GCC Press Review 14 Jun 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

The attack on the CPC (Commission for the Protection of Competition) is a violation of an (EU) Directive

An EU Directive has further shielded this year the CPC’s independence. The protection of CPC is a state obligation. President and parties scorned the EU Directive by criticising the probe by the CPS on CyMA (Medical Association).

  • EEZ (exclusive economic zone): Turkey is not bluffing
  • France: A base (in Cyprus) that will not be a base
  • Bicommunal exchange of wanted suspects – The first delivery to the TCs.
  • Famagusta (used as) a ping pong ball

Phileleftheros

Diving in the horror lake

The divers who persistently fought for 59 days described to Phileleftheros their experience. The dramatic minutes of the discovery of the six-year-old’s body. All the women who posed as models for (serial killer Nicos) Metaxas have been found (by police to give testimonies).

  • Fatih-Yavuz (drillships) will be along the same lines as Barbaros – Everything that is going on in our EEZ.
  • Akinci wants a committee on natural gas as a CBM (confidence-building measure)

Haravgi

Cabinet offered a developer ‘earth and water’

Through a decision dated June 20, 2018, the Council of Ministers decided to declare part of the territory of the Republic in the community of Softades (Larnaca district ) as a berthing area for the service of yachts at the request of a company which is involved in the exchange of a prime real estate piece of state land with a private one in Yermasoyia.

  • Mustafa Akinci is calling for a joint committee on natural gas – Spehar is testing the waters for more CMBs.
  • Relatives of missing persons are convinced their loved ones are alive …
  • Halloumi exports an incentive for increased production of sheep and goat’s but also cow’s milk

Cyprus Mail

Some GPs turning new patients away

Health minister says complaints of unethical conduct being investigated.

Alithia

The first simultaneous exchange of criminals

(Exchange) Between the Republic of Cyprus and the pseudo-state. The four Georgians who were wanted for the murder of Ernest Leonides were handed over to the Cyprus police through the UN, while we handed to the authorities of the occupied areas a Pakistani who allegedly killed a TC artist. The GC side kept a low profile, a high-profile (issue) for the TCs.

  • The arrest warrants pain Turkey (?) – Cavusoglu: All they (GCs) do is talk. We don’t pay any attention. Nicosia takes legal measures against companies cooperating with the Turks in the Cypriot continental shelf and EEZ. Erdogan: All options are on the table.
  • Facebook blocked ELAM citing hate speech
  • (GC) received €482,000 as compensation by the IPC (Immovable Property Commission)

Main News

Government knows Turkey is not bluffing about drillings

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

OVERVIEW

The government believes the legal measures it has taken against Turkish actions in the EEZ are ‘hurting’ Turkey but admits that Turkey is not bluffing and will, if she hasn’t already, start drilling in the island’s EEZ, all papers report citing sources.

On the other hand, Turkish officials say Cyprus is bluffing and are not paying any attention to its threats, while the drillings will take place.

The dailies, citing sources, reported that Turkey was ‘hurting’ as a result of legal measures taken against companies and individuals involved in her illegal activities in the island’s EEZ.

Cyprus Mail reports that sources said that several arrest warrants (in the double digits) issued by local courts were already taking their toll on the activities of Turkey’s Fatih drillship, still located some 40 nautical miles west of Paphos since it arrived there in May. The warrants, that concern the crew of the drillship, the CEO of Turkey’s petroleum corporation TPAO, as well as foreign nationals aboard the vessel, have already had an impact as a number of Norwegians working aboard the Fatih and/or the ships supporting it, withdrew and have since been replaced by Turkish nationals, sources said according to the Cyprus Mail.

The sources said CEOs, directors, management and other individuals of any company engaged in any activity in the EEZ, whether directly or indirectly, without the express permission of the Republic are criminally liable and could face fines of €1m and/or jail time of up to five years.

Asked whether the Turkish ship has actually begun drilling, the sources said they could not say for sure. However the assumption is that Ankara is serious about drilling at some point, given that operating a drillship at sea costs about half a million dollars a day.

The same sources ruled out international arbitration between Cyprus and Turkey, given that the latter is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

Politis reports that Turkish claims harm also the interests of TCs since, if enforced, they will deprive Cyprus 69 per cent of its EEZ.

