GCC Press Review | 25 Feb 2019 |

Front Page Headlines

Politis

They are going for zero consumption tax on vehicles

The House finance committee is to discuss today the bill. DISY-DIKO alliance call for zero tax. AKEL, EDEK and the Greens suggest escalating tax.

Phileleftheros

Recognition through UNFICYP

The occupation regime has requested a separate agreement in a document sent to the UN. Plan for the establishment of two entities on the island.

  • Instructing TCs how to sell – GC lawyers behind moves of TC property owners. They invent new methods of bypassing Guardian (of TC properties).
  • Prodromos Prodromou – New exploratory drilling within the year.
  • In anticipation of the European Commission’s decision on halloumi

Haravgi

Health is a heavy burden on households

Eurostat figures reveal the need for immediate implementation of GESY (National Health Scheme), as nine out of 10 face serious to very serious difficulties in meeting healthcare costs. In fact, Cyprus has the highest percentage of households experiencing very serious difficulties, (39.4 per cent ), while in families below the poverty line it reaches 53 per cent. In the worst position among EU member states.

  • Contradictory statements from the government and Commission on halloumi
  • AKEL: “Anastasiades’ politics are dangerous” – He is flirting with other solutions.

Alithia

They sharpened their knives

Heated spat between Nicolas Papadopoulos, Giorgos Lillikas, DIKO, EDEK and the Citizens’ Alliance sparked by Lillikas’ interview to Alithia. Lillikas’ claim that EDEK and DIKO are undermining GESY has brought to the surface the “passions and hate” of the presidential election, references to careers built on nepotism, fools, wretched little men but also offers for… the buyout of a candidate.

  • Low expectations from tomorrow’s meeting of President Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci but… – Diplomatic circles believe that there might be some positive developments, if not on the essence, on improving the whole atmosphere.

Main News

Leaders expected to patch things up during Tuesday’s meeting

Alithia
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

The two leaders are expected to make amends during their informal meeting on Tuesday since both have expressed willingness to overcome existing problems.

Alithia, citing diplomatic sources, reports that despite the fact expectations are low as regards the essence of the talks, the two leaders are not under pressure at the moment for the immediate resumption of talks, since they have been postponed, on Turkey’s responsibility, until May. This may help them discuss some internal aspects of the Cyprus problem in a more casual and relaxed manner. It may also mean promoting agreed confidence-building measures and the reactivation of the Technical Committees.

TC leader Mustafa Akinci is expected to ask President Nicos Anastasiades for clarifications on the latter’s proposal of a decentralised federation as a form of solution and how he perceives TC effective participation in decision making.

Anastasiades, to entertain TC concerns and prove his honest intentions, is expected to propose to the TC leader that the two sides jointly define the powers that could be transferred from the central to the constituent states. The goal is to reach convergences on this issue by June.

The meeting will also give the opportunity to the two leaders to directly discuss for the first time the terms of reference on the resumption of talks, to be prepared by UN envoy Jane Holl Lute.

Lute had with her a draft of the terms of reference during her latest visit to Cyprus but did not present them due to issues concerning the guarantor powers and disagreements between the two sides on their content and wording.


‘Anastasiades flirts with other types of solution’

Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

AKEL warns that President Nicos Anastasiades’ line as regards the Cyprus problem treads on dangerous paths, citing an interview of Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou with Phileleftheros published on Sunday.

Member of the party’s political bureau, Aristos Damianou, said in a written statement that AKEL has been issuing warnings for a long time now that Anastasiades is flirting with the idea of other forms of a solution other than that of a bizonal bicomnunal federation.

Proof was Prodromou’s statement that it would have been irresponsible of Anastasiades if he was not concerned with what might happen if Turkey leads the procedure to a standstill again by rejecting a solution as provided for by the UN.

Prodromou said that the government was not in a position at the moment to respond to whether this would mean a change of course or of the basis for a solution.

Damianou said that this raises many questions such as why should Turkey negotiate a federal solution if it already knows Anastasiades was contemplating other solutions in the case Ankara leads things to a standstill.

He also asked why Prodromou did not immediately reject the option of a change to the solution’s basis.

Anastasiades continues to muddy the waters as to what he truly wants, Damianou said. It is dangerous for the GC community to send out the message that instead of reaching a federal solution that will liberate and reunify the island, they are willing to discuss either a confederation or two states.

KEY ACTORS
Damianou (AKEL)
>> The government ought not to leave the window open for discussion on alternative forms of solution.
>> Turkey will not successfully negotiate a federal solution if she knows the GC side is willing to discuss other options.


TC side wants to have a say in UNFICYP mandate

Phileleftheros
Internal Security, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

The breakaway regime submitted a document to the UN in January calling for an official framework agreement between its authorities and UNFICYP, seeking that way to upgrade its status as a state entity and become an official interlocutor of international organisations such as the UN.

