TCC Press Review 28 Apr 2020

Front Page Headlines

Yenidüzen

1,525 Turkish Cypriots send a letter to Anastasiades

1,525 Turkish Cypriots who work in the south sent a letter to the Greek Cypriot leader expressing their plight and losses as a result of the closure of the crossing points. The workers are asking to be allowed to cross once sectors reopen on May 4. Dev-İş (Revolutionary Workers’ Trade Union) said the problem of payment experienced by Turkish Cypriots working in the south was caused by the absence of any form of contact between the banks across the divide. He said the problem has been solved.

  • No new cases in the north in the past ten days; One death in the south, five new cases
  • List of sectors to be opened as of May 4 circulating on social media.

Kıbrıs Postası

Ceased print/Online only

Kıbrıs

Schools and public offices to open last

The cabinet, in light of the recommendations from the scientific boards, is getting ready to open some of the sectors from May 4 onwards. The decision will be announced following a cabinet meeting tomorrow (Wednesday). In the meantime, Prime Minister Ersin Tatar share with the public some of the plans. He said schools and the public offices will open last. Deputy Prime Minister Kudret Özersay also spoke about the plans and said it will be a close-circuit system meaning opening up domestically but remaining closed to the outside. He added the sectors where close contact like barbers in unavoidable will be opened last. Speaker of the parliament Teberrüken Uluçay also noted it will also be decided on how the parliament will resume work in line with the cabinet’s decision to reopen sectors. Uluçay also reminded the parliament will convene today (Tuesday).

  • Turkish Cypriots employed in the south waiting for their salaries – A group of Turkish Cypriots, who are employed in the south and have not been able to receive their salaries for weeks, held a protest outside the Turkish Cypriot Cooperative Central Bank. They claim the bank did not open up a bank account for them.
  • Turkish Cypriots employed in the south in search of assistance – 1,525 Turkish Cypriots wrote to Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades. They request to be granted an exemption to cross to the south when the sectors are reopened. 
  • EU assistance to the north could be done through Turkey – It is revealed that the European Union (EU) purchased the masks from Turkey to be able to bypass the global export ban. To deliver the goods to the north, Turkey had to make an exemption for the north from the export ban and allowed the EU to ship the assistance of medical supplies to the north from the port of Mersin.  
  • People poured out on to the streets – The four-day long curfew in 30 metropolitan cities and Zonguldak in Turkey is over.

Havadis

“Wage earners and pensioners are being made to shoulder the cost of the crisis”

The head of the Turkish Cypriot Public Servants’ Union (KTAMS) Güven Bengihan evaluated the cabinet’s performance regarding the coronavirus pandemic process on Havadis web TV. Bengihan argued the cabinet’s economic measures are unfair and are unlawful. “While the public servants, wage earners and pensioners suffered pay cuts, the business sector, most who are wealthier than the state, have not been touched at all,” Bengihan said. Speaking on the reopening process, he said it is wrong to be talking about the reopening when the health infrastructure has not been adequately improved yet.

  • One protest solved the money transfer problem – The people, employed in the south, were outraged when the Turkish Cypriot Cooperative Central Bank did not transfer their money from the Nicosia branch to the Güzelyurt (Morphou) branch for three weeks. A group of people came to Nicosia to protest the bank outside the Nicosia branch and the problem was solved.
  • Close-circuit opening strategy – The cabinet plans to reopen the closed businesses gradually from May 4 onwards. The cabinet will identify which sectors will be opened first tomorrow (Wednesday).
  • The latest situation: North 108 cases, four deaths; South 822 cases 15 deaths; Turkey 112,261 cases, 2,900 deaths.

Diyalog

44,000 people waiting

Labour Minister Faiz Sucuoğlu announced that the payment of ₺1,500 (€200) in salary support would take place on Thursday and Provident Fund withdrawals could start on May 12. He said that 40,000 had applied for salary support payments but that the first 10,000 people will be paid on Thursday. The remaining payments will be made next week.

  • All came back clean – 453 tests carried out in North Cyprus.
  • The total number of cases 822 –13th person dies from virus-related complications in South Cyprus. 
  • Death toll reaches 2,900 –The total number of cases in Turkey reaches 112, 261 with a jump of 2,131.

