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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-21

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

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


Saturday, December 21, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Boxing Day protest will be biggest yet, say Turkish Cypriot opposition
  • [02] Tourism down 10 per cent in 2002 amid concerns over high costs
  • [03] Water department joy as rain fills the dams
  • [04] When will they fix my leaky roof?
  • [05] Officials conclude Brussels talks over aid for Turkish Cypriots
  • [06] Greek Cypriot saves Turkish Cypriot neighbours from choking on charcoal fumes
  • [07] Will Clerides retain legitimacy for talks ahead of an election?
  • [08] Cypriot student accused of murdering his father in Switzerland
  • [09] Potato farmers threatening to block roads today

  • [01] Boxing Day protest will be biggest yet, say Turkish Cypriot opposition

    By Nicole Neroulias

    THOUSANDS of Turkish Cypriots in favour of accepting the UN peace plan have marched through occupied Cyprus this week, with even larger demonstrations planned for the coming week.

    On Wednesday, 2,000 Turkish Cypriots in occupied Nicosia braved torrential rains to urge their leaders to find a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    The marches have been organised by the local authorities of Nicosia, Famagusta and Kyrenia, with full participation from their mayors. Sources in the municipality of occupied Nicosia said the biggest demonstration yet was planned for December 26.

    Yesterday's Politis reported that Turkish soldiers had been observed mobilising around major Turkish Cypriot municipalities, but sources in the north said they had not seen any evidence of army movements.

    "I haven't seen any soldiers, but there are always lots of police at the demonstrations," said Deniz Birinci, occupied Nicosia's 'secretary for foreign affairs'.

    The demonstrators said the increased police presence had not caused any alarm.

    "We haven't had any trouble yet, because the demonstrators are very peaceful," said Sami Ozuslu, the mayor's secretary for media relations. "If the police or soldiers do anything against the demonstrators, there is going to be a very big reaction from the people who want a peace. So, I don't think they will try anything."

    In fact, some welcome the tight security at the demonstrations.

    "It's only normal for the police and army to be on alert," Birinci said. "We need tight security right now, because although we want peace, we don't want anarchy. We need the army and the police to be there to control things."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Tourism down 10 per cent in 2002 amid concerns over high costs

    By Nicole Neroulias

    TOURISM to Cyprus dropped more than 10 per cent during 2002, according to statistics from the Tourism Ministry.

    Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis, joined by directors from Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) offices abroad, presented their theories for the decline and ways to boost the industry next year.

    The "War on Terror" and worldwide economic problems were the obvious culprits, although the directors also bemoaned the high cost of vacationing in Cyprus, particularly when compared with the rest of the region. Some suggested offering better package tour discounts, while others said that the key was to concentrate on value for money.

    "We shall never be as cheap as countries like Turkey and Tunisia, because the cost of living in Cyprus is much higher," said Dimitris Dimitriou, CTO director the French office. "So, the best we can do is to offer more advantages and a higher quality of service."

    The only CTO office that reported a significant improvement was from Ireland, which sent 9 per cent more tourists to Cyprus in 2002 than in 2001.

    "There were more flights this year, thanks to EuroCypria and Helios airlines," said Orestis Rossides, CTO director for the United Kingdom and Ireland. "And for some reason, the Irish do not seem to be affected by what happened after September 11."

    Tourism from Greece also saw a slight increase, which CTO director George Ioannides attributed to the violence in Israel, a popular destination for Greeks in the past.

    But tourists from Greece, due to the shared language and culture, have particularly unique needs, Ioannides said. Since Greek tourists are far less likely to use package tours to Cyprus, the lack of public transportation from the airports after 6pm, after the shared taxi services have stopped for the day, is a major concern.

    "This is a big problem for Greek tourists," Ioannides said. "When they go from Larnaca to Paphos in a private taxi, it can cost up to 90. We absolutely must address this issue."

    As usual, citizens from the United Kingdom accounted for more than 50 per cent of all tourists, with more than 1 million coming to Cyprus in 2002.

    "England is our most important market, so at the moment, we are working to strengthen the winter business, when the British look for warmer destinations," Rossides said. "We have received a higher budget for advertising, and are now offering incentives such as the new golf courses and walking and cycling packages."

