Daily Archives: July 1, 2011

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President Christofias feels ‘diminutive’ next to Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou

THE relationship between President Demetris Christofias and Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou is icy, their Cyprus problem philosophies are miles apart and small-townish Christofias feels diminutive next to his aristocratic minister, a confidential 2009 US embassy cable leaked by Wikileaks says.

The cable, dated April 16, was signed by US Ambassador to Cyprus Frank Urbancic and was sent to State Secretary Hillary Clinton ahead of Kyprianou’s visit on April 20.

Meant as a scene-setter, the cable discusses developments in Cyprus and the Cyprus problem, and provides Clinton with background on Kyprianou.

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Our View: Reaching concensus with unions over public finance solutions is an impossibility

THE GOVERNMENT’S attempt to save a paltry €70 million from the state payroll over the next two years has hit difficulties.

While the biggest public sector union PASYDY agreed to small deductions being made from its members’ salaries, the primary school teachers’ union POED has rejected the government proposal. Secondary school teachers’ union OELMEK agreed to the deductions for one year but set a list of conditions that had to be satisfied by the government before it gave its approval to another year of cuts. Today, the unions of the semi-state organisations are set to take a stand on the proposal, with a strong possibility they will reject it.

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‘Foreign policy turned a shade of red’

DESPITE REPEATED calls on the international community to put pressure on Turkey regarding a Cyprus settlement, the US remained unaware of what exactly the island wanted from Ankara seven months after talks started, US embassy cables disclosed by WikiLeaks revealed.

A ‘confidential’ cable, dated April 16, 2009, was sent by US ambassador in Nicosia Frank Urbancic to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton four days before her meeting with Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou in Washington.

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Civil servants unions agree to payroll measures

PUBLIC workers’ unions yesterday accepted, under certain conditions, a government proposal to shave €70 million off the state payroll in two installments in 2011 and 2012.

“In essence, the government proposal is accepted with a condition on the second installment,” said SEK boss Nicos Moiseos after a meeting of all unions representing workers in the state and broader state sectors.

Secondary teachers union OELMEK, however, yesterday reiterated its disagreement with the government proposal.

Smaller union DEOK, affiliated with socialists EDEK, also rejected the proposal.

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‘State squandering money on non-existent NHS’

 

YOU HAVE wasted millions for nothing, a disappointed health chief who quit over the National Health Scheme (NHS) told the government yesterday.

Kyriacos Christofi headed the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO), the body responsible for implementing the NHS, but after initially submitting a letter of resignation late March – frustrated at the state’s refusal to implement the scheme – he confirmed that yesterday would be his last.

The silence he received from the government over threats to resign “led to the general conclusion that I have no role to fill so today is my last day at the HIO,” Christofi said.

However, the cabinet did discuss his resignation on Wednesday and had agreed to accept it.

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Title deeds campaign gathers pace

AN ESTIMATED 50,000 Cypriot property owners moved closer to getting their title deeds this week, after MEPs, British leaders and the European Commission rallied to pressure Cypriot authorities to enforce EU law.

The Cyprus Property Action Group (CPAG), which represents some 50,000 property buyers with outstanding deeds, is leading the campaign with the backing of 60 MEPs and the European Commission’s Justice Minister Viviane Reading.

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Plans to re-use old mining area revealed

RESIDENTS living near the disused Amiandos asbestos mine in Troodos have suggested a cable car be established in the area, linking it to the mountain’s peak.

The suggestion is one of many that have been made to the Forestry Department, which is looking to upgrade the general area following the closure of the mine in 1988.

“We’re asking for the cable car and for it to start from the Amiandos mining area, to stop at the botanical garden and then to go up to Troodos,” said Amiandos community leader, Kriton Kyriakides.

The botanical garden is one of the projects already completed in the area, which will be followed by a visitor centre.

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Sales start early to boost flagging market

 

SUMMER sales are set to start early, with discounts allowed as of Monday, the Commerce Ministry announced yesterday.

The sales period will continue until August 25.

The president of small shopkeepers’ union, Stephanos Koursaris, yesterday explained the decision to commence sales early took a number of factors into account and was taken following a suggestion by the clothing and shoemakers’ associations.

“For a start, the decision to start the summer sales early was made in the frame of a recession that was noted in the market,” he said. “It was suggested that they start prematurely to rejuvenate the market.”

The second reason, Koursaris added, was the fact that certain big retailers had started their sales early.

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Lidl opens in Paphos

EAGER shoppers gathered from 7am yesterday in anticipation of the opening of the first Lidl discount supermarket in Paphos, although there was no sign of the chaos seen at the Limassol opening a few months ago.

Situated on the busy tourist hub of the Tomb of the Kings road, yesterday’s launch had a festive feel, while the first enthusiastic customer cut the ribbon at 8am.

“It was crowded from early on and we expect it to be all day. People now know our brands and our quality and they trust us,” commented head of PR for Lidl Cyprus, Vasiliki Adamidou.

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Fire services kept busy by forest blazes

TWENTY firemen were kept busy yesterday at Xylia forest in Kornos, Larnaca taming a fire which put the forest under real danger due to its vicinity to the trees.

The fire broke out at 1:20pm on public land with dry vegetation and the odd pine tree, destroying one hectare before it was tamed by the fire brigade along with EMAK, its special unit dealing with catastrophes. Six fire trucks were used.

A second fire threatened another forest yesterday when a blaze broke out around noon on the outskirts of Kofinarka forest in Aradippou, Larnaca.

The fire was put under full control in just 20 minutes but not before it ate away four hectares of reeds and three balls of hay.

Eight men and three fire trucks were used.

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