TCC Press Review 28 Mar 2020

Front Page Headlines

Yenidüzen

15 villages quarantined off

Street curfew and quarantine imposed in Karpaz (Karpasia). A decision was taken to impose a full street curfew in 15 different villages in the Karpaz (Karpasia) after several cases due to contact among locals was confirmed. The number of cases in the north rose to 61. Meanwhile, all 26 tests carried out yesterday (Friday) came back negative. Mayor of Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpaso) Suphi Çoşkun: “Five drivers who transported the German tourist group still not placed in quarantine.” Mayor of Yenierenköy (Yialousa) Emrah Yeşilırmak: “People rushed to the supermarkets. Had we been given notice, at least the municipal wardens would have set up controls. There was chaos.” One of the bus drivers Salahi Debreli who spoke to Yenidüzen said: “We were not tested after transporting the 28 suspected passengers.

  • State hospital converted into a quarantine area – Patients receiving treatment at the main section of the Dr Burhan Nalbantoğlu State Hospital were transferred to different services last night (Friday)
  • Two new deaths in the south – While the death toll reaches five in the south, the total number of cases rose to 162. While the 47-year-old who died suffered from no underlying health problems, the 76-year-old woman suffered from other chronic illnesses. 
  • (Republican Turkish Party leader Tufan) Erhürman: “A crisis centre needs to be set up immediately.”

Kıbrıs Postası

Ceased print/Online only

Kıbrıs

The fear is growing

The rise in the Covid-19 cases in Karpaz (Karpasia) raised serious concerns in the area. The Council of Ministers imposed a full curfew in 15 villages to prevent the further spread of the virus. The health ministry converted the Nicosia state hospital into a quarantine hospital. In a statement issued, the ministry stated there are 29 TRNC citizens, one Turkmen and two German nationals held under quarantine at the moment. The total number of cases reached 32 with the latest four cases confirmed.

  • Five deaths, 16 new cases in south Cyprus.
  • Workers from the third countries also to be given support – Labour and Social Security Minister Faiz Sucuoğlu announced the government is working on a new package to include third-country nationals in the support package following the reactions for excluding them from the first one.
  • ₺135m deposited for the Social Security pensioners in the banks.

Havadis

The situation is bad

Finance Minister Olgun Amcaoğlu spoke to Havadis web TV regarding the economic support package and responded to the criticisms. Contradicting Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, Amcaoğlu said: “We will tell, not ask the banks to reduce interest rates on personal loans.” He also said the monthly instalments of loans are being postponed for three months through a law implemented. Amcaoğlu also harshly criticised the hotel and casino owners for not paying their workers. He also rejected the accusations of the government being “racist” towards workers from third countries. He added the government will prepare additional packages to assist them.

  • 15 villages officially under quarantine – The Council of Ministers imposed a full street curfew in 15 villages in Karpaz (Karpasia) to carry out health checks and virus scanning. The full curfew was imposed from 2 pm on Friday for seven days.
  • Extend a hand of assistance to the Turkish Cypriot people – President Mustafa Akıncı sends letters to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Presidents of the European Commission and the World Bank.
  • The latest situation: North: 62 cases zero deaths; South: 162 cases five deaths; Turkey 5698 cases 92 deaths.

Diyalog

“I’m here too”

Support rained into Diyalog’s fundraiser marathon for the coronavirus crisis. More than ₺3m (€416,000) was collected in six hours.

  • Five new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the TRNC. The number of patients receiving treatment has risen to 32.
  • The toll is rising – 16 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in the south. Two patients lost their lives.
  • Loss of life 92 –Turkey’s coronavirus cases jump to 5698.
  • There was panic – Street curfew imposed on 15 villages in the Karpaz (Karpasia) area. People rushed to the supermarkets.

Afrika

Street curfew for 15 villages

Street curfew imposed in the entire area after a sudden surge of cases in the Karpaz (Karpasia) area. Villages were curfew has been declared: Ziyamet (Leonarisso), Yeşilköy (Agios Andronikos), Balalan (Platanissos), Adaçay (Melanagra), Sipahi (Agia Triada), Yenierenköy (Yialousa), Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpaso), Gelincik (Vasili), Derince (Vathylakas), Boltaşlı (Lythrangomi), Taşlıca (Anogyra), Avtepe (Agios Symeon), Kurova (Koroveia), Kaleburnu (Galinoporni) and Esenköy (Armenochori). Residents will not be allowed to leave their homes unless for medical emergencies with permits to be issued by the District Office

  • Ali Pilli: 102 Karpaz (Karpasia) tests negative – Pilli who said that only four of 77 tests carried out in Karpaz (Karpasia) and Yenierenköy (Yialousa) had tested positive, added the other 102 tests carried out had all come back negative. The number of active positive cases in the north has reached 32.
  • Death toll rises to five, total cases reach 162 –16 new cases were detected in the south yesterday (Friday). Two people lost their lives thus the total number of those killed by coronavirus has reached five. It was reported that one of those who died female while the other four were males. The total number of cases reach 162. 
  • Akıncı sends Erdoğan letter – President Mustafa Akıncı asked for help. Akıncı also sent letters to the head of the EU Commission and the World Bank conveying the difficult situation which Turkish Cypriots were facing. He said that the contribution these organisations can make to the TRNC which has limits in accessing means to fight against the virus was of vital importance. 

