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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-09-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Wednesday, September 25, 2002


  • [01] Cyprus 'at risk from Saddam's missiles'
  • [02] Cabinet appoints investigator into police bungle
  • [03] Family demand inquiry after fatal police shooting
  • [04] Pupils walk out over curriculum demands
  • [05] School all fully staffed, minister proclaims
  • [06] Consumers Association sounds warning over health standards in beauty care
  • [07] Hoteliers: quality is the only way for Cyprus tourism

  • [01] Cyprus 'at risk from Saddam's missiles'

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS is in the line of fire of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, a dossier on Iraq published by the British government said yesterday, warning that British bases on the island were within range of Iraqi missiles.

    Prime Minister Tony Blair's 55-page dossier makes three references to Cyprus, saying Iraq has constructed a new engine test stand for the development of missiles capable of reaching the British Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus, as well as NATO members Greece and Turkey, and all of Iraq's Gulf neighbours and Israel.

    The dossier also said Iraq possessed extended-range Scud ballistic missiles, also capable of reaching Cyprus and Greece and Turkey. It was also developing longer-range missiles, it said.

    Referring to another type of missile, the dossier said: "They could be used with conventional, chemical or biological warheads and, with a range of up to 650km, are capable of reaching a number of countries in the region, including Cyprus, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel."

    The British High Commission and the Cyprus government yesterday played down the references, made prominent in a front-page article in the Financial Times, saying the island was merely referred to in the dossier as one of the countries within range of Iraq's missiles.

    "The dossier speaks for itself and demonstrates Iraq's capacity to threaten not only its immediate neighbours but also further afield, including the borders of Europe," a spokesman from the High Commission said.

    "The whole of the eastern Mediterranean falls within the range of the missiles."

    A source on the British bases said the dossier was just making clear something most people already knew. "This was the situation when we went to war back in 1991. The Scud had a range that included Cyprus."

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, who was given a copy of the dossier yesterday by High Commissioner Lyn Parker, said reports that Iraq had weapons that could target the SBA only mentioned that these weapons "could" reach Cyprus. "They are not saying Cyprus is a target," he said. "The bases could have been a target in the Gulf War, but they were not. I think we should take things in perspective and not create additional worries."

    However, DIKO deputy and member of the House Defence Committee Marios Matsakis, who is also involved in the anti-bases movement on the island, believes the bases were specifically mentioned to bring home to the British public the threat posed by Saddam.

    "First of all, to be honest, I don't think such a threat exists," Matsakis told the Cyprus Mail.

    "Cyprus is too far away and Saddam does not possess weapons that can attack Cyprus. If he did in the past, they were destroyed in raids."

    The DIKO deputy said the reference to Cyprus by Blair was irresponsible and designed to scare people in an attempt to excuse an attack on Iraq.

    "He has to deal with the situation at home and the nearest British people and British soil to Iraq and are the bases in Cyprus. He could not have claimed Saddam would attack mainland Britain or the Channel Islands," Matsakis said.

    "Thirdly, there exists the possibility that he wants to create an unstable situation regarding Cyprus in order to exert more pressure on the government, now that discussions are taking place in Brussels about the status of the bases after Cyprus enters the EU, and this is a big question."

    But Matsakis said the presence of the bases on the island did put Cyprus at risk from terrorists, "and that is one reason why perhaps their presence in Cyprus should be re-examined".

    He said the bases were used extensively against Iraq "every day" either through the use of Akrotiri airfield to launch spy planes or through electronic surveillance.

    Other sources suggested that by specifically mentioning Cyprus, which is on the eve of EU accession, Britain might be hoping to turn the tide of anti- war opinion in Europe by suggesting the bloc's southern fringes were under threat from Iraq.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Cabinet appoints investigator into police bungle

    By George Psyllides

    THE CABINET yesterday decided to appoint an investigating officer to look into a joint police-customs operation to arrest two suspects in the car assembly scam, which turned into a fiasco, as officers allegedly stood back and watched suspects destroy evidence.

    The suspects were finally arrested, but not before getting rid of a considerable number of documents that could have shed light on the case, in connection with which a senior police officer has been arrested.

    And while police are blaming customs and vice versa, the Cabinet, in a special meeting yesterday, appointed former Supreme Court president Demetrakis Stylianides to investigate the circumstances of last Thursday's fiasco, which raised further suspicions of police officers being involved into the scam.

