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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-27

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, April 27, 2002


  • [01] 'Stop list abuse proof of racism'
  • [02] Kurdish refugee appeals for right to work outside bases
  • [03] 'This is a very affluent area: we don't want a rehab clinic here'
  • [04] 'Very good response' to mobile phone licence bid
  • [05] Government seeks to play down furore over tourism projections
  • [06] Bases grant environmental protection to salt lake - minus antenna site
  • [07] New hospital 'will be ready next year'
  • [08] Turkish Cypriot sprinter wants to run for Cyprus

  • [01] 'Stop list abuse proof of racism'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    CYPRIOTS are not just xenophobes, but racists as well, the President of the Immigration Support Action Group said yesterday.

    His statement comes a day after the Cyprus barometer was published, highlighting the fact that nearly 80 per cent of respondents felt foreign workers deprived them of their jobs and pushed wages low.

    Doros Polycarpou's assertion was related to the treatment last December of a Russian woman, who headed an offshore company in Limassol and was stop- listed because a wife suspected her of having an affair with her husband.

    The Russian woman was refused entry back into Cyprus after travelling abroad so that her visa could be renewed. The reason she was put on the stop list was because the wife of a Cypriot man claimed she would "take the law into her own hands" because she feared her husband was having an extramarital affair with her.

    Polycarpou said the foreigner's business partner made a formal complaint, which is why the ombudswoman, Eliana Nicolaou, investigated the matter.

    Last month, Nicolaou found the woman not guilty of any wrongdoing and said she should be removed from the stop list immediately. Personal vendettas had no place in deportation issues, she said, but were unfortunately an easy way for Cypriot women to get rid of their husband's foreign girlfriends. She added that it was a good thing the woman concerned had actually been abroad and merely put on the stop list, rather than being arrested and deported like a common criminal.

    Polycarpou agreed that foreigners having an affair with married men was not an issue.

    "A personal life is a personal life and should remain so," he said. "But the migration officer has the authority to make all decisions concerning deportations. He does not have to answer to anyone or give any explanation for his decisions."

    This, according to Polycarpou, is where the mistake lies. He said the government should to relieve the migration officer of the concentration of power he has in making such decisions to prevent such situations from occurring.

    "Deportation should be based on objective criteria and decided through legal proceedings and not a civil servant's judgement. On man cannot possibly be in charge of all matters related to foreigners. It's far too much power and authority," he said, adding that the police never would have dared take this case to court had the system been different.

    Polycarpou said that because the ombudswoman had intervened this woman would be allowed back into the country. However, he warned, the government should take heed before racism and xenophobia turned into a political slogan.

    "Cypriot citizens get rid of foreigners very easily by making a complaint as small as the fact that their husbands are in danger of being led astray. Unfortunately, we are used to this as a society and are always violating foreigners. We are not just xenophobes, but racists, and before long we might end up like France, where an extreme right wing leader has ended up in the running for President in what was a predominantly socialist country. If that happens, the government will try and take control, but by then the damage will be hard to reverse."

    Neither the ombudswoman nor the Chief Migration Officer were available for comment yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Kurdish refugee appeals for right to work outside bases

    By Melina Demetriou

    A KURDISH refugee and his Burmese wife are appealing to the authorities to allow them to work in Cyprus so they can support their family on more than the 35 a week he receives in benefit from the British Bases.

    Mustafa Shirnus, a 28-year-old Kurd, was granted political refugee status by the Bases four years ago. He has been living in Dhekelia village since then, but, according to the Cyprus law, cannot work outside the SBA.

    A year ago, he married Pokila, 30, from Burma and had a baby with her.

    Pokila used to work legally as a housemaid in Paphos, but when her employer found out she was pregnant, she fired her and tried to have her deported.

    The Immigrant Support Action Group (ISAG) managed to intervene and keep Pokila in Cyprus with her husband, the Group's chairman Doros Polycarpou told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    "Immigration Department director George Theodorou promised to make the necessary arrangements to revalidate Pokila's residence permit so that she could work somewhere else in Cyprus," he explained.

    However, Mustafa is reluctant to go and see Theodorou with his wife as he is afraid she might be deported, Polycarpou said.

    When a foreign worker loses his job he automatically loses his residence and work permits.

    "Life has not been kind to this Kurdish refugee and he is very suspicious of the authorities," the ISAG chairman added.

    Mustafa said he had already applied to the Paphos Immigration Office for help but got nothing but threats.

