GCC Press Review 12 July 2019

Front Page Headlines


Call by the UNSG for solution and with an equidistant stance

Report on UNFICYP without references to Varosha and drillings. The Yavuz and the Fatih in the same basket as the Cyprus Republic’s search and rescue exercises. Backstage in Brussels to achieve unanimity on EU measures against Turkey.

  • Mobile… reunification – Roaming in Cyprus has been launched.
  • Natural gas: (Greens’ leader Giorgos) Perdikis got in the way


British thorn in the measures

London is working backstage for the referral of decisions on sanctions to a later stage. Nicosia refers to the European Council decision.

  • Connection with the occupied areas but with Turkey’s phone code – Calls at quadruple cost. The aim is to bring all Cypriots closer, said Anastasiades-Akinci. The occupied areas are considered as a third country with the call cost at €0.29 per minute compared to €0.075 for calls within the EU. No one undertakes task to inform citizens about problems which may arise with charges and their solutions.
  • UNFICYP: Mandate renewal for another six months
  • They are looking for leads for the TC bus attack
  • They (refugees) had an apartment, they were given a house but they are complaining


Finally, phone… reunification

After nearly four years since being agreed as a CBM (confidence-building measure), the interconnection of mobile networks between the occupied and free areas was at last implemented yesterday. Both leaders, Anastasiades and Akinci, wished for “the abolition of the dividing line…” and “for a solution accepted by both sides…”

  • Their (government’s) reassurances (on Cyprus’ alliances) are crumbling

Cyprus Mail

UN: mark the day #CyprusConnects

Three years on, mobile phone links established at last between the two sides.


Kalimera Mustafa – Günaydin Nicos

The interconnection of mobile telephony in Cyprus CBM was inaugurated with a call between the leaders.

  • The Cyprob on pause during the last two years – The unprecedented admission by the UN Secretary-General on the situation in Cyprus. Holds the leadership of the two sides directly responsible for the blame game, the persistent deadlock, lack of will, differences on the substance of the Cyprob. Antonio Guterres is concerned about increasing tensions in the sea and accumulation of naval and military forces and calls for the development of natural gas to the benefit of the two communities and the solution.
  • EU: They cannot agree on measures against Turkey
  • Move against Greece: Turkey is pushing it to the extremes She is going for her own EEZ in the Mediterranean following an agreement with the questionable regime of Libya!

Main News

Leaders call each other to launch mobile telephony interoperability CBM

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis


The mobile phone interoperability between the two sides is the main story for most of the papers today with the majority focusing on the positive message of the implementation of the CBM in question.

According to the papers, UNFICYP announced that the two leaders, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, were the first to test the mobile phone interoperability by calling each other with the help of the Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, who also confirmed that the arrangement is now live and working. During their telephone conversation Akinci and Anastasiades discussed the possibility of meeting the soonest possible to evaluate the situation as regards the current state of play on the Cyprus problem as well as furthering more potential CBMs.

Politis reports that Akinci spoke through a mobile phone with a GC number he borrowed from Spehar, while Anastasiades spoke through a mobile phone operating with a borrowed TC card.

Anastasiades tweeted that he and Akinci made the first call. “In the same way we broke the barrier in communication, my wish is to abolish the line that divides our country in two,” he said.

Spehar congratulated the two leaders on the achievement. “A welcome, practical step forward that I hope will facilitate better communication across the island and help bring Cypriots closer,” she said.

GC mobile phone operators CyTA and epic have included roaming charges for calls and messages to the north on their websites.

Politis reports that difficulties hindering the mobile phone interoperability such as how this was to be achieved, forbidding legislation but also fear, were overcome due to the persistence of the two leaders.

Most importantly, the roaming costs are not prohibitive, the paper said.

Phileleftheros on the other hand focuses on practical issues such as high costs, lack of adequate information and that calls to the occupied areas will be made by using Turkey’s call code.

