GCC Press Review 17 May 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Scandalous rent for property worth €4 million

It was leased 40 years ago for CY £100 per year. Battle to make a kindergarten in the most privileged area in Potamos tis Germasoyias. The prime real estate was donated by a Cypriot diaspora woman to the school district and became a pub and restaurant.

  • The ‘Game’ continues (of key actors on Cyprob and energy)
  • Poll: Battle until the end
  • Special supplement: Guide on the Euro-elections
  • US-Turkey: New warnings on S-400

Phileleftheros

New pay for doctors

Correction of mistakes and readjustment of medical acts brought new incentives for the specialised doctors of GESY (National Health Scheme). Specialised doctors from private hospitals are being registered in GESY.

  • London insists: The letter to May (will be sent) today
  • Erdogan was not able to put Sener (Levent) in prison
  • There are no talks with Turkish unlawful acts (underway)
  • Battle for the sixth seat until the ballots open
  • Today a supplement on polling stations in Cyprus and abroad
  • Doubts over international arrest warrant against Kurdish man (Cerkez Korkmaz)

Haravgi

Simply spectators of school violence

A series of incidents of violence occurred within just three days in the same school in Limassol, while the arson of school rooms also took place in a Nicosia gymnasium. The school year is coming to an end and in most schools nothing has been done regarding all those announcements made from time to time by the education minister and the government.

  • Stagnation is recorded in the mobile telephony CBM
  • Levent and Osman not guilty in the case concerning Tayyip Erdogan’s caricature
  • European election electoral lists on where each voter votes

Cyprus Mail

UK sticks to its guns in EEZ rift

Foreign Office insists location of Turkish drillship is a disputed area.

Alithia

GESY on a promising path

The president was briefed and states he is satisfied. It was made clear yesterday in a meeting at the Presidential Palace that the road to GESY is one-way and this enormous reform will be a reality in two weeks. Almost 400,000 people have registered, meaning half the population. There will be problems but we will tackle them.

  • Peeing on Erdogan… is legal – A blow to Erdogan. Sener Levent was acquitted and declares: “Here it is Cyprus, we are Cypriots, we are citizens of the Republic of Cyprus and of the EU. Here it is not Turkey, it is the EU.”
  • The stone-cold Cyprob on ice – It is also due to the elections.
  • Foreign Office: Sir Alan’s statement was addressed to Turkey
  • Alpha poll: DISY 30.5%, AKEL 25.5%
  • Occupied areas: The symbolism of coffee and lemonade in the ‘government’ formation

Main News

UK insists on disputed maritime areas off Cyprus

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

OVERVIEW

The UK insists on the existence of a disputed sea area off Cyprus while President Nicos Anastasiades is expected to send a letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May seeking explanations possibly on Friday, the papers report.

Cyprus Mail reports that London declined on Thursday to walk back earlier remarks by British Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan about ‘disputed’ maritime areas around Cyprus, comments that have caused a rift with Nicosia.

In a new statement on Thursday, the UK Foreign Office said it had called on Turkey not to drill in the area off Paphos where it has positioned its drillship Fatih “where sovereignty is under dispute.”

The Foreign Office noted the UK was following developments in the Eastern Mediterranean with concern. “We would like to see the situation deescalated,” it said.

“With reference to Turkey’s planned drilling, as the Minister for Europe and the Americas stated on May 14, the position of the UK is that, in line with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), exploratory drilling should not proceed in any area where sovereignty is under dispute. We have called on Turkey not to drill in this area.” It added: “We also continue to recognise the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit the oil and gas in its internationally agreed exclusive economic zone.”

“The UK continues to believe that Cyprus’ oil and gas should be developed for the benefit of all Cypriots,” the statement said.

Anastasiades was to send May a letter on the matter.

Asked about Nicosia’s representations to London over the latter’s stance, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said the president “expects of Britain to have a position in line with international law, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and of course in line with the position expressed from the very beginning by the UK Foreign Secretary, in line with the EU general position, announced by the European Commission’s Vice President Ms (Frederica) Mogherini.”