    "They said if they saw us again they would kick us out of the country," he told the Cyprus Mail yesterday, stressing that his wife needed to work to support her baby.

    Ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou has repeatedly criticised the Paphos Immigration Office for bypassing standard procedures and laws.

    The couple and their three-month-old baby are currently living in Dhekelia on a 35 weekly allowance, although Pokila does not have a permit to stay in the Bases.

    Mustafa is not allowed to work outside the SBA.

    "Our accommodation is free, but we have to pay for other expenses like food and clothing so it's very difficult to get by," Pokila told the Mail yesterday.

    SBA spokesman Cristian Kuss said a political refugee living in the Bases was not normally allowed to bring his wife with him.

    "Mustafa knew that from the beginning and was advised not to get married. However, we are handling this as a unique case because there is a baby involved," Kuss told the Mail yesterday.

    "We let his wife and child live with him but we cannot support them too," he explained.

    As far as Pokila's status is concerned, only the Republic is authorised to issue a working permit for her.

    "I cannot go back to Burma with the baby because it is a very poor country and there is military rule," she said, adding that there was no way for her husband to return to Turkey as his life would be in danger.

    Pokila conceded that she had to apply to the Immigration Department for a residence permit.

    But even if she is granted residence status, the couple will still have to live in Dhekelia as Mustafa is not allowed to stay in the government controlled areas.

    "The whole legal system makes life difficult for this family. One of them is only allowed to live in the Bases and can't really work there, and the other can only live outside the SBA," Polycarpou said.

    "What will become of their baby who understands nothing of this?" he wondered.

    Polycarpou suggested that the British Bases and the Immigration Department look at the problem from a human angle and find a solution.

    "They should allow the family to stay somewhere where both parents can work. But first Mustafa has to arrange for his wife to get a residence permit," he insisted.

    An Immigration Department official was not available for comment yesterday.

    But the problem doesn't stop here.

    Pokila Shirnus lives in the British Bases illegally with her husband

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] 'This is a very affluent area: we don't want a rehab clinic here'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    SOCIAL problem or not, Kornos residents do not want a new drug rehabilitation centre in their village, the Community Council President said yesterday.

    The issue came to light recently, when a local paper published Health Ministry plans to rent a villa in the Larnaca district that would act as a rehabilitation clinic for drug addicts.

    The problem was, none of the residents in the proposed site had been informed of these plans, said Giorgios Panayiotou, President of the Kornos village Community Council.

    "We were left completely out in the dark," he said. "Instead of the Ministry meeting with all the residents and discussing the idea with us, as well as explaining what exactly this sort of centre is and how it operates, we were faced with a fait accompli. You can't imagine what kind of shock that was."

    Panayiotou maintained the government had handled the situation badly, which was why all the fuss was being made.

    "We are all logical people and might have understood had it been managed differently," he said. "Personally I met with the head of psychiatric services, Andreas Demetriou, today and he went over what the plans were and how the place would work. He actually convinced me, but the prejudice the neighbours feel will not be so easy to erase. I'm not saying drug addicts should be alienated and I know they are only innocent victims and need support, but you must understand it's hard on the residents as well."

    Dr. Kyriakos Veresies, Scientific Director of the Centre for Education about Drugs and Treatment of Drug Addicted Persons (KENTHEA) understand people's concerns.

    "Although we think this attitude is rather unfair, I don't blame people for being worried," he said, "because on the whole they are just ill-informed when it comes to drugs issues."

    People needed to be educated on the matter, so that myths surrounding it could be swept away once and for all, he said.

    "The area's residents are worried the 10 or 15 patients in treatment are not there to help themselves get better, but instead are out to plot how best to distribute drugs. This is a ridiculous myth. Moreover, they're saying drug pushers will swarm to the area because of the clinic," he said. "First of all, pushers never show up without being asked, and second, they won't go somewhere if they know there is no money to be made, because the individuals in the clinic are fighting to beat their habit, not support it."

    This is exactly what the residents are afraid of, said Panayiotou. Although it might be a social problem, they should find a place that is more isolated, he added.

    "The area they are talking about is a very affluent, residential area. All the houses here are worth over 500,000 each," he told the Cyprus Mail. "In fact, the house the Ministry plans to rent will cost about 1,800 a month, so you can just imagine how large it is. So you see, everyone is worried that the area will lose its value with some property owners planning on stopping to build for precisely that reason.

