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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-05-21

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, May 21, 2002


  • [01] EU expects final decision on Palestinians today
  • [02] 'Obesity op changed my life'
  • [03] Cabaret waiter accused of beating up Briton who refused 750 bill
  • [04] All issues on the table in Athens talks
  • [05] Competition chapter 'basically closed'
  • [06] Who sits what exam: English School questionnaire aims to fine tune selection process
  • [07] Sorry I can't come in today, I'm suffering from 'Mundialitis'
  • [08] Fire fighters take safety message across the country
  • [09] Zakaki pupils in new pollution protest

  • [01] EU expects final decision on Palestinians today

    By Jean Christou

    THE FINAL decision on the fate of 12 of the 13 Palestinians holed up at a Larnaca hotel will be made in Brussels today, the EU's Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos said in Cyprus yesterday.

    Moratinos yesterday met the 13 Palestinians, brought to Cyprus over a week ago following the end of the Israeli siege at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. He said the legal and political discussions in Brussels regarding which countries would take them in "have practically been finalised", adding that the issue would be wrapped up today.

    Moratinos was accompanied to the Flamingo Hotel by the Palestinian Authority's Representative in Cyprus Samir abu Gazhalleh, by Spanish Ambassador to Cyprus Ignacio Garcia Valdecasas and Head of the European Commission delegation on the island Donato Chiarini.

    "Joint action will be finalised tomorrow, as there are still some small issues to be discussed," he said. "We are very close to an end. I have just come to inform the 13 Palestinians of the positive things."

    He said that once the final touches were made "and thanks to the Cypriot government for its tremendous contribution", it was hoped that everything would be resolved by today.

    Asked if there was a preliminary agreement on the Palestinians' legal status, once they reached their host countries, Moratinos said "I think there is" and "it would have to be formalised tomorrow in Brussels," he added.

    "Today is the Pentecost, it is a holiday in Brussels, and they cannot have a formal session. There is a preliminary agreement on the status and there is a common status for all of them in any place they will remain", he added.

    Asked to elaborate on the Palestinians' future status, Moratinos said: "I prefer to wait for the formal decision".

    He said the Palestinians would be considered free citizens in the countries that would take them in and that the whole situation would be monitored.

    Spain and Italy have said they would each take three of the Palestinians while Greece and Ireland will take two each and Portugal and Beligum one each. The 13th Palestinian will stay in Cyprus for the time being.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said that although the final status of 12 of the 13 has been finalised, the destination of the last man had not.

    EU member states have been haggling for over a week on what to do with the Palestinians ever since they were expelled from Israel as terrorists.

    EU ambassadors had already put off their decision on where to send the 13 on three occasions.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] 'Obesity op changed my life'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    NICOSIA General Hospital has introduced laparoscopic surgical procedures aimed at helping obese people lose weight, a surgeon said yesterday.

    But one man who has had the operation done privately is afraid that state doctors are using Cypriots as guinea pigs to practice this highly specialised technique.

    Laparoscopic surgery involves the use of a small video camera and a few customised instruments to perform surgery with minimal tissue injury. The camera and instruments are inserted into the abdomen or chest through small skin cuts, allowing the surgeon to explore the whole cavity without needing to make large standard openings dividing skin and muscle. This method reduces the recovery time due to its minimal tissue damage, permitting the patient to return to normal activity in a shorter period of time.

    Dr. Charalambos Andreou, one of nine surgeons under Dr. Pericles Simeonides, who heads the hospital's surgical unit, told the Cyprus Mail that this particular procedure was directed solely at obese patients.

    "What the operation involves is the insertion of a plastic band around the outer part of the upper stomach, just below the oesophagus. This band then narrows the opening into the stomach, which prevents the patient from overeating and in turn results in weight loss," he said.

    Andreou said ever since the procedure had first been introduced to the state hospital over a month ago, the number of obese Cypriots coming forward had been on the increase.

    He said Simeonides assessed patients and if they fulfilled the necessary criteria, the surgery could go ahead. But people should not be fooled into thinking that this was the answer to being thin, since it was still a medical procedure and should not be taken lightly, Andreou stressed.

    "Not everyone is eligible of course. They need to be over a certain weight, have no physiological ailments such as hormonal problems, have exhausted all other normal forms of weight loss like dieting and exercise, and they must not have a compulsive overeating eating disorder."

