GCC Press Review | 22 Feb 2019 |

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Irresponsible handling of incident with the infant as victim

Tsivitanides, without being present at the examination, decided the incident was rape. The possibility of rape which would have put the infant’s life at risk has been ruled out, but not of abuse. Even though it has been confirmed there was no blood, the daughter of Dr Tsivitanides wrote yesterday about ‘a bleeding baby’.

  • UNFICYP: Exerting efforts for Strovilia –The United Nations are aware of the situation created at the point where the occupied areas are adjacent to the British Bases and are working to defuse tension, the UNFICYP spokesman said yesterday. The government did not want to make more specific comments.

Phileleftheros

Good, marketable (natural gas) deposits

Important developments for Cyprus show the first safe data from ‘Glafcos’. Results will be announced next week.

  • Halloumi case – We reveal Anastasiades’ letter to Juncker. He blames the Commission for inaction. The European Commission is flirting with the idea of direct trade. Four political disagreements between Nicosia and Brussels on halloumi.
  • Private company in air traffic control – Solomon solution for the FIR (Flight Information Region), the bill goes to parliament. The radical change decided in 2006 is nearing implementation.
  • Kotzias’ messages addressed to many – Nikos Kotzias sent a lot of messages during the presentation of his book: ‘CYPRUS 2015-2018. Three years that changed the Cyprus Problem.’ Referring to the negotiations in Switzerland, he stressed: “We showed the great importance of going there thoroughly prepared.”

Haravgi

Responsibilities over halloumi reach the Presidential Palace 

The government has made as many mistakes as it could to keep halloumi hostage to Brussels, with AKEL calling upon it to assume the responsibility which reaches the Presidential Palace. The risk is now visible of losing also the EU trademark, with the government failing to find solutions for the protection of the EU trademark for the certification of halloumi as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product.

Cyprus Mail

‘Dodgy practices’ at land registry

One Limassol employee clocked in for colleague who had died the previous night.

Alithia

The contradictions of doctors have upset society

Was the five-month-old infant a victim of rape or not? The health minister ordered an administrative probe into whether the protocol was followed, but also whether the public statements made by a doctor were based on evidence.

Main News

Efforts to defuse tension in Strovilia after Turkish military advancement

Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
External Security, Territory

OVERVIEW

Authorities and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) said on Thursday they were trying to handle the situation regarding recent tensions in the Strovilia area, where the Turkish military is said to have further advanced its position, in violation of the status quo around the buffer zone.

UNFICYP spokesperson Aleem Siddique said the peacekeeping force was aware of tensions in Strovilia and was liaising with both sides to defuse the situation.

Phileleftheros reported that the Turkish military had advanced in the Strovilia area, increasing the extent of the territory under occupation. They reportedly placed barrels, bars and chains to cut off an area where three Greek Cypriot families reside in three houses. Citing sources, the state broadcaster confirmed the report. The incursion of the Turkish military had taken place between 1 and 11 February, it said.

According to the Cyprus Mail, CyBC said also that the Greek Cypriot families have been told by the Turkish military that they now live in the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ and that they would therefore need travel documents issued by the breakaway north if they wish to visit the nearby British base.

In 2000, the Turkish military moved its position forward, violating the status quo in the village of Strovilia, a UN controlled strip of land situated between the Sovereign Base Area in Dhekelia and the ‘TRNC’.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said that the matter was being handled in cooperation with the United Nations. “As of now, no assessment can be made and thus no further statements can be made at the time,” he said.

Solidarity leader and MEP Eleni Theocharous said that the Turkish occupation forces have created another group of enclaved persons and called on the government and the military to position themselves on the matter, Phileleftheros reports.

KEY ACTORS
Theocharous
>> Occupation army has created another group of enclaved persons in Strovilia.


Nicosia-Brussels dispute on halloumi agreement

Haravgi, Phileleftheros
EU Matters, Economy

OVERVIEW

The delay in the registration of halloumi as a PDO product is due to disagreements between the government and the European Commission in regards with the rights of Turkish Cypriots, with the latter flirting with the idea of direct trade for the TCs thus giving the breakaway regime a ‘Taiwan-like’ status, Phileleftheros reports.

Citing sources, the daily said that Brussels is discontent with four conditions put forth by Nicosia following the temporary July 2015 agreement between the two leaders and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, pending reunification of the island.

Nicosia raised objections to details concerning the agreement that were made known to the government at a later stage and that were deemed to be downgrading the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, Phileleftheros said.

One of the amendments Nicosia has requested to the 2015 agreement is, in tandem with the approval of halloumi/hellim as a PDO, for the Commission to amend Green Line Regulation 866 so that the halloumi produced by the TC community crosses to the south and is exported from the legal ports and airports of the Republic of Cyprus. Otherwise, hellim can be exported directly from the occupied areas as certified and approved, thus allowing TCs to engage in the ‘direct trade’ that the Commission desires, Phileleftheros said. 

