GCC Press Review 20 Mar 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Surprising development in the Focus case

The former son-in-law of (former Central Bank Governor) Christodoulos Christodoulou, from accused becomes prosecution witness. Andreas Kizourides voluntarily gave a testimony allegedly confessing everything. The rest of the defendants accused of bribery seem to have been caught by surprise.

  • Trilateral: High expectations
  • Antalya: (Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos )Katrougalos’ task is difficult
  • Turkey threatens ELAM! Exposed for draft dodging – Ridiculous excuses
  • Message of peace Mustafa Akinci’s absence did not alter the multidimensional message of yesterday’s event in Pyla. Peace and reconciliation is the common message of GCs and TCs during the friendly match between Salamina and Magusa FC.

Phileleftheros

They are putting pressure on Ankara

Nicosia and Athens invest a lot in today’s summit in Israel. The Greek FM will convey messages on the Cyprus problem and Turkish provocations in Antalya.

  • Political messages from the Pyla football pitch
  • Chaos with the disputed properties – Twenty per cent of occupied properties without owner since 1974.

Haravgi

They threw the ball in the court of the two leaders

Bicommunal football game in Pyla with message of reunification. Football unites, now it’s the turn of our people. Youth from both sides have come together.

  • Katrougalos discusses with (Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut) Cavusoglu  tomorrow the issue of guarantees

Cyprus Mail

Akinci questions Unficyp mandate

Says football no show due to security problems, but Anastasiades speaks of shared vision.

Alithia

Elections is the only solution

The Supreme Court sent again the message that the law on the 56th parliamentary seat is unconstitutional. Another solution, which the Attorney-general also proposes, is a constitutional amendment so that the seat remains with the Solidarity Movement but it seems a majority vote would be difficult since DISY disagrees.

  • Own goal from Akinci – He didn’t go after all to the bicommunal football event in Pyla and is trying to justify the inexcusable. President Anastasiades: “I am here to send a strong message of hope and peace to both communities and the younger generations.”
  • Today in Jerusalem: Landmark summit
  • Tomorrow in Antalya: Katrougalos… on a ‘special mission’

Main News

Katrougalos: Greece wants the Cyprob solved ‘yesterday’

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Regional/International Relations, Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos said on Tuesday he would ask from his Turkish counterpart in their meeting this week in Antalya to tell him about specific positions on the replacement of the guarantees system in Cyprus.

During his first visit on the island since he assumed duties as minister, Katrougalos held a series of contacts for coordination between the two countries on the Cyprus problem and energy issues ahead of Wednesday’s trilateral summit between Greece, Cyprus and Israel in Jerusalem and his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday.

The Greek foreign minister said after a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Christodoulides that Greece wants to see progress on the Cyprus problem the soonest possible. “We want it to be solved yesterday,” he said.

He said during his meeting with Cavusoglu, he will ask to hear more specific views as the other side has not laid its cards on the table yet as to how it is contemplating replacing this “unacceptable status of guarantees” with a mechanism that would not repeat colonial characteristics and the previous legal status that is contrary to international law.

The messages to be conveyed to Ankara as regards the Cyprus problem, he said, will be concrete both as regards the substance and the process. Greece wants to see progress on the Cyprus problem and for a sincere discussion to begin, and to get concrete responses from the other side, as regards the international aspect of the Cyprus problem.
 
Katrougalos said Greece would like an informal preparatory discussion to get underway, with a view to achieve progress that will allow the resumption of substantive negotiations to make use of all the progress achieved during recent negotiations and specifically during Crans-Montana.

Christodoulides said they have agreed on specific messages to be conveyed to Turkey aiming at leading to talks that would have a positive effect. “Our goal is not to negotiate for the sake of it. We want meaningful and targeted talks that can have a positive outcome,” Christodoulides said.

He expressed hope that Katrougalos’ contacts in Turkey would be fruitful.

Katrougalos said that during his meeting with Christodoulides they also discussed the trilateral partnerships the two countries have forged in the region, as well as European issues and EU Turkey relations.

Both ministers said that Greece and Cyprus did not agree with a suspension of Turkey’s EU accession.

It is a fact that Turkey’s behaviour may have led some member states into thinking other approaches as regards Turkey’s accession process, Christodoulides said, but “we disagree with this approach.” Putting distance between Turkey and the EU by suspending her accession negotiations will not help to resolve the Cyprus problem or transform Turkey into a country that respects human rights and the rule of law, he said.

Katrougalos said they fully agree on this issue, adding that it is in the interest of the people of Turkey, our countries and the EU not to have an anti-European and hostile Turkey on the EU’s eastern borders. On the contrary, he said, its European path must remain open, under the precondition that Turkey will respect the European law at all levels.
 
