GCC Press Review 23 May 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

A first step in approaching clinics

€60,000, the first incentive to clinic owners to join GESY (National Health Scheme). European health card for GESY beneficiaries and extension of working hours at accident & emergency departments. Supplementary budget for OKYPY (state health services organisation) so that it can hire more people.

  • Mobilising against TCs: Response of European Parliament to (government spokesman Prodromos) Prodromou  
  • Hard battle for the sixth seat: From the TV studio to the police
  • Candidates: Who avoided the LGBTI

Phileleftheros

Battle for the top spot and sixth seat

Abstention and TCs determine the Euro-elections and the top spot. (EDEK MEP candidate) Natassa Ioannou reports (ELAM MEP candidate Geadis) Geadi to the police.

  • En route to changing the solution model: Agreement between (UBP leader Ersin) Tatar-(HP leader Kudret) Ozersay
  • Demetris Christofias’ health condition critical but stable
  • (Sener) Levent seeks support against the occupation
  • Final surveys for the next drillings begin – They are lowering deep-sea robots.
  • EuroAfrica Interconnector: Historic agreement for Cyprus-Egypt electricity connection

Haravgi

Turning a page for our Cyprus

Just a few days before the European elections, AKEL submits proposals that appeal to society and sends a message for a change of course, while DISY, realising that it did not convince with insults and aphorisms, resorts to pseudo-dilemmas, and remembered belatedly the danger of the far right. AKEL sends a loud message of change for Europe and Cyprus.

  • DISY intimidation over TC votes
  • Together we build a Cyprus of peace (AKEL election rally next to Dherynia checkpoint)
  • Tatar attack on Akinci because he insists on a federal-based solution
  • Demetris Christofias’ health has been reassessed in the presence of Israeli expert on infections
  • AKEL to DIKO: In a hanged man’s house… (don’t talk about rope)

Cyprus Mail

UN blow to UK over ex-colonies

General Assembly vote on Chagos decolonisation has possible impact on Cyprus.

  • EDEK candidate says ELAM member threatened her after TV debate

Alithia

In the hands of TCs who will be the top party: DISY or AKEL?

On Sunday’s Euro-elections. A scenario that could become a reality if there is large GC abstention and, at the same time, large TC participation.

  • Sener Levent: The Jasmine Movement will be the surprise in the Euro-elections
  • Occupied areas: (Akinci-Tatar) Confrontation from the get-go
  • Defence Minister: Looking into expansion of the Evangelos Florakis naval base due to defence agreement with France

Main News

Bill on lifting arms embargo on Cyprus tabled in US Congress

Cyprus Mail online
External Security, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

A bill lifting an arms embargo on Cyprus, among others, was introduced in the US Congress on Wednesday, the Cyprus Mail online reported Thursday morning.

Congressmen Ted Deutch and David Cicilline from the Democrats and Gus M. Bilirakis from the Republicans introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 to highlight and support the growing partnership in the Eastern Mediterranean between Israel, Greece, and Cyprus.

Senator Bob Menendez from the Democrats, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Marco Rubio from the Republicans introduced the Senate companion.

The bill would expand US involvement in regional energy pursuits, including by creating a U.S.-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center, supporting the development of recently discovered natural gas fields, and participating in the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum.

It would also improve defence cooperation with regional states, including by authorising security assistance to Greece and lifting an existing embargo on arms transfers to the Republic of Cyprus.

The legislation also makes clear that the US Congress will not turn a blind eye to Turkey’s regional aggression or pursuit of policies that threaten the interests of the United States and its partners.

“As a co-chair of the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, I’ve been proud to promote in Congress the growing partnership between these Eastern Mediterranean countries,” said Deutch. “The trilateral relationship between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel has been expanding in recent years to cover new energy pursuits, economic opportunities, and security cooperation. With this legislation, the United States will deepen our support for this regional partnership which furthers our own geopolitical interests,” he added.

KEY ACTORS
Deutch (US Congresman, Democrat)
>>
Greece-Cyprus-Israel trilateral relationship has been expanding in recent years to cover new energy pursuits, economic opportunities & security cooperation.
>> Bill will deepen US support for this regional partnership which furthers US geopolitical interests


Ruling DISY raises alarm over impact of TC vote

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

OVERVIEW

The Euro-elections dominate the papers on Thursday with two issues widely reported on. The first is the call by DISY leader Averof Neophytou on GC voters not to abstain, raising the alarm of the impact of TC votes to the results if they do. The other is issue relates to an EDEK MEP candidate reporting to the police an ELAM candidate with the claim that he threatened her.

EDEK MEP candidate Natassa Ioannou said she reported ELAM’s Geadis Geadi to the police after he verbally assaulted and threatened her following their appearance on a news show on Sigma television on Wednesday.

