GCC Press Review 22 May 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

And life goes on with mask and antiseptic

Relief but also hesitation on the premiere of the exit from the quarantine.  Hairdressing salons and barbershops under surgery conditions with strict social distancing and hygiene measures. Due to the heat people preferred to go to the beaches. The tables at cafeterias and restaurants were not full.

  • First step on June 8 – Crossings open gradually.

Phileleftheros

Opening of tourism

We start with two-tier tourists. Health certificate from visitors from ‘dangerous’ countries. Today, the dates of the lifting of restrictions in airports. No quarantine for those repatriating.

  • First step for the opening of the crossings
  • Criminal investigation for ambulance episode
  • Turkish provocations in the Aegean Sea

Haravgi

They turned their backs on children with disabilities

For some children, the school bells did not ring yesterday since the classrooms could not welcome them, according to the health ministry’s instructions. On top of that, special education children went to school yesterday but will not be able to go today because they need certain verifications…

  • Crossings: They gradually open from June 8

Cyprus Mail

Critical day for air travel

Cabinet to decide, list of 20 countries on the radar.

  • Crossings by car but only for some

Alithia

Hope for tourism

Today, the cabinet decides.

  • Crossings open too: It was agreed during a telephone conversation yesterday between President Anastasiades and Akinci – From June 8, the movement of TCs working or studying in the free areas or for medical reasons and for GC enclaved and the Maronites. Between June 15-20, all of them will open.

Main News

Gradual lifting of crossing restrictions announced

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

OVERVIEW

All dailies report on the agreement between the two leaders on Thursday to allow some groups of people cross between the island’s two sides as a first step in lifting restrictions on crossings.

The decision came a day prior to announcements on the opening of airports and the restart of tourism.

According to the papers, Government Spokesman Kyriacos Kousios announced that President Nicos Anastasiades briefed TC leader Mustafa Akinci during a telephone conversation on a decision on the gradual lifting of movement restrictions.

He said the two leaders, agreed, as a first step, to allow as of June 8, some groups of people to be using the crossings; TCs working or studying in the south or people who undergo treatment at the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre, the Institute of Neurology and Genetics and state or private hospitals within the Republic. The enclaved and Maronites who reside permanently in the north will also be allowed to cross from June 8.

As regards pupils, they will be allowed to cross only through Ledra Palace crossing, from where buses will be taking them to their schools.

Kousios, who said the telephone conversation was on Anastasiades’ initiative, also said that the crossing of people for humanitarian reasons will continue while the government will regularly conduct random tests on people who will be passing from the crossing points.

It was also agreed that the bi-communal Technical Committee on Health will convene as soon as possible to exchange views on the gradual opening of crossing points, depending on the epidemiological situation at the time.

GC head of the Technical Committee on Health, Leonidas Phylactou, said the committee would meet next week. He added he had a telephone conversation on Thursday with his TC counterpart on the issue and that he also informed him that experts from the GC side will also attend the meeting on the issue of coronavirus in order to analyse the situation in the south.

UNFICYP welcomed the discussion between the two leaders and their decision to ease restrictions at the crossing points.

“We stand ready to assist the sides and the bi-communal Technical Committee on Health on the way forward as the situation allows,” UNFICYP spokesperson, Aleem Siddique said.

Alithia, citing information, reports that based on the epidemiological situation, all crossings would open between June 15 and 20.

Politis reports that after this decision all crossings from where cars pass will be open to these groups of people. The only crossing whose operation will remain suspended is that of Ledra Street which is for pedestrians, while only pupils will be able to cross from that of Ledra Palace. After crossing on foot, pupils will be boarding buses that will be taking them to their schools, the daily reported.

The daily also focuses on the wording of Kousios’ announcement and that it confirms his report on Thursday that the government did not want public opinion to believe that this issue would be a matter of a joint decision. Kousios’ statement said that Anastasiades had taken the initiative to call Akinci to whom he “conveyed the decision for the gradual lifting of restrictions,” the daily reports. As regards the rest, the sides are talking about an understanding and not a joint decision, it reports.

Elsewhere in the paper, Politis hosts a sketch showing two people talking with one man saying to the other: “It was announced that the crossings are opening and protests started on social media by those who, unashamedly, are at ease with writing off half of our homeland.”

