GCC Press Review | 28 Feb 2019 |

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Expansion of the Judicial Council or ‘rock bottom’

The Constitution needs to change, says the chairman of the Bar Association, D. Ioannides. The Code of Conduct does not concern Supreme Court judges, says (Attorney-general Costas) Clerides. Judges don’t go to Parliament for reasons of separation of powers.

  • ‘Don’t stay at CBMs’ The UN Security Council in a written statement sent the message to the leaders not to just stay at the confidence building measures (CBMs) agreed in 2015 but work intensively.
  • Glafcos: Today the good news
  • Defence: We carry on with France

Phileleftheros

Glafcos brings blessings

Good (natural gas) deposit with continuation. ExxonMobil extends its presence in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Announcements with great prospects for Cyprus.

  • The British have left the Bases in Cyprus outside the EU – Demarches by Foreign Ministry and European Commission to London that attributes this to an ‘error’. The President at Buckingham Palace for an event on Cyprus on Sunday, March 3.
  • Facelift to 691 TC properties for the rebirth of the old part of Nicosia – There are 691 TC properties in old Nicosia, which, if preserved, will change the image of the city. Some of them are of excellent architecture, others can be turned into gems.
  • ‘Blue Homeland’ exercise: Ankara war cries against Greece and Cyprus – On the eve of announcements on the exploratory drilling at the Glafcos site, Ankara demonstrates its power with the 10-day ‘Blue Homeland’ exercise involving a large number of military forces.
  • They are willing but differences remain – President Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci stick to their positions and differences. During their meeting two days ago, the two leaders showed they were willing to achieve progress but, in essence, there wasn’t any result.

Haravgi

‘Work on core issues,’ the UN Security Council urges

Progress on CBMs is welcome but is not enough. Foreseeable failure and blame game. Tatar calls for a proposal on two states.

Cyprus Mail

MEPs seek end to golden visas

Cyprus’ citizenship by investment scheme displays traits of a tax haven, say MEPs.

  • Turkey launches ‘largest navy drill in its history’ 

Alithia

Glafcos is smiling at us

The moment of truth for the results of drilling in block 10. Official announcements today by ExxonMobil and energy ministry. Regardless of the findings in block 10, what will determine future developments is whether the deposits can be considered exploitable.

  • Government: No shifts (in position) due to CBMs
  • Androulla Vassiliou: The 210 paintings that are to be returned are from Famagusta
  • Spehar: “Darkness is darkest just before dawn”

Main News

Anastasiades to brief National Council on meeting with Akinci

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

OVERVIEW

President Nicos Anastasiades will brief on Friday the members of the National Council about his meeting on Tuesday with TC leader Mustafa Akinci.

The National Council meeting follows accusations by political parties that Anastasiades told Akinci more about his decentralisation proposal than he had told the National Council.

Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Wednesday during press statements that this was not true and that the parties had previously been asked for input on the issue.

The government spokesman also said that the government rejects claims of shifting from the core of the Cyprus problem to CBMs.

The goal of the president remains drafting the terms of reference as soon as possible for the resumption of the talks, he said.

CBMs do not substitute in any way the goal of the resumption of talks, he added.

Prodromou also said he wanted to make it clear that the Greek Cypriot side opposed the prevailing view that new talks would not happen before June but the “objective data is such that it appears this is the timeframe that will be followed”.

Phileleftheros reports that Prodromou referred to an online article by the Cyprus News Agency published on July 4, 2017 on Wednesday as proof that there was a leader’s meeting that day at the talks in Crans-Montana.

Prodromou said he felt compelled to provide the link to the article after the office of TC leader Mustafa Akinci claimed last week there was no leaders’ meeting on July 4. The same thing was claimed by a political party leader on Wednesday, Prodromou said, referring to AKEL head Andros Kyprianou.

The link led to a brief and a photo depicting the two leaders and their negotiators sitting at a table with the then UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide and Elisabeth Spehar under the title, ‘Meeting at table 2 has begun, technocrats are meeting in the afternoon’.

AKEL’s Kyprianou told Astra radio on Wednesday that the standstill the talks are in suits Anastasiades, who has already started the blame game against the TC side ahead of another failed attempt, Haravgi reports.

