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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-01-04

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, January 4, 2000


  • [01] Banks and Stock Market report all clear on Y2K
  • [02] Clerides confirms Britain might have stored nuclear weapons at Akrotiri in 1960s
  • [03] Clerides ticks off party leaders after National Council leaks
  • [04] Drivers urged to drive more carefully after deadly 1999
  • [05] Casualty flooded with teenage drunks
  • [06] Paphos twins first of the millennium
  • [07] Government says all toxic toys have been withdrawn
  • [08] Pharmacists welcome medicine price list
  • [09] Small aftershock shakes Limassol
  • [10] Turkish Cypriot firm gets Unficyp water contract
  • [11] Hasikos denies helicopter deal report

  • [01] Banks and Stock Market report all clear on Y2K

    By George Psyllides

    THE BANKS and the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) yesterday reported a smooth transition into 2000 with no Y2K-bug problems.

    The banks and the CSE remained closed yesterday to test all their systems.

    "So far, there has been complete absence of trouble. Banks have been testing their systems from January 1 and nothing untoward has come to light, " said Andreas Phillipou, Chief Senior Manager at the bank supervision and regulation division of the Central Bank of Cyprus.

    Systems were working so well that the banks had decided to give staff Monday afternoon off, he added.

    The CSE, which had shut its server down on December 31 and restarted it on January 1, reported no problems either.

    Tuesday's hour-long session will go ahead as scheduled, a bourse official said.

    The Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) and the Electricity Authority announced on Saturday that the New Year had rolled across the island smoothly and without problems.

    A CyTA statement said its staff continued to be on standby carrying out tests to secure the normal operation of its network.

    The Electricity Authority (EAC) reported that there had been absolutely no Y2K bug problem, either to the production, transfer, or distribution of power.

    In its statement, the EAC said it had invited foreign experts, who, in cooperation with its own technicians, had carried out checks to all the equipment and certified it was Y2k compliant.

    The EAC had began checking and upgrading its systems since 1997 so as to be fully prepared for the transition into the year 2000.

    Cyprus Airways on Saturday successfully carried out two test flights.

    The tests were conducted using both types of aircraft -- Airbus 310 and 320 -- currently in service with the airline.

    On board the first flight, which flew over Beirut and Paphos, were company officials, including chairman Haris Loizides, and press covering the flight.

    Loizides praised the company's employees for working for almost four years to prepare the equipment for the Y2K.

    "The results certify the high professional standard of Cyprus Airways' staff, which has made the company one of the safest airlines in the world," he said.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2000

    [02] Clerides confirms Britain might have stored nuclear weapons at Akrotiri in 1960s

    By Jean Christou

    PRESIDENT Clerides yesterday confirmed that Britain might in the past have stored nuclear weapons at its bases in Cyprus without informing the government of the fact.

    Clerides was speaking after a meeting with British High Commissioner Edward Clay, following revelations from newly released British documents.

    The latest documents, released on January 1 under the 30-year rule, reveal that, in 1969, military aircraft based at Akrotiri were carrying nuclear bombs.

    A British Defence Ministry document, dated February 18, 1969, states: "The United Kingdom has suggested to member governments of CENTO that their defence rests ultimately on the global nuclear deterrent of which the United Kingdom's forces in Cyprus are a part."

    The revelation has caused a stir on the island, with some insisting the government ask the British for explanations.

    Reports of nuclear weapons at the bases have surfaced on several occasions in recent years, but the reports, mostly from anti-bases groups, have been dismissed.

    One report several years ago suggested there had been a nuclear leak in the early ’seventies and that Britain secretly brought in experts to clean it up without informing the Cyprus government.

    Clerides said yesterday there was a time when the government did have some indication or information that nuclear weapons were probably on the bases, but "things have changed".

    "The British Bases have never disclosed whether or not they have nuclear weapons and this applies not only for my presidency but also for all previous presidencies," Clerides told journalists.

