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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-05

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

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


Thursday, December 5, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] International community looks beyond Copenhagen summit
  • [02] Officials hail closure of last EU accession talks
  • [03] Airport: re-fuellers strikes won't affect flights
  • [04] High blood pressure: the silent killer
  • [05] Improved drainage battle floodwaters
  • [06] US consultants in meeting over natural gas
  • [07] Defence Minister: we will look after our officers in case of a solution
  • [08] EAC recovering cash as first scam 'client' jailed

  • [01] International community looks beyond Copenhagen summit

    By Jean Christou

    WITH THE chances of a Cyprus solution before December 12 looking more unlikely the international community yesterday began to look beyond Copenhagen for an agreement between the two sides.

    Greece and Turkey both said yesterday they were ready to continue UN-backed efforts to reunite the island even if a peace deal was not in place by the European Union summit in next week, Reuters reported.

    In a sign hopes may be dwindling for a deal to be clinched in the next eight days, Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis revealed Athens and Ankara were already talking about a possible framework for talks to continue past the EU summit.

    "We very much want to see an agreement by Copenhagen but if this does not happen at least the door should not be closed for good to solve the matter, " Yakis said at a news conference after talks with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou.

    "This should not be the end (to efforts to reunite Cyprus) because a new dynamism is already in place," Papandreou said. Yakis said if the EU invited a divided Cyprus to join it would be "like accepting a baby full of problems".

    Similar sentiments were expressed in Nicosia by US Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman, who held contacts on both sides yesterday before travelling to Athens. He visited Ankara on Tuesday.

    Although Grossman urged both sides to seize an "historic opportunity" for reunification he said the talks would continue even if the December 12 deadline was not met.

    "The (UN) Secretary-general's proposal is that people commit to the vision in his plan and negotiate it for some months after... I don't think anyone believes the sun won't come up on the 13th of December," Grossman told reporters.

    "My message today is a simple one and will be exactly the same here and on the Turkish Cypriot side, which is to say that there is an opportunity waiting for all of you and we hope very much that you will take it and we want to do everything that we possibly can to support you in that endeavour, " he added.

    The race is on for the two sides to agree by next week but UN efforts have been hampered by the delay in both sides submitting their responses to Annan's plan. It is believed the Greek Cypriot side would rather wait until it receives the accession green light in Copenhagen before opening negotiations on the plan while Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has written to the EU asking it to postpone the island's accession or damage the chances for a solution.

    Denktash's adviser Ergun Olgun said yesterday that whatever decision emerged on December 12 would be decisive in terms of the continuation of the negotiation process. If Cyprus' EU accession is endorsed next week Olgun said that any negotiation process after that would be meaningless. "With an advantage like that the Greek Cypriots will in no way allow the factors (in the Annan plan) that are against the Turkish Cypriot side to be changed," he said.

    The EU has consistently said it would admit a divided island but had hoped that an initial agreement for reunified Cyprus could be reached before December 12. Turkey's hopes of a ticket to the EU are also now riding on progress on the Cyprus issue, strongly backed by the US, which wants Ankara fully on its side if it goes to war with Iraq. Olgun said that a date for the start of Turkey's EU negotiations would be a positive step in any Cyprus negotiations.

    Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan, seeking U.S. backing in his campaign for a date for EU entry talks, will meet President George W. Bush in Washington before the crucial EU summit in Copenhagen. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has also been in Ankara urging all sides to make progress on Cyprus. Greece also backs a date for Turkey. Papandreou said that "for the first time", the Turkish government was putting on the pressure for the solution.

    Fred Eckhard, the UN Secretary-general's spokesman said yesterday there was still time for a solution before December 12. "We still have a few days and as the Secretary General said yesterday there is still time but much will depend on the extensiveness or lack of extensiveness of the comments of each side on the draft proposal," he said.

    Meanwhile The European Parliament's rapporteur for Cyprus, Jacques Poos, criticised the Turkish military's negative stance on a solution. Speaking before the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament Poos said that it had become obvious that Denktash did not want to negotiate on a solution, "and that goes against the will of the Turkish Cypriot people who have recently demonstrated in favour of a solution, the Annan plan and Cyprus' EU accession." Poos also expressed the view that the Copenhagen meeting should leave a window open for further negotiations on a solution but that any agreement should be reached before the signing of the Accession Treaty in April 2003. "If that deadline is not met, the chance of reaching a solution for the reunification of Cyprus will be lost and there will not be another one", he said.

    Security Council sources told the Cyprus News Agency that they were "irritated" by Denktash's delaying and that it had been conveyed to him that his reply should be given today.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Officials hail closure of last EU accession talks

    By Nicole Neroulias

    EU officials and the Cypriot negotiating team yesterday hailed the end of Cyprus's accession negotiations, as the nine remaining candidate countries for 2004 accession continued pressing for more financial support.

