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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-03-29

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, March 29, 2002


  • [01] Ambulance shortcomings 'kill 50 people a year'
  • [02] Tractors jam motorway junction in farming protest
  • [03] Cyprus looks to 3G as it prepares to open up telecoms market
  • [04] The accidental author
  • [05] New colours for Cyprus Airways
  • [06] Hasikos seeks to reassure deputies over leak investigation
  • [07] Papapetrou: talks must be intensified
  • [08] World's top drivers gear up for Cyprus rally
  • [09] Beware the phone call in the middle of the night
  • [10] Soldier killed by lightning

  • [01] Ambulance shortcomings 'kill 50 people a year'

    By George Psyllides

    AROUND 50 people die every year because of the inadequate staff and equipment on ambulances, the House Health Committee heard yesterday.

    The committee yesterday discussed the treatment, or lack thereof, of people severely injured in accidents, giving deputies the chance to slam the government for indifference concerning the state of the island's ambulance service.

    DIKO Deputy Marios Matsakis charged that ambulance crews were incapable of carrying out defibrillation - restore normal heart contractions through the use of an electric shock - and asked the Health Ministry to submit specific information concerning the number of ambulances available, their equipment and personnel.

    The island's ambulances are currently staffed by one hospital nurse, and a driver with no medical knowledge.

    The Chairman of the Committee, DISY deputy Antonis Karas, as well as Matsakis mooted specific examples of inadequate or wrong treatment of injured people by ambulance staff, which in some cases led to their death.

    AKEL deputy Kyriacos Tyrimos said the government services lacked proper planning, saying no one got punished for mistakes during the treatment of injured people.

    Health Ministry Representative Androulla Agrotou countered that the government had pledged to upgrade the rescue services and had already started with the renewal of the ambulance fleet.

    The Director of the Nicosia Hospital Emergency Room Costas Antoniades said the government had already trained 24 paramedics in Greece while a new programme for training rescuers would begin in October.

    Antoniades said the government's intention was to train around 1,500 rescuers, who would be used to cover needs in all districts.

    He added that a lot had been done to improve the ambulance service in recent years, though he admitted not all carried defibrillators.

    Citing Health Ministry information, Matsakis charged that around 50 lives were lost every year due to the poor ambulance service, adding that his suggestion to staff ambulances with doctors should be examined.

    Antoniades said he doubted many of the doctors who would staff the ambulances would be able to carry out emergency defibrillation.

    "It would be a castration of their medical knowledge to put them in an ambulance and have them sit around waiting for an emergency," Antoniades said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Tractors jam motorway junction in farming protest

    By George Psyllides

    FARMERS yesterday defied torrential rain and hail and converged on Larnaca where they used their tractors and trucks to block the Rizoelia junction.

    The Larnaca and Famagusta farmers were protesting about long standing problems but especially about the government's insistence that they pay social insurance for seasonal foreign workers.

    Around 240 vehicles early yesterday morning blocked the junction completely and only let emergency vehicles go through.

    At 3pm the farmers used 10 tractors to block the old Larnaca to Nicosia road, cutting all access and forcing drivers to use the Larnaca to Kofinou and Kalo Horio to Mosfiloti roads to get through.

    The farmers held a meeting under the overpass, which protected them from the heavy rain and decided to continue their blockade until 9am today, when they will hold another meeting to decide how to proceed.

    The protesters then formed a delegation to go to the Presidential Palace but Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros warned them through a telephone conversation that they would not be seen by anyone unless they removed their vehicles from the junction.

    The farmers demand resolution of a series of problems including debts, VAT issues, pensions, compensation, and seasonal foreign workers' social insurance.

    The Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, DISY deputy Lefteris Christoforou said the problems of the area's farmers were the problems of all farmers, and people should not be misled into believing that it was only potato growers who had grievances.

    Christoforou said it was unacceptable for farmers to pay social insurance three times higher than what housemaids and artistes paid.

    "What they demand is equal treatment and I do not think there is anyone in their right mind who does not find the demand fair," Christoforou said.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the President would look into the demands if the farmers submitted a memo outlining what they wanted.

    Papapetrou said President Glafcos Clerides was planning to set up a ministerial committee to look into the farmers' problems and was willing to study their demands if the measures were lifted.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Cyprus looks to 3G as it prepares to open up telecoms market

    By Jean Christou

    THE government will today issue its consultation paper for the licensing of additional mobile and fixed line providers, a major step in ending the island's decades-long telecommunications monopoly.

    The 28-page paper seeks the advice of interested parties, inside and outside the island, on the technical, commercial, economic and regulatory issues associated with the licensing of additional providers to compete with the semi-government Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA).