    "Things have changed since then, because, at that time, nuclear weapons were carried only by aircraft, but now they are not."

    The President insisted that the Cypriot people "were in no danger from any kind of leak".

    Clay was reluctant to answer questions on the issue, and would neither confirm nor deny the report. He did say it was a well-known fact that there was a V Bomber Force on the island in the 1960s. "There is no secret about it," he said.

    Asked if there were nuclear weapons on the bases today, Clay replied: "I think not."

    He admitted the Cyprus government was not informed about the existence or not of nuclear weapons. "This is a British sovereign matter. We do not comment on those things to anybody. That is our practice," he said

    Earlier, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the government had no information on the existence of nuclear weapons on the bases.

    "From time to time in decades past there were specific charges both from overseas countries like the former Soviet Union and from groups in Cyprus on the existence of these kind of weapons in Cyprus," he said.

    "But I spoke today both with President of the House (Spyros Kyprianou), who for a long period of time was President of the Republic, and with others. None of them ever had any information that would confirm these charges."

    Tuesday, January 4, 2000

    [03] Clerides ticks off party leaders after National Council leaks

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT is angry over leaks to the media on the sensitive Cyprus talks, just a day after President Clerides briefed the National Council on developments during the first round of proximity talks in New York last month.

    Clerides has written to all the party leaders concerning the leaks, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    Until the National Council meeting last Thursday, not a word had appeared in the press on what had been discussed in New York, in line with a news blackout imposed by UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan.

    But diplomats’ fears (expressed to the Cyprus Mail before Christmas) that members of the National Council would breach the news embargo came true on Friday.

    Phileleftheros newspaper reported in detail that the UN was promoting the idea of constitutional changes to transform the government from a presidential democracy to a parliamentary one.

    The paper also said that, on the territorial issue, Clerides supported the return of 66 to 75 per cent of refugees to their homes, and that an idea had been put forward that the Turkish side would keep 24 per cent of the island as opposed to the current 37 per cent.

    "As you know, the proximity talks are being carried out in confidentiality, " Papapetrou said yesterday. "There has been a call from the Secretary- general for no statements to be made on this issue."

    Papapetrou said that the Cyprus government was cooperating with the embargo and was not about to make public anything to do with the talks.

    "With the opportunity given by this question," he added, "I would like to tell you that the President has sent letters to the members of the National Council in which he states that after the National Council meeting there were leaks to the press on the issues that the National Council was informed on. He notes these leaks, and said they were in violation of the embargo."

    Asked about possible constitutional changes, Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades confirmed yesterday that there was talk of this happening, but added that the UN had not asked Cyprus for its position yet. He denied that any decision on this issue would be taken when the National Council met again today.

    "What I hear being said is not quite true," he said. "That (on Tuesday) the National Council will discuss whether it will accept a change to the governmental system. Discussions are being carried out and opinions are being stated, but at the current stage the UN is not asking us when and how."

    Communist Akel spokesman Andreas Christou said what was more important was the type of government that would emerge from a solution.

    "Some of the press gave the wrong impression," he said.

    "The President did indeed inform us about this issue but these are not new issues. They have been discussed before. And in any case a position on this will not be reached (on Tuesday). These are still thoughts and concerns that will be developed and a position will be taken at a later stage," he said.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2000

    [04] Drivers urged to drive more carefully after deadly 1999

    TRAFFIC POLICE Chief George Voutounos yesterday urged drivers to be more careful to avoid a repeat of last year's tragic traffic accident record.

    Despite numerous police traffic safety campaigns last year, the number of fatal accidents has not been stemmed.

    The death toll for 1999 was 112, one up on 1998’s total of 111.

    "The problem remains serious and there should be an effort, especially from drivers to stem accidents," Voutounos said.

    Out of the 57 car drivers and passengers killed last year, only eight were wearing their seat belt, while only five out of the 32 killed on motorcycles and mopeds were wearing a helmet.

