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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-26

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, April 26, 2002


  • [01] Xenophobia on the rise
  • [02] Footballer set to get citizenship soon
  • [03] Minister: we'll back refugee against Turkish Cypriot land claim
  • [04] Hospitals swamped as virus fear spreads
  • [05] DIKO to fight conviction at the Supreme Court
  • [06] Asbestos fears for water crews
  • [07] Cyprus won't make issue of omission from euro map
  • [08] Foreign companies could keep preferential tax rates to 2006
  • [09] Deputies oppose five-year extension plea for hospital construction
  • [10] Military contracts to be blocked
  • [11] British Sports minister in town for Olympic deal
  • [12] Road deaths down 18 per cent

  • [01] Xenophobia on the rise

    By Alexia Saoulli

    XENOPHOBIA among Cypriots is on the increase, a survey of the population revealed yesterday, with over 75 per cent supporting the view that foreign workers took jobs away from locals and kept wages low.

    The figures came in the publication of this year's annual national 'Cyprobarometer' survey carried out during the period between November 17, 2001 and January 4, 2002.

    This is the sixth consecutive year the national barometer has been carried out and was prepared by RAI consultants for the Laiki Group.

    The results of the nationwide study, covering the permanent resident population of Cyprus, aged 18 to 75, "reflects public opinion during this period," said the market research and consultancy company's executive chairman, Olympios Toumazou.

    "A total of 972 personal interviews were conducted," he said "and the selection of the individuals interviewed within each household was random. This was then effected using a statistical key, specially designed to give an equal probability for selection to eligible persons in a household".

    The survey was carried out to the standards of the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

    The percentage of those who refused to take part in the survey was six per cent. This percentage is relatively small and it falls within the acceptable limits defined by ESOMAR, he said.

    "Personally speaking," said Toumazou, "the results concerning opinion on foreign workers in Cyprus is worrying, displaying an increase in xenophobia."

    Sixty-eight per cent of the sampled population said foreign workers did not contribute to the enrichment of society, he said, and 67 per cent maintained they did nothing for the development of the island.

    "In fact, 41 per cent disagreed with the view that foreign workers contributed to an increase in production, 75 per cent believed they deprive Cypriots of their jobs and 80 per cent said they were the cause of keeping wages at low levels."

    A report by the government's statistical department earlier this month showed there were 34,500 foreign workers on the island, while the Labour Department said yesterday only 9,546 Cypriots - three per cent of the population - were unemployed last year, down 0.4 per cent from the year before.

    A demographic analysis of the 'Cyprobarometer' survey highlighted a number of variations in responses, said Toumazos.

    "It is the Larnaca, Famagusta and Paphos district residents, as well as the 18 to 34-year-old age group and people with lower incomes that predominantly support the opinion that foreign workers deprive Cypriots of their jobs and are the cause of keeping wages low," he said.

    Yet despite this, the same age group, as well as people with a high socio- economic status, were more prone to believe that foreign workers contributed to an increase in production, said Toumazos

    Moreover, people over the age of 45, Nicosia and Paphos residents were more likely to support the view that foreign workers contributed in the enrichment of society, he said, as compared to Larnaca and Famagusta district respondents, who do not believe foreign workers contribute to Cyprus' development in any way.

    This year's Cyprobarometer also reveals that Cypriots are more optimistic as regard the benefits the island can expect as a result of joining the EU, as compared with previous years, said Toumazos.

    "The most significant benefits expected to emerge from joining the EU are, in order of importance, economic development, security, human rights, workers' rights and an improvement in the operation of the civil service."

    He added that public opinion towards the European single currency was positive and that Cypriots expressed six per cent less of a need for more information on the subject of the EU as compared with the previous study.

    As far as the economy goes, nearly one in three Cypriots are expecting an improvement in the local economy this year, even though 70 per cent expect the gap between rich and poor to widen, Toumazos said.

    "The respondents were also asked to state which problems they considered to be the most important for Cyprus, following the national problem," he said. "Up until 2001 the answer had been unemployment. Now that ranks second, and in its place is drug abuse, highlighting the social problem as a growing concern for all Cypriots The third most important problem perceived is inflation, followed by crime and foreign workers."

    But, he said, the proportions for the latter two problems have remained unchanged over the years, settling at nine and eight per cent respectively.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Footballer set to get citizenship soon

    By Soteris Charalambous

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides yesterday made it clear that Turkish Cypriot footballer Sabri Selden's citizenship would be clarified very soon, and that the Cabinet was expected to settle the issue next week.

