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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-06-26

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

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


Wednesday, June 26, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Officials clash with residents over Limassol foundry
  • [02] 'Only Synod can investigate Church finances'
  • [03] British rubbish claim of stoking tension over Cyprus
  • [04] Weekend blaze destroys newspaper archives
  • [05] Taxi drivers strike in anger at new licences
  • [06] Talks move on to territory
  • [07] Candidate countries optimistic about accession

  • [01] Officials clash with residents over Limassol foundry

    By George Psyllides

    DISCUSSION on the environmental effects of a Limassol foundry ended before the House Environmental Committee yesterday, with the government appearing reluctant to move the factory and residents voicing their despair about the "appalling" living conditions in the area.

    A representative from the Commerce and Industry Ministry told the committee that the Nemitsas foundry could not be moved since it fulfilled all European Union specifications.

    Education Ministry representative George Matsikaris, however, said his ministry believed schools should operate in a clean, pollution-free environment.

    Matsikaris said there had been a marked decrease in the number of pupils attending the area's primary school.

    Two hundred and forty pupils had been registered this year, compared to 344 last year, Matsikaris said.

    He added that teachers and parents had filed written complaints to the ministry concerning the consequences on their health from the foundry's emissions.

    It was the day of representatives yesterday as the three ministers invited to attend - health, commerce and industry, and interior - all failed to show up due to other obligations, sending spokesmen in their place.

    Tempers flared at one point after deputies requested the results of an epidemiological study carried out last year, only to be told by Health Ministry representative Andreas Georgiou that he was not authorised to disclose the findings.

    Georgiou and Labour Ministry representative George Sideras told the committee that all emissions from the foundry were within the accepted limits set with the co-operation of foreign scientists.

    DIKO Deputy Marios Matsakis and Green party deputy George Perdikis countered that this did not necessarily mean that the emissions were not harmful to the health of residents, especially those suffering from asthma or who were sensitive to certain pollutants.

    Matsakis said the test results were "false and misleading," and was backed by Perdikis who insisted that the workplace inspection service had been inadequate.

    Residents' representative Kyriacos Valanides, addressing the foundry's owner Takis Nemitsas, wondered if he would live in the area, and claimed that two of his workers were on sick leave while a third had already died.

    He charged the tests had been carried out during a time when the foundry had been closed for 15 days and their findings were therefore inaccurate, citing the case of a government official who visited the area, and repeatedly had to clean the black dust from the papers he was holding.

    But perhaps the most important contribution to the discussion was made by the representative of the Limassol Municipality, who effectively said the area was not zoned as an industrial area.

    He said the area was zoned for commercial activities but not industries like Nemitsas.

    Nemitsas said his foundry was not the only industry in the area and that considerable pollution was caused by the 1,000 or so lorries carrying containers to and from Limassol port.

    Nemitsas said the company had spent around 300,000 to install new equipment designed to stem the emissions and that the study concluded that they fully complied with the set standards.

    Nemitsas denied his workers were falling sick and claimed that the foundry's employees' lead counts were very low.

    "One who used to work in a garage showed a high count, which has dropped since he began work at the foundry," Nemitsas said.

    He said he was ready to give the names of 20 retired employees who were fit as a fiddle, and 40 others with over 15 years of service at the foundry.

    But Nemitsas repeated his readiness to move, warning, however, that the huge cost would have to be footed by the government

    "If Nemitsas has to be moved - if it is decided by the government -- we have no choice but to start work on moving," he said.

    He added that the government had not helped the company with the upgrading, and claimed that moving the foundry could cost as much as 400 per square metre for the industry's 10,000 square metre area.

    "Show us a place and have someone carry out a study on the time and costs involved in moving it," Nemitsas said.

    The chairman of the committee, George Lillikas, said that discussion of the matter had been exhausted and the committee would now draft a report with conclusions and suggestions to be forwarded to the plenum so that all deputies could be briefed.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] 'Only Synod can investigate Church finances'

    By George Psyllides

    BISHOP Chrysostomos of Kiti yesterday insisted that any investigation into allegations of misappropriation of Church land by relatives of Archbishop Chrysostomos should be handled by the Holy Synod, opposing calls for an independent probe from the Bishop of Paphos, who enjoys the backing of three other bishops.

    Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos has suggested that two auditors and a judge should be assigned the task of examining the Church's finances over the past three years, but his call has met resistance from those who argue only the Holy Synod should undertake such an investigation.

    The Paphos Bishop is backed by the bishops of Limassol, Kyrenia, and Morphou.

    Their call for an independent probe carries increased weight In light of the Archbishop's illness. The Primate is in a clinic in Greece recovering from a fall, but he also suffers from memory lapses, and it is thought unlikely to resume his official duties any time soon. Without him, or without someone formally appointed to stand in for him, it would be impossible for the Holy Synod to start its own investigation into the Archbishopric's financial affairs.