    Speeding was listed as the cause of the most fatal accidents, with 25 dead, while reckless driving caused 12 deaths.

    Fourteen motorists were killed last year driving on the wrong side of the road, and nine others from reckless overtaking.

    Nine deaths were put down to driver inexperience, and nine to pedestrian carelessness.

    Six drivers died while driving under the influence of alcohol. Nicosia police carried out 14,136 breathalyser tests last year, 393 of which led to prosecutions, Voutounos said yesterday.

    Though overall deaths were up in 1999, the holiday period claimed fewer lives than in 1998, with five people killed between December 20 and January 2, down from the eight who died in the same period the previous year.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2000

    [05] Casualty flooded with teenage drunks

    MILLENNIUM celebrations proved too much for several young partiers, with teenagers as young as 15 being taken to hospital for over-drinking.

    The casualty department at Nicosia General Hospital received a spate of young people who were the worse for wear because of the festivities at the turn of the year, Head of Casualty Dr Costas Antoniades told the Cyprus Mail.

    The sorry sufferers, mostly between the ages of 15 and 18, were put on drips or given sugar and sent home to get plenty of rest.

    The drinkers added to the congestion at Nicosia Casualty, which has been extremely busy recently due to the unusually high number of flu victims.

    Antoniades attributed the flu bug to the dry, warm weather this Christmas, but said that the numbers attending casualty for the flu were now beginning to drop.

    Apart from these cases, he added that staff at the hospital were "very happy that we didn't have any very serious accidents during these days."

    Tuesday, January 4, 2000

    [06] Paphos twins first of the millennium

    TWIN brothers shared the honour of being Cyprus' first millennium babies.

    Born in Paphos three and four minutes into the new year, the babies' arrival was slightly unexpected.

    Their proud parents, Maria and Themis Themistocleous, were holidaying in Paphos from the Nicosia district village of Astomeritis when the twins were born early.

    Mother and babies were yesterday reported to be in good health.

    The twins were followed by another little boy, born at approximately 1am in Larnaca.

    His proud parents are Androulla and Costas Theocharous from Pervolia village. Again, mother and baby were yesterday reported to be in excellent health.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2000

    [07] Government says all toxic toys have been withdrawn

    By Athena Karsera

    THE COMMERCE Ministry yesterday assured consumers that all toxic plastic toys and teething rings had been withdrawn from the market, while the Green Party urged the government to publish a list of offending toys.

    According to an announcement from the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Industry yesterday, "Cyprus acted ahead of both the European Union and the United States in prohibiting chewable plastic goods containing phthalate (a softening substance linked to cancer). Chewable goods on the market today do not contain phthalate."

    The announcement continued that the United States had not yet banned any toys, while the EU had issued a temporary ban one month after Cyprus' action.

    The announcement also said that babies' dummies available on the Cyprus market had certificates from their manufacturers testifying to their safety, while the Government laboratory was in the process of carrying out independent tests.

    The Ministry added it had no intention of revealing the names of importers and said that the Greens' insistence was "unseemly and unethical."

    The Head of the Consumer Protection Service, George Mitides, said yesterday the issue had been misunderstood.

    "The EU and the USA came to the conclusion that none of these toys (remaining on the market) are dangerous for children... Our laws are the same as the EU laws, we cannot make decisions different to those taken by Europe."

    The Greens yesterday called for the publication of the results of Government Laboratory tests on the toys, carried out over the last 10 months.

    The head of the Government Laboratories, Dina Angelidou, yesterday appeared to back the Greens’ call: "Based on what happened in 1999, there is enough information on the goods that are circulating for them to be withdrawn and for the public to be informed.

    "I am certain that for the consumers to be properly protected, they should be informed, because it is difficult to withdraw all the dangerous toys, especially in remote areas, and so that toys already purchased can be thrown away."

    Tuesday, January 4, 2000

    [08] Pharmacists welcome medicine price list

    THE CYPRUS Pharmacists’ Association yesterday applauded a Health Ministry decision to publish the maximum retail prices of imported medicines, saying it was a step forward.

