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

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

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


Friday, June 6, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Drop in tourism could cost hotels over £100 million
  • [02] Water trucks: one third of samples tested unsuitable
  • [03] STD reports a ‘smear campaign’ say Turkish Cypriots
  • [04] English School to open entry for Turkish Cypriots
  • [05] ‘Don’t take your dog for a walk in the north’
  • [06] Strovilia power to be cut for a day as concerns rise over status of checkpoint village
  • [07] Deputies seek to streamline debt bill
  • [08] New deadline for Turkey to pay up in Loizidou case
  • [09] Study shows high pollution in cities but low levels of CO2
  • [10] No chance of Famagusta port being used to export Turkish Cypriot goods

  • [01] Drop in tourism could cost hotels over £100 million

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    THIS year’s global downturn in holiday bookings and Cyprus’s inability to compete effectively with international tourism prices are expected to lead to losses in the tourism industry of over £100 million.

    The Association of Cyprus’ Tourism Enterprises (STEK) released a gloom and doom study yesterday revealing that hotel bookings for the month of May had dropped by 28 per cent compared to last year. Reservations for June and July are also predicted to drop by 22 and 24 per cent respectively.

    The survey covered 26 hotel units chosen from a category of three to five star hotels and A-grade tourist villages. The 26 units employ around 3,000 people, counting for 20 per cent of total employees in the hotel industry, and hold 8,500 beds, representing 19 per cent of total beds in the chosen category.

    Of those questioned, only three units experienced an increase in bookings with an average five per cent rise for May, dropping to a 1.9 per cent rise in July.

    The study revealed that the average bed occupancy rate for May hit 54 per cent, a stark contrast to last year’s 72 per cent for the same month. Predictions for June and July close the gap slightly with 61 per cent of beds expected to be in use by June, compared to 75 per cent the previous year, and 65 per cent in July, compared to last year’s 76 per cent.

    However, STEK points out that the poor forecasts were calculated by comparing last year’s figures, which were already low as a result of the global economic reaction to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the USA.

    Regarding reduced bed occupancy rates, Ayia Napa came out worst in May, while Paralimni and Larnaca are expected to suffer the greatest capacity reductions in June and July respectively.

    The tourism association highlighted the intense pressure by foreign tour operators on the hotel industry to slash prices, leading to an average price reduction of 12 per cent for May and June and an 11 per cent drop predicted for July. As STEK General Manager Fidias Karis explained yesterday, “They tell you either to accept a fall in the contractual price agreed last year or they will delete you from their programme this season. What can you do?” he added.

    As a result of falling prices and growing running costs, 88.5 per cent of hotels questioned reported that their Gross Operating Profit (GOP) for May was in the negative. An equally large number, 85 per cent, predicted losses for June, and 81 per cent expected a negative GOP for July.

    According to the survey, 80 per cent of respondents said they had a lower than normal level of employment for the period of May to July. Twenty per cent said they enjoyed a normal rate of employment.

    Regarding the dim predictions, Karis said, “We are all optimistic that something will change. This is a very fluid situation. We are waiting to see how the third quarter between July and September goes.”

    The tourism industry can usually expect about 40 per cent of total arrivals for the whole year to come during that period.

    “Last year, the tourism industry experienced an 11 per cent loss in total revenue, translating into £140 million,” said Karis. “I expect the fall in arrivals plus a dramatic drop in the level of prices because of fierce competition to have a huge impact on revenue. Competition in the second half of the year should become even more fierce because of last-minute bookings,” he added.

    Given that Cyprus is already considered a high-cost tourist destination with high operational costs, the industry will be forced to reduce prices even further in order to remain competitive with its major competitors. “I expect the difference between loss of arrivals and loss of revenue to be much greater this year compared to the last,” warned Karis.

    But the future is not all bleak. “The whole world is expecting and depending on last-minute bookings. People have delayed their bookings this year due to global circumstances like the outbreak of SARS and the war in Iraq. We are hoping for a revival of bookings in the second half of the year,” he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 6, 2003

    [02] Water trucks: one third of samples tested unsuitable

    By a Staff Reporter

    AROUND one-third of the water sold in tanker trucks and water dispensers last year was found to be unsuitable for human consumption, the House Health Committee heard yesterday.

