GCC Press Review 26 Feb 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Cyprus too tries on a mask for the coronavirus

Inter-ministerial committee charts out plan for facing a possible epidemic. Checks at crossing points also of travellers reaching Cyprus from Italy, Korea, Japan, Iran. A dead British man who had symptoms of the flu before he died remains for days in the morgue.

  • Turkey: Brain twister for Erdogan
  • Greece: Tension in Chios and Lesvos for refugee centers
  • Buffer zone: Dissatisfaction with UN
  • S. Lavrov: Support for EEZ and UNFICYP
  • Free: They messed up with “terrorist”

Phileleftheros

Coronavirus encircles us

Panic arrived first. Four ministers confer today to reach decisions. They examine additional restrictions at legal entry points to the Republic.

  • They discussed everything with Christodoulides: Affirmation of support from Sergei Lavrov
  • Suspected terrorist free in Cyprus: State’s inaction forced Supreme Court to release him – He came from the occupied areas, asked for political asylum
  • Severe attack by Talat against Akinci

Haravgi

Pressure by AKEL for labour rights

Abolishment of 12% for all workers. Legal guarantees for minimum wage. 50% of workers not covered by labor contracts.

  • Denizer: Let’s fight together for a solution
  • Mediation for halloumi at a dead end

Cyprus Mail

Measures upped against Covid19

Checks for visitors from four more countries, minister says island ready for an epidemic.

  • President visits Bulgaria
  • Charles and Camilla to visit

Alithia

They threaten with upheaval for quarantine spaces

Unjustifiable reactions because of coronavirus. Cabinet of Ministers decides tomorrow where the first two spaces will be created, which is kept secret, however according to information is the SEK camping area in Kannavia and the old residence of the director of the Kyperounta Hospital.

  • They did not present evidence to the Supreme Court to justify continued detention: Suspected terrorist free because of… negligence – A Morrocan applicant for asylum, holder of a French passport that had been held since 10.1.2019
  • They will not stay vulnerable: Refugees should not worry because of applications by T/Cs who reclaim their property
  • For an official visit: Prince Charles and Camilla come to Cyprus in March

Main News

Christodoulides meets with Russian FM in Geneva

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Oikonomiki Kathimerini, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, Regional/ International Relations, External Security, Energy, Property, Territory, Internal Security

OVERVIEW

The dailies report on the meeting of Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Tuesday. Politis, citing diplomatic sources, said that Lavrov told Christodoulides that the country is ready to assist towards a resumption of negotiations.

The same sources said that Lavrov expressed the opinion that any moves regarding Famagusta can only be taken in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions. Also, Lavrov is reported to have repeated that all sides involved in hydrocarbons exploration should respect international law and respect EEZ sovereign rights. Phileleftheros also reports on the same points, citing diplomatic sources.

Politis also reports that the authorities in the Republic of Cyprus are displeased with the situation in the buffer zone as a result of the incident involving the shoring up of the Spitfire cafe. Sources cited by the newspaper have said that governemnt authorities on the political and technocratic level are considering possible measuress to deal with what seems to be a specific plan by the Turkish side.

The same sources believe that the moves being made are part of the other side’s attempt to lay the ground for a “plan B” which includes their intentions for Varosha. It is noted that all these moves were made in territories that the “TRNC” claims as part of its territory.

The newspaper notes that the other side’s moves were not counteracted by UNFICYP, since the UN seems to want to avoid escalating tensions. Also, it is noted, the RoC cannot easily take measures regarding the buffer zone since it falls under the jurisdiction of the UN. Politis also recalls that the latest SC resolution updating UNFICYP’s mandate makes specific reference to the need for a direct contact mechanism for military matters.

Kathimerini reports citing diplomatic sources that Nicosia is pleased by Guterres’ readiness to move forward with an unofficial five party meeting immediately after the elections in the north. The same sources believe that Guterres will move independently to bring about a deescalation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The newspaper also reports that Lavrov said during the meeting with Christodoulides, that Cyprus should be consulted regarding any changes to the mandate of UNFICYP.

According to Kathimerini, sources say that the government was displeased with references made by Russian ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy to Phileleftheros on Sunday regarding the country’s increased cooperation with the US. These concerns by Russia were apparent during the discussion in the Security Council regarding UNFICYP’s mandate.

The government was also displeased by the statements made by British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie to Kathimerini, also on Sunday. Lillie had said that the UK is not against the end of the 1960s Treaty of Guarantees but stressed that it is also up to the two communities, as well as Greece and Turkey, to decide. Nicosia is reported to believe that in this way the UK is changing its position, putting more weight on the opinion of Greece and Turkey than before.