    "Residents are also scared to have them right on their doorsteps, because they haven't been told what the centre is going to be like or how it will operate. Will they be fenced off and unable to wander around? What if they do get out and about and go to other residences? Or, what if their friends visit them and perhaps bring drugs with them to distribute. I mean, it's not as if anyone who enters rehab, manages to finish treatment and leave there reformed," Panayiotou said.

    The clinic's residents will not just wander around freely, said Veresies.

    "They will be kept within the centre and under the guidance of trained staff. In fact, they will have already been through detox elsewhere and so will no longer be physically addicted to drugs," he said. "Instead, this centre will cater to giving them psychological support and helping them find themselves again. It's about teaching drug addicts how to take control of their lives and to make decisions for themselves, so that when they are reintegrated into society, they will be completely different people."

    Depending on the programme, he said, patients could be in treatment from six months to two years.

    They are not allowed to leave the premises during their stay there and initially the rehab programme imposes a lot of limitations on their freedom such as using the phone, watching television or reading newspapers, Veresies said.

    "But, they will most certainly be allowed outside into the garden and nor will there be any fencing," he said. "These types of communities operate out of buildings next to other residents in Athens and no one says anything or knows any different, because it's not a problem," he said

    "These are our children," he added, "and our responsibility as a whole society. They have already isolated themselves through their addiction and these centres are the first steps they must take to re-enter society. Although everyone says they are worried about the growing drug problem on the island, when you ask for prevention and cure measures, no one is willing to help."

    Panayiotou agrees that society should not turn its back on the island's drug addicts, but said residents would feel more comfortable if the centre was built somewhere more remote, such as the mountains.

    He said the neighbouring houses planned to continue their protests and would be taking legal measures to see what could be done to prevent the plans from going ahead.

    No one was available for comment at the Health Ministry yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] 'Very good response' to mobile phone licence bid

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT has received 20 replies from local and international telecoms giants in response to its invitation to submit expressions of interest in the island's deregulation of the telecommunications sector.

    Those said to have submitted responses to the public consultation paper issued by the government last month include Vodafone, Telestet and Greece's CosmOTE, which are interested in GSM licences. The list also includes other companies from the US, France, Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and Russia.

    Cypriot telecoms monopoly CyTA and the Electricity Authority, which wants to branch out into telecommunications, also submitted expressions of interest.

    "There was a very good response from some very big international companies, " said Communications and Works Minister Averoff Neophytou. "We asked for the expressions of interest so that we can get a feeling of the market and to see how we will proceed as regards the number of licences to be issued and other criteria."

    He said a decision would be made within weeks after the responses had been examined in detail.

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

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

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

    Wireless networks in general, and 3G/UMTS networks in particular are expected to play key roles in the development of Cyprus as it moves from a monopoly environment to a competitive market.

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

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

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

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

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Government seeks to play down furore over tourism projections

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) yesterday played down an apparent blunder over misleading tourism figures given to the Cabinet on Wednesday, but the issue would be looked into, Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said.

    The Hoteliers' Association (PASYXE) on Thursday night requested an urgent meeting with President Glafcos Clerides after the data, which showed optimistic bookings figures, prompted the Cabinet to postpone approval of a new aid package for the ailing tourism industry until May 8.

    However, the following day the CTO revealed that the data submitted to the Cabinet showed a much worse picture of the situation. Hoteliers alleged that the wrong figures had been presented to the cabinet deliberately. They showed an increase in bookings of 23 per cent and 13 per cent respectively for May and June, whereas the true projections are for a fall of 34 per cent and 11 per cent for the same two months. Worse still, data from the CTO's London office showed that bookings for July and August were down 26 per cent and 48 per cent respectively.

    "The data presented to the Cabinet related to reservations from the UK and options for more reservations from that country," Papapetrou told his daily news briefing yesterday. "Given that this data accounted for period up to April 5, the Cabinet deemed it necessary for updated information so that it could take a final decision."

    Papapetrou said the government was closely watching the issue of tourism arrivals and the possibility that tourism might be affected by external factors. "As always we will support our tourist product," he said.

    A statement from the CTO yesterday said that the data they had received from London included information on reservations and departure months and that the two had become confused. "That was the only mistake or error," the statement said.

    Hoteliers were angered that the misleading figures had resulted in the postponement of a proposal by Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis for additional advertising revenue and believed it was done deliberately for reasons they did not specify.

    They believe the optimistic figures presented were too vastly different to reality not to have aroused suspicions, given the decline in tourism since the September 11 attacks in the US.

