GCC Press Review 31 July 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Time for Cyprob without new drillings

Total, ENI and Exxon lower the drills in 2020-2021. Until, at least, the end of 2019 we will have no drill rigs in the licensed blocks. More pressure on Turkey to avoid actions that cause tensions.

  • Blurry next steps – Reservations on the success of contacts (on Cyprob).
  • Varosha: Plan up to 2020 by TCs
  • Exhumations in September for 13 (fallen) in Pachyammos

Phileleftheros

French-Italian bow in the EEZ

The geopolitical energy interests of giants Total-ENI have expanded and been established. American, British-Dutch and Israeli interests complete the map in the Cypriot EEZ.

  • Homage (by Greek PM Mitsotakis) to those who fought: Imprisoned Graves, Makedonitissa Tomb, ELDYK
  • Guterres and Lute are standing by
  • (TCs) up the pressure through Famagusta
  • Developments on Famagusta (mayoral elections) – DIKO backs AKEL’s proposal.

Haravgi

One in three ‘Estia’ applicants will be turned down

The initial assessment by the finance ministry was that it is possible to restructure under the Estia scheme loans that have not been settled up to September 30, 2017, of a total worth of around €3.5bn and which concern up to 15,000 borrowers. According to the labour ministry however, it is estimated that 15,000 applications will be filed but no more than 10,000 will be eligible.

  • Akinci: Everything will become clear on August 9
  • Conservation of the historic Nicosia walls
  • Plans in the Cypriot EEZ and new threats – The government talks of a French-Italian umbrella on the EEZ blocks. (Turkish Energy Minister) Donmez: Eastern Mediterranean is a matter concerning the 82 million of Turkey.

Cyprus Mail

Bishop ‘should retract’ gay slur

State officials react to controversial comments, Archbishop distances himself.

  • (Photo caption) Greek Prime Minister Kyriacos Mitsotakis visits the Tymvou cemetery in Nicosia as part of his two-day official visit to the island, during which he said acts of aggression against Cyprus will not go unanswered.

Alithia

French-Italian umbrella

Total and ENI now have involvement and interests in five blocks of the Cypriot EEZ. (Energy Minister) Giorgos Lakkotrypis: The idea was promoted by President Anastasiades in cooperation with Total’s CEO. The Republic of Cyprus proceeds unhindered with its energy plans.

  • Akinci: Everything will be made clear during the August 9 meeting
  • EVKAF: They have decided which land they consider as theirs
  • No offensive behaviour will be left unanswered – Meaningful message by Kyriacos Mitsotakis from the ELDYK military camp. We always seek peace and reconciliation but…

Main News

Total and ENI expand presence in Cypriot EEZ

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

OVERVIEW

The announcement by Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis that cabinet granted licenses to French-Italian energy consortium Total-ENI for block 7 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) received wide coverage in the GC press on Wednesday.

Lakkotrypis announced on Tuesday that a cabinet decision granting licences to France’s Total and Italy’s Eni for block 7 would strengthen the consortium in several ways. The cabinet had approved the granting of the block 7 licence to the two companies with a share of 50 per cent each. At the same time the cabinet granted Total a share of the licence for blocks 2, 3, 9 and 8 in which ENI is already a licensee.

The minister said the framework of cooperation between Cyprus and the two companies, which was an initiative of President Nicos Anastasiades and the CEOs of Total and ENI, had been concluded. According to the minister, Total will receive from ENI a share of 20 per cent for blocks 2 and 9, 30 per cent for block 3 and 40 per cent for block 8.

“We believe that this arrangement will strengthen the consortium both in technical and economic terms as well as geopolitically,” Lakkotrypis said. “All these are necessary in order for them to move on to their drilling activities uninterrupted.” He also said that the cabinet has granted 12-month extensions for blocks 2, 3, 9, 8 and 11.

The minister said he expected nine exploratory and appraisal wells to be carried out by the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020 and over the next 24 months.

