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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, July 25, 2002


  • [01] A problem shared... is still a big problem
  • [02] Cyprus asked to host Israel's Euro matches
  • [03] Watermelons: why they're bigger and why the round ones won't end up square
  • [04] ATCs praised for action as flight went off course
  • [05] How business views the EU
  • [06] 40,000 fire damage
  • [07] Natural gas by 2007: experts study three means of supply
  • [08] Cypriots staying closer to home for holidays this summer
  • [09] Deadline looms for Neophytou's road promise
  • [10] 'No end in sight' for plummeting market
  • [11] Loophole leaves 3,000 former mental patients without rights

  • [01] A problem shared... is still a big problem

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE UN-led direct talks on Cyprus are going through a difficult period because both sides remain attached to their different views on a solution, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting of the National Council, the President's advisory body on the handling of the Cyprus issue, Papapetrou said there could be no breakthrough in the present situation by sharing the distance between these two totally different approaches. "What is needed is a fresh political will by the Turkish side," he said.

    Papapetrou said President Glafcos Clerides had briefed the National Council on the latest developments in his talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and the Cyprus problem in general, and there was an exchange of views on future strategy. He said nothing more could be revealed publicly.

    He said it was no secret that "the talks are going through a difficult phase" since "both sides remain attached to their different concepts as regards the way of approaching the solution of the Cyprus problem".

    "Our side has a concept that is consistent with the UN Security Council decisions, international law and acquis communautaire while the Turkish side has a totally different concept based on the sovereignties of two states," Papapetrou said. "There can be no breakthrough by sharing the distance between two totally different approaches."

    President Clerides and Denktash have been engaged in direct talks since mid- January this year, with a view to negotiate until a comprehensive solution is found to the problem of Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the island and occupied its northern third.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Cyprus asked to host Israel's Euro matches

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE government confirmed yesterday that UEFA had asked Cyprus to host all Israeli teams' matches in Cyprus in the forthcoming European club competitions.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou confirmed press reports that UEFA, the European Football Federation, had made the request because of political instability in Israel. He said the government would reply to the request shortly.

    "The answer will not be decided on political criteria, meaning that the government considers sports to go beyond the scope set by politics and regards it as an element of peace," Papapetrou said.

    He said, however, that the government would be obliged to take many factors into consideration before giving its answer, due to the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

    In March, Cyprus hosted the UEFA quarter-final match between Hapoel Tel Aviv and Milan after UEFA suspended all European competition matches in Israel because of spiralling violence between Israelis and Palestinians. The match was held in GSP stadium in Nicosia under tight security. About 2, 500 Israeli football fans arrived in Cyprus for the game.

    Fear of a possible Palestinian attack forced the Cyprus government into providing maximum security cover and more than 1,000 officers policed the match.

    Cyprus also hosted 13 Palestinian militants at a Larnaca hotel for nearly three weeks. They were exiled from Israel as part of a deal to end a 40-day siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during an Israeli assault on the Palestinian territories in retaliation for a spate of suicide bombings. One of the 13 Palestinians has remained in Cyprus until his final fate is determined.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Watermelons: why they're bigger and why the round ones won't end up square

    By Soteris Charalambous

    MEGA watermelons have become commonplace this season -- but so have fields of fruit rotting under the baking sun as growers have produced bumper crops due to favourable climatic conditions and improved growing techniques.

    Kyriacos Patsalos, head of the vegetables section at the Agriculture Ministry, explained that extra-large watermelons are in the shops and on roadside stalls because of the favourable weather conditions during the growing period. More water has been available for irrigation, allowing crops to be better nurtured, compared to previous years.

    So far this year more than 42,000 tonnes of watermelons have been produced, over 7,000 tonnes more than the regular annual yield. Some of the over- production has been offset by an increase in exports to Europe, which approached 2,000 tonnes, but it has still left an over-supply of almost 4, 000 tonnes to date.

