GCC Press Review 9 Apr 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Amending Article 23 only way out

The only radical cure (for public sector pay issue) is a constitutional amendment. (Political) parties will have time until after the European elections. The issue of retroactivity is not a concern as of yet.

  • Chr. Rozakis: Cyprus should not be afraid
  • Famagusta municipality: Demands answers for Mouttalos
  • Turkey: The “battle” for Istanbul continues

Phileleftheros

Salaries a 1.6 billion euro bomb

Alarmed government requests the aid of the (political) parties. What was said about the measures behind closed doors. Why they urgently call the Attorney-general. Presidential Palace fears the issue being connected with (a demand for) the resignation of Harris (Georgiades).

  • Confirmatory drilling confirmed, ExxonMobil wants more – Total and ENI entering the final stretch for blocks 7 and 8.
  • Lute suggested four-party meeting, but was met with a no
  • Thousands of firecrackers from Turkey (sold) in Cyprus

Haravgi

Everyone points at Averof regarding GESY tampering

What Averof discussed with KEVE president. Political corruption in connection with private interests. Doctors are signing GESY contacts.

  • Four-party (meeting) “not balanced”… Anastasiades’s proposal also outside the framework
  • British RAF’s new F-35B fighter jets (arrive) at Akrotiri

Cyprus Mail

Goalposts in talks shifting yet again

Lute leaves empty handed after four-party proposal for talks rejected.

  • Erdogan casts doubt on vote, hints at re-run

Alithia

So much noise about nothing!

Averof Neophytou and Nikolas Papadopoulos reject accusations put forward by (former health minister) George Pamboridis that they intend to bring back the multi-insurance health system. It wasn’t a closely guarded secret, said DISY president, referring to the position of their party and government regarding a multi-insurance system, while also pointing out that “our position was opposed by seven parties”. Nikolas Papadopoulos also clarifies that DIKO demands that GESY “be implemented as is, full stop.”

  • Cyprus Problem: We want a three-party (meeting), Turks want a four-party

Main News

Anastasiades rejects Lute’s suggestion for a four-party meeting

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiation Process, Governance & Power Sharing

OVERVIEW

UNSG envoy Jane Holl Lute suggested a four-party meeting involving the two sides and guarantor powers, Greece and Turkey, during her meetings with the leaders on Sunday, most dailies report. The proposal was rejected by President Anastasiades according to statements by the government spokesman. At the same time, the president’s own proposal for a symbolic presidency and a rotating premiership in the context of a federal parliamentary democracy, was dismissed by Turkish Cypriots as an old idea.

The Cyprus Mail reports that on Monday, after Anastasiades briefed party leaders on his meeting with Lute, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou informed the media of his proposal and also on the reason that Lute’s suggestion was rejected.

According to the coverage, Akinci’s position is that when the issue of political equality is clarified then he would have no objection to any meeting.

Prodromou pointed out that Anastasiades participates in talks as both the Greek Cypriot leader and as the President of the Republic. “The balance of the sides is not secured by a meeting between the two guarantor powers and [just] the two communities in Cyprus,” stated Prodromou.

Prodromou also pointed out that Lute’s suggestion “has been made by others” adding “obviously by the Turkish side”. He repeated that Anastasiades had suggested a meeting between himself, Lute and Akinci, which was rejected by the Turkish Cypriot leader. According to Prodromou the process for agreeing the terms of reference of a new negotiation process has become bogged down by the issue of political equality.

Phileleftheros states that the proposal for a four-party meeting “originated in the Turkish Foreign Ministry”. According to the newspaper, the Turkish proposal was intended to answer to Turkish Cypriot complaints about Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu’s contacts with Anastasiades and Cypriot FM Christodoulides. The newspaper also cites information that the government believes that Lute could have ended this process, but that the UNSG is expected to keep the process alive. Phileleftheros as well as Alithia also cite the front pages of Monday’s TC newspapers, especially pointing out Afrika‘s title that “This is how this page is also closed”.

Politis points out in a separate story that the government organised a press conference with negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis for Tuesday, in order to clarify issues regarding the negotiations process. The newspaper also points out that the proposal for a parliamentary democracy had been rejected since 2015.

Haravgi also cites information that the proposal for a four-party meeting was made by Turkish FM Cavusoglu to Greek FM Georgios Katrougalos, and that the issue with this proposal was whether the Turkish side could accept Anastasiades being present also as the President of the Republic of Cyprus.

AKEL spokesperson Stephanos Stephanou also pointed out, according to Haravgi, that the proposal for a parliamentary democracy is not consistent with the Guterres framework, adding that it had been proposed and rejected in the past.

It is also reported by the Cyprus Mail that in his statements on Sunday, the TC leader’s spokesman, Baris Burcu, said, after her meeting with Anastasiades, Lute had found that the GC leader “had not given up his negative attitude to the issue of political equality and effective participation”. He added that this means Anastasiades does not respect past agreements or the Guterres Framework, and that “that is why, at this stage, I regret to say there is no possibility that Mrs Lute’s terms of reference can be concluded”.

Commenting on statements made by Mavroyiannis after the meeting on Sunday, Burcu said that political equality, the need for one positive vote in federal bodies where Turkish Cypriots do not have numerical equality and the composition of the federal cabinet were already agreed convergences. “We want to move forward rather than intensify the current situation,” he said, and added that “putting forward some proposals as new is something that is undermining the current situation”.

