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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-03-29

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, March 29, 2003


  • [01] 'Last time' armed Israelis will be allowed for football match
  • [02] Greens seek better protection of endangered trees
  • [03] Three held in suspected Turkish Cypriot land scam
  • [04] Boy dies after falling off roof in apparent copycat stunt
  • [05] Study to fight Zivania's case in Europe
  • [06] £3.2 million to remove asbestos roofs
  • [07] New delays in marina projects
  • [08] Schwimmer 'concern' over north arrests
  • [09] Security concerns over vital facilities
  • [10] Cabinet withdraws predecessor's bill on strikes in essential services

  • [01] 'Last time' armed Israelis will be allowed for football match

    By George Psyllides

    JUSTICE Minister Doros Theodorou said yesterday the Cabinet would be granting Israeli security officers permission to bear arms for the last time during a football match between Cyprus and Israel for the Euro 2004 qualifiers.

    The issue emerges every time Israeli teams play on the island - with Israeli sides demanding that teams be escorted by their own armed officers - and despite objections, Cyprus finally grants permission.

    Police objected to the demand, arguing that the security of the Israeli teams was their job, but according to reports yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon personally called President Tassos Papadopoulos to allow the presence of armed officers in Limassol's Tsirion stadium today.

    Sharon cited the increased danger of a terrorist attack against the teams due to the war in Iraq.

    Theodorou said yesterday it was the last time the Cabinet was granting permission to armed Israeli officers to oversee the game.

    “The decision has already been taken by the Cabinet - to enforce for the last time this system, which has traditionally been in place,” the minister said.

    “I do not understand how two or three armed officers in a stadium could protect anyone when there are dozens or hundreds of our police officers,” Theodorou added.

    He said Cyprus gave the Israelis many facilities when it was convinced there was a reason and when the sovereignty line was not crossed.

    “In this case, I am not convinced there is a reason,” Theodorou said.

    He added: “And since there is no reason I think this situation should end.”

    The Israeli team arrived on the island on Thursday night and are staying in a Limassol hotel.

    Israeli air force jets escorted the team to Cyprus and would be escorting them back, reports said.

    They are escorted in all their movement by police officers and Israeli agents, armed to the teeth to avert any unpleasant situations.

    Reports said a number of supporters had travelled with the team though more could arrive today.

    Measures outside the stadium today are expected to be draconian, with officers body-searching anyone entering the ground.

    In previous games, police prevented anyone without a ticket from approaching the area and installed metal detectors and scanning equipment at the gates.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 29, 2003

    [02] Greens seek better protection of endangered trees

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE GREEN Party yesterday presented a draft bill to the House Environment Committee urging stricter controls on the protection of forests and specific endangered trees.

    Despite the consensus on the need to protect forest areas, there was some controversy regarding the Forestry Department's jurisdiction over protected tree varieties on land not owned by the government.

    Another contentious point was Green deputy Giorgos Perdikis' suggestion that women be hired as firefighters; this is currently prohibited by law, which Perdikis described as discriminatory.

    Deputies pointed out it might be unconstitutional for government authorities to intervene on privately-owned lands, and referred the issue to the Attorney-general's office.

    The bill proposes the addition of several tree varieties to the list of protected flora and fauna.

    If approved, the amended law would also prohibit lighting fires to burn weed or garbage outside houses that are within one kilometer of forest areas. Moreover, the bill recommends that no protected varieties of trees be cut down unless permission is granted by the Forestry Department.

    Perdikis also proposed the striking of a clause that currently ranks mining activity as a higher priority than forest protection.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 29, 2003

    [03] Three held in suspected Turkish Cypriot land scam

    By Alex Mita

    THREE men are being held in police custody in connection with an alleged scam involving the illegal sale of Turkish Cypriot property in Psevdas village, police confirmed.

    The men were remanded in custody for eight days by a Nicosia court yesterday.

    Police Deputy Superintendent Kypros Michaelides told the court that the three suspects, Turkish Cypriot civil engineer Turkut Yialshar, 49, lawyer Michalis Vladimiros, 57, and Psevdas Mukhtar Minas Mina, 50, had allegedly sold Turkish Cypriot land worth around £4.5 million, with the use of forged documents from 1999-2003.

    Michaelides said the suspects were facing charges of conspiracy to defraud, forging of documents, perjury, abuse of power, bribing a civil servant and acquiring and using Turkish Cypriot property in breach of article 139/91.

