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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-11-20

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

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


Wednesday, November 20, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Prodi: Annan plan a promising development
  • [02] Oncology centre arrangement off to a clean start
  • [03] Airport employee arrested
  • [04] Top Central Bankers meet amid concern over peace plan provisions
  • [05] Could our children all be learning Turkish soon?
  • [06] Reopening to traffic after a decade of pedestrianisation
  • [07] Police reach out to the public with raft of new measures
  • [08] CY launches online booking service with new website
  • [09] New equipment hopes to prevent diabetic blindness
  • [10] Britons admit to charges in 'biggest ever' ecstasy bust in Cyprus
  • [11] Lukoil unveils first petrol station

  • [01] Prodi: Annan plan a promising development

    By George Psyllides

    EUROPEAN Commission President Romano Prodi said yesterday the UN plan was a promising turn of events and urged the two sides not to let the opportunity slip.

    Speaking before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Prodi reiterated that the EU preferred a unified Cyprus to join the Union, stressing, however, that according to the decisions of the December 1999 Helsinki summit, a settlement of the Cyprus problem was not a prerequisite for the island's accession.

    "The EU has already said that it is ready to take on board any comprehensive settlement and accommodate the terms of the settlement in the accession negotiations with Cyprus," Prodi said.

    He added: "This is a promising turn of events and we call on the parties not to let slip this historic opportunity."

    Concerning Turkey, which argues Cyprus must join when it joins the Union, Prodi said it had made progress in preparing for entry, adding that it still had "shortcomings".

    "It will be up to the Copenhagen European Council to take a decision" on the next stage regarding Turkey, Prodi said.

    European Union Commissioner for enlargement Guenther Verheugen on Monday warned member states to prepare for the possibility of admitting Cyprus before a settlement of the problem.

    Verheugen told EU foreign ministers that a non-solution scenario was an option, given the Turkish side's view that time limitations could not permit a solution in time for the Copenhagen summit on December 12.

    According to EU diplomatic sources, Verheugen believes EU leaders will decide to invite Cyprus to join the Union and attach a protocol providing that the acquis communautaire would apply in the northern part of the island without further negotiations, once Cyprus was reunited.

    The European commissioner said the settlement of the Cyprus problem should be resolved without linking it to Turkey's EU aspirations.

    During the debate, no member state raised any reservations to Verheugen's comments, diplomatic sources said.

    According to reports. The general consensus from the discussion was that the EU would accept Cyprus at Copenhagen, irrespective of a political settlement.

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said efforts to resolve the problem would continue after Copenhagen if a settlement was not reached now.

    Papandreou said the EU should give Turkey a date for accession negotiations, but admitted the general view was that the EU was more likely to give Turkey a 'date for a date'.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Oncology centre arrangement off to a clean start

    By Alexia Saoulli

    SEVEN specialists from the Nicosia general hospital started working at the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre without a hitch on Monday, reports said yesterday.

    Following the breakdown of the outdated radiotherapy equipment at the hospital, the only alternative doctors could come up with to treat around 40 of the cancer patients left in the lurch, was to use one of two linear accelerators at the BoC centre, Health Ministry Medical Services Head, Dr. Constantinos Mallis, said yesterday.

    At the moment, the centre could treat 70 patients a day, its director Alecos Stamati said. But doctors said they would be extending their working time schedules and increasing the equipments' operation times in order to ensure all patients received radiotherapy and the centre's waiting list was cleared.

    "The centre's equipment is sufficient to treat all cancer patients in Cyprus and it is my understanding that treatment will be carried out in shifts," said Mallis. "But if for some reason the needs of patients are not being met sufficiently the minister has said the state would foot the bill for treatment abroad." It was the state's responsibility to ensure that its citizens were receiving treatment and so far, by collaborating with the BoC, it was able to do just that, he added.

    The Cancer Patients and Friends Association said it too was satisfied with the co-operation agreement reached by both BoC and state doctors to help patients.

    "Initially we did have complaints from patients, which was why we insisted that something had to be done to rectify the situation and to ensure patients were receiving the necessary treatment," Maria Vanezou told the Cyprus Mail. "But, so far we are satisfied that the two teams of medical experts have decided to come together and sort out the problem."

    She said the Association would be waiting to see how efficiently the new programme was implemented and whether or not all patients received sufficient treatment.

    "Our concern and interest, as far as this programme is concerned, lies with the patients and the care they receive," said Vanezou. "We will therefore be waiting to see how the situation develops."

