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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-11

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

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


Wednesday, December 11, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Anti-plan protesters in demo at palace
  • [02] Deregulation: EAC is next on the list
  • [03] Court rejects application for licensed brothel
  • [04] Turks protest against plan
  • [05] Credit system on the verge of shutdown
  • [06] Turkish Cypriot given kidney transplant in the south after beating by Turkish officer
  • [07] Taxi drivers call off strike pending new talks
  • [08] Cyprus to allow overseas voting for first time

  • [01] Anti-plan protesters in demo at palace

    By Alex Mita

    NATIONAL Council members were booed and whistled at on their way to a crucial meeting with President Glafcos Clerides at the Presidential Palace last night as hundreds of demonstrators gathered to protest against the Annan plan.

    Earlier DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades was punched and AKEL general- secretary Demetris Christofias was called a traitor on their way into the Palace, and United Democrats vice chairman George Christofides had his car damaged during minor scuffles.

    The council was meeting to put the finishing touches to their commentary on the revised plan submitted by the UN to the two leaders earlier in the day, and to await the answers of the smaller parties on whether they would accompany Clerides to Copenhagen. The four bigger parties -- DISY, DIKO, KISOS and AKEL -- confirmed earlier they would be going to Denmark.

    Around 300 protesters, including DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis, gathered outside the Palace but the demonstration got out of hand when several 'stormed' the palace walls early in the evening.

    The protesters also blocked the road during rush hour and shouted abuse at anyone entering the grounds. "If they (the government) sign in Copenhagen they better not come back," Matsakis told the Cyprus Mail.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Deregulation: EAC is next on the list

    By Batasha Varma

    A BILL is being prepared to deregulate the electricity industry in Cyprus, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis announced yesterday.

    Speaking at the economist conference in Rolandis said his ministry, in preparation for accession into the European Union has set in motion the entire process of change, modernisation and liberalisation of the Cyprus energy system, over the last few years.

    Under the current legislation, the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC), a public utility under the supervision of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, has a monopoly over the production, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity.

    "The small and isolated nature of our electricity system has been a guiding factor in our strategy for liberalisation," said Rolandis, The EU directive itself provides for derogations from some basic requirements for small isolated systems.

    Cyprus initially expressed to the commission a desire to explore the possibility of securing such a derogation.

    "While eventually we agreed to implement the existing directive without any derogations, we do not intend, for the time being to move further towards any liberalisation than the directive prescribes," said Rolandis. The ministry has prepared a legislation that is to be submitted to the House of Representatives in the very near future for the abolition of the monopoly of the electricity authority in the production and supply of electricity, and for setting up the necessary structures and mechanisms required by the directive.

    The new legislation provides for an independent regulator who will be responsible for safeguarding competition in the electricity and natural gas markets, issuing licenses for the various activities, monitoring the compliance of license holders with their obligations, approving tariffs and charges, protecting the consumers and the environment and settling disputes.

    The new legislation also has provisions for the opening up of the market by granting to eligible consumers the right to choose their own suppliers. The ministry intends to restrict, initially, the extent of the market opening to the minimum level required by the EU - i.e. 33 per cent of the market. Domestic consumers, as well as the smaller industrial and commercial consumers, will continue to be supplied with electricity by the EAC. "we feel that any new further liberalisation should be considered only after the new system is implemented and enough experience is gained, bearing, of course, in mind any new developments with respect to EU requirements," said Rolandis.

    The liberalisation of the electricity market will hopefully create conditions for increased competition, better services and lower prices to consumers. The full implementation of the new legislation will take place on the date of accession.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Court rejects application for licensed brothel

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THE SUPREME Court has rejected for a second time an appeal by a Larnaca model agency to set up a licensed brothel in Cyprus. The company 'LD High Heels Model Agency Ltd' applied to the Interior Ministry in March 2001 for a licence to run a brothel, requesting 20 work permits for female escorts.

    The appellate court first rejected an appeal to bring in foreign women to work in the brothel last July and has now rejected another appeal by the agency on granting them a licence to run a brothel.

    The agency made clear that its intention was to open a legitimate brothel using foreign employees that would cater to the needs of foreign businessmen and tourists. High Heels backed up their request for foreign employees by saying that research of the market concluded that no female Cypriots were available for the job. They also gave assurances that the running of the brothel would be of the highest standards.

