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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-06

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Saturday, April 6, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU pessimistic about Cyprus deal in 2002
  • [02] Government denies reopening airport tenders after local consortium left out
  • [03] Champions League football coming to Nicosia?
  • [04] Bill aims to turn the tables on bouncing cheque offenders
  • [05] Exercise: the key to a healthy life
  • [06] Government lifts flying ban
  • [07] CY fury as Helios grabs Luton slot
  • [08] Boosting Cyprus as a venue for sports tourism

  • [01] EU pessimistic about Cyprus deal in 2002

    By Marcin Grajewski

    EUROPEAN Union Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said yesterday there was a less than 50 per cent chance that talks to reunite Cyprus would succeed this year because the Turkish side was refusing to budge.

    But the top EU official said he was increasingly confident that even without a peace deal, the EU would be able to take in up to 10 new members in 2004, eight from eastern Europe as well as Cyprus and Malta.

    He said the Turkish side was mostly to blame for the lack of progress in reunification talks between leaders of the two sides.

    Verheugen said there were two options -- either a peace settlement this year allowing the bloc to admit a united Cyprus, or the conclusion of accession talks with a divided island.

    The likelihood of the former outcome "is under 50 per cent, because we have not seen really seen any progress being made on the Turkish side," he told European parliamentarians.

    The looming year-end deadline for wrapping up EU accession talks is one of the key factors in adding urgency to the negotiations between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Greece has said it would stall the whole enlargement process if Cyprus, which is economically the best-prepared candidate, was left out of the first wave of members for political reasons.

    Verheugen, speaking at a conference of the centre-right European People's Party, played down the threats.

    "The big fear is that the Cyprus issue will become a major obstacle to completing the wider enlargement. But I am no longer as concerned about that as I was in the past," he said.

    "It is quite clear that the Greek side is taking a positive and constructive approach to the process," he added.

    He also said he would not be surprised if Turkey suddenly unblocked the Cyprus talks.

    "Turkey negotiates a bit like the former Soviet Union: for months and years nothing happens... and suddenly overnight a breakthrough decision is taken, " he said.

    United Nations special envoy Alvaro de Soto told the Security Council on Thursday that despite the slow progress of negotiations, it was still possible to meet a June deadline for agreement.

    Verheugen was less optimistic. "I do not know whether we can expect any real progress before summer, but it does look doubtful," he said. (R)

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Government denies reopening airport tenders after local consortium left out

    By Jean Christou

    GOVERNMENT sources yesterday denied that they were re-tendering the airport renovation project after local-led consortium J&P took legal steps when it missed the final short list.

    The J&P consortium, led by Joannou and Paraskeviades and including the British Airport Authority (BAA), filed a lawsuit against the government when it was omitted from the short list of five candidates. The consortium came in sixth place out of 10 initial bidders after they were all assessed on the merits of technical know how, airport experience and financial resources.

    The final five were to have been submitted this month for final selection around September. J&P had said that the way the consortium was evaluated was "wrong" and "unjust". But the company's letter of objection was ignored by the Communications and Works Ministry, so the consortium resorted to legal action.

    The issue was handed over to the Attorney-general's office, reportedly brought in by the government's central tenders commission to review the screening process. A Communications and Works official announced on Thursday that the process would be reviewed.

    "It's not a re-tendering," senior Ministry sources told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. "The legal advice from the Attorney-general was to ask for some additional information from the 10 bidders and we hope that everything will be cleared up by the end of April and we can proceed with the final tender document.

    "The Attorney-general, after the legal action by J&P, considered that to proceed legally it was better to request some additional information from the companies."

    The source said the setback would not delay the government's plans to have a strategic investor in place by October.

    "We believe that that we will still be on time," he said. "We might be delayed by one or two weeks but we will make up the time."

    The state is seeking a strategic partner to invest some £200 million into the Larnaca and Paphos airports projects and run them for the next 20 years.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Champions League football coming to Nicosia?

    By Soteris Charalambous

    CHAMPIONS League football could come to Cyprus next year, UEFA officials told the Cyprus Mail yesterday, with news that work at the Olympic stadium in Athens - home of Greek league leaders Olympiakos - unlikely to be completed in time for the start of next season.

    Work on the stadium perimeter is already in progress, while alterations within the stadium in preparation for the Athens 2004 Olympic games will start as soon as the football season ends.

    Officials at Olympiakos Piraeus yesterday admitted it would not be possible for football to be played at the stadium until it was completed.

    Currently tied on points at the top of the Greek league but with a game in hand on archrivals Panathinaikos, Olympiakos look certain to seal one of the two Champions league places.

    As yet, no official venues have been put forward to UEFA by club president Socrates Kokkalis, although a final decision will need to be made before the competition starts in July.

