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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-09

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, April 9, 2002


  • [01] Fat couch potatoes: children's study warns of health time bomb
  • [02] Farmer found dead
  • [03] Why is nothing being done to investigate cigarette smuggling claims?
  • [04] FBI 'takes child abuser back to jail'
  • [05] Bank defends policy over action on unpaid market loans
  • [06] British Olympic athletes set for Cyprus base
  • [07] Shipping upbeat as EU measures fall into place
  • [08] Cyprus protests over Israeli treatment of parliamentary delegation
  • [09] House denies wrongdoing over duty free car allowance
  • [10] New child benefits aim to tackle falling birth rates

  • [01] Fat couch potatoes: children's study warns of health time bomb

    By Alexia Saoulli

    TEN PER cent of Cypriot children, aged between 11 and 12, have seven to 11 per cent of their arteries blocked, a leading Greek University professor said yesterday.

    Dr. Michalis Tornaritis, co-ordinator of a children's health study on the island, said that although the majority of children in Cyprus did not have health problems right now, there was a worrying relationship between their health and chronic ailments during their adult years.

    The results of the study were published yesterday, a day after World Health Day. It was a six-year project, sponsored by the Laiki Group and in collaboration with the Health and Education Ministries. The national sample included over 45,000 children in their sixth year of primary school, said Tornaritis.

    Biochemical analyses carried out on the children, plus a thorough examination of their diet and an assessment of their physical condition, showed that Cypriot children were predisposed to heart conditions, cancer, diabetes and obesity, he said.

    "This predisposition," he added, "is due to a severe lack of exercise in their lives," he said, pointing out that the more physically active children in the study, who demonstrated a lot of stamina during resistance training, were the ones with lower levels of cholesterol in their blood.

    "This is why they are less likely to develop blocked arteries."

    The study also highlighted the fact that obesity was connected to the amount of time children spent watching television.

    If television hours are reduced, so is body fat content, the study showed.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides admitted yesterday that according to a United Nations development indicator, the Cyprus public health department showed serious shortcomings in terms of public funding and education.

    He stressed that as a nation we had to develop our children's health by giving back what we took from them: "We lifted our children out of the fields and put them in living rooms."

    But, he added, development and change would only come about if children's home environments did the same. The crux of a successful programme, said Ioannides, was informing and educating parents.

    The Executive President of the Laiki Group, Kikis Lazarides, described today's children as a "time bomb waiting to off".

    He blamed today's society for producing children with a predisposition to chronic ailments such as heart conditions, cancer, diabetes and obesity, and stressed that tomorrow's society depended on the product of today's society, which was why the group had focused its social policy on serving children.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Farmer found dead

    A 76-year-old retired farmer, Yiorgos Zanis, was found dead yesterday in the field he had been tending in the Dherynia area. Zanis was found crushed between a tree and digging equipment. His body was taken to Larnaca general hospital to determine the exact cause of death. The police are not treating his death as suspicious but are investigating the incident.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Why is nothing being done to investigate cigarette smuggling claims?

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE House Institutions and Values Committee yesterday started investigating foreign reports highlighting Cyprus' alleged involvement in cigarette smuggling cases.

    Greens deputy George Perdikis yesterday presented the Committee with copies of several reports published in the Herald Tribune, the Evening Standard and Athens' To Vima daily slamming Cyprus over its failure to combat the illegal practice.

    Perdikis accused the government of doing nothing to investigate those allegations, while state officials at the meeting fended off criticism, insisting that strong anti-smuggling measures were in place.

    Perdikis said that the Italian deputy foreign minister Alfredo Madevano had been quoted as insisting that Cyprus could not be allowed in the EU because it was "a centre of international cigarette smuggling."

    Madevano's statement followed a damning report on Cyprus' alleged involvement in the trade issued by the Italian Parliament, Perdikis said.

    The deputy also referred to information according to which the House of Commons' Finance Committee had charged two English tobacco companies with smuggling nine billion cigarettes to a third country through a Cypriot port.

    He went on to say that 10 EU member states had sued two American companies for illegally transporting 50 billion cigarettes from the US to Iraq and Turkey via Cyprus in the past six years.

    "Plus, a Dutch Euro MP has voted down a report issued by European Parliament's rapporteur on Cyprus Jack Poos, saying the island was involved in cigarette smuggling," Perdikis added.

    The deputy also cited a 2001 Interpol report charging that the Cypriot authorities had not made much progress in combating the phenomenon on a regional level "therefore foreign services are dealing with the problem."

    Finally, he noted that representatives from 17 Cypriot tobacco companies had been asked to assist an Athens court with an investigation into similar cases.

    Perdikis wondered why the relevant officials avoided positioning themselves on the reports.