Chairman of the National Unity Party, Ersin Tatar, called on the TC leader not to be seduced by the GC’s games and submit to the UN a two-state solution as per the demand of the TC community and of the majority of the ‘House’, the daily reported.

KEY ACTORS
Prodromou
>>
Anastasiades’ goal remains drafting the ToR as soon as possible for the resumption of the talks. CBMs will not replace this goal.
>> There are photographs proving a leaders’ meeting did take place on July 4, 2017.

Kyprianou (AKEL)
>> Anastasiades already started the blame game against the TC side ahead of another failed attempt.


Spehar, UN Security Council call on two leaders to carry on with reunification efforts

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

OVERVIEW

UN Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar urged the two leaders on Wednesday to continue engaging with UN envoy Jane Holl Lute, while the UN Security Council also encouraged them to continue their efforts towards agreement and to reach convergences on the core issues.

In her speech at a reception held by the Slovak embassy in Ledra Palace hotel on Wednesday, Spehar said that the uncertainty of the current situation should not overshadow the prospects for, or the gains of a united future.

The agreement of the two leaders on n CBMs last Tuesday was encouraging, but there is still a significant road to travel to return to the negotiating table, she said.
 
She added that CBMs are no substitute for negotiations, but after years of estrangement between the communities, they can help to build the foundation for greater public investment in the process and for both a successful and sustainable outcome.
Spehar called on political parties to support the leaders in their quest to finalise the terms of reference and get back to the negotiating table. Despite difference of opinions on how to move forward, parties do have the means to work towards a better, united Cyprus, she said.

She added that the importance of Lute’s efforts should not be underestimated and the parties should continue to engage with Lute in a constructive, creative and diligent manner, recognising that the outcome will be critical in determining the future of the Cyprus talks.
 
She also called for encouragement for other measures such as peace education and bringing children together from across the divide, greater involvement of civil society, particularly women and youth which is proven to greatly improve the chances of success and sustainability of political processes.

Many ideas for confidence building require mere political will, which is always given a boost when the political class and the general public call out their support, she added.
 
She also thanked the Slovak Embassy and the government of the Republic of Slovakia for the “unmatched initiative” to arrange meetings of GC and TC parties.

The Security Council members, in a statement issued on Wednesday, welcomed the progress made by the two leaders on CBMs and encouraged them to continue their efforts towards agreement on and implementation of new ones. It also urged the sides and all involved participants to renew their political will and commitment to a settlement under United Nations auspices and called upon the two leaders to put their efforts expeditiously behind further work on reaching convergences on the core issues, stressing that the status quo is unsustainable.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their support for a Cypriot-led process.

KEY ACTORS
Spehar
>>
CBMs are no substitute for negotiations, but they can help build the foundation for greater public investment in the process for a successful & sustainable outcome.
>> Political parties ought to support the leaders to finalise the terms of reference and get back to the negotiating table.
>> The importance of Lute’s efforts should not be underestimated. The outcome will be critical in determining the future of the Cyprus talks.
>> Peace education and bringing children together from across the divide should be encouraged.
>> Greater involvement of civil society, particularly women and youth, is proven to greatly improve the chances of success and sustainability of political processes.

UN Security Council
>>
Two leaders must continue efforts towards agreement on & implementation of new CBMs.
>> All parties should renew political will & commitment to a settlement under UN.
>>
Two leaders ought to put efforts expeditiously behind further work on reaching convergences on the core issues.
>> Status quo is unsustainable.
>> This is a Cypriot-led process.


‘Turkey plays war’ in the Eastern Mediterranean

Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
External Security

OVERVIEW

Turkey launched on Wednesday the largest navy drill in its history which some GC parties have linked to expansionist policies in the region and the announcement of natural gas exploration in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.

Over 100 vessels are taking part in the ‘Blue Homeland’ exercise in the Black Sea, Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.

According to Phileleftheros, Turkey is ‘playing war’ in the region and is sending out messages to Cyprus, Greece and Israel. The exercise began on the eve of announcements by the US company ExxonMobil of the results of its drilling in Cyprus’ offshore block 10.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Wednesday that some might say it is a message related to the elections taking place in Turkey, Cyprus Mail reported.