    However, 35-year-old Andreas Stylianou, who had the procedure performed by Dr. Ioannis Ioannou in Limassol a year and a half ago for 4,500 is not confident state doctors are specialised enough to carry out this procedure.

    "It involves placing a foreign body into us and so there can be infections and complications such as leakage. An Austrian doctor brought over to train them for a month is not enough time to perfect the procedure."

    But Andreou said complications were a likelihood in all surgical procedures and that this was no different. Besides, patients also had a role to play and had to ensure that they did not abuse the band by overeating again, although they could go back to eating normally, he said.

    "Naturally for it to be effective we need patients to co-operate as well. Of course they can eat normally, but within reason. They mustn't overeat the way they used to and they should remember to chew their food very well so that it can pass through the band and into the stomach," he said.

    Again Stylianou disagrees.

    "It's ridiculous that people are being told they can eat what they used to, " he said. "For the first month I had to have all my food liquefied so that it could pass through the band without me feeling sick. It then took me nearly 14 months to be able to eat more soluble foods. Even now, I only eat soft foods such as pasta, rice, chicken, fish and baked potatoes. I cannot stomach the thought of souvla for instance, or cabbage in my salad, because the former takes longer to pass through the band and the latter gives me wind."

    But when asked if it was all worth it, he replied: "Definitely. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the answer to obesity. I used to be the fat guy in the crowd and stood out, now I'm no different to anyone else. I was 187 kilos and now I am down to 83 kilos and have been able to maintain it, which was what I had difficulty with before. In the past, I could lose weight, but I'd always end up gaining it again. I think it's very hard to unlearn bad eating habits and so obese people always go back to overeating."

    Stylianou said he used to consume 13,000 calories a day and was not even aware of it because it had become a way of life. Now, thanks to the procedure and ensuing plastic surgery to snip away all the sagging skin that developed from losing over 100 kilos, he is a changed man.

    "Life is completely different. There is not one negative consequence. I had all these health problems and now my blood pressure and sugar levels are back to normal. The only slightly irritating thing is when people don't recognise me and make comments."

    Stylianou's doctor, Ioannou, told the Cyprus Mail that this was a restrictive weight loss procedure.

    "What the band essentially does is divide the stomach into two parts. The top part is the part that then accepts food, about the size of a small lemon. Once it is digested, it passes through the band into the stomach. Therefore patients feel saturated quickly and do not eat the same quantities as they used to. And if they do, they'll only throw up."

    He said people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 were eligible for the procedure, or with a BMI of 35 if they had sleeping or knee problems.

    "You have to divide an individual's weight by the square of his height. If it's more than 40, he or she is obese. It cannot be used on someone that only needs to lose 10 or 15 kilos for instance."

    The plus side about this method is that the band can be tightened or loosened depending on a patient's weight loss. The more he or she loses, the looser the band is made, until finally it can be removed altogether.

    "This is not a permanent band and can be taken out at any time," he said.

    But Stylianou has decided he wants his band to stay where it is.

    "Women have silicone in for years without anything going wrong, so I want this kept inside me. It is on the loosest point at the moment because I've reached my target weight, but I know I have a tendency to be greedy and am afraid that if I remove it I'll start to pile on all the weight again." Although he believes he will probably never again be as fat as he was because his stomach has now shrunk, the scars of being fat for most of his life have remained with him and he does not want to risk jeopardising all that he has achieved over the past 18 months.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Cabaret waiter accused of beating up Briton who refused 750 bill

    A LIMASSOL cabaret waiter was yesterday remanded in custody for four days on suspicion of beating a British man after he refused to pay a hefty bill.

    Darren Jones told police he had been taken to the cabaret by a taxi driver who subsequently joined him at his table - without being invited -- along with two artistes.

    He had a beer but when he asked for the bill he was astonished to find out that it amounted to 750.

    He refused to pay, arguing he had only drunk a beer, while the rest of the drinks had been consumed by the other three who were sitting at his table.

    He then told the waiter he did not have so much money on him and asked the taxi driver to drive him to an ATM.

    Jones told police, however, that he did so in a bid to escape.

    When they got there, the waiter, Michalis Lazarou, tried to make the withdrawal himself using Jones' credit card, but was unsuccessful.

    It was at that point that Jones tried to flee but was assaulted by Lazarou, who hit him on various parts of his body, causing bruises and lacerations.

    The men shoved him into the taxi and drove him back to the cabaret where they locked him in a room and demanded the money while snatching his three credit cards, Jones said.

