|Saturday, 9 December 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-05-29
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Wednesday, May 29, 2002
 '150 have handgun licences'AROUND 150 citizens are licensed to carry a handgun as special constables without pay, with some given special permission from the Ministry of Justice, press reports said yesterday.
According to the law, a citizen can only be given licence to carry a handgun by the Cabinet or by the Chief of Police, who would enlist the citizen as a special constable.
However, since 1993, authority to issue a licence has been transferred from the Cabinet to the Justice Minister, who now has the authority to issue a handgun licence to anyone with a clean criminal record that he considers to be in danger, once the applicant has been evaluated by a special committee.
According to reports, the Ministry has even received applications from stockbrokers.
Simerini yesterday claimed its sources revealed that eight stockbrokers had applied for a licence to carry firearms, after threats had been made to their lives following the downward spiral of share prices.
It is unclear whether all applicants were successful in acquiring a licence, but, according to Simerini, those who did might now have their licences revoked after a handgun was found in possession of Christoforos Tornaritis, while he was under investigation for his alleged connection with cigarette smuggling claims.
The paper claimed deputies had been denied access to the list from Police Headquarters and that Deputy Police Chief Tassos Panayiotou had refused to comment on the number of citizens with firearms.
Both the police and the Justice Ministry yesterday refused to comment on who was entitled to have a handgun or how many licences might have been issued.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Ministry grilled over Aphrodite plansBy Alexia Saoulli
THE TOURISM Ministry yesterday came under fire as deputies and representatives from interested organisations slammed it for keeping them in the dark over plans to construct a colossal statue of Aphrodite in a floating theme park off the Paphos coast.
But the Ministry's Permanent Secretary, Soteris Soteriou, defended the government's handling of the matter and assured an angry meeting of the House Environment Committee that the plans had not yet taken definite form.
The committee met yesterday to assess plans put forward by a private company to create the theme park and its impact on the scenic coastal area.
Soteriou was quick to assure the committee that plans put forward by a private company to build a theme park and statue of the goddess off the Kouklia area south of Paphos were only at a "very preliminary stage".
But AKEL, DIKO, United Democrat and Green Party deputies criticised the government, particularly the Ministry, for its "lack of information" on the matter and for failing to brief the committee on the project's progress. Only DISY deputies asked for more information on the procedures and the benefits to the local economy before taking a stand on the matter.
But the other deputies maintained that the government had "gone about trying to upgrade the local tourism industry by showing off the island's history and culture in the wrong way".
However, deputies were not the only ones kept in the dark over the controversial plans.
Representatives from organised bodies, such as the Chamber of Fine Arts (EKATE), the Architects' Association, Archaeologists, Tourism organisations, ecological organisations, tour guides, as well as environmental services, the Antiquities Department and Education Ministry Cultural Services also lined up to claim they had been completely ignorant of any such construction project.
But they had read enough press reports on the giant Aphrodite to express a very definite opinion on the theme park.
Most said they were completely opposed to the construction of a giant statue of the Goddess of Love, as a statue of this magnitude directly contradicted the characteristic life-size statues that existed in the Ancient Greek Classical period.
Only representatives of the Pancyprian Hoteliers Association (PASYXE) and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), who also said they had not been informed of the plans, expressed support for the project.
This was because they said that if "strict guidelines were followed and all necessary measures to protect the environment were taken" the construction of such a theme park would be beneficial in upgrading the local tourism industry.
But Soteriou admitted that environmental studies had not yet been carried out nor had the Ministry assessed what consequences a project of this magnitude would have on the surrounding area. However, he stressed, they were still only studying the private company's proposal and that nothing concrete had yet been decided, such as how much and what state land it would be appropriate to lease.
"Besides, all procedures carried out will abide by the law and all deputies will be fully briefed before a final decision is reached by the Cabinet," Soteriou said.
While politicians yesterday expressed their opposition to these plans, artist George Mavrogenis was particularly upset by them, accusing the people behind the project of "creative ownership theft".
According to Mavrogenis, the Paphos theme park plans include ideas from his own 1996 study for a theme park in Oroklini, in the Larnaca district.
He said there had been some difficulties in securing the initial area mapped out for his project, which was why they were now studying the possibility of building the park in the Larnaca port area.
