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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-06-19

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, June 19, 2003


  • [01] Larnaca refinery to be scrapped in favour of storing fuel
  • [02] Mosquito warning after heavy summer rains
  • [03] Brain surgery for Archbishop?
  • [04] EU tells Cyprus to focus on meeting commitments
  • [05] Cyprus market links up with Athens and Tel Aviv for Med 100 index
  • [06] Police sign deal to link up to Schengen Information Sysytem
  • [07] Anastassiades sets up shadow cabinet to track government work
  • [08] University admin staff threaten strike for extra staff

  • [01] Larnaca refinery to be scrapped in favour of storing fuel

    By Alex Mita

    THE FATE of the petroleum refinery in Larnaca was sealed yesterday after the Cabinet shelved plans to have it upgraded to meet with EU standards.

    Instead, Commerce and Industry Minister George Lillikas said the government would turn the refinery grounds into a fuel import terminal until a new energy centre at Vassiliko was completed by 2008.

    Speaking at a news conference yesterday, Lillikas said the decision to shut down the refinery was the cheapest option.

    “After reviewing the results of a study carried out by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry regarding alternative solutions to meet the economic needs on petroleum products by 2010, the Cabinet has decided to cancel the upgrading of the refinery and order the cessation of crude oil refining,” he said.

    “The refinery will now be modified into an import and storage terminal for fuel until the year 2010, when it will be torn down.”

    Lillikas said the two other options were either too costly or impractical.

    “We had three options,” he said.

    “The first was to complete plans by the previous government and upgrade the refinery to produce sulphur free fuels, keeping it operational until 2010, only to then have it torn down and sold for scrap.

    “The other option was to create a fuel import terminal, and the third option was to agree to an Electricity Authority (EAC) suggestion to create an energy centre near the new power plant at Vassiliko.”

    But Lillikas said the study showed that the EAC proposal could not fully meet the economy’s petroleum needs if the upgrading of the refinery was cancelled.

    “For the time being, the EAC can only provide two tanks with a storage capacity of 60,000 metric tons, meaning that the refinery in Larnaca would have to continue operating with or without the upgrade,” Lillikas said.

    “The EAC proposal, did, however, include the construction of a complete fuel import terminal to cover the needs of the whole island. Their suggestion will be studied within the framework of the construction of the new energy centre at Vassiliko by 2008.”

    Lillikas said the cost of the turning the refinery into an import terminal was up to $83 million less than it would be to have it upgraded. He added that the operational costs would also be reduced because a smaller number of staff would be employed, while freight costs would be reduced due to the transport of the fuel in larger vessels.

    A deal with Larnaca Municipality means the import terminal will have to be removed by 2010, but the cost of environmental restoration of the area was not revealed.

    “We have not yet made a study for the restoration of the area,” he said.

    “But experts will carry out the study before the installations are removed in 2010.”

    The refinery has also been a thorn in the side of the municipality, angry at its effects on tourism and the environment, and questions had been raised as to whether the municipality would issue planning permission for more storage tanks in the area to meet EU directives calling for a 90-day supply of fuel. The storage capacity in Larnaca is for 65 days.

    “We are allowed to have a 65-day fuel supply until 2008,” Lillikas said.

    “So we are not planning to build more tanks or installations at present. We will also use EAC storage tanks and the energy centre at Vassiliko.”

    Lillikas slammed comments by his predecessor Nicos Rolandis that the same experts who had carried out the study recommending the refinery upgrade now said it was cheaper not to go ahead.

    “I am saddened by Mr Rolandis’ comments. It appears that he is trying to put the blame on the current administration. Experts do not make policy, they follow decisions made by their political supervisors and the government. They were never asked to make a comparative study for the cost of upgrading or modifying the refinery into a terminal.”

    Some 85 people are expected to lose their jobs from when the refinery is shut down. In protest, a group of employees yesterday held a one-hour strike outside the Presidential Palace while the Cabinet was discussing the issue.

    Lillikas said there was no chance of the employees being placed in other government positions.

    “There are laws and procedures for government employees and unfortunately we cannot offer these people jobs in the government. We can, however, employ them again for the scrapping of the refinery for a short period of time.”

