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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-08-01

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

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


Thursday, August 1, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Annan invites leaders to meet him in Paris
  • [02] What happened to those promises?
  • [03] Paphos Bishop threatens to sue over beach photographs
  • [04] Sigma under fire for airing conversation with Archbishop
  • [05] Talks under way in bid to avert bank strike
  • [06] Cabinet postpones decision on CTO levy
  • [07] Licensed tour guides being run out of business
  • [08] JFK statue will not be at Hilton junction

  • [01] Annan invites leaders to meet him in Paris

    PRESIDENT Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have accepted an invitation from UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan to meet him in Paris in September in order "to take stock and see if a course can be charted for the way ahead," a UN announcement said yesterday.

    The invitations were conveyed yesterday morning by the UN special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, and both men have agreed to meet Annan in Paris on September 6.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou announced Clerides' decision to attend the meeting, adding he did not know whether Annan would be tabling a solution plan for the Cyprus problem.

    It would be the second time Annan meets the two leaders this year, reflecting the international community's concern at the apparent deadlock in the talks.

    Papapetrou said the invitation "is a reflection of the UN and the Secretary- general's anxiety, not only for the lack of progress in the talks, but also the impasse in the procedure, and that is why I think it was a natural reaction by the Secretary-general to try and break the deadlock."

    Papapetrou said there was no particular reason why the meeting was being held in Paris adding that it fitted with Annan's schedule.

    The spokesman said the meeting was not linked with the expected EU decisions concerning enlargement, noting those matters had been already determined.

    The European Commission will submit its suggestions on October 16, while ministers will meet later that month to take a preliminary decision, Papapetrou said.

    The final decision will be taken on December 9 during the Copenhagen Summit, he added.

    "I cannot see any connection with this, but surely the fact that time is running out is something which concerns the Secretary-general and that is why he is making this move," Papapetrou said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] What happened to those promises?

    By Alex Mita and Stefanos Evripidou

    A FLY-infested, foul smelling rubbish dump, sited bang in the middle of a signposted beauty spot at Cape Greco outside Ayia Napa has undergone little change for the better, despite a pledge by Interior Minister Andreas Panayiotou to take action.

    The rubbish dump, sited by the Ayia Napa Municipality next to the Sea Caves at Cape Greco had outraged tourists in May. Visitors were lured by a wooden sign promising them a nature walk and Sea Caves, and instead found themselves walking through the rubbish dump, gasping for air.

    Trying to get a hold of Ayia Napa Mayor, Varvara Pericleous for comment proved impossible back in May, as she was busy carrying out civil weddings.

    But when the Interior Minister read the article, he called the paper and pledged to deal with the problem, asking for two weeks. That was two months ago.

    We called Pericleous again yesterday, but were told she was busy.

    Although some attempt has been made at least to bury some of the trash at the site, the smell that lingers in the scorching heat alone, continues to ward off tourists tourists attempting to visit the Sea Caves.

    Panayiotou had promised in May to do everything in his power to have the rubbish dump removed, but repeated attempts by the paper to get in touch with him later on were unsuccessful.

    Yesterday, we were passed on to Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary, Kyriacos Triantafillides, who insisted the rubbish dump had nothing to do with the Ministry, but was entirely the Ayia Napa Municipality's responsibility.

    "The Ayia Napa municipality has not only the authority but also the obligation to make sure that the dump site is clean and safe by law.

    They ought to have done it by now," he said.

    Triantafillides added the Ministry was undertaking a new project that would see dump sites all over the island relocated or modified to meet European Union standards

    "This project will see the construction of proper rubbish collecting areas that meet EU standards. These new district collection areas will be modern and will be ready in a couple of years," he said.

    But Triantafillides insisted the Interior Ministry had nothing to do with a municipal dump site in Ayia Napa.

    "That is strictly the Mayor's responsibility," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Paphos Bishop threatens to sue over beach photographs

    By George Psyllides

    THE BISHOP of Paphos yesterday slammed the publication of photographs in a local newspaper showing him half-naked after an early morning swim.

    The photographs were published in the Paphos paper Apokalipsi yesterday and the accompanying caption explained that Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos had been spotted by a resident with a video camera undressing without taking the necessary precautions on the beach.

