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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-03

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

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


Tuesday, December 3, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] 'British meddling leaves 5,000 refugees out in the cold'
  • [02] Cyprus first to conclude EU talks
  • [03] HIV statistics low, but awareness needs to be improved
  • [04] Work begins to remove asbestos roof
  • [05] CY scraps wheelchair charge
  • [06] Heart disease the number one killer
  • [07] Autopsy finds epilepsy killed Russian woman
  • [08] Cleaning up our act ahead of accession
  • [09] Arsonists burn former judge's car

  • [01] 'British meddling leaves 5,000 refugees out in the cold'

    By Jean Christou

    BRITAIN'S envoy for Cyprus Lord David Hannay made changes to the UN peace plan to safeguard British interests, preventing thousands of refugees from Famagusta returning to their abandoned homes, informed sources claimed yesterday.

    The British peer also allegedly had a hand in watering down a section of the plan that provided for cross voting between the two communities, in order to appease the Turkish Cypriot side, the Cyprus Mail has learned.

    According to informed sources, Britain's special envoy on the Cyprus problem intervened in the UN plan to water down the cross voting provisions, which were "clearly intended to bring the two communities closer together", in that the future leaders would have to pursue votes from both sides.

    "This is very serious because we are talking about the viability of the proposals and watering down such provisions immediately alienates the two sides and creates a distance between the political leaders," one source said.

    "He has been interfering all along in an imperialist manner in all these processes of preparing the plan, primarily to protect British interests in Cyprus."

    The source claimed Hannay had intervened to redraw a line on the map going into Famagusta in a clear attempt to secure British strategic interests. Politis on Sunday showed how the new line ran south of a stretch of road from the British base of Ayios Nicolaos to the port of Famagusta. The road had initially been designated as the boundary line between the two sides.

    Under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, the British bases have full and unrestricted rights to use the road, which runs between the Turkish Cypriot quarter of Famagusta and the Ayios Yiannis area of the city.

    However, under the UN plan, the boundary has been moved 800 metres south, placing the three-mile stretch of road firmly within the Turkish Cypriot controlled area. This would bar 5,000 to 6,000 Greek Cypriot refugees, whose abandoned homes lie between the road and the new boundary, from resettling under Greek Cypriot administration.

    Had the line been moved 800 metres to the north, it would have placed the Turkish Cypriots in old Famagusta under Greek Cypriot control. However, leaving the road as a natural border between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot areas would have solved any dilemma for both sides.

    But sources said this would have brought the road under the joint control of the two sides and could have caused a headache for the British bases if any disputes eventually arose, potentially affecting their own unrestricted access to the port.

    "If the two sides fell out at any time that is where it would focus," a source said. "By having that road a safe distance of 700-800 metres belonging to one or the other side it would remain free to the British because it only belongs to one side. You can always deal with just one side without having to go into any problem between them."

    The source said that while it was impractical to have the road inside the proposed Greek area, the fact that it has been placed inside the proposed Turkish area, and not left alone as the natural border prevented thousands of Greek Cypriots from going home to uninhabited properties, since that part of Famagusta had not been settled by Turkish Cypriots since 1974.

    When the plan came out two weeks ago, the UN and the government said the two maps included had been designed to return of the maximum number of refugees to their homes, and the maps zig-zag to that effect. But the line drawn from Ayios Nicolaos to Famagusta is a straight line and places the town's public buildings, the hospital, the central police station, the courts, the lands and surveys department, the public works department, the offices of most of the former diplomatic missions and a large part of Kato Varosha, under Turkish Cypriot administration.

    "It's very short sighted because Britain's interest in Cyprus is to have good relations and to be an honest guarantor and not just to look out for its own ends," the source said. "Instead, it is playing its own game and driving a wedge between the two sides. This is what happened before. This is British imperialist policy at its worst."

    A second informed source on the Greek Cypriot side said that Hannay's fingerprints "were all over the plan".