    The recent EU accession could be a mixed blessing to the Cyprus tourist industry, Rolandis said. The free publicity from the accession, and Cyprus's eventual entry to the Eurozone, would obviously boost tourism from EU member countries.

    However, one CTO director noted that EU accession would discourage tourism from Russia, which sent 150,000 tourists in 2002 and the Middle East, which sent 25,000 tourists, because tourists from non-EU countries will be required to apply for entry visas.

    Rolandis and the directors said they were confident that 2002 was an anomaly in the tourist industry, but depending on external factors, such as the political situation in the Middle East, and domestic developments, such as industrial action, they said it is impossible to predict how 2003 would turn out.

    "2002 was a difficult year for everyone, but 2003 will also be difficult," Rolandis said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Water department joy as rain fills the dams

    By Nicole Neroulias

    THE WEATHER outside is frightful, but the water department thinks it's delightful.

    Wednesday's torrential showers brought nearly 4 million cubic meters of water into the dams, bring the total to 6.6 million cubic meters since October 1. The dams are now at 40 per cent of total capacity, compared to only 22 per cent at this time last year, said Vlassis Partasides, senior water engineer.

    "With 108 million cubic meters in the dams, we have enough for all our water needs and irrigation supply for the year," Partasides said. "This is very good. We are very happy."

    Although Cypriots have grumbled over the low temperatures and precipitation, officials from the weather department dismiss the complaints, categorising the conditions as "typical winter weather."

    "December had 16 per cent more rain than usual, but the temperatures are average," explained Kyriacos Theofilou, the head of the meteorological department.

    Theofilou said that the weather department expects the temperature to rise several degrees during the upcoming week, and does not predict any more rain for the next few days. Those eager to experience a white Christmas can still find it in the mountains; however, most of the roads have been blocked due to the inclement weather and travel advisories.

    The weather and police departments have issued warnings to airports, sailors and drivers, particularly in the snowy mountain areas, where there are dangers from falling rocks. Despite the warnings, several people have been injured in car accidents on slippery roads throughout the island in the last week.

    Even those who stay off the roads have had car trouble due to the downpours. Nicosia resident Andreas Georgalis woke up last week to find his parked car buried under an adjacent wall that had collapsed from the rainfall, inflicting 4,000 of damage to the front of the vehicle.

    "I was thunderstruck, I couldn't believe it," he said. "I suppose the lesson is: never park next to an old wall when it's raining. And if you do, make sure you are fully insured."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] When will they fix my leaky roof?

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    A REFUGEE family from Galini have spent three years wading in pools of water during the winter rains as the Town Planning Department tells them each year to "be patient" and wait for the repair team to come.

    Michalis Constandinou, 50, from Strovolos Refugee Estate 3, has battled with up to 15 centimetres of water in the bungalow he shares with his wife and says he is totally exasperated with the situation.

    "I have planks of wood on the ceiling that are damp, walls are crumbling, while the living room and my daughter's bedroom have to be covered with plastic sheets. I can't fix anything in the house until they fix that roof, " he said yesterday.

    Constantinou told the Town Planning department from the first year when the problem occurred, but to no avail. "The leakages affect all three houses on this row. One of them is occupied by an old lady who doesn't know what to do with it. But each time a repair team comes to the estate, they always leave us behind. They say we have to wait to the next year."

    One official told Constantinou that the funds had run out and he would just have to be patient. "But how patient can a man be? One, two, three years and now we are looking at a fourth year in this state," he said.

    The water has seeped into the walls and floors of the house, causing the walls to flake and the plaster to drop. Dampness prevails and little can be done about it. As Constantinou explains, "I put wooden boards on the ceiling to try and make the house look a little more presentable but I can't paint them until they fix the roof. Now, the rain and the leaks have dampened them and the rest of the house."

    The Constantinou family is expecting the rain to continue filling up the house through the winter. "I try to sweep the roof as much as I can but there's only so much I can do," he said, adding, "The last time I spoke to the department they told me to be patient but they wouldn't let me know when they would come."

    Town Planning Department official Takis Constantinou said he was not aware of this particular case, but acknowledged that "it is definitely a problem". He explained that the department had in the past hired contractors that would do a patch-up job of leaking roofs, causing huge problems when the patchwork came undone.

