National Council briefed on talks progress

President Demetris Christofias briefed the National Council on the course of direct talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat for over three hours yesterday.

Party leaders will submit their positions on the progress, or not, of the talks in a next Council meeting on March 10.

€12 million subsidy package for students

STUDENTS are to receive a €12 million aid package with vouchers for food, housing, transport and equipment Education Minister Andreas Demetriou announced yesterday.

The programme will begin for the new academic year starting in September this year and applies to students of public and private universities, he said.

Port staff hold warning strike

APPROXIMATELY 400 Port Authority staff at Larnaca and Limassol ended a two-day warning strike at 6am yesterday after protesting against a Ministry of Finance decision to review the Authority’s pension fund agreement.

UN troops and villagers in asparagus standoff

THE USUALLY sedate village of Mammari has become a source of anti-UN sentiment after UN peacekeepers prevented local villagers from picking wild asparagus from nearby fields.

Villagers are more than a little peeved that UN soldiers are preventing them from harvesting the traditional wild asparagus (aggrelia) from the fertile land.

Garoyian re-elected unopposed as DIKO leader

MARIOS Garoyian was yesterday re-elected leader of the Democratic Party (DIKO) for a further four-year term, after his candidacy went unopposed.

Garoyian, who has led DIKO since 2006, will be officially declared party president at the Pancyprian Electoral Congress on March 15.

Another 60 kilos of cannabis found

POLICE found another 60kg of cannabis in a Larnaca flat yesterday, as part of further investigations into the drugs found in charcoal storage facilities a day earlier, taking the total amount confiscated to 176kg.

House approves Euro election voting law

CYPRIOTS will be able to vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections with their European identity cards, while non-Cypriot EU citizens can also use their passports at polling stations.

Race to save diminishing forest

CONSERVATIONISTS in Cyprus are in a race against time to save the island’s forests from being wiped out by drought and fire.

Once known as the “Green Island” of the Mediterranean, forests now cover less than half of Cyprus. Over the years forest fires and drought have decimated scores of trees, with blackened stumps or brown trees a blight on the landscape.

Paphos to have new 100-bed hospital

PAPHOS can look forward to getting a new world-class health centre offering a wide range of medical services to both local residents and foreign visitors.

First loans given for low-cost housing

FINANCE Minister Charilaos Stavrakis yesterday delivered the first 30 loan approvals totalling €4.2 million, to young couples who applied for a housing loan to the Housing Finance Corporation, under the government scheme for acquisition of a first home.