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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-05-23

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, May 23, 2003


  • [01] Stocking up on brandy and meat: Turkish Cypriots come over for a spot of shopping
  • [02] Debtors face jail after ruling from Attorney-general
  • [03] Extra security to face off seaborne terrorist threat
  • [04] Church blocking money for monastery restoration
  • [05] Bigger dish to keep watching BBC
  • [06] CY warns unions against strike at critical period
  • [07] Turkish Cypriot businesses ‘fed up with isolation’
  • [08] Red tape strangling pharmaceutical imports
  • [09] Cyprus offers planes, training facilities to EU

  • [01] Stocking up on brandy and meat: Turkish Cypriots come over for a spot of shopping

    By Tania Khadder

    IT’S a become a common sight to see Turkish Cypriots walking back to the Ledra Palace checkpoint laden with bags of shopping.

    A survey this week showed that 98 per cent of Turkish Cypriots crossing over were planning to come back… and it seems that supermarket shopping is a big incentive.

    What are they buying? Meat, Cyprus brandy and cereal. They are not, however, buying clothes or luxury items.

    Just outside Woolworth’s on Ledra Street in Nicosia yesterday, a handful of Turkish Cypriots stopped to speak to the Cyprus Mail, most saying they came to buy basic foods that were cheaper on this side.

    Mehir, 34, was browsing the electronics section with a group of six other men. His brother works in computers and had asked him to cross over to the free areas to have a look at the prices for comparison. He said that staple foods were cheaper in the south, but that so far, he thought electronics were more expensive.

    “I am not here to shop, just to have a look,” he said.

    When it comes to purchasing items other than groceries, most Turkish Cypriots crossing into the free areas aren’t spending a lot.

    “They just look but they don’t buy,” said a store clerk in the woman’s clothing department. She said that on weekends, her department could be packed with Turkish Cypriots but that they never buy anything.

    Zeliha, 41, did not intend to shop when she crossed over yesterday morning, but ended up buying a dress for her daughter. “I found it more expensive compared to our side, but I really liked it so I bought it.”

    She said that generally, the free areas were much more expensive but echoed what Mehir said about the prices of meat.

    “I think food is cheaper on this side, like chicken and meat.”

    Orhan Mende, 63, left the shop yesterday carrying three shopping bags filled with Cyprus brandy, fresh baked bread, and yogurt. All of this, he said, would have been far more expensive on his side.

    Some of Mehir’s friends came out minutes later, also carrying brandy in their shopping bags, and stopping to greet some other friends who were unexpectedly in the same place at the same time. Erol, 50, and Ulus, 57, were carrying only one pack of coffee between the two of them.

    “My mother wanted some Turkish coffee, and the quality is better on this side,” Ulus said. He also said that Cyprus brandy was a popular item amongst Turkish Cypriots and is only available on their side on the black market.

    “People are also buying Cornflakes because they are much cheaper,” Erol added.

    A manager at Woolworth’s on Ledra Street, Emily Sniffler, confirmed the way in which Turkish Cypriots were spending their money.

    “We have had a lot of Turkish Cypriots in the store, mostly buying groceries,” she said. “There is very little movement in the clothing departments.”

    She said Woolworth’s were extending their opening hours, though not specifically because of the influx of Turkish Cypriots, but instead for the beginning of tourist season.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 23, 2003

    [02] Debtors face jail after ruling from Attorney-general

    By Sofia Kannas

    THE ATTORNEY-general does not have the authority to request that the President of the Republic suspend debtors’ prison sentences, new Attorney- general Solonas Nikitas announced on Wednesday.

    Nikitas’ decision goes against that of his predecessor Alecos Markides, who frequently called on the President to suspend prison sentences for debt violations.

    In a statement, Nikitas said the suspension of debtor’s prison sentences was unconstitutional, adding that according to the law, debtors had not committed a criminal offence but had committed civil violations.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, DIKO Deputy Marios Matsakis said:

    “Mr Markides previously used to call upon the President for the non implementation of imprisonment for debt violations but the new Attorney- general doesn’t feel he can do that because they are not criminal violations, they are civil violations.”

    Matsakis also applauded Nikitas’ stance.

    “I am in agreement with the view of the new Attorney-general,” he said. “I’m sure he knows better than any of us how to approach the problem.

    “According to EU directives one cannot be imprisoned for debts. Imprisonment has been taking place in Cyprus, but not for the actual offence of debt, rather for violating a court ruling.