The daily, citing the same sources, reports that the government believes it is a given that the Fatih has arrived in the EEZ to drill so that the Republic’s sovereign rights are put under questioning, at least in the northwestern part of the EEZ.

The government also takes seriously Turkish warnings that the second drillship, the Yavuz, would soon enter the Cypriot EEZ for a drilling, possibly in the Karpasia bay without excluding even more unpleasant choices, for example, drilling in a licensed block in the southern EEZ, a large part of which Turkey and the occupation regime claim to belong to the pseudo-state, Politis reported.

According to Phileleftheros, the Fatih and Yavuz drillships are expected to drill in the areas where the Barbaros carried out exploratory activities, such as blocks 8 and 9 of the Cyprus EEZ.

The daily said that according to maps of the Cypriot foreign ministry, the Barbaros moved between January 26 and May 26 mainly within block 9 and partially in blocks 1 and 8. Until the end of July it will proceed to investigations within block 8 and in blocks 12 and 1.

The Cyprus Mail and Alithia also report that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called Cyprus’ legal measures a bluff.

“They (GCs) only talk. We aren’t listening,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey has two drillships and two exploratory vessels, as well as a navy to protect them, and would move forward with its plans to drill in the Eastern Mediterranean.

He reiterated that they would not tolerate any action which overlooks the rights and interests of Turkey and TCs in the Eastern Mediterranean and that all options continue to be on the table. Responding to the arrest warrants issued by Cyprus, Erdogan said Turkey does not have to answer to anyone over her actions.

“We are a guarantor power, and as such we will protect our rights until the end, wherever these may be, across our entire EEZ,” he said, the dailies reported.

KEY ACTORS
Cavusoglu (Turkish FM)
>>
The RoC is bluffing about taking legal measures; all the GCs do is talk but Turkey ignores them.

Erdogan (Turkish President)
>> Turkey has the means to drill in the East Med and will do so and it does not have to answer to anyone over her actions.
>> All options as regards a solution continue to be on the table but as a guarantor power Turkey will not tolerate any action which overlooks her rights and interests and of TCs in the East Med & will protect those rights across her entire EEZ.


Akinci: Joint natural gas committee the biggest CBM

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Energy, CBMs, Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

TC leader Mustafa Akinci said after a meeting with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, that he suggested a CBM for a joint committee on natural gas, the dailies reported.

Akinci said he took the opportunity to inform Spehar once again regarding the importance of a CBM for natural gas, for the creation of a committee, noting that he has also suggested this to Anastasiades who he said did not respond positively. “If today there are tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, a basic reason is because the GC sides does not want to discuss the matter with us,” Akinci said.

During the meeting with Spehar, Akinci said that he also discussed whether new CBMs can be brought about. He added however that the biggest CBM, in his opinion, would be a bicommunal committee on natural gas.

The TC leader also gave an overview of the progress of a series of CBMs agreed by the two leaders in February. The CBM to link the two sides’ mobile telephony networks through an outside hub will be implemented by the end of June, Akinci said.

On her part, Spehar said she shared a “substantive discussion” with Akinci ahead of the UN Security Council meeting on Cyprus next month and the upcoming Secretary-General’s report. She said they  discussed the UN’s expectations on the progress that could be made, especially as regards confidence-building measures. Spehar noted that the goal was a return to negotiations, which could be brought about through additional CBMs. She said she informed Akinci on her recent meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades and gave assurances that she “will continue to work with the two sides.”

Phileleftheros reported that Akinci wants to turn attention to a specific direction by putting forth to Spehar his suggestion on a CBM on natural gas.

Haravgi reports that Akinci insists on a joint committee on natural gas.

KEY ACTORS
Akinci
>>
Believes a joint committee on natural gas would be the most important CBM.
>> The main reasons for current tensions in the East Med is refusal by the GCs to discuss the possibility of a joint natural gas committee.

Spehar (UN)
>>
Additional CBMS could help return to negotiations.
>> The UN will continue to work with both sides on Cyprob issues.


