GCC Press Review 16 May 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

(Attorney-general) Costas Clerides’ string of failures continues

The case of loans from the Ayia Fyla Co-op bank collapsed too. The Criminal Court acquitted all defendants and dropped charges from the prima facie stage. The legal service and police messed up and were not able to prove the offences.

  • TCs-undecided call the shots – First place and sixth seat are up in the air. One third of voters will not go to the ballots.

Phileleftheros

Schemes for affordable residence

The government is announcing a new housing policy with strong planning incentives. Coefficients to developers in exchange for housing units and cheaper rentals.

  • Strong demarches and letter to May from the president – On Duncan’s statements.
  • Hassan passed away but owes €85 since 1950

Haravgi

(Justice Minister) Ionas (Nicolaou) not going anywhere before the elections

The President of the Republic “made a plea” to Ionas Nicolaou yesterday to stay at his ministry thus postponing his resignation until June. We note that Mr Ionas, following the social outcry over the murders of missing foreign women was forced to submit his (open-ended) resignation on May 2 without assuming any responsibility.

  • Britain, Germany and USA question the Cypriot EEZ: The government is in an awkward position.
  • (Larnaca councillor Georgios) Lakkotrypis was ‘forgotten’ within DISY – He was not removed (from the party) as (DISY leader) Averof said he would be.
  • Signs of advanced deterioration in refugee estates and immeasurable hardship for the elderly

Cyprus Mail

UK envoy called in over ‘disputed’ EEZ

Cyprus to make official demarche over minister’s ‘unfortunate’ comments on Turkish drilling.

  • Turkey says not delaying S-400 delivery

Alithia

DISY first, AKEL closing in

The messages of Omega’s big poll. AKEL’s pulverizing criticism, mainly on the Co-op bank and crime, brought results: It reduced the difference with DISY down to 2.3%. The thriller for the sixth place continues with ELAM slightly ahead of EDEK.

  • Clashing with the UK – The Foreign Office insists on the disputed sovereignty of the Cypriot EEZ. Official demarche by the foreign ministry and a letter by President Anastasiades to Theresa May.
  • Anastasiades: This is my last term as president of the Republic

Main News

Nicosia delivers demarche to Britain over disputed EEZ comments

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

OVERVIEW

Nicosia summoned British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie for explanations following the statements by Britain’s Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan on a disputed Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ), while President Nicos Anastasiades is to send a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May on the matter, the papers report.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Wednesday Nicosia was making its demarche to London through the High Commissioner “on the unfortunate statements” by Sir Alan. “The Cyprus government will make official representations to the British government regarding what was said about the Cyprus EEZ,” Prodromou said. 

According to the Cyprus Mail and Phileleftheros, Lillie was summoned to the foreign ministry on Wednesday to clarify statements by the UK government on its stance vis-a-vis Cyprus’ EEZ, after appearing to say it was a disputed area.

Citing diplomatic sources, Phileleftheros reports that the reason Anastasiades decided to send a letter to May is that the climate at the meetings he has had with the British premier was completely different.

Politis, citing sources with great knowledge in energy matters, reported that the point at which Turkey threatens to drill is located just 34 nautical miles from the coast of Cyprus and 30 nautical miles from the median line (between Cyprus and Turkey) provided for by international law. It is also 80 nautical miles away from Turkey, so there is no logic to the argument that the area belongs to Turkey, the same sources point out. This is also the main reason Turkish officials invoke the rights of the TCs as they acknowledge that their argument for a Turkish EEZ cannot stand, the sources said according to the paper.

According to the Cyprus Mail online, Sir Alan has expressed his frustration over the intense criticism addressed personally to him by Nicosia for comments he made on Tuesday about Cyprus’ sovereignty being “under dispute” in its EEZ, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported.
Cyprus’ High Commissioner to the UK, Euripides Evriviades, met with Sir Alan on Wednesday afternoon at the Foreign Office in London to convey his government’s strong objection to the minister’s remarks.