    Then Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou replied to and rejected their application in May 2001. With regard to work permits, the minister pointed out that the law prohibited foreigners that prostitute or make profits from prostitution to stay in Cyprus. The Supreme Court later rejected an appeal by the agency to overturn the decision in July.

    In a separate appeal, the agency's lawyer argued that the decision not to grant a licence for a brothel should be invalidated because it limited the right to employment protected by Article 25 of the Constitution. The appellants also charged the ministry with lack of necessary research and insufficient justification in making the decision.

    Supreme Court judge Minos Kronides acknowledged that article 25 did secure the right of choice and free employment, but noted that, at the same time, it allowed for laws which impose conditions and limitations for the protection of basic principles, including among others, the protection of public morals. In rejecting the appeal, the judge also said that operating organised prostitution was an illegal operation and, therefore, punishable as a criminal offence.

    An Interior Ministry official confirmed yesterday that the bringing in of foreign workers for prostitution was illegal and claimed those that entered the country under false pretences and violated their employment contracts were either imprisoned or deported.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Turks protest against plan

    AROUND 10,000 Turkish Cypriots yesterday took to the streets to protest against the UN plan for the reunification of Cyprus. The demonstrators, gathered in one of occupied Nicosia's main squares waving Turkish and Turkish Cypriot flags. Banners read "Yes to peace, no to the Annan plan" and "We trust Denktash ... We will not be slaves", news agency reports from the north said. The demonstration came 10 days after a similar number of Turkish Cypriots protested in favour of the plan and two days after an anti- plan protest by about 3,000 Greek Cypriots on Sunday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Credit system on the verge of shutdown

    By Nicole Neroulias

    AN ONGOING strike at JCC Payment Systems Limited is poised to send the economy into chaos, as the Commercial Bankers Association prepares to halt all credit and debit card transactions in Cyprus this week.

    Transactions worth more than 35 million remain incomplete due to the strike, which began on November 27 and involves all 63 employees at the JCC electronic centre. JCC is the primary processor of card transactions in Cyprus.

    General Manager Takis Fekkos expressed concern that due to JCC's inability to process card transactions, shoppers were spending more than they could afford.

    "There are real credit risks right now," Fekkos said. "A lot of people are spending money they don't have, because it's not being taken from their accounts and they're not getting the bills. But they will still owe it to the bank when this is resolved."

    Direct cash withdrawal from ATMs has not been affected, and banks have worked around the strike to accommodate interbank transfers, Fekkos said.

    JCC management has assured businesses, which have not received any money from cardholder purchases in the last two weeks, that the transactions will be processed as soon as the strike is revolved. However, Fekkos said that he could not estimate when this would happen, due to the silence from banking union ETYK.

    "The union hasn't been vocal about what they want," Fekkos said.

    ETYK representatives did not return calls for comment.

    The labour dispute began when JCC re-hired an information technology specialist, reinstating him to his previous post of deputy department manager. ETYK appealed to the Labour Ministry, saying JCC had violated standard practices by hiring the manager without union permission, and the Ministry upheld the appeal.

    However, when JCC demoted the employee to the status of a newly appointed member of staff, ETYK was unhappy and decided to initiate strike action.

    The Labour Ministry has dismissed the strike an illegal violation of the Industrial Relations Code, and asked ETYK to lift all strike measures.

    "The position of the Ministry is that the employer has fulfilled his obligations, and therefore, the trade union has to stop any industrial action," said Charalambos Kolokotronis, director of the Industrial Relations Department. "If all trade unions decide to ignore the Ministry's decisions, the next step is chaos. The whole system of industrial relations is going to collapse."

    The Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also released a statement urging ETYK to respect the Labour Ministry's decision by ending the strike.

    Despite the strike, businesses have continued accepting credit and debit card purchases, wary of being the first to refuse customers during the holiday season.

    "We will accept credit cards until we are told not to by the proper authorities," said one business owner who wished to remain anonymous. "We can't be the only ones to not accept them, especially at this time of year."

    Cyprus's credit and debit card spending has been on the rise, particularly during the month of December. In 2001, spending reached almost half a billion pounds, with more than 50 million during December alone. December 2000 and 1999 saw expenditures reach 42 million and 33 million, respectively.

