GCC Press Review 11 July 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

The EU is barking but… it won’t bite Turkey

A stern ‘No’ by a two-digit number of member states to targeted measures. Russia-type sanctions targeting persons or companies are out of the question for Brussels. Deescalating tensions will be difficult, with Lute pushing back her tour to the region for August.

  • Are they getting ready for (block) 7? – The Fatih wraps up at the beginning of August.
  • Constantia Soteriou: Literary distinction

Phileleftheros

Another dynamite under education

Superintendents refuse to take any responsibility just before the deal on lyceum exams. The education ministry says it is ready for immediate implementation but no one assumes the responsibility of the implementation. A compromise proposal by (DIKO MP Panikos) Leonidou but also an AKEL proposal on the abolition of the exams tabled before the House plenum tomorrow.

  • President to Spehar: Precondition the termination of Turkish violations
  • The 28 will seal the measures against Turkey at the Council on Monday
  • Erdogan takes no one in consideration
  • Turkey hurriedly bought a fourth vessel due to the Yavuz

Haravgi

Rushing (to pass) the law on four-monthly (exams)

The final outcome of the proposal on student evaluation that enforces at the last minute four-monthly exams brings to mind a saying on how stubborn people who don’t want to do something the simple way are later forced to do it the hard way. What the education ministry did not do in a year, happened yesterday at the House education committee! Organised students continue to disagree. AKEL insists in abolishing quadrimester (exams).

  • Provisional… satisfaction for (EU) measures
  • After President Anastasiades, Akinci sent now a letter to the UN Secretary-General

Cyprus Mail

TC bus attack at Larnaca airport

Akinci calls on GCs to act, Anastasiades says meet as soon as possible.

  • Turkey rejects that drilling off Cyprus is illegitimate

Alithia

Turks carry on their tune, Europe is getting angrier over illegal actions in the Cypriot EEZ

Turkey threatens it will continue its provocations with even greater intensity prompting Donald Tusk to respond that the EU will respond with full solidarity to Cyprus.

  • What was discussed during Spehar’s meetings with Anastasiades and Akinci – Akinci reported attack on a bus with TC licence plates.
  • National Guard: Everlasting draft dodging
  • International award toDeath Customsby Constantia Soteriou

Main News

UNSG suggests renewal of UNFICYP mandate

Cyprus Mail online, Philenews, Politis online
External Security, Negotiations Process, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The news portals reported on Thursday morning  that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has recommended the extension of UNFICYP’s mandate for six months, until January 31, 2020 in recognition of its continued contribution to the maintenance of peace and stability but he urged the sides to re-engage in talks to resolve the Cyprus problem.

The UNSG reiterated his “call to the parties to engage in the current consultations exercise constructively, creatively and with the necessary urgency.”

As regards the Cyprus problem, he said the parties should “redouble their efforts to restore full-fledged negotiations and their engagement should be infused with a sense of purpose and determination to reach a successful end within a foreseeable horizon.”

Guterres said that continued violations and low-level tensions during the period under review demonstrate how UNFICYP, through its monitoring, engagement and liaison, continues to play an indispensable role in preventing escalation.

He also voiced concerns that tensions will continue in the absence of talks.

“Pending a full-fledged resumption of the Cyprus talks, violations of the military status quo will continue, posing a potential threat to security and stability in the buffer zone and beyond.”

Against this background, the continued presence of UNFICYP remains essential to report and address violations in accordance with its mandate, prevent tensions, contribute to the creation of conditions conducive to a political settlement, he added.

Guterres said despite the progress on confidence-building measures and initial engagement on ‘mechanisms’, the mood surrounding the peace process did not improve, with the two sides continuing to disagree over substance and blaming the other for the persisting stalemate.

In the absence of negotiations, “skepticism remained widespread and interest in and hope for the peace process remained low,” he said.

Guterres also said that tensions over hydrocarbons continued to grow, with few prospects of subsiding in the near or medium term which he said was “a concerning development.”

He said he repeatedly stressed that the natural resources found in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities and constitute a strong incentive for all parties to find a mutually acceptable and durable solution to the Cyprus problem.

KEY ACTORS
Guterres
>>
Recommends extension of UNFICYP’s mandate for six months in recognition of its continued contribution to the maintenance of peace and stability and due to the necessity to prevent escalation since violations and low-level tensions in the buffer zone continue.
>> Calls on parties to engage in Lute’s efforts constructively, creatively and with the necessary urgency and redouble their efforts to restore full-fledged negotiations to reach a successful end within a foreseeable horizon.
>> In the absence of talks, violations of the military status quo will continue posing a potential threat to security and stability in the buffer zone and beyond.
>> Despite progress on CBMs the two sides continue to disagree over substance and engage in a blame game over the stalemate but in the meantime hope and interest for the peace process remains low.
>> Concerned over growing tensions over hydrocarbons & limited prospects of subsiding any time soon.
>>  Reiterates that the natural resources found in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities & be a strong incentive for all parties to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprob.


