TCC Press Review 14 Apr 2019

Front Page Headlines

Yenidüzen

We fail class when it comes to traffic: No one follows the rules!

7,927 fines to drivers in the past three months. While traffic accidents continue to claim dozens of lives every year, bringing unbearable pain and suffering to families, weekly police reports reveal the ugly truth that drivers ignore the rules.

  • Niyazi Kızılyürek responds to Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades who claims Turkish Cypriot votes are borrowed: “You’re not borrowed votes but essential actors”
  • Status quo in Cyprus has been continuing for years despite the argument that the status quo is not sustainable – Prof. Dr Ahmet Sözen says that the status quo continues but it’s not static. The status quo of the 70s is different from the status quo in 1984 or in the ’00s.

Kıbrıs Postası

Small-size retailers cannot downsize any further

Retailers, speaking to Kıbrıs Postası, emphasized they are suffering severely from economic problems due to the weakening Turkish Lira. They have also lost hope in tourists as they claim tour guides make arrangements with selected outlets for tourists to shop from and leave the majority of retailers out.

  • Increasing prices hit the people – People have to limit themselves in buying vegetables even at the weekly vegetable markets due to increasing prices.

Kıbrıs

Number of unemployed university graduates on the rise

Turkish Cypriot youth does not see a future in vocational schools and prefer university education. As a result, semi-skilled labour needs met by imported workers. This situation results in a whole load of problems.

  • People searching for treasure – In addition to the four caught red-handed while searching for treasure in Karşıyaka (Vasileia), unknown treasure hunters dug a hole behind a church in Alsancak (Karavas).

Havadis

Hotels spend January and February empty

233,658 foreigners have arrived in the first two months of the year but the hotel occupancy rate for the same period dropped by 19.9%.

Diyalog

There is a scabies outbreak

590 prisoners in a prison with a capacity of 270.

Afrika

Yasemin’s first achievement

The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) issued an official announcement in Turkish for the first time due to the European Parliament elections. It was stated that the communique was issued because the Jasmine Movement is the first Turkish Cypriot group to participate in the European Parliament elections.

  • Last minute move – UN special envoy Lute made one last move before the UN Secretary-General drafts his report on Cyprus, presenting the two sides with a proposal.

Main News

Status quo continues despite argument it’s not sustainable

Yenidüzen
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

Prof. Dr Ahmet Sözen said that the status quo in Cyprus has been continuing for years despite the widely accepted argument that it’s not sustainable. In an exclusive interview to Yenidüzen published on Sunday, Prof Sözen, head of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta said that the Cyprus Problem was like a giant snowball that rolled down the side of the mountain. He said that as the years passed by, the problem has become more complicated and harder to solve. Sözen also said any new developments on the Cyprus Problem in the period leading up to the 2020 presidential elections in the north were highly unlikely. “Considering the fact that the election race has started in the north, we have elections in Greece and all the problems going on in Turkey, it’s highly unlikely we will see any new developments during this period,” he said.

Sözer also said the UN Secretary-General was not expected to announce a failure in Cyprus in his upcoming report to the UN Security Council.

He expressed the view that the continuation of the process was perhaps more important to the UN more than the solution itself.

They would prefer some kind of dialogue to continue between the two sides even if it is not a very steady one, argued Sözen, rather than having a complete failure of the process and no dialogue at all.

He said he expected to see an analysis of the current situation in the report and also a summary of the work carried out by UN envoy Lute.

“I am guessing that a call will be made to the parties on the island, for the implementation of CBMs, and in order for committees to meet along with a message of ‘finalize the terms of reference by working with courage’,” he said.

In response to a question on the ToR, Sözen said that accepting the terms of reference was more or less synonymous with accepting a strategic deal as it would indicate a shared vision of the parties and include a results-oriented and timetabled process that would pave the way for the resumption of talks to identify and solve existing differences.

He added that such a deal would also have the approval of the guarantor powers.

Sözen said the Cyprus Problem was not an issue which could be solved by the two sides alone and that the involvement of the guarantor powers was needed whether the parties involved like it or not.

He said the UK had already made it clear it was not interested in remaining a guarantor power as long as it kept its sovereign bases, throwing the ball in the court of the two ‘motherland’ guarantors.

In such a case, said Sözen, a four-party meeting as proposed by Lute would be useful but prior to such a meeting, the two sides would need to decide whether they see eye-to-eye on internal issues and have a shared vision. 

