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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 03-06-27

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

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


Friday, June 27, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Petrol strike called off as House cuts fuel prices
  • [02] Deal with union on refinery staff
  • [03] Light plane crashes into the sea off Larnaca
  • [04] Kyrenia beach bacteria warning
  • [05] Bankruptcy law left to wait until the autumn
  • [06] Government brushes off Gul comments that problem could be solved ‘by end of summer’
  • [07] Government launches new drugs strategy
  • [08] Haji-Ioannou finds judge not so easy-going
  • [09] Greenpeace blames Cyprus for expulsion from UN body
  • [10] Last-ditch effort to avert hotel strike

  • [01] Petrol strike called off as House cuts fuel prices

    By Alex Mita

    THE indefinite petrol station strike scheduled to start today was called off yesterday after operators agreed to a government proposal for an independent study to be carried out to determine whether they should receive extra commission.

    The decision came after a marathon meeting held between oil companies, Commerce and Industry Minister George Lillikas and the Pancyprian Association of Petrol Station Operators yesterday.

    Earlier, thousands of motorists had queued at petrol stations to fill up their tanks in anticipation of the strike, only for Parliament to cut the price of fuel by two cents a litre last night.

    The government had initially suggested the reduction of petrol prices by one cent, but the House of Representatives suggested a two-cent reduction instead. The changes came into immediate effect.

    A litre of 98 octane leaded petrol now costs 42 cents, 98 octane Unleaded super falls to 40.8 cents a litre, while 95 octane unleaded petrol costs just 39.8 cents per litre. The cost of household gas was also cut by £15 to £275 per metric ton.

    The petrol station dispute, which centred around the renewal of a collective agreement between operators and oil companies, was sparked off when the association demanded that oil companies pay an extra £20,000 a year to each petrol station in order to cover their operational costs.

    Both station operators and oil companies maintained they had carried out studies to support their respective arguments, and the government was asked to mediate between the two in order to reach an agreement.

    But although oil companies agreed on a Ministry suggestion for an independent study to determine who was right, petrol station operators refused, saying the study would take too long. Yesterday, the association of operators finally agreed to have the study carried out.

    In statements shortly after the meeting with Lillikas, Association President Pambinos Charalambous said he was delighted that station operators would not have to strike, and apologised to the public for any inconvenience caused.

    “The measures have been lifted, effective immediately,” Charalambous said.

    “We have accepted a proposal by the Commerce and Industry Minister for a study to be carried out by an independent expert on the issues that we disagreed on.

    “Oil companies have already begun supplying petrol stations, so that there will be no problems.”

    Lillikas also expressed his satisfaction on reaching an agreement with the operators, saying differences over the study had been resolved.

    “The study will cover three sectors that have to do with the number of employees required by station operators, wages of new employees and income received from operating their car wash,” he said.

    Lillikas said the study would be completed by the end of July and would be binding to all parties.

    Speaking on behalf of the oil companies, Petrolina Managing Adviser Kikis Lefkaritis said he was pleased with the outcome and that all parties would adhere to the agreement.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 27, 2003

    [02] Deal with union on refinery staff

    By Alex Mita

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday reached agreement with employees of the Cyprus Petroleum Refinery Ltd (CPRL) on measures to assist those of them who will be made redundant when the facility is put out of commission next year.

    The move follows the government’s decision to shelve plans to upgrade the refinery to produce EU standard low sulphur fuels, instead turning the refinery grounds into a fuel import terminal until the completion of an energy centre at Vassiliko in 2008.

    The decision to cancel the multi-million pound upgrade means the refinery will have to be closed down upon the island’s accession to the EU on May 1 next year, since it will not meet EU standards. Around 125 refinery employees will lose their jobs.

    But a meeting yesterday between Commerce and Industry Minister George Lillikas and unions representing refinery employees’ unions resulted in agreement between the two parties and a pledge by the government to help those made redundant - either by hiring them to run the fuel terminal or compensating them in case they cannot be re-employed.

    Speaking at a news conference shortly after the meeting, SEK Deputy Permanent Secretary Nicos Moyseos said agreement had been reached on topics that would be discussed regarding the future of the employees.

    “We have reached an agreement on principles that set the topics to be discussed as well as commitments taken by the minister on behalf of the government, and we will continue our discussion for the implementation of this agreement with the management of the refinery,” Moyseos said.