    Four and a half years after Cyprus's accession negotiations began, Chief Negotiator George Vassiliou returned from Brussels yesterday in triumph, having reached an overall agreement with the EU Danish Presidency and the European Commission. Cyprus closed the final two chapters of the negotiations - agricultural and budgetary arrangements - on Monday and Tuesday.

    "It was a very successful negotiation," said Kyriacos Charalambous, spokesman for Vassiliou's office. "We succeeded in reaching the terms and quotas that we wanted."

    The EU's offer on agriculture satisfies the demands of Cyprus's farming sector for milk-production quotas, support premiums for cattle and sheep, and aid to wine makers, officials said.

    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 2,000 hectares of vineyards and to increase the annual milk production to 145,000 tonnes.

    The EU also committed itself to paying Cyprus _16 million a year more in 2004-6 than it receives in compulsory budget contributions from Nicosia, officials said.

    EU officials also assured Cypriot negotiators that any deal reached by the other candidate states in the next week for more funding and agricultural support would apply to Cyprus as well.

    The final ratification of the conclusion of the negotiations will take place early next week at an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels, with the participation of Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides. The deal is scheduled to be finalised at the EU's Copenhagen summit next week.

    Cyprus is the first of the 10 countries to conclude its negotiations to join the EU in 2004. The remaining countries are: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania hope to join in 2007.

    "Cyprus has always been more prepared than the other countries," Charalambous said. "When we began negotiations, Cyprus already had a long history of economic stability and an open market, while the other countries were still trying to make their institutions work. And as a small country, it's easier for us to meet the requirements."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Airport: re-fuellers strikes won't affect flights

    By George Psyllides

    LARNACA airport authorities said yesterday they did not expect any major disruption in flights from today's strike by the personnel of petroleum companies Esso-Mobil and BP.

    Workers belonging to unions PEO, SEK and POAS, issued a written statement yesterday announcing a 48-hour strike starting from 6am today.

    The workers, who had held a 24-hour warning strike on Friday over, among other things, higher pensions and redundancy payments said yesterday there had been no effort from the companies indicating that they wanted to resolve the matter. They said they were striking to secure their rights.

    "During the strike, workers will study the situation anew and decide whether to escalate the measures with the potential to continue strikes indefinitely," the statement said.

    "We understand the problems that would arise for petroleum consumers but the full responsibility lies with the companies who rejected the Labour Ministry's mediating proposal," the workers said.

    One airport official told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that they did not expect any major disruption in the flight schedules.

    He said some amendments would be made but there would not be any major delays or cancellations.

    The official added that it was standard procedure in such situations for the aircraft to either fill their tanks to capacity at the point of departure or refuel at neighbouring countries.

    During Friday's strike several planes were forced to refuel in Rhodes and Lebanon.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] High blood pressure: the silent killer

    By Alexia Saoulli

    CORONARY artery disease is the leading killer in Cyprus, and one of its primary causes is high blood pressure, which affects 25 per cent of the population, a leading cardiologist said yesterday warning that since high blood pressure had no symptoms, checkups should start from as young as 20.

    This week has been dedicated to the heart, and more specifically aimed at highlighting hypertension or high blood pressure, said Dr. Pambis Nicolaides. The condition, coined as the "silent killer" due to its lack of symptoms, is the primary the cause of strokes, coronary artery disease, cardiac failure, renal failure, aortic aneurysm, arteriopathy of the lower limbs and even sudden death, said Nicolaides.

    Along with smoking, high cholesterol levels and diabetes it was one of the primary factors in coronary artery disease; it quadrupled a person's chance of having a heart attack and boosted the chance of stroke seven times, he said

    But what is blood pressure?

    According to the American Heart Association: "The heart is a muscle that controls our body's blood circulation. When it beats, it pumps blood to the arteries and creates pressure in them. This blood pressure results from two forces. The first force is created as blood pumps into the arteries and through the circulatory system. The second is created as the arteries resist the blood flow. If you're healthy, your arteries are muscular and elastic. They stretch when your heart pumps blood through them. How much they stretch depends on how much force the blood exerts.

    "Your heart beats about 60 to 80 times a minute under normal conditions. Your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats. Your blood pressure can change from minute to minute, with changes in posture, exercise or sleeping, but it should normally be less than 140/90 mm Hg for an adult. The higher and lower numbers represent blood pressure while the heart is beating and resting respectively. Blood pressure that stays above this level is considered high."

    Nicolaides said high blood pressure had a number of contributing factors, including heredity, obesity, ethnicity (African Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure than Caucasians), consumption of excessive salt and alcohol and the contraceptive pill in women.

