Front Page Headlines
‘Panic over local transmission cases’
Second ‘partial’ lockdown. Crossings over to the south have been banned. Entry without quarantine suspended. A rise in locally transmitted cases recorded. Health Minister Ali Pilli is self-isolating after coming into contact with a positive case. The Higher Committee for Infectious Diseases took a series of radical decisions. According to the new announcement, it has been decided to raise the quarantine period for those entering the TRNC from seven to 10 days. People who live in the TRNC and work in the south will be banned from crossing between the two sides of the island from December 15 until December 25, 2020. Students and those needing to cross south for medical treatment are exempt from the ban. According to the new measures, taverns, bars, clubs and similar entertainment venues will close between December 15 and 25 while cafes and restaurants can remain open provided that they comply with all protocols, including not more than six people on each table. New Year’s celebrations/ entertainment in restaurants and hotels are banned from December 15, 2020, to January 1, 2021. It was also decided that all street celebrations on New Year’s Eve or other occasions will be banned until January 1, 2021.
The Higher Committee for Infectious Diseases implemented additional measures given the increase in the number of cases in our country. The mandatory quarantine period is extended from seven to 10 days. The decision to halt charter flights, private jets and ferry services for trips for three days or less has been extended indefinitely. Crossings to the south other than teachers working in Pile (Pyla); workers of the Sovereign British Bases, Turkish Cypriots who study or receive medical treatment in the south and those who carry on with contactless trade under the Green Line Trade Regulation, have been stopped from December 15 to December 25. All New Year events at restaurants and hotels from December 15 to January 1, 2021, are prohibited. Taverns, bars, clubs and similar entertainment places will be closed until December 25. Outdoor entertainment activities or New Year street parties cancelled until January 1, 2021.
- Restaurant owners and those working in South Cyprus are outraged – The Higher Committee decision to prohibit New Year activities and to stop crossings have triggered reactions.
- Our priority is to regulate the country’s economy and to develop it – Prime Minister Ersan Saner read out the National Unity Party (UBP)–Democratic Party (DP)–Rebirth Party (YDP) coalition government’s programme in parliament.
Before we lose control
The increase in the locally transmitted cases has prompted the Higher Committee for Infectious Diseases to implement stricter measures. The mandatory quarantine period is extended from seven days to 10, while people entering the north must present a negative PCR test obtained within the last 72 hours.
- A favour from the opposition to the minority government – Quorum could only be established with the support of the opposition parties during the parliamentary assembly yesterday (Monday) during which the minority government’s programme was read out.
- Pilli working from home – Health Minister Ali Pilli has isolated himself, Chief Physician Adil Özyılkan tested positive for Covid-19.
- Wished good luck after saying he does not have any objections – Mayor of Akıncılar (Louroudjina) Hasan Barbaros and members of the Akıncılar-Louroudjina Crossing Point Initiative paid a visit to President Ersin Tatar and reminded him of their demand for the opening of the Akıncılar (Louroudjina)-Limya (Lympia) crossing.
There will be the deuce to pay
The newly completed pandemic hospital remains empty, the coronavirus measures were not inspected and the authorities resorted to the easiest method by imposing a ‘lockdown’, dealing yet another blow to the economy. The Higher Committee for Infectious Diseases which reevaluated the measures in place after the Chief Physician at the state hospital Adil Özyılkan tested positive for Covid-19 opted once again to imposing lockdown-type measures. It has been decided to raise the quarantine period for those entering the country from seven to 10 days. All crossings into South Cyprus have been stopped. Around 1,500 TRNC citizens have been left without work as a result of the decision.
- One million guaranteed – South Cyprus has announced how many doses of the coronavirus vaccine it will be receiving from different firms.
Back to where we started
The new Covid-19 measures have made several groups, particularly those working in the south, suffer…The crossing of Turkish Cypriots residing in the north and working in the south or those trading via the Green Line Trade regulation have been stopped… The taxi drivers who take passengers to the south will be subjected to mandatory quarantine…
- Pilli self-isolated for three days – Chief Physician Adil Özyılkan’s PCR test came back positive. Measures at schools are being intensified.