    "We knew the British were working on the proposal for a long time but we don't know how much of it is Britain's work or the work of the US," the second source said.

    "As far as the cross voting issue is concerned that was more than likely Hannay's work," he added, saying that leaving it in would have been a better solution because "then you have direct elections and democratic accountability".

    "Now you don't have that and the purpose seems to have been to accommodate Denktash. Denktash doesn't want direct voting. He wants to be able to manipulate."

    The sources said they believed Hannay's interference was partly to protect British interests and partly to obtain a solution in a hurry.

    "They want the whole mess cleaned up, not so much by the EU summit on December 12 but before Iraq gets going, because they need Turkey to co- operate fully in Iraq and they don't want it diverted by other things. Iraq is the main element," the source said.

    The UN was unable to comment on the allegations, as its envoy Alvaro de Soto was in Ankara. The UN has previously acknowledged British and US advice on the plan, but has said the proposal is solely the work of the UN. British officials in London were also unavailable for comment yesterday.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told the Cyprus Mail he had no idea about the allegations. He said Britain and the US had "definitely" been involved in the UN plan, "but there are no specifics of who had his hand in this or that,' he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Cyprus first to conclude EU talks

    CYPRUS said it had virtually wrapped up entry talks with the European Union last night, a step that could increase pressure on Turkey to accept a UN- brokered settlement on the island.

    "On substance, we have practically closed negotiations today," chief negotiator George Vassiliou told reporters after a negotiating session 10 days before a crucial EU enlargement summit.

    He said Nicosia had concluded talks on agriculture and had only a "few minor calculations" to make today on the budget before that issue could be closed. That made it the first of 10 candidate countries to provisionally conclude membership talks.

    Denmark, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, is racing to conclude negotiations with the mostly ex-communist applicants before a December 12- 13 summit in Copenhagen where they will be formally invited to join the bloc.

    At the same time, the international community is piling on the pressure to secure a settlement between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, so they can accede to the EU in 2004 as a reunited island. The EU has nevertheless said it is willing to admit Cyprus, even without a settlement.

    Vassiliou said he hoped the Turkish Cypriots would swiftly reach a deal that would allow them to start negotiating their share of future EU aid.

    Asked if he believed there could be an outline agreement in time for the Copenhagen summit, he said: "If there is good will on the Turkish side, we can reach some understanding by December 12 and have a deal by February 28."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] HIV statistics low, but awareness needs to be improved

    HIV-incidence on the island is relatively low, Minister of Health Frixos Savvides said yesterday at a news conference, a day after World Aids Day.

    So far, 392 people have contracted the disease; 229 Cypriots and 163 foreign nationals. According to the statistical data released, government health services are monitoring an additional 110 HIV-positive patients, while 16 new cases were recorded this year.

    Although the figures were not alarming, said Savvides, he added a great deal more could be done about awareness of the disease. "One of the major obstacles to a positive approach to AIDS is the fear that surrounds the disease; a deep-rooted fear related to sickness and death, taboos such as sex between same-gender persons, extramarital relations and drugs."

    The minister added that awareness activities on AIDS were continuous and included lectures and the free handing out of condoms, especially in army camps.

    On the thorny issue of employment of HIV patients, Savvides said that a Cabinet decision had facilitated the hiring of such persons in the civil service; already two people are working for the government, and efforts are being made to open up a couple more positions as of next year. An encouraging sign, Savvides noted, was that the number of HIV-positive persons receiving unemployment benefits was decreasing, thanks to the initiative of private-sector employers.

    For his part, the general manager of the Gregoriou Clinic said the clinic here in Cyprus and the corresponding one in Greece had set up a website where AIDS patients could use a secret password to get updates on their health status.

    There are currently two AIDS counselling centres in Cyprus, and anti- retroviral treatment is being administered to persons complying with clinical and lab criteria. According to Savvides, deaths from AIDS have been slashed to a bare minimum, while the proper treatment of HIV-positive pregnant women in the past six years resulted in all their children being born free of the virus.