Mogherini has called on Turkey to refrain from illegal actions in the EEZ of Cyprus, show restraint and respect the sovereign rights of the Republic, the Cyprus Mail reported.

Phileleftheros reports that Anastasiades is to send May a letter on Friday.

A government source told the paper that the position Britain promotes has an internal contradiction.

“They cannot talk about the Law of the Sea, EEZ and sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus and on the other hand speak of a ‘disputed area’ 37 nautical miles from the coasts of Cyprus,” the source said. “A basic rule of the Law of the Sea is the ‘median line’. How can Turkey find itself 37 nautical miles from our shores?” the source asked.

Meanwhile, British Cypriots continue to send letters of protest to the UK’s Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan over his statements. The latest was sent by a group of 10 Cypriot refugees who have been living in the UK for decades. They point out that Sir Alan’s statement caused “annoyance and upset” to them but also the many thousands of British citizens of Cypriot origin.

They note that the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ is in compliance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and it is not being questioned by any country except Turkey, Phileleftheros reports.  

According to Alithia, the latest British statement did not satisfy the government. Government sources told the paper that the clarifications given by Britain maintain the approach that the 37 nautical miles in which the Turkish drillship Fatih attempts to operate, is a disputed area.

Citing a report in the Cyprus News Agency, Alithia said that international actors in the energy sector in London point out that with this attitude, Britain provides an alibi to Turkey’s illegal actions in the Cypriot EEZ, emphasising that it is Ankara that has not accepted the Cypriot invitation to set their respective EEZs.

Turkey cannot invoke the Convention on the Law of the Sea in which it has decided it will not participate and which every year votes against the UN resolution on the Law of the Sea. The same circles emphasise the recognition for the first time of Cypriot sovereignty in the “internationally agreed” EEZ, the British essentially recognise the correctness of the definition of EEZs between Cyprus and Egypt based on the principle of the median line. Acceptance of this principle implies that any other claim by Turkey for its own EEZ in the area where it threatens to drill are shot down, the energy sector sources said, Alithia reports.

Politis refers to a ‘game’ concerning the energy issue and the Cyprus problem. The paper said that Britain was in search of the right statement to rehash Duncan’s statements at a satisfactory level. At the same time, UN envoy Jane Holl Lute continues her contacts for the Cyprus problem. The developments but also positions of players and key countries show there will be a continuation soon on the energy chapter and other relevant fields, the paper said.

The international factor sends out the messages it wants to promote on Turkey’s provocative stance while Turkey, on the one hand is threatening and on the other hand, calling to dialogue so that the problem is solved, with the aim of putting itself on the energy map of the East Med. On the one hand, it wants to stop Cyprus’ energy programme and on the other, it is seeking to gain as much as it can in return.

Meanwhile, the international community is putting the Cyprus problem in the picture, and the need for it to be resolved. The EU remains the main leverage of the Republic of Cyprus and it seems the government wants to make the most of it.

The Republic of Cyprus strengthens its alliances with major European countries, such as France with which it has sealed an agreement for the use of the ‘Evangelos Florakis’ naval base by the French fleet. At the same time, the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers met on Thursday in an effort to explore the true intentions of the Turks and to see if there is a way to resolve this crisis before it escalates, the paper reported.

Cyprus Mail online reported on Friday morning that Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos expressed his strong condemnation of Turkey’s actions in Cyprus’ EEZ to his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu during a meeting on the margins of the 129th Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in Helsinki.

After the meeting late Thursday, Katrougalos said he expressed to his Turkish counterpart Greece’s unreserved condemnation of the unilateral illegal actions of Turkey in Cyprus’ EEZ, asking that these activities immediately stop.

The two foreign ministers also discussed the need to de-escalate the tension in the Aegean, the news portal said.

