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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-05-28

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, May 28, 2002


  • [01] Civil service demand for cut in working hours a 'provocation' to the private sector
  • [02] They're 25 years too late
  • [03] Cyprus comes in sixth, but Greece disappoints
  • [04] Olympic projects will 'all be ready on time'
  • [05] What's happening to all that lamb?
  • [06] Government plays down Russian woman's complaints

  • [01] Civil service demand for cut in working hours a 'provocation' to the private sector

    EVERYONE gets hot in the summer and there are plenty of air-conditioners around, the Chairman of the House Finance Committee said yesterday in response to a demand by civil servants not to work on Thursday afternoons during June.

    Finance Ministry Representative Andreas Mylonas told the committee that scrapping Thursday afternoons has been a longstanding demand of civil service union PASYDY.

    Mylonas presented the committee with the bill, which provides for doing away with Thursday afternoons in June, making up for lost time with an extra 20 minutes of work every Tuesday.

    Currently, civil servants have to work until 5pm every Thursday except in July and August. The civil servants want to extend this to June, though the committee yesterday seemed to hold a dim view of such a request.

    Committee Chairman Marcos Kyprianou said the arrangement for one afternoon had been agreed after negotiations and "arguments against it were not convincing".

    PASYDY permanent secretary Christakis Andreou told the committee that the demand had been raised since 1994 as an issue of equal treatment of public servants with bank workers and employees of semi-governmental organisations.

    But Kyprianou said the arguments were a provocation for workers in the private sector.

    "What we see is the existence of a continuous differentiation between working conditions in the public and private sectors, with the public sector's conditions of course improving," Kyprianou said.

    He added: "Everyone gets hot in the summer; today air-conditioners can alleviate this." If the government was going to scrap summer afternoon work, it should do it for everyone, not just civil servants, he said.

    Kyprianou said the parties needed to discuss the matter, but because of its urgency the committee would hand its report straight to the plenum where parties could voice their positions.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] They're 25 years too late

    By Soteris Charalambous

    FIVE WORKMEN in fluorescent bibs and hard hats toiled under the baking sun to clear the debris of the demolished sentry post from what was once a road. The few business owners who remained in 'Butterfly Court', part of the UN-controlled buffer zone in the old city of Nicosia, watched on with expressionless faces.

    "They are 25 years too late," said Loucas Charalambides, whose metal pressing factory has been in the area since 1933, referring to the opening of the road that will allow access to the rest of Nicosia without the need to back track through the maze of cul-de-sacs, one-way roads and the old municipal market.

    "The traffic flow of the city will improve - not our business," he added.

    The placement of the UN buffer zone took away the front entrance of their business and access to the main through-fare. The Charalambides family business was commonly known as 'the spring factory' making beds, parts for door locks and metal plates.

    "Before the invasion we employed 40 workers here, we were producing hundreds of beds per week. The business has gone downhill ever since," said Charalambides. The giant metal pressing equipment lies dormant and dusty in its silent surroundings.

    "If we get an order then there are one or two people who used to work for us that we can call, but that is very rare these days," added Rikkos Charalambides, Loucas' brother.

    "This isn't the first time the barrier has come down," he added. In April 1999, Attorney-general Alecos Markides and the two brothers dismantled the barrier and used the road for three weeks before the UN discovered what had happened and replaced the barricade with steel oil drums and barbed wire. Faced with closure, their acts were born out of the need to survive. Left with no alternative, they rented out half of the building to an entrepreneur who turned it into the 'Red' nightclub.

    Next door, Nicos Iraklios was slightly more optimistic about his grocery business' prospects. "Hopefully we will get some passing trade now," he said. The smell of spices, nuts and pulses fills the air, but the shop is sparsely stocked, and only a few fresh vegetables were visible. Iraklios pointed across the road to where the business used to operate. "My father started the business in 1927; before the invasion this street used to by the busiest in central Nicosia, where we are standing now used to be for storage, across the road was our main shop. But in 1978 I could no longer afford to pay the rent and kept this part because it was the cheapest."

    A UN spokesman expressed optimism that 'Butterfly Court' could be the first of many unmanned observation posts to be removed that would lead to freer movement in the area. Unfortunately, that optimism wasn't shared by a source at the National Guard, who said that opening up Butterfly Court, essentially just a few metres of road, had taken 10 years of discussions with Turkey to happen. The sentiment was echoed by the local businessmen who had joined the workmen drinking refreshments while one of them attempted to prize off the rusting road sign.

