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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-10-04

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

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


Friday, October 4, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Denktash meets Annan despite heart problem
  • [02] Animal lovers protest outside EU office
  • [03] Blackout after workers cut power cable
  • [04] Car 'the key to jewel raids'
  • [05] More Turkish Cypriots favour federation as a solution
  • [06] Lab denies high rate of E. coli in drinking water
  • [07] Neophytou says he could end billboard scourge in 40 days
  • [08] Circus for sale: serious offers only (no clowns)
  • [09] 30,000 eligible for a free flu jab
  • [10] Jailed Turkish Cypriot journalists freed
  • [11] Markides orders probe into Milosevic-linked firms
  • [12] Warning: vegetables bought at markets 'can be dangerous'
  • [13] Five standing for top university posts

  • [01] Denktash meets Annan despite heart problem

    RAUF Denktash's meeting with UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan in New York went ahead yesterday despite the Turkish Cypriot leader having been admitted to hospital on Wednesday after he complained of feeling unwell.

    All the meetings Denktash has scheduled with international envoys for Cyprus had to be cancelled after he underwent an angiogram and was ordered to rest for the remainder of the day, Turkish Cypriot press reports said yesterday.

    'TRNC Foreign Ministry Undersecretary' Ergun Olgun told reporters Denktash was stable and he was resting at his hotel.

    Opposition newspaper Afrika said yesterday that Denktash was using his heart problems as "the last trump card to gain some time".

    In February this year Denktash, 78, announced that he might have to undergo heart surgery within the year. He said at the time that his diagnosis had coincided with his decision to ask President Glafcos Clerides to resume face-to-face talks.

    He said doctors had found a blockage of his aorta and wanted to correct a heart valve problem. He said he felt fine but that he had had a few problems during previous months. He said he was told by doctors in Ankara and Istanbul that it would be better for him to undergo surgery before getting too old.

    Denktash, who has a history of heart trouble, said doctors had told him he needed to lose up to 15 kilos. He suffered a heart attack in 1996 and had surgery a year later. He was also later diagnosed with diabetes and was put on a strict diet.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Animal lovers protest outside EU office

    ANIMAL lovers will protest today outside the offices of the EU delegation in Nicosia to mark World Day for Animals.

    As part of the protest Toula Poyadji, president of the Cyprus Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA), will go on a 24-hour hunger strike outside the building.

    During the night candles will be lit as a tribute to all animals worldwide "that have fallen victim to man's cruelty and indifference", the CSPCA said yesterday.

    The protesters are demanding that Cyprus be forced to respect European conventions for the protection of animals as a prerequisite to EU accession.

    While animal lovers are encouraged to visit the protest throughout the day, a mass gathering of people and their pets will be held at 4pm followed by the reading of a declaration to be handed to the EU Head of Delegation.

    This will be followed by a march to the Presidential Palace where a similar declaration will be handed in.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Blackout after workers cut power cable

    LEDRA Street and parts of the old town of Nicosia suffered a one-hour blackout yesterday after workers at the former GSP stadium hit an underground power cable, the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) said.

    Among those affected were banks whose computers were disabled for one hour between 11.45am and 12.45, leaving customers unable to complete transactions before closing time.

    "The fault was on an underground cable which was somehow hit by workers," an EAC spokesman said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Car 'the key to jewel raids'

    AN ABANDONED car containing nearly 5,000 worth of jewellery found yesterday in Limassol is thought to be the key in solving an organised jewellery theft operation, police said.

    The car is thought to have been used in last Sunday's robbery when thieves took off with more than 100,000 worth of designer watches and diamonds in under seven minutes.

    Five jewellery shop robberies have taken place in the past few months in Limassol, and police are convinced they were carried out by the same people.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] More Turkish Cypriots favour federation as a solution

    A NEW opinion poll in the north shows that 35.5 per cent of Turkish Cypriots support a bizonal, bicommunal federation as a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Support for a federation was up from 31.7 per cent two years ago but down 12 per cent on 1997, when 47.6 favoured a federal solution. In 1999 only 28.2 per cent of Turkish Cypriots would have said 'yes' to a federation.

