GCC Press Review 26 Apr 2020

Front Page Headlines

Sunday Mail

Distrust raised over lockdown

Experts says that the healthcare system could have coped.

  • Comment: Is Turkey drilling in the EEZ for revenge?


Erdogan moves undeterred with exercises in EEZ

Turkey not only goes ahead with drillings in the midst of coronavirus, but yesterday conducted three military exercises in Cypriot maritime area. Turkish dependency, dilemmas and S-400. Oil prices cheap as dirt, reflecting wave of recession. Macron’s “veto” to the Commission’s alchemies. EU opens the spigot for 540 billion but budget numbers fall short and Commission is called to find solutions. What the commission suggests for recovery fund. Loans or grants and how the money will be found.

  • Concerns for “ENI”: Ankara seeks cooperation with Italy, as an exchange for help sent for coronavirus
  • Strategic chessboard: Turkey tries to take advantage of international anarchic system and unstable regional environment
  • 56 years of UNFICYP: The Cyprus Problem in the New World Order and the “experiment” of international policing by UNCIVPOL in 1964
  • Androulla Gurov (opinion): Here are the barbarians, coming in the midst of… a pandemic


Cypriots see uncertain future

Poll by RetailZoom for “P”. Gradual fatigue caused by measures and Cypriots cannot wait to go outside again. Majority of population expects that measures will be brought to a close gradually in May. Half are worried about their work, while 7 out of 10 are not in a position to make decisions. Four out of ten have… gained weight during lockdown. China is to blame for everything.

  • Feature: The dynamic Alecos Markides


Orders by Erdogan for EEZ

TPAO instructed to cover the gap left after companies suspended work. Two alternative scenarios and the 1 billion dollar investment.

  • Judith Garber: Turkish actions should stop
  • Huang Xingyuan: Friendship is proven during adverse times
  • Cornelios Corneliou (interview): Foreign Ministry in permanent and continuous vigilance
  • Anna Maragkou (interview): “The ‘I shall not forget’ slogan has failed”
  • We reveal letter by Borrell: Positions for closed off Famagusta reassured
  • Rivalries and rifts in Erdogan’s authority


Loosening bit by bit starting May 4th

“K” presents the document with epidemiologist proposals for the gradual lifting of the measures imposed by the government on citizens.

  • Politics: They change political agendas and narratives from the ground up
  • Turkey: Ankara faithful to the “Blue Homeland”


Vital need to take more measures

  • International: Hardening of Turkey’s positions on all levels


We already lost 1.2 billion euro

Huge cost on Cypriot economy from the two months of the coronavirus challenge. Damage to economy from restrictions and closure of businesses calculated to reach 20 million euro per day, which means 600 million per month.

  • M. Akinci: Asks for direct communication with WHO
  • Orestis and Latife: The couple that was “torn apart” by the coronavirus

Main News

Rate of infections subsides and politicians consider the day after

Kathimerini, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, CBMs, Governance & Power Sharing

The dailies report that on Saturday only 6 new cases of the coronavirus were detected, adding to the optimism that Cyprus is heading towards the end of the pandemic. The cases were detected after 2,467 tests. The majority of the tests were a part of the process of testing all persons working in sensitive sectors.

Sunday newspapers also report that the government’s science support group will be submitting their proposals on Tuesday regarding the possible gradual lifting of measures. Decisions on this wll be taken on Wednesday by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Kathimerini reports that the government and the political parties are reconsidering their political strategies for the post-coronavirus period, ahead of the legislative elections next year. In an analysis, the newspaper notes that the government had been in the corner before the pandemic due to the situation regarding the Cyprus Problem and in the Cyrpiot EEZ and due to the scandals connected with the golden visas problem, which is now presented as a way to help the economy recover.

The newspaper also points out that despite bad handling of aspects at the initial stages of the crisis by Interior Minister Nicos Nouris and Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos, the government has gained in acceptance and has seen the opposition reducing its criticism.

It is not an accident, the newspaper adds, that AKEL refrained from lambasting the government over Turkey’s renewed actions in the EEZ and that DIKO now has to change its plan to attack the government’s actions of the past two years ahead of the legislative elections.

According to the newspaper, the politicians that gained the spotlight during the past period were Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou and Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides.

At the same time, DISY is expected to capitalise on the handling on the crisis for next year’s election. However DISY is wary of a possible downturn in the economy due to the expected deflation of the tourism sector,

AKEL is expected to focus on social policy and highlight its proposal on matters of health and education, putting its weight behind the maintainance and further development of GeSY.

DIKO seems torn, according to the newspaper, on how to handle a possible economic downturn given its history of supporting measures taken by DISY during the memorandum period and given the desire of the center party’s leadership to move closer to AKEL ahead of the 2023 presidential elections.

In a story about the situation in the north, Kathimerini reports that the coronavirus has caused a political war between T/C leader Mustafa Akinci and the “government” led by Ersin Tatar and Kudret Ozersay.

US Ambassador: Turkey’s actions in Cypriot EEZ must stop

Kathimerini, Phileleftheros, Politis, SImerini
Energy, External Security, Regional/ International Relations

US Ambassador to Nicosia Judith Garber has told Phileleftheros in an interview that Washington is concerned by Turkey’s actions in region and called on Ankara to put an end to its activities in the Cypriot EEZ.

Garber stated that the US are deeply concerned by reports on Turkey’s inention to continue drilling in the Cypriot EEZ, and pointed out that natural resources in the region should be used to promote coperation. Natural resources should be shared equitably by the two communities, she added.

Garber also pointed out that the postponment of drilling activities by American companies in the region is a result of worldwide trends and that the interest of these companies in the region remains unchanged. Regarding Cypriot – American relations, Garber said that she is convinced they will be stronger after the crisis caused by the pandemic.

