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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-06

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

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


Friday, December 6, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Proximity talks may begin tomorrow
  • [02] Flights affected by Greek strike
  • [03] Cyprus has little problem with EU single-hull tanker ban
  • [04] Where's my money, composer asks
  • [05] Clerides to go it alone in Copenhagen
  • [06] Israel issues flight-ban threat to Cyprus
  • [07] Airport fuel strike rumbles on
  • [08] Exhumations to identify Turkish victims of 1974 Alaminos gun battle
  • [09] EU to fund hi-tech highway management system
  • [10] House ratifies anti-personnel mine treaty
  • [11] Post early if you want to be safe
  • [12] Limassol pupils block school in Cyprus problem protest

  • [01] Proximity talks may begin tomorrow

    By George Psyllides

    PROXIMITY TALKS for the settlement of the Cyprus problem could start as soon as tomorrow after both sides last night handed their replies to the United Nations outlining the points they wished to change in the solution plan.

    The Greek Cypriot side handed over its reply to UN envoy Alvaro de Soto's representative at around 9pm and after it had been confirmed in writing that the Turkish Cypriot side had given its reply to a UN representative in New York.

    The Greek Cypriot side had given its reply late on Wednesday night but asked for it back yesterday morning after they discovered the Turkish Cypriot side had failed to honour its side of the deal to submit the replies simultaneously.

    The Turkish Cypriot side later apologised and blamed the delay on technical problems.

    The Turkish Cypriot response, a three-page document accompanied by a letter, was handed to the UN at 6.30pm (Cyprus time) by the representative of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state Osman Ertug.

    Asked whether the reply was positive, Ertug said "We have already given our positive reply".

    "The UN Secretary-general did not want us to say yes or no; he was asking the two sides to say what they thought should be amended on his document.

    "And this is exactly what we have done," Ertug added.

    But according to reports, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, in his reply, did not include any suggestions, as the UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan had asked, but only listed the points he wished to see changed.

    Undersecretary to the president Pantelis Kouros, who handed over the reply to de Soto said he imagined the UN would now study the replies and then give each side the other side's positions.

    Kouros added that he had asked the UN for written assurances that the Turkish Cypriot side had given its reply, which he got in the form of a letter from de Soto.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told the Cyprus Mail last night that in its reply the Greek Cypriot side in some cases listed the points while in others it made suggestions on how they should be changed.

    "We had to decide whether we wanted to respond to the letter or not," Papapetrou said.

    He added: "If Denktash gave only the points it means he did not respond."

    This development opened the way for the UN to push for negotiations on the plan as early as Saturday, reports said.

    The same reports said that the UN would be engaging the two sides in intensive rounds of proximity talks in order to have some form of agreement before the Copenhagen summit on December 12.

    But UN hopes to kick off talks could be dashed if Denktash fails to return today.

    The Turkish Cypriot leader is scheduled to be examined in hospital at around 5.30pm after which, if all goes well, he would board a direct flight to Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Flights affected by Greek strike

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) said yesterday that four of its flights had been affected by a 24-hour strike by Greek air traffic controllers.

    CY spokesman Tassos Angelis said that under the terms of the strike, the airline was allowed one arrival and one departure during the 24-hour period.

    He said the airline had therefore combined the 7am and 9.30am flights to Athens onto a bigger plane carrying 230 passengers, which left at 9.30am yesterday. The plane returned to Cyprus with 194 passengers.

    Yesterday afternoon's two flights, the 4pm and 7pm were also combined and scheduled to leave at 2.30am this morning, half an hour after the end of the strike. Angelis said the flight to Thessalonica was also affected and was expected to leave after the strike instead of at 6pm as scheduled.

    "All of our passengers were informed in advance and knew what was happening, " Angelis said.

    The Greek air traffic controllers' strike was part of a wider public service work stoppage to press for pay demands. The controllers' union on Wednesday said it would service all emergency, military and VIP flights but other air traffic would only be serviced on the basis of one flight per destination.

    Schools and hospital in Greece were also affected by the strike but public transport and banks were not.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Cyprus has little problem with EU single-hull tanker ban

    By Jean Christou

    CYPRUS is not likely to be seriously affected by Europe's proposal to ban single-hull oil tankers in the wake of last month's environmental disaster involving the Maltese-flagged Prestige off the coast of Spain, the Shipping Department and Shipping Council said yesterday.

    As part of a get-tough stance on ageing tankers, Europe has decided that a fast-track ban on single hull tankers be discussed at the EU summit in Copenhagen next week.

    However, Andreas Constantinou, senior surveyor at the Shipping Department, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the island's ship registry, the sixth largest in the world, did not have a high percentage of tankers and that most of the ships registered under the flag were cargo vessels.

