GCC Press Review | 26 Feb 2019 |

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Averof chided by DISY Famagustians

They spoke to him last night for Famagusta, he replied on football. DISY’s Famagusta branch believes that support to Anorthosis FC was an intervention for Famagusta, but Averof disagrees. The DISY chairman rushed yesterday to cool things down by meeting the municipal councillors.

  • Britain illegally in Mauritius

Phileleftheros

Risk of halting natural gas

The licence of the unit offering support services to the drillings has been cancelled. Alarm has been raised at the Presidential Palace. Court decision on the Aradippou factory.

  • Meeting in the shadow of provocations: No agenda –Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci meet today after some time, in the shadow of Turkish provocations in the buffer zone but also of threats in the sea area of Cyprus.
  • Landmark decision on Bases in Mauritius
  • He complained to Europeans and Arabs about Turkey –The president met with many people. President Anastasiades referred to the violations by Turkey of the sovereign rights of the Republic on its soil and exclusive economic zone during the EU-Arab League Summit that took place in Sharm El Sheikh.
  • Smuggled wild asparagus seized at the checkpoint – TC couple was smuggling wild asparagus. Their vehicle was filled to the brim with the seasonal delicacy. They did not have the necessary documents and were fined. The wild asparagus is to be destroyed.

Haravgi

They ought to act as Cypriots having the future in mind

Today’s meeting between the leaders of the two communities may be informal but it is expected that substantive and procedural issues will be discussed, which will determine the next steps for the resumption of the talks. Confidence-building measures may also be discussed at the meeting. A new visit by UN envoy Jane Holl Lute and contacts with Anastasiades and Akinci is also expected. Jane Hall Lute meets Katrougalos in Athens. Akinci: “I would like to hear about the decentralised federation.” AKEL General Secretary: “They must assume their historic responsibilities.”

  • International decision on the British bases – The International Court of Justice in the Hague gave its opinion yesterday on the British bases at Chagos Archipelago. A decision that affects the British bases in Cyprus, with the Legal Service studying the decision and acting accordingly.
  • Turkey flexes its muscles – Military exercise in the area with the participation of 102 war ships.
  • Turmoil within DISY over Anorthosis FC – Dispute between Pindarou street and DISY Famagusta branch.

Cyprus Mail

Cyprus mulls over Chagos litmus test

Case is a test of the legitimacy of deals struck between great powers and small states at end of the colonial era.

  • Placido Domingo chides leaders over damaged church

Alithia

Back to the dead end

No expectations from today’s Anastasiades-Akinci meeting. A few hours before the crucial meeting, the two sides are back to the point of disagreement after last year’s dinner, the Guterres Framework.

  • Mauritius decision affects Cyprus – Hague International Court: The UK is required to terminate the Chagos Archipelago administration. Response by UK: ‘The opinion
    is of an advisory nature and has no binding force.’
  • DISY vs DISY over Anorthosis –  Pindarou (DISY headquarters) says it has no involvement in management issues of football clubs and called “arbitrary” the statement by the Famagusta municipal team of DISY on the ‘ruins left behind by the resignation of the Anorthosis administration’.
  • Seized: A car from the occupied areas filled with wild asparagus

Main News

Terms of reference and CBMs possible issues discussed by two leaders

Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The focus of the two leaders’ Tuesday meeting is to conclude the terms of reference that could lead to the resumption of settlement talks, but in order to see progress, all six parameters of the framework outlined by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres needed to be accepted, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said.

The meeting has no agenda and the two leaders would not engage in formal negotiations, he said on Monday to the Cyprus News Agency. Confidence-building measures (CMBs) are also expected to be discussed.

The UNSG’s Special Representative in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, spoke to both leaders over the weekend and on Monday, ahead of the meeting, on the expectations that the two sides have and what they would like to talk about. It is up to the leaders to decide what the agenda is, how long the meeting will take, whether they are going to issue a joint statement, Prodromou told the Cyprus News Agency.

According to Prodromou, Anastasiades hopes to solve some misunderstandings with Akinci. His goal is to have a discussion and achieve progress in order to agree on the terms of reference.

He said that political will, especially on the part of Turkey, was necessary for the process to resume.

The end of guarantees and the withdrawal of occupation troops is a matter of priority for the GC side, but everything needs to be discussed at the meeting, Prodromou said.

Anastasiades’ proposal for a decentralised federation is also part of the Guterres Framework. The UN Secretary-General had asked the parties to discuss where, when and how to employ a positive vote in their decisions, Prodromou said.

