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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-02-08

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

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


Friday, February 8, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Savvides: free health care benefits will be extended
  • [02] News in brief
  • [03] Shopkeepers demand help, but minister says there are too many shops
  • [04] Mine clearing an 'important political step'
  • [05] Banks hammered on the market
  • [06] Direct flights to Dublin launched
  • [07] Government decision 'has lost Cyprus 7,000 Israeli tourists'
  • [08] Markides calls for prosecutions in privacy violations
  • [09] Lazarides 'ecstatic' over IOC appointment
  • [10] Win a trip to the Olympics

  • [01] Savvides: free health care benefits will be extended

    By Melina Demetriou

    THE HEALTH Ministry said yesterday it would be willing to raise the threshold for free state health care to allow more people to enjoy the benefits.

    The House Health Committee yesterday called for a broader cross-section of society to be entitled to free health care.

    Representatives of patients' associations and trade unions at the meeting complained that poor and sick people had to spend a fortune on state hospital treatment and medication.

    "We have submitted a proposal to the ministry asking for patients who suffer from certain cardiac problems to enjoy free medical care," Heart Patients Association chairman Pavlos Dinglis said.

    Addressing the meeting, Minister Frixos Savvides admitted that income bands needed to be redefined to reflect inflation and come into line with the government's fiscal reform plan, which is pending parliamentary approval. He conceded that more people should be entitled to free or cheaper health care.

    Opposition AKEL last month tabled a proposal before parliament suggesting that those earning up to 9,000 a year and families who lived on no more than 18,000 a year plus 1,000 for every dependent should be entitled to free health care.

    Currently, only families living on up to 10,000 a year are allowed free treatment.

    The party also proposed that families who lived on an annual income of between 18,000 and 22,000 plus 1,000 for every dependent should pay only half the cost of their medical needs. The same should apply for those individuals earning between 9,000 and 12,000 per year, AKEL said.

    "Today, about 55 to 60 per cent of the population enjoys free care. If we endorse your proposal, it means that around 85 per cent of the population will become eligible for full medical coverage by the state. We will revise the current system, but I don't know if our health services can bear the weight you suggest they do," said Savvides.

    "If your services are inadequate, you are the one responsible," AKEL deputy Doros Christodoulides countered.

    Christodoulides accused the government of working to undermine public hospitals so they could sell them off to the private sector.

    Some deputies charged that hospitals provided many services at higher price than private clinics did.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] News in brief

    Petrol prices drop

    PUMP PRICES went down by one cent per litre yesterday after the House approved a government bill at its afternoon plenary session.

    The decrease is due to the drop in the price of crude oil, which currently stands at between US$18 and $20 per barrel while a few months ago it was $30.

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis said yesterday the government was working a new mechanism that would regulate the pump prices, which will be in line with EU regulations. He said the proposal would be presented to the House at the end of the first trimester of the year.

    Soldiers released

    TWO BRITISH soldiers were released from police custody yesterday pending their appearance in court on charges of assault and theft.

    David Hall, 24, and Alexander Stuart, 30, were arrested in Limassol early Wednesday morning after a taxi driver gave a statement to the police.

    The two men were allegedly drunk when they got into a taxi, driven by Marinos Theodorou and asked him to take them to a local club. When they arrived at the club, instead of paying and exiting the taxi, the two men asked Theodorou to take them to the Episkopi British Base.

    Theodorou refused and asked them to exit the taxi whereupon the men allegedly set on him and began to hit him from behind.

    Theodorou got out of the taxi and went into a nearby nightspot where he asked one of the employees to help him. When he got back to the taxi he discovered his mobile phone had been stolen and the car had been damaged.

    Theodorou then reported the incident to the police who later arrested the two men and found the stolen phone in the area where the incident took place.

    Hall and Stuart appeared in the Limassol District court yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Shopkeepers demand help, but minister says there are too many shops

    By Rita Kyriakides

    NEARLY 1,000 owners of small and medium-sized shops across the island closed their doors at 11am yesterday in protest at what they say is unfair competition from hypermarkets.

    Melios Georgiou, the secretary-general of the small shopkeeper's union, POVEK, said yesterday the only shops that could not take part in the demonstration where those that were part of franchises.

    POVEK handed a statement to the Commerce Ministry listing the immediate measures they want the government to take.

    The shop owners are asking for the prevention of "unfair competition" from larger stores, the strict enforcement of laws governing the retail sector, an amendment to competition laws that would prevent the sale of products below wholesale prices and the implementation of laws that would enforce strict criteria on new shops.