Afrika

Here is the list of the businesses to reopen

The initial draft of the sectors to be opened from May 4 onwards is ready. The normalisation process will be implemented in three stages. The businesses included in the first stage are expected to be opened on April 28 and 29. Schools, barbers and restaurants will be opened in the last stage. The reopening plan, which is being prepared by the officials from three ministries will be submitted to the cabinet and will be discussed in the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

  • No new cases in 453 tests done in the north – Five new cases identified in the south. One person dies.
  • 447 people violated the partial curfew – 17 people were arrested for not wearing a mask when going out.
  • Members of the parliament tested – The parliament to convene today (Tuesday).
  • Turkish Cypriot Cooperative Central Bank to pay the Turkish Cypriot workers employed in the south.

Main News

Only five Covid-19 patients remain in the north with no new cases

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

OVERVIEW

Only five patients receiving treatment for Covid-19 remain in the north, Turkish Cypriot Health Minister Ali Pilli announced on Monday.

Seven more people were discharged on Monday which became the tenth consecutive day no new cases of Covid-19 were reported.

According to a statement by Pilli, 453 people were tested on Monday bringing the total number of tests carried out in the country to 9462.

Among those tested were workers at petrol stations in Nicosia, Kyrenia and Famagusta, healthcare workers at the Akçiçek State Hospital in Kyrenia, the Famagusta General Hospital, the Cengiz Topel Hospital in Lefke (Lefka), a private hospital in Famagusta, the staff at the Famagusta Municipality and MPs as well as staff at the Turkish Cypriot parliament.

The total number of cases remains at 108 with 99 patients having recovered. 

Meanwhile, Pilli visited the genetics laboratory at the general hospital in Nicosia Monday.

Pilli who inspected ongoing renovation work at the lab was briefed by staff on the work being carried out.        

Later Monday night, the Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay praised Pilli’s efforts concerning the struggle against Covid-19.

Özersay, responding to questions on Kıbrıs Postası Web TV, said that the cabinet had taken timely and correct measures, resulting in a low number of cases.

“The health ministry is now carrying out tests in the risk groups while increasing the number of tests. Additionally, the cabinet is working on a mobile application to be able to trace and locate possible contacts of the infected persons,” he said.

He noted that Pilli had guided the cabinet in the right direction and insisted on tougher measures.  

Özersay said the crisis also allowed the north to improve certain areas that have been neglected for years.

“The intensive-care ward of the hospital has been revamped and the number of ventilators will be tripled by the end of May. These were some of the necessities we have neglected for years,” he added.

In response to a question as to whether declaring a state-of-emergency would have been more appropriate, Özersay said, “On the contrary, it was more appropriate to implement decisions gradually because the last thing needed we need in a time of crisis is panic. A state-of-emergency would have just done that.”

He also added as a result of the crisis, it has been seen the public sector could be streamlined and made more effective.

Özersay rejected claims that adopting measures through statutory decrees (KHK) are unlawful.

“The KHK system is the fastest and most effective way of implementing decisions and measures. It also proved to be a valuable instrument,” Özersay stressed, inviting those who argued the opposite to challenge the matter at the Supreme court.

He pointed out that the fight against Covid-19 was going well but this did not mean that people should relax the measures.

“The fight is not over yet but I can say as the community, we are all writing a success story. The success does not belong to the government but to the people who have been adhering to the rules and measures. This is nothing but a success story and the crisis is an opportunity for us to gain our communal confidence again,” Özersay concluded.

In a separate statement on Monday Turkish Cypriot Public Works and Communication Minister Tolga Atakan announced that plans were being made to arrange new repatriation flights for Turkish Cypriots stranded in the UK.

Speaking during a programme on Genç TV, Atakan noted any repatriation effort will take place after April 30 in light of the recommendations made by the health ministry.

Atakan refrained from providing further details


Authorities put the final touches on the plan to reopen economy

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

OVERVIEW

Kudret Özersay on Monday said that the government planned to reopen the economic sectors phase by phase as of May 4 and to create a closed-circuit system.

Speaking to the Anadolu news agency, he said the relevant ministries will be presenting the cabinet with a roadmap for reopening businesses which have been shut since mid-March.

