike on bills, as VAT rises from the current 10 to 15 per cent - again by 2004.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Baby going to prison

    By a Staff Reporter

    AN 11-MONTH-OLD baby is being driven to the Central Prisons to be breastfed by his mother, a 30-year-old Kurdish refugee jailed for illegal entry.

    The baby's parents, Ibrahim Saskara, 27 and Fatma, 30 were arrested after crossing into the south from the occupied areas in the Nicosia suburb of Pallouriotissa.

    They were each sentenced to a month in prison for illegal entry into the Cyprus republic and the baby was entrusted to the care of Social Services.

    In the interest of the baby's health, arrangements have been made to deliver the child to his mother for daily doses of milk.

    Fatma will undergo a medical examination to prove that she is using the time with her child to breastfeed. If not, then the arrangement will be terminated.

    The Saskara couple were jailed with another Kurdish refugee, Hatice Bargatayin, 30 who accompanied them on the trip south with her four children, aged 11, 12, eight and five, to meet up with her husband who has been living here for some time.

    Bargatayin was also sentenced to one month in prison for illegal entry. Her children are living with their father, who has an application for political asylum pending with the government.

    She and the children arrived in Kyrenia on March 7, following her husband who arrived in the occupied areas in May 1999.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Drawing up an e-commerce strategy

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS is preparing an action plan for e-commerce to boost internet sales and promote more local business on the net, an international conference on the issue heard yesterday.

    Addressing the Third South Eastern European Conference on e-Commerce, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said 67 per cent of Cypriot Internet users had visited e-commerce sites, but only 12 per cent had purchased goods or services online.

    Ten per cent of users have made electronic purchases from international web sites, but only two per cent from Cypriot sites, he said, adding the number of Cypriot-based e-commerce sites was low.

    More than 200 representatives from the e-commerce, business and academic worlds from 23 countries are participating in the three-day Conference, entitled "Building the digital economy for South Eastern Europe".

    The Permanent Secretary of the Planning Bureau, Panicos Pouros, said his office had taken on the initiative to prepare a national strategy for the development of electronic commerce in Cyprus, while the Director General of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA), Nicos Timotheou, referred to the changing technological environment and said society had to show the speed and flexibility to adapt to this new environment.

    Timotheou added that a whole series of changes in national, international legal and financial systems would be necessary for effective use of the newest technologies.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Billboard issue in limbo

    By a Staff Reporter

    DESPITE official declarations last September that billboards littering motorways and towns would be removed for the sake of public safety and aesthetics nothing has been done, while an amendment to the current road safety law has not even been scheduled for discussion.

    The House had initially sought guidance in EU practice to on the issue, and the Communications Committee decided to investigate the matter and discuss the proposed amendment to the road safety law.

    But the EU has not issued any directive specifically concerning billboards, effectively leaving the issue to be dealt with by individual member states, leaving the committee in limbo, with no plans to table the issue for discussion.

    On a separate front, the Interior Ministry has still failed to submit the necessary town planning regulations governing the placement of billboards on the roofs of houses.

    Another pending issue is which authority would be responsible for the enforcement of these regulations.

    Municipalities want to have the authority to regulate the issue, but that could spark controversy, as they are currently the ones that pocket the money by selling permits to billboard companies to raise their hoardings all over their jurisdiction.

    On the legal front, an appeal filed by the Attorney-general to overturn a district court ruling prohibiting the removal of billboards belonging to a particular company will probably take a further three months before it is heard.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Gypsies apprehended

    By a Staff Reporter

    SIX TURKISH Cypriot gypsies spent yesterday in custody at Xylotymbou police station, waiting to be taken to Limassol where they say they have relatives.

    The two couples and two children were spotted at around 11pm on Wednesday night, wandering around the village on the SBA Dhekelia Base.

    They were apprehended and police officers told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that they had to be interrogated and their identity as Turkish Cypriots verified before they were allowed to go free.

    The men and women, originally from Morphou told police they crossed into the south at Achna from the occupied village of Makrasyka on Wednesday night because they want to be reunited with relatives in the free areas.

    One couple, a 53-year-old man and his 48-year-old wife brought their 23- year-old son with them.

    The others were another couple, aged 66 and 61 with their 10-year-old grandson in tow.

    They insisted they have no desire to go back to the north and wanted only to live with their children already resident in Limassol.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou has previously criticised gypsies who wander south to collect welfare checks, before heading back to the north.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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