The two argued during the show, after which Ioannou said Geadis told her: “When your head is split open don’t bother searching for who did it.”

According to the Cyprus Mail, during the show Ioannou presented various photos, including one showing Geadi giving the Nazi salute and another one showing ELAM leader Christos Christou walking alongside Greek far-right Golden Dawn leader Nicos Michaloliakos in Athens. Christou denied suggestions he was Michaloliakos’ bodyguard but a video doing the rounds on the internet showed a senior Golden Dawn member confirming he was.

Geadi said the Nazi salute photo was “old, reheated food”. He claimed the photo had been doctored and accused EDEK of grasping at straws in the face of electoral defeat.

Phileleftheros online reported on Thursday that Geadis was at the police headquarters in the morning after he was called in to testify following Ioannou’s report.

Meanwhile, DISY’s Neophytou warned on Wednesday that TCs would decide the outcome of the Euro-elections if GCs abstain from voting.

“If GC voters do not participate in the elections and the abstention is high among GC voters, the weight of the TC vote will increase. And, you know there is a reserve of about 81,000 votes,” he said.

The Cyprus Mail reports that the DISY leader’s comments come at a time the party has been scrutinised over one of their candidates, Eleni Stavrou-Syrou, who suggested TC candidate for AKEL,  Niyazi Kizilyurek, is Ankara’s stooge.

The party’s actions sparked a backlash from moderate voters who disputed the party’s European and liberal credentials and even its will for reunification.

Neophytou has sought to distance himself from his MP’s comment, but has been heavily criticised for keeping her on the ticket nevertheless, the Cyprus Mail reports. 

Phileleftheros reports that Neophytou raised the alarm yesterday to his party’s voters to participate in the European elections, noting that increased participation of TCs could be decisive for the results.

The daily reported that political parties are now focusing on encouraging participation in the elections of their supporters also having in mind that a big participation of TCs could easily affect the results.

At DISY headquarters, the alarm has sounded and senior members are racing to convince their supporters to vote in a bid to reduce the impact of the TC vote. Similar moves are expected from all party organs, such as the youth, student and women’s DISY group GODISY, Phileleftheros reports.

Politis reports that a tweet by government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou on Wednesday criticising AKEL and repeating ruling DISY’s and Anastasiades’ stance that the main opposition is running in the Euro-elections on ‘borrowed’ votes, meaning the TCs, sparked a reaction by the office of the European Parliament in Cyprus. The EP office in Cyprus was replying to a question by a user on whether TC votes were ‘borrowed’ ones.

The EP’s tweet said: “The European Parliament calls on all Cypriot citizens and citizens of other EU member states in Cyprus who have the right to vote in the May 26 European elections to all exercise their inalienable democratic rights and to choose the best candidates to represent them in the European Parliament.”

The paper also reports that many TCs complain on social media of the way some in the GC side treat their right  to vote in the Euro-elections. One user said that on the one hand GCs tell TCs there is no need for political equality since “we are all Cypriots and on the other hand as soon as they saw a TC candidate in a party combination they start referring to Turks and the risk of TC participation in the elections,” Politis reports.

Haravgi said Neophytou turned the TC vote into the ‘bogeyman’ to cause terror among DISY voters to go vote at the elections.

Alithia reports that it is a given that the TC votes combined with the undecided and those who abstain from the vote could be the determining factor even for the top spot between DISY and AKEL. Abstention in the 2014 Euro-elections reached 57.6 per cent, the daily said, adding that it is expected that the majority of TCs will vote for Kizilyurek.

Meanwhile, ACCEPT-Cyprus on Wednesday urged voters to consider the positions of European election candidates on LGBTI issues when they cast their votes on Sunday. To help them make their choice, the group released the responses to the questionnaires it sent to all 36 Cypriot candidate MEPs concerning LGBTI issues. Only 10 however sent in their response within the set deadline: the six AKEL candidates, DIKO candidate Eleni Theocharous, Andreas Themistocleous of the Citizens’ Alliance, the Greens’ Charalambos Theopemptou and DIPA’s Yiannos Lakkotrypis. The group also said that so far Themistocleous and all candidates of the Jasmine Movement have signed the Come Out pledge 2019, following the call by ILGA Europe on candidate MEPs to pledge to stand up for the human rights and equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people in the EU and beyond.”

KEY ACTORS
Neophytou (DISY)
>>
If abstention is high among GCs the weight of the TC vote will increase given that there is a reserve of about 81,000 votes.

Prodromou
>> AKEL is running in Euro-elections on borrowed votes.

EP Office Cyprus

>> Called on all Cypriot and other EU citizens with the right to vote to all exercise their inalienable democratic rights and to choose the best candidates to represent them in the European Parliament.