Asked what actions are planned to address Turkey’s ongoing provocation, the minister said Nicosia’s reaction is well known. “We are moving at both diplomatic and legal levels. We will continue to do exactly the same thing to defend by whatever means we have the sovereign rights of our country.”

Meanwhile, most of the papers report that Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said that the issue of the Eastern Mediterranean concerns Turkey’s 82-million population as it is a struggle against those who are bothered by the existence of Turkey. He said that the Turks would not relent, according to the papers.

Phileleftheros reports there is now a French-Italian axis in the EEZ while the map of the Cypriot EEZ now includes the flags of: the French-Italian consortium Total-ENI in four important blocks (6, 7, 8, 11), as well as in three more along with Korean Kogas (2, 3 and 9); the American-Qatari consortium ExxonMobil-Qatar Petroleum in block 10, which already has strong interests also in the Glafcos reserve; and the consortium between American Noble, British-Dutch giant Shell and Israel’s Delek.

The paper reports that nine drillings are on the cards while the energy companies have received the green light by the government and their leaderships to carry on.

Citing sources, the paper reports that the companies are at an advanced stage in the process of securing drill rigs and support services for some of the planned drillings, while for other drillings they are still at the initial stages.

According to Politis, the Total-ENI consortium’s presence is now all over the southern part of the EEZ. The paper also said that the fact that no drilling will take place for the rest of the year by companies cooperating with the Republic could help avoid tensions especially now there is intense political activity for the creation of conducive conditions for the restart of the talks.

The pressure is now on Turkey which is called to discontinue its illegal drillings in the west and east EEZ of Cyprus. According to statements by Turkish officials, works by the Fatih drillship off Akamas are expected to be completed mid-August while it is believed that drilling off Karpasia has not started yet, the daily reported.

It added that staff working on the Fatih and its support vessels could reinforce the Yavuz that is anchored off Karpasia once drillings off Akamas wrap up.

According to Alithia, the government’s move to strengthen the involvement of French giant Total in the Cypriot EEZ was purely political since the French not only have declared their wish to engage in more offshore blocks despite Turkish provocations, but have also proved their determination to defend their interests in it.

KEY ACTORS
Lakkotrypis
>>
Cabinet decision on cooperation framework for Total-ENI will strengthen consortium in technical and economic terms as well as geopolitically.
>> RoC is taking diplomatic and legal measures to tackle Turkish provocation and defend by whatever means its sovereign rights.

Donmez (Turkey’s Energy Minister)
>>
The issue of the East Med hydrocarbons concerns the entire population of Turkey since it is a struggle against those who are bothered by the country’s existence.
>> Warns that Turkey will not back down on natural gas issue.


Akinci: August 9 meeting to clarify Cyprob intentions

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

The papers report that UNSG’s Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar had a meeting on Tuesday with TC leader Mustafa Akinci to brief him on her contacts in New York on the UNFICYP mandate and discuss the August 9 meeting. She is expected to meet President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday.

Akinci said later on, his meeting with Anastasiades is an important one since everything will be made clear as regards the intentions of the two sides.

The dailies cite an announcement by the ‘presidency’ according  to which Akinci discussed with Spehar that the issues of political equality and effective participation in decision-making were clearly part of the UN resolutions but that the GC side is not on board with that and so it would be openly  discussed at the August 9 meeting.

Akinci also said the informal five-party meeting in New York must be well-prepared to avoid creating false hope, while talks must have a timeframe.

He also said he wanted to hear Anastasiades’ vision on the future.

Commenting on statements by Greek Prime Minister Kyriacos Mitsotakis, Akinci said he was hoping to hear more promising messages but unfortunately, the statements were aimed for internal consumption.

Akinci also said that his proposal to set up a joint committee on hydrocarbons is being eyed positively by foreign diplomats, according to the papers.

Phileleftheros reports that UN special envoy Jane Holl Lute and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are waiting for the result of the meeting of the two leaders on August 9. If there are positive developments, Lute is expected to arrive towards the end of August.

