GCC Press Review 16 Apr 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Anti-GESY (National Health Scheme) with the participation of big health centres

Clinic owners and the association of private doctors harden their stance. A large number of doctors are stuck in hospitals that reject GESY for now. The Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) is optimistic of a smooth start after the last positive developments concerning doctors and other (service) providers.

  • Euro-elections: ELAM losing ground
  • TCs: Facilitations for a good vote

Phileleftheros

Explosive mixture over GESY

Every positive development is followed by a negative one with doctors and clinics wanting the first word. The first step on primary healthcare starting June 1 is toward completion.

  • The Euro-elections are dependent on a pensioner –No civil servant knows how to operate the system. He retired but they asked him to urgently return.
  • They are waiting for the completion of Lute’s contacts
  • Promoting a partnership with Iraq

Haravgi

They are fighting it but GESY is on track

After pharmacists, the clinical laboratories now join GESY. Radio diagnostic centres have also joined, and yesterday the private hospital IASIS announced it is joining. In the meantime, PASIN (private hospitals association) has announced its own network of private clinics and contacts with the government (not with HIO) as well as with parties to amend legislation aiming at (the introduction of) a multi-payer system.

  • Averof (Neophytou) was hoist by his own petard –Parties are calling for the resignation of the government.

Cyprus Mail

Macron: this part of all of us burns

Fire devastates Notre-Dame. Spire and roof destroyed. ‘Everything is collapsing’.

Alithia

On tenterhooks

Antonio Guterres is waiting for the completion of Lute’s initiative before briefing the UN Security Council members. The government is waiting in anticipation of the report of the UN Secretary-General, expected to circulate within the coming hours. (Government Spokesman) Prodromos Prodromou confirms that Lute has conveyed ‘a certain idea’, the foreign minister speaks of ‘ideas’ concerning everyone involved in the Cyprob and parties, citing a briefing by the President, say there is no initiative by Lute.

  • AKEL changed its mind on early elections
  • Milliyet: Turkey will place the S-400 in the Mediterranean and Aegean

Main News

UNSG’s report to be submitted later in the week

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

The UN Secretary-General’s report on his Good Offices mission in Cyprus is to be submitted to the UN Security Council midweek instead of Monday as initially expected, with some papers reporting that this is to give time to UN envoy Jane Holl Lute to include her observations following her latest round of talks on the island and after pitching her new initiative.

The Security Council had asked the UN Secretary-General to submit a report for his mission and Lute’s efforts by April 15. The postponement is because Lute only completed her latest round of contacts in Cyprus a few days ago and is still continuing her efforts to reach a procedural agreement with the two sides.

Political parties assess differently the situation, some of them arguing there is no new initiative, the papers report.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou confirmed on Monday that Lute has pitched a new idea in an attempt to get the Cyprus talks moving again. Prodromou said a certain idea has been conveyed in recent days by Lute, and “we should wait to see how developments unfold.”

What’s important, he said, is that the UN secretary general is investing in the efforts to resume negotiations. This, he said, satisfies the government, because “it is the GC side which truly and more than anyone else has the wish for substantive negotiations to start and for the issue to be settled.”

Phileleftheros reports that the UNSG but also Nicosia are waiting for the completion of contacts with all stakeholders in the Cyprus problem and that is why the report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council is to be submitted midweek.

Despite that the various proposals Lute has been discussing with the two sides don’t seem to have great chances of success, the UN envoy wanted to launch another effort, the daily said.

In turn, the UNSG wanted to give some time to his envoy before submitting his report which proves that he will include in it all the latest developments on the Cyprus problem and record the positions of stakeholders, the paper said.

Among the ideas Lute discussed was a meeting between Greece, Turkey and the two leaders, which Anastasiades rejected, Phileleftheros reports.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides told Alpha television station that the UN Secretary-General will wait until the completion of Lute’s effort and will add the results to his report.

According to Alithia, he said that Lute’s ‘ideas’  relate to the procedural aspect of the effort for the resumption of talks, adding that these ideas do not concern only the two sides but all the parties involved. This leads to the conclusion that Lute is working on some formula for a new conference on the Cyprus issue, the paper said. Christodoulides, however, did not confirm or reject anything, the paper said.