    One senior officer is currently being held in custody in connection with the case.

    A car belonging to the son of the Chief of Police, Andreas Angelides, has now been cleared of suspicion, though the presence of CID officers during its inspection has raised eyebrows.

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides yesterday assured the report had not been influenced in any way. He did, however, concede that the officers had no job being present at the inspection, though he could not say who had ordered them to be there.

    "(Police) shouldn't have been there; I do not hesitate to say this," Markides said.

    He added: "There presence there was wrong; they shouldn't have been involved.

    "They did not have any orders from the Attorney-general's office."

    The Attorney-general said he did not know who sent the officers, stressing "these are the things which hamper our work, because you have an objective and reliable report and suddenly you have a problem due to the hasty action of the police".

    "Police had no place there while the car was being examined; but they did not affect the procedure," Markides said.

    Markides said the examiner had found there had been extensive repair work on the car, but said it was the same vehicle that had been imported.

    He added that investigators would be now looking into how the car had been repaired and registered.

    Markides explained that in the other cases currently under investigation, the cars had been wrecked and the perpetrators made numerous applications to repair them.

    Using those applications as cover, they imported all the necessary parts - chassis, engine, etc - and assembled a completely new car, while the wreck was just thrown away.

    The government is considering the possibility of hiring private MOT garages to carry out the inspections of suspect vehicles to determine whether they had been assembled or not.

    Markides said there were dangers in this, but added that there was a need for the case to be resolved as soon as possible.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Family demand inquiry after fatal police shooting

    By Alex Mita

    THE FAMILY of a suspected armed robber who died on Sunday, 10 days after being shot by police after a bank raid in Limassol, yesterday demanded that an investigation be launched into his death.

    DIKO deputy and forensic pathologist, Marios Matsakis, who carried out a post mortem examination on the body of Tryfonos Tryfonos, 30, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday he had advised the man's family to demand an inquiry into his death by an independent body.

    "I raised the issue with the Deputy Attorney-general a few days ago that there should be an investigation by an independent body outside the police, " he said.

    Straight after the shooting, Matsakis said evidence showed the man had been shot both in the back and front, but was unable to determine which shot came first.

    "I cannot say whether he was shot first in the back or in the front, but it doesn't matter, he was shot, he died, this is a very serious incident, which has to be investigated outside the police force in order for us to know exactly what happened."

    The two officers involved said they shot Tryfonos in self-defence after the suspect turned his army G3-A3 rifle in their direction and pulled the trigger. The rifle misfired.

    "If the investigators' findings show that the two officers had no other choice but to shoot Tryfonos then we will be satisfied with the decision," Matsakis said.

    Matsakis said he didn't know whether the two officers would be suspended until the investigation was completed.

    "That is up to the Attorney-general to decide and the first step should be to carry out the investigation.

    "(Attorney-general Alecos) Markides should have ordered an investigation straight after the shooting. I don't know if he will order an investigation, but I think he has no option. He should have done this before we asked him to do it.

    "He will have to do it, we have cases where people claimed they had been beaten by police and an investigation was carried out. This is a far more serious incident," Matsakis said.

    The autopsy carried out on the body revealed that Tryfonos died from septic shock.

    "All three bullets caused severe internal damage," Matsakis said. "They damaged the diaphragm, the lungs, the pericardium, the pancreas, the liver and small and large intestines. The cause of death was multiple organ failure due to septic shock, which resulted from gunshot wounds."

    Matsakis said if the inquiry into the death of the 30-year-old was carried out it should be completed in a couple of days.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Pupils walk out over curriculum demands

    By Alexia Saoulli

    ONE hundred students at a Nicosia school walked out of lessons on Monday, protesting their curriculum schedules had not yet been amended.

    According to the pupils at the Dasoupoli Lyceum, the school had failed to satisfy all subject changes they had requested, and decided they would stay away from class until their demands were met.

    But, the school, the Education Ministry and the Pancyprian Parents' Federation labelled the students' action unjustifiable, since the given deadline - October 15 - for rectifying their school programmes was not yet up. They particularly condemned first year students for abandoning their lessons, as the matter did not even involve them and they were merely protesting as a show of solidarity for their second and third year fellow pupils.

