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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-03-08

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

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


Saturday, March 8, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] De Soto: Hague meeting will not drag on
  • [02] The Annan plan: an online forum
  • [03] Referendum decision may go to the wire
  • [04] Crunch time in The Hague: the outcome is anyone's guess
  • [05] Breast cancer screening programme delay 'is costing lives'
  • [06] More donors flock in effort to save Jale
  • [07] Airport banks go on strike
  • [08] CY board change rumours “a storm in a teacup”
  • [09] New government reconsidering refinery deal
  • [10] Weather clearing up for long weekend

  • [01] De Soto: Hague meeting will not drag on

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE PROGRAMME of Monday's crunch meeting in The Hague has not yet been finalised, UN special envoy Alvaro de Soto said yesterday.

    But the UN envoy warned the meeting would not be allowed to drag on any time beyond Monday.

    The UN envoy said on Sunday he would be meeting UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan in The Hague and would be in touch President Tassos Papadopoulos to inform him about the procedure on Monday.

    De Soto, who leaves for The Hague today accompanied by his team of experts, told the Cyprus News Agency that, depending on the outcome of Monday's meeting, he might go to New York or return to the island.

    Asked what the procedure would be on Monday, he said: “the programme has not been actually spelt out,” adding Papadopoulos had been in touch with him yesterday morning to inquire.

    “All I was able to tell him was that the meetings would be concentrated on Monday but I would be in touch on Sunday to give them details. I will meet the Secretary General on Sunday,” he added.

    Asked to comment on speculation there would be actual negotiation in The Hague, the top UN envoy on Cyprus replied, “my return ticket is open because I do not know what my destination will be after Amsterdam, whether I would come back to the island or go to New York.”

    The Secretary-general would decide, he said, adding that this decision “would depend on the outcome of the meeting” with the two leaders.

    “We have no plans to continue through the week, I have seen that kind of speculation, but the Secretary-general has engagements in The Hague on Tuesday,” he added, referring to the inauguration of the International Criminal Court.

    Asked if Annan had sent letters to Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, he explained the Secretary-general had personally an invitation to the two leaders and gave them the text of his talking points that spelt out in writing what he was proposing.

    “He did not feel necessary to resort to the formality of sending a letter to the two leaders since they accepted his invitation and he made the announcement in a prepared statement they had agreed to,” De Soto said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 8, 2003

    [02] The Annan plan: an online forum

    By a Staff Reporter

    AN ONLINE poll on the Cyprus problem is now open to anyone with Internet access.

    The straw poll aims at ascertaining the current mood on the issue of the island's reunification, in the run-up to Monday's meeting at The Hague where Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders are expected to give their responses to invitations to hold simultaneous referendums on the UN peace plan submitted last week by US Secretary-general Kofi Annan. The website also features a discussion forum to allow people to express their personal views on issues relating to the Cyprus Problem.

    The website's instigator said he hoped it would give people from all over the world the chance to air their views on the Annan Plan.

    “The basic idea… is to give the opportunity to people anywhere in the world to vote in the poll, as there doesn't appear to be another specific website where you can do this. There doesn't seem to be anywhere to view current public opinion on the issue.”

    “You can engage in discussion forums too. You can add new topics for discussion, it's very simple to do.”

    The website is not yet registered on search engine, but may be added in future if the response to the website is good.

    Those who want to access the website and register their vote can do so by clicking on www.uelect.co.uk.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 8, 2003

    [03] Referendum decision may go to the wire

    By a Staff Reporter

    GOVERNMENT Spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said yesterday the Greek Cypriot side might wait until The Hague on Monday to take its final decision on whether to take the UN solution plan to referendum.

    The spokesman added former President Glafcos Clerides would travel to The Hague with President Tassos Papadopoulos and members of the National Council for a meeting with the UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan.

    Annan last week invited the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides to The Hague to tell him whether they would put his plan to the people.

    “The position of the Greek Cypriot side has not been finalised yet. The National Council will convene on Saturday and the reply of the Greek Cypriot side will depend on developments at the meeting and the views of Council members,” he said.