    But Chrysostomos of Kiti yesterday reiterated that any investigating committee could only be appointed by the Holy Synod to investigate any written complaints about land misappropriation.

    In the past two weeks, the media has been uncovering dozens of cases of land sold at well below its market value to the relatives or associates of the Archbishop, but some members of the Synod continue to insist on the need for written complaints before they move.

    The Bishop of Kiti said the issue of relatives' alleged involvement was worrying and suggested that bishops should bind themselves not to hire any relatives, while those already holding positions in the Church should be dismissed after being given the necessary warning and compensation in accordance with civil service laws.

    Chrysostomos added that Church land should not be sold to relatives either.

    The state has made clear that it has no intention of getting involved in the matter, even though ethical issues have been raised concerning the alleged involvement of one current government official and one former one.

    Meanwhile, Politis, which has been at the forefront of the revelations, yesterday reported there were also serious irregularities at the Church broadcasting station, Logos, with the Archbishop's relatives again being closely involved.

    The daily reported that equipment bought in 1992 was still in the station's basement, while a failed venture into publishing had cost 200,000.

    According to Politis, an investigation into the station's business dealings would need to go back as far as 1990 and cover the actual construction of the installations amid allegations that even the number of doors installed was less than the number paid for.

    The reports claimed that the probe would examine if the Church had paid money for the construction of brick walls, when gypsum boards were installed instead, at much lower cost.

    The paper said that even the furniture at the station did not justify its cost -- 250,000 -- and that it had been manufactured by the brother of a high-ranking official at the Archbishopric.

    It added the station's basement was full of useless equipment bought in 1992 without the advice of the technical manager, who later reported the matter in a letter written to Archbishop Chrysostomos.

    The equipment includes a used sound console, which later proved to be suitable for concerts and not a radio station, and two digital audio tape editing machines.

    The paper also claimed that certain people in the station, who were close to the Archbishop, had insisted in purchasing equipment from a certain company, even though it was a million pounds more expensive than another company's equipment, which was considered more advanced and reliable.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] British rubbish claim of stoking tension over Cyprus

    By Soteris Charalambous

    RAISING the political temperature in Cyprus during the summer months has become as common as brushfires followed by the sound of fire engines. Predictions of a "heated incident" come thick and fast, this year spurred on by the precarious direct talks and the prospect of a divided Cyprus joining the EU.

    But the latest reports, suggesting the Turkish government's actions would be encouraged by both Britain and the US, have provided a surprising new twist that was yesterday met with a categorical denial from the British High Commission and a "no comment" from the US embassy.

    The warning came from the Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika, a virulent critic of the Denktash regime, which warned at the weekend: "They are preparing to give us a July like '74". The British High Commission's response yesterday, through its spokesman Stewart Summers, was a mixture of utter disbelief and an unequivocal dismissal that denied any possibility of "supposed Turkish military action" receiving any form of support or encouragement from the British government.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou further undermined any possibility that military action by Turkey would be supported by the US, dismissing the report as "utter nonsense".

    The backdrop to this latest warning has been the recent, well-documented build-up of Turkish troops on the island and the often repeated Turkish warnings of instability in the area should Cyprus join the EU without a settlement. Those flames were further fanned last week by an attempt by Turkish troops to build a road linking the occupied areas with the mixed buffer zone village of Pyla, a move finally defused by UN forces last weekend.

    Analysts see the latest warning as being timed to coincide with the EU Summit in Seville, where discussions on enlargement and a European defence force were on the agenda. Viewed in a wider context, the military threats could be seen as raising the stakes within the bigger picture of Turkey's push for EU accession. It's a looming threat that takes on a sharper clarity in the light of current Middle East tensions, with Turkey aware that the last thing the international community wants is to see two more old adversaries cranking up the pressure in the volatile eastern Mediterranean.

    In recent years, both sides have played with each other by moving military pieces on their political chessboard. In 1998, Cyprus' purchase of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles raised tension to fever pitch, but the government eventually backed down, deploying the missiles to Crete instead, and the incident led to nothing except, perhaps, an acceleration of the processes to solve the Cyprus problem.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Weekend blaze destroys newspaper archives

    INVESTIGATIONS were yesterday under way into a fire that reduced the archives of Phileleftheros newspaper to ashes on Sunday night.

    The blaze broke out on the Phileleftheros building's second floor just before 9pm, taking with it the paper's entire archive, dating back to when it was first founded in 1955.

    Damage also extended to the third floor of the building - which belongs to the Kykkos Monastery group and is situated on Diogenous street in Engomi - where the Marketway advertising company has its headquarters. The company belongs to AKEL deputy George Lillikas.

    Fortunately, the archives were also saved on microfilm.