    According to the Health Services, which tested 431 samples in 2002, 36 per cent of the water in tanker trucks and 30 per cent of the water sold through water dispensers was found to be unsuitable for human consumption.

    The chairman of the Consumers’ Association, Petros Markou, told the committee that there had been 11 convictions for the sale of unsuitable water and each time the court fined the guilty party £250.

    Committee chairman Antonis Karas expressed surprise that the judge only imposed a £250 fine with no other sanction.

    Speaking after the meeting, Karas said the committee had decided to give more time to people selling water in trucks to find practical solutions to secure the quality of the water.

    He warned, however, that the committee would suggest “other drastic measures” to prevent unsuitable water from being sold.

    Karas said the committee wanted answers by the last Thursday of June, adding: “we have no right to abandon less wealthy consumers, who drinker water sold from tanker trucks, just because we can afford to consume bottled water.”

    “We will be especially strict in protecting the health of citizens who buy this necessity,” Karas said.

    AKEL deputy Adamos Adamou said the distribution of unsuitable water created a public health problem, but expressed his conviction that water truck owners would work towards resolving the issue.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 6, 2003

    [03] STD reports a ‘smear campaign’ say Turkish Cypriots

    By Tania Khadder

    THE TURKISH Cypriot side yesterday dismissed a smear press reports that cabaret artistes in the north were responsible for an increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the government controlled areas.

    The latest report claimed yesterday that scabies, an itchy skin condition, was on the rise in Cyprus in the wake of the opening up the checkpoints across the Green Line.

    Turkish Cypriot ‘Health Minister’ Mehmet Albayrak rejected the allegations: “This is a smear campaign attempt and not a newsworthy issue,” he told the

    Cyprus Mail

    He said the demand for cabaret artistes had been high when the checkpoints first opened in April, but that it had since considerably subsided.

    In fact, Albayrak added the authorities had warned club owners about the higher rate of HIV in the free areas compared to the north. His department has even issued leaflets in Russian on how artistes can protect themselves against contracting diseases from Greek Cypriots. He also said artistes were regularly tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and were deported if they were found to be infected.

    There are 392 registered cases of HIV/AIDS in the free areas, 163 of which are foreigners. Albayrak said that in the occupied north, there were just six known cases of the disease, all Turkish Cypriots.

    Doctors in the free areas admitted scabies was on the rise, but also dismissed any connection with the occupied areas.

    “You can’t say it is coming specifically from the north,” said Constantinos Demetriou, president of the Cyprus Dermatology Association. “It’s coming from the north, the south and from abroad. It’s coming from everywhere.”

    “There has always been a lot of scabies, but we are seeing more as people circulate more,” he told the Cyprus Mail.

    A scabies rash is caused by mites that burrow into the skin, and is passed through any type of close physical contact - even holding hands. He said that if diagnosed and properly treated, the disease could clear up within weeks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 6, 2003

    [04] English School to open entry for Turkish Cypriots

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE ENGLISH School in Nicosia yesterday confirmed it was ready to accept Turkish Cypriot students as soon as they were able to attend.

    “We will accommodate a very limited number of Turkish Cypriots students in a limited number of year groups in September 2003,” said English School headmaster, Robert Swan, adding the school was also investigating the possibility of hiring a Turkish-speaking teacher.

    Before 1974, the school had been bicommunal and had a substantial number of Turkish Cypriot students, staff and board members, he said, adding the school had always said it was ready to readmit Turkish Cypriots just as soon as it was possible.

    Swan explained the decision to accept only a limited number of students was based on “practical reasons”, because it was too late for regular entry, as the entrance examination was tomorrow and registration had already closed.

    “(But) we are hoping to recreate the pre-1974 situation for September 2004, ” he said.

