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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-24

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

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


Wednesday, April 24, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU reassures Cyprus after Solana furore
  • [02] Ministry runs probe on private schools
  • [03] One in 10 children suffer from asthma
  • [04] To siesta or not to siesta
  • [05] Annan expects progress by June
  • [06] Consumer warning in run-up to Easter
  • [07] 'Limassol is no longer the capital of crime'
  • [08] Shareholders: takeover price 'completely unfair'
  • [09] Government seeks compromise measures in Zakaki row

  • [01] EU reassures Cyprus after Solana furore

    THE EU's official position regarding Cyprus' candidacy for accession to the Union has not changed, Jean Filori, spokesman for European Commissioner on Enlargement Gunter Verheugen, has assured Nicosia.

    The comment came after statements at the weekend by the EU's High Representative for foreign and defence policy, Javier Solana, that if a solution to the Cyprus problem was not found prior to accession, only the "Greek part" of Cyprus would join the bloc.

    Solana's comments outraged the government and the political parties but pleased the Turkish Cypriot side.

    In response to the furore, Filori said the EU would prefer a political settlement before accession but repeated this was not a precondition.

    He said if a solution was not found, then legally the whole of the island would accede, but it would be complicated to implement the acquis communautaire in those areas of the Republic not under the control of the legitimate and recognised government of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Turkish Cypriot press yesterday quoted Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash as saying Solana had issued a warning to the Greek Cypriot side.

    "We want to join the EU, not as minority but as a partner," Denktash was quoted as saying in Kibris. "They (Greek Cypriots) should stop seeing Cyprus as their own Republic."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Ministry runs probe on private schools

    EDUCATION Minister Ouranios Ioannides has called for a report to be drawn up by Easter assessing all private schools in Cyprus.

    The report plans to highlight which schools in the private sector display irregularities or lapses in their educational programmes so that the Ministry can take the necessary steps to improve them.

    On Monday, Ioannides said he had appointed education inspectors to carry out a thorough check on all national private schools and to draw up a list of their shortcomings by categorising them into groups. With this in mind, he said, the ministry would then be able to pinpoint any problems the schools had and to undertake their improvement.

    The call for the prompt report comes after a Nicosia private school was accused of employing unqualified teachers on the basis of nepotism. Specifically, the assistant head of the school in question allegedly employed her own relatives to fill teaching posts they were not qualified for.

    But the ministry is not investigating the issue of nepotism, said Ioannides, because it does not have any authority over the employment procedures of private institutions.

    However, it will be investigating to what extent the allegation of unqualified teachers being employed holds true, he said.

    What interests the ministry on this specific charge, Ioannides added, was the teaching qualifications the staff possessed and to what extent their degrees fulfilled the relevant teaching criteria for a particular post.

    With this in mind, the ministry officials preparing the general report have been asked to pay particular attention to the validity and merit of all teaching staff's degrees.

    This report aims to put an end to the problems private schools have accumulated over the past 40 years, he said.

    But he denied the claim that this was the first time the ministry was looking into the standard of private schools and said that in the past he had called for inspections.

    "Initially we started off by scrutinising what standard of the Greek language private institutions teach," he said. "Then we assessed each one's overall curriculum and finally I I requested that each school be categorised into groups by education inspectors."

    So far, 20 out of 30 schools have already been inspected. Once the remaining 10 have been assessed, an overall report will be handed to Ioannides, putting each school into categories. It should be ready before Easter, he said.

    The report will include information on teaching staff degrees and relevant qualifications, as well as an analysis of each institution's infrastructure, which will be published.

    The aim of it all, said Ioannides, is: "to end this saga once and for all", so that there are no more suspicions and accusations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] One in 10 children suffer from asthma

    ONE IN 10 children in Cyprus suffers from asthma, a research by two child pulmonologists revealed yesterday.

    Presenting the results of their research, doctors Spyros Pipis and Panayiotis Yiallouros said that the research had been carried out in two phases in 2000 and 2001 with the involvement of 11,516 primary and secondary SCHOOL pupils from the Nicosia and Limassol districts, aged seven to eight and 13-14.

    The frequency of active asthma in primary school children was 8.1 per cent in Nicosia and 6.2 per cent in Limassol, Yiallouros said, analysing the figures of the first phase of the research, which included 11,247 pupils.

    For secondary school pupils, the frequency of active asthma was 11.2 per cent in Nicosia and six per cent in Limassol, Yiallouros added.

    He noted that the greater urban area of Nicosia presented an up to 50 per cent greater frequency of asthma than the district's rural areas and the urban and rural areas of Limassol.

    The two scientists said that 275 children suffering from asthma participated in the second phase of the research.

    They said that there was a dramatic remission of symptoms in the majority of asthmatic children during the warmer months, something which could be used to attract asthma- suffering tourists to the island.

