GCC Press Review 24 Mar 2020

Front Page Headlines


Everyone under confinement due to irresponsibility

N. Anastasiades: We will win this war if we stay in shelters. Ban on needless movement from 6 in the afternoon to April 13. Churches, parks, construction sites and all retail shops close.

  • Protection without discrimination


Stay in the shelters”

President declared a ban on needless movement – So that we don’t reach situations such as in Italy. “We observe behavious by some citizens that expose the entirety of the population to mortal danger”.

  • Turkey adds insult to injury with EU
  • Bellicosity of Turks at Evros undaunted


We stay in our shelters – homes

President finally dared to close churches. End of operations in construction, retail shops. Another 21 cases, a total of 116. 39 in the occupied areas.

Cyprus Mail

Lockdown for three weeks

All parks and beaches closed. People must always carry ID. President: we cannot follow Italy.


Our life changes completely!

President Anastasiades announced stricter measures to deal with the coronavirus – Almost total lockdown. Unecessary movements banned from today – Up to 10 people at weddings, funerals, christenings – Anyone moving should carry an ID or a passport and an additional proof of reason for movement – Beyond any other criminal liability, offenders will face extra-judicial penalty of up to 150 euro.

Main News

RoC announces almost full lockdown to limit unecessary movement

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, Human Rights, EU Matters, CBMs


All dailies forcus on the new measures announced on Monday evening by President Anastasiades. Anastasiades announced that starting at 6 in the afternoon on Tuesday until April 13, all needless movements outside the home will be prohibited except for specific reasons.

In his speech, Anastasiades said that this isn’t a war that can be won by going out to battle, but by staying in our shelters. He also pointed out that the situation should not be allowed to reach the dramatic heights of the situation in Italy and Spain.

The lockdown measures are similar to those put forward in Greece and many other European countries. Citizens will only be able to go to work if necessary, or to the doctor, the bank, or for personal exercise. Churches as well as parks will be closed.

The dailies point out that the strict measures were brought about the lack of responsibility shown by some citizens during the past week.

Politis reports that 21 new cases of the coronavirus have been detected in the government controlled areas on Monday, which means the total number of cases has risen to 116 (including those in the SBAs, but not those in the occupied areas).

Phileleftheros tallies the incidents so far in the entirety of the island to 155, including the 39 cases that had been reported in total by early Monday in the occupied areas. Other media report on the additional case that was detected on Monday.

Out of the 21 new cases located on Monday in the government controlled areas, twelve were detected through tracking the contacts of people that have been already infected, three are connected to the cases in the Paphos General Hospital and six had just returned from abroad.

University of Cyprus professor in Biological Sciences Leontios Kostrikkis told journalists that expanding coronavirus tests to more than 1,000 per day is being considered. He added however that in order for medical centers other than the Institute of Genetics and Neurology to conduct the tests, they have to first provide for the same level of testing quality. The dailies report that about 3,500 tests have been conducted in the government controlled areas so far.

Politis also reports that the total number of cases in the occupied areas reached 40 on Monday, after one more person tested positive. It is noted that it is as of yet unclear how many tests have been conducted in total in the north. The newspapers also report that the group of German tourists where the first case was found is returning to Germany on Tuesday after staying in quarantine for 14 days.

The dailies report that the occupied areas are in almost total lockdown since Monday and that 42 persons were arrested for not keeping to the curfew. The “government” is also expected to announce its three months economic support package on Tuesday, while political leaders ask for more financial support from Turkey since the “TRNC” needs a further two million Turkish liras to cover immediate needs. Turkey has promised to send 72 million Turkish liras as assistance in combating the coronavirus.

Meanwhile Politis, Haravgi and Cyprus Mail report that the European Commission has announced it is earmarking 5 million euro to fund the provision of medical equipment and supplies for the Turkish Cypriot community. The equipment to be funded will include mainly respirators and protective equipment.