    Twenty-nine years ago, Turkish Cypriot students had two points of entry into the school. They could sit examinations in Turkish in the first year and attend the school for a year in a Turkish speaking class, while simultaneously learning English in order to join the first year Greek speakers in the second form. Or they could sit the second year entrance examination as English speakers, said Swan.

    So far, there have been no Turkish Cypriots applications because the school’s decision has not yet been officially announced. When it is, and if there is interest shown, “we are going to treat any applications as late entry candidates,” he said.

    Nevertheless, the school’s annual fees for the next academic year are relatively steep for Turkish Cypriots. For years one to three, the fees are £2,590, for years four and five they are £2,620 and for years six and seven they are £2,675. So how will their parents or guardians be able to afford it?

    “At present, the government pays full school fees for any Turkish Cypriots attending any fee-paying school (in the government controlled areas). We already have three Turkish Cypriot students whose fees are paid by the government and we were told that it would also pay for students from the occupied areas,” he said. The fees for September 2004 are not yet available, as they will be fixed next spring.

    The degree of confidence about the Green Line remaining open will clearly influence the interest shown to attend the school.

    “All things said, there’s no reason why the students cannot come across in the morning and go to school and return home in the afternoon,” said Swan.

    But was Greek not the common language at the English School, especially out of class, therefore posing problems for the Turkish Cypriot students?

    “The common language between students used to be English. It only became Greek after 1974. Therefore the presence of Turkish Cypriots will reinforce the use of English, particularly in class,” he said.

    Swan added he was optimistic that the presence of Turkish Cypriots would bring about a return to the pre-1974 situation within months. “There is considerable good will on both sides,” he said. “Although after 29 years it will take time for the two communities to get to know each other again, we will arrive there.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 6, 2003

    [05] ‘Don’t take your dog for a walk in the north’

    By Alexia Saoulli

    PET owners could run the risk of having their animals put down if they take them across to the occupied areas, the Veterinary Services warned yesterday.

    The announcement was issued after the department was informed that some dog owners had tried to take their animals over to the occupied areas for walks since restrictions on freedom of movement across the Green Line were eased in April.

    “Some people want to go for a walk in occupied Nicosia and take their dogs with them. This is done out of ignorance, so we decided to warn people of the consequences,” said Animal Health and Welfare official, Giorgos Neophytou. The warning has been prompted by the existence of contagious animal diseases in the north that can be passed on to humans.

    “There are two contagious diseases in the north, echinococcosis and brucellosis. The former is a parasitic worm that lives in dogs’ intestines and lays eggs. These eggs, if ingested by humans, can result in the formation of cysts in major organs, including the liver or brain, which can be fatal. The latter is known as a ‘professional disease’ and is passed onto to humans through direct contact with infected animals or through the consumption of their non-pasteurised dairy products,” Neophytou said.

    Although there is no evidence of rabies in the occupied areas, the veterinary official said it was a concern because there was uncontrolled animal movement between the occupied areas and mainland Turkey.

    “In Turkey, they have a lot of animal diseases, including foot and mouth disease, which would be catastrophic if it was transported to Cyprus,” he told the Cyprus Mail.

    To combat the problem, a law was passed in 1975 banning animal movement between the government controlled areas and the occupied north, because authorities were unable to keep checks on animals entering the north. This law allows for animals coming from the north to be put down, he said.

    “We assess the situation and determine whether or not the dangers of contamination are great enough to have the animal put down or simply quarantined,” he said.

    Neophytou said no pets had ever been put down, but other animals have after people tried to smuggle cattle, goats and sheep into the free areas.

    “This is a very serious matter,” stressed Neophytou. “The danger of spreading disease from the occupied areas is a very real threat. Police have been notified to inform the Veterinary Services if any animal crosses back to the free areas, so it can be picked up. After that, we will assess the situation and decide what to do. However, we do not even have to carry out tests before being allowed to put it down.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 6, 2003

    [06] Strovilia power to be cut for a day as concerns rise over status of checkpoint village

    By Sofia Kannas

    GREEK Cypriots living in the checkpoint village of Strovilia will have their power supply cut for a day, Dherynia Mayor Andreas Siabanis said yesterday.