    Preliminary evaluations estimate the damage amounts to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Although the building itself was insured, its contents were apparently not.

    The fire, which is believed to have been sparked by a short circuit, raged for two hours and gutted the building's second floor and half the third floor, causing some superficial, external damage to the fourth floor, where the cable television channel LTV company has its offices.

    Eight fire engines rushed to the scene and fought to put out the inferno, which proved hard to contain due to the highly flammable materials on the second floor.

    In their attempt to put out the fire, two firemen - Antonis Frangoudes and Loucas Skoutaroudes - suffered respiratory problems and were taken to Nicosia's General Hospital casualty department, where they were kept in for observation.

    The blaze was finally brought under control at around 11.15pm and completely put out by midnight. However, on Monday police and fire officials kept an eye on the building for fear of another outbreak.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Taxi drivers strike in anger at new licences

    By Alex Mita

    OVER 600 taxi drivers belonging to the Urban Taxi Drivers' Federation affiliated to POVEK went on strike yesterday demanding that the Licensing Authority cancel all recent applications for professional cab driver licences because there were too many taxis on the island already.

    POVEK co-ordinator, Kyriacos Moustakas told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the taxi sector was already suffering due to the massive drop in tourism this year, adding that to issue more licences to taxi drivers would wreak havoc among the 1,200 existing urban taxis on the island.

    "The problem is that there are too many taxis on the island already," Moustakas said.

    "We have one taxi for every five people whereas in EU countries there is one taxi for every 2,000 people.

    "The Licensing Authority are issuing more licences than is needed to meet demand and this is why we are on strike."

    Moustakas said the few tourists still coming to the island were on package holidays, and therefore got ferried around on coaches and hardly used taxis.

    "Despite this obvious crisis, the government still issues new licences," Moustakas said.

    "Taxi drivers do not have enough work but they didn't complain in the past despite the fact that working in those conditions was not to their advantage."

    Moustakas also complained of competition from public transport:

    "When state buses are allowed to travel on circular routes, meaning they arrive at a bus stop every half an hour, this means that whatever few tourists are left use the bus," the POVEK man said.

    But Licensing Authority Chairman Costas Tsirides yesterday dismissed POVEK's allegations.

    "The decision to strike was premature and untimely," Tsirides said.

    "We told them that certain procedures had to be completed before we have a meeting with them."

    "They sent us a letter demanding that we reject all applications for professional licences. We cannot just reject applications," he said.

    Tsirides said it was one thing to decide not to accept applications for licences and another to reject them once the Licensing Authority had said it would issue other licenses.

    "What we have to focus on now," he said, "is on how many licences we will issue, and that is what they have to understand," Tsirides said.

    "Another thing they must understand is that we have not issued urban taxi licences since 1989, because they were not needed.

    "But the Ministry of Tourism and the CTO tell us that by next summer, tourism will be back to the normal figures we always had for that period."

    Tsirides said applying for a licence was a time consuming operation: the taxi owner first has order his car from the manufacturer, wait for it to arrive in two to three months and then apply for the licence.

    "Most will decide to bring their cars in April when it's cheaper, so this means that by the time they get their cars ordered, licensed and on the road it will be a whole year and the tourism crisis will be over."

    As for the buses, Tsirides said better service was good news for those who could not afford the taxi ride, adding people could now reach their destination from almost anywhere in the city.

    However, POVEK warned it would continue its strike until its demands were met. Yesterday union members in Limassol marched to the old GCO stadium where they protested peacefully.

    Tsirides said the Licensing Authority would be in constant contact with the Ministry of Communication and Works as well as POVEK, in an effort to reach a solution to the dispute.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Talks move on to territory

    THE DIRECT talks yesterday moved on to the issue of territory, after the failure last week to make progress on the issue of security.

    President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash met for about an hour in the presence of UN special envoy Alvaro de Soto. Territory and security are two of the four defined "core issues" of the Cyprus problem. The other two are governance and property.

    The Greek Cypriot side is understood to have outlined its position on the issue of territory, with Denktash saying he would respond later.

    President Clerides is accompanied at the talks by Attorney-general Alecos Markides, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros.

    Talks on security broke down last week, with government sources saying initial progress had been dashed when Denktash went back on earlier concessions.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Candidate countries optimistic about accession

    NEGOTIATORS from six EU applicant countries hoping to join the EU by 2004 were optimistic yesterday they will achieve their objective.

    Representatives from Cyprus, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Estonia said after a two-day meeting in Protaras that they had decided to meet again in early October in Budapest, before the European Commission issues progress reports on each applicant on the basis of which the EU Council will decide which countries to invite to join.

    Cyprus' chief negotiator with the EU George Vassiliou said the meeting, the 17th of its kind, shows that applicant countries are making a real effort to create the right climate for their membership talks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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