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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-14

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

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


Saturday, December 14, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] UN plan D-Day comes. and goes
  • [02] Petrol down, diesel up in the new year
  • [03] Matsakis' medical licence suspended
  • [04] Central Bank cuts interest rates
  • [05] Turkish Cypriots rally after talks collapse
  • [06] Action taken to minimise JCC strike impact
  • [07] ETYK vows to fight on
  • [08] Retailers feel the JCC pinch
  • [09] Doctor condemns proposed drug law reforms
  • [10] EAC threaten strike in the new year
  • [11] EU hopes, facts and conclusions on Cyprus
  • [12] EU promise to Turkey: no delays

  • [01] UN plan D-Day comes. and goes

    By George Psyllides

    IT WAS a hectic day for the Greek Cypriot delegation in Copenhagen yesterday as pressure mounted from all sides for some sort of agreement to be reached before the end of the summit. By sunset, all the day had brought was the end of any hopes of signing a peace deal in the Danish capital.

    The day started with renewed hopes for a solution and foreign envoys converged on President Glafcos Clerides at the Marriot hotel in an effort to strike a last-minute deal.

    Five rooms were reserved at a conference centre next to the Danish Foreign Ministry where representatives from the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides, the three guarantor powers - Greece, Turkey, and Britain - as well as the United States and the UN, struggled to find common ground.

    But as time passed, hopes for striking a deal began to falter as Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash declared early, from an Ankara hospital, that no one could force his side to sign.

    Denktash said the EU should simply not admit a divided Cyprus and wait instead until the island was reunited after serious negotiations about details of the UN peace plan. "You can postpone (Greek) Cyprus' application till the next meeting," he said. "No one can pressure us... to sign a document we have not negotiated with the Greek Cypriots."

    Turkish Cypriot envoy Tahsin Ertugruloglu, who was in Copenhagen said the Turkish Cypriots would refuse to sign up to a document which had not been properly negotiated. "A scenario is being played as if the Greek Cypriots are ready to sign and the breakthrough is becoming impossible because the Turkish side is not signing," Ertugruloglu said. "This has nothing to do with the reality," he said, while accusing the EU of engineering a fait accompli to admit only the internationally recognised Greek-Cypriot government to the bloc in the absence of a reunification deal."

    Journalists gathered at the Marriot trying to get any information they could on the developments. Most of the information came from official lips, albeit off the record, but the situation was so fluid that things changed from one moment to the next. Any party leader or government official seen walking in the lobby was immediately grabbed for information while speculation was rife.

    UN Cyprus envoy Alvaro de Soto called in Turkish and Greek negotiators for last-minute talks on the margins of the summit. But there were doubts even that Denktash's envoy was empowered to take decisions, let alone sign a deal.

    At 1pm, Clerides appeared in the lobby and was immediately surrounded by a crowd of reporters thirsty for information. The President however remained tight lipped and proceeded to the dining room to have lunch with the rest of the delegation.

    Meanwhile, Attorney-general Alecos Markides was sent to the conference centre next to the foreign ministry and was reportedly engaged in hard bargaining. But Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou was already doubtful for a deal. "Time is running out and negotiations haven't even really started. So I can't say we have much of a hope," Papandreou said.

    Gradually it began to sink in that there would not be any solution, at least not during the summit.

    Whatever the case, the three days in Copenhagen were probably the most testing for the political leaderships.

    Reports said there was bickering among the Cypriot political leadership, but the most interesting piece of information, which emerged from the Marriot, was the feeling that Clerides was not willing to sign an agreement in Copenhagen.

    The other two opponents were reportedly DIKO chief Tassos Papadopoulos and AKEL leader Demetris Christofias. Papadopoulos maintains that there should be further negotiation on the plan while Christofias apparently wanted to confer with the party's political bureau before giving an answer.

    But everything was over when Denktash's representative Tahsin Ertugruloglu eventually left the conference centre declaring that "nothing had been signed".

    Shortly afterwards Markides officially declared that it was all over.

