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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-11-27

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

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


Wednesday, November 27, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Outcry over Apostolos Andreas plans
  • [02] HIV incidence on the increase
  • [03] Fury over Christmas deadline for excavations
  • [04] Central Bank plans crackdown on bouncing cheques
  • [05] Hospital wants down-payments for treatment
  • [06] Lanitis seek private desalination plant
  • [07] Hippocrates 2002 a success
  • [08] Tourist arrivals are down but next year looks promising

  • [01] Outcry over Apostolos Andreas plans

    By Nicole Neroulias

    GREEK CYPRIOT refugees from the Karpasia region are outraged over a United Nations renovation committee's plans to demolish parts of the Apostolos Andreas monastery.

    Perched on a cliff at the north easternmost corner of the island, the 19th century Greek Orthodox monastery has suffered from years of neglect and exposure to the elements. Last year, a joint UN-US plan allocated $2.5 million for renovations, which have so far included restorations of the grounds and orchards surrounding the structures.

    The next phase of the plan, however, calls for the demolition of some of the walls, balconies, pillars and rooms above the original monastery foundation.

    Nikos Falas, chairman of the Coordinating Committee of Karpasia, said the monastery serves as a symbol for the displaced persons from the region, which is still home to several hundred Greek Cypriots, and that they should be consulted before any demolition occurs.

    "The UN should not continue with a course of action that will upset the refugees and the enclaved residents of Karpasia," he said. "If these changes are made, it won't be the monastery that we remember. We'd rather nothing be done than to have it be made unrecognisable."

    Falas questioned the necessity of the demolition, pointing out that Giorgio Croci, the Italian architect in charge of the project, was recently credited with saving the precariously Leaning Tower of Pisa from toppling over.

    The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) hired Croci to present a structural report on the monastery last year. UNOPS spokesman Dominique Larsimont said the report showed that the monastery is in danger of falling into the sea unless some of its weight is removed.

    In response, the Committee of the Holy Church of Apostolos Andreas has issued a report denouncing any renovation plans that include the demolition of any structures on the grounds of the monastery, which is said to stand on the spot where the Apostle Andrew came ashore on his way to Greece in the 1st century AD.

    "We are very happy with the renovations that have taken place so far, but are extremely distressed to hear about the next stage of the plan," a committee member said. "You can't destroy a monastery to rebuild it. There is no way."

    Falas, who was born in Rizokarpasso in 1939 and visited Apostolos Andreas during a pilgrimage in 1997, said he believes there must be another way to restore the monastery.

    "When I saw it, I could not hold back my tears," he said. "It's in very bad shape and gets worse every day. But we get our faith and strength from our memories, and the technology and funds are there to renovate it without changing what it looks like."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] HIV incidence on the increase

    STATISTICS OF people testing HIV positive in Cyprus increased steeply over the summer, AIDS Sufferers Support Centre President (KYFA) Stella Michaelides said yesterday.

    Speaking at a press conference in light of World AIDS day this Sunday, she said this phenomenon was extremely worrying, citing five new cases in the space of one month.

    Michaelides said the state was responsible for this increase in AIDS numbers, as it did not ensure society's youth was properly informed on issues dealing with the disease.

    Over the past two years KYFA has repeatedly requested an AIDS hospice to be set up in Limassol, but its requests have gone unanswered, she said. Michaelides says this highlights the fact that prejudice against AIDS patients still exists.

    On November 30, the eve of World AIDS Day, collections will be held in Limassol and Nicosia and the following day a "Bazaar of Hope" will be take place at Lanitis Carob Mill in Limassol.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Fury over Christmas deadline for excavations

    By Alex Mita

    ARCHAEOLOGISTS have until December to prove that a site earmarked for the construction of the new Municipality building in Nicosia contains what may be the only remaining clues to the capital's history.

    The construction of the Municipal building near the old municipal market was decided as the first step in an effort to rejuvenate the old town, but work was stopped in June when diggers uncovered what they believed to be the remains of a Lusignan palace.

    As the bulldozers started breaking ground for the construction of the building's underground car park they stumbled upon ancient artefacts and the Antiquities Department forced the Municipality to halt their works until December to give archaeologists a chance to carry out a horizontal excavation on the site.

    But new evidence unearthed during the excavations has left archaeologists certain the site contained information on Nicosia's past never before brought to light.

    Nicosia mayor Michalakis Zampelas maintains the new building can co-exist with the site. His stance has sparked fury among academics and concerned citizens, who have pledged to put an end to the mayor's plans to go ahead with the construction of the building.

    The citizens and academics yesterday organised a news conference at the site in an effort to raise public awareness on the importance of the findings and the effect the new building would have on the island's heritage.