The dailies note that the provision of the assistance is coordinated through UNDP and the bicommunal Technical Comittee for Health. Phileleftheros reports, citing the T/C press, that T/C leader Mustafa Akinci has asked for help from the European Union.

Measures taken to protect migrants and asylum seekers in Cyprus

Migration & Citizenship, Internal Security, Human Rights


Politis reports on the measures the Interior Ministry has taken to protect refugees and migrants living in the Kofinou and Kokkinotrimithia reception centers from the spread of the coronavirus.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Loizos Michael told Politis that Asylum Services and the Civil Registry and Migration Department are keeping all foreigners living in Cyprus informed of the situation in English and other languages, including the announcements issued by the Health Ministry.

Michael also said that the Interior Ministry also keeps foreign workers and house workers informed through agents and through SMS messages, while instructing employers to advise foreign workers to limit their movements.

He added that the Labour Ministry has informed all asylum aplicants that their unemployed status has been automatically renewed so that they are not negatively affected.

UNHCR representative in Cyprus Emilia Strovolidou told Politis that the agency has been translating instructions issued by the government to multiple languages. Strovolidou added that UNCHR is closely monitoring the situation at the Kofinou open accomodation center.

Politis cites information that some asylum seekers have shown symptoms that could have been caused by the coronavirus, but that no tests have been conducted.

Michael told Politis that the two migrant centers have been stocked with health products and antiseptics and that medical and paramedical staff has been increased. He added that the Interior Ministry has designated quarantine areas in both these accomodation centers.

Politis also reports that volunteers that worked at the Kofinou center have suspended their work due to the measures. The Red Cross has sent messages to its own volunteers asking for assistance.

The newspaper also quotes a recent announcement by UNCHR head Filippo Grandi, in which the international organisation points out that every country should take care not to close off routes of humanitarian assistance and asylum due to the coronavirus. Grandi stressed that solutions exist if one ones to protect public health without contravening human rights.

Politis recalls that the Police and the Interior Ministry are defending their decision to turn away a boat with 100 Syrian refugees that were found approaching the island near Cape Greco. Their ship ended up in the occupied areas where the migrants were taken in by the “TRNC” authorities.

Interior Ministry sources insisted speaking to Politis that the migrants refused the help offered to them by the Police (provided they returned to their country of departure) and that their lives were not in danger. If their lives had been in danger, the same source added, the authorities would have “clearly acted differently”.

Cyprus raises EEZ issue at Turkey – EU relations discussion at EU level

EU Matters, Regional/ International Relations, External Security, Energy, Migration & Citizenship


Phileleftheros reports that Turkey’s behaviour regarding migration was one of the issues on the agenda of Monday’s teleconference meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council. The EU’s 27 Foreign Ministers and High Representative Josep Borrel discussed the EU – Turkey joint statement on migration from 2016 and the Commission’s assessment on whether Turkey is applying the terms of the original deal.

In his public statements after the meeeting, Borrel said that the situation on the Greco-Turkish border is much better than before. He added that the EU and Turkey are jointly re-examining the 2016 joint statement on migration, also examining other issues such as visa liberalisation and the upgrading of the Customs Union.

Borrel also said that cooperation is the only way forward and that he expects to be able to present his first conclusions to the EU leaders during the next high-level teleconference that has replaced this month’s European Council.

According to sources cited by Phileleftheros, Borrel told the Foreign Ministers that Turkey is asking for a lot from the EU. He is also reported to have said that Ankara believes that it has given a lot of ground on the migration issue while the EU has given nothing.

The newspaper cites information on statements made by the Cypriot and Greek Foreign Ministers that Turkey cannot be using human pain as a tool. Other countries supported that statement, it is added, without further detail. Phileleftheros also reports, citing information, that Cypriot FM Nicos Christodoulides brought up actions taken by Turkey in the region.

According to the newspaper, the French FM also said that Turkey’s actions in Libya and Cyprus have to be taken into account. Borrel is reported to have agreed.