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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-12-07

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


CONTENTS

  • [01] Talks resume with Denktash protest
  • [02] Briton jailed for Ayia Napa attack
  • [03] Ergates residents step up protests as concern also voiced over crop pollution
  • [04] CY millennium test successful
  • [05] Ship inspections highlight deficiencies
  • [06] Wind power appeal
  • [07] Drug tenders 'unethical but not illegal'

  • [01] Talks resume with Denktash protest

    By Anthony Goodman

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash complained to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday over reported remarks by Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos that Cyprus "is Greek, it will be Greek."

    Denktash first disclosed his intention to lodge a protest on arriving at UN headquarters for another round of indirect talks, which began on Friday, aimed at ending the division of Cyprus.

    Annan had earlier conferred with Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides, internationally recognised as the president of Cyprus, who said nothing to reporters either on his arrival or departure.

    The United Nations has clamped a news blackout on the talks to try to avert any public disclosures or mutual recriminations.

    When Denktash was asked as he left what response he had received to his complaint, he replied: "Well, I think the response is that all sides should shut up while the talks are continuing."

    Questioned on his arrival by a Greek Cypriot reporter whether he was happy to be back, Denktash said:

    "I am going to take to the secretary-general the statement of the president of Greece that Cyprus is Greek, it will be Greek and he is on the way to making it Greek. Naturally, through the EU," Denktash added.

    He said that was why President Stephanopoulos was "ardently supporting what he knows as Cyprus's application -- which is a Greek Cypriot application. That is why Greek Cypriots are so ardently interested in taking what they call Cyprus into the EU."

    "We are going to make this little complaint. I thought you should know it," Denktash added.

    Asked whether the Greek president's remarks would affect the current talks, he replied: "No, no. Nothing will affect..."

    Denktash has long disputed Clerides's recognition by the international community as president of the whole of Cyprus, including his application for EU membership on behalf of the entire divided island.

    Greece is a member of the 15-nation EU while Turkey is not, though it is hoping to have its candidacy accepted at an EU summit in Helsinki on December 10-11.

    Turkish Cypriots have argued that if Cyprus were admitted into the EU -- something that is still being negotiated -- this would in effect unite it with Greece through their common EU membership.

    Denktash told a questioner Stephanopoulos made the reported comments on December 1 -- he did not say where or under what circumstances -- but that he had received the text only on Sunday.

    Asked on his departure about how the indirect talks were proceeding, Denktash gave a one-word answer -- "blackout" -- a reference to the UN requested ban on any leaks.

    He repeated the word when asked if he raised the issue of reuniting Cyprus as a confederation -- a union of two independent states that would involve recognising the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus proclaimed in 1983 with Denktash as president but recognised only by Turkey.

    Denktash first put forward the idea of a confederation in a paper he issued in August last year.

    UN Security Council resolutions say a Cyprus solution must be based on a bi-zonal, bi-zonal federation -- a closer form of union than a confederation that does not involve two independent states.

    Denktash said another round of talks would be conducted today by the UN chief's special adviser on Cyprus, Under-Secretary-General Alvaro de Soto, in Annan's absence on a trip to Canada.

    Asked about the extent of any any progress in the talks so far, he said: "They (the United Nations) are trying to make the ground for progress." UN officials were "not yet" informing him of what the Greek Cypriot side was saying, he added.

    UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said he could not announce anything about the substance of the talks because of the blackout imposed by Annan.

    "The talks will continue on a daily basis, first with one party and then with the other, and will continue until they feel they can no longer make progress, or until they have a breakthrough to announce," he said.

    Yesterday's separate meetings lasted about an hour each.

    Before the first round of meetings on Friday, Annan said he did not expect "a miraculous solution." He said the thrust of the talks would be to reach agreement on the core issues of the division of powers, security, territory and property rights.

    [02] Briton jailed for Ayia Napa attack

    By Martin Hellicar

    A BRITISH property surveyor was yesterday sentenced to two years imprisonment for an attack in an Ayia Napa disco, which left a local chef in a wheelchair.

    Thirty-year-old Gavin Gallimore from Essex appeared calm as the three-judge bench of the criminal court, convening in Larnaca, passed sentence for an attack on 28-year-old Loukas Ioannou in the early hours of August 3.

    Gallimore had pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Ioannou, from Peristerona outside Nicosia.

    The court has heard that there is no chance Ioannou will ever recover enough from injuries suffered in the Ayia Napa attack to return to work.

