GCC Press Review 24 August 2020

Front Page Headlines


Travel in corruption with a Cypriot passport

International ridicule through Al Jazeera disclosures. Wanted, convicts, suspected crooks, friends of the Yanukovych regime and of the Kremlin in list of those naturalised. German MEP says there is an issue of corruption and security. N. Nouris says there is nothing illegal. E. Mavrou calls situation shameful. Response by Internal Ministry: It all happened on the basis of criteria.

  • Ankara insists: New NAVTEX for the Oruc Reis
  • Pandemic: Cases in single digits


Dialogue or Court

Nicosia throws down the gauntlet at Ankara once again challenging her to discuss EEZ delineation. We disclose the content of a letter by the RoC to the EU.

  • Aegean crisis: German activity towards Greek-Turkish negotiations
  • Abducted in 1963, identified in 2020: His remains had been found with those of another 15 in 2012 – Petros Efstathiou had vanished on December 23rd 1963
  • Map of cases: Average age is 30
  • Oil refineries leave and towers come
  • Al Jazeera remembered the “golden passports”


New ridicule over golden passports

Tens of cases identical to the one of Malaysian Jho Low. They gave them passport shortly before they were condemned. AKEL poses relentless questions over new ridicule.

  • The government should have taken initiatives
  • 1,421 cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. Four new cases were announced yesterday


All polls show Akinci re-election

Tatar and Ankara carefully hide T/C leader’s lead. Polls that remain secret show distance between Akinci and Tatar. How the elections in the occupied areas will influence the restart of negotiations and the form of the solution. Erdogan – Cavusoglu show clear and official support to Tatar with every opportunity.

  • Immediate reaction by Athens – Navy on alert: Turkey tightens the rope – Extends NAVTEX – Erdogan undeterred by international reaction
  • Brought up names to the surface: Cyprus’s “golden passports” on Al Jazeera
  • Again low numbers: Only four coronavirus cases in Cyprus yesterday

Main News

Turkey extends Oruc Reis NAVTEX while Germany pushes for dialogue

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


Turkey has extended a NAVTEX for seismic research by Oruc Reis in areas of Greece’s continental shelf (south of Kastelorizo) and parts of the Cypriot EEZ until August 27th, dailies report. The announcement was issued shortly before it was due to expire.

The dailies point out that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will be visiting Athens on Tuesday and will then travel to Ankara on Wednesday, to meet his Greek and Turkish counterparts, Nikos Dendias and Mevlut Cavusoglu, ahead also of the EU’s informal Foreign Affairs Council which will take place on August 27th in Berlin.

Alithia reports that government sources in Athens told media that Turkey’s actions indicate its references to the need for dialogue are really excuses. The same sources have said that the country’s navy in on alert and closely monitoring Oruc Reis’s actions.

Politis recalls that the EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell is expected to prevent a list of possible measures, including sanctions, that could be taken against Turkey, but points out that there is intense speculation that Athens and Ankara are preparing to negotiate.

Phileleftheros reports that the Cypriot government has sent a letter to the Foreign Ministers of the rest of the EU’s member states, detailing Nicosia’s positions and its response to Turkey’s argument regarding its actions in the region. The newspaper reports it has seen the document, and publishes extensive passages.

In the document, Nicosia is reported to be repeating its position that if Turkey is serious about respecting international law, then it can either enter into negotiations with the RoC over EEZ delineation, or accept a joint appeal by the two countries to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

European Commission vice president Margaritis Schinas told Greek newspaper Real News that the EU should overcome its taboo over charting a unified foreign policy, in the same way it overcame the resistance to a joint fiscal policy. He added that the EU insists on the respect of the sovereign rights of its member states and that it intends to de-escalate and push for dialogue with Turkey towards jointly agreed solutions. Schinas pointed out that if Turkey continues to escalate, the EU will not hesitate responding with all options on the table.

AKEL spokesperson Stefanos Stefanou said in a statement that developments in the Cypriot EEZ show more than ever that a solution is necessary, and pointed out that the G/C side should actively encourage the UNSG’s upcoming iniative towards a resumption of negotiations after the T/C elections.

Stefanou added that the government should have already been taking initiatives to convince the international community of its readiness for a solution, as well as initiatives to prepare citizens for the prospect of reunification. Instead of this, Stefanou said, the government seeks to replace the goal of a solution with other goals which give Turkey the ability to cast doubt on Cypriot sovereignty and contest the country’s EEZ.

Margaritis Schinas (European Commission VP)
>> It is time to overcome taboo of unified foreign policy like it overcame taboo of unified fiscal policy
>> EU insists on respect of sovereign rights of member states
>> EU intends to push for de-escalation and dialogue with Turkey towards jointly agreed solutions
>> If Turkey escalates, EU will not hesitate responding with all options on the table

Stefanos Stefanou (AKEL spokesperson)
>> Developments show more than ever that a solution is necessary
>> G/C side should actively encourage the UNSG’s upcoming initiative and take initiative of its own
>> Instead of taking initiative, the government seeks to replace the goal of a solution with other alternatives

Al Jazeera publishes new information regarding passports scandal

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Economy, Migration & Citizenship, Regional/ International Relations, EU Matters


All dailies report on new information publicised by Al Jazeera regarding the RoC’s citizenship by investment programme and naturalisations that took place during the period 2017 – 2019. Newspapers quote reactions by the RoC’s Interior Ministry as well as governing DISY and opposition AKEL.

Al Jazeera has published a list of names of persons involved in criminal undertakings and connected to money laundering, who benefited through the citizenship by investment scheme, citing leaked documents obtained by the network’s investigative journalism team. The network cites a total of 1,400 applications submitted between 2017 and 2019 mainly by Russian, Chinese and Ukrainian citizens.