    In a news conference yesterday, Chrysostomos said it seemed he had hurt someone's interests and they wanted to get him out of the way.

    He said he would soon become the deputy to the Archbishop's throne and some people did not like that and wanted to get rid of him. The Bishop of Paphos traditionally oversees the transition between the death of an archbishop and the election of his successor.

    Chrysostomos said he knew who was behind the photograph and revealed that he had received threats from people who wanted him to shut his mouth about alleged irregularities in the management of the Archbishopric's property.

    Chrysostomos recently charged that the Archbishop's relatives were exploiting the primate's ill health to get his approval for land transactions that allegedly fetched millions of pounds in profits.

    The Bishop of Paphos said he had been warned about the photographs, but did not bother because he was not doing anything he was ashamed of.

    Chrysostomos said he had been swimming every day at 6am for the past 15 years because he suffered from back problems and doctors instructed to do so.

    He told reporters that he had made an official complaint to the police and that he was planning to sue the newspaper for publishing the photographs.

    "I have reported the case to police and I will sue asking for compensation to force them to reveal who is behind the matter," Chrysostomos said.

    "I will be merciless," he added.

    "They know that I play an important role in the Church and want to destroy me now, not tomorrow; they don't care about the throne; they care about this period, the pre-election period," Chrysostomos said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Sigma under fire for airing conversation with Archbishop

    By George Psyllides

    THE JOURNALISTS' Union yesterday condemned Sigma television's decision to air a brief telephone conversation that one of its reporters had with the bedridden Archbishop Chrysostomos without revealing his identity.

    Chrysostomos is currently receiving treatment in a Greek hospital after a fall around three months ago in which he sustained head and back injuries.

    The reporter called the Archbishop's room at around 11am on Tuesday and told the physiotherapist who answered that he was from Cyprus and wanted to speak to the Archbishop, without, however, revealing his identity.

    According to reports, the journalist asked Chrysostomos when he was going to return to Cyprus but the Archbishop did not understand the question.

    The journalist repeated the question, but to no avail.

    The phone was then taken by a nurse and the conversation ended after the journalist revealed his identity and was told that what he was doing was prohibited and that any inquiries should be directed to the doctors treating the Archbishop.

    The spokesman of the hospital told state radio yesterday that the physiotherapist had been forced to answer the phone because it was ringing incessantly.

    Argyris Koukas said the reporter had somehow got hold of the room's direct number. The physiotherapist thought the reporter was a relative and that was why he gave the phone to the ailing archbishop.

    Koukas insisted the reporter had not revealed his identity.

    Koukas said the Archbishop's health had reached a good point and he was improving gradually.

    Despite claims to the opposite, and his apparent inability to communicate with the journalist, Koukas said Chrysostomos did in fact have contact with his environment.

    The station's report was condemned by the journalists' union, while Health Minister Frixos Savvides said the way the reporter had tried to interview the Archbishop was wrong.

    "Patients, whoever they are, have basic human rights and apart from that they have more rights as patients that should be fully respected, especially in such cases," Savvides said. Savvides admitted yesterday that the state had been prevented from offering the Archbishop the best possible treatment for his condition.

    Savvides said Chrysostomos' relatives had prevented the state from in playing a role in his therapy, and even threatened to get court orders prohibiting any government involvement.

    "Afterwards, the Holy Synod decided against the advice of the medical council to transfer the Archbishop from the Evangelismos hospital in Athens to a private clinic," Savvides said.

    "I am convinced that if the Archbishop had been transferred to a rehabilitation unit in Limassol his condition today would have been in a much better than it is," the minister added.

    "I want someone to tell me who bears responsibility in case something goes wrong with the Archbishop's health?"

    Savvides said that in the first days after the accident the state had been left responsible for the primate's health but that changed after the Synod decided to move him to the private clinic.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Talks under way in bid to avert bank strike

    By George Psyllides

    THE DIRECTOR of the Industrial Relations Service at the Labour Ministry yesterday met with representatives from the Bank Employees Union (ETYK) and the Bankers Employers' Association to mediate the deadlock over the renewal of collective agreements.

