GCC Press Review 18 July 2019

Front Page Headlines


Patient concern on smooth supply of pharmaceuticals

Shortages in 52 items and hardship of GESY beneficiaries. Promises by HIO (Health Insurance Organisation) that the software will allow as of tomorrow the use of alternative medicines to cover shortages. The large stock of state pharmacies will be given to private pharmacies.

  • He accepts EU representation – Akinci’s proposal for an informal five party meeting. Precondition for the government is Lute’s arrival (on the island).


Akinci flashbang

Blame game by the TC leader in his letter to the UN Secretary-General. He wants talks with timeframes.

  • Russia picks on the EU over sanctions – They are illegal, it says.
  • Erdogan taking risks with safety gaps on drill rigs
  • We will not sell F-35 to Turkey, says Trump


Criminal indifference for those injured (during war)

The disabled and those injured in war are fed up with the callousness of those ruling as regards the life and death problems they face. They cite specific cases of sufferers whose health is at risk and the shocking way they are being treated. They will not be participating in the memory event at the Presidential Palace on July 20 in protest.

  • Akinci: A five-party meeting under the UNSG
  • AKEL paid due respect to Costas Misiaoulis with a candle procession and an event
  • The most important on issues of asylum and migration is sensitivity

Cyprus Mail

‘Turkey aims to cause instability’

Lakkotrypis says Cyprus to drill in five exploratory wells in two years.


Russian crutches

Moscow in the role of fervent ‘protector’ of Ankara’s illegal actions in the Cypriot EEZ. In full contrast with Moscow, Washington declares full support to the decisions of Europeans on Turkey. Russian diplomacy (Zakharova, Chizhov, Osadchiy) in an unprecedented Turcophile crescendo of statements, took out the swords against the EU, condemns sanctions against Turkey on the Cypriot EEZ, calls them – just like the Turks – “illegal” and talks even of “aggressive pressure on Turkey for the achievement of self-interests” and warns “it will not accept EU pressure on Turkey through the sanctions.” Surprise but also disappointment on Russia’s stance by DISY chairman Averof Neophytou. He stresses that Russia “was and remains a friendly country and we did not expect she would be against the measures taken by the EU.”

  • The Yavuz (seen) off Rizokarpaso
  • He asked for an informal five-party meeting from Guterres – New move by Akinci.
  • DISY and Cyprob: Averof puts things in order
  • Salpy Eskidjian: International award to the head of the interreligious dialogue in Cyprus

Main News

Palmas: A counter proposal would mean equating RoC with a non-state

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


The letter sent by TC leader Mustafa Akinci on July 10 to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling for an informal five-party meeting with EU participation is among the main stories in Thursday’s papers.

Meanwhile, the government is expected to send a letter to Akinci rejecting his proposal for a joint committee on hydrocarbons in about a week which is unlikely to include a counter-proposal. The nine points in his proposal were in the meantime leaked to a news portal.

The dailies, citing TC TAK news agency that published the letter’s content, report that Akinci has called on Guterres to arrange a five-party informal meeting as soon as possible to clarify whether all sides agree to seek a solution based on a bicommunal bizonal federation (BBF).

The TC leader argues there has been confusion as to whether there is a real will from the GC side for a comprehensive settlement since its leadership sent out mixed messages on the basis of the solution to different interlocutors on various occasions.

He said it must be made clear whether everyone agrees on a BBF on the basis of political equality. If all parties confirm they are on the same page, there must be a process of talks under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General with a clear timetable, and focused on a solution, he said.

Among other things, Akinci said the proposals of the GCs show that they went back on convergences already reached, adding that the biggest obstacle was that the GC side was now more opposed to the issue of political equality.

In the meantime, Undersecretary to the president Vasilis Palmas, said on Wednesday that Anastasiades’ letter to Akinci would be ready within a week and that party leaders will give him their positions in writing so as to include some in his response.

He said the letter would not include a counter proposal because the term counter proposal involved the risk of equating a recognised state, member of the international community, with a non-state.

Palmas said the letter must be worded in such a way so as not to suggest such a thing in any way.

On the substance, Palmas said the issue had been agreed by former TC leader Mehmet Ali Talat and late former president Demetris Christofias. That agreement says energy issues will be handled by the federal government. Parliament has also voted legislation regarding a sovereign fund where gas revenues would be deposited pending the island’s reunification, he said. Palmas said the TC concerns were satisfied to a large extent.

Meanwhile Sigmalive news portal published what it described as a verbatim copy of Akinci’s proposal on hydrocarbons cooperation.