In order to get a fuller picture of the plans, DISY deputy Nicos Tornaritis and Green Party deputy George Perdikis asked for the meeting to be adjourned and invited Minister Nicos Rolandis to appear before the committee next Tuesday. Tornaritis also proposed that the private company involved send a representative to the next meeting as well.
Committee President George Lillikas characterised the whole affair as "unacceptable and insulting" towards the committee and said the matter would remain open until those responsible addressed the committee's questions.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Civil service hours will be 'altered, not reduced'THE government is not prepared to reduce civil service working hours "by a single minute," the Finance Minister said yesterday.
But it is happy to send civil servants home early on Thursdays in the month of June, in line with demands from public sector unions.
Takis Klerides was referring to civil servants' demands to abolish working hours on Thursday afternoons during the month of June, as is the custom for hot summer months of July and August.
Klerides backed the proposal and maintained that altering civil service working hours would prove more efficient in the long run.
This is because their hours would be "altered" and "not reduced," he said. By this, the Minister was referring to transferring June's hours to Tuesdays. In other words, civil servants would have to work an extra 20 minutes every Tuesday for nine months, which in turn would mean "greater working output" as well as "greater public service".
Klerides said the matter had been brought up by the civil servants union PASYDY eight years ago and had since been agreed during a Mixed Personnel Committee meeting. But, he said, if the House did not consider such an agreement beneficial to the public service, it had the power to vote it out.
But PASYDY General-Secretary Glafcos Hadjipetrou said yesterday that an agreement between a semi-governmental association and the government should be respected by everyone, including the House.
At present, civil servants work from 7.30am-2.30pm daily, except for Thursdays when they have to work until 6pm.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 European analysts confident of Cyprus accession in 2004By Joanne Russell
CYPRUS could sign up for European Union membership as early as January 2004 despite the island's division and simmering political tension, according to a Reuters poll.
But EU hopeful Turkey only has a remote chance of getting approval to join by the end of 2007, the poll shows.
In the survey of analysts from financial institutions and think-tanks around Europe, 27 out of 44 gave a greater than 50 per cent probability that Cyprus would formally accede to the EU in January 2004, the target date for 10 countries, Cyprus, Malta and eight eastern and central Europe states, to join.
Only one EU-watcher out of 45 who answered the question said there was a greater than 50 per cent chance that Turkey would get approval to join the bloc by end-2007.
"Cyprus are determined to go in... To keep (them) out just for the political situation would be extremely hard to imagine," said Moritz Kraemer at Standard and Poor's in London.
The poll was taken from May 20 to 27.
The mid-range forecast in the poll showed a 60 per cent chance of Cyprus formally acceding to the EU in January 2004. Economists gave a 70 per cent chance for July 2004 and an 80 per cent chance for January 2005.
It had been hoped the prospect of EU membership for Cyprus would act as a catalyst in ongoing talks to reunite the island. But those hopes have dimmed amid threats by Ankara to annex the occupied areas if the island joins the EU divided.
Meanwhile, EU-member Greece has said it would block other EU applicants unless frontrunner Cyprus was accepted in the first wave of enlargement.
But while there are now doubts that an initial June deadline for reaching a solution will be met, EU-watchers said they were less pessimistic about the chances of Cyprus joining the bloc.
Oliver Stoenner-Venkatarama at Commerzbank in Frankfurt said relations between Greece and Turkey had improved since each helped the other in rescue efforts following massive earthquakes which hit the two countries in 1999.
"This has improved the environment within which the talks take place. Therefore I am more optimistic (about Cyprus)," he said.
Brussels has said it will admit the internationally recognised government -- with or without a settlement -- in the next wave of EU enlargement.
Twenty nine out of 41 who answered the question gave a greater than 50 per cent of Cyprus acceding to the EU in July 2004 and 32 out of 39 saw it in January 2005.
EU-watchers gave a 43 per cent chance of Cyprus adopting the euro by January 2006 and a 70 per cent chance by January 2007, the mid-range forecast shows.
The mid-range forecast in the poll showed a 10 per cent chance of Turkey getting approval to join the EU by end-2007.
The EU made Turkey a candidate in 1999 but has said it must meet strict conditions on human rights and democracy.