Regarding the Cyprus Problem, Garber said that she is encouraged by the cooperation on the level of the bicommunal Technical Committee for Health by the exchange of information and mutual assistance to help vulnerable groups of the population on both sides.

Kathimerini reports that Ankara is insisting on being agrressive in multiple fronts in its international relations, including on the border with Greece, in Libya and in Cyprus, as a part of the country’s wider strategy in the region.

Citing sources in Ankara, Kathimerini points out that Turkey is moving ahead with drillings in the Cypriot EEZ despite the coronavirus crisis, despite the crisis in its economy and despite the drop in oil prices, in order to underline its role in the region and to preempt other countries from disregarding Turkey’s role in the region.

The newspaper points out that the situation has been developing well for Ankara in Libya since the Libyan government supported by Turkey and Qatar made gains during the past few weeks against Haftar’s forces. Meanwhile, France is pushing for a ceasefire in the country to prevent the collapse of Haftar’s forces, while London has announced it recognises the government supported by the UN and Turkey

At the same time, the situation has not developed favourably for Turkey in the borders with Greece in Evros and at the Aegean. Kathimerini‘s Turkish sources said that there is concern in Ankara over the tension in both the Aegean and Evros.

Simerini reports that in the midst of the pandemic Turkey is also attempting to initiate a dialogue with Italy on energy, as a return for the help sent by Ankara. The newspapers cites an article on TRT World regarding the possibility of strengthening Ankara’s and Rome’s relations as a result of coronavirus diplomacy.

The newspaper also points to a statement made by ENI vice president for international relations Marco Piredda. Piredda said in an interview on the website of Fondazione Degasperi that the energy prospects of the Eastern Mediterranean were already hampered by the political situation in all countries of the region, but is now made more difficult due to the coronavirus crisis.

Piredda said that Cyprus and Turkey, Lebanon and Syria, as well as Lebanon and Israel still disagree on EEZ and maritime borders delineation. He added that the Cyprus Problem and Turkey’s behaviour limit the possibilities of the development of the region.

He expressed the hope that the countries of the region can create forums of cooperation even among historical enemies, citing the East Med Gas Forum as a first step.

Politis writes in an analysis that the government should be concerned by the fact that Turkey has been able to find three drilling ships and to develop the infrastructure in order play a role in the region, taking advantage of the suspension of drillings by the RoC until next year. In this period, Turkey has strengthened its own state company, TPAO, so that it can proceed with research without the need of foreign companies.

According to the analysis, Turkey is sending political messages to all countries in the region, shifting its attention from regions in the Cypriot EEZ where indications of hydrocarbons were low to regions where the possibilities of success are greater.

Phileleftheros also reports that Turkish President Tayip Erdogan has instructed TPAO to move aggressively in order to gather gap created by the temporary suspension of operations in the Cypriot EEZ. According to information cited by the newspaper, Erdogan wants to send the message is that despite the crisis Turkey will not give up on its positions.

According to the newspaper’s information, Turkey is operating on the basis of two possible scenarios. On the one hand, if new hydrocarbon resources are detected then Turkey will be able to claim rights to be involved in their extraction. On the other hand, if there are no results its movements will enable it to ask for its rights to be recognised in the region.

In a seperate development reported by Phileleftheros, EU High Representative for external affairs Josep Borrell has sent a letter to Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides in which he reiterated the EU’s position that Turkey is obliged to return the fenced off city of Varosha in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Borrell adds in the letter, which has been seen by Phileleftheros, that the EU will continue to call Turkey to deescalate its actions in the region regarding the Cypriot EEZ.

Garber (US Ambassador to Cyprus)
>> The US is concerned regarding Turkey’s actions in the Cypriot EEZ and these actions should stop
>> Natural resources should be used to promote cooperation and Cypriot natural resources should be shared equitably by the two communities
>> US energy companies continue to be interested in the Eastern Mediterranean despite break in activities due to coronavirus
>> Cooperation through bicommmunal Technical Committee for Health encouraging

Piredda (ENI VP)
>> Political disagreements in the region, including Cyprus Problem and Turkey’s actions, hamper energy development
>> Even historical enemies can cooperate and East Med Gas Forum is a first step in that direction

G/Cs and T/Cs affected by closures of crossing points talk to Alithia

Internal Security, Human Rights, CBMs

A report in Alithia records the experiences of ten T/Cs and nine G/Cs affected by the limits imposed on movement as well as the closures of the check points.

The report focuses particularly on 25-year-old Orestis Agisilaou and 27-year-old Latife Sakiner, an engaged couple that has been forced to live apart due to the closure of the checkpoints. Agisilaou is a public employee living in Larnaca and Sakiner is a biologist living in Famagusta. The two told the newspaper that they haven’t met for more than a month, and that they hope to continue their life together once the crisis passes.

39-year-old businessman Osman Elkovan from Karpasia said that he believes the closure checkpoints was the correcte decision, and that the checkpoints should reopen when the pandemic has passed in both sides. He added that the situation has affected his business negatively and that he believes that Cypriots can avoid contacting the outside world until the pandemic passes and that the two sides need each other.

Many of the T/Cs said that the measures taken were correct and pointed out that there would be less problems if they were taken earlier and were more strict. 33-year-old Melis Eroglu said that initially she disagreed with closing the checkpoints bu tthen realised this was necessary, adding that they can reopen after the pandemic. 32-year-old Hande Tugcan says that she continues to have contacts with G/C friends.

Among the G/Cs, Andreas Soudjis said that relations between the communities have been affected negatively due to the fact that division is being normalised. He added that the lack of cooperation between the two sides is pushing the T/Cs close to Turkey. Former MP Katerina Pantelides said that the government was right to close the checkpoint pointing out that the north is completely controlled by the Turkish army.