    “If the courts make a ruling about the payment of debts and this is not paid, then this continues to be a violation of a court ruling, which carries a prison sentence anyway,” he added.

    Matsakis acknowledged that imprisoning debtors would not solve the root of the problem, and called for new laws relating to money lending.

    “Putting someone in prison does not pay his debts. We need to find ways of combating this problem by tightening all the rules about borrowing money - you can’t lend people money if you know they aren’t able to pay their debts, ” he said.

    “By the same token, we cannot just allow people who have debts not to be ‘punished’ - there needs to be an example set or else no one will pay off any debts; there will be no penalty and therefore those who obey the rules of society will end up paying for those who don’t.”

    Nikitas was not available for further comment yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 23, 2003

    [03] Extra security to face off seaborne terrorist threat

    By Alex Mita

    THE BRITISH Bases and the American and Israeli embassies yesterday refused to comment on whether they had stepped up security following intelligence that they could be targeted by terrorists expected to arrive to Cyprus by sea.

    Police Chief Tassos Panayiotou told ANT1 television on Wednesday that the government had stepped up its security measures around the island’s coasts, ports and airports after receiving information that six terrorists would be arriving to Cyprus on a mission to attack US, British and Israeli targets.

    Justice Ministry Permanent Secretary Savvas Loizides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday he was not aware of any recent threats or information on a possible terrorist attack.

    “What I can tell you is that the police is always informed when it comes to any possibility of a terrorist attack and all the necessary measures are taken,” Loizou said.

    “I can tell you that we’ve had information of possible attacks in the past but I cannot comment about any recent information because I am not aware of any.”

    British Bases spokesman Tony Brumwell said he could not comment on security issues.

    “I can say that we are security aware, that we have implemented particular security measures because we deem them necessary, but I can’t be more specific,” Brumwell said.

    Israeli spokesman Eli Belotsercovsky said security around the embassy was always on a high, even more so after the attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

    “Our security is always tight and under the current circumstances in Saudi Arabia and Morocco I don’t think there is any safe place anywhere.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 23, 2003

    [04] Church blocking money for monastery restoration

    ARCHITECTS overseeing the renovation of the Apostolos Andreas monastery in occupied Karpasia fear losing the $1 million allocated by the UN for its repair, following a row with the Church-backed committee monitoring the project.

    Andreas Philippou, one of the architects involved told the Cyprus Mail yesterday work on the monastery building has not started yet although they were ready to begin last September.

    He said the committee appointed by the Church was opposed to the suggested renovations fearing the monastery would lose its character.

    The restoration is being carried out in tandem with work on the Hala Sultan Tekke, a shrine holy to Turkish Cypriots, near Larnaca's salt lake.

    Around $5 million in total has been allocated for the dual projects, which is being provided by the US and the work is being carried out by UNOPS, the United Nations Office for Project Services. Philippou said $1 million of the total has been allocated for the monastery and chapel.

    He said the work should go ahead immediately in order not to lose the funding, although no such threat has been issued. “The UN cannot wait forever,” he said. If the work doesn’t start soon I don’t know what will happen. “They don’t want to be in a conflict with anyone. They are there, they are ready but they cannot start unless they have the consent of the Church.”

    Apostolos Andreas is said to stand on the spot where the Apostle Andrew came ashore on his way to Greece in the 1st century AD. For the past 30 years it has been derelict and left exposed to neglect and the elements. The monastery itself dates from the 19th century and the little chapel from the 14th century. It is considered the 'Lourdes' of Cyprus to Greek Orthodoxy, aided by stories of miracles surrounding the holy water that comes from its underground springs.

    The first phase of the project involving the monastery surrounds was completed last year. Some 8,000 seedlings and saplings were planted and roads and botanical gardens have also been constructed.

    Professor Giorgio Croci, the Italian engineer who is famed for preventing the Leaning Tower of Pisa from toppling over, has taken on the Apostolos Andreas project and has said some parts added on over the years are unsafe and must be demolished.

    “Some members of the committee feel the monastery should not be renovated completely and don’t want the amount of work suggested by the specialists,” Philippou said despite the extensive research and expertise involved.

    “They (Croci and his team) have taken into considerations the fact that the monastery has been neglected without any maintenance for 30 years,” he said adding that the last work done was in 1966, and that involved merely adding more accommodation.

