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Welcome to the EU

Postby coredump » Fri Aug 11, 2006 2:56 am ... &archive=1
Welcome to the EU
(archive article - Thursday, August 10, 2006)

WHEN TWO enterprising Polish students decided to set up a rickshaw business in Ayia Napa, they believed they had found a profitable market niche. They were right, but they had not considered that a successful business would create enemies, especially as it was taking customers away from the competition – in their case, the resort’s taxi-drivers. Ayia Napa’s taxi drivers, who rely on the summer months for most of their revenue, were never going to accept losing business to a couple of smart foreigners audaciously encroaching on their territory.
First the cabbies made physical threats to the owners and the employees of the rickshaw company. Then the Ayia Napa police started booking the rickshaws for cycling in a street that was “closed to motor traffic”.

Neither the police nor the Municipality were prepared to tell the two men why they considered the rickshaws to be “motor traffic”. Having been kicked out of the resort centre by the authorities, the rickshaws returned to the main streets, incurring the wrath of some taxi drivers who began resorting to violence. One rider was repeatedly hit and his rickshaw damaged; then a cabby drove into a rickshaw, while a few nights later, several bicycles were damaged by a group of cabbies.
By Monday, eight rickshaws had been destroyed and two riders roughed up by taxi drivers. The Polish owners of the company have complained that they have not been offered any protection by the police or the municipality both of which were allegedly siding with taxi-drivers. While the municipality has been refusing to take a stand about the legality of the rickshaws, the police have been reluctant to investigate complaints by the outsiders.

The overriding impression is that the Ayia Napa authorities are doing everything they can not only to protect the local cabbies but to drive out the Polish company. While this behaviour is unacceptable it is also understandable in a small place like Ayia Napa in which the taxi drivers are probably friends or relatives of the policemen and the municipal bosses.
It is also a case locals protecting their own, people whose livelihood is being threatened by foreigners. As one cab driver told the Sunday Mail, “Why should we have Polish people making money here while we don’t? We can’t lose money to some Polish people.”

This is no doubt how the authorities view the matter, but unfortunately the days when they could openly discriminate against foreign nationals competing with local businesses have gone for good.

We are an EU member-state now, and the authorities have to treat all EU citizens, be they Poles or Cypriots, as equal. Poles have as much right to operate businesses in Cyprus as Cypriots and the authorities would do well to bear this in mind.

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2006
Posts: 165
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:27 am

Postby coredump » Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:22 pm ... &archive=1
Greek society cites racism in restaurant battle
By Jacqueline Theodoulou
(archive article - Thursday, July 27, 2006)

Call put out for nationals to take gripe to the ballot box

HEAD OF the Pancyprian Cultural Greek Society, Aris Vassiliou, yesterday issued an announcement condemning the Nicosia Municipality’s refusal to grant Greek-owned Elladites restaurant with a town-planning licence and called on all Greeks in Cyprus to sign up to be part of the forthcoming municipal elections.

“Yet again we have become witness to the high-handedness and absurdity of the broader state mechanism, at the expense of our compatriot. Specifically, we are referring to the treatment of the owner of Elladites restaurant from the Nicosia Municipality,” read the announcement.

“After satisfying all the conditions that were set, taking on a considerable financial strain, now surprisingly the Nicosia Municipality is asking him to close his business down.

“We are calling on the Municipal Council of the Nicosia municipality to revoke its unjust and unreasonable decision, which will leave a family man on the streets.

“In another case, we are daring them to reveal the source from which this insistence to close the business in question is coming and explain to us why it wasn't made clear from the start that a town-planning licence could not be issued, but kept asking the owners to make various changes to the establishment; changes that were made.

“Is it because the owner is from Greece and therefore has no political organisation to support him? Are there any other reasons? But they should know that they are not dealing with someone who is naive and neither can you hide the obvious.

“We are taking this opportunity to call on all our compatriots to sign up to the electoral rolls for the forthcoming municipal elections, so that we can exercise our right to vote and be elected, which was given to all European citizens following Cyprus’ accession to the EU.

“Only then will we achieve a powerful voice and heighten the price for high-handedness.

“It is in our hand to stop being easy bait to anyone who is (or feels) powerful.
The society is at your disposal for information on the necessary procedure.”
Nicosia Mayor Michalakis Zampelas was appalled yesterday at the thought of the Municipality being seen as discriminating.

