GCC Press Review 29 July 2020

Front Page Headlines


Departure of five hits centre

Regulating role of DIKO about to lose its rhythm? DIKO says there was an apostasy by the five and talks of a betrayal of the party’s people and an effort to divide which will fail. Moushouttas, Votsis, Prokopiou, Tryfonides and Tsigkes already announced their intention to create a political platform.

  • Greece – Turkey: The ships left, the dialogue begins
  • Decision on Friday: 180 passport applications through the window: Naturalisation more pricey


Loosening brings rivalries

Health minister sends letters to epidemiologists – Disagreements over handling. Shopping centres and supermarkets do not accept sampling units.

  • Top ranking members pulled out: DIKO pandemic with a second wave of departures
  • He prepares a list of demands: De-escalation with Erdogan’s terms
  • Jo Lhow loses expensive villa in Agia Napa: Retained by decree of Nicosia District Court after request by MOKAS (Unit for Combating Money Laundering) – Investment programme: Naturalisation process changes
  • UN SC asks for negotiations at the first opportunity
  • Mechanics for Vasilikos terminal assigned


Goal of solution to the Cyprus Problem moves away

AKEL deeply worries because of developments. Its opinion on further handling goes to President. Militarisation is revitalised after Paris.

  • A tempest in DIKO
  • Security Council: Reduce tensions in Eastern Mediterranean
  • Active chains spread the virus in Limassol – Seven new COVID-19 cases through contacts and travelling history – Operation of two bars and one cafe  restaurant suspended
  • Supervision of works on Liquefied Natural Gas infrastructure also goes to international consortium

Cyprus Mail

Full test details needed for entry

Arrivals from UK, other B countries will be fined 300 euros if wrong tests presented.

  • Cyprus: Three MPs, two party officials quit DIKO, setting up party


DIKO: A party of flotsam and jetsam

Votsis, Moushiouttas, Prokopiou, Tryphonides and Tsigkis left while taking shots at Nikolas. They accuse him of negotiating with an AKEL of “low national resistance” to rise to high offices. They make accusations for undemocratic processes and of DIKO being turned into a small group where one person decides. DIKO: “A provocative act of apostasy and a betrayal to the party’s people that brought them up and supported them”.

  • Ankara de-escalates in the Aegean, escalates in Cypriot EEZ: Withdraws the “Oruc Reis”, sends us the “Barbaros” – Instructions by Erdogan to suspend research at Kastelorizo for a month and he asks negotiations with Greece
  • Coronavirus: We reserved 1.2 million vaccines
  • Council of (party) leaders: Discussed continued Turkish aggression
  • Coronavirus: Seven new cases, four again in Limassol
  • Occupied areas: Akinci 32.2%, Tatar 30.7% in new poll

Main News

Turkey freezes research at Kastelorizo, issues Navtex for east of Cyprus

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


Turkey has announced that it will freeze its research for natural gas south of Kastelorizo and Antalya in order to enter into negotiations with Greece over issues which it considers to be open, the dailies report. Seismic survey vessel “Oruc Reis” remained moored at the port of Antalya yesterday according to the media.

President Erdogan’s advisor Ibrahim Kalin announced on Tuesday that Turkey would freeze seismic surveys which were going to be undertaken by the “Oruc Reis” in “contested areas” for a month. Kalin said that everyone should continue working in their own continental shelves and added that there should be joint research in contested waters.

Kalin said that Greece is an important neighbour for Turkey and that bilateral issues should be addressed without using EU membership as a tool to exert pressure. He did point out that German chancellor Angela Merkel’s intervention was instrumental in arriving to this development.

However, on Tuesday, Turkey issued a new Navtex concerning a maritime area east of Famagusta, which will last until September 18th. According to this Navtex, research ship “Barbaros” will conduct research in areas that partly overlap with blocks 1 and 2 of the Cypriot EEZ (but are mostly in the EEZ claimed by the T/Cs).

Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Dendias commented on Turkeys’ decision saying that Greece is always ready to enter into a dialogue as long as Turkey de-escalates on the ground. He reiterated that Greece will only negotiate regarding the issue of continental shelves and EEZ delineation. He added that the list of possible strict sanctions that Greece asked to be prepared by the EU is an option that should always be available for Europe, with the hopes that it won’t be necessary.

