GCC Press Review 18 Sep 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Parties of MPs or MPs of parties?

Discussion on the ownership of parliament seats has been sparked among parties. DIKO will ask for priority to be given to the regulation of the 56th seat. Only with voluntary departure from the party will MPs lose their (parliament) seat.

  • Auditor-general: He wants to know about (AKEL MEP) Niyazi (Kizilyurek)’s leave (from the University of Cyprus)
  • The Yavuz went to Mersin
  • Title deeds: Refugees are left waiting
  • The deck of cards is being shuffled – Reshuffling changes DISY.

Phileleftheros

Action plan for Famagusta

Axis of actions by Nicosia for addressing Turkish actions. Evidence before the UN for 145 aeronautical violations in June.

  • Turkish provocations at all levels
  • The end for Mackenzie (estate) by the Supreme Court

Haravgi

Stubbornness in education brings strikes

(Secondary education teachers’ union) Oelmek’s decision for a one-hour work stoppage on September 25 and escalation of strike measures is focusing on four issues: Four-monthly exams and timeframes, air-conditioning, pensions and timely staffing. The measures will escalate with strikes during the days of the four-monthly exams in case the education ministry insists on its decisions.

  • Doublespeak on Famagusta from those ruling
  • An Archbishop-president agreement based on quid pro quo (on priests’ salaries)

Cyprus Mail

Hoteliers sound alarm over Brexit

Warning comes on eve of visit to Cyprus by the UK’s Brexit Secretary Barclay.

Alithia

(UK) We want a SAY and ROLE in the talks to the maximum level

British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie talks to Alithia. We want anything going on in Varosha, now or in the future, to be compatible with the UN Security Council resolutions. There are no other alternative Cyprus problem solution models. The only solution is the BBF. We should first look at negotiations for a solution, he responded to a question on the EEZ (exclusive economic zone) which he ignored without any comment. Famagusta, from an opportunity for the Cyprus problem solution, has been turned into an obstacle for the solution.

  • Occupied areas: Tensions over the flag are being defused – Akinci in the role of fireman.
  • Yavuz: It has left, but why?
  • Difficult and complex matter: Appeal for Famagusta to the Security Council.

Main News

Lillie: There are no suitable alternatives to BBF solution

Alithia
Regional/International Relations, Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

In an exclusive interview with Alithia and Omega TV, UK High Commissioner to Cyprus Stephen Lillie said his country, as a guarantor power, wants to have a role in the negotiations process and that there is no other alternative than the bizonal, bicommunal federal solution (BBF).

Alithia reports that Lillie ignored the question on the UK’s position on Turkey’s actions in the Cypriot EEZ at a time when the two leaders and UN envoy Jane Holl Lute were trying to find a way to resume talks, and said we must first look at the talks for a solution.

Responding to that question, Lillie said the UK continues to support the negotiations process for a BBF solution based on all UN resolutions.

 “We do not believe there are other suitable alternative solution models. We must focus on the BBF and the creation of a positive climate for the resumption of talks,” Lillie told the paper.

He added it was good that Lute visited Cyprus and, despite no agreement was reached on the Terms of Reference, it is positive that the two leaders met with Lute.

“This gives us hope for progress,” he said.

He also said it is important for actions that poison the atmosphere and make progress more difficult to be avoided.

On whether this was a message to Turkey, he said it is a clear message that the UK wants the talks to restart and will do what it can to support this procedure.

If the talks restart we will participate in the procedure to the maximum level, he said according to the paper.

He said the UK, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC), wants, anything that is going on in Varosha to be compatible with the resolutions of the UNSC. How the issue will be discussed at the UNSC, however, will also partially depend on the way Cyprus will decide to address the matter as part of the representations it is contemplating to the UNSC.

Anything that is going on in Varosha must be in cooperation with the UN, he said.