According to the online news portal, Akinci’s proposal contains the following principles and proposals:

First, he notes that as co-owners of the island, GCs and TCs should have equal rights to maritime resources of the whole island.

Economic benefits from these sources should be shared equitably between GCs & TCS and enjoyment of the revenue must start simultaneously for both communities. 

Decisions on hydrocarbons must be taken jointly.

Any resolution of the hydrocarbons issue will not prejudice the positions of the two sides, legal and political, regarding a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprob. 

Then he continues the document, proposing the setting up of a joint committee under the auspices of the UN with the EU participating as an observer. Two members from each side will participate in the committee which will decide based on consensus, with the possibility of convening a meeting following a unilateral request by one of the sides.

Two internationally renowned experts could participate in consultations as observers on the prior agreement of the two sides.

The committee will ensure the rights derived from the contracts signed with the companies that have already been licensed, including TPAO.

At its first meeting, the Joint Committee will agree on revenue-sharing rates, without prejudice to the revenues of companies that have already been licensed.

The Committee will have responsibility for planning, deciding and implementing all future actions related to the exploration, extraction and utilisation of hydrocarbons. It will also jointly decide on ways and means of transporting hydrocarbons to international markets.

The proposal also provides that the Committee will avoid licensing companies in areas where offshore blocks overlap.

Another proposed task of the Committee will be to set up a fund where all revenues will be deposited, a large part of which will be retained to help restore property issues after a solution and for the equal development of the two communities.

The final point provides that as soon as the TC rights are guaranteed, the Committee will submit its mandate, according to the online news portal.

Alithia reports that DISY leader Averof Neophytou has set the record straight as regards his party’s positions on the Cyprus problem.

Neophytou said in statements to the press that when DISY calls for relaunch of the talks, it means from where they left off in Crans Montana and based on the six points of the Guterres Framework. The solution sought is that of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

He also said that measures against Turkey must also be beneficial to Cyprus and not only aimed at Turkey bearing the cost, the daily reported.

Politis, citing government sources, reported that the GC side is not negative to Akinci’s proposal for an informal five party meeting as long as the TC side agrees to a visit by Lute to the island the soonest possible.

Phileleftheros reports that Akinci engaged in a blame game in his letter to Guterres. According to the paper, at the time when Ankara peaked her illegal actions in the sea area of ​​the Republic of Cyprus, Akinci, on behalf of Turkey continues the communication games of impressions and disorientation.

The daily reports that the day after the unanimous rejection by the GC side of his proposal, Akinci’s letter to Guterres was leaked in the occupied areas, which was no coincidence, the daily said. It added that Akinci, enhancing even further his full alignment with Ankara’s plans and seeking to increase pressure on the GC side, brings back the issue of a five-party meeting.

The papers also report that UN Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix is due in Cyprus next week, in the framework of his regular contacts with peacekeeping missions. The senior UN official is also expected to meet with the two leaders.

Wants Guterres to call an informal five-party meeting with EU involvement to probe whether everyone is on board with BBF solution based on political equality and if yes, to start talks based on  timeframes aimed at solution.
>> Not sure if the GCs actually mean they want solution after mixed signals sent by Anastasiades on the type of solution sought.
>> GCs’ proposals show going back on convergences already reached with the biggest obstacle being that GC side is now more opposed to the issue of political equality.

Palmas (Undersecretary to the President)
Submitting a counter proposal would mean risking equating the RoC, a recognised state, with a non-state therefore the letter must be worded in such a way so as not to suggest such a thing.
>> The TCs’ concerns were satisfied to a large extent since Talat and Christofias had agreed the issue of hydrocarbons would be handled by the federal government while legislation is in place on the hydrocarbons fund stipulating gas revenues would be deposited pending the island’s reunification.

Neophytou (DISY)
DISY would like the talks to restart from where they left off in Crans Montana, based on the 6-point Guterres Framework and aimed at a BBF solution.
>> Measures against Turkey ought to benefit Cyprus and not just be aimed at making Turkey pay the cost of her actions.

Discontent with Russia grows despite government showing understanding

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


Statements by Russian officials against the EU measures imposed on Turkey over illegal activities in the Cypriot EEZ are widely reported by the papers, with some of them expressing discontent with the support exhibited to Turkey.

DISY leader Averof Neophytou too expressed disappointment by Russia’s stance despite that the government seems to have not been offended by the Russian comments.

Phileleftheros reports that Moscow is sending for the second day in the row messages of discontent on the imposition of sanctions to Turkey by the EU. The paper reports that Russia’s permanent representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov speaking to Rossiya-24 TV station, said that the EU has no authority to impose sanctions against other subjects of international law, and therefore sanctions against Turkey are not legal.