    He said the work done in concrete is placing a heavy burden on the chapel’s roof, which is also covered in asbestos, and that the steel in the building has been corroded over the years. The monastery could easily fall victim to a strong earthquake as it stand now, Philippou said. Sea erosion is also a major problem.

    “There are certain movements of the church on one side and certain suggestions for strengthening the walls and doing the roofs. The idea is to remove the accommodation, do the remedial work and then if we have to put them back we can put them back,” he said.

    “There is extensive demolition that has to take place and this is…they don’t want to listen. They feel that instead of doing this extensive restoration which Croci suggested, that the monastery can be fixed with cosmetic changes.”

    “The biggest problem would be from an earthquake. It has withstood some up to now but so many years have passed with it neglected and the only thing instead of restoring it we have bee adding different thing which are not compatible with the structure of the monastery.”

    One of the problems in the dispute, according to Philippou is the Archbishop’s ill health, which has left him unable to make a decision.

    “Because he can’t make a decision the whole situation is worsened,” he said adding that the Holy Synod has appointed Bishop Nikiforos of Kykkou to look into it.

    “All the documentation has been done and is ready since last September and we are waiting to hear if we can go ahead or not,” he added. “A lot of fuss has been created and a lot of things are being said that are not correct.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 23, 2003

    [05] Bigger dish to keep watching BBC

    By Alex Mita

    VIEWERS enjoying the Sky package in Cyprus will have to get bigger dishes if they want to keep watching BBC programmes, after the Corporation ended a deal with Sky Digital to transmit its programmes.

    Broadcasting outside the UK is forbidden and the only way viewers could get Sky Digital in Cyprus was to have a dish installed in Cyprus and then bring the digibox from the UK.

    A Malouppas & Papacostas technician yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the signal from the BBC had been moved to a different beam (the signal that hits the earth from the satellite) and that the beam was too weak to be received in Cyprus with existing dishes.

    A Titosat technician said the BBC was still available as part of the Sky package but that the company had changed the transmission in order to stop people illegally viewing the service outside the UK.

    “The BBC is still on Sky, you just need a bigger dish to be able to watch it,” the technician said. “We are trying a three-metre dish but it looks like people will need to get a 3.4 metre dish.

    “The cost of upgrading for our customers will not be high but it would cost new customers a lot of money to get a new dish,” he added.

    BBC news reported in March that as of May 30, viewers in the UK would be able to see all of the BBC's channels on digital satellite without the use of a viewing card after the corporation ended its deal with Sky Digital to carry its services.

    The change, which came after the BBC's current contract with Sky came to an end, will not affect the existing 6.6 million Sky viewers in the UK.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 23, 2003

    [06] CY warns unions against strike at critical period

    By George Psyllides

    CYPRUS Airways management yesterday urged unions to call off strike measures, warning of a major blow to the company in a critical period.

    CY trade unions have announced a six-hour strike for Monday if their demands were not met. The demands include a 10.5 per cent pay rise and extending the retirement age from 60 to 63, as part of their renewed collective agreements.

    Deputy CY board chairman Achilleas Kyprianou met union leaders yesterday in a bid to persuade them to call off the strike. In a written statement, CY said Kyprianou pointed out that the measures were unnecessary and would deal a serious blow to the company during a critical period when efforts were under way to overturn the consequences of the war in Iraq, among other problems.

    “CY never refused to discuss the renewal of the collective agreement,” the statement said. “They asked for some time until the end of the transitional period they are going through, but unfortunately the unions refused to grant it.”

    Kyprianou said CY was willing to discuss the employees’ demands for pay rises but within the company’s financial capabilities and an increase in productivity.

    The deputy chairman urged the unions to agree on starting a dialogue without the threat of a strike, expressing certainty that with goodwill from both sides there would be a mutually accepted arrangement.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 23, 2003

    [07] Turkish Cypriot businesses ‘fed up with isolation’

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE Turkish Cypriot Business Association (ISAD) yesterday voiced its readiness to react if Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash rejected European Union measures for their support.

    ISAD chairman Ozdil Nami said his association would view the measures positively, adding however that “one should not expect all issues to be resolved in one step”.

    Nami said the partial lifting of restrictions in movement was a step forward but has not solved the problem. “These measures would not end our isolation but are a step forward,” Nami said.

    He said the association opposed Denktash’s a priori rejection of the measures, arguing that they expected the leaders of both communities to hail such moves and try their best to enrich them, not thwart them.

    He added: “The Turkish Cypriot community is fed up with isolation from the rest of the world. We will support anything that can break this isolation.”

