GCC Press Review 11 Sep 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Message to Ankara from Corsica – De-escalation, dialogue or sanctions

Condemnation of Turkish actions and warning of measures in case Turkey does not end its unilateral actions that challenge the sovereignty of two member states of the EU. Greece – France in one mind with important aspects in the context of their strategic relationship. Rumoured agreement for defensive support in case of a conflict. Common stance by Mediterranean countries on migration issue with a call on Turkey to implement the migrant readmission agreement.

  • Occupied areas: Pandemic situation serious but controllable

Phileleftheros

Dialogue or restrictive measures

Powerful message to Turkey and EU sent by the seven of the European south from Corsica. Anastasiades satisfied by declaration.

  • Pax Mediterranea!
  • Cypriot government watches with concerns: Occupied areas a powder keg due to explosion in coronavirus cases
  • Audit Office’s report goes to Nouris on Monday
  • Foreign Minister: Asks for special meeting of European Parliament on Famagusta
  • Police looks for its way in leaks investigation

Haravgi

They threw the ball to the “27” from Corsica

Behind the scenes diplomacy until EU leaders’ summit. Greece – Turkey military committees meet. Solution of Cyprus Problem on the basis of BBF with political equality.

  • Unconstitutional “order” for investigations in parliament
  • AKEL asks for European Parliament discussion on Turkish provocations and Varosha threats

Cyprus Mail

‘Turkey no longer a partner in Med’

Macron, at Med7 summit, says Turkish people deserve better than Erdogan.

Alithia

Emmanuel Macron again opens fire against Erdogan

With new statements during the Mediterranean states leaders’ summit. French President expressed support to Greece and Cyprus and asked for unified EU front against Turkey. Turkey rages: Macron blindly acts as lawyer of Greece and the Greek Cypriots. Full support to Cyprus and Greece by MED7.

  • Occupied areas: Akinci postponed pre-election gatherings: Coronavirus also hits “elections” – “Public” sector came at a standstill yesterday, arrivals at Tymbou illegal airport and citizen travel with ships have stopped, schools do not work
  • Legal opinion: Parliament’s non-compliance with police investigation over leaks was reasonable
  • Coronavirus: Three new cases for us, partial lockdown in Greece
  • Petros Karagiannis: Situation at checkpoints controllable

Main News

MED7 express support to Cyprus – Greece, call on Turkey to cooperate

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

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that the MED7 leaders’ summit in Corsica has called Turkey to choose whether it will enter into dialogue with Greece and Cyprus and the end of its unilateral moves in the region, or whether it will face the possibility of sanctions after the European Council of September 24th.

The press also draws attention to French President Emmanuel Macron’s statements on Turkey. Macron said that Turkey is no longer a partner in the Mediterranean, but expressed his “deep wish” to enter into an honest dialogue with the country.

In a declaration issued after the summit, the leaders of the seven southern EU states (Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain) express their solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and call on all countries of the region to respect international law, specifically the international law of the sea.

The leaders reaffirmed their agreement to continue working on a list of possible sanctions and restrictive measures that would be discussed during the next European Council. They also expressed support to Germany’s and HRVP Josep Borrel’s efforts to mediate and to lead Greece and Turkey to dialogue over their maritime borders.

Regarding the Cyprus Problem, the MED7 repeated that the current status quo is not a sustainable alternative to a solution, and that they support the UNSG’s call to continue his efforts to restart the negotiations from where they were left in Crans Montana.

The MED7 also welcome the RoC’s call to Turkey to negotiate EEZ delineation and note that maritime borders should be defined through dialogue and negotiation in good faith with respect to international law and on the basis of good neighbourly relations. They also expressed their sadness that Turkey has not responded to calls by the EU to end unilateral moves.

French President Macron said before the summit that Turkey was no longer a partner in the Mediterranean region and that the purpose of the MED7 summit was to clarify the red lines of the seven countries. He said that the MED7 wish to avoid escalation with Turkey, but that this does not mean the EU should be passive to Turkish delinquency.

Macron added that the EU needs to be tough with the Turkish government but not with the Turkish people who deserve better than the Erdogan government. He pointed out that the goal is an agreement under certain conditions and for Turkey to clarify its intentions.

He also said that the EU should aim at a fruitful dialogue with Turkey because there is no other choice, and called for Europe to have a coherent voice and a more united stance.

Macron condemned the “hegemonic game” played by historic powers in the region of the Mediterranean, referring to Russia and Turkey’s role in the conflicts in Libya and Syria. In a post on Twitter, Macron also called for unity in the Mediterranean based on democracy and cooperation, towards a “Pax Mediterranea”.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry responded to to Macron’s statements by saying that it is not up to Macron to determine the maritime jurisdiction of the countries of the Mediterranean. The Foreign Ministry said that France must be in favour of compromise and dialogue instead of blindly acting as the lawyer of Greece and the G/Cs.

