GCC Press Review 2 July 2019

Front Page Headlines


Answers from Russia on the ‘blind’ missile

How did Syria’s age-old S-200 target Pentadaktylos? Clues are being sought in Israel, Britain and the USA on the missile’s target. Russian experts arrive in the occupied areas to examine the debris, concerns over tourism.

  • Turkey: Davutoglu against AKP and Erdogan


Cyprus a collateral victim

The stray S-200 missile was flying over the Nicosia FIR (Flight Information Region) during an air traffic congestion season. It was sheer luck that a tragedy did not occur.


An S-200 missile fell in our ‘yard’

The crash incident of the ‘stray’ S-200 missile that hit Pentadaktylos yesterday at dawn caused strong concern and reflection both among citizens and officials. Authorities are investigating the issue. But one could easily see how things could have been much worse if the rocket had fallen in a residential area.

  • Concerns and messages by (Russian FM) Sergei Lavrov (on the Cyprob)
  • Selective leaks and PR handling for Nicos Anastasiades’ letter (to the UN Secretary-General)

Cyprus Mail

Syrian missile crashes in north

Believed to be a stray S-200 missile launched by the Syrian air defence against an Israeli airstrike. Missile likely self-destructed in air.


We were lucky we avoided a huge tragedy

The fall of a Russian missile in Pentadaktylos. Our anti-missile system did not detect the missile and shoot it down because it is inactive during peacetime.  Turkish experts have arrived for chemicals measurements. If it fell in a residential area it would have caused massive damage and we would be mourning victims. If it happened during a day when civil aviation flights in our FIR were many, we would have also had an air tragedy. Concerns over possible consequences on tourism, mobilisation abroad to give reassurances.

  • Akinci: Soon, mobile telephony to and from the occupied areas (will be achieved)
  • Tayyip Erdogan: The missiles are arriving in around seven to 10 days

Main News

GC side offers to assist TCs in stray missile case

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
External Security, Regional/International Relations


The fall of a Russian S-200 missile in the Pentadaktylos mountains is the major story in all papers on Tuesday.

According to the dailies, it is believed to be a stray Russian S-200 missile launched by the Syrian air defence against a massive Israeli airstrike overnight.

The foreign ministry said definitive conclusions could not be drawn at present and that Cypriot authorities were in touch with the authorities of neighbouring and other countries such as Israel, the UK, the USA, and Russia with the aim of collecting further leads and information.

The papers said the National Guard’s surface to air missile systems can track and intercept missiles but they are not deployed during peacetime.

According to Politis the Republic has expressed its readiness to provide assistance for whatever was necessary through UNFICYP head Elizabeth Spehar but TC leader Mustafa Akinci turned down the offer arguing there was no need. Akinci said the necessary actions were being made in cooperation with the Turkish army chief of staff.

The Cyprus Mail reports Akinci politely declined.

According to Phileleftheros it is estimated that the missile flew over the British bases in Dhekelia before exploding and crushing on Pentadaktylos. The bases however keep mum at the moment on whether their early warning systems on the Troodos mountains had detected the missile, it said.

Phileleftheros, in an opinion piece, said that as long as there were no victims, it is a shame the missile didn’t fall a few kilometres from the villages of Vouno and Koutsoventis, on the giant flag on the Pentadaktylos. The comment said the flag is an ugliness we daily see and got used to by now.

It could be wishful thinking but would it hurt if it destroyed those red and white stones of fascism reminding us of the injustice? It seems luck was not on our side, the daily said.

Politis, also in a comment piece, is criticising Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides who tweeted on Monday that the Cyprus Mail referred to the occupied village where the missile fell not with its actual name, Vouno, but with the Turkish name, Tashkent. He even issued a legal opinion on a possible criminal offence and announced a probe into the state subsidy the paper might be getting, the paper said.

Since he is on the lookout for criminal offences he should tell us if he has committed a criminal offence by omitting to present for reservist duty, the daily said.

The Cyprus Mail too, in its editorial said Michaelides who abused his position once again, apart from attention-seeking, he also likes to bully and intimidate.

If Michaelides took such offence and believed the Cyprus Mail was breaking the law in failing to change the place-name on a report filed by Reuters, why did he not pick up the phone and point out the unintentional mistake of the paper so it could be changed?, the daily asked, adding that this is what any reasonable official would have done. But the attention-seeking Michaelides – as always – chose instead to go public, using his Twitter account to fire his threats, the daily said.

Russia not happy over Rubio-Menendez bill

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, External Security, Regional/International Relations


Alithia and Haravgi report on the meeting of AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow and the messages sent by the Russian minister on the Cyprus problem. Lavrov also commented on the bill by US Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez on lifting the arms embargo on Cyprus on the condition it denies access to its ports to Russian military vessels.

Following his 50-minute meeting with Lavrov, according to Kyprianou the Russian minister said Russia would not agree to a change in the solution basis and that if anyone thinks differently, it should be discussed at the UN Security Council.

Lavrov also said the talks must resume immediately otherwise problems will keep presenting. A solution would prevent any more problems, he said according  to Kyprianou.

The Russian minister also called for the withdrawal of all troops from the island, not only of the Turkish ones.

As regards the Menendez-Rubio bill, Kyprianou said Russia expressed concerns that there is much tension in the Eastern Mediterranean basin and that NATO is trying to enhance its presence in the region.