The paper also reports that Anastasiades wants to put pressure on Akinci ahead of their meeting since in his latest statements he sent Akinci the message that they will have to go to the meeting having in mind the best interest of the two communities and not serving Turkey’s interests.

The president also wants to send out the message to the other side that it must avoid playing Ankara’s game by putting on the table the energy issue. For the GC side, Akinci’s demand on setting up a joint committee on hydrocarbons is nothing more than satisfying Ankara’s goals, the daily reported.

KEY ACTORS
Akinci
>>
The meeting with Anastasiades is important since everything will be made clear including the views of the GC side on political equality and effective participation in decision making.
>> The five-party meeting in New York must be well-prepared to avoid creating false hope. No to open-ended talks.
>> Disappointed by Mitsotakis’ statements that did not send any hopeful messages but were rather intended for internal consumption.


Greek PM wraps up visit to Cyprus with messages to Turkey

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

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that Greek Prime Minister Kyriacos Mitsotakis, who was in Cyprus on a two-day official visit, sent a message to Turkey that its behaviour would not go unanswered.

During his second day on the island, Mitsotakis had a meeting with Archbishop Chrysostomos, and visited the Imprisoned Graves, the Makedonitissa military cemetery and the ELDYK contingent’s military camp.

During his visit to ELDYK, Mitsotakis addressed the Greek soldiers, saying that offensive behaviour by those who dispute the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus would not be left unanswered.

Most papers reported that the message was addressed to Turkey.

 “Our message is firm, clear and sincere to those who dispute the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus; no offensive behaviour will be left unanswered,” he said. “We always seek peace and reconciliation but we also protect our sovereign rights under international law, and I stress that in this we are not alone.”

Mitsotakis said this was a turbulent period, full of insecurity and volatility with many challenges in the wider region but that Greece and Cyprus have at their side all of the member states of the EU, which had already expressed their support for Cyprus in the face of Turkish activities.

“They have already sent a first clear message that the violation of international law and illegal drilling in the Cypriot EEZ will have a price, and it will negatively affect Euro-Turkish relations,” said Mitsotakis. He added that Europe aside, Greece and Cyprus, have built very strong alliances throughout the region.

He also said Turkey’s rhetorical outbursts and exaggerated and unlawful actions ultimately only serve to isolate and weaken her.

The Greek prime minister said that his presence in Cyprus and in the ELDYK camp signified Greece’s firm support for Cyprus’ absolute right to exploit its natural resources. Athens, he added has always been and “will remain firmly on Nicosia’s side and its efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem”.

The Cyprus Mail reported that all political parties welcomed Mitsotakis’ visit and Greece’s stance on Cyprus but one, EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos who suggested in writing that Mitsotakis increase the number of Greek troops on the island.

“The focus of our proposals is the need to adopt a common national policy with Greece and Cyprus in the context of dealing with Turkish expansionism as effectively as possible,” Sizopoulos said afterwards. This common policy, “which should be formulated as soon as possible”, should be based on three main pillars, he said.

One was a ‘political pillar’ with concrete actions from the UN and EU. The second should be the further upgrading of the island’s energy programmes, and thirdly, a military pillar “because to enable the other two to have credibility, there should be at least rudimentary military support,” he said.

Asked what Mitsotakis thought of his proposal, Sizopoulos said: “I think it is better for the Greek prime minister to give his views. We have been told that the positions we have submitted are very interesting but that he is coming from a different perspective.”

Politis reported that Mitsotakis’ statements during his first official visit as prime minister were clear, especially on the issue of Turkish provocations and the Cyprus problem. He steered clear of extreme positions but rather chose to remain on principled positions, the paper said.