Oikonomiki Kathimerini reports that the de-escalation brings low expectations for a possible Greek-Turkish dialogue, due to Turkey’s excessive claims which undermine the search for a common starting ground. The newspaper cites diplomatic sources from Nicosia which point out that Turkey is ready to return to provocations after the end of the month is up, given the new Navtex which concerns Cyprus. According to the report, Germany essentially imposed the one-month moratorium on Turkey in order to avoid a military incident in the region and give time for an effort towards negotiations.

Oikonomiki Kathimerini reports that Greek opposition party SYRIZA sees Turkey’s announcement as a positive sign and a positive sign, citing party sources. The same sources however told the newspaper that Turkey’s insistence to add other “non-existent differences” on the table, as well as Turkey’s call for joint research in areas that Ankara wants to present as contested are negative signs.

Ibrahim Kalin (Erdogan advisor)
>> Turkey will freeze seismic surveys for a month
>> Each country should work in its own continental shelf and there should be joint surveys in contested waters
>> Greece is an important neighbour for Turkey and bilateral issues should not be addressed by using EU membership as a tool
>> These developments were made possible due to Merkel’s intervention

Nicos Dendias (Greek FM)
>> Greece is ready to negotiate as long as Turkey de-escalates, but only on continental shelves and EEZs
>> The EU should have the option of strict sanctions on the table with the hope that it won’t have to be used

Council of party leaders discusses reaction to Turkey’s actions

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


Tuesday’s meeting of the party leaders focused on whether diplomacy or military upgrades should be the main strategy to deal with Turkish actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the dailies report. During the meeting, President Anastasiades informed the party leaders of what he also discussed with French President Emmanuel Macron last week.

Government spokesperson Kyriakos Koushios told journalists after the meeting that Anastasiades also informed the leaders of his discussions with UNSG representative Elizabeth Spehar, Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Koushios also reiterated that the President’s position was and remains that a solution of the Cyprus Problem will only come through negotiations. He also underlined that the government does not wish to militarise Cyprus in any way.

In his own statements, opposition AKEL secretary general Andros Kyprianou said that his party was concerned that the situation is pushing Cyprus away from the government’s goal for a negotiated solution. Kyprianou said that AKEL disagrees with the militarisation of the Cyprus Problem and that it believes the way to go is through de-escalation. He also said he believes that Anastasiades did not fully inform the leader of what was said in Paris.

Kyprianou also said that AKEL will take stock of the situation and submit its positions on how it believes Cyprus should proceed to President Anastasiades.

Governing DISY leader Averof Neofytou said that Cyprus’s only weapons are international law and that the country should focus on its contacts at the European and international level.

EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos said his party insisted that the only way to handle the situation would be through the operational upgrade of the armed forces of Greece and Cyprus through a single defence area, the increase of Greek forces on the island and alliances with countries such as France.

In another development reported by the media, three DIKO MPs and two senior officials announced that they were resigning from the party and setting up their own political platform. The MPs Georgios Prokopiou, Angelos Votsis and Marinos Moushiouttas cited concerns about a lack of democracy within the party, as well as political disagreements. Particularly, the officials accuse DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos of negotiating with parties that it usually accuses of “low national resistance” (meaning AKEL) for the sake of rising to high positions.

DIKO responded with a statement accusing the members of staging an apostasy and implied that they serve the purposes of elements that seek to undermine the party. According to information cited by the dailies, Papadopoulos had intended to eject these members from the party.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council unanimously renewed UNFICYP’s mandate for another six months on Tuesday with minor changes requested by the RoC, Cyprus Mail reports. In Resolution 2537, the UNSC expresses deep concerns over increased tensions in the region over hydrocarbons, calls for a reduction of tensions and calls upon the two leaders and all involved parties to refrain from actions and rhetoric that might damage process.

The Security Council also calls for the resumption of negotiations as soon as possible, calls for the establishment of an effective mechanism for direct military contacts between sides and involved parties and calls for the return of all checkpoints to the operating status that existed prior to February 29th.

In another development, the dailies report that Anastasiades addressed a teleconference of overseas Cypriots organisations, and said that the government will not accept any negotiation on the Cyprus Problem under threat or blackmail. “What is expected is finally for the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides to show the necessary political determination and constructive attitude as we do without setting any conditions”, he added. He also said that he agreed with Macron that it would be a mistake for the EU to leave the security in the Eastern Mediterranean in the hands of other countries.

