GCC Press Review 05 Dec 2019

Front Page Headlines


Mitsotakis – Erdogan didn’t even tread water

Nicosia sends note verbale to Ankara by fax, through the turkish embassy in Athens. After legal advice, the Republic of Cyprus calls on Turkey to consent to turn to Hague (International Court) on EEZ. No discussion for the Cyprus Problem and the potential of a new five party meeting under the auspices of the UNSG.

  • Nicosia: Patrols by MMAD (Emergency Response Unit) and National Guard
  • NATO: Macron didn’t hide


Municipality reform up in the air

Communities and mayors enter the battle over the mergers armed with two (legal) opinions.

  • National Council: Nicosia also looks towards The Hague
  • Cold meeting between Mitsotakis and Erdogan
  • Trump got enraged and rushed to leave
  • Borrell gives verbal support but will see Cavusoglu
  • Commissioners sworn in as well: Presidential advice to new ministers on two fronts
  • Substations by 2023: Big companies submit tenders for Euroasia Interconnector
  • After 45 years: Relics of six Greeks return to the fatherland


Hospitals collapse and they call it scaremongering!

Ministry of Health: Doctors tarnish image of hospitals. S. Koumas: We won’t whistle indifferently looking at the ceiling. OKYpY (State Health Services Organisation) to publicise incentives plan next week.

  • Erdogan – Mitsotakis have an open discussion

Cyprus Mail

‘Brain dead’ Nato pulls off summit

Tetchy meeting concludes with new Trump and Trudeau spat.

  • Education minister says lessons will be learnt from Cyprus’ poor grades


You are sending away the doctors, you scaremonger every week

Minister for Health has harsh words for doctors who will go on strike once again. (Minister) K. Ioannou: Constant scaremongering on collapse of public hospitals causes doctors to flee. S. Koumas: We will not be part of a process that leads to the shuttering of public hospitals.

  • They disagreed on everything – Ankara didn’t take a single step back in Mitsotakis – Erdogan meeting: “I want to assure the Greek people that difficulties in our relations with Turkey were there in the past, are there now and will be there in the future”.
  • Battle for the two empty vice-president seats (in DISY)

Main News

Nicosia proposes to Turkey to jointly appeal to the Internation Court over EEZ

Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, Regional/ International Relations, External Security, Economy, Energy


The Republic of Cyprus has informed Turkey of its willingness to take the disagreement over the island’s EEZ to the International Court in The Hague, Politis reports. According to the newspaper, a note verbale was sent to the Turkish embassy in Athens by fax.

Politis reports that the decision was taken after the advice of legal experts, and that the government’s aim is to gain political tools with which to pressure Turkey. Nicosia, it is added, is in constant communication with other countries of the region as well as EU member states.

Phileleftheros reports that President Anastasiades informed party leaders during Wednesday’s National Council meeting that Nicosia is considering this possibility. The newspaper reports that EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos brought up the proposal of appealing to the International Court, and that Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides replied that the process has already begun.

Mitsotakis – Erdogan have inconclusive meeting, CyProb not on the agenda

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, Regional/ International Relations, External Security, EU Matters, Energy


Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayip Erdogan had a 90-minutes meeting in the margins of NATO’s 70th anniversary summit. The meeting was reported to have been thorough but cold, without any progress, especially on the Cyprus Problem which was not even on the agenda.

The Cyprus News Agency reported that the Greek side focused on two issues: the memorandum that was recently signed by Turkey and Libya, and migration. According to the agency, Mitsotakis told Erdogan that Greece considers Turkey’s memorandum with Libya to be invalid as well as a complicating factor for regional politics. Mitsotakis also told Erdogan that the Turkish coast guard is no longer cooperating effectively or even responding to the Greek coast guard on issues related to migration.

In statements after the meeting, Mitsotakis said that there always have been and there always will be problems between Greece and Turkey, but that they can be overcome if both sides show willingness. He added that the discussion on confidence building measures between the two countries will continue.