    The alleged scam was reported by the Guardian of Turkish Cypriot Property, George Theodoulou, through a letter to the Chief of Police.

    Theodoulou said that between 2001-2002 there had been at least 10 cases of sale of Turkish Cypriot land, which was managed by Yialshar.

    He claimed Yialshar had managed to get a power of attorney that allowed him to manage the plots on behalf of their owners and descendants. Applications to represent the owners of the land were allegedly received through perjury.

    Theodoulou also claimed that Psevdas Mukhtar Mina had issued a death certificate of a Turkish Cypriot whose land they wanted to sell.

    Police Chief Tassos Panayiotou told journalists yesterday he did not rule out that the case under investigation might be bigger than expected.

    Speaking after a meeting with President Tassos Papadopoulos and Justice Minister Doros Theodorou, Panayiotou said he did not rule out the possibility of well-known people being involved in the scam.

    “As long as the interrogation is going on nothing can be ruled out,” he said. “It's possible that more people will be arrested.

    “We are now investigating 21 files related to the case, but whether the files are connected with those arrested will be known after the investigation is completed.”

    The Director of the Land Survey Department, Andreas Christodoulou, said an internal investigation showed the existence of the forged documents.

    “There are 33 cases involving the buying and selling of documents, the sale of Turkish Cypriot Property to Greek Cypriots, or foreigners,” he said.

    “In an investigation of documents in the Land Survey Department, we discovered they were forged and this led to the arrest of three people. The total value of the land sold comes to £4.5 million.

    Interior Minister Andreas Christou said cases involving the illegal sale of property were sad.

    “One can't help but feel saddened and angered when some individuals take advantage of their position or the existing procedures in order to defraud a fellow countryman or the state,” he said.

    “Unfortunately cases like this one can never be stopped no matter what kind of measures we take.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 29, 2003

    [04] Boy dies after falling off roof in apparent copycat stunt

    By a Staff Reporter

    A NINE-year-old boy died in the early morning hours yesterday after falling from a rooftop in the Larnaca district village of Mosfiloti.

    Eyewitnesses said Michalis Petrou was playing with his friends on Thursday; he was trying to slide down a rope fastened to his house's rooftop, but the knot gave way. The boy fell six metres onto the concrete floor, sustaining heavy injuries to the head and arms.

    His parents rushed him to Larnaca hospital, but doctors there advised transfer to Nicosia General Hospital for a full CT scan. The boy was treated in the intensive care unit, but succumbed to his wounds a little after 2am.

    Larnaca police chief Ioannis Diaouris said yesterday that apparently the boy was trying to imitate a stunt shown on a popular TV series. Diaouris added that both the media and parents should be careful of what children watch on TV.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 29, 2003

    [05] Study to fight Zivania's case in Europe

    By Jean Christou

    THE UNIVERSITY of Cyprus has just completed the first-ever scientific study on Zivania, which it is hoped will persuade the EU to give the strong Cypriot drink a geographical appellation, exempting it from heavy duties.

    The government's attempts so far to seek a special exemption for Zivania have fallen on deaf ears in Brussels, but the study is an attempt to change all that. EU harmonisation would put the same excise duties on Zivania as other imported spirits. The drink is currently taxed at an excise rate of £1.50. Harmonisation will bring the cost up to £3.40.

    Professor Haris Theocharous from the University told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the study had taken two years to complete. It had two aims, he said, to prove that Zivania was geographically unique, and to pursue a set of standards for its production.

    The British Colonial regime banned the drink in 1948 because they found it too difficult to collect excise duties, sending production underground. The law was only overturned in 1999, allowing producers to market it under its proper name. One of the major producers now is the Church-owned Kykko Winery, which funded the university study.

    “Once we have proven, and we have, that Zivania is a unique product, we can then go to the European Union and ask for Zivania to be registered as a geographical name like Champagne or Cognac,” Theocharous said. “But the main thing is that it was the first scientific study carried out anywhere to characterise it and prove that it's unique.”

    Theocharous said the drink's uniqueness comes from combination of the soil composition, the methods of production, distillation and the times that the grape residues are collected. The study included both commercial samples and homegrown.

    “The two are similar, but, chemically speaking, there is a very wide rage of compositions, which shows the need for standards,” Theocharous said. This is designed to protect consumers from lesser quality products and set a minimum alcohol content. The current content is 35-38 per cent. It also aims to set a maximum methanol content.