    He said that during his two-and-a-half hour meeting with the participation of the Turkish Cypriot side and the two guarantor powers, there had not been any negotiations. "De Soto told me that after talking with Turkish Cypriots he concluded it was impossible to have a solution of this problem today. Therefore as far as today goes, his efforts stop here and therefore Cyprus accedes to the EU without a settlement," said Markides as he left the venue of the meeting.

    With Copenhagen behind them, the two sides would now have to continue the negotiations in order to meet a February 28, 2003 deadline in accordance with the UN plan.

    Turkey, one of the key players in the Cyprus problem, though disappointed by the EU decision to let it wait two years for another review, said it would continue to work towards finding a solution by February. "Our efforts for achieving a solution continue and we continue to show our goodwill," Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said.

    Concerning the Turkish Cypriots who yesterday demonstrated in favour of a solution and EU accession, Gul said that discussions for the "accession of the Turkish part of Cyprus do not end here". "We have until February 28; our approach on this matter is positive.

    "If we had more time to deal with the issue here, we also had a few things to say about this.

    "We will do everything to solve the problem within the framework of the UN plan," Gul said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Petrol down, diesel up in the new year

    By Elias Hazou

    TH PRICE of petrol is set to drop and the cost of diesel will rise as of January 1, 2003, as the government moves to deregulate the fuel market in line with EU harmonisation.

    The drop in petrol prices will be significantly greater than the corresponding diesel rise. this is possible because diesel consumption is considerably larger and because other fuel types will become more expensive - such as gas, which will rise to 300 per metric tonne.

    The new prices will include 15 per cent VAT and are part of the first phase of deregulating the fuel market. Up until now, fuel prices were cross- subsidised, but the government is obliged to abolish the practice in line with the EU acquis. The second deregulation phase will take place in July 2003, and will follow the same pattern. The government has said it plans to fully liberalise the market by October. However, the Minister of Commerce will still reserve the right to fix a price ceiling for a period of up to 45 days.

    The government also plans to abolish fuel subsidisation for Cyprus Airways, Eurocypria and the Electricity Authority of Cyprus.

    On the downside for consumers, an additional tax of three cents per litre of diesel will be imposed of as next year, to be followed by a further four cent rise in October.

    For the time being, regular petrol will fall to 44.1 cents from the current 49.1 cents. Diesel will rise to 26.5 from 25 cents.

    The new prices will be subject to change if parliament introduces further consumer taxes as part of EU harmonisation. Fluctuations in international oil prices will also play a part; the current price of crude brent oil is 15 a barrel.

    The salient bill was tabled yesterday in parliament by Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Matsakis' medical licence suspended

    By Alex Mita

    FORENSIC Pathologist and DIKO deputy Marios Matsakis had his medical licence suspended for one year yesterday after the Cyprus Medical Association (CMA) disciplinary committee found him guilty of medical ethics violation charges.

    The outspoken deputy appeared before the Disciplinary Board yesterday facing accusations levelled against him by four medical colleagues who alleged he made "insulting and offensive comments" in public following their autopsies last year. They also claim he accused other doctors of medical negligence on numerous occasions.

    A statement by the disciplinary committee said Matsakis was found unanimously guilty on breeching two out of four articles of the Medical Code of Practice.

    "The majority of the committee has decided to impose a one-year medical licence suspension," the statement said.

    According to the statement, the committee based its ruling on "the serious consequences Matsakis' comments against the CMA would have on the medical society as a whole".

    The statement also said Matsakis' comments aimed to diminish the CMA's role as the guardian of matters of dignity and prestige of the medical profession, as well as to undermine the public's trust towards the medical system. Matsakis was also found guilty of lack of remorse.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday an embittered Marios Matsakis said the Medical Association was out to destroy him.

    "I am very saddened and disappointed on the committee's decision," he said. "I am innocent, I was found guilty not for any criminal activity but for so called unethical behaviour.

    "I merely commented on the fact of the leadership of the CMA and the way they behaved on the cases in question, not only as a doctor but as a deputy." Matsakis said CMA feared his position as a deputy would put them in jeopardy.

    "They fear me, I am a threat to them," he said. "I am trying to change things, but some people don't want change. They see me as a threat and they want to stop that threat.

    Matsakis said he has taken the case to the Supreme Court and that he was waiting for a decision.