He pointed out that the sectors which will be allowed to resume operations or activities will be subject to certain rules.

“Once we open all the sectors and businesses we are planning a closed-circuit system,” he said, reminding that only Turkish Cypriots were currently allowed entry into the north.

He added that allowing other nationals in the country was left to the final phase.

About the issue of reopening schools, Özersay said the matter will be decided following recommendations to be brought to the cabinet by the health ministry.

He also said that the day-time partial curfew may be lifted once the exit plan is put into force but the night-time curfew could remain in place.

Tatar, commenting on the government’s plans said that schools and public offices would be the last to be opened.

“The target for the reopening of the construction sector is May 4,” Tatar said on Monday.

Speaking during a meeting with the stakeholders and representatives of the construction sector, Tatar said the sector will also finalise their preparations within one week and be ready for the opening.

Tatar renewed his call for the people and the businesses to strictly to adhere to social distancing and basic hygiene rules to protect themselves and the public from the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the government’s four-stage plan to re-open the economic sector was leaked to the press on Monday.

According to the leaked document, the first phase will include businesses such as hardware stores, plumbers and electricians, climate technicians, cleaning and pest control companies and computer repair stores.

The second phase will include mechanics, auto repair shops, off-licenses, insurance companies, florists, foreign currency exchange offices, advertising and graphic design firms, plastic packaging producers, stone quarries, energy and security system firms, electronic stores, dry cleaners, pet shops, carpenters, furniture dealers and upholsterers, aluminium and PVC producers, metal wielders and producers, hardware stores selling building equipment and materials.

The third phase will include the construction sector, barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons, take-away services of restaurants and food stalls, law firms, architecture and engineering firms, jewellery stores as well as clothing stores and boutiques.

Businesses to open as part of the third phase will be subject to additional hygiene and self-protection measures while operating.

Hairdressers and barbers will have to operate with appointments and equipment used will have to be disinfected after every use.

Customers and employees will also have to adhere to measures such as wearing masks, gloves and overshoes and practising social distancing.

Changing rooms at clothing stores will remain closed and a no-return policy will be applied for clothes sold.

All businesses and stores will also have to keep a record of customers including names, dates and contact info.

Personnel or staff displaying symptoms will not be called into work and high-risk personnel with chronic illnesses will not be made to work.

Commenting on the leaked document, Turkish Cypriot Finance Minister Olgun Amcaoğlu said that the list was not definite official.

He said the list will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday and the final decision will be made following presentations from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Economy.

“Turkey must provide financial assistance to the north but it seems there is still uncertainty about whether or not Ankara will provide that assistance,” Economist Prof Dr Mustafa Besim said on Monday.

Besim, speaking on Bayrak, said the cabinet’s effort to pump money into the market through its domestic funds was inadequate.

“The north needs approximately ₺7bn (€934m) to revitalize the economy. The cabinet managed to find ₺2bn (€267m) but it is not certain how it will find the remaining ₺5bn (€667m). In this regard, financial assistance from Turkey will be necessary,” Besim argued.

He also highlighted there was uncertainty as to whether or not Ankara was prepared to provide the required funds.

“The assistance and the amount to be provided must be clarified otherwise the cabinet needs to be able to plan the future,” Besim concluded.

In another development, it was announced on Monday that a wire-transfer problem experienced between banks in the north and the south were solved.

Announcing the news, DEV-İŞ (Turkish Cypriot Revolutionary Workers’ Unions’ Federation) said it will be possible for Turkish Cypriots employed in the south to benefit from the ‘unemployment benefit’ given by Greek Cypriot authorities.

It was reported earlier that Turkish Cypriots working in the South but residing in the North were unable to receive the benefit because of the crossing restrictions and because there was no contact between banks across the divide.

DEV-İŞ will directly liaise with the Labour Ministry in the south and the payments will be made through the Turkish Cypriot Cooperative Central Bank (KTKMB) in the north.

The problem was solved after a group of Turkish Cypriots, employed in the south and who had not been able to receive their salaries for weeks, staged a protest outside the Turkish Cypriot Cooperative Central Bank.

They claimed the bank had not opened up a bank account for them. 

