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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-04

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

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


Thursday, July 4, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] De Soto calls for 'more political will'
  • [02] Iran and Cyprus sign on drugs and shipping
  • [03] SBA hunts youth on attempted murder charge
  • [04] UK detectives to investigate fraud
  • [05] Industry reels as another insurance company collapses
  • [06] Composer, 65, assaulted under-age girls
  • [07] Diplomas deemed void after Rector's resignation
  • [08] Residents blame cancer deaths on pylons
  • [09] British Shark attack 'baffling'
  • [10] Warning issued on dangerous lamps

  • [01] De Soto calls for 'more political will'

    By Jean Christou

    UN envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto said yesterday he was disappointed that the leaders of the two communities had not cracked the four core issues of the Cyprus problem by the end-June target date.

    "We had hoped, as you know, that by the end of June there would be a basic sense of the main points, the core issues, and we felt that this would have greatly facilitated the legal drafting that remains," de Soto said. "We therefore are disappointed that it was not possible to do that."

    De Soto was speaking on his departure from Larnaca Airport on his way to Vienna to brief UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan.

    The end-June target date for a settlement had been proposed by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, agreed by President Glafcos Clerides and adopted by the UN as an achievable goal. However, as the talks progressed, they increasingly headed towards a stalemate until Annan visited the island in May in an attempt to revitalise the process.

    A new impetus was short-lived. By earlier this month the two sides had become stuck on the security issue and according to the Greek Cypriot side, the talks appeared to be leading nowhere. The other three issues on the table were governance, territory and property. The latest round of talks ended on Tuesday but will be resumed around July 16.

    'As you know, the Secretary-general said, in this very spot, that he felt that it was possible to do that (reach a June agreement) but it would require political will and a spirit of compromise, and obviously more of that is going to be needed in the coming period if the opportunity that's available this year is going to be seized," de Soto said.

    "What is most important is the role that the negotiating parties play. And that is the role that needs to be enhanced and redoubled."

    The UN envoy said that on his return to the island the two parties must "enhance and redouble" their efforts and he called on them to show "more political will and an increased spirit of compromise".

    He also said he has some ideas about what should be done in the coming months, and will discuss them with Annan at their meeting in Vienna.

    "I am going to meet the Secretary-general. I will report to him and I expect to receive his guidance as to how to proceed when we resume work in mid July, after I brief the Security Council," de Soto said.

    He said the work would continue in July to see whether it was possible to "compensate for the work that has not yet been accomplished". "We will make a judgment as we go along as to what is needed," he added.

    "I am here and I will be coming back soon in the exercise of the Secretary- general's good offices. That's an ample term that allows plenty of flexibility to what role we ourselves play. But what is most important is the role that the negotiating parties play and that is the role that needs to be enhanced and redoubled."

    De Soto said it was imperative to continue with the talks despite not having produced any significant results.

    "I think it is absolutely necessary to go on with the talks and indeed to intensify them," he added.

    The Un envoy refused to point the finger at either of the two sides for not showing the necessary political will but said he would discuss this issue with the Security Council.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Iran and Cyprus sign on drugs and shipping

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS AND Iran yesterday signed an agreement for cooperation on commercial shipping, as well as a memorandum of understanding to combat the illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

    The agreement was signed by Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Kharrazi and Cypriot Minister of Communications and Works Averoff Neophytou, while the memorandum was signed by Kharrazi and Minister of Justice and Public Order Nicos Koshis.

    Neophytou said Cyprus has one of the largest fleets in the world and that the signing of bilateral agreements in the shipping sector gives an advantage to ships flying the Cypriot flag.

    He added that Cyprus would soon be signing an agreement on shipping with Belgium and an air transport agreement with Moldavia.

    Speaking about the memorandum of understanding, Koshis said Cyprus and Iran decided to join efforts on a bilateral basis to combat the illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, as they are sensitive in the field and recognise "the great importance of international cooperation in the effective prevention and fight against this form of crime in particular".

    Kharrazi said that Iran, as neighbouring country to Afghanistan, has been facing the problem of drug trafficking "for many years", adding that "Afghan drug traffickers have tried to transfer their drugs to European countries through Iranian territory".

    ends

    "So far more than 3,000 soldiers have been killed" in the fight against drugs, Kharrazi said, adding that "signing such an agreement between Iran and Cyprus as well as between Iran and other countries will help towards cooperation in the severe fight against drug trafficking".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] SBA hunts youth on attempted murder charge

    By Alexia Saoulli

    BRITISH BASES (SBA) police and soldiers yesterday managed to retain peace and calm in the Akrotiri Salt Lake vicinity following a night of hooligan damage and destruction.