    Lillikas said the government would have to bear the burden of making people redundant because it was the only solution.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 19, 2003

    [02] Mosquito warning after heavy summer rains

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE HEALTH Ministry yesterday confirmed it had received an increase in complaints from the public about mosquito bites with heavy rains and soaring temperatures creating a near tropical environment.

    Nevertheless, according to health services head, Sophoclis Anthousis, the situation is under control and should be non-existent within a few days.

    The trouble, mainly around the Nicosia district, concerns an increase in the number of culex mosquitoes, which are annoying but harmless, he said. Their presence was fuelled by “peoples’ ignorance and recent rain”.

    “Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water found in water deposits or drainage systems’ septic tanks,” he said. “If the water is not changed or sealed off properly then the mosquitoes can get in and, combined with the high temperatures, breed within seven or eight days.”

    Stagnant water can also unsuspectingly be found in flowerpots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels and cans, which should be emptied or changed, he said.

    “We had a lot of unusual rain a couple of weeks ago, which has meant a lot of rainwater has gathered in and around built-up areas,” said Anthousis. But, the problem was worsened by the fact that people were unaware of what precautions needed to be taken in order to prevent mosquitoes from multiplying, he said.

    “Ventilation pipes need to be protected with nets,” he said. “And drainage systems’ septic tanks and absorption pits need to be fed with insecticide and liquid diesel in order to prevent reproduction and to kill off the mosquitoes that have already made their way in.”

    Municipality health services have already been spraying stagnant water with insecticide, he said, and the ministry was continuing its mosquito-spraying programme.

    Anthousis said following these precautions should reduce mosquitoes in affected areas by 80 per cent. “If it doesn’t, and mosquitoes start appearing from different areas the local authorities should be contacted,” he said.

    For personal protection at night, insecticide pellets and sprays were effective, as well as safe, as long as a room was adequate ventilated, he said. “I’d suggest leaving a window slightly open to help air the room because of the smell they give off. They are completely safe, however, otherwise they would never have been allowed on the market.”

    The Health Ministry’s Dr Chrystalla Hadjianastasiou gave basic tips on how to avoid mosquito bites: these included wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers whenever outdoors; placing mosquito netting over infant carriers when outdoors; trying to stay indoors at dawn, dusk and early evening, which are peak mosquito biting times; installing or repairing window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors, and draining sources of standing water in outdoor areas.

    “I don’t think such drastic precautions are really necessary, however,” said Anthousis. “Within a few days, thanks to the measures being taken by both the authorities and homeowners, the mosquitoes won’t be a problem any more,” he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 19, 2003

    [03] Brain surgery for Archbishop?

    By Alexia Saoulli

    ARCHBISHOP Chrysostomos is to undergo surgery to feed his brain with oxygen and boost his memory, reports claimed yesterday.

    According to Phileleftheros, American doctors suggested the operation last week, although it is not known whether the specialists actually visited the island to examine the Archbishop.

    The Church leader started suffering six or seven years ago, after a heart operation resulted in a blood clot, which destroyed several brain cells, leaving him with memory lapses.

    “The doctors told us that the brain can be fed through a valve, and his memory situation will be drastically improved,” the paper quoted sources close to the Archbishop as saying. At present, they said, his brain was confused and he could not remember what had happened 10 minutes earlier.

    Three weeks, ago the Archbishop appeared on CyBC looking tired and drained. It was his first appearance on TV after his return from Athens in September last year, where he had spent four and a half months being treated for head and spinal injuries. Although no official statement has ever been made, the Archbishop is understood to be suffering from Alzheimer’s, the degenerative neurological disease.

    However, according to the paper’s sources, apart from his memory lapses, the Archbishop is in optimum health and any ailment he might have is down to sadness, brought on by internal Church divisions.

    The same ‘associates’ blamed Holy Synod members, who they said did not really care for the Archbishop’s health. Instead they wanted him examined by top doctors so that they could confirm he was no longer in a position to head the Church and had to be replaced, Phileleftheros quoted them.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 19, 2003

    [04] EU tells Cyprus to focus on meeting commitments

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    EU ENLARGEMENT Commissioner Gunter Verheugen has warned the government to focus on getting the “OK” from the EU monitoring report due this autumn on the state of implementation of the accession negotiations.

