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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-06-03

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

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


Tuesday, June 3, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government seeks extra £10 million for civil service
  • [02] Annan welcomes crossings but insists on solution
  • [03] Deputies strive to overcome debt jail crisis
  • [04] EU experts to monitor harmonisation progress on lagging issues
  • [05] EU set to announce aid package for Turkish Cypriots
  • [06] Papadopoulos to US for ‘routine’ medical check
  • [07] Missing woman found dead in car

  • [01] Government seeks extra £10 million for civil service

    By a Staff Reporter

    AMID calls by the Central Bank for constraints on public spending, the House Finance Committee yesterday recommended a supplementary budget pumping £10 million into the civil service.

    The committee described the extra funds as “essential”, arguing that a number of ministries and government departments needed to be upgraded as part of the government’s efforts to complete harmonisation with the EU acquis.

    A plenary session of the House later this week is expected to approve the supplementary budget, which provides for the creation of 633 new jobs in the civil service and the “upgrading” of existing positions.

    Just last week, Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou sounded the alarm bells on the state of public finances, saying the fiscal deficit in 2003 would reach four per cent of GDP, well above the three per cent ceiling set by the Maastricht criteria.

    He said the instability of the tourism sector, a slowdown in consumer spending and the continuing decline in the stock market would require drastic reductions in public expenditure if the economy were to bounce back. Christodoulou advised that “decisive action must be taken to boost public revenue and cut non-producing expenditure…”

    The previous administration managed to slash the fiscal deficit by 1.0 per cent by taking £60 million from the profits of CyTA (Cyprus Telecommunications Authority) and the EAC (Electricity Authority), both semi-government organisations. But rumours abound that the money was actually used to pay the public sector wage bill.

    And the present government has already asked for another £65 million from CyTA and the EAC this year.

    Salaries for civil servants are among the highest in Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, June 3, 2003

    [02] Annan welcomes crossings but insists on solution

    By a Staff Reporter

    By Alexia Saoulli

    U.N. SECRETARY-general Kofi Annan yesterday recommended the Security Council extend mandate of the UN Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for another six months, saying recent developments on the island were not a substitute for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem.

    In his report, submitted to the Security Council and covering the period from November 15, 2002 until May 20 this year, the UN chief underlined it was “highly unlikely that such a settlement can be achieved without a genuine political commitment” to the proposals he submitted, and without “a firm timetable to finalise negotiations as outlined in the recent report on my mission of good offices”.

    Instead, under the current conditions, he suggested extending UNFICYP’s mandate for another six months (until December 15), as the peacekeeping force’s presence on the island is “essential to the maintenance of the ceasefire between the two sides”.

    In his report, Annan also expressed his satisfaction at the easing of restrictions on movement between the occupied and government controlled areas, as well as the good will displayed by the populations of both sides.

    The Secretary-general expressed the hope that “two sides will build on that good will by taking further steps to enhance mutual confidence,” and added UNFICYP was prepared to assist them in this direction.

    Annan also noted that during the past six months the situation along the cease-fire lines had remained calm but said it was “regrettable that no progress has been achieved in restoring the status quo ante in the village of Strovilia”.

    Regarding UNFICYP itself, the Secretary-general welcomed the limited easing of restrictions by the Turkish Cypriot authorities of the force’s movements as a first step, but added UNFICYP should be provided complete access and full freedom of movement to carry out its mandate throughout its entire area of responsibility.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, June 3, 2003

    [03] Deputies strive to overcome debt jail crisis

    By a Staff Reporter

    A NEW subcommittee formed to discuss the controversial issue of imprisoning debtors, yesterday informed the House Legal Affairs Committee of a proposal to reduce the number of debtors going to jail.

    The proposal follows the recent decision of new Attorney-general Solon Nikitas to put an end to the practice of suspending debtors’ jail sentences through Presidential pardons. Nikitas’ ruling has sparked fears that the island’s central prisons will face a sudden influx of inmates, leading to serious overcrowding.

    Speaking after a Legal Committee meeting yesterday afternoon, Committee member Ionas Nicolaou said the draft proposal recommended the possibility of postponing, annulling or amending debtors’ jail sentences.

    “In other words, an individual sentenced to jail can ask the court to either amend, annul or postpone the sentence. He can ask this if he satisfies the court that he has rectified his situation.”

    Nicholaou said debtors unable to pay what they owed, or unable to pay due to extenuating circumstances -- such as their absence from the country -- would not go to jail. He added that individuals not able to pay for a lawyer in court would be helped by the state.

    Nicolaou said the proposal considered both debtors and creditors.

    “It’s a balanced proposal which protects both the debtors and the creditors, ” he said. “We will put these suggestions to the cabinet next Wednesday and will draft a bill at Parliament next Thursday.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, June 3, 2003

    [04] EU experts to monitor harmonisation progress on lagging issues

    By Alex Mita

    EUROPEAN Union experts on Justice and Domestic Affairs issues are to visit the island at the end of the month to assess Cyprus’ harmonisation progress on judicial and immigration, EU spokesman Nicholas Karides confirmed yesterday.

    Karides said the panel of experts would be assessing the government’s progress on harmonisation with acquis communautaire on asylum, money laundering and the Schengen Action Plan - freedom of movement across internal borders between Schengen Treaty signatories.

    According to Politis, Cyprus is lagging behind on these three issues.

