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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-11-30

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

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


Saturday, November 30, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Akamas residents threaten to blockade EU delegation
  • [02] De Soto gets his own plane for direct flights to Ankara
  • [03] Sewage pollution fears near dam
  • [04] Plans ready for Paralimni desalination plant in event of solution
  • [05] Eight new cases filed against Turkey at European Court of Human Rights
  • [06] Minority Churches up in arms over marriage discrimination
  • [07] Family plead for donors in search for bone marrow match
  • [08] Moving mental patients out of institutions and closer to the community
  • [09] Police raid house in drugs bust

  • [01] Akamas residents threaten to blockade EU delegation

    RESIDENTS of Akamas area communities yesterday threatened to block the EU delegation in Nicosia, accusing the European Commission of preventing them from developing their properties in the area.

    On July 3, the Cabinet decided to protect three specific areas in the environmentally sensitive peninsula, but allow some development in other parts.

    The decision followed expands on earlier decisions to allow 'mild and controlled' development in the region.

    The ruling banned any development in the Lara, Toxeftra, and Fontana Amorosa areas, considered to be of special environmental importance, but allowed development in other areas with certain environmental restrictions.

    But residents remain outraged and yesterday threatened to take measures should the plan go through.

    Speaking before the House Environment Committee, Inia community leader Sophocles Pittokopitis warned the residents were determined to block access to the EU delegation in Nicosia because the EU, in his words, favoured "the creation of second and third rate citizens in Cyprus".

    Pittokopitis said that in order to apply the Cabinet's decision, residents would have to move from their homes.

    He charged that some people wanted to turn Akamas villages into old-age homes, adding that the decision sought to divide residents by crating enclaves and areas in which development would be allowed.

    Residents fear that if their properties are designated as protected areas they will be unable to capitalise from any development.

    Environmentalists accuse the government of pandering to residents and big business interests in failing to declare the whole peninsula off limits to development.

    The Bishop of Paphos and Carlsberg magnate Photos Photiades are among large property owners in the area pushing for development.

    Landowners in protected areas will have a choice to exchange their land for state land elsewhere in the peninsula or to receive financial compensation.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] De Soto gets his own plane for direct flights to Ankara

    By Jean Christou

    THE UN has given its Cyprus special envoy Alvaro de Soto a chartered private plane to ease travelling difficulties between Cyprus and Turkey and save time during the intensive talks he is conducting between Athens, Ankara and Nicosia.

    Spokesman Brian Kelly said the seven-seater plane, a Beechcraft King Air turbo propeller was first used by De Soto when he returned from Ankara to Cyprus on Thursday evening.

    Kelly said the plane, chartered from a Danish company, met De Soto in Ankara. The UN envoy had travelled there from Berlin on a commercial flight. Yesterday he hopped onto the plane, based at RAF Akrotiri, to fly to Athens for a meeting with Greek Foreign Minster George Papandreou and was expected to return to Cyprus later last night.

    "The chartering of the plane was in the works for several weeks," Kelly said. "Clearly it was understood that there would be an increase in travelling or intensity of consultation as we came closer to December 12," he added, referring to the deadline for the signing of a preliminary agreement based on the UN settlement plan submitted by UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan on November 11.

    "As a precaution this was put in the works and one of the primary benefits is being able to fly direct to Ankara," Kelly said.

    Because of the political situation on the island, anyone who wishes to fly to Turkey must first fly to Athens, since planes leaving Larnaca Airport are not allowed to fly over Turkish airspace.

    The ban meant that each time De Soto needed to fly to Ankara, he would have to fly to Athens, from there to Istanbul and from there to Ankara.

    "That has meant in effect that any time Mr De Soto and his team have had consultations in Ankara, they have to leave here the previous evening, overnight in Athens, change plane then fly to Istanbul and change flight again and continue to Ankara," Kelly said. With the private plane from Akrotiri, the flight is only around three hours "as opposed to almost a day".

    "With intensive travel like this what Mr De Soto loses in frequent flyer miles he gains in greater efficiency and all out of commitment to the consultative process," Kelly said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Sewage pollution fears near dam

    Nicole Neroulias

    YERMASOYEIA officials have measured dangerously high levels of bacteria in the river between Arakapas and the Yermasoyeia Dam.

    Yermasoyeia Mayor Panicos Louroutziatis said yesterday government officials had known for years that sewage pipes from the village of Arakapas were draining into the water supply, but had failed to take corrective measures.

    The water supply provides irrigation and drinking water for the Limassol and Larnaca municipalities, and serves as a popular fishing destination for Cypriots and tourists.