Calls to the occupied areas are much more expensive than calls to mobile phones of any other EU country since the networks in the occupied areas are considered as being in a third country, the paper said, reporting that calls to the occupied areas cost €0.29 per minute while calls outside Cyprus cost €0.075. Calls from the occupied areas to the free areas start from 4 Turkish lira per minute, which many TCs find prohibitive.

The daily also said that several problems are expected at the beginning, while CyTA is responding to a series of questions on technical and other issues by referring to the government since the move was a political decision.

It must be considered a given that many subscribers will experience problems such as increased charges at first due to the absence of instructions on a series of problems that are rising, Phileleftheros reported.

Haravgi reports that after almost four years since the CBM was agreed, it has been finally implemented. This too was due to Spehar’s intervention, the paper said.

Hopes two sides abolish the dividing line in Cyprus in the same way they broke the barrier in communication.

Spehar (UN)
Welcomes mobile phone interconnectivity as a practical step forward & hopes to facilitate better communication and help bring Cypriots closer.

Discontent over no mention on Turkish actions in UNFICYP report

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, External Security, Energy, CBMs, Migration & Citizenship


The report of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is another issue papers have given great importance to with most of them focusing on the omission by the UN official to mention Turkish violations in the Cypriot EEZ and TC moves concerning the closed-off town of Varosha.

A reference to fears about the recognition of the status in the north is also among the points the papers highlight.

The government did not make any official statements yet but sources said Nicosia is disappointed.

According to the papers, in his report, Guterres suggests the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate for another six months which they see as positive.

Guterres said in his report that in their efforts to promote closer cooperation between the communities, local and international actors continue to be confronted with challenges and obstacles linked to the status of the north and concerns related to ‘recognition’.

He added that “concerns over ‘recognition’ should not in themselves constitute an insurmountable obstacle to increased cooperation” between the two sides.

Guterres also noted with regret that, “despite my and the Security Council’s repeated encouragement, few efforts have been deployed to improve the public atmosphere for negotiations, to deliver constructive messages between the sides or to prepare the communities for a settlement.”

He added that “there continued to be a particularly dense concentration of various national and joint naval forces and military, search and rescue and other exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, including around Cyprus.”

Guterres also said he was concerned about continued unauthorised civilian incursions and occasional provocative behaviour in the buffer zone and the direct impact these have on military violations. He cited unauthorised farming by GC farmers close to Turkish forces positions or TC farmers likewise farming on unauthorised land.

“Unauthorised farming activities continued to be the source of intra-civilian and civilian-to-military tensions, especially when undertaken in close proximity to Turkish forces positions. Increases in move forward violations in particular were often directly linked to such unauthorised civilian activities.”

UNFICYP also expressed its concern to the Cypriot foreign ministry over the large civilian construction underway inside the buffer zone in Pyla, a project associated with the adjacent university that has gone ahead despite the project not having been authorised by the mission.

The report also touched on the increasing flow of migrants crossing into the south via the buffer zone in steadily increasing numbers, mostly Syrian nationals arriving from Turkey and Lebanon and persons of African origin entering as students or to seek employment.

He said UNFICYP recorded fewer boat arrivals directly into the buffer zone during the period in question (two boats carrying 68 Syrian refugees) but new smuggling routes are being used for crossings from north to south through porous sections of the buffer zone.

Guterres warned that if the current trend continues, the Republic of Cyprus could face a three-fold increase in new asylum applications by the end of 2019, putting extraordinary pressure on an already stretched reception system.

Cyprus Mail reports that Guterres argues that obstacles linked to status of the north, mustn’t mar cooperation. Guterres, though not explicitly naming the GC side, took a dig in his latest report at the preoccupation with citing potential recognition of the breakaway TC ‘state’, hinting this was a pretext for disengaging, the daily said.

On the dispute over maritime zones between Cyprus and Turkey, Guterres did strike a note of concern but kept his language neutral. “I have 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,” he said, the Cyprus Mail reports.