    He was then taken to the ATM again, where he withdrew 50 and gave them to Lazarou, who then left with the taxi driver.

    Jones notified police, who arrested Lazarou and the cabaret director, who was later released due to lack of evidence.

    Lazarou was remanded in custody for four days on suspicion of causing real bodily harm and demanding money using assaults and threats.

    Police were yesterday seeking the taxi driver allegedly involved in the incident.

    Police sources told the Cyprus Mail such cabaret scams were commonplace and that the particular cabaret had been investigated repeatedly in connection with similar complaints.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] All issues on the table in Athens talks

    ALL issues relating to the Cyprus problem will be on the agenda of talks that President Glafcos Clerides will hold in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis tomorrow.

    "At the meeting, all parameters and all aspects of the Cyprus question will be covered. We shall discuss various scenarios that we may have to deal with in the future," Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    This is the first time the President is going to Athens for consultations with Simitis since the start of direct talks in mid January.

    Clerides will also meet his Greek counterpart Costis Stephanopoulos, before having talks in the evening with Simitis, then taking part in a working dinner hosted by the Greek premier.

    The President will also visit Archbishop Chrysostomos, who is in hospital in Athens recuperating from injuries he sustained in a fall last month.

    Papapetrou said the President may also have other meetings with the Greek political leadership. Clerides, who will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides and other aides, returns home Thursday.

    Commenting on the ongoing talks yesterday, Papapetrou said UN effort to solve the Cyprus question and the country's accession course towards European Union membership were two different things.

    "The government does not associate separate issues. What we have before us at present is hard work until the end of June to reach an agreement on the core issues that make up the Cyprus problem (governance, security, territory and property)," Papapetrou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Competition chapter 'basically closed'

    CYPRUS has "basically closed" the chapter regarding competition in the EU acquis communautaire and will soon close a part of the agriculture chapter regarding veterinary and phytosanitary measures, Cyprus' chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou said yesterday after a meeting with Michael Leigh, Director at the Enlargement Directorate General of the European Commission.

    "I am in the happy position to announce that the chapter of competition basically closes. In the same way, a half part of the chapter on agriculture concerning veterinary and phytosanitary affairs will close. Only half of the chapter of agriculture remains, as well as economic aspects," Vassiliou told reporters after the meeting.

    "It can be said that Cyprus has successfully concluded the accession negotiations with the EU," Vassiliou added.

    He said Cyprus could look forward to its accession to the EU, especially considering the fact that, until now, the Greek Cypriot side "has done everything right", in the UN-led peace talks on Cyprus, whereas the Turkish Cypriot side "unfortunately refuses" to negotiate on the basis of the EU and UN positions.

    In his statements, Leigh said the purpose of yesterday's meeting had been to review the progress in the accession negotiations, and expressed the hope that the negotiations would be concluded on time at the end of this year.

    "The negotiations are proceeding very well," Leigh told journalists expressing the conviction that the Commission could keep to the enlargement calendar, "which is a firm commitment by the member states as it has been repeated by each European Council".

    Cyprus opened accession negotiations with the EU in April 1998 and has so far provisionally closed 27 of the 30 chapters under negotiation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Who sits what exam: English School questionnaire aims to fine tune selection process

    By Alexia Saoulli

    A NICOSIA private school has designed a questionnaire that assesses what level of English language entrance exam paper candidates should sit.

    The English School has long since had two entrance examinations: one for first year entry and another for second year entry. Normally, fluent Greek speakers sit the first year entry examinations as they are assessed on the Greek language and mathematics. Candidates for second year entry, on the other hand, sit examinations in English and mathematics.

    According to the paper's sources, rumours have recently arisen surrounding the English language paper assessment. Parents have claimed that for the first time the school is developing two different papers: one for native English speakers and another for non-native speakers.

    But, this rumour is entirely false and misleading, according to the headmaster Robert Swan.

    "There have been two different English papers for the second year examination for years," he said. "The only new thing this year is that we have actually included a separate form with the exam application form asking parents questions designed to assess which paper candidates should be sitting."

    According to the form: "Two English papers are offered, one for candidates defined as native speakers of English. The School reserves the right to determine the paper for which each candidate will be entered. In order assist to the school in making this determination, please answer the following questions as accurately as possible."

    The questionnaire then goes on to ask the nationality, place of birth, first language spoken and principal language now spoken by the candidate's father, mother and the candidate himself or herself. There is also a question looking at which language is generally spoken at home and which languages are sometimes spoken.

