GCC Press Review 5 September 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

The “big” names of the “N. Anastasiades” firm

A. Kyprianou pointed towards L. Lebedev and A. Abramov. They were naturalised by the Christofias government during 2010 – 2011 with the contribution of the President of the Republic’s former law office. They have been drawing the interest of international public opinion for years over suspicious financial cases. Tomorrow in Sunday’s “P”, all 34 names that were naturalised from 2008 to 2012, which are included in the list forwarded to the party leaders by the President. Seven citizenships granted through presentation of false information are to be removed, according to statements by President Anastasiades to AFP which focused on the naturalisations issue.

  • He waved papers at me: Andros makes accusations of blackmail
  • Ultimatum ran out without noise: Three member committee deflates Odysseas
  • Greece – Turkey: They discuss but do not talk
  • Spy van: With police officers as “passengers”

Phileleftheros

Prodromos gains time

A week’s postponement for return of students, a week’s time for schools to prepare. They spoke about the heatwave, humidity and dust, but not about problems in schools.

  • Strong reaction from Athens: NATO moves with Cyprus Problem approach
  • Blackmails also come to the fore: They go to trenches over “golden passports”
  • Ultramodern radio monitoring system: 5G and digital systems on Big Brother’s nets
  • They set a framework with guarantees and two state solution
  • Asylum seekers go from having 75 days to 15

Haravgi

Sounding out for multi-party conference

P. Stano: Only way forward is dialogue. Greece – Turkey have exchanges on military level. Personal involvement by chancellor Angela Merkel.

  • Countdown to “presidential” elections
  • Diversions instead of assuming responsibility
  • No development. Spy van investigation moves at snail’s pace

Cyprus Mail

Schools shut another week

More hot weather expected, plus masking up would make things unbearable for kids.

  • Cyprus: Citizenship row turns nasty, accusations fly
  • Opinion: France on the move in the East Mediterranean

Alithia

On 14/9 because of heatwave

Schools to open a week later. Special arrangements for first year students and preschoolers. Teachers and parents expressed concerns over how children will get into “furnace classes”. Badly intended images of desks on the internet cause uproar.

  • He put forward his candidacy: Akinci: My policy will continue to focus on solution
  • Message to Erdogan: Mitsotakis: Provocations stop, conversation begins
  • Amendment passed: Application process for asylum shortened
  • Passports: 7 citizenships will be revoked
  • Coronavirus: Four new cases in Cyprus yesterday
  • Points (editorial): AKEL and the NAVTEX

Main News

NATO attempts to bring Greece and Turkey back to table

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

OVERVIEW

Phileleftheros reports on statements made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday night, regarding the start of a dialogue between Greece and Turkey, and Greece’s reaction which led to Stoltenberg partly backtracking.

The newspaper cites information from Greece, reported by Greek state broadcaster ERT, that Stoltenberg met with representatives of the two countries in Brussels. According to the report, Stoltenberg submitted written proposals on military de-escalation and the two countries would respond within seven days.

According to the newspaper, which cites diplomatic and media sources in Athens, Stoltenberg had attempted to present the technical exchange of views on his proposal into an acceptance of his proposal. The same sources point out that the Turkish Foreign Minister also adopted the view that negotiations were under-way.

Stoltenberg clarified on Friday that representatives of Greece and Turkey talked with him regarding finding ways to de-escalate through technical talks and said that there has been no agreement on the mechanism so far. Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu said that it is not the NATO secretary general that is lying but Greece, and that this shows that Greece does not support dialogue.

Meanwhile, Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said after a meeting with a Chinese official that Greece defends its rights but also good neighbourly relations. He commented on a statement by Turkish President Tayip Erdogan on the need for dialogue by pointing out that “once provocations stop, discussions can begin”.

European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano reiterated on Friday that the only way forward for the two countries is dialogue. Stano said that the EU’s position remains that reached during the Foreign Ministers’ unofficial summit in Berlin, which is that dialogue should begin with a discussion on how to de-escalate the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. He repeated that the EU remains in solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.

European Council President Charles Michel told Reuters that the solution to the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean could come through a multi-party conference involving the key parties and NATO, the Cyprus Mail reports. Michel told six European news agencies that EU leaders will decide on a carrot-and-stick approach towards Turkey during the upcoming European Council on September 24th.

He said that the leaders will identify tools that the EU can use to improve the Turkish-EU relationship as well as tools with which to react if the EU is not being respected, adding that the EU wants to be respected. Michel is due to travel to Greece, Cyprus and Malta before the summit. He added that he had floated the idea of a multi-party conference with Athens and Ankara.

In another development, Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Dendias met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York on Friday, the dailies report. Cyprus Mail reports that according to Dendias the two discussed the issues between Greece and Turkey as well as the future of the Cyprus Problem. Dendias added that he and Guterres exchanged opinions on how the process could progress after the elections for a new T/C leader.