    UEFA officials confirmed yesterday that Nicosia's GSP stadium was indeed a possible venue, as it satisfied all stadium requirements and had the advantage of close proximity to Greece, but added they were reluctant for games to be staged outside the borders of the club's country.

    However, the GSP has already proved a logistical and sporting success when chosen to stage the recent UEFA Cup tie between Hapoel Tel Aviv and AC Milan after spiralling violence forced UEFA to move the tie away from Israel.

    GSP's Head of Stadium Fivos Constandinides was yesterday optimistic about being selected and confident of successfully staging Champions League games at the venue.

    He pointed to the fact that the stadium had impressed club officials, UEFA delegates and passed pre and post match inspections for the Hapoel-Milan game.

    Constantinides conceded that pricing for tickets was out of his hands and dictated by the clubs, but confirmed that Olympiakos had requested information on the stadium capacity, lighting intensity and VIP facilities.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Bill aims to turn the tables on bouncing cheque offenders

    By Melina Demetriou

    PARLIAMENT'S efforts to crack down on bouncing cheques will aim to speed up the lengthy court procedures that hamper such cases, a deputy involved in drafting the bill said yesterday.

    The proposal, initially made by New Horizons deputy Christos Klerides, would make it a criminal offence deliberately to issue a bouncing cheque.

    DISY deputy Ionas Nicolaou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that court cases involving bouncing cheques took forever, adding that those making a complaint rarely won the case.

    "The way things stand now, an offender can cite 'a good reason' for issuing a bouncing cheque and get away with the crime. But the Committee has suggested that the new proposal should burden the suspects with the responsibility to provide evidence proving that there was a good reason indeed to issue such a cheque," he explained.

    Nicolaou added that offenders usually cancelled the bouncing cheques when they were caught and were then let off by the court. He also said that they sometimes claimed the cheques had been falsified.

    "In either case, the one who has been deceived has to follow an unbelievably long and bureaucratic procedure to prove his point. He must trace all the bank employees that have dealt with the cheque and convince them to testify in court as well as prove that the cheque is original," Nicolaou said.

    "With this proposal, it will be the other way round as the offender will be the one to have to prove that the other party is lying. The stamp and the signature of a bank cheque will be enough to prove its validity," he explained.

    Central Co-operative Bank representative Nakis Michaelides said on Thursday that a monitoring data centre would be established at the Central Bank to enable it take action against offenders.

    Bank cheques worth a total of £239 million bounced in the past year alone, according to Cyprus Mail sources, while 350,000 bouncing checks are issued every year according to official records.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Exercise: the key to a healthy life

    By Alexia Saoulli

    GET OUT there and exercise, was yesterday's World Day of Health message from Health Minister Frixos Savvides and President of the Cyprus Medical Association, Dr. Antonis Vassiliou.

    A change in diet, lack of physical exercise, increased smoking habits, poverty, inefficient health services and inadequate health policies all contribute to increased incidences of cancer, diabetes, heart conditions and other chronic illnesses, said Savvides.

    "According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)," he said, "over 2,000, 000 people die annually due to a lack of exercise in their daily routines. A third of cancer cases could be avoided through a healthy diet, maintaining a normal body weight, systematic exercise and activity. A combination of bad eating habits, no physical exercise and smoking makes up 80 per cent of young heart patients."

    These frightening statistics were the warnings for this year's World Day of Health, whose motto is "Exercise equals Health".

    Educating the public and changing life patterns at a young age is the healthy way forward, said Savvides, echoed by the medical association's president.

    "Studies have showed that exercise increases healthy cholesterol, reduces stress levels and depression, fights diabetes, promotes longevity and stimulates self-esteem," said Savvides.

    Not only are their physical up-sides to walking, swimming, cycling, going to the gym, climbing a flight of stairs or even doing housework, he said, but it can reduce violent tendencies in young people and give older individuals a chance to meet new people and socialise.

    "Women are twice as likely as men to become depressed, which is why the reduction in stress, depression and loneliness that exercise provides is important," Savvides added.

    He said the situation in Cyprus and the severe lack of exercise in peoples' lives was worrying, particularly since a number of chronic ailments could be avoided because of it.

    "According to a Ministry survey in Nicosia a year and a half ago, sampling 25-65 year olds, 44.3 per cent of men and 29.7 per cent of women were overweight and 24.6 per cent of men and 19 per cent of women were obese," Savvides said, citing a lack of school education as an additional factor.

    In Cyprus, 33.2 per cent of the population does not exercise at all, 52 per cent work in environments where no physical exercise is needed, and only 17.4 per cent exercise for 20 minutes two times a week, while 12.1 per cent exercise three or more times a week, said the Minister.