The MED7 leaders also gave full support to Greece regarding the issue of migration. Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that the 8th summit of the MED7 will take place in Crete in 2021.

President Anastasiades said in statements that he is pleased by the unanimity and the decisiveness expressed by all European leaders in their call to Turkey to end its illegal actions in the EEZs of Cyprus and Greece. He added that the MED7 agreed that the EU should use all available tools to deal with Turkish provocations, which include additional sanctions on everyone involved in illegal activities in Cyprus.

Greek prime minister Mitsotakis also had a bilateral meeting with President Macron on the margins of the summit. Politis reports, citing Greek sources, that the two leaders agreed on military cooperation in the case of attack.

The Turkish Defence Ministry announced that military committees from Greece and Turkey have started discussing possible measures to avoid military interventions, during a meeting in NATO headquarters in Brussels, Alithia reports. Another meeting is due to take place in the next few days, the Turkish ministry added.

Alithia also reports that Greece and Turkey continue blaming each other over the lack of dialogue between the two countries. Greek prime minister Mitsotakis wrote in an article published in the UK’s Times, French Le Monde and German Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung that Greece and Turkey had reached a written agreement which didn’t move forward because Turkey went ahead and publicised the content of unofficial confidential conversations.

On the Turkish side, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee that Greece signed the deal with Egypt just as the two countries were about to begin negotiations mediated by Germany, and argued that this means Greece is not ready for negotiations. He added that if the Greek side has preconditions for dialogue, then Turkey would also ask for preconditions such as the equitable sharing of natural gas incomes from drillings in the Cypriot EEZ.

In a related development, Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Dendias said that the Greece – Egypt deal on EEZ delineation has essentially extended the EU’s legal jurisdiction, Haravgi reports. Dendias reportedly made these statements during a telephone conversation with European Commissioner for Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius, according to Greek media reports.

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.

KEY ACTORS
MED7 (declaration)
>> Turkey will have to choose between dialogue and de-escalation or sanctions
>> Solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and call on all countries of the region to respect international law
>> They agree to continue working on a list of possible sanctions and restrictive measures
>> They welcome Germany and Borrel’s efforts to mediate and bring Greece and Turkey to the negotiation table
>> Status quo in Cyprus not a sustainable alternative to a solution, they support the UNSG’s call to continue efforts to restart negotiations from point left in Crans Montana
>> They welcome RoC call to Turkey to negotiate on EEZs

Emmanuel Macron (French President)
>> Turkey is no longer a partner in the Mediterranean region
>> MED7 wish to avoid escalation but the EU should not be passive to Turkey’s delinquency
>> EU needs to be tough on Turkish government but not on Turkish people who deserve better than Erdogan
>> EU should aim at a fruitful dialogue with Turkey because there is no other choice, which is why it should have a coherent voice and united stance
>> Condemned hegemonic game played in the region by historic powers (Russia, Turkey)

Turkish Foreign Ministry
>> It is not up to Macron to determine maritime jurisdictions in the Mediterranean
>> France should be in favour of compromise and dialogue instead of blindly acting as lawyer of Greece and G/Cs

Nicos Anastasiades (Cypriot President)
>> Pleased by unanimity and decisiveness of MED7
>> MED7 agreed that EU should use all available tools to deal with Turkish provocations, including additional sanctions


RoC experts see no need to close checkpoints due to COVID spike in north

Alithia, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, Human Rights, CBMs

OVERVIEW

The epidemiological situation in the occupied areas is described as concerning, but also controllable by G/C experts that commented on the possibility of additional measures being imposed at the crossing points.

Government deputy spokesperson Panagiotis Sentonas said on Thursday that the Cabinet of Ministers did discuss the situation in the occupied areas during Wednesday’s meeting. He said that there are many ways and measures that can be imposed at the checkpoints without closing them.

G/C head of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Health, Leonidas Phylactou, told the media that the situation in the north is concerning and pointed out that a large number of patients are being treated in hospitals while a significant number of people are being quarantined in hotels, Phileleftheros reports.

Phylactou added that the north is currently in a situation resembling a lockdown, and noted that the number of new cases has broken previous records. He said that additional concern is caused by the fact that there are now infections transmitted within the T/C community, not only through incoming visitors.

He also said that the T/C side has so far not requested the help of the RoC, but that he is speaking with the T/C head of the Technical Committee on a daily basis. He pointed out that he is also constantly keeping Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou informed of new developments.