    In recent years, growers of watermelons have introduced new methods of production involving the fruit being grafted onto disease-resistant rootstocks, creating a more vigorous plant.

    Patsalos said: "The root systems of these rootstocks are much stronger than the natural root systems of watermelons, leading to a better supply of water and minerals to the fruit itself."

    He said the grafting procedure is an environmentally friendlier method of production than the traditional techniques and he refuted any suggestions that it was unhealthy or resulted in poor quality produce. "This method avoids use of pesticides, whereas traditional methods required protection against diseases such as fusarium and verticillium, which meant the use of dangerous chemicals."

    Patsalos claimed that the grafting method yields good quality fruit if correct rootstocks are used for the right variety of melon and with the appropriate use of fertilisers (using more potassium than nitrogen, for example, because the grafting method absorbs greater quantities of nitrogen).

    He said: "I have been informed that the quality this year is higher." And he challenged anyone to differentiate between watermelons grown by both new and old methods when presented freshly cut on a plate.

    The season for locally produced watermelons starts in March in high-roof greenhouses and ends around mid-September when the plants are left uncovered and grow naturally. A number of varieties are available including 'crispy', 'lady' and 'farao', although the most common and the highest quality is the 'crimson sweet' which is typically rounder in shape with a high sugar content and soft flesh, with weight ranging between eight and 12 kilograms. "The 'dumara' variety becomes available later in the season and these are very good quality and are more commonly elongated or oval shaped and striped," said Patsalos.

    Japanese producers of watermelons have come up with an ingenious method of making the fruit more consumer-friendly by growing them in square glass boxes which are the exact dimensions of Japanese refrigerators so that they could conveniently fit on the shelves. Asked if the square-shaped fruit was a possibility in Cyprus Patsalos replied: "We could do it, but why should we? It would only lead to higher costs to consumers because the method is labour-intensive."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] ATCs praised for action as flight went off course

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE government yesterday honoured two air traffic controllers (ATCs) who earlier this month averted a potentially dangerous situation when a British Airways plane inadvertently entered the flight path of another plane.

    Yiannis Theophilou and Andreas Xenofontos were commended by Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou who said that the two controllers "with their effective handling had corrected the mistake of the British Airways pilot and averted the potential for the creation of unpleasant situations".

    The incident happened on July 8 and was reported in some newspapers as a 'near miss'. It later transpired that BA flight 663 went briefly off course, at which point the air traffic controllers intervened. In praising Theophilou and Xenofontos, Neophytou said that the incident could not be regarded as a near miss since, even if the BA pilot had ignored the controllers' instructions, no collision would have taken place.

    Neophytou said it was the state's obligation to commend people who with their actions and proper execution of their duty upgrade security of flights within the Nicosia FIR.

    The Nicosia FIR encompasses the largest part of the eastern Mediterranean, with a total area of 175,000 square kilometres - 18 times larger than Cyprus.

    According to Neophytou, between 1997 and 2000 air traffic in the area has increased by 27 per cent, which is almost double the European Union average of 15 per cent.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] How business views the EU

    By Jean Christou

    ALMOST 60 per cent of big businesses in Cyprus use the government for information regarding EU accession but only 10 per cent of those rated the service as good or excellent.

    The poll was carried out earlier this month by Civilitas Research, a Nicosia-based consultancy firm which provides specialised political, economic and business information, research and analysis services to companies and organisations operating in South Eastern Europe

    Fifty seven per cent of those polled, mostly senior executives working in large Cypriot companies including banking, manufacturing, retail, tourism, education, and professional services, used the government as a source of information, while 43 per cent said they used the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KEVE) and 37 per cent said they also used the Delegation of the EU Commission in Nicosia.

    "However, while the government proved a popular source of information, its services were not rated particularly highly by those that use it for information," a press release from Civilitas said. "Only 10 per cent of respondents said that they felt the government provided a 'good' or 'excellent' service whereas 62 per cent using the EU delegation and 75 per cent using the EU website highly regarded both of those means of obtaining information.