Moreover, the two guarantors would need to meet face to face prior to a 4-party meeting to be able to discuss how to resolve the issue of security and guarantees which the Guterres document stated was no longer sustainable in its current form.

It would be possible to draft the terms of reference if all these issues are addressed.

If the terms of reference are established, despite the difficulties, it would be possible to achieve an interim agreement, he said.

Regarding the positions of the two sides, Sözen said that ever changing proposals brought forward by the Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades were aimed at exploiting the UN Secretary-General’s call on the two leaders to present new ideas.

He said that the ideas he had suggested were an excuse to prevent a new and serious process from starting.

His strategy is to see where Turkey is heading domestically or in terms of its relations with NATO, the US and the West, believing that Greek Cypriots would earn more favour from the international community if Turkey continues to drift away from the West.

Regarding hydrocarbons, Sözen said that If a larger amount of natural gas is discovered, this could be a catalyst for a solution in the future.

Asked to comment on the upcoming meetings between Turkey and Greece, Sözen said he believed Greece expressed intention to resolve the problems in the Aegean and Cyprus Problem but asked for some time until the end of their elections.  

Turkey, he added, was not in any rush to solve the Cyprus Problem, which meant that the situation will remain unchanged for the time being. 

Sözen said the current negative atmosphere in Cyprus could be transformed only through an external factor or if the parties took unilateral measures/steps to overcome the existing stalemate such as the opening of the closed city of Varosha to resettlement. “Opening up Varosha under the UN’s supervision could create new momentum. Even opening it under the Turkish side’s control could create momentum to a certain extent but that may not be enough. If it is opened under the UN’s supervision and rehabilitated through the joint efforts of the two sides this would create numerous jobs and would even have a positive impact on Famagusta port,” he said.

KEY ACTOR
Sözen
>>
Status quo continuing despite argument it’s not sustainable.
>> Problem becoming harder to solve as time passes by.
>> New developments before TC elections in 2020 highly unlikely.
>> UNSG not expected to announce failure in his report.
>> Accepting ToR would be synonymous with accepting a strategic deal.
>> Cyprus Problem cannot be solved by two sides alone. Guarantors needed.
>> 4-party meeting would be useful but sides need to see eye-to-eye on internal issues prior to such a meeting while guarantors would also need to meet prior to that.
>> GC leader’s strategy is to wait and see where Turkey is heading, believing that GCs will gain favour with international community if Turkey drifts away from the West.
>> Discovery of larger quantities of natural gas could be a catalyst for a solution.
>> Current negative atmosphere could be overturned through an external factor or if the parties took unilateral measures/steps (e.g. opening the closed city of Varosha to resettlement).


Hotel occupancy rate drops by 19.9% despite 233,658 arrivals

Havadis
Economy

OVERVIEW

A total of 233,658 non-citizens arrived through ports of entry of the North in the first two months of 2019 according to data obtained from the Police General Directorate. There is a 10.3% decrease in the numbers compared to the same period in 2018. A total of 205,500 Turkish nationals arrived through air and sea ports in January and February of 2018, while for the same period in 2019, the records show 179,211.

In terms of third country nationals, while there were 54,888 arrivals recorded in the first two months of 2018, the number was 54,447 for the same period in 2019.

According to data obtained from the Tourism Planning Department, there was a 19.9% decrease in hotel occupancy rate compared to the same period last year, while the two-month average hotel occupancy rate was measured at 29.8%.

Finally, according to statistics obtained from the Police General Directorate, in January and February of 2019, 291,967 Greek Cypriots and 225,313 third country nationals entered the North through the crossing points. In the same period in 2018, 176,508 Greek Cypriots and 170,660 third country nationals crossed to the north.


People searching for treasure at churches

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Following news of four people being caught red-handed on Friday while digging to find treasure in Karşıyaka (Vasileia), Kıbrıs reports that the paper was informed by local residents that suspected treasure hunters dug a hole behind a church in Alsancak (Karavas).

A Kıbrıs reporter informed both the Evkaf Administration of Cyprus and the Alsancak (Karavas) Municipality.

Mayor of Alsancak (Karavas) Fırat Ataser dispatched his staff to seal off the area. The paper reports that the hole dug is one metre in width and two metres in depth.

According to court records, in the last 13 years, the criminal court has adjudicated over 148 cases of “illegal excavation with the purpose of finding a trove or antiquity” and “being in possession of antiquity”.