    A comparison of the prevalence of asthma during the summer in the Nicosia and Limassol districts showed that Limassol recorded considerably less instances of whistling chests and sleep disruption than Nicosia.

    The research also found that secondary school pupils suffering from asthma and who also had allergies were the group with the most symptoms during the warmer months.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides said asthma was the most common childhood illness, stressing that parent smoking, especially during pregnancy, increased threefold the possibility of the child later suffering from asthma.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] To siesta or not to siesta

    By Soteris Charalambous

    THE GOVERNMENT is facing pressure from both PEO and SEK unions as well as ELEK, the organisation that represents large retailers, to abolish restrictions on summer opening hours. But the General Secretary of the small shopkeepers union POVEK, Melios Georgiou, is convinced the summer siesta, between 2 and 5pm, should be maintained.

    Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas received written confirmation from the two large unions of their wish to see the long-standing ruling over summer opening hours abolished, despite similar requests being rejected last year.

    Georgiou believes "that nobody shops between 2 and 5pm during the summer and that business running costs will rise unnecessarily as a result of any change." He pointed to the fact that the 'siesta' was maintained in Greece as a validating factor.

    However, PEO and SEK are unhappy that their members face the problem of filling an unpaid three-hour void in the middle of their day for two and a half months of the year.

    Major retailers have questioned the need to maintain the restrictions in modern retail society where stores are equipped with air-conditioning, and consumer demand for greater shopping convenience is on the increase.

    The General Manager of Woolworth's in Nicosia believes large retailers in Cyprus have outgrown the need for a 'siesta' during the summer but that it still has a place in a country like Cyprus. However, he continued, "the option should be made available for retailers who wish to open during the currently restricted hours".

    He described POVEK's stance as "fighting a losing battle," and said that consumer pressure for greater convenience would eventually be the deciding factor.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Annan expects progress by June

    U.N. SECRETARY-general Kofi Annan expects substantial progress to be made in the Cyprus talks, he told reporters New York late on Monday.

    Annan's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto will return to New York at the end of April to report to the UN chief and brief the Security Council on May 3.

    Speaking at a news conference, Annan expressed the hope that President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would work hard to make progress by the end of June.

    Replying to a question about prospects for a breakthrough in the Cyprus peace talks, the Secretary-general said he was looking forward to the end of June to see substantial progress in the talks.

    "I think both leaders have indicated that they want to end it by June. I hope that they will work as hard as we would expect to make that progress by the end of June. I am in touch with Alvaro de Soto, who is back on the island facilitating the talks. I really hope that by June, we will have made some real, substantial progress", he said.

    De Soto will travel to New York on April 29 for consultations with Annan and the five permanent members of the Security Council.

    According to UN sources, the Peruvian diplomat will brief the Security Council on May 3, during an informal meeting.

    De Soto is currently on a tour of European capitals to discuss developments in the Cyprus problem. He is due back in Cyprus on Thursday to attend more direct talks between Clerides and Denktash before flying to New York.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Consumer warning in run-up to Easter

    By Alexia Saoulli

    CONSUMERS should be extra careful when buying food over the Easter period, a health service official warned yesterday.

    The alert comes after fears that suckling pigs, a delicacy on Easter Sunday, may contain traces of antibiotics and that chocolate Easter eggs on the market are past their sell by date.

    But, the Head of Health Services, Sophoclis Anthousis, said his department, in co-operation with municipal authorities, was taking all necessary preventive measures to control what products were sold on the market and to ensure the public was not deceived or exposed in any way.

    Checks will be carried out all over the island in hypermarkets, shops and factories, he said. They would also be examining the condition and storage of each product.

    "We'll be checking the ingredients, the package seals and sell-by dates," Anthousis said. "If need be, we may also take samples of products for laboratory testing," he said, listing the cheese used in making the traditional Easter flaouna, egg dyes and chocolate Easter eggs as a few of the products that were already in the process of being analysed.

    The state laboratory has already tested egg dyes and cheese and has not located anything worrying at present, he reassured. However, the sampling will continue right through until Holy Thursday.

    Anthousis made special reference to chocolate eggs, asking the public to ensure the packaging seal was intact before purchase and to check the ingredients as well as the sell-by date.

    "If anyone notices anything that is not in accordance with consumer laws, then my advice is 'don't buy it' and alert the Health Services to investigate," he said.

    A consumer's association spokesperson cautioned consumers not only to look out for the quality of a product they were buying during this period, but also to check whether or not products were being stored and protected in a healthy, hygienic environment.

    As far as suckling pigs were concerned, however, Head of Veterinary Services Fidias Loucaides said that consumers had nothing to fear this Easter, as they tested each one for traces of antibiotics after slaughter.

    Those that are considered unsuitable or have traces of antibiotics are discarded, he said. But nonetheless, he warned, consumers should only buy meat that had been stamped by the Veterinary Services.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] 'Limassol is no longer the capital of crime'

    LIMASSOL is no longer a crime city, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis announced yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting at the Kato Polemidia Municipality, held to discuss policing in the community, Koshis said that police figures showed crime in Limassol had been contained.

