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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-06-07

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, June 7, 2003


  • [01] Clerides government was willing to open Famagusta port in exchange for Varosha
  • [02] Owner blast municipality after listed house collapses
  • [03] EU approves amendment to ease pharmaceutical imports
  • [04] Virtual health care project rewarded with Microsoft grant
  • [05] Prison population soars to over 400
  • [06] President pledges overhaul of state machinery
  • [07] Water sellers told to clear their supply with Health Ministry
  • [08] Motorcyclists urged to put safety first

  • [01] Clerides government was willing to open Famagusta port in exchange for Varosha

    By George Psyllides

    FORMER government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou yesterday confirmed that the issue of operating occupied Famagusta port for exports through the United Nations had been mooted at least twice before.

    The government on Thursday ruled out any discussion of allowing exports of Turkish Cypriot products through illegal ports and airports in the occupied north.

    Both officially and unofficially, government sources made it quite clear there was no chance of authorising anyone to operate Famagusta port, even in exchange for the abandoned suburb of Varosha.

    But former president Glafcos Clerides revealed to a local television station that he had discussed the possibility of its operation by Greek and Turkish Cypriot municipalities under the supervision of the UN.

    Papapetrou yesterday confirmed there had been such discussions, adding it was perfectly legal and there was no danger of recognition since the 1960 Constitution provided for two municipalities in Famagusta - Greek and Turkish Cypriot.

    “I think Clerides combined this with the return of Varosha,” Papapetrou told the Cyprus Mail.

    Clerides had suggested the return of Varosha - closed since 1974 - to its Greek Cypriot owners in exchange for the opening of the port of Famagusta to export Turkish Cypriot products.

    Papapetrou said the same issue had been discussed when United Democrats leader George Vassiliou was President of the Republic between 1988 and 1993.

    The government, however, was adamant that no such concession would be made on the issue.

    Ruling DIKO deputy chairman Nicos Cleanthous yesterday reiterated it would be impossible to export products through ports that could not be checked by the legal government of the Republic.

    Commenting on Clerides’ suggestion, Cleanthous said he did not know what the former president had said in public suggesting his views had been different in the National Council.

    “Unfortunately it is not the first time, and I don’t know what he says in public; I know what he says in the National Council and we have said that it was not possible in any way (to export products) through illegal ports over which the legal government of the Republic has no control,” Cleanthous said.

    Asked whether the EU was promoting a formula to put the port under UN control, Cleanthous said, “with such ideas we might as well stop governing this country and abandon the idea that we are a legal state and a legal government”.

    He added that the EU would not be tabling such a proposal “simply because Clerides was not in power and the current government has irrevocably clarified its position”.

    DISY chief Nicos Anastassiades yesterday accused the government of not clarifying the issue with the EU, leaving the door open to misinterpretation.

    “Our position was that the government should have concluded the consultations before announcing the measures for the Turkish Cypriots so as to avoid misinterpretations,” Anastassiades said.

    He added: “Unfortunately we see that gaps have been left, which create problems.”

    The DISY chief said he hoped the government’s discussions with the EU would iron out any misunderstandings and lift any dangers.

    Meanwhile the Athens News Agency yesterday reported from Istanbul that Ankara was upset by the EU package because it provided for export procedures supervised by the Republic.

    Quoting diplomatic sources, ANA said the Turkish Foreign Ministry would try to “expose the shortcomings of the package”.

    “If by responsible authority they mean the Greek Cypriot administration, then we do not consider the embargo lifted and we’ll start a discussion on the issue in all EU assemblies,” the sources said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, June 7, 2003

    [02] Owner blast municipality after listed house collapses

    By Alex Mita

    THE OWNER of a listed house, which collapsed in old Nicosia yesterday, has lashed out at the municipality, claiming they had not carried out the proper repairs to support it.

    The house, classed as dangerous by the municipality, had been temporarily repaired by a contractor appointed by the local authorities. But the support proved inadequate, as it collapsed just after a pickup truck went by yesterday afternoon.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, furious owner Emilios Emmanuel claimed the municipality was to blame for the collapse of the house, alleging the contractor had not done his job properly.

    “The thing I don’t understand is that the municipality is allowing heavy machinery to be operated in listed houses, and that’s what is destroying them,” Emmanuel said.

    “The use of heavy equipment in listed houses is dangerous because of the vibrations they cause. When I bought the house, it had a sitting tenant, a carpenter who was using it as a workshop and I couldn’t have him evicted.

    “The municipality told me nine months ago that I had to repair the house because it was dangerous. I told them I knew the house was dangerous and asked them to help me by revoking the carpenter’s licence to operate his machinery in the shop. I received no reply.”

    Emmanuel said that when the tenant finally left the building, the house was examined by a structural engineer, who filed a report on how it could be temporarily supported.

    He claimed the municipality did not give him enough time to put the money together to repair the house, and instead awarded the project to their own contractor, charging him £7,000 for a week’s work to support it.

    “I took my engineer to the house to see what they were doing and he said they were going about it the wrong way and that the house could still collapse after they finished their work,” he said.