    No one was available for further comment at the centre yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Airport employee arrested

    A 51-YEAR-OLD Larnaca airport employee was yesterday remanded in eight-day custody for allegedly smuggling foreign workers from Lebanon into the country, reported CyBC.

    The man was arrested in connection with illegal immigrants arrested in Limassol recently who had been deported off the island in the past, it said.

    According to the channel, the foreigners paid $1,400 each in order to secure their unhindered entrance into Cyprus. They allegedly paid $800 to a go-between at Beirut airport, who told them they should carry a red bag so that the suspect could recognise them and help them through passport control. Once past the primary check, they allegedly paid the local contact a further $600.

    CyBC said the man had admitted to helping at least 20 illegal immigrants enter the country in this way.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Top Central Bankers meet amid concern over peace plan provisions

    By Soteris Charalambous

    CENTRAL Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou met senior officials yesterday to discuss a "workable banking system" within the parameters outlined in the UN settlement to advise President Glafcos Clerides during possible future negotiations with Turkish Cypriot Leader Rauf Denktash.

    Given the sensitivity of the matter and the delicate stage of the peace plan, no-one at the Central Bank was available for comment on the content of the meeting, although a source at the Central bank said, "The Governor will meet with the President to discuss the matter, and specifically the need to establish two branches (of the Central Bank) on the island. A note will be produced with recommendations to be sent to the President."

    The source also said, "the rumours of money laundering by banks in the north was also discussed."

    On Monday, Christodoulou described the proposals as "difficult to understand and hard to implement." He also expressed doubts as to the feasibility of maintaining around 60 Turkish banks in the north, many of them in a parlous financial situation, adding that around 100 offshore banks were also operating illegally, often as a front for money laundering.

    "It is hard to justify the costs (of setting up another branch of the Central Bank) for an area with a population of around 160,000, with a GDP per head one third (of the GDP in the government-controlled areas) requiring 40 banks," the source said.

    He also called into question the ability of the banks in the north to survive under the "stricter capital adequacy ratios and other criteria applied internationally."

    In the government controlled areas, there are 12 local banks and 28 registered offshore banks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Could our children all be learning Turkish soon?

    By Nicole Neroulias

    IN ADDITION to the topographical and political concerns posed by the lengthy United Nations peace plan, one provision has been raising eyebrows on both sides of the Green Line: mandatory Greek and Turkish language instruction.

    Article 45, entitled "Teaching of Official Languages," enforces teaching the nation's official languages to all secondary school students. If this aspect of the plan remains unchanged, within three years of the agreement, secondary school students, regardless of ethnic origin, would learn both Greek and Turkish alongside their other required lessons.

    The Ministry of Education and Culture has not prepared a response to the provision yet, but language inspector Costas Markou said the teaching of foreign languages was consistent with the Greek Cypriot education system's multilingual emphasis.

    "The tendency in Europe today is for multilingualism, so as a matter of principal, we also promote multilingualism," Markou said.

    Cyprus' 110 secondary schools offer seven languages to their 60,000 students, but Turkish isn't one of them. A combination of lack of interest and the challenge of finding qualified instructors has foiled past attempts to introduce Turkish classes.

    Markou said afternoon Turkish classes had long been available at state institutes for further education and at the university, but added few Greek Cypriots had enrolled in the programs.

    UN sources said Article 45 was intended to promote better understanding between the conflicting communities by increasing communication, leading to fewer misunderstandings. The precedent has been set by other nations with multiple official languages, such as Canada and Switzerland, where schoolchildren learn each language, the sources said.

    The European Union has also encouraged Greeks and Turks to learn each other's languages. In 1997, it funded a two-day international conference on Cypriot, Greek and Turkish literature at London's Middlesex University, where organisers and academics suggested that language study could pave the way towards a better understanding between the communities.

    Yet many Greek Cypriots are questioning the practicality of enforcing the study of Turkish, a language spoken by less than 20 per cent of the island's population, at the expense of other lessons. The UN plan does not elaborate on how the integration of Turkish classes would impact the current foreign language curriculum, at what age they would be introduced or for how many years the courses would be mandatory.

    In the public schools, English is a compulsory subject from the last three years of primary education through the first four years of secondary school, and French is mandatory for the first four years of secondary school. Afterwards, students may choose to continue studying those languages, or opt to learn Italian, Spanish, German and Russian.

