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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-08-27

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

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


Tuesday, August 27, 2002

CONTENTS

  • [01] Talks resume today after summer break
  • [02] Electricity scam suspects contest EAC's right to issue estimated bills
  • [03] Buried oil barrels raise environmental concerns
  • [04] Greek oil companies interested in Cyprus fuel market
  • [05] Expats gather in Nicosia for annual meeting
  • [06] Nature tourism on the rise
  • [07] Husband identifies suspected suicide victim
  • [08] Talks resume today after summer break
  • [09] Ministers seek major expansion in trade with Greece

  • [01] Talks resume today after summer break

    By George Psyllides

    UNITED NATIONS special envoy Alvaro de Soto could today submit suggestions on how to proceed with the talks, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    Talks on the Cyprus problem resume today after a three-week summer break.

    Commenting on reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was planning to table a proposal for the solution of the problem, Papapetrou said it would be welcome, providing it took into consideration those factors the Greek Cypriot side could not accept.

    President Glafcos Clerides met De Soto yesterday morning ahead of of today's resumption of talks.

    Papapetrou said the meeting was to prepare the grounds for the talks, while the two men also discussed issue of general interest in connection with the Paris meetings next week.

    UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has invited Clerides and Denktash to Paris on September 6, where they are expected to discuss the course of the ongoing talks.

    Annan is scheduled to meet Denktash first at 10am and Clerides an hour later.

    Both men will later join Annan for a working lunch, Papapetrou said.

    The Government Spokesman said the President was leaving for Paris on September 4 and was due to return three days later.

    He would not be accompanied by any of his advisers, at the request of Annan, and both men would only have one person accompanying them at the meetings in order to take the minutes.

    In Clerides' case, this would Cyprus' ambassador to France, Minas Hadjimichail.

    Papapetrou told journalists that due to the UN-imposed media blackout, nothing could be disclosed on the contents of the Clerides De Soto meeting.

    "Without a doubt, the Cyprus problem and our (EU) accession course, which constitute the two central pillars of our effort, are effectively entering a critical period, and from the developments and the handlings in the next few months, a lot will be decided," Papapetrou said.

    He assured that the Greek Cypriot side would be entering the talks "with a spirit of reconciliation, a spirit of intense desire for an honest settlement based on principles, decisions and frameworks set by the international community".

    Asked whether Annan would be issuing a statement after the meetings, Papapetrou said the Greek Cypriot side had no information concerning a statement, but did not rule out Annan taking positions during the meetings.

    "We are not setting any conditions or framework for the solution of the Cyprus problem; the framework has been set by the international community, the organisation represented by Mr. Annan," Papapetrou added.

    "The Greek Cypriot side is not asking for anything more or anything less.

    "We are asking for an approach to the problem that would be in the framework they set," he said.

    Papapetrou said there was nothing particular on the agenda for today's talks, adding he assumed De Soto would be making suggestions on how to proceed.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] Electricity scam suspects contest EAC's right to issue estimated bills

    By Soteris Charalambous

    Electricity Authority (EAC) Executive Tassos Roussos yesterday confirmed that some of the accused in a meter tampering scandal for which a man was jailed in June had filed counter claims in the Supreme Court against the EAC, but maintained that the EAC was confident of recovering all the money lost in the alleged fraud.

    Roussos said, "I can confirm that nine of the accused (in the electricity scam) have entered appeals to the Supreme Court which effectively contests the right, under law, for the EAC to issue estimated bills. However, I will add that the EAC has and will continue to do its utmost to recover all the sums lost from those accused."

    Last year, the EAC discovered that a number of electricity meters had been tampered with, leading to consumers being undercharged. Following further investigation, EAC Chairman, George Georgiades, announced the scam was believed to be to the tune of 1- 1.5 million.

    A 71-year old retired EAC technician, Michalis Masouras, was convicted in June of tampering with electricity meters for payment so they would show lower readings. Police found a 176-page notebook in Masouras' possession, which contained the names and addresses of his clients. He was jailed for one year.

    Roussos expressed his confidence in the EAC's ability to recover the sums. "As the law stands, the amount demanded on an estimated bill is deemed as valid as a bill issued following a meter reading," he said.

    Asked how it had been possible accurately to determine the electricity consumed from sites where meters had been tampered, Roussos said, "In addition to referring back to the historical consumption of the consumer, estimates are based on the actual installed load of the premises and gauged on the number of machines (using electricity) and what would have been consumed."

    Roussos said he was confident that; "to the best of my knowledge," everyone involved in the scam had been caught. "This is not the first time someone has tried to defraud the EAC, but what is worrying is the scale and level of organisation behind it."

