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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-04-30

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

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


Tuesday, April 30, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] 'Time to crack down on hooligans'
  • [02] Denktash presents 'suggestions to speed up talks'
  • [03] Cabinet probe over 'bogus tourism figures'
  • [04] Irish flight ban a 'welcome precedent'
  • [05] DISY seeks assistance for market victims
  • [06] Stocks plunge to new low
  • [07] Matsakis joins campaign against drugs clinic
  • [08] Muslim inmates 'complain of pork menu'
  • [09] Archbishop 'stable' after fall

  • [01] 'Time to crack down on hooligans'

    By Soteris Charalambous

    FOOTBALL authorities and the government yesterday joined to express their disgust at the serious injuries sustained by a football fan set upon by hooligans before the weekend clash between AEL and APOEL.

    APOEL fan Akis Sophocleos, 25, suffered severe head injuries after being hit with a rock and then set upon by an unidentified group before the game at Limassol's Tsirio Stadium. The attack left him on a respirator in the Neurology department at Nicosia General hospital.

    Sophocleos' father Demetris spoke to reporters yesterday after his son had been taken off the respirator and confirmed that he had been able to speak with his son, but that his condition was still "very serious".

    Asked what his son had told him, Sophocleos said his first question to doctors had been: "What was the score?" But he would not divulge any details on the events leading to his son's injuries for as long as the incident was under police investigation.

    One man has been remanded in custody in connection with violent incidents outside the stadium.

    In separate statements about the violence that marred the championship finale, football authorities, police and the Education Minister added to their sense of disgust that greater measures needed to be taken to prevent future incidents of violence both inside and outside football stadia.

    Costas Hadjikakou, Chairman of the Committee Against Football Violence, confirmed that some measures had been discussed to prevent a repeat of the incidents of the weekend. Hadjikakou pointed to the introduction of identity cards as a method for controlling those who attend games in order to cause violence.

    Referring to the match in Limassol, Hadjikakou apportioned some of the blame to poor handling of supporters by the police who had been entrusted with ensuring all supporters made it to the stadium safely.

    "Taking into account previous incidents, the police should have made sure the buses were escorted and directed to park in the allocated areas." He added the matter would be discussed with police in the inquiry as to what had gone wrong. Hadjikakou acknowledged that some responsibility for the trouble lay with the clubs, but questioned how they were responsible for those who turn up to matches looking to cause trouble.

    However, he echoed previous statements regarding representatives of clubs making inflammatory statements in the build-up to games.

    Police Chief Andreas Angelides rejected claims that police were solely responsible for the trouble and suggested that everyone involved had a responsibility for crowd behaviour at football matches. Angelides said bus drivers had not followed police instructions as to where supporters should be deposited before the game and that this had been the cause for the trouble. "Unfortunately, the easiest thing to do is to blame the police," added Angelides, refuting suggestions that a greater police presence was the solution.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides proposed the allocation of greater funds for policing fans outside stadia and said the introduction of cameras and a greater police presence inside stadia had reduced trouble within grounds.

    Ioannides echoed the police chief's belief that some people attended matched just to cause trouble. He added he would suggest to the government that money allocated for police presence at stadia increase from 400,000 to 600,000 per annum.

    In addition to the introduction of an ID card, Ioannides suggested a zone be set up around football stadia on match-days and that only people attending matches being allowed to enter. He also called for known trouble- makers to be banned from attending matches.

    Limassol Police Chief Theodoros Stylianou stated that everything possible had been done to prevent violence and expressed his sorrow at the events that had occurred outside the stadium. Stylianou also rejected criticism of the police for the incident, deflecting responsibility onto the clubs for ignoring the advice given to them at meetings before the game and for bus drivers ignoring instructions.

    Stylianou explained that "approximately 1,500 APOEL fans had been dropped off at a roundabout en route to the stadium instead of being deposited at the entrance designated for the away supporters. As a result APOEL fans had come into contact with AEL fans, which lead to the trouble." Stylianou added that a 62-year old teacher had his jaw broken by APOEL fans while trying to calm rival supporters down.

    The game was drawn 1-1. As a result, APOEL were crowned champions and AEL were guaranteed a place in Europe.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Denktash presents 'suggestions to speed up talks'

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday he had presented an unofficial list of suggestions in an attempt to speed up UN-mediated talks aimed at reuniting Cyprus.

    Denktash told reporters after meeting President Glafcos Clerides that he had put forward a number of proposals "taking into consideration past Greek Cypriot responses, and by showing some flexibility on some points".

    "The non-paper contains points on our views of the whole Cyprus problem... We hope some of realities will be accepted and the road will be shortened," Denktash said.