Microbiology and molecular virology professor Petros Karagiannis said on Thursday that the government’s scientific advisory committee is following the situation and will examine data provided by the bicommunal Technical Committee. Karagiannis noted that at this stage the situation regarding the checkpoints is controllable and that the measures currently in place are sufficient.

He noted that the measures are sufficient for people that cross often, and pointed out that currently there are no tourists crossing. He added that the government should take extra care regarding groups (workers, patients, students) that have to cross more often than most.

Politis reports that on Thursday three new cases were detected in the government controlled areas and that 22 new cases were detected in the occupied areas. The newspaper also reports that Greece is facing a new spike with 372 new cases on Thursday.


Pissarides to head EuroAfrica Interconnector economist council

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Energy, Economy, Regional/ International Relations, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

Alithia reports that Nobel Prize winner Cypriot economist and LSE professor Christophoros Pissarides will head the Economic Council of the EuroAfrica Interconnector project which will work for the establishment of an electricity connection between Cyprus and Egypt.

EuroAfrica strategy council, former Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, said in a statement that the project aims to be a bridge between continents, connecting Egypt’s electricity network with Europe and turning the country into an energy hub for the Arab world and the African continent.

The connection between Cyprus and Egypt is planned to begin operation in December 2023, and will include work and investments of a total of 1 billion euro. During the first stage of the project, the cable will have an initial capacity of 1,000 MW. According to an announcement, the project will help end Cyprus’s energy isolation and help Egypt take advantage of its energy sources.


Government – parties seek European Parliament discussion on Varosha

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Property, Territory, EU Matters, Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides, governing DISY and opposition AKEL have taken different initiatives appealing to the European Parliament to discuss the issue of Varosha, as well as Turkey’s behaviours in the region, multiple newspapers report.

Phileleftheros reports that Christodoulides sent a letter to EP president David Sassoli on August 24th asking for the issue of Turkey to be discussed in plenary. Christodoulides noted that the EU cannot avoid solidarity to a member state or from reacting against actions taken by a candidate member states. Christodoulides wrote that the EU cannot ignore or underestimate actions such as the Turkish effort to reopen the fenced off city of Varosha.

Haravgi reports that AKEL has also requested that the issue of Varosha, as well as Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, be discussed during the upcoming plenary of the European Parliament. AKEL submitted its request through the political group of the Left (GUE/NGL) in the European Parliament, seeking that the plenary vote on a resolution on the issue.

Phileleftheros reports that DISY is also moving towards an initiative for the Varosha issue to be discussed in the European Parliament. DISY president Averof Neofytou met with representatives of the Famagusta Municipality and MPs from the district on Thursday, ahead of a teleconference with the head of the parliamentary group of the centre-right EPP, Manfred Weber. DISY will also contact the ambassadors of the five permanent Security Council members on the issue.


Legal experts say parliament was right to refuse police investigation

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

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that three legal experts (Christos Triantafyllides, Achilleas Emilianides and Andreas Angelides) have agreed that the Police’s request to the House of Representatives to hand over documents related to the golden passports investigation was unconstitutional.

The Police was investigating the provenance of the leaks to Al Jazeera of a list of names of naturalisations approved through the country’s citizenship-through-investment scheme.

The general director of the House of Representatives Sokratis Sokratous handed over the legal opinion to the Police on Thursday, Phileleftheros reports.

Meanwhile, the Audit Office announced that it expects to finish its first draft of conclusions regarding its investigation on naturalisations approved since May 2018, by Friday. The document will be sent to the Interior Ministry on Monday and is expected to focus on wrongdoings by government departments and services, Phileleftheros reports citing information.

The newspaper reports that the Audit Office has mainly found that there were cases of non-compliance with the legislation on financial contributions by applicants to the state. The report adds that it could not be confirmed whether there were procedural mistakes.

Phileleftheros also reports that the passport issue will be discussed in two parliamentary committees on Monday. The committee on financial issues will discuss the issue of income gained by the state and the economic benefits from the programme. The topic was suggested by DIKO president Nicolas Papadopoulos. Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, the permanent secretary of the Interior Ministry and the Auditor General are invited to attend. Also, the internal affairs committee will discuss the information brought to light by Al Jazeera’s investigation after a suggestion by MPs from AKEL and the Greens.

AKEL pointed out in a statement of the head of its legal unit, Aristos Damianou, that the Cyprus Bar Association’s decision to recall permits from law firms that dealt with “golden passport” applications highlights the government’s inaction.

Damianou pointed out that on the one hand the government ignored multiple warnings and did nothing for five years, while a professional association has already investigated the issue and recalled the permits of some of its members. He also said that the government took the legal and regulatory framework on investment schemes and turned it into a sale for golden passports.

In related news, the Cyprus Mail reports that the European Banking Authority has said that the EU should create a single set of rules that would be binding regarding money laundering and terrorist financing.