    Asked if the Greek Cypriot side would communicate its reply to Annan even if the other side did not respond adopted a negative stance, the spokesman said: “Our reply will represent the response of the Greek Cypriot side, irrespective of any answer the Turkish Cypriot side gives. This is our position.”

    “Nobody knows how things will develop, all we know is that there will be a meeting of the President with the UN Secretary-general at 10am on Monday morning at the Peace Palace in The Hague.”

    Chyrsostomides said the Greek Cypriot side had to give a reply. “A clear reply might not mean a mere 'yes' or 'no'. There are other elements which might be included in our reply,” he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 8, 2003

    [04] Crunch time in The Hague: the outcome is anyone's guess

    By a Staff Reporter

    BY George Psyllides

    WITH the clock ticking to Monday's crunch meeting to decide on separate Annan plan referendums in The Hague, it's still anyone's guess as what to what will happen on the day.

    The Greek Cypriot side has kept its cards tightly concealed in the run-up to Monday's meeting, though it's hard to see how it could avoid saying 'yes' to the UN Secretary-general's referendum proposal.

    “The Greek Cypriot side has done practically everything right so far - handled it very well - nobody's blaming them for the failure,” the Executive Director of the Civilitas research think-tank James Ker-Lindsay told the Cyprus Mail.

    But even though the Greek Cypriot side has so far played ball with the UN process, a 'no' at this stage would not go down well in the European Union.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, for his part, said on Wednesday he had told Annan he would say 'no' to the referendum plan, but on Thursday, after talks in Ankara, he said he had rejected the plan for a settlement.

    But whether he says 'no' to the referendum or the plan, or both, Denktash apparently received Ankara's endorsement in Thursday's talks, saying he would be going to The Hague strengthened, feeling Turkey was behind him all the way.

    “The problem is that nobody in Turkey has woken up to the reality that the decision Denktash makes on Monday will affect their own EU prospects,” Ker- Lindsay said.

    If the Greek Cypriots say 'yes' and Denktash says 'no', the UN would blame the failure solely on Denktash, Cyprus would join the EU without a solution, and Turkey would find its own EU prospects severely damaged.

    And if Cyprus becomes a full member on May 1 next year, Turkey could be regarded as being in occupation of a member-state.

    But according to Ker-Lindsay, Turkey has been receiving mixed messages from the EU - some have tried to who link the Cyprus issue with Turkey's accession, while others say it should be separate.

    Of course, Turkey chooses to go for the latter, but the bottom line is that the EU knows that by accepting Cyprus as it is, it is creating another obstacle for Turkey.

    But, despite the UN spin, a Turkish 'no' on Monday will not be the end of the Cyprus problem if Turkey truly wants to join the bloc.

    “Unless, of course, Cyprus decided to roll over and agree to Turkey becoming a member without a solution, which is highly unlikely,” Ker- Lindsay added.

    He added Cyprus had to be careful not to fall into the same trap Greece had fallen in for years until Costas Simitis came into power - being blamed by the Turks for hindering their EU prospects. Greece is now Turkey's biggest backer in the EU, leaving others to wield the veto.

    “Greece will become pivotal in this process,” Ker-Linsay said.

    But failure to reach a solution now could force thousands of Turkish Cypriots to migrate and kill any prospect or support for a future effort to resolve the matter.

    Denktash, however, is bent on rejecting the referendum proposal, leaving the Turkish Cypriots out in the cold.

    “It seems that Turkey does not want to drop its Cyprus card right now, especially after not getting a date (for accession negotiations to begin) in Copenhagen,” Ker-Lindsay said.

    Ruling AK party leader Tayyip Erdogan seems ready to play the Cyprus card, but Turkey's military does not want to run the risk of giving it up now and getting their EU bid rejected anyway.

    But if Denktash surprises everyone and agrees to hold a referendum, the question would be whether the Greek Cypriots would vote in favour of the plan, considering the rejectionist trend in the south.

    Ker-Lindsay believes that if it goes to the ballot, the Greek Cypriot side would be put under huge pressure for a 'yes' vote from the international community, including Greece.

    On the other side of the divide, it is clear that the majority of Turkish Cypriots want a solution.

    And maybe this could explain Denktash's refusal to put the plan to a referendum, especially when a couple of months ago he was saying he was going to hold a referendum himself.