    “This is a poison,” Theocharous said, adding that none of the products studied was above the maximum. “None was even close,” he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 29, 2003

    [06] £3.2 million to remove asbestos roofs

    By a Staff Reporter

    AROUND £3.2 million will be spent to remove asbestos roofs from government buildings, the House Environmental Committee heard yesterday.

    According to the Communications Ministry representative Lefteris Stylianides, the amount does not include the removal of asbestos from military barracks and schools.

    Education Ministry official Evangelia Georgiou said asbestos roofs would be removed from all schools by the end of the year while there was a separate plan for kindergartens, which provides either removing the roofs or housing the schools in other buildings by the end of 2004.

    Stylianides told the committee that the total cost of removing the material would be £3.2 million, just for government buildings.

    He said the delay in the removal programme, which started in 2002, was due to the lack of space to store the asbestos.

    Green Party deputy George Perdikis charged that crews failed to take the necessary protective measures when removing the asbestos, not even putting up warning signs.

    A representative from the labour inspection department, Tasoulla Kyprianidou-Leontidou, told the committee there were no specialist crews for the job, but noted that due to financial interests, many private companies did not bother informing people in the area or supplying the proper equipment for the protection of workers.

    Leontidou said her department had, in many cases, had to stop work in order for the contractors to comply, but said some even worked at night to avoid checks from the authorities.

    DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis wondered why asbestos sheets and pipes were still on the market, only to be told that regulations banning these products had been approved last year and had been due to come into force in January this year, though the necessary order from the Cabinet had not yet been issued.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 29, 2003

    [07] New delays in marina projects

    By Jean Christou

    THE deadline for submission of tenders for new marinas and the extension of the Larnaca facility has been postponed until June 20 after investors raised doubts about several issues including the construction of on-site holiday accommodation.

    The marina projects were due to be well under way by now but several postponements have frustrated boats owners and the government. One of the big issues, according to sources at the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO), was the construction of hotels, particularly at Larnaca.

    Terms and conditions of the tenders in some cases provided for the compulsory building of hotels, which investors objected to. “The town planning department commission and also the municipality and the chamber of commerce of Larnaca felt there was a need for a good luxury hotel that would be very central and combine very well with the luxury marina facilities and cater for conferences, so they thought it would be a good idea to make it compulsory, but I think when the interested tenders studied it, several requested flexibility on that,” the source said.

    The government has invited international tenders for the five new marinas under the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) method. The five marinas are to be situated in Paphos, Ayia Napa, Paralimni and Limassol while the Larnaca marina is to be extended.

    The Paphos Marina will be constructed at the Potima area in Kissonerga and will have a capacity of 1.000 vessels. The Limassol Marina will be built to the west of the old port and will also have a capacity of 1.000 vessels. The Ayios Raphael Marina in Limassol will continue to operate with a capacity of 250 vessels. In Larnaca, the existing marina will be extended so that its current capacity of 450 vessels will expand to 1,000 vessels.

    The Ayia Napa Marina will be constructed at the Loumata area and will have a capacity of 600 vessels and the Paralimni Marina will be built near the fishing shelter and will have a capacity of 250 vessels. Current marina space totals around 700 berths, 450 at Larnaca and 250 at the St Raphael marina in Limassol.

    Successful bidders would undertake the development operation and management of the marinas for up to 48 years, after which they would be returned to the state along with all installations. In addition to basic port facilities, the marinas will include commercial and entertainment buildings.

    Haris Kyriakides, spokesman for the Cyprus Marine, Commerce and Industry Association, criticised the numerous delays. He said there were delays in all of the areas marked out for marinas. “Now we have another small delay on top of all the other delays,” he said. “The government has announced that it's giving £7 million for tourism after the Iraq war so here we are talking about £7 million for promotion when we have projects here that will have people without any promotion, just by letting them know that we have empty spaces in marinas. I think that in terms of revenue you need a lot of tourists to cover for the revenue that one single boat can bring here.”

    Iris Karayiannis, a senior official at the Commerce, Industry and Tourism Ministry said the building of hotels at the marinas was optional for the investors. She also said that a lot of nasty rumours were being spread about the marina projects “by people who don't want the marinas to be given to the private sector”.

    She said any delays were at the request of the investors themselves and not instigated by the government. “They wanted more time and we gave them less than what they asked for. They wanted to wait until after summer and we said 'no' so June 20 is last date no matter what happens,” she said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 29, 2003

    [08] Schwimmer 'concern' over north arrests

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE Secretary-general of the Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer, expressed concern yesterday over the tense political situation in the occupied north following the arrest of six leading activists during a symbolic referendum on the UN plan for reunification last Tuesday.

