GCC Press Review 17 Sep 2019

Front Page Headlines


Explanations by (Finance Minister) Harris (Georgiades) on the state’s buck

He was summoned by parliament for a discussion on priests’ salaries. The state paid more than €140m in salaries. The value of the plots it will receive amounts to €34.5m. It is up to parliament what to do with the bill that updates the 1971 agreement.

  • Flag: It was returned with an apology
  • The paranoia of the invasion – The women who were photographing their home have been freed. Their mobile phones were seized so that the photos they took would be destroyed.
  • Diplomatic episode (with Russia): Warships


They are starting strikes in schools

Decisions by primary and secondary school teachers raise tensions again in education. First a one-hour work stoppage and an ultimatum on escalation of measures.

  • (Government) Studying scenarios to appeal to the Security Council – Coordination on Famagusta.
  • The Archbishop secured a €1m increase in the state grant – Information by the state treasury.


Golden agreement between Chrysostomos-Anastasiades

The agreement between the government and the Archbishop is severely disproportionate for the state, since it will be receiving €34.5m worth of land and is giving a €223.9m grant to priests, according to information submitted yesterday by the state treasury and the land registry to the House finance committee.

  • Representations to or declaration from the Security Council on Famagusta
  • No straying from the BBF (bizonal bicommunal federation)

Cyprus Mail

Plea for EU aid over immigrants

Frontline states Greece and Cyprus call for meaningful action from EU.

  • Father apologises for son’s ‘thoughtless acts’ in stealing Turkish flag in letter to Akinci


The sooner the better

Change to the constitution in no time. The House legal affairs committee is urgently convening on Friday to discuss constitutional amendments so that the parliamentary seat will belong to the parties and not the MPs. The aim is to promote the amendments for approval during the next plenary session.

  • “Sorry” and return of the photo and flag
  • It gave €136.7m and took €34.5m – The state church agreement on priests’ salaries. The finance minister was summoned to parliament to give explanations.
  • First goal the purchase of foreign properties – Turkish plans on Famagusta.
  • UN: We are being guided by relevant Security Council resolutions on Famagusta
  • Another €35.4m to the TCs from the EU Commission – Between 2006 and 2019 they received €555m.

Main News

Government keeps mum on next steps for Varosha

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


The foreign ministry delivered on Monday to President Nicos Anastasiades its report on the options and recourses open to Cyprus within the UN to halt Turkey’s plans on the closed-off town of Varosha but the government is keeping mum on how it will handle the matter, the dailies report.

In the meantime, the UN said they received no formal information from Turkey on plans to open Varosha.

Anastasiades had a meeting on Monday with the Famagusta municipal council whereby he and the foreign minister briefed them on all matters related to Varosha. According to Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou the briefing included the representations, measures and moves being made by the Cyprus government on the issue.

He added that it was decided that there will be full coordination between the government and the municipality on Famagusta to ensure the greatest possible effectiveness of the steps being taken.

Mayor Simos Ioannou said after the meeting the president would raise the issue of Turkish challenges in Famagusta during his speech to the UN General Assembly and with the five permanent members of the Security Council plus the EU.

Ioannou also said his municipality would inform foreign media about the issue, and that a delegation would travel to Brussels on October 14 for meetings with EU officials. He added the council has also proposed an extraordinary meeting of the National Council on Varosha, which he said was accepted by Anastasiades.

The council had also discussed with the foreign minister the possibility of taking measures to prohibit the sale of properties in Varosha. Ioannou also confirmed recent reports that GCs who own property in Famagusta were being approached to sell them. In some cases, Turkish developers were behind some of the foreign buyers.

Politis, citing sources, reported that the government will be present this time in a case to be tried before the European Court of Human Rights concerning GC property in Varosha since the trial’s result will set the tone as regards the claims by EVKAF on the property status of Varosha.

Politis and Phileleftheros report that the government keeps mum as to how it will diplomatically handle the matter of Varosha.

Phileleftheros reported that the foreign ministry’s study records all possible scenarios the Republic can follow and the possible developments for each choice.

According to Politis the Presidential Palace said only there would be announcements in due time on the matter.