Haravgi reports that during his speech in the NATO summit, Mitsotakis referred to the need for its members to respect the principles of unity and solidarity, adding that the Turkey – Libya memorandum contravenes international law. Haravgi also reports that NATO had nothing to say concerning Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Phileleftheros reports that the European External Action Service (headed by High Representative for Foreign Relations Josep Borrell) has officially asked Turkey to inform the EU of the provisions of the memorandum signed with Libya. The EU also asked Turkey to respect the sovereignty of all countries in the area, including over those maritime zones created by the presence of islands.

The European Commission’s new president Ursula von der Leyen also referred to EU – Turkish relations. Von der Leyen said that there needs to be a serious discussion with Turkey on two fronts: the respect of the sovereignty of its neighbours, as well as the state of the agreement on migration.

Phileleftheros adds that Borrell will be meeting with Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu in Bratislava on Thursday and that Commissioners Schinas and Johansson will be visiting Ankara on Friday to discuss migration. The newspaper also reports on statements by Hungarian Commissioner for Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, who stated that the Council was clear when introducing the possibility of sanctions against Turkey, and that the EU will continue its efforts until Turkey reverses course.

Politis reports that the US and Russia reacted to the Turkey – Libya memorandum one week after it was signed. The State Department pointed out that the memorandum was provocative and unhelpful, while calling on all interested parts (including Greece) to overcome disagreements through negotiations. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zaharova called on Turkey and Libya to show restraint and not make things worse. She added that the memorandum can only be assessed after it has been publicised.

Media also report on statements by Turkey’s Minister for Defence, Fatih Donmez, that Ankara will begin the process of assigning parcels for exploration in the area between Turkey and Libya as soon as the memorandum is approved in the turkish parliament. He added that the memorandum counteracts attempts to keep Turkey out of the power equation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In other news, the Cyprus Mail reports that on Wednesday both President Anastasiades and T/C leader Akinci informed political parties in their respective communities of the developments during the trilater Berlin meeting. Phileleftheros quotes a statement by T/C “foreign minister” Kudret Ozersay, who has said that the terms set by President Anastasiades regarding the natural gas and the return to negotiations cannot be accepted. Ozersay was speaking at a T/C university and was commenting on statement by the G/C side that negotiations cannot begin while Turkey drills in the Cypriot EEZ.

Meanwhile, the Cyprus Mail and Politis focus on the actual NATO summit, reporting on the tension between US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. Cyprus Mail points out that despite rhetoric, Erdogan backed from a threat to block plans to defend northern and easter Europe unless the allies declared Kurdish fighters in Syria terrorists.

Mitsotakis (Greek PM)
>>Problems will always exist, but if both sides show positive intent, we can overcome them.
>> Discussion on confidence building measures (for Greece and Turkey) will continue

Ursula von der Leyen (Commission President)
>> There must be a serious discussion with Turkey regarding the need to respect the sovereignty of its neighbours, as well as on the application of the Turkey- EU agreement on migration

European External Action Service
>> Turkey should respect maritime borders, including those created by the presence of islands
>> The EU expects Turkey to inform Brussels on the content of the memorandum signed with Libya

Varhelyi (Enlargment Commissioner)
>> The EU will continue its efforts to make Turkey reverse its course
>> The Council was clear when it introduced the possibility of sanctions

US State Department
>> Turkey – Libya memorandum provocative and unhelpful
>> All interested parts should overcome disagreements through negotiations

Zaharova (Russian FM spokesperson)
>> Turkey and Libya should refrain from actions that exacerbate situation
>> Memorandum will be assessed when its contents have been publicised

Donmez (Turkish defence minister)
>> The exploration licensing process for the areas covered by the Turkey – Libya will begin as soon as it is approved in the turkish parliament

>> We cannot accept Anastasiades’ terms that there can be no negotiation as long as Turkey continues drilling

Emergency Response Unit (MMAD) and army will jointly patrol in central Nicosia

Alithia, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, Migration & Citizenship, CBMs


Minister for Justice Giorgos Savvides has announced that MMAD (the police’s Emergency Response Unit) and the National Guard will start joint patrols on Ledras and Onasagorou street as well as on Phaneromeni Square, Alithia reports.