The delay in the submission of the report, Alithia said, prolongs Nicosia’s suspense, which is on tenterhooks, since it is the only stakeholder that does not wish for a new standstill on the Cyprus problem. The Turkish side, on the other hand, hinted a while ago that a new standstill would absolve them from the obligation of seeking a solution within UN parameters and would facilitate the search for other forms of a solution, the daily said.

Haravgi reports that there is no new initiative by Lute, adding that the government is trying to conceal the fact that the UN envoy’s efforts have faltered.

The government was caught lying on Monday, the daily said, following comments of its spokesman on a so-called effort by Lute that is underway. It seems, however, that whatever this effort was has failed, Haravgi said.

Following a meeting at the Presidential Palace involving the participation of all political parties to discuss another issue, AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said on Monday that based on what the president told them, everything that has been said lately on new ideas are not new ideas, but ideas that have already been rejected.

We don’t expect any development at the moment other than the UNSG’s report, he said.

Based on what Anastasiades told the parties, there is no initiative by Lute at the moment since everything has been discussed and rejected, Haravgi reports Kyprianou as saying.

According to Phileleftheros and Alithia, the Greens’ Giorgos Perdikis also said there are no developments or any other procedure.

DISY leader Averof Neophytou said the GC side has done what it could for the talks to resume but there is a refusal by the other side.

DISY but also Anastasiades, he said, will continue their daily efforts to end the deadlock.

DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos expressed hope that the report will record Turkish intransigence, aggressiveness and expansionism but also efforts by the occupation regime and army to shape a new state of affairs within the buffer zone and the Republic’s exclusive economic zone.

Marinos Sizopoulos, leader of EDEK, expressed pessimism on the success of the procedure since it has already failed so many times in the past. He said they called on Anastasiades to utilise Lute’s efforts and call for a shift in the process toward an international conference with the participation of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to prioritise discussion of the international aspects of the problem.

The head of Citizens’ Alliance, Giorgos Lillikas, said that some continue to be disillusioned and consider that the resumption of talks is the most pressing matter.

Resuming the talks under any form and with the current Turkish positions would lead us to the same result, he said, adding that a third, consecutive standstill at the conference level would be the final nail in the coffin of the Cyprus problem.

The focus ought to be on how to force Turkey to abandon her intransigent positions, he said.

KEY ACTORS
Prodromou:
>> Lute has conveyed a new idea, the government will wait to see how developments unfold.
>> The government is satisfied that the UNSG is investing in efforts to resume negotiations because the GC side wants more than anyone for substantive talks to start and the Cyprob to be solved.

Kyprianou (AKEL)
>>
There are no new ideas, but ones that have already been discussed and rejected.
>> No other development is expected at the moment other than the UNSG’s report.

Neophytou (DISY)
>> The GC side has done what it could for the talks to resume, but there is refusal by the other side.

Papadopoulos (DIKO)
>> Hopes UNSG’s report will record Turkish intransigence, aggressiveness and expansionism but also efforts by the occupation regime & army to shape a new state of affairs within buffer zone & EEZ.

Sizopoulos (EDEK)
>> Pessimistic about the success of the new procedure, citing the repeated failures of the past.
>> Wants Anastasiades to push for international conference with participation of UNSC P5 and to prioritise discussion of the international aspect of the problem.

Lillikas (Citizens’ Alliance)
>>  Resuming talks with the current Turkish positions would lead to the same result.
>> A third, consecutive standstill at conference level would be the tombstone of the Cyprob.
>> Efforts should be focused on forcing Turkey to abandon her intransigent positions.


Polls: DISY leading in Euro-elections, ELAM loses significant support but still in the game

Phileleftheros, Politis
EU Matters

OVERVIEW

Ruling DISY continues to be the leading party in the run-up to the Euro-elections, according to the latest poll carried out by Sigma television station.