- Additional measures in the last minute – As a result of reactions, the restaurants and cafes remained open but live music prohibited. Night clubs are closed.
- All the staff at the hospital being tested – After one staff member tested positive, PCR tests were carried out for all the personnel at the Nicosia State Hospital.
- 349 coronavirus cases and four deaths in the south, eight cases in the north.
Government programme aligned with Tatar’s two-state policyYenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Governance and Power Sharing, Negotiations Process
The new Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersan Saner read out the government programme for the three-party coalition in parliament at Monday’ session, opening it for debate among the opposition parties.
A vote of confidence for the new government is set to take place later this week once the debate is completed.
Reading out the programme, Saner said the government’s emphasis will be on improving the Turkish Cypriot economy which is going through difficult times due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He laid out the government’s top priorities which include the preparation and signing of a new economic and financial collaboration protocol agreement with Ankara to ensure effective use of limited resources and to further support the economy.
“In this regard, the Prime Ministry will provide technical support to the ongoing efforts for the Maraş (Varosha) reopening initiative and will establish a special committee to make economic recommendations for the implementation of the project so that the Turkish Cypriot community can maximize its benefits,” Saner said.
He added that this committee will make recommendations in addition to the already existing mechanisms, namely the Economic Coordination Board and the Private Sector Advisory Board.
Saner also noted that the government will continue with the EU harmonization process as well as the coordination of financial aid schemes.
He added that the existing relations and collaborations with the EU institutions will continue.
“In this respect, the Hellim (Halloumi) Coordination Board will become active and will work effectively to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriot farmers in the EU member states while working with the EU on improving the livestock breeding sector and eradication of animal diseases in the north,” Saner said.
Reading the areas of responsibility for the foreign ministry, Saner noted that the government’s main goal in its foreign policy will not be limited to the Cyprus problem.
“The government and specifically the foreign ministry will continue to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots at every international platform and will adopt a proactive approach in line with the international conjecture to further increase the global awareness on the Turkish Cypriots,” Saner said.
Saner also noted that the negotiations to reach a federal settlement, which had been underway for more than 50 years, had been exhausted with the collapse of the talks in Crans Montana in 2017.
“Our president was authorized by the people on October 18 to advocate for and to try to reach a two-state solution based on sovereign equality,” Saner stressed.
He also expressed the new government’s full support to Ersin Tatar in his efforts.
On the issue of natural resources, the government reiterated that the Turkish Cypriots’ rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean will be protected in close cooperation with Turkey.
“The Greek Cypriot side’s attempts to usurp Turkish Cypriots’ rights will not be permitted and necessary actions will be taken in reciprocity against the Greek Cypriot side’s unilateral steps,” Saner said.
He stressed that both Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot side were determined on this issue.
“Our offer for collaboration based on diplomacy and dialogue is still on the table,” Saner noted as he drew attention to the need to organise a regional conference on hydrocarbons.
Saner added that the government will also take on the necessary responsibility and carry out multifaceted diplomacy efforts for the regional conference to convene.
Speaking in the debate that followed the reading-out of the programme, Republican Turkish Party (CTP) MP Erkut Şahali argued that the government programme was far from being realistic.
Şahali pointed out that the government, which will be in power for ten months will not be able to deliver half of the promises it has made in its programme.
The CTP MP also noted that the government does not need a ‘vote of confidence’ to solve the outstanding problems in the north.
Şahali was also critical of the UBP MPs for not turning up at the assembly causing a ‘quorum’ crisis before the meeting could commence.
Parliament was only able to convene after CTP leader Tufan Erhürman and People’s Party (HP) MP Kudret Özersay attended the session.
North prohibits TCs from crossing southYenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Internal Security, Economy
The Higher Committee of Infectious Diseases convened on Monday, implementing a new set of stricter measures to curb the further spread of the virus locally, including temporarily banning people from crossing between the two sides for work.
According to the newly announced decisions, it was decided to raise the quarantine period for those entering the north from seven to 10 days.
People who want to enter the north must now present a negative PCR test certificate not older than three days but they must also quarantine for 10 days.
The new rules will be in force until December 25.
