GCC Press Review 21 Mar 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Energy security with the blessings of the US

US support for the enhancement of Cyprus-Greece-Israel cooperation. US mediation on Turkey over Cyprus problem not easy. New announcements are on the way on expansion of trilateral collaborations.

Phileleftheros

They sent a message to Ankara

Clear warning from the ‘4’ in Jerusalem on energy and security. The President discussed with the US Secretary of State the Cyprus problem and arms embargo.

Haravgi

Pharmacists said ‘Yes’ to GESY (National Health Scheme)

Pharmacists show the way. Extra financial incentives for pharmacies. Prescriptions outside GESY will be charged €1.

  • The moves of the Greece-Israel-Cyprus trilateral on energy watched under the sleepless eye of the US
  • Yes to collaborations but with essence and without self-illusions,” says AKEL General Secretary
  • “We sow the seeds of peace… we get hope” (Interview with Didier Drogba and president and founder of Peace and Sport, Joel Bouzou)

Cyprus Mail

Pompeo endorses trilateral summit

Leaders agree to support energy independence and to defend against external ‘malign influences’.

Alithia

One step before implementation of the CBM on mobile telephony

At the same time, the Anastasiades-Akinci decision on the provision of electricity from one side to the other without restrictions when necessary has started being implemented. The representatives of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute with which the providers’ separate agreements will be made are in Cyprus for contacts.

  • “Historic Meeting”: Anastasiades’ satisfaction from the results of the quadrilateral in Jerusalem –The US back the trilateral mechanism created by Israel, Greece and Cyprus. (US Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo is fully aware of the latest developments on the Cyprus Problem.
  • (Greek Foreign Minister) Giorgos Katrougalos: What he said and did not say to the Anadolu news agency

Main News

Nicosia satisfied by trilateral’s message sent to Turkey

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Regional/International Relations, Energy, External Security

OVERVIEW

While the joint declaration of Cyprus, Greece and Israel after the trilateral summit in Jerusalem did not name Turkey, the reference to defence “against external malign influences” in the Eastern Mediterranean satisfied Nicosia as it deems the message is clearly addressed to Ankara, most dailies report.

The brief joint declaration after the summit, which was attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said that the governments of the US, Israel, Greece and Cyprus affirmed “their shared commitment to promoting peace, stability, security, and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean region.”

Pompeo, it said, underlined US support for the trilateral mechanism established by Israel, Greece, and Cyprus, noting the importance of increased cooperation. 

“The leaders agreed to increase regional cooperation; to support energy independence and security; and to defend against external malign influences in the Eastern Mediterranean and the broader Middle East. They welcomed the recent natural gas find in the Eastern Mediterranean and its potential to contribute to energy security and diversification,” the declaration said.

President Nicos Anastasiades also held separate meetings on the sidelines of the summit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pompeo.

Prior to the meeting, Anastasiades said that the presence of Pompeo at this sixth trilateral summit, was tangible proof that the three countries constituted reliable partners for Washington, especially in the fields of energy and security.

Pompeo, in his statement before the summit, described Cyprus, Israel and Greece as “key partners” and said the US was looking forward to working with them and cooperating in the field of energy infrastructure.

Working together on these important energy issues would improve security and prosperity even more between the four countries, he said, adding that the US and the three countries were working together to create an energy infrastructure. If this is done properly they will attract investment and maximise these resources in a way that good infrastructure in free markets always brings about, he said.  

As to the EastMed pipeline project, Anastasiades said the vision and actions of the three countries that aimed to create an Eastern Mediterranean energy corridor “is an excellent example in this respect.” He gave assurances of Cyprus’ unwavering commitment to this reliable and solid partnership that aims, through tangible actions, to generate much needed security, stability and prosperity in the region.

Netanyahu described the trilateral partnership as “one of the best regional partnerships worldwide” as they work in areas ranging from firefighting to energy.

He said the plan to create the EastMed pipeline from Israel and Cyprus to Europe will provide stability in the region, prosperity for the three countries’ peoples and alternative energy sources in Europe. He added that the presence of the US Secretary of State was important and “shows that the US supports this regional effort”. He also said the partnership would welcome not only the US but also other countries.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras described the trilateral cooperation as “strategic”, especially in the areas of energy and security. He also welcomed US support for the cooperation, and the presence of Pompeo as it “strengthens efforts and dialogue on energy, security and the economy, as well as on the challenges ahead.” Tsipras said the creation of the EastMed pipeline could also help the dialogue on security and economic development in the region as a whole.