In cases when states violate UN resolutions, he said, the difficulty lies in that it concerns issues of international law and international procedures and it is a prerequisite for the Security Council to conclude that the resolutions have been violated.

“Until the Security Council does this, I can’t say what will happen,” he said.

He added that the important thing is that Varosha has often been seen in the past as an opportunity to help progress towards a settlement of the Cyprus issue which was good, but when the Varosha issue began to hamper progress and cause disagreement between the Cypriot sides and the other parties involved, this is not something good.

As regards the UK’s position on the abolition of guarantees, he said as long as the UK remains a guarantor power it fully assumes its responsibility as such and participates in full in the Cyprus problem settlement process.

If in the future the rest of the guarantor powers and the two Cypriot sides want the Treaty of Guarantee terminated, the UK will have no reason to disagree, he said.

As regards relations with Cyprus, Lillie said the two countries’ ties are historic and despite the fact there might be some challenges ahead due to Brexit, there are many reasons for optimism.

He said the UK would gladly further strengthen its defence cooperation with Cyprus which has gradually been enhanced.

 Cyprus is an important and respected country in the Mediterranean region, he said, adding that it forges ties with many neighbouring states and speaks of regional developments “and we think that it is a very good idea to develop our own cooperation and dialogue with Cyprus on the issue of defence and security.”

He added Cyprus has been a force of security and democracy in a traditionally unstable region.

Lillie said the UK that has very close cooperation with Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Greece could find synergies between what it does and what Cyprus does which would be good for stability in the region and security in Europe.

On the UK’s participation in the trilateral cooperation agreements created by Cyprus, he said it is something worth considering but what’s more important is reinforcing dialogue and cooperation between Britain and Cyprus and the rest of the states in the region.

The daily will publish the second part of the interview with Lillie which is on Brexit, the halloumi issue and the British Bases.

KEY ACTORS
Lillie (UK)
>>
UK supports process for a BBF solution based on all UN resolutions. There are no other suitable alternatives to the BBF.
>> While no agreement was reached on the ToR, the leaders’ meeting with Lute was a positive and encouraging step for progress.
>> Actions that poison the atmosphere and hinder progress must be avoided.
>> UK wants talks to restart & will do what it can to support this procedure in which it wants to play a role to the maximum level.
>> Any actions concerning Varosha must be compatible with the resolutions of the UNSC & in cooperation with the UN.
>> Varosha, from an opportunity to help push for a solution, is now hampering progress.
>> UK will not object to abolition of Treaty of Guarantees if this is what the other guarantors and the two sides in Cyprus want.
>> UK is interested in further enhancing defence cooperation with Cyprus.
>> Believes reinforcing dialogue and cooperation between Britain and Cyprus and the rest of the states in the region is important.


Appeal to UN on Varosha not an easy task

Alithia, Phileleftheros
Regional/International Relations, Negotiations Process, Territory, Property

OVERVIEW

While President Nicos Anastasiades seems to have decided on how the government will seek UN involvement as regards the issue of the closed-off town of Varosha, nothing will be announced until after it’s done, the papers report.

In the meantime, the government will carry on with contacts to brief as many members of the international community as possible on the matter.

Alithia reported that a possible recourse sought by Cyprus at the UN level on Varosha will not be an easy, simple procedure since, according to the report submitted to Anastasiades by the foreign ministry on Monday, there are many difficulties but also serious risks that need to be carefully assessed to avoid possible complications.

Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides told Omega TV the president has already decided on the issue of the appeal to the UN but that announcements would be made after the handling of the issue is completed.

The paper also reports that efforts by Cypriot MEPs to push for the issue to be discussed in the European Parliament’s plenum are being met with resistance, indicating the difficulties faced in promoting the Varosha issue on the international scene. Reactions to those efforts point to the fact that efforts are currently underway to resolve the Cyprus issue.