    "When it comes to money laundering, the government always comments on reports but in these cases officials remain apathetic and that leaves them exposed," Perdikis charged.

    Customs Office director Zeta Emilianides fended off criticism, arguing that her department was doing its utmost to make sure that cigarette smuggling was not conducted on the island.

    "A few years ago we implemented strong measures to ensure that transit commerce in Cyprus stayed clear of illegal activities.

    "We check that foreign exporters transporting cigarettes through Cyprus pay the necessary duties to us but we are not responsible if the British or any other authorities allow their citizens to smuggle goods outside their own countries," she argued.

    Emilianides added that the Customs Office always kept a record of all containers passing through the country's ports.

    "We are aware of their content and of where they are supposed to be shipped to but we cannot do anything if a ship changes its itinerary after leaving Cyprus," she noted, clarifying that the department was only responsible for what went on in Cyprus.

    Emilianides insisted that Cyprus had never received any information about Cypriot companies or ports being involved in cigarette smuggling.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] FBI 'takes child abuser back to jail'

    THREE FBI agents yesterday picked up a man convicted of child abuse and selling child pornography on the Internet to take him back to the United States to serve a three-year prison sentence.

    According to unconfirmed reports last night, Willis Johnson, 45, was taken to Larnaca Airport for a flight to the US via Amsterdam. Johnson was sentenced to three years in jail by an Indianapolis court in 1998 but skipped the country.

    It took authorities four years and a search of 180 countries to track him down in the Turkish-occupied north of the island last year.

    He was handed over to the Cyprus authorities last December and detained at the Nicosia Central Prisons until his transfer to the US could be arranged.

    Johnson, originally from Texas, was convicted of sexually abusing a seven- year-old boy and making video tapes of the abuse, which he then sold through the Internet.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Bank defends policy over action on unpaid market loans

    By Soteris Charalambous

    THE INVESTORS' Association has slammed Laiki Bank for taking legal action against people who are failing to repay money borrowed to invest on the Cyprus Stock Exchange.

    Demetris Hadjipapas, the President of the investors' association, PASECHA, yesterday claimed that thousands of investors were being taken to court by the bank. But a spokesman for Laiki, Costas Archimandritis, refuted the claim, saying the few people against whom action was being taken had profited handsomely from share dealing.

    Archimandritis said the actual number of investors being taken to court was less than 20, and said the bank had focused on borrowers who had "refused to communicate with the bank" over the problem of unpaid debts.

    He expressed surprise at the timing of the PASECHA claims, considering many of the investors were currently in negotiation with the bank over restructuring of debts.

    Archimandritis insisted that, on the whole, most investors who had lost money on the stock market were happy that Laiki Bank had given them the opportunity to repay money owed over a longer time period with smaller payments, a move designed to ease the financial strain of the losses.

    But Hadjipapas stoked the controversy, claiming that financial misrepresentations by bank employees were behind some investors' debts. He told the Cyprus Mail that the defendants were "100 per cent certain of winning their cases", and claimed to have seen bank documents proving misrepresentation, adding he was preparing to give a statement to the stock market on the issue.

    However, he did concede that some investors being taken to court had acted irresponsibly and were in the wrong.

    Hadjipapas was also critical of Finance Minister, Takis Klerides, for failing to reply to the question of granting legal aid to investors faced with possible legal action, claiming requests had been made up to three months ago.

    The situation has largely arisen because of the stock market crash, its failure to recover and investors over-borrowing when the market was about to go into decline.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] British Olympic athletes set for Cyprus base

    By Soteris Charalambous

    THE BRITISH Olympic team looks set to base most of its athletes in Cyprus for pre-games and acclimatisation training, a Sport Tourism conference in Nicosia heard yesterday

    Tourist operators attending the meeting greeted the news with glee, but the announcement, delivered by Richard Simmons - Olympic Performance Manager of the British Olympic Association - came with a word of warning: "The final decision would be based on Cyprus proving that the island's facilities provided the best base for the team."

    In his speech 'Needs and Requirements of Olympic Teams and Hi-level Athletes: - Why Cyprus?' Simmons was clear that only the best would do for the team and that improvement was needed, but emphasised the many advantages that Cyprus could offer for the forthcoming games and as a future warm-weather training base.

    The decision to locate in Cyprus was long-term, a "partnership for the next 10 years at least."

    Specifically referring to the Athens game, Simmons focused on the similar climatic conditions and time zone that Cyprus shared with Greece and the importance of direct flights from the UK to Cyprus and from Cyprus to Greece as major factors behind the decision. He admitted that improving facilities was costly and needed to be a joint effort performed in partnership with the tourist industry.

    The greatest need of attention was for disabled athletes, who make up a sizeable number of the total number of team members, he said.