    "I have some very serious justice matters against the CMA," he said. "I have not been tried by a court, but by doctors. These people are trying to gag me and I suspect that they will use today's ruling to try and destroy my medical and political career."

    The president of the disciplinary committee yesterday refused to comment on Matsakis' accusations and resorted to saying should the deputy have any disagreements with the decision, he could take his case to the Supreme Court.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Central Bank cuts interest rates

    THE CENTRAL Bank of Cyprus yesterday cut lending interest rates by half a percentage point to 5.0 per cent but decided to retain the deposit rate at 2.5 per cent.

    Following a meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee a Central Bank statement said that lower economic growth, not expected to exceed 2.0 per cent in 2002, and a slowdown in November inflation to 2.86 per cent year-on- year guided the decision.

    Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou said that economic activity continued to remain low because of lower tourist arrivals and income, a significant slowing down of retail sales and low levels of credit expansion.

    He added that the Gross Domestic Product for 2002 was not expected to surpass two per cent while the economic recovery for 2003 remained closely associated with international political and economic developments.

    Christodoulou said the decision was not taken unanimously but with a "tangible majority". He further said that the anticipated developments on the Cyprus problem and the European Union's (EU) decision for Cyprus' accession to the EU were taken into consideration, "even if some of these have not been finally formulated".

    The cut is the first by the Central Bank in 13 months. It held off lowering interest rates in the past amid concerns of spiralling inflation fuelled by tax increases earlier in the year.

    The rise in the consumer price index, the most common inflation tracker, peaked at 3.77 percent in September, but has eased since then from a decline in cost of services - notably telecoms - and agricultural produce.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Turkish Cypriots rally after talks collapse

    By Jean Christou

    THOUSANDS OF Turkish Cypriots yesterday took to the streets of occupied Nicosia calling on Rauf Denktash to resign after the Turkish Cypriot side refused to sign the UN's settlement deal at the EU summit in Copenhagen.

    Calling for Denktash to resign and "to go", the Turkish Cypriots, some carrying banners reading "We are not Turkish. We are not Greek. We are just Cypriots", marched to Denktash's offices clapping and chanting: "For 30 years you are telling us Mr Denktash to be patient and negotiate. Is that what you are telling us now too?"

    The gathering was organised by trade unions and people supporting the island's accession to the EU. "For years the separatist politics of the so called community leaders have brought our community to the brink of extinction by refusing to act with accordance to the actual community interests," said a written statement from the protestors said.

    "Despite that, a big majority of the Turkish Cypriot community desires a solution, peace and EU accession. These key community interests are persistently avoided. We refuse the separatist politics, which aim to erode the Turkish Cypriot community, applied by Mr Denktash and his accompanying authorities. This country is ours".

    Republican Turkish Party (RTP) leader Mehmet Ali Talat, who joined the demonstrators told CyBC television that the protest was a "spontaneous response of Turkish Cypriots to the intransigence of the Turkish side in general.

    "It is a response to them not coming to the point to agree and sign an agreement," he said adding that he had heard news from Copenhagen of a 'goodwill agreement' signed with Greek Cypriots obliging Denktash to continue negotiations until February 28.

    Talat admitted there was a rift between Denktash and Ankara and suggested that it was in Turkey's best interests to find a solution.

    "Cyprus' accession to the EU without Turkish Cypriots would make Turkey's EU prospects difficult."

    Attorney-general Alecos Markides told reporters in Copenhagen that by not signing a Cyprus agreement, Denktash and Ankara had once more "left the Turkish Cypriots out in the cold". Markides made it clear that the EU wanted a united Cyprus and that "the quicker people understood this the quicker we will have a solution."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Action taken to minimise JCC strike impact

    By Alexia Saoulli

    BANKS WOULD continue to honour transactions made Cypriot cardholders abroad, JCC Electronic Division General Manager Takis Fekkos said yesterday. The good news comes after banks were forced to halt all credit and debit card usage on the island at midnight, following continued strike action at JCC Payment Systems Ltd - the company that processes the majority of card transactions n Cyprus. Meanwhile, tourists would be able to use automatic teller machines (ATMs) to withdraw cash and locals would be able to use their own branches for the same purpose, he said.