Main News

14 new cases in the north, Karpaz (Karpasia) under full curfew

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
Internal Security

OVERVIEW

The Turkish Cypriot government on Friday imposed a full street curfew at 15 Karpaz (Karpasia) villages for seven days several locals in the area tested positive for coronavirus.

All cases are believed to have been in contact with a bus driver who was involved in transporting the group of German tourists to their quarantine location.

The driver also tested positive in the north.

The curfew was declared after health officials warned that the north was now facing endemic conditions, which means infections are no longer only imported from overseas or through contacts with people who travelled abroad.

Meanwhile, locals in the 15 villages rushed in panic to supermarkets to stock up on supplies before the curfew came into place, defeating the purpose of the ban which was to contain any further spread of the virus.

“The government has ruined all our efforts. No one consulted me when deciding to impose a curfew decision and no one knows where the health ministry is,” Mayor of Yenierenköy (Yialousa) Emrah Yeşilırmak expressing his outrage said.

In a social media broadcast, Yeşilırmak said he “begged the authorities to share the names of the four positive cases with him” and added that should he had known the names, he could have assisted in the efforts to trace and locate the people they might have been in contact with.

The mayor was also very critical of the cabinet’s decision to appoint Kemal Deniz Dana as the head of the coordination board responsible from the area.

“The authorities think they can manage the area from Nicosia but they are mistaken…They have caused panic among the people who rushed to the supermarkets increasing the risk of spreading the virus. Those who have decided to impose the curfew for the Karpaz (Karpasia) villages will be responsible for any death that might occur in the area,” Yeşilırmak concluded. 

The full curfew is announced for the following villages:

“Ziyamet (Leonarisso), Yeşilköy (Agios Andronikos), Balalan (Platanissos) , Adaçay (Melanagra), Sipahi (Ayia Trias), Yenierenköy (Yialousa), Dipkarpaz (Risokarpaso), Gelincik (Vasili), Derince (Vothylakas), Boltaşlı (Lythrangomi), Taşlıca (Neta), Avtepe (Agios Symeon), Kuruova (Koroveia), Kaleburnu (Galinoporni), and Esenköy (Koilanemos).

The Turkish Cypriot health ministry meanwhile, on Friday evening announced that 179 people have so far been tested for coronavirus but the number of positive cases only remained at four. It also announced that the Dr Burhan Nalbantoğlu State Hospital in Nicosia had been converted into a “quarantine hospital.”

The Interior Ministry, in another statement, said at none of the inmates at the central prison were displaying any coronavirus symptoms.

The ministry also said that the inmates were being checked by medical staff three times per day and that the Civil Defence Organisation was spraying the prison with disinfects three times per week.

“An inmate, who had developed a fever tested negative. Nonetheless, the prisoner has already been separated from the other inmates as precautionary measures,” the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, calls were made on Friday for the creation of a crisis centre.

Leader of the main opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP) Tufan Erhürman on Friday said the government needed to create a crisis centre immediately.

In a post on social media, Erhürman said that the latest cases highlighted the urgency to establish a single crisis coordination centre which would operate beyond any political party or political view.

He said the centre needed to be made up of representatives of health experts, representatives from the Civil Defence Organisation, municipalities and the interior ministry.

A similar call was made by the head of KAMU-İŞ (Turkish Cypriot Public Workers’ Union) Ahmet Serdaroğlu.

“A new and independent crisis management unit must be established immediately because the authorities cannot even protect the medical workers let alone the civilians,” he said.

Serdaroğlu claimed the health ministry was not even providing ambulance drivers or emergency workers with the necessary protective gear.

Meanwhile, 90 Turkish Cypriots residing in Turkey arrived with a chartered flight at Ercan (Tymbou) airport on Friday, all dailies reported.

88 of them were taken to a central quarantine facility and two have been taken straight to the quarantine at the hospital in Nicosia.

140 parcels of medical equipment and medicines from Turkey were also delivered to health officials in the north on the same plane.

President Mustafa Akıncı, addressing the Turkish Cypriot community in a video message posted online, renewed his appeal to the public to remain at home.

He also expressed his gratitude for the workers of the municipalities, police, health sector and others who are working to contain the pandemic.

“We all have to assist the workers and the struggle against the coronavirus pandemic…The way to do that is to stay at our homes,” Akıncı concluded.

The government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic came under further criticism from the Health Advisory Board established under the Office of the President.

The board, in a statement on Friday, said that the government was refusing to accept its offer for assistance.

“The decisions are adopted in an extremely slow pace and there are serious organisational shortcomings, “the statement read, warning that the coronavirus pandemic was spreading rapidly in the north.

