GCC Press Review | 17 Mar 2019 |

Front Page Headlines

Sunday Mail

Rain threatens safety in Tala

Development is slipping down hillside, could close road, cause accident say locals.

  • Who’s the real target of politician’s arrest in north?

Simerini

It’s the layman’s fault

Uproar from the revelations on politicians’ non-performing loans (NPLs). New case, mystery loan to Tamassos Properties. Many questions left unanswered, no-one takes the blame.

  • Turkish artifact (Opinion piece on geostrategic interests in the region)
  • Countdown to Brexit, confusion reigns internally and abroad.

Politis

We are out and about in weapon systems markets

Firearms from Serbia and Leopard tanks. Main goal is to be rid of the Russian equipment, mainly due to participation in PESCO (EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation). In 2017, we ordered from Serbia 24 155mm self-propelled howitzer weapon systems. The National Guard is about to acquire, also from Serbia, eight Milosh BOV M16 4×4 combat vehicles.

  • Green Line: We need permission of the EU even for grass –TCs demand trade for processed products of plant origin, the government is reversing the trade.
  • Nature: Creation of the island of Cyprus –In the occupied village of Livera there is still a site in an animal farm with remains of hippopotamus and elephants.

Phileleftheros

Strong answer to threats

Stern message to Ankara through a joint announcement by the US, Israel, Greece and Cyprus. Security in the Eastern Mediterranean also through PESCO.

  • Warfare in Brussels over the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ) – We reveal (Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut) Cavusoglu’s document. Ankara’s claims: Blocks 6 and 7 are within the Turkish continental shelf while block 3 belongs to the breakaway regime. Nicosia broke the silent procedure of the EU. The letter of (Foreign Minister) Nicos Christodoulides and unilateral statement. Turkish conditions put forth to UN envoy Jane Holl Lute.
  • Message from Washington: Judith Gail Garber, the new US Ambassador
  • Cyprus-Greece-Israel-USA: The Americans enter the security game in the Eastern Mediterranean
  • The onslaught of illegal Turkish toponyms
  • The Israel-Lebanon sea border
  • The prospects: Planning and stability necessary for natural gas 
  • (Lecturer of Energy Strategy and Management at the University of Cyprus) Constantinos Papaloucas: (Hydrocarbons Fund) Nothing like the Norwegian model

Kathimerini

(Finance Minister:) “We stopped the billions of euros going to parties, mainly AKEL”

“We had kept the Co-op bank alive to protect the deposits of the people.”

  • Mustafa Akinci: “Very difficult to reach an agreement on the terms of reference”
  • The Eastern Mediterranean is an extension of the US: The upcoming trilateral summit
  • Vassilikos port: A project of royal proportions
  • German Defence Minister: “We are building the European Defence Union”

Haravgi

The crime against the Co-op was premeditated

  • The European Parliament toughens its stance against Ankara

Alithia

The charge sheet of the eight otorhinolaryngologists (ENT doctors)

Brought to justice for taking bribes. Eight state ENT doctors – some retirees, others still active – were accused of allegedly taking bribes from a hearing centre. Along with three other private doctors, they are facing 86 charges before the Nicosia district court. Bribing doctors was considered standard practice!

  • Analysis: Americans open a back door in Cyprus
  • Constantinos Deltas: “We created the genetic map of Cyprus”

Main News

Akinci: Differing perceptions on political equality diminish chances of success

Kathimerini
Negotiations Process, Governance & Power Sharing

OVERVIEW

The positions of the GC side on the TC positive vote and the insistence on a non-existent document concerning the Guterres Framework make things very difficult in reaching an agreement on the terms of reference for the resumption of talks, but also on the talks having a positive outcome, TC leader Mustafa Akinci said.

In an interview with Kathimerini, Akinci reiterated that the TCs will not back down on the issue of political equality.

For the TCs, political equality is what is explained in the UN parameters, Akinci said, adding that even though the two sides do not have to be equal in numbers in all federal organs, they provide for effective participation of both sides in all organs.

Until recently, both sides had agreed on this issue, he said.

There will not be equal number in all organs, he said. It has been agreed however, that both sides will be equally represented in the Senate, Supreme Court, Competition Agency, Public Service Commission and the committee granting citizenships.

It has been agreed that in Cabinet, representation will be seven to four, he said.

Effective participation means that both sides, apart from the right to express their opinion, have also the right to vote, he said.

