GCC Press Review 28 Feb 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

A court battle with the Hungarian investor

They broke up the consortium and the Archbishop is going ahead with a Russian ‘partner’. (Transport Minister) Yiannis Karousos: No permission will be given unless the terms set by the Antiquities Department are met. Excavations at the archaeological site have been stopped for months.

  • EU sanctions: Small basket with two persons (on the list)
  • Turkey: Record low for (ruling) AKP

Phileleftheros

They put them on the stop list

The first targeted measures; travel ban to the EU for two Turks (employees) of ΤΡΑΟ. Protest demarches from Ankara.

  • Decisions on strengthening checks in Cyprus (on the coronavirus), focus on the crossings, quarantine in Troodos.
  • Erdogan is unstoppable, he announced drillings – “Drilling for every type of energy source.”

Haravgi

Cyprus is at the bottom as regards pensions-allowances to the disabled

The EU Commission’s and Eurostat’s reports are a slap in the face for Cyprus. Among the last in EU as regards expenditure on social protection despite that one in four is faced with poverty and social exclusion. Full failure for the government also on issues of energy and environment.

  • There can be no solution without the return of Famagusta
  • Persons on quarantine for coronavirus

Cyprus Mail

Loophole in GESY draws tax cheats

Over 200 are enrolled in health system, not as individuals but as legal entities to secure lower taxes.

  • Varosha owners should file to IPC, top lawyer says
  • President offers parts of Troodos residence for quarantine as three more people being tested

Alithia

The world in turmoil from the deadly coronavirus!

Third relief in Cyprus but until when? Over 2,800 dead, more than 82,000 confirmed cases, savings have started to be affected, events are being cancelled, and schools close. In Cyprus, the government residences in Troodos will be used to host persons in quarantine. The crossings will not close.

  • EU measures: Two TPAO executives on the list of sanctions
  • Occupied areas: The election campaign heightens with focus on the Cyprob
  • He came (to the country) five times: Record for an irregular Iranian migrant to Cyprus

Main News

Two TPAO executives on EU list of sanctions on drillings off Cyprus

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

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that two high-ranking officials from the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), Mehmet Ferruh Akalin and Ali Coskun Namoglu, have been added to the list of EU sanctions over Turkey’s illegal drilling activity in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Citing the official journal of the EU, which published the decision on Thursday, the papers report that Akalin is Vice-President (Assistant General Manager) and member of the Board of Directors of TPAO. He is the head of TPAO’s Exploration, R&D Centre and Information Technologies Departments. In his capacity as TPAO Vice-President and head of its Exploration Department, Akalin is responsible for planning, directing and implementing TPAO’s offshore hydrocarbon exploration activities. These include TPAO’s drilling activities which have not been authorised by the Republic of Cyprus, the journal said.

Namoglu, it said, is the Deputy Director of the Exploration Department of TPAO and in this capacity, he was is involved in planning, directing and implementing TPAO’s offshore hydrocarbon exploration activities. It then lists Namoglu’s connection to drilling by the Yavuz and Fatih during the same periods as listed for Akalin.

According to the EU Council, “those unauthorised drilling activities were carried out by the TPAO drilling vessel Yavuz off Cyprus between July and September 2019, the Yavuz drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ between October 2019 and January 2020, drilling by the Fatih in the island’s EEZ in close proximity to its territorial sea, since November 2019, and drilling by the Fatih in a western area of Cyprus’ EEZ between May and November 2019.”

“TPAO has also announced further planned drilling activities to be carried out, without the authorisation of the Republic of Cyprus, by the TPAO drilling vessel Yavuz in an area of the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus notified by it to the United Nations and delimited in agreements with Egypt and Israel, between January and May 2020,” the Council decision said.

It also said that this regulation entered into force on the date of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and was binding and directly applicable in all member states.

The restrictive measures consist of a travel ban to the EU and an asset freeze. Moreover, EU persons and entities are not allowed to make funds available to the two listed persons.

Phileleftheros, in its main item, reports that the Republic of Cyprus’ diplomatic actions have yielded results. It also reports that Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides chose to keep a low profile as regards the announcement which vindicated his policy and is now able to hope for the expansion of the list if Turkey continues the same practices. At the same time, however, the foreign ministry has not withdrawn Nicosia’s original proposal to put on the list of sanctions also two legal entities and a number of individuals which is still on the EU table, while it is also discussing other options in the same direction if and as long as Ankara does not change its stance.

Citing information, the paper reports that Christodoulides has asked everyone to avoid fanfare pointing out the difficulties encountered until the first list was announced, but also that the aim is none other than to send a message by the EU to Ankara to behave.  The foreign ministry says that the sanctions are not an end in themselves, but an essential tool in order to compel Turkey to end its activities in the maritime zones of the Republic of Cyprus, the daily reports.

Politis reports that the two men are TPAO executives, however, in no way one can claim that the EU has exhausted its strictness with the inclusion of the Turkish company’s leading pyramid, which guides and makes decisions about the activities of the Turkish drilling rigs in the Cypriot EEZ.

Government sources, however, believe that the EU sends a message to Turkey that it does not approve of Ankara’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the daily reports, adding that expectations were much higher at the beginning of this process, though everyone knew it was a very difficult task, as it was not easy at all for all partners to accept this list.