    Savvides added that no person had been infected with the deadly virus via transfusions in Cyprus, due to the high standard of checks and the fact blood donors are exclusively volunteers.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Work begins to remove asbestos roof

    NICOSIA municipality workers wearing special protective clothing yesterday began the removal of asbestos roofing from Ayios Antonios market.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Municipal engineer Pheadon Nicolaou said Mayor Michalakis Zampelas had ordered all asbestos roofing in Nicosia to be replaced.

    "The Mayor has ordered the removal and proper burial of asbestos roofs from all municipal buildings in Nicosia," he said.

    "Work on the Ayios Antonios market began yesterday and is expected to be completed in two weeks' time."

    Nicolaou said asbestos fibres were lethal and special protective and safety measures were being taken to protect the workers.

    "The workers have to wear special single-use uniforms and masks to prevent asbestos fibres from entering their lungs," he said.

    "Special care is taken to remove the roofing. The asbestos has been carefully stacked and will be taken to a designated area for burial."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] CY scraps wheelchair charge

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) has abolished additional charges for wheelchairs requested by passengers, saying the system was unworkable.

    Earlier this year, the company introduced a 10 charge on passengers, who were not physically handicapped but asked for use of a wheelchair, saying people were abusing the system.

    However, the company said yesterday the new system had proved unworkable because they were unable to determine for certain who genuinely needed a wheelchair and who did not. A CY spokesman said that in view of the difficulties involved, it had been decided to scrap the charge altogether. "But I think in the meantime it sent a message to those who were taking advantage," the spokesman said.

    Christmas bookings on CY were going well in the run-up to the holiday season, the spokesman added, saying there were still some seats left for Athens and Salonica, although not for the most popular dates leaving just before Christmas and returning immediately after New Year's Day. "London is already fully booked for those dates," the spokesman said. "Bookings are going well and there is quite a large demand."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Heart disease the number one killer

    By Alex Mita

    HEART failure remains the number one cause of death on the island due to Cypriots' sedentary lifestyle, Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday.

    Speaking at the launch of the Week for the Prevention of Heart Disease, Savvides said high blood pressure caused by being overweight, alcohol abuse and the lack of exercise could cause chronic damage in cells in the arteries that would result in heart failure and stroke.

    "Hypertension is the silent enemy," Savvides said.

    "It is estimated that 62 per cent of strokes and 49 per cent of heart attacks are a result of hypertension."

    Savvides said a study carried out on the population on Nicosia showed that 56 per cent of people were overweight, 33 per cent did not exercise, while 29 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women had high blood pressure.

    "Our annual study on sixth grade children showed that 20.3 per cent of male students and 18 per cent of female students were overweight," Savvides said.

    "The study also showed that 44 per cent of pupils had a very low cardiac and respiratory capability due to a sedentary lifestyle. Over ten per cent of the children also had high blood pressure."

    Savvides said a large percentage of heart ailments could be avoided through the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, which he defined as stopping smoking, eating healthily, cutting down on alcohol, getting rid of stress and exercising daily.

    "I'm sure that the majority of Cypriots are aware of the dangers that threaten their health," he said.

    "However, they have not convinced themselves of the seriousness of those dangers in order to adopt a healthier lifestyle."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Autopsy finds epilepsy killed Russian woman

    By George Psyllides

    A 28-YEAR-old Russian woman was not beaten to death as initially claimed but died from post- traumatic epilepsy, the state pathologist said yesterday.

    Elena Kashaeva died in the Limassol hospital late on Sunday night.

    She was admitted at around 10.15am with multiple wounds and bruises and her subsequent death sparked media speculation that her boyfriend, who is now wanted by police for questioning, had beaten her to death.

    Doctors, however, said the injuries and marks were not recent.