According to the Cyprus Mail, though there was no specific mention of Cyprus’ sovereign rights to exploit its hydrocarbons within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ)  in the declaration  the reference to defending  “against external malign influences” could be interpreted as a signal to Turkey, which has been warning off foreign energy giants such as ENI, Total and ExxonMobil, operating in the island’s EEZ, and threatening to drill within the Republic’s blocks.

Phileleftheros reports that Turkey was placed in an axis of evil which the countries of the region will cooperate with the US to defend against.

According to Phileleftheros, Nicosia welcomed this declaration with satisfaction assessing that it sends out a very clear message to Ankara, even though it does not explicitly refer to it. It also feels that the four countries send out the message that they will not tolerate in any way harassment of their energy plans. It seems this is the maximum Nicosia could secure as regards messages to Turkey because Pompeo was also careful in his public statements, the daily said.

Citing sources, the daily said that during his meeting with Pompeo, Anastasiades briefed the US official on the latest on the Cyprus problem and on Turkish provocations. As regards bilateral cooperation on security and stability in the region, Anastasiades brought up the US arms embargo on Cyprus, the daily reported, which Nicosia would like to see lifted. Anastasiades, according to the daily, told Pompeo that that the enhanced cooperation of the two countries ought to be seen in practice.

After the meeting, Anastasiades said that Pompeo knows of the latest developments on the Cyprus problem and that he used to be a close associate of UN envoy Jane Holl Lute.

He said he had the opportunity to point out the difficulties faced as a result of the demands either of Turkey or the TC leadership, Phileleftheros reported.

Anastasiades also said that soon, there will be announcements concerning cooperation also with European big powers, the daily said.

Politis said that the leaders of the three countries send a clear message to attempts for “external malign influences”, warning that they will defend themselves.

Phileleftheros and Alithia also report that Turkish media cited, on the day of the trilateral summit, information that there are plans for the installation of a Greek-Israeli radar in Crete to monitor the Eastern Mediterranean. Reports said that if this is implemented, the radar will control everything moving in the sea and air up to a 600-kilometre radius. The radar was said to control the whole of Cyprus and the Aegean sea up the strait of the Dardanelles and the Mediterranean, the dailies report.

KEY ACTORS
Cyprus, Greece, Israel, US
>>
Affirmed shared commitment to promoting peace, stability, security, and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean region with US support. 
>> Agreed to increase regional cooperation, support energy independence and security, and to defend against external malign influences in the East Med and the broader Middle East. 
>> The recent natural gas find in the East Med has the potential to contribute to energy security and diversification.

Anastasiades
>>
Pompeo’s  presence at the summit is tangible proof that the three countries constitute reliable partners for the US especially in the fields of energy and security.
>>
TheEastMed pipeline project is an excellent example of materialising the vision of the three countries to create an East Med energy corridor.

Pompeo (US)
>>
Cyprus, Israel and Greece are key partners. The US is looking forward to working with them and cooperating in the field of energy infrastructure.
>> Working together on energy issues would improve security and prosperity even more between the four countries.
>> The four countries are working to create an energy infrastructure which, if done properly, will attract investment and maximise resources.

Netanyahu (Israel)
>>  This trilateral is one of the best regional partnerships worldwide working on a wide range of fields, from firefighting to energy.
>> The EastMed pipeline would provide stability in the region, prosperity for the three countries’ peoples and alternative energy sources in Europe.
>> The presence of Pompeo shows that the US supports this regional effort. The partnership welcomes also other countries.

Tsipras (Greece)
>> The trilateral cooperation is strategic, especially in the areas of energy and security.
>> Pompeo’s presence strengthens efforts and dialogue on energy, security and the economy, as well as on the challenges ahead.
>> The EastMed pipeline could also help the dialogue on security and economic development in the region as a whole.


Kyprianou: Don’t be fooled into thinking others will protect Cyprus from Turkey

Haravgi
Regional/International Relations, Energy, External Security

OVERVIEW

The leaders of the two main political parties assessed differently Wednesday’s trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece and Israel in which the US participated.

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said that he was in favour of such partnerships but advised caution against self-illusions as regards international relations.

Trilaterals, he said, were positive as long as they move beyond the stage of creating impressions to substantive steps.

The cooperation in question, he said, must aim at the participation of countries in the wider area to ensure that the natural wealth will benefit all the peoples of the region.

