GCC Press Review 19 Sep 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Doctors exit from hospitals

The walkouts in state hospitals continue. Sixteen family physicians turn their backs on the state (healthcare sector). Weakening of primary care and loss of income.

  • Terms of Reference: Pressure from Guterres
  • Natural gas: Reinforced due to Total
  • They (I the Citizen party) used fake research (on the Russian Church in the north)

Phileleftheros

French axis in the EEZ

Nicosia fortifies her research programme with Total. The French giant, apart from block 7, also enters blocks 2, 3, 8 and 9.

  • They are speeding up the construction of an electricity cable from Turkey – On Cavusoglu’s instructions.

Haravgi

An agreement on the Terms of Reference is urgently needed

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed hope for the start of substantive negotiations on the Cyprus problem which, this time, must be different than in the past. It is time we at least agree on the Terms of Reference based on the work done, mainly in Crans-Montana.

  • Flirting with two states facilitates Turkey
  • Photo competition on the common folk tradition of GCs and TCs

Cyprus Mail

No-deal Brexit bad for Cyprus

Britain warns no-deal Brexit would disrupt business links.

  • Guterres tells leaders to agree on terms for talks

Alithia

No pay rises or hiring

2020 budget – Stop by (Finance Minister) Harris (Georgiades). Restraint measures on employment and the level of allowances, compensation and financial benefits.

  • Signatures on the five blocks – Important development in the Republic of Cyprus’ energy programme. Licensing of block 7 to companies Total and ENI was agreed as well as giving Total a share of ENI’s rights on blocks 2, 3, 8 and 9.
  • Antonio Guterres: It is time we agreed at least on the Terms of Reference

Main News

Guterres: ToR must be agreed soon, UNSC losing patience

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, Energy

OVERVIEW

All dailies report on the call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the two sides to quickly reach an agreement on the Terms of Reference (ToR) in order to start talks.

During a press conference ahead of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, Guterres said: “It’s very important to quickly come to an agreement on the terms of reference to be able to start substantial talks that this time I would hope would be different from all past ones. So that is the message I will convey to all the leaders that I will meet,” he said.

He said it was time to at least agree on the terms of reference, based on the work that was done, namely at Crans-Montana, “because I’m a strong believer that the political process needs to be restarted and I think that is also very important for the parties.”

“I see a lot of impatience, namely the Security Council with the fact that there has been no progress. So I believe that there are very good reasons for the parties to understand that at least on terms of reference they need to come to an agreement,” Guterres said.

According to Politis it does not seem Guterres’ contacts in New York on the Cyprus problem will be a typical procedure as his statements show that he will not allow for time to pass unutilised. His statements also seem to be an indirect answer to what Turkey has been declaring lately concerning a change in the procedure, the daily said.

UN and diplomatic sources did not rule out contacts by UN envoy Jane Holl Lute during the presence of all stakeholders in New York for another effort to agree on the ToR, the paper reported.

Phileleftheros’ main Cyprus problem-related item was on statements by President Nicos Anastasiades who, according to the paper, keeps mum as to how he intends on responding to Turkey’s provocations. However, he chose to send out specific messages regarding the next steps on the Cyprus problem, noting for example that if Turkey insists on her strategy of provocations, then there can be no negotiations.

In an interview with Associated Press, Anastasiades stressed that for the talks to resume Turkey must end her illegal actions in Cyprus’ EEZ and end threats concerning the settlement of Varosha.

He also said he could not conceive linking the energy programme of a sovereign country with the illegal acts of another country within the EEZ of the former based on the logic ‘you suspend your energy programme and we will suspend our interventions in the Republic of Cyprus’ EEZ’.

“Such a thing would equate legality with illegality or would put into question the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus,” he said.

The paper reported Anastasiades also sent messages during an event last Tuesday organised by China’s embassy in Nicosia where he called on the international community to condemn the recent statements on the opening of Varosha which is against UN Security Council resolutions 550 and 789. The daily also reported that the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis has been dispatched to the Eastern Mediterranean escorted by a frigate of the Turkish navy.

KEY ACTORS
Guterres (UN)
>>
Wants agreement on the ToR so there can be substantial talks which would be, hopefully, different from all past ones.
>> It is very important, also for the parties, that the political process restarts.
>> It is time to at least agree on the ToR based on the work that was done, namely at Crans-Montana.
>> The SC is getting very impatient over lack of progress which should be a good enough reason for the parties to realise they need to agree at least on the ToR.