The only organisation authorised under international law to impose sanctions against anyone is the UN Security Council, he said, insisting that all some countries do and in this case the EU, are unilateral restrictive measures, that are illegal by definition.

Russia officially condemned the EU’s decision to impose sanctions on Turkey on Wednesday, the daily reported.

Spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova said Russia cannot accept the unilateral EU sanctions policy with regard to Turkey.

Pressure through sanctions, although, unfortunately, already constitute a factor of current international relations, are not clearly derived from the arsenal of diplomacy, she said, adding that they should not be at the basis of international politics as they lead to very sad consequences.

She added that unilateral sanctions are unlawful and that such a policy of aggressive lobbying to achieve self-interests cannot be accepted, according to Phileleftehros.

Nicosia interpreted the Russian reaction as a result of the sanctions the EU imposed against her as well, the paper reports.

Undersecretary to the President Vassilis Palmas said that Russians backed the Republic of Cyprus on the EEZ issues and expressed disagreement with the way Turkey acted and the aggression it exhibited.

Alithia reports that Russia continues to act as Ankara’s defender as regards the latter’s provocations against Cyprus and is now daily battling at various levels against EU sanctions.

Alithia and Phileleftheros report that DISY leader Neophytou did not conceal his disappointment over Russia’s stance.

He said Russia was and remains a friendly country and that DISY did not expect that she would be against the EU measures against Turkey.

At the same time Russia’s stance  ought to be a wake-up call since it must be understood that every country, be it Russia or the US, prioritise their own interests, he said, adding that Cyprus, as a small state all it can do is utilise opportunities when they arise, to its own benefit, the papers report.

Phileleftheros also reports that Germany on Wednesday called on Turkey to avoid escalation and refrain from illegal drillings off Cyprus.

German foreign ministry’s deputy spokesman Christofer Burger said they have repeatedly stressed they are monitoring developments in the Eastern Mediterranean with great concern and in  particular, the Turkish announcements for drillings southeast of the Cypriot peninsula of Karpasia.

“We call upon Turkey to avoid escalation and refrain from illegal drillings. We call for a solution of conflicts through dialogue and respect of international law,” he said, expressing hope that progress in the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem would have a positive impact on the controversial matter of natural resources exploitation.

Spokesperson of the US State Department Morgan Ortagus too said Washington shares the same concern as Europe on the issue of the illegal Turkish drillings in Cyprus’ EEZ, Phileleftheros reports.

Phileleftheros, in another article, reports that following the refusal of all foreign companies to provide support services to Turkish drillships operating in the Cypriot EEZ, Turkey has been violating even basic safety regulations during the last 24 hours since the Fatih and the Yavuz are operating without any support vessels nearby. The daily reported that the minimum safety demand is for the presence of at least one support vessel with firefighting gear near a drill rig so that immediate help could be provided in the case of an accident.

Chizhov (Russia’s EU perm rep)
The EU sanctions against Turkey are illegal since the bloc has no authority to impose sanctions against other entities subject to international law, only the UN Security Council can do that.
>> Unilateral restrictive measures taken by countries or the EU are illegal by definition.

Zakharova (Russian foreign ministry spokesperson)
Russia rejects unilateral EU sanctions against Turkey as unlawful and aimed at serving self-interests.
>> Pressure through sanctions is not in line with diplomacy and must not be used in international politics as they lead to very sad consequences.

Palmas (Undersecretary to the President)
Russia’s reaction to EU measures against Turkey is due to her sensitivity on the issue, herself being sanctioned by the EU.
>> Russia did back the RoC on the EEZ issues and expressed disagreement with Turkey’s actions.

Neophytou (DISY)
Disappointed because he did not expect Russia would react against EU measures on Turkey.
>> Russia’s stance must be a lesson to everyone that every country prioritises its own interests & all Cyprus can do as a small state is utilise opportunities to its own benefit.

Burger (German foreign ministry’s deputy spokesman)
Germany is monitoring developments in the East Med with great concern and in particular, the Turkish announcements for drillings off Karpasia.
>> Germany calls on Turkey to avoid escalation and refrain from illegal drillings off Cyprus & for solving conflicts through dialogue and respect of international law.
>> Hopes that progress in the Cyprob front would have a positive impact on the controversial matter of natural resources exploitation.

Ortagus (US State Department spokesperson)
US shares the same concerns as Europe on Turkey’s illegal drillings in Cyprus’ EEZ.

Cyprus ministers extend call of cooperation to Turkey

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


Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis announced on Wednesday that five exploratory and five appraisal wells will be drilled in the next two years in offshore concessions inside Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the papers report.

