GCC Press Review 21 May 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Heading for measures at EAC (Electricity Authority) over GESY (National Health Scheme) and pay cuts

Workers are voting on authorising trade unions (to take measures). They want the Authority to pay both the GESY contribution and the 5.9 per cent for the health fund. They ask for wages and benefits to be restored to pre-crisis levels.

  • The nightmare of a ‘hard’ Brexit – The worst-case scenario is possible for Cyprus.  Concerns in Nicosia over a no-deal Brexit.
  • Up to 8,000 TCs at the polls
  • The mistake concerning Katy (Clerides) caused a shock
  • Demetris Christofias: Trying times
  • Euro-elections: The other questionnaire
  • Exercise: ‘Landing’ of Israelis

Phileleftheros

Everything on the line to mobilise supporters (around parties)

They put pressure on the (party) base and keep the tone of confrontation high. The pre-election campaign is based on two axes.

  • Message also from (Brexit chief negotiator Michel) Barnier
  • Difficult hours for Demetris Christofias
  • New life breathed into soul of occupied Kythrea Restoration of historic church.

Haravgi

Racing now to justify the ‘zeros’ (comment)

If the propaganda maître, Joseph Goebbels, were alive today, he would be envious of the PR team of the President of the Republic and Nicos Anastasiades himself. After the outcry over all the emetic things he said at DISY’s district rally in Limassol and after the humiliation he suffered, the president and his associates have intervened in the audio document to disorientate (the public).

  • Critical hours for Demetris Christofias in the general hospital’s intensive care unit.
  • AKEL strengthened to the benefit of Cyprus (AKEL Euro-election campaign)

Cyprus Mail

Barnier: EU behind Cyprus in EEZ row

Brexit chief negotiator says EU to respond ‘appropriately’ to Turkey.

  • Christofias in ‘critical condition’ in hospital, president pays visit

Alithia

This is what I said

President Anastasiades responds to misinformation by AKEL. The presidency made public the audio clip of the president’s speech in question. It is clear that Mr Anastasiades criticized the AKEL leadership for its nihilistic approach and not the citizens. AKEL continues to play the polarization game, speaking of an effort by the president to entertain poor impressions.

  • Cyprus: The worst student –We have the smallest representation of women in the European Parliament.
  •  Christofias is going through a difficult time due to health
  •  Will we have changes also in parliament? – Due to Euro-elections.

Main News

Brexit negotiator reiterates EU support over Turkish provocation

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

OVERVIEW

The EU sent another message of solidarity to Nicosia through its chief negotiator on Brexit Michel Barnier who was in Cyprus for contacts on Brexit preparedness, the papers report. At the same time, concerns were voiced by MPs over the consequences for Cyprus of a messy Brexit.

During his visit to Nicosia, the EU official met with Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides who briefed him on Turkey’s activities in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Barnier said after the meeting that the EU stands behind Nicosia and expects Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of EU member states. The EU will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus, he said, adding that he also wanted to repeat what the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said on May 4.

According to the Cyprus Mail, Barnier said: “We express grave concern over Turkey’s announced intention to carry out drilling activities within the EEZ of Cyprus,” and then repeated Mogherini’s quote verbatim about responding appropriately. Mogherini had urgently called on Turkey “to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone and refrain from any such illegal action to which the EU will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” the daily reported.

Barnier met earlier Monday with President Nicos Anastasiades, and with members of the House foreign affairs committee with whom he discussed issues relating to a hard Brexit.

Speaking after meeting Barnier, Christodoulides said: “Turkey’s actions, which are destabilising in the Eastern Mediterranean region, have drawn broad condemnation from the international community. Michel is well aware of the discussions we have been having with our partners in Brussels, who promptly expressed their support and solidarity with the Republic of Cyprus, on the need for the EU to react collectively and decisively to this flagrant violation of a member state’s sovereign rights,” he added.

On Brexit, Christodoulides said Cyprus remained convinced that the withdrawal agreement “provides the best and only way to ensure a smooth and orderly Brexit with the least adverse consequences for all”.

Barnier also referred to the British bases saying: “Our common objective is to preserve the status quo and avoid disrupting the life of the people living in the bases. That is what we did in the withdrawal agreement. In any case, we will take all necessary measures to achieve this objective.”

During Monday’s meeting, he said, the two men had a broad exchange of views on a number of other topics relating to Brexit and the EU’s state of preparedness, focusing on issues of particular relevance and importance to Cyprus.

“Whilst we sincerely hope that a breakthrough will be achieved in London that will lead to the ratification by the UK Parliament of the withdrawal agreement, we have prepared for all scenarios, in order to ensure that the impact on the daily lives of our citizens and on our economies will be minimised, irrespective of the time and the way in which Brexit will eventually occur,” Christodoulides said.

After Barnier briefed the House foreign and European affairs committee, chairman Giorgos Lillikas, said, based on the evidence presented by Barnier, a hard Brexit would be a very complicated development, especially for Cyprus. He noted that in the event of a hard Brexit, separate negotiations would be required on the rights and freedoms of Cypriot citizens living on the British bases, trade relations, tourism, and the issues of Cypriot students in the UK and the roughly 250,000 Cypriot residents in the UK.

