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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-04

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

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


Wednesday, December 4, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Cyprus closes EU accession talks
  • [02] Neophytou announces pilot project for better disabled acces
  • [03] Finance Ministry: what will happen to state assets?
  • [04] Helios launches regular flights to Luton
  • [05] Torrential rains wreak havoc in Nicosia area
  • [06] Airport security stepped up in wake of Mombasa missile attack
  • [07] December 5, 1942: the day the modern Cypriot theatre was born

  • [01] Cyprus closes EU accession talks

    By Alex Mita

    CYPRUS yesterday became the first of the 10 candidate countries of the European Union to officially close entry negotiations.

    Both EU officials and the Cyprus negotiating team were said to be euphoric at the development.

    Chief negotiator George Vassiliou said on Monday that Nicosia had concluded talks on agriculture while "a few minor calculations" on the budget were taken care of yesterday.

    On agriculture, Vassiliou said the Commission's positive response meant farmers would now receive a national subsidy for a transitional seven-year period as well as permission to replant 2000 hectares of vineyards and to increase the annual milk production to 145,000 tonnes.

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

    Meanwhile, Danish Foreign Minister, Per Stig Moeller said in Athens yesterday he could not give a clear answer on whether a solution to the Cyprus problem was a pre-requisite for the island's accession.

    Speaking after meeting the leader of the democratic party, Costas Karamanlis, Moeller said the European Council had underlined that "a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the European Union and if no settlement had been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the Council's decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition. In this the Council will take account of all relevant factors".Moeller said both he and Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen would take all relevant factors into consideration and said he believed "there is a very good opportunity that we will have an agreement on Cyprus before the end of the meeting in Copenhagen".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Neophytou announces pilot project for better disabled acces

    THE GOVERNMENT is to introduce a programme of improvements to allow disabled people greater and more comfortable access to public buildings.

    Beginning with a pilot project spearheaded by the Communication and Works Ministry in collaboration with the Disabled Peoples' Technical Committee, the aim is to extend the initiative as a basis for widespread practical improvements allowing disabled people equal access to all arenas in their social, cultural and economic lives.

    The move was prompted by a European Council decision to define 2003 as the 'Year for access to disabled people', Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou said yesterday.

    The greatest hurdles that disabled people faced were not their personal handicap, but obstacles within their everyday environment, he said.

    "As a state, we are to blame for the social exclusion of our fellow citizens," said Neophytou, admitting insufficient provisions to allow equal access to public places for everyone, thus securing the full participation of the disabled in the island's economic and social life.

    "We owe it to disabled people to promote their rights of access to their natural and material environment in transportation and communication services, in the workplace and in their daily lives."

    The pilot study will include elevator access to Nicosia's Eleftheria Square post office, improved access and the addition of ramps to Nicosia's Archaeological Museum, a comfortable seating area for disabled people and additional parking spaces at Limassol's Pattichion Theatre, the enhancement of pavements along Makarios Avenue in Nicosia and the addition of specialised Pelican crossings to help the blind, access to Larnaca's CTO public beach and the construction of a comfortable seating area, and 11 specialised taxis with wheelchair access allocated to each district. Also, the Transport Department was making arrangements to ensure all new buses would include special equipment to handle disabled passengers, said Neophytou.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Finance Ministry: what will happen to state assets?

    GOVERNMENT departments and services are scrambling to put together information on how the UN plan for a Cyprus settlement will affect existing state bodies in a new 'common' state as envisaged by Kofi Annan's solution proposal.

    Last week, Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou wrote to President Glafcos Clerides to outline his concern about the set-up of a new central bank and his concerns about its viability.

    Reports yesterday said the Finance Ministry was also about to hand a memo to Clerides with details on the possible economic consequences of a solution, asking for clarification on certain issues such as the refinancing of the cash-strapped economy in the north.

    Another issue that is concerning government departments is the issue of state assets, such as gold and foreign exchange deposits believed to be in the region of 2.4 billion deposited in a Swiss bank, according to Politis.

    The paper said the Foreign Ministry had drawn up a list of questions over what would become of these in the event of a solution, and raising questions regarding other state property, such as Cyprus embassy buildings abroad and state fair centres. The document even asks what would become of Greek Cypriot assets in the event that a solution failed and partition was the only outcome, and whether it would have to be split with the Turkish Cypriot side.

    The document, sent by the Ministry to the President, said that the Annan plan did not make a clear reference to the issue, other than to say the deposits would become part of a common state.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Helios launches regular flights to Luton

    By Jean Christou

    PRIVATE Cypriot airline Helios Airways begins five-times a week flights to Luton Airport from December 13 with a special offer of 99 return plus taxes for the first 1,000 tickets, with fares beginning at 120 return plus taxes after that.