    Between 9pm on Tuesday and 2.30am yesterday, a series of attacks were carried out against military and civilian personnel in the controversial British Bases antenna site at Akrotiri.

    A surge of youths, between the ages of 18 to 20 years old, on mopeds swarmed the area intent on making trouble. They wore helmets and scarves to conceal their identity. According to CyBC radio two 20-year-old boys were arrested, charged and released last night. SBA authorities are looking for a third boy on charges of "attempted murder" according to Bases spokesman Rob Need because "(he) twice drove directly at a senior police officer, who sustained a minor injury to his hand from the bike," despite being warned to stop.

    The Bases yesterday released a statement that said approximately 100 people were involved in these attacks, which included "stone throwing, the use of a small number of petrol bombs, setting fire to property and vegetation and damage to and threats against civilian motor vehicles passing through the area".

    Need said the Republic's fire service also came under attack while it was attending a blaze in Fassouri forest.

    "The hooligans also targeted local interests as well as British interests," he said.

    "In the eight fires set, two buildings were damaged or destroyed and an as yet unverified number of private vehicles were damaged."

    Both government officials and deputies condemned the attacks, but the former still faced a barrage of criticism for not doing more to block the antenna's installation in the first place.

    Although AKEL deputy George Lillikas expressed his opposition over the episodes at Akrotiri, he still accused the government of not taking a public stand opposing the antenna.

    Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides hit back and said the government had taken an official stand, but that these sorts of acts only weakened its position. He condemned yesterday's violent mob and implied "certain deputies" might have been involved in orchestrating the attack

    "I don't think what happened last night can be called protecting the environment," he said, "and if certain deputies continue to use hooligan methods in order to achieve their purpose, how can we as a government try and support our position?"

    On Tuesday he and Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous met with British High Commissioner Lyn Parker to discuss a report prepared by expert scientists on what effects the antenna would have on the environment. Although the ministers suggested the antenna installation be stopped, Parker said the project would go ahead until the epidemiological report being carried out said otherwise. The trio also discussed what measures were necessary to limit damage to the ecosystem, said Themistocleous.

    Associating hooliganism with deputies did not go down well with Green Party Deputy George Perdikis who in turn accused the Ministers of "selling out to the British".

    "What hooligan deputies? Did any deputy throw a stone or hit a police officer? The opposite happened. Did we set fire to anything? On two occasions I, along with another two ecologists, had to put out a burning eucalyptus tree while an SBA policeman that stood idly by not bothering to call the Bases fire department (at yesterday's AKEL demonstration)," he said. "In fact it is the British who want to cut down the eucalyptus trees and by not taking a stand it could be said that our ministers have sold themselves out to the British."

    The argument over the erection of a giant antenna in the area boils down to residents' health concerns over its emissions as well as the destruction of the area's protected flora and fauna. The site is included in the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance and supports a significant number of rare species, including 13 endemic and rare plant species and 32 bird species specially protected under the European Birds Directive. A number of species of water birds spend winter on or migrate through the site, including around 6,000 flamingos.

    But, according to Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides independent studies have showed that emissions from the antennae are 71 times below the EU average and pose no health risks. The Bases have also hired experienced contractors to relocate the flora, fauna and small mammals and reptiles that have made their home in the area, who have promised "minimal disturbance" to the area.

    Cassoulides pointed out that although the government had suggested relocating the antenna site from the wetlands into the Bases, the final decision lies with the British as executive power over their territory under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, when Cyprus gained its independence from them and in return they were given two sovereign bases on the island.

    A multitude of soldiers and police were yesterday on alert throughout the area to avoid a repeat performance and work on the antenna site was resumed once again.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] UK detectives to investigate fraud

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    TWO BRITISH detectives will arrive in Cyprus this Sunday to investigate an attempted fraud to swindle 1.2 million from banking services.

    The detectives are investigating an attempt by unidentified individuals to fraudulently extract 1.2 million from a Nicosia-based banking centre through claiming a return on cancelled purchases two months ago.