Phileleftheros reports that Nicosia will focus on specific actions to address Turkish plans on Varosha, utilising UN resolution 550 which says that an attempt for the settlement of Varosha by persons other than its inhabitants is unacceptable and calls for the transfer of this area under UN administration.

After the UN spokesman stated that they have not received any official information concerning Varosha, Nicosia reached the conclusion that the UN Secretary-General will raise the issue during his meeting in New York next week with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, the paper reports.

President Nicos Anastasiades and Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides are expected to raise the issue of Varosha during their New York contacts, while at the same time Cyprus and Greece have asked that the issue is discussed next month at the European Council.

According to the daily, Nicosia wants to send out the message that Anastasiades has taken several initiatives over time which were met with reluctance by the TC side.

Phileleftheros, in another article, reports that Cyprus submitted to the UN a 12-page list of evidenced violations by Turkey in the Republic’s sea and air space during June.

According to the document, 145 incidents have been recorded just in June; 112 concern violations of the Republic’s airspace and 33 Cyprus’ sea area, the daily reported.

These violations concern flights by Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles and the presence of Turkish warships, linked with the operations of Turkey’s drilling activities off Cyprus, the daily reported.


Varosha hotel owners mobilise against Turkish plans

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Property, Territory

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that owners of abandoned hotels and tourist resorts in the fenced-off town of Varosha have decided to take action, starting with updating their legal titles of ownership.

During a meeting on Monday called by the hoteliers’ association Pasyxe, it was agreed that, as a first step, title deeds must be updated, to ensure that everyone is properly listed.

Head of Pasyxe Haris Loizides said the meeting was called so that the association’s members could exchange information over recent developments in Varosha, and clarify whether they had received any offers for the sale of their property. Pasyxe has 34 registered members who own around 50-60 Varosha properties, Loizides said.

“We will remain in contact with the state to see what other measures and mobilisations we can take,” he said.

Regarding recent talk of foreign buyers approaching GC owners of property in Varosha, Loizides said that none present at the meeting tabled any evidence of such actions.

He added that there is a sense of disquiet because Famagusta was suddenly transformed from a dormant issue into one where negative moves were being made.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides was informed of the outcome of the meeting and agreed to attend the second, set to take place in the coming days, he said.

The dailies report that some Pasyxe members had filed cases with the European Court of Human Rights years ago.

Asked whether more members would file cases with ECHR, Loizides said they have not reached that point yet.

Haravgi reports that this is the first time refugee hoteliers are mobilised.


Questions over early departure of Yavuz drillship

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Energy, External Security

OVERVIEW

All dailies report that the Turkish drillship Yavuz, previously operating off Karpasia, has left the area and is now off the coast of Mersin, despite the fact it was supposed to wrap up operations at the end of the month.

The dailies, citing Turkish news agency IHA, report that the Yavuz has completed the first round of drilling and is now off Mersin in southern Turkey for refuelling while awaiting instructions on whether to return to Cyprus or not.

Alithia reports that Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said on Tuesday there was no official announcement by Turkey.

The daily asks whether there are other reasons behind this move such as difficulties in continuing its operations or whether it is a manoeuvre by Turkey. Alithia said that one of the reasons could be Turkish manoeuvres ahead of the UN General Assembly and the expected procedures on the Cyprus problem. The drillship’s departure could be presented by the Turkish side as its contribution to easing the tension in the Cypriot EEZ and creating a conducive climate, the paper said.

Alithia and Politis report that the foreign ministry said it would announce its conclusions concerning the Yavuz after studying all the information it has acquired.

Some of the dailies also report that the Turkish armed forces launched the ‘Determination 2019’ (Kararlilik) live-fire exercise which is taking place in the Mediterranean and the Aegean.

Phileleftheros has classed both moves as part of the latest menu of Turkish provocations in Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.


Flag issue considered closed

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that TC leader Mustafa Akinci delivered the flag and photo taken by a GC 16-year-old boy from a school in Lysi.

Some of the papers reported that now the issue is closed.