Dendias visited New York to register the Greece – Egypt EEZ delineation agreement with the UN. The Greek FM also told the media that he informed Guterres of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and of Turkey’s violations. They also discussed the Greece – Egypt agreement, with Dendias giving Guterres a copy of the text and a letter from Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addressed to the Security Council.


Naturalisations during AKEL’s time includes clients of President’s former law firm

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

OVERVIEW

President Anastasiades announced that the RoC would be stripping its citizenship from seven people found to have violated the terms of the country’s investment programme, the dailies report citing an interview by the President to French agency AFP.

In his statements, Anastasiades said that “there were some deficiencies or loopholes in the programme” and added that since more effective control mechanisms have been adopted.

Meanwhile opposition AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou reacted to the government’s intention to publicise a list of 141 citizenship applications given during the previous administration between 2008 and 2012 (which the President had sent to the party leaders last week) by accusing the government of blackmail and announcing that he would reply in a press conference on Friday.

He accused the President of “waving documents in the air” during a private meeting, threatening to disclose information that would harm AKEL. Kyprianou said that he had responded that the President should publicise the documents.

Politis reports that the list circulated by the government, with which the President was threatening AKEL, also includes persons that were clients of the President’s former law firm. According to the newspaper, which cites information about the content of the list, the two people were Russian oligarchs Leonid Lebedev and Alexander Abramov. The two are indisputably linked to the “Nicos Anastasiades” law firm, the newspaper adds.

Phileleftheros cites information that the government wants to reduce attention around the naturalisations issue, pointing out that it harms the country’s economy.

The government has announced the names of the three persons that will make up the Independent Committee to Examine Revocation of Citizenships through the official gazette. Politis reports that these are government attorney Elena Zahariadou – Georgiadou (as president), assistant auditor general Stelios Kountouris and permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry Marianna Santama – Patsalides.

Spokesperson of the Audit Office Marios Petrides told Astra radio on Friday morning that 15 files concerning exceptional naturalisations should have arrived from the Interior Ministry by that date but still hadn’t, Haravgi reports. Petrides said that the Audit Office can wait for another one or two days if necessary.

Petrides added that if the evidence is not sent to the Audit Office, then it will have to appeal to the Attorney General, as this would be breaking the rule that public officials, including ministers, need to submit evidence when requested. He underlined that the authority that can rule on a disagreement on this issue is the Supreme Court.

The president of the independent committee on naturalisations (appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers), Demetra Kalogirou, told CyBC radio that some of the naturalisations between 2012 and 2018 could include criminal cases and could lead to revoking of citizenships. Kalogirou said that after examining 12 files regarding the naturalisation of 42 people, the committee found that in four files, including the applications of seven people, were found to contain untrue evidence or to leave out important information.


Time window for asylum seekers to appeal rejections reduced

Alithia, Phileleftheros
Migration & Citizenship, Internal Security, Human Rights, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

The House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Constitution which limits the time given to asylum seekers to appeal a negative decision to their application from 75 days to 15 days.

Phileleftheros reports that the proposal was approved by 38 votes, barely over the two thirds of the house, which is the required majority for a constitutional amendment. The MPs from AKEL and the Greens voted against the amendment.

The discussion of three further bills that would further speed up the process of examining asylum applications was postponed for 15 days, as a result of a procedural point made by AKEL MP Aristos Damianou that bills and constitutional amendments cannot be approved on the same day.

In a statement, interior Minister Nicos Nouris said the constitutional amendment is a first step towards applying the government’s new policy on asylum, since it assists the government’s effort to quickly examine that specific type of application. He said that the amendment supplements recent changes to the law regarding the end of virtual weddings, the limiting of the registration of university students from third countries and the increase in the capacity of the international protection court.

Alithia reports on the discussion that took place in the plenary ahead of the vote, pointing out references to networks allegedly created by NGOs that sell services for illegal migrants that pretend they need asylum.


Police officers had been in Israeli spy van, testimony shows

Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, Human Rights, Regional/ International Relations

OVERVIEW

Almost a year of investigations into the spy van which was active in Cyprus last year has had no results, according to press reports on the latest developments in the case.

Phileleftheros reports that the lawyers defending Israeli businessman Avraham Shahak Avni told the Supreme Court that the Larnaca and Famagusta district police were aware of the spy van’s activities and that in two cases police officers entered the vehicle. One was an officer of the Drug Law Enforcement Unit and the other an officer of the Cyprus Intelligence Service.

According to the report, the Supreme Court allowed Avni, who is also the president of the Israeli  community in Cyprus, to appeal against the arrest warrant that was issued in December and put into force last June.

Avni had argued that while he had been investigated and presented in the media as guilty, he had not been informed that an arrest warrant had been issued to his name, but had expressed his readiness to return to Cyprus to testify.

Police spokesperson Christos Andreou told Haravgi that five people had been detained regarding the case and that a sixth is still wanted. He noted that three of the five were Greek Cypriots, while the other two were Avni and the head of WS Wispear Systems, former Israeli agent, Tal Dilian. All five have since been released but this does not affect the police’s work, Andreou noted.