UN envoy Jane Holl Lute is to have a meeting on Tuesday with Greek Foreign Minister Georgios Katrougalos.

Phileleftheros reports that the meeting is taking place while Turkish provocations on the island and in its sea area further reduce the possibility of a positive outcome. Turkey is sending out its own message to the two leaders through its military actions in Strovilia and Denia this month and the continuation of its provocative actions in the sea area of the Republic.

According to Alithia, the position of the GC side, that for progress to be achieved all six parameters of the Guterres Framework should be accepted, in tandem with the positions expressed by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is a recipe for disaster as the meeting’s result points to the impasse followed by last April’s dinner. Less than 24 hours after the dinner, Akinci had invited the GC side to jointly sign the Guterres Framework as a strategic package, leading to the debate on the interpretation by the two sides of the Framework.

Akinci told Anadolu News Agency on Monday that he expected Anastasiades to clarify his views regarding the decentralised federation. He said that he had conveyed this request during their telephone conversation and that Anastasiades had told him he would come prepared to the meeting.

The clarification of this issue would assist Lute’s efforts to determine common ground for the possible resumption of talks. He pointed out, however, that it was unlikely that any new developments would take place before June.

Akinci said that a federation model with strengthened constituent states should include both political equality and a rotating presidency. On the issue of hydrocarbons, Akinci said the Turkish side will not sit idle if the GCs don’t show a cooperative behaviour, Alithia reports.

Haravgi reports that Akinci states he is committed to a bizonal bicommunal federal solution in contrast to Anastasiades who refers to a solution based on the resolutions and decisions of the UN Security Council and European law.

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou called on Anastasiades and Akinci to act as Cypriots and realise their obligation to the country and the future of its people. He said, however, that past events leave no margin for optimism.

Ruling DISY expressed its support to Anastasiades while the leader of the Solidarity Movement, Eleni Theocharous, called for a cancellation of the meeting as a reaction to Turkish provocation.

EDEK said that it was imperative for the GC side to understand Turkey’s true goals. The upgrade of the pseudo-state which would lead to a two-state solution must be hindered, the party said.

The Citizens’ Alliance said that Turkey’s and the pseudo-state’s efforts to upgrade the occupation regime through an agreement with UNFICYP must be stopped. The government ought to take advantage of the very negative climate currently prevailing in the EU for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

KEY ACTORS
Prodromou
>> Accepting all six parameters of the Guterres framework is a basic component. All parameters are equally important to the GC side.
>> Political will, especially by Turkey, is necessary for the talks to resume.
>> Anastasiades’ proposal for a decentralised federation is part of the Guterres Framework.
>> The end of guarantees & withdrawal of occupation troops is a priority for the GC side.

Theocharous (Solidarity Movement)
>> The Anastasiades-Akinci meeting ought to have been cancelled as a reaction to Turkish provocations & threats.

EDEK / Citizens’ Alliance
>> Must prevent the upgrading of the pseudo-state.


Hydrocarbon drilling programme at risk after support facility sees licence revoked

Phileleftheros
Energy

OVERVIEW

There is a risk of halting the exploratory drilling and extraction of natural gas after a decision by an administrative court to annul a 2014 Cabinet decision on the licensing of Halliburton plant that offers support services to the hydrocarbons industry.

The services of the plant, that is located in the Aradippou industrial area, are considered to be essential for works carried out on drilling platforms.

The decision of the Administrative Court refers to the construction of a warehouse where chemicals, among others, will be kept. According to the Court, the Cabinet did not give any convincing explanation why such a facility was left out of the provisions of the existing legislation.

Competent services, however, argued that this did not concern a chemical industry as per the definition on which the Court based its ruling. They said it is a small lab with a chemical repository while no chemical compound is produced there.

The decision has caused great concern to the government. A meeting on the issue took place last Thursday at the Presidential Palace to avoid a possible impact on the country’s energy programme.

Citing sources, Phileleftheros said that the government is thinking of appealing the court decision. The legal service believes that this move would have a positive outcome. The government is also looking into other ways of resolving the matter that have to do with the overall development of the Aradippou area.


Football scandal linked to the Cyprus problem

Alithia, Haravgi, Politis
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The disagreement of DISY’s central administration with its Famagusta members after the latter called on their fellow Famagustians to support the new board of Anorthosis FC, led to a standoff between the two sides. The disagreement was linked to the Cyprus problem and the fact that no progress has been achieved as regards the issue of the fenced-off town of Varosha.