Christodoulides said there is an almost daily escalation of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean and more specifically in the Cypriot EEZ either through actions or public statements by Turkey. Cyprus, however, will not follow the Turkish approach, he said.

The Republic of Cyprus and Greece are pillars of stability and security in the region and will not engage in a dialogue that questions their sovereign rights, as per Turkey’s pursuit, he said.

Katrougalos met earlier in the day with President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace as well as with House Speaker Demetris Syllouris and Archbishop Chrysostomos.

Phileleftheros reports that Katrougalos will also stress during his meeting with Cavusoglu that Greece is calling on Turkey to abandon the policy of tension and provocation in Cyprus’ sea area. Katrougalos aims to counter Turkey’s argument on the rights of the TCs by highlighting the new law passed by the Cypriot parliament on the Hydrocarbons Fund, the daily reported, adding that the Greek FM will point out that provisions for the share of the TCs ought to satisfy Turkey as it rules out possible abuse by the GCs of the proceeds from the exploitation of natural gas.

The daily also reports that Nicosia and Athens agreed on the priorities and targets of both as regards efforts for the resumption of talks through UN envoy Jane Holl Lute as well as through contacts of the Greek FM with Turkey. They confirmed Greece’s position that the Greek-Turkish dialogue will be on the international aspect of the Cyprus problem, security and guarantees.

Alithia reports that Nicosia and Athens are determined to utilise Thursday’s meeting to fully clarify Turkey’s intentions on guarantees but also other essential issues.

According to Politis, Katrougalos’ task to attempt to solve the riddle as to Turkish intentions on guarantees is an extremely difficult one.

KEY ACTORS
Katrougalos (Greece)
>>
Greece wants to launch a sincere dialogue with Turkey on the international aspect of the Cyprob and would like to hear specific proposals on the replacement of the guarantees system.
>>
Greece would like to see progress on the Cyprob the soonest possible.
>> An informal preparatory discussion could get underway between Greece & Turkey, to achieve progress that would allow talks to resume, and to make use of the progress achieved during recent negotiations.
>> Greece is not in favour of suspending Turkey’s EU accession negotiations. It is in interest of Turkey, Greece, Cyprus & EU not to have an anti-European and hostile Turkey on the EU’s eastern borders.
>> Turkey’s European path must remain open, under the precondition that she will respect European law at all levels.

Christodoulides
>> Cyprus wants meaningful and targeted talks that could lead to a positive outcome and does not want to negotiate just for the sake of it.
>> Cyprus disagrees with suspension of Turkey’s accession processas it will nothelp resolve the Cyprob or transform Turkey into a country that respects human rights and the rule of law.
>> Cyprus and Greece are pillars of stability and security in the region and will not engage in a dialogue with Turkey that questions their sovereign rights.


High expectations from US presence in Jerusalem trilateral summit

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

OVERVIEW

The papers report that the government is looking forward to the trilateral summit with Greece and Israel on Wednesday in Jerusalem, in the presence of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and hopes that it will get US backing over Turkey’s claims on the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Issues on the agenda include energy security and regional developments. The summit will begin on Wednesday afternoon while on the sidelines President Nicos Anastasiades will hold bilateral meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pompeo.

Phileleftheros reports that Nicosia and Athens attempt to put pressure on Ankara as regards the Cyprus problem and energy.

Today’s summit in Jerusalem is expected to send out specific messages in response to the Turkish provocative actions in the region, the daily reports.

Discussion is not expected to focus on political matters due to the presence of Pompeo, it said.

Citing sources, Phileleftheros reported that an extensive joint declaration, as issued in previous summits, is not expected, thought it might include, at least on behalf of Nicosia, some references to Turkish actions in the region.

At the same time, the focus is on Pompeo’s statements who might send a message to Turkey, the daily said.

Alithia said Pompeo’s presence is a turning point since it officially seals US involvement which gives the trilateral new dynamics and dimensions and sends multiple messages as regards energy security in the region and the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its EEZ.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said on Tuesday that the ad hoc participation of the US at the trilateral was proof of the importance of this main pillar of Cyprus and Greece’s foreign policy, the Cyprus Mail reports.

He said that very soon there will be more such ad hoc participations also from EU member states, adding that France has expressed interest in the trilateral with Egypt while another goal is trilateral cooperation with Gulf countries as there has been some interest.
Christodoulides said Cyprus and Greece do not build alliances against third parties but ones based on positive approaches. These alliances, he said will yield benefits for the peoples of the region.

Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos who had a meeting with the Cypriot FM in Nicosia, said that it is being acknowledged that the two countries are not just pillars of democracy and stability, but also exporters of stability within a triangle of instability (from the Eastern Mediterranean to Libya and Ukraine).