KEY ACTORS
Foreign Office (UK)
>>
The UK’s position, as stated also by Sir Alan is that,in line with UNCLOS, there should not be an exploratory drilling in any area where sovereignty is under dispute. Called on Turkey not to drill in this disputed area.
>> UK follows developments in the East Med with concern and would like to see the situation deescalated.
>> UK continues to recognise the sovereign right of the RoC  to exploit oil and gas in its internationally agreed EEZ.
>> Cyprus’ oil and gas should be developed for the benefit of all Cypriots.

Prodromou
>>
Anastasiades expects Britain to have a position in line with international law, UNCLOS, the position expressed by the UK Foreign Secretary, and in line with the EU general position.

Katrougalos (Greece)
>>
Condemns Turkey’s unilateral illegal actions in Cyprus’ EEZ & wants them to cease immediately.


Anastasiades: EEZ violations do not allow talks to resume

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

The papers report that according to Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou, President Nicos Anastasiades told UN special envoy Jane Holl Lute in a phone call on Wednesday evening that the violation of the sovereign rights of the Republic’s EEZ undermines attempts to foster an appropriate political climate and do not allow for the resumption of talks.

Prodromou also said that Anastasiades “reiterated to Lute for the umpteenth time the readiness of the GC side to participate in a new round of talks for a viable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem, on the basis of UN resolutions, EU acquis, and the six parameters proposed by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.”

Lute told Anastasiades that she remained determined, on the basis of instructions given by Guterres, to help create appropriate conditions for the resumption of reunification talks, Prodromou said.

Lute did not say when her next visit on the island will be.

Phileleftheros said yesterday’s statements by the government spokesman are revealing as to the course of developments on the Cyprus problem as per the explanations Anastasiades gave to Lute.

The focus is now on Turkish provocations and Anastasiades has not decided yet when to meet with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative Elisabeth Spehar to discuss the upcoming report on the renewal of the UNFICYP mandate. Spehar has already met with TC leader Mustafa Akinci, the daily reported.

Alithia reports that the already frozen efforts for the resumption of talks seem to have been put on ice for good due to the latest Turkish actions in the EEZ, judging by what Anastasiades told Lute.

While it had been expected that there would be substantive discussions about either the terms of reference or the substance of the Cyprus issue in June after the long delay due to Ankara’s excuses to wait until after the municipal elections in Turkey, but also the European elections, Turkish provocations now have given the fatal blow to any efforts on the Cyprus problem, the daily said.

Given that there might be general elections in Greece any time now, that there is a procedure underway in the occupied areas for the formation of a new ‘government’ and the rerun of elections in Istanbul, it seems that there will be no developments on the Cyprus problem for months. This will mean that the UNSG’s efforts are headed to a final collapse, Alithia said.

KEY ACTORS
Anastasiades
>>
The violation of the sovereign rights of the RoC’s EEZ do not help foster an appropriate political climate or allow for the resumption of talks.
>> The GC side is ready to participate in a new round of talks for a viable and functional solution to the Cyprob based on UN resolutions, EU acquis, and the six parameters proposed by the UNSG.


Prodromou: Mobile CBM could’ve happened in 2015 if TCs wanted

Haravgi
CBMs

OVERVIEW

There is stagnation at the moment on the interconnectivity of mobile telephony between the two sides, the daily reported.

Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou told Haravgi that if the TC side truly wanted the implementation of the confidence-building measure (CBM) in question, interconnectivity would have been achieved since 2015 when it was agreed.

He accused the TC side of constantly trying to find ways to legalise mobile telephony providers in the occupied areas.

The co-chair of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Economic and Commercial Matters, Phidias Pilides told the daily that the Committee has done its share by bringing in contact the mobile telephony providers with the international telecommunications company Comfone which is to operate as a hub. He added that arrangements have been made between the providers and the company to see progress in the procedure. Each provider will decide whether it wants to go ahead with it or not as long as they make sure that there will be no violation of any law of the Republic, and will inform the Committee.