Later in the evening Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis told a London audience of investors and entrepreneurs that Turkey’s incursion into the EEZ was “not the first provocation we are having, but by far the most serious one”.
“The spot where Turkey is trying to drill is 37 nautical miles off the coast of Cyprus. I am wondering if anyone under any circumstances through the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) can consider this area, 37 nautical miles from the coast, a disputed area,” he said pointing to a map of Cyprus’ EEZ.
Foreign Office sources have said that Tuesday’s statements by Sir Alan and by officials should leave no doubt about the UK position.

A clarification issued on Tuesday evening by the Foreign Office stated that the UK recognises the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit oil and gas in its “internationally agreed” EEZ.
But the area where Turkey is threatening to start drilling has not been delineated, therefore under the law of the sea it is considered still “under dispute” the British argue.
The sources also say that Sir Alan Duncan’s statement actually amounted to a call for Turkey not to proceed with exploratory drilling in that area, since the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea prohibits such activity “in an area where sovereignty is under dispute”.
CNA understands that Sir Alan has also expressed his frustration over the barrage of criticism he has faced.
Diplomatic sources disputing the British argument note that the UK has not condemned the Turkish incursion into the Cypriot EEZ as it ought to and as other western countries have done.
Furthermore, international energy experts in London have underlined that the said maritime areas have not been delineated due to Turkey’s rejection of Cypriot calls for talks on the matter.
They have also stressed that Turkey cannot selectively refer to UNCLOS, a convention to which it has chosen not be a signatory.
Turkey, it has also been noted, is the sole country that votes every year against the Omnibus Resolution of the Law of the Sea item in the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Meanwhile, Conservative and Labour MPs have written to Sir Alan urging him to unequivocally condemn the Turkish incursion into Cyprus’ EEZ and to  declare London’s support for Nicosia’s right to exploit the natural resources in all its EEZ. Such MPs include Sir Roger Gale, Theresa Villiers and Fabian Hamilton.

Under Cyprus law the outer limit of the EEZ of the Republic is defined to a distance of 200 nautical miles “from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured”. The territorial sea is 12 nautical miles. This means technically 60km off Paphos is well within the island’s self-defined EEZ.

However, under UNCLOS, which Cyprus ratified in 1988, EEZ delimitation agreements with neighbouring countries must be formally filed with the UN. Cyprus signed EEZ delimitation agreements with Egypt (2003), Lebanon (2007) and Israel (2010). Turkey is not a signatory to UNCLOS, and does not recognise Cyprus so no delimitation agreement exists. “In the absence of such an agreement, the limit of the EEZ is the median line,” Cyprus law states.
As soon as the Turkish drillship Fatih was put in place, the government formally filed the very next day the coordinates for the northern (undelineated) part of its EEZ, something it had not done previously. According to Greek Cypriot media reports, this was because it was advised not to by international experts so as not to inflame tensions in the region.

Energy analyst Charles Ellinas told the Cyprus Mail on Wednesday that formally filing with the UN was a good move by the government.

“Cyprus last week only formally defined its EEZ. It had to send a letter to formally define the whole EEZ. It was an important step and it made sense and they should have done it before,” he said because there were grey areas that needed to be sorted out such as the triangle where Greece, Cyprus and Egypt’s EEZs meet.

“Turkey is creating grey areas and sadly the longer things stay the same the more grey it becomes,” he added. “As far as the law is concerned. UNCLOS is really well specified and needs some kind of negotiations. It’s not black and white. It’s not just a matter of defining it. In the end of the day, there is a need for negotiations.”

As for Sir Alan’s comments, Ellinas said he suspected the British minister was not calling Cyprus’ EEZ into question as a whole but only the area where the Fatih was currently located as it has not been delimited. But Turkey disputes the island’s EEZ as a whole and lays claim to parts of Cypriot blocks 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7, and all the way to Kastelorizo and Crete. It also claims parts of Cyprus’ existing licensed blocks on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots. Ellinas said in any case, the Fatih coordinates should not be classed as disputed internationally.