Nicosia also wants reassurances that the current procedure followed by the Commission on the halloumi PDO will not be repeated for other PDO applications of Cyprus. Something like that would mean binding Nicosia into a bi-communal decision-making framework, the daily said.

Another objection of Nicosia is that the Commission’s halloumi proposal, gives Brussels an executive role in the implementation of the acquis, which belongs exclusively to the member states.

The government also feels that the bi-annual reports the Commission has requested to be sent to it directly by international certification body Bureau Veritas, which would be tasked with inspecting halloumi/hellim production throughout the island, is another encroachment of Nicosia by Brussels. Nicosia feels that the reports should go to her and not Brussels.

But the more than three-year waiting period for the registration by the European Commission of halloumi as a PDO product, urged President Nicos Anastasiades to take matters into his own hands and ask Juncker in a letter to speed up procedures since all requirements have been met.

Phileleftheros reports that Anastasiades, in his letter dated January 18, said that further delays and inaction cause legal uncertainty about the rights and obligations deriving from the use of the name halloumi.

The delay encourages new applications and puts serious obstacles to the effective protection of the product within the EU today and in relation with issues pertaining to the PDO issue in the future.

Despite that regulations don’t provide for timeframes, the principles of good governance, legal assurance and sincere cooperation guiding EU actions, dictate promptly, a final decision directly on the part of the Commission, on this application, the letter said.

The delay encourages third parties – at a national, European and international level – to attempt to register as a PDO product under halloumi/hellim or similar names. There are ongoing procedures with regard to these applications before the EU Intellectual Property Office and European courts, but, due to the delay in the Commission decision, the means at the disposal of Cypriot authorities to deal with these application and other actions are inadequate, the letter said.

Anastasiades said that even though the PDO registration procedure for cheeses usually takes between four to 10 months, in the case of Cyprus it has exceeded 3.5 years.

Meanwhile, Haravgi called on the government to assume political responsibility because of the way it has handled the case.  The head of the House agriculture committee, AKEL MP Andreas Kafkalias, told the daily that the statement earlier in the week of the Commission’s spokesman that the halloumi PDO procedure was at the stage of examining objections, puts into question what the agriculture minister had said, that technocratic procedures had been completed.

This, in tandem with the loss of the halloumi trademark in the UK and risk of losing the EU one as well, is proof of the situation the government has put the country in, he said.

The government has done as many mistakes as it could on such an important issue for the economy.

Adding to this is the admission by the government that registering halloumi as a PDO, a purely technical matter, has been intertwined with the political issue, Kafkalias said.


‘Debate on number of UN documents is pointless’ 

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Politis
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

The government has announced that it will make sure UN envoy Jane Holl Lute will be thoroughly informed on the meeting in Crans-Montana on July 4, 2017 that concerns clarifications to the Guterres framework. Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriot side insists that the ongoing debate in the south of the island on whether there is one or two documents is meaningless.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said on Thursday that efforts are already underway for Lute to be informed on what had been discussed that day in connection with the framework set by the UN Secretary-General.

Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC radio, Christodoulides said that it was not only the GC delegation present at that morning’s meeting where clarifications were given by the then UNSG Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide on the Guterres Framework.

He said there were also representatives of all the parties involved.

He expressed hope that new data would emerge following Lute’s contacts in the UK last week and the upcoming ones in Greece and Turkey.

The wish, however, of Turkey that the talks resume after July this year was a negative development, he said.

“We insist that this must be done without delay so that we can see through substantive discussions how prospects are created that lead to positive results,” he added.

Christodoulides expressed hope that the meeting next week of the two leaders would create conditions that could lead to an agreement on the terms of reference for the resumption of talks.

But Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s spokesman Barıs Burcu said on Thursday that there was only one Guterres Framework document which was presented to the two sides on June 30, 2017.

Burcu said that the debate in the south part of the island on whether there is one or two documents was a meaningless one.

Everyone, including the UN, knows that there is no document tabled on July 4.

If the Guterres Framework is to be included in any discussion as of this point onwards, it must be taken as is, without being distorted.

Burcu also said there was no meeting between the two leaders in Crans-Montana on July 4. “No agreement or understanding had been reached at the meeting held on that date between the negotiators. As a result, to present this as Guterres’ descriptive document is nothing more than a waste of time.”

He argued that it was clear that such unproductive debates by the Greek Cypriot side did not contribute in any way to the solution of the Cyprus Problem. He called on the GC side to abandon such debates and to clarify its vision towards the future of Cyprus.