    The Head of Larnaca CID, who is leading investigations, Andreas Krokos said yesterday that British detectives would be working in cooperation with Cypriot authorities in the ongoing investigation. One Cypriot national has already been arrested and released since the case opened.

    Krokos could not comment on whether any British nationals or international crime syndicates were implicated in the investigations. He said the CID was working on completing the investigations and sending the case to the prosecutor's office.

    According to Phileleftheros yesterday, suspects demanded the return of 1.2 million from the JCC banking centre for the cancelled purchase of ships abroad. The report said banking authorities discovered on further investigation that such purchases had never been made, highlighting the possibility of an international ring behind the attempted fraud.

    The two fraud officers will be sharing information with Larnaca CID in the process of their investigations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Industry reels as another insurance company collapses

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE INSURANCE industry was in shock yesterday when the Superintendent of Insurance withdrew the licence of a second insurance company in three months following the collapse of Aegis Insurance Co.

    According to reports, the licence of Aegis was withdrawn because the company could not honour its claims and after company cheques allegedly bounced.

    The other insurance company to collapse was Akritas and both instances are likely to have a serious effect on the Motor Insurance Fund (MIF), which is mandated to honour all the claims of companies that go broke.

    Quoting MIF manager Andreas Charalambides the reports said that the fund was close to collapse a result of the increasing number of claims and high compensation rewards it has paid out in recent years.

    Charalambides said the true extent of the Aegis obligations is not yet known but a substantial amount of claims are expected to be made to the MIF. He believes it could run into several million pounds since Aegis was a much larger company than Akritas. Although Aegis is still operating, it is not issuing new premiums and the reports say the company was struggling hard to honour its obligations.

    A new insurance law which is due to come into effect on January 1 next year is also likely to be a headache to the industry. Under the law companies will be required to maintain additional capital and reserves, which is expected to result in even more closures as solvency, reserves and provisions for claims will come under closer scrutiny.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Composer, 65, assaulted under-age girls

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE LARNACA Assizes yesterday found 65-year-old composer and music teacher George Serdaris guilty of eight out of nine charges of indecent assault against under aged girls he used to teach.

    The marathon trial lasting five hours was held amid strict security measures designed to protect the identity of the four complainants who testified against Serdaris.

    The court found the defendant guilty of eight separate charges of indecent assault between 1992 and 1995 enacted in his office, minibus and a recording studio on four young girls aged 13 to 15.

    The defendant initially faced 15 charges of indecent assault and two on sexual assault of a minor. The charges were eventually brought down to nine, one of which, Serdaris was found not guilty of for lack of evidence.

    The court will hear pleas for mitigation against the defendant's sentence from his counsel, which will be decided on Friday July 5. Until which time he will remain in custody.

    Serdaris had been arrested last August along with another composer in connection with indecent assault against young girls aspiring to be singers. The other composer, Doros Georgiades, 57, was tried on separate charges and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Diplomas deemed void after Rector's resignation

    By Jean Christou

    GRADUATES OF the University of Cyprus last night received confirmation papers in lieu of their official diplomas, which were deemed null and void following the resignation on June 21 of the university's Rector Nicholas Papamichael.

    According to Philippos Pattouras, head of studies and student affairs there was no time to re-do the degrees with the signature of Acting Dean Andreas Demetriou.

    "All we managed, with superhuman effort was to prepare the 58 postgraduate titles," Pattouras said. He said special paper was used to prepare the degrees and that there had been no time to import a new batch from Sweden to cover the needs of the 560 students who were graduating.

    All of the degrees had already been prepared with Papamichael's signature but Pattouras said that they had to be considered null and void because he was not in office on yesterday's date.

    Papamichael resigned following parliament's decision to grant students 33 per cent representation rights in department councils, a percentage deemed by him as not being in line with international practise, which would give too much power to non-experts in a professional body.

    Missing from last night's ceremony, for the first time, was President Glafcos Clerides whose address was delivered by Education and Culture Minister Ouranios Ioannides, who also handed out the 10,000 and 5,000 presidential awards to top students during the two and a half hour ceremony.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Residents blame cancer deaths on pylons

    PAPHOS RESIDENTS suspect electricity pylons of being the cause of nine cancer deaths in their area, reports said yesterday.

