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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-21

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, March 21, 2002


  • [01] US envoy says talks need to move faster
  • [02] Is there a market for cremation?
  • [03] State and private lab get EU accreditation for tests
  • [04] Markides to consider opt-out on citizenship amendment
  • [05] Tug of love mum could be freed from Moroccan jail today
  • [06] Nicosia based Syrian businessman accused of bouncing 2 million in cheques at London casino
  • [07] Cyprus pleads for higher EU farming subsidies

  • [01] US envoy says talks need to move faster

    By Jean Christou

    THE face-to-face talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash are not moving as quickly as the UN Security Council wants, US State Department Co-ordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston said yesterday.

    Speaking on arrival at Larnaca Airport, Weston said he had come to 'listen' to the two leaders, now in the middle of the second round of talks, which the international community hopes will be completed by June.

    "I can't say that they appear to be moving with the needed urgency which the Security Council asked for in its last statement to permit an agreement which the Security Council feels is feasible by June," Weston said. "But that is exactly the subject that I'll be hearing about here."

    Weston said he would not, however, use the word "urgency" to imply that some sort of intervention was taking place. 'I would use the word urgency in the other sense - that both leaders have said that they believed it was possible to achieve an agreement by June," he said. "That sort of timing was taken up by the Security Council, endorsed by the Security Council and it's a Security Council expectation that there will be an agreement by then. So in that sense having started in January and looking towards June, we are about half way through the time available to do that. So in that sense there is some urgency."

    Weston added, however, that the fact the talks were taking place and the fact that they were still continuing was a positive sign and that this was a "very propitious time" for Cyprus. He said the US would lend its support to the talks in any way the parties asked for.

    "We're coming at a time when we are finishing up the second round of these talks and looking towards considering what is going on in the Security Council again, so this is a very propitious time to hear from both of the leaders their views of what is going on," he said.

    "I am here very much in a listening mode but also in a mode to do whatever we can to support the process, in particular to support the Secretary General and

    Alvaro de Soto in this process."

    An UNFICYP announcement said yesterday that UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan would be reviewing the progress in the Cyprus talks during the first week of April, the mid-point of the talks. De Soto, Annan's special envoy for Cyprus, will travel to Athens and Ankara on March 28 and 29 before heading for New York to brief members of the Security Council.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides yesterday urged the Secretary- general to take into serious consideration the behaviour of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides at the negotiating table before he took his next step.

    "We hope that the UN Secretary General, in any future intervention, will take seriously into consideration the attitude of each side at the talks and will not act in the way he did in September 2000, bribing the side that causes difficulties at the expense of the side that does its job," Cassoulides said before leaving for Sofia, where he will take part in a conference on European Union enlargement, organised by the British Foreign Office.

    "It is obvious that the UN are very serious with this round of negotiations and believe they have an obligation to apply all their weight in order to see some outcome from these talks," Cassoulides said. "There are some keys, especially in Ankara, which are still not in place to unlock certain doors. We participate in these talks in a constructive spirit and with political will to find a settlement, so if there is no progress, the responsibility must be sought elsewhere."

    Cassoulides said June remained a landmark timetable for Cyprus and added that this was the first time that negotiations had a window of opportunity, which was rapidly closing. "We should reasonably expect results by June," he said. He also said that Weston should direct his attention to the Turkish side, if he wished to see progress towards a settlement.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Is there a market for cremation?

    By Jennie Matthew

    CREMATION could be legalised in Cyprus if Parliament approves a bill to amend the old-fashioned Burial Law that currently bans the practice.

    As the law stands, anyone wishing to be cremated after death has to have their bodies embalmed and flown abroad at a cost of up to 1,500. Neither can ashes be buried on consecrated ground because of opposition from the Orthodox Church.

    Based exclusively on Orthodox teachings, the current law consequently ignores the wishes of practitioners of other faiths, agnostics and atheists who would prefer their body to be burnt to ashes after death.

    But with more and more expats living in Cyprus, funeral parlours are dealing with more and more foreign clientele, many of whom want alternatives to burial.

    The anomaly caught ministerial attention last year, when the former secretary-general of AKEL, Poultis Servas, died.

    The veteran communist wanted to be cremated, and had to be flown to England because the service could not be performed in Cyprus.

    "It was after that that we started thinking about amending the law and our discussions also include cremation," said permanent secretary at the Interior Ministry Kyriacos Triantafyllides.

    His Ministry is working in conjunction with the Attorney-general's office to draw up a proposal to be put before the Council of Ministers.

    Although it is not yet clear when the draft bill will be ready, nor how long it might take to be passed, Triantafyllides said his department was in a hurry.

    "We would like a modern law as soon as possible," he said.

    But according to one independent source, it would cost more than 300,000 to build a crematorium, wasted money in her view, because of the lack of demand in Cyprus.

