GCC Press Review 21 Sep 2019

Front Page Headlines


Coordinated threats on eve of New York

Turkey is determined to block the energy programme. Ten-year plan on the opening of the closed-off town of Famagusta. The government responds with arguments based on international law and UN resolutions.

  • Priests’ salaries: The final act


Positive signs for the second phase of GESY

A positive dialogue was launched between clinics-medical association with HIO (Health Insurance Organisation) for the inclusion of private hospitals (to GESY). After a four-hour dialogue, they are proposing setting up working groups.

  • Turkish menu of demands – Moves on block 7.


Preconditions to reaching solution trajectory

AKEL calls on the two leaders to remain focused on the agreed framework and effort for the relaunch of substantive talks. If the talks restart in the way the UN Secretary-General is suggesting and if all sides truly exhibit political will, then there is realistic possibility to find ourselves on a trajectory towards a solution.

Cyprus Mail

Teacher union snubs parents

Officials from OELMEK (secondary education teachers’ union) walk out of meeting with minister and representatives of parents.


Barrage of threats

The Turkish leadership, enraged, escalates tensions following developments on energy. After the Turkish foreign ministry, the baton was passed to Akar, Oktay but also Erdogan himself, threatening with a repetition of 1974 events, that we will find before us Turkey’s “determination” but also the opening of Varosha for settlement based on documents they possess.

  • Government: Our research in block 7 and everywhere else is based on international law
  • The Turks insist: The Yavuz returns to Cyprus, with a new route, south of Karpasia

Main News

‘Activities in block 7 are Cyprus’ exclusive sovereign right’

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


The dailies on Saturday report on the response by the Cypriot foreign ministry to statements by Turkey’s foreign ministry earlier in the week against operations by foreign countries and companies within the Republic of Cyprus’ offshore block 7, claiming part of it belongs to the Turkish continental shelf.

The signing of a licensing agreement between the Cypriot government and French-Italian energy consortium Total-ENI irked Turkey whose officials on Friday issued a barrage of threats against the GCs’ moves. According to some papers, this is part of Turkish tactics ahead of the New York meetings.

The Cypriot foreign ministry on Friday said Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy’s statement “demonstrates, once more, Turkey’s utter disregard for conventional and customary international law” and its disrespect for the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus over its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In a written statement the ministry said block 7 lies within the EEZ/continental shelf of Cyprus, in a marine area to the southwest of the island, already delimited in 2003 in accordance with international law, between the relevant opposite coastal states, the Republic of Cyprus and Egypt.

“The exploration and/ or exploitation of block 7 is an exclusive sovereign right of Cyprus and does not affect the rights of any third state, including Turkey,” the ministry said.

It added that the signing on Wednesday of the contract for offshore exploration of block 7 with ENI and Total, as well as the other relevant contractual commitments providing for the expansion of Total’s presence in Cyprus’ EEZ/continental shelf, “constitute an undeniable vote of confidence in Cyprus’ energy strategy, especially at this particular juncture, in the midst of the continuing illegal and aggressive Turkish actions.”

The Republic of Cyprus will resolutely continue its policy in the field of hydrocarbons, in full respect of international and European law, the ministry said.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said on Friday that the Turkish ministry’s statements contradict the convergences that have been reached a long time ago in negotiations between the GC and TC sides, which agree that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) would be enforced.

Papers also reported on threats issued by Turkish officials concerning Cyprus’ energy programme.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at a conference in Ankara on the Cyprus problem, warned on Friday that “those who think Cyprus and the region’s wealth belongs only to them would find themselves against Turkey’s and the Turkish Cypriots’ determination.”

Turkey’s Defence Minister Hukusi Akar, echoing Erdogan, said his country has the same determination as in 1974 when it protected the rights of the TCs. Turkey, as a guarantor power has a clear stance as regards the equal distribution of the Eastern Mediterranean’s resources, he said.

Turkish vice-president Fuat Oktay also warned of Turkey’s dynamic response to the unilateral activities of the GCs in hydrocarbon exploration.

He also said Turkey would open Varosha for settlement based on “historic documents”, arguing that the majority of property in the closed-off town belongs to vakifs which, during the British rule were illegally transferred to individuals during the 1950s. He added that the documents of these illegalities have been found in archives.

The dailies also report that the Turkish drillship Yavuz is due to return to the Karpasia area after completing maintenance work off Mersin. Citing Turkish daily Yeni Safak, the papers report that the Yavuz will now operate in a different location than the area where it previously conducted drilling.

According to Politis, the latest spate of statements by Turkish officials on energy seems to be a well-organised game ahead of the meetings next week in New York.

On one hand, the Yavuz departed, while leaks to the media said that the Fatih will also depart within the coming days, which according to sources, could be an effort to render void the argument by the GC side on Turkish violations while an effort on the Cyprus problem is underway. On the other hand, however, Turkey sends out the message that she will remain in the area and in the case no common ground is found for progress, she will continue her activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Phileleftheros reports that a new move on energy by Turkey should be expected soon in response to the government’s agreement with Total and ENI on block 7.