First exchange of crime suspects between two sides through UN takes place

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The papers report on the first exchange on Thursday of suspects wanted in connection with two murders on both sides of the divide with the help of UNFICYP.

Four men wanted for the murder of Ernest Leonides by the GC side who were arrested in the north, were exchanged with one man suspected of the murder of TC artist Hasan Isik Ozgocmen. The suspect was arrested in the government-controlled areas.

The exchange was facilitated by UNFICYP. The dailies cited a source that told the Cyprus News Agency there was no direct contact or cooperation between the authorities of the Republic and the occupied areas.

The source said that there was mutual understanding between the two sides that “crimes should not go unpunished even in such an abnormal situation.” “The partition of the island and the presence of the occupation regime must not be taken advantage of by criminals,” the source said, according to the dailies. The exchange of suspects between the two sides, it said, is a standard practice followed after consultations and intervention by the UN through the technical committees so those criminals don’t go unpunished.

According to Politis, this was the first time a suspect is handed over by the GC side to the TCs.

Alithia reports that yesterday’s swap was an important event since it was the first done simultaneously from both sides.  

Citing sources, the paper reported that there had been suspect handovers through the UN before on three or four other occasions, but this was the first time both sides simultaneously swapped suspects. The exchange took place after months’ of consultations through the UN.

Alithia also reported that while GC authorities were low-key on the matter, in the occupied areas it was widely reported and discussed, with Akinci confirming the swap and other politicians making statements about it.


Four in 10 families of missing persons believe their loved ones are still alive

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
CBMs, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

According to a report by the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP) and the international committee of the Red Cross, 40 per cent of relatives of persons that have been missing since 1974 and the 1960s still believe that their loved ones could still be alive, all papers report.

The report, conducted between October 2018 and April 2019, was based on the input of 170 relatives of missing persons from both communities, a representative sample of the sum of 934 families who have yet to receive a conclusive answer regarding the fate of their missing relatives. According to the report, 91 per cent of the participants are still seeking answers over what happened to their loved ones and request that their remains are found and returned for burial. But four in then believe that their family members could still be alive and living somewhere else due to the uncertainty over their fate.

The majority requested that authorities make public appeals for information regarding open cases of missing persons so as not to lose vital details, while 57 per cent expressed the need for greater acknowledgement by political leaders over the constant struggle to find the location of missing persons.

The report also said that 53 per cent said they suffer from psychological difficulties as a result of living between hope and despair, while 29 per cent spoke of constant financial and administrative problems. They also requested that more attention is given to the well-being of the elderly and female relatives of missing persons.

The report suggested the need for measures to offer relief to all 748 families of GC missing persons and 186 families of TC missing persons such as a mechanism of broad psychological support on a personal and group level, record the financial and administrative challenges faced by the families and inform them of their rights and eligibility for access to relevant services and government benefits.


‘Private GC appeals before the ECHR affect RoC interests and Cyprob issues’

Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros, Politis
Property, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The state legal service and lawyer Achilleas Demetriades had a public disagreement over whether the Republic has the obligation to back its citizens that file cases before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Turkey for property claims, the papers report.

Demetriades on Thursday called on the government to inform Famagusta refugees if it was a new policy to abandon them and let their properties in the fenced-off town of Varosha evaporate. The lawyer, who is representing KV Mediterranean Tours, a company that applied to the ECHR over a complex of residences it owns inside Varosha in Famagusta, said the absence of the Republic of Cyprus in this and two recent previous cases was glaring.

The Cyprus Mail reports that Demetriades raised the question whether the absence of the Republic in these cases was due to negligence or intentional.

The company filed a case to the ECHR over the protracted length and ineffectiveness of the proceedings before the north’s immovable property commission (IPC) in 2010 and two years later the IPC  decided that Evkaf must be included in the process as a litigant, after the Turkish side argued that the Varosha and large areas outside of it belonged to Evkaf.

The lawyer reiterated that the ECHR has invited the Republic of Cyprus to submit its observations on the Turkish positions and offer support to its citizen by June 18 but given that the government failed to submit its remarks in two recent similar cases before the ECHR over the IPC’s ineffectiveness, it appeared it would do the same in the current case. He said that the TC claims have no merit but the issue is that the Republic of Cyprus seems unwilling to support the title deeds it had issued on the Varosha properties.

