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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-12-24

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

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


Tuesday, December 24, 2002

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CONTENTS

  • [01] Government pledges £1 million in interim relief for farm protesters
  • [02] Christofias: Clerides has completed his cycle
  • [03] Gearing up for a Christmas meat fest
  • [04] Lonesome Tom looking for a ticket back home
  • [05] Police divers join search for missing man

  • [01] Government pledges £1 million in interim relief for farm protesters

    IT WAS all damage control and assessment yesterday, as the police and government dealt with the aftermath of the farmers' takeover of Larnaca airport over the weekend.

    On Saturday, potato growers blocked access to the airport by abandoning their tractors at the roundabout, while a group of 150 farmers made their way onto the runway area. The ensuing mayhem meant the closure of the airport for several hours and disruption to 14 flights.

    The farmers were demanding £5 million in compensation from the government for weather damage to crops last year. They say it is the administration's inaction and indifference that pushed them to extremes.

    Yesterday, they met with Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis in a bid to thrash out a deal. There was no stalling this time round, as Rolandis came out the meeting announcing a decision to give potato growers £1 million as immediate relief aid. In addition, the Cabinet would be convening in an ad hoc meeting next Monday to discuss the actual compensation; the farmers are asking for about £5.5 million.

    In what was the first sign of détente, House Agriculture Committee chairman Petros Mavrokordatos apologised to the public for the discomfort to passengers over the weekend; people had been forced to get out of their cars and literally haul their baggage to the airport on foot.

    But Mavrokordatos was quick to add that the government was responsible for things getting out of hand in the first place, saying the farmers had been provoked by statements made by Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous a few days before the blockade.

    Themistocleous, whom farmers urged to resign, returned fire and placed the blame squarely on the farmers and "those who instigated them." He defended the government, saying it had previously announced it would take a decision by January 8.

    The pressure converged on the government, as in turn the national carrier sought compensation. Cyprus Airways general manager Haris Loizides yesterday met with the President to discuss the damages to the company. Loizides later said CY was considering taking legal action to seek compensation from the government; he cited £400,000 as an initial assessment of the damages.

    For its part, the Board of Airline Representatives in Cyprus (BARIC) denounced the weekend occurrences, saying the country's dependence on tourism meant Cyprus could not afford the luxury of having one of its airports shut down.

    One hundred and twenty airline companies use Larnaca airport as a destination, particularly for transit flights.

    The blow to the carrier's prestige and reliability was immeasurable and even more important than the losses incurred over the weekend, said Loizides. He focused on the lax security in and around the airport, remarking "what really troubles me is how people could walk onto the runway just like that."

    Larnaca police chief Ioannis Diaouris was yesterday taken to task over how 150 farmers -- wearing combat fatigues -- managed to blend in with passengers and make it to the runway. Speaking on a live radio show, Diaouris said the police took the best action under the circumstances by opening a slip road for passengers who had already landed. He added that this move served to defuse tensions between frustrated travelers stranded in the airport and the farmers. "Things could have got far worse, I believe, " said Diaouris.

    On Sunday, police staged a storm operation, isolating the abandoned tractors from the roundabout with barbed wire and placing under arrest eight farmers who were apparently on watch duty; the farmers were later charged and released.

    Though the crisis seems to be under control for the time being, farmers representatives have warned of further "dynamic measures" if on Monday the Cabinet fails to live up to promises of helping them.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [02] Christofias: Clerides has completed his cycle

    By George Psyllides

    HOUSE president Demetris Christofias said yesterday that President Glafcos Clerides had completed his political cycle, a speculation mounted over the presidential elections scheduled for February next year.

    "We think President Clerides should be satisfied with what he has accomplished and that he has completed his political cycle," Christofias said.

    He added, however, that it was Clerides' right to run for re-election.

    "The President has every right to contest the elections if there is no solution, and the people will give their verdict," Christofias said.

    He said his side had already made its decisions and chosen its candidate - DIKO chief Tassos Papadopoulos.

    Christofias repeated - "as a friend" - that Clerides' cycle had finished, adding, "from then on, if some people want, for their own reasons, to convince the President to contest the elections, it is his and their right".

    DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades rejected reports that he was trying to influence Clerides to run for a third term.

    "The President is mature and knows his duties and obligations and the decisions he potentially needs to make," Anastassiades said.

    He said he had not discussed the matter with Clerides and did not know what the President's intentions were.

    Anastassiades agreed with Christofias that it was the President's right to stand as candidate for a third term, adding, however, that his cycle was not complete.

    "His cycle is not complete if his life's work is not finished," Anastassiades said.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou told reporters yesterday that the President had not discussed the elections with him, but said he did not think that Clerides had made any decisions yet.

    "It is something he is studying, but he has not told anyone about his decisions," Papapetrou said.

    He said Clerides did not want a new five-year term, suggesting the president would only run if the developments in the Cyprus problem allowed him to complete his work.

    KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou yesterday reiterated his candidacy, rubbishing reports that the party's honorary chairman Vassos Lyssarides was planning to run for president.

