GCC Press Review 14 May 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

The road map for EU reaction has been sealed

Mogherini’s position was clear following the Foreign Affairs Council. If the drill is ‘lowered’ the partners will harden their stance. For the time being, pressure is being exerted to avert drilling activities.  

Phileleftheros

A step away from drilling

The ‘Conqueror’s’ three support vessels have been transferring equipment since Sunday. Legal measures also against insurance agents.

  • Mogherini: We must act with determination – Foreign Affairs Council
  • Concerns over Turkish provocation and conflict (among parties)

Haravgi

A €56m baksheesh to the Archbishop from the state

A few days before the European elections, the Anastasiades-DISY government satisfies the request of the Archbishop, by tabling a bill on the state subsidy of priests which amounts to millions of euros. Instead of being given to the priests who serve in rural areas, it will go directly to the Archbishopric’s treasury to allocate it as it wants.

  • Three steps against Turkish provocations – Turkey will escalate its aggression, the AKEL General Secretary pointed out, suggesting three steps to tackle it. Turkey’s second drill and the ‘Sea Wolf’ exercise. Intensive drilling programme for the next 12-24 months.
  • The reliquary of Ayios Mamas returns to the Bishopric of Morphou
  • Resolution by European journalists in favour of Sevgul Uludag for the Nobel Peace Prize

Cyprus Mail

Gesy might not be ready for June 1

Problems with outpatient centres, pharmacies and online registration for non-Cypriots.

  • Foreign minister calls for decisive EU action over Turkish incursion as Ankara hints at second ship

Alithia

Their drillings, our diplomacy

Turkey continues its provocative tune. More and more countries are calling on Ankara to respect international law, end its illegal actions in the Cypriot EEZ and not go ahead with the drillings it has announced. Calls which (Turkey) defiantly ignores and, as it states, in addition to the ‘Conqueror’, it will send a second drilling rig in the area…

  • It was stolen in 1974: This is how the reliquary of Ayios Mamas was rescued – Today the official handover.
  • Euro-elections: Strong language by Sener Levent against Andros (Kyprianou) and AKEL
  • Akinci’s contacts continue today for the formation of a ‘government’ An UBP-HP ‘government’ is on the cards.

Main News

EU warns against drilling, Turkey points to second drillship

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Energy, Regional/International Relations, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini called for decisive action against Turkey after Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides called for collective action to tackle Turkish provocation in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in a meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels. Meanwhile, Turkey continues its energy programme in the Cypriot EEZ, threatening to send in a second drillship, the papers reported on Tuesday.

Christodoulides was in Brussels attending the Foreign Affairs Council, briefing his EU counterparts on Turkey’s actions in Cyprus’ EEZ. On the sidelines, he had a series of one-on-one meetings with other EU foreign ministers.

Citing diplomatic sources that spoke to the Cyprus News Agency, the dailies reported that Christodoulides told his EU counterparts the situation requires collective action on the part of the EU on the basis of the provisions of the EU treaties and joint statements on this subject.

He said that the messages sent by the EU and its partners in a spirit of solidarity do not seem to have been heard by Turkey. Instead, Ankara continued its provocative actions just weeks before the publication of progress on its EU accession course and in violation of the commitments it has made towards the EU, he said.

Nicosia found support in France, Greece and other countries as well as from Mogherini, who said that she was speaking on behalf of all, stressing that “this time we must act with determination,” the sources said.

After the meeting, Mogherini said at a press conference that she has been in constant contact in the last few days and weeks with the Cypriot and Greek authorities on the matter.

Reaffirming her statement earlier in the month, Mogherini expressed on behalf of the EU the grave concern about Turkey’s intention and the strong condemnation last March for Turkey’s continuing unlawful actions in the eastern Mediterranean.

“We urge Turkey to show restraint, to respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its EEZ and to refrain from any such illegal action to which the EU will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” she stressed.

Christodoulides also had a meeting on the sidelines of the Council with EU Commissioner on enlargement and neighbourhood policy, Johannes Hahn who said he shares Cyprus’ grave concern over Turkey’s drilling plans within the Republic’ EEZ.

Hahn reiterated that “the European Council has strongly condemned such actions in the Eastern Mediterranean” and warned that “this position holds.” He also called on Turkey for restraint and respect of member states’ sovereign rights.

Cyprus Mail reports that an unfazed Ankara amplified its rhetoric by hinting that a second drillship would be despatched to waters around Cyprus. Citing sources, the daily reported that the Fatih drillship remains stationary at the same position, west of Paphos.