    Markou said private schools had a history of some curriculum flexibility, and therefore no one could predict whether the mandate would apply to those students as well.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Reopening to traffic after a decade of pedestrianisation

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    SECTIONS of Ledra and Onasagorou Streets will reopen to full-time traffic on November 25 after hosting pedestrian shoppers for just over a decade. The decision to make the area a semi-pedestrian zone is part of a series of measures taken by the Nicosia municipality to revive the old city, despite calls from some shopkeepers to keep the area a fully pedestrianised zone.

    Municipal officer Makis Nicolaides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the project was just one of many proposals made by French experts for the rejuvenation of the old city.

    He said a number of recommendations had already been implemented, including improved parking facilities, electronic information boards and coloured signs on road surfaces directing vehicles to parking within the walls. Nicolaides acknowledged that extreme temperatures had disfigured the recently painted signs, but said other methods were already being considered to increase their visibility.

    One of the measures suggested by the experts was to open traffic circulation from East to West of the old city, complementing the West-East one-way system currently in place.

    The new passageway will start from Sophocleous Street on the side of Phaneronemi church, pass through Onasagorou, Lycourgou and Ledra Street, and come out at Alexander the Great Street. Bright yellow lines, steep ramps and 20 kilometre speed limit signs are already in place on the connecting path set to open to full-time traffic on November 25.

    Nicolaides recognised that opening parts of the main commercial streets to traffic again would create problems for some, especially pedestrians but added that the link was a pilot scheme. "The first six months will be a testing period, and if it works, we will keep it running," he said.

    Ledra and its parallel Onasagorou Street were closed off to traffic about a decade ago. At present, cars and suppliers are only allowed access from 7- 10am and 1-3pm.

    But problems have begun even before the roads are reopened to traffic: as part of the preparations, 'cats eyes' were positioned in two lines down the connecting path. But after pedestrians tripped over the metal light reflectors, the municipality was forced to remove them all.

    "Although, they have been employed in other European semi-pedestrian zones, people tend to walk more casually down Ledra, making them an easier target, " said Nicolaides.

    One ice-cream parlour owner, Christos Pahitas, yesterday expressed his opposition to the moves. "Tourists get confused with the yellow lines and tend to follow them, thinking they represent the end of the road," he said, adding "The worst thing is that the only tourist attraction being focused on anyway is that block over there," he said, pointing to the Green Line sentry post at the end of Ledra Street.

    Another shopkeeper, who did not wish to be named, said none of his clients or fellow shop owners wanted the road to be reopened to traffic, saying it would cause a mess.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Police reach out to the public with raft of new measures

    By George Psyllides

    POLICE yesterday announced that from today members of the public could call a special hotline to report crimes, give information or even file complaints against officers.

    New Chief of Police Tassos Panayiotou said the line - 1460 - would be linked to the force's HQ and staffed around the clock.

    Panayiotou said citizens would be able to choose whether to give their name or not and each case would be investigated and a written reply given to complainants as soon as possible.

    Panayiotou met with journalists yesterday in an effort to improve relations between the media and the force to make their co-operation more effective.

    The Police Chief urged the media to treat the police objectively and to refrain from passing judgement before hearing what the force had to say.

    Deputy Chief of Police Andreas Stephanou revealed that within a couple of weeks, crime reporters would be able to access a police website carrying the latest bulletins instead of having to wait for a fax or call the press office.

    Panayiotou added that the force was planning to appoint spokesmen in all the island's districts so as to help communication with the media.

    On the crime front, the Chief said the drug squad would be reinforced with additional personnel, adding, however, that parents, the Church, as well as specialised organisations should also deal with the problem.

    He urged parents who suspected their children were using drugs to contact the police without fearing that the information would be leaked.

    Police spokesman Christakis Katsikides yesterday confirmed the force would at the end of the week be enforcing a new plan providing for frequent patrols across the island.

    Apart from crime prevention, the move aims at improving the force's image as well as its relations with the public.

    A high-ranking officer told the Cyprus Mail that, "police presence would become intense".

    The officer said patrol cars would be on duty in various areas but ruled out foot patrols due to lack of personnel.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] CY launches online booking service with new website

    By Alex Mita

    CYPRUS Airways yesterday launched its new interactive website allowing passengers to book and pay for their flights online anywhere in the world.

    Speaking at a news conference yesterday, CY Chairman Haris Loizides said the new site would provide customers with extensive functionality and services.

    "We have launched a completely new website, which makes it easier for customers to check fares, flight availability and flight status, view their SunMiles frequent flyer account information and for the first time, book and purchase tickets online," Loizides said.

