TCC Press Review 31 Mar 2020

Front Page Headlines

Yenidüzen

Sloppy and messy

Doctors and experts warned people should stay at home but no one listened. People eager to draw out their salaries ignored warnings to stay home. Long queues formed at banks defeating the purpose of social distancing.

  • Five new cases, total cases reach 69 – 79 tests were carried out yesterday (Monday), five came back positive. One of the cases were from the Karpaz (Karpasia), two from Lapta (Lapithos) and two from Gönyeli (Guenyeli).
  • 16 new cases in the south, one death – Coronavirus claimed one more life in the south. A 77-year-old man died. 16 new cases were recorded.
  • Full street curfew from 9 pm to 6 am

Kıbrıs Postası

Ceased print/Online only

Kıbrıs

Curfew throughout Cyprus from 9 pm to 6 am

New decisions were adopted both in the north and in the south to keep people in their homes to contain coronavirus. The people on both sides of the island failed to comply with the partial curfew rules hence the authorities adopted tougher measures. Announcing the cabinet’s decision, Kudret Özersay said visiting relatives or friends were not allowed. He also added supermarkets will be shut at 8 pm from now on. Özersay said five people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total tally to 69. There are three people in ICU. 897 people are being held under quarantine in nine facilities since 10 March. 19 Turkish Cypriots have passed away due to coronavirus in the UK.

  • Low-interest loans for businesses – PM Ersin Tatar announced a ₺1bn loan package has been launched for businesses. He said the businesses will be offered a six-month grace period to start repayment. The interest for the loan, which will be paid back in 12 months, will also be partially subsidised by the government. Three per cent of the total 12 per cent interest will be covered by the “Loan Guarantee Fund.”
  • ₺50m loan package from the Development Bank – Economy and Energy Minister Hasan Taçoy announced the Development Bank will start accepting applications from businesses without any sectoral priorities.
  • 80 per cent of the small businesses will go bankrupt – KTEZO (Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Shopkeepers and Artisans) General Coordinator Hürrem Tulga argued the wheels of the economy had come to a halt. He warned that up to 15,000 Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) out of 45,000 will go bankrupt due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Havadis

Common enemy, a similar fight

The number of coronavirus cases on both sides of the island continues to rise. Similar and stricter measures are being adopted on both sides of the island to fight the pandemic. Five new cases of coronavirus in the north brought the total tally to 69 while 16 new cases in the south brought the total number to 230. Seven people have so far died in the south and one in the north. Full curfew is being imposed on both sides of the island from 9 pm to 6 am. The efforts to repatriate Cypriots continue on both sides of the island as well. 19 Turkish Cypriots have passed away in the UK.

  • Good news from Tatar to businesses – Prime Minister Ersin Tatar announced that a new relief package for ₺1bn in the form of a low-interest loan which will be paid back in 12 months, has been created in support of the businesses that have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The government is creating obstacles instead of providing support – Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpaso) Mayor Suphi Coşkun harshly criticized Health Minister Ali Pilli during a programme on Havadis Web TV. There are now seven confirmed cases from the Dipkarpaz (Risokarpaso) village. Coşkun said: “The health ministry decided to impose full curfew in the area to quarantine the area but did not even consult the local administrations.”

Diyalog

The best method: Home delivery

People rushed to the banks due to salary payments. The ban on movement was violated. Most of those who queued up in front of the banks were senior citizens who prepare to draw out their salaries in cash rather than use ATMs on online banking apps. Some waiting in line expressed the view that the best method would have been someone to have their salaries delivered to their homes.

  • It spread to Gönyeli (Guenyeli) – Five new cases of coronavirus were recorded in the TRNC, bringing the total tally to 69.
  • Loss of life reaches seven – The number of cases in South Cyprus has reached 230 with the latest 16 cases.
  • 168 people died – There are 1610 new cases in Turkey. The total figure has risen to 10,827.

Afrika

Full curfew at night-time

Government adopts new measures as some people continue to defy the ban on movement. Not a partial but a full night-time curfew will come into effect between 9 pm and 6 am as of tonight (Tuesday). Supermarkets will close at 8 pm. All hygienic products, masks and gloves will be collected at one centre.