“We are operating on the assumption that the Fatih does have the wherewithal to drill,” a source told Cyprus Mail, adding that the government is still gathering data on the individuals and companies involved with the three ships supporting the Fatih, with a view to applying for international arrest warrants.

Asked about Turkey’s second drillship being sent to the Cypriot EEZ, government sources told the Cyprus Mail that, although no scenario can be ruled out, it is possible Turkey is playing psychological warfare games with Nicosia.

Citing sources, Politis reports that at this stage, other EU member states will approach Turkey in a bid to deploy diplomacy and exert pressure to prevent any drilling in the Cypriot EEZ. If Turkey does not comply, as Mogherini said, then the EU will respond with appropriate measures, the daily said.

Phileleftheros reports that the Fatih’s three support vessels have been travelling back and forth to the Antalya harbour without carrying any equipment. Only on Sunday some equipment was transferred to the drillship, the daily reported.

Citing sources, the daily reported that the government is also thinking of going after insurance companies they provide insurance coverage for the ships and personnel who support Turkey’s illegal activity. The fact that insurance coverage does not cover illegal activity, is an issue that the Cypriot side is expected to use to put pressure on Turkey.

Phileleftheros reports that Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis, speaking to CyBC radio on Monday, said the government knows that the Fatih is at the stage where drilling is planned but it has not started yet.

“Until now Turkey had too many difficulties in finding the necessary services to proceed to the illegal drilling,” since the contribution of many companies is required but due to Cyprus’ actions, it has been very difficult to find these services, he said. “The information tells us that they have found them but have not yet begun drilling.” He added that the government knows who these companies are and based on that, it will build its case to go to court.

Lakkotrypis said that these developments do not discourage the energy companies that are active in the Cypriot EEZ, the paper reported.

But in parallel with moves within the EEZ, Turkey has launched on Monday the ‘Sea Wolf 2019’ exercise which is its largest naval exercise and which wants to cause even greater tension in the region, Phileleftheros said.

Meanwhile Turkish officials continue statements in the media that their second drillship, the Yavuz, would soon be undertaking drilling operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, the papers report.

Turkey’s energy minister Fatih Donmez told Milliyet newspaper that this will occur once the Yavuz is outfitted with the necessary equipment. For this year, he added, Turkey plans two drills in shallow waters, and three to four drills in deep waters.

Commenting on the GC reaction, the Turkish minister reiterated that the TCs have rights on certain parts of the EEZ declared by Cyprus.

Turkey’s finance minister Berat Albayrak made similar remarks speaking to CNN Turk, the papers report.

KEY ACTORS
Mogherini (EU)
>>
Conveyed the EU’s grave concern about Turkey’s intention to drill within the Cypriot EEZ.
>> EU urges Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus and refrain from any such illegal action. If not, the EU will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus.

Hahn (EU)
>>
Shares Cyprus’ grave concern over Turkey’s drilling plans and called on Turkey to show restraint and respect for member states’ sovereign rights.
>> Backs the European Council’s position which strongly condemns such actions in the East Med.

Lakkotrypis
>>
The government knows which companies provide support services to Turkey to drill in the Cypriot EEZ and will build a legal case against them.
>> Cyprus’ energy programme continues since Turkey’s actions do not discourage energy companies cooperating with the RoC.

Donmez (Turkey)
>>
TCs have rights on certain parts of the EEZ declared by Cyprus.


Parties use Turkish provocation for electioneering

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Energy, Negotiations Process, Regional/International Relations, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

Less than two weeks before the Euro-elections and political parties express their concerns over the impact of Turkish actions in the Cypriot EEZ but also take swipes at each other, Phileleftheros reports.

Spokesman of ruling DISY, Demetris Demetriou, reiterated his party’s call for unity against Turkish provocation indicating that this is not the time to use big national issues for party gains.

“0n the one hand, AKEL blames the president arguing that it is the GC stance that did not allow the negotiations to resume and how this supposedly contributes to the highly illegal and extremely provocative behaviour of Turkey within our country’s EEZ,” he said. “0n the other hand, the political forces of the so-called centre accuse the president that the supposedly continuous concessions on the Cyprus problem increase Turkey’s appetite,” Demetriou said according to Phileleftheros.

Haravgi reports that AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou reiterated the three proposals he has submitted to the National Council on Saturday, adding that it would be difficult to tackle Turkish aggression unless the GC side expresses willingness to return to the negotiations table as long as Turkish provocations end.

Responding to criticism by DISY, he said AKEL is a patriotic party that puts the best interest of Cyprus and its people above all and has shown this with actions and not with slogans like DISY does.