Phileleftheros reports that so far, there is nothing specific as regards the opening of crossings for all TCs and GCs. Citing information, the daily reports that this will be discussed at a later stage based on experts’ opinion and the epidemiology data.


‘Tourist day trips to north badly affect Ayia Napa, Protaras’

Phileleftheros
CBMs, Economy

OVERVIEW

The daily reports that talk on the reopening of the crossings has led to the mobilisation of some businesses that have been organising tours from Ayia Napa and Protaras to the occupied parts of the island.

A local businessman told Phileleftheros that GC business owners in that area are struggling to survive while some of their compatriots create more problems for them by taking tourists to the occupied areas.

The businessman raised the importance of solidarity among GCs for supporting the economy that has been badly hit due to the lockdown and other measures taken due to the pandemic.

At the time when some business people are getting ready to transfer tourists to the occupied areas, yesterday, which was the first day all movement restrictions were lifted, the food and beverage businesses in Ayia Napa and Protaras had a very disappointing start, the daily reports.

According to a representative of the sector, Vasos Xydias, less than 10 of the around 240 businesses resumed operations on Thursday in the two resorts. Xydias expressed hope that tourists would start arriving again soon and in July, the daily reports.


Activists criticise both sides on island over handling of migrants

Cyprus Mail
Human Rights, Internal Security, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

The daily reports that migrant rights group KISA along with 23 other, international groups have criticised both the Republic of Cyprus and the TC side for the way they handled a group of 175 refugees who were denied entry by the government in March.

The migrants arrived by boat but authorities of the Republic of Cyprus did not allow them entry due to the coronavirus pandemic with the boat heading north, capsizing and the refugees rescued by the TC side.

The groups said in a joint statement that many of those refugees were trying to join their families already settled in the Republic of Cyprus, which is a member of the EU.

They said that, initially, the refugees were housed in an apartment complex in the north for a 14-day quarantine period but after that, they continued to be detained, “this time arbitrarily, in violation of the law of the ‘Turkish Cypriot administration’ which authorises the detention of irregular migrants for eight days extendable only by a court order.”

The activists said that on May 15, the TC side forcibly sent 100 Syrian refugees, 56 of which are children and women, including unaccompanied children to Turkey and are now near the Syrian border. On April 24, the TC side forcibly sent 75 people from the group, including unaccompanied children, to Mersin, from where they have been reportedly moved to a camp in the province of Kahramanmaras.

According to the activists, all 175 Syrian refugees have expressed their intent to apply for asylum and find protection in an EU member state but they now face a risk of onward refoulement to Syria.

They said that the refusal of entry by the Cypriot government amounts to violation of the 1951 Geneva Convention and EU law on asylum, and infringes Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. They also condemned the return of the refugees to Turkey and their arbitrary detention by the TC side which was also in violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. “The detention of minors additionally violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” they said.

They called on Cyprus to abide by EU and international obligations to respect the right to seek asylum and the principle of non-refoulement, and provide assistance to boats in distress at sea by carrying out search and rescue operations. They also called on the government to cooperate with the UN and the TC side with a view to allowing the asylum seekers access to territory under the control of the Republic of Cyprus to apply for asylum and reunify with their families, the daily reports.


Officers denying ambulance entry under criminal investigation

Phileleftheros
CBMs, Human Rights, Internal Security

OVERVIEW

According to the paper, the independent authority investigating complaints against the police has decided to carry out a criminal investigation into the refusal by GC officers at the Astromeritis crossing to allow an ambulance of the Republic last March to cross through there to transfer a patient from Kato Pyrgos to Nicosia.

So far, the incident was being investigated as a disciplinary offence by the police.

The members of the independent authority ruled on Thursday that the complaint, filed by the community leader of Kato Pyrgos, ought to be investigated by a criminal investigator and have asked the permission of the Attorney-general, the daily reports.

The investigation will determine whether the officers bear criminal responsibility if their actions have put in danger the patient’s life who was being taken to hospital after a heart attack.

The incident took place at 3 am on March 21. The ambulance was forced to cross to the government-controlled areas through Ayios Dometios with an hour delay. The patient is still in hospital, the daily reports.