    Some fear Turkish settlers could be used to sway the vote; but things are not so black and white.

    According to the Director of Social and Political Research at Cyprus College, Christoforos Christoforou, despite popular belief, Denktash's power-base is not the settler vote, but people who are directly linked to his regime, like civil servants.

    But those same civil servants have taken to the streets demanding a solution and his resignation.

    Ker-Lindsay added it was not certain the settlers would all vote against a solution.

    “A lot see advantages in the plan; suddenly they'll find themselves citizens of an EU state, being able to travel anywhere,” he said.

    Christoforou said the settler numbers were somewhat exaggerated, even though every time there were elections there seemed to be a mass import of settlers.

    He said there were three categories of settlers: some who were 'naturalised' but back in Turkey, returning - not always - to vote and then go back; some who came at election time in the hope of getting 'naturalised', and some just returning for a second chance.

    But many who came from the depths of Anatolia and were used to a primitive economy often returned to Turkey because they could not cope with more developed systems.

    Christoforou said that - if allowed to vote freely - the Turkish Cypriots would vote in favour of a solution.

    “It's clear; many have realised they are under occupation,” he said.

    Christoforou added that they now realised that what they had wanted to achieve by breaking away - being masters of their own fates - was not happening as they could not even move around freely.

    He suggested the wave against Denktash had started growing before 1990 but it was just now, with the Annan plan providing the impetus, that it has gained so much support.

    Ker-Lindsay noted that if the Annan plan had been offered to the Turkish Cypriots in 1960, they would probably have never believed they could have got such a good deal.

    The Greek Cypriots would have been disgusted by the plan in 1960; how good the Zurich agreements must look now…

    In any case, there has to be compromise to be a solution.

    And in the words of UN special envoy Alvaro de Soto: “Perfectionism at this stage would not lead us anywhere.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 8, 2003

    [05] Breast cancer screening programme delay 'is costing lives'

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE FAILURE to implement a breast cancer blind screening programme on January 1 is leading women to their deaths, House Health Committee Chairman Antonis Karas charged yesterday.

    Last year, former Minister Frixos Savvides said an early screening programme would be up and running by the beginning of the year. In October, the Cabinet even approved a £1.8 million budget for the programme to go ahead. But no such programme is on the horizon, Karas said yesterday. In fact, no new timeframe had been set, although the committee had given new Minister Dina Akkelidou two months to review the programme's guidelines and determine if and when it would be implemented.

    Blind screening means all women aged 50-69 would have free mammograms, following European Union guidelines, irrespective of whether or not they were suspected of having breast cancer.

    The government's failure to meet its January 1 deadline meant “Health Ministry employees had been wasting time,” said Karas.

    But although the Cyprus Breast Cancer Movement (Europa Donna Cyprus) was unhappy at the delay, it defended it and said the screening programme was a complicated one that needed a lot of co-ordination, if it was going to be implemented properly. If it was not implemented properly, it was better off not being implemented at all, said movement president Stella Kyriakides.

    “A lot has been done and steps have been taken. It just hasn't all come together to implement the programme yet,” she said. “We want this programme to start very badly and everybody involved (Health Ministry and House Health Committee) realises it's very important to women. But, it is very complicated to implement and a lot of co-ordination is needed for it to be effective.” She said quality control was vital in a programme of this magnitude. “You need staff to send letters to women telling them to have their mammogram, people to inform them of their results within a week… It's these complications that cause hiccups along the way,” she said.

    However, Karas said Ministry employees were to blame for these delays and warned those responsible would be found. “If the Minister (Savvides) thought the programme could be implemented by January then that means people told him it would be. We want to find out who they are and to bring their names to light,” he said.

    “Our first priority is to see that this programme is implemented as soon as possible. Victims of these delays are innocent women that live in rural areas, who are poor and uninformed. Women living in towns are more informed and are able to visit their doctors for regular checkups. Statistics show that early diagnosis saves lives by up to 30-35 per cent and so it is imperative this programme is implemented. Those responsible for delays are leading innocent women to their deaths.”

    So far, 19 radiological centres in the private sector meet European guideline criteria, Kyriakides said, though the public sector still needed to employ more radiologists to do screening properly.

