GCC Press Review | 8 Mar 2019 |

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Anastasiades fully backed Harris (Georgiades)

He refuses to sacrifice him for the heavy political responsibilities found by the investigation committee. Nicos Anastasiades reminded of the (finance) minister’s successes in the wider economy. He urged however the Attorney-general to do his job with regard to the findings.

  • TC properties: Checks on 9,000 buildings
  • Pesticides: Large flow from the occupied areas

Phileleftheros

Very capable at looting

The Co-op bank was collapsing while they were partying with company credit cards and hiring irregularly. They even hired an assistant to an assistant. Instead of reducing the payroll they expanded it.

  • Natural gas: Netanyahu’s message to Ankara
  • Erdogan is conducting an election campaign with threats to the Cypriot EEZ
  • Total, ENI, ExxonMobil raise the alarm on infrastructure
  • AKEL against (Paphos Mayor) Phedonas: Conflict in Paphos on TC properties

Haravgi

Blameless, no resignation, no dismissal

Full backing to Harris by Anastasiades. The President brushed off the findings. AKEL General Secretary: “The President also bears enormous responsibility.”

Cyprus Mail

Cracks appear in EastMed pipeline

Rome is having second thoughts over the proposed subsea pipeline.

Alithia

Parties: ‘Sack Harris’ – President: ‘I trust him’

Tensions are high in the Co-op fracas. Anastasiades rejects the opposition’s request for the head of the finance minister and invites the Attorney-general to evaluate the findings of the investigation committee and act according to his own judgment.

  • Procedures continue: Maronites-Denktash meeting on return to occupied villages
  • Christodoulides: A series of bills will soon be tabled to parliament ahead of Brexit
  • They arrived from Turkey: 33 more refugees to the free areas

Main News

Possible setbacks to Cyprus’ regional energy cooperation

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

OVERVIEW

The Cyprus Mail reports in its headline that cracks seem to be forming among the countries participating in the EastMed gas pipeline. Questions were raised over the project’s feasibility, following a report this week in Italy’s La Stampa that Rome is having second thoughts over the proposed subsea pipeline, which has already received funding from the EU as a ‘Project of Common Interest’.

According to La Stampa, the definitive agreement between Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy to provide Europe with natural gas via the EastMed was expected to be concluded by the end of March but Italy now has decided to order a new environmental impact assessment following pressure from environmental activists, the daily reports.

The publication cited a diplomat of one of the other three countries as saying that the Italian government has not given them concrete reasons for the pause and that probably electoral reasons were behind this stop. The same source also said that they don’t know yet if after the elections something would be unblocked.

The project is opposed by Turkey, seeing its regional influence and role as an energy hub diminish and also by Egypt, which aims to sign an agreement with Nicosia to transfer the natural gas extracted off the island to its own shores, Cyprus Mail reported.

Adding to this is Lebanon’s warning to its Mediterranean neighbours that it would not allow the mooted pipeline to violate its maritime borders. The country has an unresolved maritime border dispute with Israel.

According to the Cyprus Mail, Lebanon’s foreign minister Gebran Bassil, said he has written to UN Secretary-General, the EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Italy to request that the pipeline does not infringe on Lebanon’s rights within what it claims as its exclusive economic zone.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel within the next few days to help with its plan to export natural gas to Europe. “In a few days, the leaders of Cyprus and Greece will come here, together with… Pompeo, to advance a gas pipeline from Israel to Europe via these countries. The Navy will protect also this pipeline,” Netanyahu said on his Twitter feed, Alithia and Phileleftheros report.

The two dailies said that this is a message to Turkey.

KEY ACTORS
Netanyahu (Israel)
>>
US will join Cyprus, Greece & Israel to advance EastMed gas pipeline.
>> Israeli Navy will protect this pipeline.  


Erdogan: Turkey determined on gas exploration in East Med

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
External Security, Energy

OVERVIEW

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to have put Cyprus high on his election campaign agenda as he keeps referring to the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in interviews and debates, Phileleftheros reports.