    “The picture looks fine but in certain areas, efforts are still needed and in some areas, urgent action is needed. We achieved a full political agreement (with the Cyprus government) that our objective must be the final monitoring report, so we can say that everything is OK in Cyprus,” he told a news conference yesterday before leaving for Brussels.

    The head of the negotiating team for Cyprus’ accession to the EU, Takis Hadjidemetriou, told state radio that concerns that Cyprus would not meet the deadlines appeared to have been dispelled.

    “At the moment, we are implementing the timeframe and it looks like we will definitely meet our obligations. The previous concern that we weren’t is being dispelled,” said Hadjidemetriou.

    The EU had sent very stern letters to the government on delays in their obligations to which the government has now replied.

    “The legislation on the electricity chapter has been in parliament for some weeks now and all legislation regarding telecommunications has been passed. Certain areas, like the internet, have already been liberalised. We are now waiting for the second mobile telephony licence which will be issued on October 30 2003,” he said.

    “Regarding the matter of financial control, the EU puts a lot of emphasis on an independent service which will be agreed on in cabinet this week and then go to parliament. A special fund for the Agriculture Ministry will also be discussed in cabinet this week. Most of the money coming in to Cyprus will go through this fund,” he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 19, 2003

    [05] Cyprus market links up with Athens and Tel Aviv for Med 100 index

    By Jean Christou

    THE CYPRUS Stock Exchange (CSE) today launches the FTSE Med 100 in collaboration with its Athens and Tel Aviv counterparts in a Financial Times index designed to act as a benchmark for regional investment.

    Five Cypriot listed companies, Bank of Cyprus, Laiki Bank, Hellenic Bank, Louis Cruise Lines and Tsokkos Hotels will be represented on the new Med 100 index, along with 60 Athens listed companies and 35 from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

    “The new index was designed to reflect the performance of the largest listed companies in these markets and to help attract new investment capital in the region,” Athens stock exchange President Panagiotis Alexakis told a news conference in the Greek capital ahead of today’s launch, which will be marked in Cyprus by a joint news conference with representatives from the Athens and Tel Aviv bourses.

    According to a Reuters report from Athens. the FTSE MED 100 will be calculated in real time from 9.45am to 5pm, a time spread that covers the trading hours of all three exchanges involved. Its base will be 5,000 points. The Cyprus exchange operates from 10.30am until midday.

    The index, which will be reviewed semi-annually, may serve as the underlying instrument for the launch of new derivatives products at a later date, officials in Athens said.

    Greece has the highest weighting in the new index, 56.55 percent, followed by Israel with 42.55 and Cyprus with 0.89 per cent. Based on May 30 prices, the index has a free-float capitalisation above 50 billion euros.

    Its largest constituent, with a 22.7 percent weighting is Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical, followed by Greece’s OTE Telecom.

    Other Greek companies included in the Med 100 index include banks such as Alpha, National and Eurobank, telecoms firms Vodafone, Panafon and Cosmote and construction firms Michaniki, Aktor and Hellenic Technodomiki.

    Israeli participants include Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Migdal Insurance, Partner Communications, Super Sol, Israel Discount Bank and Agis Industries.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 19, 2003

    [06] Police sign deal to link up to Schengen Information Sysytem

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE police yesterday signed a €3.8 million contract for the procurement and installation of a joint European information system known as the Schengen Information System (SIS).

    The system will enable the authorities to have access to reports on individuals for the purposes of border controls and other police and customs checks, as well as the issue of visas and residence permits.

    Chief of Police Tasos Panayiotou said the whole project would cost €3.8 million, with €2 million paid by the European Union and the rest by Cyprus.

    It installation is expected to be complete by the time the island joins the EU on May 1, 2004.

    “Within the framework of harmonising with the Schengen agreement we have committed to upgrade and modernise the force’s current computer network and at the same time install the National Information System, which, after accession to the EU, would be linked to the Union’s SIS that is based in Strasbourg,” Panayiotou said.