He also said that one must keep in mind that as long as the Cyprus problem remains unsolved there will be problems with Turkey as regards exploitation of natural wealth.

Kyprianou called on the government to stay clear of self-delusions as regards its foreign policy and plans on armament programmes and defence cooperation that will allegedly increase the external security of Cyprus.

We must not have illusions that any other country will engage in a war with Turkey to protect the security of the Republic of Cyprus, he said, adding that such an approach is unrealistic and could cause nothing but problems.

He also said that Israel, which the government is now presenting as a close partner and ally, is at the moment contemplating whether the take Cyprus to court. (Reviewer’s note: A reference to a reported dispute over future earnings from the Aphrodite gas field which is located on the border between the economic waters of Israel and Cyprus, with most of the reservoir lying on the Cypriot side.)

DISY leader Averof Neophytou said that the participation of the US in the trilateral enhances Cyprus’ prestige and geostrategic role.

Usually, he said, it is the small states that have to choose their partners but on Wednesday, a superpower like the US chose to send out specific messages, the daily reported.

KEY ACTORS
Kyprianou (AKEL)

>> In favour of trilateral partnerships but advises caution against self-delusions. Need to move beyond creating impressions to substantive steps.
>> The trilateral between Cyprus, Greece and Israel must aim at the participation of more countries of the wider area to ensure that the natural wealth will benefit all the peoples of the region.
>> As long the Cyprus problem remains unsolved there will be problems with Turkey as regards exploitation of natural wealth.
>> The government must not fool itself that defence cooperation with other countries will mean they’ll be willing to engage in a war with Turkey to protect Cyprus.
>> The government presents Israel as a close partner and ally but the latter is thinking on whether to take Cyprus to court over Aphrodite gas field.

Neophytou (DISY)
>>
US participation in the trilateral enhances Cyprus’ prestige and geostrategic role.


One step closer to mobile phone interoperability

Alithia
CBMs

OVERVIEW

The implementation of the confidence-building measure on the interoperability of mobile phones is close to completion, as the two sides are currently in contact with the representatives of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute through which the connection will be achieved.

The GC head of the Technical Committee on Economy and Trade, Phidias Pilides, confirmed that the representatives of the institute are on the island for contacts with the two sides, the daily said.

According to Alithia, the contacts are with the companies that will be providing the services on each side and concern technical matters.

Pilides expressed optimism that a formula would be found which would not violate Cypriot legislation to pave way for the use of mobile phones island wide.

It is a standing position of the Republic, the daily said, that the signing of agreements between telephony companies registered in the government-controlled area and subsidiaries of Turkish companies registered in the occupied territories is not possible.

The CBM in question was agreed in 2015, but the two leaders agreed during their meeting last February that the service providers in both sides would each directly contact the European Telecommunications Standards Institute through which the GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) connection will be made, the daily said.


Katrougalos: Turkey has the right to exploit its own EEZ within international law

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

OVERVIEW

Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos has said that Turkey cannot be excluded from energy-related issues in the Eastern Mediterranean area.

In an interview with  Anadolu news agency published on Wednesday, a day before his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Antalya, Katrougalos wondered how could one exclude Turkey from the energy equation of an area in which it has a coastal line of many kilometres.

He also said that Greece supports the rights of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone, adding however that it did not mean a monopoly over the whole Eastern Mediterranean area.

Referring to the tripartite cooperation between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, according to Anadolu, Katrougalos said that they would like Turkey to participate in these negotiations that respect international law and sovereign rights.

The important thing is to avoid unilateral military movements, especially those that increase tension, he said.

Katrougalos also said that Greece is testing the waters to see if it is possible to resume the settlement negotiations on the Cyprus problem between all parties.

He added that Greece wants the negotiations to begin but also have a chance of reaching an agreement.

We are committed to this because we want a solution for the Cyprus issue, he said.

According to Alithia, the Greek foreign ministry said after the interview was published that Katrougalos never referred to the participation of Turkey in the trilateral partnerships. The ministry put it down to a translation error. The ministry added that it is the right of every country to exploit its exclusive economic zone according to international law.

In another interview with Anadolu,Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said that the GC side’s attempts to acquire all of the island’s natural resources for its own economy were not right.

The Turkish minister said that the GC side should be focusing on a win-win model for both sides and that the TCs have their own rights and interests which must be protected.

We would be very pleased if the leaders of the two communities sat down and reached an agreement, he said.