    The Cyprus registry has some 2,700 ships under its flag, of which 1,700 are ocean going cargo ships.

    He said only around ten per cent of the fleet were tankers because Cyprus- flagged vessels are not allowed to dock in Turkish ports or pass through the Bosphorous, which makes the island's flag inconvenient for oil transporting companies. "Many tankers charter oil from Turkey and ships registered in Cyprus can't dock there," he said.

    "In any case the vast majority of our tankers are brand new double hulled. We have some single hull vessels but this is not a concern for us when you look at the market from a global perspective."

    Constantinou said Europe was looking at the issue on a political basis rather than a technical one. Spain, France and Portugal have already implemented a blanket ban on single hull tankers over 15 years old within their economic zones.

    "From our point of view a 10-year-old tanker could be in a much worse condition than a tanker of 20. The magic number 15 doesn't say a lot to me, " Constantinou said, adding the reason there were still so many single hull tankers was that there were not enough double hull vessels on the market.

    Constantinou said the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) had already taken a unilateral decision some time ago to phase out single hull tankers on a gradual basis by 2015. "So what the EU is looking now is for this to come about earlier."

    Senior Shipping Council official Thomas Kazakos said there were many questions regarding the proposed EU ban although the issue of single hull tankers was not new. He said the IMO thinking being a gradual phasing out was a means of not disrupting trade. "The Cyprus Shipping Council fully supported the IMO decision for the phasing out of single hull tankers by 2015," he said. "If it's done more speedily there might be a problem with supply and demand."

    However, Kazakos said the real issue was the need for regulations regarding ports of refuge. He said that in the case of the Prestige, the vessel had signalled in time that it needed help, but had been refused a port of refuge to carry out repairs.

    "A lot of accidents are caused by bad weather and can be avoided. This is a very thorny issue when port state authority refuses to allow shelter for repairs where leakage is controllable and there is no danger to the port," he said. "But if you leave a ship in the high seas it can't be controlled. Ships need to be allowed somewhere to berth and be repaired. This has to be seen from a technical side and not just political." He added that no ship was immune to the ravages of nature, even if it is "triple hulled".

    Both Constantinou and Kazakos cited the case of the Cypriot-registered Castor, which was double hulled.

    The Greek-owned Castor hit the headlines last year when crew reported a deck crack on New Year's Eve in the western Mediterranean. The ship was carrying 29,000 tonnes of unleaded petrol and was refused shelter to transfer the cargo in several Mediterranean ports, which feared it might explode.

    It was towed eastwards by a salvage firm in an attempt to find calmer waters and was able to discharge the cargo successfully in February off the coast of Malta. It was then towed to Piraeus in Greece for examination as to the cause of the casualty.

    Preliminary findings showed that one of the ship's tanks had been subjected to "hyper accelerated corrosion" due to exposure to both petrol cargos and salt water. The final report on the Castor is due out early next week, Constantinou said.

    If the initial findings hold up, it could mean wider implications for the construction and maintenance of double hull tankers.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Where's my money, composer asks

    By Nicole Neroulias

    MARIOS Tokas wants to know where his money has gone.

    The famed Cypriot composer, whose career has spanned more than 20 years, says he has never received any royalties from performances of his music in Cyprus.

    The Nicosia-based Performing Rights Society (PRS), which manages the royalties for recorded and live performance of music in Cyprus, said the royalties were sent annually to AEPI, Tokas's intellectual property manager in Greece.

    PRS Manager Michael Skoufarides said his organisation has responded to the complaint by sending Tokas its payment records, which show that the composer should have received approximately 20,000 in royalties from Cyprus between 1999 and 2001.

    The issue is now between the composer and AEPI, Skoufarides said.

    "He has to check with AEPI to see what happened to the money," Skoufarides said. "There is the possibility that he received it along with other royalties and he didn't know that it was coming from Cyprus. You get confusion like this when someone has a very active recording and performing history."

    The records for the royalty payments to AEPI before 1999 are in storage, but PRS lawyers have said they will find them if necessary to prove that all the payments were properly made. However, Skoufarides clarified that the 20,000 sum for the last three years was unusually high due to television performances of Tokas's songs, and that it would be highly unlikely that any other period in the last 20 years had accrued as much.

    "Maybe in the past, he was not paying attention to his performing royalties, because they were much less than his recording royalties," Skoufarides said. "Maybe now he is noticing that the performance royalties are low, because he isn't recording as much but the performances have been frequent."

    Skoufarides said he has been aware of conflicts in the past between the composer and AEPI, which oversees both his performance and his recording royalties, and anticipates that the composer will approach PRI to manage his performance royalties in the near future.