According to the reports, a lot of these cases are identical to that of Malaysian businessman Jho Low and of family members of officials in Cambodia’s regime. In several cases, the suspects obtained citizenship right before they were convicted, while in other cases their applications were allegedly approved even after they were convicted. The network announced it will be bringing out more names in coming days, including those of members of the Saudi Bin Laden family.

In a statement issued on Sunday in response to the story, the Interior Ministry says that all cases referred to by Al Jazeera were judged through specific criteria and were found eligible based on the situation at that given moment and in accordance with rules active at the time.

Politis reports that the Interior Ministry also underlines that it is examining all cases included in the report and will continue to do so.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris had been quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that no rules current at the time had been broken.

In its coverage, Phileleftheros points out that Al Jazeera is owned by Qatar and reports that government circles in Nicosia suspect that Turkey or other countries could also be involved in pushing the story due to its timing.

In a statement, AKEL official Christos Christofides said that the government needs to provide answers regarding specific examples cited by Al Jazeera as well as details regarding which law firms and other service providers facilitated these applications and their connections with the government and DISY.

AKEL MP and head of the parliament’s internal affairs committee, Eleni Mavrou, had also been quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that Cyprus should be ashamed for allowing its investment scheme to be taken advantage of. Mavrou added she believes that the new regulations will not leave room for foul play.

DISY points out in a statement that the House of Representatives has voted in favour of important changes to the legislation which impose stricter criteria three weeks ago. The governing party poses the question why these changes were not mentioned in the report. However, the Al Jazeera reports does include a reference to these changes.

Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation (ΟΕΒ) said in a statement that Al Jazeera’s report affect the image of the country’s investment programme during a difficult period for the economy.

Haravgi recalls a report published in the paper which had pointed out that 15 firms (out of a total of 637 registered as providers of services to citizenship-through-investment applications) are responsible for more than 50% of cases. A total of 1,948 applications out of 3,563 submitted between 2013 and 2019 were processed by these 15 firms, which reportedly include President Anastasiades’s former firm, which bears his name.

Interior Ministry
>> All cases referred in the Al Jazeera report were found eligible based on the law current at the time
>> All cases mentioned are being re-examined and this process will continue as new names come to light

Nicos Nouris (Interior Minister)
>> No rules were broken at the time

Christos Christofides (AKEL)
>> Government needs to answer which law firms and other service providers handled these applications and whether they are connected with it and the ruling party

Eleni Mavrou (AKEL MP)
>> Cyprus should be ashamed of how its citizenship scheme was used
>> The new regulations will not leave room for foul play

>> Three weeks ago the House of Representatives approved a new legislative framework
>> Accusations that Al Jazeera ignored the fact new rules were passed

OEB (Employers and Industrialists Federation)
>> The report affects the image of the country’s investment programme during difficult times for the economy

G/C soldier missing since 1963 identified through work of CMP

CBMs, Human Rights


Phileleftheros reports that one of the G/C missing from the 1963-64 clashes has been identified, eight years after his remains were found by the Committee for Missing Persons in a mass grave in 2012.

The victim, Petros Efstathiou from Trachonas, was 19 and serving in the National Guard when he disappeared on December 23rd 1963. According to information published by the newspaper, he had been captured, possibly by the TMT, as he was crossing the Pediaios rive with another person that was able to escape. Efstathiou was not wearing a uniform at the time of his disappearance.

His remains were found in a mass grave in Hamit Mandres together with those of another 15 people. The mass grave was found during a search for a mass grave dating to the 1974 invasion, but researchers soon realised that the remains were from the 1963-64 period of bicommunal conflict. Phileleftheros points out that CMP researchers realised that these were not victims of the invasion due to the fact that one of the victims was found wearing a winter coat.

Efstathiou is the 11th out of a total of 16 people in the mass grave that have been identified to date. The newspaper points out that another 28 G/Cs remain missing from that period. The report also notes that despite the fact that T/Cs started to look for the 1963-64 missing from the beginning, the G/C side had avoided to do so until 43 years after they disappeared. The relatives of the G/C missing of this period are reported to believe that the RoC avoided looking into the disappearance of their relatives for political reasons.

The newspaper also notes that for years, some of the files regarding missing persons only contained the report regarding their disappearance with the authorities having taken no action to talk to their relatives. Phileleftheros notes that many of the missing of that period from both communities had been abducted by paramilitary groups and never seen again.

Unpublished polls in the north show Akinci ahead in leadership race

Governance & Power Sharing, Negotiations Process


Alithia reports that both public and private polls have showed that T/C leader Mustafa Akinci is due to gain re-election in October. The newspaper cites information from the occupied areas which is said to be monitored closely in the government-controlled areas.

According to the report, the team of T/C “prime minister” and UBP leader Ersin Tatar, who is also running for the presidency of the unrecognised TRNC, avoids to publicise polls that show Akinci retaining a lead despite attacks coming from Turkey.

The newspaper reports that it is exactly these polls that have prompted Tatar and the Turkish government to take a tougher, more nationalist line against Akinci and to insist on issues such as unilaterally reopening Varosha and asking for negotiations to resume on a new basis. It also points out that Kudret Ozersay, who is also a candidate, as well as other T/C parties, are incensed by Turkey’s insistent and open support for Tatar.

Alithia cites information that Tatar’s team, which is supported by staff from Turkey, has conducted three polls, all of which show Akinci ahead by 5% to 8% in voter preference. Tatar is reported to consistently come second or third in these polls. The results are kept even from leading members of Tatar’s campaign, it is reported.

G/Cs diplomatic sources told Alithia that Turkey is fighting to prevent Akinci’s re-election due to the bad personal relationship between Akinci and Turkish President Tayip Erdogan, as well as because of the role that the new T/C leader can play in the efforts to restart negotiations.

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