Levent: Jasmine Movement set to get 13,000 votes

Alithia, Phileleftheros
EU Matters, Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

Leader of the Jasmine Movement Sener Levent said on Wednesday that if they do not receive at least 10,000 votes at the Euro-elections they will feel they are not on the right path and that “the people do not want one Cyprus but half.”

Speaking during a press conference, Levent said that his movement is seeking GC votes to end the occupation, return Varosha before the solution, see the continuation of the Republic of Cyprus as one people with a common country without guarantees, against corruption. He said his movement is also in favour of equal treatment as regards tax collection and against debt write-offs for parties.

Levent said the Jasmine Movement will be the surprise of the elections, referring to information on secret polls within the GC side showing that his movement is set to get around 13,000 votes (8,000 from GCs and 5,000 from TCs).

Fewer than 10,000 votes will mean the movement is not on the right path, he said. If the movement receives between 1.5 and 2 per cent as per the polls then this would mean they ought to become more like Anastasiades, AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou and DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos.

If the movement is not backed in its struggle against the occupation, which is the only voice against the occupation, then it will be under a lot of pressure after the Euro-elections.

If there is no voice against the occupation then, “let us all go to the rocks in Paphos to wave at the Turkish ships.”

He also said that the TC side’s “obsession on equality in decision making is wrong” because the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus provides for a 70:30 ratio.

According to Levent the key to solving the Cyprus problem lies with the US and no one else. If the US President asks Erdogan to open Varosha the Turkish president will not be able to resist, he said, according to the papers.

KEY ACTORS
Levent

>> If there is no voice against the occupation then Cypriots might as well get used to the idea of Turkish ships in the island’s sea.
>> If elected, the JM will seek an end to the occupation, return of Varosha before a solution, continuation of the RoC under one people with a common country without guarantees & against corruption.
>> JM will not tolerate debt write-offs for parties & promote equal treatment in tax collection.
>> TC obsession on equality in decision making is wrong because RoC Constitution provides for a 70:30 ratio.
>> Only the US can solve the Cyprob. If Trump tells Erdogan to open Varosha, the Turkish president will not be able to refuse.


Germany supports efforts for Cyprob solution and Imagine education project

Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process, CBMs

OVERVIEW

Phileleftheros reports that a senior German diplomat expressed Berlin’s support to meaningful efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem during a meeting at the German capital with Elizabeth Spehar, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Cyprus.

Ambassador Susanne Baumann also said that confidence-building measures (CBMs) are crucial, adding that Germany supports the ‘Imagine Plus’ education project.
 
UNFICYP Spokesperson Aleem Siddique told the Cyprus News Agency that Spehar is in Berlin to attend a conference the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is holding for Special Representatives, in order to talk about his peace and security agenda.
  
Ambassador Susanne Baumann, Commissioner for Disarmament and Arms Control and DG for International Order, the UN and Arms Control at the German Foreign Ministry posted a message on twitter, welcoming Spehar to Berlin.
 
She wrote that Germany supports meaningful and determined efforts for a political solution of the Cyprus issue, adding that CBMs are crucial. That’s why Germany supports the ‘Imagine Plus’ project to advance peace education and exchange between communities, Baumann said, according to Phileleftheros.

KEY ACTORS
Baumann (Germany)
>>
Germany supports meaningful and determined efforts for a political solution of the Cyprob.
>> CBMs are crucial and that is why Germany supports the ‘Imagine Plus’ project to advance peace education and exchange between communities.


‘Turkey hungry for war’

Phileleftheros
Energy, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

Citing an article in US magazine Foreign Policy, Phileleftheros reports that columnist Yiannis Baboulias describes the dangerous game played by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Under the title ‘Turkey Is Hungry for War with Cyprus’, the magazine said Erdogan’s and Turkey’s moves this time can be different and the situation more dangerous.

The magazine said that periodically stoking tensions with Greece and Cyprus has always been a part of Turkish foreign-policy strategy but this time is far more dangerous, however, because there are signs Turkey might be ready to escalate its confrontation beyond mere rhetoric.

Turkey has never allowed Cyprus to benefit from the natural gas reserves in its waters without some sort of confrontation. In that sense, Turkey’s strategy in the Aegean Sea has been consistent for many decades now: apply pressure, put forth demands, wait for a crisis, and then bring the other side to the table on your own terms. This is precisely what it’s trying to do in Cyprus right now. 

It’s hard to say what the limits of the current confrontation might be, writes Baboulias. The present conditions make for a dangerous mix. Erdogan has steadily moved Turkey away from the Western institutions it belongs to (NATO) and the ones it once aspired to be a part of (the European Union) and closer to Russia as he attempts to portray himself as a regional leader in the Middle East.