Mobile phone interoperability achieved

Cyprus Mail online, Philenews, Politis online
CBMs

OVERVIEW

The two leaders on Thursday announced the implementation of the interoperability of mobile phones across the island with the aim of improving the communication between the communities and bringing all Cypriots closer together, the news portals reported on Thursday.

According to an announcement by UNFICYP, the first call took place between the two leaders at 12:45 pm, facilitated by the Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, confirming that the arrangement is now live and working.

“The achievement of this confidence building measure (CBM) underlines the importance of dialogue, trust and co-operation between both sides,” the announcement said.

TC leader Mustafa Akinci and GC leader Nicos Anastasiades also discussed the possibility of meeting the soonest possible, it said.

The aim of the meeting, it said, is to evaluate the situation as regards to the current state of play on the Cyprus problem as well as furthering more potential CBMs which will affect positively the daily lives of all Cypriots.


Anastasiades wants to meet Akinci the soonest possible

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, External Security, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The dailies report on the meetings UN Secretary-General’s Representative Elizabeth Spehar had on Wednesday with the two leaders whereby Anastasiades said he is ready to meet with Akinci the soonest possible and the latter called for action against attack on a TC bus at the Larnaca airport.

According to the papers, President Nicos Anastasiades expressed willingness during his meeting with Spehar to meet TC leader Mustafa Akinci as soon as possible but he reiterated that Turkey’s actions inside the island’s exclusive economic zone remained an obstacle to the resumption of talks.

Spehar met with the two leaders to discuss the report on UNFICYP, the draft of which was to be submitted to the permanent members of the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said that during the meeting, Anastasiades expressed his willingness to meet Akinci as soon as possible.

He added that they also discuss progress on the confidence-building measure (CBM) agreed between the two leaders concerning mobile phone interoperability across the divide.

Prodromou said they discussed all matters referred to in the UNSG’s UNFICYP report with the CBM in question being among the positive aspects.

The spokesman said that the GC side expects that the known problems in the buffer zone will be included in the report, not just as complaints, but so that the necessary measures are taken for such negative developments to end.

Anastasiades and Spehar also discussed Turkey’s actions in the Republic’s EEZ, he said.

“Such actions definitely hinder the Cyprus problem solution process,” Prodromou said.

He added that Anastasiades has stressed that these developments “as long as they continue, are a preventive factor for the resumption of talks.”

Akinci, after his meeting with Spehar, said he raised the issue of the tourist bus with TC licence plates that was reportedly harassed at Larnaca airport, preventing it from completing its journey safely. He said he asked Spehar to tell Anastasiades and the GC authorities to take the proper measures in light of the incident.

Akinci said that the TC side also sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the current situation regarding the talks.

Cyprus Mail, that has Akinci’s statements as its main story, reported that the TC leader, criticising Anastasiades, said: “You know that the Greek Cypriot leader often sends letters to the UN Secretary General, which are then released for public opinion. We do it if there is a reason and if it is necessary, we do not send letters every day, every hour, however taking into account the situation we are in now, we felt the need to contact the Secretary General.”

Phileleftheros reports that Akinci was in a blame game mode.

Meanwhile, according to Politis and Haravgi, the UN Secretary General’s special envoy Jane Holl Lute is set to visit Cyprus in the next three weeks, President Nicos Anastasiades said on social media on Wednesday night.

He said that they spoke over the phone and that they discussed the next steps in dealing with the Cyprus issue. Anastasiades reiterated that he is ready restart negotiations. The president added that Lute informed him of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ interest to have talks restart.

Phileleftheros reported that Lute launched a new round of contacts and is currently in London where she had meetings with officials of the Foreign Office and Europe Minister Sir Alan Duncan. While in London she will also have a meeting with British High Commissioner in Cyprus Stephen Lillie. She then to travel either to Ankara or Athens.  

KEY ACTORS
Prodromou
>>
Anastasiades is ready to meet with Akinci the soonest possible.
>> Turkey’s actions in the Cypriot EEZ puts obstacles to the talks hinder the Cyprob solution process & their continuation prevents resumption of talks.
>> Progress in mobile telephony CBM is a positive development but the GC side also wants buffer zone incidents addressed by the UNFICYP report so that measures are taken stop.