Politis reports that until late on Thursday there was no official reaction by the government but sources told the daily that Nicosia is disappointed because Guterres not only did not refer to Turkey’s illegal actions in the EEZ and Famagusta, but also puts in the same basket the Turks’ activities with those of foreign powers cooperating with the Republic of Cyprus.

Nicosia is also not happy by the reference to non-recognition of the pseudo-state, which however is not an obstacle that cannot be overcome when it comes to CBMs. Such a thing was first brought up by (former UN Special Adviser to Cyprus from 1999 to 2004) Alvaro de Soto and now it is making a comeback with Lute, the daily reports.

This type of statements could leave the door open to Taiwan-like conditions as regards the pseudo state sources told the daily.

Politis reports that the UNSG is trying to rescue the process for the solution of the Cyprus problem by pointing out that tensions due to hydrocarbons are not expected to subside in the near future unless there are steps leading to an overall solution.

Guterres is keeping an equidistant stance by avoiding to blame one of the two sides but makes not reference to developments on Varosi or the presence of Turkish drillships in the Cypriot EEZ, the paper said.

Politis also reports that Jane Holl Lute’s tour to the region has been postponed due to a health issue and she is expected in Cyprus at the beginning of August.

Phileleftheros too reports that there is no reference to the Turkish violation in the Cypriot EEZ or the Famagusta issue.

According to Alithia, Guterres admits for the first time that that the Cyprus problem has been on pause for two years since there has been no procedure since. This basically annuls his envoy Jane Holl Lute’s mission in the sense he believes it is not a procedure, the daily said.

Guterres also blames the leaderships of the two communities both for lack of will and their role in cultivating a negative atmosphere on the Cyprus problem, the paper reports.

In his conclusions, Guterres, citing the results of polls taken by the UN and World Bank, funded by the EU, says that these suggest the expectations of the public on the resumption of talks and settlement prospects remain low, Alithia reported.

Political parties express their satisfaction with Guterres’ suggestion on the renewal of UNFICYP’s mandate but are not happy with the lack of references to Turkey’s unlawful actions.

Ruling DISY said that mobility is observed as regards the Cyprus problem since after Anastasiades’ meeting with Spehar he also spoke with Lute who is expected on the island soon. This is important since the party’s and the government’s priority is a solution of the Cyprus problem, DISY said.

Commenting on the report, AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said it was disconcerting that, once again, the UN held back from assigning blame to Ankara for the tensions at sea. This equidistant approach means that the UNSG considers the GC side co-responsible for the current situation.

He said the most advisable way forward was for Anastasiades to convince the UNSG that he is ready to continue the peace talks in the manner recommended by Guterres himself. The only precondition that the GCs should place for returning to the table is the prior cessation of Turkish maritime provocations, he said. Should the GC side fail to persuade that their interest in resuming talks is genuine, there is a risk of the UN eventually losing hope that talks can resume, Kyprianou warned.

EDEK believes that there is an effort to protect Turkey by the UN that is equally blaming both sides for the situation. Turkey bears the main responsibility on the tensions created in the region, EDEK said.

According to DIPA the UN must seek ways to force Turkey to stop being the trouble maker of the region and respect international law.

The Greens said they were concerned by Guterres’ conclusions that the public’s expectations for the resumption of talks were low. The party also said that instead of criticism of Turkey’s stance, the report refers to dense concentration of various national and joint naval forces and military, search and rescue and other exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, including around Cyprus.

Guterres (UN)
Suggests renewal of UNFICYP mandate for another six months.
>> Points out that concerns over ‘recognition’ should not stand in the way of increased cooperation between the two sides & that local and international actors continue to face difficulties linked to the status of the north.
>> Regrets that despite his and the UN Security Council’s repeated encouragement there have not been many efforts to improve the public atmosphere for negotiations & deliver constructive messages between the sides or prepare communities for a settlement.
>> Points out that there continues to be a particularly dense concentration of various national and joint naval forces and military, S&R and other exercises in the East Med.
>> Expresses concern over continued unauthorised farming by GC farmers close to Turkish forces positions & TC farmers farming on unauthorised land that lead to intra-civilian and civilian-to-military tensions, especially when in close proximity to Turkish forces positions.
>> Expresses concern over the construction of a massive university building inside the Pyla buffer zone for which no permission has been obtained by UNFICYP.
>> Warns that if current migrant flow continues to south through north would put extraordinary pressure on an already stretched reception system.