    According to the recent analysis of water samples taken between Arakapas and the dam, bacteria levels per millilitre were more than 30 times greater than the levels recommended by the EU and World Health Organisation, officials said.

    "At certain points near the dam, the number of bacteria are too numerous to count," said Yermasoyeia health inspector Timos Misseris.

    Further examination of the water samples revealed high levels of coliforms, which indicate the presence of faecal contamination, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an organism that can cause skin and respiratory infections in humans and animals, Misseris said.

    Misseris said that the municipality has reported the measurements to the appropriate government agencies and Arakapas officials, and are anxiously awaiting their replies.

    "This situation is known by all the governmental services and they do nothing about it," he said. "We should worry about this."

    Officials from the Water Development Department and the Arakapas Municipality were unavailable for comment.

    Misseris said the pollution didn't mean that the drinking water from the region was unsafe, due to the purification process it undergoes before human consumption. However, he acknowledged that the process may not be taking the extraordinarily high levels of contamination into account, and urged the government to take steps to deal with the problem.

    "They should find a solution to stop immediately the sewage from being dumped in the river," he said. "This is not something that is happening accidentally. It's coming through installed pipes."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Plans ready for Paralimni desalination plant in event of solution

    THE GOVERNMENT has made plans to erect a desalination plant in Paralimni in the Famagusta district as soon as there is a solution to the Cyprus problem, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous said yesterday.

    The land had already been mapped out and the plant would cover the entire Famagusta area, he said. In the event of a solution, this would be even more necessary due to increased tourism numbers with the reopening of Varosha.

    If there were a solution, Cyprus' natural resources would "be made available to all the island's residents, irrespective of which area they live in or their religion," said Themistocleous.

    The UN settlement proposal states that "natural resource matters will remain in the component state and not become part of the common state".

    But the Minister expressed the conviction that if both communities were willing to transfer natural resource concerns under one common state, Cyprus could solve its long standing water problem for many years to come, which would in turn benefit both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    "A country's water resources and natural resources in general should benefit all its residents," he said, adding that the Republic had already irreversibly solved its drinking water problem, whereas the Turkish Cypriots faced a much "worse fate".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Eight new cases filed against Turkey at European Court of Human Rights

    EIGHT new appeals have been filed against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) demanding compensation for property seized after Turkey invaded in 1974.

    The appeals have been filed on behalf of people owning property in Morphou, Ayios Epiktitos, Kyrenia, Panagra, Kefalovrysos and other areas of the Kyrenia district.

    Among the property is an estate in Ayios Epiktitos used by the Turkish army as an air force base.

    Before the invasion, the estate had been used by the agriculture ministry for small crop-dusting planes.

    The appeal is based on a previous decision by the ECHR, which in 1998 ordered Turkey to pay 330,000 in compensation to Titina Loizidou for property seized during the invasion.

    Turkey has refused to pay, arguing it has no jurisdiction over the 'Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus', which only it recognises. The Council of Europe rejected the argument and issued a stern warning to Turkey to comply without further delay, but to no avail.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Minority Churches up in arms over marriage discrimination

    By Nicole Neroulias

    LEADERS of minority religions are fighting to keep a marriage regulation bill from becoming law, protesting that it discriminates against their members by denying official recognition to their marriage ceremonies.

    The Marriage Law of 2002, introduced in the House last year, only recognises marriages performed in civil, Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Maronite ceremonies on the island. Couples wishing to marry under other religions in Cyprus would have to participate in a civil ceremony as well for the union to be legal.

    Deputy Attorney-general Petros Clerides told House Legal Committee members and church leaders that the proposed law was intended to help lawmakers prevent fraudulent marriages, including the rare cases of polygamy, marriages between relatives or involving minors. However, he emphasised that he did not believe any of the minority churches on the island condoned these practices.

    Despite the Deputy Attorney-general's assurances of the measure's and good intentions, the Cyprus Union of Evangelical Churches said it would do everything it could to prevent the bill's passage, preparing to involve foreign authorities if necessary.

    "We are prepared to go to Europe and have the Protestant movement there speak on our behalf," said Michalis Charalambous, president of the union. "We will do whatever is necessary to protect our human rights."

    Charalambous estimated there were at least 3,000 people in Cyprus who classify themselves as Evangelical, which includes Protestant and Baptists faiths. Many foreigners who reside on the island would also be affected, he said.

    "This is discrimination," Charalambous said. "All religions under the law have equal rights. This goes against the constitution and the European laws."

