GCC Press Review 12 September 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

One in three wants neither a mask nor a vaccine

Big poll by RetailZoom for P. 28% of respondents state that they do not intend to take coronavirus vaccine when it is approved and given for use. 25% believes that the use of a mask is not necessary, believing – apparently – in conspiracy theories that there is an effort to impose unnecessary measures.

  • After Lavrov, Pompeo: USA intends to intervene towards de-escalation and dialogue
  • Money laundering: Intention for unified European oversight

Phileleftheros

Hastens to state its presence

Pompeo visit to Nicosia tonight focused on Eastern Mediterranean. The trip of the American Secretary of State was booked two days after Lavrov’s.

  • Arrest warrants stayed on paper: This is who are the ten wanted for the murders of Isaac and Solomou – Turkish killer of Tasos, Erhan Arikli, is a candidate for “president” of the pseudo-state 24 years later
  • Cyprus – Greece – Israel move ahead with EuroAsia Interconnector: Mediterranean electricity to Europe (connection) in the works, they are getting ready for signatures

Haravgi

Feverish background dealings and contacts

Pompeo in Cyprus today. Borrell comes on Wednesday. New Turkish NAVTEX for nautical exercises with shots. AKEL: Unthinkable for the EU to let Turkey go unpunished

  • “Golden” passport mediators outside of their mandates

Cyprus Mail

Pompeo due, surprise visit

US Secretary of State says maritime rows should always be resolved peacefully and diplomatically.

  • Cyprus: Works on Zouhouri mosque complex begin

Alithia

And suddenly, Pompeo

Why American Secretary of State is coming to Cyprus today – Visit a last moment decision. Next week they will come to Cyprus (from left to right): European Council President Charles Michel (September 16th), Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (September 17th) and France’s minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune (September 18th). Turkey should withdraw its ships for dialogue to begin.

  • Occupied areas: A few days before “presidential” elections: Two moves by Turkey against Akinci – Fiestas for the reopening of the water pipe on September 25th – A Turkish newspaper called the T/C leader an enemy of Turkey and “seed of Greeks”
  • Coronavirus: Three new cases for us, 25 in occupied areas, 287 plus 4 dead in Greece
  • The next day: Enraged reaction by Erdogan against MED7

Main News

US Secretary of State Pompeo due for surprise visit to Cyprus

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

OVERVIEW

In a surprise development, the US informed the RoC that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be visiting Cyprus on Saturday, the dailies report. Phileleftheros notes that the visit was confirmed only two days after the visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

According to the newspaper, US Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker informed Cypriot FM Nicos Christodoulides of the visit during a phone call on Thursday night.

Phileleftheros cites information that the US wants a positive result regarding cooperation in security, wanting to signal a come-back by the US in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly for the benefit of Russia and China.

Neither government announced the visit officially. Pompeo was the first to talk about the visit during a conversation with journalists in the airplane on the way to Doha, Qatar. Pompeo will visit Cyprus immediately after his contacts in Qatar.

Pompeo said that this was a trip that he had planned in the past which had been postponed. He also said that there are important developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and that he would need to discuss the situation with the leaders in Cyprus and see their perspective.

The US Secretary of State said that Germany had done a good job working for the start of negotiations towards de-escalation and expressed the hope that civilian ships will withdraw so that talks can begin.

In another development, the Turkish Foreign Ministry reacted to the joint statement issued after the MED7 conference calling it detached from reality and lacking a legal basis. The Turkish FM also called on Greece to abandon its claims over who has maritime jurisdiction in the area and remove its military navy that are surrounding Oruc Reis.

Alithia reports that important visits are expected to take place in Cyprus, pointing out that European Council President Charles Michel will be visiting on September 16th, followed by Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg on September 17th and French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune on September 18th.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister of Malta Evarist Bartolo visited Cyprus on Friday and met with his counterpart Nicos Christodoulides to discuss the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus Mail reports. According to the newspaper the country is reported to be lukewarm regarding the possibility of EU sanctions against Turkey.