    "The Labour ministry's mediator met with our association and the union separately in order to listen to each sides' proposals," said the Director of the Bankers Employers' Association, Christos Taliadoros. "He will then study these suggestions and see whether or not some common ground can be found between the two bodies and if the ministry's mediation services should continue."

    Over the past 11 days, both sides have met extensively to discuss these demands, which involve the renewal of collective agreements that takes place every two to three years.

    As part of the agreement, the employees are demanding pay rises, the establishment of an annual fund to boost employees' social benefit fund, improved rates of retirement bonuses, recognising working trial periods, improving housing loans and increasing the number of management positions, a source told the Cyprus Mail.

    The Bankers' Association on the other hand has also made a few suggestions that it wants included in the agreement, Taliadoros said.

    "The banking sector is facing a lot of problems at the moment and profits are down a great deal," he said. "Irrespective of these difficult circumstances, however, we proposed that the new agreement foresees substantial salary and benefit increases. In fact, what we have suggested is much higher than has been offered so far this year. However, these concessions will only be made on the provision that a small number of suggestions we put forward, aimed to improve customer services, are accepted."

    The Association wants to widen the span of hours during which teller counters are open to the public; afternoon service in international business units; the employment of part-timers during peak hours in order to strengthen staff abilities to service customers; and to allow outgoing calls from call centres during afternoon hours, he said.

    At the moment, banks work from 7.30am-2.30pm, but are only open to the public between 9am and 12.30pm.

    According to Taliadoros, ETYK's demands are huge and the current deadlock is hardly a surprise. "When two parties negotiate, there is always the likelihood of deadlock," he told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. "According to the code of industrial relations, employees can take strike measures in this case and employers can also take action."

    ETYK decided to go ahead with strike measures yesterday, with the threat of an indefinite full strike in 10 days' time. The Employers' Association insists it would prefer to find a solution before such an outcome.

    "We don't want industrial action, and do not know if it will even come to that yet, but if and when the time comes, we will decide what to do," said Taliadoros, not wishing to speculate what such emergency measures could be.

    "We have been constructive at the negotiating table and all we want is the flexibility to recruit a limited number of employees to strengthen our establishments during peak seasons or when our existing staff is on annual leave. It is not the association's intention to flood banks with part- timers," he stressed, pointing out that recently the House had enacted a law on part-time employment, which was in line with a European Union directive.

    Nevertheless ETYK pressed ahead with its strike measures yesterday, which involved stopping working overtime, interrupting work for two-hour periods in some banks and the suspension of specific services. These measures are set to heighten gradually over the next nine days, culminating in an indefinite island wide strike if the deadlock is not resolved before then, said ETYK Secretary General Loizos Hadjicostis. Ten days is the set warning time frame allowed for strikes by the industrial relations code, with the countdown starting yesterday.

    Prolonged strike action could result in cash point machines running out of money, and would disrupt transactions of all kinds, including wage transfers, cashing of cheques foreign currency exchange. Such financial paralysis of this magnitude would then have a knock-on effect on the entire economy, he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Cabinet postpones decision on CTO levy

    By Alexia Saoulli

    THE COUNCIL of Ministers yesterday postponed discussing whether to scrap the three per cent Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) levy until August 28, Tourism Minister Nicos Rolandis said.

    This levy is the percentage that hoteliers and restaurateurs are forced to pay the CTO and raises 17 million every year. Hoteliers say it adds to costs that are passed on to the customer.

    The Tourism Ministry, following suggestions by the CTO, has proposed that the tax be suspended for the whole of 2003.

    "This is not the first time we have discussed this issue," Rolandis told the Cyprus Mail. "In 2000, it was the government's position that hoteliers should not be burdened with this three per cent charge and that it should be completely scrapped. However, the House of Representatives at the time unanimously opposed this move."

    But he said that in light of current tourism trends, the House had now accepted that the levy be scrapped temporarily for one year, for the winter and summer seasons of 2003. Whether the proposal is passed or not depends on the Cabinet.

    "The years 2002 and 2003 look like they are going to be very competitive years for the tourism industry," said Rolandis. "This means that hotels will have to lower their prices even further, in order to compete with other Mediterranean and European destinations." The minister said hotels had already lowered their prices a great deal, but Cyprus was still considered a more expensive destination than a number of other countries, such as Bulgaria and Croatia.

