GCC Press Review | 27 Feb 2019 |

Front Page Headlines

Politis

They moved on to CBMs (Confidence-Building Measures) while waiting for Lute

They ‘unfroze’ mobile telephony and electricity grid interconnectivity. The President reiterated his persistence over TC positive vote. Akinci: “I’m waiting for more information on the decentralised federation.”

  • Joy in Nicosia over Mauritius: Clerides set the tone – Everyone forgot that Turkey’s signature is necessary for the abolition of the bases.

Phileleftheros

The Cyprus problem moves on with CBMs

Anastasiades-Akinci achieved progress on CBMs, nothing on security and governance. The positives and negatives of yesterday’s meeting.

  • The Mauritius decision is a legal weapon: “It will be studied thoroughly”
  • Terror moves with ‘Blue Homeland’: The piracy dogma
  • Complete disconnection of the Hydrocarbons Fund from public debt – The die has been cast. The Hydrocarbons Fund is being disconnected from the public debt and the bill is to be approved by Parliament on Friday. Government agrees.
  • Compensation to siblings of missing person – A Nicosia court ruled yesterday that the competent state services had been very negligent in investigating the fate of a man missing since 1964. The intelligence service (KYP) had information that his TC killer used to work in Ayia Napa but was never questioned. Court ordered €50,000 be paid in damages to the missing man’s two siblings.
  • Refugee estates in wretched condition: MPs inspected the problems

Haravgi

They stuck to CBMs and clarifications

CBMs on mobile telephony, electricity and art works. No movement expected before June. Parties call for briefing in National Council.

  • Dampness, mould and cracks in refugee homes in Larnaca

Cyprus Mail

Leaders agree on series of measures          

Anastasiades and Akinci are set to work on terms of reference for ‘creative and effective dialogue’.

  • Technical Committee presents work to Euro Parliament

Alithia

Agreement on CBMs, disagreement on the essence

The big and small picture of the Anastasiades-Akinci meeting. The TC positive vote an obstacle to the issue of a decentralised federation, while security and guarantees make reaching an agreement on the terms of reference more difficult. A jointly accepted solution has been found on the issue of telephony, the interconnection of the two electricity grids becomes permanent, 200 GC art works that were left in the occupied areas in 1974 are being returned.

  • Bicommunal event at Ledra Palace, Akinci-Averof to be present
  • Mauritius decision a legal weapon for Cyprus – Comments by lawyers, politicians and international relation experts.
  • Rich past – The 27-year-old Turkish Kurd is wanted in the occupied areas for drug cases, while the 30-year-old Syrian has burglaries and thefts on his resume. They are in custody.

Main News

More clarifications needed on decentralisation

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The two leaders decided during their meeting on Tuesday to implement a number of confidence-building measures (CBMs) but there has been no substantive progress on the terms of reference, the papers report.

Following the meeting, President Nicos Anastasiades said that the talks are not expected to resume before June. Both leaders did not rule out the possibility of more informal meetings until then to prepare the ground, while more CBMs may be on the way. 

Anastasiades elaborated to TC leader Mustafa Akinci his idea on a decentralised federation.

According to most dailies, sources told the Cyprus News Agency that Anastasiades also referred to issues which damage confidence, such as the Turkish violations in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone and the recent provocations in Denia and Strovilia.

Anastasiades said he agreed with Akinci to do their best to draft the terms of reference that would allow the two sides to return to a creative and effective dialogue.

It was a friendly meeting without that meaning they agreed on everything, he said, adding that Akinci insisted that even with decentralised powers, his community should maintain the right of a positive vote on every decision.

The two leaders agreed on further discussion of the issue, not the acceptance of the positive vote, but the details concerning decentralisation, Anastasiades said.

He said he was neither optimistic nor pessimistic over the terms of reference that would enable resumption of reunification talks.

Anastasiades expressed hope that Akinci would consider what he had conveyed to him and realise that there cannot be a creative dialogue “if he insists that the Turkish Cypriot community must have the decisive role in decision-making”.

In his statements following the meeting, Akinci relayed to the media the “good news” regarding CBMs.