    "As far as we are concerned, we did our job as we should," Skoufarides said. "This situation is not unusual when a performer has the same organisation overseeing both types of royalties."

    CyBC management has decided to stop transmitting Tokas's music until the issue is resolved.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Clerides to go it alone in Copenhagen

    By George Psyllides

    THE NATIONAL Council will not be accompanying the President to the European summit in Copenhagen, House president Demetris Christofias said yesterday.

    Speaking after a meeting with party leaders and representatives, Christofias said party leaders would not be going to Copenhagen, where the European Union would be taking its final decisions concerning enlargement.

    It was not clear who floated the idea but DISY and the United Democrats were in favour of accompanying the President. KISOS did not take a stance because its leader was absent in London while ADIK said it would go if everyone else did.

    DIKO and AKEL, as well as the two one-seat parties New Horizons and the Greens disagreed with the suggestion, reports said.

    The main argument was that no pressure could be exerted on Clerides to sign or agree to anything if the national council were absent since the President would have to confer with them.

    Clerides has already made it clear he was not planning to engage in any substantial negotiations over the UN blueprint in Copenhagen.

    Christofias said it would be impossible for the President to sign any solution when he was bound by the national council's decision that negotiations were necessary before any agreement.

    DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos noted that Clerides was going to Copenhagen for the island's accession into the EU and not to negotiate a settlement of the Cyprus problem and that was why the national council was not accompanying him.

    The presence of the council in Copenhagen "could have given the message to some that we are gong there ready to negotiate", Papadopoulos added.

    But other reports said that opposition parties, who fear there would be negative developments in Copenhagen, did not want to bear any responsibility for anything that happens concerning the island's accession or the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    The only party leader who would be in Copenhagen is DISY's Nicos Anastassiades who would be attending the European Popular Party conference.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Israel issues flight-ban threat to Cyprus

    By Jean Christou

    ISRAEL YESTERDAY issued a flight-ban threat to Cyprus, which was later withdrawn after the two countries agreed to negotiate on Israel's concerns over security at Larnaca Airport.

    Israel's Transport Ministry said early yesterday it was banning flights two and from Cyprus as of Sunday because of restrictions Cyprus was imposing on its security measures at the island's airports.

    Three Israeli airlines, national carrier El Al, Arkia Israel Airlines and Isair would have been affected, as would Cypriot carrier Cyprus Airways.

    The Israeli Ministry said the Cypriot move to restrict Israeli security at Larnaca and Paphos airports was unacceptable given warnings and threats to Israeli targets throughout the world. The proposed ban was later withdrawn after talks between the two sides pending further discussion.

    "We have withdrawn the ban after Cyprus backed down over the restrictions," Transport Ministry spokesman Avner Ovadiah told Reuters, without elaborating. "The sides will be holding talks over the next two weeks to reach a permanent resolution of the problem," he said.

    Justice Minister Alecos Shambos told the Cyprus Mail that Israel had "certain concerns and reservations covering certain security needs they had" after what happened in Kenya last month when two missiles were fired at an Israeli passenger plane taking off from Mombasa.

    "They decided it was dangerous to fly here and cancelled flights but later on in the course of consultations we reached an understanding," he said adding that a delegation from Israel would be flying in to see if the matter could be resolved. Shambos said it was not a question that security was not good enough but declined to go into details. "They just had reservations," he said. "They thought we were restricting their movements at airports and this caused them some concern but it is over now."

    Later, Shambos insisted: "it is up to the Republic to exercise control, we are a sovereign state and there is no issue of granting any control or surveillance competency to any foreigner."

    "The control will continue to be exercised as it has been exercised so far and we assured them (the Israelis) that there is no reason for worrying," the Minister added.

    However, sources told the Cyprus Mail that Israel had wanted to arm its security men, who already carry out checks at the airport. Another source said they wanted uniformed soldiers patrolling the airport when Israeli planes were expected. Both options would be unacceptable to Cyprus, they said.

    "They are now trying to blackmail Cyprus by stopping flights," the first source said. "Every time an Israeli plane lands or leaves from Cyprus, police have to take out their patrol boats to monitor the sea and mount additional patrols to monitor the area in and around the airport."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Airport fuel strike rumbles on

    THE ONGOING dispute between Exxon-Mobil and BP airport staff over provisions in a collective agreement regarding pension and redundancy pay rises has yet to be resolved, as workers yesterday went ahead with a 48- hour strike at Larnaca and Paphos airports.

    A BP spokeswoman told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the deadlock with unions PEO, SEK and POAS was still under discussion.