    Gallimore assaulted Ioannou after the chef had accidentally bumped into him in a crowded nightclub. He shoved Ioannou with both hands, sending him crashing into the disco bar head first, the court heard.

    Ioannou has been an in-patient at the Palodia treatment centre ever since.

    In September, Gallimore had pleaded not guilty to charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He changed his plea to guilty on Monday last week after the prosecution reduced the charges to grievous bodily harm.

    In pleading for mitigation, Gallimore's lawyer, Andreas Mathikolonis, told the court the attack had been the result of a "momentary outburst" on the part of his client. Gallimore was otherwise a trustworthy and non-violent person, Mathikolonis stated.

    [03] Ergates residents step up protests as concern also voiced over crop pollution

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE PEOPLE of Ergates yesterday rebelled against government refusal to close the Marios and Andreas foundry, which, according to medical tests, has poisoned them with lead, cadmium and possibly dioxin, and threatens to give them all cancer.

    Meanwhile, the doctor whose tests documented the villagers' blood poisoning said yesterday it was urgent for the government to test the vegetables grown near Ergates, lest they contain the same noxious foundry chemicals.

    Agriculture Department sources told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that one to two per cent of the leafy vegetables - coriander, spinach, lettuce, parsley and celery - grown in Cyprus came from Ergates.

    Most of the Ergates vegetables are sold in Nicosia supermarkets and small stores, while some are exported, the sources said. They added that the Agriculture Department had never tested the Ergates-grown vegetables to see if they were contaminated by toxins in Marios &amp; Andreas foundry smoke.

    Meanwhile, local people yesterday stepped up their protests against the foundry pollution. Members of the Ergates Municipal Council pledged to resign over the affair, residents threatened to hand back voter-registration booklets, and children in one primary school stayed away for three hours, while 90 pupils left classes in nearby Klirou village in solidarity.

    "What we're doing today is just a warning," Kyriacos Christodoulou, chairman of the Ergates Parents Association, said, urging the government to halt the foundry's pollution.

    "We believe that at least we're going to get some attention," he said, noting: "What the kids are chanting is directed at the executive, which has to take measures so that these kids will live in a healthy environment."

    "I hope the Minister of Labour understands that we can't play with the residents' health, and I hope the Minister of Education (Ouranios) Ioannides, who is very sensitive on these issues, tries his best to close the foundry," Christodoulou said.

    "It is unacceptable for us to have it in this community, to have triple the level of lead and five times the cadmium (as in Nicosia) in our blood, living in the countryside, where it is supposedly a cleaner environment," he declared.

    Ioannides, backing the angry residents, declared: "Our position is crystal-clear. For all cases of environmental pollution from industrial units, whether the Ergates foundry or the Nemitsas foundry (in Zakaki) or whatever else, our position is absolute: Wherever the emissions are over the limits set by the European Union, then the foundry has to close until it takes all measures necessary to keep emissions to acceptable levels. Nothing more, nothing less."

    European Union levels for foundry emissions are as low as 50 milligrams of smoke particulate per cubic metre of air around the smokestacks. The Labour Ministry has set the Cyprus limit at 300mg per cubic metre of air.

    Dr Michalis Voniatis, who has documented the blood poisoning of Ergates villagers, said yesterday no one knew if, or how badly, Ergates fields and vegetables might be contaminated by the lead, cadmium and possible dioxin in the settling foundry smoke.

    "We don't have any facts. We haven't done any tests on vegetables or on fruit produced there, so I can't give an answer. Of course they can be done by the state laboratory, but I don't think they've ever been done," he said.

    Voniatis said he urged Parliament "long ago" to require the Agriculture Department to test Ergates' soil and vegetables for heavy-metal contamination.

    Voniatis was emphatic that soil and vegetable tests were more urgently needed now than ever in Ergates, following the release of his latest test results on the heavy-metal blood poisoning of Ergates residents from the foundry.

    Those test results showed Ergates villagers have five times the cadmium and 2.5 times the lead in their blood as Nicosia residents, and that 62 per cent of them already have blood-lead levels above the World Health Organisation's critical level.

    Nicos Georgiades, Environment Services Director at the Agriculture Ministry, declared it was proof of "tunnel vision" to ask if the he had ever ordered, or would ever order, tests of Ergates' vegetables for foundry toxins.

    Such inquiry, he said, was equivalent to asking "how safe is safe, how clean is clean, how possible is possible, and so-on. I cannot talk on hypotheticals," Georgiades insisted.