Citing sources, Haravgi reported that tension in the EEZ, the euro-elections and efforts for the formation of a ‘government’ in the occupied areas do not favour the procedure at the moment.

KEY ACTORS
Prodromou
>>
If the TC side truly wanted the mobile telephony interconnectivity it would have been achieved since 2015 when the CBM was agreed.
>> Accuses TC side of constantly trying to find ways to legalise mobile telephony providers in the occupied areas.

Pilides (Technical Committee)
>>
The Committee has done its part, it is now up to the providers to decide if they want to join or not.


‘TCs may run as MEPs as long as they’re representing RoC’

Politis
EU Matters

OVERVIEW

DISY MEP candidate Loucas Fourlas said that TCs do have a place in parties’ tickets for the Euro-elections.

In an interview with Politis, Fourlas said that for him, it does not matter if someone is a TC, Maronite, Latin or a GC.

What matters to him, he said, is that they respect the party with which they will run and the country they will represent. “If they clearly state they will represent the Republic of Cyprus and the Cypriot flag then nothing else matters to me,” he said. What matters is that they do this having in mind they will be representing the Republic and the Cypriot people that elected them, he said.

KEY ACTORS
Fourlas (DISY)
>>
TCs or anyone else running for MEP must clearly state they will be representing the RoC, the Cypriot people and flag.


Latest poll shows third contender for final MEP seat

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
EU Matters

OVERVIEW

A poll by Alpha TV on Thursday evening showed that ruling DISY continues to lead the Euro-elections race tailed by main opposition AKEL, but this time three parties are set to claim the final seat.

According to the poll carried out by  Pulse Market Research on behalf of Alpha TV, the Greens-Citizens’ Alliance combination are closing in on EDEK and far-right ELAM and do have a chance for the final, sixth seat.

The poll results said that DISY is set to get 20 per cent, AKEL 16 per cent, DIKO 9 per cent, ELAM 6 per cent, EDEK 5 per cent, the Greens-Citizens Alliance 4 per cent, DIPA 1 per cent, the Jasmine Movement 1 per cent and the Animal Party 2 per cent.

A total of 36 per cent of respondents said they have not yet decided or that they cannot answer on how they would vote.

According to the deduction, DISY’s average percentage is expected to be 30.5 per cent, AKEL 25.5 per cent, DIKO 13 per cent, EDEK 7.5 per cent, ELAM 8.5 per cent and the Greens-Citizens’ Alliance 5.5 per cent. In total 1,001 people took part through telephone interviews. The maximum statistical error of the poll is 2.6 per cent.


Historic acquittal in Afrika caricature case

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Human Rights, Governance & Power Sharing

OVERVIEW

All papers report on the acquittal on Thursday of the editor of TC daily Afrika , Sener Levent and the paper’s reporter Ali Osman Tabak who were on trial for “insulting a foreign leader” after the newspaper published in 2017 a cartoon showing a Greek statue urinating on Erdogan’s head.

Politis reported that justice has been served in the case of Afrika.

Phileleftheros said that Erdogan did not have his way and was not able to put Levent behind bars.

Under the headline ‘Peeing on Erdogan… is legal’ Alithia reported in a secondary story on its front page that yesterday’s historic decision of the TC court in Nicosia was estimated as a blow to the Turkish President and his efforts to put the occupied areas and the TC community under Ankara’s control. The paper further published a photo of Afrika’s original article in question on its front page.

In other articles Alithia and Phileleftheros report that UBP and HP will meet on Friday after the former’s leader Ersin Tatar was given the green light on Tuesday to form a ‘government’.

An older statement by HP leader Kudret Ozersay that he would not sit down to drink even coffee with UBP has now become inspiration for comments by the media, while TC papers now use puns on coffee but also lemonade to describe the situation. One report said that things between the two parties may not be going according to plan, the dailies said.