Citing sources, the daily reports that recourse can be interpreted in various ways, adding that there have been resolutions on the return of Varosha for years. As such, one cannot rule out the government focusing instead on securing an important statement from the presidency of the UN Security Council.

What the president should make clear is exactly what he will ask for in any eventual appeal, as the question is not just to have a resolution, but also to ensure any implementation of the existing ones, the daily said.

The paper also cited diplomatic sources saying however that correlations within the UN Security Council at the moment may not be particularly positive for the GC side.

Most papers also report on statements by DISY leader Averof Neophytou in response to the ones by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that Anastasiades had brought up a two-state solution as an alternative to the sought-after BBF.

Neophytou said Turkey has always wanted two states on the island. “It is worth asking: If Turkey had such a proposal by any GC, then why did she not shake hands on it?” he said.

The DISY leader had a meeting on Monday with Russian Ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy as part of a series of contacts with the ambassadors of the member states of the Security Council to brief them on the issue of Varosha and Turkish provocations in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In the meantime, the Secretary General’s spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric gave reassurances that the UN is and will continue to be guided by relevant Security Council resolutions on the issue of Varosha. “We’re monitoring the situation closely and continuously,” he said.

He added that the UN has not received formal information on plans to open Varosha but that any UN involvement in planning implementation of potential measures related to the closed-off town “will be guided by the relevant Security Council resolutions”.

Some dailies also report that France has expressed its concern following the recent statements about the opening of the fenced-off city of Famagusta made by the Turkish side, recalling its attachment to the respect of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The French embassy in Nicosia recalled in a statement its attachment to the respect of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, especially resolution 550.

The embassy also recalled France’s “consistent position on the Cyprus question, the reunification of the island in the framework of a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, in accordance with Security Council resolutions and in conformity with the EU acquis.”

Neophytou (DISY)
Asks why Turkey, that was always after a two-state solution, did not take advantage of this alleged proposal by Anastasiades on just  that?

Dujarric (UN)
The UN is monitoring the situation on Varosha closely and continuously. Any UN involvement in planning implementation of potential measures will be guided by the relevant SC resolutions.

French Embassy
>> France is concerned over Turkish statements on the opening of Varosha & is calling for respect of relevant UNSC resolutions.
>> France’s position on the solution of the Cyprob based on a BBF is consistent and in accordance with SC resolutions & the EU acquis.

Bank cuts credit to suppliers of Russian warships

Regional/International Relations, External Security


The decision of a bank in Cyprus to end credit facilities to suppliers of warships docking at Limassol caused a diplomatic episode with Russia, the daily reported.

Citing information, the paper reported that the bank’s move was on the instructions of the Central Bank that was acting based on the provisions of the Menendez-Rubio bill that, among other things, forbids providing services to Russian warships.

But these instructions were applied for the warships of all countries and as a result, the ban affected the supply of the ships of France, Greece and other EU countries.

Sources told Politis, Russian Ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy complained to the foreign ministry which, after seeking clarifications from the lender and the Central Bank, resolved the issue.

The paper said that it also contacted the bank and the Central Bank and was told the issue was over and that as regards Russia, there are interstate agreements in place that are being applied.

The daily recalls that President Nicos Anastasiades had reacted strongly to the amendment of the bill by the two US senators since it tampers with the independence of the Republic.

The Republic of Cyprus provides facilities to warships of many countries, provided they do not engage in offensive actions against countries in the region. In most cases, ships reach ports in Cyprus for crew rest and refuelling, the paper reported.

‘Legal GC owners ought to be respected when visiting homes in north’

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, Property


The dailies report that Morphou Municipality on Monday expressed its satisfaction with the release of two women, mother and daughter, who were arrested on Sunday after taking photos of their home in Morphou.

The two women, aged 52 and 20, were released on Monday after being charged with entering a forbidden military area without permission. Their mobile phones had been seized so that the photos they took would be deleted.

Morphou Municipality said in an announcement that the two women were unjustly arrested for photographing their house, in which a Turkish military officer lives illegally and expressed hope this was the last time such an unacceptable incident takes place.

“We demand due respect to all the legal owners both by those who live illegally in our homes but also by the occupation authorities,” the municipality said.