    Speaking on behalf of the group, Anna Marangou said the construction of the building would wreak havoc in old Nicosia.

    "The construction of the new building over the site would sabotage efforts made by archaeologists to carry out an effective and scientific study of the findings, and would have a negative effect on the character, structure and sensitive environment within the city walls."

    Marangou said the lack of an underground car park in the new building would cause traffic chaos in the whole city as citizens and municipality employees attempt to go to work or pay a fine each day through the old city's narrow streets.

    "The character of the old city would be butchered as houses would have to be torn down to create car parks, and roads would be widened to allow an easier flow of traffic," she said.

    "The site is the only one discovered in Nicosia that reveals the capital's history and it cannot be a part of a new building because of its size and importance," she added.

    "This is not just one tomb or a house that you can study for a couple of days and then abandon, this is a mediaeval and Byzantine site that was once the capital."

    Instead of the construction of the new building, the group suggested the construction of an archaeological park that would be a point of reference for tourists and citizens alike.

    "An archaeological park would be a starting point for tourist from where they could get acquainted with the capital," Marangou said.

    "The existence of such a place would fit well with the cultural character of the area."

    Andreas Michaelides of the University of Cyprus said archaeologists needed years, not months, to carefully study and document the vastly important antiquities.

    "These findings cannot be overlooked," he said. "This is the centre of old Nicosia and the Municipality should not set a bad example by destroying it. On the contrary they should be concentrating their efforts on preserving the site."

    Zampelas was unavailable for comment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Central Bank plans crackdown on bouncing cheques

    By George Psyllides

    LAST YEAR Cypriots issued 22.6 million cheques out of which 285,000 -- worth 239 million - were referred to the drawer, the Central Bank said yesterday.

    The Central Bank's director of internal banking operations Kyriacos Zingas said cheques were used in 57 per cent of all non-cash transactions. The amount, which accounts for 1.2 per cent of all cheques issued, bounced because of insufficient funds.

    Most of the cheques were subsequently cleared, though 0.5 per cent remained uncovered, Zigkas said.

    Speaking before a news conference yesterday, Zigkas announced the creation of a central archive (KAP), aimed at preventing and stamping out the serious problem of bounced cheques, independent of the legal consequences. Issuing a cheque with insufficient funds is a criminal offence.

    KAP, effectively a euphemism for 'blacklist', is designed to reinforce the cheque institution by taking away the right to write cheques from those who write bouncing cheques.

    Before anyone gets blacklisted their cheque must remain unpaid at least seven days after it is first presented for payment at any bank or co- operative.

    The drawer's name is then placed on a preliminary list, giving them another chance to honour the payment.

    Even if the cheque is paid, the drawer's name, whilst not being placed on the KAP, will remain on the preliminary list and will not be removed.

    To get on the KAP, a person or company must issue at least three cheques that fail to clear, or if the total amount of any bounced cheques exceeds 1,000.

    A person or company would also be placed on the KAP if a court issues a damning decision concerning an uncovered cheque of any amount.

    Central Bank deputy director Yiangos Demetriou said that the moment anyone is placed on the KAP, banks are obliged to freeze all current accounts and inform their customer to stop issuing cheques.

    All unused cheques should then be returned to the bank, Demetriou said.

    The move is set to create problems as freezing the current accounts could stop other payments like standing orders, which may prevent the account holder from settling debts.

    Another problem could arise if the person or company placed on the KAP is unscrupulous enough to continue to issue cheques during the ten days before handing over the chequebook.

    A suspicious trader can call the bank to inquire about a specific drawer but, according to Demetriou, the bank is not obliged to disclose any information on its customer.

    Further to this, the introduction of the KAP effectively puts an end to the practice of issuing post-dated cheques as banks would be able to cash them upon presentation, irrespective of the date.

    Demetriou said people opening new current accounts would be asked to sign a document assuming the responsibility for issuing any post-dated cheques, recognising the banks' right to cash any cheque upon its presentation.

    Existing current account holders would be gradually asked by their banks to sign the same documents, Demetriou added.

    Anyone on the list cannot open a new current account until they are removed.

    Getting off the list is only possible after five years and after a person or company proves that they have settled all the unpaid cheques.

    The name is removed one year after the last unpaid cheque has been settled.

    The Central Bank then removes the name from the KAP and informs all banks though the details are kept in a separate list that could be accessed by banks and co-operatives.

    The system, which is fully automatic, is currently being operated on a trial basis and is going to come into effect on January 2, 2003.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Hospital wants down-payments for treatment

    PATIENTS WHO are not eligible for free medical care will be forced to pay a deposit before being admitted to the Nicosia General Hospital for treatment, Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Savvides said the hospital was overrun with cases involving patients who refused to pay for medical care.