    The EU measures are expected to be announced early in June. According to the Head of the EU negotiating team, Leopold Maurer, the package includes a series of financial, trade, and other measures.

    As a first step the EU will inject €15 million into projects such as extending the Nicosia Master Plan to Kyrenia and Famagusta and provide more support to small and medium enterprises through the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.

    The bloc will also finance feasibility studies into the effects of a potential economic boom on the environment, infrastructure, water and sewage in the north.

    Concerning trade, it has been agreed that the Turkish Cypriot Chamber would issue documents on all goods to be exported to the EU through ports in the government-controlled areas.

    It is understood that the agreement excludes meat and its by-products and would be in effect until the time of accession - May 1, 2004 - after which the process would be redefined.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 23, 2003

    [08] Red tape strangling pharmaceutical imports

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE majority of established medical products will disappear from the local market if the Health Ministry does not re-evaluate its pharmaceutical law, Pharmaceutical Companies Association President Sotos Iacovides warned yesterday.

    Already a number of drugs have been discontinued and an increasing number of patients are being told by pharmacies that popular drugs they have been taking for years are no longer being imported. Instead they have to substitute them with a locally manufactured product.

    The pharmaceutical law was changed in 2001 to keep in line with EU harmonisation. However, two aspects of the law are proving difficult for importers of drugs from other European manufacturers. These are the regulatory and Greek labelling aspects.

    “The regulatory part of the law asks for detailed documents for each medical product,” he said. These documents include four parts: administrative details, clinical information, pharmacological studies, and toxicological safety studies.

    “The problem is that older medicines contain less documentation. Thirty or 40 years ago, there was only a need for administrative details. As the years went by, the authorities’ demands increased and so did the regulatory parts,” he said. Because older drugs lack the bulk of documentation requested under EU regulations they are no longer imported, he explained. “Nevertheless, they are still allowed to circulate with less documentation in all other European countries. It’s just here they do not accept them because they insist on having all four parts of the regulatory documentation. But how can we get it? We all agree there should be strict criteria to ensure drugs’ quality, but manufacturing companies cannot give us the studies we require because no other European country has a demand for them.”

    German pharmaceutical company, Ratiopharm, for instance has stopped exporting all its medical products to Cyprus. Among others, the company exported anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, anti-fungal creams and high blood pressure drugs.

    “One of its very popular anti-inflammatory drugs, used by arthritics, which has been stopped is Diclophenac,” a source told the Cyprus Mail. This was due to a combination of failing to meet regulatory aspects of the law and failure to comply with Greek labelling requirements. “The general antibiotic erythrocyn has also been stopped, even though it is allowed in all other European countries,” she said.

    But Pharmaceutical Services Panayiota Kokkinou refuted this claim.

    “We are no stricter than other European countries. We merely changed the pharmaceutical law to keep in line with EU harmonisation. Some older drugs on the market do no meet the necessary criteria to circulate and if a drug manufacturer does not provide the necessary papers for the specific medication, then approval for their import is not given by the Drugs Council. The same procedure applies for other EU countries,” she said.

    The basic problem lies in patients’ confidence in products. Although some medical products have been stopped, there are locally manufactured substitutes; but patients are afraid to use them, said the source. “It’s not that we don’t have substitutes with the same effect, which use exactly the same ingredients, it’s just patients learn to use and trust one trade name and don’t want to change. They fear it won’t be as good or will have side-effects and it causes them to panic,” she said.

    Iacovides claimed the nine other acceding EU countries had found ways around the EU harmonisation law. They take a reference country (e.g. the UK), which is also a source of supply and ask for its documents on the product. They then submit the file as available in that country and apply it to their own legislation, thus accepting the drug, he said.

    “The Ministry is considering this solution and we are confident we will find one soon. If we don’t, we have to face the fact that we will lose the majority of older medicines that patients are used to,” he said.

    Pharmaceutical Services head Louis Panayis could not be reached for comment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, May 23, 2003

    [09] Cyprus offers planes, training facilities to EU

    CYPRUS will put reconnaissance aircraft and training facilities at the disposal of the EU as part of its defence contribution to the bloc, Defence Minister Koullis Mavronicolas said yesterday.

    Cyprus, which joins the EU on May 1, 2004, is also willing to host temporarily up to 4,130 troops for peacekeeping in the region, Mavronicolas said.

    Cyprus has put out tenders for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), key for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, and wants to put the system at the disposal of the EU by 2005, he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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