It also thanked the foreign ministry and the police for their prompt actions that led to the swift solution “of this unacceptable issue created without any cause by the so-called police of the pseudo-state.”

Politis reports that the two women experienced the paranoia of the occupation after being illegally arrested because their home is considered a military area since a Turkish army officer lives there. The paper wrote that their mobile phones were seized and thus the ‘military secrets’ were saved!

Stolen flag and photo returned along with apology letter

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


All dailies report on the apology letter to TC leader Mustafa Akinci by the father of the 16-year-old boy who removed the Turkish flag from a school in Lysi last week.

According to the dailies, the letter, along with the flag and a photo of the late Rauf Denktash was returned to Akinci on Monday by persons close to the boy’s family. They were accompanied by Mufti Talip Atalay and the director of the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process, Salpy Eskidjian. Present at the meeting was also the TC coordinator of the bicommunal Technical Committees, Meltem Onurkan Samani.

According to the letter, which Akinci made public after the 16-year-old’s father asked him to convey the family’s apology to the TC community, the family expresses its deep sorrow for the consequences caused to everyone by the thoughtless acts of their teenage son which they said they condemn.

The man said that both he and his son but also their whole family express their sincerest apologies to those who, justifiably felt sorrow, anger and disappointment by those actions.

He also expressed hope that this would not irreparably disturb the positive climate of understanding and friendship created between GCs and the TCs.

Akinci said that it was very important that the family apologised and recognised their mistake and stressed the importance of the education system in strengthening the culture of peace in both societies, in every field of life.

Citing surveys, the TC leader said that unfortunately, many young GCs are raised as fanatics, especially in schools.

“Young people and communities should respect each other’s symbols and values,” he said, adding that the Technical Committee on Education is working to establish a culture of peace in Cyprus.

Haravgi also reported that ‘prime-minister’ Ersin Tatar took political advantage of the incident through his action to give a new flag to the school in question.

According to Alithia the way has now been paved for defusing the situation. The daily also reported that Tatar, with much fanfare, went to the school from where the flag was stolen to give them a new one. Phileleftheros also reported that Tatar put on a provocative show.

Finds the family’s apology an important step.
>> Education is important in strengthening the culture of peace in both societies and that’s what the Technical Committee on Education is working to establish.
>> Finds unfortunate that many GC youths are raised as fanatics, especially in schools.
>> Believes young people and communities should respect each other’s symbols and values.

State-Church agreement on priests’ salaries under scrutiny

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis


Parliament on Monday censured a 1971 government agreement with the Church of Cyprus according to which the state would be paying half the wages of priests based in rural areas in exchange for church-owned land.

While the government keeps to its part of the agreement and has since 1983 subsidised priests’ salaries to the tune of €136.7m, the church land has not been formally transferred to the state. A government bill is pending in the House that would formalise the land transfer.

The value of the church land in the south of the island to be transferred to the state is €34.5m which is well below the €136m payout so far for priests’ salaries, MPs heard.

The Committee also heard that only 27 per cent of the designated church land is located in the south. The other 73 per cent lies in the occupied areas and its value is estimated at €125m.

According to the Cyprus Mail, in practical terms, the church land in the north is worth zero.

The Committee also heard that the state subsidy will rise over time, since the new bill proposes a €6.7m payout for the salaries of 760 priests for 2020 but by 2029 the annual payout would rise to €7.7m, covering 867 priests.

MPs have asked Finance Minister Harris Georgiades to join them in their next meeting to give explanations on the matter, the papers reported.

EU annual aid programme to TCs announced

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


According to the dailies, the EU Commission on Monday adopted an Annual Action Programme for a total amount of €35.4m identifying new projects to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus.

The objective of the programme is to encourage the economic development of the TC community with particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island, on improving contacts between the two communities and with the EU, and on preparation for the acquis communautaire.

Politis also reports that it provides for significant reinforcement of the technical committees since an amount of €2.5 million for a two-year implementation period was given to the bi-communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage. An additional €2.6m will go to the Committee on Missing Persons for a period of one year, the paper reported.

Alithia reported that another €35.4m was given to the TCs, with funds given to the TC community through the EU Aid programme for projects reaching €555m between 2006 and 2019.

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