    "This strike is creating a huge chaos in the market," Fekkos said. "I'm doing a number of procedures manually on the authorisation computer every night, just to keep things afloat, but I'm not sure I can continue much longer."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Turkish Cypriot given kidney transplant in the south after beating by Turkish officer

    By Jean Christou

    THE PARASKEVAIDION Transplant Centre in Nicosia yesterday confirmed that surgeons there had carried out a transplant on a young Turkish Cypriot man after he was turned away by doctors in both Turkey and the north.

    A member of staff at the transplant centre said they could not comment on the details of the case, but confirmed that Dervan Tureray, who is believed to be in his early 20s, was given a successful kidney transplant last Wednesday and was recuperating at the clinic.

    Yesterday, Turkish Cypriot opposition newspaper Afrika reported that Tureray sustained serious injuries to one of his kidneys several years ago when serving in the army in the north. The paper said he was beaten with the "justice stick" by the Turkish commander of his unit because he returned late from leave.

    "As a result of the beating, one of Dervan's kidneys could no longer function due to excessive bleeding and inflammation," the paper said, adding that the young man was only being kept alive connected to a machine.

    He was then sent to Turkey and after extensive analysis and tests was forced to return to the north "with the excuse that his mother's kidney was not a match," Afrika said.

    "As a last resort, he crossed to south Cyprus with his mother and found exactly the opposite," Afrika said. "His mother's kidney was a match but in order not to make a mistake, the Greek Cypriot doctors contacted the Turkish hospital. The answer they received showed how little regard for human health there is in Turkey and the TRNC."

    The paper said that officials at the Turkish hospitals had informed the authorities in the north that the operation would cost 30,000 sterling but that 'TRNC' could not afford to pay this amount, "so it lied in the official report about the kidney match".

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Taxi drivers call off strike pending new talks

    By Alex Mita

    THE URBAN Taxi Federation yesterday agreed to call off an indefinite strike over demands for an increase in taxi fares after the Communications Ministry pledged to discuss the issue with the Department of Transport today.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Urban Taxi Federation president George Koronides said the strike had been called off until the issue was discussed.

    "It doesn't pay to work in this business any more," he said.

    "The Transport Department's intention to issue 269 new professional taxi licences was the straw that broke the camel's back.

    "Our profession is at an all time low and the government and the Transport Department in particular have yet to increase taxi fares."

    Koronides said the cost of running and maintaining taxis had increased dramatically.

    "The fuel has gone up 150 per cent, maintenance costs have gone up, insurance has gone up 60 per cent, when compared to rates in 2000 and nothing has been done on behalf of the government to re-adjust the fare based on prices in 2000," Koronides said.

    "And on top of that they want to issue new licences. They left us in a dead end and we don't know what to do any more."

    Koronides said taxi drivers were asking for nothing more than for the government to find a way to raise fares in a way that would be beneficial to them and their customers.

    "We are not asking the government to raise the fare on the exact amount that we are entitled to, because we don't want to lose customers. Let's face it, no one is going to want to take a taxi if he discovers the price went up from 1.25 to 4. We don't want to send people away."

    Koronides warned stricter measures would be adopted should the government fail to satisfy their demands, but promised taxi drivers would behave in a professional and civilised manner.

    "We will intensify our measures if the government fails to listen to us," he said.

    Koronides promised there would be no repeat of June's episodes when taxi drivers attacked strike breakers; he apologised "for the actions of some people who didn't even belong in the unions."

    "I can assure you that there will not be a repeat of June's episodes. It is not our intention to cause any problems, we will strike in a civilised and professional manner."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] Cyprus to allow overseas voting for first time

    THE Election service announced yesterday that for the first time special election centres would be operating at the island's embassies abroad for February's presidential elections.

    The election centres abroad would be set up in countries where the number of voters justified doing so, according to the number of declarations to be submitted by January 2, 2003.

    The Election service would be drafting a special list with the names of all those - students and Cypriots temporarily residing abroad - who wished to vote in the country they are currently based.

    But the arrangement could prove irrelevant if a settlement of the Cyprus problem is reached, as this would lead to the cancellation of the elections ahead of a new constitution.

    Those interested can obtain forms from Cyprus' embassies abroad as well as from the offices of the district administrations and the Central Election Service at the ministry of interior.

    They can also contact the press and information office through its website: www.pio.gov.cy

    Student applications can be filled by parents in Cyprus and submitted to the Election Service or the district administrations.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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