    In his statement, Markides explained that during his meeting with George Theodorou, Deputy Officer for Immigration, documents were presented that the player's father, Tuner Selden, had been born in Limassol in 1953 and that he married his wife, the player's mother, in Turkey in 1975. Further documents were presented that the couple returned to Cyprus shortly after and that all four of their children were born on the island.

    Markides went on to cite the legal precedents under which Selden could be granted citizenship. A recent law states that any child born on or after August 16, 1960 is automatically entitled to citizenship if one of the child's parents is already a citizen. The minister went on to point out that that particular ruling was subject to conditions, namely when one of the parents had entered the island through an unrecognised port of entry, although he went on to explain that this condition did not necessarily apply to the Selden case.

    In a separate statement, Interior Minister, Christodoulos Christodoulou was keen to emphasise that the Selden case was based on footballing and humanitarian issues and stressed that it was not a political issue. He went on to confirm that the cabinet's decision would be based on current laws concerning citizenship.

    Selden left his club in occupied Morphou and held a trial with Anorthosis before entering talks with AEK Larnaca.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Minister: we'll back refugee against Turkish Cypriot land claim

    By George Psyllides

    THE GOVERNMENT will provide every possible support to refugees and could appropriate the house where a Greek Cypriot refugee lives to prevent him getting evicted by the Turkish Cypriot owner, Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday.

    The issue was raised on Wednesday by DISY deputy Christodoulos Taramoundas, who told the House Refugee Committee that authorities had asked refugee Andreas Hadjichristophorou to leave the Turkish Cypriot house given to him by law after 1974.

    Yesterday, Hadjichristophorou said he was satisfied with the Interior Minister's support in the matter and stressed that he would not move out without a fight since he had been living there for the past 27 years and leaving the house would be like becoming a refugee for the second time.

    He revealed that because of the development of the area, at least eight Turkish Cypriots were trying to get the ownership titles of their land in order to be able to sell it.

    Hadjichristophorou added that he expected the case to go to court and then he would fight it out in co-operation with the authorities.

    The Interior Minister said that the case was well known, adding that when the Turkish Cypriot woman was given 1.5 million as compensation for the appropriation of her land in the area, she refused to have the house included in the deal.

    "There is no way we would take a refugee to court; if the Turkish Cypriot owner wishes to go to court it is their right," Christodoulou said.

    "What we, as a state, want to reiterate, is that we would provide refugees with every possible support and not leave them exposed," he added.

    Christodoulou said it was up to the court to decide what happened in this case and the state could not intervene with legal procedures.

    "We do not intervene with the work of justice; if, however, it creates a problem for the refugee we can't rule out the possibility of appropriation in order to secure him," Christodoulou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Hospitals swamped as virus fear spreads

    By Jean Christou

    HOSPITALS around the island have been swamped with people afraid they might have the Coxsackie virus, which has forced the closure of all schools in Greece and prompted the island's health chiefs to postpone school trips to Athens.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday confirmed that casualty departments at all hospitals had been congested over the past two days following the outbreak of the virus in Greece this month.

    At least three adults have died in Greece since the outbreak began on April 18. The virus has affected 41 people in Greece and all schools have been closed as a precaution, since children under 10 are particularly susceptible. Coxsackie, which is also known as hand, foot and mouth disease, is a viral infection caused by a strain of the Coxsackie virus. It causes a blister-like rash that, as the name implies, involves the hands, feet and mouth. In rare cases it can lead to myocarditis, inflammation of the heart, which can be fatal.

    The virus is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, blisters and faeces of infected people. Symptoms include fever, poor appetite, runny nose and sore throat.

    Savvides said that any reports that the infection had spread to Cyprus were unfounded.

    "We had a rush and little bit of congestion in the casualty departments of the hospitals but this is to be expected and this is normal," he said. "People worry and at the first signs of a cough or a runny nose we get people panicking, but it's all part of the job."

    Savvides met with health and education officials yesterday to review the situation with regard to the postponement of the school trips. Some 800 pupils have had their Easter trip postponed until June due to full flight schedules before then, and the next batch are due to fly out on May 6, Savvides said.

    "A decision whether to go ahead with this or not - although all the signs in Greece are favourable - will be taken on Tuesday based on the evidence we will have by then," he said. "It seems to be settling down."

    Cyprus Airways, which has suffered a number of individual cancellations, also reported that the panic appeared to be dying down.

    Spokesman Tassos Angelis said they believed that by today passenger psychology would have improved. He said although the company, which laid on dozens of extra flights for the Easter period, faced huge losses due to the cancellations, the situation did not warrant the cancellation of any flights.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] DIKO to fight conviction at the Supreme Court

    By Jean Christou

    MAVERICK DIKO deputy and former state pathologist Marios Matsakis has been found guilty and fined by the Medical Disciplinary Board for slandering his colleagues, but intends to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court he said yesterday.