    Statistics show that only 30-60 minutes of walking a day can cut the risk of death by two and a half times and that 70 per cent of all the benefits derived from exercising can be achieved with 20-60 minutes of brisk walking daily, he said.

    But the good news, he added, was that even small changes in our lives could make us all much healthier, from going out and dancing to gardening.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Government lifts flying ban

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT has finally lifted a ban on light aircraft coming and going from the island, but is asking for 72 hours notice to approve flights.

    Sources in the Communications and Works Ministry told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that an international notification had been issued lifting the ban, which was imposed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US last September.

    The Cyprus government recently came under fire for being the only country still to impose the ban, which has affected some offshore companies with private planes.

    "We have issued international notice that anyone who wants to fly to Cyprus or from Cyprus abroad has to notify us 72 hours before trip and we will examine each case and it will be up the Cyprus authorities to decide to give permission," the source said. "This is just so we will have the right to reject some flights if the authorities think they may be dangerous for public security."

    A blanket ban was imposed on foreigners flying all light aircraft within and outside Cyprus in September. Three months later, the government lifted the ban for flying schools but maintained the ban on pleasure flights over the island for another month. This was also lifted, but pleasure flights in and out of the island remained banned.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] CY fury as Helios grabs Luton slot

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) is outraged over plans by the Ministerial Committee for Air Transport to give the Larnaca-Luton scheduled route to rival Helios Airways and not to the national carrier's charter arm Eurocypria.

    The committee on Thursday took a preliminary decision, pending cabinet approval, to allow Helios, the island's first private airline, to begin scheduled flights to Luton. It is also recommending that Eurocypria be given permission for scheduled flights to Heraklion in Crete.

    However, CY said Helios had previously been given the Heraklion route but never used it. "Helios took the rights even though there was no capacity and they were sure they weren't going to use it," a CY source said.

    "Eurocypria was first to ask for Luton and they gave it to Helios and we don't know why. Of course this is their prerogative. This is a free market economy and we are ready to go along with that."

    Sources close to the ministerial committee said yesterday their meeting had been held at the request of four companies, CY, Eurocypria, Helios and Russian airline Aerotrans, to allocate various destinations.

    The committee comprises the Ministers of Communications and Works, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, and Finance.

    "The committee decided that all routes that CY has until now should be retained by them and that any additional routes that recently opened or destinations not covered by CY, or which they have not utilised in the past 12 month, should be allocated to the other airlines," the source said.

    He said Aerotrans would be given the Russian and former Soviet routes, while Eurocypria and Helios would take some European and secondary UK destinations. CY covers the main UK airports.

    "The big deal was about Luton," he said. "The committee decided that since Gatwick, Heathrow and Stanstead were already given to CY interests, that to give a fair chance to new airlines, and not to show any discrimination against private companies, that it would give Luton to Helios," the source said. "They thought this would be the right thing to do."

    The cabinet will make a final decision on the allocation of the routes on Wednesday.

    The move to open up air transport is part of the island's harmonisation process with the EU, and will eventually result in the full liberalisation of air transport. The process is being moved along slowly in order to give Cyprus Airways a chance to prepare itself for the additional competition.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Boosting Cyprus as a venue for sports tourism

    By Soteris Charalambous

    IS THE tourist industry making the most of sport? This is the underlying question that speakers from Europe and Cyprus hope to answer in a conference at the Forum hotel in Nicosia this Monday. The one-day conference 'Development of Sport and Tourism in Cyprus: Future prospects and challenges' aims to explore opportunities for the Cypriot tourism to extend the seasonal limits of the industry through sport.

    Outlining the two main themes, Dr Nicos Kartakoullis, Director of the Cyprus Olympic Committee, suggested speakers would focus on ways to promote Cyprus as a training base for athletes wishing to acclimatise in preparation for the forthcoming Athens Olympic games, then offering a long- term approach on how Cyprus can become a forerunner as a venue for major sports events.

    Citing the success of the recent world jet-ski championship and the imminent Rally of Cyprus Kartakoullis believes there are "great prospects" but as yet Cyprus hasn't fully realised its potential. Referring to the Athens Olympics as a "golden opportunity", he emphasised the need for education of business. He offered as an example hoteliers becoming more flexible in catering for athletes' dietary needs and improving training facilities in order to put Cyprus in the minds of sportsmen considering where to locate for future warm weather training programmes.

    Kartakoullis also pointed to Portugal as an example where the synergy between tourism and sport has boosted the industry by offering first class golfing facilities and investment in the popular La Manga sporting and leisure complex. He believes that both the tourist industry will benefit hugely if more state-of-the-art facilities are built and more Cypriots are likely to participate in sports.

    Other speakers attending include Rémy Charmetant, Director General of the Tourist Agency Chambiry, France and Richard Simmons, Olympic Performance Manager of the British Olympic Association.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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