    “I told the contractor to stop the repairs because he was doing a bad job and his response was, ‘the municipality gave me the job, you should discuss it with them’.

    “My engineer wrote to the municipality and told them the house was still dangerous, but nothing was done. Now they are taking me to court because I refused to pay them the money and on top of that the house collapsed,” Emmanuel added.

    The house is situated on a narrow street used by pedestrians and cars and witnesses told the Cyprus Mail yesterday it collapsed just seconds after a pick up truck drove by. Rubble from the house crushed a car and damaged another, while reports said there were still live electricity wires attached to the house.

    Emmanuel claimed it could take years to acquire a building permit to repair the house and that the terms and conditions were ridiculous and costly.

    “It could cost you up to £500 a square metre to repair a listed house,” he said.

    “If they carry on like this nobody is going to want to buy a listed house and if they continue to let carpenters use them they will all be destroyed.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, June 7, 2003

    [03] EU approves amendment to ease pharmaceutical imports

    By Alexia Saoulli

    HEALTH Minister Dina Akkelidou said yesterday that recent problems over pharmaceutical supplies had now been resolved.

    The problem came to light several weeks ago when a considerable number of established medical products started disappearing from local pharmacies because of a glitch in the Health Ministry’s pharmaceutical law, which had been amended two years ago to keep in line with EU harmonisation. The law stipulated that all medical products needed to be accompanied by detailed documents including administrative details, clinical information, pharmacological studies, and toxicological safety studies. However, older drugs contained less documentation, and despite the fact that they continued to circulate in other EU countries, the government was forced to ban them from Cyprus because foreign pharmaceutical companies refused to develop the necessary documentation solely for the Cyprus market, when no other European country had demand for them.

    “Negotiations with the European Union have had a very good outcome, which will lead to the amendment of our harmonisation law, which has created problems,” said Akkelidou, adding that nearly 30 per cent of drugs had run the risk of being struck off the market. These included anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, anti-fungal creams and high blood pressure drugs.

    She said the solution was permanent because the government had been given permission to go ahead and regulate its law in line with other European countries, thus allowing all medications to circulate. The EU also said it would change European pharmaceutical legislation in future, Akkelidou added.

    The minister said the problem had been detected two years ago, soon after the harmonisation law had been implemented, but “we weren’t assertive enough in securing the smooth running of drugs purchases”.

    Analysing the problem, Akkelidou said the drugs that circulated on the European market and continued to circulate had not upgraded their documentation in the way the new legislature required. But, “in essence, they could not continue to circulate in Cyprus because the harmonisation law was not being satisfied,” she said.

    According to Pharmaceutical Services head Louis Panayis, the confirmation from Europe had been given orally yesterday and written confirmation was expected within a few days.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, June 7, 2003

    [04] Virtual health care project rewarded with Microsoft grant

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    MICROSOFT Corporation announced its approval of a $50,000 research grant yesterday for the University of Cyprus Home Health Care project for cancer patients. The research programme, called DITIS, aims to improve the quality of a patient’s life by focusing on facilitating home-based care while reducing the need for hospital-based care.

    Round the clock simultaneous support of a patient at home by a healthcare team is almost impossible. DITIS aims to provide a system that supports the creation, management and co-ordination of virtual collaborative medical teams for the continuous treatment of patients with chronic diseases at home.

    In effect, a ‘virtual’ healthcare team will be able to provide personalised and private service to the patient at home using a medical collaboration network, under the direction of the treating specialist. Each health professional will be able to use a mobile device to access and input medical information on a web database.

    By using the application, chronically and severely ill patients, like cancer patients, can enjoy ‘optimum’ health service in the comfort of their home instead of in a hospital bed. In case of a change in their condition, the health care team will be present to support them through DITIS’ virtual collaboration.

    The system is currently in operation in Larnaca, supporting the activities of the Cyprus Association of Cancer Patients and Friends (PASYKAF) who offer home-care services for cancer patients. Researchers hope to use funding to develop the programme to lead to island-wide deployment and commercial application of the product.

    DITIS was one of the finalists at the first eEurope Awards in eHealth at a high level conference in Brussels last month. It was one of 30 applicants chosen out of 180 to be showcased in the two-day exhibition, while being the only non-EU funded project.

    Microsoft Vice President for Global Accounts, Jonothan Murray, said: “This is the first grant of its kind accorded by Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, to an organisation in the region. It is a truly impressive and far- sighted project which, upon completion, will help dramatically improve home health care”. Murray highlighted the correlation between investment in research and development (R&D) and economic growth, noting that Microsoft had allocated $6.5 billion for next year’s R&D programme. Cyprus spends the lowest percentage of its Gross Domestic Product on R&D within the European Union.

    The DITIS system was initiated in 1999 as a two-year research project and has since then been funded and supported by a number of organisations: the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation, the University of Cyprus, PASYKAF, NetU Consultants Ltd, the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA), WinMob Technologies Ltd, Ericsson (through S.A. Petrides Ltd), Microsoft and the Cyprus Development Bank (CDB).