The tension was sparked after DISY described as ‘arbitrary’ the initiative by the party’s Famagusta municipal councillors to call on their fellow Famagustians to pledge support to the new board of Anorthosis FC, after the previous one stepped down in the aftermath of a scandal concerning an ineligible player.

DISY had said that it did not agree with this move of the Famagusta group and that the party does not meddle in football matters.

The Famagusta members, however, said that the move was about the occupied town of Famagusta and not just football. Many Famagustians support Anorthosis that was founded in their town.

During a meeting on Monday between DISY leader Averof Neophytou and the group, the latter expressed complaints that their opinion is not being taken into consideration by the party. They also expressed their disappointment over the gridlock the talks had been led to in the summer of 2017. This basically killed hope for the opening of the fenced-off town of Varosha, the Famagusta group said, according to Politis.

Yesterday’s controversy revealed a rift between DISY and its Famagusta branch as well as the liberal part of the party advocating reconciliation with TCs, the daily said.


GC farmers kicked off their fields in Denia by Turkish soldiers

Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
Internal Security, Property

OVERVIEW

The community leader of Denia, located within the Nicosia buffer zone, said on Monday that armed Turkish soldiers had threatened farmers over the weekend who had gone to their fields to check on their crops.

The farmers had not visited their fields since last November when similar incidents took place, but concerns are expressed over the same happening next month when they will have to enter their fields to harvest the crops.

Denia community leader Christakis Panayiotou said that a group of farmers who had gone on Saturday morning to their fields to check on the crops, were forced to leave after armed Turkish soldiers appeared at a distance of between 10 to 20 metres. Members of UNFICYP intervened, asking the farmers to leave.

According to Phileleftheros, the latest incident in Denia is part of the occupation army’s plan of creating a 200-metre security line. The safety zone will extend from the Turkish military’s outposts to the buffer zone.

The idea of creating a farming security line whereby neither GCs nor TCs could enter in a distance of less than 200 metres from Turkish outposts was also UNFICYP’s position, which the Cypriot government does not accept, the daily said


Anastasiades informs EU-Arab League Summit on Turkish violations

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

President Nicos Anastasiades held several meetings on the sidelines of the EU-Arab League Summit that took place in Sharm El Sheikh and had the opportunity to inform heads of state on the latest developments on the Cyprus problem.

Phileleftheros reports that Anastasiades complained to Europeans and Arabs about Turkey.

Addressing the Summit, Anastasiades referred to the challenges faced in the region which call for collective and effective action.

Coming from a country that still suffers from the Turkish occupation and partition, violation of its sovereign rights both in its soil and exclusive economic zone, I recognise the impact of these violations, he said.

“We are working hard against these illegal, anachronistic and destabilising situations,” he said, noting that “we seek to end Turkish occupation and to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem.”

He had bilateral meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, King Salman of Saudi Arabia and UK Prime Minister Teresa May. He briefed all his interlocutors on his efforts for the resumption of Cyprus talks and thanked them for their support by maintaining principled positions on the Cyprus problem. He also underlined the particular importance Cyprus pays in further enhancing EU-Arab world relations and referred to the initiatives Cyprus has undertaken which contributed to having the Summit take place.

Anastasiades and May agreed to arrange a meeting during his visit to London in the beginning of March.


ICJ opinion on Chagos Archipelago sets precedent, concerns Cyprus too

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

OVERVIEW

The opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, which found on Monday that the process of decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country gained independence, is believed to also concern Cyprus as it sets a legal precedent.

The case, that raises the question whether it is legitimate, under international law, for Britain to use such territories as military bases, is seen as a test of the legitimacy of deals struck between great powers and small states at the end of the colonial era, which could also include Cyprus.

The UK is now under an obligation to end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as swiftly as possible, the ICJ court said.

One of the 22 countries heard before the court was Cyprus with attorney-general Costas Clerides representing the island. In his speech, he had stressed the right to self-determination of a state, noting that colonialism is a violation of international law.

The legal service said Monday that it would study in detail the opinion. Clerides told the Cyprus News Agency that the successful outcome of the case would be a serious legal weapon, noting that “the right to self-determination is and will always be respected and inalienable regardless of the circumstances which exist at the time countries gain their independence.”

In a written statement later in the day the legal service referred to the main points on more general issues raised in the ICJ opinion:

– There is no legal conclusion of an international convention, where one of the contracting parties is under the administration of the other party.

– Any legal implications of unlawful decolonisation should be considered on the basis of the law as it is today, not on the day of the declaration of independence.

– The assessment of the legal consequences of the continued administration of part of a country’s territory in cases where the decolonisation process has not been completed in accordance with international law should be made in the light of international law as it is today, and not as it was during cessation or the independence of the state concerned.