Pompeo’s presence is confirmation of their new upgraded geostrategic role. It is also a guarantee that the management by Cyprus of the natural resources it is entitled to extract from its exclusive economic zone will be respected as per international law, he said.

Phileleftheros reports that Ambassador of Israel to Cyprus, Sammy Revel, said that the participation of Pompeo is a strong sign of support for the trilateral framework and for the increased cooperation between the three countries.

Revel told the Cyprus News Agency on Tuesday that relations between Israel and Cyprus as well as the trilateral cooperation with Greece are based on a deep friendship and mutual respect, on common values and a shared vision for a future of stability, security and prosperity, Phileleftheros reports.  
On Israel’s message to Ankara concerning activities in Cyprus’ EEZ, Revel said that Israel, as it has already stated in the past, clearly respects the rights of the Republic of Cyprus in exercising its sovereign rights in its EEZ. He recalled the EEZ delimitation agreement that Israel and Cyprus reached in 2010, Phileleftheros reported.

KEY ACTORS
Christodoulides

>> US participation in summit is proof of importance of pillar of Cyprus & Greece’s foreign policy.
>> Other countries interested in ad hoc participation in trilaterals, such as France with regard to trilateral with Egypt.Trilaterals  with Gulf countries also on the cards.
>> Cyprus & Greece build alliances based on positive approaches which are not aimed against third parties. These alliances will yield benefits for the peoples of the region.

Katrougalos (Greece)
>> Cyprus and Greece are exporters of stability in the region and Pompeo’s presence is confirmation of their new upgraded geostrategic role.
>> Pompeo’s presence is also a guarantee that Cypus’ right to extract and manage natural resources from its EEZ will be respected as per international law.

Revel (Israel)
>> Pompeo’sparticipation is a strong sign of support for the trilateral framework and for the increased cooperation between the three countries.
>> Israel respects the rights of the Republic of Cyprus in exercising its sovereign rights in its EEZ.


Peace football a success despite TC leader’s absence

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
CBMs

OVERVIEW

The bicommunal football match between Nea Salamina Famagusta and Magusa Turk Gucu FC was deemed a success despite the absence of TC leader Mustafa Akinci, most dailies report.

President Nicos Anastasiades was present at the event as well as the head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, Elisabeth Spehar, Sir Stelios Hadji-Ioannou, former Chelsea superstar Didier Drogba and the French Olympic champion and president and founder of Peace and Sport, Joel Bouzou.

The first half of the match ended 1-0 in favour of Nea Salamina. A second goal was scored in the second half when players of both teams played on the same side.

The two leaders had been invited to attend by the organisers of the event, the Peace and Sport Organisation and Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, but Akinci said he would not attend at the last moment.

Upon his arrival at the football pitch, Anastasiades declined to comment on Akinci’s refusal to attend. He said he preferred to watch a sports game aiming at improving the climate, and be reminded of the good old days “when our teams had no problem playing each other.”

In his speech later on, Anastasiades said that despite any differences with Akinci, they both share a common vision for achieving lasting peace, stability and prosperous collaboration on the island.

He said, they both want a solution that will create a win-win situation for all Cypriots, address the expectations, sensitivities and concerns of both communities and ensure mutual respect and peaceful coexistence between all of its citizens; irrespective of their different ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.

He also expressed hope that the island’s two communities would very soon live once again the same good moments they used to enjoy in the past and that his presence aimed at sending a strong message of hope and peace to both communities and the younger generations.

The current unacceptable status quo is not a sustainable option, he said, adding that it is only through achieving lasting security and stability for all that we can unleash the full potential of our country.

According to the Cyprus Mail, Akinci said during a news conference later on Tuesday he had agreed to attend when he was invited because he was told that the game would take place in the buffer zone but that UNICYP later said they would not be able to take the necessary security measures and the match was to take place in the south side.

It is sad, he said, that an organisation that wants to contribute to peace did not grasp the sensitivities in Cyprus. Akinci also said that if the UN say they cannot take the necessary security measures in the buffer zone this makes their presence on the island questionable. This is even sadder, he said, adding that this raises questions as to the mandate of the UN.

Akinci also raised the issue of equal treatment, arguing that he is willing to attend events in the government-controlled areas if a similar event is organised in the north.

He said he wanted to attend the match and those who forced him to hold such a news conference ought to contemplate on how they contribute to peace. “I had shown effort to be at the match but this was prevented,” he said.

Spehar said peace efforts need to land on fertile soil and noted that sports can be a vehicle, especially for youth, to create the conditions for a successful reunification process by helping to build the necessary bridges across the divide, Cyprus Mail reports.