    "There is a great deal of work going on, special teams have been set up and starting with our largest consumers, every meter in Cyprus will be checked. That means checking over 400,000 customers."

    Roussos would not be drawn on how much money had been recovered to date, except to say that of the 120 cases, two of the accused had come forward to pay what they owed, 17 had indicated their willingness to settle the amount demanded and were in negotiations with the EAC. A further 44 had responded through their lawyers, which he believed indicated their desire to reach a compromise and negotiate a settlement.

    He added confidently, "We will get our money back, it is just a matter of time. But however long it takes, the outstanding sums will be subject to interest."

    Roussos refused to name those involved in the scam, nor those who had started their legal action against the EAC given that they would remain customers of the electricity provider whatever the outcome of their cases.

    Asked what the EAC had leant from the most recent attempt to defraud it, Roussos said, "We need to act faster, this scam was set up and run almost as a business."

    Given the possibility that some of the accused may not be able to repay the EAC because of the size of the sums owed and their present financial position, Roussos acknowledged that some might be forced to file for bankruptcy.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Buried oil barrels raise environmental concerns

    By Sofia Kannas

    RESIDENTS and environmentalists have expressed concern after 50 barrels once containing crude oil were found buried underground near the Larnaca oil refinery.

    The discovery was made accidentally by workers digging a sewage canal on land owned by oil company BP last Friday.

    Panicos Sardos, President of the Larnaca Progressive Movement, a non- government organisation, yesterday voiced his concern over the discovery.

    "One wonders how many other oil companies have buried barrels containing toxic substances underground."

    He also claimed that the Larnaca oil refinery was a hazard to the environment and to residents.

    "These oil installations are very close to residential areas. The refinery contributes significantly to water and soil pollution. It also creates the risk of accidents and explosions."

    The movement's president said that environmental consultants INTERGEO found that pollution levels in the refinery water table and subsoil exceeded levels permitted in other European countries like Holland.

    Asked what should be done to reduce levels of toxic waste from refineries and oil companies in Cyprus, Sardos replied: "It is not so much a problem of inadequate regulations, but rather a failure to enforce existing regulations."

    "Economic interests mean oil companies often operate unchecked and oil installations are not properly inspected by relevant authorities," he added.

    Leader of the Green Party, George Perdikis voiced similar concerns.

    "There are so many gaps in existing legislation, as well as problems in its implementation. These must be remedied. It's time for an attitude-change," he said.

    Meanwhile BP (Cyprus) spokesman, Tony Christodoulou played down claims the 50 barrels belonged to the oil giants.

    "The barrels were found on BP's land but tests have not helped establish whether or not they were ours. The barrels may date from the eighties, or they may be older. We have only been in Cyprus for 20 years and Shell Oil was here before us. They may have buried them."

    "That's not to say I'm denying BP has buried barrels in the past, as it was common practice in Cyprus until 15 years ago. The government had full knowledge of such burials and it was an accepted practice back then."

    Christodoulou was also anxious to stress that the barrels had never posed a danger to the environment.

    "The barrels were always covered with plastic sheeting to prevent against leakage and they never contained toxic matter."

    "When the law changed 15 years ago, BP ensured the safe removal of all those barrels we knew of."

    He also denied the latest barrels found were toxic.

    "They contained sludge, which is a mixture of mud and residues, and certainly not toxic," he concluded.

    Costas Papastavrou, Environment Officer at the Environment Service confirmed that barrel burials were not illegal before the mid 1980s.

    "Fifteen to 20 years ago this was a classic disposal method used worldwide. And those responsible for burying the barrels are unlikely to face legal action in view of this."

    According to Papastavrou, the barrels were removed from the BP site yesterday morning and transferred to a cement works, where they will be tested for toxic elements before being incinerated.

    "The issue is under investigation. We will test for heavy pollutants and then discuss the findings in a Technical Committee," he said.

    Asked what the government was doing to ensure any remaining barrels were unearthed, Papastavrou revealed that a special law on toxic waste would be in place by mid-October this year.

    "The law will contain provisions obliging companies to report past activities, including burying oil barrels.

    "It will give us the legal means to minimise the problem and will allow us to take legal action against companies and refineries in future," he added.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Greek oil companies interested in Cyprus fuel market

    VISITING Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday confirmed reports that Greek oil companies were on the island to assess the prospect of opening stations here.

    The minister's comments fuelled speculation that BP was set to pull out of the island and that the Greek companies were in negotiations for the purchase of the British oil giant's 70 petrol stations.

    "They Greek oil companies are here, they are discussing and examining the possibilities of co-operation," Tsohatzopoulos said.