    The news comes as the government continues to voice concerns over new Turkish violations of the status quo in Strovilia after reports earlier this week that residents in the area were being forced to submit applications to the occupying regime for the resumption of their power supply.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail after a visit to the checkpoint yesterday, the Mayor said authorities in the north had assured electricity would be cut to residents in the handful of homes near the checkpoint for no longer than a day. “A representative of the army and a representative of the Turkish Cypriot electricity authority told us they would cut the electricity for one day only,” he said. “But this isn’t really the problem. From what I understand, the main issue is that they (the Greek Cypriot residents) are being asked to apply to the occupying authorities to be reconnected to the power supply. But the question is, doesn’t this constitute some sort of recognition of the occupying forces? This is what is troubling people in the area.”

    Siabanis added: “We will wait and see what develops.”

    British Bases spokesman Rob Need reiterated yesterday that Strovilia lay beyond the bases’ jurisdiction.

    “The bases have nothing to do with Strovilia,” he said. “Strovilia is a disputed area alongside the bases. There is nothing the bases can do to resolve the situation -- Strovilia adjoins our boundary, but we don’t have an actual border,” he added.

    Need also rubbished local press reports claiming Turkish occupying forces had encroached on bases boundaries at Strovilia.

    “Our boundaries are checked every year by a team using satellite systems, and that area is checked in minute detail. There has not been an encroachment and what was being put out on local television is not true,” he added.

    Speaking after successive meetings yesterday with Zbigniew Wlosowicz, the acting Cyprus representative of UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, United States Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson and British High Commissioner Lyn Parker, Foreign Minister George Iacovou said the three diplomats had “accepted our government’s position as regards the status quo in the area.”

    Wlosowicz expressed the United Nations’ concern at the situation in Strovilia village.

    “The latest developments in Strovilia are worrying and we are not happy with what is happening there,” he told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA). “We have made (our position) clear in all our contacts with the Turkish Cypriot authorities.

    “There is a lot happening on the island at the moment and I hope the Strovilia issue will not disturb this,” he said.

    Meanwhile, President Tassos Papadopoulos yesterday expressed the view that the mention made to the developments in the Secretary-general’s report on the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate in Cyprus was insufficient.

    He said Kofi Annan’s report, issued on Monday, “just notes that the violation in Strovilia is going on,” adding that the in the government’s view “ (it) should say that the provocation (by) Turkish troops is continuing.”

    Papadopoulos added that efforts were being made to ensure a UN Security Council resolution made reference to the issue, “because what is included in the Secretary-general’s report does not satisfy us”.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 6, 2003

    [07] Deputies seek to streamline debt bill

    By a Staff Reporter

    THE House Legal Affairs Committee yesterday rejected a government bill to stop jailing people for debts, arguing the procedures provided in the draft were time consuming.

    It had until recently been common practice to grant reprieve to people who had defaulted on their debts, but all has changed since new Attorney- general Solon Nikitas ruled the practice was unconstitutional.

    Faced with the danger of thousands of debtors suddenly finding themselves behind bars, the government pledged to amend the law in line with the constitution and practices in European countries.

    Speaking after the committee meeting yesterday, DISY deputy Ionas Nicolaou said a sub-committee would be meeting on Monday to look into finding a procedure that would not be so long in order for the bill to be passed next Thursday.

    Nicolaou said the committee had its reservations concerning the procedure and the time needed for a court to issue a decision suspending or amending a payment order.

    “The procedures provided in the bill would be time consuming to a point where they could possibly create problems in safeguarding the necessary economic balances between debtors and creditors,” Nicolaou said.

    He said the committee wanted to protect debtors who really could not pay their monthly instalments so that they would not end up in jail.

    Nicolaou added that during discussions it had transpired that there were debtors who were ordered to pay monthly instalments when their only income came from welfare; these were just the kind of people than risked ending up in jail under the current regime.

