GCC Press Review 8 Sep 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

The Attorney-general has cast (Auditor-general) Odysseas Michaelides aside

The deputy Auditor-general was appointed in the committee. A separate probe by the Audit Office makes no sense since it is being represented through K. Kyriacou in the four-member investigation committee along with M. Nikolatos, K. Pampallis and P. Ioannou. All naturalisations between 2007 and 2020 will be out under the microscope and any responsibilities will be attributed while suggestions will be made for revocation of citizenships. Wide mandate and three months’ timeframe. The Attorney-general rejected the delivery of the files Michaelides asked for from the interior ministry. To be continued in the Supreme Court.

  • The Cyprus problem at the forefront: Lavrov’s visit and Merkel’s behind the scenes moves
  • Boats from Lebanon: Accusations for the aller-retour of migrants

Phileleftheros

Michel is calling for an international summit

On the Eastern Mediterranean. Athens, Nicosia say Cyprus’ participation is a given. Ongoing consultations by the European Council President for de-escalation of tensions.

  • Chaos with coronavirus in the occupied areas
  • (SAR) exercise: Rescue of a person gone missing
  • We sent back to Lebanon 114 migrants in two days – Migrants jumped in the sea in order not to return to their country. Security corps members are concerned about their health and safety.

Haravgi

They are signalling the end under the pressure of public outcry

The scandal on granting golden passports to scammers, thieves and corrupt people is sent to parliament. Opposition parties yesterday accused the government again for abuse of the investment scheme but also of phenomena leading to greed, corruption, and arrogance. A four-member committee was appointed yesterday.

  • Behind-the-scenes developments on Michel’s proposal
  • The American interference in the Moscow-Nicosia relations are annoying
  • Private companies (that will be issuing IDs) will be handling our fingerprints data

Cyprus Mail

Migrant surge from Lebanon

Cyprus to discuss with Lebanon how to halt mass arrivals, migrant ships sent back.

  • Lavrov says Russia is prepared to mediate in Turkey dispute if asked
  • Joint British-Cyprus rescue exercise – Cyprus and the UK held a joint search and rescue exercise on Monday off the coast of Limassol, where the HMS Enterprise participated along with Cyprus police and British aircraft.

Alithia

Alert in Cyprus over the irregular migrants

Extraordinary ministerial committee meeting yesterday. Decisions to put a stop to the increased migrant flows. A delegation is going to Beirut for coordination while a request will be sent to the EU for reinforcement in guarding the borders.

  • Occupied areas: Lockdown fears over coronavirus

Main News

Nicosia sees opportunity for de-escalation with foreign officials’ visits

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

OVERVIEW

The official visit of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Nicosia but also the suggestion by  European Council President Charles Michel for a multi-party conference on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean were among the main items in dailies on Tuesday.

Lavrov is in Cyprus for meetings with President Nicos Anastasiades and his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Christodoulides on the occasion of the 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

During his visit, the two sides are expected to review the full range of Cyprus-Russia bilateral relations and exchange views, among other things, on the Cyprus issue and on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean in light of the latest developments. They will also be discussing Russia-EU relations and other regional issues after signing a plan for consultations for 2021 to 2022. A revised double taxation protocol will also be signed.

Haravgi reports that though senior Cypriot diplomats refuse to admit that – through the Rubio-Menedez bill – the US wants to use Cyprus against ‘Russian influence’, this will be the subject of Lavrov’s talks with Nicosia. The daily said Lavrov is an expert diplomat and Cyprus’ fiery friend.

Politis reports that Lavrov’s visit will bring the Cyprus problem to the fore arguing that beyond the financial relations and agreements that are in the two countries’ agendas at the moment, Nicosia is expected to ask the Russian foreign minister to mediate with Ankara ahead of efforts expected soon for the restart of the dialogue on the Cyprus problem.

The daily reports that Lavrov is the first of a number of important contacts scheduled for the next period by the government.

Michel is expected to visit Nicosia on September 16 after visiting Athens while France’s defence and foreign ministers are also expected to pay a visit within the month.