The document is part of plans to upgrade the pseudo-state, which have already been set in motion as per earlier statements of Ankara’s favourite, Kudret Ozersay.

In a document submitted to the UN under the title ‘Talking points on the extension of the mandate of UNFICYP by the Security Council – January 2019’, the Turkish side is asking for the TCs to also be able to give their consent for the continuation of the UNFICYP mandate on the island. This is not the first time the TCs are putting forth this demand, the daily said.

The document proposes the establishment with the UN of an agreement based on the SOFA (status of forces agreement) approach. It also proposes that UNFICYP becomes a policing force as the presence of a military peacekeeping force is no longer necessary, it said.

Removal of the UNFICYP military force could also be used as a good example of a military confidence-building measure and would be in line with the expected role of the peacekeeping force post-solution.

The document reveals the intensions of the Turkish side, as it favours the creation of a mechanism for the resolution of differences as proposed by the UN. In other words, it wants the role of UNFICYP to be minimised and for direct contacts between the two sides for problem resolution, Phileleftheros said.

The document protests the references to the Republic of Cyprus in the UN Security Resolution on the extension of the UNFICYP mandate, citing that the Annan plan referendums in 2004 underlined that Cyprus is made up of two different peoples and administrations. This proves that what matters to the Turks is the equation of two, separate entities on the island, said the paper.

The document also accuses the Greek Cypriot side of creating ‘problems’ in the Technical Committee on Education and of halting the operation of the ad-hoc committee on the harmonisation of the TC side with EU law. The GC side has stopped the work of the committee, citing the absence of negotiations, a move that is completely inconsistent with the terms of reference of the committee, the document said.

It is also ironic that the Greek Cypriot side is fully committed to the work of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage because it has to work with the TC side to carry out renovations in Northern Cyprus, the document said.

The document also complains about the fact that admission to the Republic of Cyprus is not permitted to settlers.


GC lawyers help TC property owners wishing to regain control over their land

Phileleftheros
Property, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

GC lawyers are offering advice to TCs who own property in the government-controlled areas on how to claim their land. TC property in the government-controlled areas is being managed by the interior minister as the Guardian of TC properties.

Citing sources, Phileleftheros reports that lawyers’ advise TC property owners, or their heirs, who wish to regain control over their property in the south to make sure that no GC land in the north can be traced to their name.

According to legal amendments introduced in 2010, the Guardian has the right to reject applications filed by TCs to sell their property in the south if they are found to possess GC property in the north. The government has so far rejected many applications.

Lawyers also make use of a Cabinet decision which provides that the Guardian may give permission for the transfer and/or sale of TC properties whose owners moved permanently abroad prior to the 1974 invasion.

It is estimated that TC owners or their heirs who have no other way of regaining their property, are willing to pay big money to GC lawyers to launch and complete the entire procedure.

“Are we shooting ourselves in the foot? Something like that,” the daily said.


Hydrocarbons programme right on track

Phileleftheros
Energy

OVERVIEW

Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said that Cyprus’ hydrocarbons exploration programme carries on as planned and that new exploratory drillings are to take place within the year.

In an interview with Phileleftheros, Prodromou said the government, depending on results of the recent exploratory drilling within Cyprus’ offshore block 10 that are to be announced soon, will act accordingly. It remains to be seen if the great expectations created will be confirmed, he said. As soon as the European Commission gives the green light, the documents on the agreement on the EastMed pipeline will be signed.

On the same issue, approval by the House plenum of the bill creating an investment fund to manage future income from hydrocarbons will be a convincing response to accusations by the Turkish side that the GCs are taking advantage of the rights of TCs, Prodromou said.

The government spokesman said that the government expects from Turkey to stop issuing threats and interfering in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.

KEY ACTORS
Prodromou
>> New drilling will take place in 2019.
>> The aggression and rhetoric of Turkey casts doubts over her willingness to resume the talks.


‘The European Commission must accept or reject halloumi PDO application’

Haravgi, Phileleftheros
EU Matters, Economy

OVERVIEW

Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said the government expects for the European Commission to reject or approve the application for the registration of halloumi as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product since all requirements have been met.

Speaking at a festival in Limnatis village in Limassol on Sunday, Kadis said that the government has done its part as regards the registration of the halloumi PDO and that now the Commission ought to give an answer.

Haravgi reports that the statements of the Commission and the government contradict each other.

Following statements by a Commission spokesman that the EU is in the process of examining the objections on the basis of the understanding reached on the issue in 2015 following the relevant meetings with the president and the TC community, Kadis argued that the objections have now been examined and that the EU should make a decision, the daily said.

Kadis said that the objections filed have been examined and the Cypriot government had submitted its comments in July 2015 but since then, there has been no information that anything else was required.