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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-10-17

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, October 17, 2002


  • [01] Police tackle 'strawberry' Green
  • [02] Cabinet calls for criminal investigation into Co-op scam
  • [03] De Soto in Ankara to push for Cyprus solution
  • [04] BP stations go to Hellenic Petroleum
  • [05] From attempted suicides to accidents: poison centre on its toes
  • [06] Ministry to hire another 361 nurses

  • [01] Police tackle 'strawberry' Green

    By Alex Mita

    GREEN PARTY activist Roxanne Coudounari alleged last night she was manhandled by police while she was trying to stage an anti-British Bases protest at the launch of the British Council's new Knowledge and Learning Centre in Nicosia.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Coudounari said the area around the Cyprus Museum and Municipal Theatre, where the British Council offices are, looked like a concentration camp because of the presence of so much barbed wire and police.

    "Our intentions were to stage a peaceful protest" against the erection of a new antenna at Akrotiri, she said. "We had what I think was a very humorous message to give to Tony Blair that said 'Dear Mr Blair, why don't you jam your base?'"

    But Coudounari said when police saw the way she was dressed -- in a strawberry costume -- and the fact that she was carrying a banner, they asked her to show them what was on the banner. When she refused they started pulling and shoving her, she claimed.

    Coudounari also said police officers hurled abuse at her. "They asked for my ID card and called me a liar," she said.

    She said Greens Deputy George Perdikis came and calmed the situation, but she also insisted that the police do not allow people wanting to speak their minds to do so.

    "It is my democratic right as a citizen of the Republic to protest whenever and in any way I want," she said. "If I want to address the House dressed as Pinocchio, it is my right -- and no one can tell me otherwise."

    Coudounari said the her intention had been to hand out flyers and Cyprus- made jam.

    But police inspector Charalambos Voutounos, who was in charge of security at the event, dismissed her allegations last night.

    "We were instructed by HQ not to allow any protesters into the area," he said.

    "The woman said she was an actress and that she was rehearsing with other actors in the Municipal Theatre across the street from the British Council, " he told the Cyprus Mail.

    "By the time we realised she was not an actress she had managed to enter the theatre and was preparing to display a banner. Because we didn't know the nature of the message, and fearing that it could be offensive, we asked to see what was written on it and she refused," Voutounos said.

    "We used the necessary force to pull her away, and then released her when she showed us that there was nothing offensive on the banner. We even helped her find her mobile phone."

    Voutounos said that when she saw the photographers, Koudounaris began shouting and screaming, and they had no choice but to remove her from the area.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Cabinet calls for criminal investigation into Co-op scam

    By Alex Mita

    THE CABINET yesterday called for the appointment of a criminal investigator be the Attorney-general's office to probe a Paphos Co-op bank scam that saw companies evading mortgage fees on loans by illegally registering as members of the bank.

    Speaking after yesterday's meeting, Commerce and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis said the nature of the case suggested there was a possibility that a criminal offence had been committed.

    "The Cabinet's intention is to have a criminal investigator appointed to the case as soon as possible, because from what our sources tell us a criminal offence might have been committed," he said.

    Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou said the government was currently investigating 28 cases of companies receiving loans from the Paphos Co-op totalling 2 million.

    Panayiotou said the companies had avoided paying mortgage fees on the loans by illegally registering as members of the Co-op bank.

    "The amount of money owed to the Land Registry Department from those loans amount to 25,000," he told reporters yesterday.

    "We are in close contact with the Attorney-general and we will claim the outstanding amount back."

    Panayiotou said he would decide on the fate of government officials allegedly involved in the case, after he heard the findings of the ongoing disciplinary investigation at the end of the week.

    Meanwhile, DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis said yesterday that Paphos Co-op chairman and fellow DIKO deputy Nicos Pittokopitis should resign.

    "I can't tell my associate what to do, it's not my job and I don't want to judge anyone," he told CyBC radio.

    "The only thing I can say is that if I were in his shoes the wisest thing for me to do would be to resign as chairman of the Paphos Co-op Bank," he said.

    Asked whether he thought Pittokopitis should also hand in his resignation to DIKO, Matsakis said it was too early to say.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] De Soto in Ankara to push for Cyprus solution

    UNITED Nations special envoy Alvaro de Soto said yesterday it was still possible to find a solution to the division of Cyprus in the coming months if all sides seized the opportunity.

    De Soto was in Ankara for talks with Turkish officials aimed at pushing ahead the peace process on Cyprus, ahead of a looming EU deadline with European leaders due to announce at a summit in Copenhagen in December that Cyprus can join the bloc as soon as 2004.

    Turkey has threatened to annex the occupied areas if the EU accepts Cyprus without a solution, a move that would spark a crisis between the EU and Turkey, which itself is a candidate to join the bloc.