He said that when in 2010 Turkey had expressed similar threats, the only reason the international community backed the GC side was because the latter had been reaffirming its will for a solution. When, however, the Barbaros was freely roaming around the Cypriot coast in 2014, it was because the negotiations process was faltering, Haravgi reported.

According to Phileleftheros, EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos called on the government to take specific measures with the main purpose of halting Turkish provocative actions.

He said his party had predicted these actions when the Barbaros started carrying out seismic research in Cyprus’ sea area. “We had expressed the view that Turkey would attempt through these extortionist and provocative actions even installing drilling rigs in a particular area without necessarily drilling because of the lack of know-how, just to serve specific objectives,” he said.

The Greens and the Citizens’ Alliance, in a joint statement, criticised DISY and AKEL on their ongoing public spat on the Cyprus problem ahead of the European elections.

At the moment, proper diplomacy and coordination is needed, they said, adding that this is what they have done through their own European groups.

Alithia reports that leader of the Jasmine Movement and MEP candidate Sener Levent launched an attack against AKEL following their spat last week. Levent on Monday asked AKEL to explain what its own role is and whether it put Niyazi Kizilyurek on its ticket to please Ankara by splitting votes in the north. This, he said, would result in the Jasmine Movement, which Turkey calls an enemy, not getting a seat in the European Parliament.

KEY ACTORS
Demetriou (DISY)
>>
Calls for unity and on other parties to stop taking advantage of big national issues for own gain.
>>
Opposition parties each blame the president for different things; AKEL, that his stance does not allow talks to resume which encourages Turkish action, while the so-called political centre accuse him of concessions  that work up Turkey’s appetite.

Kyprianou (AKEL)
>>
Unless the GC side expresses willingness to return to the negotiations table it would be difficult to tackle Turkish aggression. This, however, can only be done if Turkish provocations end.
>> AKEL has proven its patriotism with actions and not with slogans like DISY.
>> When the GC side had been reaffirming its will for a solution it found backing from the international community in 2010 when Turkey had expressed similar threats. But when in 2014 the negotiations process was faltering the Barbaros was allowed to roam freely in Cypriot EEZ.

Sizopoulos (EDEK)
>> Calls for measures aiming to stop Turkish actions, which EDEK had predicted would happen.

Greens & Citizens’ Alliance
>> Criticise DISY & AKEL for electioneering by taking advantage of the Cyprob, at a time when proper diplomacy and coordination is needed, with appeals to their respective European political groups.

Levent (Jasmine Movement)
>>
Wants AKEL to explain its role in the Euro-elections.
>>
Wants AKEL to say whether it chose Kizilyurek as a candidate to please Ankara by splitting TC vote thus sabotaging the JM which Turkey calls an enemy by leaving it out of the EP.


New major Turkish exercise begins

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
External Security, Energy

OVERVIEW

The dailies report on Turkey’s naval exercise ‘Sea Wolf 2019’.

Under the title, ‘Grey Wolf’ in the Mediterranean, Phileleftheros reports that Turkey mobilises its gunboats and declares its rights.

The daily said that the Turkish ‘grey wolf’ is out and about in the Mediterranean ready to squash anyone who opposes Ankara’s goals and claims. Through threats and provocations, and with the navy in full mobilisation as part of the Sea Wolf 2019 exercise, Turkey attempts in an unprecedented way to impose its demands in the Aegean and the whole of the Eastern Mediterranean, the paper said.

The timing to send in the ‘Fatih’ drillship and the announcement that the Yavuz would follow is not unrelated with the major naval exercise since Ankara wanted to exhibit its might anew.

The statements of the Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, are exactly on these parameters, the daily said.

Akar said that Turkey is taking the necessary measures for the protection of its rights in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus.

“Our aim with these exercises is for the Turkish armed forces to ensure the security of our country and our people, protect sovereignty, independence, marine rights and interests,” Phileleftheros quoted Akar saying.

KEY ACTORS
Akar (Turkey)

>> Turkey is taking the necessary measures for the protection of its rights in the Aegean, East Med and Cyprus.


European federation backs TC journalists’ Nobel nomination

Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) adopted a resolution backing the nomination of TC journalist Sevgul Uludag for the Nobel Peace Prize on the suggestion of the Union of Cyprus Journalists and TC union Basin Sen.

The resolution was adopted during the annual general meeting of the EFJ that took place in Tallinn last week.

In the draft resolution they submitted, the two Cypriot unions praise Uludag’s tireless efforts to find missing persons, GCs and TCs.