    Speaking at a news conference to announce the new flights in Nicosia yesterday, Helios general director Demetris Pantazis said the launch was historic because it was the first time that a private Cypriot airline had been granted a licence to operate scheduled flights to London.

    Until now, Cyprus Airways (CY) was the only Cypriot carrier to fly into London, due to a bi-lateral agreement with Britain designating the national carrier and British Airways as the sole providers of scheduled seats to London airports.

    The Cabinet's decision earlier this year to grant a licence to Helios caused a stir, because CY had asked for Luton for its charter arm Eurocypria.

    But the government decided that since Gatwick, Heathrow and Stanstead were already given to CY interests, it would give Luton to Helios in order to give new airlines a fair chance, and not to show any discrimination against private companies.

    The move to open up air transport is part of the island's harmonisation process with the EU, and will eventually result in the full liberalisation of air transport, but the process is being moved along slowly in order to give Cyprus Airways a chance to prepare itself for the additional competition.

    Pantazis described as regrettable the government's decision to open the market so slowly, pointing out liberalisation could open other destinations such as Athens and Salonica, currently protected for CY and co-operated with Greek carrier Olympic. Athens and Tel Aviv, which is also a 'protected' route, are CY's most profitable routes, along with London Heathrow.

    Pantazis said fuller liberalisation would benefit both the travelling public in terms of lower air fares, and the economy in terms of increased tourism

    "It is regrettable that the government has not opened the market up enough to other destinations such as Athens and Salonica, which have been served for years by only two airlines," he said. He also mentioned Beirut and Tel Aviv and certain other European destinations.

    Helios, which began operating in 1999, has two Boeing 737 aircraft; it hopes to lease another in 2004, and possibly even a fourth, said marketing manager Andreas Christodoulides. In addition to operating charter flights, the airline currently operates scheduled flights to Dublin once a week and to Sofia twice a week, and hopes to add Newcastle and Glasgow, among others, to its programme in 2004.

    Since it began operations, the airline has carried one million passengers and operated 4,000 flights with two aircraft and 110 staff.

    The Luton flights will depart on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8.30am, arriving in London at 11.30am. The Monday flight operates via Paphos. Return flights arrive back in Cyprus at around 7pm. Christodoulides said the response so far had been "beyond expectations".

    Luton is one of the fastest growing major UK airports with frequent direct train and bus links to London and other UK towns and cities.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Torrential rains wreak havoc in Nicosia area

    By Alexia Saoulli

    TORRENTIAL rains battered the island yesterday, flooding dozens of roads and wreaking havoc on early morning traffic, police said. By 9.30am the Fire Department in Nicosia alone had received over 100 emergency calls.

    But although yesterday's heavy showers exceeded 10 per cent of the month's average rainfall, flooding most of the capital's roads, water flow into the dams was negligible, weathermen reported.

    Nicosia's Markou Drakou Street, Kyriakou Matsi Street, Loukis Akrita Street and Heroes Avenue were flooded, police said. Meanwhile, Eleftheria Square, the area surrounding the General Hospital, the Archbishopric and Demosthenis Severis and Grivas Digenis Avenues were also swamped.

    The Anthoupolis to Ayioi Trimithias road was unpassable and extremely dangerous, with drivers advised to use the Nicosia to Kokkinotrimithia highway instead. Police also issued warnings concerning a number of roads near Paliometocho, Palechori, Kambia and Macheras, which had become slippery and dangerous due to mudslides and fallen rocks.

    In the Limassol district, the Karvounas to Troodos road was closed to traffic, as was the old Limassol to Paphos coastal road.

    By 9.30am, the Nicosia Fire Department had received over 100 emergency calls over flooded roads and basements, trapped vehicles and blocked drainage systems. The department had to respond to calls mainly in the suburbs of Anthoupolis, Makedonitissa, Lakatamia, Engomi and Ayios Dhometios. Due to the increased number of calls in the city centre, off- duty firemen were called in to help and rescue volunteers were dispatched from Larnaca and Limassol.

    Police yesterday advised drivers to exercise the utmost caution in an effort to limit the number of road accidents. By lunchtime, an eyewitness told the Cyprus Mail she had seen six accidents on the Paphos to Limassol highway alone, while CyBC reported one accident on the Nicosia to Larnaca highway.

    But despite the havoc caused by the sudden downpour of overnight rain, the water flow into the island's reservoirs was negligible.

    "It has to rain across the island profusely for another two to three days in order to note a sufficient difference in the dams' capacity," said Water Development Department Senior Technician Fedros Roussis. "In fact the dams' water capacity is still on the decrease, despite the storms throughout the night." Yesterday, the dams contained 103,473 million cubic metres, whereas the day before they contained 103,554 million cubic metres, he said.

    "Nicosia may have been drenched, but that's not indicative of how much water flows into the dams. First the earth must drink its full before any water to speak of is left over to run into the dams and second, it must rain a lot in the mountains which is where the bulk of the dams' water flow derives from," Roussis told the Cyprus Mail.