    And yesterday's post mortem determined that Kashaeva had died from an epileptic fit, which according to state pathologist Eleni Antoniou, had been caused by an accident the woman had suffered in 1999.

    Antoniou told the Cyprus Mail, that Kashaeva, who was also an alcoholic, lost consciousness and fell over frequently, probably because she was suffering from post-traumatic epilepsy.

    The 1999 accident had left Kashaeva with brain contusion, which, despite healing, caused the epileptic fits.

    "The injuries were not related to the death," Antoniou said.

    Pathologist Marios Matsakis, who conducted the post mortem along with Antoniou, agreed that the injuries could not have caused the 28-year-old's death.

    Limassol police director Theodoros Stylianou said police wanted to question the woman's boyfriend in an effort to shed light on the case.

    Police said they had testimony that Kashaeva had been admitted to hospital last Tuesday suffering from multiple wounds and bruises.

    She told officers then that she had fallen down the stairs of the apartment bloc she lived, police said.

    Kashaeva, who was residing on the island illegally, had left the hospital on the same day and was being sought by police.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] Cleaning up our act ahead of accession

    By Nicole Neroulias

    AS CYPRUS prepares to join the European Union, its economic development and political situation have been closely monitored to ensure a smooth integration. But one aspect of Cypriot life has remained woefully behind, officials said: environmental awareness.

    While it is highly unlikely that the absence of a recycling programme would prevent entry into the EU, Cypriot officials have opted to take preventative measures to address this and other environmental concerns.

    "The path to the European Union comes with new responsibilities," said Yermasoyeia Mayor Panicos Louroutziatis, who told reporters that environmentally friendly programmes would prove their value "in the near future."

    Louroutziatis's municipality has led the drive to harmonise with EU standards on the environment by hosting a string of pilot waste management and educational programmes.

    His office, in conjunction with the Limassol municipality, launched the Municipal Urban Waste Management Programme at one hotel and three tourist- area restaurants on October 1. The businesses will separate paper, plastic, glass and metal from non-recyclable garbage until the end of December, at which point officials will study the programme's effectiveness.

    Yermasoyeia health inspector Timos Misseris said that the programme, under way at the Miramare Hotel, The Blue Lantern, Mr. Chow's Chinese Restaurant and The Grand Canyon, has been very successful.

    "We have gotten very positive results that this is something that can be implemented at other places," Misseris said. The next phase would be to test it at schools, supermarkets, factories and apartment buildings, he said.

    Another pilot programme, entitled "Blue Water," recently concluded 30 months of videotaping the sea from the roof of the Miramare Hotel. University students in France, England and Germany studied the footage for evidence of environmental problems, including litter and oil spots.

    The mayor's office is awaiting feedback from the universities and the EU before deciding how to proceed with the programme, Misseris said.

    To ensure the success of these and other programs, the mayor's office has also announced an educational outreach effort, entitled "Green Investments for Tourism." The programme will focus on communicating the importance of environmental awareness and recycling efforts to Cypriots of all ages, by focusing on the positive effects such programmes would have on the tourist industry, Misseris said.

    "These programmes are not only important, they are necessary," he said. "To integrate with the European Union, we have to adopt their standards of regulations for the environment. It will take some time, but with the proper education and laws in place, people will learn."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [09] Arsonists burn former judge's car

    FOUL play is suspected in a car arson perpetrated in Nicosia in the early morning hours of Sunday.

    The incident occurred at around 2am, with the fire completely destroying a 21,000-pound car belonging to former Labor Disputes Court judge Kyriacos Kallis. A second vehicle, also belonging to the judge's family and parked nearby suffered extensive damage from the flames.

    After the Fire Department put the flames out, an initial assessment by the CID ruled out the possibility the fire had been caused accidentally. But no suspects have come up and no arrests been made.

    The judge and his family were inside their house at the time.

    Kallis has said he does not suspect anyone and denied that the apparent arson was in any way related to motives of revenge by people against whom he had ruled in court.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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