    The problem, explained headmaster Soteris Themistocleous, was that not all subject change applications had been examined, which was why a few of the students were still not happy with their programmes. Initially, there had been 325 applications to sift through. From that number, only 60 more remained to be assessed, he said. The problem was that for timetabling reasons changes could not be made until all applications had been examined as a whole, said Themistocleous.

    The Pancyprian Parents' Federation also condemned the strike.

    "They never should have left the school," said its President, Elias Demetriou. The notion of letting them change their subjects was developed so as to avoid chaos, not cause it, he added. But, he did admit that October 15 was too late a deadline for having the new programmes completed and that students should have their final schedules before then.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides also condemned the students' behaviour and backed the school's handling of the matter.

    "We believe there are students who are mature enough to make their own choices and so we want to give them the chance to fulfil those choices. However, not all students are able to take advantage of this freedom of choice and to make worthy use of it. These students will not have their demands satisfied," he said.

    In this particular case, Ioannides said the students would be punished. The 50 first-year students were given an unexcused absence for their actions on Monday and were also suspended for a day. The 50 second- and third-year students involved in the strike were told to meet with their headmaster.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] School all fully staffed, minister proclaims

    SCHOOLS are fully staffed, and their technical and material infrastructure is completely satisfactory and much improved compared to the past, Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides said yesterday.

    Speaking after yesterday's meeting of the House Education Committee, Ioannides said virtually all the required teaching staff were in place.

    "At the beginning of the school year, primary education teaching staff numbers were 99 per cent complete and middle education numbers were 92 per cent done," he said.

    Those appointments that have not yet been made are because "people have been offered appointments and we are waiting - as we are obliged to - for whether or not they will accept the post so we can offer it to the next person on the list," said Ioannides.

    "If you are talking of a total of 5,000 middle education teachers and you're only missing 15, there's no problem."

    As far as schools' technical and material infrastructures were concerned, the minister said: "We have the largest building space capacity the Cyprus Republic has had to date and we also have the largest number of new schools."

    "Moreover, every school has two science laboratories and every gymnasium has three," and the Education Minister noted that the Ministry had also "set up special hours dedicated to language and history lessons and soon all schools will have special classrooms".

    As for workmen still active in a number of schools around the island, he said this was necessary in order to build information technology labs so that all schools could be equipped with computers and schools could be made earthquake proof.

    "Over the next three years, 30 to 40 large construction sites will operate at schools because we are making them earthquake proof," he said. "This must be done, since it concerns children's safety."

    The project to upgrade the schools has been divided into parts and will be completed in four years, he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Consumers Association sounds warning over health standards in beauty care

    The price of beauty

    By Soteris Charalambous

    MOST people will tell you that the cost of beauty has gone up, but it is not only the increase in price that Egli Hadjipascali, spokesperson for the Consumers Association is worried about, it is the risk to health posed by some of the newer treatments offered by beauty salons, hair salons and now gyms.

    Facials, manicures and pedicures have been joined on the list by hair removal, body piercing and tattooing eyebrows and with them have come additional risks because they involve skin penetration. A risk intensified by the fact that no legislation exists to regulate the standards of practice and ensure hygienic work places.

    "Our biggest concern stems from the fact that no law exists to check the standards of hygiene in beauty and hair salons and gyms that offer similar services," said Hadjipascali, "Nobody goes there to check how clean these places are, the levels of maintenance of equipment or the standard of their work is."

    The Consumers Association was first alerted to the potential risks when they received a complaint from a woman who attended a beauty salon in Nicosia to have her eyebrows re-shaped by hair removal and a permanent tattoo.

    "The treatment was carried out over a number of visits and each time she became more and more concerned that the equipment being used hadn't been cleaned and that they hadn't changed the needle," said Hadjipascali, "We contacted the Health Ministry but their response was that as no law existed they were not obliged to check". The Consumers Association maintained that the matter should be investigated, but the resulting investigation found nothing wrong, because, according to Hadjipascali, "the man had no idea what they were actually doing there."

    These new treatments and others that involve skin penetration run the risk of introducing infective micro-organisms into the body. Infection can occur if equipment that pierces, punctures or penetrates the skin is contaminated, or can occur from direct person-to-person contact with blood or other body substances. When beauty therapies involving skin penetration are not managed correctly, they have the potential to transmit bacterial and fungal infections, as well as viral infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and C - putting both the client and the operator at risk.

    "These places have been very popular recently," said Hadjipascali, "and if these machines are not cleaned or sterilised properly it is very easy for people to get an infection or disease."

