GCC Press Review 9 Sep 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

What S. Lavrov asked from us and what he got

Not a word about Turkey. He pressed for legal aid requests. Lavrov’s references to the Cyprus Problem are considered particularly important during this particular time, but they also are Moscow’s standard and long-standing positions which were reaffirmed. Nicosia says it is pleased by yesterday’s contacts. Russian Foreign Minister focused on safeguarding economic relations as well as on signing and keeping to bilateral agreements. The climate during the statements and Lavrov’s decoration sent a message abroad of good relations and full cooperation between Nicosia and Moscow. After the storm caused by the issue of the amendments to the Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty, the protocol changing the agreement was signed. Restoration of connectivity between Cyprus and Russia also a priority.

  • Auditor General: Makes retreat

Phileleftheros

Pressure without repercussions

Lavrov visit confirmed the preservation of the relation of Cyprus and Russia on the same level. Russia annoyed with USA, does not raise the issue with Nicosia.

  • Visit with messages about 60-year anniversary
  • Independence with protocols: The pandemic “decides” about parade
  • “They will see a completely different Turkey”: They threaten Greece and Cyprus in chorus
  • Famagustans met with Spehar yesterday

Haravgi

Lavrov concerned over US interventions

Russia ready to mediate if asked… Lavrov: Solution of Cyprus Problem with guarantees by UN Security Council. Amended treaty on taxation signed.

  • High Commission (for refugees – UNHCR): International agreements are being violated

Cyprus Mail

‘US actions add to area’s conflict’

Lavrov expresses Moscow’s concerns. Russian FM says guarantees system no longer acceptable. Double taxation treaty signed.

Alithia

No to Turkey’s guarantees

Sergey Lavrov repeated Russia’s positions on Cyprus Problem. Russia supports a viable, comprehensive and just solution of the Cyprus Problem on the basis of UN resolutions. There is no need to amend the UN’s peace-keeping force’s mandate in Cyprus. Russia is bound by UN resolutions on Famagusta, says no to faits accomplis that contravene them. Ready to intervene in the Eastern Mediterranean if asked.

  • Naturalisations: Odysseas (Michaelides) throws gauntlet at government but does not appeal to Supreme Court: Three investigation and continuation of conflict – Auditor General removed access by his assistant to the investigation of the five files
  • Coronavirus: One case on our side, partial lockdown in the occupied areas
  • Back to Lebanon: We kicked out more illegal migrants

Main News

Russia signs economic agreement, reiterates positions on UNFICYP

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Oikonomiki Kathimerini, Phileleftheros, Politis
Regional/ International Relations, Economy, External Security, Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

All the daily newspapers report on Tuesday’s visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Cyprus. Lavrov met with President Anastasiades and his counterpart Nicos Christodoulides and made statements reiterating Russia’s positions on the Cyprus Problem, including that the country sees no need to change UNFICYP’s mandate at this juncture and that it supports UN guarantees for a future solution.

In his public statements, Lavrov did not criticise Turkey openly but said that Russia is ready to assist when asked. He also said that Russia continues to support a federal solution based on UN resolutions, but did not make a mention to continuing negotiations where they stopped in Crans Montana. He also said that a comprehensive negotiation would create conditions for an agreement on Varosha, and underlined that Russia continues to believe that the current guarantees system needs to be changed and that Security Council guarantees are needed.

Lavrov is also reported, according to sources that spoke to the press, not to have brought up the issue of Cyprus’s strengthened relations with the US during his discussions with Anastasiades and Christodoulides. Publicly, Lavrov said that Russia is concerned by the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and said that external actors such as the US that try to intervene are not contributing to peaceful solutions.

Russia’s deputy Finance Minister also signed the agreement to amend the Double Taxation Agreement with Cypriot Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides. According to Politis, this was the main point of the visit as far as the Russian side was concerned.

Both Politis and Phileleftheros point out in their coverage and in opinion pieces that Lavrov avoided making specific mentions to Turkey during his public statements. Diplomatic sources told the press that the government is pleased with Lavrov’s public statements, especially the statement on UNFICYP, as it is a reiteration of Russia’s positions.

Alithia reports that Petrides said that this signature opens a new page regarding the economic relations of the two countries. Petrides said that Cyprus accepted Russia’s request to increase the tax on dividends and interests. The Russian side assured Cyprus that similar agreements are going to apply to other countries as well.


Anastasiades to speak to Michel and Merkel about East Med

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

OVERVIEW

Phileleftheros reports that German chancellor Angela Merkel, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President Anastasiades will have a teleconference concerning the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The newspaper reports that it should be expected that the question whether Cyprus will participate in a possible international conference on the Eastern Mediterranean. According to the report, Nicosia believes it goes without saying that the country should be present and has informed Brussels of its position.

