GCC Press Review 17 Sep 2020

Front Page Headlines

Politis

Between two choices… dialogue or dialogue

The UN Secretary-General has announced an initiative for a five-party meeting and CBMs (Confidence-building measures). Antonio Guterres is willing to get involved again in the procedures for the solution of the Cyprus problem by convening a five-party meeting and through consultations with the two leaders. All this after elections in the occupied areas. Charles Michel avoided references to measures against Turkey stressing at the same time that the EU stands in solidarity by Greece and Cyprus with actions. The President of the European Commission backed Athens and Nicosia highlighting that Turkey, though close to Europe geographically, it is becoming more distant with its practices. President Nicos Anastasiades asked for a joint position of the 27 pointing out there should be no double standard policies.

  • Archbishop: He wants the dismissal of the high-school teacher
  • UK studies: The scenario of hiring professional soldiers for the student deferrals goes down the drain

Phileleftheros

They are waiting to hear from Germany

Diplomatic marathon until September 24. Communication today between Anastasiades and Merkel. The president asked from Michel, dialogue without provocations.

  • Ankara welcomed Charles Michel with the Barbaros – They dispatched it off the coast of Ayia Napa.
  • National Plan on reforms or else ‘yok’ (No) to EU funds – So that Cyprus can utilise the €1bn.
  • They tiptoe around the issue of students who want to study in the UK and accuse the government

Haravgi

We must put forth the road for the solution of the Cyprus problem

The international processes for de-escalation of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean objectively set the Cyprus problem in the context of the discussions. Visit to the Green Line by the President of the European Council Charles Michel and references to the Cyprus problem. The Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Faruk Kaymakci too waits for resumption of the Cyprus talks.

  • Message by the EU Commission on the ‘golden’ passports
  • Art has no limits

Cyprus Mail

Solidarity needs action and words

European Council president says rights of all EU states need to be respected. As part of his one-day visit Charles Michel also took a tour of the Green Line.

  • Parents complain as conscripts future in balance
  • Probe launched against head teacher for controversial artworks

Alithia

Two new messages to Turkey on measures

From Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen. Charles Michel: Solidarity is not only through words, but actions. Von der Leyen: Cyprus and Greece can fully rely on Europe’s solidarity. Anastasiades and Mitsotakis coordinate ahead of the European Council of September 24-25. Guterres: I am committed to a five-party conference after elections in the occupied areas.

  • No to the approval of the budget – Parliament hits the breaks on discharging soldiers who want to study in the UK.

Main News

UNSG ready for revival of Cyprob procedure

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

OVERVIEW

The announcement by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on his commitment to revitalise the political process on the Cyprus problem and the visit by European Council President Charles Michel to Nicosia are the main items in the dailies on Thursday.

The dailies report that Guterres announced on Wednesday during a press conference following the start of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly he was ready and completely committed, after elections in the occupied areas, to revitalise the political process on the Cyprus problem settlement.

Guterres was responding to a question by the Cyprus News Agency on what he expects from the two communities, Turkey and the other guarantors and possibly other key players in the area, given his remark in his latest report on Cyprus about the need for a conducive environment to resume negotiations.

“It was a consensus that we wait for the elections in northern Cyprus before moving on with the diplomatic initiatives that we had envisaged. As soon as they take place it’s my intention to convene again the five key partners – the guarantors and the two communities – and also to restart the dialogue with the leaders of the two communities, in the follow up of the dinner that I have been done in Berlin, a few months ago,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of developing develop confidence building measures (CBMs) in the meantime and for the two sides to avoid any unilateral actions that could undermine the future success of the negotiations.

Guterres’ statements follow those by Michel who was in Cyprus on Wednesday on an official visit and who said solidarity must be expressed not only through words but also actions which must be done in an intelligent way in order to achieve the best results. Michel was in Nicosia after a trip to Athens ahead of the European Council to take place in Brussels on September 24 and 25.

After meeting President Nicos Anastasiades, Michel said the EU has been monitoring the worrisome developments in the Eastern Mediterranean during the past month and would like to send the message that this is not an issue concerning just Greece and Cyprus but also EU rights. Toward that end, he said, it was decided that the European Council will discuss at the highest EU level to conduct a strategic dialogue on the bloc’s future actions for this part of the Mediterranean, including Turkey, hence his trip to Cyprus ahead of the EU leaders’ summit next week.