    "These are myths and science fiction scenarios, which have nothing to do with reality," Omirou said.

    Asked if it was possible for DISY, which currently supports Omirou, to drop him for another candidate, Omirou said that was a decision for DISY.

    "Our decision (to contest the elections) was not based on the support of any parties.

    "What DISY does is their issue and if they take such a decision then DISY should explain their position; this doesn't concern us," Omirou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [03] Gearing up for a Christmas meat fest

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    CYPRIOTS eat far more meat than the European average, munching through 136 kilos per person per year, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous revealed yesterday during a visit to Nicosia's Ayios Antonios municipal market.

    The minister announced that Cypriots consume 36 kilos more meat a year than their European counterparts.

    "The evidence confirms that Cypriots are meat-eaters," he said, adding "the average meat consumption in Europe is 100 kilos, whereas in Cyprus it reaches 136 kilos per person."

    But Themistocleous gave a note of caution to the barbeque-crazed nation: "We are a society of meat eaters, and that should be watched closely because, at these levels, it's not the healthiest thing."

    Prices of meat and perishable goods have stayed at similar levels to last year's, he said, expressing his satisfaction with the adequate levels of fruit, vegetables and meat on the market. "Moreover, there exists a high level of good quality, healthy meat."

    Themistocleous thanked producers for their labours, acknowledging the efforts of thousands of farmers who had worked under harsh conditions to supply the market. He put the price hikes experienced in the run-up to Christmas down to an increased demand and problematic weather conditions.

    Comparing this year's prices to last year's, he said that chicken meat had stayed the same, pork was slightly down, as was lamb, and beef had gone up slightly.

    Meanwhile, the ministry's forecast for meat consumption during the holidays contains slaughter statistics that will send a shiver down the spine of any vegetarian: 60,000 pigs are expected to go down, joined by 1,200 cows, 38, 000 sheep, 2,700 tonnes of chicken and 400 tones of turkey.

    And if you think the demand for flesh is on the fall as we enter the European sphere of environmental, health-conscious issues, think again. Meat-eaters are eating more than ever before, with a slight rise in meat consumption from last year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [04] Lonesome Tom looking for a ticket back home

    By Jill Campbell Mackay

    THE PAPHIAKOS animal welfare charity yesterday appealed for benefactors to fund the cost of flying a raccoon illegally brought to Cyprus back to America, where he can find a mate and reintegrate his natural habitat.

    Tom the raccoon was found on October 31 after a man called the shelter to say the family dog had bitten his child and he would shoot him unless they came to take it away. The dog turned out to be an American raccoon that had been living in a cage in the balcony of the family home.

    Almost two months on, Tom now enjoys some basic creature comforts, thanks to the Paphiakos charity, who have constructed a spacious custom-made enclosure for the illegal immigrant.

    Normally more accustomed to looking after donkeys, horses and goats, Tom's carer, Martina, was ignorant about what to do with Tom until she went onto the Internet, and found all the information needed to take care of her new charge..

    "I found out that diet was very important" explained Martina. "Tom needs fresh fish, meat and fruit, although lately he has become hooked on chunks of halloumi along with my home made beef goulash. He is, however, quite fastidious, if not totally obsessive about cleanliness, especially when it comes to food. Every mealtime, we have to place in front of him, one big bowl of clean water, refusing to eat anything that has not been washed with his own hands. Even after peeling an orange, he thoroughly washes all the segments in water before eating them."

    Since he is a nocturnal climber, Tom's enclosure had to be constructed around a tree. He then needed to have a special en suite toilet area, as raccoons carry their fastidious feeding habits over into their personal toilet, demanding that both be completely separate. Money is currently not available for a solar pump to be installed so that Tom can enjoy a shower, a basic need also demanded by these super clean creatures.

    But the big worry now is that this youngster will soon need a partner. Raccoons, like swans, always mate for life, and Martina is deeply concerned that without a life partner he could soon just pine away and die out of sheer loneliness.

    The charity has one special Christmas wish for Tom, and that is for some kind person to donate to the charity the means for Tom to be flown back home to America, and there be set free to live a natural life in the wild. Until this happens, lonely Tom will continue to be cared for by the charity.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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    [05] Police divers join search for missing man

    POLICE divers yesterday joined the search for 86-year-old Andreas Papas, who has been missing from his home in Limassol since December 9.

    The divers combed the seabed near the new Limassol port for Papas' car without success, but with the disappearance of two more elderly men a few months ago, rumours are circulating that the men may have been victims of an organised crime ring.

    According to Phileleftheros, police sources said initial investigation revealed the disappearances were the result of foul play. The source said criminals could also be behind the disappearance of 76-year-old Anna Miltiadous from Zakaki, who disappeared in September last year, as well as that of Demitris Charilaous a few months later.

    Papas and Charilaous were carrying £3,000 and £5,000 respectively when they were last seen and the both went missing in the same area.

    The source said the money could have been a motive for thieves.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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