Anastasiades
>>
There can be no talks unless Turkey ends her illegal actions in Cyprus’ EEZ & threats on the settlement of Varosha.
>> One cannot link the RoC’s energy programme with the illegal acts of Turkey’s in Cyprus’ EEZ as it would put into question the sovereign rights of the RoC.
>> Wants international community to condemn Turkish actions in Varosha.


France’s Total expands presence in EEZ

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

OVERVIEW

According to the papers, the government on Wednesday signed agreements with France’s Total and Italy’s Eni for exploration in block 7 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

For the block 7 licence, the two companies now have a share of 50 per cent each. In addition, Total received from ENI a share in blocks 2, 3, 8 and 9.

With the new contracts, ENI remains the major stakeholder in 2, 3 and 9 with a 60 per cent stake in block 2, 50 per cent in block 3 and 60 per cent in block 9. Total now owns 20 per cent, 30 per cent and 20 per cent respectively in the same blocks, while Kogas continues to hold 20 per cent in each.

The contracts were signed by Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis in Nicosia with representatives of the two companies in the presence of the ambassadors of France and Italy.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Lakkotrypis said this was an important development in the government’s energy programme.

“Today’s development strengthens the consortiums in Cyprus’ EEZ, technically, economically and geopolitically,” he said.

He said the timing of the next round of exploratory drilling was currently being discussed with the energy companies. Cyprus expects nine exploratory and appraisal wells to be carried out by the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020, and over the next 24 months.

“We are within the timetables we have set. It may be a couple of weeks, mostly due to other developments in geophysical studies, the bad weather we’ve had, and some other minor delays. We are on a timetable and as soon as we are ready, we will announce them,” he said.

Phileleftheros reports that the agreement has reinforced Nicosia’s efforts to fortify its energy programme against Turkish threats in the Cypriot EEZ. The French energy giant Total’s presence also in blocks 2, 3, 8 and 9 is a very important move for Nicosia since, together with the firm support of the French government and the agreement between the two countries within the framework of PESCO, they are the pillars on which the government wishes to base the continuation of its research programme in its EEZ. Total’s presence further strengthens the French presence in the maritime area of ​​Cyprus and is seen as a deterrent to any aspirations by Turkey to hinder investigations, as happened in the case of ENI in block 3 in February 2018, the paper reported.

Politis also reports on the fortification of the Republic’s energy plans after the agreement was signed which comes at a critical period. According to the paper, the French giant officially acquires a dominant role in the Republic’s EEZ licensed blocks which, among other things, reinforces geostrategically Nicosia’s energy moves.

In another article, Phileleftheros reports that Turkey is pushing for expediting the construction of an electricity cable to the occupied areas.

Citing sources, Phileleftheros reported that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has given instructions towards that direction, while he has asked for regular briefings on the progress of the final studies on the project so that he can make arrangements for decisions concerning releasing funds for its implementation. The project concerns a 90-kilometre cable between Akkuyu and Klepini in the occupied areas, where the high-powered electricity grids are located which are also interconnected with the free areas, the paper said.

The Turkish moves aim to take advantage of the delays in the construction of the EuroAsia Interconnector which is to connect the electricity grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece, Phileleftheros reported.

KEY ACTORS
Lakkotrypis
>>
The agreements are an important development in Cyprus’ energy programme & strengthen the consortiums in Cyprus’ EEZ, technically, economically and geopolitically.


‘Brexit will not negatively affect Cypriots living in bases or halloumi exports’

Alithia
EU Matters, Regional/International Relations, External Security

OVERVIEW

In the second part of the exclusive interview with Alithia and Omega TV, UK’s High Commissioner to Cyprus Stephen Lillie says Brexit will not affect the lives of Cypriots living in the bases, while there will not be an increase in halloumi export costs to the UK.

Lillie said the British Bases are very important to the UK and they play an important role in European security.

One of Britain’s goals is for Brexit not to affect the military efficiency of the bases, he said.

Lillie also gave reassurances that Brexit would not affect the lives of some 11,000 Cypriot citizens living there.

In response to a question on voices calling on the UK to either pay for the use of the bases areas or leave, Lillie said they need to read the Treaty of Establishment.

As regards the loss of the halloumi trademark in the UK, he said that was a legal matter between the Cypriot government and some British Cypriot halloumi producers in the UK and that the British government is not involved.

As regards trade relations post-Brexit, he said the main product Cyprus is concerned about is halloumi since 40 per cent of exports go to the UK. He said there will not be duties on halloumi.