    The Ministry on Friday announced that the pharmaceutical services had prepared a list informing the public of prices.

    The Health Ministry said that the move came in response to reports that importers and retailers had been overpricing medicines.

    The Ministry said that medicines could not be sold above the price listed. The list will be updated every six months.

    Association president Nicos Doris said yesterday that while the publishing of the list would be a sign of progress, the system was yet to be perfected.

    "It’s on a trial basis for six months and we agreed that all the interested parties would submit suggestions to improve the procedure in June."

    Doris said the Association's basic suggestion would be for the list to be valid for at least one year, not updated every six months, "for the sake of stability."

    "When countries like Germany and Greece have lists valid for three or four years, why can't a small country like Cyprus adjust?" he wondered.

    Doris said the price of new medicines would be added to the list as they appeared and that changing manufacturing prices would affect listed retail prices only once the register was updated.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2000

    [09] Small aftershock shakes Limassol

    AFTERSHOCKS from last August's earthquake are still hitting Limassol.

    The latest tremor, at 3,4 on the Richter scale, was felt on Sunday at 7.37 pm. The epicentre of the quake was in the Yerasa area, 15 km north of the city.

    Kyriacos Solomis, of the Nicosia Geological Surveys Department, told the Cyprus Mail that the quake was "one of the hundreds which were felt in the area in the last five months" by highly sensitive seismological equipment.

    Very few people in Limassol were affected by the small tremor. One local telephoned Solomis to find out whether the shaking was in fact a quake or just a lorry passing.

    Solomis explained that this movement was part of the normal seismicity of the area and that frequent aftershocks such as Sunday's were common after larger earthquakes.

    In the aftermath of the 1996 earthquake in Paphos, there were over 3,000 aftershocks.

    Regarding more serious earthquakes in the near future, he said that, "according to the information and data, we don't expect any in this area."

    [10] Turkish Cypriot firm gets Unficyp water contract

    NEWSPAPERS in the north reported yesterday that Unficyp had awarded a contract for bottled water to a Turkish Cypriot firm.

    Kibris said Unficyp would use the Turkish Cypriot ‘Trodos’ mineral water produced by a company called EL-SU Trade and Industries Ltd. EL-SU began bottling the water two months ago.

    The newspaper added that Farmakas, a Greek Cypriot water company had supplied Unficyp in 1999. Representatives of the company could not be reached yesterday to confirm the reports, and Unficyp spokesman Charles Gaulkin had no knowledge of the development.

    Gaulkin said that, as far as he was aware, Unficyp used a central tap water supply system with filtration facilities, and the force was not supplied with bottled water across the board.

    "There has not been any UN contract for bottled water for any supplier but it is possible that a local unit has made some arrangement," he said.

    Unficyp does have a general policy of advertising tenders on both sides, he added, but, until now, prices from the north were not competitive, so contracts for items such as fruit and vegetables have come from suppliers in the south of the island.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2000

    [11] Hasikos denies helicopter deal report

    DEFENCE Minister Socratis Hasikos yesterday denied a report in Politis newspaper claiming that he had negotiated the purchase of attack helicopters during his recent visit to Russia.

    Hasikos visited Moscow early in December at the invitation of his Russian Counterpart, Igor Sergeyev.

    The minister yesterday denied discussing the purchase of the Russian-made attack helicopters, saying the report lacked foundation.

    He repeated that the purpose of his visit had been to renew a cooperation protocol between Cyprus and Russia, which had been in place since 1996.

    The report about negotiations for the acquisition of weapons systems from Russia was inaccurate, he added.

    Yesterday’s Politis claimed Hasikos had negotiated the purchase of Mil- Mi28 attack helicopters, which, according to the paper, were preferred instead of the South African-made Roivolk.

    The paper reported that the Mil-Mi28 had been chosen over the Roivolk because of its better price and superior performance.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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