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, June 7, 2003

    [05] Prison population soars to over 400

    By Sofia Kannas

    THE NUMBER of inmates in the island’s overcrowded central prisons is continuing to rise, reaching more than 400, Justice Ministry Permanent Secretary Lazaros Savvides said yesterday.

    The recent influx of prisoners follows the decision of new Attorney-general Solon Nikitas to issue a new interpretation of the debt law last month. Nikitas’ interpretation, issued on May 21, means debtors no longer have their sentences suspended, putting an end to the practice used by his predecessor, Alecos Markides, of calling on the President to shelve prison sentences for debt violations.

    On May 26, 372 people were in prison, according to Director of Prisons Panicos Kyriakou, despite the fact that the central prisons are designed to take a maximum of 230 inmates. But by yesterday afternoon, the number had risen to 405.

    “Unfortunately the number of prisoners (has) reached 405,” Savvides told the Cyprus Mail.

    The Permanent Secretary confirmed that he planned to visit the central prisons soon to assess the situation.

    “I want to see the problem for myself,” he said. “And I want to see whether the measures we are actually taking have had any effect. I also would like to see the spirit of prison staff and the prisoners themselves.”

    Savvides will also monitor progress on the construction of a new prison wing. He confirmed that the building work was nearly complete but said the new wing would not be in operation this month.

    “We will not be able to operate the new wing yet. There is furniture that has to be installed, and this has to be of a particular type, (suitable) for a prison, and this will be delivered at a different date,” he said.

    “I’m expecting the Department of Public Works to inform us on Monday or Tuesday of an expected delivery date so we know where we stand.”

    Asked about reports that the government was considering renting new premises to accommodate inmates in the meantime, Savvides said: “This is something we are considering. But to change a space into a prison area is not an easy task. We are evaluating the date that the new wing is likely to begin operating, and then we will make a decision.

    “But our first priority is the operation of the new wing,” he added.

    Meanwhile, Ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou confirmed yesterday that she would visit the central prisons on Tuesday. But she played down media claims that she would be writing a new report on prisons after the visit.

    “It’s too early to say at this stage,” she said. “I shall see.”

    Nicolaou compiled the last report on the island’s central prisons two years ago.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, June 7, 2003

    [06] President pledges overhaul of state machinery

    By a Staff Reporter

    PRESIDENT Tassos Papadopoulos yesterday pledged that the policy of change he had promised during his election campaign would be put into effect very soon.

    In a written statement issued after an extraordinary Cabinet meeting, where Interior Ministry issues where discussed, Papadopoulos said ministers would have to present the President with a plan of action for their ministries by the end of July.

    Papadopoulos stressed that the main target of his administration was “the change of attitude in the Public Service and among all decision makers,” as well as the implementation of meritocracy in the public sector.

    “Our next target,” Papadopoulos said, “is to make it clear that the government and public service are here to serve citizens and not to oppress them.”

    The President that in the coming days he would visit all the ministries and have meetings with staff members and department heads in order to discuss practical ways in which the policy of each ministry could be implemented.

    Papadopoulos said the financial condition of the state was far worse than anticipated.

    “We have financial obligations that should have been dealt with in 2002, but where postponed for 2003 or later,” he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, June 7, 2003

    [07] Water sellers told to clear their supply with Health Ministry

    By a Staff Reporter

    ANYONE transporting or supplying drinking water in water trucks and dispensers must submit satisfactory proof to the Health Ministry that their water is suitable for public consumption, Health Minister Dina Akkelidou said yesterday.

    The announcement follows a 2002 Health Service study released in parliament, which found that 36 per cent of water carried in tanker trucks and 30 per cent of that sold through dispensers was not suitable for drinking.

    Akkelidou stressed yesterday that since last year’s study, the quality of water had improved significantly.

    “In the last few months, following the publicity surrounding the issue and the recommendations given, there has been a marked improvement, and from 36 per cent of water found to be inadequate, this had fallen to five per cent, ” she said.

    The Minister added that her department had asked the relevant authorities to issue licences proving there was a proper regulatory system in place to ensure water quality was acceptable.

    She blamed the substandard water quality on transportation and water handling methods, admitting state controls were not always adequate.

    Meanwhile, the Association of Water Sellers yesterday rejected claims that some of their members advertised ordinary water as ‘mountain water’ on the side of their trucks. The Association stressed that water sold in tanker trucks was “fully reliable”, coming from mountain sources approved by the state.

    The Association also noted that the water sellers’ views and recommendations for ways to regulate the problem had been submitted to the House Health Committee and the Health Minister.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Saturday, June 7, 2003

    [08] Motorcyclists urged to put safety first

    By a Staff Reporter

    POLICE yesterday launched a campaign to clamp down on illegal modifications on street bikes and other motorcycles, as well as the persistent failure of riders to wear helmets.

    According to police, the number of people killed in motorcycle accidents in the first five months of 2003 is higher than at the same time last year, with 37 deaths this year compared to 32 in 2002.

    Police said the last five people killed in motorcycle accidents were not wearing helmets.

    The highest number of motorcycle related deaths13) was recorded in Paphos, 12 were killed in Nicosia, seven in Larnaca, four in Limassol and one in the Famagusta district.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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