GCC Press Review 2 Sep 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

New York (meeting) depends on Lute’s presence

The UN special envoy is also meeting today with Anastasiades and Akinci. Jane Holl Lute’s meetings with the two leaders (on Sunday) lasted two hours each. There will not be a joint meeting after all, as today’s schedule is the same as yesterday’s.

  • Varosha: TC moves also due to ECHR (European Court of Human Rights)
  • Initiative: Peace Decision on the cards
  • Hybrid threat from Russia
  • ELAM member: Violence… in self-defence

Phileleftheros

She is pushing for a consensus

Jane Holl Lute continues her contacts to achieve the Terms of Reference. New meetings with Anastasiades and Akinci.

  • Tayyip Erdogan’s five moves
  • Historic ties between Cyprus, Greece and Israel (opinion piece)

Haravgi

Three pillars for the Terms of Reference

Jane Holl Lute will hold today new separate meetings with Anastasiades-Akinci in a bid to prepare the Terms of Reference that will create the preconditions for the resumption of talks. In case the terms are agreed, they are expected to include the February 11, 2014 agreement, the Guterres Framework and the convergences reached up to Crans-Montana.

  • Beating of an AKEL official by ELAM (at an event in Pervolia, Larnaca)

Alithia

(Lute) won’t leave unless she closes the deal

Jane Holl Lute is seeing again today the two leaders to seal the final ‘holes’. The possibility of extension of her stay in Cyprus but also of a joint meeting with the leaders remains open. Government Spokesman: “Mrs Lute has instructions and a mandate by the UN Secretary-General and is working to shape the Terms of Reference between the two sides for the talks to resume.”

  • (DISY leader) Averof Neophytou: The resumption of the dialogue is a top priority
  • (Former TC leader) Mehmet Ali Talat put down (TC ‘foreign-minister’ Kudret) Ozersay: “No one recognises you.”

Main News

Lute on a mission to reach ToR with the two sides

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, Energy

OVERVIEW

The visit of UN envoy Jane Holl Lute to Cyprus for a new round of contacts with the two leaders is the main story in all papers on Monday.

According to the dailies, Lute, who already had separate meetings with the two leaders on Sunday, is to meet with them again on Monday in a bid to pave the way for an agreement on the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the resumption of talks and a meeting with the UN Secretary-General.

Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said after President Nicos Anastasiades’ Sunday meeting with Lute that a joint meeting between the two leaders was not ruled out and that Anastasiades was open to this prospect.

The aim remains an agreement on the ToR for the talks to resume. Lute will decide if and how the talks will continue, he said.

He added that Anastasiades presented his positions and his positive approach on the resumption of the talks, noting that he also raised the issue of Turkey’s illegal actions in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the announcements by the Turkish side on the closed-off town of Varosha in Famagusta.

Phileleftheros, citing diplomatic sources, reported that a possible positive development on Monday would pave the way for a meeting between UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the two leaders. The basis for the ToR will be the February 2014 Joint Declaration, all that has been discussed up to Crans-Montana and the convergences achieved during the talks between the two leaders, the daily reported.

Alithia reports that Lute, who is scheduled to depart on Monday evening, might extend her stay on the island to carry on her effort as her goal is not to leave unless she takes an agreement back with her.

The paper also reports that the Presidential Palace is upset over statements made on Saturday by an anonymous government source to the Cyprus News Agency that due to the ongoing illegal Turkish actions in the EEZ and Varosha, the talks are not likely to restart. The same source also expressed doubts as to whether a meeting would take place in New York between Guterres and the two leaders.

These statements have angered the president and his associates since they do not reflect the official line, the daily reported. It added that there was an investigation to find the person behind the statements but no one assumed responsibility.

Politis reported that the new meetings scheduled on Monday do not change Lute’s departure schedule, while there will not be a joint meeting with the two leaders this time. According to the paper, the leaders’ meeting with Guterres in New York will depend on whether the ToR will be drafted. Citing government sources, the paper reported that Lute will decide after Monday’s meetings not only on the process but also if the two leaders will arrive in New York at the end of the month with an agreement in hand.