Akinci
>>
Wants GC side properly address tourist bus incident.
>> Sent Guterres a letter on the talks but unlike Anastasiades who is sending letters all the time and then making their content public, the TCs do so only when it is necessary like now given the curren situation.

Anastasiades
>>
Ready to restart talks and so is Guterres.


Measures against Turkey coming up but not sanctions at the moment

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

OVERVIEW

The papers report that discussion at COREPER (Committee of Permanent Representatives in the EU) level on a list of proposed measures prepared by the EU Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) began on Wednesday and will continue on Thursday. Some papers report however that a number of EU members are not on board with imposing sanctions like those on Russian in 2014.

Cyprus Mail online, citing Reuters, reported on Thursday that the EU will put on hold high-level talks with Ankara and negotiations on an air transport agreement, as well as freezing funding for Turkey next year. Reuters reports that according to the draft document, the EU would be ready to introduce more restrictive measures against Turkey should Ankara continue drilling.

An EU diplomat involved in the discussions told Reuters: “It would only be targeting people linked to these specific illegal activities. We’re trying to calibrate that carefully because we need Turkish cooperation on migration, NATO, countering terrorism.”

“Some member states rely on Turkey for energy transit so we must tread carefully. Don’t expect any wide economic sanctions, ” the diplomat told Reuters, the news portal reports.

The papers also report that the Turkish foreign ministry said in a written statement that Turkey’s activities off Cyprus were legal and called the GCs as the “hellion of Europe” which became a member of the EU against international law and thus destabilized the Eastern Mediterranean together with Greece for years.

The ministry also called Greece as the “spoiled child of Europe”.
It also said that just because the GCs allegedly represent the entire island does not give them the right to usurp the legitimate rights and interests of the TCs who are the co-founders of the Republic of Cyprus.

The Turkish foreign ministry also said that the EU supports GCs against the rights of the TCs and it has thus become clear that the bloc will not be able to assume the role of an honest broker in the negotiation processes towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue.

Israel too has expressed its opposition to any attempt to violate Cyprus’ sovereign rights in its maritime areas, expressing serious concern over steps taken by Turkey in the waters off the island`s northeast coast, Phileleftheros reports.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted that Israel follows with serious concern recent steps taken by Turkey in the waters off Cyprus’s northeast coast and reiterates its full support and solidarity with Cyprus in exercising its sovereign rights in its maritime areas and its opposition to any attempt to violate these rights.

Politis and Alithia report that President of the European Council Donald Tusk spoke of continued escalation from Turkey, which will lead to the EU response in full solidarity with Cyprus.

According to Phileleftheros the EU 28 are in the process of agreeing on political and diplomatic sanctions against Turkey and the agreed measures will be adopted at diplomatic level and approved by the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday.

Sanctions will be discussed at a later stage depending on Turkey’s actions since the majority of the member-states are not ready to go down that road yet.

Citing sources, Phileleftheros reports that the agreement is expected to keep the prospect of targeted measures open so that EU reaction is a scaled one depending on escalation of Turkish actions.

The measures to be agreed at COREPER level at the first phase are suspension of the EU-Turkey air traffic agreement which is expected to bring financial cost to Ankara, freezing high level dialogue and meetings on economy, energy, transport and agriculture, and of the EU-Turkey Association Council. The measures also include freezing pre-accession assistance to Turkey by €145.8m next year and the re-evaluation of the European Investment Bank’s activities in Turkey, the daily reports.

Phileleftheros reports that many member states argue that deescalation of tensions must be achieved with diplomatic measures while Britain and Germany would like to see resumption of talks for solution to the Cyprus problem.

Politis, citing sources, reports that the proposal for targeted measures against Turkey like those taken against Russia in 2014 is out of the question after 12 countries including Germany, Spain, Poland, Hungary, the UK and Bulgaria, said they were against sanctions against individuals and companies.

In general, states with Turkish-speaking populations within their territory (such as Germany and Bulgaria) are sceptical about the Commission’s initiative against Turkey, Politis reports.

The daily also said that Cyprus is now lowering the bar and will try to keep the prospect open that in case of escalation of Turkish actions, which is not ruled out of taking place in August after the Fatih wraps up operations off Paphos, further measures would be taken by the EU.

Phileleftheros also reports that the Turkish defence ministry on Wednesday, flexing its muscles, posted on Twitter photos of navy vessels and aircraft accompanying the Fatih and the Yavuz drillships and the research vessel Barbaros that are off Cyprus.

Politis in another article, reports that AKEL politburo member Christos Christofides, citing information, said Turkey is planning a third drilling north of block 7. 