Sometimes discussion leads to war threats by Turkey, also evident by Erdogan’s latest statements following criticism from the opposition. The Turkish president referred to contacts with countries active in the region, the daily said.

Even though he did not mention which countries, it must be either US, France or Italy since Turkey had cooperated with these three countries in the past for hydrocarbon exploration, it said.

All three dailiesreport that Erdogan said in an interview with 24 TV and 360 TV, that, as regards drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey is in consultations with the countries that are currently doing research in that area to discover whether Turkey can carry out explorations with them or not.

If there is a possibility to cooperate with them, he said, Turkey will try. At the moment however, drill ships Fatih and Yavuz will enter that area while Turkey’s search vessels will continue their work.

Turkey will also acquire an ultra-deep-water drilling vessel, he said, adding that the search for hydrocarbons will continue with determination.

According to Phileleftheros, Erdogan, during a speech in Malatya, accused opposition CHP (Republican People’s Party) of trying to halt these activities and that it uses the same arguments as the GCs.

KEY ACTORS
Erdogan

>> Turkey exploring the possibility of cooperating with countries carrying out hydrocarbon research in Eastern Mediterranean.
>> Turkey is determined to carry on with search for hydrocarbons.


Cyprus lacks proper infrastructure for energy programme

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
Energy

OVERVIEW

The three energy companies operating in Cyprus’ offshore blocks expressed their concerns over lack of proper infrastructure at ports for support services of their drilling activities but also red tape.

Representatives of ExxonMobil, TOTAL and ΕΝΙ said during a panel discussion on Thursday at the sixth Eastern Mediterranean Gas Conference that a major grievance was the lack of adequate space at the harbours as well as absence of competitive infrastructure. They said that though initially they could choose between two or three port infrastructures, after, the government gave a monopoly to one of the operators of the Limassol port. In addition, Larnaca port is now out of bounds, meaning there is no competition anymore.

This means that only one drilling operation can be served at a time, Phileleftheros reports. Given that seven drillings are scheduled to take place between November 2019 and November 2020,  this could mean difficulty in staying within timeframes, added the paper.

Another matter requiring attention, they said, is the red tape in securing all the permits for drilling.

A port at Vassiliko that will offer services to these companies will be up and running in 2023 but this was not deemed as a solution to the problems currently faced, the dailies reported.

Yves Grosjean, general manager of Total Cyprus, stressed the need for an oilfield services centre to be set up locally in the eastern Mediterranean, supporting drilling operations. Cyprus has the potential to become that hub, he added, although far more infrastructures would be required for that to happen.

KEY ACTORS
Grosjean (Total)
>>
Cyprus could become an oilfield services hub if it creates the necessary infrastructure.


Call for more female inclusion in the negotiations process

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Women from both sides of the divide stressed the need on Wednesday for their inclusion and active participation in the negotiations process. The debate took place at a discussion under the title “Does the future of Women belong to women?” hosted at the residence of the Ambassador of France in Cyprus, Rene Troccaz, on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Moderator of the event was former EU Commissioner Androulla Vassilliou and speakers were the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Elizabeth Spehar, former Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Marcoullis, TC lawyer Mine Atli, DISY MP Annita Demetriou.

Spehar said that it would be good to look at additional effective mechanisms that could bring women’s voices and concerns much more concretely into the peace process for a Cyprus settlement.

Since the procedure is currently at a standstill, there is time to think about it and make sure that it becomes part of a renewed negotiating process with political will, she said.

So far, she said, there has been “precious little” gender perspective at the talks, adding that only once in two or so years there was a discussion at the level of the negotiators about the quotas for women, but this never made it into a final text.

Spehar said that if we don’t think about what women have experienced in this conflict, and what their aspirations and needs are, we are going to miss a big part of the picture.

Marcoullis called for the introduction of legislative quotas for elections, in the Councils of Ministers and in the boards of major companies, universal and publicly funded child care and parental leave, equal pay, elimination of violence against women and girls and women’s active participation in the peace process. If no changes are made, she said, the country will not benefit from the talents, skills, ideas and perceptions of half of its population.