– The continued exercise of ground management by the former colonial power, which has not become part of the decolonisation, is a continuing illegal international act and must end as soon as possible.

– The obligation to recognise the right to self-determination is one owed to the international community, and consequently all states have to cooperate with the United Nations in this direction.

KEY ACTORS
ICJ
>> Process of decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when latter gained independence from colonial rule.
>> UK now under obligation to end its administration of Chagos Archipelago soon as possible.

Clerides (Attorney-general)
>> Right to self-determination is & will always be respected & inalienable regardless of circumstances which exist at the time countries gain their independence.


Bicommunal crime committee approached after Limassol arrest

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, CBMs

OVERVIEW

Two men, one from Syria, the other a Kurd from Turkey, were arrested on Monday after being seen carrying weapons in a hotel resort in Yermasoyia, in Limassol.

Police found on the two men a loaded gun and 18 bullets.

Authorities are enquiring through the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Crime whether the Kurdish man is wanted by the TCs for involvement in a murder case.

Limassol police spokesman Ioannis Soteriades said the two men would be taken to court to be remanded on Tuesday.

Police believe that their arrest may have prevented a criminal act. The Syrian man is known to the police in connection with various cases. He was wanted for the break in and theft of €40,000 from the office of a company in 2017. He was also wanted in connection with the arson of three cars in December 2017 in Ayia Napa.


Large scale Turkish military exercise in the region

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
External Security

OVERVIEW

Turkey will launch on Wednesday a large scale military exercise in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean with the participation of 102 war vessels including submarines and corvettes.

Until March 8, when the ‘Blue Homeland’ exercise ends, Turkish warships will visit 41 ports. Turkey’s Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, will monitor the exercise from a warship.  The aim is for the Turkish navy, air force and army to test their capability for a joint military operation.

Marine and unmanned vessels and sea helicopter aircraft will also take part in the exercise, where, for the first time, rockets manufactured in Turkey, will be fired at sea. Airborne missiles are to be also fired from ships against unmanned aircraft targets. Selected commando units, along with marines, will carry out an offshore venture and will occupy enemy ground forces as per the exercise scenario. 


TC couple fined after caught smuggling wild asparagus

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Economy

OVERVIEW

Customs on Monday seized 435 bundles of wild asparagus at the Ayios Dometios checkpoint found hidden in the trunk, between the seats and next to the engine of a car of a TC couple that had crossed from the north.

The car was also seized. The couple paid a €400 fine for smuggling the vegetables and €200 to get their car back.

Customs kept the wild asparagus which were to be destroyed.


Europa Nostra calls for action from leaders on buffer zone monuments

Cyprus Mail
Human Rights, CBMs

OVERVIEW

President of Europa Nostra, Plácido Domingo, called on the two leaders on Monday to discuss during their meeting on Tuesday the alarming state of heritage and historic buildings in the buffer zone of Nicosia.

Domingo, in an open letter to President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said that previous calls to them went unheeded leading to the partial collapse of the church of St. James (Ayios Iacovos).

Domingo said that Europa Nostra had appealed to them in a letter in November 2018 to give the political impetus to the urgently needed reinforcement of two churches located in the Buffer zone, namely St. George’s Church and St. James’ Church.

He called on the two leaders to seize the opportunity of their meeting to reach an agreement between the political and military authorities concerned, both local and international, to allow the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage – acting in consultation with the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process – “to undertake immediately adequate measures to protect the remains of St. James’ Church from adverse weather influence while preparing the complex restoration works to bring the church back to its previous state.”

The committee should also be allowed to urgently undertake necessary reinforcement and restoration works to make sure that a similar destiny does not befall the nearby 17th century Church of St. George or to a series of other historic buildings located in the buffer zone of Nicosia, it said.


Aheritou refugees express concerns over construction on their occupied land

Phileleftheros
Territory, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Refugees from the village of Aheritou in the Famagusta district fear that the rapid construction development observed in their occupied village during the last few years makes the possibility of a solution to the Cyprus problem seem impossible.

Around 3,000 refugees from Aheritou now live some two to three kilometres from their village and witness daily the constant changes in the landscape from the construction of buildings on their own land. This concerns houses, an industrial zone and a mosque.

Refugees say that these actions mean that settlers and the TC regime no longer consider a future return to the village of its lawful residents, the daily said.

Refugees from Aheritou had lobbied in the past to make sure that their village would be among the territories that would be returned in the case of an agreement on the Cyprus issue.