    The Greek Minister was speaking at a news conference after his first meeting with Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis, in which they announced they had reached an agreement to develop relations and co-operation in a number of sectors.

    Asked whether Greece would take over the 70 petrol stations owned by BP should the company decide to pull out, Tsohatzopoulos said his government was ready to co-operate for the promotion of Greek petrol stations and energy plants, both in trade as well as distribution.

    However, a BP spokesman yesterday refused to tell the Cyprus Mail whether any sort of deal was on the table, saying he had nothing to add to a BP statement last week saying no decision had been taken to pull out.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] Expats gather in Nicosia for annual meeting

    THE 19th world congress of Cypriot expatriates got under way yesterday in Nicosia, with the political leadership stressing the importance of expatriates' efforts in helping their country in the next few months, seen as critical to Cyprus' EU accession and to developments in the search for a political settlement.

    In his opening address to the convention, President Glafcos Clerides thanked the expatriates for their help, adding, "you are fighting to maintain your identity, conserve our traditions, holding steadfastly onto our long heritage."

    House Speaker Demetris Christofias stressed the importance of the expatriates' efforts, particularly in coming months, in promoting a just solution to the Cyprus problem. "To avoid unpleasant surprises," he added, Cypriots around the world should wage an international campaign aimed at "defending the principles for the solution of the Cyprus problem."

    The congress is seen as enhancing relations between expatriates and the motherland; one of the proposed measures - and longstanding demands by expats - is improving CyBC's satellite program.

    Christofias also referred to expatriates' demands for more support to the Expats Department, which has offices in a number of countries, "both as far as personnel and new ideas are concerned." In this way, he added, the department could become a "sensitive and effective link in the chain of communication and joint action between Cyprus and its children who live and work in different countries across the planet."

    Another highlight of the congress was the staging on its sidelines of the first-ever youth expatriate convention.

    Yesterday an expatriates' delegation were informed by President Clerides and Foreign Minister Yiannaks Cassoulides on latest developments in the Cyprus problem; today they will be briefed by a House committee on progress in the island's EU accession course.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [06] Nature tourism on the rise

    By Alexia Saoulli

    A MAJORITY of tourists will seek out nature holidays as the focal point of their vacations over the next two years, a Cyprus Tourism Organisation official said yesterday.

    According to CTO statistics, 60 per cent of all tourists will indicate a preference for holidays centred around nature by 2004, said Maro Kazepi.

    "This is the reason why the Cyprus Tourism Organisation is moving towards promoting specialised forms of tourism that are closely associated with nature," she said, explaining that this trend in the international tourism sector had emerged from the results of a recent World Tourism Organisation study.

    In order to keep in line with this changing trend, the CTO is striving further to enrich the island's existing agro-tourism programme (in operation since 1992), to promote local traditional cooking as well as the countryside's rich local cultural heritage and the creation of more nature- study footpaths.

    "It is worth noting that Cyprus already attracts tourists that are primarily interested in nature walks," said Kazepi, "which is why we even have several travel agencies that are specialised in dealing with this kind of tourism". She added that walkers normally preferred lengthy nature trails and footpaths that took them in a complete circle, and that the study of flora and fauna and bird watching were also favourite pastimes among nature tourists.

    Kazepi said community authorities wanting to create such trails could submit their proposals to the CTO, so it could in turn cross check old roads and footpaths that were already recorded in the real estate registry maps. Each application also had to be accompanied by a detailed outline of the proposed route, as well as the total cost of the project and be submitted through the nearest sub-prefect, she said.

    Kazepi added that traditional home cooking was also one of the countryside's main appeals, as tourists were particularly enthusiastic about trying food made from ingredients indigenous to a particular area.

    Recognising the importance of culinary delights, the CTO has prepared a training programme on Traditional Cooking. This programme is directed at taverna and countryside accommodation owners and entails tips on how to organise and decorate their lodgings without losing their traditional charm, how to ensure food is kept healthy and fresh, as well as traditional recipes.

    The CTO is also drawing up a sponsorship plan for all the villages, so that they can organise original programmes that demonstrate the traditions and customs of each community.

    "Agro-tourism in Cyprus is on a steady, upward course," she pointed out, adding that not only were existing statistics encouraging, but that a number of other countries were also now beginning to show an interest in the island for this reason.

    Around 60 agro-tourist accommodations operate in 29 villages with a capacity of over 500 rooms, said Kazepi. Last year, 9,180 tourists holidayed in these traditional lodgings. Of these 33.6 per cent were Germans, 21.3 per cent were Britons, 16.8 per cent Dutch, 7.7 per cent Austrian, 6.36 per cent French, four per cent Lebanese, 3.6 per cent Belgium, 1.8 per cent Israeli, 0.9 per cent Norwegian, 0.9 per cent Swiss, 0.45 per cent Spanish and 0.45 per cent Canadian.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [07] Husband identifies suspected suicide victim

    THE IDENTITY of a 36-year-old Limassol woman who plunged to her death from a six-storey building on Sunday, was finally established, police said.