    "Now, we have contractors who do a thorough job of the repairs, making effective checks on holes, solar panels, faulty pipes, the lot," he said.

    When the Cyprus Mail explained that Constantinou's roof could not be a casualty of the botchy repairs crew because no one had touched the roof for three years, he replied the department would aim to put the house on the working list of the next contractor in use after the holidays, sometime in January.

    Meanwhile, Michalis Constantinou wades patiently in the water waiting for drier times, "I want to paint and fix the house, but I can't do anything while it's like this."

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Officials conclude Brussels talks over aid for Turkish Cypriots

    By a Staff Reporter

    CYPRIOT officials have completed negotiations in Brussels with the European Commission regarding a package of measures the government intends to announce for the economic development of the Turkish Cypriots.

    The delegation, made up of Foreign Ministry officials and officers of the Law Office of the Republic, sought the advice of the EU regarding the measures on technical matters.

    The consultations took place following last week's decision by the Copenhagen European Council on Cyprus' accession to the EU.

    The purpose of the discussions was to ensure that any measures to be announced will be in line with the EU's acquis communautaire.

    In their conclusions, the Copenhagen 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".

    The measures are believed to include plans to ease trade restrictions on the occupied areas and to make it easier for Turkish Cypriots to work in the government held areas.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [06] Greek Cypriot saves Turkish Cypriot neighbours from choking on charcoal fumes

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    A FAMILY of four Turkish Cypriots was saved from a tragic accident of carbon dioxide poisoning by their Greek Cypriot neighbour on a cold night in the Turkish Cypriot quarters of Limassol this week.

    The neighbour, Demetris Pitracos, found 45-year-old Hussein Ali semi conscious near the door of his house at around 11.30pm. Pitracos went inside the house where he found Ali's wife, Zouhndou, and their two children, Ozi and Mehmet, 10 and 14, passed out in the bedroom where charcoal was burning to keep the room warm.

    The Greek Cypriot acted immediately by putting the family into his car and taking them to Limassol General Hospital for treatment. The couple and their eldest child were later released but little Ozi, who continued to have breathing problems, was kept in overnight for observation.

    Ali had brought the charcoal into the sleeping quarters of the house in an effort to heat up the place on the night of Wednesday to Thursday. The large quantity of coal used in the small rooms had the deadly effect of choking up the house with smoke. The parents tried to get their children out the house before the poisonous fumes could spread but the lack of oxygen proved too much for their lungs making them lose consciousness.

    The street was deserted, but luckily Pitracos passed by the house when he heard coughing, finding Ali near the front door and the house full of smoke. After finding the rest of the family had passed out, he took them straight away to emergency.

    Politis reported yesterday that all the houses in the Turkish Cypriot quarter of Limassol were in a dire condition, with leaks and crumbling walls demanding drastic action.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [07] Will Clerides retain legitimacy for talks ahead of an election?

    By George Psyllides

    DISY chief Nicos Anastassiades said yesterday that President Glafcos Clerides would lose his legitimacy to continue talks on the Cyprus problem if he decided no to seek re-election.

    Anastassiades pointed out that due to the short time left in Clerides' term - February 28 - the validity of any negotiation could be disputed.

    "What he (Clerides) does in the meantime would be judged by the people, who would either renew his mandate or reject (him) and deny whatever happened in the meantime," Anastassiades said.

    DIKO leader Tassos Papadopoulos said the talks were not reason enough to cancel the presidential elections, adding that there were elections every time there were talks.

    "We could accept to extend Clerides' term and say that since he brought things this far let's let him finish," Papadopoulos said.

    He was quick to stress that this could happen, "if the result was acceptable and satisfactory, but not now that there is the view that there has been a serious departure from the Greek Cypriot side's positions without gaining anything".

    Papadopoulos suggested DISY was trying to cancel the elections because it had realised it would be difficult to win them.

    KISOS chairman Yiannakis Omirou - who has DISY's backing - said yesterday his candidacy was a fact, adding that his party was advancing towards the elections with determination.

    Commenting on Anastassiades' remarks, AKEL chief Demetris Christofias, whose party is backing Papadopoulos, said that in his view the elections should be held.