  • Masked meeting in Lapta (Lapithos) – Health Minister Ali Pilli discussed with the mayors of Lapta (Lapithos) and Alsancak (Karavas) the tests to be conducted in both areas.
  • 243 people were booked in a week for violating the ban on movement – Six businesses were opened, four people violated their quarantine rules and seven people were caught in a home.

Main News

Five new cases recorded in the north, night curfew imposed

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

OVERVIEW

Five news cases were confirmed in the north on Monday, bringing the total tally to 69, Turkish Cypriot Health Minister Ali Pilli announced on his daily update on Bayrak.

He added that two of the cases were in Gönyeli (Geunyeli), two in Lapta (Lapithos) and one in Karpaz (Karpasia).

There are currently three patients in ICU.

The health ministry has carried out 74 tests on Monday, bringing the total number of tests carried out to 1177.

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay on Monday announced a night-time curfew between 9 pm and 6 am as part of an ever-tightening raft of measures to restrict movement.

The new measures will be in force as of Tuesday.

The overnight curfew will apply to everyone except those who need to be at work during those hours.

He also said that as of Tuesday, supermarkets would be closing at 8 pm while preparations were underway for help packages to those in need.

Persons who arrived from abroad and whose 14-day quarantine ends will have to self-isolate at home for a period of time, he said, adding that they will be discharged not at once but in groups after being tested.

Özesay recalled that there were 897 people still being held under quarantine in nine facilities since 10 March.

He added that they will still have to self-isolate for seven days once they leave the quarantine facilities.

Özersay also announced that arrangements have been made for the repatriation of Turkish Cypriot students studying in Turkey.

A flight will arrive from Istanbul on April 1 and one from Ankara on April 4.

The students will be quarantined for 14 days.

Özersay also said that since March 10, a total 47,432 people left the north while 15,478 persons arrived.

He also pointed out that 19 Turkish Cypriots living in the UK have passed away due to coronavirus.

Alsancak (Karavas) Mayor Fırat Ataser, in a video message on social media on Monday, confirmed that three people from the same family had tested positive to coronavirus. He noted one of three, who has a chronic illness is in ICU at the moment.

Speaking earlier on Monday during a visit to Lapta’s (Lapithos) Mayor Mustafa Aktuğ to discuss coronavirus measures, Pilli said the struggle waged against the coronavirus was just like a war.

He renewed his call for the public to adhere to basic hygiene rules and to remain at home unless necessary.

Pilli said the visit was necessary to coordinate the preventive measures, the tests to be carried out and other measures following the positive cases recorded in the town.

On the other hand, in a statement issued from the health ministry, the 14-day self-isolation period at homes or central quarantine centres has been extended for another seven days.

The health ministry, on Monday, said those who complete their 14 days in home-isolation are recommended to remain in isolation for another week.

“The individuals at central quarantine facilities on the 14th day will be tested for coronavirus and if tested negative, will be allowed only to leave the facility 24 hours later. They will still have to remain in self-isolation at their homes for another seven days,” the statement concluded.

Also on Monday, the Near East University Hospital in Nicosia announced that it has started providing medical service to all patients other than coronavirus cases for free.

In a statement issued on Monday, the NEU Hospital said it will cover patient needs after the Dr Burhan Nalbantoğlu hospital was converted into a pandemic hospital.

On the other hand, Ziya Öztürkler, head of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Education Ministry, said 317 Iraqi students were repatriated to their countries on Monday.

Announcing the news on social media, Öztürkler added the education ministry in collaboration with the Evkaf Administration has also provided supply packages to 200 foreign students on Monday.

He also noted that nearly three thousand Turkish Cypriot students have returned to the north while about one thousand still remain abroad.

Related to the issue, Republican Turkish Party (CTP) leader Tufan Erhürman on Monday urged the authorities to establish a central unit for the foreign students.

Erhürman, in a statement posted on social media, underlined the importance of foreign students in the country to feel protected.

He pointed out that universities were individually offering assistance and support but added a central coordination unit to deal with all these issues was needed.


Banks budge following public outrage

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
Economy, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The authorities in the north announced on Monday two separate loans schemes aimed at helping businesses recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar announced on Monday a new relief package for ₺1bn in the form of a low-interest loan which will be paid back in 12-months, created in support of the businesses that have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Announcing the package, Tatar said that businesses will be offered a six-month grace period for the repayment of the loans.