    The least favoured option for Turkish Cypriots was the idea of being integrated with Turkey, a threat Ankara has pledged to carry out if Cyprus joins the European Union without a prior solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Only 5.1 per cent of Turkish Cypriots would favour annexation compared with 7.7 per cent in 2000, 8.2 per cent in 1999 and 11.5 per cent in 1997. This change in attitude can be ascribed to the continuing fall in the standard of living in the north and the recent economic crisis in Turkey, which have all prompted Turkish Cypriots to increasingly favour becoming part of a Cyprus that will join the EU.

    Support for a single united state in Cyprus is still low, however, with only 8.6 per cent favouring this option, although the figure is up from 5.3 per cent two years ago. Support for a confederation has also fallen dramatically from 27.2 per cent in 2000 to only 11.8 per cent this year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Lab denies high rate of E. coli in drinking water

    By Alex Mita

    THE State Laboratories yesterday denied reports by a daily newspaper that 35 per cent of the island's drinking water is contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

    According to Politis, out of 5,319 water samples taken from the Water Board reservoirs by the Lab, 1,111 were found to contain harmful levels of E. coli.

    "The tests we carried out in 2001 involved only water in the tanks of schools, hospitals and army camps," a State Lab spokesman said yesterday.

    "If the water was found to be contaminated with E. coli, that was due to improper installation of the tanks, or the need for them to be cleaned."

    The spokesman said that two years ago Health Service regulations allowed for 10 E. coli bacteria in each water sample taken, but according to European Union regulations, water must not contain any bacteria.

    "If we took samples two years ago and we found that there were 10 bacteria in the water sample, we would have pronounced it clean. But under the new regulations the water must not contain any bacteria," he said.

    "I would like to assure the public that there are no harmful bacteria in the water, and that if we find any, then health inspectors are informed seconds after the tests are carried out. The Water Board reservoirs are not contaminated with bacteria."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Neophytou says he could end billboard scourge in 40 days

    IF THE House amended legislation concerning advertising billboards Cyprus would be 'clean' in 40 days, Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou said yesterday.

    He said it was necessary for the House to amend the legislation immediately to give the ministry the power to remove advertising billboards from the island's roads.

    The bill was first tabled before the House in November, 2001.

    "We asked the House to change the legislation, giving us the authority to enforce law and order, Neophytou said. "We take full responsibility to clean Cyprus from the billboards in 40 days."

    "We tried to remove billboards under the current legislation, which dates back to colonial times. The Supreme Court ordered us to stop."

    The minister said that advertising hoardings on the roads have turned the island into an "advertising garbage dump". He said the billboards pollute the environment and create huge problems for traffic safety.

    Neophytou wondered why there has not been any response from the House in the past nine months, and said that society was the judge not only of the executive but the deputies and political parties.

    On the use of billboards by presidential candidates, Neophytou said he hoped the presidential campaign, unlike the general and municipal elections campaigns, would not be carried out on "illegal advertising billboards" because the "reliability and prestige of politics and politicians is also judged on these matters".

    DIKO Chairman Tasos Papadopoulos, whose picture is being displayed on billboards, said yesterday that the signs used in his campaign were all legal.

    Papadopoulos said that DIKO would not agree to use illegal billboards, which was why the number of signs used by the party was so small.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Circus for sale: serious offers only (no clowns)

    By Jean Christou

    THE LAST remnants of the Cyprus branch of the Russian State Circus, worth around half a million pounds, are to be sold off either by auction or private sale, lawyers for the company said yesterday.

    Limassol lawyer George Charalambides, who is acting on behalf of the company, said the equipment for sale, which includes caravans and trucks, has lain in bonded warehouses in Limassol and Larnaca for the past three years.

    The Cyprus branch of the circus, which based itself in Limassol in the early 1990s, packed up and returned to Russia more than three years ago after their contract in Cyprus ended, Charalambides said.

    "When they came they made an agreement with some Cypriots to establish a circus and they brought all the equipment over from Israel," he said.