    "I have no other option," an outraged Matsakis told the Cyprus Mail after being informed that he had to pay a 500 fine plus 2,300 in legal expenses or go to jail for disobeying a court order.

    Matsakis was brought before the Board after accusations by four doctors that he made negative comments about them in public following post mortems they had carried out. He also made allegations of negligence and "insulted and offended" the Medical Association, it said. The Association accused Matsakis of saying he did not recognise it and that it was an 'elitist group' made up of doctors serving their own interests.

    He also allegedly said he would expose the Association, which he said carried on like the Holy Inquisition, as incompetent.

    "I have been found guilty according to two rules of the committee," Matsakis said.

    "One states I am not able to do anything which might affect on the reputation and interests of any other doctors. So how can I do my job as forensic pathologist? The vast majority of my work involves investigating cases of medical negligence by other doctors. How can I practice in this country? Secondly as an MP I am not allowed to say anything which might affect my colleagues. I am a doctor and therefore I am bound by the rules of the medical code of the Medical Association."

    Matsakis said he was allowed to comment on medical issues in his role as a deputy but strictly within the confines of the House. However, public statements which might affect his colleagues are forbidden to him, he said.

    "These rules, according to which they tried me, contain many unconstitutional provisions, for example: How is it possible for a body consisting of doctors alone to try me and for their decisions to have the effect of a court ruling?" Matsakis asked, adding that a committee made up of doctors should not have the same powers as a court of law.

    "This is totally unacceptable. How can the same people have been critical of me many times - the same people to whom I direct my criticisms - be my judge and jury at the same time?"

    Matsakis also took exception to the fact that the Board's legal adviser "who assisted in finding me guilty" was Andreas Angelides, the general- secretary of his own political party.

    "I don't know what is happening in this country," Matsakis said.

    Christodoulos Messis, president of the Disciplinary Board, said yesterday it was open to Matsakis to appeal to the Supreme Court if he wished.

    "The decision of the disciplinary court is finished so if he doesn't agree he can go to the Supreme Court," Messis said.

    The Disciplinary Board is made up of 12 members: 11 doctors and one legal adviser, but only the doctors have the right to vote.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Asbestos fears for water crews

    By George Psyllides

    SAFETY precautions are not applied when Water Department crews work with asbestos pipes, while the department does not provide the proper equipment to workers, the House Health Committee heard yesterday.

    AKEL deputy Kyriacos Tyrimos, who tabled the issue along with Green party deputy George Perdikis, said: "it is proven that asbestos dust causes several conditions such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesotheliomas."

    In light of this, Tyrimos said, the House in 1993 and again in 2000, had passed legislation concerning the health and safety of people working with materials containing asbestos.

    The two deputies charged that the special masks supplied by the water department to its workers were unsuitable, while the way the pipes were cut and handled was improper, resulting in the workers breathing asbestos fibres and carrying them home on their clothes.

    Tyrimos said that workers should be equipped with the proper masks and disposable outfits as well as state-of-the-art cutting equipment, until the department stops using the material.

    He added that mesotheliomas and other forms of cancer had an incubation time of around 30 years and incidents were on the increase now, indicating the danger for those who had been exposed to asbestos dust and fibres.

    DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis confirmed this, saying that through his professional capacity as a pathologist he had seen an increase in mesotheliomas, a disease directly and exclusively linked to asbestos dust and fibre exposure.

    Matsakis accused the employers of "criminal negligence", arguing that even if they did supply them with masks, nothing prevented the fibres being carried to their homes and passed on their families.

    Perdikis charged that a Water Department worker had been sacked because he demanded safer conditions when handling asbestos pipes.

    The allegation, however was rejected by the department's Safety Supervisor Nicolas Christophides, who said the man got sacked for other reasons and not about his health concerns.

    Christophides said that work with asbestos pipes has been limited in recent years, but conceded that the department's cutting equipment was dated.

    He said that with the existing equipment, workers had to use water while cutting the pipe, something which is often ignored, allowing the dust and fibres to escape.

    The Health Ministry's Senior Medical official Andreas Georgiou said that the ministry had no jurisdiction on the issue since the responsibility of health inspections at workplaces was shifted to the Labour Ministry in 1996.

    Georgiou said that confirmed mesotheliomas incidents had reached 32 in the last 20 years, stressing that verification of new cases was difficult due to the illness' long incubation period.