    The survey found that the senior executives polled held a broad range of opinions about how the process of EU accession had affected their own businesses. However, the majority of respondents felt that it had had affected their business only "moderately" or "a little". A third of respondents stated that it had had a big or enormous effect on their operations while 11 per cent stated that it had had no effect whatsoever.

    With regard to business across the country, opinions were much more closely aligned. The accession process was seen by three quarters of those polled to have brought about "moderate" or "big" effects in the day-to-day operations of Cypriot companies.

    The prevailing view (54 per cent) amongst those polled was that this January 24 was the "most likely" accession date, but 14 per cent said it was "not certain" to be the date of accession. A large number - around 30 per cent - expressed a degree of caution about this date but not a single respondent said Cyprus would not join in 2004.

    Asked about the effects of full EU membership on their companies, nearly half of respondents were optimistic that membership would be good.

    "Results from the survey also provided some clear indication about what is expected to happen to the Cyprus economy after accession," the poll said. "Most respondents stated that they felt that membership would have a 'bad' or 'very bad' effect on agriculture (60 per cent) and industry (66 per cent). However, on the positive side, membership is expected to have a 'good' or 'very good' effect for tourism (88 per cent), the retail sector (60 per cent) and financial services (69 per cent)."

    Concerning the euro, the poll found that opinion was divided about the date when Cyprus could expect to be using the EU's single currency. Nearly 40 per cent said Cyprus would be using the single currency by January 2007, while 27 per cent believed that the euro would be in use as early as 2005.

    "There were a wide range of views about the degree to which respondents felt that their companies were prepared for the euro," the survey said. "Most respondents stated that their companies had made some preparations, however over a third of respondents, 37 per cent, said that their companies were either 'unprepared' or 'totally unprepared' for the introduction of the euro."

    The prevailing view was the companies in Cyprus were either 'relatively unprepared', according to 34 per cent, or 'somewhat prepared' (40 per cent), for the introduction of the euro. Only 20 per cent believed that companies in Cyprus were 'prepared'. Just two respondents, around six per cent of those polled, felt that companies in Cyprus were 'totally unprepared' for the euro.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] 40,000 fire damage

    By a Staff Reporter

    A FIRE caused extensive damage, amounting to 40,000, to a furniture factory in Frenaros, Famagusta district, police said yesterday.

    The fire broke in Fame Furnishings' paint and varnish room at around 9pm on Tuesday and was spotted by passers-by. The room contained large quantities of wood, machinery and furniture under construction which fuelled the rapid spread of the fire.

    Police said thanks to the local fire department's rapid response, the blaze did not affect the factory's main building. Preliminary investigations suggest the fire was not started deliberately.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Natural gas by 2007: experts study three means of supply

    By George Psyllides

    THE Government is studying three scenarios concerning the use of natural gas and the supply should start by the end of 2006 or 2007, Trade and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    The final decision on the method of supply would be made by the Cabinet in September or October, Rolandis added.

    Speaking after a meeting with experts of American company Nehant, tasked with preparing a study concerning the supply of natural gas, Rolandis said the company has prepared a preliminary report regarding three possible scenarios, while the final report would be handed over late in August.

    Rolandis also met a team of Egyptian experts dealing with the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Egypt to Syria.

    The first scenario, according to the minister, concerns supplying the island with natural gas through an underwater pipeline, which would start from the Syrian port of Bania.

    The second choice would be to transport liquid natural gas (LNG) to Cyprus and build special facilities to convert it back to its natural state. The third is to import liquid propane gas (LPG).

    Rolandis said that all three scenarios were on the table stressing that the final decision would take into consideration the possibility of finding natural gas in Cyprus, as well as the island's participation in a regional network with its own gas.

    The minister said that experts have also submitted their preliminary estimates on how much each set-up would cost. He said every scenario included the cost and any potential problems, and the political and environmental parameters of each option would also be considered.

    Agreements with the other countries should include provisions that would enable Cyprus to link to the same system if natural gas is found on the island, Rolandis said. The study would also examine the use of natural gas in the production of electricity.