Due to the teleconference, the meeting that had been scheduled between President Anastasiades and the party leaders for Thursday will be postponed to September 15th. On Thursday, Anastasiades will depart for France to take place in the MED 7 summit which will focus also on Turkey.

Michel will also have a joint teleconference with all 27 EU member state leaders, as preparation for the next European Council which will take place on September 24th and 25th in Brussels.

The dailies also report that Greek deputy FM Miltiades Varvitsiotis and Turkish FM Cavusoglu will discuss the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean with the European Parliaments foreign affairs committee on Thursday. The two ministers will have separate discussions with the members of the committee. Varvitsiotis will join a meeting of the members in the morning, while Cavusoglu will have a teleconference with the committee in the afternoon.

Phileleftheros reports that Commission spokesperson on foreign affairs, Peter Stano, was asked to comment on Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s statement that Switzerland has offered to mediate in the Eastern Mediterranean. Stano said that the EU records all such proposals and underlines that was is important is the EU’s solidarity to Cyprus and Greece.

Mevlut Cavusoglu also said on Tuesday that Greece should come to the negotiation table if it believes in its arguments, and pointed out that Turkey will then have a lot to say and that this is what Greece is afraid of, the dailies report. During a press conference with Congo’s Foreign Minister, Cavusoglu said that the issue of the maritime borders of islands is an open issue for discussion across the world. Cavusoglu also repeated Turkey’s positions on the Thrace issue and migration.

In another development, Haravgi reports that Turkish deputy Foreign Minister in charge of EU affairs Faruk Kaymakci said during a discussion in the Joint Consultative Committee of the European Economic and Social Council (JCC) that natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean could become a catalyst for a solution in Cyprus, in the same way the coal and steel became the connective tissue of Europe’s integration.


UNHCR criticises return of Lebanese migrants by Cyprus

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi
Migration & Citizenship, Human Rights, Regional/ International Relations

OVERVIEW

The Cypriot government has turned away another 45 Lebanese migrants that arrived in Cyprus early on Tuesday morning, after talks with the Lebanese government, the dailies report. Their boat, which was detected off Cape Greco and had come to shore nearby.

Cyprus Mail reports that the government hired a private boat which returned the migrants to Lebanon, accompanied by the Cypriot coast guard. According to the newspaper, this is the sixth boat with migrants attempting to reach Cyprus in recent days.

Alithia reports that the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cyprus said in a statement that the actions of the government violate international law and UN conventions regarding the treatment of refugees. The newspaper cites an announcement by opposition AKEL which noted that the state is obliged to examine each migration case separately and on its own merits before returning persons to their countries of origin.

About 115 Lebanese irregular migrants in total have been sent back to Lebanon over the past two days, Famagusta Police spokesperson Andreas Constantinou told the Cyprus Mail.


Auditor General will not go to Supreme Court over passports

Alithia, Politis
Migration & Citizenship, Economy, Internal Security

OVERVIEW

Politis reports that the Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides stepped back and would not appeal to the Supreme Court over the Ministry of the Interior’s decision not to allow the Audit Office access to more files connected with the passports and naturalisations scandal that was recently brought once again to light by Al Jazeera.

Audit Office spokesperson Marios Petrides said in a statement that since the Attorney General George Savvides did not cast doubt over the Auditor’s role in his legal opinion on the matter, there is no ground for appeal. Petrides expressed the Auditor’s disagreement with the decision, and added that the office’s findings on the files that were already accessed and inspected will be sent to the Ministry by Friday.

The newspaper also reports that Michaelides was not pleased by the decision of the Attorney General that his deputy would be part of the new committee that will investigate the passport issue. Petrides stated that the deputy Auditor General will be participating in the committee in his personal capacity.


Famagustans discuss Varosha developments with UN’s Spehar

Phileleftheros
Negotiations Process, Territory, Property

OVERVIEW

Representatives of the Famagusta Municipality led by mayor Simos Ioannou met with UN head in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, on Tuesday, to discuss the latest developments regarding the fenced-off city of Varosha.

Ioannou told Phileleftheros that Spehar told the representation she is expecting negotiations for a comprehensive solution to restart and for a five-party conference on the Cyprus Problem to be called. She also assured the representatives of the municipality that the UN retains the same position regarding Varosha that has been expressed through the relevant Security Council resolutions, Ioannou added.

The Famagusta Mayor added that he told Spehar the issue of Varosha is of high importance for all Famagustans but also in general, and that if the city is settled that will mean the end to efforts to solve the Cyprus Problem.

Spehar reportedly told the representation that the UN has no concrete information on the actions taken by the Turkish side since it cannot access Varosha.

The Famagusta Municipality will also be meeting the UK’s High Commissioner in Cyprus, Stephen Lillie, on September 23rd. They have also requested to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during his visit to Cyprus, but were told by the embassy this wouldn’t be possible due to Lavrov’s schedule,Phileleftheros reports.