The TC side could have the right to vote either through a veto or based on the Talat-Christofias decisions which is a positive vote, at least, by both sides. A positive vote does not mean veto, it is about participation, he said. A positive vote is the minimum, anything else will not be acceptable and it will not be TC effective participation in decision-making.

Akinci said that the stance of the GC side, to initially accept TC positive vote and then reject it was a mistake.

Nicos Anastasiades had made clear that he accepted the TC positive vote in a speech he made at the beginning of the conference in Crans-Montana, but the GC side later withdrew this agreement. This has now become an obstacle in achieving progress as regards the ToR.

Fears expressed by the GC side that a positive vote would make the federal state dysfunctional are completely unjustified, Akinci said. In the case TCs do not agree on a matter, this ought to be discussed so that a compromise is reached, he added.

In the event GCs don’t pay attention to this matter and continue to take decisions based on simple majority, then the state will become dysfunctional because it will alienate one of its founding members.

On Anastasiades’ contention that the minority’s opinion would prevail, Akinci said that a culture of compromise ought to be cultivated and decisions would be taken jointly.

In the event important issues reach a standstill, there will be mechanisms in place to overcome obstacles. The foundation of federation is perception and participation, he said.

Akinci said it would not be a realistic approach to claim that the talks in Switzerland faltered because of security and guarantees, adding that, on this issue, the continuation of this gap is dependent on the stance of the GCs.

He said that during the talks, the TCs had taken the initiative on internal matters discussed, while Turkey had sent out the message that she would show the necessary flexibility on the issue of guarantees in parallel with the steps the GC side would take as regards the rights of the TCs.

The TC leadership wishes for a structure where everyone feels secure, he said, adding that a way out of this could be found but not with maximalist approaches such as ‘zero troops-zero guarantees’ (the position of Anastasiades on the matter).

Akinci said that the TC side is working on implementing the confidence-building measures agreed and hoped that the GC side would not back down.

As regards a decentralised federal solution, Akinci said that the TC side is not negative to the prospect of more powers to the founding states but the GC side wishes more powers to the central government. If there is a change of stance on this matter, the TCs are willing to review the situation, he said.

The key, in parallel to their reduction, is the way decisions will be made at central level on issues that will remain at central level. Disagreements continue on this issue, he said.

Anastasiades made a general presentation on powers that will remain with the central government but did not specify which powers would remain with the constituent states, Akinci said. He added that he would like a more detailed study on the matter.

Akinci said the natural gas will either become a point of cooperation between the two communities, Turkey and regional countries or it will be a point of tension and conflict.

He said he was in favour of the first option but that the GC side rejected this idea and insists on taking steps in the opposite direction.

Turkey and the TCs could be included in the energy equation of the Eastern Mediterranean, he said, but instead the GCs adopted an attitude that this space is theirs and so they do what they want, forcing the former to take similar actions.

For that reason, no one should be surprised in the near future when Turkey’s vessels start drilling.

The way things are at the moment, it will be very difficult to reach a positive result. The TC side will not back down on political equality as they insist on this.

He said there is also an effort to distort the content of the Guterres Framework of June 30, 2017 and to retrieve a non-existent document of July 4. Based on all the above, reaching agreement on the Terms of Reference will also be very difficult.

In the event these obstacles are overcome, the TC side is ready to enter a results-oriented procedure and not an open-ended one, he said, adding that the talks could resume in June, after elections in Turkey in March, the Euro elections in May and possible early general elections in Greece.

If there is an opportunity for a solution, it is my duty to the future generations to utilise it, he said.

KEY ACTORS
Akinci
>>
The TCs will not back down on the issue of political equality. UN parameters provide for effective participation of both sides in all federal organs even if they are not represented in equal numbers.
>> Effective participation means that both sides have the right to express their opinion and vote.
>> A positive vote does not mean veto. It is the minimum, anything else will not be acceptable and will not be considered TC effective participation in decision making.
>> The state will become dysfunctional not due to TC positive vote but by alienating one of its founding members if GCs continue post-solution to take decisions based on simple majority.
>> In the case TCs do not agree on a matter, this ought to be discussed to reach a compromise. A culture of compromise must be cultivated and decisions taken jointly.
>> It had been agreed that both sides would be equally represented in the Senate, Supreme Court, Competition Agency, Public Service Commission and the committee granting citizenships. Representation in Cabinet would be seven to four.
>> Anastasiades now rejects the previous agreement (on effective participation), which is a mistake.
>> This rejection, along with efforts to distort the content of the Guterres Framework, have become obstacles to achieving progress on the ToR.
>> It will be very difficult to reach a positive result in the talks the way things are at the moment.
>>
The talks could resume in June but the TC side will insist on a results-oriented procedure that will not be open-ended.
>> On natural gas, would prefer it to become a point of cooperation between the two communities, Turkey and countries of the region.
>> Turkey and the TCs could be included in energy plans in the Eastern Mediterranean, but GCs act as if they are sole owners forcing the former to take similar actions.
>> No one should be surprised in the near future when Turkey’s vessels start drilling.
>> Feels he owes it to future generations to use any opportunity for a solution.