Kyprianou said he also brought up the UNFICYP issue and that Russia stressed the need for the peacekeeping force to remain on the island and for its mandate to remain the same.

Politis reported that the Russian foreign ministry said in an announcement that the Rubio-Menendez bill includes provisions that directly aim at undermining the cooperation between Cyprus and Russia. Russia does not interfere in the relations between other countries and urged the US do the same, the ministry said, according to the daily.

It also said no one has the right to intervene in a long and fruitful dialogue such as that between Russia and the Republic of Cyprus. The Russian foreign ministry said
it concerns any attempts to set an independent and sovereign country before an artificial choice with whom to cooperate, with Russia or Washington, as the most blatant violation of any possible rules and norms. They also warn that if the document was adopted, Russia would too make choices concerning its foreign affairs policy, Politis reported. According to the daily this was a clear message to Nicosia and Washington.

As regards the Cyprus problem, Haravgi and Phileleftheros report on an announcement by AKEL spokesman Stefanos Stefanou who said that instead of Anastasiades briefing parties on his letters to the UN Secretary-General, the government selectively leaks information to the media aimed at shaping a convenient climate based on PR tactics.

He said Turkey is taking advantage of the prolonged dead end to create new faits accomplis and called on Anastasiades to address the UNSG for a relaunch of the dialogue without any conditions other than Turkey ending its provocative actions in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Anastasiades did not handle the issue of the relaunch of the talks properly, Stefanou said.

Kyprianou (AKEL)
Russia says it will not be on board with changing the basis of the solution and that such a thing would have to be discussed by the UN Security Council.
>> Russia calls for the talks to resume immediately since this would prevent any more problems.
>> Russia calls for the withdrawal of all troops from the island and not only of those of Turkey.
>> Russia expresses concerns over the Rubio-Menendez bill since NATO is trying to enhance its presence in the East Med where there is currently much tension.
>> Russia says UNFICYP must remain in Cyprus with the same mandate.

Russian Foreign Ministry
Some of  the Rubio-Menendez bill provisions directly aim at undermining the cooperation between Cyprus and Russia and no one has the right to intervene in such a long and fruitful dialogue.
>> Just as Russia does not interfere in the relations between other countries, the US ought to do the same.
>> Forcing an independent and sovereign country to choose between the US and Russia is a brutal violation of all possible rules.
>> Warns that if the bill is adopted she would too make choices concerning its foreign affairs policy.

Stefanou (AKEL)
 Wants Anastasiades brief parties on his letters to the UNSG instead of the government selectively leaking information to the media as part of PR stunts.
>> Anastasiades did not handle the issue of the relaunch of the talks properly, allowing Turkey to take advantage of the prolonged dead end to create new faits accomplis. He must ask the UNSG for a relaunch of the dialogue with the only condition for Turkey to end its provocative actions in the Cypriot EEZ.

Nicosia’s choice of new EC head also Cyprob-related

EU Matters, Negotiations Process


In an article on haggling on the appointment of the new EU leadership, Politis, citing sources, reports that Nicosia does not support the candidacy of Dutchman Frans Timmermans as European Commission president, due to his positions on the Cyprus problem.

According to the daily, Nicosia has reservations over Timmermans’ positions on the Cyprus problem especially on the issue of freedoms for Turkish citizens after the solution.

Besides, Timmermans’ strong views on the passport policy make Nicosia even more hesitant in backing his candidacy, Politis reports. Frenchman Michel Barnier’s name is also on the table. The French politician had a telephone conversation with President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday, according to the paper.

Mobile telephony link preparations at final stages

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi


The dailies report that linking the mobile telephony networks of the two sides is a step closer to implementation.

The papers cite a statement from the office of Akinci saying that a meeting took place where participants were informed that all necessary consultations have been completed and all that is left is for companies to sign separate agreements with Comfone, a Switzerland-based international telecommunications company that provides mobile roaming, inter-carrier, and hub-based services to telecom operators worldwide. The system is to be tested before it goes fully online, the papers report.

Project records occupied churches for digital exhibition

Property, Human Rights


According to the paper, the Cyprus Institute has started recording and collecting data on churches in the occupied areas in cooperation with the Antiquities Department and the Byzantine Museum as part of the ‘EpHEMERA’ research programme.

The project aims at digitally restoring murals and mosaics stolen from churches in the occupied areas which have been repatriated and are stored at the Byzantine Museum.

The project started with recording information concerning the churches of Ayia Solomoni in Koma tou Yialou, Panayia Pergaminiotissa in Akanthou, Panayia Apsinthiotissa in Syhari and of Christos of Antifonitis in Kalograia.

The daily, citing an announcement on the project, reported that many churches in the occupied areas have been damaged and stripped off their murals, mosaics and icons since 1974.

It is estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 icons as well as dozens of murals and mosaics have been stolen to be sold to the black market. Due to the efforts of the Cypriot authorities many murals have been restored and digitally recorded. The churches from which they have been stolen have been digitally recorded too so that the missing murals will be virtually added to their original places.

According to the paper, this virtual representation of the frescoes helped to quantify the lost pieces, correctly reposition almost every piece in its original position, take information about the exact colours, and finally prepare a digital museum exhibit to be included in the permanent exhibition of the Byzantine museum.

Experts of the Cyprus Institute who have visited Ayia Solomoni last month realised that, sadly, vandalism continues, the paper reported.

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