“The crisis must be managed from one centre,” the statement stressed, giving the example of Germany where the Robert Koch Scientific Institute is coordinating the country’s efforts against the virus.

“An independent coordination team that is made up of a broad base could help overcome the crisis, otherwise the situation is seriously grave,” the statement concluded.


Cabinet defends economic package despite harsh reactions

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
Economy, internal security

OVERVIEW

We have announced a sustainable and fair economic package based on the realities of the north,” Finance Minister Olgun Amcaoğlu said on Friday as he tried to defend the government’s economic measures which came under harsh criticism from all sectors.

Speaking to during a programme on Havadis Web TV, Amcaoğlu added he was proud of the package prepared by the government.

He said the package had been prepared with nearly zero revenues, did not touch pensioners or minimum wage earners.

“How could an economic package that was designed within the principles of social justice be bad?” Amcaoğlu asked.

He said the biggest salary cuts were first made from the highest earners and added that everyone had to make sacrifices during this period.

Arguing that economic activity had shrunk by nearly 50 per cent since the measures were first announced, Amcaoğlu said the state had succeeded in preparing a ₺750m private sector support package.

Moreover, the state will undertake the payment for the interests of the unpaid loans for the businesses with an additional fund of ₺100m created.

Contradicting Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar’s earlier remarks, Amcaoğlu said: “We will tell the banks not ask them to reduce interest rates on personal loans.”

He also said the monthly instalments of loans are being postponed for three months through a law implemented.

He said the banks will automatically postpone all loan payments for three months and there is no need for individuals to apply to their banks.

Amcaoğlu, also rejecting the criticisms that the package is in favour of the business sector, said the government had lowered the credit card interest rates from 2.35 per cent to one per cent and was working to raise credit card limits by 25 per cent.

“None of the banks will ask for lump-sum payments at the end of the three months,” Amcaoğlu stressed and added that the people will be protected against the banks in this period.

Amcaoğlu also harshly criticised the hotel and casino owners for claiming that they are not able to pay their workers.

He said it was not the state’s responsibility to pressure hotels to pay their staff for two more months.

In a related issue, Turkish Cypriot Labour and Social Security Minister Faiz Sucuoğlu on Friday announced the government was working on a new package to include workers from third-countries which had been excluded in the first package.

“We calculated first how much we could pay for Turkish and Turkish Cypriots before announcing the first package…We did not want to announce measures for the third-country nationals before determining how many there are,” Sucuoğlu noted.

He also said the authorities have had discussions with the employers of third-country nationals and a package for them will be announced next week.

The leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party (TDP) leader Cemal Özyiğit said on Friday claimed that the economic package was unfair, inadequate and full of ambiguity,”

In a written statement, Özyiğit argued the economic package, as claimed by the government, did not include any measures to protect the lower-income groups or Small and Medium-Sized (SMEs) enterprises, which will be affected the most in the crisis.

He also noted that the economic package, which drew criticisms from all segments in the north, was very lenient on the banks and the wealthy.

Özyiğit also stressed the 25 per cent cut on the state contributions for the municipalities would hinder the local administrations’ struggle against the coronavirus pandemic.

He noted that the members of the media and media companies must also be included in the category of essential services.

Özyiğit also criticized the government for excluding labourers, who work in the south, from the economic support package, urging it to produce remedies for them as well.

Akıncı, on Friday, sent letters to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, David Malpass, the President of the World Bank and Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development asking for further financial assistance. 

Akıncı, drawing attention to the difficulties the Turkish Cypriot community was experiencing in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, said that the authorities in the north were in urgent need of financial assistance.

“Any contributions made to the Turkish Cypriots, who have limited access to global means due to its relative political isolation would be vital,” he stressed.

Akıncı also noted that the assistance given to the Turkish Cypriots would also help them lower the negative impact on the economy caused by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, a fundraising marathon on Diyalog TV on Friday succeeded in raising ₺3m (€416,000) in six hours.


Turkish MFA rejects Greek MFA’s statement

Kıbrıs Postası
Energy, Regional/International Matters

OVERVIEW

“Maximalist maritime claims of the Greek and Greek Cypriot duo lie at the core of the Eastern Mediterranean problem,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said on Friday.

He noted that the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece on Turkish maritime jurisdiction areas is unfortunate and misleading.

He added that both Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration disregard the rights of the Turkish Cypriots as well as disregard the fact that the Turkish Cypriots are co-owners of the island of Cyprus.

“The attempts to legitimize such claims through the EU and maps published within this union carry no legal value whatsoever for Turkey,”

Aksoy stressed the primary rule in maritime boundary delimitation is to adhere to the principle of fair and equitable delimitation.

“In this regard, Greece violates the principle, therefore, is in violation of the international law as well,” Aksoy said.

“Turkey will continue to keep the diplomacy and cooperation channels open while protecting with determination both its rights and those of Turkish Cypriots,” Aksoy concluded.