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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-02-22

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

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


Friday, February 22, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Ministry report dismisses Grivas claims
  • [02] Education Ministry orders crack down on mobile phones in school
  • [03] Foreign Ministry seeks drastic curbs in diplomatic passports
  • [04] Israeli firm to supply coastal radar system
  • [05] Cyprus tops foreign investors in Serbia
  • [06] State vet slams police over dog eating claims
  • [07] Bus drivers strike as company pleads for subsidies
  • [08] No smoking with children in the car

  • [01] Ministry report dismisses Grivas claims

    By Melina Demetriou

    ALLEGATIONS that conscripts had been ordered to shout slogans in support of late General Georgios Grivas have been dismissed as false by a Defence Ministry investigation, whose findings came to light yesterday.

    DISY deputy Antonis Karas handed out the report to journalists, ignoring a decision by the House Defence Committee not to release the findings until they had been discussed at parliamentary level.

    Yesterday's development sparked a bitter quarrel between ruling DISY and opposition AKEL, which earlier this month complained that National Guard recruits at the Larnaca training camp had been ordered to shout Grivas slogans.

    General Grivas led the EOKA struggle against British colonial rule between 1955 and 59, which aimed at union of the island with Greece.

    After independence he became commander of the National Guard. He led its forces during the inter-communal strife but was forced off the island in 1967.

    He returned clandestinely in 1971 and launched a terror campaign against President Makarios through the EOKA B group, which gained notoriety for murdering communists and Turkish Cypriot civilians.

    The probe into the allegations was launched by the Defence ministry two weeks ago.

    The investigation's report was last week submitted to Minister Socratis Hasikos who handed it over to President Glafcos Clerides on Monday.

    The President had ordered Hasikos to remain tight-lipped about the contents of the report until he looked at it.

    The minister yesterday submitted the findings to the House Defence Committee, which convened behind closed doors with Clerides' consent.

    The body decided by majority not to release the report until it had examined it next week.

    But DISY deputies on the Committee argued that the result of the investigation should be made public immediately.

    Committee Chairman Yiannakis Omirou of KISOS said it was down to the government to decide when the report should be released, conceding, however, that he could not force deputies to respect the Committee's decision.

    After the meeting, Karas made copies of the report and handed them to reporters at the House.

    The investigation found that the young conscript who first made the claim later admitted he had lied.

    The report put the soldier's behaviour down to "his young age and his difficulty to adjust to the army environment."

    The conscript made the complaints to his parents, a television channel and to members of AKEL, who informed their party leader and House chairman Demetris Christofias about the matter.

    Christofias publicised the complaints and called for an investigation into the case.

    After releasing the report yesterday, Karas called on AKEL to apologise "for making unfounded claims and for blackening senior army officials' dignity and honour."

    Karas argued the complaints should have been made to Hasikos in private.

    "I think certain politicians and state officials should be held accountable for what happened," he charged, pointing to Christofias and his associates.

    Karas defended his action to go against the Committee's decision to keep silent about the issue, saying: "I wanted to publicise the report because the complaints were also made publicly."

    Earlier in the day, President Clerides had been adamant that the House should first discuss the report before bringing it to light.

    AKEL spokesman Nicos Katsourides hit back at Karas saying: "The one who should apologise to the Cypriot people is Karas, who must say mea culpa for his involvement in what has tortured and is still torturing the people of this country."

    Katsourides was referring to the deputy's alleged ties with EOKA B, which co-operated with the Greek colonels who staged the 1974 coup that sparked the Turkish invasion. Karas did not deny the claim last year, when it was made by DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis during a televised debate.

    Katsourides further accused his DISY colleague of blackmailing the Defence Committee in an unprecedented way.

    "What he did was unprecedented. He blackmailed the House Committee saying that he would release the findings of the investigation if the body decided not to do so."

    Katsourides said his party would give its response to the report at next week's meeting of the Defence Committee.

    "There will be a separate parliamentary investigation into the case, which could put the existing findings into question. The fact that DISY deputies consider the specific military investigator as an institution is an unprecedented phenomenon," he charged.

    Katsourides said the House had in many cases questioned ministry reports.

