GCC Press Review 30 July 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Priority is the solution, says Athens

Focus on the target without overlooking Turkish provocations. Kyriacos Mitsotakis is asking for a solution without anachronistic guarantees and military. Clear message by Anastasiades to Akinci ahead of the August 9 meeting.

  • With… prevailing climate: DIKO on 2003 – Varosha on the table after the ‘No’. Mudslinging by Nicolas (Papadopoulos) against Politis on the closed-off town.
  • Famagusta (mayoral candidate): DISY did not decide yesterday
  • Turkey: Orders on visas (by EU)

Phileleftheros

Informal meeting getting more distant  

The possibility of a five-party conference on the Cyprus problem is becoming a distant one. All the open issues discussed by Anastasiades-Mitsotakis.

  • Turkey: You are violating our sea areas – Exceeding every challenge, they are calling the Republic of Cyprus’ research within the Cypriot EEZ as illegal.
  • Total-Eni also in block 7 and with 9 drillings
  • Famagusta mayoralty: Names are parading around

Haravgi

They are plotting for the acceptance of the referrals

Suspension by law of foreclosures due to the Estia scheme’s loans until October 1, with intense backstage plotting by the (DISY leader) Averof Neophytou and (DIKO leader) Nicolas Papadopoulos duo as protagonists on the changes in the general framework of foreclosures and acceptance of the referral with “amendment” in a new plenary session next Friday.

  • Contacts by Mitsotakis with the focus on the Cyprob
  • Bicommunal Committee (meeting) on the West Nile virus
  • Extension for a joint candidate for the Famagusta mayoralty – Six names on the table.

Cyprus Mail

Woman in court over rape claim

Controversial heroes’ welcome for Israeli teens as they return home after 12-day ordeal.

  • Mitsotakis hails ‘new era’ – (photo caption) Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis being greeted by President Anastasiades in Nicosia on Monday on his first official trip since his election earlier this month.

Alithia

Looking for a new framework of understanding

The August 9 meeting was the focus of yesterday’s consultations of the president with the Greek prime minister. The Greek prime minister reassured that the top priority of Greece’s foreign policy is ending the Turkish occupation. Ways of organised reaction to the constantly increasing Turkish provocation was the focus of yesterday’s consultations between the president and the Greek prime minister.

  • Cypriot EEZ: Block 7 officially to ENI-TOTAL
  • Famagusta mayoralty: The possibility of a joint candidate is becoming a distant one
  • Occupied areas: An UBP MP is sending out the message that we turned down return of Vaorsha five times so they will not be waiting for us to decide

Main News

Mitsotakis: Hope leaders’ meeting yields new framework of understanding

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

OVERVIEW

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to Cyprus was among the main items in Tuesday’s papers.

Mitsotakis was received by President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace. Following a one-on-one meeting with Anastasiades, the Greek PM said his visit was taking place at a particularly critical juncture “and it is therefore inevitable that our discussions are not merely symbolic or formal but deeply substantial”.

He said ending the Turkish occupation remained the top priority for Greece when it comes to Cyprus, and welcomed the upcoming meeting between Anastasiades and TC leader Mustafa Akinci on August 9.

“My cautious optimism is that a new framework of understanding will emerge that will allow us to make some progress on the crucial, major national issue,” Mitsotakis said. This, however, would have to include the abolition of the guarantees system and the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops. “It is a completely anachronistic system which cannot continue to apply in particular to an EU member state,” he said.

Mitsotakis said he and Anastasiades had also discussed increasing Turkish provocations in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). “This issue does not only concern the sovereign rights of a member state but also the EU’s own energy policy.” Any escalating Turkish policy should be dealt with at a European level, Mitsotakis said.

He also referred to the importance of the tripartite partnerships Cyprus and Greece were cultivating in the region and said he and the president had also talked about other bilateral issues.

Anastasiades said he would go to the meeting with Akinci with determination and a positive political will. He said the common position with Greece was that the resumption of talks also required Turkey’s active contribution to the creation of an appropriate climate by ending its unlawful actions in Cyprus’ EEZ as well as any plans Ankara had for opening Varosha which “unfortunately promotes a sense of suspicion and mistrust as regards the real intentions of the other side”.

Mitsotakis also met with House President Demetris Syllouris and the heads of parliamentary parties.  

Phileleftheros reports that TC ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar, who was not satisfied with Mitsotakis’ statements, argued that the Greek premier is unable to see the realities in Cyprus and he ignores the rights, interests and sensitivities of the TCs.

Tatar said there can be no agreement with such statements, adding that TCs will carry on their own way which is the ‘TRNC’, according to the paper.

Phileleftheros also reports that based on the current situation, the possibility of a five-party conference on Cyprus seems distant.

Citing sources, the paper reported that there is not much optimism about any further developments after the August 9 meeting between the two leaders. Anastasiades and Mitsotakis discussed during their meeting that it remains to be seen to what extent Akinci can move independently and what his agenda will be. On the other hand, it was discussed that Akinci may appear flexible but Turkey at the same time continues to provoke.