Earlier the Greek Cypriot daily Politis had reported that the 1,525 Turkish Cypriots employed in the south had penned a letter to the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, asking to be granted permission to cross over to the South to work once economic sectors start opening on May 4.

The group pointed out that they have had no access to information or received any form of social security payments since the crossings were closed on March 14.

They also express their concern that they will still not be allowed to cross over to the south even after the partial lifting of the restrictions because the crossing points will remain closed.

The workers asked to be given a special exemption to be able to cross to the south and avoid the risk of losing their jobs.


Akıncı is a civilian citizen as of today, claims Arıklı sparking new debate

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
Internal Security, Governance and Power Sharing

OVERVIEW

“Akıncı is a civilian citizen as of today,” Erhan Arıklı the leader of the Rebirth Party (YDP) said on Monday.

Speaking during a Kıbrıs Postası web TV programme, Arıklı reminded that the presidential elections in the north would have taken place as planned had it now been for the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the YDP had filed an objection with the Constitutional Court against parliament’s decision to extend President Mustafa Akıncı’s term in office on 24 April via e-mail.

“The party’s lawyer will also submit the application in person on April 28,” Arıklı said.

Arıklı noted that the YDP has decided on taking the matter to the Supreme Court following much deliberation.

He also said he has also filed an objection to what he described was parliament’s unconstitutional decision to extend Akıncı’s term.

Arıklı highlighted the parliament’s response, which can be given within 21 days, is a prerequisite for the Supreme Court to start evaluating the YDP’s application.

Arıklı argued the parliament had only agreed to extend the term due to the extraordinary situation the north was in.

“The parliament adopted the decision knowing that it would violate the constitution,” Arıklı argued and said the YDP believes that article 99 of the constitution is not sufficient to extend the presidential term.

“On the contrary, the article 104 of the constitution should have been followed and instead of extending the presidential term, the speaker of the parliament should have assumed the post until the elections were held,” Arıklı said.

Arıklı also pointed out that the constitution clearly state in the event the speaker of the parliament assumed the acting position, he/she was required to call for elections within 45 days.

“We believe this would have been the more ethical and legal option,” Arıklı concluded.

The YDP leader’s remarks, however, did not receive support from the coalition or the opposition Social Democratic Party (TDP).

The leader TDP Özyiğit slammed Arıklı for his statements on Monday. 

Commenting on Arıklı’s remarks on a programme on Kıbrıs Postası Web TV Özyiğit said, “Their main objection is obvious! The YDP just wants to find ways of getting rid of Akıncı but they should understand the north’s agenda is the coronavirus pandemic and not politics.”

Also asked to comment on the statements, People’s Party (HP) leader Yenal Senin said: “We do not have any objections to the extension of the term”.

Speaking on Bayrak, Senin said the HP’s initial concern was holding the elections during the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The decision to extend was adopted due to reasons beyond our control. And if by October, the threat of coronavirus is over, the elections will be held as planned,” Senin concluded.

Also speaking on Bayrak, on Monday, National Unity Party (UBP) General Secretary Ersan Saner said: “We believe Mr Mustafa Akıncı will adhere to the necessary ethic rules and sensitivities in the coming period.”

Saner also noted the parliament’s decision to extend the presidential term is lawful and is in line with the constitution contrary to the YDP’s arguments.

“It was necessary to extend the term due to the coronavirus pandemic and the UBP, for this reason, gave its positive vote during the parliamentary voting,” Saner concluded.


Turkey broadening its Mediterranean alliance

Kıbrıs Postası
External Security, Regional/International relations

OVERVIEW

Turkey is working on broadening the list of participating countries in its Mediterranean Shield naval exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean by adding seven new countries, Kıbrıs Postası reported on Tuesday.

According to an article published in the Turkish daily Yeni Şafak, seven countries are expected to join the Turkish Naval Forces’ international drill in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey faces multiple security threats, especially toward its oil and gas exploration attempts.

4,700 personnel and 48 ships from 15 nations, and 40 countries had participated in the drill in 2019.

Turkey aims to expand the scope of the operation with more countries, including Algeria, Georgia, Albania, Azerbaijan, Libya, Lebanon and Tunisia joining.

It is reported the negotiations for their inclusion had started two years ago.