GCC Press Review 14 Feb 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

The EastMed is not among the companies’ priorities

Thoughts for a floating liquefaction unit for Israel’s Leviathan reserve. The (EastMed) pipeline is a secondary option for the consortia in Cyprus and Israel. Without the Israeli gas, the onshore LNG terminal in Vassiliko will be fully depended on new reserves.

Phileleftheros

Distress in hospitals

Three thousand health professionals are sending a message of desperation just before GESY’s second phase. No communication with OKYPY (State Health Services Organisation), arbitrary decisions, a mess as regards the policies, under-staffing, breach of the (hospital) autonomy legislation.

  • Criticism by Menendez on the Turkish-Libyan memorandum
  • The remains of Lieutenant General Katsanis have been delivered – He has been honoured with the Outstanding Service Medal.

Haravgi

The president is exposed both ethically and institutionally

Through everything mentioned in yesterday’s meeting of the House watchdog committee, the President of the Republic remains gravely exposed at institutional, ethical and political levels. The president’s family trip to Seychelles on the private luxury jet of the Saudi following a donation is a major scandal… Unanswered questions also on the investments of the naturalised sheikh.

  • They are preparing new faits accomplis for Famagusta
  • (AKEL for the government) Their manoeuvres exonerate Turkey

Cyprus Mail

Mea culpa over jet use ridiculed

‘It is benefit in kind,’ auditor-general says of trip taken by the president to Seychelles.

Alithia

Acting like children!

Odysseas Michaelides vs Maria Lottides.The two-year conflict between two of our top independent institutions, the Auditor-general and the Ombudswoman, has taken a new turn. From the war of announcements to the war of lawsuits.

  • Spehar: Return with a sense of urgency to substantive negotiations

Main News

RoC welcomes acknowledgment by US that Cyprus & Greece are not the ones creating problems in the East Med

Alithia, Phileleftheros
Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that Nicosia expressed its satisfaction over the position of the US that it is neither Cyprus nor Greece that create tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

According to the papers, Government spokesman Kyriacos Kousios welcomed the US’ clear position as expressed during a US Senate debate by the deputy assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Christopher Robinson, who said that tensions in the region are not caused by Cyprus or Greece.

Kousios also said the Republic of Cyprus also welcomed the position by US Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who said that Turkey is the only party engaging in provocative actions in the region.

The papers also report that these statements by the US officials were made during a discussion at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about US Policy on Libya.

In his introductory speech, Senator Menendez said that with the US equivocating and the EU split, Turkey has found a deepened foothold for its longstanding ambitions in the Mediterranean. In November, Turkey and the Government of National Accord in Libya announced an expanded maritime agreement that critical US partners including Greece and Cyprus called ‘illegal’ and ‘absurd’, he said.

He added that the parameters of this agreement undermine US policies, partnerships, and security in the Eastern Mediterranean while Turkey’s deployment of troops, including from Syria, adds to the list of violations of the UN Arms Embargo.  

Menendez also criticised that fact that the US joined Russia to block a British-drafted, UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire, a reduction of negative foreign influence, and supporting humanitarian access. “What message does this send to our allies?,” he asked, according to the papers.

Robinson reiterated the established American position that the memorandum in question has raised tensions and called on all the countries to abstain from actions that increase tension in the region.

This statement prompted the reaction of Menendez who, called on Robinson to clarify which countries were creating these problems. Menendez pressed Robinson to specify if Greece or Cyprus did something to raise tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, with the State Department official responding ‘No,’ according to Alithia.

Alithia reports that Menendez then said that at least through deduction “we found out that Turkey is the only party engaging in provocative actions.”

KEY ACTORS
Kousios (RoC)
>>
Government welcomes the US’ clear position as expressed by Robinson that tensions in the region are not caused by Cyprus or Greece & Menendez’s statement that Turkey is the only party engaging in provocative actions in the region.

Menendez (US Senate)
>>
Criticises the absence of a US policy on Libya which has allowed Turkey to pursue her longstanding ambitions in the Mediterranean.
>> The MoU between Turkey and the GNA undermines US policies, partnerships, and security in the East Med while it has upset critical US partners including Greece & Cyprus that found the agreement illegal & absurd.
>> Turkey is the only party engaging in provocative actions in the East Med region.

Robinson (US State Department)
>>
Reiterates the established US position that the MoU has raised tensions & calls on all the countries to abstain from actions that increase tension in the region but admits that Greece & Cyprus were not the ones raining tensions in the East Med.


Spehar calls on leaders to return to the talks with a sense of urgency

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Politis
Negotiations Process, External Security, CBMs, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

According to the dailies, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar expressed hope on Thursday that the two leaders and other parties would return to results-orientated negotiations with a sense of urgency to reach a comprehensive settlement based on UN parameters.

Speaking during the UNFICYP Winter Medal Parade, Spehar said that the peacekeeping mission’s task in Cyprus remains an important one arguing that the work they do, is of paramount importance not only for its operational success but also for the ongoing peace process on the island.

She said that the UN Security Council, during her contacts in New York last month, praised UNFICYP’s work and underlined the importance of the mission’s constant presence and daily liaison and engagement activities.

Spehar also said that while no reunification talks have taken place since July 2017, UNFICYP has supported the two communities to interact and build greater confidence between themselves while with its continuous engagement, the two leaders agreed to the opening of two new crossing points on 12 November 2018, the first such occasion in nine years. She also referred to the mobile phone interoperability achieved last July and the completion in December of the confidence-building measure for a mine-free Cyprus after nine suspected hazardous areas on each side of the island, were cleared by the UN Mine Action Service.

Spehar also mentioned the exhibition at Ledra Palace earlier this month showcasing Cypriot artworks and audiovisual recordings exchanged between the two sides as part of another CBM agreed by the two leaders.