    “This programme also needs a fulltime project manager to ensure it has the quality and effectiveness needed to work. It needs an expert who will do nothing else but work on co-ordinating breast cancer screening and who is guided and supervised by the Health Ministry,” said Kyriakides.

    But, it was vital that the programme followed all prescribed guidelines, she said. “Countries that didn't stick to these guidelines showed mammograms didn't save lives, when in fact, if applied correctly, they reduce death from breast cancer by up to 30 per cent. That is why, we believe 100 per cent that it would be better not to implement it at all rather than implement incorrectly, which would mean a lot of money spent without the desired result to save lives.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 8, 2003

    [06] More donors flock in effort to save Jale

    By Alexia Saoulli

    HUNDREDS more people yesterday flocked to the Ledra Palace in a donation drive to find a bone marrow donor for a five-year-old Turkish Cypriot girl dying from leukaemia.

    The plight of Jale Sakaoglu turned into a national donor search on Thursday when Greek and Turkish Cypriots gathered in the Nicosia buffer zone to donate blood samples.

    “Yesterday a total of 502 blood samples were collected and by lunchtime today nearly 500 samples have been collected,” said Bi-communal Forum representative Marinos Ioannides, one of the campaign organisers.

    “It's absolute chaos down there right now. People from both sides of the Green Line are coming in to give blood, and by 5pm we will have collected a lot more than yesterday's total samples,” he said. The campaign would continue through the weekend until Monday afternoon, with doors opening at 9am and closing at 5pm.

    The little girl from Morphou is currently in hospital in Istanbul. Her condition is critical and doctors said if a match was not found in less than three weeks she would die.

    More Greek Cypriots became involved in the race against the clock yesterday. No publicity had been given to the campaign in the south until Thursday, when the media picked up the story. This was because pleas had initially been directed at Turkish Cypriots, who were more likely to be a match and were fewer on the Karaiskakio registry.

    “Although a Turkish Cypriot is more likely to be an appropriate match, we are not turning anyone away and everyone is being asked to donate blood samples,” Ioannides said.

    Greek Cypriot community leaders from Morphou have also expressed their wish to donate blood and called on fellow refugees from the town to come forward. Among the respondents yesterday was Bishop Neophytos of Morphou.

    “Everybody is being treated the same and all blood samples are sent off to the Karaiskakio Foundation for screening in the order in which they are taken.” Ioannides said the final results should be ready by next Friday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 8, 2003

    [07] Airport banks go on strike

    By Sofia Kannas.

    THE CYPRUS Bank Employers' Association yesterday slammed the Cyprus Bank Employees' Union (ETYK), after ETYK announced the adoption of strike measures in banks at Larnaca and Paphos airports.

    The overtime ban, which went ahead yesterday, means that customers wishing to use banking services in the two airports will only be able to do so between 7.30am and 2.30pm and 3pm and 6pm on Monday.

    A banking source told the Cyprus Mail that ETYK had refused to accept a new collective agreement, despite mediation from the government.

    “We renegotiated another agreement with the union and the Labour Minister came up with a suggested solution, which the Employers' Association accepted. But the union refused it.

    “We even agreed to pay higher salaries than we initially proposed because the Minister suggested this, and because we know it's been a difficult year for banks. But they still refused.

    “These people work long hours, and we don't doubt that they work hard but they are on a good salary. I cannot disclose figures but they are on a good wage, which is more than sufficient. The Union is becoming greedy.”

    Asked what steps the Employers' Association was planning to take in response to the strike, the source said they would wait for the Ministry's stance.

    “We have taken the matter back to the Ministry and we are waiting for their response before deciding what course of action to take.”

    The source added that airport cash machines should remain unaffected by the strike, though it was possible strike action would affect port banks too.

    ETYK's President was unavailable for comment yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 8, 2003

    [08] CY board change rumours “a storm in a teacup”

    By Jean Christou

    FINANCE Minister Marcos Kyprianou yesterday met Cyprus Airways chairman Haris Loizides to discuss the position of the airline's board given the change of government.

    The meeting took place after recent reports that the board was under review by the new Minister.

    Speaking after yesterday's meeting, Loizides told the Cyprus Mail it was all a “storm in a teacup”.

