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Cyprus in brief 22/04/2009

Cypriot children 12th on happiness scale

THE HAPPIEST children live in the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries, according to a recent study, while Cyprus comes 12th in the list of happy offspring countries.

According to the study by the University of York, the Netherlands had the happiest children of 29 European countries, followed by Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland. Cyprus came 12th in the list and Greece 23rd while the last five countries were Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta.

The study was carried out using 43 criteria, including infant mortality, obesity, poverty and shelter, during 2006 on children under 19 years of age on behalf of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

The Netherlands enjoyed the highest marks in all categories, while the Scandinavian countries recorded the lowest number of children killed in accidents. Children there were also less prone to "dangerous behaviours" like early sexual relations, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Britain came 24th out of 29 countries because "a particularly large number of children in the country live in families where the parents do not work", said the study.

Cyprus economy
By Daniel Thomas

CYPRIOTS are among the most concerned with regards to the future well-being of both the domestic, European and global economies, a new Eurobarometer has found.

According to the results of the survey, conducted between mid January and mid February, 97 per cent expressed the belief that the world had been negatively affected in some way.

Greece consistently ranked first in terms of proportions of respondents who were pessimistic about both the current situation of the economy, as well as the capacity for national and international institutions to rectify its problems, with 92 per cent also expressing despondent expectations for the next five years.

This was in contrast to a European average of 81 per cent.

With 88 per cent, Greece and Hungary also contained the highest percentage of individuals who believed that the economic crisis had exacted negative effects on them personally, in contrast to an average of 58 per cent for the rest of Europe.

On the question of whether the euro has helped national economies in the face of the crisis, Europeans appeared evenly split, with 45 per cent believing that the euro had protected them from further economic turmoil, and 45 per cent claiming that the Euro had exacerbated the situation.

Differences between individual member states were also apparent on this issue, with 62 per cent of Portuguese respondents believing they would have fared better with their old currency, the escudo. In contrast, 72 per cent of Slovakians felt that their adoption of the euro had reinforced their economies ability to remain buoyant in the face of global economic meltdown.

With regards to the amelioration of the global crisis, and in a response likely to quell fears in Brussels of national drives towards protectionism, individuals generally believed that the EU possesses more of a capacity than national governments to reconsolidate and rekindle the productivity of national economies with coordinated macroeconomic policies.

However, the capability of the G8 was deemed more efficacious; with 25 per cent of Europeans believing that the cooperation of the world's eight leading economic powers would be essential in any substantial rectification of the global and broader European economy.

National variations did feature quite heavily on this question of institutional potential, with the UK at 6.0 per cent, Sweden 8.0 per cent and Denmark 9.0 per cent possessing the lowest levels of conviction in the ultimate capacity of the EU.

Poland with 26 per cent, Cyprus with 27 per cent and Greece with 28 per cent expressed the highest confidence in Brussels' ability to produce viable economic solutions to the crisis.

Overall, almost two thirds of those surveyed believed that coordinated action of some kind was required to remedy the crisis, however only 39 per cent believed that the route of cooperation had been sufficiently evaluated and utilised.

Cyprus postpones jewel thief suspect extradition

CYPRUS yesterday postponed the extradition of a man on an Interpol wanted list suspected of belonging to the "Pink Panther" jewel thief gang, blamed for a string of audacious heists from Japan to Bahrain.

Suspect Rifat Hadziahmetovic had been on an international wanted list for months, but was eventually tracked down to Cyprus when he attempted to leave the Mediterranean island on a forged Bulgarian passport.

Global police agency Interpol suspects Hadziahmetovic belongs to the Pink Panthers, a loose association of about 200 criminals blamed for a string of heists across the world.

A Cypriot court on Tuesday ruled Hadziahmetovic, 41, first serve a nine-month jail term for forgery before being extradited to Spain, where he is wanted for a jewellery store robbery.

Hadziahmetovic was detained on March 18 when attempting to leave Cyprus on counterfeit documents, but it was unclear how long he had been in Cyprus.

Defence lawyers for Hadziahmetovic told Reuters that they will appeal against the decision to extradite him.

Spain wants him extradited in connection with a robbery in that country, although he has been identified by Interpol, the global law enforcement agency, as wanted in a number of jurisdictions worldwide.

The Pink Panthers are thought by police to have staged some 120 attacks on luxury stores in about 20 countries, since their first robbery in London's exclusive Mayfair district in 2003.

When wireless internet came to Odou

ONE HUNDRED and seventy Larnaca district villagers yesterday gathered to celebrate the arrival of wireless broadband to their mountainous community.

The residents of Odou village celebrated their connection to the World Wide Web with a feast of souvla and other local dishes, followed by a series of traditional games.

Adults and children joined in the fun which kicked off at around 1pm when Communication Minister Nicos Nicolaides arrived to inaugurate the historic occasion.

"It is a special day for our community," said community leader Nicos Anastasiou.

"It's a big event for us, like when electricity came to our community 50 years ago."

Odou, like Kapedes which was also connected to the internet earlier yesterday morning, is one of the first of a series of remote villages to have free access to wireless broadband. The connection is part of a Communication Ministry initiative in co-operation with Hellas Sat to install a wireless broadband service to 153 remote villages throughout the island.

Communication Minister Nicolaides said the use of internet technology was something 153 communities had not until yesterday had access to, which was "a social injustice that has to be resolved as soon as possible". He said he hoped that after Kapedes and Odou the remaining 151 villages would follow shortly.

Anastasiou said the connection to wireless technology was of particular importance to the picturesque village's 50 youngsters.

"We have 50 young people at primary, gymnasium and tertiary level," he said. "This will please our young because they will now be on par with youth in urban areas and they won't feel inferior: It will open their horizons."

Anastasiou said the day's celebrations included cultural programmes from the Youth Centre and local primary school, including a series of small theatrical skits.

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2009

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