    “I appeal to all authorities in northern Cyprus to respect, now and in the future, freedom of expression on their territory,” said Schwimmer.

    “We must not forget that despite the particular political and legal situation of northern Cyprus, its citizens continue to be protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. Repression will not help to bring about a peaceful and equitable solution to the Cyprus question.”

    Schwimmer stressed that for the international community, the Annan plan was still on the table.

    Pro-unification Turkish Cypriot groups planned to hold a symbolic referendum last night in Kyrenia, as a follow-up to a similar meeting in Elia, near Morphou, on Tuesday night. However, Tuesday's mock plebiscite led to violent scenes as 'police' arrested six leading activists and allegedly beat protesters with clubs.

    According to Turkish Cypriot press reports, the men were charged on a variety of offences including 'aiming to bring the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus down and join the Republic of Cyprus'.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot political leader, Mehmet Ali Talat was quoted by Turkish Cypriot press commenting on the incidents in Elia. He accused those who tried to prevent the people from using their right to self- determination with being intolerant of the people's symbolic referendum.

    He was quoted as saying “The only unrestricted tolerance that has been enjoyed at the utmost level in this country is the tolerance that the people have shown towards a president for the past 40 years.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 29, 2003

    [09] Security concerns over vital facilities

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    JUSTICE Minister Doros Theodorou yesterday expressed concern at the poor policing of vital economic centres in Cyprus yesterday. Speaking after a meeting at Larnaca police headquarters, Theodorou said he would discuss the issue with police chief Tassos Panayiotou before raising the matter at the next Cabinet meeting.

    “I was especially concerned with the poor guarding of vital economic facilities such as the electric power station at Vassilikos, CyTA facilities in Kakoratsia and the oil refineries,” he said.

    “In general, policing in Cyprus is too centralised and decentralisation is also a prerequisite for our other main initiative called 'Communal Policing',” added Theodorou.

    The minister maintained that some improvements have been made, especially regarding policing in the countryside. “But in some areas we are still falling behind, such as the decentralisation of police and the guarding of vital economic facilities,” he said.

    This was the minister's first visit to Larnaca district police since taking office. He said more would follow in an effort to show that there was a combined effort to solve problems faced by the police force.

    The Justice Ministry's new Communal Policing initiative involves getting police on the streets and in closer co-operation with community leaders. The objective is to encourage local governments, non-governmental organisations and the public to work in closer co-operation with the police by sharing information, which could be used to provide a better front against crime.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, March 29, 2003

    [10] Cabinet withdraws predecessor's bill on strikes in essential services

    By Alexia Saoulli

    TRADE unions yesterday welcomed the Cabinet's decision to withdraw a bill, which would have regulated the right to strike in essential services by law.

    “The old government wanted to pass a law that regulated how strikes were carried out in services that met peoples' basic, essential needs,” said PASYDY Secretary-general Glafcos Hadjipetrou. These services included hospitals, fire departments, airports and the electricity authority. “The new government has withdrawn the bill,” he said.

    Eight years after the bill was first introduced, the Cabinet officially withdrew it on Thursday, the Employers and Industrialists Federation (OEV) said yesterday.

    “We foresaw this and have called for alternative solutions to the existing and serious problems that are often brought on because of the absence of strike regulations in essential services,” it said.

    Hadjipetrou added: “As a union, along with PEO, SEK and OEV, we supported that strikes needed to be regulated, but that this should have been done by drawing up a code, which would regulate strike procedures and behaviour, rather than making it a law.” In essence, a gentleman's agreement, he said.

    The previous DISY government had wanted strikes regulated by law, he added. “We believed a code of agreement would have been workable. Had we tried out this system and it had failed, we were prepared to review the situation, but the old government refused to listen because they were afraid smaller unions would be a problem.” Hadjipetrou said large unions such as PEO, SEK and PASYDY always adhered to certain procedures and did not take things into their own hands and act alone.

    According to Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides, the Cabinet considered the right to strike “constitutionally secure and it is, from now on, up to social groups to secure working relationships that do not call for the need to limit any of those rights”.

    All four major unions yesterday supported the Cabinet's decision and called for the government to press ahead with the decision to form a code, which they had reached in 1999. No one at the Labour Ministry was available for comment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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