    The Chairman of the committee, DISY deputy Antonis Karas, said that discussion of the issue would resume after the Easter break.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Cyprus won't make issue of omission from euro map

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS is not likely to make an issue of out the fact that the island has not been included in the map of Europe depicted on the euro notes and coins, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said yesterday.

    Klerides was responding to hard-hitting criticism of Europe by British Euro MP, Chris Davies, who is outraged that Cyprus was excluded even though the map depicted on the euros stretches all the way to Moscow.

    Davies recently tabled a question on the issue to the European parliament, saying it was unacceptable that a country which is an EU candidate and has its currency linked to the euro had been excluded.

    Davies did not mention, however, that the area where Malta, another candidate country, should be situated was shown as sea. However, the euro designers did make room to include in a separate box several French overseas territories in the Caribbean.

    But Cypriot authorities will not be making a fuss over the omission of the island, Klerides said.

    "It was not a map exclusively related to the exclusion of Cyprus," he said. "They just drew a vertical line somewhere. It also includes countries who are not members of the EU, so I don't think it was something that was done on purpose but this is something which would have to be taken up sometime in the future once Cyprus becomes a member," the Minister told the Cyprus Mail.

    He said it would not be right for a candidate country, which has not yet introduced the euro as its national currency "to demand or even suggest" that Cyprus should be on the map depicted on the euros.

    The euro banknotes were designed by the Austrian artist Robert Kalina. His designs were inspired by the theme "Ages and styles of Europe". They depict the architectural styles of seven periods in Europe's cultural history.

    The Council of the European Monetary Institute (EMI), which was the forerunner of the ECB, chose the designs in 1996. The EMI launched a design competition in February 1996. Altogether 44 design proposals were submitted. The designs were sent to a notary, who attributed a number to each series to render them anonymous. In September 1996, a jury of 14 independent experts in marketing, advertising, design and art appraised the designs. On the basis of the advice given by the jury and the results of the public consultation, the EMI Council selected the winning design series in December 1996.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Foreign companies could keep preferential tax rates to 2006

    By Jean Christou

    OFFSHORE companies may be allowed to retain existing favourable tax rates until January 2006, members of the Cyprus International Business Association (CIBA) were told at their annual general meeting in Limassol late on Wednesday.

    An address by Finance Minister Takis Klerides, delivered by Health Minister Frixos Savvides to CIBA members, said that Cyprus had sought extension of the 4.25 per cent rate for offshore business until 2011, but the maximum stay of execution allowed will be until 2006, the Minister said.

    The government has proposed a new tax package, which will abolish the difference between tax rates for local and offshore companies and introduce a standard rate of 10 per cent. Local companies are currently taxed at between 20 and 25 per cent.

    The government is also proposing to reduce the maximum rate of income tax from 40 per cent to 28 per cent and to increase the tax-free allowance from 6,000 to 9,000 per annum.

    "The adoption of a comparatively low uniform tax rate and the abolition of the restrictions currently in force regarding the activities of business entities should maintain Cyprus' attractiveness as an international business centre, still offering the lowest corporate tax rate in both EU members and candidate countries," the Minister said.

    CIBA president Mehran Eftekhar said the EU was not interested in the rates, as long as they were equally applied. He said CIBA hoped the government's plan passed through the House unhindered "with the exception of increasing personal income tax exemption limits and reducing the higher personal tax rate from 28 to 25 per cent".

    Eftekhar said CIBA was still in discussions with the Finance Ministry on the differences of opinion that still existed in this area, particularly as regards personal taxation.

    "The government and the political parties have to understand that the international businesses cannot function without their expatriate employees and they are not willing to pay higher taxes than what they would pay in their own countries," he said. "At the end if the international businesses have to pick up the difference then this will increase their effective rate of tax."

    The government announced its intention to scrap tax advantages for 'offshore' companies nearly two years ago, to avoid being blacklisted as a tax haven by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD said that Cyprus must come up with a timetable for removing harmful tax practices by the end of December 2001 but no decision has yet been taken.

    Offshore business has made it clear that companies would leave Cyprus if corporate taxation goes over 12.5 per cent - the rate to be adopted in Ireland by 2003.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Deputies oppose five-year extension plea for hospital construction

    By Melina Demetriou

    DEPUTIES on the Health Committee yesterday opposed a request to extend Nicosia Hospital's delivery deadline to August 2007.

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou said last week that the hospital contractor's demand for an almost five-year extension of the deadline would be examined, although initially his claims seemed "unreal".