    The force’s IT officer and project manager Christos Drakos said a strategic study had been drafted, which was expected to be complete in five years when all the island’s obligations towards the EU were fulfilled.

    Drakos said the first phase included the installation of the SIS infrastructure, automating the force and installing the system in all police stations.

    The system will be installed in around 100 venues and is expected to be accessed by over 700 users, he added.

    It will cover the police, as well as other government services like the Foreign Ministry, the Planning Bureau - heads all projects concerning harmonisation - the legal service, customs and the Interior Ministry.

    Deputy Chief of Police George Panayiotou said 30 people would be needed to operate the system but that for the time being no extra personnel would be needed.

    Drakos said the company selected to install the system had been chosen from eight international tenders that were fully checked by the EU.

    He said every element of the system, even the people working on the project, would come from EU member states, Cyprus and Malta.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 19, 2003

    [07] Anastassiades sets up shadow cabinet to track government work

    By George Psyllides

    DISY yesterday announced the names of party officials who will make up its shadow cabinet, which party leader Nicos Anastassiades said aimed to provide an alternative authority.

    Presenting the ‘board of commissioners’, as they will collectively be known, Anastassiades said his party was “today entering a new course of regrouping and creation that leaves behind everything that gave the wrong picture”.

    The DISY chief said the composition of the board - around 44 members - was the result of a collective effort, though the final decisions had been his.

    He said DISY was a modern opposition “who wanted, with its proposals and ideas, to contribute to the society’s and the country’s progress”.

    Anastassiades said the board was mainly made up of new faces, who had distinguished themselves as politicians, technocrats, entrepreneurs and select members of society, who had ideas, vision and inspiration and were ready to work hard for the party and the country.

    The commissioners and their deputies would be tasked with monitoring the government’s work and formulating their own proposals by exploiting new, modern European ideas.

    The board will convene once every fortnight though extraordinary meetings will be held when necessary, Anastassiades said.

    The commissioners will be responsible for putting together support teams staffed with experts who will provide the necessary support.

    Through these teams the party is looking to use capable members from all levels of society as well as to widen its support.

    “We are opening our horizons to embrace all modern citizens, wherever they are,” Anastassiades said.

    Similar groups and committees will be set up in all districts in order to follow the government work at a local level.

    Anastassiades said as party leader he would be responsible for DISY’s policy on the Cyprus problem and Europe, though former foreign minister Yiannakis Cassoulides would provide him with substantial help and communicate the party’s policy.

    Deputy Rikkos Erotocritou, who defied his party’s line in the recent presidential elections, was appointed deputy foreign affairs commissioner, while the other dissident, Prodromos Prodromou, assumes the post of education and culture commissioner.

    Former communications minister Averof Neophytou is commissioner for financial policy and development strategy, while deputy Lefteris Christoforou is responsible for monitoring the operation of the trade, industry and tourism ministry.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Thursday, June 19, 2003

    [08] University admin staff threaten strike for extra staff

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    ADMINISTRATIVE staff at the University of Cyprus are threatening to strike on July 1 if measures are not taken soon to get the 2003 budget approved in parliament before the summer recess.

    Chairman of the administrative staff union (EDIPPAK) Doros Michail said yesterday that the university’s administration was seriously short-staffed and would be unable to deal with the increased workload that has come hand in hand with university expansion.

    Michail revealed that, according to a study undertaken by the university itself, the administration department needed 137 new positions to fill gaps created by the university’s development. Currently, there are 210 administrative staff at the university.

    “It is unthinkable that we have reached mid-June and there has been no talk of when they will submit in parliament the budget for 2003. The last plenary session is July 8. If the budget is not approved by then, there will be no money for new positions or the promotion of existing staff in the new academic year,” said Michail.

    The union leader argued that administrative staff were already over- burdened with responsibilities, without the chance for advancement in most circumstances. Michail said the union’s philosophy was for administrative staff numbers gradually to equal those of academic staff.

    A two-hour strike is planned for July 1, with a view to further action in September if the problem is not solved by then, said Michail.

    “In effect, without new positions, the university will have major operational difficulties in September,” he maintained, adding, “don’t forget that part of the new university campus will also be operating in the new academic year”.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

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