According to Phileleftheros, Akinci continued the blame game at the expense of Anastasiades on Crans-Montana, saying that unless the latter changes his stance it will be difficult to achieve reconciliation.

He insisted on the equality of TCs that must be protected in all fields, adding that political equality and TC effective participation are very important, the daily said.

According to Alithia, Akinci’s reaction was an unprecedented one as regards the TC leader in general. Not only did he choose to boycott the big event by ignoring the fact that it was organised by an international organisation and the UN, the daily said, he unsuccessfully attempted to justify his attitude by putting the blame on the organisers and the UN, stirring reactions also within his own community.

But it was revealed that behind his various excuses and explanations were his views on the issue of equality by arguing that since the event was not held in the buffer zone, for him to attend, a corresponding one ought to take place in the occupied areas, the daily said.

Politis reported that the two Famagustian football teams sent out a message of peace, friendship, and reconciliation. The event was attended by around 400 GCs and TCs.

According to Phileleftheros, despite that Akinci was not at the event, pseudo-policemen were present and were roaming free around the GC stadium in Pyla. The event was held under draconian security measures, the daily said, and with the men of the ‘police’ of the occupation regime discreetly standing on the side of GC police officers clearly sending out messages.

It added that the mass presence of pseudo-policemen was not the only oddity at the event as the hundreds of attendees had to pass through an airport style security check that included a security x-ray scanner to enter the stadium.

KEY ACTORS
Anastasiades
>> Despite any differences with Akinci, the two share a common vision for achieving lasting peace, stability & prosperous collaboration on the island.
>> Both leaders want a solution that will create a win-win situation for all Cypriots, address the expectations, sensitivities & concerns of both communities & ensure mutual respect & peaceful coexistence between all its citizens, irrespective of different ethnic, cultural & religious diversity.
>> Presence in Pyla aimed at sending strong message of hope & peace to both communities and the younger generations.
>> The current unacceptable status quo is not a sustainable option.
>> Thecountry’sfull potential will only be unleashed by achieving lasting security and stability for all.

Akinci
>> Will not attend events in the south unless similar event organised in the north.
>> Organisations promoting peace need to grasp the sensitivities in Cyprus.
>> If the UN can’t take necessary security measures in buffer zone, this raises questions as to their presence on the island & mandate.
>> Unless Anastasiadeschanges his stance it will be difficult to achieve reconciliation.
>> The equality of TCs must be protected in all fields. Political equality & effective participation are very important.

Spehar
>>
Peace efforts need to land on fertile soil.
>> Sports can be a vehicle, especially for youth, to create the conditions for a successful reunification process by helping to build the necessary bridges across the divide.


ELAM seeks gun licences, citing Turkish threats

Politis
Internal Security

OVERVIEW

The head of far-right ELAM Christos Christou claimed on Tuesday his party was threatened by Turkey to justify requests for gun possession licences for two of his members, Politis reports.

According to the daily, Christou and the party’s spokesman Geadis Geadi were on a number television stations on Tuesday, responding to recent accusations that three of ELAM’s senior members, including Geadis, were draft dodgers.

Among other things, Christou tried to justify the request by ELAM for gun possession licenses for two of its members by saying that they are the only party threatened by the Turkish government.

The licences, which were not granted, were intended for ELAM MP Linos Papayiannis because he had been attacked in the past, and a member of Christou’s guard.

Christou said that the party had asked for gun possession licences so as not to burden the state by asking for police protection, the daily reported, referring to ridiculous excuses.


Registry of GC occupied properties a mess

Property
Phileleftheros

OVERVIEW

Chaos reigns as regards occupied properties since one in five properties have not been claimed by anyone while two per cent is being claimed by more than one person as theirs, the House refugee committee heard on Tuesday.

According to the daily, an official of the land registry department told the committee that among the problems faced is that some property owners secure documents on their land or house from authorities in the occupied areas and demand from the department to accept them. This would constitute recognition of the occupation regime, the official said.

MPs also heard that some people falsely claim they own property in the north.

Other cases concern those who sold their property in the north prior to the war and migrated but their children now claim the same property after finding the titled deeds their parents or grandparents had prior to the sale. In these cases, despite that the sale was made, the original owners did not transfer the title deeds to the name of the buyer, thus their heirs claim that property back.

The official said that 19.9 per cent of the overall properties in Kyrenia and Famagusta, which corresponds to 91,200 properties, have not been claimed by their owners, estimating that the biggest percentage may belong to TCs who see no reason to claim them in the government-controlled area.

She also told MPs that 1.8 per cent of properties in these two districts are disputed as more than one person is claiming them.

The head of the committee, Skevi Koukouma, said that the interior ministry says on its website that 21 per cent of immobile property in the occupied areas belongs to TCs.