    Consumers, shops, hotels and restaurants all became innocent victims at midnight when banks were forced to stop all local credit and debit card activity. The move came after two weeks of continued industrial action within the JCC data centre, which brought all card transaction processing to a standstill and blocked payment settlements.

    With Christmas only 12 days away, anxious shoppers were worried they would not be able to buy gifts and rightly so, according to Fekkos.

    "The biggest problem is that people will not be able to use their credit cards to go shopping," he said. Unless consumers ventured out with abundant cash or chequebooks in tow they would be coming home empty handed, he said.

    Local restaurants and hotels would also be affected. Only Cypriots travelling abroad would be able to use plastic by way of making payments, he said.

    "A number of people have been very worried that they won't be able to pay for their hotel bills or to go shopping this Christmas while they are on holiday, but the banks have assured they will honour all (transactions made by) Cypriot credit cards abroad," stressed Fekkos.

    Tourists would also be able to withdraw cash from all ATMs and locals would be able to withdraw cash from their local branches. This in itself could still pose a problem if there was not enough cash to go round, he said.

    "Banks will have to ensure that they have put enough money in ATMs for people to withdraw cash. If there is a mad rush to collect money, then there will be a problem."

    Banks would also continue to process monthly wages but transfers made from one bank to another might take longer than usual, he said.

    "Arrangements are being made to bypass JCC as far as salary payments are concerned. For example, salary deposits from the Bank of Cyprus to Hellenic Bank accounts will still take place, they just might take slightly longer."

    Unfortunately there was nothing anyone could legally do to stop the JCC strike, which is backed by the Bank Employees Union (ETYK). It was in violation of the industrial relations code, but had not broken any laws.

    The strike started after a dispute ensued, between ETYK and the Bankers Employers Association, 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 was in violation of collective agreements by hiring the manager without union authorisation, and the Ministry upheld the appeal.

    "When the Ministry, that acts as a mediator in industrial relations disputes, makes a decision you don't discuss it, you merely accept it. We disagreed with the decision, but complied," said Fekkos.

    However, when JCC demoted the employee to the status of a newly appointed member of staff, ETYK remained unhappy and decided to take strike action for as long the employee continued to work there.

    The reason the union was unhappy, according to a Bank of Cyprus source, was because although JCC had demoted the deputy manager, ETYK feared he would be re-promoted within several months and that there would be nothing it could do.

    "The union's secretary-general (Loizos Hadjicostis) does not act alone. He investigates employee and union member complaints and if there is ground for action he takes it," said the source. "It is our right to strike and have our interests protected. I'm sure the union president knows what he is doing and there is a reason for it."

    But, according to Fekkos, fears concerning the employee's promotion leading to subsequent strike measures were a joke.

    "We are being held hostage by the Union," he said. "It is completely illegal and has brought the economy to a complete standstill."

    Fekkos said ETYK's actions were merely trying to prove a point that it "had the muscle to do what it liked." He said it was the first time since the industrial relations code handbook was first introduced 40 years ago that it had been violated in this way.

    "The law cannot do anything to stop ETYK. Although it has violated the industrial relations code, this is a code of conduct and not law," he said.

    Labour Minister Andreas Moushouttas and the Bankers Employers Association condemned the strike and called for its immediate end. Moushouttas issued a statement suggesting the practice of continuing to use this form of gentleman's agreement needed to be re-assessed.

    Hadjicostis could not be reached for comment at ETYK headquarters yesterday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] ETYK vows to fight on

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE BANK Employees Union (ETYK) yesterday announced it planned to continue industrial action at JCC Payment Systems Ltd and that further strike measures were likely.

    Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, ETYK vice-president Prodromos Charalambous said it wanted to solve the dispute between itself and the Bankers Employers Association.

    "The Bankers Employers Association (BEA) has not mentioned that on Monday, our President, together with JCC's president and general manager, reached an agreement to solve our differences," he said.

    "The deal was sealed with a handshake and the next morning, when they met to implement the agreement, they (the BEA) went back on their word," said Charalambous.