Costs will be lower than nine per cent.

The package will offer loans at a 12 per cent interest rate, three per cent of which will be subsidized by the state.

No commission or similar fees will be charged by the banks, Tatar added.

A separate ₺50m credit package was announced on Monday by Turkish Cypriot Economy and Energy Minister Hasan Taçoy.

The loans, which will be separated into four different categories, will be low interest and payable over a three-year (36 month) plan.

A six-month grace period will be offered to businesses before they start repaying the loan.

Meanwhile, economist Mehmet Saydam on Monday said that banks had backed down from their initial intransigent position regarding the interest rates and other measures adopted in the economic relief package.

Speaking to Kıbrıs Postası regarding the position of the banks, Saydam argued that the banks had initially rejected the measures proposed by the cabinet but when they saw the public pressure growing against them, the banks revised their position.

“In short, the decision taken by the banks is both constructive and positive,” Saydam concluded.

In another development, the Chamber of Shopkeepers and Artisans (KTEZO) on Monday said that it would no longer be represented at the Economic Organisations’ Platform.

In a statement issued, KTEZO stressed the community’s interest is above any other personal or denominational interests.

KTEZO, which has been advocating for the retailers and the shopkeepers to be included in the broader labour environment, rejected any demands which may be in conflict with the interests of the community.

It, however, acknowledged that it is the government’s responsibility to find remedies for all affected by the crisis in the north.

“In this respect, we duly took our place under the umbrella organization of the Economic Organisations’ Platform…however only to be ostracized from meetings despite our attempts to contribute towards the recommendations,” KTEZO argued.

It added that the platform only served people who refrain from taking on the required responsibility.

“Our name shall not be uttered with the platform again as the platform members want to capitalize from the crisis and use the current situation to their advantage,” KTEZO concluded.

“The economic crisis can only be overcome if they are perceived as part of humanity instead of considering them as local and national,” Akel MP Niyazi Kızılyürek said on Monday.

In a statement issued from his office in the north, Kızılyürek condemned the words uttered against foreign workers and students in view of the economic support package.

“This is not the time to try to ‘clean’ the country,” Kızılyürek said, calling on everyone to help foreign workers and students to overcome the economic difficulties they may experience.

“It is nothing but an act of racism to abandon the foreigners to their fate and to let them die at such times,” Kızılyürek stressed, expressing shock over statements made by Turkish Cypriot authorities over the past few weeks.

Kızılyürek also urged everyone to support VOIS Cyprus (Voices of International Students in Cyprus) financially.

He said VOIS is working on providing food supplies to nearly 1500 foreign students in the north.

Kızılyürek also donated €1000 to VOIS Cyprus which is a non-profit organisation which aims to bring to light the problems faced by the international students in the north.

In a separate statement on Monday, seven human rights-based civil society organisations (CSOs) which form the COMMIT project expressed the view that coronavirus does not discriminate on the basis of nationality or race; so, measures that tackle the pandemic and problems caused by it should not either.

The CSOs, which are concerned with the growing racism, discrimination and xenophobia both at the level of decision-making and society, stressed the coronavirus pandemic can only be overcome by standing in solidarity with everyone.

The CSOs pointed to the government’s economic relief package which excluded the third-country nationals.

“The Turkish Cypriot authorities’ statements and measures threaten basic human rights,” the CSOs noted.

The organisations provided an extensive list of constitutional provisions as well as articles from international conventions on the authorities’ responsibility to respect and protect basic human rights.

The CSOs also urged the authorities in the north to adopt urgent measures to guarantee access to basic rights for disadvantaged groups, such as foreigners.

They demanded the authorities in the north to apologise to disadvantaged groups and to include all employees who are economically suffering due to the pandemic regardless of their nationality or ethnicity. 

The COMMIT project is funded by the European Union (EU) under the Together Against Trafficking in Human Beings grant scheme and is implemented by the Refugee Rights’ Association in partnership with the Cyprus Turkish Bar Association, Famagusta Youth Centre Association, Queer Cyprus Association, Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation and the Turkish Cypriot Journalists’ Association.

VOIS (Voice of the International Students) also supported the joint statement.