GCC Press Review 10 Apr 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Stagnation and aggravation instead of resumption (of negotiations)

Everything points to the deadlock being cemented in the Cyprus Problem. There shouldn’t be moves just for public consumption, says GC side. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci tautens the rope.

  • (Paphos mayor) Phaidonas the conqueror
  • Brexit: They find the breakup to be difficult

Phileleftheros

Turkish terms rejected

Nicosia attempts to overturn plans by Akinci and Ankara. Battle to preserve the Guterres Framework.

  • At the trilateral summit: EEZ delineation with Lebanon on the table
  • Phaidonas against all: War for TC properties in Paphos gets extreme
  • Bulldozers get the green light to demolish Mackenzie

Haravgi

Heavy climate before the Guterres report

“Innovative ideas” complicated the situation. Anastasiades’s regressions increase. Rotating presidency or rotating prime ministry?

  • The 27 discuss an extension to Brexit today

Cyprus Mail

Relations between the leaders worsen

Anastasiades: my patience has limits – Akinci: the Greek Cypriot side keeps changing its mind.

Alithia

Has the blame game started?

The upcoming report of the UNSG to the Security Council has increased the temperature in the Cyprus Problem. Akinci asks that the report record that the GCs “are not ready for a solution on the basis of political equality” and the president replies that since the TCs insist that “they have to have the main say in everything that happens in a solution of the Cyprus Problem, then it is impossible to arrive at a solution”.

  • Leaders’ Summit: One year extension to Brexit on the table
  • Hydrocarbons Company: “Glafkos” brought new impetus and prospects

Main News

Leaders enter blame game ahead of UNSG report

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

OVERVIEW

The relations between the two community leaders are at their lowest point after statements from both Anastasiades and Akinci on Tuesday, as a result of the latest unsuccessful visit of UNSG envoy Jane Holl Lute and her attempt to push forward the process of arriving at commonly accepted terms of reference for the restart of the negotiations.

All daily newspapers point out that the statements by the two leaders are connected to the upcoming report by the UNSG to the UN Security Council on the progress of his Good Offices in Cyprus. The deadline for the submission of the report is April 15, and its findings will tie in to the discussion regarding the renewal of the mandate of UNFICYP in July.

Most newspapers report on the bad or heavy climate, with Alithia pointing out that we are entering a blame game and Politis highlighting, citing diplomatic sources, that the language adopted is the type used by the sides when relations are worsening. Cyprus Mail also focuses on the rhetoric, noting the leaders’ statements, while Haravgi points out that the new ideas put forward by Anastasiades have made the situation more complicated, adding that the leaders traded “heavy accusations”.

Phileleftheros is the only newspaper taking a different tone, highlighting the GC perspective in its title and speaking of an attempt by the government to maintain the Guterres Framework as a guideline for the future of the negotiations. Anastasiades’s statements, the newspaper adds, “were also an answer to the attempts by the Turkish side that aims to destroy the Guterres Framework”. The newspaper cites sources pointing out that the GC side is pleased that Lute did not limit her discussions to political equality, and also cites diplomatic sources speaking of UNFICYP’s renewal being used as a means of exerting pressure on the GC side. The same issue is reported by Politis, which adds, citing sources, that the UNSG is not likely to declare an end to the attempt and to Lute’s efforts.

Reporting on the statements made on Tuesday by the two leaders, Cyprus Mail points out that they “could be seen as a way to deflect blame” for the failure of Lute’s efforts, ahead of the UNSG’s report. Anastasiades said in a written statement early on Tuesday that the claims for political equality aim at the “hijack and complete control of Cyprus by Turkey”, adding that it would be good “if Mr. Akinci indicated both to us and to the United Nations what other recognised federal state applies the same or similar claims to those of his own community”. Speaking later, Anastasiades added that “until today, I have shown patience. But there are some limits”.

In a written statement Akinci said that the latest proposals of the GC leadership show that it is not ready to accept a settlement on the basis of political equality within the framework of UN parameters. He said that the TC side “has been adopting a clear stance”, reminding Lute that “political equality and effective participation in decision making is vital to us”. He added that the GC leadership is “constantly altering its positions”. Akinci pointed out that first the GC side proposed a decentralised federation but “failed to provide substance and detail”, then stated they want to negotiate on the June 30 Guterres Framework but “tried to invent another framework document dated July 4, 2017” and recently “rehashed a rejected proposal presented in the early days of the negotiations” for permanent GC president (note: and TC vice president) with rotation in the prime ministry, which, as he added, is not in accordance with the Guterres Framework. He added that the positions of the sides should be included in the UNSG’s report and that a solution cannot be found starting from scratch. The international community should no longer “turn a blind eye to the injustice faced by Turkish Cypriots”, he said.

In his response, according to the newspaper, Anastasiades said Akinci pursues claims that lead to the complete control of Cyprus by Turkey, and asked whether the TC leader supports maintaining guarantee rights and the permanent presence of third country troops in the country. He also asked why the closed off city of Varosha remains closed and why the TC side does not accept the appointment of an international committee to study what needs to be done there.