In its editorial, titled ‘When will the UN give up this futile process?’ the Cyprus Mail points out that “agreement of the terms of reference appear to have been put aside for now, with Lute reportedly trying to arrange a meeting between the two sides, a move which was also unsuccessful”. The editorial believes that Anastasiades has no intention to clarify the issue of political equality, casting doubt on the GC side’s position that TC demands on equality are constantly expanding, and accusing Anastasiades of “raising all kinds of objections” in the last few months. “The whole process has become a parody, with Akinci, refusing to budge, and Anastasiades constantly changing his positions. The only question is when the UN will give up this futile process,” the paper adds.

Two opinion articles in Phileleftheros comment on Anastasiades’s idea on a rotating premiership (of prime ministers), criticising its bicommunal aspects. Kostas Venizelos writes that even though the GC side has attempted to promote the idea that decisions on the federal level should be taken on a political basis, rather than ethnic, this is canceled out by proposals such as a rotating premiership “due to the fact that it maintains division and imposing choices on the basis of ethnic identity”.

Aristos Michaelides asks ‘Why do all ideas promote ethnic seperation’, saying that the proposal was rejected because TCs want “nothing less” than “what they proclaim is political equality, which will make their minority the absolute ruler of Cyprus”. Michaelides suggests that if Anastasiades wants to suggest a parliamentary system, the discussion should be about “a system that would force Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties to cooperate, if possible with joint ballots”.

The papers report on the call by ‘Foreign Minister’ Kudret Ozersay to UN envoy Jane Holl Lute during a conference in the north to openly say there is no common ground between the two sides.

KEY ACTORS
Prodromou
>> The effort to achieve the terms of reference has been bogged down by TC positions on political equality.
>> Anastasiades rejected Lute’s proposal for a four-party meeting with guarantors & two sides.
>> Anastasiades proposed federal parliamentary democracy with symbolic presidency & rotating prime ministers.

Burcu
>> The GC leader has not given up his negative attitude regarding political equality.


Paphos mayor speaks of corruption regarding TC properties

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros, Politis
Property

OVERVIEW

Paphos mayor Phedonas Phedonos accused political parties of interfering in efforts to end irregularities regarding the administration of TC properties in the south, Cyprus Mail reports, pointing out that people that received such properties “unlawfully” are seeking help from parties and politicians “so as to not lose their privileges”. Alithia quotes Phedonos extensively, including a quote that “some people are nostalgic of the era of looting in Paphos”. Politis also mentions that Phedonos made his statement in light of a story by the paper that a TC property was given to the daughter of a member of the Paphos municipal council.

Meanwhile, Famagusta mayor Alexis Galanos also joined the discussion, according to Politis. The newspaper reports that Galanos has sent a letter to Minister of the Interior Constantinos Petrides, asking to be informed about the situation in Paphos.

The Famagusta municipality has received complaints of displaced persons being kicked out of TC properties in Moutallos as a result of the Paphos municipality’s campaign to check the legality of usage as well as beautify buildings in the neighborhood.


ExxonMobil confirms it will conduct confirmatory drilling

Phileleftheros
Energy

OVERVIEW

ExxonMobil has confirmed that there will be a confirmatory drilling in block 10 of the Cypriot EEZ, where it was previously announced that significant amounts of natural gas were found, reports Phileleftheros. The newspaper cites information that the US company will inform the Cypriot Ministry of Energy on its intention by June at the latest and that company officials will be visiting Cyprus shortly.

Also, according to the newspaper, negotiations with French company Total continue on two fronts: regarding the assignment of block 7 to Total-ENI, and regarding the agreement that Total join ENI in exploring block 8.

The negotiations regarding blocks 7 and 8 are now about to enter their final phase, which will take place soon in Nicosia, according to Phileleftheros. Among the issues is the Cypriot insistence of requesting a larger payment from Total due to the fact that block 7 is guaranteed to have natural gas, given findings in neighbouring blocks.


Sevgul Uludag’s Nobel prize bid supported by bicommunal organisations

Haravgi
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Turkish Cypriot journalist Sevgul Uludag’s candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize has received the support of bicommunal iniatives “Phoni Kyprion” and “IKME – BILBAN”. In their press release, the two organisations refer to Uludag’s long involvement in the bicommunal peace movement, including her contribution in the creation of a bicommunal association of relatives of GC and TC missing persons and war victims.

IKME and BILBAN also point out Uludag’s iniatives in conducting trainings of young people and particularly women regarding peacebuilding and gender issues, as well as their cooperation with the journalist in the “Cypriot bicommunal oral history” programme.


Firecrackers from Turkey smuggled south

Phileleftheros
Internal Security

OVERVIEW

Firecrackers that have been made in Turkey end up smuggled in Cyprus ahead of the Easter season, writes Phileleftheros. According to the newspaper, in two recent cases, the police in Larnaca confiscated firecrackers that were found to have been produced in Turkey.

The newspaper notes that the RoC authorities do not have specific statistics regarding the number of Turkish firecrackers that end up in the south through the occupied areas, but cites “indications” that every year huge amounts are imported through Kyrenia port and then are resold in the south by Greek Cypriots.