According to the papers, ruling DISY and main opposition AKEL stressed the importance of dialogue while EDEK expressed reservations as to the followed procedure.

DISY leaders Averof Neophytou said on Sunday that resumption of the dialogue on the Cyprus problem is of the utmost national priority and necessity.

“The Cyprus problem can be resolved only through dialogue,” he said, adding that Turkey, which is to blame for the dead-end, is intensifying her illegal and provocative actions.

AKEL MP Aristos Damianou stressed that low expectations must not be an alibi for not resuming the dialogue on the Cyprus problem.

It is imperative that the dialogue is relaunched with the aim of paving the way for a solution “that would reunite and free our country and our people,” he said. He added that refusal by the GC community to engage in dialogue, giving various excuses such as low expectations would be suicide and a gift to Turkey.

“We hope that informal briefings that foresee the failure of the relaunch of the talks and which media refer to as ‘diplomatic sources’ do not echo the positions of Mr Anastasiades, who must indeed have as a goal for the meetings with Mrs Lute to bear fruit and move on to a meeting with the UNSG and to an informal conference under the UN auspices,” he said.

EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos expressed reservations over the success of a procedure that has been repeatedly tried and failed and which has exposed the Republic of Cyprus to serious risks.

He said that his party has advised Anastasiades that he ought to claim, based on Decision 357 of the UN General Assembly, an international Conference on Cyprus to discuss the international aspect of the Cyprus problem. This would mean full withdrawal of the occupation troops, repatriation of settlers and the return of all refugees, GCs and TCs, to their properties under conditions of security, he said.

In another article, Phileleftheros reports that Turkey escalates provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean. Citing statements by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials but also violations in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, the daily reports that the country is moving full speed ahead to create faits accomplis in the region. Phileleftheros reports that among these actions is a new Navtex by Turkey on new illegal drilling by the Fatih west of Cyprus between September 4 and November 1.

The paper, citing the Greek site, Hellasjoumal.com, reports that Turkey is aiming among other things at: expanding her EEZ and continental shelf up to Egypt and Libya; the direct involvement of Turkish state petroleum company TPAO in energy developments in the East Med; the export of the East Med’s energy resources to Europe but only through pipelines crossing Turkish territory; upgrading the pseudo-state internationally; and promoting plans on Cyprus that will fully serve Turkish interests. The daily said that this includes either new ‘plan Bs’ aimed at partition or for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation which will be based on Turkish claims.

KEY ACTORS
Prodromou
>>
The GCs’ goal is still an agreement on the ToR to pave the way for the resumption of talks.

Neophytou (DISY)
>>
The utmost national priority and necessity is resuming the dialogue on the Cyprob.

Damianou (AKEL)
>>
Warns that avoiding a dialogue on the Cyprob over low expectations as to its outcome would be suicide for the GCs and a gift to Turkey.
>> AKEL hopes Anastasiades’ aim in his meetings with Lute is to have a trilateral meeting with Guterres, followed by an informal conference under UN auspices.

Sizopoulos (EDEK)
>>
 Believes the current procedure will not be successful citing past failures & wants to see an international Conference on Cyprus to discuss the international aspect of the Cyprob.


Varosha moves also linked with GC property claims at ECHR

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Property, Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

Politis reports that recent moves by the TCs and Turkey on Varosha are not only due to the upcoming ‘presidential elections’ in the north but also the cases filed by GCs before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which could cause the collapse of the Immovable Properties Commission (IPC).

The daily reports that both Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides and Turkey’s former permanent representative to the Council of Europe, Daryal Batibay, had linked on separate occasions moves on Varosha with the problems faced by the IPC.

Citing an interview of Batibay last week with Havadis, the daily reports that that the former diplomat called on the TC ‘supreme court’ to rescind its decision to recognise EVKAF as an interested party in property claims by GCs on Varosha so that the IPC could examine the some 500 applications before it concerning the closed-off town. The paper also reported that developments at the ECHR threaten the IPC with collapse due to the 500 property claims concerning Varosha.