    "In order to allow them to import the equipment they had to pay a guarantee to the director of customs, which they did, to allow them to enter and to re-export the equipment as soon as they completed the contract."

    However he said that even though the circus left with its employees and its animals, the management did not appear to be in a hurry to re-export the equipment. "They stored it in bonded warehouses and unfortunately it's still there," Charalambides said.

    He said the company had some 12,000-13,000 employees in Russia. "They have decided to sell all this equipment because it's no use to them any more, and probably not worth what it would cost to transfer it back to Russia," Charalambides said.

    He said the equipment was valued at 500,000 at the time it was imported to Cyprus.

    The sale items include ten trucks, 16 personnel caravans, one tractor, 12 containers and other items.

    The world-famous Russian State Circus Company, founded in 1950, has 42 regular performing groups, 17 itinerant theatrical teams and 2,500 other performers, based at various locations in Russia and around the world at any given time.

    It has performed in more than 100 countries in Europe, Asia, America and Australia. Each year, around 1,500 artists give various performances in 30 countries all over the world.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] 30,000 eligible for a free flu jab

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THIS SEASON'S flu vaccine arrived on the island yesterday and will be distributed to hospitals around the island today, a senior pharmacist at the Health Ministry told the Cyprus Mail.

    "Part of the Ministry's annual routine is to take preventive measures against influenza in high-risk groups," said Maro Papademetriou. This was why the flu vaccine was administered to the elderly, people with chronic respiratory and kidney problems, heart patients and diabetics, she said.

    "Each year, the vaccine is updated by the World Health Organisation to include the most current strains of the virus," she said.

    According to the Ministry's Head of Medical Services, Dr Constantinos Mallis, there are around 30,000 Cypriots eligible to have the flu shot free of charge.

    Chief Medical Officer Chrystalla Hadjianastasiou added that only high-risk groups were eligible for this free access to the vaccine, which the Ministry kept track of.

    Healthy younger people did not need a vaccine to beat influenza, she said, as they had natural antibodies that do it for them. That was why the government preferred to save the vaccine for high-risk groups who had weaker immune systems and were more susceptible to infection.

    According to Mallis it is not so much influenza that can kill you, but complications resulting from the virus.

    "Influenza is generally not dangerous. It just leaves you feeling very weak and susceptible to attack from other micro-organisms." he said. "But complications from the infection can be dangerous. Some people who get flu become seriously ill and need to be hospitalised, while others even die from illnesses related to flu, such as pneumonia."

    Although not everyone was eligible for free access to the jab, Mallis said people could have it done privately if they wished, as it was also available at all pharmacies.

    According to Nicosia pharmacist Katerina Georgiou-Tifa, the vaccine has been available since mid-September and costs 4 per shot.

    "You don't need a prescription for it, although most people take it after their doctor has recommended it. In fact, I wouldn't advise that children have this form of passive immunisation, unless prescribed by a paediatrician."

    She said this was because it was good for children to be exposed to flu so they can build up their own natural antibodies to the virus. Only children over six months old with chronic or hereditary problems would be advised to have the shot, added Mallis.

    "The flu vaccine is made up of inactive influenza viruses," he said. "People rarely get symptoms from having it and if they do they are negligible. After getting the shot, a person's body will create antibodies to fight the virus if exposed to it."

    Mallis said these antibodies developed and provided protection within two or three weeks.

    The flu shot reduces a person's chances of catching flu by up to 90-95 per cent during the winter season, said Mallis. But even if an immunised person does get flu, symptoms were usually fewer and milder, he said.

    "High-risk groups should have the shot before the end of October so they have time to develop their antibodies. After that the flu season begins, leaving them exposed and more vulnerable," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Jailed Turkish Cypriot journalists freed

    By Jean Christou

    JAILED Turkish Cypriot publisher and editor Sener Levent and one of his journalists Memduh Ener have been set free, newspapers in the north reported yesterday.

    Levent and Ener were jailed in August for six months for 'treason' after being found guilty of libelling Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the 'TRNC', Turkey and the occupation army.

    According to Turkish Cypriot press reports the 'Supreme Court' in the north commuted their six-month sentence to one month and 25 days' time served.

