GCC Press Review 18 May 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Let’s not repeat mistakes from March ’13 in 2020

N. Anastasiades: (Auditor General) Odysseas (Michaelides) not even an observer for government guarantees. I do not refuse auditing, but not accept co-decision with Auditor General. I have always been a man of the Centre. I’m neither Trump, Johnson nor Bolsonaro.

  • Missing: The virus hit the CMP
  • New cases: Two, none at schools

Phileleftheros

Return of 32,000 workers

SMSs abolished, hair salons, institutes, restaurants open – Starting May 21st. Third phase of loosening from June 9th to July 13th.

  • Request for help from the occupied areas: They were running from one fire to the next
  • Strong French presence in the Cypriot EEZ
  • Ankara blasts the climate in the Aegean

Haravgi

Critical developments regarding GeSY

OAY (Health Insurance Organisation) proposal under PASIN’s (Association of Private Hospitals) microscope. Reductions reach 13.5%. Race to June 1st.

  • Co-operation puts out fires
  • Yesterday’s confirmed cases reached two yesterday
  • CMP says it’s ready to restart work once checkpoints reopen

Alithia

For the first time united in battle against fire

Change of stance from the T/C side that asked for help to put out fire. Large fire in forested area near the villages of Diorios and Kormakitis was raging until late last night. Fire extinguishing aircraft of the RoC were allowed to fly over occupied areas and contribute in effort to put out fire. N. Anastasiades and M. Akinci communicate via telephone and T/C leader sent thanks for immediate and positive response.

  • New cases: We returned again to only two
  • Time for the EU to help: Holistic handling of migrant issue an urgency

Main News

T/Cs accept help from RoC to fight fires for the first time

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The Turkish Cypriot authorities requested the help of the RoC firefighting force in order to put out a fire in the occupied areas for the first time since 1974, the dailies report.

On Sunday, RoC firefighters were facing several forest fires in the government-controlled areas when they were called to help with putting out a fire in the area around the villages of Myrtou and Kormakitis, Phileleftheros reports.

Haravgi reports that the fires in the north broke out in areas that are difficult to reach by foot and includes acres of olive and carob trees. According to testimonies by Maronite inhabitants cited by the newspaper, the damange in the area is extensive.

Government spokesperson Kyriakos Koushios said in a statement that T/C leader Mustafa Akinci contacted President Anastasiades requesting the help of the G/C side. A firefighting aircraft from the forestry department started operating over the affected area in the north early in the afternoon.

Later on Sunday, a helicopter from the Search and Rescue Center of the RoC was also allowed to operate in the occupied areas. Akinci contacted Anastasiades in the late afternoon to thank him for the prompt help.

Alithia also reports that the government notified the T/C that it could also send three of the new firefighting vehicles recently received by the RoC.

Alithia recalls that in the past the T/C side had always rejected offers for help by the G/C side, with the latest examples being the explosion that hit the Pentadaktylos mountain range and the fire that destroyed the north Nicosia general hospital.

Phileleftheros reports that multiple fires broke up also in the government-controlled on Sunday, in Agia Napa, Kornos, Ypsonas and Chloraka.

Haravgi reports that Akinci said during a visit to the affected area that the causes of the fire are still unknown. He also said that he had asked for assistance both from the G/C side as well as from Turkey. “Foreign minister” Kudret Ozersay also made a reference to the help by the G/Cs in a post on Facebook.

Haravgi also reports that the community leader of Kato Pyrgos, Cleanthous, has asked for ambulances to be once more allowed to cross the Limnitis checkpoint in order to be able to reach the Nicosia General Hospital faster.

Cleanthous told the CNA that two days ago an ambulance had to face several obstacles by the T/C side while attempting to pass through multiple checkpoints. In a seperate incident on Sunday, the driver was told that crossings would only be allowed for ambulances escorted by the UN.


CMP tests new technology ahead of reopening of checkpoints

Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, CBMs, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The dailies publish a story by the Cyprus News Agency on the difficulties faced by the Committee for Missing Persons due to the closure of the checkpoints. The three members, Leonidas Pantelides, Gulden Plumer Kucuk and Paul-Henri Arni, representing the G/Cs, the T/Cs and the UN, told CNA in a conference call that the CMP was negatively affected, and shared the CMP’s plans for the future.

According to the latest data, only five missing persons were identified and the remains of only two people were exhumed during the first two months of 2020, compared to 42 identifications and 24 exhumations in 2019.

Arni told CNA that the CMP has had to postpone scheduled digs as well as lab work starting March 16th, and pointed out that the bicommunal organisation cannot effectively function while checkpoints are closed. He added that the CMPs is prepared to begin work immediately once checkpoints are opened, and that they have used the time to review hundreds of cases that had been pending.

Pantelides said that the CMP has concentrated on research and reviewing excisting information across both the G/C and the T/C office. Also, during this period the CMP worked on introducing technical updates that have been pending.

Kucuk said that the CMP is currently also planning ahead its budget for the next three years. She added that the CMP is preparing to use GPS and GIS systems as well drones and testing tools such as subterranean radars.

A total of 700 G/C missing have been identified and their remains returned to their families out of a total of 1510, with 810 still missing. Also, 274 of T/C missing have been identified and their remains returned out of a total of 492, with 218 still missing.


French ships to patrol in Cypriot EEZ as response to Turkish actions

Phileleftheros
External Security, Energy, Regional/ International Relations, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

Phileleftheros reports that French defence minister Florence Parly informed her Cypriot counterpart Savvas Angelides that French ships will be patrolling in the Cypriot EEZ and that the two countries will conduct joint military exercises during the second half of this year.

The newspaper cites information that Parly told Angelides during a recent telephone call that the two ministers agreed that the French navy will be patrolling the Cypriot seas in order to send a message of solidarity to the RoC vis a vis Turkish actions in the region.

France is reportedly bothered by Turkish actions also because Turkish drillships such as “Yavuz” and “Barbaros” are operating in plots that have been licenced to a consortium by French company TOTAL and Italian ENI.

Parly is reported to also have said that France wants to support Nicosia diplomatically on the issue of Turkish drillings in the Cypriot EEZ.

Angelides wrote on a post on Twitter that he discussed issues related to bilateral defence cooperation with Parly as well as issues related to COVID-19.

In another development, Phileleftheros reports that Turkey has issued two NAVTEX, on April 30th and May 15th, relating to activities in the Aegean. For the first time, the newspaper notes citing statements by Turkish experts in government-friendly newspaper Yeni Safak, the two NAVTEX include references to the islands of Psara, Chios and Samos and promote the Turkish claim that Greece is violating the Treaty of Lausanne by militarising them.