    "This consultation is an important step for the people of Cyprus as it marks the introduction of competition in the provision of mobile telecommunications networks. The people of Cyprus have shown that mobile communications is important to them and the introduction of competition will provide users with additional choice, will provide for innovative services and will allow the Cyprus market to grow," said Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou.

    "This initiative will further harmonise our mobile services with the European market, allowing economies of scale and scope."

    It will also allow increased data rates facilitating new high-speed mobile services and promoting Internet access and new applications to support the competitiveness of Cypriot industries, the Minister added.

    The Cyprus government plans later this year to offer UMTS, which stands for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, a member of the IMT-2000 global family of "third generation" mobile communications systems. UMTS will play a key role in creating the future mass market for high-quality wireless multimedia communications that will approach 2 billion users worldwide by the year 2010. That, together with awarding additional GSM mobile licences, is the government's main aim.

    First generation networks provided simple analogue voice telephony. Second generation added some data services like fax and email to basic voice services, short message service (SMS) and WAP. Third generation mobile communications (3G), in addition to conventional voice, data and fax services, promises to offer multimedia services, mobile office, virtual banking and Internet access.

    "Wireless networks in general, and 3G/UMTS networks in particular are expected to play key roles in the development of Cyprus as it moves from a monopoly environment to a competitive market. The rise of the Internet and the demand for telecommunications services is growing at unprecedented rates," the document said.

    As of 2000, Cyprus had 650 telephone lines per 1,000 persons among a population of close to 700,000. The current mobile telephone operator reports a penetration of 47 per cent at the end of 2001, and offers advanced services such as short message service and WAP. This represents a growth of 20 per cent over year 2000 penetration rates. As of 2000 there were six Internet Service Providers (ISP) and 80,000 Internet users.

    World mobile leader Vodafone and Greece's number one operators CosmOTE have already made enquiries into the progress towards liberalising the telecommunications market in Cyprus

    Telecommunications Commissioner Vassos Pyrgos told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the government had no idea yet how many licenses it would give until they had received the feedback from the public consultation.

    The EU's Licensing Directive provides that there should be no limitations on the number of licences granted, but the public consultation document said there could be exceptions to this rule, one of which applies to wireless systems where there may be a physical limitation within a frequency band.

    "In Cyprus there is also a unique situation pertaining to the fact that in the occupied territories there are public mobile telephone networks in operation. Consideration should be given to withholding some spectrum in Cyprus until the situation with the occupied territories is resolved," the paper said.

    The government is keen on issuing licences for up to 15 years with a high expectation of renewal, with public consultation being held two years prior to the end of the licensing term.

    Concerns include a proliferation of antenna towers, and site sharing will be encouraged wherever possible, particularly as some sites currently used by the telecommunications carrier are already on government properties, the document said.

    Operators will also be required to ensure they comply with the international guidelines for general public exposure to radio frequency fields in accordance with the recommendations of the European Union.

    Following the receipt of comments in response to the public consultation document, the government expects that the competition for the licensing of additional providers would begin in the third quarter of this year.

    "We are looking for the inputs of any people who are interested, consumers or possible service providers," Pyrgos said. "This input will assist us in finalising the number of licences, the type of licences and the way in which they will be issued."

    Comments must be submitted in writing, preferably in English, to the Communications and Works Ministry before 5pm on April 25, 2002.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] The accidental author

    By Alex Mita

    CHILDREN'S author and Scottish Arts Council Award winner, Margaret Ryan, is in Cyprus this week for a series of lectures for 'Book Week', organised by the Highgate Primary School in Nicosia.

    Ryan, the author of the successful series The Littlest Dragon, recounted how she came to write stories for children.

    "I became an author by accident. I was looking for an intellectual exercise, I wanted to write something, and that set me off writing children's stories."

    "My first book was published in 1988, but I have been writing for a little while before that," she says.

    Margaret was born in Paisley and now lives in Greenock with her husband and two children. She trained as a teacher at the Jordanhill School of Education in Glasgow and taught in schools for four years. She gave up teaching when her children were young but went back to supply teaching when her youngest was five. Margaret then went on to teach disabled children and then creative writing courses for young offenders. She started writing as a hobby, but finally gave up teaching to write full-time. She has written stories for radio and television and has had numerous articles published in newspapers and magazines.

    The choice to write children's books was purely accidental. "I just wanted to write, there was no real direction," she says.

    "I get a lot of letters from children, telling me that they enjoy the books and, and it's wonderful to see the kind of things they pick up on," she said

    In Ryan's version of the Canterbury Tales, a book involving family called the Canterburies, Ryan says a lot of children tell her how the characters in the book are exactly like, or as horrible as their own brothers and sisters.

