GCC Press Review 25 August 2020

Front Page Headlines


Credibility went away without a mask

They changed the decision about masks in elementary schools after there were reactions. Ministries and epidemiologists were saying and deciding one thing on Thursday and Friday and decided another thing yesterday Monday: masks will not be obligatory in elementary schools and perhaps in a few days they’ll say, in case of more reactions, that it is not necessary in secondary schools… Travellers prove a difficult trojan horse. The amount of cases from the Netherlands brought the country down to category C, but not Greece, from where many Cypriots that visited infected areas return.

  • Report by Nouris to the Presidency today: Passports go to Attorney General
  • European Union: 479 million to the RoC and 11 to the T/Cs
  • Beirut: They involve Cypriot H. M.


Taxes get a heart attack

Tax declarations move from postponement to postponement due to technical problems. State income in lockdown.

  • By Akinci and Erhurman: Moves for Varosha under umbrella of the UN
  • Record number of people in quarantine at Pournara: They overcame the number of those living in the main reception centre – Yesterday 65 Syrians arrived at the centre in an organised manner from the occupied areas
  • 33 cases found in airports: Hot vacations in Mykonos and return loaded with coronavirus
  • “Golden passport” leak had suspicious timing
  • New Turkish NAVTEX throws oil on the fire
  • Police sets up stations on Ledras
  • They counted him as a deserter but he had been murdered


Naturalisations of crooks were… legal!

Storm of reactions by political parties and the society. Unanswered questions reach the Presidential Palace. Removal of “golden passports” does not apply to PEPs.

  • Heiko Maas visits Athens and Ankara in an attempt to start a Greek-Turkish dialogue
  • AKEL’s concerns over Famagusta, EEZ and Cyprus Problem. Cyprus tied to NATO’s chariot
  • What the urban plan says about the move of oil products installations

Cyprus Mail

Al Jazeera ‘probe’ a smear campaign

Interior minister questions the players and timing of report.

  • Thirty-nine new cases, 33 from abroad


Leak of documents to Al Jazeera came from parliament!

We dig out our own eyes. The documents were sent from the Interior Ministry to House of Representatives, were handed out to MPs and then… More names with “golden passports” on Al Jazeera, but do not prove crimes. KEBE (Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and accountants see intents behind “an organised effort against Cyprus”.

  • French ambassador: France is in the Mediterranean to de-escalate tensions
  • “The right way is…”: Akinci’s disagreement over settling of Varosha
  • Numbers shot up: Tourists return, cases increase

Main News

Government casts doubt on timing of Al Jazeera passports report

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


The RoC government insists that Al Jazeera’s extensive report on the country’s “golden passport” scheme and the naturalisation of convicts and crooks between 2017 and 2019 through its citizenship-by-investment programme, had suspicious timing, as coverage dominates the press for a second day.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris told Omega TV that one should wonder why the international network, which is based in Qatar, chose to “try to deal a blow” to the RoC, the Cyprus Mail reports. Cyprus Mail takes the position that the Al Jazeera report misrepresents and omits facts, and announces it will cover the issue in the next few days.

Politis reports that the issue was discussed during a meeting at the Presidency on Monday. The newspaper cites report that the government was aware that the story was about to break. President Anastasiades reportedly talked with Qatar’s Emir regarding the issue and asked for the Qatari TV network to be fair to Cyprus. The newspaper also reports that the TV network is expected to continue its coverage with videos shot in Cyprus.

Politis also notes that the Al Jazeera reports focus on cases that took place before rules were strengthened, and that this issue had been reported on by Cypriot media before. The newspaper points out that Al Jazeera has brought to light several new names of people involved.

Politis also reports that the Interior Ministry has asked the RoC’s Law Office and the Attorney General to examine whether the harshest rules that had been adopted in August can be applied retroactively in order to remove citizenships given to people that would have been ineligible today.

The newspaper also reports that Interior Minister Nicos Nouris will be submitting the findings of an audit regarding the cases brought to light by Al Jazeera to the President, during a meeting that is due to take place on Tuesday.

