GCC Press Review 4 Sep 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Relief schemes with counter incentives for lay-offs

Any businesses that dismiss staff will be cut-off from schemes. The government has renewed the business and workers support schemes for two more months until October 31 in response to the demands by social partners. At the same time, ‘penalties’ have been introduced on the non-participation in future schemes by ANAD (Human Resource Development Authority) and the European Social Fund for businesses that make staff redundant. Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides warned that the next few months will be crucial and therefore the fiscal policy cannot be as expansive anymore as it was pre-crisis and asked for political consent for the implementation of the National Recovery Scheme.

  • Cold-war ‘naval battle’ for the lifting of the arms embargo – Reactions by Osadchiy-Andros.
  • Armenian (Genocide) monument – Neglect that speaks for itself, in Phinikoudes.
  • Temporary discharge (for some conscripts): They are getting their marching orders for studies in Britain

Phileleftheros

Russian message with a Navtex

Politics through aero naval exercises. A disturbed Turkey tried to murk the waters. Russia is taking into consideration only the counter Navtex messages issued by Cyprus and Greece which annulled the Turkish ones.

  • Suspension of military service for those who will study in Britain
  • Erdogan is negative towards Merkel – Mobility to deescalate tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Haravgi

They have been ruling for seven years and they blame Christofias!

The government, which staged a new narrative with old naturalisations going back to the Christofias administration is setting up a new distraction operation. The AKEL leader pointed out that it was a matter of time to blame Christofias. The lies, he said, will be revealed. All problematic cases that have been discovered during the past years concern naturalisations carried out during the Anastasiades administration.

  • Moscow’s reaction to the lifting of the arms embargo!
  • New Navtex ‘war’ for Russian exercises in the East Med
  • Mobilisation for Varosha and solution
  • Temporary discharge of soldiers for studies

Cyprus Mail

Bracing for extreme heat

EAC expects a new max demand for the year as temperature set to hit 45Cto 46C.

  • Cabinet defers military service for conscripts accepted at UK universities
  • Risk of clash in the East Med, says Davutoglu

Alithia

The Russian military exercises off Cyprus are taking place with a Turkish Navtex

Moscow questions the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. By tolerating Turkey, Russia shows she is recognising that the right to inform seafarers in the areas reserved for Russian exercises belongs to Turkey and not Cyprus. Government: The issue is being exploited by Turkey.

  • Akinci: No one should expect a declaration of obedience from me on relations with Turkey
  • A Pakistani irregular migrant has been doing everything possible since 2015 to remain in Cyprus – He arrived through the occupied areas.

Main News

Kousios: RoC was aware of Russian exercise Navtex

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

OVERVIEW

The dailies report on a war of Navtex messages after Turkey issued two of them for Russian exercises off Cyprus which the Cypriot authorities annulled and replaced with new ones.

In the meantime, the Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Stanislav Osadchiy reacted to statements by the US Ambassador that Russia is destabilising the region, especially Syria.

He said he was surprised to hear his US counterpart saying his country was playing a destabilising role in the region. Osadchiy said Washington wanted to damage relations between Nicosia and Moscow and urged the US to first consider its own actions in the region before it starts baling others.

The Russian diplomat said if one discusses the destabilisation of the situation in the region it is enough to remember the US activities in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya. He argued that Russia, unlike the US, is legally present in Syria on the invitation of the official government of Damascus and it was due to her help, that the backbone of terrorism in that country was broken thus preventing a terrorist stronghold there, which would have endangered the whole Mediterranean region.

He also accused the US of ‘divide and rule’ tactics and of forging friendships with other states only when it has something to gain.

He added the US wanted to damage relations between Moscow and Nicosia by putting pressure on the latter to deny access to Russian military ships to the ports of Cyprus.

On the Navtex matter, according to the papers, Turkey issued two Navtex messages for Russian exercises, one between September 8 and 22, south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo, but outside Greek territorial waters, the other between September 17 and 25, in waters southeast of Cyprus’ Cape Greco.

Both Russian exercises will take place inside Cyprus’ search and rescue area.

Cyprus has then issued two counter-Navtex to Turkey’s notices, recalling that the areas in question fall under its responsibility.

Government spokesman Kyriacos Kousios said on Thursday afternoon that Russia contacts Cyprus whenever it plans to conduct air or naval exercises.

 “The Republic of Cyprus has been briefed on everything, Kousios said.

Asked whether Cyprus had any complaint from Russia’s conduct in terms of whom it notifies about exercises, the spokesman said:

“No. But we do have a complaint regarding Turkey’s attempt to exploit the situation,” he said.

Cyprus Mail, citing sources, reported that for some time now Russia has been going through the Navarea III organisation whenever it plans to carry out maritime exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean. Headquartered in Spain, Navarea is responsible for maritime navigation coordination and safety in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Once Russia notifies Navarea of an upcoming exercise, the country responsible for search and rescue in the area concerned, issues the corresponding Navtex as a matter of procedure. In the past, it is understood, the Russians had come to Cyprus directly to notify of naval exercises. But for a while now, Moscow has opted to go through the Navarea organisation first, the daily reported.

The source told the daily that this in of itself does not circumvent Cyprus, because the outcome is the same – ultimately permission will come from Cyprus.

However, in an apparent bid to avoid getting embroiled in the political game between Cyprus and Turkey over maritime jurisdictions, the Russians have decided to go through Navarea instead, Cyprus Mail reports.

The issue was widely interpreted by Alithia as Russia’s reaction to the US demand that Cyprus bans Russian military vessels from its ports for refuelling.

