GCC Press Review 23 Mar 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Risk of missing the train for growth

Strict recommendations by the Troika on reforms and non-performing loans. They are asking for reforms from public administration and justice to the energy market. Reduction of red loans remains main priority.

  • Comfone waiting to hear about connecting mobile telephony (CBM) – Response of the (phone) companies and political decision pending.

Phileleftheros

What have they gone and done now

Another destruction in a protected turtle beach, this time from the forestry department. They had approval to fell acacias in another area but they went in with bulldozers and lit fires at the Caretta caretta beach instead.

  • Attempt by Barbaros to create tension: What its course reveals
  • No message from (UN envoy Jane Holl) Lute: Blurry picture until June
  • Confusion within services : They insist on their blunder that he is not a refugee
  • (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to (US Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo: “The pipeline cannot pass through Turkey”
  • Everything belongs to them, they say: War cries from Turkey on the (Greece-Cyprus- Israel) trilateral
  • The Germans are asking from us a Kurd wanted for terrorism: He has been granted asylum by Cyprus

Haravgi

Unpaid taxes to the tune of €2.6 billion

Reduced tax collection capacity of the tax department. Another €315.1 million was added in the last quarter while €1.55 billion may never be collected.

  • Confidence-Building Measures: Some progress with mobile telephony
  • (Bicommunal) Rally against racism

Cyprus Mail

Water may not last, says Kadis

Despite inflows, minister warns predictions are for less rain and greater demand in coming years.

Alithia

The biggest exit poll

More than 3,000 students of the University of Cyprus sent a message for the European elections through the student body elections. Triumph for DISY’s Protoporia; first in line with 46.71 per cent presenting a 1.31 per cent increase. Disaster for AKEL’s Proodeftiki; it remained at 31.42 per cent presenting a 4.74 per cent drop. Battle for last place between ELAM (3.81 per cent) and EDEK’s Agonas (3.10 per cent).

  • (Greek Defence Minister Evangelos) Apostolakis to (Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi) Akar: “Get serious!”

Main News

Posts of GC negotiator and head of technical committees to remain vacant

Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

No significant development is expected soon as regards the Cyprus problem, while the upcoming report by UN envoy Jane Holl Lute to the UN Security Council is not expected to include anything much as regards developments, Phileleftheros reports.

Lute has not decided yet when she is going to return to the island, while Nicosia estimates that her report which is to be prepared on April 10, will be at the same levels as the previous ones; not much on the talks and more on bicommunal issues.

The lack of developments led to the decision to appoint negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis to the post of permanent representative of Cyprus to the UN, a move which means that, in practice, the position of GC negotiator is closing. The government has not decided yet if there is going to be a replacement, the daily reported.

Citing sources, Phileleftheros said that if there are talks in the future such as those in Crans-Montana as per the wish of the GC side, there will be no issue for Mavroyiannis to attend.

Mavroyiannis’ new stint means that the position of the head of technical committees will remain vacant since he has also that task. It seems there is no intention of covering that vacant post either, the daily said.

Two more pieces of information that prove that no developments are expected on the Cyprus problem at the moment, is that the President, according to his schedule, continues to have his attention turned on regional and energy matters with new trilateral partnerships on the cards, while top on the foreign minister’s agenda are bilateral and regional relations, Phileleftheros reports.


Pompeo’s decision to attend trilateral summit taken in January

Alithia, Phileleftheros
Energy, Regional/International Relations, External Security

OVERVIEW

Phileleftheros’ correspondent to Washington, Michalis Ignatiou, said in an opinion piece that claims that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not go to Jerusalem earlier this week specifically for the Cyprus, Greece, Israel trilateral summit but to back the Israeli prime minister ahead of the upcoming elections, were completely baseless.

Diplomats and correspondents in Washington know that Pompeo had decided in January to attend the summit wherever this would take place, Ignatiou said, so when it was decided to take place in Crete everyone agreed, including Pompeo. But when it emerged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu risks losing the elections in his country, it was agreed for the summit to be moved to Jerusalem thus catching two birds with one stone; support Netanyahu and participation in the summit.

