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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-05-08

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

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


Thursday, May 8, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government says foreigners not allowed overnight stays in the north
  • [02] Turkish Cypriots beginning to look for jobs in south
  • [03] Denktash: crossings could be foundation for new talks
  • [04] Checkpoint crossings levelling out
  • [05] Chicken farms face EU ultimatum to clean up their act
  • [06] Government scraps €55m loan for refinery
  • [07] Government awaiting Who advice before deciding on Asian students
  • [08] Competition heats up between leaders
  • [09] Fire on Georgian plane in Paphos

  • [01] Government says foreigners not allowed overnight stays in the north

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE GOVERNMENT is not allowing foreigners to remain in the occupied areas beyond midnight, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday, even though Greek Cypriots are able to take advantage of an easing in restrictions allowing them to stay over for three nights – in a hotel.

    The Turkish Cypriots, for their part, would be happy to have foreigners staying over for as long as they want and with no conditions – unlike Greek Cypriots who have to present hotel receipts on their return. Serdar Denktash’s media consultant, Tom Roche, said yesterday that although the Turkish Cypriot regime only allowed Greek Cypriots to spend three nights at a hotel in the occupied areas, “British visitors, and other foreigners coming from the south may spend as many nights as they wish in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.

    Roche added that – unlike for Greek Cypriots – he was “fairly certain there would be no requirement for foreigners to produce any hotel receipts on their return”.

    The Turkish Cypriots have always wanted to have foreigners staying over, but – until the checkpoints were opened to all two weeks ago – the government insisted they return by 4.30pm.

    The government spokesman said yesterday that foreigners crossing the Green Line could now stay until midnight, but could not remain overnight. He said the difference lay in that Cypriot citizens could not be bound by any restrictions on free movement to any part of the island, whereas tourists were only here on a visitors’ basis.

    “This is our country. That is the difference,” said Chrysostomides. “Cypriot citizens have no restrictions of where to go and stay. It is only illegal for them to stay in hotels that belong to Greek Cypriots. They can stay in their cars, with friends or on the beach,” he said.

    Overnight stays in the occupied areas, either in hotels or other resorts, are illegal as they are not owned, controlled and managed by their legal (Greek Cypriot) owners, explained Chrysostomides. Anyone choosing to remain overnight was therefore subject to the laws of the Republic concerning the conscious use of stolen property, he said.

    In a sense, it could be suggested the government was protecting foreigners from illegally staying in Greek Cypriot properties: “Yes that’s part of it, (although) the general regulation difference offers no explanation,” said Chrysostomides.

    Although returning Greek Cypriots do not undergo scrutiny over where they stayed in the occupied areas, the government has made it clear it condemns staying at hotels owned by Greek Cypriots, and has said that owners are free to seek legal compensation.

    In the past, foreigners had to return from day trips to the north by 4.30pm. This has now been extended to midnight, when the three Green Line checkpoints close, said Chrysostomides.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 8, 2003

    [02] Turkish Cypriots beginning to look for jobs in south

    By Sofia Kannas

    A HANDFUL of Turkish Cypriots have already begun visiting job centres in the south, a source at the Labour Ministry said yesterday.

    A large influx of Turkish Cypriots job-seekers was anticipated by the authorities, after the partial easing of restrictions on the freedom of movement was announced by the Turkish Cypriot side on April 22.

    Nicosia District Labour Officer Fidias Panayides said yesterday that around 15 Turkish Cypriots had come to register for jobs so far. He stressed that the figure was relatively low so far, largely due to the nature of the registration procedure, which requires applicants to have a Cyprus identity card and passport.

    “Only a few people came to be registered because some of them went to get a Cyprus identity card or passport first. Our computerised system requires passport and I.D numbers,” he said. “So, yesterday only two people came to register; the day before that only three people – they come in small numbers. They come to register first and if we have vacancies we offer them jobs.”

    Panayides added that the district office had introduced a Turkish-speaking officer to help Turkish Cypriots register.

    Asked how many jobs had been taken up by Turkish Cypriots from the north so far, he said: “we found about five people jobs so far. Most of these were in the building industry in Nicosia.”

    Panayides said the Ministry was expecting the number of job-seekers from the occupied areas to increase in the next few weeks.

    The opening of the checkpoints has led employers’ organisations on both sides of the divide to reassess their positions.

    The President of the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation, Byron Kranidiotis, told the Cyprus Mail that his organisation had already been in contact with the respective federation in the breakaway north.

    “We had a meeting three weeks ago with the Employers’ Federation on the other side,” he said, adding that the Turkish Cypriot federation downplayed suggestions that Turkish Cypriots would flock to the more affluent south in search of better-paid jobs.