    Problems over implementation of the Schengen Action Plan touch on external borders, control over the cease-fire line, and the status of the British Bases. It also regulates immigration and travel issues from countries outside the EU.

    The Schengen acquis is separated into two parts, with the first being measures that have to be implemented upon accession - including a visa requirement for Russian citizens, which the government has so far resisted for fear of damaging tourism. The second is the ‘open borders’ requirement, with minimal controls within the zone and nationals of member states able to travel with mere identity cards rather than passports.

    This requires significant government input and a unanimous Cabinet decision, and is not expected to be implemented until 2006, when the central Schengen Information System is ready. It took Greece seven years to join the Schengen plan.

    On asylum, EU sources say Cyprus has progressed on the implementation of the political asylum chapter of the acquis but is still not up to EU standards.

    The same goes for the money laundering issue, where the EU is reportedly still keeping local and overseas companies under close surveillance, despite acknowledging the fact that there has been progress in legislative reform.

    “The experts are coming on June 30 and will remain until July 4,” Karides said.

    The spokesman refused to comment on whether the visit meant Cyprus was in trouble with the EU for the delays.

    “There is a sense of exaggeration in the way Politis presented the visit, ” Karides said.

    “The visit is a part of a broader monitoring mission, what we call a peer review on a range of chapters and it’s part of the frequent monitoring that happens with the chief negotiator’s office and the ministries.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, June 3, 2003

    [05] EU set to announce aid package for Turkish Cypriots

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE EUROPEAN Commission is expected to announce its package of measures to assist Turkish Cypriots today in Strasbourg and Brussels.

    The package will inject around 12 million euros to the north, concentrating on three main areas: financial co-operation, trade and bringing Turkish Cypriots closer to the European Union.

    Financial co-operation will involve a further investment of six million euros on infrastructure through the Nicosia Master Plan set-up, with the possibility of extending the programme to Famagusta and Kyrenia.

    A further two million euros will be spent on supporting small and medium sized enterprises, while one million euros will be used for feasibility surveys on development of the north.

    One and a half million will be allocated to strengthening community ties through the support of non-governmental organisations. The aim is to bring the two communities together under the umbrella of EU membership.

    Trade unions will be allocated half a million euros, to be distributed through the Pancyprian Union Forum, while one million will be spent on seminars on EU harmonisation and the body of laws required for that.

    Regarding trade, the Commission has said it would allow the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce to issue documents for Turkish Cypriot goods to be exported to the EU via the government-controlled ports in the south.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, June 3, 2003

    [06] Papadopoulos to US for ‘routine’ medical check

    By Alexia Saoulli

    PRESIDENT Tassos Papadopoulos is to travel to the United States for a routine medical examination at the beginning of July, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday. The trip had been scheduled since the president returned from the US in March following surgery on his vocal cords, he said.

    “According to his doctors’ instructions, he had to return to Jacksonville within two or three months for a medical check-up, and that this would take place at the beginning of July,” said Chrysostomides. The Government Spokesman added Papadopoulos had announced the visit when he had returned from Florida the first time.

    Asked whether the President’s state of health had improved in line with his doctors’ predictions, Chrysostomides said: “There would have been more improvement if the President had followed his doctors advice and not spoken for a few weeks.”

    But when asked if Papadopoulos was going to America to undergo new surgery to regain his voice, Chrysostomides said: “He is going based on his treatment doctors’ instructions when he had the surgery for a postoperative routine examination; if he needs anything then it will be decided there.” Nevertheless, he maintained the president was

    “in good health” and said his voice was much improved. In fact, said he believed that Papadopoulos would completely regain his voice within the coming weeks.

    However, despite the government’s upbeat stand on the president’s health, there has been speculation about the ‘real’ reasons behind Papadopoulos’ trips, with persistent suggestions he is in fact suffering from throat cancer.

    Earlier in the year, DIKO rubbished rumours claiming Papadopoulos could not speak due to a throat condition, which required an operation, and said he was suffering from “acute laryngitis together with a heavy cold”. But just two months later he flew to Jacksonville for unspecified health problems, despite the government’s initial claims he was going for and “annual private medical check-up”. The government then changed its story and said Papadopoulos had received treatment on his vocal cords.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Tuesday, June 3, 2003

    [07] Missing woman found dead in car

    By Sofia Kannas

    THE BODY of a 45-year-old woman reported missing two weeks ago was discovered in an overturned car on Sunday morning.

    Georgia Theodoulou, from Kalavassos, had been missing from her home since May 15.

    According to police reports, Georgiou had been dead between six and eight days when police found her body in her car near Governor’s Beach at about 7.45am on Sunday. The car was overturned at the bottom of a ten metre ditch. Police who visited the scene said Georgiou was wearing her seat belt, indicating that she may have died instantly as a result of the road accident.

    Forensic pathologist Eleni Antoniou confirmed yesterday afternoon that Georgiou died instantly as a result of head injuries sustained in the accident.

    Georgiou, who was unmarried, had been working at a kebab house in Moutayiaka, Limassol before her disappearance. According to reports, family friends saw Georgiou last Monday in supermarket in Choirokitia, but she did not acknowledge them.

    Georgiou lived alone in Kalavassos. She leaves behind a brother, who also lives in Kalavassos, and a sister who resides in Larnaca.

    Her funeral took place in Kalavassos yesterday afternoon.

    A police officer at Kofinou Police station said yesterday that there was no suspicion of foul play.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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