Prodromou said he would not go into an analysis of the decisions and actions taken by Turkey but rather repeat the position of the Cyprus government on the benefits of observing international law “through all the relationships we have with all neighbouring countries, except, unfortunately, Turkey”. EDEK said in a statement that the drill confirmed Turkey’s aspirations to extend its maritime borders in violation of international law, while the Green Party suggested it was linked to the probable announcement on Thursday by US energy giants ExxonMobil of its findings in block 10 of Cyprus’ EEZ.

KEY ACTORS
EDEK
>> Turkey’s navy drill confirms its aspirations to extend its maritime borders in violation of international law.

Greens
>>
Turkey’s navy exercises linked to possible outcome of hydrocarbon exploration in Cyprus’ EEZ.


‘ExxonMobil announces 5-8tcf gas find offshore Cyprus’

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
Energy

OVERVIEW

The Cyprus Mail online reports on Thursday that Cyprus and ExxonMobil announced a gas find estimated between 5-8 trillion cubic feet in an offshore field inside the island’s exclusive economic zone.

The discovery was made in the Glafcos (Glaucus) 1 well in Block 10 of the EEZ.

“Based on preliminary interpretation of the well data, the discovery could represent an in-place natural gas resource of approximately 5 trillion to 8 trillion cubic feet (142 billion to 227 billion cubic metres). Further analysis in the coming months will be required to better determine the resource potential,” the company said in a statement.

“These are encouraging results in a frontier exploration area,” said Steve Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company. “The potential for this newly discovered resource to serve as an energy source for regional and global markets will be evaluated further.”

According to the company, the well encountered a gas-bearing reservoir of approximately 436 feet (133 metres).

The well was safely drilled to 4,200 metres depth in 2,063 metres of water.

Glafcos was the second of a two-well drilling program in Block 10. The first well, Delphine-1, did not encounter commercial quantities of hydrocarbons, the company said.

This is the second big find following Noble Energy’s discovery of 4.5 tcf in 2011 in the Aphrodite field in Block 12.

Thursday’s newspapers, meanwhile, reported about the excitement leading up to the announcement, after news got out that ExxonMobil vice president Tristan J. Aspray himself is on the island to brief President Nicos Anastasiades.

Anastasiades is to meet Aspray and the delegation of ExxonMobil. Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis will attend the meeting.


Nicosia quizzes UK after bases appear outside EU customs territory in documents

Phileleftheros
EU Matters

OVERVIEW

Nicosia and Brussels have sought explanations from the UK after the discovery that London has set its bases in Cyprus outside the customs territory of the EU, Phileleftheros reports.

In an agreement the UK has prepared ahead of Brexit between herself and Switzerland,  London included the bases in Cyprus as a territory to which the trade agreement with Bern would apply. That is, the United Kingdom “forgot” that the British bases in Cyprus are customs territory of the EU, the daily said. According to information the same applies in UK agreements with Chile and the Faroe Islands.

This move casts doubts on the intentions of the UK that claims that even in the case of a no-deal Brexit it is willing to cooperate with Nicosia to ensure the rights of those working and living within the bases territory but also of the products produced.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides has already discussed the matter with Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who in turn brought this to the attention of Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay. The latter reassured that this was due to error, the daily reports.


Works of important artists among paintings to be returned to GC owners

Alithia, Cyprus Mail
CBMs

OVERVIEW

GC chair of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage Androulla Vassilliou said on Wednesday that the artwork to be returned to the GC side under a confidence-building measure reached by the two leaders on Tuesday concerns 210 paintings found in homes and shops in Famagusta.

Vassilliou told the Cyprus Mail the names of the artists whose works will be included would be made known once the list was finalised, as she was expecting the list to be updated with additional pieces.

She did, however, say the works to be returned belong to “very important artists”, which in the aftermath of the 1974 Turkish invasion became part of the personal collections of the Turkish Cypriots who found them.


Anastasiades at Buckingham Palace for Cyprus event

Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

President Nicos Anastasiades is to travel to London as a guest of the royal family on March 3 to attend an event organised by Buckingham Palace as part of the Commonwealth entitled ‘Celebration for Cyprus’.