    "Customers are now able to navigate the entire site quickly and conduct their business online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    Loizides said CY were using technology in an effort to deliver a superior service to CY customers.

    "We will continue to seek innovation and utilise technology in conjunction with improved business processes to maintain constant service and product improvement," he added.

    The cyprusairways.com site was designed as a one-stop customer access channel, giving customers the ability to carry out online bookings. It also provides SunMiles Frequent Flyer Programme account information, and offers "real-time" arrival and departure information, as well as baggage tracing.

    "The new web site offers online booking capabilities, initially to customers flying out of Cyprus and will soon be expanded to offer these capabilities across the entire Cyprus Airways network," Loizides said.

    "It also offers in-flight duty free shopping information and entertainment listings, as well as a number of other useful services for the traveller."

    From the new website customers will also be able to book hotel tickets and check the weather at their destination, as well as visit other CY companies such as Eurocypria and Cyprair tours.

    Loizides also announced CY's new toll-free call centre operating from 8am- 8pm.

    "The call centre now covers all of Cyprus at a toll-free number and is staffed with trained personnel. With the help of technology, we are able to offer high quality service in short period of time," he said.

    For more information on CY's new services visit the site at www.cyprusairways.com or dial the call centre at tel: 8000-0008.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [09] New equipment hopes to prevent diabetic blindness

    By Alexia Saoulli

    IN AN effort to limit blindness caused by diabetes complications, the Health Ministry is to begin operating a mobile "bottom view camera" by the end of next June, Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday.

    "This is a special camera that will take photographs of the deep end of diabetes' sufferers eyes in order to determine to what extent their condition has affected their eyes' cells," he said. Any damage recorded would then immediately be treated by laser in order to prevent the diabetic from becoming blind.

    One or two trained specialists will accompany the 100,000 machine around the island, taking photographs of diagnosed patients. Each image will then be emailed to district hospitals and assessed by medical specialists, said Savvides.

    "Any diabetic demonstrating suspicious cell changes will be called in for treatment. It has been estimated that the appropriate ophthalmologic treatment, depending on the degree of damage, can prevent blindness by up to 90 per cent."

    An estimated 55,000-60,000 Cypriots are diabetic. Statistically, three years after diagnosis, eight per cent manifest sight complications and in 14 years, this figure increases by nearly 80 per cent. If the appropriate treatment is not carried out, a considerable number will lose their sight altogether.

    Savvides was speaking in an event marking World Diabetes Day, whose message this year was 'Your Eyes And Diabetes - Do Not Ignore The Dangers'.

    Nearly 170 million people suffer from the disease worldwide, a figure which scientists estimate will double over the next 20 years due to increasing population numbers, longevity, urbanisation, poor eating habits and lack of physical exercise.

    "That is why it is necessary to take the necessary measures to curb diabetes and its severe complications such as blindness, kidney failure, heart and blood vessel disease and nerve damage," Savvides said.

    "Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles, " according to the American Diabetes Association. It is normally treated by insulin injections, tablets, diet and exercise depending on the type of diabetes manifested.

    Diabetes was not just a health concern as far as individual patients were concerned, said the Minister. It also affected state budgets, as an estimated five to 10 per cent of health schemes were spent on the problem.

    Blurry vision, double vision, dark circles and eye pain could all be prevented or slowed down if diabetics maintained normal blood glucose levels, adopted a balanced diet, avoided smoking and regularly exercised, the minister said. Maintaining normal body weight levels, normal lipid levels, normal blood pressure levels, avoiding stress and hypertension, ensuring regular visits to eye doctors and appropriate eye treatments can also help limit the occurrence of diabetic related blindness.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [10] Britons admit to charges in 'biggest ever' ecstasy bust in Cyprus

    By Soteris Charalambous

    TWO BRITONS yesterday began jail terms after admitting to involvement in what police described as the biggest ever ecstasy haul in Cyprus, while a third was released after the charges were dropped.

    The suspects had faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for importing drugs with intent to sell, but Paul Kenneth Fogarty, 29, received a five-year sentence after pleading guilty on Monday to importation, possession and possession with intention to supply illegal drugs. Kirk Nicholson, 27, admitted to possession for personal use and was given an 18- month sentence.

    After their confessions, Zoe Hazel Cox, 25, had the charges against her dropped and will shortly be returning to the UK to be reunited with her four-year-old daughter that she hasn't seen for over six months. All three hail from Kent.

    Following a postponement of the case in June, Fogarty and Nicholson were detained at Nicosia state prison. Cox was released on bail but ordered to remain in Cyprus. The case had been due to be heard next month, and this week's developments are considered something of a surprise in light of the 'zero-tolerance' policy adopted on drugs in Cyprus.