    "Cyprus should go ahead with all four prospects offered by processing natural gas, which concern the production of electricity, as well as its use by the industry, transport, and households," said the minister. "For the time being we are concentrating on the electricity issue."

    The Egyptian experts briefed Rolandis about progress of the work on the first section of the pipeline from Egypt to the Jordanian port of Akapa, as well as other parts of the project.

    Rolandis said he received the experts' assurances that the first section would be ready by March next year, while tenders for the second section are expected to be awarded in August. The minister said he discussed technical issues with the experts including the pipeline's route.

    He warned that time was running out and if Cyprus was going to go for the underwater pipeline choice, its construction would have to start towards the end of the current year or the beginning of the next. If it chooses to go for LNG, arrangements for the construction of the terminal should be made at around the same time, Rolandis said.

    Construction of the pipeline and the installations for processing LNG would take around three years.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Cypriots staying closer to home for holidays this summer

    By Jean Christou

    The number of Cypriots travelling abroad was up five per cent at the end of May but travel agents have noticed a slowdown as summer approaches, especially on long-haul destinations, the Association of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) said yesterday.

    Senior ACTA official Christos Petsides told the Cyprus Mail that, according to their recent survey of travel agents around the island, many had reported a fall in bookings compared to last year, while others said they were doing fine.

    Petsides said the emerging trend appeared to show that Cypriots were taking shorter and less expensive breaks this year.

    Last year, around 430,000 holidays were sold out of Cyprus, with Cypriots spending 165 million on holidays. The outgoing figure was 15 per cent up on 2001, despite the fallout in the tourism industry from the events of September 11.

    This year, however, Cypriots appear to be staying close to home, according to Petsides.

    'We have been talking with some operators and some are happy," he said. "Others say they are facing a slight problem because there is not the same demand as last year."

    However, he said that, as usual, Cypriots would be likely to leave their bookings for the last minute. "It will take a bit of time until the middle of August to see real figures and the situation for 2002," he said. "So far, reservations are not as they were in previous years."

    Petsides said Greece was doing well and there was little problem with that market. "I would say the problem was centred on long-haul trips and expensive trips," he said. "The Cypriots are acting like Europeans this year, trying to get holidays but as cheap as they can. They are trying to find European destinations where they will spend less money. That's how the Europeans are acting this year and that's why with the incoming tourism, we have some destinations which are cheap and are showing an increase, while some like Cyprus, which are expensive, are showing a decrease."

    ACTA Secretary-general Thassos Katsourides said they expected this year to be the same as last year in terms of numbers. "There is a slowdown, but a lot of people travelled earlier in the year," he said referring to the three long holiday weekends in April and May. "This year until the end of May figures were up five per cent but we don't know yet what will happen for summer," he added.

    George Michaelides, Marketing Manager of Louis, confirmed that short breaks were doing far better than long-haul. "The cruises are doing well because of the tremendous variety of itineraries and they are good value for money, " he said.

    "Other trips are a bit slow but of course Greece is doing very well. The long haul destinations apparently are down, but in my opinion this is because people have been travelling throughout the year and not just waiting for one big holiday to go abroad."

    But people are travelling, he said. "if you look at certain flights, they are fully booked. You can't get to London. You can't get to Greece," he said. "So if we want to look at the whole year we should be happy with the way Cypriots are travelling."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Deadline looms for Neophytou's road promise

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    COMMUNICATIONS Minister Averoff Neophytou is in the firing line again over the delayed construction of a Larnaca-Limassol highway link road at Kamares. The minister avoided handing in his resignation earlier this month with the opening of a controversial strip of road in Paphos.

    According to media reports, the minister had also made public assurances to Larnaca Municipal Council that the Kamares road from Larnaca to the Kalo Chorio roundabout, connecting the Larnaca-Limassol highway, would be completed by the end of this month.

    The project, an important addition to the road network in Larnaca, has been underway for two years and was set to finish by December last year.