At least for halloumi exporters, the export cost to the UK will not increase, he said.

He also expressed the opinion that either with a deal or a no-deal Brexit, Britain and Cyprus will continue to have strong relations.

KEY ACTORS
Lillie (UK)

>> The bases are very important for the UK & contribute to European security.
>> UK wants the bases to retain their military efficiency post-Brexit.
>>
Urges those questioning legitimacy of British Bases to read the Treaty of Establishment.


‘IPC ridden with systemic problems’

Alithia
Property, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The daily reports that a memorandum by the Cyprus government to the Council of Europe ahead of a discussion next week by the Committee of Ministers regarding the property rights of enclaved GCs and their heirs points out that the ‘Immovable Property Commission’ (‘IPC’) faces systemic problems. Nicosia argues that only a fraction of applications concerning properties in the Karpasia peninsula have been concluded until now.

It also said that the number of people affected by continuing violations is big, as there were around 20,000 enclaved after the invasion.

Since 2008, only 422 applications have been filed with the IPC relating to properties in the Karpasia region, Nicosia said. Pointing out that only 43 of those applications have been completed and a further 12 withdrawn, the Cypriot government said that this was indicative of systemic problems within the IPC, to which Turkey offers no explanation.

Nicosia also expressed concern that Turkey has failed to pay the €90m which were awarded in favour of the victims of her conduct as per the May 2014 European Court of Human Rights decision.

Of those, €60m are for the enclaved and €30m for the relatives of missing persons.

The Cyprus government also points to the continuing violation of the property rights of enclaved persons and calls on Turkey to provide information and details on a number of points raised before the Committee in a previous memorandum by the Republic of Cyprus.
Nicosia also said the enclaved persons are a highly vulnerable group, who face conditions of high surveillance in the occupied areas. The problems faced by these persons are indifference by the ‘authorities’, obscure and time-consuming procedures, exorbitant legal fees and expenses, undue delays due to their GC origin, and lack of legal aid, the document said, according to the daily.

KEY ACTORS
Republic of Cyprus
>>
The IPC’s inability to successfully process all applications concerning properties in Karpasia proves the organisation is suffering from systemic problems.
>> Wants Turkey to pay the €90m awarded by the ECHR to the enclaved and relatives of missing persons.
>> The enclaved are faced with numerous problems in the north while their property rights are still being violated.


Teacher arrested over alleged rough handling of TC pupil

Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

According to Politis, the education ministry has requested a probe into the alleged physical abuse of a nine-year-old TC pupil by his teacher in Limassol.

The teacher was arrested on Wednesday after the boy’s grandfather and guardian reported to the police that his grandson had been pushed by his teacher and hit his head on the wall. The incident began when the teacher threw away an ice pack the boy was using for his headache which prompted the pupil to swear at him. The teacher, according to the police report, then took the boy into his office and pushed him hard causing him to hit the wall hurting his head. The boy was examined by a state pathologist and was found to have a bump on his head. Police are investigating the cause of the boy’s injury. The boy told police the teacher threatened him that if he reported the incident he would harm him.

Phileleftheros reported that the teacher grabbed the boy by the shirt after he hurled curses at him and pushed the boy, causing him to hit his head on the wall.

The teacher, who was released later in the day after being charged, denied using violence against the boy.

Primary teachers’ union POED also said things did not exactly happen as they have been reported.


Remote school wants permit to travel across island via north

Haravgi
CBMs, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

According to the paper, the Kato Pyrgos gymnasium in the Tylliria area has called on Wednesday during a meeting of the House education committee for permanent permission for its pupils to be able to pass through the occupied areas escorted by their teachers when necessary to shorten distances.

The request concerns the demand by the school for its pupils to have equal opportunities in education just as the ones living in the cities.


Photo competition aims to highlight common folk tradition

Haravgi
Human Rights, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

The daily reports that AKEL’s rapprochement office, in cooperation with the party’s representatives to the European United Left–Nordic Green Left, is organising a photo competition on Cyprus’ traditional professions.

The competition, that was launched on Wednesday and will end on October 20, aims to highlight the common folk tradition of Cypriots through the photos of both GCs and TCs but also other residents of the island.

A bi-communal committee will choose the best 12 photos which will be included in a calendar for 2020 to be published by AKEL and the European United Left–Nordic Green Left.

The best photos will be also exhibited in Nicosia and at the European Parliament in Brussels.