Akinci met the headmaster of the Lysi school and delivered to him a flag and a photo of former TC  leader Rauf Denktash that were sent to him on Monday along with an apology letter from the father of the 16-year old.

According to the dailies, the flag and photo were not the ones the boy stole from the school, but the headmaster said the important thing was the apology and remorse expressed by the boy and his family.

“Apologising is a virtue,” Akinci said, adding that this is how he would like the TC community to view the apology by the 16-year-old’s family.

He also said it was very important to show respect, individually and collectively, to each other’s symbols and values. “We are obliged to do this, and this can be achieved through the transmission of peace education and peace culture,” he said. He reiterated that the Technical Committee on Education was working in this direction. He also reiterated that according to surveys, there is widespread fanaticism among young people, referring to the attacks by GC pupils on cars with TC licence plates and or on TCs in the south of the island. These incidents should be punished, he said.

Noting that the father of the headmaster of the school in Lysi is also listed as a Turkish Cypriot missing person and his remains have not yet been identified, Akinci said that those who have gone through this pain know the value of peace and do not want the younger generations of Cyprus to have similar experiences.

The headmaster, Sozer Ozkaramehmet, said that as educators, they were not teaching TC pupils to attack religious symbols, the flag or other values of the other community and made a plea to the Greek Cypriot side to reassess its educational system.

Phileleftheros reported on the story under the title, ‘He sees fanaticism only among the GCs’.

According to Alithia, the tensions caused by the flag issue are being defused with Akinci acting as the fireman. The paper did not rule out the possibility of the ‘arrest warrant’ issued against the 16-year-old being annulled and the case closed.

Politis reported that the flag issue is now closed.


Customs: Appliances violating EU safety standards will not pass crossings

Alithia
CBMs, Economy

OVERVIEW

Alithia reports that a circular by the Customs department to its employees working at the crossings calling on them to only allow the transport from the occupied areas of electric appliances bearing the CE marking had initially caused panic among GC import companies.

This was due to the misconception that these instructions were paving the way for the transport to the free areas of truckloads of electric appliances coming from Turkey. GC import companies feared an economic blow caused by unfair competition.

After inquiries by the paper, it emerged that the instructions to the Customs officials concern the transport of small electric appliances by individuals and which do not exceed €260 in value as per the Green Line Regulation.

The officials were also instructed not to allow the transport of electric appliances that do not bear the CE marking for reasons of consumer safety. In the case they come across appliances not bearing that marking, officials were asked to keep it there and notify the state electromechanical services. The same applies for cases when non-standard appliances come with a document by the TC Chamber of Commerce, based on the Green Line Regulations, the daily reported.

Deputy head of the state electromechanical services Markos Markou told Alithia that the aim of the circular is for more checks at crossings to prevent the transfer to the free areas of appliances and other materials that do not fulfill the necessary safety standards.


Supreme Court upholds demolition order for Mackenzie Estate

Alithia, Phileleftheros
Property

OVERVIEW

According to the papers, the appeal by the company running the Mackenzie Estate against a court decision for the demolition of its events hall was rejected by the Supreme Court.

The company had filed to the Supreme Court a request for the cancellation of the order concerning the demolition of the premises and its return to the TC owners of the plot on which the Mackenzie Estate was built. It was leasing the land from the TC properties Guardian.

The company’s appeal was based on the position of infringement of the principles of natural justice since, as a non-party to the proceedings, it had no opportunity to be heard and to defend itself.

The property, that belonged to a TC man, came into the possession of the Republic in 1975 and in 1991 it was taken over by the TC properties Guardian which the court ruled was illegal, following the outcome of two lawsuits filed against the Republic by the heirs of the deceased TC owner.

The government had accepted that the property in question did not fall into the category of properties which, by law, could be managed by the Guardian, the papers report.

According to the papers, the Supreme Court ruling is the final curtain for the Mackenzie Estate.