    "You have the big sister's tale, the little sister's tale and the little brother's tale, and the children tell me how their brothers or sisters, are exactly like the ones I describe in my book. My books are based on reality, through experiences that my children, or friends' children have had."

    Ryan has received the Scottish Arts Council Award for best book for beginner reading for The Queen's Birthday Hat, and is due to release a trilogy of books about children with special gifts, and another, which will target older readers, entitled, Operation Boyfriend. She has also been commissioned to write educational books but Ryan says she focuses primarily on entertaining young children.

    The author will be in Cyprus until the next Saturday, after which she is planning to enjoy a vacation with her husband.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] New colours for Cyprus Airways

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) yesterday showed off its new colours, having repainted one of the three Airbus A320s it had leased to its charter arm Eurocypria and now reclaimed.

    The new-look CY, in mostly blue and white, with less ochre than the remainder of the fleet. It places a bigger emphasis on the word Cyprus and less on the word Airways. The national carrier's symbol, the moufflon maintains pride of place on the tail fin and the Cyprus flag is on the nose of the aircraft.

    When CY takes delivery of a new 126-seater Airbus A319 at the end of April and another at the end of June, the planes will also be displaying the new designs.

    CY will also take delivery of two 295-seater Airbus A330s, one by the end of this year and a second in the beginning of 2003.

    Spokesman Tassos Angelis said yesterday that all the new aircraft would come directly from the Airbus plant in France complete with the new design. The existing aircraft with the old design will be revamped at a later stage, he said.

    The new A319s will be named Nikokli and Halkanor, after two ancient kings of Paphos and Idalion while the two A330's will be named Ammochostos and Kyrenia, after the two areas under Turkish occupation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Hasikos seeks to reassure deputies over leak investigation

    By George Psyllides

    DEFENCE Minister Socratis Hasikos had to scramble to the House yesterday after deputies on the House Defence Committee, raised their eyebrows at the prospect of having to testify to police in connection with leaks of classified information concerning arms procurement.

    On Wednesday, Hasikos said deputies could be called to testify in a criminal investigation concerning leaks to the press of classified information.

    Deputies, apparently not too comfortable with the idea, yesterday decided to call the minister to the House to brief them on the issue.

    The briefing was done behind closed doors.

    Afterwards, Hasikos told reporters that there was no problem, stressing that nothing had been said to offend the members of the committee.

    Hasikos took the chance to re-table the issue of the House being involved in arms procurement, reminding that when he served as deputy he had proposed to change the current state of affairs.

    He nevertheless added that as a minister he wanted to be under the House's scrutiny.

    Hasikos said too much time was wasted through the current procedures and there was also the issue of the legislature meddling with the executive branch.

    "It could have been a clear cut procedure like all other purchases done by the state; but I repeat that as long as I'm minister I want to be checked by the House," Hasikos said.

    The Chairman of the Defence Committee Yiannakis Omirou did not rule out deputies testifying, while DISY deputy Antonis Karas warned that testify or not, the rumour that classified information might have been leaked by committee members would linger for ever.

    Karas also took the chance to voice his opposition to Cyprus buying arms from Israel, because of its alliance with Turkey.

    Karas said this was a tragic mistake and revealed that he would vote against any funds earmarked for procuring arms from Israel, including UAVs and coastal surveillance radars.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Papapetrou: talks must be intensified

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday it agreed with the UN assessment of June as a target date and not a deadline for the Cyprus talks, but still wished to see the negotiations intensified in the weeks ahead.

    Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told journalists yesterday that the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides must engage in "a practical discussion of the core issues" and stressed that there was a lot of work to do to achieve progress.

    The spokesman was critical of Turkey's attempts to inform European countries about the positions of the Turkish Cypriot side at the talks, saying this was not the appropriate thing to do at a time when there was a blackout imposed by the UN.

    "We have said in the past that June is not a deadline, it is a target date and if the direct talks extend to July, there will be no guillotine hanging over us," Papapetrou said after yesterday's cabinet meeting.

    Papapetrou was commenting on statements by UN envoy Alvaro de Soto that the June target date was not a deadline but a desirable goal.

    De Soto, who on Wednesday concluded 22 meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, also said on his way for consultations in Ankara, Athens and New York that he wanted to see "an intensification of the negotiations."

    Commenting on the possibility of proposals being submitted to the two sides, Papapetrou said, "both sides have to agree on the submission of proposals and so far we have not been asked for our consent to such a move."

    Invited to comment on Denktash's assessment that there was no deadlock in the talks, Papapetrou replied: "strictly speaking he may be right because the talks are continuing."

    "However, time is moving on and this imposes restrictions. There is a lot of work to be done and this is why we have to find ways to break the deadlock," he said.