    AKEL deputy Ayis Agapiou said there would be practical problems in implementing the legislation if it were approved as submitted.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 6, 2003

    [08] New deadline for Turkey to pay up in Loizidou case

    By a Staff Reporter

    A MINISTERIAL Committee of the Council of Europe (CoE) decided on Wednesday that Turkey had two weeks to announce that it would compensate Greek Cypriot refugee Titina Loizidou by October, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday.

    The decision follows speculation at the end of last month that Turkey would be formally presenting an offer to pay Kyrenia property owner Loizidou at the beginning of the month.

    In 1998, Loizidou was awarded $640,000 in damages, and $374,000 in costs by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The court accepted her case that she had been denied her rights to her property by Turkey, the occupying force.

    Chrysostomides noted that if Turkey did not agree to pay the stipulated sum within 15 days of the decision, then a further condemnatory decision would follow from the Ministerial Committee.

    The spokesman added that during Wednesday’s meeting, the Turkish position had been primarily the postponement of the compensation payment.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 6, 2003

    [09] Study shows high pollution in cities but low levels of CO2

    By Alex Mita

    SCIENTISTS studying the quality of the air throughout the island said yesterday that preliminary tests in the Nicosia district showed high levels of pollutants in congested areas.

    The air quality is being assessed throughout Cyprus in a project financed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

    The project has been implemented in the north and the government controlled areas and was carried out by the University of Stuttgart.

    Speaking at a news conference yesterday, project leader Professor Guenter Baumbach said it was of interest to everyone to know what exactly we were breathing every day.

    “Air pollutants emitted in one part of the island also affect the other parts, depending on meteorological conditions such as wind direction and speed,” he said.

    Baumbach said some of the main objectives of the project were to assist Cyprus to optimise the ambient air quality-monitoring network in order to comply with the relevant directives of the European Union, and to increase public awareness on the issues of urban and rural air pollution.

    Among the tasks carried out by the project were emissions inventories for traffic pollution, industrial sources and domestic heating and the investigation of hydrocarbon concentrations, especially benzene.

    “A Zeppelin balloon equipped with special extra light measurement instruments to measure the wind and pollutants distribution was used in the period February-March and May-June in Nicosia and Limassol,” he said.

    Baumbach said the first results of the study showed higher pollutant concentrations in the cities and higher Sulphur Oxides around the power plants, but added that carbon dioxide levels were low nearly everywhere.

    Baumbach said the long lasting effects of the project would be an optimised air quality monitoring network and a solid knowledge base of the air quality of the island that would allow the development of air management strategies and policies for Cyprus.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 6, 2003

    [10] No chance of Famagusta port being used to export Turkish Cypriot goods

    By a Staff Reporter

    THERE is no chance of Turkish Cypriot products being exported through illegal ports and airports in the occupied areas, the government said yesterday.

    “The ports issue is a sovereignty issue and there is no chance the Republic of Cyprus would allow exports from illegal ports and airports of the Republic,” Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said.

    This position was echoed by other government sources who dispelled any doubts concerning the concessions the government was willing to make on the issue.

    “There is no issue of authorising anyone to operate the Famagusta port, even with the exchange of Varosha,” a government source said.

    It has been mooted in European circles that Turkish Cypriot goods could be exported from the port of Famagusta, which could be placed under the control of the United Nations, or the European Union or a non-governmental organisation.

    But despite having the political will to aid the movement of goods from the occupied areas to the EU, the source said, the government would not have any discussion concerning the use of the Famagusta port, stressing the responsibility the Republic has towards the EU in relation to quality checks and fulfilment of the European standards.

    Even the Turkish Cypriot chamber of commerce, which it has been agreed would certify the products before they were exported from government- controlled ports, insisted that the port of Famagusta should be used.

    Commenting on statements made by the chamber’s chairman Ali Erel, Chrysostomides said Erel “was mistaken if he thought there would be any concession on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus, which has a duty of safeguarding the state’s sovereignty, in the matter of the ports”.

    Concerning the issue of health certificates for Turkish Cypriot products, the spokesman said arrangements would be made between Cyprus and the EU.

    He stressed however that any arrangements would have to be approved by the government.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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