On the issue of decentralisation, Akinci said that the GC leader presented a detailed account of his thoughts, and views were exchanged regarding the responsibilities of the central government. Details and specifics on the responsibilities of each constituent state were lacking, however, he said.

Anastasiades said he would continue working on these details, which will be evaluated in the future, Akinci said.

“It must be clarified that no matter how the authority of the central government shrinks, some responsibilities will remain and how these will be carried out continues to be an important matter,” he said, noting that political equality at this level is crucial.

Alithia reports that Anastasiades submitted a list with 21 CBMs including the opening of the Kokkina and Pyroi crossings, and setting up a committee to prepare a study on the issue of Famagusta.

The agreed CBMs are mobile phone interoperability through separate agreements of the operators on both sides with a hub based in Europe, in order to facilitate greater interaction between the two communities.

The other CBMs agreed are: the interconnectivity of the two electricity grids, as agreed in 2015; the clearance of nine suspected hazardous areas on both sides of the island; the TC side to return 200 paintings by GC artists that remained in the north since 1974; the GC side is to hand over visual and audio recordings of TC artists that exist in the archives of CyBC, belonging to the pre-1963 period.

The two leaders have also tasked the Technical Committee on Culture to realise the exchange of these works of art, belonging to the respective communities.

According to Haravgi, the CBMs, some of which have been pending since 2015, have been announced just for show, while the result of the meeting was disappointing for those who were expecting progress and the immediate resumption of talks.

Citing expectations raised by Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides on Tuesday, the daily said that no prospects have been unlocked either on the essence or on when the talks would resume.

The two leaders did not even shake hands in front of the cameras, not even for semiotic purposes, the daily said.

Political parties said they expect a briefing by Anastasiades on the meeting.

DIKO said that the CBMs upgrade the pseudostate, while the Turkish side remains intransigent on all aspects of the Cyprus problem.

KEY ACTORS
Anastasiades
>>
“We have agreed is to do everything in our power to draft the terms of reference that will enable a creative and effective dialogue.”
>> There cannot be a creative dialogue if Akinci insists that the TC community must have the decisive role in decision-making.

Akinci
>>Anastasiades needs to provide further clarification on the responsibilities of each constituent state.
>> Political equality at central government level is crucial.
>> “No matter how the authority of the central government shrinks, some responsibilities will remain. How these will be carried out continues to be an important matter.”

DIKO
>> The CBMs upgrade the pseudostate.


Caution advised over joy sparked by Mauritius precedent  

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

OVERVIEW

The call on Monday by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to the UK to end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago has sparked a debate on whether the same can be done in Cyprus.

The government, however, argues that the two cases are not quite the same and the decision cannot immediately guide Cyprus’ actions with regard to the Sovereign Base Areas.

President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday that this is something that needs to be considered further since it is an advisory opinion. The issue, he said, was not only about studying the decision but it was also about whether and when one raises a similar request, and whether this was warranted.

Defence Minister Savvas Angelides said to Active radio that one must not rush to directly link the two cases, and believe that the British bases can be immediately kicked off the island.

The ICJ’s opinion must be studied and evaluated by the legal service, after which its opinion must be placed before the government in a way that does not attempt to steer opinion, so that the government can make its own decisions.

He called on political parties to avoid taking advantage of this decision to pressure the government into taking measures prior to the evaluation of the opinion by the legal service.

Lawyer Polys Polyviou told Omega TV on Tuesday, however, that the same things stand also in the case of Cyprus, as the island was still a British colony when the bases agreement was signed in 1959, Phileleftheros reports.

According to daily Politis, AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou spoiled it for those calling to take advantage of the Mauritius case by reminding everyone that for the abolition of the bases, Turkey’s signature would be required since it is one of the signatories of the Treaty of Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus. He highlighted that it is the Republic of Cyprus that signed the Treaty in question.

He added that the ICJ opinion ought to be used at the right moment but one must also take into consideration that Cyprus is also facing the problem of the Turkish occupation.

DIKO, EDEK, ELAM, the Greens and the Solidarity Movement called on the government to utilise the decision and launch procedures to be rid of the bases.