    "As far as we know the strike has taken place but we are not sure at the moment if the measures will continue tomorrow because more talks on the agreement are expected to be held this evening," she said.

    "Discussions are still going on. Both parties are meeting again tonight and if an agreement is reached then the strike should be called off tomorrow."

    The workers, who held a 24-hour warning strike last Friday, announced the 78-hour strike on Thursday, claiming the companies had made no efforts to resolve the matter.

    "We understand the problems that would arise for petroleum consumer but the responsibility lies with the companies who rejected the Labour Ministry's mediating proposal," a statement from the unions said on Wednesday.

    BP has assured the public that the strike will not affect petrol stations on the island as the employees there are on a different scheme.

    Flights were not affected yesterday, with planes refuelling at other airports.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] Exhumations to identify Turkish victims of 1974 Alaminos gun battle

    By Nicole Neroulias

    EXPLORATORY digging is underway at Alaminos village in the Larnaca district to locate and identify the bodies of Turkish Cypriots killed in a gun battle with the Greek Cypriot National Guard on July 20, 1974.

    During the incident, 19 people were reportedly killed, including 14 Turkish Cypriots, and were buried by Greek Cypriot villagers. The Turkish Cypriots' names are included on the list of 500 Turkish Cypriot missing.

    The exhumations are being conducted by the international organisation "Physicians for Human Rights."

    A Foreign Ministry press release said the digging was part of the Cyprus government's efforts to investigate the fate of the missing persons.

    "The whole procedure has a humanitarian nature and aims at respecting the rights of the families to be informed, with credible evidence, of the fate of their loved ones and return the scientifically established remains of each missing for a dignified burial, according to their religious traditions," the statement said.

    A 1997 agreement on the issue of missing persons, signed by President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, provides for the exhumation of remains in the government-controlled southern part of Cyprus and the Republic's northern areas occupied by Turkish troops since 1974.

    In the summer of 1999, the government of Cyprus embarked on a process of exhumation and identification of remains in two local cemeteries.

    The process of identification through the DNA method continues with a view to identify, if possible, all exhumed remains.

    The Alaminos exhumations are due to be completed on Saturday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [09] EU to fund hi-tech highway management system

    By Alex Mita

    A NEW state-of-the art Highway Management system funded entirely by the European Union is expected to be operational by May 2004, Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou said yesterday.

    Speaking at the presentation of a study carried out by a Greek and German company, Neophytou said works began in September at an estimated cost of _485,050.

    "This is an ambitious project that would provide the government as well as other relevant authorities with a high technology tool, based on a Geographic Information System, that would enable us to manage information relating to the island's road network," Neophytou said.

    "Such information may include, for example, data on traffic flows, accidents, project planning and geometric characteristics of roads and road works."

    The new system would incorporate a map editing toolbox that would allow the eventual use of a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system. The system would then be used by motorists to navigate around the island.

    "The EU is in the process of building its own Global Positioning System, which they have named Galileo, but that won't be put into operation until 2010," Neophytou said.

    "However, with their consent, Cypriot drivers would be able to use the American GPS system."

    Neophytou said the new highway management system would provide the authorities and traffic police with information regarding traffic and road infrastructure.

    The head of the EU delegation in Cyprus, Adrian van der Meer, said the financing of the project was part of a yearly package of _10 million made available to Cyprus to assist its harmonisation efforts.

    "The funding of the highway management system is not the only project the EU will be funding," Van der Meer said.

    "We will also be funding projects on ports, airports, as well as efforts to increase air safety, the protection of the environment and the transport of dangerous chemicals."

    Van der Meer assured that the annual funds would be available to Cyprus after its accession.

    However, Neophytou said that despite the introduction of the new system, the hundreds of billboards that littered the highways were still a threat to public safety.

    "The billboards stain Cyprus because they still litter the highways and continue to cause accidents," he said.

    Asked whether the EU would intervene to have the billboards removed, Van der Meer said Brussels could not interfere because there was no relevant directive in the acquis communautaire.

    But Neophytou insisted that the Cyprus government would raise the issue in Brussels upon accession.

    "Highways in an EU member state do not belong to their citizens but to all Europeans who use them," he said.

    "Therefore efforts should be made to ensure the safety of travellers. We hope that a change would take place and that the billboards will be eventually removed."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [10] House ratifies anti-personnel mine treaty

    THE HOUSE yesterday unanimously ratified the Ottawa Convention banning anti- personnel mines.

    The Ottawa Convention bans production, storage, use and sale of anti- personnel mines, as well as lifting existing minefields. Ratifying the treaty was an urgent matter as Cyprus was already committed to the convention.