    Referring to a change in policy relating to training camps dating back to 1996, Simmons firmly believed that the recent improvement in the performance of British athletes at recent games was a direct result of the setting up of training camps, and that Cypriot sportsmen would undoubtedly improve as a consequence.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Shipping upbeat as EU measures fall into place

    By Jean Christou

    WHEN Cyprus joins the EU, the island will control more than 25 per cent of the bloc's shipping fleet, the Cyprus Shipping Council (CSC) said yesterday.

    Speaking at the CSC's annual general meeting in Limassol, president Andreas Droussiotis said that with the closure of the harmonisation chapters on transport last May, Cyprus could no longer be called a Flag of Convenience (FoC), a tag which had plagued the island's open-registry shipping image for decades.

    He said the improvement in image of the Cyprus flag over the past five years and its acceptance by the EU would mean the island would develop into an even greater pole of attraction for first-rate shipping companies, both from EU and non-EU countries. In addition, he said the size of the Cyprus fleet, the world's sixth largest, would also offer the EU more political clout as a regional shipping entity.

    Also commenting on the EU harmonisation, Communications and Works Minster Averoff Neophytou said only five pieces of legislation remained to be put before parliament to wrap up the transport chapter and promised they would be tabled to the House by the end of June. "We strongly believe that with our accession to the EU, besides the political and economic benefits to Cyprus, it will also benefit our registry, which will grow even further," he said. "Cyprus is not and never was a flag of convenience. It's a flag of prospect."

    Commenting on developments over the past year, Droussiotis said there had been a clear reduction in detentions for the Cyprus flag. "This was particularly noticeable in the US where the significant drop in detentions. is expected to enable Cyprus to come off he US Coastguard targeting system, " Droussiotis said, adding that the CSC had been given this information by US ambassador Donald Bandler. Cyprus has also moved from the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) black list to its grey list, he said.

    One of the main issues of concern which remain for the shipping industry, according to Droussiotis, is the fallout on the industry from the terrorist attacks on the US last September.

    "This has left its unpleasant mark on the passenger ship industry of Cyprus, which was adversely affected by the political instability caused subsequently in the nearby region," he said, adding that the CSC had asked the government for assistance to overcome the problems, following the submission of a series of measures.

    The measures include possible direct and indirect subsidies and also a reduction in docking fees at the island's ports to ease the strain on cruise companies which have lost out on routes to the Middle East due to September 11 and escalating violence in the area.

    Droussiotis said the prospects for 2002 for the industry were also unsure, since much of the cruise business depended on the number of tourists visiting the island. The cruise companies lost out heavily in the last months of 2001, because they did not have time to redirect their resources, he said, adding that this year most had redirected their cruises towards the Greek islands.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Cyprus protests over Israeli treatment of parliamentary delegation

    By Melina Demetriou

    DIKO maverick Marios Matsakis yesterday kicked off a campaign against Israeli interests in Cyprus in retaliation at the refusal of the Sharon government to allow a Cypriot parliamentary delegation into the country.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday condemned the behaviour of the Israeli authorities against the House delegation, which had flown to the country over the weekend aiming to go to Ramallah and hand Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a resolution condemning Israeli attacks against the Palestinians.

    The members of the delegation had arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, but the authorities did not allow them to enter the country and kept them confined for five hours before putting them on a flight back to Larnaca Airport.

    The authorities were also reported to have behaved badly against Cyprus' Ambassador to Israel, Petros Eftychiou.

    Papapetrou said such behaviour did not promote smooth relations between the two countries and said the government's representation contained complaints about the "psychological violence" against the House delegation.

    Israeli Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Eligal was summoned to the Foreign Ministry yesterday, where permanent secretary Christodoulos Pashiardes handed him the government's memorandum on the matter.

    Matsakis, one of the deputies in the delegation, yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that he was starting a campaign against Israeli economic interests on the island.

    "What the Israelis have done is a offence towards Cyprus because we were representing the Parliament. Their action was very unfortunate because although we had issued a resolution in support for the Palestinians we were also planning to talk with government representatives," Matsakis said.

    "Furthermore, the Sharon administration has spread rumours that our delegation was made up of leftwing extremists that were planning to fight on the Palestinians' side," he charged, adding: "I am not left wing."

    The DIKO deputy revealed he had gathered information about "Israeli interests hiding behind companies in Cyprus."

    "Israeli businessmen are big shareholders in certain companies. I will go as far as demonstrating outside their departments to stop people from buying their products," Matsakis threatened.

    Matsakis also vowed to see that the House blocked bills providing for purchases of military or other equipment from Israel.

    "I shall also deal with those Mossad spies at our airports and ports. Don't be surprised if I go there one day to identify and have them arrested," he said.

    Matsakis added he would also try to amend a deal between Cyprus and Israel which has led to the establishment of one of the country's desalination units.