“Duncan overstated areas that are not necessarily disputed,” he said, adding that perhaps the British minister meant that it was Turkey that was disputing it.

Political parties condemned Sir Alan’s statements while main opposition AKEL also took a swipe at the government.

Haravgi reported that AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said the Foreign Office statement was clear and negative for Cyprus.

He also said, instead of blaming AKEL, the government ought to reflect on why important international players such as Britain, the US State Department and the UN offered their lukewarm support to the Republic. Kyprianou said both Duncan’s and the US State Department’s statements were unacceptable, Haravgi reports.

Phileleftheros reports that ruling DISY said it agreed with the government’s decision on the demarche to Britain. Instead of the country’s Minister for Europe turnubg his attention to the moves which led his country and the EU to the current bad situation, he makes statements contrary to international law and the tradition of good relations between Britain and the Republic of Cyprus. Not only were his statements unacceptable, they are also against the Law of the Sea Convention, on the basis of which the Republic of Cyprus exercises its legitimate rights in its EEZ, but also against the EU, the party said.

DIKO said Britain needs to understand that it is not dealing with one of its colonies but with an independent, sovereign state, member of the EU. “For the umpteenth time, Britain openly adopts the unacceptable and unlawful Turkish claims.” The party called on the government to raise the issue of the renegotiation of the status of the British bases.

EDEK condemns “the unacceptable statement by Alan Duncan.” The statement reaffirms Britain’s negative role in the Cyprus problem once again in the clearest way, the party said. 

The Greens believe that the measures taken by the government are not effective, while the Citizens’ Alliance called on the government not to just stay at demarches but to open the issue of the bases.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday said his ministry was informing foreign diplomats on the drilling situation and “everyone has seen the realities”. He said Turkey was carrying out drilling activities on its own continental shelf while EEZ declarations being made by any country, especially ones they do not recognise, does not mean they are valid declarations. He added that Turkey had communicated the extent of its own continental shelf to the United Nations.

“Despite our warnings – despite the fact that we warned the EU and the international community – the Greek Cypriot administration is conducting unilateral drilling operations without guaranteeing the rights of the Turkish Cypriots,” said Cavusoglu.

“This problem needs to be resolved. Instead of making statements against Turkey, the problem must be solved from its root. And then the hydrocarbons around Cyprus can be evaluated and channelled through Turkey into the international market. If instead of adopting this logical approach they take unilateral steps then we do what we have to do and do.”

KEY ACTORS
Prodromou
>>
Sir Alan’s statements were unfortunate.

Lakkotrypis
>> Fatih is the most serious provocation from Turkey so far.
>> Turkey trying to drill 37 nautical miles off Cyprus’ coast. Can this possibly be considered a disputed area under UNCLOS?

Kyprianou (AKEL)
>>
Government should stop blaming AKEL and reflect on why support from important international players such as Britain, USA and UN was lukewarm.
>> The UK Foreign Office’s statement was clear and negative for Cyprus. Statements from Duncan and the US State Department were unacceptable.

DISY
>>
On board with government decision for demarche to Britain.
>> The British minister for Europe ought to focus on Brexit instead of making statements that are against international law and the tradition of good relations between Britain and the RoC.
>> Sir Alan’s statements are unacceptable, but are also against the Law of the Sea based on which the RoC exercises its legitimate rights in its EEZ, but also against the EU.

DIKO
>>
Britain must realise Cyprus is not its colony but an independent, sovereign, EU member state.
>> Britain, once more, openly adopts unacceptable and unlawful Turkish claims.
>> Wants the government to raise the issue of the renegotiation of the status of the British bases.

EDEK
>>
Condemns Sir Alan’s unacceptable by Sir Alan which reaffirms Britain’s negative role in the Cyprob once again.

Greens
>>
The measures taken by the government are not effective.

Citizens’ Alliance
>>
Wants the government not to just stay at demarches but to open the issue of the bases.