    "I do not know what my colleagues will finally decide," said Rolandis, "but they will probably feel that saving hoteliers and restaurateurs from this tax will be a boost to the industry. However, we will know more at the next meeting in four weeks' time".

    Rolandis explained why the levy had been introduced in the first place: "From the very outset it was felt that part of the CTO's expenses should be covered by the industry. When the Gulf War broke out in the early 90s, however, the situation changed and this percentage was transferred to the government. Then during the year 2000 this expense was shifted back to the hoteliers after the House refused to scrap it."

    The Hoteliers Association (PASYXE) is strongly in favour of suspension of this tax. "It will unclog the most important artery that feeds the heart of the Cyprus economy," it said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Licensed tour guides being run out of business

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    TOURIST guides are having their worst year since the 1991 Gulf War due to the increased number of amateur and unlicensed guides in the tourist industry, the President of the Cyprus Tourist Guide Association, Poppi Hadjidemetriou, said yesterday.

    Travel agents are using foreigners and local employees illegally to cut costs in tour excursions, leaving professionally trained and licensed guides without jobs or funds, said Hadjidemetriou. "Only 20 per cent of the professional guide workforce are working two to three times a week in the peak season while the rest are making up to five tours a month if they're lucky," she said. "To make matters worse, there is no more work in the off- peak season to cover costs or make up for a poor summer season," she added.

    Hadjidemetriou said the situation was a result of tour organisers hiring illegal guides, often a local or foreigner with no training, to run jeep safari excursions to Akamas, and rural bus excursions to various monasteries and archaeological sites, or even for shopping tours. She said tours were arranged from hotels while amateur guides would seek commission from shops and restaurants to take tourists to certain areas. Licensed tour guides run the risk of losing their licence forever if the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) receives a written complaint on commission taking, Hadjidemetriou pointed out.

    "The problem is serious because you have unqualified people giving information on all aspects of Cyprus, including politics, and providing a lower quality service to tourists, while professionally trained guides are sitting at home with no employment. It is an unfair situation for experienced guides," she said. Hadjidemetriou gave the example that half the Dutch-speaking guides were without employment because untrained foreigners residing in Cyprus were used in their place.

    A professional guide is required to spend one year of studies at the University of Cyprus covering 25 subjects before the CTO will issue them a licence. "The qualification is there so the guide is able to take proper care of their clients and provide them with the right information," she said.

    The association has handed the CTO a long list of organisers that hire illegal guides but don't expect it to have the extensive resources to penalise them all.

    The House Tourism Committee will convene in September to discuss the problems faced by illegal guides, said Hadjidemetriou.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] JFK statue will not be at Hilton junction

    By Stefanos Evripidou

    NICOSIA mayor Michalakis Zampelas said yesterday that plans to erect a statue of assassinated US president John F. Kennedy at the junction of Makarios and Kennedy Avenues in Nicosia were under review because of a disagreement over the location.

    Zampelas said the only certain thing was that the statue would no longer be positioned at the junction.

    According to Politis, members of the municipal council rejected the proposed site near the Hilton area, finding the erection of the monument to be "out of place and untimely".

    The government will discuss a new location for the statue in a Cabinet meeting before November, when the foundations are set to be in place, the report said.

    Commissioner for Expatriates, Manolis Christofides, was quoted as saying the government respected the objections against placing the statue at the entrance to Nicosia, and so was examining other options, such as Kennedy Avenue or the area around the American Embassy.

    The statue is a gift from the Association of Expatriates in America. Expatriate President, Kostas Pereos, said in previous statements that the aim of the association was to further enhance the relationship with Greek Cypriots in Cyprus and enlighten American public opinion on the Cyprus problem. They intend to unveil the statue by November 22, 2003, on the 40- year anniversary of Kennedy's death, under the flashlight of the American media and prominent American politicians, including members of the Kennedy family and former presidents.

    The monument will be a bronze 2.3 metre high statue of Kennedy sitting on a rocking chair. The sculptor chosen to do the job is Nicolas Kodjamani who made the Makarios statue at the Archbishopric in Nicosia.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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