“The Municipality of Nicosia is in absolutely no way discriminating against anyone,” said the Mayor.
“At this moment, we have a court order to remove the restaurant from where it is. If we don’t obey, the Mayor will go to prison. But, by God, there has been no discrimination.”

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2006 ... &archive=1
Thousands of pounds down the drain – and still no licence
By Jacqueline Theodoulou
(archive article - Wednesday, July 26, 2006)

‘Baffling bureaucracy forcing our restaurant out of business’
THE EXASPERATED owners of a Nicosia restaurant yesterday spoke of their being forced to operate illegally – even after the Supreme Court ordered the municipality to issue them with a licence.

Nicosia Municipality has refused to provide Greek restaurant Magiriko Elladites with a town-planning licence so they can run their business legally, even though the highest court in Cyprus had ordered them to.

Owners Christos Zachariades and Athanasios Froxylas, two business partners from Greece, opened Magiriko Elladites in the Ayios Antonios area on October 1, 2004.
“We submitted all the legal documents in order to obtain the necessary licensing,” Zachariades told the Mail yesterday.

In early 2005, the Nicosia Municipal Council met and unanimously approved the licensing of the shop.

“On April 19, 2005, the Municipal Engineer of the Nicosia municipality sent our company a letter and informed us that the examination of our application was complete and that the town-planning licence we asked for could be approved, if we bought the legally required seven parking spaces”.
In the summer of 2005, the two businessmen asked the Municipality to show leniency and delay the payment of the £35,000 that was needed for the parking spaces.

“On October 20, 2005, we received a letter from the Nicosia Mayor, saying that he accepted this regulation, just until the town-planning licence was ready”.

On October 26, 2005, the company Magiriko Elladites paid the Nicosia Municipality £35,000 in cash and awaited the finalisation of the licence, as well as the cancellation of the court case they were implicated in, due to the fact that they had been working unlicensed, in waiting for the municipality’s approval.

“Despite this, the Nicosia Municipality continued its legal action against us and on February 8, 2006, the case reached the Nicosia District Court,” explains Zachariades.

But the court ruled in the restaurant owners’ favour, without fining them for operating without town-planning licensing.

“On the contrary, the court ordered that the Nicosia Municipality issue us a town-planning licence – something that for unknown reasons has not yet happened.

“It is not right for any local authority to act in this high-handed and unfair manner.”

The Nicosia District court decision clearly stated that the local authority had committed to its decision [to issue the restaurant with a town-planning licence], which it had made known to the company owners.

“In the face of the defendants’ admission to the fact that they have suffered incredibly and that they have spent a lot of money in order to satisfy the demands of the local authorities, as well as the fact they have a clean criminal record, no fine was enforced on the defendants,” read the legal report.

“But despite all this, the Nicosia municipality has still not issued us with a town-planning licence,” said an appalled Zachariades.

The owners have even been accused of “releasing too many odours” into the neighbourhood – the restaurant is situated on one of the busiest traffic junctions in Nicosia – by someone Zachariades limited himself to calling “an alien factor with personal interests in the Nicosia municipality”.

For this reason Zachariades and his business partner installed an industrial unit that suppresses smoke and smells with special filters. The installation, approved by the European Union, cost the men thousands of pounds, says Zachariades.

“Our neighbours and customers are happy about the modernisation of the area and have told us that they accuse the Nicosia municipality of unequal treatment towards state justice,” Zachariades concluded.

Then, unbeknown to the partners, the Nicosia municipal council had another meeting on April 13, 2006, and revoked the licence that was due to be approved.

The municipality then obtained a warrant of mandamus for the premises to be restored to their initial use as a retail outlet.

“And by doing this, the municipality was aware that this couldn’t happen and that it would be destructive for us,” claimed Zachariades.

The Nicosia Municipality says its only enforcing the law.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail yesterday, Nicosia Mayor Michalakis Zampelas said, “The Municipality has a mandamus court order that requires the Elladites to restore the restaurant to its former function [as a retail outlet].

“Following this court order and after consulting our legal advisers we have no other choice but enforce the court’s wishes.

“We went to the restaurant with the police to inform them and they reacted badly. The mayor and the municipality are obliged to the matter is now in the hands of the police.”

The mayor did not comment on the Supreme Court ruling.