    "We believe that our message was received," Georgiou said. "Most of the political parties at the House of Representatives were sympathetic to our cause and we will be meeting the Commerce Minister next Friday."

    The union leader warned that if the government response was not to their satisfaction, POVEK would take "drastic measures".

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the main problem in the retail industry was that there were simply too many shops in Cyprus.

    "There is a shop for every 25 to 30 people, while in Europe there is one for every 85," Rolandis said.

    Rolandis said he had raised this problem four years ago, but that town- planning measures should have been taken 20-30 years ago that would not have allowed so many shops to be built.

    "Unfortunately, it didn't happen. Whoever has a plot of land builds a house with a number of shops and then tries to rent them out. Sometimes a civil servant will open a shop that will be run by his wife or children," Rolandis said.

    The minister said cut-throat competition and price wars only added to the problem, adding the government would be taking measures to prevent further expansion of the retail sector.

    "We will try to implement some restrictions according the framework of our European commitments, which does not allow government intervention in the trade sector. This means any restrictions will be abolished in any member states," he said.

    But the government is concerned about shopkeepers' plight and the price wars, saying they create other problems down the line.

    ""The larger stores delay payments to their suppliers because they are selling below cost price. Normally, they pay within 60 or 90 days. Now it takes them 200 days and this is not a healthy way to run a business," said Rolandis.

    The minister said a bill was being drafted that would allow suppliers to charge the large stores interest on delayed payments.

    The bill is to be presented to the Cabinet within the next two months.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Mine clearing an 'important political step'

    By Melina Demetriou

    DEFENCE Minister Socratis Hasikos said yesterday that the government's decision to remove landmines in and around the buffer zone was an important political gesture.

    Cyprus has been criticised over the past three years for its failure to ratify the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, but the government last month submitted a proposal to the UN providing for demining in the buffer zone area.

    Briefing the House Defence Committee on the matter yesterday, Hasikos cited two UN resolutions, 1062 and 1251, calling on both sides of the dividing line to clear minefields in the buffer zone.

    The minister noted that the development could boost Turkish Cypriots' feeling of security.

    The demining will not be carried out by the National Guard, he said, although the army is capable of performing the operation.

    "Foreign governments as well as private companies have expressed interest in carrying out the task," Hasikos explained.

    "There are 11 minefields in the UN-controlled area planted by the National Guard in 1974 and 27 more planted by Turkish forces," said Hasikos.

    The minister added none of National Guard's minefields were reliable because they had not been maintained.

    Tassos Tzonis, head of the Cyprus Problem division at the Foreign Ministry, said his department had contacted UNFICYP on Wednesday requesting that the Turkish Cypriots undertake some demining too.

    "But even if the other side turns down our proposal, we will move ahead with our own plans," he added.

    Tzonis noted that after minefields were cleared, property owners would be able to make use of the land.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Banks hammered on the market

    By Jean Christou

    BANKS, led by Laiki, took a hammering yesterday as the market plunged even lower to another low of 117 points following a session that saw share prices plummet another 1.16 per cent.

    The banking bloodbath, which according to one trader appeared totally without reason, dragged the blue chips index down to 482 points, a drop of 1.73 per cent. Volume stood at 2.6 million.

    Across the board losses in the various subsectors were led by a decline of 2.6 per cent in the construction sector followed by 2.38 per cent in the banking sector and 2.2 per cent in the investment sector. The other sectors managed to keep their losses under the two per cent mark but no one went home smiling.

    Laiki was the top share traded but not for its popularity. Almost 300,000 changed hands on a volume of nearly half a million pounds, one-fifth of the day's total. The stock ended the day six cents poorer at 1.35.

    Bank of Cyprus came in second on the most-active list, trading on almost 200,000 shares and a volume of some 350,000. The share shed three cents to 1.84.

    "The latest selling-craze is not justifiable as nothing noticeable has taken place or changed in the financial or political arena," said the xak.com analyst. "Nevertheless, The CSE is taking a beating and investors are suffering from high blood pressure and shaken nerves."

    Losers again outpaced gainers yesterday with only 24 stocks showing gains compared to 63 decliners and 52 that closed unchanged.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Direct flights to Dublin launched

    By Jean Christou

    HELIOS AIRWAYS yesterday announced the introduction of the first-ever direct scheduled flights from Larnaca to Dublin from March 25.

    Helios sales and marketing manger Andreas Christodoulides said that the airline was so confident the route would succeed that it raised the planned schedule from two to three flights per week at the last minute.