“I believe that we really need to be absolute in terms of respecting the rights of all EU states and of course the interests and rights of Cyprus,” Michel said. He added that these interests are based on EU principles.

He stressed that only through dialogue can progress be made on de-escalation and achieving common goals for respecting international law.

Later in the day, Michel was given a tour of the buffer zone by UNFICYP head Elizabeth Spehar.

He tweeted: “One island – two communities,” further saying that: “Learning about their concrete cooperation initiatives and listening to their views on prospects of peaceful settlement. The EU must be more involved in the Cyprus peace process led by the UN.”

After the meeting with Michel Anastasiades stressed the need for all parties to work towards resuming talks towards finding a comprehensive solution. He said this must be achieved in accordance with UN resolutions, EU values and relevant laws.

Anastasiades also said Michel’s visit comes at a crucial period amidst Turkish provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

He also said that respect for the sovereignty of all EU member states should remain the rule no one can ignore, and that Nicosia is always ready for dialogue on the basis of international legitimacy, without blackmail or threats.

“Your presence is active proof of the EU’s presence in developments in the region,” Anastasiades told Michel.

He said that during the meeting, he briefed Michel on the latest developments in Ankara’s illegal actions off and in Cyprus and Nicosia’s initiative to de-escalate tensions. Discussion was on the recent collective decisions at EU level, and on Michel’s contacts in Turkey and EU leaders ahead of next week’s European Council.

“We agreed that the EU needs to establish stabile conditions in the region,” Anastasiades said. “Ahead of next week’s European Council, we stressed the importance of remaining united on the messages sent and determined in the implementation of our decisions, as long as the (Turkish) illegality continues.” He also stressed that EU decisions should be based on double standards.

Anastasiades also referred to the migration issue, which he said in Cyprus’ case, the unprecedented increase in migratory flows was mainly orchestrated by Turkey which aimed at the change of the country’s demographic. Anastasiades said Turkey had done the same in the occupied areas.

The dailies also report that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday also said Cyprus and Greece could always count on Europe’s full solidarity on protecting their legitimate sovereignty rights.

During her annual State of the Union address, she said that while Turkey was close to Europe on the map, “the distance between us appears to be growing.” Turkey is and will always be an important neighbour , she said, but that this in tandem with the fact that it is hosting millions of refugees, “with considerable (EU) funding” was no justification “for attempts to intimidate its neighbours.”

The papers also report that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated his country’s steadfast support of Cyprus in relation to Turkish threats during a telephone call with Anastasiades on Wednesday. The two leaders discussed a coordinated stance ahead of the European Council meeting next week.

Haravgi cites Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director for EU Affairs Faruk Kaymakci saying he expected progress in the coming days as regards a road map for de-escalation in the eastern Mediterranean.

Speaking at a seminar of the EPC ( European Policy Center), Kaymakci also said that after elections in the Turkish Cypriot community, he expected restart of the talks on the Cyprus problem but not an open-ended procedure  pointing out the sides cannot talk forever, the daily reported.

According to Phileleftheros, Germany has assumed the role of mediator in the negotiations to ease tension in the region with consultations with all stakeholders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to have a telephone conversation on Thursday with Anastasiades following her talks with Mitsotakis and the Turkish president.

It seems, that everyone realises that under the current conditions the only dialogue that could be promoted is that between Greece and Turkey since it is unlikable for Turley and Cyprus to find themselves at the same negotiations table, the paper reported.

The daily reports that the marathon of consultations will continue until the extraordinary European Council next week, with Nicosia’s concern being whether the summit will agree to take measures or on a road map for de-escalation of tensions in the East Med.

Haravgi, citing information, reports that Michel gave some information on his idea on a multi-party conference but was not in a position to unfold all the aspects since he could not say whether Turkey would recognise the Republic of Cyprus as a participant or if Ankara would stop  in such a case her provocations in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and Varosha.

Michel also said a tendency is being shaped in the EU on sanctions against Turkey but not now in order not to discourage Ankara from entering a dialogue about the crisis in the region, Haravgi reported.

Politis, reports that all leads to the dialogue table. Referring to the statements of the two EU officials and Guterres, it reports that despite the tone of these statements, it seems the only rational way out of this crisis is dialogue and conflict avoidance.