Despite all this, Zachariades and Froxylias are still asking for the municipality’s cooperation, so that they can obtain the elusive licence.

The Magiriko Elladites restaurant still operates as normal today and the owners have again appealed the ruling the Supreme Court.

Excerpt from Ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou’s report

“Due to the violation of the aforementioned legally established principles, the Nicosia municipality has a responsibility towards the plaintiffs.

It is suggested that within 15 days, measures are taken that will be in their best interests in order to restore the consequences that they have had to deal with.”

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2006 ... &archive=1
Unfair target of Municipal zeal?
By Constantine Markides and John Leonidou
(archive article - Sunday, April 30, 2006)

A RESTAURANT owner who has invested thousands to meet municipal requirements for his kebab shop has been denied his restaurant licence, a move believed to be the result of complaints by an influential neighbour who does not want a restaurant in the area.

Co-owner Christos Zachariades of the ‘Elladites’ restaurant – near Nicosia’s Ayios Antonios Market – told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that he opened the restaurant in the spring of 2004 after submitting the necessary forms to the Municipal Council, which had claimed they would grant his licence as soon as he fulfilled certain conditions.
Zachariades also paid the municipality the £35,000 fee required for the licence.
The Municipality deemed that the restaurant’s ventilation system needed replacing, as the restaurant was emitting unacceptable levels of harmful particulates. Taking out loans for several thousands of pounds, Zachariades says he invested in a new ventilation system that would filter out dangerous and odorous particulates from the smoke.

Zachariades pointed to a metal exhaust chimney on top of his restaurant. “That is full of filters. Not even industrial plants have these sorts of mechanisms.”
But the Municipality still withheld the licence and the case ended up in the courts. The Nicosia District Court ruled that the owners of ‘Elladites’ would not be penalised for operating without a licence since they had been “unimaginably inconvenienced until now, even paying substantial sums of money to satisfy the demands of the Nicosia Municipality.”

The court also ruled that “until this day, the licence had not been delivered for unknown reasons”.

Despite the court ruling, the Municipal Council later decided to reject the owners’ application for a licence. Yesterday’s Phileleftheros reported that the rejection was due to complaints by a “powerful” neighbour.

But a shop owner in the vicinity of the kebab shop questioned why a neighbour’s complaint should be reason enough to shut down a restaurant.
“Why should the Municipality come and ask my opinion of the restaurant?” the shop owner asked. “What if I am prejudiced against the owner? Instead experts should come and examine the restaurant and determine themselves whether it meets all the requirements.”

A recent Municipal Council decision will now give the municipality the right to give kebab shops a one-year deadline to improve their emission levels if deemed hazardous to the neighbourhood.
But it is unclear how and by what standard the Municipality will measure these emissions.

Zachariades said there was no machine in Cyprus that measures such smoke, noting that the only way to get a sense of the pollution level is by seeing how black the emitted smoke is.
“Right now the ovens are fired up and there is meat barbecuing. What do you see up there?” he asked, pointing again to the metal chimney. No smoke was visible.
Although the restaurant is currently operating without a licence, Zachariades believes that they are “1,000 per cent in the right” and is not afraid to take his case to the European courts, although he is willing to co-operate with the mayor. “He can just tell us what we need to do and we will do it.”

“They can bring special inspectors and if they find I am harming the environment, I will close at once. If not, give us the licence.”

The Deputy Town Clerk of Nicosia Municipality, Polis Petrou, yesterday listed the main reasons why the restaurant was refused a licence, but did not mention anything about the smoke.

“The Municipality board has decided not to give the licence to the restaurant for several reasons: there are the complaints we have received about the noise coming from the restaurant, the fact that it is situated close to traffic lights, while there are also problems with the pavement at the front of the restaurant.
“That is all I have to say on the matter.”

But the Cyprus Mail yesterday visited 10 kebab houses in Nicosia, finding seven of the locations had similar problems.

Phaedon Nicolaou, Municipal Engineer at the Municipality, couldn’t explain why the Elladites stood out.

“What can I say? Perhaps, we are more sensitive to things like the smell of souvlakia than we were in the past,” he said.

“The fact remains that there are people living close to this particular restaurant who have a problem with the noise the place is generating. But it was not I who decided not to give the licence, but the Municipality board.”

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2006
Posts: 165
Joined: Tue Apr 05, 2005 4:27 am

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