Nicosia-Ankara dispute within the EU

Phileleftheros
EU Matters, Negotiations Process, Energy

OVERVIEW

Hostilities between Nicosia and Ankara are underway within the EU, with documents being submitted by both sides concerning Turkey’s EU accession negotiations that also concern the Cyprus problem and energy.

Citing sources, the daily said that Ankara, in positions submitted to the Association Council, claimed a significant part of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone. Phileleftheros cited the 59-page document, publishing some short excerpts.

In the document, according to the daily, Turkey said that insistence on maximalist approaches will only make bilateral relations unproductive and harmful as regards stability in the region. The daily said that the letter referred to maximalist claims, implying by the Republic of Cyprus, that were in clear conflict with the rules and principles of international law, including case law on the delimitation of sea areas.

Any delimitation effort that does not take into account the legitimate rights and interests of Turkey will be void and non-existent under international law. Turkey will continue to protect both its rights and interests on its continental shelf, as well as those of the TCs, the letter said, according to Phileleftheros.

A large part of block 6 falls within Turkey’s continental shelf and foreign companies cannot carry out unauthorised exploration and exploitation activities in sea areas that fall within Turkey’s jurisdiction, the letter reportedly said.

It also claimed that a significant segment of the so-called block 7 remains within the outer limits of Turkey’s continental shelf and has been registered with the UN. The decision of the GCs to invite international companies to search for natural gas within block 7 not only constitutes evidence that they persist on ignoring the equal and inalienable rights of the TCs but also violate Turkey’s rights in its continental shelf stemming from international law. It also said that block 3 belongs to the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.

Nicosia, anticipating Turkey’s moves, was able to break the silent procedure of the EU by rejecting the agreement framework the Romanian presidency had proposed.

The government was able to secure a powerful wording in the common position of the EU28 that could, for the first time, pave the way to discussions on possible sanctions on Ankara if she carries out drilling within the island’s EEZ.

The common position mentions that the EU is calling on Turkey to refrain from such illegal acts to which the EU would respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus.

Romania had submitted three drafts that include the positions of other member states that did not satisfy Nicosia and had pressed for a deal on the third draft but Nicosia broke the silent procedure of approval, whereby if a member state does not object within a certain timeframe, the text is approved.

After Cyprus’ foreign ministry informed the EU that the draft was not satisfactory with regards to Nicosia’s positions, thus breaking the silent procedure, a new round of consultations has been launched.

The fourth draft under preparation will include the warning of the EU to Turkey on sanctions, the daily said.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides also sent a letter to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini earlier in the month seeking to make sure that Ankara is not going to use derogatory terms at the expense of the Republic of Cyprus as in 2015 when it had used the term ‘defunct’. He also asked that the appropriate response is given to Ankara.

Nicosia also submitted a unilateral statement to the Permanent Representatives Committee, COREPER, making it clear that it would not hesitate to withdraw its consent for an EU-Turkey  Council of Association if Ankara undertook any incendiary action.

These coordinated actions have paved the way for a discussion on possible sanctions against Turkey which will not be easy however, as several member states said that such a decision would have to be made at a leaders’ summit, the daily said.

Turkey is also calling for an end to the so-called isolation of the TCs, adding that it will not fulfil any EU obligations concerning Cyprus. The only remedy to this, it said, is a solution to the Cyprus problem.

It also criticised the EU of unfair treatment of the TCs, saying that more just treatment would contribute to a final settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Turkey also reportedly said that the GCs do not represent the entire island and should not be allowed or encouraged to take advantage of international platforms and especially their EU membership, which Turkey says is not legitimate, for their political ends.

Turkey said that it is open to new ideas and types of solution but would not agree to any procedures that will be a further waste of time.

Ankara said they have shared their views with UN envoy Jane Holl Lute and informed her that they are open to new ideas but before any procedure starts, the principles must be agreed upon which the new procedure will be based.

We need to agree on what the sides will negotiate, the document said, according to Phileleftheros.