GCC Press Review 1 Sep 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Witch hunt over the leaks

Averof – Syllouris focus on who gave the documents rather than on the essence. Information sent to House of Representatives were summarised while Al Jazeera’s reports come from seriously investigating each case. The president of the House suggests calling a meeting of (party) leaders under President Anastasiades regarding the possibility of ending or suspending the programme.

Phileleftheros

Operation: De-escalation

Brussels and Berlin call on Turkey to end provocations before sanctions are imposed. Tough line from France – It sends an aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean.

  • Big poll in occupied areas: Akinci ahead but loses from Tatar

Haravgi

Once again workers pay the damage

Pressure by employers over salaries and work positions. Arbitrary behaviour and shrinking of labour rights. Support to tourism and related activities.

  • Conflicts do not serve the people. Joint declaration by PEO and T/C unions
  • Corruption and “golden passports” are what undermines the state, not revealing them

Cyprus Mail

EU: carrot and stick approach

Turkey and EU: stick will be sanctions, carrot more refugee funds.

  • Cyprus: Syllouris seeks leaders’ meeting over passport scheme

Alithia

A strong European front against Erdogan

30 day ultimatum to Turkey by the EU to abandon provocative behaviour and come to dialogue, or else will be sanctioned. French Foreign Minister: We have to respond collectively to defend Cyprus and Greece. “Europe is obliged to leave the era of innocence and naivety…” German Foreign Minister points out to Turkey that it needs to comply for dialogue to begin.

  • Why DISY’s president believes that provocations at Varosha will end: Averof: We will have important developments in the Cyprus Problem in autumn
  • Legal opinion: Does Odysseas have authority to investigate naturalisations?
  • Zero cases: We brought the coronavirus again under control
  • Turkish newspaper poll: Akinci first, but loses to Tatar in the second round with a small margin

Main News

Borrell speaks with Cavusoglu in effort to push de-escalation

Alithia, Haravgi, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros, Politis
External Security, Regional/ International Relations, Energy, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that the EU’s HRVP Josep Borrell had a telephone conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday evening.

Borrell’s spokesperson Peter Stano told the media during Monday’s daily press briefing that the HRVP briefed Cavusoglu on what was discussed by the EU’s 27 Foreign Ministers during Friday’s unofficial summit in Berlin, the Cyprus News Agency reports.

Stano said that in this way Turkey has been informed both in public and also in private of the EU’s call to de-escalation and what Brussels expects of Ankara in order for a peaceful solution to be reached regarding tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey was also informed on the EU’s perspective on how de-escalation will be achieved, as well on the measures that the EU is ready to take and is already taking as a reaction to the country’s behaviour, Stano added.

Stano told CNA that the Foreign Ministers were clear that that the priority is to find the way towards restarting a dialogue between Greece and Turkey, and that therefore he can’t at this stage speculate on what the agenda of such a dialogue would be.

He underlined that right now it is important that there is an end to unilateral moves and that the two sides will stop sending messages through the media and through public statements. When asked to comment on Cavusoglu’s public statement that if Greece were to extend its territorial waters in its east that would be a cause for war, Stano said that commenting on public statements would not be productive. He noted instead that the ministers were determined to show their solidarity with the two affected member states (Greece and Cyprus) and that they very clearly called on Turkey to put an end to unilateral actions.

Cyprus Mail reports that a European Commission spokesperson told Reuters, on condition of anonymity, that the EU’s approach does not only contain sticks, in the form of sanctions, but also carrots as an incentive for Turkey to engage in dialogue. “These carrots could be progress on a new customs union and more money for the refugee programme” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Christopher Burger told media that the most urgent priority for Germany is to achieve a diplomatic solution through a direct dialogue, Haravgi reports. Burger said that Germany is ready to support a constructive dialogue and has tried to mediate in the past few days and will continue. He added that Germany wants to give diplomacy a chance, but that first Turkey will have to end provocations.