    As the road sign clattered down among the pile of debris it disturbed the resting spot of two colourful butterflies, for a brief moment they circled each other in ascent then one headed south the other north. In essence nothing had changed, who knows if they'll pass through again?

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Cyprus comes in sixth, but Greece disappoints

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    LATVIANS celebrated victory on Saturday in the 47th Eurovision Song Contest with the dazzling performance of Marija Naumova and her Latin-style song, 'I Wanna', while Cyprus enjoyed an impressive sixth place finish in one of its best rankings in years.

    The competition remained nail-bitingly close between Latvia and Malta until the final round when Lithuania cast their top vote to Latvia, giving them a 12-point lead with 176 points. Estonia and Britain came joint third (111) while Cyprus enjoyed a respectable sixth place (85) with their entry, 'Gimme' by boy-band One.

    Greece's 'S.A.G.A.P.O' by Michalis Rakinzis limped in at 17th with 27 points and a place on the bench for next year's contest. Twenty-four countries took part in the competition located in the Estonian capital, Tallinn.

    Couches across Europe, and beyond, filled up as viewers stayed in to root for their country, enjoy some light entertainment and even - it has been known to happen - enjoy the music. Despite the popular derision and label of Euro-trash kitsch-fest, the show manages to pull in the numbers every year. Around 200 million viewers watched this year's extravaganza, mainly in America and Europe, while thousands more from more remote parts of the world followed the colourful glamour-fest over the internet.

    Eurovision parties were held across the continent as people prepared to see the bizarre and the ridiculous in songs and dress sense and witness the traditional peculiar voting habits of neighbouring regions.

    Marija Naumova, known as Marie N, beat the favourites Germany, Sweden and Spain with her lively song and vibrant stage presence. She was greeted on arrival home by a crowd of flag-waving well-wishers and congratulated by Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga for bringing the Eurovision to Latvia next year.

    Cyprus received its usual 12 points from Greece as well as Malta, 10 from Croatia, eight from Latvia and Rumania, six from Spain and Russia, five from Slovenia, four from Finland, Lithuania and Estonia, three from Belgium and the UK and one from Sweden. After the public televoting, Cyprus allocated points to the following countries: Greece 12, Malta 10, Rumania eight, Spain seven, Croatia six, Russia five, Latvia four, FYR Macedonia three, Finland two and Austria one.

    The Song Contest will now be hosted for the second year running in a Baltic state, exemplifying concerns over traditional voting habits. Differences were highlighted this year when Turkey did not get their usual vote from Germany, and the Scandinavian countries did not fair well despite their traditional common support. Cyprus and Greece failed to surprise in their voting and the Baltic States also showed signs of their common past.

    The winner, however, was delighted with the result and managed to compose herself to talk to reporters, in no less than four languages (English, Russian, Latvian and Spanish), commenting emphatically after the show, "I need a drink."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Olympic projects will 'all be ready on time'

    By George Psyllides

    THERE is no way any of the projects for the Athens 2004 Olympics will not be ready in time for the games, the Greek Ministry of Culture and Secretary- general for the Olympic Games said in Nicosia yesterday.

    Speaking at a news conference, Constantinos Kartallis said all projects were being followed closely and he was very optimistic that time schedules would be kept.

    "There is no way for any work not to be completed (by 2004)," Kartallis said.

    Kartallis gave an overview of Greece's preparation for the Olympic games, saying the organising committee aimed at raising the "authentic games", and organising them in the most efficient manner possible.

    Athens also planned to use the games as an input to the country's fast and sustainable development and as a way of improving the natural environment and citizens' quality of life.

    Kartallis said there were 480 projects in progress, including sports facilities, accommodation, communications, transport, media, and power supply stations, which were divided into around 1,800 phases.

    Around 85 per cent of the sports facilities have been completed, he added.

    Ninety-five per cent of the work has now been assigned, compared to only 19 per cent at the same time last year.

    Kartallis said the Olympic village would accommodate 10,500 athletes and 4, 500 trainers, while seven journalists' villages would take in 11,000 reporters.

    Athens' obligation provides for the supply of 19,000 rooms for the members of the Olympic family, out of which 17,600 have been already secured, Kartallis said.

    He stressed that all projects were designed to be used for 30 years after the games noting in particular that public transport was a four-pronged scheme.