    Amidst the rash of new legislation that has been passed in preparation for entry into Europe, this is one area that has so far escaped attention. Throughout Europe, the US and Australia, legislation exists that has established a code of best practice that aims to minimise the risks involved with these treatments. In fact, skin infections can occur from beauty treatments without breaking the skin and for this reason all equipment should be cleaned between each client to eliminate the potential to spread infection. According to legislation in other countries even equipment used in a procedure that does not penetrate, but merely comes into contact with the skin, can spread staphylococcal, streptococcal and pseudomonal infections, all of which are bacterial, while other types of skin infections including herpes, ringworm, tinea and scabies are also listed as potential hazards with beauty treatments.

    According to the Consumers Association, the Health Ministry did not respond to a letter sent to it last November expressing its concerns about the potential risks and calling for something to be done.

    Legislation in other countries requires the use pre-sterilised single use equipment, strict hand washing guidelines, the use of disposable gloves during skin penetration treatments, with the skin prepared using a suitable antiseptic solution. There are also strict guidelines on disinfection and sterilisation of all equipment that would be re-used and banning smoking in areas where skin penetrations are performed as the smoke places a film on all equipment and ash is a ready source of dirt.

    But Hadjipascali is hopeful that this may change in the future. "I understand that a European Union delegation is due to arrive soon to study aspects of legislation concerning health and these types of issues and I believe the Minister was a little concerned," said Hadjipascali, "The Health Committee have since been in contact and have arranged a meeting with us to discuss the matter."

    Hadjipascali also raised concerns about hair dressing salons. "So many places are opening up that nobody knows exists except the local clientele. Who cleans that place and how often? And what about the treatments they use? Anyone can open a salon now certified or not whether they have attended a school or not."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Hoteliers: quality is the only way for Cyprus tourism

    By Jean Christou

    HOTELIERS yesterday bemoaned the difficulties facing the tourism sector this year, and suggested ways to bring down their costs in order to make Cyprus a cheaper destination.

    Addressing the annual general meeting of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises (STEK), which represents four and five star hotels on the island, the organisation's president Renos Solomides said quality was the only way to go for Cyprus tourism, because "mass tourism is the source of many evils".

    ""We have accepted theoretically that quality is a one way street and the only way to go," he said. "There is no other choice for the for economic future of Cyprus because it safeguards the economy and saves the few valuable resources spent on cheaper and damaging mass tourism, which is prevalent in our country."

    Solomides also slammed the way in which the Cyprus Tourism Organisation was funded, through the imposition of a three per cent levy, which is invariably passed on to the customer.

    "It's a paradox that the industry is called to foot the bill for a semi government organisation," he said. "One wonders why farmers are not called upon to keep the Agriculture Ministry going or the industrialists to keep the Ministry of Industry going."

    Another issue that hotels say is plaguing their profits is the high cost of labour in the sector, which runs at around 40-45 per cent of a hotel's annual revenue, compared to around 20-25 per cent in other competing tourists destinations.

    Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis, who also addressed the conference, repeated a plea first on Monday for wage restraint in the sector, as such costs directly affected the price of a package holiday to Cyprus, prompting tourists to head for cheaper destinations.

    "We are one of the most expensive destinations with a difference of up to 45 per cent in other countries," Rolandis said. "The government has done all it can to stem the effects and I believe that measures for supporting tourism have helped to a large degree. In the hotel business there is space for increasing productivity or at least the possible decrease of costs, and I repeat my appeal to keep prices restrained and pay demands frozen."

    Vyronos Kranidiotis, president of the Employers' and Industrialists' Association (OEV), told delegates it was not only September 11 and the current threats of war in the region that had affected the island's tourism fortunes.

    "On top of this, there is the undisputed fact that our product is on average 20 per cent more expensive than our competitors' and we should realise there is no room for complacency," he said.

    Commenting on the fact that the current crisis coincided with negotiations to renew collective agreements in the sector, Kranidiotis said that after four years of industrial peace it was "time for unions to exhibit a spirit of maturity and responsibility".

    "This is a time that the declarations of the union movement will be tested and it will show if their statements to help the industry have any substance," he added.

    A combination of September 11, threats of war against Iraq and higher prices than regional competitors is likely to leave tourism down 12-13 per cent by the end of the year, official estimates predict.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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