The Presidential Palace considers Lavrov’s visit of particular importance since it coincides with negative developments in the Eastern Mediterranean starring Turkey, Politis reports. It adds that Nicosia’s assessment is that Russia and Germany are the two countries with the greatest access to and influence over Turkey so it has no choice but to try to utilise this influence in combination with the US’s influence as a NATO partner. The efforts for de-escalation of both relations between Turkey and Greece and between Cyprus and Turkey are in full swing with Germany and the EU trying to find common ground for dialogue between these states, it said. In the case of Greece and Turkey, things are a little clearer though particularly difficult whereas, for Cyprus, the dialogue with Turkey or coexistence in a possible international conference as per Michel’s proposal is a more complex issue. Therefore, Nicosia focuses on convincing the international community that it wishes to resume dialogue on the Cyprus problem immediately after elections in the occupied areas from where they left off in Crans Montana, Politis reports.

Phileleftheros focuses on Michel’s proposal for an international multi-party conference on the situation in the East Med.

Citing diplomatic sources, the daily reports that Nicosia will respond positively to an invitation by Michel for such a meeting. The same sources said it is considered a given that Cyprus would be invited as an EU member state. The latest developments, however, show that the European Council president is focusing on an agreement between Greece and Turkey on establishing a dialogue between them.

It is speculated that such a development will diminish the possibility of yet another point of friction as regards the composition of this international summit given that Turkey will react against an invitation to the Republic of Cyprus.

Greece’s government spokesman Stelios Petsas said his country believes that it goes without saying that Cyprus should participate in a possible meeting by Mediterranean countries on the situation in the East Med, the paper reports.

Politis reported, however, that Ankara is not expected to agree to Michel’s proposal.

Phileleftheros also reports that the situation in the area and moves by Brussels will be the focus of mini video-conferences by Charles Michel and Angela Merkel with European leaders. Citing information, the daily reports that President Nicos Anastasiades will have a chat on Wednesday with Michel and Merkel. The teleconferences are considered preparatory for the extraordinary European Council meeting to be held on September 24 and 25 in Brussels, the paper reports.

It adds that Anastasiades exchanged views and coordinated actions during a telephone conversation on Monday with Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis ahead of the European Council meeting.


Cyprus-UK joint SAR exercise

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
External Security, Regional/Internatiobal Relations

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that a joint search and rescue (SAR) exercise between Cyprus and the UK took place on Monday within the SAR region of the Republic of Cyprus.

SAR units and personnel from the Republic of Cyprus and the UK participated in the aeronautical exercise under the operational control and coordination of the Cyprus Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC), in close cooperation with the Royal Navy.

The scenarios of the exercise concerned the search and rescue of a person gone missing at sea and providing medical assistance to a ship crew member after falling from a ladder.

Specialised registered nurses of the state health services participated in the exercise boarding the SAR units. The multi-purpose survey vessel ‘HMS Enterprise’ of the Royal Navy, a helicopter of the Cyprus police and a helicopter of the 84 Squadron of RAF also participated in the exercise.

Alithia and Phileleftheros also report on the annual military exercise ‘Mediterranean Storm’ taking place in the occupied areas by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot forces for the third day in a row.

Phileleftheros reports that the exercise sends out a threatening message.


Concerns over letting private sector issue IDs & passports

Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Migration & Citizenship, Human Rights

OVERVIEW

MPs on Monday expressed concerns over possible violations of personal data if the government assigns to private companies abroad the issuance of identification cards and passports, the two dailies report.

The issue was discussed at the House foreign affairs committee.

The companies will also have the responsibility of taking and managing applicants’ fingerprints, at a time when we daily see violations of our personal data, Haravgi reported, referring to the spy van case.

The government has tabled a bill amending the law on the population registry allowing the submission of applications for IDs and passports also to private companies abroad, initially in some British cities to facilitate expats. An interior ministry official explained that UK Cypriots living in other areas outside London encounter many difficulties when they want to issue or renew their documents. At the moment, such applications can be submitted only at district administrations in Cyprus, the citizen service centres and at Cyprus’ consulates abroad.

According to Haravgi, interior ministry officials did not rule out introducing the practice of assigning these tasks to private companies, also in Cyprus.

MPs expressed concern that such a practice would compromise people’s personal data since they could be leaked by these companies to whomever, the dailies report.