Nicosia believes the sudden withdrawal of the two Turkish drillships is yet another tactical move, the daily reported.

Turkey’s reactions concerning block 7 are not a new thing since it is a block, part of which Ankara has been claiming as her own. According to Turkish maps, Turkey claims up to half of the block in question, thus, apart from statements, according to diplomatic sources, it is not ruled out that she might even make yet another move within the Cypriot EEZ. In such a case, however, this will be much different than in the case of the Yavuz and the Fatih, since Turkey would be entering a block on which the Republic of Cyprus has signed a contract with energy companies. It is not ruled out that such a move would aim at testing the reactions of the energy companies – ENI and Total – but also of the countries involved, Italy and France, Phileleftheros reported.

Turkish foreign ministry’s statements on energy show Turkey’s utter disregard for conventional & customary international law & its disrespect for RoC’s sovereign rights over its continental shelf & EEZ.
>> Block 7 lies within Cyprus’ EEZ/continental shelf in a marine area delimited in 2003 between the RoC & Egypt in accordance with international law thus its exploration/exploitation is an exclusive sovereign right of Cyprus & does not affect the rights of anyone else including Turkey.
>> The RoC will continue its energy policy in full respect of international and European law.

Turkey’s statements contradict the convergences that have been reached a long time ago between the two communities which agree that UNCLOS would be enforced.

Erdogan (Turkey)
Warns that Turkey & TCs will show their determination against those who think Cyprus’ and the region’s wealth belongs only to them.

Akar (Turkey’s Defence Minister)
Tukey is as determined as in 1974 to protect the rights of the TCs.
>> Turkey’s stance, as a guarantor power, is very clear as regards the equal distribution of the East Med’s resources.

Oktay (Turkish VP)
Warns GCs with dynamic response by Turkey to their unilateral activities in hydrocarbon exploration.
>> Turkey will open Varosha for settlement since she found historic documents proving the illegal transfer of vakif land in the closed-off town to individuals during the 1950s

Christodoulides: Agreement on ToR will depend on Turkey

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


Nicosia and Athens are coordinating ahead of the separate meetings in New York of all stakeholders with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as part of his initiative for the two sides to achieve an agreement on the Terms of Reference, the papers report.

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said that developments in New York, however, would depend on Turkey.

Cyprus Mail reported that Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric repeated the UNSG’s statements earlier in the week that he would like to see an agreement on the ToR, for the settlement talks to start. “The Secretary-General’s ambition is to help create conditions that can lead to the start of talks and he looks forward to meeting with all interested parties,” he said.

Haravgi reports that Christodoulides, commenting on Friday on the possibility of an agreement on the ToR after the contacts of all stakeholders with Guterres, said that it will also depend on Turkey’s positions submitted to the UNSG.

Speaking to CyBC, Christodoulides said it has not yet been made clear if there will be a joint meeting between the two leaders and Guterres within October, leaving open the possibility of such a meeting taking place in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

He revealed that UN special envoy Jane Holl Lute will have a meeting with the Greek side and most probably with the other two guarantors in New York.

He said Turkey should address the two issues on which she had publicly positioned herself differently from the intentions of the UN Secretary-General; if she agrees with the continuation of the talks from where they left off in Crans-Montana and on the form of a solution, which must not be anything else other than a bizonal, bicommunal federal solution as per the agreement of the two leaders.

On the issue of Famagusta, Christodoulides said that the president would announce his decision after his working lunch in New York with the five permanent members of the Security Council. He implied, however, that it might be an appeal for a joint statement by the Security Council and not necessarily for another resolution, the daily reports.

The dailies also reported that while in New York, President Nicos Anastasiades will also meet with Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said that the two leaders discussed in a telephone conversation on Friday the Cyprus problem and energy issues, as well as Turkish activities in the region.

They also exchanged views on the forthcoming meetings they will hold in New York, he said. He added that Anastasiades and Mitsotakis agreed to meet after the latter’s meeting with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to Phileleftheros, Ankara has prepared her list of demands on the Cyprus problem which will be promoted during the meetings in New York. This list might be wrapped with TC leader Mustafa Akinci’s wishes such as political equality and guarantees, but what truly Ankara wants is discussion on other forms of a solution. Proof is that it is Turkey currently talking and setting the framework of the next moves and not the TC leader, Phileleftheros said.

Dujarric (UN)
Guterres would like to see an agreement on the ToR, for the settlement talks to start.
>> Guterres looks forward to meeting with all interested parties in New York.

Progress on the ToR will depend on what positions Turkey will submit to the UNSG since she has already declared positions, not in line with those of Guterres
>> Turkey will have to tell Guterres if she agrees with the continuation of the talks from where they left off in Crans-Montana & that the sought solution must be a BBF.