    Hypertension was a "devious condition" that affected 20-25 per cent of the population. Because of its lack of symptoms, hypertension could only be diagnosed through medical examinations, which include blood tests, electrocardiograms, ultrasounds and eye tests, said Nicolaides. These should start as early as 20.

    "A first check-up should take place at 20-25 years of age and be carried out at least every five years. After the age of 40 the time between check- ups should become more frequent," he said.

    Fortunately, high blood pressure can be significantly lowered through a change in lifestyle.

    "In order to deal with the problem, people must lose weight, reduce their salt and alcohol intake, quit smoking, take up regular exercise, avoid food high in cholesterol and animal fat and avoid stress as much as possible," said Nicolaides. If the problem persisted, antihypertensive medication was also an option, he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Improved drainage battle floodwaters

    By Alexia Saoulli

    DESPITE torrential rains battering the island's capital on Tuesday and over 100 calls to the fire brigade, floodwaters receded very fast, a municipality civil engineer said yesterday.

    "We did have a few minor problems, but these were brought under control fairly quickly," Yiannakis Lazourou, who heads Nicosia Municipality's Construction and Design Department, told the Cyprus Mail.

    "There was some flooding along Ayios Pavlos Street, which created a pool of water, but nothing that affected anyone's homes," he said, adding that from next year, this should no loner be a problem since the municipality was in its final stages of implementing a drainage system with underground piping, upgrading the asphalt and putting pavements on both sides of the road.

    "All these improvements will ensure that the water is drained away and transported to the Pediaios River, rather than collecting on the side of the street, which is made up of dirt," he said.

    It was the lack of pavements that caused chaos, he added. In Makarios Avenue, rainwater did not have a chance to collect, as it had nowhere to stick, said Lazarou. "There are no wild shrubs there and the water can be drained away towards the river instead," he said.

    No homes were damaged and the municipality had not received any complaints from residents to the contrary, he said. Any flooding had mostly involved blocked roads. "In fact, not even all the roads that had been reported as flooded were," said Lazarou. "Eleftheria Square, for instance was said to have been flooded and yet when I passed through there several times it was fine. It may just have been overflowing for a period of 10 minutes, because of intense rainfall until it could drain away."

    Improvements had been made around the town to deal with a repeat of last year's catastrophic floods. Palouriotissa, Kaimakli and Ayios Andreas all had drainage systems put in this year, he said, following residents' complaints. This, however, did not mean the municipality had put an end to its water drainage works.

    "Next year we will deal with Ayios Andreas further, the area around the Land Registry department and Metochiou," he said, listing but a few of the projects in the pipeline. And any future problems linked to rainfall this winter would also be noted and taken into consideration, he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] US consultants in meeting over natural gas

    By Jean Christou

    COMMERCE Minister Nicos Rolandis met yesterday with officials from the American company Nexant, which is advising the government on its plans to provide natural gas to the island.

    Speaking after the meeting, Rolandis said this was the third and final meeting with the international energy consultants on the feasibility study, which will shortly be presented to the Cabinet.

    Also at the meeting was Electricity Authority Chairman George Georgiades.

    "We discussed in depth the three choices we have for liquid natural gas, natural gas or pipeline natural gas," Rolandis said. "The issue will be tabled to the Cabinet very soon for a final decision".

    Cyprus has been considering ways to supply the island with natural gas, either by undersea pipeline or by bringing it to the island in special tankers. Either of the options would cost an estimated $100 to $250 million with extensive storage facilities required.

    Discussions have been going on for months involving Egypt and Syria, who are also involved in a pipeline project with Jordan and Lebanon. Cyprus' final decision to build a gas pipeline to bring gas from Syria could depend on whether a much larger $1 billion grid linking Syria to gas producer Egypt will be completed. Syria said last month it was ready to supply Cyprus with three million cubic metres of natural gas per day by means of an underwater pipeline

    Last year, four Middle Eastern countries reached agreement on the construction of a $1 billion pipeline, which would start in Egypt and pass through Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

    Cyprus now relies exclusively on heavy fuel oil to fire its electricity grids. The island, a candidate for European Union membership in the next wave of enlargement, must switch to cleaner forms of energy and has set itself a target of 2006 to wean itself off oil at power stations.

    Extensive storage facilities would need to be constructed in any case for the island to boost its fuel supplies from less than 30 days to the EU minimum of 90. It has a 2008 deadline from Brussels to meet that target.

    The government would want to farm the gas venture out to the private sector under a BOT (build-operate-transfer) agreement where the investor would operate the facility before returning it to the state after an agreed period of time.

    .

    The Cyprus government has discussed natural gas supplies with both Egypt and Syria, which are involved in a joint pipeline project with Lebanon and Jordan.

    International energy consultants Nexant are advising the government on the options and are due to file a report to Rolandis on November 19.