    The decision was a result of an appeal by the two journalists.

    Levent, publisher of Afrika newspaper (formerly Avrupa) and Ener were given six months over an article published on July 29, 1999 titled "Who is the number one traitor?" In all around 400 'libel' cases are pending against Levent and other Turkish Cypriot journalists.

    A second round of hearings has been set for November 6 and 14.

    Commenting on the release yesterday, Cyprus Journalists' Union president Andreas Kannaouros said it was a victory of the Turkish Cypriot journalists and others struggling for freedom of expression in the occupied areas.

    "Intense pressure was exerted by international press organisations, the EU, the Council of Europe, the International Press Institute, governments and the UN, which resulted in the release of the Turkish Cypriot journalists," he said. He added, however, that Levent, his journalists and the newspaper were still being "persecuted".

    Avrupa, which means 'Europe', was repeatedly the target of police raids in the north and was eventually shut down, but it reopened calling itself Afrika, seen as a snipe at the Turkish Cypriot regime.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [11] Markides orders probe into Milosevic-linked firms

    By George Psyllides

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides has ordered an investigation into claims by a Yugoslav woman that an offshore company linked to former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had been registered in her name without her permission or signature by the law office of DIKO Chairman Tassos Papadopoulos, it was reported yesterday.

    According to the daily newspaper Alithia, Radmila Budicin had testified that the company Browncourt was founded and registered in her name without her knowledge, permission or signature.

    According to the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, where Milosevic is currently on trial for genocide and war crimes, more than 1.23 billion was funnelled by the former Yugoslav president and his associates through eight offshore companies in Cyprus between 1992 and 2000.

    Several of the companies were registered by Papadopoulos' firm, but the office has said repeatedly that beyond the registration, it had nothing to do with the companies' activities.

    Yesterday Alithia reported that Markides has ordered an investigation into the affair but that it has been delayed for unknown reasons.

    The paper also said that the delay in investigating the case has raised eyebrows among European diplomats in Cyprus.

    Markides confirmed the investigation had been ordered in July and is still ongoing.

    But he rejected claims that it had been delayed in any way and said that there was no investigation concerning Papadopoulos himself.

    "There is no investigation concerning Tassos Papadopoulos," Markides told the Cyprus Mail.

    Markides has requested information from Belgrade concerning the case, as well as that of another company, Antexol, which Budicin also claims was transferred to her name without permission, Alithia said.

    But an unnamed Yugoslav official was quoted in the daily as saying that Papadopoulos' firm in Cyprus had registered the two companies so the attorney-general should seek the information locally.

    According to a report drafted for the Hague tribunal, the Yugoslav authorities founded a number of companies in Cyprus and Greece whose real controllers were hidden from the banking authorities.

    The concealment was achieved by using the names of people who did not have any knowledge about the companies, and who became unwitting collaborators in the scheme, the paper said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [12] Warning: vegetables bought at markets 'can be dangerous'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE CONSUMERS' Association yesterday confirmed it had found high traces of lead on leafy vegetables. The results were part of a pilot study carried out to determine whether or not lead contamination from car fumes was a problem for the island's vegetable produce.

    "Lead is a heavy metal which cannot be evaporated into the environment. Instead it has to settle somewhere, so we thought of the leafy vegetables that are left out in the open at a huge number of street markets which are exposed to car fumes daily," said the Association's general-manager, Dinos Ioannou.

    "This is why we felt it would be prudent to test a number of samples for traces of lead at various open-air markets. And what we found was that there is a problem."

    The Association collected a total of 39 different samples from all four Nicosia, Limassol, Paphos and Famagusta districts, he said. The vegetables tested were lettuce, celery, parsley, rocket, coriander and cress (glysterida). Fruit was not tested for traces of lead because it does not have wide leaves that absorb lead more easily, and most people tended to peel fruit before eating it, he said. "As for apples and pears, they have a glossy surface and so lead doesn't tend to settle there."