    Despite Labour Minister Andreas Moushouttas' condemnation of the strike, which is seen as a violation of the industrial relations code, Charalambous said the Minister had "made a decision based on the other side's argument and had not even listened to ours".

    ETYK claimed yesterday that the Bankers Employers' Association had violated standard practices and admitted it had defied collective agreements, therefore allowing them to go ahead with strike measures.

    It apologised for any inconvenience the public was forced to endure during the holiday season, but said workers could not give up their rights because of it.

    The Bankers Employers Association was expecting people to be put out so that the union could be blamed and pressured into backing down. "This will never happen," stressed Charalambous.

    Yesterday a two-hour strike at the Bank of Cyprus was called off at the last minute and re-scheduled for Tuesday, he said. The strike was called as a show of support for JCC employees.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] Retailers feel the JCC pinch

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    OVER FIFTY per cent of consumers that shop at supermarkets will have to find alternative forms of payment as of today after a halt on all credit and debit card transactions came into effect late last night.

    The decision, taken by the Cyprus Bankers Association, was a response to the ongoing strike at the JCC electronic centre - the principal processor of card transactions in Cyprus. Over 35 million is currently in limbo because the company has been unable to process the money charged to credit or debit cards since the strike began on November 27.

    Meanwhile, supermarkets are preparing for an unpredictable Christmas shopping season with the knowledge that more than half their customers use bank cards. Although cash is still an option, storeowners are aware that many shoppers will turn to less dependable methods of transaction, namely the cheque.

    One Nicosia supermarket owner said the strike would create big problems for all businesses. "It will affect all jobs. Most people are unprepared because they didn't know about the strike and don't have cash flow. I think it's a terrible situation," said Demetris Ioannides of Ioannides Brothers supermarket. "We have now reached the level where over 50 per cent of our customers use bank cards to pay for their shopping," he said, adding "We have no choice now but to not accept the use of bank cards. We will have big problems as a result of the strike."

    Athena Pilavaki-Makrina from Pilavakis supermarket in Nicosia also said the strike would create a negative effect on business. "We depend on JCC a lot. We will have a huge problem. The number of our customers using bank cards to purchase goods has reached 50 per cent and over." Makrina expected a big increase in cheques from consumers who failed to arrange cash flow to deal with the strike. "The store will have to be very careful with cheques. They are not as safe and secure as bank cards, even though they charge a commission on cards," she said.

    Makrina noted that the strike had left the store waiting for thousands of pounds to be processed by the card transaction centre. "It's going to create a big crisis," she said. Filactis Pilavakis, said it was difficult to predict what would happen. "You don't know how the consumer will react. If they haven't arranged cash flow, then cheques will be used. Some people will not even be aware of the freezing of bank cards," he said.

    President of the Consumers Association, Petros Markou, expressed his sadness and concern with the fact that consumers were left without the use of their cards during the Christmas period. "The market as a whole will be suffering. The one month grace period given to credit card users will no longer be available to them either." Markou called on all parties involved in the strike to reconsider the situation which will have a knock-on effect on both shopkeepers and consumers. "Many supermarkets use card transactions a lot," he noted, calling on the Labour Ministry to intervene and use its authority so the market could continue to run smoothly.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [09] Doctor condemns proposed drug law reforms

    By Alexia Saoulli

    A PROMINENT doctor called for the government to halt legislation aimed at defining different types of drug users yesterday, saying more investigation into the matter was needed

    The scientific director of the Centre for Education About Drugs and Treatment of Drug Addicted Persons (KENTHEA), Dr Kyriakos Veresies, called on the House Legal Committee to halt moves implementing the legislation, which would define users and dealers depending on drug quantities found on their person.

    On Thursday the House Legal and Health Committees discussed ways in which to regulate narcotics laws. Veresies warned the suggested legislation was not well thought out and that the police and attorney-general's office had not carried out a thorough investigation into the matter.

    "It is not a clear-cut matter and people cannot be classed according to figures. For instance, if a user sells drugs to other users, what does that make him? Or, if someone is found with a lot of drugs in his possession, which is for personal use, does that automatically make him a dealer? These details are not defined by the suggested law."