    Direct talks are due to resume on 9 April, after De Soto returns from New York with a renewed mandate as to how to proceed.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] World's top drivers gear up for Cyprus rally

    By Rosie Ogden

    THE 30th Cyprus Rally, fifth round of the 2002 World Rally Championship, was officially launched at a news conference in Nicosia yesterday.

    All the world's top drivers will be competing in the 1,300 km race, with the current runaway leader in the Manufacturers' championship, Peugeot, fielding the first three cars off the ramp: Marcus Gronholm of Finland is seeded number 1, with Peugeot's tarmac ace Gilles Panizzi at number 2. Their team-mate, reigning World Champion Richard Burns of Britain, starts third, followed by the Subaru Impreza of four times world champion Tommi Makinen, and Ford's Carlos Sainz, who won here in 2000.

    Harri Rovanpera, Colin McRae and Petter Solberg will start sixth, seventh and eighth, with the Mitsubishis of Alister McRae and Francois Delecour rounding off the top ten.

    The rally proper will start at 8 am on Friday April 19, and is divided into three legs, with six competitive stages on the first day, eight on the second and another six on the third, covering a total of 324 kilometres.

    The organisers are placing great emphasis on safety, and have this year introduced a new system which uses green and red tape to mark 'go' and 'no- go' areas. Chief Safety Officer Loucas Loucaides was blunt: "if the official in the FIA safety helicopter sees people standing in the no-go areas, the special stage will be cancelled," he said, and called on all fans to respect marshals' instructions and make sure Cyprus didn't, like the recent Catalunya Rally, end up with several stages not being run. Apart from disappointed fans, a lack of discipline among spectators could threaten the World Championship status of the event, he said.

    This year's rally will be run from April 18, when there will be ceremonial start on the Limassol seafront at 6pm, until April 21, when the first car is due back at the finish -- again at Limassol promenade -- at 4.30 pm.

    (There will be a special Rally edition of Motor Mail in the Sunday Mail on April 14th)

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Beware the phone call in the middle of the night

    By Jean Christou

    THE well-known 'Nigerian scam' has spread to both e-mail and mobile phone users, but the Central Bank said yesterday very few people on the island were being taken in and no further warnings would be issued.

    A Nicosia woman told the Cyprus Mail she had received a call on her mobile phone at around 2am on Tuesday morning from a Dr Ahmed Abubakar, informing her that she was the beneficiary of a certain William Smith and he wished to close the file. She said she didn't know anyone called William Smith.

    "I immediately realised it was a scam," she said. "He could have been more imaginative with the name."

    Abubakar asked the woman to call him back at a Lagos number to discuss the issue, but she refused. "I told him 'you must be joking' but he continued as if he were reading a prepared speech," she said. "I asked him if someone in the Nigerian telecommunications authority (NITEL) had sold him my number. I asked him if he was a scam artist, but he just ignored my questions. Then he asked my name, and I told him that if he had a file on me, and my phone number then he must know my name."

    She said he seemed unfazed by the questions and insisted on continuing, so she decided to let him talk "as long as he was the one getting stuck with a large phone bill".

    Senior Central Bank official Andreas Philippou said yesterday that every now and then letters still came in from the Nigerian scammers. "We have stopped circulating notices to the banks because they are all familiar with these scams," he said.

    Philippou said that as far as the Central Bank was aware no one in Cyprus had fallen for any of the Nigerian con tricks, which essentially involve people handing over their bank account numbers in return for a commission on a supposed deposit to be made by the Nigerian, who usually poses as a government official or a relative of one of the country's former wealthy rulers. The scammers then wipe out the accounts.

    "The victims are promised huge amounts of money for merely providing details of their accounts," Philippou said. "I hope no one could fall victim to their greed in this way."

    Philippou said that when such letters had circulated in the past, warning circulars would be issued by the Central Bank, but he said the financial community in Cyprus was now well aware that "these letters are not invitations to share huge wealth but a trap".

    Abubakar's name appears on a blacklist of scammers detailed on a special website set up to expose them at A new scam involves being given a number to call back, which will cost the caller anything from $15 a minute to over $2,000 a minute in some cases.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Soldier killed by lightning

    By a Staff Reporter

    AN 18-year-old soldier was killed yesterday after he was struck by lightning while taking part in exercises at a firing range on the Troodos mountain range.

    A Defence Ministry statement said sergeant Andreas Makloklas from Nicosia was killed at around 11.45am when he was struck by lightning during a brief storm at the Xintou firing range.

    The 18-year-old was rushed to the Evrychou medical centre where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

    A second soldier who was on the scene, and was close friends with Makloklas, suffered a nervous breakdown and was rushed to Nicosia hospital, reports said.

    The defence ministry has ordered an investigation into the circumstances of the incident.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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