The daily also reports that Anastasiades’ reference to double standards mainly concerned the case of Belarus since Nicosia believes that the EU cannot show strictness on developments in a third country while at the same time not take measures against a candidate for succession country which threatens and violates the rights of two member states.

Phileleftheros, in another article, reports that Turkey sent its own message to Michel on the measures to be discussed by the leaders’ summit next week by dispatching on Wednesday its seismic vessel Barbaros to the closest point possible to Cyprus, just 15 nautical miles from Ayia Napa and Xylophagou. The daily reports that the Barbaros, that was off the Famagusta Bay, changed its course on yesterday and headed off Ayia Napa during the same time Michel’s meeting with Anastasiades was scheduled and remained there throughout the day. It sailed further away late in the afternoon, Phileleftheros reported.

KEY ACTORS
Guterres (UNSG)
>>
Expresses commitment to revitalise the political process on Cyprob after elections in the north, through a five-party meeting & restart the dialogue with the GC and TC leader following up on the Berlin trilateral.
>> Calls on all sides to develop more CBMs & avoid any unilateral actions that could undermine the future success of the negotiations.

Michel (EUCO President)
>>
Solidarity to Greece & Cyprus must be expressed not only through words but also actions but must be done in an intelligent way to achieve the best results. Only through dialogue can progress be made on de-escalation & achieving common goals for respecting international law.
>> The EU has decided to hold a leaders’ summit for a strategic dialogue on the bloc’s future actions in the East Med, including Turkey, after monitoring the worrisome developments in the region which do not concern just Greece & Cyprus but also EU rights.
>> The EU needs to be absolute in terms of respecting the rights of all its members including Cyprus’.
>> Believes the EU must be more involved in the UN-led Cyprus peace process.

Anastasiades (RoC President)
>>
Calls on all parties to work towards resuming talks for a comprehensive Cyprob solution based on  UN resolutions, EU values & relevant laws.
>> Calls for respect for the sovereignty of all EU member states, including those of Cyprus.
>>  Nicosia is always ready for dialogue for de-escalation of tensions in the East Med on the basis of international legitimacy, without blackmail or threats.
>> Believes the EU needs to establish stable conditions in the region & remain united on the messages sent and determined in the implementation of its decisions, as long as Turkish illegal actions continues.
>> No to double standards as regards EU decisions.
>> Turkey is trying to change the RoC’s  demographic, just as it has done in the occupied areas, by constantly sending in migrants.

Von der Leyen (European Commission President)
>>
 Cyprus & Greece could always count on Europe’s full solidarity on protecting their legitimate sovereignty rights.
>> Though Turkey is close to Europe geographically, the distance between it and the EU is growing due to its actions.
>>
Though Turkey is and will always be an important neighbour & it is hosting millions of refugees, after receiving considerable EU funding, there is no justification for its attempts to intimidate its neighbours.


Probe against teacher over his artwork

Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Politis
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

The dailies report that the education ministry launched a probe into a high school head teacher over his artworks which have been deemed by many as blasphemous.

Archbishop Chrysostomos called for the art teacher’s dismissal.

The issue concerns artist and art teacher George Gavriel, who recently published online some of his latest artwork that include a naked portrait of Jesus, a dog urinating on a man dressed as an archbishop and a man urinating on the statue of Eoka military leader Georgios Grivas.

Following the outrage the paintings stirred among society, the education ministry said in a statement it ordered a disciplinary probe on Gavriel who is also a high school head teacher arguing that neither freedom of expression nor freedom of artistic creation can justify the insult of public feeling and the promotion of messages that cultivate a sense of contempt or possibly a climate of intolerance within the student community, when it comes to an official in the field of education.

The ministry also said the teacher’s paintings have created a sore impression and have caused great upset among pupils, parents and public opinion.

Haravgi quotes Gavriel saying he expected reactions but that no one can impose any limits on artists. Art is made to impress, to arouse emotions, to stimulate the imagination, and even to offend, he added. Gavriel told the daily he considers the disciplinary probe against him, a “joke” and a medieval practice, as it does not concern his duties as a teacher.

Politis reported that Archbishop Chrysostomos called for Gavriel’s dismissal arguing that teachers and school masters are also educators and cannot behave in such a way.

Cyprus Mail reports that DISY MP Annita Demetriou said though freedom of expression was respected there are limits when it insults symbols institutions human dignity and the religious beliefs of an entire people. Far right ELAM said it filed a complaint against Gavriel with the attorney-general and the education minister.