The daily reports that Moscow questions Cyprus sovereignty referring to a major political issue with Russia which, in order not to displease Turkey, it does not address the Republic of Cyprus for the issuance of Navtex messages for its naval exercise off the island, as all other countries do. This is being interpreted as downgrading of the RoC’s sovereignty, the daily said. Russia did not even react when Turkey issued the two Navtex messages, after Moscow requested them from Navarea, the paper reported, adding that by tolerating this, Russia shows it is recognising that Turkey is the one that has the right to issue Navtex messages in these areas and not Cyprus.

The daily also reports that this move by Russia may have been intentional, in retaliation for the US decision for partial lifting of the arms embargo on Cyprus. It also reports that this was a stabbing in the back by Russia just days before its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected in Cyprus on September 8 for meetings with his Cypriot counterpart and the president.

Politis, reporting on the response of the Russian ambassador and the Navtex issue said the public debate on these reminds of Cold War era rhetoric.

The daily also reports that AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou said the lifting of arms embargo was a very small step in the face of an unacceptable US decision in 1987 (the imposition of the embargo on Cyprus) and that the price for its lifting is for the RoC to ruin its relations with Russia.

Kousios said in response that the answer to AKEL would come next week when Lavrov will be in Cyprus on an official visit.

Phileleftheros reports that with the two counter Navtex messages, Russia has sent a clear political message that she does not recognise any Turkish authority over the issuance of Navtex messages within the areas that according to the international law are controlled by Cyprus and Greece.

In the case of the Navtex for Russian aero naval exercises southeast of Cyprus overlapping the area illegally blocked by Turkey for seismic research by the Barbaros, Russia announced it would use rockets which is completely incompatible with the existence of the seismic survey vessel and its auxiliary ships, the daily reported.

The paper also reports that the Navtex was issued through the Navarea and that the Larnaca JRCC issued it on behalf of Russia at 6 pm on Wednesday and that Turkey, in a bid to blur the waters, as usual, issued its own irregular Navtex for the same exercise at 7.31 pm of the same day, supposedly on behalf of Russia and cautioning for avoiding interference of the Barbaros activities in that area.

Phileleftheros, in another article, also reports that Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides, said the lifting of the arms embargo, even for non-lethal weapons, provides a good opportunity to assess the options available in the US market based on the National Guard needs. Petrides said this could mean radars or other advanced technology systems.

He said the US decision was an important step in the recognition of Cyprus’ role on security and stability in the region.

KEY ACTORS
Osadchiy (Russian Ambassador to RoC)
>>
Surprised to hear the US accuse Russia of playing a destabilising role in the region given the US’ actions in the region.
>> Russia, unlike the US, is legally present in Syria & due to her help a terrorist stronghold was prevented which would have endangered the whole Mediterranean region.
>> The US wants to damage relations between Moscow & Nicosia by putting pressure on Cyprus to deny access to Russian military ships to Cypriot ports.

Kousios (RoC spokesman)
>>
Cyprus has no complaint from Russia on Navtex notifications but it has one about Turkey’s attempt to exploit the situation.

Kyprianou (AKEL)
>>
The lifting of the arms embargo does not do much to amend the unacceptable US decision in 1987 when it imposed it & the price the RoC is paying to see it lifted is ruination of its relations with Russia.


Developments expected soon to help deescalate tension in East Med

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
EU Matters, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

Phileleftheros reports that the period up to the European Council of September 24 and 25 is crucial as regards efforts for deescalation of tensions in the East Med.

The daily cites statements by Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides to Antenna TV on Wednesday evening according to which Nicosia has launched contacts with EU institutions and mainly Germany for visits in the region.

 These visits to Cyprus and elsewhere are expected to take place within the coming period. Their aim is to help deescalate tensions, the daily reported.

The Russian foreign minister is also expected in Cyprus next week while President Nicos Anastasiades is to travel to Corsica for the MED7 summit hosted by France’s Emmanuel Macron. The summit will discuss the situation in the East Med and Turkey’s behaviour the daily reported.

The French president wants a strong decision from the MED7 in relation to the eastern Mediterranean which will send a message to the European Council which will deal with the issue of Turkey. The fact that Turkey has been against France, the daily reports, will have a positive effect on Greece and Cyprus with Macron insisting on a harsh stance against Ankara.

At the same time, Washington and Berlin are moving behind the scenes in order to achieve de-escalation of tension. These two are considered to be that can affect Turkey, Phileleftheros reports.

The dailies also report, citing Greek media reports, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a telephone call that it was unacceptable that Germany backs Greece’s and Cyprus’ selfish stance.

Erdogan claimed that Greece and Cyprus but also other countries that back them took measures that escalate tensions and prolong the hiatus reached, the dailies report.


Rally for solution & return of Varosha to rightful owners

Haravgi
Negotiations Process, Territory, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The daily reports that scores of people gathered on Thursday afternoon outside the Presidential Palace in favour of the return of Famagusta’s closed off area, Varosha, to its rightful owners.

Participants also called for the solution of the Cyprus problem and for a peaceful coexistence of GCs and TCs in a common federal homeland.

The symbolic demonstration sent the message for the need for immediate steps on the issue of the fenced off town of Famagusta that is threatened with settlement and the need to resume substantive talks for a solution as soon as possible, the daily reported.


NG to temporarily discharge soldiers starting studies in UK

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The papers reports that, following a Cabinet decision on Thursday, new conscripts that have secured a seat in British universities, would be temporarily discharged so that they would not have to pay the higher fees that come into effect from 2021 because of Brexit.

The announcement was made by Government spokesman Kyriacos Kousios who said this arrangement is for young men who went into the army this year.

He also said Cabinet would send to the parliament an additional budget for the recruitment of an additional number of contracted, professional soldiers to fill the gap of the temporarily dismissed national guards.

Kousios said they did not know exactly how many conscripts would express interest as yet, since they are waiting to see how many will express interest in benefiting from this arrangement.