The same sources said that based on the analysis made on Monday it emerged that there are also negative conditions due to Turkey’s actions in the Cypriot EEZ, while there is a gap between the Republic’s decision on the creation of the Hydrocarbons Fund and Akinci’s demands on setting up a joint committee on hydrocarbons.

The daily also reported that Anastasiades’ response to a question by the media on whether his meeting with Akinci would pave the way for an informal five-party meeting, was that one must not herald what is desired.

All these reduce the margins of optimism for another informal five-party conference on Cyprus, the daily said. For this reason, the leaders of the Republic and Greece have agreed to revert to the matter after Anastasiades’ meeting with Akinci.

Sources also told Phileleftheros that Turkey’s behaviour hinders progress in the Cyprus problem, creates problems in Greek-Turkish relations too, and makes it impossible to even probe for a possible meeting between the new Greek prime minister and Erdogan.

For Greece and Cyprus, Washington is deemed as an important player in developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, while Mitsotakis argues that there is great interest within Congress as regards the region, Phileleftheros reported.

According to Politis, diplomatic sources welcomed the Greek premier’s stance on the Cyprus problem and Turkish provocations, arguing that it remains the same with the previous government.

Alithia reports that Greece and Cyprus are in full coordination.

Phileleftheros, in another article, reported that Mitsotakis’ visit also paved the way for the promotion of the implementation of the EuroAsia Interconnector that concerns electricity interconnection between Israel, Cyprus, Crete and Attica.

Citing sources, the paper reported that the matter was discussed during Anastasiades’ meeting with Mitsotakis as well as in the extended consultations between the two countries’ officials with the participation of the energy ministers of Greece and Cyprus.

In the meantime, according to Alithia and Politis, First Lady Andri Anastasiades escorted Greece’s First Lady, Mareva Mitsotakis on a tour around the new Nicosia Town Hall located next to the Green Line. The two ladies had the opportunity to see the occupied part of Nicosia from above as well as the free part of the town.

KEY ACTORS
Mitsotakis (Greece)
>>
Welcomes upcoming Anastasiades-Akinci meeting, which comes at a critical juncture for the Cyprob.
>> Cautiously optimistic that a new framework of understanding will emerge that will allow some progress on this major national issue.
>> Greece’s top priority in Cyprus is ending the Turkish occupation.
>> A Cyprob solution should include abolition of guarantees which is a completely anachronistic system that cannot continue to apply in particular to an EU member state & the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops.
>> Turkish provocations do not only concern the sovereign rights of a member state but also the EU’s own energy policy, thus any escalating Turkish policy should be dealt with at a European level.

Anastasiades
>>
For talks to resume Turkey must first end her unlawful actions in Cyprus’ EEZ & abort any plans for opening Varosha which promotes a sense of suspicion & mistrust as regards their real intentions.

Tatar
>>
Mitsotakis fails to see the realities in Cyprus which could be a deal-breaker since he ignores the rights, interests and sensitivities of the TCs, who, are now focusing on finding their own way in their own state.


Politis responds to DIKO on Varosha proposal

Politis
Negotiations Process, Territory

OVERVIEW

Politis defended itself against what it described as an improper attack by DIKO over its Sunday article on the 2003 proposal by the then TC leader Rauf Denktash to President Tassos Papadopoulos for the return of Varosha.

In its response to the article, DIKO reminded that the National Council had agreed to reject Denktash’s proposal on Varosha.

In reply, Politis published the content of the TC leader’s response to Papadopoulos in a letter dated April 4, 2003. The paper argues that the letter reveals the margins Papadopoulos had at the time to negotiate the return of Varosha to its legal residents.

According to the daily, after the rejection of Denktash’s package of six proposals by the GC side but also the US, UK, Greece and Brussels, Denktash submitted a second letter to Papadopoulos on April 4, 2003 mentioning that his proposal remains on the table without repeating his six proposals. This meant the GC side had margins to discuss only Famagusta in exchange for free movement and trade between the two communities.

Denktash also committed to support the Good Offices of the UN Secretary-General, recalling that during talks at The Hague, it was not only him who approached the Annan plan with hesitation but Papadopoulos too.

Denktash said in his letter, echoing the UNSG’s reference in his report of the time, that in The Hague, the GC side was insisting on strict preconditions to putting the Annan plan to a referendum.

This stance by Denktash meant that our side was in a position to maintain the dynamics of the Annan Plan, taking in the meantime, other things in exchange such as Varosha, the paper said.

But Papadopoulos, having faith in the Annan Plan, refused to discuss Denktash’s suggestions and as a result, a year later, not only turned down the plan in tears but also saw what Denktash had asked for in exchange for Varosha materialise. In fact, said the paper, some of them, such as movement to and from the occupied areas under conditions, took place just 20 days after Tassos’ ‘No’.