    Authorities are now assessing a feasibility plan by U.S. consultants Nexant on what is the best option in bringing gas to the island, including that of constructing an underwater pipeline linking it to Syria.

    "We have asked the consultants to come back in 10 or 15 days, and then we will submit a proposal to the Council of Ministers (cabinet) by mid-October at the latest," said Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis, responsible for energy matters.

    Cyprus now relies exclusively on heavy fuel oil to fire its power grids but must switch to more environmentally friendly and cleaner forms of energy under rules of the European Union, which it hopes to join from 2004.

    The options available are taking a natural gas feed from the Syrian port of Baniyas via underwater pipeline, or to import either liquified natural gas or liquified petroleum gas.

    Cyprus wants to switch to gas by 2006 or 2007.

    Rolandis declined to say which of the options appeared most favourable. "Each option has a number of pros and cons," he told Reuters.

    "The cost is estimated at anything between $100 million and $250 million. Whatever we chose we will adopt a BOT arrangement through international tender,"" he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Defence Minister: we will look after our officers in case of a solution

    By George Psyllides

    THE DEFENCE Minister warned yesterday it was untimely and damaging to discuss the future of the armed forces before a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking at a Nicosia army camp where he was marking the celebrations for the guardian saint of artillery, Ayia Varvara, Socratis Hasikos said National Guard officers should not worry, because "the state cares for those who build the armed forces".

    The UN settlement plan provides for the National Guard to be disbanded, and professional officers are worried they will be left without a livelihood.

    Hasikos sought to reassure them yesterday: "It is through their work that we have reached the point of being close to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem," the minister said.

    He said there was no issue for discussion yet, as the armed forces would remain until the end and there was absolutely no reason to discuss their future today as it was equally possible a solution would not be found.

    "Talks might be ongoing and at an advanced stage but our mission is to maintain the armed forces at high levels operationally, ready to secure peace and security on the island," Hasikos said.

    The minister said no operations had been postponed, adding that training was intensifying and insisting reports about the cancellation of activities were not true.

    Asked whether his memo to the President and the Attorney-general contained suggestions concerning the future of the National Guard, Hasikos said, "it is bad, untimely and damaging to discus the future of the armed forces".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] EAC recovering cash as first scam 'client' jailed

    By George Psyllides

    THE ELECTRICITY Authority (EAC) has recovered around 500,000 from an estimated 2.8 million owed by numerous businesses and individuals whose meters were allegedly tampered with to indicate lower consumption, an EAC spokesman said yesterday.

    The man who had been 'fixing' the meters, 71-year-old retired EAC technician Michalis Masouras is currently serving a 12-month prison term after he was found guilty of tampering with the electrical installations for a fee.

    On Tuesday, a Nicosia court sentenced 55-year-old bakery owner Costas Tsouloupas to nine months in prison for involvement in the case.

    Tsouloupas was convicted on two counts of stealing electricity and one of conspiracy to defraud.

    The court heard how, last December, Tsouloupas' meters were found to have been tampered with.

    Masouras confessed he had agreed with Tsouloupas to fix his meters to show lower consumption for a fee.

    Tsouloupas confirmed this, admitting he had paid 500 to Masouras for the job.

    The court took into consideration the fact that Tsouloupas had paid the EAC the amount the authority had lost from the scam - around 5,700 - as well as his clean record and confession.

    The EAC has estimated it lost around 2.8 million in unpaid electricity. The spokesman said around 500,000 had been recovered.

    Tassos Roussos told the Cyprus Mail that many people implicated in the case were currently engaged in negotiations with the EAC for the payment of their dues.

    He said he expected the legal precedent would mean more people would be willing to settle their debts, though this did not mean they would escape prosecution.

    Many were trying to negotiate a lower settlement but the EAC would only be willing to charge them less if they could provide ample proof that their consumption had been lower than estimated, Roussos said.

    The EAC calculated the amounts by checking the consumer's billing history until bill started falling following Masouras' intervention.

    "He was very careful; the adjustment was done slowly," Roussos said.

    But many of the businesses involved had considerable electrical installations, and no reason for consumption to fall, raising suspicions over a period of time, Roussos said.

    He added the authority had many ways to calculate the consumption with high precision.

    Reports yesterday said the EAC would not wait any longer for people to pay up, and from today would start cutting electricity to several consumers who flatly refused to pay their dues.

    Politis yesterday reported a Larnaca factory whose owner was refusing to pay around 10,000 was first on the list.

    The owners of around 40 meters, who also refused to pay their bills, would be next, according to the EAC director-general Costas Ioannou, who was quoted in Politis.

    Twenty cases have been filed with the courts so far, while around 50 are being assessed by the Attorney-general's office to determine whether they should follow suit.

    Masouras was arrested a year ago. The case sparked controversy after it was discovered that several prominent figures and businesses were on his list of 'customers'.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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