Politis, citing the poll results, reported that DISY is expected to garner 22.1 per cent of the valid ballot papers while main opposition AKEL is forecast to get 17.9 per cent. DIKO comes third with 10.4 per cent of the valid ballot papers while far-right ELAM is expected to get 6.3 per cent, surpassing EDEK that is expected to garner 5.8 per cent of the votes. The Greens are at 3 per cent while newly-founded DIPA is to receive 1.8 per cent.

More than seven in 10 respondents said they would vote while around 15 per cent said they had not decided yet. Statistics indicate there is increased interest in these elections compared to the Euro-elections of 2014.

One of the most important elements presented is that there has been a decline in ELAM support by its voters. In a poll released last March, the daily said, ELAM voters had stated 100 per cent support to the party, while now support dropped to 79 per cent, Politis reported.

The paper also reports that in total 50 ballot boxes will be set up for TCs in areas near the crossings, between Dherynia and up to Pyrgos Tyllirias.

The head of the elections service, Demetris Demetriou, told Politis that the ballot boxes will be set up mainly in schools near the crossings to facilitate TCs crossing to the free areas to vote. The majority of ballot boxes for TCs will be set up in Nicosia as many are expected to cross through Ayios Dhometios, Ledra Palace and Ledra street, the daily reported.

To avoid delays or any problems due to the increased numbers of TCs who will cross to the south that day, Demetriou said the interior ministry has made arrangements for additional staff and equipment at the crossings of Ledra Palace and Ledra street but also Dherynia from where the largest number of TC voters are expected to cross.

An announcement is expected to be made within May with information on which polling station each TC will be able to vote in.

Phileleftheros reports that the leaders of DISY and AKEL, Averof Neophytou and Andros Kyprianou, discussed on Omega TV, among other things, the candidacy of TC Niyazi Kizilyurek who is running on an AKEL ticket.

Neophytou said that the president’s references last week to ‘borrowed votes’ concerned the fact that TCs, based on the Constitution, are able to vote in the Euro-elections but not in parliamentary or presidential ones. His party, he said, considers the integration of TCs a blessing and wished that if Cyprus gets its first TC MEP, he would defend the interests of the Republic.

Kyprianou responded that AKEL is not after the integration of TCs through Kizilyurek’s candidacy but that his party wants to send out the message that GCs and TCs can work together.

In another article, Phileleftheros reports that the Euro-elections are dependent on a pensioner who has been asked by the elections service to assist them as there is currently no civil servant who can operate the computerised system of the population archive, which is used to compile the electoral rolls.

The only person who knew how to do that was Nicos Petsas, the daily said, who used to work at the elections service and who had also contributed to the design of the system in question. Petsas retired a few months ago.

Demetriou told Parliament that the government will purchase the services of Petsas at €20 per hour and that he is expected to work around 600 hours in total.  He said the elections service is currently manned by two persons and called for the reinforcement of the service if the state wants to have the elections.

KEY ACTORS
Neophytou (DISY)

>> Anastasiades’ ‘borrowed votes’ comment concerned the fact that TCs are able to vote in the Euro-elections but not in parliamentary or presidential ones.
>> The integration of TCs would be a blessing for DISY.
>> Hopes that a TC MEP would promote the interests of the Republic.

Kyprianou (AKEL)
>> AKEL is not seeking to integrate TCs through Kizilyurek’s candidacy. The party wants to send out the message that GCs and TCs can work together.


US Senator in Cyprus for high-level contacts

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

OVERVIEW

US Senator Robert Menendez is on the island for meetings on Tuesday with President Nicos Anastasiades and Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides.

In an interview with Phileleftheros prior to his arrival in Cyprus, Menendez stressed that the US must deepen their partnerships in the fields of security and energy in the Eastern Mediterranean.

He also referred to a bill he has introduced, that proposes lifting the arms embargo on Cyprus and approves funds for military exchanges and funding. It also encourages deeper energy partnerships and a more active diplomatic engagement in the area, Menendez told the paper.

Menendez said that the revival of American interest in the region is due to the fact that Greece and Cyprus have proven to be reliable partners.

Both are democracies, he said, and both have interests that closely align with those of the US on security and energy issues.

He also said that the US Senate has made it clear it would no longer accept Turkey’s aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

The heads of the International Relations and Armed Services Committees last week said in a joint text that Turkey cannot have both the Russian S-400 and American F-35. The delivery of the S-400 would result in mandatory penalties according to US laws, he said.