    The investigator in this specific case questioned 41 soldiers.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Education Ministry orders crack down on mobile phones in school

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE EDUCATION Ministry is spearheading a crackdown on the use of mobile phones in the classroom, following a flood of complaints from teachers about pupils sending text messages to ease the boredom of lessons.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides has come out in support of teachers who say they can't teach because they are competing with mobiles for students' attention.

    "I'm convinced that people can't exercise their personal freedom at the expense of others and block school work," said the Minister on Wednesday.

    The use of electronic equipment in the classroom came to a head last week when one pupil tape recorded a slanging match between a student and a teacher, then leaked it to Antenna TV.

    The Ministry is to circulate memos to say that mobiles and radio-cassette players cannot interfere with class time under any circumstance, but ordering each school to dictate its own mobile phone policy.

    Teachers union OELMEK welcomes the move.

    Swift acting headmasters have either ordered phones out of the classroom, or to remain in their bags, off the desk.

    But some teachers were left feeling frustrated yesterday at the Ministry's decision not to impose a blanket ban.

    "There has to be an end to this. They are supposed to have it in their bags, but sometimes they've got them in their pockets and they keep them under their desks. They send and receive messages when they get bored and it's annoying," said Marina Gavrielides, teacher at one Nicosia Lyceum.

    "I'd prefer it if they didn't have them and they left them at home. As long as they keep them in their bags, it's a temptation for them."

    But the students were more philosophical. "If the teachers can't see it they can't do anything," said one 13-year-old Gymnasium pupil who said "everyone" she knew had a mobile phone.

    The punishment at her school is staggered, depending on how many times the offence is committed.

    "If they catch you once they take the phone to the vice-principal and call your parents to complain. If they catch you again, they confiscate it until the end of the school year," she said.

    Although the girl said she didn't care about having her phone at school, her mother told the Cyprus Mail her daughter had been desperate for a phone.

    "She really wanted it for a school trip, so she could message all her friends," she said.

    Mobile phones are allowed on school excursions.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Foreign Ministry seeks drastic curbs in diplomatic passports

    THE FOREIGN Ministry is seeking a drastic cut in the number of people holding diplomatic passports, Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Christodoulos Pashardes said yesterday.

    "Presently, over 800 people hold diplomatic passports," he said, "a number we feel is too extensive and should be limited only to those individuals who fulfil the necessary criteria to have one".

    Although he said no one abused the system, a lot of those currently in possession of diplomatic passports had no reason to hold them.

    "The reasons they had them no longer exist, since they are not issued for life."

    Pashardes said the Foreign Ministry was drawing up a list of criteria that would determine who should and should not hold a diplomatic passport and that would be in line with European Union standards.

    He could not give a list of the criteria since the draft is still in its preliminary phase and has yet to be handed over to the Cabinet for approval.

    The people that did not fulfil the criteria would then have them revoked, he said.

    "There is no problem with these passports, nor have any foreign countries complained," Pashardes said. "It's just we felt too many people have them and that for matters of principle and order, as well as keeping in line with EU harmonisation, we decided to curb the number of holders."

    He added there were no practical benefits in having a diplomatic passport, as there were no perks abroad or at airports.

    "It's more of a status symbol, although in theory there are not as many checks at passport controls abroad. But once we join the EU everyone will be treated the same anyway."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Israeli firm to supply coastal radar system

    AFTER several years of delay, the island could soon acquire a coastal radar system, after the tender board yesterday awarded an Israeli company the contract to supply the system.

    Israel's IAI Elta Electronics won the contract with a tender of 7.647 million, the lowest bid assessed by the board.

    The government has been touting the need for coastal radars for years, but reports suggested procurement was delayed due to disagreements between the defence and justice ministries.

    The radars are set to boost the island's watch for illegal immigrants travelling from the Middle East in search of a better future.

    The authorities, worried at the possibility of a flood of asylum claims, have a no-landings policy banning migrant boats from approaching the coastline.

    This is the second defence-related contract won by an Israeli company in recent days, a fact, which has raised eyebrows on the island considering Israel's military ties with Turkey.

    Unofficial reports on Wednesday claimed Aeronautics Unmanned Systems Ltd of Israel had won an 11 million contract for the supply of two unmanned airborne vehicles (UAVs) for the National Guard.