    "The Republic's constitution and the Republic should continue to operate and no attempts should be made to downgrade the constitution or the Republic," Christofias said.

    "Thus my answer is that the elections should be held," he added.

    Asked whether it would be legitimate for Clerides to continue to negotiate until the elections, Christofias said that if the UN pushed the procedure and the other side responded, then the President would have to respond.

    "From then on the President himself would judge whether he would continue to negotiate until February 28," Christofias said.

    United Democrats chairman George Vassiliou suggested it would be wrong to stop negotiating because of the elections.

    Speaking after meeting Clerides yesterday, Vassiliou said what was important was for everyone to understand that the Republic had to negotiate.

    "It is unthinkable to say that we don't negotiate because of the elections;

    "This would send the message that the Greek Cypriot side is not interested in a solution, something that we cause huge damage to our case and the country," Vassiliou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [08] Cypriot student accused of murdering his father in Switzerland

    By a Staff Reporter

    A 23-YEAR-old Cypriot student has been arrested in Switzerland on suspicion of murdering his visiting 57-year-old father, police said yesterday.

    Cypriot police yesterday named the suspect as Ioannis Ioannou, who was arrested by Zurich police on Wednesday on suspicion of stabbing to death his father, Savvas Ioannou from Nicosia.

    According to reports, Ioannou had been visiting his son who was studying in Zurich. On Thursday, the island's Interpol branch was contacted by its Swiss counterpart with information that the 23-year-old and his father, a Cyprus Tourism Organisation employee, had had an argument at the boy's apartment, which led to the son allegedly stabbing his father to death. The reasons behind the argument and subsequent murder remained unclear, police said. The youth was placed under arrest and was currently being questioned by Swiss authorities, Cyprus police were told.

    Local police had no more information on the matter, saying their Swiss counterparts were investigating the case.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [09] Potato farmers threatening to block roads today

    By Alexia Saoulli

    POTATO farmers are planning to block off major roads today, if the government fails to pay them 5.6 million in compensation for financial losses incurred this year.

    At their last meeting, the Cabinet failed to agree what compensation would be given to potato farmers for their spoiled harvest, postponing the decision until they next convened on January 8.

    But the potato farmers are not willing to waiting that long, warning yesterday that if they failed to receive a pledge that they would get the 5.6 million by Christmas, they would take action today.

    "The technocrats are not able to sort out the problem between themselves and keep disagreeing about how much money we should be given," said George Katcharis, vice president of the farmers co-ordination committee. "The end result is we are forced to suffer."

    "5.6 million is the amount we lost in costs due to a poor harvest. It's not as if we are taking any extra money home," Katcharis said.

    "They probably don't want to give us anything. That's what we think. And due to EU accession the farming industry has been destroyed and many farmers are leaving the business. We even have the full support of the House of Representatives in this," he said. "The January 8 date for a Cabinet decision does not satisfy us. We want the money before Christmas."

    Potato farmers from around the island plan to meet near Larnaca at 9am today in order to discuss what measures need to be taken from here to have their demands met. By yesterday afternoon they had already started to gather.

    Although CyBC reported an expected 200-tractor turnout yesterday, just under four dozen potato farmers finally gathered on the Ormidia-Xylofagou road - within the Sovereign Base Areas - ahead of today's scheduled meeting.

    "Their meeting point is the ex-ammo depot," an SBA policeman told the Cyprus Mail. "Around 45 tractors had gathered there by 3.30pm, but I don't think any more will assemble tonight due to the weather."

    The farmers warn they will step up measures if the government does not meet their demands.

    "We will decide what to do at Saturday's meeting and what course to take from here. Some have suggested we march to the Presidential Palace, others have said to close off the airport and others to shut off the Rizoelia roundabout. But, whatever we decide, it will be bigger than Rizoelia," Katcharis said.

    In March, 240 farmers held strikes at the Rizoelia roundabout in Larnaca. The strikes lasted nearly five days and caused havoc on the Nicosia-Larnaca highway. Farmers then were demanding diesel price subsidies, a settlement of farmers' debts, and an end to social insurance payments for seasonal foreign workers.

    Police will be on hand today to divert traffic onto alternative roads if farmers block the motorway.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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