What matters is that Cyprus and Greece participate in an important strategic alliance with Israel on energy, and not only, which was blessed by the US Secretary of State, Ignatiou said.

The agreement of the four signatories to back each other on energy security and independence and defend against all malign external influences is a clear message firstly to Turkey but also Iran due to Israel, and Russia due to the US, he added. 

If Greece and Cyprus take this new state of affairs seriously, they will have great benefits since, as per Netanyahu, in the case there is a final decision on the construction of the EastMed pipeline, there will also be military protection whatever that may mean, he said.

Netanyahu, according to Ignatiou, presented all options on pipelines, and told Pompeo, showing him the map of the region that the pipeline can never pass through Turkey. Pompeo, who is daily dealing with problems Turkey creates for the US and the West in general, replied that he understands, Ignatiou’s article said.

In another article, Phileleftheros reports that the countdown to the Turkish elections leads those in power in Turkey to raise election campaign tones with war cries on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s absolute control over the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean from the Aegean to Cyprus. This was also ignited by the trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece and Israel, the daily said.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar played once more the war card satisfying his audience during an election campaign in Kayseri, the daily said. Akar said that Turkey has its ‘Blue Homeland’, which stretches 462 kilometres, and controls the sea and the seabed in the Black Sea, the Aegean, and the Eastern Mediterranean including Cyprus, Phileleftheros reported. Akar’s comments prompted a reaction from Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Apostolakis.

Alithia reports that Apostolakis called on Akar to get serious and stop throwing fireworks just to make an impression. He said that Akar’s statements make no sense and caught Greece by surprise since the two countries are in consultations to find ways to ease tension among them.

It is Greece’s principle that international law and Conventions must be respected, he said, while when these principles are questioned they ought to raise concerns. He said that he would not take such statements seriously, the daily reported.

Such inflammatory statements by the Turkish president and officials ate linked with the March 31 municipal elections in Turkey, the daily said, in an attempt to garner as much support from far right and nationalist voters.


Kurdish-Turkish refugee in Cyprus arrested for alleged links with PKK

Cyprus Mail online, Phileleftheros
Regional/International Relations, External Security

OVERVIEW

A 60-year-old Kurdish man with Turkish citizenship who has been recognised as a political refugee and possesses Cypriot travel documents, was arrested on Friday on the basis of a European arrest and extradition warrant issued by Germany in connection with terrorism offences allegedly committed between 2013 and 2015 in that country.

Phileleftheros reported on Saturday that the man was arrested at Larnaca airport from where he was to travel abroad after it emerged during passport control that the German authorities had issued a European arrest warrant against him on March 19.

[Reviewers’ note: Television reports said later in the day that the arrest concerns links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)]. 

The government said in a statement on Saturday that the man was arrested as he is facing prosecution in Germany on terrorism charges, adding that he was taken to court on Friday and will remain in detention until his hearing.

On the basis of current legislation, the situation will be handled by the Cypriot justice system, which must decide whether to execute the European warrant within a period of sixty days, the government said, Phileleftheros and the Cyprus Mail online reported.

Announcements from the palace of arrests are highly unusual, the Cyprus Mail said.

The Cyprus-based anti-occupation group ‘Κυκλάμινο – Cyclamen – Siklâmen’ condemned Cypriot authorities for the arrest of the Kurdish fighter Cerkez Korkmaz, Phileleftheros reported. It is obvious that behind these actions is Turkey, that has managed to include PKK in the list of terrorist organisations internationally, the group said, adding that it is enough for Turkey to mention that someone is a member of PKK to lead to their arrest by the security authorities of the countries they live in.

In the event he is extradited, Cypriot authorities will make a fool of themselves as this would clash with their own decision to grant him political asylum, the group said, according to Phileleftheros.