    “The agreement that will be achieved will be approved by the Minister and it binding on the government.”

    Moyseos said the deal was based on terms demanded by the employees.

    “The first principle is that the staff employed at the new terminal should consist of staff from the refinery,” Moyeos said.

    “There will also be discussions on the compensation that will be given to employees who will be made redundant and there will be efforts by the government to find jobs for all those people.

    “Of course we don’t want to break the law and therefore we understand that the refinery staff can’t be transferred to government positions without the necessary procedures.”

    Moyseos said unions would also speak to Lillikas about the issue of the dismissal of 17 short-term contract staff last week.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 27, 2003

    [03] Light plane crashes into the sea off Larnaca

    By a Staff Reporter

    A 61-YEAR-old father and his son aged 35 escaped without injury yesterday after they were forced to bring down their twin-engine light aircraft into the sea off Mackenzie beach in Larnaca, around two nautical miles from the airport.

    Demetris Hadjidemetriou and his son Marios, a Cyprus Airways pilot, were rescued and rushed to hospital with no serious injuries.

    No swimmers were injured during the incident.

    A police spokesman said the accident occurred after one of the Piper Navajo’s engines failed as it was approaching the airport for landing.

    Eyewitnesses said the plane began losing altitude just two nautical miles from the runway and then took a nose-dive into the sea.

    “There was a technical problem, a malfunction of the engine; it’s harder to operate with one engine, but we managed to bring it down in the sea,” Marios said.

    His father, a retired teacher, said that after they crashed into the sea he managed to escape from a broken window while his son went out of the emergency exit.

    They were rescued by lifeguards, who scrambled to the scene using jet skis and other vessels.

    The Piper crashed around 200 metres off the coast, 45 minutes after the pilot radioed the control tower that one of his engines had failed.

    A police helicopter and two patrol boats also arrived on the scene soon afterwards.

    The aircraft sank to the bottom of the sea, at a depth of around 3.5 metres, police said.

    The Civil Aviation department has already launched an inquiry into the accident to determine the exact cause of the crash, which will be probably revealed after the Piper is raised from the bottom of the sea.

    Reports said authorities were considering using a floating crane or a huge Russian helicopter, currently used for fire-fighting purposes, to recover the wreck.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 27, 2003

    [04] Kyrenia beach bacteria warning

    By a Staff Reporter

    A TURKISH Cypriot newspaper has reported that water at a Kyrenia beach is polluted with highly infectious bacteria that cause intestinal disruptions.

    Ortam reported that microbiological analysis had shown that the waters of Kyrenia municipality’s public beach were polluted with colon bacillus.

    Colon bacillus is described as “a rod-shaped bacterium… found in all vertebrate intestinal tracts, but which can be virulent, causing diarrhoea and other dysenteric symptoms. Its presence in water is an indicator of faecal contamination.”

    A team from the health services unit at Kyrenia ‘municipality’ have visited the area and put up warning signs for would-be swimmers. The signs said entering the water could be hazardous due to the bacilli. The authorities also sealed up the toilets and ordered the person who runs the facilities to cease every activity.

    The government’s health inspection services in the free areas said they had no information on the subject, but a spokesman said pollution of this kind of bacteria normally derived from sewage, as there had to be large quantities of the infection to be made apparent in the sea.

    “Faecal coli affects both the young and old, causing intestinal upsets. It usually comes from sewage and there has to be substantial quantities in the sea for it to become infectious because otherwise it would be dissolved.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 27, 2003

    [05] Bankruptcy law left to wait until the autumn

    By George Psyllides

    DISCUSSION on an amendment to the antiquated law on bankruptcy was yesterday shelved by the House Legal Affairs committee until after the summer holidays, pending an in depth study from the company registrar.

    DISY deputy and former company registrar Maria Kyriacou told the committee that bankruptcies had increased in Cyprus, requiring an overhaul of the relevant law, which dates back to 1931.

    “Those who go bankrupt in Cyprus remain bankrupt for ever; the first bankruptcy case was in 1933 and the person is still bankrupt,” Kyriacou said.

    Last year, 358 people and 190 companies declared bankruptcy and by April this year, 124 people and 43 companies had gone under, according to the company registrar.