KEY ACTORS
Mitsotakis
>>
Offensive behaviour by those who dispute the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus will not be left unanswered.
>> Greece & Cyprus always seek peace & reconciliation but will protect their sovereign rights under international law if necessary. And they are not alone.
>> Greece & Cyprus have at their side all EU member states who already sent a first clear message that the violation of international law & illegal drilling in the Cypriot EEZ will have a price & will negatively affect Euro-Turkish relations.
>> Greece & Cyprus, have built very strong alliances throughout the region.
>> Turkey, through her rhetorical outbursts and exaggerated and unlawful actions, is causing her own isolation and weakening.
>> His presence in Cyprus signifies Greece’s firm support for Cyprus’ absolute right to exploit its natural resources.
>> Greece has always been and will remain on Nicosia’s side and its efforts to reach a Cyprob solution.

Sizopoulos (EDEK)
>>
Would like to see more Greek troops on the island and a common national policy between Greece and Cyprus to better tackle Turkish expansionism.


EVKAF: GCs can rent Varosha properties

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Property

OVERVIEW

All dailies report on the statements by the head of EVKAF Ibrahim Benter who reiterated during an interview that most of Varosha belonged to the religious foundation and that GC owners of property built on EVKAF land would have the chance to pay rent to use it.

Speaking to Turkish daily Yeni Safak, Benter said that most of Varosha belongs to three vakifs (religious endowments). According to the land registry records of Varosha that were accidentally discovered in 1990, a large part of Varosha belonged to the Abdullah Pasha Foundation, another part belonged to Lala Mustafa Pasha Foundation and a small part to Bilal Aga Foundation, he said.

These documents were submitted in court which ruled that they were vakif properties, he said, adding that a team of experts who could read Ottoman had come to Cyprus in 2009 to study all title deeds dated between 1571 and 1974.

He also said the inventory of the town’s properties would take between six months to a year.

As regards the GCs, he said that there will be a possibility for persons who invested in EVKAF land to rent the property and use it. Those GCs who owned property such as hotels and accept that it sits on vakif land will be given lease contracts so that they can use it after paying rent, the papers quoted him saying.

Dr Atan Atun, a former consultant to the late TC leader Rauf Denktash, told the paper that GCs who worked in the civil service during the British colonial period started forging the land title deeds, especially for the vakifs of Abdullah Pasha and Lala Mustafa in Varosha and land extending up to Larnaca.

He added that in 1915 the British, in violation of Evkaf regulations, allowed those using vakif properties to sell them, despite the fact the vakif properties of Lala Mustafa and Abdullah Pasha were sacred and could not be sold or donated.

The papers also cite media reports in the north quoting TC ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay saying journalists would be allowed in Varosha in due time, as soon as the inventory reached a certain point.

According to Phileleftheros the TCs are upping the pressure on Anastasiades through Famagusta ahead of movement on the Cyprus problem.

Haravgi, under the title, ‘EVKAF: Varosha is for rent instead of return’, reported that Benter, investing on the aggressive policy introduced by Ozersay on intervention in Varosha, insists the land belongs to vakifs but ‘promises’ he would let GCs rent their properties  from EVKAF.

Politis reports that the TC side is attempting to implicate GC owners in the development of the properties it believes belong to EVKAF.

Alithia reports TCs have decided which land belongs to them.


Excavations to locate victims of Tylliria bombings start in September

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Photis Photiou said the cabinet has given the green light for excavations in September at the site of the former Pachyammos hospital in the Tylliria area to find the remains of those killed during the August 1964 aerial bombing by the Turkish air force, the papers report.

The excavations are part of the government programme for the exhumation and identification of remains in the free areas, he said.

Three sites have been identified for excavations, one of which is the former Pachyammos hospital, he said.

“The nursing staff and hospital guards lost their lives in a horrific manner during the bombings at the hospital, which was completely destroyed,” he said, adding that the exact number who died in the hospital is unknown and these cases were not listed as missing persons.

Politis reports that it is believed 13 people died during the hospital bombing.

“As a government we believe we have a legal and moral obligation to deliver the identified remains to the families of those killed in the 1964 Tylliria bombing so they can receive a decent burial according to our religion and traditions,” Photiou said.

He added that the exhumations will be carried out by scientists and genetic researchers from the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics.