GCC Press Review 26 Sep 2019

Front Page Headlines

Politis

The Cyprus problem in the shadow of migrant flows

The Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting took place in a positive climate. Support by US on Varosha and BBF (bizonal, bicommunal federal) solution. Backstage consultations by Lute on the Terms of Reference.

Phileleftheros

They are setting up games to create impressions

The Turks in New York talk of a pre-agreement aiming at a change in the (solution) basis. Meeting between Mitsotakis-Erdogan.

  • Police are angry at the occupation regime – They (TCs) arrested a wanted woman and released her. Concerns that they have changed their tactics again for cases of outlaws fleeing to the occupied areas.
  • Cost to Turkey from legal measures on drillships
  • Disagreements among TC parties on the form of a solution

Haravgi

Guterres will talk with everyone and decide

UN Secretary-General’s envoy Jane Holl Lute is in telephone contact with all parties on the Cyprus problem ahead of the crucial meetings Guterres will hold with them. Last Tuesday he met Erdogan and today he’s seeing Mitsotakis. Tomorrow he will meet President Anastasiades and on Monday Mustafa Akinci.

  • Peaceful rally by the Famagusta municipality
  • Ferdi Sabit Soyer’s position on Varosha was an honest and courageous one
  • Proposal by (Takis) Hadjigeorgiou on the establishment of a UN organisation in Cyprus post-solution

Cyprus Mail

‘A new kind of local authority’

Petrides says in final stages of reforms but war of words erupts among mayors over hegemony.

Alithia

What did Mitsotakis and Erdogan discuss (in good climate)

An interesting tete-a-tete that took place while Greek -Turkish relations are going through a rocky period. They discussed the Cyprus problem, Greek-Turkish relations, migration. The messages of the Greek prime minister to the Turkish president. The Supreme Council of Cooperation between Greece and Turkey is being activated soon. Support by Greece to Anastasiades’ positions on the Cyprus problem, natural gas and Famagusta. “Discussion on the Terms of Reference is details,” says Turkey’s defence minister.

  • Strong message on Famagusta and Cyprob – Letter from (US Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo.
  • Cumhuriyet: Turkey withdraws the drillships because…

Main News

Cyprob part of Greece-Turkey consultations in New York

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

OVERVIEW

The meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriacos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York is the focus of the main articles on the Cyprus problem in the papers today.

According to Politis the two men mostly focused on the migration issue, while no safe conclusions can be drawn as regards their discussion on the Cyprus problem.

Mitsotakis expressed his support to President Nicos Anastasiades’ proposal aimed at ensuring a fair share for both communities from the exploitation of natural wealth.

It was also decided to activate the Greek-Turkish Supreme Cooperation Council soon with the two countries’ foreign ministers tasked with carrying out the necessary preparation.

Politis, citing government sources, reported that Erdogan expressed dissatisfaction because the GC side is constantly changing positions in relation to the objective pursued, essentially adopting Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu’s narrative. Mitsotakis, however, defended the attitude of the Greek Cypriot side, talking about absolute stability in the goal pursued.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, upon his exit from the meeting, said the meeting was held in a very good climate, and stressed that both sides agreed to a positive rebooting of the Ankara-Athens relations, giving the impression a new round of Greece-Turkey meetings would start for the resolution of bilateral problems.

On the Cyprus issue, Akar said only that Turkey wants a solution to this problem, but without going into details, Politis reported.

Alithia reported that when Akar was asked about the Terms of Reference, he said, “these are details.”

Anastasiades is to be briefed by Mitsotakis on what was said at the meeting with Erdogan on Thursday, just after the president’s speech before the UN General Assembly.

Cyprus Mail, citing state broadcaster CyBC, reports that Anastasiades asked Mitsotakis to convey to Erdogan that the GC side wants the talks to restart from where they left off in Crans-Montana, an agreement on the Terms of Reference as per the understanding between the two leaders during their meeting in Nicosia on August 9, and that the solution will be based on a BBF. Anastasiades also raised the issues of Turkish provocations in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone and plans concerning the closed-off town of Varosha in Famagusta.

The same reports also said that Cavusoglu had sent out the message through his meeting with Guterres earlier in the week and contact with UN special envoy Jane Holl Lute, that for Turkey to consent to an agreement on the terms of reference, it wanted strong commitment from the GC side for acceptance of political equality and effective participation of TCs in decision-making, Cyprus Mail reported.

According to Phileleftheros, Turkey is trying to create impressions by putting the blame on the GC side for the non-relaunch of the talks, while promoting its position on changing the basis of negotiations. Citing information, the daily reported that Cavusoglu is trying, during his contacts in New York, to promote an idea for an agreement on the issue of political equality and effective participation. A move that initially shows THE Turkish side is trying to find an alibi to justify changing the basis of the talks since Ankara is aware that this position will not be supported by the GC side. Turkey intends to use this refusal in order to present the ‘change of the basis’ as a ‘necessity’ for efforts on the Cyprus problem to proceed.

The papers also report that Guterres’ special envoy for Cyprus, Jane Holl Lute, had begun contacts with the parties and has already had telephone conversations with the foreign ministers of Greece, Britain and Turkey.

In the meantime, the papers also report US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in a letter that the US shares his concerns that any unilateral actions to reopen Varosha or to settle the city with people other than its original inhabitants would not be conducive to the resumption of settlement talks and would run contrary to Security Council Resolutions 550 and 789.

Citing the Cyprus News Agency, the papers report that a well-informed source in Washington said that Pompeo was responding to a letter sent by Christodoulides on September 13.

According to the same source, Pompeo said the US looks to all parties to respect these resolutions and would deliver this same message clearly to Turkey. He also said that the US believes that a bizonal, bicommunal federation offers the best chance for the people of Cyprus to have a more peaceful and prosperous future and that Washington continues to encourage all stakeholders to refrain from actions or rhetoric that increase tensions in the region and calls on both sides to take significant steps to improve bicommunal relations.

Politis reports that Pompeo’s letter arrived at the right time, giving the impression that there is hope for US support on the issue of the closed-off town of Varosha

KEY ACTORS
Akar (Turkeys defence minister)
>>
The ToR issue is a detail.


US embargo hinders Turkish drillships’ operations

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Energy, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

The dailies, citing Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, report that the Turkish drillships working in the Eastern Mediterranean have been having problems lately carrying out their operations due to a US embargo.

As a result, the drillships are forced to use Chinese materials which are not as effective so Turkey is trying to find temporary solutions which however hamper her drilling activities.

According to Cumhuriyet, Turkey has been spending massive amounts for its drilling operations in the East Med due to the high cost of materials used, arguing there is an American monopoly in this field with British and French companies taking their orders from the US.

These private companies refuse to supply the Turkish drillships with materials following instructions from the US. In addition, US companies Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Weatherford, and the Italian Geo-log, cancelled their agreements with Turkey on the provision of services, staff and chemical materials for the country’s drilling operations off Cyprus.

According to CNA, the article in the Turkish paper was written by journalist and MP of main opposition CHP, Mustafa Balbay who was arrested and sentenced to 34 years in prison in connection with the Ergenekon case but was released four years later, in 2013, the papers report.

Phileleftheros reports that the embargo was due to the court orders Nicosia had secured against companies cooperating with the Turkish drillships. Despite the ironic comments by parties and factors in Nicosia when the Cypriot government was issuing these warrants, it seems these moves were effective, the daily said.

Citing information, the daily reported that the government had issued warrants in three cases which were annulled after the companies involved disengaged from the Turkish operations.


Former AKEL MEP pushes for UN seat in Cyprus post-solution

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
External Security, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that former AKEL MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou presented a proposal on Wednesday for the creation of an international peacebuilding organisation or institute on the island in the event of a solution to the Cyprus problem.

He said there was an urgent need for a potential solution to be accompanied by a move which would demonstrate a genuine commitment on behalf of the international community, proving that a solution involves everyone.

Hadjigeorgiou suggests the establishment of a peacebuilding institution that would function under the umbrella of the UN, and which would work towards consolidating peace in a post-solution Cyprus, as well as in the broader region.
He argued that if the two leaders resume negotiations, they could request from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that if an agreement is reached, the UN will have to install an office in Cyprus. “The area needs it,” Hadjigeorgiou said. “UN in New York, UN in Geneva, UN in Cyprus,” he said.