Atli said that it was vital that the federal state is one that includes concrete measures to eradicate gender injustice. Although there are many TC men who will agree that a solution should guarantee the effective participation and political equality of TCs, when it comes to the effective participation and the political equality of women, the hefty approval halts, she said.

According to Demetriou, women are the present and the future of Cyprus and a civilised, fair and progressive state must take measures to make sure there is no discrimination

KEY ACTORS
Spehar (UN)
>> Effective mechanisms could be put in place to include women in the peace process since there is very little gender perspective at the talks.
>> Discussion at negotiators’ level about quotas for women never made it into a final text.

Marcoullis
>> Legislative quotas must be introduced for elections, cabinet, boards of businesses, plus universal child care & parental leave, equal pay, elimination of violence and measures to encourage women’s active participation in the peace process. 
>> If women are not included in public life, the country will not benefit from what half of its population has to offer.

Atli
>> Federal state must make sure to eradicate gender injustice. 
>> Despite calls for TC effective participation and political equality, the same does not apply for the effective participation and political equality of women.

Demetriou (DISY)
>> A civilised, fair and progressive state must make sure there is no gender discrimination


Maronites discuss return to their villages in the north

Alithia, Haravgi
Territory, Migration & Citizenship, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The representative of the Maronites, Yiannakis Musas, and members of the Return to Ayia Marina Skylouras Committee, met on Thursday with ‘Finance Minister’ Serdar Denktash concerning the community’s return to their villages in the north.

The dailies, citing TC media, reported that Musas said after the meeting he had requested more information regarding the return of Maronites to their villages.

Denktash said that procedures were underway for the return of 12 houses in Karpasha, while works regarding the villages of Asomatos and Ayia Marina will also be speeded up.

The TCs do not see Maronites as a minority and would like them to live within the ‘TRNC’ as equals, Denktash was quoted saying by Alithia.


Greek military declassifies documents for Cyprus File

Phileleftheros
Regional/International Relations, External Security

OVERVIEW

A number of classified documents with information about Greece’s National Defence General Staff’s operations in the summer of 1974 have been declassified so that they can be included in the Cyprus File, it was announced on Thursday.Phileleftheros said that the documents most probably cover the period between the coup and Turkish invasion.

The decision for the declassification of the documents was announced by the Greek Alternate Minister of National Defence, Panayiotis Rigas, during a meeting with the President of the Greek Parliament Nikos Voutsis.
The documents are expected to be sent to the Greek parliament to be added to the Cyprus File


Paphos mayor: TC properties management done by the book

Phileleftheros, Politis
Property

OVERVIEW

Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos refuted on Thursday claims by AKEL that he was arbitrarily taking decisions on the management of TC properties, arguing that everything is being done by the book and he has the paperwork to prove it.

Phedonos also said that the attack by AKEL’s Paphos branch was due to concerns that he would mess up a “scandalous scenery” concerning mismanagement of TC properties going back decades.

The municipality, he said, only asked to use one building which is TC property to house the municipal traffic police and the municipal music school. Three buildings have been demolished after the competent state services gave their signed consent, he said.

Phedonos said that, on the contrary, he has in his possession a list with names of persons who are using TC properties illegally.


Pesticides smuggled from north found in Paphos

Politis
Economy, Internal Security

OVERVIEW

A joint raid by police and Customs this week on two establishments owned by a 72-year-old man from Paphos revealed that the suspect was smuggling pesticides and tobacco from the north.

During the raid, 50 pesticide containers, around four kilos of tobacco, 4,000 cigarettes and around €70,000 in cash was located in the two establishments owed by the man, the daily reports.

Customs seized the tobacco while the pesticides were taken to the agriculture department for further investigations.

It is believed that the pesticides were smuggled from the north. This is not the first time pesticides smuggled from the north are located in the free areas, the daily said.