    “There were a lot of stories in the press because Kyprianou said that Cyprus Airways could be treated differently than the rest of the semi- government organisations,” Loizides said. “I met him and he has not reached a decision yet. He has basically requested closer co-operation and detailed briefings on major decisions.”

    Kyprianou told reporters after the meeting that the CY board, of which his brother Achilleas Kyprianou is a senior member, would continue to run the company's business on a day-to-day basis, but that major decisions would have to be run by the Finance Ministry.

    He said there had been no decision on whether the board would be changed. This was a matter for the Cabinet, he said, but would not be discussed at the next meeting.

    “What we have agreed is that the everyday running of the company will continue under the same basis and any important decision will be taken between the board, the company and Finance Ministry,” Kyprianou said. We agreed that there will be this communication so that the Finance Ministry can have a say in policy.”

    Asked if he would hand in his resignation, Loizides said that if President Tassos Papadopoulos made such a request he would.

    “I've said repeatedly we are not glued to the chairs,” he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 8, 2003

    [09] New government reconsidering refinery deal

    By Alex Mita

    GOVERNMENT Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday the government would be reconsidering an agreement with an Iranian company to upgrade the Cyprus Petroleum Refinery (CPRL) because the cost was too high.

    Chrysostomides told journalists yesterday the 42 million euro project that would enable the CPRL to produce sulphur free fuels, was also awaiting approval from the House of Representatives. Commerce and Industry Minister George Lillikas has yet to make a decision on the issue.

    “Mr Lillikas seems willing to reconsider the contract because the cost of 42 million euros is high,” he said. “His decision has not been announced.”

    Chrysostomides assured that the CPRL would be subject to scrutiny by the Auditor-general's office as promised by the new government.

    “This decision is binding and it is a part of the governmental programme,” he said.

    “There is a commitment to scrutinise all public spending that has to do with public organisations or companies, and that could influence the financial condition of the Republic of Cyprus,” he added.

    Lillikas said yesterday he was still at the stage of being briefed by the CPRL Board of Directors and refused to comment on whether he had taken a decision on whether to go ahead with upgrading the refinery.

    “I have neither agreed nor disagreed on the issue,” he said.

    “So far I have been briefed on ministerial matters and schedules in all sectors. At the present time, I am at the stage of being briefed by the CPRL Board of Directors, but I want to form my personal opinion,” Lillikas added. He refused to comment on the possibility of breaking the contract with SAZEH altogether.

    “When someone is trying to form an opinion, it would be entirely wrong to express that opinion before being briefed.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 8, 2003

    [10] Weather clearing up for long weekend

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    REMEMBER what a blue sky looks like? Well, the weather is finally shaping up after weeks of cloud and rain, with temperatures rising and sunlight's orange glow calling out to those spending the winter months in hibernation.

    Meteorological Services director Kyriacos Theophilou's forecast of higher temperatures for the three-day weekend falls on joyous ears as thousands prepare for a fasting feast of greenery to celebrate Green Monday in the open fields.

    Despite the ban on meat and dairy products, the faithful many will have the barbeque set up next to the crate of potatoes and beer, for juicy, lemon- soaked grilled fish and vegetables, hopefully under slightly sunnier skies.

    Theophilou said the weather would start out clear today, with clouds forming later in the evening and some showers expected by nightfall. Sunday also promises to start clear and fine with clouds getting denser by evening and scattered showers forecast across the island. On Green Monday, weather will start out fine with light clouds, getting heavier by evening and possibly accompanied by rain.

    Throughout the three-day break, temperatures will oscillate between 17 and 19 degrees.

    Those planning a white weekend need to make an early start for the Troodos mountains, as cars will be driving up in droves for a spot of hopscotch on sticks in the snow.

    Doros Arnos from the Ski Shelter on Mount Olympus admits that things will get rather hectic this weekend as the biggest slope, North Face, will be closed for a skiing competition. “We are expecting a lot of people. The snow has stopped. There's about one metre of snow on the slopes and the conditions are very good for skiing. Even the roads have cleared up so you don't need four-wheel drive,” says Arnos. He warns people without skis to get there early though. “There are a lot of people and we don't always have enough skis for everybody.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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