    "It'll take a very long time and I don't think it will be worth it. First of all, every year you'll need to service the oven, and Cypriots won't go for it. Everyone wants to see where their loved ones are buried in this country. Above all the Orthodox won't want it," the source said.

    The manager of the Philippides Spring, a funeral parlour in Nicosia, says not even foreign families are that keen on cremation.

    "If we send about 50 bodies abroad, back to their home country a year, maybe two of them ask to be cremated," said Lenia Philippides.

    Neither does she think the expense of freighting a casket particularly outrageous.

    At around 1,500, it's a fraction of the cost of a British funeral, sometimes up to 6,000.

    A rival funeral director also claimed he'd never had a foreign customer ask for cremation.

    His only contact with the custom was when he transported the ashes of a deceased English Cypriot back to Cyprus from London.

    "We just buried them. There was no Church service and no blessing. For the time being, I don't think it's going to work. Perhaps in a few years when the younger generation grows up it may catch on," he said.

    But the manager of the Limassol and Paphos based The Paradise, did think expatriates living in Cyprus would benefit from updating the law.

    "Of about 40,000 people living in Paphos, 10-20,000 of them are foreign," said Michalis Kyriakou, saying he sent most foreign deceased abroad for burial, charging about 700 for transit.

    But again he was doubtful about the future of a Cypriot market for cremation.

    "It's the same thing as a civil wedding ceremony rather than a wedding in Church," he said, "those aged over 50 now won't want it".

    "And you can be sure that the Church will start shouting about it, if it becomes legal," he added.

    But the Bishop Vassilios of Trimithounda told Phileleftheros yesterday that the Church would not object to a change in the law provided the Orthodox faithful did not abandon the Church's teaching and opt for cremation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] State and private lab get EU accreditation for tests

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE EUROPEAN Union has given the General State Laboratory the seal of approval in its food, bottled water and drug control analysis, formally endorsing perishable exports to EU countries.

    The EN45001 credential was awarded after a pre-evaluation in December for technical ability and quality control, carried out by scientists and quality experts from Brussels.

    The same certification was also given to a private lab in Nicosia - the first clinical lab in the Greek-speaking world to qualify for EU-approved status.

    The Director of UNILAB Mariela Kassapis yesterday told the Cyprus Mail she was overjoyed at the news.

    "We're absolutely delighted. We love quality, that's why we did this. It's a quality assurance," she said.

    The lab had been waiting for the official document to arrive in about 15 days' time before announcing the news to the press and their clients.

    In terms of food exports, the approval rating will go hand-in-hand with the enforcement of legislation on food, which will be in place by April 2002.

    "We're very happy indeed," said the acting director of the State Lab, Eleni Kakouri.

    But for her, yesterday's news was just one hurdle of many before the lab qualifies for full EU approval, which director Dina Akkelidou expects to take two years.

    Food, water and drugs, which occupy 11 of the 18 laboratories in the state office, were a priority for EU harmonisation, but Brussels has to accredit 80 per cent of the state lab's activities before the institution can be considered a fully-fledged EU body.

    Akkelidou fears that lack of space and staffing constraints will jeopardise future accreditations on forensic chemistry and environmental analyses.

    The government has been dragging its feet on approving the need for an 8, 000 square metre, 1 million, purpose-built laboratory for seven years.

    Minister of Health Frixos Savvides has promised 15 new chemists by June, although the lab fears staff shortages will be prolonged for another two years.

    The next stage is approval from the International Standardisation Organisation, due to grant an ISO17025 certificate, if all goes according to plan by October.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Markides to consider opt-out on citizenship amendment

    THE ATTORNEY-general has been called to rule on whether people might be allowed to opt out of a controversial amendment to the citizenship law, which grants automatic citizenship, and therefore military obligations, to children of foreigners married to Cypriot women. The amendment was passed last December to extend to Cypriot mothers the same right to transmit citizenship as already enjoyed by Cypriot fathers.

    But it was also made retroactive to independence - August 16, 1960 - suddenly making liable to 26 months of military service all those born to foreign fathers and Cypriot mothers since that date, sparking an outcry among the thousands of Greeks affected by the amendment.

    The issue yesterday came before the Council of Ministers, which authorised Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou to request a ruling from the Attorney-general on whether the law could be changed to grant those affected the right to chose whether they wanted citizenship.

    Speaking after yesterday's meeting, Defence Minister Socrates Hasikos, who has recently been involved in angry exchanges with representatives of Greek associations, said his ministry had merely been enforcing National Guard Law by saying those who became citizens would be liable for call-up.

    He added that the Attorney-general would now consider whether the children of Greeks or other foreigners married to Cypriot mothers might be able to choose whether to take up citizenship. Those who opted for nationality would of course be liable for military service, he added.