Phileleftheros reports on comments by Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy regarding information published in international media that Greece is concentrating military forces on the island of Kastelorizo. Aksoy said that if the information is true then Turkey will not allow such a provocation. However, Phileleftheros adds, Greek public broadcaster ERT reported that the footage seen on international media was of a change of guard.

Phileleftheros also reports that France is maintaining a hard line against Turkey. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a press conference with German counterpart Heiko Maas, that Turkey’s infringement in EU waters is unacceptable and that it would be a mistake to leave security in the Mediterranean to other countries. The newspaper also reports that according to French media, French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle will be returning to the region.

In a related development, Haravgi reports that G/C federation of unions PEO and several T/C unions issued a statement stressing that the interests of the peoples in the region are not served by conflict and escalation of tensions or through the geopolitical games of the powerful. The announcement was issued in light of Tuesday’s international workers peace day. The unions also call for the opening of all checkpoints, respecting all necessary health measures.

KEY ACTORS
Peter Stano (Borrell spokesperson)
>> Turkey has now been briefed both in public and in private – by HRVP Borrell – on what the EU expects so that the road to dialogue can open
>> Foreign Ministers of EU were clear that the priority is to find a way towards dialogue
>> It is important to end unilateral moves and for both sides to stop sending messages through public statements

Christopher Burger (German FM spokesperson)
>> Germany sees diplomatic solution as urgent priority, but first Turkey needs to end provocations

Jean-Yves Le Drian (French Foreign Minister)
>> Turkey’s infringement of EU’s waters is unacceptable
>> Security of Mediterranean should not be left to others


Chevron – Noble reiterate interest on developing the Aphrodite gas reserve

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Politis
Energy, Economy, External Security, Regional/ International Relations

OVERVIEW

President Anastasiades had a teleconference with the CEO of Noble Energy, David Stover, as well as the CEO of Chevron, Michael Wirth, which recently acquired Noble Energy and with it a share in the Aphrodite gas reserve, Cyprus Mail reports.

According to a written statement by government spokesperson Kyriakos Koushios, the two companies reiterated their interest in developing the Aphrodite gas reserve as part of their strategic planning in the region, and said they intend to move forward with the exploitation of the reserve as soon as possible. He also said that the two officials said they intend to visit Cyprus as soon as conditions allow.

The spokesperson also said that President Anastasiades assured the two companies of the readiness of the government to work with them. Koushios noted that the purchase of Noble Energy by Chevron is expected to be completed during October.

Energy Minister Natasa Pelides, Koushios and other officials from Chevron and Noble Energy also took part in the teleconference.

KEY ACTORS
Kyriakos Koushios (government spokesperson)
>> Chevron and Noble energy reiterated their interest in developing Aphrodite gas reserve as part of their strategic planning
>> President Anastasiades assured the two companies of the readiness of the government to proceed as planned


DISY leader predicts developments in Cyprus Problem in the autumn

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process, External Security, Regional/ International Relations, Territory, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

DISY leader Averof Neofytou told journalists that he expects developments regarding the Cyprus Problem to begin in October and towards the end of the year, during a press conference, newspapers report.

Neofytou expressed the opinion that there will be important developments in October, November and December and added that political leaders need to prepare accordingly. He also insisted that the G/C side and specifically President Anastasiades want to achieve a solution to the Cyprus Problem, and pointed out that the G/C side wants this knowing that the opponent is not the Turkish Cypriots but the “unscrupulous President of Turkey, Tayip Erdogan”.

He also said that he is not concerned about any developments regarding Varosha before October, and predicted that there will be no additional provocative moves on that since by then there will be developments in the Cyprus Problem.

Meanwhile, Phileleftheros reports that AKEL and DIKO have both been criticising Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides over his handling of the Cyprus Problem and foreign affairs, citing statements by AKEL secretary general Andros Kyprianou on CyBC and a statement by DIKO. The newspaper connects the two statements in a joint story, illustrated with an image from a meeting between the leaders of the two parties.

