GCC Press Review 28 Apr 2020

Front Page Headlines


Doctors clash with scalpels and crosses

The issue of reopening churches divides health professionals. Limassol Bishop Athanasios requested an extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod. Health Minister C. Ioannou points to recommendations by specialist scientists.

  • Cyprus – Greece tourist agents iniative: United dogma in… tourism – The whole year hasn’t been lost, tourists want to travel
  • Drillings: Definitely after 2020
  • Turkish Cypriots: They do not lose benefits


President is afraid of traps

Intense pressures from all sides to lift measures – Cards close to the chest and intense background dealings. Disagreements also among involved ministries.

  • Pressing proposals for opening churches: Sunday liturgy on weekdays to avoid overcrowding
  • (Criminal) files for Bishop go to Attorney General as package
  • Legal war against Akinci


Talk of distance learning is hot air

Education Ministry goes back and forth and children and parents are concerned. Teams programme left unused since 2016. Problems in special education more serious.

  • Five new cases, three of them “imported” and another death from coronavirus
  • Positions regarding opening churches are not scientific, members of the scientific community say

Cyprus Mail

All eyes fixed on easing ban

Relaxations will occur in up to four stages, business groups focus on boosting sales.


War over the Church!

Clash of scientists and doctors over church-going and Holy Communion. 152 doctors asked for churches to open and Holy Communion to be allowed, arguing that congregants are not in danger. Theologists also suppport their positions – PIS (Pancyprian Doctor Association) and another 215 members of the scientific community disagree and call these positions dangerous and unscientific.

  • Until May 31st 2020: Postponment of calls to reserve and national guardsmen extended

Main News

Experts submit proposals for gradual lifting of measures to President

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, Human Rights, CBMs, Migration & Citizenship


The team of scientists advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic is meeting with President Anastasiades on Tuesday, in order to present its proposals on the gradual lifting of measures, the dailies report.

According to announcements made on Monday, only five new cases were detected out of a total of 1,796 tests. However one more person died from the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the number of deaths to 20.

Scientific director of State Health Services (OKYpY) for Nicosia, Marios Loizou, told journalists that the overall pictures is positive. He added that the gradual lifting of measures does not mean that things will be the same as before, and that citizens should continue maintaining social distancing measures.

Molecular virology professor Leontios Kostrikkis told journalists that 10% of migrants and asylum seekers that are currently being held in closed reception centers awill be tested, as per a request by the Minister of the Interior.

Government looking into issue of benefits for T/C workers

Economy, CBMs, Human Rights


Politis reports that the government has been looking for solutions regarding the issue of 1,525 Turkish Cypriots that work in the construction sector in the south but live in the north, and have not been able to receive benefits issued for other workers despite the fact that they have been paying social security.

The newspaper reports that the Presidency has given instructions so that the T/C workers will be able to access their benefits after submitting the necessary applications.

Politis recalls that the 1,525 workers had pointed out in a letter to President Anastasiades and T/C leader Mustafa Akinci that they want to be able to return to their work if construction sites reopen after May 4th. They had noted that they might lose their jobs if they are unable to do so.

According to information cited by the newspaper, those that have submitted the application will receive the benefits in bank accounts under their name in the government controlled areas. Also, those that do not have debit or credit cards that would allow them to withdraw the money from the north, will be provided with a card that will be sent through the UN.

The newspaper notes that the issue concerning the ability of these workers to return to employment concerns not only the G/C side but also the T/C side, since the RoC government had only closed some of the checkpoints due to the coronavirus. The rest, it is pointed out, were closed by the north’s “government”.

As far as the G/C side is concerned, there seems to be disagreement on whether the reopening of the checkpoints should happen before or after the reopening of ports and airports, Politis points out. It is however understood that arrangements should be made regarding persons who need to cross to the other side for purposes related to their work.

The newspaper also reports on statements made by CTP leader and candidate for the position of T/C leader Tufan Erhurman, who called on the “government” to cooperate with the G/C side to find solutions regarding the status of workers.

Health Ministry error causes misunderstanding over future drilling

Energy, Economy, External Security, Internal Security


Politis reports that a mistake in a decree issued by the Health Ministry caused confusion since it created the impression that activity in the Cypriot EEZ could be restarted before the end of 2020. As it turned out, the reference to drillings concerned the facilitation of workers working in the EEZs over neighboring countries.

According to the decree issued by the Health Ministry, “transit and departure from the Republic is allowed on special flights with a permit from the Minister for Transport, for crew members employed on drillships that operate in plots of the Cypriot EEZ and on ships that provide support services”.

Politis cites information that the decree was in fact referring to personell that can arrive to Cyprus and remain under quarantine while arranging for provision of necessary materials and hardware to drillships already operating in the EEZs of neighboring countries. The newspaper adds that companies operating in the EEZs of Israel and Egypt that use Cyprus as a basis for their activities in the region have made requests to the government to this effect.

Politis points out, citing the same sources, that the decree was not intended to be relevant to activities in the Cypriot EEZ as it appeared from its initial wording. The newspaper cites information that the postponment of all drillings in 2020 is definite. The only company that hasn’t yet informed the RoC of its intentions is ENI. However, since the drilling was supposed to start this month and given the worldwide situation, ENI should be expected to restart its drilling in early 2021.

Phileleftheros: Akinci’s letter to WHO an attempt to gain recognition

Governance & Power Sharing


Phileleftheros reports that Turkish Cypriots are attempting to gain political recognition during the coronavirus pandemic, citing the letter sent by T/C leader Mustafa Akinci to the WHO as well as his communications with the UNSG, the EU, the IMF and the World Bank.

The newspaper also points out that there has been no reaction from UNFICYP to the behaviour of the Turkish Cypriot side in the past few weeks, and that UNFICYP head Elizabeth Spehar made no statements despite being challenged to do so by the government.

The newspaper recalls that Akinci requested in his letter to WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus that the occupied areas be included in the statistics regarding the coronavirus.

Phileleftheros cites “diplomatic sources” which believe that the letter sent by Akinci is a reaction to the political pressure he is being subjected to in the north by the “government” regarding his agreement to accept medical assistance from the RoC.

Phileleftheros reports that settler party YDP is challenging the decision to extend Mustafa Akinci’s term as T/C leader until elections are held in October. The newspaper quotes a story by Kibris, as translated by the Public Information Office.

YDP leader Erhan Arikli stated that his party submitted a lawsuit on April 24th, the day Akinci’s term was originally supposed to be expire. YDP asserts that the decision taken by “parliament” to extend Akinci’s term temporarily was uncostitutional, and that the speaker of the house should have filled in for him.

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