    And there's little sign of that happening: the weather outlook for today and tomorrow is fine with a few clouds gathering here and there.

    "The storm has already started to move easterly and will leave the island's shores by late afternoon," said Meteorological Department head, Kyriakos Theofilou.

    "There is a storm brewing on the western coast of Italy, which we are expecting to come across this way, bringing a few scattered showers with it, on Thursday afternoon and Friday."

    By 8am yesterday, the meteorology department had measured 11.5 millimetres of rainwater across the island -- 11 per cent of the month's average rainfall.

    "It rained the most in Platania, which recorded 42 mm of water, followed by 36.2 mm in Nicosia, 13.4 mm in Paphos, 6.3 mm in Limassol and just under one millimetre in Larnaca," said Theofilou. "However, these were only the water levels recorded by 8am today. We will take more measurements at the same time tomorrow, which will show an even greater increase since it continued to rain well into mid-morning."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Airport security stepped up in wake of Mombasa missile attack

    LARNACA airport police have increased security during the landing and take off of Israeli El-Al aircraft after last week's failed terrorist attack when two surface-to-air missiles narrowly missed an Israeli passenger plane taking off from Mombasa in Kenya.

    According to Phileleftheros, Friday's attacks in Kenya prompted Larnaca police to re-assess and strengthen security at the airport for arrivals and departures of El-Al aircraft.

    Justice Minister Alecos Shambos yesterday confirmed that security measures had been stepped up for all flights.

    "We had to increase the measures after the attacks, not only for El-Al flights but for all arriving and departing flights at the airport," he said.

    "The measures include more mobile unit patrols around the vicinity of the airport by land and sea, but security will be tighter during the arrival and departure of El-Al aircraft. We have to be vigilant."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] December 5, 1942: the day the modern Cypriot theatre was born

    By Nicole Neroulias

    TONIGHT marks the 60th anniversary of the birth of modern Cypriot theatre.

    On the evening of December 5, 1942, a converted garage on Aristotle Street opened its doors as the Lyriko Theatre, presenting musical comedy and playful satire to hundreds of delighted Cypriots.

    As the first professional Cypriot theatre group, the Lyriko Theatre's founders, director Fivos Moussoulides, lyricist Kostas Montis and composer Achilles Limbourides, had to single-handedly write the show, train performers and secure a venue - all with the required permission from the colonial government.

    At the time, British government officials strictly regulated public gatherings of Cypriots. To get permission to form the group and stage performances, Moussoulides admitted that he told officials the shows would focus on religious themes, even going so far as to dress one of the actors up as a bishop to wait in the car outside while he made his proposal.

    The group also initially struggled to find qualified actors, since Cyprus lacked a modern tradition of theatrical performance. Amateur actors were recruited and trained by the founders, but women were impossible to find for stage work at first.

    "In the early shows, you would see a lot of the women's roles played by men with moustaches," Moussoulides said. "But eventually, it became more socially accepted for the women to perform, and we recruited dancers as well."

    The founders' years of planning paid off on that December night in 1942, when the Lyriko Theatre's debut performance, Soupa, Moupes, sold out to 400 people, the maximum the government had permitted to attend the show.

    "It was a time of war, so there weren't any groups coming in from Greece," Moussoulides said. "People were starving for entertainment."

    Soupa Moupes played 46 times, then considered an unprecedented theatrical success. This convinced the mayor to permit the Lyriko Theatre to perform for an audience of up to 500. Demand was so great that the group had to hire police officers to keep order as people pushed through the doors to see the show, Moussoulides recalled.

    Despite having secured the venue, performers, official permission and funds for performances, the Lyriko Theatre never fully overcame the problem of government censorship. At the time, political satire was strictly forbidden, so the writers had to subtly work their anti-colonialism and pro-Greek (enosis) sympathies into the performances, Moussoulides said.

    "In one show, we had a Greek drunk and a Cypriot drunk discussing what was good about their countries - for example, the Greek would say, 'retsina,' and the Cypriot would say, 'zivania.'" he recalled. "At the end, they finally said, 'long live enosis . for drunks!'"

    Moussoulides chuckled at the memory. "The audience would cheer wildly, because they were in favour of enosis (union) with Greece, and the British would approve the script because the meaning was disguised," he said.

    In the years following that first performance, several more Cypriot theatre groups formed, some with actors trained in the original _Soupa Moupes,/i> show. The end of World War II also saw the return of foreign theatrical groups to Cyprus.

    Due to the combination of these factors, along with the founding members' desire to pursue other interests, the Lyriko Theatre closed its doors in 1945. Its legacy, however, lives on in the performances of Cypriot theatre groups today.

    "I'm happy to see that the seed we planted grew, to the point where there are many, many theatres in Cyprus," Moussoulides said. "Our tradition continues to this day."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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