    A representative of the Greek associations on the island said yesterday that Cyprus should apply the same model as Greece, where Cypriots can chose whether to serve in the Greek armed forces or the Cyprus National Guard.

    The Greek associations argue the law should take effect on the day it was approved - December 31, 2001 - and not be retroactive.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Tug of love mum could be freed from Moroccan jail today

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE UNCLE of a Cypriot woman imprisoned in Morocco for allegedly trying to kidnap her five-year-old son said yesterday he hoped his niece would be freed today.

    Savvas Nicoalides, a Limassol-based gynaecologist, said the entire family was very concerned for the well being of 32-year-old Lia Nicolaides, since hearing of her arrest 12 days ago.

    Moroccan police apprehended her, a friend and two private detectives in the city of Sale on March 8, and they were charged with attempting to abduct her young son of Moroccan nationality.

    Police sources in Rabat claim that two private detectives tried to snatch the boy on his way to school and bundle him into a waiting car, as they sprayed the maid accompanying him with tear-gas.

    They were allegedly employed by Nicolaides, a Limassol dentist, in an effort to smuggle her son out of his father's home in Morocco.

    According to press reports, this is the second time she has fallen foul of Moroccan police, after an earlier attempt to grab her son failed last year.

    If found guilty, the four on trial could face a maximum prison sentence of five years.

    But Nicoalides said yesterday that Lia's husband might halt the trial, unwilling to see his son's mother sent to jail.

    If so, he said his niece might be freed today, but at what cost to her ambitions to bring her son back to Cyprus he did not know.

    Lia met Hicham Ibourk, a Moroccan dentist, when they studied together in Russia.

    They married soon after and moved to Limassol, where her husband set up practice as a dentist, before the young family left for Morocco in the summer of 2001.

    According to police sources in Rabat, the couple split over differences in how to raise their son and Lia returned to Cyprus shortly after.

    Ibourk apparently wanted to bring up his in the Islamic faith, whereas Lia wanted her son to be Christian.

    Her uncle told the Cyprus Mail she last her son in when her estranged husband left Cyprus, with the boy in tow.

    He stressed Lia's desperation to return home with her son, despite reports that her most probable fate would be immediate deportation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Nicosia based Syrian businessman accused of bouncing 2 million in cheques at London casino

    LONDON'S Ritz Casino has issued a writ against one of its biggest customers, a Syrian businessman who lives in Nicosia, for allegedly bouncing 2 million worth of cheques. Fouad al-Zayat, who according to Tuesday's Independent is a legend in the private clubs of Mayfair, has had his assets, which include a Boeing 747and a 158,000 Rolls Royce, frozen by the High Court.

    Court papers were served on al-Zayat at his apartment in the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane. The Independent said he had gambled 21 million at the Ritz alone since he became a member in 1998. He visited the establishment 156 times between 1999 and 2001, losing nearly 10 million.

    According to the writ, he gave the casino seven cheques in exchange for 2 million in chips. The Ritz says the cheques bounced and the casino obtained orders freezing al-Zayat's bank accounts in London, the Isle of Man, Geneva and Cyprus.

    One casino director reportedly said of al-Zayat; "he has been known to spend 1 million comfortably in an evening. He is also a huge tipper and it's not unusual for him to tip 1,000 to a waitress who brings him his tea."

    The newspaper quoted al-Zayat as saying: "This is the only sin I have. I have lost a lot of money. I know it's wrong to lose money like this but if you have ever been a casino you will understand what the atmosphere is like."

    Al-Zayat was declining to talk to reporters yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Cyprus pleads for higher EU farming subsidies

    AGRICULTURE Minister Costas Themistocleous is pleading with the European Union for special treatment of Cypriot farmers in order to avoid a drastic reduction in their income. Themistocleous, who was speaking at a Brussels meeting of Agriculture Ministers of the EU and candidate countries, spoke of the peculiarities of Cyprus agriculture and pointed out that the island did not receive any aid from other community programmes, like the rest of the mostly east European rural candidate countries.

    Cypriot producers needed full EU subsidies to avoid catastrophe, he insisted.

    Fearing a huge bill when vast rural economies from eastern Europe join the bloc, the European Commission has proposed that farmers in all 13 candidate countries receive reduced subsidies when they become members.

    The Commission has suggested that new members will only receive 25 per cent of the subsidy granted to other farmers in the EU when they join, probably in 2004. This subsidy will increase gradually by five per cent a year, until 2013 when it will reach 100 per cent.

    The proposal has sparked angry reaction among candidate countries, especially Poland, where there is serious concern about farm incomes. The concern stems from the fact that after accession, national governments will no longer be able to subsidise their producers, but will not receive enough EU subsidies to make up.

    Spanish Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Canete, who presided over the meeting, told reporters afterwards that a common position would be ready in three months.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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