Newspapers also report on Tuesday’s press conference by GC negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis and government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou. Cyprus Mail reports that Mavroyannis explained the GC proposals regarding a decentralised federation and a parliamentary democracy, adding that since Crans-Montana “our side has been constantly striving to find a way to continue the negotiations”. He added: “We believe that for us it is the only way and we do not believe that there are actually any other options”. The TC side is clearly stalling and the GC side has to both convince everyone of its good will and “create the circumstances and conditions to negotiate with serious chances of success”, he said. Politis also reported on Mavroyiannis’ statement that the UNSG does not simply want to see if there’s will to continue the negotiations but whether anything has changed since Crans-Montana.

Alithia reports on statements made on Tuesday by TC “foreign minister” Kudret Ozersay who stated, during a discussion in the TC assembly, that the GCs essentially are suggesting the creation of a GC state. Osersay reminded that he had predicted that Lute would not be able to “pull a rabbit out of the hat”, adding that the recent proposals of the GC side shows that it is not serious about the process. The proposal for a rotating prime ministry had been discussed and rejected when he was the TC negotiator, given that with such a plan the TCs would never have the presidency. There is now a chance to examine what can realistically happen in Cyprus, and truly “open Pandora’s box”, as he is quoted saying by Alithia. He also suggested again that GCs and TCs should enter informal talks without the UN.

KEY ACTORS
Anastasiades
>> Accuses Akinci of pursuing the hijacking and complete control of Cyprus by Turkey.
>> Asks what other federal state applies similar claims to the TCs?

Akinci
>> Anastasiades’ latest proposal on governance & power sharing is an old one, which is not in accordance with Guterres Framework regarding 2:1 ratio on rotating presidency.
>> 2 sides’ positions on drafting ToR must be in included in UNSG’s report in clear & impartial manner.

Mavroyannis
>> Continuing negotiations is the only way, there are no other options.

Ozersay
>> Rotating PM proposal submitted by UN experts when he was negotiator & rejected by TC side because TCs would never get the presidency of the state.


Government hopes Lebanon ratifies deal on EEZ delineation

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

OVERVIEW

Phileleftheros cites information that the government hopes to revive the discussion towards the ratification of the deal between Cyprus and Lebanon on the delineation of their EEZs, during the trilateral summit (involving Greece), held in Beirut on Wednesday. The newspaper notes that the two countries signed the deal in 2007 but that the agreement has not yet been ratified by the Lebanese Parliament.

This specific summit will focus on energy and tourism, stated deputy government spokeswoman Klelia Vassiliou. Cyprus will be represented by Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis and Deputy Minister for Tourism Savvas Perdios.

When asked by a journalist, Vassiliou did not confirm that there will be developments on the issue, stating instead that “there is a discussion in progress and we should let it take its course, and we will comment when we have a final answer”.

Cyprus Mail quotes Christodoulides who in an interview to Euronews on Tuesday said that energy is the spearhead for creating new relations in the region, but these relations are made more difficult due to issues with Turkey. Cyprus, he said, is basing its decisions on international law and “that is the reason energy giants have expressed interest” in the RoC’s EEZ, adding that the government has called on Cyprus to sit down and define sea borders.

Meanwhile, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi and Alithia quote the chairman of the Cyprus Hydrocarbon Company (CHC), Toulla Onoufriou, regarding the renegotiation of the production sharing contracts with Noble Energy for the Aphrodite gas field. In statements after a meeting with Anastasiades in which she handed over a report on CHC’s work over the past five years, Onoufriou pointed out that also ongoing are negotiations for gas sales between the companies working with Aphrodite and buyers in Egypt, as well as the bidding process for block 7. According to Onoufriou, recent discoveries by ExxonMobil in the Glafkos site in block 10 has given “a new boost” to energy developments.

Haravgi points out in the story’s title that according to Onoufriou, there are obstacles in the development of confirmed gas finds due to the multiple negotiations currently ongoing.


Foreign ministry announces international campaign for missing persons

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has prepared an action plan regarding the issue of missing persons and the deadlock surrounding the efforts of the Committee on Missing Persons, says Cyprus Mail citing CNA. According to information published by CNA, the MFA intends to campaign internationally and especially within the EU to counter the passage of time and Turkey’s reluctance to cooperate with the CMP.

According to the plan, obtained by CNA, there is a need for immediate measures “with the aim of further raising awareness of the international community” and to better coordinate government agencies and Cypriot MEPs and diplomatic missions. These measures will be evaluated at regular intervals, with the Foreign Minister intending to inform parliament about the actions taken.

The measures outlined in the plan, according to CNA, include visits of a dedicated research team to study various archives, the completion of the digitisation of available information as well as administrative measures to strengthen relevant services and increase staffing and excavations.

Newspapers also report on the Pancyprian Organisation of the Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons handing over symbolic texts to the embassies of the US and Russia asking for their assistance in convincing Turkey to cooperate with the CMP.


Court gives green light for demolition of Ktima Mackenzie

Phileleftheros
Property

OVERVIEW

The Administrative Court has overturned the decision to halt the demolition of “Ktima Mackenzie” reception hall in Larnaca, rejecting all possibility of future appeals, Philelefheros reports. In February, the Administrative Court had temporarily halted the implementation of a decision taken by Larnaca District Court that the reception hall should be demolished and the land handed over to its TC owners.

The newspaper notes that the government was involved in the case before the Administrative Court due to the Ministry of the Interior’s role as the Guardian of TC Properties in the south. According to the newspaper the Court accepted the government’s argument that the owners of the “Ktima Mackenzie” business do not have a legal claim to halt the demolition.