    Defence sources have said the UAVs were going to be part of the island's contribution to the European Union's rapid reaction force.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Cyprus tops foreign investors in Serbia

    CYPRUS is the biggest source of foreign investment in Serbia, the country's deputy Prime Minister said in Nicosia yesterday.

    "At this moment, the first and the biggest investment in Serbia comes from Cyprus," Deputy Prime Minister Velimir Ilic said after a meeting with President Glafcos Clerides.

    Ilic, who is visiting Cyprus as part of his country's efforts for economic development, told reporters there was "a big interest of businessmen of Cyprus in Serbia".

    During his visit, Ilic will hold meetings with big companies regarding the construction of a motorway in Serbia. "We have just started a European tobacco factory in Serbia and we also signed a contract to set up a construction company," he added.

    Asked whether allegations about the illegal transfer of funds to Cyprus by former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic had been brought up during his meeting with Clerides, Ilic said he had been a member of the delegation which visited the island to discuss the issue in the past. "Now, we have started developing our country, so this issue is not on our agenda," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] State vet slams police over dog eating claims

    Melina Demetriou

    THE MEDIA frenzy surrounding allegations that Chinese students ate dogs took an unexpected twist yesterday when Veterinary Service official Klitos Andreou said the whole matter was a joke.

    Immigration police last week confiscated animal bones from a flat occupied by Chinese students, who allegedly admitted to eating dogs.

    But talking to reporters at the House after a meeting of the Agriculture Committee yesterday, Andreou said: "No government department has so far received any bones from the police to examine. Therefore I think the students - who are very young - were just joking when they told policemen they were eating dogs." He added that Chinese students knew the practice was illegal.

    Police have not launched any investigation into the case, but the media went into a frenzy with reports warning people to protect their pets from the Chinese.

    Andreou cited some rather strange Cypriot eating habits to point out that no race should be marginilised for its cuisine.

    "We used to eat hedgehog and guinea pigs 30 years ago and now we are starting to eat ostriches," he said.

    Andreou stressed, however, that the consumption of cats and dogs was strictly illegal in Cyprus.

    Toulla Poyiadgi, chairman of the Cyprus Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CSPCA), yesterday blamed the police for sparking an outcry against the Chinese for nothing.

    "They should not have made any statements if they did not intend to investigate the case," she said.

    Sources told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that since the incident came to light, the CSPCA had had dozens of calls a day blaming Chinese people for the disappearance of their dogs.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Bus drivers strike as company pleads for subsidies

    NICOSIA bus drivers yesterday carried out a 24-hour warning strike over their employers' failure to honour a pay rise pledge.

    Drivers assembled at the bus station in Nicosia and held a separate meeting at SEK offices to decide whether to escalate measures.

    SEK official Pantelis Stavrou said the main reason for the strike was the Nicosia Bus Company's failure to implement a collective agreement signed between employees and the company last year.

    "The reasons are simple. The company has gone back on the collective agreement that we signed, providing for an increase in drivers' basic wages as of February 1," he said.

    The company says the pay rise was dependent on government subsidies, which have failed to materialise.

    "We don't accept the excuse that this is a problem between the government and the company. We won't accept this agreement not being implemented for reasons that are not our responsibility," Stavrou said.

    It took months to broker the deal between the drivers and their employers.

    Company Director Costas Christodoulou admitted the firm was at fault, but insisted yet again the company had no money to keep pay increases.

    He called on the government to toe the line and cough up transport subsidies as in other EU countries.

    "I'll show you the agreement signed by the Greek government and the Salonica Transport Company, which is a limited company like ours and provides for subsidies," he said.

    "There are subsidies for public transport in Europe, because they want public transport. We want public transport but no one wants to foot the bill," he charged.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] No smoking with children in the car

    DEPUTIES tabled an amendment to the House Health Committee yesterday calling for a ban on smoking while driving with children or pregnant women on board.

    The committee yesterday rejected a Health Ministry proposal to ban smoking at the wheel providing for a maximum fine of 1,000.

    The amendment also provides that public places where smoking is prohibited should have dedicated smoking areas with adequate ventilation.

    "We also agreed that any kind of tobacco advertising should be banned," AKEL deputy Kyriacos Tyrimos told reporters after the meeting yesterday, adding that the proposal would probably be voted on next week.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday he backed the bill, "because it would help to protect children's health as much as possible".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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