Bartolo said that the situation in the East Mediterranean needs to be resolved in a spirit of compromise, and that compromise might be painful but the option of military conflict is even more painful. When asked about possible EU sanctions on Turkey, he said that this is under discussion and added that what is important is that any action taken be effective and not merely symbolic.

The Maltese Foreign Minister also denied reports that the country is considering giving Turkey an airbase.

The dailies also report on a teleconference between DISY president Averof Neofytou and the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) parliamentary group, Manfred Weber. Neofytou said in a statement, reported by Phileleftheros, that he informed Weber of the latest actions taken by Turkey against Cyprus and Greece and stressed the need for sanctions that will incur a cost on Turkey if the country continues along the same path. Weber is reported to have repeated the EPP’s support to the two countries and that he will take all necessary actions to highlight Turkey’s behaviour in Brussels.


East Med Gas Forum to become an international organisation

Phileleftheros, Politis
Energy, Economy, Regional/ International Relations, EU Matters

OVERVIEW

Politis reports, citing the Athenian News Agency, on an announcement by Greek Environment and Energy Minister Costas Hadjidakis that the statute of the East Med Gas Forum will be signed on September 22nd, thereby turning the forum into an international organisation.

The US and France will have observer status in the organisation, the agency reports.

Hadjidakis said during the Greek-American Business Chamber’s South East Energy Forum 2020, which took place in Thessaloniki, that Greece believes energy can become a catalyst for improving cooperation in South East Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean and not a tool for tension. He underlined that this message is primarily directed towards Turkey.

He also said that Greece has a strategic relation with the US which is expanding over the years. He underlined that this is apparent by the US’s participation in an initiative led by Greece, Cyprus and Israel as well as in the work of the East Med Gas Forum. He also presented the latest developments regarding the East Med natural gas pipeline and the EuroAsia Interconnector project to connect the electricity grids of Crete, Cyprus and Israel.


Phileleftheros recalls Arikli is on wanted list for Tasos Isaac murder

Phileleftheros
Internal Security, Governance & Power Sharing, CBMs

OVERVIEW

Phileleftheros publishes a story on the occasion of the completion of 24 years from the violent incidents that took place in Deryneia during a protest by G/C bikers on August 11th and 14th 1996, which led to the murder of two protesters by persons connected to the Turkish army and the far right.

The story focuses on the fact that out of the 13 persons identified by the RoC authorities as responsible for the violence, Interpol has issued a warrant for the arrest of 10 on November 22nd 1996. Five of the warrants are connected with the death of Tasos Isaac and five of Solomos Solomou. Those warrants remain open and have not been executed, the newspaper notes.

Phileleftheros reports that one of the ten people included in Interpol’s list is Erhan Arikli, leader of the far-right YDP party in the north, which mainly represents Turkish citizens or settlers living in the north. Arikli is one of the candidates for the position of the T/C leader during next month’s “presidential” elections, the newspaper notes.

The newspaper recalls that Arikli had been arrested in 2012 by the authorities of Kyrgyzstan, but that he was released after the intervention of Turkey.

Arikli is one of the five people wanted by Interpol in connection to Isaac’s death. The others are Hasim Yilmaz (former member of MIT living in Kyrenia), Neyfel Mustafa Ergun (then an officer in the T/C police), Polat Fikret Koreli (T/C from Famagusta, then a teenager) and Mehmet Mustafa Arslan (then head of the Grey Wolves organisation in the north).

The other five, wanted in connection with the murder of Solomos Solomou, are Kenan Akin (then “minister” for agriculture), Erdal Haciali Emanet (then commander of the north’s “special forces”), Hasan Kodakci (former commander of the occupation army), Attila Sav (then in charge of the T/C police), Mehmet Karli (then a general in the occupation army).