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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-11-22

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

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


Friday, November 22, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Drought warning as rains refuse to come
  • [02] Where are those cheap fares?
  • [03] EAC and CyTA investigate expansion into digital TV
  • [04] Government seeks ways to increase use of renewable energy
  • [05] Students want to live with Turkish Cypriots but don't like plan
  • [06] University looks to the future on its anniversary
  • [07] British High Commissioner flies the flag on Japanese 4x4

  • [01] Drought warning as rains refuse to come

    By Alexia Saoulli

    UNLESS it rains heavily over the next two months, the island will be faced with yet another serious drought, a senior water development department official warned yesterday.

    Rainfall measurements so far this month have recorded only one third of the annual average so far. And even more uncommon are the maximum temperatures, measuring in at six degrees higher than normal.

    "At present, the dams are 38.4 per cent full and hold 105.2 million cubic metres," said senior water development technician, Theodoros Roussis. Last year they were only 6.3 per cent full and contained 17.1 million cubic metres.

    "But it is misleading to say that we are doing well this year compared to last year," he stressed, pointing out that last year the island was blessed with copious rainfall during the winter months.

    "At a first glance, when you compare today's water levels with the corresponding day last year, the numbers paint a pretty picture. However, this picture is not accurate, because so far we have not had any rain worth speaking of."

    In fact, according to senior meteorological officer Loizos Stefanou, it has only rained 16 millimetres during November - only one third of the month's average.

    "Normally this month records 53 millimetres of average rainfall," he said. "Last year it far exceeded this average because it rained a lot more than usual."

    Soaring water levels last year were due to the fact that the October-to- October period had been the rainiest in a decade, said Roussis, totalling 168 million cubic metres of flow into in the island's dams.

    "Last year was special. We had been suffering a drought for five or six years and then suddenly we had torrential rains that drastically improved the island's water situation," he said.

    In December last year, the dams saw an inflow of 53 million cubic metres and in January 56.6 million cubic millimetres. "Until now, we have had no rain and none looks set to appear in the near future," added Roussis. In other words, "so far we are having a drought".

    "If it does not rain this December and January, water levels this time next year will be much worse than even last year," he warned. "Basically we will have to wait and see what the outcome is. But, we really need it to rain if we want a positive water outlook next year."

    Meteorological officer Stefanou expressed some hope: "Despite the much below average rainfall this November, the month is not yet over and things could change. In fact, mild showers are predicted for Saturday or Sunday."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Where are those cheap fares?

    By Alex Mita

    PASSENGERS attempting to book flights to Athens and London at Cyprus Airways holiday season fares have been complaining that there are no seats available on the dates they want to fly, a tour operator said yesterday.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, GAP Vasilopoulos Travel Outgoing Department Supervisor, Eleni Kapsouli, said CY did not offer a large number of flights for their holiday package.

    "Yesterday, I could not find seats for eight people that wanted to fly with the special rates," she said.

    "People think that because CY has offered cheaper fares and extra flights for Athens, that all the seats on the aircraft would cost 49, but that is not the case," she said.

    "The one flight for London offered at 99 has been booked, and clients are now finding they have to pay the full price."

    But CY spokesman Tassos Angelis fended off criticism, saying the number of flights had been announced to the public via the media.

    "People have to understand that an offer is an offer," he said.

    "During an offer, you will either find seats for the dates you want to fly or you won't. But the problem is that everybody, quite logically, wants to fly between December 23 and January 3, and that of course means we can't satisfy everybody.

    Angelis brushed aside criticism that CY was not offering enough seats.

    In the last two days, we've sold 280 tickets to Athens and 50 for Salonica, " he said.

    "There are hundreds of seats available. We just don't have enough seats at the holiday package for people wanting to fly on the same days.

    "It's natural that the best seats are sold first and those who don't make in time have to settle for what is left."

    The introduction last week of CY's new interactive website has made things easier for passengers, who can now book and pay for their flights in a matter of minutes, leading to fears that the site would affect travel agent sales.

    But Kapsouli said the launch of the new site had not affected their sales in the slightest

    "Cypriots seem a tad weary about booking their flights over the Internet because they fear they might have not read a certain provision, so it hasn't affected our sales," she said.

    But CY's IT spokesman Christos Ellinides said sales over the net were soaring and assured that credit card holders should have no fear of using their cards on the net, even if they made a mistake and booked the wrong flight.

    "It is absolutely safe to use your credit card on our website, because we have the highest levels of security," he said, adding that CY was also set to launch a direct validation credit card validation service on the net that would further increase security.