    The talks are being held under a media blackout, and Denktash would not specify what suggestions he had made for the negotiating process or for a solution.

    Asked whether he had been given anything by Denktash, UN envoy Alvaro de Soto said yesterday: "I don't comment on anything that occurs in the talks, nothing about plans, nothing about anything.

    "I'm neither confirming nor denying. What occurs in the talks occurs in private and I will say nothing about that."

    Denktash said he expected the Greek Cypriots to respond to his non-paper after a break in talks this week to observe Greek Orthodox Easter. Clerides and Denktash will meet again on May 7.

    The United Nations and other observers have bemoaned the slow pace of talks since Denktash and Clerides began meeting in January.

    The two men had agreed upon a June deadline for a settlement on the island, though Denktash has recently complained about pressure imposed by the time constraint.

    Clerides and Denktash met for 75 minutes yesterday in the presence of De Soto.

    The UN envoy left for London yesterday on his way to New York to brief the UN Secretary General, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the Security Council plenary. He will hold contacts in London this morning before flying on to the US this afternoon.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Cabinet probe over 'bogus tourism figures'

    By Jean Christou

    TOURISM Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday launched an investigation into how misleading tourism figures were given to the Cabinet last week, prompting ministers to postpone a new aid package for the industry.

    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 figures showing a much worse picture of the situation than that submitted to the Cabinet. Hoteliers alleged that the wrong figures were presented to the Cabinet deliberately.

    The figures submitted showed an increase in bookings of 23 per cent and 13 per cent respectively for May and June, instead of an actual drop in bookings of 34 per cent and 11 per cent for the same two months.

    Worse still, figures from the CTO's London office showed that bookings for July and August were down 26 per cent and 48 per cent respectively.

    A government announcement yesterday said the only conclusion to be drawn from the incident was that an investigation should be launched into how the wrong figures were given to the Cabinet, despite the fact that the CTO said what had happened was simply a misunderstanding.

    However, the statement said that the officials who presented the optimistic figures were well of the problems in global tourism and should immediately have realised that there couldn't have been an increase in bookings for the months specified when the average reservation numbers were down.

    "Why didn't they raise questions and review the figures but went ahead and submitted then when it was crystal clear they could not be true?" the statement said. "And why was the ministry and the minister not informed personally about this issue?"

    The statement said the investigation, which is being carried out with the CTO chairman, is due to be completed by May 7.

    Hoteliers were immediately suspicious as to how the wrong figures could be given and angered that they had resulted in the postponement of a proposal by Rolandis for additional advertising revenue. They believed it was done deliberately because the optimistic figures were too vastly different to the reality not to have aroused suspicions given the decline in tourism since the September 11 attacks in the US.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Irish flight ban a 'welcome precedent'

    By Jean Christou

    THE DECISION by the Irish government to ban flights from Dublin ending up in occupied northern Cyprus sends a positive political message, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minster Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Commenting on the development, news of which was published in the Sunday Mail, Rolandis said the actions of the Irish government on the issue set a precedent that other countries could adopt.

    The flights from Dublin by Cyprus Turkish Airlines were due to begin on May 20 and had been preceded by a slick advertising campaign, which was threatening to dent the Cyprus Tourism Organisation's (CTO's) own push for Irish tourists this year.

    But last week the Irish government said that approval of the flights to the unrecognised 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus' would have the country in breach of UN resolutions and could not be allowed to go ahead.

    Other countries get around the problem of flights to the north by landing first in Turkey, then operating a separate flight to the occupied areas.

    "Dublin's decision is politically correct and it sends out to others a positive political message as far as the Cyprus question is concerned," Rolandis said yesterday.

    He said the occupation regime had sought to promote this request when its representatives went to Ireland to participate in a tourist exhibition.

    "Ireland believes that it cannot accept this application because Dublin is well aware that the final destination of the flights in question is Cyprus' occupied areas," Rolandis said.

    Rolandis said the decision could prompt many Irish tourists to think again and decide to spend their holidays in the government controlled part of the island instead.

    "This decision could be a good precedent and others may follow suit," the minister said, adding however that no other government had so far adopted such a policy.

    In 2000, around 36,000 Irish tourists visited Cyprus, but last year some 51, 000 spent their holidays on the island, a 43 per cent increase.

    The Turkish Cypriot side has been pulling out all the stops to snag Irish tourists this year with a reduction in flight times, passport concessions and an advertising budget bigger than the CTO's.

    Slogan such as 'The only high-rise in the north of Cyprus are the mountains' and 'Think you know Cyprus? Well you don't know the half of it', have been permeating Irish television, radio and newspapers in recent months.