“Cyprus is one of the countries likely to be significantly affected by a hard Brexit,” Lillikas added. Hoping that the Cypriot government has prepared for the possibility of a Brexit without an agreement, Lillikas said the House committee itself had no idea what the government’s preparations actually were as the minister of commerce, he said, had refused to attend a committee meeting to brief MPs.

Phileleftheros reports that the EU sent out another message of support to Nicosia and at the same time a warning to Turkey through Barnier.

Politis reported that the nightmarish scenario of a no deal between the UK and the EU leading to a hard Brexit prevailed in the talks held yesterday in Cyprus with Barnier. The possibility terrified his interlocutors as it has been perceived by everyone that the consequences will be particularly unfavourable for Cyprus. At the same time, however, preparations are also being made for a messy Brexit, it said.

KEY ACTORS
Barnier (EU)
>>
Reiterated message that EU stands behind Nicosia & expects Turkey to respect sovereign rights of EU member states, warning that the bloc will respond appropriately & in full solidarity with Cyprus.
>> The EU expresses grave concern over Turkey’s announced intention to carry out drilling activities within the EEZ of Cyprus.
>> On Brexit, EU,UK & Cyprus will take all necessary measures to preserve the status quo and avoid disrupting the life of the people living in the bases.

Christodoulides
>> Turkey’s actions are destabilising in the East Med region and have drawn broad condemnation from the international community.
>> Cyprus’ partners in Brussels promptly expressed their support & solidarity with the RoC on the need for EU to react collectively & decisively to flagrant violation of member state’s sovereign rights.
>> Believes EU-UK withdrawal agreement provides best & only way to ensure a smooth and orderly Brexit with the least adverse consequences for all.

Lillikas (Citizens’ Alliance)
>>
A hard Brexit would be a very complicated development & would require separate negotiations on the rights & freedoms of Cypriot citizens living on British bases, trade relations, tourism, the issues of Cypriot students in the UK and the 250,000-odd Cypriot residents in the UK.
>> Cyprus is one of the countries likely to be significantly affected by a hard Brexit.


Christofias critically ill in hospital

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

OVERVIEW

President Nicos Anastasiades visited on Monday former president Demetris Christofias who is in critical condition at the Nicosia general hospital’s intensive care unit, the papers report.

Christofias, 72, was transferred to the hospital due to respiratory problems, a statement by the health ministry said. He had been admitted to the hospital’s transplant unit on Saturday but it was decided to move him to the ICU as his condition worsened with the ministry saying the state of his health is considered critical. Christofias had a life-saving kidney transplant with his sister as the donor years ago but it is understood he is suffering from other ailments also.

A medical council will be held on Tuesday to evaluate his condition.

Anastasiades visited his predecessor on Monday evening. He later told reporters, visibly moved, that Christofias was going “through difficult times.” “I hope it is overcome. I want to express my sorrow,” he added.

“Sometimes when you’re faced with reality you wonder how petty we become through the words said at times of anger or as a result of rivalry. “But what is most important is that feelings remain feelings and I must say that with Demetris Christofias we have travelled a political course from our youth until now. I wish him well,” Anastasiades said.


DISY apologises over Anastasiades’ ‘zeros’ comment

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
EU Matters

OVERVIEW

Parties of the centre chastised ruling DISY and the government and main opposition AKEL over their prolonged spat, most papers report.

DISY and AKEL continued on Monday their weekend spat over Anastasiades’ characterisation of his critics within AKEL as ‘zeros’.

Cyprus Mail reports that DISY and the government, perhaps realising that the president’s comments went beyond acceptable political discourse, and given the backlash on social media, spent the latter half of Sunday and Monday on damage limitation.

DISY spokesman Demetris Demetriou offered an apology, seeking to soften the impact from the president’s harsh words. It was an apology by proxy, as the government itself made no such direct act of contrition.

“The president of the Republic was not referring to any individual in person, be it the leadership or the grass roots of the left,” Demetriou said on a live news show on Sigma TV. “But he [the president] has insulted and hurt people, and we can only say sorry to these people.”

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou then threw down the gauntlet, challenging Anastasiades to a televised debate to discuss all, which was declined.

“If Mr Kyprianou wanted a one-on-one debate with president Anastasiades, he should have run in the last presidential elections,” Demetriou responded, according to Cyprus Mail.

Meanwhile, the office of the presidency put out a statement in a bid to set the record straight. It said that if one reviews the video of Anastasiades’ speech, one can see that the president is clearly referring to the leadership of AKEL, the politicians, and not the party’s supporters.

The presidency also released a clip from Anastasiades’ contentious speech. In it, he says: “I have absolute respect for the people of the Left, who do not identify with what they hear every day from those who are in command.”

But Haravgi argues in its main story that if the maître of propaganda Joseph Goebbels were alive he would envy the PR skills of Anastasiades and his team. In an article/opinion piece, the daily said the presidency left out what Anastasiades said before and after that part in a bid to distort the context. Haravgi reported that Anastasiades had also said that the zeros cannot speak of the excellent ones.