The Senate’s disappointment is high, he said as regards Turkey, referring to the ‘terrible treatment’ of Pastor Branson and the continued detention of part of the local staff of the Embassy of the United States. We came to the conclusion that this is simply unacceptable, Menendez said, according to Phileleftheros.

Meanwhile, Phileleftheros, Alithia and Haravgi, citing an article in Turkish daily Milliyet, report that Turkey is contemplating on placing two units of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system which is expected to be delivered in July, in the Mediterranean and the Aegean sea.

The aim, according to the paper, is to increase Turkey’s preventive ability against Greece but to also cover the Eastern Mediterranean which has now increased importance due to the discovery of hydrocarbons.

As regards the Mediterranean, the aim is to cover particularly the Eastern Mediterranean, whose importance is increased but also Cyprus. For this reason, there are thoughts of placing one unit either in Mersin, Adana or Hatay, the report said.

KEY ACTORS
Menendez (US)
>>
The US must deepen their partnerships in the fields of security and energy in the East Med.
>> In favour of lifting US arms embargo on Cyprus and military cooperation & funding.
>> The US rekindled interest in the region due to the fact Greece and Cyprus have proven to be reliable partners and their interests closely align with those of the US on security and energy issues.
>> The US Senate will no longer accept Turkey’s aggression in the East Med.
>> The US Senate is highly disappointed by Turkey.


Opposition calls DISY’s bluff on dissolution of Parliament

Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Economy

OVERVIEW

The spat between ruling DISY and opposition parties continued on Monday with the latter saying they would agree to dissolve parliament if the government also resigned.

This was in response to DISY leader Averof Neophytou’s challenge during Friday’s discussion in the House Plenum on the findings of a probe into the collapse of the Co-op bank, whereby opposition parties insisted on the finance minister’s resignation over the bank’s demise. They passed a resolution on Friday demanding that he step down or be dismissed by the president.

Neophytou pointed out that Finance Minister Harris Georgiades had been asked to deal with a sorry state of affairs created long before 2013, when the Co-op was nationalised and cited the report’s findings, which also assigned blame to political parties for the situation at the Co-op before 2013.

He also called for the dissolution of Parliament and for early parliamentary elections, the same day as the Euro-elections.

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said on Monday his party was prepared to discuss dissolving parliament if the government resigned first over its responsibility in the collapse of the Co-op.

DIKO agreed and EDEK said it would go with whatever the majority decided.  The head of the Greens, Giorgos Perdikis, said if such elections were held, none of the current MPs must take part.

Haravgi reports that Neophytou was hoist by his own petard since his demand for dissolution of the Parliament has reignited the demand of the opposition for the resignation of the government, which bears the main responsibility for the demise of the Co-op bank as per the findings of the committee.

The obvious aim of Neophytou, the daily said, was to communicate the message that the parties are equally responsible for the collapse of the Co-op, and in a bid to rebuff criticism of the government, he suggested the self-dissolution of Parliament and holding early parliamentary elections.


Police investigate threat letter against journalist and disgraced municipal councillor

Politis
Internal Security

OVERVIEW

Police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou has ordered an investigation after a threatening letter was sent to Politis by a Cypriot living in the UK who demands the ‘exemplary killing’ of journalist Costas Constantinou and Larnaca municipal councillor Giorgos Lakkotrypis.

Initially, the daily said, it was believed the threat was against Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis but it was later established that the ‘target’ was the Larnaca councillor who had called Paphians a few weeks ago “spawn of the Turks”.

The sender demanded in the letter the arrest of Constantinou and Lakkotrypis who should be sentenced for racism and warned that if this doesn’t happen, they would have an ‘exemplary’ death. The man said that the offices of Politis would be blown up and burned, but also other offices to locate Lakkotrypis.

The sender wrote his full name and London address on the envelope and sent copies to the police chief, ministers, and House President. Authorities will contact the British police over the matter, the paper reported.

Despite that the threat is not believed to be a serious one, Politis said, police are taking all measures to rule out any possibilities.