UK FCO
>> UK recognises sovereign right of RoC to exploit oil & gas in its “internationally agreed” EEZ. But area where Turkey is threatening to drill has not been delineated, therefore under the law of the sea it is considered still “under dispute”.

Cavusoglu (Turkey)
>>
Everyone has seen the realities after his ministry informed foreign diplomats on the drilling situation.
>> Turkey’s drilling activities are in its own continental shelf (which has been submitted to UN). EEZ declarations made by any country, especially one not recognised by Turkey, are not necessarily valid.
>> Turkey warned EU & international community that GCs conducting unilateral drilling without ensuring rights of TCs.
>> Instead of making statements against Turkey, problem needs to be resolved from its roots.
>> Then hydrocarbons around Cyprus can be evaluated and channelled through Turkey into the international market. 
>> If GCs do not adopt logical approach & take unilateral steps, then Turkey do what it has to do.


Anastasiades wants to be remembered for his solution efforts

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

Alithia reports that Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday that since this will be his last term as president, he would like to be remembered for his efforts during his long political career and for doing his duty to his country.

“To feel that I finally leave to my grandchildren and my children the prospect of a peaceful life and to be able to prosper in this country,” he said.

He was speaking at a book launch in Nicosia. 

He said that he was to have a telephone conversation with UN special envoy Jane Holl Lute on Wednesday evening and would reiterate to her the same things he had said to the UN Secretary-General since the evening of the interruption of the talks in Crans Montana.

He described Crans Montana as a major effort “we had made to find a solution that would be acceptable to the general public.” He added that the GC side did not lack political will but that Turkey had not shown signs of cooperation, but rather wanted to have under its control not just the occupied areas but the whole of Cyprus.

“What we ask the TCs and the international factor, is to understand that if the solution does not respect both communities and create conditions, not to impose one on the other, but to truly live in peaceful conditions with mutual respect, it will not withstand the test of time and it is not what we seek,” he said. Anastasiades said he wants to believe that TCs also want a lasting solution.

Phileleftheros reported that Lute is expected to have a telephone conversation in the coming days with Anastasiades following a similar call with TC leader Mustafa Akinci.

The UN envoy keeps communication open with the two side, the daily said, waiting for the right moment to return to the island since the current situation does not favour a visit to discuss the resumption of talks.

In another article, the papers reported that cabinet on Wednesday approved an amendment to allow the chief negotiator for the Cyprus problem talks to also carry out other duties. The law amendment, filed by the foreign minister, aims at allowing negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis to also serve as Cyprus’ Permanent Representative at the UN.

KEY ACTORS
Anastasiades
>>
Wants to be remembered for his efforts on the Cyprob talks and for doing his duty to his country by creating prospects of peace and prosperity on the island.
>> Will reiterate to Lute the same thing he has been telling the UNSG since Crans Montana, that the GC side did not lack political will but that Turkey had not shown signs of cooperation and wanted to have under its control not just the occupied areas but the whole of Cyprus.
>> The GC side had made a major effort at Crans Montana for a widely accepted solution.
>> Wants the TCs and international players to understand that a solution must respect both communities and create conditions for actual peaceful conditions and mutual respect otherwise it will not last.
>> Hopes TCs want a lasting solution too.


Spehar: Dherynia’s efforts to bring GCs and TCs together will be in UNSG’s report

Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process, CBMs

OVERVIEW

Dherynia Mayor Andros Karayiannis and UN Special Representative Elisabeth Spehar discussed on Wednesday ways to exploit the potential of the buffer zone in the Dherynia area for agricultural, educational, environmental and sports purposes.

Karayiannis and Spehar met in Dherynia with representatives from the UN and the local council. They also discussed ways to promote bicommunal programmes.

According to Haravgi, Spehar congratulated the municipality saying it is the only municipal authority that organises consistently and with great success events bringing together GCs and TCs. She said that these actions would be included in the reports of the UN Secretary-General. She also praised the involvement of civil society in efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem but also the very important role the Municipality of Dherynia plays in the effort to build trust between the two communities, the daily reported.