Additionally, the visits to the north from Turkey for a period less than 72 hours have been discontinued, removing the possibility of organizing any charter flights during the New Year period.
As regards people who live in the north and work in the south, they will be banned from crossing between the two sides of the island from December 15 until December 25, 2020 (including both dates).
This also concerns taxi drivers transporting passengers from the north to the south.
Turkish Cypriots who cross to the south to study or to receive medical treatment are exempt from the ban.
Those who work in the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBA), teachers in Pile (Pyla) or those who conduct trade under the Green Line Regulation without contact are also exempt.
The committee also banned all New Year celebrations at hotels from 15 December to January 1, 2021, while closing all taverns, bars, clubs and discos until December 25.
The committee also introduced new measures for cafes and restaurants and introduced a limitation of a maximum of six persons per table where the distance between each table should be at least 1.5 metres.
According to the decisions, public transport companies and taxis should install a separator between the driver and the passengers from December 15 onwards.
The measures are to be reviewed on December 24.
The new measures follow a rise in local cases in the north in the past few days. During the first 14 days of December, 170 cases were recorded, including 47 local ones.
On Sunday, eight of the 13 cases recorded were local ones.
Meanwhile, the latest decisions triggered a series of reactions from both Turkish Cypriots employed in the south as well as restaurant and café owners.
A group of Turkish Cypriots working in the south demanded on Monday that the committee revise its decision.
The group in a written statement said that the latest decisions will make the workers suffer economically.
Questioning the scientific basis for the decision, the workers claimed that the decisions were politically motivated.
“Is it really the Turkish Cypriots employed in the south who are spreading the coronavirus in the north?” the Turkish Cypriot workers asked, reminding that they were tested every 10 days in line with a previous decision adopted by the committee.
The Turkish Cypriots employed in the south have also noted that they will not refrain from various actions, including taking the authorities to court to force the committee to revise its decision.
Turkish Cypriot Restaurateurs’ Association (RES-BIR) on Monday also objected to the decision adopted, demanding that the decisions, particularly the one on the cancellation of all New Year organisations to be reversed.
Salih Kayım, head of RES-BIR, in a written statement, pointed out that restaurants and cafes have been complying with previous committee decisions ensuring hygiene and social distancing.
Arguing that “the latest decisions will lead to chaos,” Kayım pleaded with the committee to revise its decision as the restaurants are already in severe economic difficulty.
“For the restaurants to have a bit of a breathing space economically, we urge the committee to revise its decision and allow the restaurants to carry out New Year organisations by complying with the necessary rules,” Kayım concluded.
In the meantime, Turkish Cypriot Health Minister Ali Pilli on Monday announced he was self-isolating for three days after Dr Adil Özyılkan, Chief Physician at the Dr Burhan Nalbantoglu state hospital tested positive for Covid-19
Pilli who had come into contact with Özyılkan last week announced his decision via social media.
Pilli said he will return to work after three days provided that his PCR tests come back negative.
In the meantime, the health ministry officials carried out comprehensive screening for coronavirus in Güzelyurt (Morphou) after a boy at the Şehit Turgut Secondary School tested positive.
Newly appointed Education Minister Olgun Amcaoğlu also on Monday announced that tests carried out on all the students and teachers came back negative.
The school was disinfected over the weekend.
He, however, noted that the measures at schools will be increased and urged everyone to strictly adhere to the hygiene, social distancing and the mask rules.
In another development, eight civil society organisations (CSOs) have urged the media companies and authorities to increase their measures against the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Turkish Cypriot Journalists’ Association (KTGB), the Turkish Cypriot Press Workers’ Union (BASIN-SEN), the Bayrak Radio Television Corporation Workers’ Union (Bay-Sen), the Revolutionary Workers’ Unions’ Federation (DEV-İŞ), the Turkish Cypriot Public Servants’ Union (KTAMS), the Turkish Cypriot Sports Writers’ Association (KTSYD), the Turkish Cypriot Cameramen’s Association and the Foreign Press Association have emphasized the fact that the media workers are exposed to a high risk of infection.