In another article, Phileleftheros reports that Turkey bought a fourth support vessel in order to be able to carry out drillings with the Fatih and the Yavuz following  the refusal of foreign companies to participate with their own ships in violations of the Cypriot EEZ and continental shelf.

Yesterday, PACC Offshore Services Holdings, that owned the support vessel POSH Sincero, told Phileleftheros the ship was sold to another company. On Wednesday, the name of the ship appeared on the Turkish ship registry and now flies the Turkish flag, the paper reported.

KEY ACTORS
Turkish foreign ministry
>>
Turkey’s drilling activities off Cyprus are legal.
>> GCs are the hellion of Europe and along with Greece, Europe’s spoiled child, have been destabilising the East Med for years.
>> GCs joined EU  against international law but just because they allegedly represent the entire island does not give them the right to usurp the rights of the TCs who are the co-founders of the RoC.
>> The EU, that supports GCs against the rights of TCs, cannot be deemed as an honest broker in the Cyprob negotiation process.

Nahshon (Israel)
>>
Seriously concerned over Turkey’s latest actions in the Cypriot EEZ & reiterates its full support and solidarity with Cyprus.
>>
Opposes any attempts by Turkey to violate Cyprus’ sovereign rights in its maritime areas.

Tusk (EU)
>>
As Turkey continues to escalate tensions the EU will respond in full solidarity with Cyprus.


Food brings GCs and TCs closer

Alithia, Politis
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The dailies report on an article by the Guardian that hosts six chefs working together across the divide across the world, among them Maria Loucaidou and Feray Yalcuk who work together at the Home Café, in Nicosia’s buffer zone.

Loucaidou, whose family are refugees, said she was traumatised and had nightmares about TCs taking over the whole island but after the crossings opened in 2003 the situation changed for her after having the opportunity to interact with them and realising they had the same facial characteristics and culinary habits.

She said she now manages the Home Café with Feray, who is the first TC she has come to know well and realised how much their cultures have in common, although it was a mutual love of food they first bonded over.

At the café they cook traditional food such as dolma, souvla and kolokasi but they try to satisfy both tastes and use spices preferred by one community or the other, she said.

Yalcuk said that both her parents too were refugees who moves from the south to the north and that when she was a child GCs were presented to them as monsters.

She too said that before Maria, she had never had a close relationship with a GC.

Yalcuk said food brings the two sides together despite they speak a different language.

She said that Turkish, Greek and English are all spoken in the café so that anyone who steps in can know they’ll be understood.


GC author wins prestigious award for narrating pain of missing persons’ relatives

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Politis
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that Cypriot writer Constantia Soteriou was on Wednesday proclaimed the overall winner of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for her piece ‘Death Customs’.

The story is about the women of Cyprus, mothers or wives left to believe that their loved ones were missing after the 1974 war, while the state had clear evidence about their death. It looks into the themes of death customs in Cypriot culture, memories, bitterness and justice.

This year’s judging panel chair, playwright and essayist Caryl Phillips said that ‘Death Customs’ is a remarkable short story that manages “to be both personal – following, as it does, the painful narrative of a woman who has lost her son – and deeply political, in that it charts the division of a land as it topples into civil war.”

Soteriou said the prize is the recognition for giving a voice to those who did not have the chance to be heard before, those who were left behind to pick up the mess of the war. She said she grew up seeing the faces of the mothers and the wives of the missing people, who were the real victims of the war. “Women should not be victims of any war. Women are the continuation of life. I wrote this story to salute their strength.”

‘Death Customs’, translated from Greek to English by Cyprus-based translator and cultural critic Lina Protopapa, is the first translated work to win what the organisers described as the most global literary prize in the world, the papers report.

According to the papers Soteriou had won an Athens Prize for Literature for her first book published in 2015 called Ayshe Goes on Vacation which is a story that deals with the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the direct aftermath for the people of the island.


Alternative to the annual war commemoration sirens

Phileleftheros, Politis
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Phileleftheros reports that the sirens will sound again this year at 8.20am on July 15 to mark the time the coup was manifested and at 5.30am to mark the time the Turkish invasion started.

Politis cites psychology professor Panayiotis Stavrinides who proposed that the sirens must stop sounding as they do not awaken memories but reflexes as they startle people while they sleep.

“Fear, terror. You are startled, but you do not remember,” he said according to Politis.

Stavrinides said that for those who have lived the events and have been beaten up, they do not just recall a bad memory by hearing the sirens, but are petrified.

If the state wants the memory to live on, it should look into the issue of education introduce didactic history and a culture of memories and peace, he suggested. 

“You did not make us more patriotic with the sirens, but turned us into Pavlov’s dogs,” he said according to the paper.