This event will include a special ceremony, an exhibition of archaeological objects from Cyprus and old original maps of Cyprus.
In addition to meeting Queen Elizabeth, the president will also meet separately with Prince Charles as a future head of the Commonwealth, and the Duke of Cambridge, as well as with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

A comment in Phileleftheros criticises Anastasiades for agreeing to go to the palace and to address Queen Elisabeth on March 3 which is the 62nd anniversary of the death of EOKA fighter Gregoris Afxentiou who was burned alive by British soldiers. “It seems it slipped his mind,” the comment said.


‘No other crossings will open unless Piroi is on that list’

Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Politis
CBMs

OVERVIEW

Athienou Mayor Kyriacos Kareklas discussed the issue of the opening of a crossing in Piroi with TC leader Mustafa Akinci during a reception hosted by the Slovak embassy at Ledra Palace hotel in the Nicosia buffer zone on Wednesday.

The mayor also discussed the issue with chief negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis who reassured him that President Nicos Anastasiades had discussed the matter during Tuesday’s meeting with Akinci. Mavroyiannis told Kareklas the GC side would not agree to the opening of other crossings unless that of Piroi is on that list.

KEY ACTORS
Mavroyiannis
>> No other crossings will open unless Piroi is among them.


French military experts to discuss defence agreement

Politis
EU Matters, External Security

OVERVIEW

A delegation of experts from the French military are expected to arrive in Cyprus in the coming days for contacts with National Guard officials to discuss cooperation between the two countries on defence.

The two delegations will discuss the implementation of what has been agreed for the hosting of French warships on the naval base Evangelos Florakis at Mari within the EU and PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) framework. Both sides stress that the talks do not concern the creation of a French base on the island, Politis reports. The French defence minister is expected to arrive on the island next month for a meeting with her Cypriot counterpart, Savvas Angelides, and to discuss the issue of the defence agreement at a political level, the daily said.


First law suit over passports for TCs with one Turkish parent

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Migration & Citizenship, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The first group law suit against the Republic of Cyprus is to be filed within the coming days by TCs whose one parent is from Turkey and who were denied Republic of Cyprus (RoC) passports.

TC trade unionist Sener Elcil told daily Havadis that within the coming days, a first group action will be filed in a court of the RoC. He said that it concerns TCs whose one parent is a settler, Phileleftheros reports. The daily reports that the position of the government is that the whole issue has wider political dimensions and therefore it has been made clear to the representatives of this group that no documents of the RoC will be granted in cases of children of settlers.


Leaders to assist in the restoration of Ayios Iacovos church

Alithia, Politis
CBMs, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The two leaders have discussed the matter of the partial collapse of the wall of the medieval church of Ayios Iacovos during their Tuesday meeting and have agreed to assist in every way for its restoration, the GC head of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, Takis Hadjidemetriou, told the Cyprus News Agency on Wednesday.

Hadjidemetriou said that the two leaders have responded to the call of the Committee for help after the partial collapse earlier in the month of the church located in the Nicosia buffer zone. The Committee has been informed that the leaders will exert every possible effort, he said.


Cyprus asks removal of ‘TRNC’ references from happiness report

Alithia
Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

Greens’ MP Giorgos Perdikis sought explanations from Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides on whether the government has taken any steps to protest over a report on happiness that refers to the breakaway regime as ‘TRNC’.

According to a letter sent by Perdikis to the minister, the 2018 UN World Happiness Report ranks Cyprus 61st and the so-called Republic of Northern Cyprus 58th.

Perdikis asked the FM to inform parliament whether his ministry was aware of this report and if yes, brief them on what steps it has taken to address this issue.

Christodoulides said in response that  the report is an independent initiative and that the author’s views do not represent any organization, including the UN. He said that the ministry had asked the authors of the report to remove some “problematic references”.


Restoring TC property in the old town to attract businesses, residents

Phileleftheros
Property

OVERVIEW

The interior ministry is thinking on restoring and utilising TC property in the old part of Nicosia in a bid to give the old town a facelift and attract new residents and encourage further business activity.

This concerns 349 buildings and open air spaces already used for business and religious purposes and 342 other properties that sit empty.

Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides told Phileleftheros that a pilot programme could be introduced to give a facelift to these properties to attract more people to the old town to set up their business or live since the bad state of these buildings is off-putting.