    Although Veresies was not present at the meeting, representatives from the Anti-Drugs Council, of which he is a member, were. He said the representatives had been forced by committee members into giving their opinion on the matter, when it became apparent the law should not be drawn up by politicians and law enforcers who lacked expertise in the subject.

    "By trying to define the law they are undervaluing the Council's role," he said.

    "Nevertheless deputies went ahead and suggested that anyone found in possession of 20 opium poppy plants or more, should be considered a dealer. The Anti-Drugs Council suggested this number be limited to no more than three plants.

    "We stated that anything over five cannabis plants (should qualify someone) as a dealer, the committee disagreed and put it down to three. People found with 30 grams of cannabis were dealers, but the Council recommended that people found with 10 grams and less should be classed as users."

    Politicians added that if the prosecution could prove that anyone found with less than the suggested quantities was a dealer, they would be sentenced according to those findings. According to police, dealers can serve up to life imprisonment, whereas if sentenced users serve a maximum of a few years.

    "This legislation is completely superficial and sloppy. In short they're saying that if someone is found with half a gram less than the law states, they can claim to be a user and escape standing trial on that basis, when in essence they are dealers," said Veresies.

    Defining users and dealers in this way was ridiculous, he said. "Experts should evaluate the individual to determine whether or not he or she is a user, how long they've been a user for and then be given a choice to stand trial or to enter a drug-rehabilitation programme."

    Moreover, no country in the world stated you could be found in possession of plants and not be considered a dealer, he said. "Besides, the law doesn't say how tall that plant should be. So if you've got a five metre cannabis plant, you've got 800 cigarettes worth of marijuana, and yet because it's only one plant and not more than that, you're not considered a dealer."

    Veresies warned that the island would soon become full of 'users' when they were in fact dealers if this law was passed because people would soon learn how to use it in their favour, claiming they were below the appointed possession margin.

    "It's a very delicate matter. You cannot say people found with only half a gram are dealers because you'll end up with prisons full of users, but at the same time you cannot give specifics amounts for dealers, unless it is a huge drugs bust. Our goal is to help drug addicts and to protect other people, first and foremost. This law doesn't help anyone."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [10] EAC threaten strike in the new year

    THE ELECTRICITY Authority of Cyprus (EAC) trade unions have warned of possible strike action right after the Christmas holidays if the collective agreements signed in the summer are not immediately implemented.

    EPOPAI-SEK and SIDIKEK-PEO, the two major unions representing the EAC, have said they will postpone any measures until January, but added they expected the Finance Ministry to honour its side of the agreement reached some five months ago. EPOPAI's council will be holding an ad hoc meeting sometime next week to determine its "dynamic measures."

    For its part, SIDIKEK directly accused the Finance Ministry of stalling the forwarding of the agreement to the legislature, describing the affair as a blatant interference in free labour negotiations. The trade union said it would take all necessary measures, including strike action, if it suspected the ministry's prevarication was intended to renege on the agreement.

    In a letter addressed to the Finance Minister yesterday, four trade unions said that last Monday the ministry was supposed to present the budget that took into account the collective agreements reached in June. Instead, the letter pointed out, the Finance Ministry tried to unilaterally introduce amendments to the agreement, in violation of labour and industry regulations.

    The unions urged the Finance Minister to take immediate action to end the dispute before Cypriot consumers pay the price.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [11] EU hopes, facts and conclusions on Cyprus

    WELCOMING the expansion agreement, European Commission President Romano Prodi said: "Accession of 10 new member states will bring an end to the divisions in Europe. For the first time in history, Europe will become one because unification is the free will of its people."

    Turkey lifted its obstruction of a long-delayed agreement for the US-led NATO alliance to assist the EU's embryonic military crisis management force, clearing the way for Europe to run its first peacekeeping operations next year in the Balkans.

    The summit outcome means the EU land area rises by 23 per cent and population by 20 per cent to 450 million in 2004, but its gross domestic product will grow by only five percent. EU diplomats said the final enlargement deal meant the EU would spend 40.8 billion euros in the 10 new members in 2004-6, less than the bloc originally budgeted to spend on expansion back in 1999.

    The countries invited to join in May 2004 are Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus and Malta.