    It would include buses and trolleys, underground railway, trams, as well as suburban railway that would run on electric power.

    But one of the most important benefits of the Olympic games is that they have given Greece the chance to beautify Athens, something that could provide a good example for Cyprus.

    Around 800 advertising billboards and signs have been removed from the city centre, with the ultimate goal being the removal of 10,000, Kartallis said.

    There was also an effort to open up space in Athens, with the most obvious being the Keramikos area, where many buildings are being demolished to create an area full of green.

    On top of this, Greece will be spending 600 million euros on security, which would be assigned to 45,000 officers who would include members of the armed forces.

    The force will be headed by a special branch dealing only with the games' security and co-operating with 22 countries, as well as an advisory board made up of police officers whose countries have previously organised Olympic games.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] What's happening to all that lamb?

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    EIGHT tonnes of lamb were ordered this year for state hospitals nationwide, despite claims from dieticians and cooks that lamb should not be part of a patient's diet, Politis claimed yesterday.

    The statistics released discrepancies in meat consumption per patient for each hospital, and raised many questions, most importantly, who is eating all the lamb?

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides was quick to respond by maintaining that he was completely unaware of the situation but saw it as an opportunity to investigate the structure and process of the Health Services and the Health Ministry Accounts Department.

    The report showed that 7,900 kilos of lamb were ordered for the hospitals in 2002. This flies in the face of modern medical opinion, which places lamb in the unhealthy category due to its high quantities of fat. Consumption of lamb raises levels of cholesterol and uric acid.

    But according to hospital dieticians and the head chef at Nicosia General Hospital, patients do not get fed lamb unless it is an occasion like Christmas or Easter. So speculation was rife yesterday as to where the meat had ended up.

    The statistics are confusing. In Nicosia, for example, the two hospitals ordered 1,700 kilos of lamb for 23,885 patients. In contrast, Larnaca ordered 2,200 kilos of the meat for 8,526 patients. And in Polis Chrysochous, each patient is allocated 11.2 kilos of meat, whereas in Limassol it is just 1.9 kilos per patient.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday: "I will demand written statements from all those involved, starting from Hospital Directors to Medical Services, explaining what happened to this meat. Who cooks it? Who eats it and why?" He went on to say that the hospital dieticians and cooks, under the supervision of Hospital Directors, were responsible for providing nutritious food for patients and staff, adding: "This investigation is an opportunity not just to look into the meat issue but also the whole structure and process and see if it is problematic."

    Savvides asked the question that was on most people's mind: if patients do not eat lamb and it is not cooked routinely in hospitals, where does it all go? Giving reassurances that the matter will be investigated thoroughly, he maintained that those responsible would be referred to a disciplinary committee. Savvides cited the lack of personnel as a weakness in carrying out checks at the Ministry.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou, said yesterday: "The voice and freedom of the press give the mass media the opportunity to bring to the surface existing problems which need to be investigated but also issues that we learn of through investigations made like this one."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Government plays down Russian woman's complaints

    By Alex Mita

    GOVERNMENT Spokesman, Michalis Papapetrou yesterday brushed aside statements made by a Russian woman to a TV show back home claiming Cyprus was a centre of sexual exploitation of Russian women.

    "No decent human being can accept such a charge, when in Cyprus we have taken specific measures to combat prostitution," Papapetrou said, adding that the state would take the allegations, "which defame our country", into serious consideration.

    The woman, known only as Marina, claimed that her boyfriend had promised she would get a monthly salary of $10,000 if she worked in a cabaret in Cyprus.

    But as soon as she arrived, her employers took her passport and she was not allowed to leave her apartment unless she was going to the cabaret.

    Marina revealed that in the three months she had worked in the cabaret, she received no more than $1,020, adding she could not go to the police as they knew everything but took no steps to protect her. The Russian raised serious charges against members of the police, who, she claimed, would come to the cabaret and asked to have sex with the women there.

    Despite Papapetrou's comments, women's and immigrants' rights campaigners insist prostitution is a growing business on the island. They say hundreds of mainly east European women are asked to come to Cyprus to 'dance', only to discover that apart from dancing naked, they are also been forced to have sex with customers - being paid only a fraction of the fees charged to customers. Complaints from the women are usually met with threats of deportation, activists say.

    Papapetrou admitted Cyprus was no paradise, but "compared to other countries, Cyprus has a better standard in that respect."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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