    The concerned Timi village residents claim nine youths have died over the past 15 years and all live in the same 500-metre radius. They say another five are battling the illness.

    They believe that the disease, that has afflicted people living on three streets in their village, is down to the cables that run over their homes. These fears were brought before the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday with a request to remove the pylons from the area, which the Electricity Authority agreed to do.

    In light of the community's unease and the fact that all the deaths can be pinpointed within such a small area neighbouring the pylons, the Health Ministry has said it will carry out an epidemiological study on the area.

    The electricity pylons were erected in the area in 1972 and the settlement was built around them ten years later.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] British Shark attack 'baffling'

    By Soteris Charalambous

    CYPRUS ADVERTISING executives say they are baffled as to why British authorities would ban a billboard campaign for an energy drink, saying they have received no negative feedback from the public here. The campaign promoting 'Shark' energy drink was yesterday banned in the UK following complaints.

    The campaign consists of four different posters depicting a naked man or woman with scratches across their backs and in one poster a woman with a love-bite on her neck. In Cyprus the campaign runs with the slogan 'bring out the beast' whereas in Britain the words 'Shark victim' are also used as part of the campaign.

    George Zoppis, brand manager for 'Shark' at Photos Photiades, told the Cyprus Mail that the idea behind the campaign was to provide a humorous reference to the product and a light-hearted word play on the colloquial term 'sharking' which means searching for a partner.

    The pose of the models and the nudity in each poster suggests the moment captured is immediately post-sexual activity and in the case of the woman with the love bite a "satisfied smile is expressed" said Zoppis.

    "We are trying to say to our customers that 'Shark' brings out the beast inside everyone of us."

    The ban was imposed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in Britain after twelve members of the public complained that the four posters were offensive. In the adjudication the ASA said "the posters were sexually explicit" and that they "could be seen to condone sexual violence," a suggestion refuted by Zoppis who said the campaign contained "nothing to offend."

    An officer from the Cyprus Broadcasting Authority, the body that deals with all complaints related to advertising campaigns, confirmed that they had not received a single complaint from the public in Cyprus.

    "The drinks industry is a highly competitive market and we have targeted our segment market and created this campaign with them in mind. Sex sells and is widely used in advertising, but sexual violence is something that we would never encourage." Explained Zoppis. Advice was sought from the body set up to help advertisers on what might breach industry rules before going ahead with the posters for the campaign in the UK

    "It's hard to see how people can interpret the campaign as condoning sexual violence when in one of the posters the girl is smiling." Said Zoppis. "Perhaps this is a reflection of political correctness gone too far. In Cyprus the message doesn't cause offence." He added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [10] Warning issued on dangerous lamps

    By Soteris Charalambous

    THE MINISTRY of Industry and Commerce yesterday issued a warning about potentially dangerous ornamental lights that offer a potential shock hazard because of an inadequately insulated flex.

    Government Officer Marios Droushiotis, who is in charge of the investigation of the products, confirmed the products "pose a serious risk of electrical shock hazard to the consumer" and advised that anyone in possession of the colourful decorative lamps should stop using the lights immediately.

    The lamps, which come in three shapes and colours, originated from China and were imported into Cyprus by PAS Toys Limited on April 30 and came onto the market on May 15. Droushiotis believes approximately 700 lamps have been sold mainly in the Nicosia area and the surrounding districts although he did not rule out the possibility that the products could be found in other areas on the island as they had been distributed to stall holders at mini carnivals and given as prizes gambling stalls.

    Droushiotis said the potentially hazardous products prompted the ministry to alert the public because "at this stage we have not been able to identify everyone in possession of the lights."

    He was particularly concerned that the products posed a potential threat to infants because of the bright colours used and toy-like shapes made them particularly attractive to children who could easily pull at the cable and expose the live wires.

    The items in question bear the 'C' marking which indicates that the product was manufactured according to 'C' specifications and passed the European safety standard for production of electrical goods. The manufacturer presented a certificate validating the 'C' marking on the products to the Cypriot importer. However, according to the ministry, the certificate is a forgery.

    Fortunately there have been no reported injuries as a result of a malfunction but the ministry are advising consumers to immediately disconnect the product and to ensure it remains beyond the reach of small children.

    Droushiotis confirmed that in such cases consumers had the right to have their money refunded but accepted that given the manner in which consumers would have come into possession of product this could prove difficult.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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