    To make travelling to the north even more attractive, the Turkish Cypriot side had eased passport restrictions and promised tourists that having a Republic of Cyprus or a Greek stamp on their passports would not be a problem and that they would be given 'separate entry' documentation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] DISY seeks assistance for market victims

    By Melina Demetriou

    DISY has drafted a proposal to support investors who borrowed money and lost it on the stock market.

    DISY deputy Prodromos Prodromou said after a meeting of the Finance Committee yesterday that his party wanted to involve the government as well as banks in efforts to help the borrowers in question pay off their debts.

    "We are putting the final touches to a proposal which aims to relieve those who have borrowed to invest and suffered losses," Prodromou said without elaborating.

    Finance Ministry general director Andis Tryfonides said yesterday he had already discussed the matter with DISY's parliamentary spokesman Demetris Syllouris.

    Tryfonides promised that the government would study the proposal.

    "There is a serious discussion going on among deputies and parties on how to help all these people who borrowed money which they lost on the stock market," he said.

    But AKEL yesterday expressed fears that DISY's proposal might divide citizens in two categories.

    "I believe that this proposal is complicated and needs to be handled with a lot of care so that it does not give the impression that we want to class citizens as investors and non-investors," AKEL deputy George Lillikas said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Stocks plunge to new low

    STOCKS slumped to a second successive four-year low yesterday, with market heavyweight Bank of Cyprus falling as its share price was adjusted after a dividend to shareholders.

    The benchmark index fell 2.05 points, or two per cent, to 96.81, levels not visited since the market traded with considerably fewer companies in 1998.

    Part of the climbdown was due to Bank of Cyprus stock trading ex-dividend, taking into account an eight-cent payout to shareholders, analysts said. The stock was trading yesterday at 1.60, seven cents below Friday's close.

    The FTSE/CySE index of 20 top stocks lost 2.42 per cent to end at a historical low of 412.55 points.

    Banking shares lost 2.38 per cent on the Bank of Cyprus adjustment. Peers Laiki ended unchanged at 1.26 and Hellenic nudged up a cent to 78.

    Sentiment has been sour since the market started a downward spiral from an all-time high of 881 points reached in November 1999, caused in part by a raft of new issues.

    "Trust needs to be brought back to the market and that can only be gradual by investors making their decisions based on company fundamentals and their prospects," a government source told Reuters.

    Investor groups say that thousands of people are still heavily in debt for investing on the bourse with borrowed funds before the bubble burst. Many investors put money on the market or in private placements on the expectation of a very quick profit.

    Now, few are willing to take the risk, according to a poll prepared by Laiki Bank which showed only one per cent of Cypriots are prepared to invest excess cash on the bourse, compared to 23 per cent in 1999.

    During yesterday's session, declining stocks outpaced advancing ones 68 to 47 with 17 unchanged, and 47 issues hit new year lows. Turnover fell to 2.04 million on a volume of 9.9 million shares. (R)

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Matsakis joins campaign against drugs clinic

    By Alexia Saoulli

    DIKO Deputy Marios Matsakis yesterday joined residents in their protest against government plans to set up a drug rehabilitation centre in Kornos.

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

    The problem was, none of the residents in the area had been informed of these plans and they are now planning to take whatever measures possible to see the proposal is not enforced, said Giorgios Panayiotou, President of the Kornos village Community Council.

    The area itself is a very wealthy, residential district, and surrounding houses are worth over 500,000 each, he claimed.

    The four-bedroom villa to be rented belongs to a British man married to a Cypriot, who decided to rent out his property for an estimated monthly fee of 1,800 after he and his wife moved to Nicosia.

    On Sunday, all residents gathered to express the fear that a clinic of this sort would only attract danger, such as unwelcome drug pushers. They were joined in their plight by Matsakis, DISY deputy Zacharias Zachariou and Green Party deputy, George Perdikis.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Matsakis said that although he supported the foundation of another drug rehabilitation centre, he did not believe the allocated area was appropriate.

    "I'm not against a drug rehabilitation centre," he said. "Far from it in fact, since it is I that suggested such an institution in the past to begin with. But I believe the government should have communicated its plans with the local authority and the residents first, so that some sort of discussion could be had between all parties concerned."

    Instead, two people made a rash decision that they were now planning to execute, no questions asked, he said.

    "What they should have done was to carry out a study to see how suitable the area and house is for such a plan. What they would have found out is that it is not, as I do not believe you can have a centre in that specific, developed area," Matsakis said.

    Although the outspoken deputy has a house in the area, he said he was not near enough the site to be affected by it.