Satisfied by mobility on the Cyprob since the solution is its and the government’s priority.

Kyprianou (AKEL)
Not happy by the UN not assigning blame to Ankara for the tensions at sea.
>> Guterres considers the GC side co-responsible for the current situation.
>> The best way forward is for Anastasiades to convince Guterres he is ready to continue the talks in the manner recommended by the UN official himself and with the only precondition that Turkey ceases her provocations.
>> Warns that if the GC side fails to persuade it truly wants resumption of talks, there is a risk of the UN eventually losing hope that talks can resume.

Turkey is the main culprit as regards tensions in the region but the UN is protecting her by equally blaming both sides on the situation.

 Calls on the UN to find ways to force Turkey to stop being the trouble maker of the region & respect international law.

Concerned by fact Guterres found there are low expectations among the public for the resumption of talks.
>> Instead of Guterres criticising Turkey’s stance, the report turns against military and search and rescue exercises off Cyprus

Cyprus is giving a battle in Brussels for targeted measures against Turkey

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


The dailies report that the text drafted by the Permanent Representatives of the 28 EU Member States (COREPER) on measures against Turkey is currently in a silent approval procedure until Friday but there are disagreements among member states as to sanctions against Turkey.

Cyprus however might break the procedure due to disagreement on the wording of the text.

The final text on measures will be announced by the Council of Foreign Ministers on Monday.

Phileleftheros reports that Britain continues to object to the EU taking sanctions against Turkey and has led the way for them to be linked with the continuation of unlawful Turkish acts in the Cypriot EEZ, making it clear that only in this case will they be discussed.

Cyprus on the other hand, insisted yesterday that proposals for targeted measures (legal sanctions) should be introduced, referring to the recent decision of the European Council of June 20. The daily, citing sources, reports that this issue has caused tensions and led to successive meetings of the EU 28 but without any conclusions.

According to Phileleftheros, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides insisted that any conclusions regarding measures against Turkey should not fall short of the position unanimously decided by the EU at its highest level, the European Council.

Depending on developments, Christodoulides might break the silent procedure for approval of the final draft conclusions, due to the objections of Nicosia to paragraph five that calls for possible restrictive measures should Turkey continue drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Phileleftheros reports.

Alithia and Cyprus Mail cite a source within the EU that told Reuters that as the bloc needs Turkey in matters such as security and migration, any future sanctions would be limited.

“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,” the source said, adding that some member states rely on Turkey for energy transit.

Don’t expect any wide economic sanctions, the source said, according to the papers.

Politis reports that there was intense backstage on measures against Turkey while Federica Mogherini has submitted an intermediary proposal. Mogherini’s proposal included targeted measures, but not at the level Nicosia would have liked. Initially, her proposal was accepted by Nicosia, but was subsequently rejected, Politis reports.

Haravgi reports that the measures are bad news for the Germans. The daily, citing a story by the German news agency DPA reports that the agency is referring to the measures the EU is thinking of taking against Turkey due to her actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus. Germany, according to reports in Cypriot media, was among the countries appearing more hesitant in taking measures against Turkey, Haravgi reports.

Police investigate TC bus harassment with help of Technical Committee on Crime

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


The TC bus driver who reported he had been harassed at Larnaca airport where he had gone to pick up tourists to take to the occupied areas last week was expected to give a written statement on Friday, the papers report.

The statement was to be given through the bicommunal Technical Committee on Crime.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Thursday the incident had not been reported to police at the time.

He said the government has instructed police to investigate the reported attack.

A police spokesman said the force would be investigating the report thoroughly “because we think the matter is very serious,” he said according to the papers.