Kyriakos Koushios (government spokesperson)
>> Negotiation is the only way, we do not want to militarise Cyprus

Andros Kyprianou (AKEL)
>> The situation is currently pushing away from the stated goal of a solution
>> We disagree with the militarisation of the Cyprus Problem
>> We are concerned that the President did not fully inform us of agreements made in Paris

Averof Neofytou (DISY)
>> The country’s weapons are international law and we should use all our contacts on the EU and international level

Marinos Sizopoulos (EDEK)
>> We need to upgrade Greek and Cypriot military, increase Greek military on the island and use alliances with countries such as France

UN Security Council
>> Negotiations should be resumed as soon as possible
>> A mechanism for direct military contacts between sides and involved parties needs to be established

Nicos Anastasiades (Cyprus President)
>> No negotiation under blackmail
>> We expect Turkey and T/Cs to show constructive attitude without setting conditions

Natural gas infrastructure oversight given to international consortium

Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Energy, Economy


The Natural Gas Infrastructure Company (ETYFA), a subsidiary of the state Natural Gas Public Company (DEFA), has announced that oversight of the works for the construction of Liquefied Natural Gas infrastructure at Vasilikos will be taken over by a consortium made up of Hill International N.V. and Bureau Veritas Solutions Marine & Offshore Greek branch.

The dailies report, citing an announcement by ETYFA, that the consortium was selected through a public tenders process. Companies Tractebel and Gazocean will be taking over the works as subcontractors on behalf of the consortium. The consortium will receive more than 8 million euros for its services.

ETYFA recalls that the deadline for submissions was May 21st, and adds that there were eight submissions. The company also notes that the process moved quickly since there were no appeals made to the Tenders Review Authority.

The works include the creation of a floating storage regasification unit (FSRU), the construction of a pier where the FSRU will dock which will extend 750 – 800 meters from north to south and 430 – 500 meters towards the south west. The pier will be also be able to receive LNG carriers with capacities ranging from 125,000 cubic meters to 217,000 cubic meters (second biggest type of natural gas carriers, also known as Qflex).

Phileleftheros reports that Hill International N.V. is the 8th biggest company in overseeing construction in the US, and has overseen projects such as nuclear power stations, the Athens Metro and the Palm Islands in Dubai. Bureau Veritas has 190 years in experience in providing technical advice on energy and maritime projects.

New regulations on citizenship-by-investment schemes could have loophole

Phileleftheros, Politis
Economy, Migration & Citizenship, EU Matters


Phileleftheros reports that the new regulations unveiled by the House of Representatives regarding the country’s citizenship-by-investment programme have created concerns among the offices of those involved in this particular market. The main reason for this is the fact that the investment required has been increased from 2 million euro to 2.5 million euro, as well as the decision that the property bought as the investor’s main residence will no longer count towards the overall investment.

The new regulations were approved by the parliament’s internal affairs committee on Monday and will be voted on by the plenary on Friday.

Politis reports that the issue of about 180 applications that had been submitted after January 31st and before the agreement on new rules could become an issue of contention in the Plenary, due to the fact that it would be illegal to approve applications submitted during a period where there were no existing regulations.

The newspaper points out that DIKO MP Panikos Leonidou submitted an amendment calling for all applications submitted after June 19th (the date when the new regulations were submitted to parliament) to be processed according to the new rules – which would mean that all applications from the period between February 1st and June 18th would be processed according to older, more flexible regulations.

Politis reports that DISY, AKEL and EDEK supported Leonidou’s amendment during the discussion which took place in the parliamentary committee for interior affairs.

Phileleftheros also reports that the Nicosia District Court has issued a decree retaining the villa purchased by Malaysian – Cypriot businessman Jho Lhow, following a request by the state’s unit for combating money laundering (MOKAS). The decision, which was taken in coordination with the Attorney General, concerns a villa worth five million euros which was purchased by Jho Lhow as part of the process of gaining Cypriot citizenship with the assistance of Henley & Partners. In this way, the businessman will not be able to sell or transfer the property.

The newspaper recalls that Jho Lhow arrived in Cyprus on September 18th 2015 and in only two days received his passport after being granted an exception by the Cabinet of Ministers. On September 23rd, Henley & Partners purchased a half completed villa in Agia Napa on behalf of Lhow. The villa was completed in early 2020.

Jho Lhow’s case had become the first major scandal regarding the country’s citizenship scheme, after his name was connected to a major scandal in Malaysia. Lhow had not been officially prosecuted when he received a Cypriot passport, but his involvement in the scandal was well documented in Malaysian and US media.

In another development, Politis reports that Malaysia’s Supreme Court found former prime minister Najib Razak was found guilty over the 1MDB embezzlement case. This is the case for which international authorities are seeking the arrest of Jho Lhow.

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