    “When we mentioned the idea of employing labour from the north in the south, they said ‘we don’t have available labour’. I mentioned that the rules of economy would unfold, and that nobody could go against these – if there is a salary three times as high in the south, naturally it will draw people from the north. They said if this was the case, they would be forced to employ foreign labour from the Turkish mainland,” he added.

    Several hundred Turkish Cypriots have been working in the building industry in the free areas of Ayia Napa and Protaras, even before the checkpoints were opened, crossing through the checkpoint at Pergamos into the British bases.

    Kranidiotis added that now that Cyprus was a European Union member, any shortage of labour in the free areas could be easily met by employing foreigners from within EU countries.

    “We can get the labour we need from the EU – we are in touch with Poland now,” he said. “Poland has a high rate of unemployment.”

    Antonis Petasis, Director of Social Insurance Services at the Labour Ministry, confirmed yesterday that several Turkish Cypriots had enquired about what benefits they could expect if they took up jobs in the south.

    “Some asked about old age pensions, others about providence funds and annual leave,” he said.

    He added that one individual from the north had even requested his social security benefit ‘owed’ to him from before the invasion in 1974.

    “But benefits usually only go back three months. If there is a very serious reason to, we may go back one or two years, at the most,” Petasis said, adding that members of both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities would be entitled to the same benefits, as Cypriot citizens.

    “Turkish Cypriots will get the same as Greek Cypriots.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 8, 2003

    [03] Denktash: crossings could be foundation for new talks

    By Jean Christou

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday the lifting of the ban on free movement had prepared a foundation for future negotiations on the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking to a mainland Turkish television channel, Denktash said future negotiations could be conducted on this foundation.

    Denktash’s comments are a further rejection of the UN plan drawn up by Secretary-general Kofi Annan. The international community and the Greek Cypriot side have agreed that the Annan plan should be a basis for future talks.

    But Denktash, who rejected the plan outright in The Hague last March, has made no move to indicate he would return to the negotiating table on the basis of the plan.

    He said the plan “was put away” after Cyprus was accepted for EU membership and after the Greek Cypriot side rejected his confidence building measures and went about announcing its own measures for Turkish Cypriots. He said negotiations should now be conducted between the two sides without outside intervention.

    Denktash’s son Serdar, who is Turkish Cypriot ‘Deputy Prime Minister’, said in a statement issued ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Turkish Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan that a solution on the basis of the Annan plan was not accepted by either side.

    He said that during Erdogan’s visit “new openings” would be announced for the Turkish Cypriot economy. “I don’t think that these openings will be in line with the Greek Cypriot side’s expectations,” he said.

    Referring to the lifting of restrictions on freedom of movement, Denktash said the steps were taken to create trust between the two sides and could create a basis for a solution. “Of course, at the end of the day, negotiations for reaching a solution will resume. However, this would not be within the framework of the Annan plan but the Annan plan could be a starting point,” he said.

    The UN Secretary-general’s spokesman Fred Eckhard welcomed the continuation of the freedom of movement. “While freedom of movement would be a key element in any settlement, it must be lasting, and in any case all the other core issues remain,” Eckhard said.

    In London, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said he believed that EU rules and regulations would help overcome divisive elements of a political settlement in Cyprus.

    “The shape of the solution in Cyprus will incorporate the working methods of the EU and consequently the divisive elements which may exist in the current UN peace proposal could be gradually overcome through the European nature of the solution,” Papandreou said during a lecture.

    He said Ankara wanted a solution but needed to show more political will and secure support from the military and others who played a role in the Turkish establishment.

    “We would like the momentum created from developments in Cyprus to be exploited in a way that could help Turkey in its effort to begin membership talks (with the EU) when this issue is discussed in 2004,” he said.

    Commenting on the crossings, Papandreou said it could influence the current situation. “The gestures we have witnessed over the past couple of weeks between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots show the strong will of the people of Cyprus to be reunited. This, however, does not mean that we have arrived at a solution,” he said.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said on Tuesday that Erdogan’s visit tomorrow was to “encourage the moves which the Turkish Cypriot side has already made.” Gul dismissed Greek Cypriot press reports that Erdogan would announce the gradual withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops from the island. “Such a thing is not true,” he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 8, 2003

    [04] Checkpoint crossings levelling out

    By a Staff Reporter

    OVER FIVE thousand Greek Cypriots and around 2,000 Turkish Cypriots crossed the divide yesterday though overall numbers have dwindled since the restrictions were lifted around 15 days ago.

    The flow of people across the divide continued into the night and by 10pm 5, 157 Greek Cypriots had crossed over to the north, the overwhelming majority – 4,505 – in cars.