    After months of declining arrival figures since last September, arrivals last month were up 0.8 per cent compared to a drop of 14 per cent in February. Forecasts are that tourism in 2002 will be down between five and eight per cent over 2001's 2.7 million, a break-even figure over the previous year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Bases grant environmental protection to salt lake - minus antenna site

    By Alex Mita

    AKROTIRI Salt Lake and Fassouri Marsh in the British Bases area outside Limassol are to be included in the list of Wetlands of International Importance.

    In a news conference yesterday, Deputy Civilian Commander of the British Bases, Gavin Barlow, presented proposals for the boundaries of the Salt Lake, excluding an area where they will install a controversial new antenna.

    Barlow presented a map defining the areas to which the Ramsar Convention on Wetland of International Importance extends and indicated that the areas developed for communications purposes, including the area required for the antenna, are not included in the proposed Ramsar site.

    The Deputy Commander noted that the Bases had written to all those who had a direct interest in the Ramsar proposals, including the relevant government departments, local authorities and major land owners in the surrounding area.

    Gavin Barlow said the decision was taken after the bases had looked at the evidence already available on the Salt Lake and carrying out a number of scientific surveys.

    He added that they had taken into consideration the views of the Environment Service and local people.

    "The scientific value of the proposed site lies in its unique combination of features, as it is one of the last major salt lakes in the Eastern Mediterranean in a semi-natural condition, and it is also the largest aquatic system in Cyprus" Barlow said.

    "The site supports a significant number of rare species, including 13 endemic and rare plant species and 32 bird species specially protected under the European Birds Directive," he said, noting that the Ramsar convention was especially concerned with the protection of water birds.

    Under the terms of the Ramsar convention, the British Bases will establish a nature reserve on the Forest Land within the site. They will also draw up an Environmental Management Plan for the site itself and all areas adjacent to it, in close co-operation with the government and locals.

    As regards the antenna, Barlow said the British Forces in Cyprus would have to make specific, public commitments to manage the communications facilities in the area in an environmentally sensitive way and to avoid as far as possible adverse impacts on the Ramsar site.

    However, Green Party deputy George Perdikis yesterday condemned the SBA for its antenna plans and called on citizens to "act accordingly".

    Perdikis told the Cyprus Mail he did not trust the British and accused them of using the Easter celebrations as cover for their activities. Perdikis said the party would keep all British movements under close surveillance.

    In response to Perdikis' comments, a spokesman for the SBA told the Cyprus Mail the SBA would be happy to hear his party's thoughts and ideas should Perdikis wish to share them.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] New hospital 'will be ready next year'

    COMMUNICATIONS Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday swep aside rumours that the new Nicosia General Hospital would not be ready until 2007, pledging a final deadline delivery date had been set for early 2004.

    The existing hospital is seen as inadequate and outdated to service the needs of the capital's growing population.

    The new hospital was initially due to be finished by February this year, but the date changed to June 2003 to give the contractor time to complete several changes.

    But later on the contractor said the changes had thrown him off schedule, asking for an almost five-year extension. That provoked widespread reaction, spearheaded by the House Health Committee. It has been estimated that every week of delay could cost the taxpayer up to 40,000. Already the project has exceeded its budget by 2 million.

    Neophytou yesterday set the definitive deadline as early 2004, saying that "Cyprus' citizens deserve a new hospital and must not have to wait as long as 2007." The minister added that in mid-May aides would be presenting him with recommendations on modifications to the project and ways of speeding up construction.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Turkish Cypriot sprinter wants to run for Cyprus

    A LONDON-based Turkish Cypriot sprinter wants to represent Cyprus in international competition, it emerged yesterday.

    The report comes in the week when footballer Sabri Selden crossed from his club in occupied Morphou seeking to play for AEK Larnaca.

    Reports yesterday said Esser Moustafa Resiat, a Turkish Cypriot sprinter currently based in London, wished to obtain citizenship and represent Cyprus.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou stated yesterday: "If he is a Turkish Cypriot, Cyprus is his country and he is entitled to represent Cyprus unless there are any special circumstances with his case."

    There has been controversy over Selden's case, because his mother comes from mainland Turkey.

    Twenty-one-year-old Resiat applied for citizenship at the Cyprus consulate in London, expressing his desire to compete with the Cypriot Athletics team and represent Cyprus at International Games. The athlete is reported to have achieved a personal best time of 10.6 seconds in the 100 metres and recorded a time of 21.7 seconds in the 200 metres.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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