The Cyprus Mail cited a government source saying that the ECHR issues are being handled by the state legal services while the legal service said later in the day that it was studying such cases to offer advice to the government on the possibility of intervention but the final word lies with the executive branch.

All dailies report that the legal service, in an announcement, said that Demetriades’ statements in the media aimed at forcing the government to intervene in procedures “concerning faits accomplis created with uncertain outcomes that pose serious risks to both the rights of a large proportion of citizens and the settlement of aspects of the Cyprus problem.”

It added that in March 2019 three appeals by individuals were sent to the attorney-general by the ECHR concerning claims by GCs before the IPC whereby the parties were given a three-month deadline to investigate the possibility of reaching an amicable settlement. If a compromise is not reached after the expiry of that period, the Republic will be asked to inform the ECHR whether it intends to intervene as a party to the proceedings, it said, adding that the legal service is in consultations with the foreign affairs ministry on the matter.

The legal service also said that these appeals were filed privately and without any involvement of the Republic while very serious issues are raised in one of the three cases, that concern the general interests of the Republic, “since the ownership of property within the enclosed area of Varosha has become a disputed issue before the ‘IPC’ and the ‘Courts’ of the pseudo state.” Therefore, through the initiative of individuals, the non-negotiable ownership of properties within the enclosed area of Varosha has now been put in doubt before the ECHR, it said.

Demetriades said in response that the legal service’s references were inaccurate arguing that the deadline in one of the cases is lost. He also said that the only way for one to prove the ineffectiveness of the IPC is to file an application to it and then take it to the ECHR.

KEY ACTORS
Legal Service (RoC)
>>
Cases filed by individuals before the ECHR pose serious risks to the rights of a large proportion of citizens and the settlement of aspects of the Cyprob.
>> It is the government that has the final say on whether the RoC would intervene in such cases.
>>  The private action by KV Mediterranean Tours has allowed for the ownership of properties in Varosha to be disputed before the ‘IPC’ and TC ‘Courts’ & paved the way for the questioning of the non-negotiable ownership of these properties before the ECHR.


French FM: There is no agreement on French base in Cyprus

Politis
External Security, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

Politis, under the title ‘A base that will not be a base’, reports that there is a game of words on the presence of French navy ships in the National Guard’s facilities at the Mari naval base after the French Foreign Minister told his Turkish counterpart during a visit in Turkey that there are no plans for a base in Cyprus.

According to the daily, French FM Jean-Yves Le Drian said that there are no plans for a French military base in Cyprus arguing that reports by the GC press were wrong on this matter. He said there was never an issue of a French base. The agreement between Paris and Nicosia concerns the use by French navy ships of the National Guard’s Evangelos Florakis naval base, the minister said, according to Politis.

KEY ACTORS
Le Drian (French FM)
>>
There was never an agreement on a French military base in Cyprus, only the use of the NG’s naval base by French navy ships.


‘ELAM withstands warfare against it’

Alithia
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Far-right ELAM was blocked by Facebook over hate speech but the party argues the move is part of attempts to silence it, the paper reports.

Following reports that Facebook suspended ELAM’s account but also those of some of its members, the party said in an announcement that this was an undemocratic move and goes against the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus but was also a violation of human rights such as freedom of speech.

Deputy ELAM spokesman Soteris Ioannou told Alithia that Facebook suspended the party’s account since 2017 over alleged hate speech but that this does not deter the party that sees its percentages rise in every electoral procedure. He said ELAM is the only party shunned by the Cyprus Youth Organisation without any reason, the only party considered as a terrorist organisation in the occupied areas and is under attack by the entire political establishment but it still stands strong.


TC athlete wins shooting competition

Politis

OVERVIEW

The daily reports that TC international athlete of the Famagusta Shooting Club (SKOEPA), Nihat Akterzi was the winner of the Trap Shooting Competition for the ‘Kyrenia Cup’. Three GC and three TC shooters competed at the final round, the daily said.

The competition was the sixth of the OPAP Pancyprian Shooting Championship that took place at the Larnaca Olympic Shooting Range between June 8 and 9, Politis reported.