He said he has held dozens of meetings to discuss the idea, not only with the two leaders, but also with EU commissioners and politicians, party leaders, and lawyers. The proposal has also been sent to Guterres and his envoy Jane Holl Lute, through the UN special representative Elizabeth Spehar.


‘Soyer’s criticism of EVKAF claims on Varosha a courageous act’

Cyprus Mail, Haravgi
Property, Territory, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that AKEL on Wednesday welcomed the statements by veteran TC politician Ferdi Sabit Soyer that the vakif of Varosha was closed in 1935 and that EVKAF officials knew about it.

The party referred to Soyer’s statements to TC media, that the Abdullah Pasa Foundation, which is presented by EVKAF as the owner of the fenced-off city of Varosha, had been compensated and closed down in 1935. The TC politician also criticised EVKAF for the raw propaganda it has launched which cannot be backed historically, the party said.

AKEL said that Soyer’s “honest and courageous attitude reminds us that we have progressive TCs in our battle to avert the plans by Ozersay and Tatar to bring in settlers in Famagusta.”

“At the same time, it is another response to those who want to present the TC community as a spineless mass and instrument of Ankara,” AKEL said in an announcement. The progressive forces of the TCs are struggling, in adverse conditions, to defend the existence of their community and the prospect of a free and reunited Cyprus, the party added.


Police unhappy after release of GC suspect by TC authorities

Phileleftheros
Internal Security, CBMs

OVERVIEW

Citing sources, the daily reports that the police are seeking explanations from the occupied areas through the Technical Committee on Crime after it emerged that a 40-year-old GC woman, wanted since last year for extortion of large amounts of money, was arrested in the north a few days ago but later released.

This has caused great discontent to the police, the daily reported, since the occupation authorities were aware the woman was a wanted person in the free areas.

According to the daily, the Cyprus police after asking for her to be handed over, received the message that no outlaw escaping to the occupied areas would go unpunished, yet the woman was released with the explanation that she was not found to have committed any offence in the occupied areas that would justify her detention.

This raises a question on whether this tactic would turn the occupied areas into a haven for criminals since whoever breaks the law here could end up there without any consequences, just as in the past with mainly British offenders who knew they would not be extradited, the daily said.

The paper also said that so far the two sides have been communicating through the Technical Committee on Crime and there was an exchange of wanted individuals through the UN, but the way the case of the 40-year-old woman was handled, raises many questions on the pseudo-state’s stance and whether it has changed its tactics in such cases.


Italian MEP raises issue of Turkish violations in Cypriot EEZ

Alithia, Haravgi
EU Matters, Energy

OVERVIEW

The papers report that Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini said that Turkey has received, since 2017, €1.18bn less in EU funding, mainly for failing to implement reforms.

Mogherini was replying to a parliamentary question submitted by Italian MEP Marco Zanni of the League Party and member of the Identity and Democracy Group on whether the Commission intended to cut funds and funding for Turkey, which is failing to respect the laws and sovereignty of an EU Member State.

Zanni said in his question, submitted last July, that since May this year, Turkey has begun drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Cyprus, in a series of hydrocarbon explorations with its drilling vessel Fatih while another drilling vessel, the Yavuz, had just arrived in the area and was about to begin operating.

Referring to the funding Turkey has received from the EU as a beneficiary of candidate country status and as part of the agreement to provide facilities for refugees, Zanni asked if the EU would cut funds to Turkey.

In her response, published on Wednesday, Mogherini said that in its conclusions of July 15, 2019 on the Turkish drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean,  the Council endorsed the European Commission’s proposal to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 by €145.8m compared to the revised Indicative Strategy Paper. Assistance under the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey has not been reduced.

For 2014-2020, the Commission had initially allocated €4.453 bn under the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) but due to backsliding on reforms and poor absorption capacity, the EU had started reducing IPA assistance to Turkey since 2017, including with the revised Indicative Strategy Paper of 2018, while maintaining support related to reforms in the areas of democracy & governance, empowerment of civil society, rule of law & fundamental rights, she said.

Overall, the total reduction so far applied by the EU since 2017 is €1.18 bn, Mogherini’s reply said.