    The internationally accepted value of lead traces on food is 2 mg/kg, said Ioannou. But when the Nicosia-based FoodLab Ltd tested the samples, 14 of them displayed much higher levels of lead than that, he said. One sample of lettuce taken from Aglandja in Nicosia tested positive for 11.5 mg/kg of lead.

    The worst place to buy vegetables was from open-air markets like the popular market in Nicosia, he said. This was because the market had a car- park right next to it.

    "Cars park right by the vegetable stalls and so every time they start the engine a lot of noxious fumes are emitted, including lead that settles on the produce," Ioannou said.

    The Consumers' Association was aware that most people washed or soaked their vegetables before eating them, so it reanalysed the samples after they had been washed and again after they were soaked for five minutes.

    "We found that in most cases the lead traces dropped well below the accepted value, particularly after they had been soaked. In other words the metal was not absorbed into the vegetables but had only settled on its surfaces," Ioannou said.

    But this was still no excuse or reason to tolerate the exposure of leafy salad leaves to this kind of contamination, he said.

    To combat the problem local authorities and municipalities had to put an end to open-air markets, or at least markets that exposed their vegetables to car fumes.

    "They must offer solutions to the problem. For instance they should force grocers to protect their produce by covering it up, or they should prevent cars from parking anywhere near markets," he said.

    The Consumers' Association also said consumers had a responsibility to protect themselves. "People should avoid buying vegetables from places that expose food to lead contamination. If they buy it anyway, they should always wash and soak their vegetables for at least five minutes to avoid lead ingestion, which could lead to serious health complications."

    Unless the amount of lead poisoning is extremely high, its symptoms are often not immediately apparent.

    According to a lead poisoning information and resource web site, symptoms include irritability, stomach aches, poor appetite, diarrhoea, and lethargy.

    "Mood swings, irritability, severe abdominal pain, headaches, and loss of motor co-ordination may also result from lead exposure," it says. "Adults may be affected by lead poisoning and have kidney and neurological damage, anaemia, hypertension, impotence, sterility, and miscarriages. Blood tests can determine if lead poisoning is present, but a negative blood test does not mean that damage from lead has not already occurred.

    "Young bodies also absorb more lead than adults do, affecting the development of young children by causing speech delay, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, behavioural disorders, neurological and renal damage, stunted growth, anaemia, hearing loss, and sometimes mental retardation."

    As this was only a pilot study, the Consumers' Association said it would have to carry out more studies assessing whether or not vegetables were also exposed to lead during their cultivation and/or during transportation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [13] Five standing for top university posts

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE COUNTDOWN for who will be appointed the new Rector and Vice-Rectors of the University of Cyprus has begun, with just 10 days to go before elections.

    This year two candidates are standing for the post of Rector and another three are standing for the two positions of Vice-Rector in Academic Affairs and Vice-Rector in International Relations, Finance and Administration, a university officer confirmed yesterday.

    "This year there are 248 voters," Athena Stylianou told the Cyprus Mail. "All academics are included, making up 180 of the votes."

    A further 57 voters will comprise representatives from each department's student council, she said. "In the past only 26 students were included in the voting panel, but this year the House of Representatives has allocated them a larger portion. Hence next Tuesday all 13 department student councils will hold their own elections and decide who they want to represent them this year."

    Another 11 voters will be non-academic staff, Stylianou added. "These individuals were voted for by an administrative council in much the same way as the students decide who will represent them."

    Only university professors are allowed to stand for election to either position and the same candidate can be in the running for both vice-rector vacancies, she said. According to the university law associate professors, assistant professors and lecturers have the right to vote, but not to stand. This law has been in place since 1989, Stylianou added.

    Two candidates have put their names forward for the post of Rector, she said. "These are Professor of Education and current Vice-Rector Andreas Demetriou, and Stavros Zenios, a professor in the University's Public and Business Administration Department."

    There are also two candidates for the position of Academic Affairs vice- rector, Computer Science Professors Elpida Keravnou Papailiou and Christos Schizas. Schizas is also standing for the position of vice-rector of International Relations, Finance and Administration, as is Education Professor Giorgos Philippos.

    The elections will take place on October 14.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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