GCC Press Review 19 May 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Impasse in Parliament, market suffocates

Advance checks by Auditor General a red line for the government. President’s appeal for no changes on state guarantees falls on deaf ears. Parties discuss 22 amendments, with the risk of government bill being withdrawn.

  • Occupied areas: For the first time together during fire

Phileleftheros

They rewrite guarantees

Opposition builds a majority for important changes on state bill. President did not convince party leaders. Finance Ministry is preparing plan B.

  • Worth 1.4 million euro: 221 premium properties sold in occupied areas
  • Demand for “coronapassports” from the rich
  • Direct line with Israel maintained
  • Huge damages by fire at Kormakitis

Haravgi

It’s others’ fault… never the government’s!

No plan for last-year students with coronavirus. Problems solved with the iniative of teachers. Pancyprian Examinations: All students have the right.

Cyprus Mail

Deal evasive on loans package

Auditor-general’s role is major stumbling block, president says no to his oversight.

  • Kormakitis residents plead for state help after devastating fire
  • Cyprus: Extra aircraft to beef up summer fire response

Alithia

Risk of derailment

State guarantees: Opposition parties insist leading government efforts to rekindle economy to an impasse by submitting amendments. Reckoning in Parliament plenary next Friday.

  • Only one new case out of 1.287 tests recorded yesterday in Cyprus: One breath away from zero cases – Number of patients with coronavirus in hospitals reduced – Kostrikkis: Data is satisfactory
  • In the last few years: 10,162 transfers of G/C properties in occupied areas and 250 sales
  • Occupied areas: RoC contribution to putting out the fire: Appreciated by the T/Cs

Main News

Kormakitis fire left local Maronite farmers and nature devastated

Alithia, Haravgi, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, CBMs, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

The residents of the Maronite village of Kormakitis have been seriously affected by last Sunday’s fire in Morphou, in the occupied areas, since it led to the destruction of olive and carob trees as well as this year’s grain crop yield, the dailies report.

Deputy community leader of Kormakitis, Valentinos Koumettos, told Phileleftheros that Maronites living in the village as well as relatives that live in the government-controlled areas but often visit the village, were stuck in the south as the fire raged. He added that he himself was in the government-controlled areas during the fire.

Koumettos noted that most of the current inhabitants of the village are elderly people whose children work and live in the south, as well as some younger people that returned with the support of the RoC.

The inhabitants had to use any means available to them to fight the fire since T/C authorities concentrated on preventing the fire from reaching military installations in the area, the newspaper reports citing information.

Koumettos said that thankfully the firefighting aircraft of the RoC was sent to the area to assist in the fires in Kormakitis. Koumettos also said that the community will assess the level of damage done and will ask for assistance from the RoC.

Meanwhile, Politis and Alithia point out that this was the first forest fire in which the T/C side accepted the assistance of the RoC. Both newspapers cite reports underlining this fact in T/C newspapers.

Politis notes that Sunday’s fire, which affected about 5,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land, was the largest since the fire that denuded the Pentadaktylos range in 1995. Some of the olive trees burned had been standing in the area for more than 500 years. In fact, one of the olive trees that fell victim to the fire was the second oldest in the area and was known as the “King”. The oldest, known as the “Queen”, survived the fire.

Phileleftheros also reports that President Anastasiades met on Monday with representatives of the Forestry Department, the Fire Service, the Police, the National Guard, Civil Defence and volunteers to discuss preparations for fighting wildfires or arsons during the summer period.

Ministry of Agriculture officials said during the meeting that two Spanish Air Traktor fire-fighting aircrafts were delivered on Monday and another two Russian Kamov helicopters are to be delivered on Tuesday. All four aircraft are reported to have arrived to Cyprus on Wednesday.

The two Air Traktors are temporarily based in Larnaca. After their crew exits their mandated quarantine, they will be based in SBA Akrotiri. The two Kamov helicopters will be based in Paphos.

Dailies report that the T/C “cabinet of ministers” also mete on Monday to discuss measures against forest fires.

According to a reports by Dialog cited by Alithia, “foreign minister” Kudret Ozersay had attempted to ask for help from the Sovereign Base Areas due to the fact that help from Turkey was delayed. After Ozersay was unsuccesful in his attempts, T/C leader Mustafa Akinci contacted President Anastasiades requesting assistance.