    "Our intention was to start twice a week but last night (Wednesday) after a meeting we decided to add the third flight on a Friday," he said.

    Christodoulides said the flights - which aim to promote tourism between the two countries -- would begin at one per week, every Monday, from March 25, after which they would increase to three per week from May 2. Helios hopes to increase tourist traffic from Ireland to over 55,000 from 45,000 last year, Christodoulides said.

    "We feel very confident on these routes which we believe will bring the two countries very close together," he said. "There are a lot of Irish people living in Cyprus but another thing we want to promote this year is Cypriots visiting Ireland."

    He said with the frequency of flights it will be possible for Cypriots to travel to Ireland even for weekends. He also said the company wanted to push more conference and incentive tourism from Ireland to Cyprus.

    Prices for the Larnaca to Dublin route will start at 189 return with student fares also available starting at 105 one-way. "There is a big Cypriot community studying in Ireland," Christodoulides said. "Bookings are doing very well," he said adding that the March 25 flight is already sold out.

    Helios intends to continue its Dublin flights throughout the winter. The Cypriot airline is also in discussion with Irish carrier Aer Lingus to launch connecting flights from Cyprus to the US via Ireland.

    Irish ambassador in Cyprus John Swift told journalists that anything that would bring the two islands together was a good thing. "Both small, both at either end of Europe, one in the north west with too much rain and too little sun, and one in the south east with too much sun and too little rain, " he said.

    Referring to his own appointment as the first-ever resident Irish ambassador in Cyprus, Swift said that a new air service was the "most practical and tangible form of bringing countries closer together".

    He said figures this year from Ireland to Cyprus were looking very promising but that the Irish government was also just as interested in upping the number of Cypriots who visit Ireland.

    "Anything that can be done to popularise Ireland as a tourist destination for Cypriots is of interest," he said. "Ireland has almost twice the number of under 25s than any other European country which makes Dublin vibrant in terms of nightlife and culture and the countryside is relatively unspoiled, " Swift said. ""We can't, unfortunately, use our climate as a tourist attraction but those who live in Cyprus in summer might find July and August in Ireland attractive in those months," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Government decision 'has lost Cyprus 7,000 Israeli tourists'

    By Jean Christou

    PRIVATE Cypriot airline Helios Airways yesterday slammed the government for refusing the company permission to operate flights from Paphos to Tel Aviv in Israel.

    Helios Sales and Marketing Manager Andreas Christodoulides told reporters yesterday at a news conference to launch direct flights to Dublin (see page 14), that Cyprus had lost 7,000 Israeli tourists due to the lack of flights between Paphos and Tel Aviv.

    Only Cyprus Airways (CY) and Israeli airline El Al operate flights between Larnaca and Tel Aviv under a bi-lateral agreement between the two governments.

    Helios applied to the government in November to fill the gap from Paphos, saying Israeli tour operators had told them that tourists from Israel would prefer to fly to Paphos than face the journey from Larnaca on arrival in Cyprus.

    However, the airline received a letter from the Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) on January 8 denying them permission to operate any flights on that route.

    "The answer was negative and we don't know why," Christodoulides said. "We know that Cyprus Airways only operates Larnaca-Tel Aviv. This is not right because they don't operate Paphos-Tel Aviv. There is no airline operating charter or schedule on this route."

    Christodoulides said Cyprus had lost out on some 7,000 Israeli tourists over the winter period due to high fares with CY. He said many who would have come to Cyprus during the winter period had opted for Turkey and the Greek islands instead due to lower fares.

    "There is a crisis in tourism worldwide. We wanted some flexibility. We have missed 7,000 tourists coming into Cyprus because of the negative stance of the authorities," Christodoulides said.

    A spokesman at the ATLA told the Cyprus Mail yesterday Helios had been refused because of the bilateral agreement between Cyprus and Israel, which designated Cyprus Airways as the official carrier for Tel Aviv. "The bilateral agreement mentions only one carrier, even if this carrier is not operating out of Paphos," the spokesman said.

    Tel Aviv is CY's third most profitable route after Athens and London Heathrow.

    Helios, however, is forging ahead with its expansion plans and is now seeking permission to operate flights to Athens, Salonica, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and London Luton.

    Christodoulides welcomed the singing on Wednesday of a memorandum of understanding between the Cypriot and British air authorities to allow charter flights from Stansted and scheduled flights for the first time ever from Luton. Scheduled flights are already running between Larnaca and Stansted, operated by CY and Air2000.