Haravgi reports on statements by AKEL and DISY trading barbs over the issue, with AKEL secretary general Andros Kyprianou repeating a series of question over how lax rules were taken advantage of during 2017 – 2019 and asking for information regarding law firms and other intermediaries that handled applications by investors. Kyprianou also criticised the way that the issue was covered by state broadcaster CyBC.

DISY responded by pointing to the timing of the report and underlining that the investment programme is very important for the country’s economy. DISY admits that the programme needed to be improved and insists that Al Jazeera’s report does not present the changes made to the programme. DIKO and the smaller parties said that the image of a corrupt government tarnishes Cyprus on the international stage.

Meanwhile, Politis reports that the Interior Ministry has asked the police to investigate the provenance of the leaks obtained by Al Jazeera. Alithia reports, citing images broadcast by Al Jazeera, that the documents in question seem to have leaked through the House of Representatives. The newspaper argues that the leak could have come from either the Interior or the Finance Ministries, or the House of Representatives, and assumes no one in the ministries would have leaked the information.

Also, Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides said on Twitter that his office had requested information on citizenships-through-investment on June 2019 and that in October they were told that this information is held by the Interior Ministry. Michaelides added that his office is waiting for the special committee on the issue to complete its work. He added that his office is examining the recent evidence and will shortly take a position. Michaelides was responding to a citizen’s question on Twitter.

EU to support health efforts and small businesses in the north

EU Matters, CBMs, Economy


Politis reports that the EU will support small businesses in the occupied areas with 11 million euros as part of its efforts to combat the economic side effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The EU is also expected to invest in promoting environmentally friendly development and in supporting employment during the crisis.

Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Kornilios Korniliou recently informed the House of Representatives on the assistance to the north with a letter that had been marked as confidential, despite the fact that this assistance is public knowledge, the newspaper reports.

In the letter, seen by Politis, Korniliou writes that the Republic of Cyprus has been informed by the European Commission on the progress of plans to assist the T/C community through coronavirus measures as well as the EU’s Multi-annual Financial Framework.

Korniliou also notes that the value of the medical equipment and supplies to be given to the north amounts to 5 million euros. Another 6 million will be provided through the regular funds provided through the MFF.

The RoC has told the EC it is ready to provide any assistance necessary in order to provide the north with medical equipment. The help will be coordinated through the UNDP. It is noted that the Commission has already sent the first batch of medical supplies to the north through the UNDP. This includes medical equipment such as mask, testing kits and medicine.

German FM visits Athens and Ankara as maritime crisis continues

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


The dailies report that German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass is visiting Athens on Tuesday to meet his Greek counterpart Nicos Dendias, and that he will then meet Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara on Wednesday.

Haravgi reports that Maas’s visits are part of an effort to once again de-escalate tensions between the two countries and push them towards dialogue. Meanwhile, Cypriot FM Nicos Christodoulides talked with Dendias over the phone on Monday, ahead of Maas’s visit.

Turkey has extended a NAVTEX regarding works by seismic research vessel Oruc Reis in an area contested by both countries, until August 27th. Greece responded by issuing its own NAVTEX, informing ships that it will be conducting military exercises involving life ammunition between Crete, Karpathos, Rhodes and Kastelorizo, in an area which significantly overlaps that of Turkey’s NAVTEX.

Phileleftheros reports, citing statements by a German official to the media, that Berlin is displeased by Turkey’s decision to renew its NAVTEX. A spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry told the media that Germany is saddened by Turkey’s decision and that what is now needed is signals to de-escalation.

The Cyprus News Agency reports that a spokesperson for the European Commission was asked to comment regarding the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. The spokesperson pointed to statements made by European Council Charles Michel, in which he had stated that the member states had expressed concerns and asked all parties to de-escalate, while reiterating the EU’s solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.