    The amendment aims at reinstating bankrupts and securing basic items for them and their families to continue working.

    According to the bill, a bankrupt with assets under £200 would be automatically reinstated after two years, while a bankrupt with over £200 in assets would be restored in three years time. A bankrupt who had committed criminal offences would take from five to 15 years before reinstatement, and only after applying before a court.

    Kyriacou said bankruptcy was a legal procedure and not a punishment, adding people should be allowed a fresh start in life.

    The bill is modelled on the UK system where bankrupts, unlike in Cyprus, are allowed to keep their vehicles in order to carry on working.

    In Cyprus, Kyriacou said, a car worth £200 to £300 could end up in a junkyard when it could have been used by the bankrupt.

    The bill further provides that life insurance policies belonging to bankrupts would not be cancelled, but could be transferred to benefit their families.

    The proposed legislation also specifies that tools, books, and any other equipment necessary to the bankrupts for personal use in their work would not be seized, nor would clothing, bed linen, furniture and other house appliances.

    Kyriacou said the bill aimed at expediting bureaucratic procedures by scrapping the need for the official receiver to draft reports on individual cases.

    In Britain, Kyriacou said, the official receiver spent eight hours on each case before they were handed over to private firms for the rest.

    Company Registrar Stalo Papaioannou told the committee that more time was needed for an in-depth study of the bill, which in her opinion did not constitute the comprehensive modernisation that the bankruptcy legislation needed.

    Speaking after the meeting, however, Kyriacou said the bill had already been studied by the law commissioner, and could not say why there was a delay in its submission.

    The issue is due to be discussed again in September.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 27, 2003

    [06] Government brushes off Gul comments that problem could be solved ‘by end of summer’

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT said yesterday that statements by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul that the Cyprus problem could be solved by the end of the summer were meaningless.

    “I do not know what Mr Gul knows and why he is making these kind of statements. The Turkish and Turkish Cypriot side have withdrawn from the talks procedure at The Hague and after. I cannot understand on what he bases his prediction for a solution before the end of this summer,” spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said, adding that Turkey’s standard policy was to “confuse things” so it could gain diplomatic advantage.

    Chrysostomides reiterated the Greek Cypriot side’s readiness to resume negotiations based on the UN Secretary-general’s peace plan.

    “We wish it was possible (for the Cyprus problem to be solved by the end of this summer),” he said. “We are ready to resume negotiations whenever it is considered sensible by the Secretary-general.”

    The race is on for a solution to be found by next May, when Cyprus enters the EU. The international community wants a reunited island to join the bloc, but Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has declared the UN plan dead and buried.

    The international community, led by the US, is currently making a new push to have the talks resume by September or October, so a solution can be reached by next March and referendums held on both sides in April. The US says even Turkey is willing to join the push for a settlement and speculation is growing that Denktash will be sidelined during elections in the north in December.

    On Wednesday, US President George Bush agreed with a suggestion by European Council President, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, for a common effort by the EU and the US to find a solution.

    Chrysostomides told reporters that the Cyprus issue had been discussed during the EU-USA European summit in Washington on Wednesday. “Mr Simitis’ statements are clear. There was a suggestion on the part of Mr Simitis for a joint effort to resume negotiations based on the Annan plan and Mr Bush seems to have agreed and said he will try once again,” he said.

    Denktash said yesterday it would be futile to expect the Greek Cypriot leadership, “which was convinced that it would enter the EU representing whole Cyprus and being the government of Cyprus, whether or not there is compromise,” to set up a new partnership with the Turkish Cypriots on Cyprus.

    Denktash was responding to statements by President Tassos Papadopoulos that Cyprus would enter the EU with or without a solution.

    Denktash said the Greek Cypriot “administration” considered itself as the government of Cyprus, and the Turkish Cypriots as “minority living under occupation”.

    “We have objected to the philosophy of Annan plan and continue to do so. Because this philosophy is wrong and it foresees a philosophy based on Greek Cypriot domination in Cyprus,” Denktash said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 27, 2003

    [07] Government launches new drugs strategy

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday announced it has started implementing a national drug strategy to stamp out what has become a growing problem in Cyprus society.

    Health Minister Dina Akkelidou said the increase in the use and spread of narcotics was primarily due to the lack of state policy to combat the phenomenon. The government has now prepared its ‘Strategy and Action Plan for Drugs’ for the period 2003-2007, she said.