    Constantina Constantinou was yesterday identified by her husband, Andreas Mosfilioti, after extensive media speculation over why no one had come forward to report her missing.

    The woman's body was found in the inner court of Limassol's Fysco Lotus Plaza building on Sunday afternoon wearing a white dress, red shirt and pink slippers. She was wearing a ring inscribed with the name Andreas and the date 21.5.88.

    State pathologist, Sophoclis Sophocleous, carried out the autopsy yesterday and determined the victim's death did not look suspicious.

    "My findings do not suggest foul play," he told the Cyprus Mail, confirming that her wounds were consistent with those of a fall victim.

    Limassol CID said suicide was more than likely the cause of death, ruling out murder or an accident.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [08] Talks resume today after summer break

    By George Psyllides

    UNITED NATIONS special envoy Alvaro de Soto could today submit suggestions on how to proceed with the talks, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday.

    Talks on the Cyprus problem resume today after a three-week summer break.

    Commenting on reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was planning to table a proposal for the solution of the problem, Papapetrou said it would be welcome, providing it took into consideration those factors the Greek Cypriot side could not accept.

    President Glafcos Clerides met De Soto yesterday morning ahead of of today's resumption of talks.

    Papapetrou said the meeting was to prepare the grounds for the talks, while the two men also discussed issue of general interest in connection with the Paris meetings next week.

    UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has invited Clerides and Denktash to Paris on September 6, where they are expected to discuss the course of the ongoing talks.

    Annan is scheduled to meet Denktash first at 10am and Clerides an hour later.

    Both men will later join Annan for a working lunch, Papapetrou said.

    The Government Spokesman said the President was leaving for Paris on September 4 and was due to return three days later.

    He would not be accompanied by any of his advisers, at the request of Annan, and both men would only have one person accompanying them at the meetings in order to take the minutes.

    In Clerides' case, this would Cyprus' ambassador to France, Minas Hadjimichail.

    Papapetrou told journalists that due to the UN-imposed media blackout, nothing could be disclosed on the contents of the Clerides De Soto meeting.

    "Without a doubt, the Cyprus problem and our (EU) accession course, which constitute the two central pillars of our effort, are effectively entering a critical period, and from the developments and the handlings in the next few months, a lot will be decided," Papapetrou said.

    He assured that the Greek Cypriot side would be entering the talks "with a spirit of reconciliation, a spirit of intense desire for an honest settlement based on principles, decisions and frameworks set by the international community".

    Asked whether Annan would be issuing a statement after the meetings, Papapetrou said the Greek Cypriot side had no information concerning a statement, but did not rule out Annan taking positions during the meetings.

    "We are not setting any conditions or framework for the solution of the Cyprus problem; the framework has been set by the international community, the organisation represented by Mr. Annan," Papapetrou added.

    "The Greek Cypriot side is not asking for anything more or anything less.

    "We are asking for an approach to the problem that would be in the framework they set," he said.

    Papapetrou said there was nothing particular on the agenda for today's talks, adding he assumed De Soto would be making suggestions on how to proceed.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [09] Ministers seek major expansion in trade with Greece

    By Alex Mita

    GREEK Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis yesterday announced a major agreement to develop trade relations between the two countries.

    On the first day of the Greek Minster's visit, Rolandis presented, Tsohatzopoulos with a list of development projects in the fields of energy, industry and tourism that would be promoted by Greece for the next five years at a calculated cost of over $2 billion.

    Speaking at a news conference after their meeting, Rolandis said he believed Greek companies would be interested or would compete to undertake building parts of the projects.

    In their first meeting, the two ministers also discussed the prospect of Cyprus storing its oil in Greece.

    "We are promoting a co-operation so that we can find adequate storing space to cover the needs of the Cyprus government, under the terms set by the EU for accession," Tsohatzopoulos said.

    The Greek minister noted that the Greek Tourism Organisation (EOL) would open a branch in Cyprus in an effort to promote the island and increase the number of visitors in both countries.

    The CTO and EOL are expected to sign a co-operation agreement today.

    According to Rolandis, over 300,000 Cypriots are expected to visit Greece this year, far more than the number of Greeks coming to Cyprus.

    "We want to increase the flow of visitors from Greece to Cyprus by promoting various types of tourism for religious people, students and conferences," Rolandis said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002


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