Burcu also said that Akıncı will be attending the leaders’ meeting next week with a constructive and sincere attitude to listen to Anastasiades’ clarification of his proposal for a decentralised federation as well as any other ideas he may have.

Meanwhile, former Greek Foreign Minister, Nicos Kotzias, who was on the island this week for the launch of his latest book on the Cyprus problem, expressed concerns that Guterres will no longer be on top of things as he was in 2017 due to the many problems he has to address elsewhere in the world.

Speaking to CyBC, Kotzias said that the UNSG will rely on what his envoys, his Special Representative Elisabeth Spehar and Lute tell him.

He said that after Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide left his post to pursue a political career, he had asked Guterres to remove Spehar as she was Eide’s aide and he had failed his mandate.

KEY ACTORS
Christodoulides
>> Government will make sure Lute is thoroughly informed on July 4 meeting, which was attended by representatives of all involved parties.
>> Talks must resume without delay and not after July as per Turkey’s wish.

Burcu
>> Everyone, including the UN, knows that no document was tabled on July 4.
>> No understanding was reached on July 4 between the two sides’ negotiators.

Kotzias
>> Spehar ought to have been removed since she was aide to Eide who had failed his mandate


‘Greek junta coup a deep regret’

Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

Former Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said this week that whatever solution is reached to the Cyprus problem, even the best one will not be what the Greek junta had ruined.

This is something that will weigh heavily on every Greek politician’s shoulders their entire life, he said.

Speaking at the launch of his latest book last Wednesday at the University of Nicosia, Kotzias said there was unprecedented trust and cooperation between Greece and Cyprus as regards the Cyprus problem during his stint as FM.

He stressed the importance of going thoroughly prepared to the talks as this helps support one’s arguments and win debates.

Kotzias said it had emerged during the talks in Switzerland in 2017 that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his team had never read the Treaty of Alliance on Cyprus.

Former Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said that it was because of Kotzias that the issue of security was put on the negotiations table.

His resignation from the post is a loss to Cyprus and a loss to Greek diplomacy.

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said that Kotzias’ book was a historic document bearing the testimony of one of the main actors of one of the latest, and, possibly most decisive procedures for the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

KEY ACTORS
Kotzias
>> The situation in Cyprus caused by the Greek junta is something Greek politicians will always regret.
>> Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu did not know the provisions of the Treaty of Alliance at Crans-Montana.

Kasoulides
>> The issue of security was put on the negotiations table because of Kotzias.

Christodoulides
>> The Crans-Montana talks were probably the most decisive procedure on the Cyprus problem.


Turkey plans drilling off Cyprus

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Energy, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

Turkey plans on starting drilling with two vessels around Cyprus in the forthcoming days, Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

In statements to businessmen in the city of Aydin, Cavusoglu also referred to the Cyprus problem.

He said that Cyprus is both a strategic target and a national cause for Turkey, as is the hydrocarbon wealth in the Aegean and around the island in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Cavusoglu said that Turkey has never allowed for her and the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people to be violated and does not intend to do so in the future.

He said that the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha vessel had conducted seismic explorations previously in the area. “Now we have one platform. It is conducting drillings in the area of Alanya until March. After that, it will come to Cyprus. Our new platform will also come within these days.”

He said that the arrival of the new platform in the Eastern Mediterranean was a message to those who come to the region from far away and their companies, that nothing can be done in that area without Turkey.

“We will not allow this,” he said.

Phileleftheros reports that Cavusoglu is setting up a war environment over natural gas.

KEY ACTORS
Cavusoglu
>> Turkey will not allow anything happening in the Eastern Mediterranean without her participation.
>> Cyprus but also the hydrocarbon wealth around it is a national cause for Turkey. 


Discovery of natural gas marks new era for Cyprus

Phileleftheros
Energy, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

The energy ministry and the consortium of companies ExxonMobil-Qatar Petroleum are expected to make announcements next week on the result of the latter’s exploratory drilling in offshore block 10.

According to Phileleftheros, very good, marketable natural gas deposits have been discovered in the block’s Glafcos location, the best discovered so far within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.

The discovery means economic benefits and added value for the Cypriot economy, the daily said.

It also ensures that ExxonMobil, as well as Qatar Petroleum will remain in Cyprus and the Cyprus EEZ for the next two decades for the exploitation of the deposits and for further exploration activity.


Bill on air traffic services reform back to House

Phileleftheros
Economy, External Security

OVERVIEW

A bill providing for the establishment of a state-owned private company to offer aeronautical services, has been sent, after a three-year delay, to parliament for discussion.

The new company will undertake air traffic services from the state-owned Department of Civil Aviation.

The bill was sent back to the House transport committee after amendments were made to satisfy employee demands as to their status after the transition.

The decision for the establishment of a state-owned private company was taken in 2006 but following delays and disagreements on provisions the matter is still pending.