Donmez said that following the unilateral actions of the GCs, the TCs have issued their own exploration licences and expressed hope Turkey would be making its own natural gas discoveries. I hope the other side sees this reality and focuses on a model that will benefit everyone, he said.

Donmez announced that drilling for a second well had started off the coast of Adana and that their aim was to conduct drilling at four locations with two ships in the next 12 months. Turkey, just like the GCs and other neighbouring countries have done, aims to discover its own natural gas reserves in the region, he said.

Phileleftheros reports that Ankara announced drillings in the Cypriot area. Donmez, it said, criticised Nicosia of unilateral actions and of acting as the sole owner of the island.

KEY ACTORS
Katrougalos
>>
Turkey cannot be excluded from energy-related issues in the East Med given that her coastal line spans several kilometres in the sea in question.
>> Greece supports the rights of Cyprus in its EEZ but that does not mean a monopoly over the whole East Med.
>> Unilateral military movements, especially those that increase tension, must be avoided.
>> Greece would like a solution to the Cyprus problem and is testing the waters to see if it is possible to resume substantive settlement negotiations between all parties and is there is a chance of reaching an agreement.

Donmez (Turkey)
>>
TheGC side’s attempts to acquire all of the island’s natural resources for its own economy are not right. It should be focusing on a win-win model for both sides.
>> The TCs have their own rights and interests which must be protected.
>> Would be very pleased if the two leaders sat down and reached an agreement.
>> After the unilateral actions of the GCs, the TCs have issued their own exploration licences.
>> Turkey, just like the GCs and other neighbouring countries have done, aims to discover its own natural gas reserves in the region.
>> Hopes the GCs would see this reality and focus on a model that would benefit everyone.


‘Bicommunal football match blunder another reason to review UNFICYP mandate’

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process, External Security, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The TC ‘foreign ministry’ on Wednesday questioned the mandate of UNFICYP on the island and called for its review after the latter reportedly said it could not provide adequate security measures to the bicommunal football match in the buffer zone this week causing a change of venue.

After the decision of the TC leader Mustafa Akinci not to attend the match because it would not take place in the buffer zone of Pyla as he was initially told but in the government-controlled area, the ‘foreign ministry’ said it was completely unacceptable that the match was moved on grounds that the UN could not provide sufficient security if it had been held in the buffer zone.

Pointing out that Pyla is a mixed village with a special status, the ‘ministry’ said that residents of each of the two communities in the village elect their own representatives while TC police and GC  police each have jurisdiction over crimes concerning members of their respective communities.

The UN, it said, is only present at the village as observers and does not interfere with the local affairs of the village. It recalled that a joint operation had been conducted by TC and GC police regarding illegal gambling activities within the village.

Unlike other areas within the buffer zone, the UN has no jurisdiction or control over the village of Pyla. The UN is only present as liaison, it said.

There has been an increasing trend as regards the UN’s partial stance regarding issues in the buffer zone which not only contradicts UNFICYP’s mission but also casts a shadow on the spirit of such events aimed at bringing the two communities closer, it said.

The latest developments once again demonstrated how the TC side is justified in insisting on a review of UNFICYP’s mandate in light of the current realities, the ‘foreign ministry’ said.

Phileleftheros reports that the occupation regime attacked UNFICYP and continues to question its role. It also criticised the UN of giving the impression that Pyla presents security problems.

The regime, echoes ‘Foreign Minister’ Kudret Ozersay’s line, the daily said, who had called during his last visit at the UN Headquarters for a revision of UNFICYP’s mandate.

The Cyprus Mail reports that UniteCyprusNow (UCN) censured on Wednesday Akinci, the UN and the GC authorities over the event for various reasons.

The group said in a statement that the GC authorities did not allowing the TC’s BRT television’s live transmission vehicle to access the football pitch, preventing its viewers in the north “from following this special event live on TV and taking away their right to access information”. This was also dire in terms of the freedom of the press, the group said.

UCN said that the event could have been an ideal setting for the two leaders to give a strong message of peace and cooperation, but, unfortunately, it turned into yet another political crisis with Akinci’s last minute absence.

Akinci’s tense reaction towards journalists, who were critical of his reasoning during his press conference on Tuesday “added insult to injury”, the group said, adding he should be able to take criticism even if he does not agree with it.
The group said they are equally disappointed with how the UN has handled the whole situation, failed to analyse the risks on time and take responsibility to avoid this crisis.