    He said this was due to the joint effort between the police, municipalities and the public, who respond to the authorities' pleas for information and help in solving crimes.

    Limassol can no longer be called the city of crime, Koshis said, with first place now held by another town that he did not reveal.

    The minister added there had also been an improvement concerning traffic accidents, with incidents decreasing.

    During the meeting, the minister was briefed by Mayor George Georgiou about the problems in the area, especially the increase of offences in the farming area.

    Koshis said he viewed the community's request for a police station positively and assured that he would table the matter for discussion and approval with the relevant bodies.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Shareholders: takeover price 'completely unfair'

    By George Psyllides

    A GROUP of shareholders in a public company waiting to be listed on the stock market was yesterday considering legal measures against the directors for actions they say are against the best interests of the small shareholders.

    On top of that, the group charged that a planned takeover would see their share prices dwindle further and have urged shareholders to vote against the takeover.

    The issue emerged after Sharelink Financial Services (SFS) proposed to takeover its subsidiary White Knight Holdings (WKH).

    The representative of the shareholders' group, George Lordos, told the Cyprus Mail that SFS was trying to buy out WKH at a price the directors said was fair, and was based on the worth of the subsidiary's net assets.

    WKH's value has been set at around 73 million, but the group disagrees and claims the company's net assets would have been a lot higher if mistakes, stemming from conflict of interests among the directors, had not been made.

    The group said WKH had suffered damages worth 33 million from the fall in SFS shares, 40 per cent of which made up the company's capital.

    Lordos said that if the company's net assets had been estimated at around 106 million and SFS net assets remained at around 41 million, then the takeover bid would have been up by 50 per cent.

    SFS has proposed to exchange seven of its shares for every four WKH shares, but, according to the group, a fairer exchange would be 13 to five, considering that WKH net assets were estimated at 106 million.

    The group further accused the directors of the companies and several large shareholders who have interests in both companies, of taking actions which had dire consequences on WKH's small and independent shareholders.

    "These people during April, May, and June, last year, sold huge packages of SFS shares on their name for around 1 per share; SFS's share price today is 17 cents," Lordos said.

    "At the same time, WKH wasn't selling any SFS shares - WKH held 30 million SFS shares - incurring 33 million in damages from the fall in their value, " he added.

    Lordos said that, while not selling any WKH shares, the directors and big shareholders were effectively dumping their own shares.

    The group has announced a meeting of shareholders from both companies to take place today at the Forum Hotel in Nicosia, where the issue would be discussed and a better proposal tabled.

    Lordos said that for the planned takeover, SFS would have to issue 220 million shares, something that would adversely affect the company's already low share price.

    "We will present an alternative proposal that would be better for SFS shareholders because their share price won't be affected and the damages would be shifted to those who caused them," Lordos said.

    He said the proposal would also be fair for WKH shareholders, as they would be compensated for their losses.

    Lordos said that they would suggest to WKH to issue bonus shares to their independent shareholders to cover the damages incurred from holding 33 million SFS shares.

    This, he said, would also decrease SFS influence on WKH, making possible a change of the board.

    "It would operate independently of SFS, thus avoiding any conflict of interests," Lordos said.

    But in order for the proposal to be accepted, the takeover proposal must be rejected primarily by SFS shareholders, who hold an extraordinary general meeting on Friday.

    The group appealed to SFS shareholders to reject the proposal, thus forcing the management to negotiate a better proposal in order to resolve the issue.

    Lordos suggested that it would be in the company's best interest to resolve the issue in this way, in order to stop disgruntled investors taking their cases the courts.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Government seeks compromise measures in Zakaki row

    By Jean Christou

    RESIDENTS of Zakaki have called off a protest planned for today after the House Communications and Works Committee yesterday took steps solve the issue of trucks passing through the Limassol suburb.

    It was agreed at the House that all parties concerned would meet at the disputed site today to discuss what short-term and long-term measures could be taken to keep the trucks out of Zakaki.

    Villagers began their protests last week, after the police lifted a ban on trucks using three streets in Zakaki, which passed by local schools. The truckers said that alternative routes out of Limassol port caused unacceptable delays.

    Yesterday at the House, Limassol Mayor Demetris Kontides suggested that a temporary road be made available by asphalting a dirt road, which bypasses the suburb. This would take 10 days, he said, adding that a more permanent road could be constructed within 10 months.

    A representative of the Communications Ministry also went to the committee with a proposal, also suggesting a temporary alternative until a solution could be reached to construct another road. He said this would take around four months. Other local authority officials put forward similar proposals.

    Committee Chairman Nicos Pittokopitis suggested that everyone concerned meet at the area today to study what the best solution would be.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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