Speaking at the Economist conference in Athens, Lakkotrypis also referred to a recent discovery by ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum which represents more than 40 per cent of the EU’s natural gas for 2018. He said this was an important discovery that would help Cyprus towards creating an energy corridor either as a producer, a consumer, or a transit country.

As regards Turkey’s violations, Lakkotrypis said Ankara’s target is to create instability in the Eastern Mediterranean and discourage energy giants from investing. He suggested that Turkey could join the EastMed Gas Forum and become a part of the solution and not the problem.

He said that the Cypriot government has repeatedly urged Turkey recently to agree to talks on the delineation of the sea zones without any response.

Also speaking at the same conference, Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said Cyprus was aiming at a solution to the Cyprus problem and good collaboration with Turkey.
He said that the Cypriot government envisages that within the next 10 to 20 years all the states in the Eastern Mediterranean will be collaborating to ensure the region’s safety and prosperity.
In this context, he referred to the importance of creating a regional organisation of security and collaboration, which would include Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and at a later time Lebanon and Palestine.

“Turkey is not excluded from participating, rather the contrary,” he said. “We cannot alter geography, that is why we must collaborate with Turkey.”

According to Politis, there is no official information on which blocks the drillings will take place but unofficial information suggests that exploratory drilling will probably take place in blocks 11, 7, 3 and 8 by the Total-ENI consortium and in block 10 by ExxonMobil.

The Cyprus Mail reports that the announcement came amid tensions with Turkey over its drilling activities in Cyprus’ EEZ and the censuring of Ankara by the EU, a development which angered Turkey and also irked Russia. Turkey warned it was sending a fourth ship to the region shortly. The announcement also comes as the GC side is to officially reject a proposal by Akinci for a joint committee on hydrocarbons, the paper reports.
Meanwhile, Politis, citing sources, reported that Athens and Nicosia are seriously considering delimitating soon the Greece-Cyprus EEZ but also Greece-Egypt EEZ to avoid complications from a possible agreement between Turkey and Libya on their EEZs that aims at creating more grey areas in the region.

Lakkotrypis (Energy Minister)
 Latest discovery off Cyprus that could cover more than 40 per cent of the EU’s natural gas needs for 2018 could help Cyprus towards creating an energy corridor either as a producer, a consumer, or a transit country.
>> Ankara’s target is to create instability in the East Med and discourage energy giants from investing but could join the EastMed Gas Forum instead and become a part of the solution and not the problem.
>> The government has repeatedly called on Turkey to agree to talks on the delineation of the sea zones but there was no response.

Christodoulides (FM)
Cyprus wants a solution to the Cyprob and good collaboration with Turkey.
>> The vision of the Cypriot government is that within the next 10 to 20 years all East Med states will be collaborating to ensure the region’s safety and prosperity.
>> It is important to create a regional organisation of security and collaboration which would include Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and at a later time Lebanon and Palestine while Turkey is free to join in.

GCs continue to buy pharmaceuticals in the north despite GESY



The daily reports that the introduction of GESY has not curbed the purchases of pharmaceuticals from the occupied areas since, even after prices have dropped on some of the 1,000 items on the GESY list, some of them are still cheaper in the north.

A reader told Politis that Micardis (80 mg) drug costs €4,76 under GESY plus €1 for the prescription execution but in the occupied areas he buys it for €3.

Another person said that painkillers that are not among the prescription drugs, can be bought in the occupied areas for just €1, while the pharmacies in the free areas sell them for around €5.

According to the daily, the GESY list is being constantly updated with more drugs added in the coming days while by the end of the year the list is expected to include around 1,600 items.

Religious dialogue facilitator receives prestigious award

Alithia, Haravgi


The papers report that the Director and Executive Coordinator of the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden,  Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud, was awarded The Secretary’s Inaugural International Religious Freedom Award by the US State Department.

Alithia reports that the foreign ministry welcomed this international recognition of Eskidjian Weiderud’s long and valuable contribution to promoting interreligious dialogue in Cyprus and her efforts for the protection of the country’s religious heritage.

The daily said that Eskidjian Weiderud, who was born in Cyprus and is the granddaughter of Armenian refugees, has been working for 30 years with religious organisations in Europe and the Middle East, promoting understanding between religions.

According to Haravgi, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, said Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud’s tireless efforts for peace and reconciliation in Cyprus are groundbreaking and widely acknowledged in Cyprus and beyond. She said the Swedish government would continue to support her work to promote dialogue, human rights and equality in the peace process.

Eskidjian Weiderud said she was honoured to receive the award in recognition of the religious leaders of Cyprus’ joint efforts to promote peace and reconciliation with the support of the government of Sweden.

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