KEY ACTORS
Anastasiades
>> The Mauritius case concerns an advisory opinion that needs to be thoroughly studied.
>> “The issue is also about whether and when you raise a similar request, and whether this is warranted.”

Polyviou
>>
Cyprus was still a British colony when the bases agreement was signed.

Kyprianou (AKEL)
>> It is the Republic of Cyprus that signed the Treaty of Establishment.
>> Turkey’s signature will be necessary for any attempt to have the bases ousted.

DIKO, EDEK, ELAM, Greens, Solidarity Movement
>>
The government must ask for the British bases to leave.


Lute concludes Athens visit

Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, External Security

OVERVIEW

UN Envoy on Cyprus Jane Holl Lute met Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos in Athens on Tuesday.

Katrougalos reiterated Greece’s commitment to the solution of the Cyprus issue on the basis of the UN resolutions, abolition of the unacceptable system of guarantees and the withdrawal of occupation troops.

He also highlighted the problem of the Turkish violations in Strovilia, pointing out that this situation is one of the reasons why UNFICYP should remain on the island.

There is no information yet on when Lute will visit Turkey. The UN official has already been to London.

KEY ACTORS
Katrougalos (Greece)
>> Committed to Cyprob solution based on UN resolutions, abolition of guarantees, withdrawal of occupation troops.
>> Turkish violations in Strovilia highlight need for UNFICYP to stay in Cyprus.


Hydrocarbons bill going to House plenum for vote on Friday

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
Energy

OVERVIEW

The bill on the establishment of a national investment fund to manage future revenues from hydrocarbons will go to the House plenum on Friday, after an agreement has been reached that the funds must not be used to pay off the national debt.

The government has asked parties, however, to withdraw all the amendments they had submitted concerning the bill. Some parties said they were not satisfied by that development.

The issue was discussed on Tuesday at the House energy committee.

The Greens criticised the philosophy of the bill, noting among other things that it is bereft of any provisions to wean the country off polluting fossil fuels, or provisions for developing renewable energy sources.


‘Turkey’s military exercise reveals domination plans over region’  

Phileleftheros
Energy, External Security

OVERVIEW

Turkey’s massive military exercise ‘Blue Homeland’ that started on Wednesday is not aimed only at winning impressions but it is the strategic doctrine she has adopted over the last decade for the dynamic enforcement of illegal claims in the region, wrote Phileleftheros.

Geopolitical analyst Petros Savvides said in his analysis published in Phileleftheros that both the code name of the exercise and its timing, the size of the naval forces participating – the entire Turkish Navy – and the huge expanse that will be covered, from the Black Sea to the  Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, clearly show the strategic intentions of Ankara in the vast sea belt around Turkey. The area in question has been lately dubbed by Turkey as ‘Blue Homeland’.

The absence of any serious reaction so far by Cyprus, Greece and the international community has created conditions for firmer actions on behalf of Turkey.

If Nicosia does not yield to Turkish demands for co-exploitation of the Cypriot exclusive economic zone with Turkey and the ‘TRNC’, it is almost certain that Ankara will unilaterally proceed, with the silent tolerance of Brussels and Washington, to drillings in blocks within the Cypriot EEZ, Savvides said.

In another article on the same issue, Phileleftheros said that Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, sent the message that his country will not accept any faits acomplis within their ‘blue homeland’.

Turkey has always been supporting peace but, at the same time, she is determined to always protect her rights and interests, Akar said during an election campaign event in Antakya in the presence of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


Refugees desperate over wretched condition of homes

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Residents of refugee estates in Larnaca deplored on Tuesday the wretched state of their homes citing inactivity of state services, and calling on the president to intervene.

MPs, members of the House refugee committee, visited a number of refugee estates in Larnaca that are over 40 years old, where they witnessed the problems residents face. All houses have serious mould and dampness problems, while rainwater runs into homes through cracks in the walls.

The committee urged the government to introduce a new scheme for the restructuring of these homes which are beyond maintenance and to speed procedures to install lists in all apartment buildings. At the moment, only one third of these building have lifts, making the life of residents difficult as many have now aged and cannot go up and down flights of stairs.