Prominent lawyer calls on Varosha refugees to file to the IPC against Turkey’s plans

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

OVERVIEW

Lawyer Achilleas Demetriades on Thursday called on Varosha refugees, especially those with properties on the coastal strip to collectively file their claims with the Immovable Properties Commission (IPC) for their right to return, as a way of thwarting Turkey’s plans on the fenced-off town, the dailies report.

The lawyer said that the response to statements by Turkish and some Turkish Cypriot officials during and after the round-table discussion on opening the fenced-off area of Famagusta would be for Varosha refugees to update their titles deeds to these properties but also the details of the companies based in Varosha.  Since then, he said, the companies’ directors and shareholders have died so their inheritors – whether individuals or legal entities – must update these records.

Then, he said, they must consider if they want to file to the IPC, and seek to return to their properties and the rents that they should have received since 1974.

Such a move would offer refugees a line of defence against Turkey’s greed, he said, pointing out that it was obvious Ankara wanted access to the coastal strip of Varosha. If there is way to block access to the coastal front, there is a possibility it would not want to open the fenced-off area, Demetriades said. He said he bases this conviction on the statements by the chairman of the Turkish Bar Association who referred to the 281 applications to the IPC on properties in Varosha which means that Turkey has studied the applications and has singled out those on Varosha. The lawyer said that if the rest of the owners don’t apply to the IPC, Turkey’s argument will be that they are not interested in returning to their properties and will give them to others expressing interest.

He also said there are 425 plots along the coast on which hotels and other tourism infrastructure and units are built whereas the entire fenced-off area is 6,450 plots.

The lawyer warned that the last round bell as regards Varosha has rung.

Cyprus Mail reports that Demetriades, citing his 32-year experience of dealing with Ankara on cases at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), warned of Turkey’s announced intention of opening up Varosha after elections in the north in April.

“When Turkey says it will do something, we hope it won’t happen. It happens, and then we rush to fix what they told us would happen,” the lawyer said, according to the paper.

The dailies also report that Demetriades, on statements by President Nicos Anastasiades threatening to try to freeze EU accession funds to Turkey if it made any moves on Varosha, he said that the government could instead seek earmarking €90m of that money which would go to the families of the enclaved people and the enclaved people themselves as per a 2014 ECHR decision which Ankara never paid out.

Phileleftheros also reports that lawyer Pantelitsa Evagorou, also referred to the two cases at the ECHR handled by Demetriades’ office regarding properties of GC refugees in Varosha and Tymbou and the ineffectiveness of IPC.

She said that Turkey’s main goal at this stage is to close both cases through unilateral declarations, which will be limited to procedural issues and in particular the issue of delays by the IPC.

The applicants’ position is that the possibility of these cases closing would not be to their interest or safeguards their human rights since it would not give the ECHR the opportunity to consider the issue of the violation of their property rights, but also the important issue of EVKAF’s claims, Evagorou said, according to Phileleftheros.


AKEL: ‘Return of Famagusta under GC administration is a red line’

Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Human Rights, Territory, Property

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that AKEL held on Thursday evening an event at the Dherynia crossing to protest over Turkey’s moves as regards the opening of the fenced-off area of Famagusta.

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said that there can be no solution to the Cyprus problem without the return of Famagusta. He also said that the return of Famagusta under GC administration was a red line for GCs.

He also called on the two leaders to prove with actions that they want the solution. Recalling the relevant provisions in the High-Level Agreements between Spyros Kyprianou and Rauf Denktash in 1979 and UN resolutions 550 and 789 that condemn every attempt for settlement of the area, Kyprianou said that Turkey took advantage the fact that there have been no talks for more than two years and is now threatening with new faits accomplis.

While Famagusta can and must be part of the solution and efforts to build mutual trust, Turkey is trying to turn it into part of the problem, he said, according to the daily.

Famagusta Mayor Simos Ioannou said they were disgruntled by developments and that they plan on turning to all decision-making centres to avert new faits accomplis.

He called on all Famagusta refugees to join his municipality in its struggle for the implementation of UN resolutions and EU decisions on the return of Famagusta to its legal residents.

The dailies also cite the head of the UN Security Council, Belgium’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, saying on Wednesday, in response to a question by a journalist after a meeting, that the Security Council’s position on the issue of Famagusta remains the same citing the October statement.

KEY ACTORS
Kyprianou (AKEL)
>>
There can be no solution to the Cyprob without the return of Famagusta under GC administration which is a red line.
>> Turkey is taking advantage of the prolonged standstill to establish new faits accomplis & make Famagusta, which should be part of the solution and efforts to build mutual trust, part of the problem.
>> Calls on the two leaders to prove with actions that they want the solution.


EDEK calls for raising number of MP seats

Haravgi
Governance & Power Sharing

OVERVIEW

According to the paper, EDEK tabled a proposal in parliament on Thursday calling for the increase of deputy seats from 80 to 90, starting from next year’s legislative elections.

The daily recalls that the Constitution provides for 80 parliamentary seats, 56 (70%) for GCs and the rest 24 (30%) for the TCs. The latter remain vacant since 1964 as a result of the bicommunal troubles, the daily reported.

EDEK MP Costis Efstathiou told the paper that there are not enough deputy seats for the effective response of legislators to the increased international committees and other obligations of the parliament.

He said his party’s proposal concerns raising the number of seats to 90, 63 (70%) of which will concern the GC community and 27 (30%) the TC community.