In addition, the Turkish economy, which underwent a massive crisis last year, is very far from meeting the Maastricht entry criteria on matters such as inflation and the budget deficit.
For many, Turkey still has a long way to go. "I think Turkey has realised that this is a big chance to improve relationships with the EU," said Stoenner-Venkatarama.
"And if they are successful at finding a compromise on this Cyprus issue, then they hope they could start real negotiations with the EU because now they are not a real accession country, just an upcoming accession country," he said.
James Ker-Lindsay at Civilitas Research in Cyprus gave Turkey a 30 per cent chance of getting approval by end-2007.
"While it is expected that Cypriot accession will go ahead, not least of all because of the Greek veto, there are signs the EU could be in for a very tense period with Turkey," he said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Cypriots fancy some Argie bargieBy Soteris Charalambous
BOOKMAKERS are gearing up for bumper business during June and are offering a wide range of bets for people wanting to add a little spice to the most watched television event, the World Cup. With the big kick-off in Japan and Korea just days away, the general feeling amongst Cypriots is that Argentina will emerge victorious from the Daegu stadium on June 29th.
In addition to the traditional bets of outright winners of the tournament and the results and scores of individual games, bookmakers have devised even more cunning betting opportunities to entice their customers to wager even more money.
Each team in the tournament has been given odds for how far they will progress and how they will fare within their individual groups. Odds are offered on how many goals will be scored in a match and some punters said they would go as far as betting on how many red and yellow cards would be issued in a match and how many corners would be awarded if they could convince the bookmaker give them odds.
An employee at Royal Highgate also pointed out that because the games were being played during the day and customers were at work, a website was under construction in order for them to bet on-line.
A regular gambler who claimed he intended to bet on every match in the tournament, said "I'm backing Argentina all the way," pointing to the fact that no European team had won the World Cup when it was played outside Europe as the rationale behind his theory. However, an employee at Glory said: "My money is already on Italy." Although he added that someone had bet £5,000 on Italy in the European Championships, which ended up going to France.
Somewhat surprisingly, nobody interviewed fancied reigning World and European Champions France, who recently added the Confederations Cup to their trophy haul, which, incidentally was staged in Japan. The employee at Royal Highgate mentioned perennial favourites Brazil as having a good chance but his co-worker disagreed, claiming that Argentina was stronger.
However, experts within football seemed to disagree with popular opinion in Cyprus. Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger wasn't impressed with the Argentines, saying recently, "I don't believe in them, they're too weak at the back and lack power up front." European Cup winner Johan Cruyff wasn't enthralled with the prospect of Italy winning either saying, "They can't beat you, but you can lose to them." Although Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believed that "Italy were the strongest looking team."
For those who don't really want to go to a betting shop, CyBC and Carlsberg boss Photos Photiades have teamed up to provide viewers with an alternative method of taking part in the World Cup through their 'Golden Goal' competition.
Every day, viewers are invited to call a premium rate telephone number and submit their choice of the best goal of the day. The competition lasts throughout the tournament but is broken up into stages until a selection of 12 goals have been voted for.
At a news conference held at the Hilton yesterday, the organisers said their competition gave viewers the chance to play an 'interactive' role in the World Cup, with the incentive of some major prizes to be won, including trips to Europe and various home entertainment units. The winners will receive their prizes on July 1st during the sports highlights programme.
If none of that tempts you, there is always an office sweepstake. Perhaps ominously, the sweepstake at the Cyprus Mail saw France picked by our Editor in Chief, Argentina go to the Managing Editor and the Cyprus News editor pulling Italy. I pulled Mexico, but I'm hoping for Brazil, because our chief photographer drew them and promised to take the newsroom out for beers and a kebab if they won.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Polis mukhtar dies at award ceremonyTHE MUKHTAR of Polis Chrysochous died suddenly yesterday evening at an award ceremony honouring his contribution to blood donation work in Cyprus.
Michalis Koupparis was waiting to receive his award for the voluntary work he and others had provided for the Blood Donation Enlightenment Association when he lost consciousness.
A doctor present at the ceremony tried unsuccessfully to administer first aid to the 68-year-old Koupparis, who was rushed to hospital. Preliminary tests suggest he died of a cardiac arrest.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002