TCC Press Review 27 Feb 2020

Front Page Headlines

Yenidüzen

Heavy penalties for human trafficking

‘Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking’ have become part of the penal code. An amendment to the existing law which aims to introduce heavy penalties to those who commit these crimes has been approved unanimously by the Legal, Political and Foreign Affairs Committee. The draft amendment law has been sent to parliament.

  • Quarantined as a precaution – A woman who was diagnosed with pneumonia was placed under quarantine last night (Wednesday) as a precaution.

Kıbrıs Postası

Rural plots out, public housing in

Remarks made both by the Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay and the Interior Minister Ayşegül Baybars on the unfair distribution of plots under the rural development scheme came to the fore during the launch event for the public housing project. Both said the project would eradicate injustice.

  • “Akıncı did not keep his promise on the discretionary fund” – Sibel Siber responded to Akıncı, who accused her of being a liar, stating he had failed to keep his promise on making every detail of the discretionary fund public.
  • Erhürman: “We do not want negotiations for the sake of negotiations.”
  • Akıncı: “If we fail to share, bigger powers will come and share the resources.”
  • Arıklı: “I am the only candidate who adamantly objects to a federation.”
  • “Asking to take steps to de-escalate tension means asking to collaborate” – Özersay sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Guterres.

Kıbrıs

The second corona panic

An Iranian woman, who checked-in to a private hospital with high fever was transferred to Nicosia on suspicions she might have the coronavirus. She was diagnosed with pneumonia but place in quarantine as a precaution. The coronavirus test results are due today (Thursday).

Havadis

The foreign exchange rate erodes the minimum wage

Havadis compared the minimum wage with foreign currencies in August 2019 and February 2020. The comparison reveals that devaluation in the Turkish Lira has eroded the increase in the minimum wage. In August 2019, the minimum wage was ₺2.958 or £436. In February 2020, the minimum was increased to ₺3.323 which makes £416.

  • Second suspicion – A 30-year old Iranian woman at the Famagusta state hospital was transferred to Nicosia state hospital and put under quarantine with suspicions of coronavirus. 

Diyalog

Those who have been sleeping for the past 20 years have been woken up

Interior Minister Ayşegül Baybars announced the construction of 3500 new homes in ten years and said 10,000 people will be homeowners. It is interesting to note that the public housing project will be implemented first in Famagusta and Morphou, both of which are areas where territorial concessions could be made.

  • They will contribute – (GC FM) Nicos Christodulides received the support of his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for the restart of negotiations.

Afrika

Last curtain in the case of shame

Hearings into the appeal case regarding the cartoon/collage case of which our paper was acquitted by the lower court started yesterday. The case was filed by police upon instructions by the Turkish embassy.

  • 376 flats for Famagusta-Maraş (Varosha) – Interior Minister Ayşegül Baybars launched a public housing project. The first phase of the project will be implemented in Famagusta and Morphou. Seven neighbourhoods in the open section of Maraş (Varosha) have been given priority for the housing project construction.

Main News

Akıncı continues to campaign for a BBF amid opposition from rivals

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog
Negotiations Process, Governance & Power Sharing, Energy, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

President Mustafa Akıncı on Tuesday said that a solution in Cyprus will not only be beneficial for Cyprus and the region but Turkey as well.

“A solution in Cyprus could open a new chapter in Turkey’s relations with the EU and the rest of the region,” he said.

Akıncı, addressing supporters at a gathering in Değirmenlik (Kythrea) on Tuesday night, expressed the view that the issue of hydrocarbons should not be a source of tension but an area where cooperation can be carried out by the two sides.

He said that one option was declaring a moratorium on natural gas drilling.

“The agreement reached with Anastasiades in 2015 not to drill ended when the Greek Cypriots started drilling in 2017. Unfortunately, the proposal we tabled in 2019 for sharing revenues was also rejected,” he said.

Akıncı pointed out that the second option was for the two sides to carry on drilling separately which was what was currently happening.

This, he added, was raising tensions in the region.

“Since we also have rights in the natural gas and this is acknowledged by the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and the Greek Cypriot side, then we should sit down and find a way out. We as Cypriots need to find a way to share the island’s offshore resources,” Akıncı said.

He warned that failure to reduce tensions would have serious consequences.