    "It would be like shopping at Mark's and Spencer's," he said. "You will get your card validated on the spot."

    Ellinides assured that should something go wrong during the booking, clients could contact the new Web-service call centre where staff could make the necessary changes for them.

    "You can change everything in your electronic booking, right up to the moment you debit your credit card," Ellinides said.

    "However, if you have made a mistake in your booking, staff at our new web service 80000808 will be happy to help you change your itinerary."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] EAC and CyTA investigate expansion into digital TV

    By Soteris Charalambous

    BOTH the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) and the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) said yesterday they were considering the possibility of expansion into digital television technology.

    Both organisations were keen to emphasise that they would not open out into new areas independently and that they were at the "investigative stage" of the process, with no immediate plans yet in place. Both are also looking at possible expansion into "other related industries".

    "We are investigating the possibility of expanding our operations into digital television," said EAC spokesman Costas Gavrielides, adding, "We are also investigating the possibility of expansion into every other industry with potential synergies with our core operations."

    The EAC are keen to capitalise on their existing expertise developed in both "operations experience and technical equipment."

    Gavrielides explained that development of a broadcasting channel was not on the agenda.

    "We're not looking into setting up our own station, but we want to do want to exploit the capabilities of our existing equipment."

    Other areas investigated by the EAC include desalination, and telecommunications. "We are very keen develop the possibilities in GSM (mobile telephony), and actively seeking to acquire a stake in the Hellas Sat company."

    A meeting was held last Monday, involving Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis and the board of Directors at the EAC, with Hellas Sat bringing all parties up to date with the status of the project. Gavrielides stressed that the move into digital television was not directly linked to the possible partnership with Hellas Sat.

    Demetris Hadjitofis, who is head of section for CyTA's Broadband services, said, "We're definitely interested in digital television and studying the technology, but we are only at an investigative stage at present.

    "We're a long way from being able to offer a package at the moment."

    Asked if CyTA's research into digital television included setting up a channel, Hadjitofis said, "Perhaps CyTA TV, I can't say yes or no, it's a possibility."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Government seeks ways to increase use of renewable energy

    By Soteris Charalambous

    COMMERCE, Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday announced a plan designed to move the country towards greater use of renewable and environmentally friendlier energy sources.

    A news conference, held at the Ministry, focused on ways to harness the only renewable sources of energy available on the island (solar, wind and biomass) capable of significantly contributing to the reduction of fuel imported to provide energy and so reducing pollution.

    At present, renewable energy sources contribute four per cent of the power used on the island - in the main solar energy used largely for heating water, with a small amount through biomass, e.g. wood and agricultural waste.

    Rolandis said: "Despite the fact that solar energy (for heating water) is used in 92 per cent of homes and 53 per cent of hotels, the utilisation of this type of energy source could be significantly higher."

    Rolandis added that the eight-year plan formed an integral part of Cyprus' commitment to European accession and harmonisation with EU legislation on energy use.

    Based on the recommendations made in a study carried out for the Ministry, the plan will lead to a significant increase in the production of energy derived from renewable sources within eight years, growing from 4.5 per cent in 1995 to nine per cent by 2010.

    The plan also outlined how the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) would use the same renewable sources for electricity production, generating six per cent of the supply by 2010. Rolandis added that a commitment had already been agreed by the EAC.

    To encourage a greater take up of the objectives, the plan also outlined a package of incentives available to businesses and households, where between 20 and 40 per cent of costs could be reclaimed up to set limits if investment was made in any forms of renewable energy production.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Students want to live with Turkish Cypriots but don't like plan

    By George Psyllides

    STUDENTS at the University of Cyprus said yesterday they wanted to live with the Turkish Cypriots but expressed reservations as to whether a United Nations plan for the settlement of the Cyprus problem would function.

    The students were taking part in a live broadcast by CNN Turk, which was hosted by prominent Turkish journalist Mehmet Ali Birand.

    Yesterday's was the third such broadcast.

    The first two had taken place in Athens on Tuesday - at the Pantion University - and in Istanbul on Wednesday at the Galatasaray University.

    The fourth and final programme will be broadcasted from a university in the occupied northern part of the island.

    The aim of the programme was to get students' views on the UN proposals.

    Birand told the audience, which included Cyprus' Chief Negotiator to the European Union George Vassilliou that the general feeling he got from the Turkish students was that the problem should be solved, although the plan had negative points for the Turkish side.

    Birand said Turkey's former president, Kenan Evren, who led a 1980 coup in Turkey, had also participated in the discussion in Istanbul.

    The audience was astonished, Birand said, when the former general said the Turkish side should negotiate because it was a good plan.