State pays damages over negligence in search for missing person

Phileleftheros
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

A Nicosia district court on Tuesday ordered the government to pay €50,000 in damages to the brother and sister of Christos Socratous, who was abducted by TCs in February 1964 and has been missing since.

The court ruled that the state had been heavily negligent and did not duly investigate the man’s disappearance, elongating the stress and emotional hardship of his siblings.

Socratous was abducted while riding his motorcycle in an area between Koshi and Louroudjina, on his way to Nicosia. He was with a friend of his, Andreas Petrou, who was also abducted and remains missing.

Socratous’ siblings told the court that they received humiliating treatment by the state and that despite information that his TC murderer used to cross to the free areas to work in constructions, authorities never questioned him over the incident. The state told the court that there was no clear information on the suspected killer of Socratous. It also said that the authorities have and continue to investigate the case in the best possible way given the circumstances.


European Parliament hears about work of Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage

Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Human Rights, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage informed the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday that it has restored 31 sites across the island so far.

The Committee, that presented its work to the EP for the first time, said that it successfully restored 31 heritage sites across the island, including Orthodox, Maronite and Armenian churches, mosques and minarets, fortifications, hammams, aqueducts and watermills.

Glafkos Constantinides, a GC member of the committee, told the EP that the Committee’s 10-year journey  has shown in the clearest possible way how cultural heritage conservation, with all its complexities and challenges, can be a paradigm for the future that Cyprus is in great need of.

TC chairman of the committee, Ali Tuncay, said that cultural heritage and differences should no longer be factors that cause conflicts but factors that contribute to cooperation, peace and the prosperous living of Turkish Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and others.

He said the Committee travelled from Paphos to Karpas and visited hundreds of monuments all around the island, before projects were prepared with technical support from the UNDP and financial contribution from the European Union, allowing the successful completion of important work.

Head of office of the UNDP in Cyprus Tiziana Zennaro said the work of the Committee is already serving as an example in many other similar contexts, including Kosovo, Moldova, Iraq and Jerusalem. In 2019, she added, the UNDP is planning to co-organise along with the Technical Committee a regional conference on confidence building through cultural heritage.


TC leader to attend bicommunal event in buffer zone

Alithia, Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process, CBMs

OVERVIEW

TC leader Mustafa Akinci is to attend on Wednesday an event organised by the Slovak Embassy at Ledra Palace hotel in the buffer zone, attended also by political party leaders from both side of the divide.

The event is to be addressed by Slovak ambassador Jan Skoda. UN Secretary-General Special Representative Elisabeth Spehar will be the guest speaker.

Both leaders had been invited to the event. Among attendees will be DISY leader Averof Neophytou and representatives of GC and TC parties, members of the diplomatic community, representatives of technical committees and NGOs and UN officials.


Bicommunal group calls on leaders to quit stalling

Alithia, Haravgi
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

The Bi-Communal Peace Initiative-United Cyprus, that represents around 75 groups and organisations said on Tuesday they were concerned the two leaders were creating an atmosphere that makes the agreement appear impossible.

During a press conference on Tuesday morning out in the street near the area where the two leaders were to meet, the group demanded from the two leaders that they come out from the meeting with a clear decision to return to the negotiating table and positively respond to the pending issues since Crans-Montana. Time is running out, against the interests of both communities, the group said.

The group demanded that the two leaders rise up to the expectations and the common will of both communities and take those steps that can lead to an agreement as soon as possible to reunite the country.


Arrested Turkish Kurd expressed fears for his life

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security

OVERVIEW

A Turkish Kurd and a Syrian, arrested after being caught carrying a gun and ammunition in a Limassol hotel, were remanded on Tuesday for eight days.

The Kurdish man was reportedly sentenced to a year in prison in the north in 2017 for an abduction case. GC authorities are still waiting information from the north, through the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Crime, on whether he is involved in a murder case.

He told police he had entered the free areas in 2018 and that he had bought the gun some 20 days ago because he is afraid for his life.