Regarding efforts to settle the Cyprus Problem, Akıncı said that the outcome of the trilateral meeting in Berlin not only removed all ambiguity concerning the basis of a solution but also showed that a new process, very different from past processes, would begin soon after the elections.

“It will be different this time. The talks will be results-oriented, there will be a deadline and moment to decide will come,” he added.

He said that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had explicitly stated that he would be more actively involved in efforts to reach a settlement.

Akıncı highlighted the importance of a bizonal, bicommunal federal (BBF) settlement on the basis of political equality and warned that the alternative would be a reinforcement of partition on the island.

“The opportunity for a solution will knock on our door again. We need to make the best use of this opportunity to share the benefits of our island. If we fail to do so, the greater powers will split the island’s wealth and its inhabitants will suffer the consequences,” he said.

Akıncı also took the opportunity to respond to recent allegations made against him by former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and former Turkish Cypriot Speaker of Parliament/Prime Minister Sibel Siber.

He said that it was only natural for his rivals to criticize him but that the unfounded allegations made against him required a response.

“Mrs Siber remains undecided whether she should run for president, whether she should support another candidate or remain neutral. My suggestion is that she make up her mind soon and make this public because she has started to resort to lies,” he said.

Akıncı said that Siber’s allegations that he received a cheque worth ₺150,000 (approx. €22,000) every month was not true and this created the false perception that this money was deposited in his personal account.

“As a person who has served as parliamentary speaker and prime minister, she should know that the Office of the President has an account and that any money from the treasury or finance ministry is deposited in that account,” he added.

Akıncı explained that it was clearly outlined in the budget how the money, which is from the discretionary fund, can be spent.

“We can discuss this fund but not on the basis of lies. Mrs Siber served in parliament for five years and served as prime minister. Why didn’t she think of getting rid of this fund back then?” asked Akıncı.

Akıncı also took a swing at former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat who criticized him for being on bad terms with Ankara.

He explained how his remarks on the prospects of Turkey’s annexation of the north had been taken out of context and how Talat had chosen to remain quiet on the matter.

“Mr Talat can be a candidate from his own party. Everyone has the right to be a candidate and I respect that right but he doesn’t have to launch a smearing campaign against me to support his own candidate,” Akıncı said.

He concluded by stating that he had no quarrels with anyone and that his only priority was to ensure that Turkish Cypriots existed on the island freely and by preserving their own culture or identity.

Later on Wednesday, Siber hit back at Akıncı, accusing him of not keeping his earlier election promise on making every detail of the discretionary fund public.

In addition to standing by her allegations, Siber said the monthly pay-check of ₺150,000 (approx. €22,000) could also be verified and confirmed by the finance ministry.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) and presidential candidate Tufan Erhürman on Wednesday spoke out against the party’s former leader and for Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat concerning his recent statements to the press.

“Mr Mehmet Ali Talat is the former leader of the CTP and is an important person in the party but he is not a politician speaking on behalf of the party,” Erhürman said

The CTP leader was asked to comment on Talat’s recent remarks against Mustafa Akıncı on Hakikat web TV. Erhürman added that it would be incorrect to associate Mr Talat with the official bodies of the party.

Expressing his confidence that he will make it into the second round of the elections Erhürman said the people expect the president to be in dialogue with all relevant parties in the north and elsewhere.

“The president must be able to establish a healthy dialogue with the United Nations (UN), the Greek Cypriot side, the European Union (EU), the United States and even with Greece…No matter who is in power, the president must also be in communication with all the political parties. This is the least of expectations from any president,” Erhürman said.

He added that foreign policy was among the main responsibilities of the Office of the President.

Regarding relations with Turkey, Erhürman noted that the focus should be on the economic protocol signed between Nicosia and Ankara.

Erhürman argued that the protocol needed to be restructured so as to address the sensitivities of Turkish Cypriots.

The CTP leader said the Office of the President had three main functions namely the negotiations process, foreign policy and economic initiatives.

“The negotiations processes have lasted too long. This is something that we do not desire. We believe the process should be results-oriented to take us to a solution swiftly,” Erhürman added.

He also noted that the CTP rejects resumption of the talks from it left off in Crans Montana but admitted that “valuable time had been lost in the period between Crans Montana in 2017 and the Berlin trilateral.”