    "Besides, that is irrelevant," he said. "The point is the residents are afraid that the drug addicts might start wandering about and that their presence will attract other unwelcome individuals."

    Although he admitted similar centres might be efficient abroad, he did not believe that would be the case in Cyprus.

    "A lot of things operate differently abroad," he said. "It is public knowledge that when both the General Hospital of Limassol and Nicosia started drug detoxification programmes, drugs used to filter through and pushers would gather outside and wander around. This is what will most likely happen here as well."

    He accused the government of disorganisation and flippancy, claiming that it was a ridiculous notion to think a four-bedroom villa was appropriate for a drug rehab centre since it was too small to begin with.

    "They probably thought it up so that the psychiatrists involved could have a nice holiday home to go to. This is a matter that needs serious discussion and scrutiny."

    Dr. Kyriakos Veresies, Scientific Director of the Centre for Education about Drugs and Treatment of Drug Addicted Persons (KENTHEA) believes that if the public were kept well informed on drugs issues this centre would not be a problem.

    But Matskais hit back and asked why the residents should be educated.

    "What about the residents and how they feel? These people are being affected and they weren't even asked," he charged. "You sympathise with the drug addicts and ask how they feel and yet no-one stops to think about the people that bought a house in the area for a bit of peace and quiet. If that's the case, you could say a drug addict chose to do drugs. What did the residents do to deserve having this imposed on them? It might be a social problem, but there are better ways of dealing with it and I find their reaction completely justifiable," Matsakis said.

    Matsakis said the centre should be built somewhere remote, similar to the Ayia Skepi centre in the Machairas Mountains

    "They make decisions alone and carry them out alone. Is that how things should be planned?" he asked.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Muslim inmates 'complain of pork menu'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    EIGHT illegal immigrants being held at Nicosia's Central Prison have complained that the authorities do not respect their religious beliefs, it was reported yesterday.

    The Pakistanis appeared before a Nicosia court on Sunday to have their remand renewed, when they lodged the complaint that they were being served pork in custody, a fact that went against their religion.

    But Nicosia District Deputy Head of Police, Ioannis Diaouris, said that although prison holding cells and police holding cells were two separate entities, as far as he knew prison governor Haris Themistocleous respected other peoples' beliefs and he was sure different meals were prepared to take them into account.

    "When we keep prisoners in our holding cells," he said, "they are not served pork if they do not want it. We plan our menus around their religious beliefs if need be. However, our menu is not the same menu that is served in the central prison".

    Diaouris insisted that the police respected different beliefs and were sensitive to the fact that Muslims did not eat pork.

    "I don't even know if the report claiming this allegation is true, nor do I know any details," he said, "but I believe that the prison respects other peoples' values the same way we do."

    "In fact," he added, "we go a step further. Because we only serve homemade foods that your average Cypriot eats, and not so-called high-class meals, if a prisoner wants a particular type of food that is outside our prison budget, such as a certain type of fish or steak for instance, we will order it and bring it to him, and he can pay for it himself."

    According to yesterday's press reports, however, the court said the authorities should respect the eight Pakistanis' religious beliefs and that their diet should be modified accordingly.

    The group arrived in Cyprus recently under unknown circumstances, seeking political asylum. On Sunday, police requested that they be re-remanded in custody so that they could finish determining their identity, because not one of them was carrying a passport or travel documents. They had to be identified to determine whether or not their request for political asylum was genuine, said reports.

    Prison governor Themistocleous was unavailable for comment yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Archbishop 'stable' after fall

    DOCTORS at the Nicosia General Hospital said yesterday that Archbishop Chrysostomos' condition was "stable, but that he had suffered myoclonia" after he was was taken to hospital after falling heavily at the entrance of the Archbishopric on Saturday.

    Chrysostomos, 75, damaged his skull and three bones in his upper spine in the fall. Leading Neurologist Spyros Tzanis from Greece attended the Archbishop after concerned relatives requested additional medical advice. Tzanis made no additional comments about the Archbishop's injuries but added that although stable the Archbishop would require two to three weeks in hospital.

    According to the hospital, the Archbishop's myoclonia is controlled with pharmaceutical treatment and a brain scan has indicated the original brain injury was not affected by the complications.

    On Sunday, Chrysostomos was declared well enough to receive visitors including President Glafcos Clerides. Later on, Clerides told reporters that the Primate of the Church of Cyprus was "well". Adding that they had exchanged a few jokes. Clerides stressed that "it will take time" to heal, but that the Archbishop's health "is in no danger."

    Responding suggestions of a replacement to the Archbishop being appointed, Church officials rejected the need for any such action, adding that according to existing canon law a replacement could only be named by the Archbishop himself.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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