    "We should also stop sending patients to Israel for medical treatment," he said.

    Matsakis, however, promised to cancel all of these plans if the Sharon government apologised to Cyprus for the incident and offered the parliamentary delegation a free trip to Ramallah to see Arafat "while guaranteeing our safety".

    Israel has defended its decision not to allow the delegation entry into the country.

    A statement by the Israeli Embassy yesterday said the decision to visit Ramallah was made without prior co-ordination with Israel and added that it had been pointed out to the deputies that they would not be allowed to enter a restricted military area.

    The statement made no reference to remarks by the deputies that they were led into a small and totally unsuitable room with inadequate seating for the six-member parliamentary delegation.

    "Israel and Cyprus share a friendly and co-operative relationship. Israel respects and values the Parliament of the Republic of Cyprus and strives to deepen its friendship with it," the embassy statement concluded.

    House Chairman Demetris Christofias yesterday sent a letter of complaint to his Israeli counterpart Avraam Bourg.

    "I would like to protest about this unnecessary and hostile behaviour towards a friendly country and its Parliament when Israel should welcome every opportunity it has to improve its image in this bad time," Christofias said.

    The House President also sent his counterpart a copy of the Parliament's resolution on the Middle East crisis.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] House denies wrongdoing over duty free car allowance

    Melina Demetriou

    THE House of Representatives yesterday issued a formal statement to dismiss a newspaper report accusing Parliament of amending a law to serve the interests of certain deputies.

    Politis on Sunday reported that a group of deputies had managed to amend a 1992 law so they could buy higher-powered luxury duty free cars.

    Under the law as it stood, deputies were allowed to purchase duty free cars of up to 2,000 cc petrol or 2,500 cc diesel. The law also granted MPs serving since 1991 the right to buy just one car of bigger capacity each without paying any duties.

    Politis charged that a group of veteran deputies had introduced an amendment to the existing law "through unclear procedures", allowing those serving as MPs for the past 11 years to buy more such cars.

    The amendment, which passed through Parliament in March, is of retroactive nature and will be in effect until the end this year, the daily reported.

    "The retroactivity of the law means that the deputies in question are owed money for duties they have submitted to buy luxury cars," said the paper.

    It is understood that certain deputies have already put in for such refunds.

    But Parliament yesterday issued an announcement in response to Politis' claims, arguing that the amendment in question "only affects deputies who have not yet used their right to buy a luxury car after the 1992 law was implemented."

    The announcement insisted that the amendment had been introduced by the House Finance Committee in co-operation with the Finance Ministry following transparent procedures.

    "The amendment provides that if someone is entitled to a big duty free car according to the 1992 law he or she can apply for it," Parliament's director general Costas Christoforou told reporters yesterday.

    "If someone believes he is owed some money by the state, again, he can apply for it and his claim will be examined," he added, referring to the amendment's retroactive provision.

    But reports yesterday said all 20 deputies serving since 1991 had already bought the luxury cars they were allowed to purchase duty free.

    House Chairman Demetris Christofias yesterday admitted that reporters had every right to investigate allegations of misdemeanours.

    "If someone has done something wrong, go ahead and slam them," he urged reporters.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] New child benefits aim to tackle falling birth rates

    THE GOVERNMENT is expected to pay a total of 8 million in child benefits, President Glafcos Clerides said on Sunday.

    The figure came in an address to the second national summit of the Pancyprian Organisation of Five-member Families (POPO), when Clerides said the government intended to deal with the island's low birth rate problem head on, by adopting a new child policy.

    "The government has decided to introduce a law that will provide an income for families with three children," he said. So far the law has only included families with more than four children.

    This new law would also make financial provisions for the children's mother when the income she receives from having a third child ends, he said.

    Furthermore, every family with three children will receive a bonus of 60 at the end of each year, said Clerides.

    "The Social Insurance Department is responsible for implementing this legislation," he said, "and for seeing that families receive an income for their third child. The department is expecting to start receiving applications for payment very soon, and expects that around 20,000 families will benefit, costing as much as 8 million".

    House President Demetris Christofias said the annual population development rate in Cyprus had dropped drastically over the years and was now below one per cent.

    He added that instead of having an average of 2.1 children, a figure that maintains the population, women were only having an average of 1.83 children each.

    Low population development, coupled with low birth rates, Chirstofias said, only furthered economic and social problems. He said: " the long term effects from a continuous reduction in the population numbers will be extremely serious because one of the island's main sources of financial development comes from its manpower".

    He said he hoped that the new law would help promote birth rates and encourage people to have larger families.

    But the problems are not just financial, Christofias warned, they are also social, which is why all factors that contribute to low births also have to be dealt with, such as insufficient child care services and family support groups.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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