“The Turkish Cypriot community cannot be imprisoned in uncertainty caused due to the current situation. We have to immediately mobilise our efforts to find the solution. If the negotiations fail due to reasons not caused by the Turkish Cypriot side, we cannot sit down and wait for the next round. We do not have the luxury to lose valuable time,” Erhürman concluded.

In the meantime, the leader of the Rebirth Party (YDP) and presidential candidate Erhan Arıklı on Wednesday said he was the only candidate who was openly opposed a federal solution.

Speaking on Kıbrıs Postası web TV, Arıklı argued that the other candidates were ambiguous in their remarks, leaving an open door for a federal settlement.

“I am only one opposing the federation among the right parties and many who support the continuation of the TRNC are going to vote for me,” Arıklı claimed.

He argued that the Cyprus Problem will remain unresolved as long as the two sides continue to discuss a federation.

“We have been hearing repeatedly that this is the last attempt but no one is admitting that the federation model is rejected. We will exercise our right to self-determination and show the world the Turkish Cypriot people reject a federation,” Arıklı stressed.

He also argued that the world and the UN must respect the Turkish Cypriots’ right to self-determination.

“If elected, I will push for a referendum on whether or not to continue with talks for a federal settlement. If a decision for federation comes out, I will keep quiet and ask the parliament to appoint a negotiator. If not, I will fight for lifting of the embargoes and for the TRNC,” Arıklı concluded.

KEY ACTORS
Akıncı
>> A solution will beneficial for Cyprus and the region but Turkey as well.
>> A solution in Cyprus could open a new chapter in Turkey’s relations with the EU & the rest of the region.
>> The issue of hydrocarbons should not be a source of tension but an area where cooperation can be carried out by the two sides.
>> Cypriots need to find a way to share the island’s offshore resources.
>> Failure to reduce tensions will have serious consequences.
>> Outcome of the trilateral meeting in Berlin removed all ambiguity surrounding the basis of a solution & also showed that a new process, will begin soon after the elections.
>> A BBF solution on the basis of political equality is important. Its alternative will be a reinforcement of partition on the island.
>> The two sides need to make the best use of the opportunity to share the benefits of Cyprus. Failure to do so will result in the greater powers splitting the island’s wealth & its inhabitants will suffer the consequences. 
>> No quarrels with Ankara. The only priority is to ensure TCs’ identity & culture is preserved.

Erhürman (CTP)
>> Talat does not speak on behalf of the CTP & it’s incorrect to associate him with the official bodies of the party.
>> The people expect the president to be in dialogue with all relevant parties in the north & elsewhere including with all the political parties.
>> Foreign policy is one of the main responsibilities of the Turkish Cypriot leader.
>> Relations must focus on the economic protocol signed with Turkey & protocol must be restructured.
>> The process should be results-oriented to take the TCs to a solution swiftly.
>> The CTP rejects resumption of the talks from the point left off in Crans Montana.
>> The TC community cannot be imprisoned in uncertainty caused due to the current situation.
>> If the negotiations fail due to reasons not caused by the TC side, we cannot sit down & wait for a new round of talks.

Arıklı (YDP)

>> Only candidate opposing to a federal solution.
>> The Cyprus Problem will remain unresolvedas long as the two sides continue to discuss a federation.


Özersay sends letter to UNSG, expressing readiness to cooperate

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog
Negotiations Process, Energy

OVERVIEW

Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay on Wednesday sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcoming the mentioning in the latest United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) report that political sensitivities such as recognition did not constitute an obstacle for cooperation.

According to a press release from the Turkish Cypriot Foreign Ministry, Özersay also expressed his office’s readiness to take steps towards realizing the calls for cooperation made in the report.

He said that the call made both in the report and the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions for reducing tensions over hydrocarbons was, in fact, a call for both sides to cooperate.

Özersay added that the Turkish Cypriot side remained open to these calls and pointed out that the July 2019 proposal for the co-management of the island’s offshore resources was still valid.

He pointed out in the letter that both the international community and the Greek Cypriot side openly recognized that Turkish Cypriots, as co-owners of the island, had rights over Cyprus’s hydrocarbons.

“In light of this fact, all decisions concerning the hydrocarbon resources must be taken jointly by the two sides. If the international community is sincere on this issue it must without further delay encourage the Greek Cypriot side to approach this issue through diplomacy and cooperation,” he said.