DIKO reiterated that the squabbles of DISY and AKEL are artificial ones and cannot hide the sad truth that Anastasiades and DISY are responsible for the collapse of the Co-op bank, have no solutions for the problems of the economy, and daily undermine state institutions. On the other hand AKEL refuses to see that the Cyprus problem is at its worst phase ever due to the failed policy implemented by Anastasiades the last few years with AKEL’s support, DIKO said.

The Greens-Citizens Alliance also accused the two parties of being engaged in election squabbles to garner votes. The enemy is supposed to be within the gates but they are attacking each other for a bunch of votes, the duo said.

The Solidarity Movement said that the leaderships of AKEL and DISY repeat their old, bad selves and opted once more for the practice of polarization in a desperate effort to mobilise their supporters who see both of them destroying the country for the sake of party percentages.


Large numbers of TC voters could affect election results

Alithia, Politis
EU Matters

OVERVIEW

While on the final stretch of the Euro-elections, the papers report on several issues concerning Sunday’s event.

According to Politis, it is estimated that around 8,000 TCs are expected to cast their vote in the elections. If the estimates are confirmed, then TC votes are expected to be indeed decisive for the outcome of the elections since the voting intention of the TCs has not been recorded in any of the polls.

Analysts, who are well aware of the reality on the other side of the island, believe that there is mobility and that high TC participation is possible if voters are being facilitated by candidates to get to the polling stations with buses. In the meantime, maps to the special election centres have also been released for a better and easier service to TC voters, the daily reported.

If predictions are proven correct, TC participation will be four times higher than in the 2014 Euro-elections when only 1,869 TCs voted of the 56,000 registered in the electoral roll at the time. According to information, around 400 others were not able to vote in 2014 because their names were not on the electoral lists, the daily reported.

In another article, Politis reports the results of a questionnaire on mostly internal matters given to MEP candidates also of smaller parties such as DIPA, the Animal Party, the Jasmine Movement and independent candidate Michalis Paraskeva. All respondents said they were in favour of a joint defence and security pact with the EU and were all against Brexit. Other questions concerned, among other things, GESY, adoption by same sex couples, organ donations, legalisation of euthanasia, non-performing loans and decriminalisation of cannabis use.

Politis and Alithia report that confusion reigned after an opinion piece was sent to the media by Katy Clerides, daughter of the late former president Glafcos Clerides, in which the author was explaining why she would not vote for DISY but for AKEL MEP candidate Niyazi Kizilyurek instead.

The article was written by Marina Christofides, friend of Katy Clerides but because it was forwarded to the media by the latter, some thought that she had changed her opinion and opted to vote for AKEL instead. Clerides later clarified that it was her friend’s opinion and not hers. She said she had expressed her opinion on the Euro-elections in her open letter some 10 days ago, when she said she did not back DISY’s stance against Kizilyurek but that she was voting for some of the ruling party’s candidates who still follow in her father’s footsteps.

In another article, Alithia said that following the Euro-elections there might be changes in parliament to replace MPs who could get elected as MEPs. When incumbents leave their seat in the House to head to the European Parliament their respective parties will call in the first runners up to fill in the vacant seats, the daily reported.


Cyprus-Israel exercise not turning against anyone

Politis
External Security, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

An exercise is underway between Cyprus and Israel while Israeli commandos have arrived at the Andreas Papandreou air base in Paphos to carry weapons and other materials. Aircraft from Israel were also expected to arrive soon. The exercise is part of the military cooperation between the two countries. A similar exercise took place last year.

The daily reports that Nicosia and Tel Aviv keep a low key over their military co-operation which has been expanded and strengthened in recent years.

Sources told Politis that it would be wrong to consider that such exercises are a message to anyone. These are exercises aimed at strengthening the defence capabilities of the two countries’ armed forces without turning against anyone, the sources said.


Renovation of historic church in Kythrea starts

Phileleftheros
CBMs, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The community of occupied Kythrea said works have started for the restoration of the historic church of the Saints Andronikos and Athanasia that are in a very bad shape due to their abandonment since 1974, reports the paper.

Community leader of Kythrea Petros Kareklas told Phileleftheros that they addressed the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and managed to have the church included in the Committee’s priority list of projects since it has no roof and faces collapse.

Kareklas said the first phase concerns the erection of a protective shelter over the church and a support structure.


Tax evasion suspect wanted by Germany believed to have fled north

Phileleftheros
Internal Security

OVERVIEW

The daily reports that a 45-year-old Chinese millionaire, who was in Cyprus while his extradition to Germany was pending, has disappeared with authorities believing he has fled to the occupied areas.

Xinhui Liao was arrested at Larnaca airport in November 2018 upon his arrival from Moscow after authorities executed a European arrest warrant on him issued by Germany for tax evasion.

While in custody in Cyprus pending his extradition, Liao’s lawyers raised an issue concerning the validity of the European arrest warrant and so the Larnaca district court approved the man’s release on conditions pending the response of the German courts. The man has disappeared however and it is believed he fled to the occupied areas. Police have been looking for his whereabouts since last Friday, Phileleftheros reports.