    He conceded that, "Yes, we intend to test (Ergates soil and vegetables) on whatever parameters are required in order to make up our minds on the potential impacts from the foundry."

    Asked if this meant "impacts" on human health, he bristled: "No. Human health is an issue entirely concerning the Ministry of Health. What we intend to do is coordinate all the agencies involved on the various issues relating to the question, and try and make up our own minds."

    Georgiades said he didn't know when he would begin toxin tests of Ergates' soil and vegetables.

    "I cannot give you an idea. This is an issue to be considered in cooperation with other agencies_ It would be entirely irresponsible of me to commit another six or seven agencies" to an organised effort to conduct such tests, he said, adding: "We will be the lead agency" if any tests are ever conducted.

    The Labour Ministry, whose brief includes industrial pollution, has filed suit against Marios &amp; Andreas for allegedly exceeding the 300mg Cyprus emission standards. It has similarly sued the Nemitsas foundry in Zakaki on the same grounds.

    [04] CY millennium test successful

    CYPRUS Airways (CY) yesterday completed successful millennium bug testing on its aircraft, the airline said.

    At around 10am yesterday, an Airbus A-320 took off from Larnaca Airport manned by two pilots and one co-pilot. There were no passengers on board.

    An announcement from the airline said the plane's clocks and computer systems were reprogrammed to switch to Y2K conditions half an hour into the flight, which headed towards the Greek island of Rhodes.

    The pilots then went through their paces for two hours before returning to land successfully at Larnaca.

    "This flight has confirmed assurances by manufacturers Airbus Industrie of the Y2K compatibility of its aircraft," the CY statement said.

    In all, over 700 CY air and ground systems have been checked and given the okay or replaced as part of a three-year multi-million pound project involving over 70 experts.

    Although CY says its systems are compliant, concerns remain about flying on December 31 due to the possibility that air traffic systems of other countries may not be compliant.

    [05] Ship inspections highlight deficiencies

    By Jean Christou

    ALMOST 70 per cent of Cyprus-flagged vessels checked by the Department of Merchant Shipping in the third quarter of this year were deficient.

    In a report on its third quarter activities published yesterday, the Department said that between July and September 66 ships had been inspected and deficiencies found on 45.

    Twelve ships were inspected by departmental surveyors, all of which were deficient.

    Cypriot inspectors stationed at various ports around the world inspected 54 vessels and found deficiencies on 33.

    Special inspections were carried out on seven older ships, compared to five in the previous quarter.

    During the same period, the Departments conducted occasional audits on seven companies in accordance with the provisions of the International Safety management Code.

    In an effort to improve the safety record and the image of the Cyprus fleet - which ranks sixth in the world with 2,667 vessels - the government has reconsidered its policy on the registration of ships on the Cyprus Registry.

    The main steps to be taken from January 1 include a reduction in the age of ships that can be registered from 17 to 15 years.

    Other new measures will be introduced for fishing vessels. All Cypriot flagged trawlers will be required to obtain a licence from the Fisheries department, irrespective of whether they fish in or out of Cyprus' territorial waters. The new regulations are part of Cyprus's harmonisation with EU legislation, which aims at the preservation of the world's fishing stocks.

    The government has also introduced a new taxation regime for ship management services. Until recently, Cypriot ship management companies were taxed at the rate of 4.25 per cent on their net earnings. The new regime covers the three basic types of internationally accepted ship management services (crewing, technical and commercial management of ships).

    The new regime provides that no tax will be levied on companies for income derived from their services for the period ending December 31, 2020.

    Instead, companies will be levied on the tonnage of the ships to which they provide services.

    Companies will be given the choice in any fiscal year to opt for taxation under the new method or according to the island's income tax laws.

    [06] Wind power appeal

    By Martin Hellicar

    GREENPEACE yesterday urged the government to open the door to wind power and help fight the scourge of global warming.

    "Wind power is a very real and credible solution that can be adopted right now," Karl Mallon, Greenpeace's director of energy solutions, said at a Nicosia press conference yesterday morning.

    The international environmental pressure group presented a study suggesting ten per cent of the world's electricity needs could be met by wind power by the year 2020.

    Mallon said the Mediterranean basin was already beginning to feel the effects of global warming (prolonged droughts, flooding) and things would only get worse if nothing was done to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

    "At the present rate of fossil fuel consumption, in 30 years time we will be reaching the danger point, where ecosystems may no longer be able to cope," Mallon warned.