In addition to other observations, Özersay reminded in his letter that UNFICYP needed to acquire the consent of the Turkish Cypriot side in order to conduct its operations on the island.

“UNFICYP is currently able to operate in the north of the island through the goodwill of the Turkish Cypriot side,” he added.

KEY ACTORS
Özersay (HP)
>> Mention in the UNFICYP report that recognition is not required for cooperation between two sides is welcomed.
>> TC side ready to take steps towards realizing calls for cooperation.
>> TC side’s July 2019 dated hydrocarbon cooperation proposal still valid.
>> As TCs rights over hydrocarbons are recognized by int’l community & GC side, all decisions on the issue should be taken jointly.
>> Int’l community needs to encourage GC side to approach the issue through diplomacy & cooperation.
>> UNFICYP requires the consent of TC side to conduct operations in the north. 


Famagsusta CSOs express concern over Maraş (Varosha) steps

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
Property, Territory

OVERVIEW

Both Famagusta Initiative and Famagusta Our City have expressed their deep concern regarding the unilateral steps taken regarding Maraş (Varosha), all six dailies report.

In a written statement issued, the two NGOs, which have been working to bring the members of the two communities closer, refer to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions 550 and 789 and accept that the relevant paragraphs in the resolutions to constitute the basis for the future of the now-fenced-off town.

“In addition to urging the two leaders to resume the process for the unification of the island, we as the two NGOs from the region see Maraş (Varosha) as an unprecedented opportunity to revive the town, to reunite the greater Famagusta region, and to launch an island-wide reconciliation process,” the statement read.

The statement also raised the viewpoints of the two NGOs on Maraş (Varosha) in ten points.

Rejecting any property claims made by the Evkaf Administration of Cyprus, the NGOs referred to the Annex of the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) constitution, which was signed by Dr Fazıl Küçük and Rauf Denktaş.

“Not only do the signatures of Küçük and Denktaş create a new situation regarding the Evkaf claims, but there is no any legal basis or political support for the Evkaf’s property regime from 1960 to 1974,” the statement noted.

The NGOs also noted that keeping Maraş (Varosha) behind fences even if it is a military zone, constitutes a human rights violation. The NGOs urged the authorities to lift the town’s “military zone” status without further delay and extended their demand to the Maronite villages of Karpaşa (Karpassia), Gürpınar (Agia Marina) and Özhan (Asomatos).

The NGOs also argued that Maraş (Varosha) could immediately be taken up under the territorial adjustments chapter and its administration can be handed over to the UN Peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

“Handing over the administration of Maraş (Varosha) to UNFICYP can easily create a new framework for confidence-building measures (CBMs) and would allow the two leaders to discuss a new set of CBMs to prove their determination for the comprehensive settlement,” the statement read.

The NGOs also urged the authorities to ensure stakeholder consultation and participation in decision-making processes for Maraş (Varosha), which should be taken up within the greater Famagusta region and the region’s ecological, cultural and economic development.

The NGOs also criticized the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades’ proposal to veto the European Union financial aid for the Turkish Cypriot community.

“Vetoing these funds would increase the impact of the funds given by Turkey…which are spent for military; for investments on pre-1974 Greek Cypriot properties and for strengthening the assimilationist policies that do not respect the secular character of the Turkish Cypriots,” the statement stressed.

“The steps to be taken in Maraş (Varosha) will increase the momentum in the talks with the aim of reaching a comprehensive settlement which is a federation based on the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots,” the statement concluded.


A second suspected case of coronavirus turns out to be a false alarm

Kıbrıs Postası
Internal Security

OVERVIEW

A second patient with a suspected case of the coronavirus turned out to a false alarm, the Turkish Cypriot Health Minister Ali Pilli announced on Wednesday.

The patient, a 30-year-old Iranian national who works and lives in Famagusta had arrived at the Famagusta State hospital late Wednesday evening with complaints of a cough and high fever.

She was then transferred to Nicosia and placed under quarantine until the test results came back.

The woman who tested negative for the virus was diagnosed with pneumonia.

The latest suspected case came just days after another woman, a 74-year old pensioner from Famagusta, had been admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms only to test negative for the virus.

The Turkish Cypriot health ministry had announced on Tuesday that it will be able to begin carrying out its own coronavirus tests soon.