    "Free medical care is given only to refugees and large families," he said.

    "But the hospital has reported many cases in which patients who are not eligible for medical care are treated but refuse to pay the hospital. The new regulations would be also applied to foreigners, who have in many cases left the country without paying the bill.

    "A bill is expected to be passed in parliament on Thursday that would basically allow hospitals to ask for a small deposit of 50-100 for patients who will be admitted for treatment," Savvides said.

    However, a Health Ministry official said the cabinet had asked for some clarifications to be made on the bill before coming to a decision.

    According to Phileleftheros the cabinet is also discussing whether to force employers to provide health insurance for foreign workers.

    The daily reports that the amount owed to hospitals in 2001 added up to almost one million pounds.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Lanitis seek private desalination plant

    By Soteris Charalambous

    LANITIS DEVELOPMENT Ltd are seeking planning permission to build a desalination plant in order to service the 18-hole golf course at the centre of the Aphrodite Hills development.

    Mahi Solomou from Lanitis Development said, "The plant will only cater for the development and specifically for the 18-hole golf course."

    She added that the company were wholly responsible for financing the plant but were still awaiting a Town Planning Permit.

    The Cabell Robinson-designed course had been scheduled to open in October and will be the first five star resort on the island featuring villas, apartments, townhouses and a five star Inter-Continental Hotel, as well as a health spa, tennis academy and Village centre.

    The course itself is set on two undulating plateaux with all but a few of the holes enjoying a view of the Mediterranean.

    Cabell Robinson was reported as saying, 'I was given a pretty exciting canvas to work on at Aphrodite Hills: The natural scenery is spectacular and my challenge was to enhance this." Adding, "I believe it will be ranked among the very finest courses in continental Europe."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Hippocrates 2002 a success

    The Health Ministry yesterday said a traffic accident rescue drill they organised was a success.

    The 'Hippocrates 2002' exercise took place on the Nicosia - Larnaca motorway near Lymbia village. All traffic to Larnaca was diverted in the course of the event.

    The set up was orchestrated to look like a serious accident, involving a ten-car pile up, a motorbike and 35 seriously injured casualties.

    The drill was organised by the Health Ministry, the police, the fire department and the civil defence unit. One hundred people were involved in yesterday morning's procedure, including the Accident and Emergency departments of both Nicosia and Larnaca hospitals, as well as a large number of ambulances.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides, who was present at the exercise, expressed his complete satisfaction in the way in which it was carried out. "These exercises help in correcting possible minor errors or weaknesses, that are spotted by special evaluation units, and are discussed immediately after the drill by all those involved," he said, despite some peoples' opinion that they were a waste of time. "People should be able to sleep peacefully in the knowledge that in case of an accident, the service can respond and save lives where necessary."

    Savvides added that the drill was vital in co-ordinating efficiency between the different units involved in accident and rescue missions, which made all the difference in life and death situations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] Tourist arrivals are down but next year looks promising

    By George Psyllides

    TOURIST ARRIVALS in 2002 will record an estimated 11 per cent drop, Trade Industry and Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday.

    Speaking at a tourism seminar organised by the Hotel Association in Limassol, Rolandis said tourism was the economy's powerhouse, contributing around 20 per cent to the gross national product.

    The minister said the Government's 12-point plan for tourism and the strategic plan both address many of the island's tourism problems, including that of competitiveness.

    "As a developed tourist destination in an intensely competitive environment, Cyprus is on the receiving end of the effects of globalisation and the maturity of the tourist market," Rolandis said.

    He added: "It is therefore necessary for all stakeholders in the tourism industry to work together with professionalism, to protect Cyprus from the changes in the international tourist scene and to ensure the success of tourism."

    Rolandis said tourist arrivals in September decreased by 6.9 per cent compared to September last year, while in October, arrivals increased by 2.3 per cent.

    He added that the decrease during the period between January and October 2002 was 11.3 per cent, compared to the same period last year.

    "We estimate that the total reduction for 2002 would be about 10.5 to 11 per cent, a figure, which is close to our initial calculations," Rolandis said.

    Concerning next year, Rolandis said the signs from the UK market, the island's main source of tourism, were positive.

    "We estimate that in 2003 we are going to have an increase between five to seven per cent in British holidaymakers compared to 2002.

    "However, we should keep in mind that in the past five years we had impressive increases both in tourist arrivals and in revenues from tourism; tourist arrivals increased by 29.2 per cent and income from tourism by 51.5 per cent," the minister said.

    Rolandis added that it was crucial for prices to be kept as low as possible while the tourist product and services were continuously enriched and updated.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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