    "I believe it's possible to reach a solution before then," De Soto told NTV television in an interview, declining to comment on whether it would still be possible to solve the problem after the Copenhagen summit on December 12- 13.

    "Let's concentrate on before Copenhagen," he said.

    "There's an opportunity there so we hope that it will be seized," he said.

    The talks are further complicated by a general election in Turkey on November 3 and few expect Turkey to make any move to promote a solution before then.

    Turkey wants the EU to set a date at the Copenhagen summit for the start of its own membership negotiations. A European Commission report this month said Turkey had not fully met the conditions to start talks, but Ankara is still hopeful.

    Though Turkey's EU candidacy is not officially linked to finding a solution on Cyprus, EU diplomats have said it will be difficult for Turkey to move ahead if it does not help resolve the Cyprus issue.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] BP stations go to Hellenic Petroleum

    By Jean Christou

    B.P. YESTERDAY announced the sale of its 70 outlets and other inland fuels businesses in Cyprus to Hellenic Petroleum of Greece.

    The sale excludes BP's international businesses, Air BP and BP Marine, and BP Lubricants, a statement said.

    "The decision to sell is the result of BP's ongoing review of its global portfolio, which concluded that the retail and other inland fuels businesses in Cyprus would have longer term value to a company wishing to establish a significant position in the Cyprus fuels market and as a platform for regional expansion," the statement said. The financial details of the deal would not be disclosed, it added.

    "The retail and other inland fuel businesses in Cyprus are a profitable operation with highly skilled and professional staff," said George Petrou, BP's country president in Cyprus. "It has grown steadily over the years but no longer fits within BP strategy. We have therefore decided to reposition our assets and focus on areas where we believe we can deliver a stronger performance."

    Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail that BP had officially announced the decision to him earlier yesterday. "They will sell their stations in Cyprus but they will stay with the airport and lubricants business," he said. They are selling to Hellenic Petroleum, but this is subject to approval by the monopolies commission and also by me."

    Hellenic Petroleum is 67.8 per cent owned by the Greek state. It is the largest Greek refiner, owning 50 per cent of Greece's refining capacity through two refineries. The company also has a 23 per cent share of the Greek retail market through the EKO brand and is the leading integrated oil company in Greece.

    "We are delighted to acquire BP's retail and other inland fuels businesses in Cyprus. it is a strategic opportunity for our company,' said Athanasios Karachailos, managing director of Hellenic Petroleum. "It will provide a platform for expanding in the region and we are well equipped to make it a very successful business venture."

    The shares of BP Cyprus will transfer to Hellenic together with around 40 staff members under local rules and regulations and existing terms of employment, the statement said. The BP stations will be branded with the EKO logo. The other 30 or so staff will be employed by BP's remaining businesses in Cyprus. BP Cyprus sells around 500 million litres of fuel per annum on the island, making it the market leader with a 35 per cent share.

    In July, BP sold eight of its stations to Russian company Lukoil under order from the competition committee applying anti-monopoly rules. Exxon Mobile sold another eight to the Russian firm.

    Lukoil has already stepped into the market and is converting to its trademark logo in Nicosia and other areas. Lukoil's 16 stations will now give the company a six per cent share of the Cyprus market.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] From attempted suicides to accidents: poison centre on its toes

    By Alexia Saoulli

    PARACETAMOL is the leading cause of non-narcotic poisoning in Cyprus, a clinical pharmacist said yesterday, with cleaning agents responsible for the majority of accidental household poisonings.

    Dr. Athos Tsinontides, 35, a clinical pharmacist at the Poison Control Centre, said the Centre had been established in 1997. It lies under the Health Ministry's Pharmaceutical Services and operates during government working hours. But its purpose is not to act as a poison advice centre for the public. Instead it serves as a poison research and information centre, he said.

    "Our goal is not to deal with emergency situations as it is abroad," he told the Cyprus Mail. "If someone has ingested a form of poison, he or she should go to hospital or clinic emergency departments." The Centre itself is not equipped to handle emergency situations, as it does not operate on a 24-hour basis due to severe understaffing.

    "Although we can and do answer questions concerning toxic products, we only do so until 2.30pm, when there is always at least one clinical pharmacist on duty to answer the phone. However, there is no real need in Cyprus for a 24-hour service yet, because there are not enough cases that require our assistance," he said.

    "At this stage, people ask us questions on how toxic a medication is for example, or whether or not a certain pharmaceutical product might prevent pregnancy."

    Instead, the facility acts as more of a support system for emergency departments at public hospitals.