    The trio were arrested on May 24, two days after arriving on the island. Acting on a tip-off from Interpol, police placed the three under surveillance in the popular clubbing resort of Ayia Napa. The following day, officers armed with a search warrant found 1,603 Ecstasy pills in a carrier bag in the drawer of the apartment where they were staying.

    Police described the bust as the biggest ever in Cyprus, an assertion challenged by one of the trio's lawyers, Michalis Pelekanos.

    "There have been bigger busts involving Greek Cypriots, but they just don't get the same publicity as arrests involving foreigners," he said.

    At the first hearing, police told the court that Fogarty had allegedly admitted to being a user of cannabis, but said that he brought the drugs to deliver to another Englishman in Ayia Napa. Both Nicholson and Cox denied any involvement.

    After posting the 7,000 (reduced from 15,000) set for bail, Cox was released in June but had to remain in Cyprus. But because her daughter was registered on her passport she was unable to see her because the authorities confiscated it as one of the conditions of bail.

    Cox was set to stand trial in a separate case and from the outset Pelekanos maintained that the charge was a "tactical move" in order to keep her in Cyprus as a witness in the case against Fogarty and Nicholson.

    On Fogarty, he said, "It's a sentence within the proper limits of the law," adding, "Nicholson pleaded guilty to possession of approximately 25 grams of cocaine for personal use."

    By European standards, the drugs problem on the island is relatively small, but it has grown significantly in recent years. Police figures show a steep increase in the number of people involved in drug offences.

    During 1993, there were only 60 reported cases, while for the period January to May 2002, 174 cases have already been reported involving 225 people.

    The British High Commission has become increasingly concerned at the number of British tourists that end up behind bars for drug possession. The hard line adopted by authorities prompted the High Commission to step up its efforts to warn Britons of the different attitude to drugs between the two countries.

    Last year they produced a short film explaining the zero-tolerance policy in Cyprus, which is shown on tourist coaches ferrying visitors to their hotels and by reps to the groups under their supervision.

    But the message does not appear to have got through. In August 2001, two single mothers from London became the first women jailed on the island for supplying drugs. Georgina Saunders, 27, was sentenced to two years after pleading guilty to importing with intention to supply 170 Ecstasy pills. Kizia Conquest, 22, received four months for possessing 20 tablets.

    The week before Lee Mortimer, 22, and Paul Hartley, 25, from Burnley, were each sentenced to three years in prison after being caught with 184 Ecstasy tablets. Both had their sentences halved by the Court of Appeal after Pelekanos (the same lawyer defending Cox and Fogarty) successfully argued that a proportion of the drugs were for personal consumption and should be taken into account.

    Pelekanos believes that outcome of their trial had a significant bearing on Monday's verdicts. "This was the first case in our Supreme court in the case of importation, which bears a life sentence, that came together with a case for personal use. Some judges take the view that in the case of importation there cannot be any leniency despite personal use."

    Police have warned they will maintain the hard line on drugs in Cyprus despite recent calls for the downgrading of Ecstasy in Britain from class A to class B.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [11] Lukoil unveils first petrol station

    By Alex Mitas

    RUSSIAN oil company Lukoil yesterday unveiled the first of its 16 petrol stations in Cyprus.

    Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Commerce and Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis welcomed the company, saying it would create a competitive environment in the Cyprus Market.

    "I am delighted to inaugurate the first Lukoil station in Cyprus, one of the leading companies in the world in petroleum products," he said.

    "Lukoil has a vast experience in the field and I am sure its entry in the Cyprus Market will be beneficial to the Cypriot consumer."

    Rolandis said Lukoil's arrival came at an important period in which the government was restructuring the petroleum products sector in Cyprus.

    "The Cabinet has already decided to re-adjust 50 per cent of the price of petroleum products from January 1 next year," Rolandis said.

    "The re-adjustment will be complete by July 1, and we are hoping to completely liberalise the purchase of petroleum products by October 1 2003.

    "Petroleum products at retail levels amount to 400 million a year. It is probably the biggest sector in Cyprus, and therefore we want to increase conditions for competition in this sector. The presence of Lukoil in the market, with the first 16 stations, plays an important part in this competition."

    Lukoil Managing Director Boris Berginskin said the past four months were a difficult time for Lukoil and its entry into the Cypriot market but pledged the company would offer competitive prices and good service in all its outlets.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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