    In October the National Guard said it would not be affected if the convention was ratified because it banned anti-personnel and not anti-tank mines.

    AKEL deputy Doros Christodoulides said Cyprus was a pioneer in ratifying the convention "because it has a problem at home and despite the fact that other countries have not even signed the treaty."

    According to the 2001 Landmine Monitor report, the buffer zone, dividing the island since the Turkish invasion in 1974, contains an estimated 17,000 antipersonnel and antitank mines, "described as equivalent to one every ten strides along its 180-kilometre length.

    UNFICYP estimated that the total number of minefields in the buffer zone was 48, with additional mined areas on either side of the zone.

    Turkey maintains around 36,000 troops and 400 to 500 tanks in the occupied north.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [11] Post early if you want to be safe

    By Alexia Saoulli

    IF YOU want your Christmas cards delivered on time, get them posted no later than December 18, a senior postal service official said yesterday. Any later than that and they will end up arriving after Christmas Day.

    "Anything posted before the 18th and the 27th will be sorted and distributed before Christmas and New Year respectively," said postal services head, Vassos Vassiliou.

    There will be no postal service on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or New Year's Day. On Boxing Day, however, post-box collectors in all districts would be collecting post and delivering it to the Latsia sorting office, which would also be open.

    Early delivery could only be guaranteed for internal mail, as distribution overseas would depend on whether or not there was a direct flight to the country of destination and how efficient foreign postal services were once the item arrived, he said.

    "We will send all post abroad up until, and including, December 23. However, we cannot guarantee timely delivery because of two factors. One, if a country is far away, such as Australia, there is no direct flight, so post might travel for a two days before it even reaches there. And second, if the quality of service is bad within the country of destination, it is beyond our control," he said. European countries usually had top quality delivery service, but third world countries could take five to 10 days to deliver post.

    Nonetheless, the earlier cards and packages were sent, the better, he advised.

    "It's like setting out for work in the morning. You might leave home at 7.20am and arrive at work 25 minutes early, but if you wait an extra five minutes hoping to time it better, you end up 15 minutes late. The same could apply to posting cards. If you send them earlier, they might arrive too early, but at least you won't have the anxiety that they'll get there too late," said Vassiliou.

    December sees a 35-40 per cent workload increase compared to the rest of the year, he said. According to postal service statistics, for the first 11 months of 2001, postal activity, recording outgoing and incoming postal items, averaged at 6,416,000 postal items per month. In December, this figure was predicted to increase to 8,673,000, he said.

    Greece and the United Kingdom shared the top two positions for outgoing mail, followed by the United States and Germany. The same applied for incoming mail, he said.

    People wishing to send parcels abroad should take into account that they took longer to deliver than cards, he said.

    "All parcels are screened by customs as a precaution, because they could for example contain drugs or weapons. And, sometimes, the sender might be taxed for something he is sending and so must be notified, and subsequently pay the tariff, before it is even distributed to the receiver," said Vassiliou. "This procedure takes time and, depending on the country and its efficiency, delays post."

    In order to deal with the influx of work during this busy time, the postal service employs seasonal staff for three months while permanent staff work three to four hours overtime, depending on where they were posted.

    "We hire around 80 temporary employees from job agencies to cover the entire island, starting from mid-November till the end of February, so that they can help out permanent staff, who are under a lot of pressure. Half of them are sorters and the rest are distributors."

    There had been fears that temporary postal workers would be laid off this year and that no one would be asked to work overtime, due to complications concerning the services' budget.

    "When the Finance Ministry calculated our wages budget we were given 5 million for the year, which was to include temporary staff wages and overtime payments. But, sums of this vast amount are hard to calculate in advance and sometimes in practice you end up needing more," said Vassiliou, adding that thankfully, the problem had been sorted out in time.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [12] Limassol pupils block school in Cyprus problem protest

    AROUND 100 pupils of a Limassol high school yesterday blocked the entrance to their school protesting against the United Nations plan for the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    The demonstration was organised by the 'Movement of Fighting Pupils' who said their group was set up by pupils of several schools in order to make party leaders listen to them.

    "If we want freedom we should take it by ourselves or we don't deserve it," a representative said.

    The pupils blocked the main entrance to the Lanition Gymnasium at 8am, even though the action had not been approved by the Pupil Co-ordinating Committee or the school's pupil union.

    Both groups issued written statements stressing they had nothing to do with the demonstration.

    The chairman of the co-ordinating committee, Olympios Christofi, said the developments concerning the Cyprus issue were the main topic among pupils, but they had not made any decision on the matter.

    He added the matter concerned pupils because they were the generation that would have to live with the proposed solution.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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