    THE summit conclusions statement on Cyprus includes the following:

    The Union recalls its willingness to accommodate the terms of a settlement [of the Cyprus problem] in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principles on which the EU is founded. In case of a settlement, the Council, acting by unanimity on the basis of proposals by the Commission, shall decide upon adaptations of the terms concerning the accession of Cyprus to the EU with regard to the Turkish Cypriot community.

    The European Council has decided that, in the absence of a settlement, the application of the acquis to the northern part of the island shall be suspended, until the Council decides unanimously otherwise, on the basis of a proposal by the Commission. Meanwhile, the Council invites the Commission, in consultation with the government of Cyprus, to consider ways of promoting economic development of the northern part of Cyprus and bringing it closer to the Union.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [12] EU promise to Turkey: no delays

    THE European Union pledged last night to open accession talks with Turkey "without delay" if the country meets strict EU human rights and democracy conditions in 2004, an EU official said.

    The move should please Turkey, which earlier had grudgingly agreed at the landmark EU enlargement summit to wait until December 2004 before the EU decides whether to start negotiations. Ankara had hoped to win a firm date for opening the talks in 2003.

    "The conclusions on Turkey have been improved. We have added the words "without delay" for the opening of accession negotiations," the official told Reuters. Usually, a candidate country can expect to wait up to six months before being able to begin accession talks once the European Commission, the EUs executive, and the member states have given their green light.

    The EU encouragement for Turkey followed remarks by British Prime Minister Tony Blair who held out some hope for Turkey when he said it might be able to start EU entry talks before a December 2004 review date if Ankara met EU political criteria sooner.

    "If Turkey does pass those criteria, and perhaps a bit earlier, then of course whenever those criteria are met, negotiations could be opened," Blair told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.

    EU diplomats said it would take a unanimous decision by the enlarged 25- member bloc to bring forward the date for Turkey set yesterday. But Blair insisted the EU had given Turkey a firm date to start accession talks: "Turkey would have liked an earlier date, but for 40 years Turkey has been wanting a firm date, and this is a firm date," Blair said.

    Earlier, Turkish anger over the EU decision to give the country only a conditional date for entry talks after a review softened as yesterday wore on, with leader Tayyip Erdogan pledging to continue to work for a 2004 start. Turkey had been demanding a firm date for talks in 2003.

    "We will do our utmost to start the negotiations in 2004," Erdogan told reporters after meeting French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. He played down disappointment at the EU decision to review Turkey's candidacy in December 2004 to see if it met strict human rights criteria, saying Ankara's reform process would continue at the same pace.

    Erdogan said the EU decision to review Turkey's progress to membership in 2004 was a success won in the face of European double standards. "Despite everything the uncertainties have been removed and I think the point Turkey has reached is a success," Erdogan told reporters.

    But the Turkish leader said he was not impressed by the horsetrading and deal-making at the summit. "We are not pleased by the practice of politics displayed by the decision-making bodies of the EU. This displeasure stems from the fact that we think that double standards do not fit with democracy and modern values," Erdogan said.

    Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul also took a more moderate line after an outburst earlier yesterday when he accused the EU of discrimination and hit out at Chirac. Gul told a news conference in the afternoon: "We will continue our reform process for our own people. We are not doing this for others... we continue to want to be members of the EU."

    He said he had told Chirac and Schroeder that Turkey "will prove if it joins the EU that a Muslim country can be democratic and comfortable with the modern world. I think the European leaders are not ignoring this."

    Gul had slammed the EU decision and accused Chirac of turning the EU against his country.

    "I cannot accept the paragraph on Turkey. There is great discrimination here," a Turkish official quoted Gul as telling British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a phone call.

    "There is an act of prejudice against us, and there needs to be great efforts to correct this. Clear sentences and words should be put into the draft to remove uncertainty," he quoted Gul as saying.

    Apparently angered by reports of criticism by Chirac of Turkish negotiating tactics, Gul was quoted as saying: "The real blackmail is what Chirac has done. I am very disappointed that Chirac has influenced and directed the meeting."

    Markets and business in Ankara reacted with calm and even a glimmer of optimism. Markets held steady, shored up by foreign buying. Stocks ended only a shade down, and the lira even firmed despite the early angry government reaction

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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