    "We investigate and research the most common forms of poisoning in Cyprus and ensure that hospitals have a sufficient supply of antidotes for those poisons," said Tsinontides, adding that they also gave seminars on poisons, published articles on the topic and kept the Ministry up to date on the latest statistics.

    Five years ago, the centre wanted to identify what were the most common forms of poisonings in Cyprus, he said. The poisonings were separated into two categories: medical drug poisonings and household and industrial product poisonings.

    "We investigated which group of people suffered poisoning, what these poisons were and then made sure that the antidotes for the relevant poisons were made available at emergency departments across the country," said Tsinontides.

    The results of the study mirrored statistics in other industrialised countries, he said.

    "The most frequent form of non-narcotic drug poisoning comes from paracetamol, which people ingest during suicide attempts." Although this might not seem like a dangerous drug, if 50-60 pills are swallowed, it will kill, he said.

    "It is an acute poison but its lethal effects are not immediate and so you have time to get to hospital. If someone has taken a huge amount of paracetamol they should get to hospital as soon as possible, or at least within the next 10 to 15 hours."

    If a person were not treated in that time frame, liver and renal failure would lead to death, he said.

    In the second category, the most common form of poisoning resulted from household products, particularly cleaning agents.

    "These are what we class as accidental poisonings and sometimes, depending on the agent induced, an antidote might not even be necessary." Tsinontides stressed that not all forms of poisoning involved treatment and that a duty doctor would assess whether it was necessary.

    The study found two poisoning peaks in different age groups, he said.

    "The first rise in poisoning incidents is between the ages of one and four. This is because children are very curious in this age group and want to try things out. We then noticed a decrease between the ages of five to 19, followed by another peak between 20 and 49-year-olds," he said. This peak indicates a social problem, with most cases involving suicide attempts.

    Tsinontides said that the centre's major concern was educating the public and health organisations on prevention.

    "Thirty-three per cent of poisonings occur in children," he said. "These are accidental poisonings and can be prevented."

    Of the remainder of poisonings, some involved snakebites, accidents, industrial exposure, as well as suicide attempts. "We believe 30-35 per cent of these incidents are suicide attempts. This indicates a social issue, which is a much bigger problem and needs to be dealt with differently," he said.

    At the time the study was carried out, statistics were taken from hospital admissions and the cases involving poisoning from narcotics overdoses were negligible, Tsinontides added, warning that if the study were repeated, it would probably be much higher due to increasing drug use on the island.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Ministry to hire another 361 nurses

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE Health Ministry has opened 361 permanent nursing positions in the public sector and is waiting to hear what staffing needs private clinics have, Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday.

    "Hospitals around the island said they needed more permanent nursing staff to meet their growing healthcare demands and so we made a sufficient number of places available to them," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    At the moment, 2,040 permanent nurses are employed by the state and a further 250 work on a temporary basis. This year's nursing school graduates plus the temporary nurses will cover the necessary 361 new positions, he said.

    "This demand will be covered by local nurses and not foreigners," he said. "If we find that there is still a staffing problem over and above the 361 positions, we will discuss whether or not there is a need to hire nurses from abroad to work for the state."

    As far as private clinics were concerned, Savvides said, the Ministry was waiting to hear what staffing needs they required before it made a decision on how to proceed in meeting them.

    But, according to reports yesterday, the private sector needs around 1,250 nurses to ensure the smooth running of their clinics. If this is the case, the Ministry will allow them to employ trained nurses from abroad.

    "The Health Ministry has decided to give its consent in the hiring of foreign nurses in the private sector. Up until recently, the hiring of foreigners involved going through the immigration department, which subsequently had to get permission from us before it authorised the process, " he said, adding that the Ministry had not encouraged or supported this.

    "At the moment, the problem in private clinics lies in the fact that the new nursing legislation stipulates that all nurses must be academically qualified," he said. "In the past, clinics used to hire personnel from abroad who had no formal training and were mere housemaids. When we put an end to this practice, they were forced to let a great deal of their staff go and so now need to fill those positions."

    However, another problem in hiring procedures, according to Dr. Andreas Constantinides, chairman of the association of owners of private clinics, is that the Health Ministry appoints public hospital nurses en masse during August, leaving the private sector in the lurch.

    For its part, the Cyprus Nurses' Association said that if foreigners were to be allowed to practice on the island, they would have to take Greek lessons before starting work so they could communicate with local patients.

    And it insisted the Ministry would have to find other ways to deal with nursing shortages, as it could not solely rely on the employment of personnel from abroad. A recent international health meeting highlighted the falling number of nurses in poorer countries. "There is already a global outcry over coaxing nursing staff away from financially weaker countries, with serious repercussions in their own healthcare systems," it said, calling on the Health Ministry to make radical changes to the system so the local workforce could cover all long and short-term health needs.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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