“Under the extraordinary conditions, instead of calling on the media workers to meetings or events and exposing them to the risk of infections, the press statements, photographs and video footage could be shared with the media digitally,” the joint statement said.
The CSOs also urged the media workers to strictly adhere to the social distancing, face mask and hygiene measures to protect themselves.
On the other hand, Republic of Cyprus (RoC) officials made representations to the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) over the new restrictions imposed by the Turkish Cypriot Higher Committee of Infectious Diseases, the Turkish Cypriot dailies report, citing Greek Cypriot media.
The measures imposed by the Committee would also be applied to the Greek Cypriots living in Dipkarpaz (Risokarpaso) and to Maronites living in Koruçam (Kormakitis).
Tatar says Lokmacı (Ledra St) crossing point must openYenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Internal Security, CBMs
Turkish Cypriot president Ersin Tatar on Monday expressed his disappointment over the ongoing closure of the Lokmacı (Ledra St) crossing point in Nicosia.
Tatar, speaking during a visit by the mayor of Akıncılar (Louroudjina) Hasan Barbaros and members of the Akıncılar-Louroudjina Crossing Point Initiative, said that he had raised the issue of the reopening of the Lokmacı (Ledra St) crossing point which had been shut by Greek Cypriot authorities due to the coronavirus pandemic during his meeting with his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades.
He added that he had also brought the issue to the attention of the UN and EU officials on numerous occasions.
Tatar pointed out that the closure of the Lokmacı (Ledra St) crossing point had dealt a serious blow to economic life in the area and that the crossing point must eventually be reopened as the current situation was against EU policies.
On the issue of the opening of a crossing point to connect Akıncılar (Louroudjina) and Limya (Lympia), Tatar said he was not opposed to the idea.
He expressed the view that the opening of a crossing point in the area will contribute significantly to development in the area.
Tatar however did not say how he would support the initiative.
Also commenting on the latest decisions adopted by the Higher Committee for Infectious Diseases concerning the crossing points, the Turkish Cypriot leader said that the decisions taken were not political.
Tatar added that the decision to ban people from crossing over to the south for work purposes was a temporary and justifiable move given the high number of cases in the south.
We have to protect our values such as Hellim (Halloumi)
“The only way for the Turkish Cypriots to stand on their own feet is to focus on production and to protect our values such as Hellim (Halloumi),” CTP leader Tufan Erhürman said on Monday.
Expressing his outrage on social media over an advertisement of a Turkish company producing hellim (halloumi) under a different name, Erhürman urged the importance of collective actions to protect Turkish Cypriot values.
“We are not able to produce a sound production and marketing strategy with high standards. The Greek Cypriot side, on the other hand, continues to create obstacles for exports of Hellim (Halloumi) through the Green Line Trade Regulation (GLR) refusing to apply the criteria it does in honey and fresh fish,” the CTP leader said.
He added that production of Hellim (Halloumi) under different names is being intensified.
“We have to act collectively to protect our values to be able to stand on our own feet,” Erhürman concluded.
Greece’s Navtex nothing but harassment, says Akar
Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog
External Security, Energy, Regional/International Relations
Greece’s Navtex in the Eastern Mediterranean is nothing but harassment, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday, expressing the view that such actions are not conducive to “good neighbourly ties.”
“(These Navtex) are being abused by our neighbour (Greece),” Akar said during a videoconference with other force commanders.
Criticizing Greece’s encouragement of the European Union imposing sanctions on Turkey, Akar underlined that such a move would only lead to a “dead-end.”
“Greece, instead of having talks with Turkey, relies on the EU. They need to realize that this is a dead-end,” the minister emphasized.
Akar also said Turkey supported the idea of holding a multilateral conference to address issues in the Eastern Mediterranean but complained that both the Greek Cypriot side and Greece were carrying out inappropriate actions.
“They falsely believe that they will succeed in achieving something by repeatedly dragging other countries into the issue. They think that they can win but we are determined to protect our rights and those of our fellow Turkish Cypriots,” he said.
The Turkish defence minister added that the Greek and Greek Cypriot duo insisted on trying to gain the upper hand by sending vessels and aircraft to the region rather than sitting at the table with Turkey to settle issues through dialogue.