KEY ACTORS
Spehar (UN)
>>
Congratulated the municipality as the only local authority consistently organising events bringing together GCs and TCs.
>> Praised the involvement of civil society in efforts to resolve the Cyprob and the very important role Dherynia plays in the effort to build trust between the two communities.


Poll shows ruling DISY first in EU elections, but government disapproval rating high

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
EU Matters

OVERVIEW

A new poll on the Euro-elections showed ruling DISY to continue to lead the race but AKEL closing in while far right ELAM is a few points ahead of EDEK.

According to the results of the poll carried out by Noverna Analytics & Research on behalf of Omega TV, DISY is expected to garner 16.7 per cent of votes while AKEL 14.4 per cent. DIKO is set to be in third place with 6.3 per cent, while ELAM is forecast to get 4.1 per cent, slightly ahead of EDEK’s 3.7 per cent. The two parties are expected to battle it out for the final seat.

The Citizens’ Alliance and the Greens are expected to get 1.9 per cent and DIPA 0.2 per cent, while the Animal Party 0.7 per cent. The Jasmine Movement is expected to get 0.4 per cent.

In total 800 individuals aged 18 and over took part in the poll. The statistical error is set at +/- 3.1 per cent.

In relation to the criteria they will vote on, the majority of respondents, 38 per cent, said the candidates’ positions on the Cyprus problem, 22 per cent said their positions on social issues in Cyprus, 11 per cent said the positions on EU issues and 23 per cent on economic issues.

According to the survey, the most popular MEP is Eleni Theocharous with 51 per cent of respondents saying they had a positive opinion about her. Second most popular is DIKO’s Costas Mavrides followed by AKEL’s Takis Hadjigeorgiou.

Politis reports that it will all come down to the undecided who reach 29.8 per cent but also the TCs. According to Politis, half of respondents said they do not agree with Anastasiades’ handling of the Cyprus problem, while 28 per cent said they approved of his idea of a parliamentary democracy in the case of a federal solution and 37 per cent said they did not. More than four in 10 said they did not approve of decentralisation of powers as opposed to 25 per cent that said they did.

The poll also showed that respondents largely disapprove of the government’s handling of a number of issues. Only 39 per cent said they approved the government’s handling of the economy, while in relation to crime, 71 per cent said they do not approve of the way government handles things.

Haravgi reported that the results of the poll showed that citizens completely disapprove of the government.


Family of TC man seeks his GC mortgage lender so they can get their property

Phileleftheros
Property

OVERVIEW

The widow and daughter of Munir Hassan, a TC who migrated to the UK in 1950, are looking to find a GC who had loaned the deceased man €85.43 at the time so that his property in Cyprus can be transferred to them.

Hassan’s family only found out about his debt after his death four years ago in the UK. The deceased man’s property is now under administration and, in order to be transferred to his wife and daughter, the debt, plus eight per cent interest must be paid to Eracles Araouzos, the mortgage lender who loaned Hassan the money in 1950 in Cyprus. In order for the TC man’s property to be transferred to his family residing in England, the mortgage must be paid.

The administrators went to Pentakomo where Araouzos was originally from and contacted everyone with the same last name but were not able to find him.

They were forced thus to place a media ad looking for Araouzos. They told Phileleftheros they hoped Araouzos would be found, otherwise, they would use other legal provisions to transfer the property.


DISY did not expel disgraced Larnaca municipal councillor

Haravgi
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Two months after calling Paphians ‘spawns of the Turks’ on social media, Georgios Lakkotrypis is still a member of DISY’s Larnaca municipal councillors’ group, the daily reported.

Following the incident, DISY leader Averof Neophytou had announced that Lakkotrypis would be struck off while the party’s Larnaca municipal group had informed the municipal council on March 7 that he had been expelled from the group. They had also promised that his expulsion would become official with a letter to Mayor Andreas Vyras. So far, however, no letter has been sent while Lakkotrypis continues to regularly participate in the municipal committees he was placed in as a member of the DISY municipal group, the daily reported.