The UN official pointed out that “dialogue, trust and co-operation are sine qua non for an enduring peace across Cyprus, and that is what these confidence-building measures are aiming for.”

KEY ACTORS
Spehar (UN)
>>
Would like to see the two leaders & all parties return to results-oriented negotiations table with a sense of urgency to reach a comprehensive solution within UN parameters.
>> UNFICYP’s task in Cyprus remains an important one since the work they do is of paramount importance for the ongoing peace process on the island by, among other things, encouraging CBMs and assisting in their implementation.
>> Believes CBMs are aimed at encouraging dialogue, trust and co-operation which are sine qua non for an enduring peace across Cyprus.


Possible plans by Israel’s Leviathan licensees might affect EastMed pipeline project

Politis
Energy, Regional/International Relationss

OVERVIEW

The paper reports that statements by Yigal Landau, the CEO of Ratio Oil which holds a stake in Leviathan gas field along with Delek Drilling and Noble Energy that they were seeking partners to build a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platform has sparked discussion in Cyprus over the fate of the EastMed pipeline project.

In its main item, the daily reports that although no definite decision was made, and without overlooking the fact that at the moment new floating liquefaction technology is an expensive option, one can conclude from Landau’s statement to Reuters but also recent statements by other officials of the Leviathan consortium that their priority is liquefaction and not other options such as the EastMed pipeline. If the Leviathan consortium chooses that option, then the Vassiliko LNG terminal will rely only on the size of new gas reserves to be discovered in the Cypriot blocks since chances for cooperation for an onshore LNG terminal will be eliminated, the paper said.

The daily reports that it is well known that despite the agreement between Israel, Greece and Cyprus on the construction of the EastMed pipeline, the companies that have been granted a license for Leviathan are not enthusiastic about this option because, allegedly, they are not optimistic about its viability. This is also how companies that have the exploitation rights for Cypriot offshore blocks feel, the paper reports.

According to the paper, Landau also said that pipelines that connect to LNG plants in northern Egypt or to Europe directly are additional options. Though Landau did not make a reference to the EastMed, the reference to a gas pipeline to Europe refers to the EastMed, it said. However, it is clear from Reuter’s report that Landau mentioned the FLNG as one (but most probably the most desirable at this stage) from the consortium’s options for further exploitation of the field, Politis reports.

In Cyprus, the issue was mainly discussed on social media with the prevailing position being that Israel is autonomously turning to FLNG casting aside the option for cooperation with Cyprus and the companies that are operating on the island for the construction of an onshore LNG terminal at Vassilikos and the EastMed pipeline option, the paper reported.


Famagusta refugees call on TCs to support their struggle for return to Varosha

Alithia, Haravgi, Politis, Phileleftheros
Property, Territory, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Alithia reports that Famagusta municipality said it would resist with all its power any actions concerning the closed-off town of Varosha that are not in line with UN resolutions.

Following the announcement that a round-table discussion would take place this week in Varosha on the opening of the closed-off town, the municipality said in a written statement that it condemns actions not in line with the UN resolutions and other decisions and that aim at raising tensions and steer things away from the agreed solution model, that of the bizonal bicommunal federation (BBF).

It also called on TCs who are also against such plans to support Famagusta refugees in their struggle.

The municipality also said that the return of Varosha to its rightful owners would be an incentive for the solution of the Cyprus problem. It also called on the UN, the EU and the international community to stand against Turkey’s machinations and protect the rights of the Famagusta refugees.

The other papers report that the round-table discussion is taking place on Saturday also citing reports in TC media on the debate in the north as regards the event.

Phileleftheros reports that Turkey and the occupation regime have set multiple goals as regards Famagusta. In the short term, Ankara is using Varosha to back the TC right wing in April’s ‘elections.’ In the medium and long terms Varosha can play a role as regards changing the basis of talks on the Cyprus problem but also serve Turkey’s goals in the East Med, the paper reported.


UK dismisses reports for direct flights to north

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

OVERVIEW

All dailies report that the UK’s Foreign Office on Thursday dismissed as untrue reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would look into the issue of direct flights to the north.

The papers report that a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said after reports in TC media quoting ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar saying that Johnson was positive on the issue of direct flights to the north, that they were untrue.

“The UK’s position on this has not changed. Direct flights between the UK and the north of Cyprus would not be in line with the UK’s international obligations,” the spokesperson said.

Politis reports that Tatar continues the propaganda ahead of the ‘elections’ since he attempted to send the message from the UK where he was for contacts that Johnson has given instructions for the issue of direct flights to the north to be looked into.

KEY ACTORS
Foreign Office (UK)
>>
There is no issue of direct flights from the UK to the north since this would not be in line with the UK’s international obligations.


Event on future of island with Cyprob unsolved

Phileleftheros
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The daily hosts in its segment ‘Five minutes with…’ historian Dr Pavlos Pavlou and chairman of the Reflection Group for the Modernization of our Society (OPEK).

Pavlou presents the group’s forthcoming event on the Cyprus problem titled: ‘The nightmare: Cyprus in 2025 with the Cyprus problem unresolved?’

He said the question that needs to be answered is how things will be in Cyprus in the near future, in 2025, if the Cyprus problem remains unsolved.

Pavlou said he does not believe things will improve as regards the economy, the energy issue or the level of control by Turkey over the economic and political life in the north.

He said society needs to decide what it wants as regards the Cyprus problem.

Symeon Matsis, Giorgos Efstathiou, Nikos Moudouros and Alecos Markides will contribute to the discussion.

The discussion will take place on February 17 at 7pm at the Bank of Cyprus events hall in Ayia Paraskevi in Nicosia.