    Akkelidou, who is also Chairman of the Cyprus Anti-drug Council, outlined some of the basic problems, including the increase of drug use among young people, the growing demand for treatment and the absence of drug detoxification and rehabilitation centres.

    As part of the new strategy, a National Drug Monitoring and Information Centre will be set up, which will be linked to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction in Lisbon, she said.

    Akkelidou said the Cabinet had recently approved the Ministry’s proposal for three new structures: physical detoxification, psychological rehabilitation and social reintegration, and treatment communities for minors. The deadline for their implementation has been set for the end of this year, she added.

    Statistics have shown that a growing number of teenagers are now using drugs, with 50 per cent of 15-19-year-old drug users using heroine. In one recent case, a nine-year-old girl was found to be abusing drugs. Referring to the case, Akkelidou said it was “tragic” and “harrowing” that someone could get involved in such a dangerous web at such a tender age.

    Some people have also linked increasing drug use among minors with an increase in petty crime over past years and have called for the government to penalise such offenders. But the scientific committee chairman of the national strategy plan, Andreas Demetriou, said minors arrested for drug use would not go to jail. “Instead the judge will tell them a drug rehabilitation programme exists and will send them to join it,” he said.

    Demetriou said treating just one user would prevent four more from being born, because the primary user would not lead others to drugs.

    The new policy aims to increase the number of addicts being treated and to ease their reintegration into society through the creation of adult and minor rehabilitation centres, said Akkelidou. It is the first time such a venture has been undertaken in Cyprus, she said.

    The minister added that the strategy also aimed to reduce drug demand so that fewer younger people started using illegal substances. This will also reduce deaths and other consequences associated with drug use, such as the spread of transmittable diseases like AIDS.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 27, 2003

    [08] Haji-Ioannou finds judge not so easy-going

    By Jean Christou

    THE U.K. Trademark Registry yesterday issued a landmark ruling against easyGroup and its founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou in their attempts to prevent Easybroker International, a company owned by a London-based Cypriot from using the word ‘easy’ in its trademark.

    The ruling is expected to make it far harder for easyGroup to bring cases against small companies using the word “easy”, said a statement from Easybroker’s spokesman John Norris.

    Easybroker is a UK, FSA-regulated, equity brokerage with an extensive European client base of financial institutions, and does not deal with the retail market. Easybroker was founded before easyGroup, the statement said. The company enables banks, buy-side firms and brokers to trade securities in more than 70 markets from a single account.

    Easybroker was founded by Savvas Liasis and began trading in February 1999, but did not apply to register its trademark until 2001, when Haji-Ioannou started legal proceedings to block it, Norris said.

    Norris said the initial stage of the legal proceedings went before the UK Trademark Registry on May 23, though Easybroker had made attempts to settle the matter amicably, he said. “The families of the two companies’ founders are Greek Cypriots and have known each other a long time, making this a personal issue, as well as a business dispute,” the statement said.

    “Because the previous targets Haji-Ioannou has picked are mostly small companies, they don’t have the resources or the appetite to fight easyGroup in the courts, though the World Intellectual Property Organisation previously ruled that ‘easy’ is a common word and no company can claim rights over it.”

    He said this ruling had been underlined by the UK High Court, which has informed the easyGroup that it had no rights over the word “easy” and could not prevent anyone from registering a company or domain using the word. Haji-Ioannou recently backed down over a similar case, a legal battle with online art retailer Easyart.

    “It has really been a question of bullying,” said Liasis. “Not all of easyGroup’s targets have been in the fortunate position of Easybroker in being able to afford to stand up to this. We are pleased by such an unambiguous ruling at such an early stage, and while easyGroup has the option to appeal to the High Court, Easybroker has already put resource into this and has the capacity to continue to do so.”

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 27, 2003

    [09] Greenpeace blames Cyprus for expulsion from UN body

    By Jean Christou

    GREENPEACE has singled out Cyprus among several countries it blames for having it booted out of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

    The IMO is the United Nations Specialised Agency with responsibility for the safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

    Last Friday, the 40-member organisation, in a move Greenpeace says was sponsored by, among others, Cyprus and Australia, removed the environmental group’s decade-old status as an observer without a vote.