    "In the past, the person in charge of collecting the forms would ask parents very general questions in order to determine which paper a candidate would be given. But we felt that this might not be as effective and so decided to try and devise a method that would best establish a candidate's level of English," he said, which could even be as broad as 'did your child go to an English or Greek speaking elementary school?'

    One reason there are two English language papers is because some students who do not pass in the first year opt to reapply in the second year and their level of English is not the same standard, for instance, as English speaking Junior School leavers.

    "There is a 40 per cent core module in the English paper that is the same for all candidates. The remaining 60 per cent is the part that differs and assesses different aspects of the language," Swan said.

    Although he did not know specifics of the differences, because it was the school's English department that handled the paper, he said the non-native paper was designed to ensure that the candidate was able to keep up with the school's English based curriculum.

    "Obviously a native English speaker will not have a problem with keeping up and we know that," he said. "However, we must certify that all candidates can cope with our curriculum and the only way to do that is this."

    Places at the prestigious school are highly sought after, which is why there are so many applicants a year. That is another reason an objective selection process such as an examination is important.

    "I believe that our entrance exams are a good way of telling who will be able to cope with the school's curriculum and who will not," he said. "With so many students hoping to get into the school and so few places available, we have to design a paper that is selective, and then offer places to the top candidates."

    This method of two English papers was not about giving some students an easier paper over others, he said. It was about assessing levels of English. If some candidates' are already fluent in the language, then the native-English paper highlights the stronger students. The same goes for the non-native speakers paper, he said.

    Asked whether he was aware that some parents had said they might lie on the form in order to ensure their child sat an easier English paper, he said: "I have heard something like that, but I hope no one actually goes through with it, because there is declaration at the end that says any misrepresentation may lead to the offer of a place at the school being withdrawn."

    Swan said it would be easy to tell if a parent had lied on the form once the child entered the school in September and his or her level of English would become quickly obvious.

    The deadline for submitting the exam registration form was last Friday and the actual exam is on June 1.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Sorry I can't come in today, I'm suffering from 'Mundialitis'

    By Soteris Charalambous

    AN EPIDEMIC is about to hit Cyprus and it appears that nobody from the government is prepared to do anything about it. The condition is called 'Mundialitis', a particularly virulent and debilitating infection mainly affecting men.

    The last major outbreak was four years ago: the symptoms include stomach cramps, nervous tension and in the worst cases involuntary bouts of swearing. The new strain, which originates from the Far East, leaves the sufferer unable to concentrate on work.

    Attacks are most common during the morning and early part of the day.

    The condition lasts for approximately 30 days, worsening until the fever reaches its peak resulting in more and more time off being taken. Fortunately, most sufferers recover completely and can resume their normal lives once the infection has run its course. If you haven't realised already the common term for this condition is 'The World Cup'.

    Across Europe, governments and businesses have made special provisions for the inevitable outbreak of 'Mundialitis' because this World Cup is being staged in Japan and South Korea. Kick-off times start as early as 8.30am, with the latest games starting at 2.30pm. Many large organisations in Europe with employees wishing to follow the tournament are being provided televisions or radio and have been told they can watch or listen during normal working hours on the condition that they make up the time later in the day or the week.

    Given the response given by the government and businesses in Cyprus, it appears that either Cypriots have no interest in 'the beautiful game' or they expect every employee to carry on with their daily routine in a disciplined manner during the live transmissions. According to Government Spokesman, Michalis Papapetrou, "It is not possible to shift the working timetable around the scheduling of the World Cup. But I don't think it is going to be a problem." When presented with the solution being proposed around Europe Papapetrou dismissed it's relevance to Cyprus, suggesting the problem would only occur in countries whose national teams were taking part in the tournament. However, he conceded, "It might become an issue for Cypriots when it comes to the final or the semi-finals, but not now."

    Simon Kuper, author of the award-winning book Football against the Enemy offered his insight on what the sport means to people worldwide. "Football is more than just the most popular game in the world. It can start - or stop - wars, it can fuel revolutions or it can keep dictators in power." Given that the World Cup represents the very pinnacle of the game it might be suggested that the relevant authorities are taking the potential problem a little too lightly.