Bulgaria wants to have a role in energy trilaterals

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

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that Bulgaria wants to participate in the Cyprus, Greece and Israel trilaterals, citing statements made by the country’s President Rumen Radev after a meeting with President Anastasiades in Sofia on Tuesday.

Cyprus Mail reports that Anastasiades is in Bulgaria for a two-day official visit, during which he also met with prime minister Boyko Borissov. Politis report that Anastasiades is planning a series of official visits and meetings in the next months with leaders from EU countries and Security Council permanent members.

Radev stated that Bulgaria is geographically a natural extension of the two countries. Anastasiades confirmed that Bulgaria’s presence at future trilateral meetings would be examined.

Anastasiades stated after the meeting that he told Radev that the trilateral meetings are not intended to exclude any country. On the contrary, those who respect international law and the independence and sovereingnty of other states have a place in these cooperations, he added.

Anastasiades also spoke of the mutual will of the two countries to further strengthen bilateral relations, and noted that the two countries share common positions with regards to matters of EU concern such as migration.

In a statement after his meeting with Anastasiades later in the day, prime minister Borissov said that his government wishes to further strengthen relations in all fields, including energy.

KEY ACTORS
Rumen Radev (Bulgarian President)
>> Bulgaria is geographically an extension of Cyprus, Greece and Israel

Boyko Borissov
>> Government wishes to strengthen relations in all fields, including energy

Anastasiades
>> Bulgaria’s presence will be examined
>> Trilaterals exclude no country that respects international law and national sovereignty
>> Bulgaria and Cyprus share common positions on EU matters such as migration


Terrorism suspect released due to state failing to submit evidence

Alithia, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, Migration & Citizenship, Human Rights, External Security

OVERVIEW

The RoC’s Supreme Court ordered the release of a terrorism suspect and holder of both a Moroccan and a French passport, who had arrived in Cyprus through the occupied areas and then claimed asylum in the south, the dailies report. The decision was taken due to the state’s inability to present evidence on time.

Politis reports that the man arrived at the occupied areas in December 2018 and crossed over to the south in January 2019 asking for political asylum. Security checks found his name was included in a foreign database identifying terrorism suspects. The man was then arrested and held at Mennoyia prison.

In April 2019, the newspaper reports, the man was recognised by the Asylum Service as a refugee. His refugee status was immediately revoked. His lawyer argued that the man’s detention should not be connected to his refugee status, but be based on whether the state has justificed his detention on national security grounds.

The newspaper notes that the Supreme Court needed evidence proving the man’s connections with terrorism before taking a decision, but that evidence was not produced in time. According to the report, the attorney representing the RoC said that the authorities do not know the location of the necessary documents.

The Supreme Court therefore decided that the man could no longer be detained and ordered him to be released.


Displaced concerned over T/C owners’ moves to reclaim houses and land

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Property, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The government is assuring displaced who are currently residing in estates built on T/C land that it will not leave any of them hanging with regards with claims brought to the courts by the original owners of the properties, Alithia reports.

The discussion took place during Tuesday’s meeting of the parliamentary committee for refugee issues. Committee president Skevi Koukouma said during the meeting that 85 such cases have been brought to the RoC’s court system. Koukouma pointed out that in some cases the T/C owners were vindicated, while most requests were rejected on the basis of the RoC’s legislation on T/C properties. Some of these cases have been appealed and two have been taken to the European Court of Human Rights, she added.

Koukouma also made specific references to cases in Polemidia, where the government has assigned an advocate to represent the inhabitants of the estate, in Dromolaksia, where a T/C lawyer has been telling the inhabitants that the process to reclaim the properties has started, and in Timi, where T/Cs are claiming part of Paphos Airport and a nearby government estate.

Koukouma also said that lawyers of both communities as well as land developers in black limousines are visiting T/C properties where G/C live today, warning them that they will have to leave the premises soon.


AKEL honours veteran T/C labour leader and party member

Haravgi
CBMs

OVERVIEW

Haravgi reports that the Larnaca branch of AKEL is honouring 85 year old Mustafa Denizer on Wednesday for his 65 years of involvement in the country’s labour movement.

The newspaper cites a statement by Denizer who said that progressive forces in both communities should retain their focus on achieving a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality.

Denizer has been a member of AKEL since 1950. AKEL secretary general Andros Kyprianou will speak during the event.