    The hospital was due to be finished by February this year, but the date changed to June 2003 in order to give the contractor time to complete several changes that had been decided upon.

    The contractor now claims that he has been thrown off schedule by the changes and that he needs more time.

    The minister said his demands would be examined by the appropriate bodies, adding, however, that every week of delay could cost the taxpayer up to 40, 000.

    During a meeting of the House Health Committee yesterday, AKEL deputy Kyriacos Tyrimos complained about the situation and asked that the body hold a special meeting on the matter.

    The deputy stressed the need to find ways for the construction to finish by next year, arguing that the existing Nicosia hospital could no longer cover residents' medical needs.

    Marios Matsakis of DIKO and Green deputy George Perdikis shared Tyrimos' views. Matsakis described a five-year extension of the delivery deadline as "unacceptable and unjustified".

    The Committee is expected to convene on the matter on the first week after the Easter holidays.

    The hospital was initially estimated to cost around 37 million, but so far it has reportedly cost around 39 million.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Military contracts to be blocked

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE HOUSE Defence Committee is planning to block bills allowing purchases of military equipment from Israel in protest to attacks against Palestinian territories and to condemn the Sharon administration's refusal to allow a parliamentary delegation in the country.

    Addressing the House Plenum yesterday Committee chairman Antonis Karas said that although a definite decision on the matter was still pending deputies shared the view that proposals concerning purchases of military equipment from Israel should be blocked.

    A House delegation flew to the country earlier this month with the intention of handing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a resolution condemning Israeli attacks.

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

    The Israeli stance was the subject of bipartisan condemnation.

    KISOS deputy Vassos Lyssarides saluted the Defence committee's idea, further suggesting that economic relations between Cyprus and Israel should be frozen for the time being.

    He also proposed the resolution in question be sent to Arafat.

    Deputies yesterday slammed the Pancyprian Refugee Committee president Christos Artemiou for attending a dinner at the residence of the Israeli Ambassador last week on the anniversary of the state of Israel's foundation when the government had previously decided not to attend the event.

    Georgios Tassou of DISY defended Artemiou criticising his colleagues for "thinking that they can forbid someone to go to a dinner."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [11] British Sports minister in town for Olympic deal

    By Soteris Charalambous

    BRITISH Minister for Sport Richard Cabourn arrived in Cyprus yesterday to add his signature to the 'Letter of Intent' signed between the Cypriot and British Olympic Committees at the Hilton in Nicosia. The signing was described by Kikis Lazarides, President of the Cyprus Olympic Committee, as "upgrading the relationship between the Olympic Committees."

    Lazarides was careful to emphasise the fact that Team GB's presence in Cyprus as a future training base was still a "possibility" and not a "done deal" as suggested by a member of the audience. However, Cabourn's presence was significant. The original signing was due to take place this weekend at the meeting of Olympic Committees in Limassol. It confirms Team GB's preference to set-up a training base in Cyprus for the short term and suggests they have been sufficiently impressed with the available facilities.

    The area for negotiation is inevitably the costs involved for both parties in upgrading certain facilities and in extending the co-operation between the organisations for the longer term - a contract for the next 10 years was referred to. Cabourn confirmed that up to 15 disciplines within the team were involved in the negotiations.

    The preliminary discussions were described by British Olympic Committee Chairman Craig Reedie as "a remarkable degree of agreement between both sides right from the outset". But Cabourn was keen to stress that "hard negotiations still had to take place." He also jokingly described Reedie as a Scotsman with short arms and deep pockets.

    Both sides were keen to emphasise the shared and mutually beneficial aspects of the co-operation between the teams where expertise in sports science, sports medicine and sports psychology would be shared between both Cypriot and British athletes.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [12] Road deaths down 18 per cent

    CYPRUS is no longer the third worst country in Europe as regards to road safety, according to Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou.

    Neophytou's statement followed a conference organised by the Road Safety Council, in which a plan to improve driver safety was reviewed.

    In an official statement, Averoff Neophytou said fatal accidents in 2001 had decreased by 14 per cent and added that fatal accidents in the first three months of 2002 had decreased by 18 per cent.

    "We are no longer in the worst destinations list," he said.

    "However, we will only celebrate when we achieve zero road deaths."

    The plan to improve road safety also involves the police, who said yesterday they would carry out breathalyser tests on one out if five people, in an effort to combat drunk driving.

    Deputy Traffic Chief Andreas Pafitis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday police would focus on tourist areas such as Ayia Napa, Larnaca and Limassol.

    "Drink driving cases are more frequent in tourist areas," he said. "People drive motorcycles while under the influence. We are aiming to put a stop to that."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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