    “Cyprus along with co-complainant Turkey are among the ‘flag of convenience’ states which have met criticism from Greenpeace for their willingness to license substandard and dangerous oil tankers,” a statement on the group’s website said.

    “Despite the façade of noble purpose, the IMO is in fact financially dependent on the tanker industry,” the statement added. The dues paid by each country are determined by the tonnage of their respective fleets, which makes the large flag of convenience countries -- Panama, Liberia, Greece, Cyprus, and others -- the largest contributors; in turn, the oil companies often pay these dues and will even represent these countries directly at the IMO.”

    The IMO said the withdrawal of the consultative status of Greenpeace was taken “in the course of its regular review of Non-Governmental Organisations in Consultative Status”. Sixty-one NGOs have observer status at the IMO.

    The statement, which gave no indication for the reasons behind the move, said a final decision would be made by the IMO Assembly in November.

    It is widely believed in the global shipping industry that Greenpeace’s banishment is a punishment for its controversial actions at sea, which many in the industry consider to be dangerous.

    “The shipping industry has been trying to brand Greenpeace actions as ‘dangerous’ for years, despite the fact that the real dangers are the cargoes such as oil, plutonium, and toxic wastes, which we take action against,” Greenpeace said.

    ‘Removing Greenpeace from the IMO simply demonstrates the unfettered powers of the oil industry and multinational corporations in today’s world,” it added in its statement. “The move threatens to evict a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the protection of the world’s oceans from a United Nations body which is, ummm, dedicated to the protection of the world’s oceans.”

    Sources in the Shipping Department said yesterday that Cyprus voted neither for nor against Greenpeace at the IMO session. The job of the Cypriot IMO representative was to read out the procedural rules. “Cyprus didn’t take any position but not one of the other 39 members supported the Greenpeace position,” the source said. “The number of countries that spoke out against them forced the chair to issue the suspension.”

    The source said the general opinion at the IMO was that Greenpeace often acted irresponsibly, and he was not surprised at the IMO decision. “They (Greenpeace) are very naïve on basic things,” the source said. “They could have achieved much more if they had better leadership.”

    The sources also hit back at Greenpeace’s attack on the Cyprus registry, saying that Cyprus was among very few countries in the IMO that had not given any exemptions to older tankers, something that is allowed under IMO regulations.

    “Although the regulations allow exemptions we have declared that we will not declare any exemptions and in addition we have committed ourselves that no such tankers with such exemptions will be allowed to call at Cypriot ports,” the sources said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003

    Friday, June 27, 2003

    [10] Last-ditch effort to avert hotel strike

    By Sofia Kannas

    REPRESENTATIVES of the Cyprus Hotel Association (PASYXE) and hotel employees’ unions SEK and PEO will give their response to a Labour Ministry proposal for a solution to the dispute over the renewal of a worker- employer collective agreement within the next few days, a union leader said yesterday.

    Members of all parties involved in the long-running dispute were presented yesterday with written suggestions and clarifications of certain aspects contained in the Ministry’s proposal, in a last-ditch attempt to achieve a breakthrough and avert strike action.

    The General Secretary of the SEK-affiliated Hotel Employees’ Federation, Nicos Epistithiou, told the Cyprus Mail that Labour Minister Makis Keravos and head of the Industrial Relations Department Charalambos Kolokotronis had given both sides a set of “detailed clarifications” to consider.

    “Both sides met this morning and decided to give an answer in a couple of days,” he said. “PASYXE will answer on Saturday. We (SEK) had a short meeting before leaving the Labour Ministry and we are going to hold a council meeting at 11am on Monday. We will give our final answer to the Ministry after this.”

    Director General of PASYXE Zacharias Ioannides said his organisation would call an extraordinary general meeting at 2pm today, in order to reach a decision on the proposal.

    “We will decide what to do next after the meeting,” he said.

    Hotel employees had originally been scheduled to strike on Tuesday, in protest against the continuing refusal of hoteliers to accept a collective agreement already approved by hotel workers earlier in the year. But industrial action was called off by hotel workers’ unions on Monday and the strike postponed until the end of the month after talks between the Ministry, hoteliers and employees.

    PASYXE rejected previous draft proposals from the Ministry, presented in January and May, claiming they did not safeguard concessions gained by hoteliers in a 1998 collective agreement.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2003


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