    Greenpeace believes that switching to clean, renewable energy sources need not cost the state a penny. Foreign companies would jump at the chance to sell power to the Electricity Authority (EAC) if there was a fixed, well-publicised, price offered, Mallon said. He said wind power was cheap enough to compete "aggressively" with the oil-generated equivalent in a liberalised market place.

    The executive director of the European Wind Energy Association, Arthouros Zavros, agreed.

    "It is not a question of the state doing it, the private sector, given the right framework, develops renewables," Zavros told the press conference.

    "Wind power is the great energy success story of last few years," he said, adding that the industry was now worth $2 billion a year and had grown by 66 per cent in 1998.

    Zavros said there was also a vast potential for using solar and biomass power in Cyprus.

    The key, Mallon said, was adopting a state policy that would open the way for renewables.

    "If the policy is right, then you can unlock a huge potential energy market," the Greenpeace expert said. Mallon said Germany, with a similar winds regime to Cyprus, topped the world wind power league.

    Greenpeace suggests the government consider renewables as an alternative to completing phases two and three of the new 1 billion Vassiliko power station.

    Commerce Ministry energy expert Ioannis Christis said the government was all for renewables and would allow private firms to sell power to the national grid.

    He said the ministry was currently drawing up a pricing system for private firms to sell power to the EAC. Christis said a German firm had already applied to start a wind farm and was currently carrying out trials in selected sites.

    EAC officer Achilleas Stephanou said the authority was carrying out its own wind energy trials. But he also questioned the reliability of wind power, suggesting winds were too variable to provide constant electricity flows.

    [07] Drug tenders 'unethical but not illegal'

    By Jean Christou

    THERE is no criminal case to answer in the tender procedures for the supply of the kidney drug Erythroetine, but there are some question marks concerning ethics, the Attorney-general's office has ruled.

    The ruling asked the Health Ministry to review the policy of allowing medical staff paid trips abroad at the expense of pharmaceutical companies because their position could influence decision making in the provision of medicine and medical equipment.

    A letter from Deputy Attorney-general Nicos Charalambous to the chief of police yesterday ruled that there had been failings in the tender process, but that none constituted a criminal offence.

    An investigation was launched into the tender procedures for the supply of the vital kidney drug after an uproar over the disappearance of stocks and the revelation that there had been a huge delay in replenishing them.

    An investigation then ruled that the Ministry had been too slow in securing fresh stocks, even though it was aware of the urgent need.

    Tenders went out in March this year for new supplies, but a contract was not signed until the following June, after the medicine had run out.

    The delay was said to have been caused by a court appeal by a company against the award of the tender to another firm. The appellant claimed its bid had been lower.

    Other accusations followed. A senior medical officer had allegedly used his influence in favour of the other company reportedly belonging to his father in law. The same official had allegedly tried to secure a trip to Argentina from the failed bidder and subsequently ignored the firm's offer when it was refused.

    There were also accusations relating to omissions and lack of proper procedures by officials, including the Accountant-general.

    According to the results of the investigation, the medical officer involved could only have been charged if it could be proved he was acting without legal power. This could not be done, the report said, because the official in question was appointed in 1995 as the person responsible for cooperation with the Tenders Board in relation to the supply of the kidney drug.

    "In the past years, the pharmaceutical services were asking and taking his view whenever there was a review of the tenders for Erythropoetine and his suggestions were accompanied by relevant reports from him," the letter said.

    "At the Tender Board on May 27, 1999 a top-level decision was taken during which the official was present following an invitation to be there from the Board Chairman."

    The report said the fact the medical officer was present had no criminal implications.

    It also said the bidder's accusation that the medical officer did not look into its bid due to its refusal to finance a trip to Argentina was not sufficient motive for the doctor to overlook the bidder's interests. "This has nothing to with the case," the report said.

    "If the officer allegedly asked the bidder to finance a trip to Argentina this is disciplinary issue." It suggested the Health Ministry look into this aspect of the case.

    "Following the police investigation, and according to a report by the Auditor-general, the decision taken to award the bid was the only one which could be taken legally because the offer by the accusing company did not fulfil the conditions for the bid," the report said.

    However, it also notes that the fact the bid did not fulfil the conditions was not mentioned in the assessment report for the pharmaceutical services.

    "The omission of the committee to spot that the bid didn't fulfil the conditions very evidently creates a lot of questions," the report said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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