    Police said 3,857 had returned by 10pm though cars were still crossing over at that time.

    Concerning Turkish Cypriots, police said 2,026 had crossed and 1,680 had returned by 10pm.

    At the Ledra Palace checkpoint however, small groups of Turkish Cypriots were crossing at 10.45pm despite having to be back by midnight.

    The same does not apply to Greek Cypriots, who are allowed to spent the night in the occupied areas.

    Customs officers carried out checks outside the Nicosia courthouse, mainly confiscating small quantities of cigarettes.

    On Tuesday police said customs had confiscated 13 cartons of cigarettes.

    No incidents were reported yesterday although a tow-truck crossed from the Ledra Palace at around 10pm and headed to the north to pick up a stranded driver whose car had broken down.

    Police have turned around several individuals coming from the north who could not prove if they were Turkish Cypriots.

    Two Pakistani nationals living in the north who attempted to cross over were also stopped and turned round.

    Both pleaded ignorance when asked by officers if they knew about the political situation on the island.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 8, 2003

    [05] Chicken farms face EU ultimatum to clean up their act

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    VETERINARY Service head Fidias Loukaides yesterday warned chicken farmers that a large number of their slaughterhouses would be closed down after May 2004 unless they met European Union standards and held all necessary licences.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Loukaides said the option to upgrade chicken farms to meet EU requirements was open to all 37 on the island but that the task was not an easy one. It is most likely that most won’t make it. A large number will have to close,? he said.

    Only three chicken farms are fully licensed at the moment, while the rest have either some or none of the licences required. In order to fulfil the criteria to operate, a chicken farm must hold a planning permit, building permit, waste disposal licence, veterinary licence and operational licence.

    Before 2001, waste disposal and operational licences were not required, allowing for a number of smaller chicken farms to function without any restrictions on waste dumping.

    Asked what level of compliance the chicken farms had shown, Loukaides replied, There are three fully licensed farms. Another three or four are waiting to be approved. The rest will have to upgrade by this September or face being closed down?.

    He added that the Veterinary Services were fully aware of each farm’s position in terms of EU requirements. We know where each one stands. They have until September to clean things up. After that, changes will be made,? he said.

    Without a doubt, no chicken farm will exist by May 2004 which does not have all the necessary licences,? warned Loukaides.

    Meanwhile, EU inspectors visited the Veterinary Services yesterday to monitor the progress on harmonisation with the acquis communautaire. This entails checking that all EU laws have been correctly transposed into state legislation and measures for implementation and enforcement are in place. Some laws are still pending, being held up either at the Veterinary Services, in parliament or at the District Attorney’s office, said Loukaides. But we are confident that they will be completed on time,? he added.

    The inspectors are due to return in late June to prepare for the final, all- encompassing Progress Report in October. This will be the last six-monthly report issued before full membership with the EU in May 2004. The spirit of the October report will be indicative of the progress Cyprus is making.

    Its conclusions will be crucial for Cyprus’ accession, as it will list in detail where progress has not been made. Failure to advance in those areas could result in the placing of safeguard clauses to provide some guarantee that everything will be up to standard, which in effect mars the accession process.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 8, 2003

    [06] Government scraps €55m loan for refinery

    By George Psyllides

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday decided to withdraw its guarantees for a €55 million loan earmarked for upgrading the island’s petroleum refinery (CPRL).

    Yesterday’s cabinet decision came as no surprise as the government had already said it would reconsider the agreement struck by the previous government.

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the government had judged that the loan conditions were unfavourable and decided that it would not provide the necessary guarantees for the loan.

    “The Trade Ministry will look into alternative solutions in accordance with its European Union obligations concerning fuel storage among other things, and decide accordingly,” Chrysostomides said.

    The upgrade would have allowed the production of unleaded petrol and sulphur-free diesel though questions were raised concerning the logic behind the decision since the refinery would have been torn down a few years later fulfilling a government commitment to Larnaca residents.

    The decision to move the plant was taken after the Larnaca municipality refused to issue building permits for the construction of fuel storage tanks that were necessary in accordance to EU directives.

    The former government insisted there was no other choice but to upgrade the refinery since Cyprus could not import refined products due to the lack of storage facilities.

    A tank farm is planned for Vassiliko in the Larnaca district to meet the EU regulations for a minimum of 90-day fuel storage facility.

    But the EU allows for some finished products to be stored overseas, suggesting the refinery could have been closed down earlier.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 8, 2003

    [07] Government awaiting Who advice before deciding on Asian students

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE GOVERNMENT has not yet decided whether to bar students expected to arrive from China this summer for fear of SARS, a senior Health Ministry doctor said yesterday.