Citing Alecos Markides, who made a comment on the issue on Monday, the paper said the GC side did not respond to Denktash’s proposal in 2003 but questioned the reasons given by the TC leader of the shipwreck at The Hague.

“We did not talk about Famagusta, or for a reconciliation committee, neither on access to and from the occupied areas, not even any other issue mentioned in the Denktash proposal. We had demonised it,” Markides said, according to Politis.

Politis also noted that DIKO based its attack of the paper on the fact that rejection of the proposal was backed by the National Council. However, DIKO failed to mention that this is an advisory body and that responsibility for the negotiations falls on the president, said the paper.


Cabinet gives ENI-Total consortium green light for block 7

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros, Politis
Energy

OVERVIEW

According to the papers cabinet on Monday issued licenses to energy consortium ΕΝI and Total for block 7 and approved a partnership between the two in five other blocks. The cabinet also approved nine other drills inside the EEZ within the next couple of years.

According to the Cyprus Mail, block 7 neighbours the Calypso reservoir in block 6 where ENI carried out an exploratory drill in early 2018 and which is believed to hold between six and eight trillion cubic feet.

Total and ENI had applied for an exploration licence in block 7 back in November 2018. The joint projects include block 3 where in February 2018 Turkish warships prevented an ENI drillship from carrying out a drill. Ankara has repeatedly warned Cyprus against taking “unilateral steps” in exploring and developing hydrocarbons without factoring in the TCs. In September 2001, Turkey and the north signed a ‘continental shelf delineation agreement’, the paper reports.

Phileleftheros also reports that Turkey has overstepped the limits by calling the activities of the Republic of Cyprus within the Cypriot EEZ as illegal. In a new, provocative anti-Navtex to match the one issued by Cyprus, covering the period August 4-19 and reserving areas in blocks 5, 6, 7, 10, 11,12 for a series of research activities ahead of future drillings, Turkey claims that parts of all these fall within Turkish jurisdiction and that the RoC is violating them, the daily reports.


Venetian Walls require urgent action

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
CBMs

OVERVIEW

The Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage together with the UN Development Programme are speeding up procedures to repair part of the Guerini bastion of the Venetian walls that collapsed last week.

The collapsed part is near the so-called presidential palace, the papers reported.

The dailies quote GC co-chairman of the committee, Takis Hadjidemetriou, saying that together with UNDP representatives, they visited the site last week and decided to take urgent action to repair the section of the walls which had collapsed. He said they adopted urgent measures which include a study and a report to be drafted and then a contractor hired to undertake the repairs by autumn.


Technical Committee on Health meets to tackle West Nile virus

Haravgi, Phileleftheros
CBMs

OVERVIEW

The papers report that as cases of the West Nile virus increase in the occupied areas, the Technical Committee on Health will meet this week to discuss the issue.

According to Haravgi, the Committee is to meet on Wednesday to discuss the matter.

The daily reports that four people diagnosed with the West Nile virus are in hospital in the occupied areas while there is one case in the free areas which has not yet been confirmed.


‘Varosha needs to be returned to its legal residents’

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Property, Negotiations Process, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

According to Cyprus Mail and Haravgi, the Famagusta municipality said on Monday that the Turkish and TC entry into fenced-off Varosha to carry out an inventory of properties goes against resolutions 550 and 789 of the UN Security Council which entrust Varosha to the UN and through them to its legitimate inhabitants.

In an announcement, the municipality said that the city should be returned to its legal residents while any other illegitimate proposal derails the issue away from the UN framework and is therefore illegal.

By entering Varosha, the TC side is effectively boycotting the August 9 meeting between the two leaders and the agreed September tripartite conference at the United Nations, it said.

The municipality said it was closely monitoring the situation and had requested a meeting with the UN representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar and Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides for an update.

In the meantime, Alithia and Phileleftheros report that UBP Famagusta ‘MP’ Oguzhan Hasipoglu said that the GC side had five chances as regards the return of Varosha and missed them all. He said that now Varosha was no longer part of the solution but needed to be part of a solution to benefit those who truly have rights there and the entire island.


Attempted murder suspect remanded after being handed over by north

Alithia
CBMs, Internal Security

OVERVIEW

According to the paper, 40-year-old Miroslav Balazovcek who is believed to be the man who shot a man during a murder attempt last November was remanded on Monday for eight days after being handed over by the occupied areas.

The 40-year-old, who also goes by Rudolph, had been arrested in the occupied areas and was sentenced for illegal entry. He is believed to be the shooter of the murder attempt against Nikos Rodotheou. The Slovakian authorities had also issued an arrest warrant for Rudolph for a number of other criminal cases that took place there.

The man believed to have been the mastermind behind the murder attempt, Iosif Iosif, is currently serving a five-year sentence in the occupied areas for the possession of firearms, the daily reported.