The road map Erdogan is following is of his own creation, as are the seeds of his troubles, says Baboulias in the Foreign Policy article. In responding to his provocations, Europe must now take a level-headed but firm approach, one that leaves no room for doubt that Cyprus and Greece have allies on their side. That will do more to dissuade an escalation than any attempt to appease a troubled Erdogan with concessions, the article says, according to Phileleftheros.


New deep-sea research ahead of announced drills in offshore blocks

Phileleftheros
Energy, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

Research activities will be launched on Monday with deep-sea robots on behalf of the government and partners in offshore blocks 6, 7, 10 and 11, with the aim of completing the studies required to plan for the first of the eight drillings announced yesterday by the energy minister, the daily reported.

After the completion of the research in target areas by the research vessel ‘Nautical Geo’ whose work in the Cyprus EEZ has been completed in the last 24 hours, another specialised research vessel has been hired, the Norwegian Deep Helder, which is already at the Limassol port, and is expected to start work on Monday.

The additional geophysical and environmental surveys carried out by the Deep Helder until almost the end of July will be focused around the Calypso deposit at block 6 and its extensions at block 7, but also its boundaries toward block 10.

In another article Phileleftheros reports that Cyprus and Egypt signed on Wednesday an agreement on the electricity interconnection between the two countries. The agreement, signed between chairman of the Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) Sabah Mashali and the CEO of the EuroAfrica Interconnector Nasos Ktorides, provides for the construction of a pipeline expected to be completed in 2021. The project will make Cyprus the most important electricity hub, joining Africa with Crete and Greece and the whole of Europe, the daily reported.


Chagos Islands case could set precedent concerning UK bases in Cyprus

Cyprus Mail
Regional/International Relations, External Security

OVERVIEW

The demand by the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that Britain give up control over the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean within six months, has possible ramifications for Cyprus, the daily reported.

The UN resolution adopted on Wednesday backs a non-binding advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in February, which found Britain had acted unlawfully in the decolonisation process and should relinquish control.

That decision was seen as a test of the legitimacy of deals struck between great powers and small states at the end of the colonial era, which could also include Cyprus, the paper said, adding that Cyprus’ legal service has been studying the details of the ICJ decision.

One of the 22 countries heard before the ICJ court was Cyprus with Attorney-general Costas Clerides representing the island. Clerides said at the time that the successful outcome of the case would be a serious legal weapon, noting that the right to self-determination is and will always be respected and inalienable regardless of the circumstances which exist at the time countries gain their independence, the paper reported.


Ominous start for new TC coalition-Akinci relationship

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

OVERVIEW

The dailies report on the announcement by the new coalition ‘government’ on alternative solution models and the first public disagreement between TC leader Mustafa Akinci and new ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar on the model of the solution sought.
Phileleftheros reports that Ersin Tatar and Kudret Ozersay have shown the way for an end to the bizonal federal solution and call for alternative solution models.

The newly established coalition is headed toward a rift with Akinci on the solution model for the Cyprus problem, since it seems they are abandoning the bizonal bicommunal federal solution, the daily said.

The two men have already shared the ‘ministries’ between them and carry on with Turkey’s blessings, Phileleftheros said.

Politis reports that the first ‘clouds’ between the coalition ‘government’ and Akinci have already made their appearance as soon as Tatar took over as ‘prime minister’. The focus of the dispute was the Cyprus problem, as Tatar and Ozersay have a different approach than Akinci on the solution model, the paper reported.

According to Alithia there has been a conflict between Akinci and Tatar from the get-go with the new ‘prime minister’ saying they will have to “regulate” the policy of the ‘president’ on the Cyprus problem.

Akinci responded, noting that he was elected by 60 per cent of the people with the positions he had four years ago and that it was the people who “regulate the president and no one else”.

Akinci said the negotiations are being carried out by the ‘president’ in consultation with the political parties as well as with civil society and Turkey.

“Let’s discuss different models but how different? Everyone says that this process can be within the UN framework. No one says let us leave the UN out of this,” he said.

“If you are at the negotiating table, the model that can be mutually accepted and bring a result within the UN is the federal solution. There is no other model,” he said.

It is one thing to say a federal solution has been exhausted, and another that the Greek Cypriot attitude is wrong, he said.

“This model was not created by the Greek Cypriots to be a model that will be exhausted with their own attitude. This is a Turkish Cypriot position that has been accepted by the international community as well. It is not a position exhausted due to the Turkish Cypriot stance,” Akinci said.

He agreed that less than a year remains for the ‘presidential elections’ but given the (short) lifespan of ‘governments’ a year is not a short period of time, Akinci said. There have been 34 ‘governments’ in 36 years in the north.

KEY ACTORS
Akinci
>>
Negotiations have to remain within UN framework and be mutually accepted. Only federal model meets the criteria.
>> Federal model is a TC position that has been accepted by international community too. Cannot be exhausted due to the TC stance.