According to a written statement by the minister, the measure is taken to prevent crime and terrorism and to contribute to controlling illegal migration. The joint patrols by MMAD and the National Guard will start on December 9th, 2019. Savvides also stated that the situation will be continually assessed and expressed his certainty that these measures will contribute to a feeling of security.

Nicosia accuses Turkish army of causing delays in the work of the Committee for Missing Persons

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Human Rights, CBMs


Since July of last year, the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP) has only managed to visit seven out of the thirty military areas in the north for which the turkish army has given its consent, Alithia and Phileleftheros report. The newspapers cite a government memo sent to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, ahead of a discussion on the issue of missing persons in Cyprus.

According to the note by the government, the process for gaining access to these military areas “remains complicated and time consuming”. At the same time, excavations that had begun in military areas had to be suspended due to the Turkish army insisting on overseeing the work closely.

Specifically, the Cypriot government points out that, even though the CMP complies with the request to inform the turkish army three days in advance about the names and car plates of witnesses that need to have access to the excavation site, the military has repeatedly prohibited entry to witnesses and CMP workers.

Remains of Greek soldiers killed in 1974 are returned to Greece

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
Human Rights


The remains of six Greek soldiers that were killed in Cyprus during the Turkish invasion in 1974 are to be handed over to their families during a ceremony in Nicosia on Thursday. Cyprus Mail reports that two of the soldiers had been considered missing while the other four had been buried in Lakatamia.

The remains of lieutentant Georgios Papalambrides (posthumously promoted to lieutentant general) and sergeant Pavlos Poullides were found during the excavations of the Committee on Missin Persons in the Alonagra area of the Pentadaktylos range and in Kionelli.

Two of the four that were found in a military cemetery in Lakatamia, warrant officers Constantinos Kateros and Constantinos Elia, were part of a commando unit airlifted to Cyprus during the invasion to reinforce the National Guard. The plane they were on was shot down by friendly fire over Nicosia.

The remains will be flown back to Greece in a Greek air force C-130 transport plane, Phileleftheros reports. They will be welcomed in a ceremony led by Greece’s Minister for National Defence Nikos Panagiotopoulos, and the families will conduct funerals at their own time.

Companies submit tenders for substations of the Euroasia Interconnector

Economy, Regional/ International Relations, EU Matters, Energy


Phileleftheros reports that important international companies have shown interest to take over the contstruction of the three substations of the Euroasia Interconnector in Kofinou, Cyprus, in Hadera, Israel and in Crete.

The project aims to connect the electricity grids of Cyprus, Israel and Greece through a cable and will be co-financed by the European Union. The aim is for the project to be completed in both its legs (Cyprus – Israel, Cyprus – Greece) by December 2023. The construction of the three substations will cost 710 million euros, while the cost of the construction of the cable has been calculated at 2,5 billion euros.

The tenders are currently being assessed by international consultants Teshmont Consultants Ltd (Canada), Cilfford Chance LLP (UK) and Elia Grid International (Belgium).

Burger King store will open restaurant in the north

Cyprus Mail


A restaurant of the international fast food chain Burger King will be launching operations in the north according to turkish media outlets, the Cyprus Mail reports. Turkish media reports that its first restaurant will be located on the motorway between Nicosia and Kyrenia, and call this development a successful breaking of the embargo imposed by the G/Cs on the T/Cs.

The same media report that the franchise had opened a Burger King in the north in 1999, but had to rename it to “Burger City” while maintaining the same logo, after pressure by the Greek Cypriot side.

Greek Cypriot tank abandoned in 1963 being cleaned by UNFICYP to become a museum piece



A Greek Cypriot National Guard tank that had been left in the buffer zone since 1963 has been at UNFICYP’s headquarters undergoing external maintenance, Phileleftheros reports. According to the newspaper, the tank had remained immobile for years in a street in the T/C Kokkina enclave and was moved by UNFICYP last year.

According to a source cited by Phileleftheros, the tank is undergoing maintainance so that it can be included in a museum exhibit. The Pachyammos community has asked government authorities for the tank so that it can be included in the Struggle Museum recently created in the area.

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