    When presented with the 'Mundialitus' scenario, a Laiki Bank spokesman said: "No special provisions are being made for the World Cup" but he did suspect that employees wishing to follow the tournament "would be slipping out of their offices to find the nearest television to keep up to date with what is going on." A spokesperson at Orphanides supermarket also said that there were no plans to provide televisions or radios for employees; however, she felt that it wouldn't be a problem.

    When the potential problem was suggested to Andreas Pavlitas, Head of Research and Studies for the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO) trade union, he agreed that something needed to be done and that if their members wanted to watch games, their needs should be accommodated. However, he admitted that nothing had yet been discussed within PEO. Nicos Moyseos from the Cyprus Workers Confederation (SEK) was equally unprepared when presented with the potential problem and admitted that it hadn't been brought up in the recent congress. However, he believed the matter was worth considering and said he would be discussing it with the heads of his organisation over the next few days.

    Melios Georgiou, Head of the Retailers' Association, hadn't considered the issue either, but believed that the organisation would consider putting proposals to its members if the unions made representations. He also admitted that he could see the possibility of retailers bringing in televisions to accommodate workers.

    The CyBC plans to show every game of the tournament live and follow up its coverage with a daily highlights programme at 9pm every evening, showing extended highlights of the best match followed by goal highlights of any other games played on the day.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Fire fighters take safety message across the country

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    FIRE FIGHTERS yesterday demonstrated their new Disaster Reaction Unit as the Chief of the Fire Department George Hadjigeorghiou, Justice Minister Nicos Koshis and other dignitaries officially launched Fire Safety Week.

    The nationwide campaign entails raising public awareness through the dissemination of information regarding how to prevent and put out fires in both rural and urban areas.

    As part of the launch, the Fire Fighting Services put on a display of their new Special Disaster Reaction Unit in a mock scenario where they had to tackle a fire in an area inaccessible to fire fighting vehicles. The specially trained fighters were lowered from a helicopter amidst a whirlwind of dust. Those who could see beyond the yellow haze witnessed a demonstration of fire-fighting capabilities by the unit. The Department also displayed an array of specialised fire fighting vehicles, including the heavy-duty airport fire engine and equipment used to deal with hazardous chemicals.

    During the week, fire stations throughout the country will be open to the public to observe fire fighters working under both calm and emergency conditions and see fire fighting equipment from close hand.

    The Fire Department is seeking to forge closer ties with the public by emphasising the need for increased awareness of fire prevention, especially in rural areas, where 65 per cent of fires occur. "With this campaign, we wish to pass on the message to the public, that human error is the main cause of fires," said Hadjigeorghiou.

    And he had a special message for the farming community. "We will stand side by side with farmers to help them in a practical and effective way to protect our natural environment from the flames which engulf our countryside every year."

    The weeklong campaign will involve volunteer fire fighters visiting schools, homes, factories and hotels, passing on vital information on preventing and dealing with fires.

    To coincide with the campaign, a lecture is being given tomorrow by Greek- American fire fighter Peter Chritsimilios on the New York Fire Department's response to the September 11 World Trade Centre disaster. The lecture is at 6.45pm, at the Laiki Sporting Club.

    Koshis said a concerted effort was required to take all precautionary measures to protect the countryside from the "evil demon of fire".

    He said the government had decided to buy three fire-fighting helicopters, which would be put to other uses as well. Until then, two leased helicopters will be fully operational at Paphos Airport from June 1.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Zakaki pupils in new pollution protest

    By George Psyllides

    PUPILS at a Limassol primary school neighbouring a foundry yesterday refused to enter their classrooms for two periods, protesting about the unhealthy conditions created by the foundry's operation.

    The area's residents, near Zakaki, have demanded the closure of the Nemitsas foundry for years because they say it gives them health problems.

    The residents also claimed that a health report last year, which cleared the foundry, had been a whitewash, and accuse the government of criminal negligence.

    But yesterday the pupils hung black fabric on the school fence and did not attend lessons for two periods in protest at the pollution in the area.

    The residents said there was an unbearable stench coming from the foundry every time it was in operation.

    Parents accused the authorities of indifference yesterday, arguing that nothing had been done despite a Cabinet decision that the foundry's owners should take measures to rectify the stench.

    Parents' Association Representative Kyriacos Valanides said the situation was unbearable, adding that last week the choking atmosphere had caused some pupils to faint.

    Valanides said the residents were going to take strong measures, but would not disclose any further detail.

    A foundry in Ergates near Nicosia was promptly closed down by the government two years ago, after tests showed its emissions were above acceptable levels.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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