    The Rev. Heraklakis Panagiotidis, head of the Greek Evangelical Church of Nicosia, where he performs one or two weddings a year, strongly opposes the bill. He recalled that a 1990 law had previously revoked the rights of the minority religions to perform weddings, but it was overturned five years later.

    "Sadly, because we are a very small minority in Cyprus, there has generally been discrimination against our churches," he said. "There is intolerance against minority groups in Cyprus."

    Discussion will continue on the Marriage Law of 2002 in the House on Thursday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Family plead for donors in search for bone marrow match

    THE family of a 21-year-old man suffering from leukaemia yesterday issued an urgent plea for people to donate blood samples in order to find a compatible bone marrow donor.

    The 21-year-old is currently being treated at the Makarios hospital and efforts to find a bone marrow donor from his family and the bank at the Karaiskakio Foundation have borne no fruit.

    The family urged people living in the area around Kalopanayiotis, Oikos, and Klirou to donate blood thus increasing the chances of finding a donor.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] Moving mental patients out of institutions and closer to the community

    By Alexia Saoulli

    AS MANY as one in five people could be suffering from some sort of psychological disturbance, a leading psychiatrist said yesterday. Although usually mild, some of those will suffer acute disturbances, which have been attributed to genetic, biological and social factors.

    The statistics are worldwide, but according to the chairman of the Mental Patients' Supervisory Committee, Dr. Christodoulos Messis, the island usually follows similar trends.

    In order to deal with growing psychiatric disabilities more effectively, the Committee yesterday outlined plans to close down Nicosia's Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital in five years' time, to be replaced by other specialised units, such as improved district general hospital psychiatric wings and community mental health centres, refuges and day centres.

    "Psychiatric and neurological disturbances affect 450 million people worldwide. Severe depression is now the main cause of impotency and ranks fourth in burdening state health services. In 20 years time it is expected to reach second place. Moreover, depression is the leading factor in one million annual suicides and a further 15 million suicide attempts," he said.

    Mental health sufferers were usually treated with a combination of drugs and psychosocial support, he said. The majority of Cypriot patients, afflicted with stress or behavioural disorders and depression, were monitored through outpatient systems both in the private and public sector. A smaller group of patients, suffering from schizophrenia or manic depression, sometimes needed hospital admittance during periods of crisis, Messis said. A very small minority are hospitalised by court order if they are deemed a danger to themselves or society.

    Based on European research, the committee - which acts as an advisory body to the Health Ministry - said it wanted to move away from treating mental disorders in large asylums so that patients could be more easily reintegrated into society. Athalassa hospital had already managed to treat and release most of its 700 patients and was now left with 100 acute cases who were undergoing intense psychiatric treatment and had hopes of living within local communities, he said.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides yesterday confirmed more was being done to help the quality of life of mental health patients.

    "All general hospitals have already set up psychiatric wings and there are already a few mental health community centres in Nicosia," said Savvides. "Now we want community centres and half-way houses in all towns."

    And the committee said it had plans to implement in-patient hospital psychiatric care for children and adolescents.

    "Makarios hospital offers support to this age group on an out-patient basis, but we want them to be able to stay in for treatment if deemed necessary. In order to do this we need more bed space and a separate unit," said Messis. In fact, all hospitals would soon be able to accept serious mental health patients for intense treatment sessions when necessary and from there they could move to halfway houses or stay in mental health communities, he added.

    But, although these specialised centres should already have replaced Athalassa hospital, a lack of funds and objections from local communities often got in the way, Messis said.

    "Reintegration into society has been difficult because of the stigma that exists around mental health patients and the lack of centres to house them following their release from institutions.

    "Because of this, a number of them have them have even ended up in old age homes or jail and find themselves inside institutions where they do not belong."

    Savvides said a psychological support unit had already been set up in the central prison and there were plans to set up a more specialised high- security protection unit offering intense psychiatric support.

    "Some criminals are also mental health patients and are in jail because they have broken the law. However, we are setting up a system whereby they receive help so that upon their release than can also be reintegrated," he said.

    "Also, a number of mental health communities are currently being set up in Nicosia and will be operating shortly. We have not publicised the plans so as to avoid locals trying to prevent them," said Savvides. "However, we have a number of them already in operation; they are very effective and local residents do not even notice their existence."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [09] Police raid house in drugs bust

    POLICE last night said they had arrested three suspects and seized around 2, 000 Ecstasy tablets during an afternoon raid in a house in Nicosia.

    Two other suspects who fled the house were being sought, police said, without ruling out further arrests. The raid followed information police received about a house in Dasoupolis.

    Police believe the suspects were members of a larger ring, which deals drugs in Nicosia and possibly other towns.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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