Malfunction at Vassilikos prompts automatic electricity tranfer from north

Phileleftheros
Energy, Economy, CBMs

OVERVIEW

Phileleftheros reports that while the RoC was sending assistance to firefighting efforts in the occupied areas, a malfunction at the Vassilikos power plant led to the use of electricity from the occupied areas to maintain service.

The newspaper reports that the malfunction in unit 4 of the Electricity Authority’s (AHK) plant occurred around 16:15 on Sunday, while electricity needs were high due to increased temperatures across the island.

The total demand for electricity during the malfunction was at 600 MW. About 80 MW were “lost” which led to temporary loss of electricity, for 15 to 20 minutes, in some areas. The newspaper notes that since the electricity grids in the government-controlled and the occupied areas are connected, electricity automatically surged to the south, counteracting the loss.

Phileleftheros also notes that renewable sources of energy are contributing more and more to the country’s energy mix. Out of the 600 MW needed on Sunday, about 100 were covered by renewable sources.

The report points out that the need of electricity has increased because of the rise in temperatures. On Monday, the demand in electricity reached 835 MW, a significant increase when compared with last week’s record of 540 MW in a single day.

Up to 22% of electricity used on Monday, about 178 out of 832 MW, was generated through renewable sources of energy (151 MW from photovoltaics and biomass and 45 MW from wind energy). AHK therefore had to produce only 654 MW in Vassilikos.


Majority of occupied property transferred in last five years in Famagusta

Alithia, Phileleftheros, Politis
Property, Territory, Economy

OVERVIEW

Half of the total of G/C properties transferred (passed on between relatives or sold) in the occupied areas during the last five years were in the occupied district of Famagusta, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said responding to a parliamentary question by AKEL MP Skevi Koukouma.

The data presented by Nouris have been recorded by the Department of Lands and Surveys of the RoC and concerns legal transfers and sales between G/Cs.

Phileleftheros reports that there was a total of 10,162 transfers in the past five years. A total of 9,112 transfers were donations or transfers without payments between relatives, while 250 were sales.

Politis notes in a short comment that the most significant part of this data is that in fact only 250 of a total of more than a thousand transfers are sales, and only five of these concern sales to UK citiens.

Out of these sales, 221 were sales of prime properties by G/Cs to G/Cs, and worth about 1.4 million euros in total, covering a total of 1,466,751 square meters. The total worth of all transfers included in the data is 3 million 47,033 euros, and the area of the properties adds up to 1,780,586 square meters.

Out of a total of 10,162 transfers, 5,098 were in the occupied district of Famagusta, 2,851 were in Nicosia, 1,913 were in Kyrenia and 300 were in Larnaca.

The breakdown by region for the 250 sales is as follows: 150 in Famagusta, 58 in Nicosia, 33 in Kyrenia, 9 in Larnaca. Out of these sales, 5 were sales to UK buyers.

Phileleftheros recalls that according to a study by the University of Cyprus in 2009, the loss of land after 1974 amounted to a loss of 7 billion euros and the loss of access to properties amountedo to 16 billion euros. The study found all G/C property lost in the north to be worth a total of 82.1 billion euro today.

The article also notes that in 1974, 78.62% of properties in the north belonged to G/Cs and 21.38% belonged to T/Cs. Also, the total of land owned by T/Cs across Cyprus amounted to 848,858 decares, out of which 455,306 are today in the government-controlled areas. T/C properties in the south amount to about 5,000 residences or appartements, shops, plots of land and agricultural land.


Sustained slowdown in new COVID-19 cases brings optimism

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

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that only one new case of the coronarivus was detected on Monday, out of a total of 1,287 tests, causing optimism for the future. The number of cases in the government-controlled areas has now reached 917.

According to the data released by the government, the new case was detected as a result of one of the 583 tests conducted among workers in retail and construction sites. Virology proffesor Leontios Kostrikkis told journalists that the developments are seen as particularly positive.

Four people are currently being hospitalised at the Famagusta General Hospital, including one person in intesive care. Another three patients are entubated in intensive care at the Nicosia General Hospital. Another confirmed coronavirus patient is also being hospitalised.

The dailies also cite reports by T/C media that no new cases were detected in the occupied areas on Monday. The total number of cases in the north has remained at 108 since April 17th. Newspapers report also that CTP deputy Sila Usar Incirli cast doubt on the announcements made by the “government”, noting that there can’t only be 108 cases out of a total of 30,000 tests.