    The discussion kicked off with Birand asking the $60 million question.

    "Should we divide the island - divorce or live together?"

    The point was to get students to voice their opinions and though slow at first, discussion soon picked up.

    One student said people were fed up with the Cyprus problem, adding the island had no future if the current situation continued.

    He said reunion was the best thing and that the aim should be to live together.

    "We have a common future but the solution should be in accordance with international and EU laws," he said.

    Another student said Turkey and Greece should leave Cyprus alone.

    Birand then asked for a show of hands regarding whether Greek Cypriots wanted to live together with the Turkish Cypriots.

    The overwhelming majority said they would.

    One student said Turkey was not really giving anything back, because the territory they held was not theirs in the first place, while the proposed plan kept the two communities apart when they should have been brought closer together.

    But students were unhappy when Birand asked for a show of hands on the plan, arguing it was not proper since the plan contained many negative points.

    "We want our government to negotiate the plan so that we can live in peace with the Turkish Cypriots;

    "We do not want those who filled the island with chauvinist and nationalist feelings," one said.

    Another said both Turkish and Greek troops must leave the island and the solution must be such that the island could function on its own without any dependencies.

    Vassiliou said the plan should be seen as a chance because time was not contributing towards getting the two communities together or reuniting the island.

    "We would like to see reunification.

    "What is important is to enable Cypriots to live together in a federation," Vassiliou said.

    Birand then asked him if he thought the plan was a federal one, considering the many voices who said it bore all the hallmarks of a confederation.

    "It is a federation," Vassiliou said.

    To this a member of the audience - not a student - replied: "Shame on you."

    Vassiliou said the main problems for the Greek Cypriot side were the Turkish settlers - around 100,000 - and the provision in the plan that there should be a three-year co-presidency - President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash - in the wake of the agreement.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] University looks to the future on its anniversary

    By Nicole Neroulias

    UNIVERSITY of Cyprus officials kicked off a 10th anniversary celebration yesterday with a conference on the institution's accomplishments and goals. But the discussion soon turned to speculation on how reunification and European Union status would impact the university's policies and curriculum.

    Rector Stavros Zenios dodged questions about how the university planned to adapt to a reunified Cyprus, with its potential influx of Turkish Cypriots seeking admission into the island's only public university, whose official language is currently Greek.

    "These can only be hypothetical scenarios at this stage," he said. "We must wait and see what the politicians decide on these issues before we can guess as to how we would proceed."

    The university requires government approval for major policy changes, such as the addition of classes taught in a language other than Greek. Vice Rector Elpida Keravnou-Papailiou said they were still in the process of receiving permission to incorporate English-taught classes, which she considers necessary for a proposed international MBA programme.

    "If we want to continue to evolve and acquire a higher reputation in Cyprus and the European Union, we have to consider adding classes that would attract students who do not necessarily speak Greek," she said.

    Zenios steered the conversation towards the university's academic achievements, touting its progress in attracting top students who would have studied abroad in previous years.

    "The University of Cyprus has gained the respect of Cypriot society and the international community," he said. "The immediate challenge is to adapt to the political changes we may be facing, and to continue to evolve and acquire a high reputation within Cyprus and the European Union."

    The officials also emphasised that it was their top priority to hire more teachers, particularly for the new departments of engineering, biological sciences and law. Faculty recruitment has been a major challenge for the university, Keravnou-Papailiou said, because of the difficulty of attracting qualified Greek-speaking professors away from established positions elsewhere.

    "Because we are still in the process of establishing our reputation and our various departments, we have had some difficulty in recruiting the staff the programmes require," she said.

    Other goals are to create more post-graduate departments, which currently cover fewer than 25 per cent of the university, and to form alliances and exchange programmes with universities throughout Europe, officials said.

    The 3,000 university students plan to celebrate the anniversary next week with a series of concerts and lectures, including a performance of traditional Cypriot dances on November 24. For more information, call 22- 892000.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] British High Commissioner flies the flag on Japanese 4x4

    BRITISH High Commissioner Lyn Parker is currently travelling to official functions in a Japanese 4x4 bearing the Union Jack because the British Jaguar he normally uses was damaged in an accident that killed a stray dog.

    The incident occurred while Parker was being chauffeured between engagements. "A dog just ran out in front of the Jag on the highway," said spokesman Stuart Summers. "Unfortunately the dog was killed."

    Summers believes the dog was a stray because it was running around in the middle of nowhere.

    Asked when the Jaguar would be on the road again, Summers said, "I don't really know. Soon, the chauffeur certainly hopes so."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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