Batibay said that the decision ought to be annulled before November 4 when the ECHR is expected to receive the positions of all interested parties in the case filed by GC company KV Mediterranean against Turkey. In the case the ‘court decision’ is not annulled and if the ECHR rules in favour of the complainant, this would allow the GC side to argue that the IPC is not an effective means of restitution of GCs’ property rights, he said, according to Politis.

Politis reports that the EVKAF excuse, which allowed Turkey for so many years not to make decisions through the IPC on GC properties in Varosha, is running out. As such, Turkey and the TCs appear to be speeding up procedures to reopen the town so that the IPC will be able to offer treatment to claimants, thereby reducing Turkish compensation to the GCs.

The dailies also report on an interview by former TC leader Mehmet Ali Talat with Yeni Duzen in which he criticised the ‘government’ on the way it is handling the Varosha case. He also slammed ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay for not having the legitimacy to discuss the issue with international actors. Talat said that only the ‘president’ could do that, the papers reported.

He also proposed an autonomous administration in Varosha, arguing that decisions ought to be taken based on international law. Talat further said that TC leader Mustafa Akinci ought to be more active in the international scene, arguing that the international community does not recognise the TC ‘foreign minister’.

Alithia reported that Talat’s intervention was an important one, noting that he put down Ozersay with the argument that no one recognises him.


Suspicion over role of Russian Orthodox church operating in north

Politis
Regional/International Relations, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The daily said that recent reports on the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church of northern Cyprus seem to have far more significant dimensions than those imagined, citing sources that link the church with the Russian secret services.

The paper, citing a recent article by the Cyprus Daily News, a news outlet which is mainly addressed to Russian-speaking people living in Cyprus, reports that there is interesting information on the background of the church in question which operates with the blessings of the occupation authorities.

According to the paper, the ‘Russian Orthodox Church of Northern Cyprus’ is part of the Russian Orthodox Church overseas which was established after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution following the repression of religion by the state.

After 1943 however, when Stalin allowed the operation of some churches under strict state control, several priests began operating as KGB agents, the daily reported. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian secret services continued to place clergy within the Russian Orthodox Church overseas to exert control and policies.

The Cyprus Daily News reported that one of those clerics is a bishop who swore in Alexey Ivanov, a priest who now works as a cleric in Kyrenia and who seems to have close ties with the Russian secret services. A source told the media outlet that the ‘Russian Orthodox Church of Northern Cyprus’ is under the control of the Russian secret services, with the apparent aim to have the 10,000 to 15,000 Russians that live in the occupied areas under their control.

Reports also said that a former Cypriot political party leader had met several times with Ivanov during his visits to the north and that business men who live in the free areas help Ivanov financially, Politis reported.

It also reported that two businessmen, one Russian and one GC, have funded the restoration of churches the ‘Russian Orthodox Church of Northern Cyprus’ has been illegally using.

The Cyprus Daily News also reported that another Cypriot businessman who works for the Russian secret services is visiting Ivanov regularly, according to Politis.


New peace advocacy group up and running

Politis
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

A group of prominent GCs have formed a new initiative aimed at helping the peace process on the island, the paper reports.

The Peace Decision Initiative wants to convey the message of the necessity of a solution and provide thorough information on the bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution.

Among its members are former Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, former Minister of Finance and Famagusta Mayor Kikis Kazamias and former MP and Attorney-general Alecos Markides.

The group is to hold a press conference later in the week to present their positions and actions.


ELAM-AKEL spat over fracas between their members

Haravgi, Politis
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The dailies report on a complaint filed by an AKEL member during the weekend against an ELAM community councillor who allegedly hit him during an event organised by the Pervolia council. ELAM however denies the claims.

Haravgi reported that AKEL’s Larnaca district committee said in an announcement it condemns the beating of one its members by an ELAM community councillor.

According to Politis, ELAM said in an announcement this was a lie and that it was AKEL’s members who had verbally attacked the community councillor in question after the event and had hurled threats at him and tried to hit him despite the fact he was there with his family. The party said the councillor was forced to push back one of them, a move which AKEL had branded as a “beating”, ELAM said.

The far-right party said the reason for the attack of its councillor was that in the past he had reported a number of scandals involving AKEL community councillors.