    Initial plans on the Kamares stretch were modified causing huge delays in construction and pushing the completion date to March 2002. Additional delays resulted in Neophytou giving the July deadline to the Larnaca Municipal Council, during his last visit there.

    The project is in its seventh month of delays and completion seems highly unlikely before the end of the month.

    Local authorities are furious over the delays and the municipality has asked for all relevant government authorities to make a concerted effort to avoid such delays in the future.

    In previous statements on the Paphos debacle, Neophytou said that all future projects would be handled by the government. The minister was unavailable for comment yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] 'No end in sight' for plummeting market

    By Jean Christou

    BLUE CHIPS were the biggest losers yesterday as the market slipped even further to 84 points. The all-share index dropped another 0.98 per cent and the FTSE/CySE fell 1.26 per cent to 354, hitting the banking, financial and technology sectors.

    Although volume was not as high as Tuesday's 1.2 million it continued to reflect the big sell-off with investors apparently cashing in on anything of value that they have left.

    Banks bore the biggest brunt of the share dumping, knocking the sector down 1.58 per cent.

    Other losing sectors included technology, down 0.65 per cent, hotels 0.74 per cent and the financial sector a whopping five per cent. Gaining sectors included investment companies up 0.09 per cent, insurance 1.88, manufacturing 0.29, tourism 1.32, trading 0.83, construction 0.24 per cent, and other companies 0.43 per cent.

    Trading opened around 84.6 points, struggling mid-session to reach 84.8 and failing to hold on to the slight rally for long before taking a nosedive in the last 15 minutes.

    The three main banks were again the focus of most of the selling pressure. Bank of Cyprus dropped two cents to 1.37, Laiki also shed two cents to 1.14 and Hellenic lost one cent to 0.70.

    "The selling wave continues with no end in sight," said one analyst.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [11] Loophole leaves 3,000 former mental patients without rights

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THREE thousand formerly mentally ill patients have not regained the right to vote and to handle their personal financial affairs because of an irregularity in the existing legislation. Now moves are being made to close this loophole.

    Dr. Christodoulos Messis, President of the Mental Patients Supervisory Committee, said that under the former Mental Health Act, all mentally ill patients who were referred to a psychiatric hospital under a court order automatically and permanently lost the right to vote or handle their personal affairs.

    But in 1997 the law was amended in such a way that all patients no longer being treated in a psychiatric centre could regain their voting rights. "They are only registered incompetent as long as they are in the hospital for treatment under a court order," he said.

    "Once they have received the necessary therapy and are given the all-clear to return home, their voting rights and right to handle their personal fortunes are reinstated and applied in the same way as every other citizen of the Republic."

    Patients are committed under a court order if they are unwilling to submit to treatment voluntarily and are considered a danger to themselves or others, he said. Only a qualified psychiatrist can decide this.

    But despite the law change, approximately 3,000 formerly mentally ill patients are still not allowed to exercise their rights because they had been committed and released prior to 1997, he told the Cyprus Mail. Under the 1997 law people are not committed indefinitely, but only for a short period, which was why their rights were reinstated upon their release, he said.

    "In other words, the new law does not contain an article that includes those patients, because it used to be that once you were labelled a mental patient you remained one for life, unless you went back to court personally and got the order annihilated," Messis said.

    "But so as to avoid 3,000 people having to go and handle the problem individually we decided that it would be better to just introduce an article into the new law that includes these patients as well, and reinstates their rights."

    Legal problems of this kind are not a new occurrence as far as the supervisory committee is concerned. According to the law, the committee is responsible for supervising the implementation of the Mental Health Act and ironing out any abnormalities. However, according to the secretary of the Cyprus Psychiatric Association, the Health Ministry is to blame because it never provided the committee with the necessary facilities.

    In fact, the committee had been inactive for several years after its first president, Takis Evdokas, resigned over these administrative problems. Despite the fact that the committee is operating again, the problems still exist.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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