Kyprianou said, regarding the issue of the reopening of Varosha, that the predictions made by Christodoulides that Turkey would not take steps that would bring it in conflict with the international community had proven wrong. He added that Christodoulides had also said that the country’s EEZ was protected but was proven wrong when Turkey began drilling.

DIKO criticised Christodoulides regarding a statement that Varosha would have been returned only after the beginning of negotiations as part of the proposal put forward by the international community in 1978. DIKO noted that the other side never accepted that plan and that the proposal was insufficient for the G/C side.

KEY ACTORS
Averof Neofytou (DISY president)
>> There will be developments in the Cyprus problem starting in October
>> These developments will mean that plans to reopen Varosha will not go forward
>> President Anastasiades wants to achieve a solution
>> The opponent is not the T/Cs but the unscrupulous President of Turkey

Andros Kyprianou (AKEL secretary general)
>> The Foreign Minister’s predictions that Turkey will not proceed with Varosha were mistaken, as were his predictions on the EEZ

DIKO
>> The 1978 plan to return Varosha was not in the interest of the G/C side and furthermore it was never accepted by the Turkish side


Calls on government to reassess citizenship investment programme

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Economy, Internal Security, Migration & Citizenship, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

The president of the House of Representatives, Dimitris Syllouris, sent a letter to President Anastasiades asking with the party leaders in order to discuss the issue that has come up due to the golden passport scandal and the revelations of international network Al Jazeera.

Politis notes that the fact that Syllouris uses the letter to refer to the question whether the information was leaked out of parliament, seem to be an attempt to turn attention away from the scandal.

Syllouris suggested that the meeting should examine whether the citizenship-through-investment programme should continue or be ended. He added that party leaders should clarify their positions on what should be done on the issue.

Governing DISY leader Averof Neofytou said in a statement that there are obvious cases where citizenship was given in a way that harms the country’s reputation and credibility, and ascribed these cases to people fooling the state or taking advantage of loopholes that have stayed in the law despite recent changes.

Neofytou said that citizenships given in that way should be recalled, with respect to rule of law, in order to regain the country’s reputation and reduce the risks of losing the country’s investment programme.

Neofytou also said that it seems that the leak to Al Jazeera originated in the House of Representatives, and pointed out that the documents were given to eight political leaders and the ten members of the internal affairs committee, and added that he is one of the 18 persons suspected.

Politis however pointed out in its coverage that the documents in questions do not include the details that were reported by Al Jazeera, and that those details were a result of a long investigation.

In a statement, opposition AKEL spokesperson Stephanos Stephanou accused the government of avoiding taking responsibility for the scandal and that instead the government focuses on handling public opinion. Stephanou accused the government that it is doing really badly when it comes to international reports and standings regarding corruption.

Stephanou said that the government should listen to the messages of the European Commission and focus on clearing the country’s name, so that Cyprus can attract serious investments.

EDEK said in a statement that all the applications should be investigated, and that if it is deemed necessary then the party does not disagree with temporarily suspending the citizenship-through-investment programme.

Alithia reports that the government has requested Attorney General Giorgos Savvides to give a reasoned opinion on whether Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides can be involved in the investigation regarding the abuse of the citizenship-through-investment programme.

Savvides also told the media that he is expecting a request by the investigative committee appointed by the government, in order to give his legal opinion on whether citizenships can be recalled retroactively.

In a statement on CyBC, government spokesperson Kyriakos Koushios doubted whether the Auditor General can join the investigation. He also said that if the person responsible for the leak is found, then that person will be named.

KEY ACTORS
Dimitris Syllouris (president of House of Representatives)
>>
President and party leaders should meet to decide on next steps regarding citizenship-through-investment programme

Averof Neofytou (DISY president)
>>
There are obvious cases where citizenship was given in ways that harm the country’s reputation and these should be recalled

Stephanos Stephanou (AKEL spokesperson)
>>
The government avoids taking responsibility and focuses on handling public opinion

EDEK
>>
Would not be against temporarily suspending the programme