French ambassador Isabelle Dumont told CNA in an interview that France aims to contribute to de-escalation of tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. She also said that a solution to the Cyprus Problem remains feasible if there’s political will, and expressed her concern over the fact that Cypriots are gradually losing their interest in a solution.

She also underlined that the fact that checkpoints remain closed are a bigger problem than people think right now. Dumont pointed out that the continued closure cuts off ties between the two communities. She said that she understands that there are health reasons for the decision, but recalled that infections can and still do come from abroad while people cannot cross Ledras street.

Dumont said that France wants to have a bigger role in ensuring stability in the region. Regarding the French position on sanctions on Turkey, she said that such tools should be used according to how the situation develops and pointed out that sanctions are a tool to reduce tensions and not an aim in and of itself. She also pointed out that Turkey did change its behaviour regarding Greece when there was an opportunity for dialogue.

The ambassador referred extensively to the increased military cooperation between France and Cyprus, but pointed out that reports regarding the creation of a French naval base on the island are not correct.

Dumont is leaving Cyprus after one year as ambassador and will be taking over the office dealing with Commonwealth countries, the Balkans and Turkey at the French Presidency.

Three G/Cs attempt to cross to the north with fake coronavirus tests

CBMs, Internal Security


Alithia reports that three G/Cs attempted to cross to the occupied areas through the Strovilia checkpoint by presenting coronavirus tests that turned out to be fake.

According to statements made by police spokesperson Christos Andreou, the incident took place on the night of August 19th, shortly after midnight.

A G/C couple aged 52, and another man aged 51, reported to be the brother of the husband in the couple, presented their documents to officers of the Sovereign Base Areas police which controls the Strovilia crossing.

The SBA authorities suspected that the PCR tests were fake and coordinated with the police of the RoC to confirm their suspicions. The houses of the suspects were searched and the three G/Cs were led to the Famagusta District Court which ordered them to be detained for five days. The suspects deny wrongdoing.

Alithia also points out that one of the two men involved is an ambulance driver working for the Famagusta General Hospital, which happens to be the government’s reference hospital.

Akinci and Erhurman argue against unilateral Varosha reopening

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Territory, Property, CBMs, Governance & Power Sharing


All dailies report on statements made by T/C leader Mustafa Akinci against the efforts promoted by his rivals for the October election to unilaterally reopen the fenced-off city of Varosha.

Akinci said on Sunday that the Varosha issue needs to be discussed in accordance with international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, and that any actions should be discussed with the UN, Cyprus Mail reports. Akinci said on social media that Varosha should not remain closed but adds that the issue should be approached in a way that contributes to a solution.

Akinci also accused UBP leader and “prime minister” Ersin Tatar and HP leader and “foreign minister” Kudret Ozersay of taking advantage of the issue in order to win the elections for the position of T/C leader and have turned Varosha into a contest.

The current T/C leader insisted that he expects UNSG Antonio Guterres to push for a five-party meeting immediately following elections in the north, and noted that Turkey has said it is open to taking part.

Phileleftheros also reports on statements made by CTP candidate Tufan Erhurman, citing a translation by the PIO. Erhurman said that Varosha could only reopen in coordination with the UN and insisted that the T/C side should work towards a solution and with respect to international law. He added that Varosha could be a bridge towards a solution and should be reopened in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, and that it cannot be seen as a separate issue.

Cyprus Mail also reports that the head of religious endowment foundation Evkaf, Ibrahim Benter, repeated in an interview with Turkish state Anadolu agency that Evkaf legally owns the area since the Ottoman period, and that it was illegally given to Greek Cypriots and the church during the British colonial period.

The dailies also report on information published by T/C website Gazedda that intermediaries have been contacting G/C owners of Varosha properties, especially properties on the town’s beach front. According to the report, these G/C intermediaries represent Chinese and Russian companies.

In related news, AKEL secretary general Andros Kyprianou said on Monday that is concerned over moves made towards reopening Varosha and added that the government seems unable to put an end to these efforts. Kyprianou also expressed concerns over the situation in the Cypriot EEZ.

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