    The question was raised by the University of California in Berkeley, one of America’s major university links with Asia, announced this week it would prohibit several hundred students from Asia from attending summer classes over fears of the rapidly spreading flu-like disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

    Meanwhile, following an emergency meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, the European Union’s 25 Health Ministers concluded that the number of confirmed or suspected SARS cases within the EU was still limited and that the patients concerned had been confined and treated effectively, avoiding any further spread of the virus. This did not, however, prevent the European Commission from suggesting the creation of a European Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention.

    Last month, Medical Services head, Dr. Constantinos Mallis, said Asian students were not a public threat, as they did not travel home on a daily basis, only during the holidays. Mallis added a new wave of Asian students was expected to arrive in June.

    And yesterday, Dr. Chrystalla Hadjianastasiou told the Cyprus Mail this new influx of students would go ahead as planned, unless otherwise instructed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the European Union.

    “We (Cyprus) cannot make decisions alone or implement stricter measures than the EU. (Instead) we will go along with WHO recommendations,” she said. Although people were afraid and there was real fear of a global epidemic if not all countries took precautions, “we cannot forbid certain travellers from entering the country”, added Hadjianastasiou.

    According to WHO, on Tuesday “a cumulative total of 6,727 probable SARS cases with 478 deaths have been reported from 29 countries. This represents an increase of 153 new cases and 17 new deaths compared with Monday.”

    Hadjianastasiou said surgical-quality face masks, but not paper ones, were also available for passengers on flights from affected areas if a member of the cabin crew suspected a possible SARS case. The masks are also available at Paphos and Larnaca airports’ medical clinics, she said.

    Meanwhile passengers entering Cyprus from areas with medium or high local transmission were screened for possible SARS on arrival. The Ministry has drawn up a “SARS controlling and monitoring registration form” in English, Greek and Chinese, she said. The questionnaire includes questions on departure and arrival dates, contact address in Cyprus, employer or college name as well as possible SARS symptoms during the flight (fever, cough, difficulty in breathing).

    “People who come here from an affected area and plan to stay for a long period of time should commit themselves to voluntary home isolation for a period of 10 days,” she said. “They should then go to a doctor and be given the all clear if they have not developed any symptoms.”

    However, Hadjianastasiou admitted the government was not policing travellers and that it was essentially up to each responsible individual to adhere to these precautionary measures.

    “If the WHO or EU specifies we must quarantine or bar people from certain areas, then we will,” she said.

    Meanwhile EU Health Ministers agreed to continue precautionary SARS prevention measures including speedy diagnosis of suspect cases, continuous WHO updates, adequate protection of nursing staff and advising travellers to postpone trips to areas listed by the WHO. These include Hong Kong, Beijing, Guangdong and Shanxi Provinces of China. “This recommendation does not apply to passengers simply transiting through international airports in these areas,” said WHO, adding it did not recommend the restriction of travel to any other areas. The travel advisory for Toronto, Canada was also lifted on April 30.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 8, 2003

    [08] Competition heats up between leaders

    By a Staff Reporter

    DISY chief Nicos Anastassiades and AKEL leader and House president Demetris Christofias yesterday put on their aprons and faced off in the kitchen in a bid to gain support for the island’s anti-anaemia association.

    Christofias looked like he had the upper hand with Anastassiades taking the back seat and letting his wife Andri do most of the hard work.

    The DISY chief however used psychological tactics on his opponent, making comments on his choice of wine – red – and the defeat of his football team (Omonia) in last Sunday’s football match.

    Anastassiades stressed his choice of white wine with a blue label.

    For the record Christofias cooked pork chops with eggplant and tomatoes sautéed in red wine while Anastassiades opted for a more up-market concoction comprising of pork fillets with plums, fresh cream and rice cooked in white wine.

    The two leaders commended the people suffering with anaemia for their achievements and promised to do their best to fight for a better quality of life for them.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, May 8, 2003

    [09] Fire on Georgian plane in Paphos

    By a Staff Reporter

    A FIRE broke out yesterday in a Georgian airliner preparing to take off from Paphos airport.

    No one was injured and the blaze was put out by the crew.

    The plane, carrying 16 passengers and five crew was preparing to take off for Tbilisi at 10.45am when a fire broke out inside the cabin.

    It was quickly put out by the crew, who used fire extinguishers, before the arrival of the airport’s fire service.

    Police said the fire was the result of a malfunction at the engine’s generator.

    The fault was repaired but the flight was cancelled in order to carry out the necessary checks to determine if the aircraft was fit for the journey.

    The go ahead was given and the plane took off for its destination at around 11.55am, police said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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