    British airline Monarch has been granted permission for scheduled flights on the Luton route and Christodoulides hopes Helios will be given the Cyprus end. "Luton is a great airport but we have to familiarise it for the Cypriots," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Markides calls for prosecutions in privacy violations

    By Jennie Matthew

    ATTORNEY-general Alecos Markides has instructed police to chase up media violations of privacy laws, meant to protect both victims and suspects in cases of physical and psychological violence.

    According to Politis, the Attorney-general asked Chief of Police Andreas Angelides actively to investigate abuses of the law, not just sit until a formal complaint is made.

    Markides has drawn police attention to the matter for years, but a recent spate of high profile cases sparked yet another reminder.

    Media handling of the case of five young children, abandoned by their mother for three days in appalling conditions earlier this month was one such example.

    The representative from the Attorney-general's office dealing with the case, Eleni Loizidou, told Politis it was unacceptable for cameramen to photograph every minute content of a private home, regardless of whether permission had been given by one of the homeowners.

    Footage of the inside and outside of the home, the mother, albeit with her face blacked out, neighbours and relatives, could easily lead to the family's identification.

    As Markides pointed out, withholding names is not sufficient to protect anonymity.

    Violation of the law is a criminal offence, punishable by up to two years in prison, and leaking testimony in cases of family violence carries a maximum sentence of five years.

    The president of the Journalists' Union Andreas Kannaouros told the Cyprus Mail he could not condone the prosecution of journalists, but admitted there was a serious problem.

    "This is not just a law, but one of the principles of our code of ethics. We should respect it but we don't. But we need self-regulation not prosecution," he said.

    Even if only a handful of people can identify the person in question, it is still a criminal offence.

    The Attorney-general says the threat or probability of media exposure is a major disincentive for victims of crime to come forward.

    The Chairman of the Press Ethics Committee, Andreas Mavromatis, also advocates exposure rather than prosecution for those who breach the law.

    "We're no worse than in any other country. Of course, there are places where it is better, but with liberalisation and the growth of private media, the number of violations has multiplied many, many times," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    The prominent human rights expert added, however, that violations were a small price to pay for liberalisation.

    While the Committee cannot impose fines, the recently established Television and Radio Authority can impose "administrative fines" for those found guilty of violations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Lazarides 'ecstatic' over IOC appointment

    By Rita Kyriakides

    THE PRESIDENT of the Cyprus Olympic Committee yesterday expressed his pride and happiness at his election as a member of the International Olympic Committee.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail from Salt Lake City last night, Kikis Lazarides said he was "absolutely ecstatic to be elected on to the International Committee. It is a great honour for me and for Cyprus.

    "I am very happy that my work has been recognised internationally."

    Lazarides, who is also the Chief Executive Chairman of the Laiki Group, was elected on Wednesday night at the 113rd meeting of the International Olympic Committee. He received 75 per cent of the vote - out of the ten candidates nominated to fill vacancies on the Committee.

    Lazarides has been involved in local and international sports for many years and has served on the Cyprus Olympic Committee for 20 years.

    He is also the Treasurer of the Mediterranean Games Committee and is a member of the European Olympic Committee.

    "Being a member of the International Committee makes me very proud as it is the highest position," said Lazarides.

    Government Spokesman, Michalis Papapetrou yesterday expressed his pleasure at the election of a Cypriot to the International Committee.

    "Lazarides election on to the Committee has placed Cyprus on the map. The Olympic movement will reach new heights as a result of this," said Papapetrou.

    Lazarides is in Salt Lake City where he is helping with the organisation of the Winter Olympic Games.

    The games begin today with the official opening ceremony, which Lazarides said promised to be spectacular.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Win a trip to the Olympics

    SCHOOL pupils all over Cyprus will have the chance to compete for a free holiday to the Olympic Games 2004 in Athens organised by Alfa Bank and the Ministry of Education and Culture.

    Students can choose between a written test on the games, or competing in one of three ancient Olympic games or one modern event.

    Participating students will be included in a draw, the winners of which, plus the top performing boy and girl in each of the four events, will go to Athens to watch the Games.

    Alpha Bank will meet the expenses of organising the competition at schools across the island, as well as travelling and accommodation costs for the lucky winners.

    Managing Director of Alpha Bank Andreas Demetriades spoke of the challenge facing the Greeks to offer the world a unique and thrilling experience to treasure and a reference point for generations to come.

    Alpha Bank is the official bank of the 2004 Olympics.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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