GCC Press Review 26 August 2020

Front Page Headlines


They also involve Russian VTB

Al Jazeera returned with a “mass naturalisation of Russians” – What next?. Nouris responds at noon. The government is now accused of giving passports to officials of one of the biggest banks in Russia, despite the fact it was on the EU’s and the USA’s sanctions list after the events in Crimea. Public opinion and parties expect specific evidence from the Interior Minister regarding issues brought up by the news network, but the government sends the message that it should protect private information…

  • Number of cases does not stabilise: Antics continue
  • Greece – Turkey: Germany found hard obstacles
  • Military officers: Expression without permission
  • Exploitation of foreigners: Phaedonos lashed out
  • AKEL – COVID-19: Looking for a solution for the conference


He asked for the UNSG’s intervention

Anastasiades – Guterres discussed the issue of Famagusta and the Cyprus Problem. President made accusations regarding Turkish plans. Threats from Ankara instead of dialogue.

  • Occupied areas holds terrors for Nigerian students: 15 days under mysterious circumstances – They call them to avoid “northern Cyprus” – Third strange death recently
  • They lump foreigners together in shameful buildings: Mammoth profits for trafficking circuit from occupied areas
  • Ministerial answers over “golden passports”
  • RoC – France on the same wavelength, Akinci annoyed
  • Another six cases from Greece yesterday


Shame on you Argives – government adds insult to injury

Holes in checks and passports with fake documents. 100 cases similar to that of wanted Jho Low. Transparency International calls for the Commission to intervene.

  • Heiko Maas asked for de-escalation
  • Letter of owners about Varosha to Council of Europe
  • Borrell will put all options regarding Turkey – EU relations on the table
  • Telephone conversation between President Anastasiades and UNSG over Varosha
  • Greece remains a source of incoming cases

Cyprus Mail

Greece, Turkey trade new barbs

Germany seeks to de-escalate tensions, says it backs Greece.

  • Qatar, Al Jazeera and Turkey form a network against Cyprus


Parliament points to parties – internal affairs committee

Over leak of confidential documents to Al Jazeera. Information over naturalisations are sent either to party leaders or to members of internal affairs committee. D. Kalogirou (head of security and exchanges commission): There is possibility of criminal offences in some cases of naturalisation – Thousands of applications for naturalisation under examination. Police has been investigating how the documents leaked to Al Jazeera and whether there were any criminal offences since June 3rd.

  • Message to Turkey: European Union and Germany steadfastly on Greece’s side
  • Written statement: State Department rages against Erdogan because of his meetings
  • Out of 2,679 diagnoses: 14 new cases, six had travelled to Greece
  • Josep Borrell will present it tomorrow: List of measures against Turkey is ready
  • Concerns in Nigeria: Mysterious deaths of students in the occupied areas

Main News

Borrell to present options regarding Turkey during informal FAC

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


European Union High Commissioner Josep Borrell will be presenting options for the future of the bloc’s relations with Turkey during Thursday’s and Friday’s informal Foreign Affairs Council, known as Gymnich, in Berlin, an EU official told the Cyprus News Agency.

European Commission spokesperson Nabila Massrali told the CNA that Borrell will present options to the 27 Foreign Ministers. She noted that the list of options will cover all eventualities.

CNA also cites an anonymous EU official that informed the media that the options to be presented by Borrell will include possible sanctions, but will be much wider than that. The same official pointed out that Borrell is concerned over the possibility of an escalation of the crisis in the region, and referred to the recent accident between a Greek and a Turkish ship. The official pointed out that this is the sixth time the EU discusses the situation and that still there has been no improvement.

The official also pointed out that any options presented are not due for adoption on Thursday but will be discussed in future FACs. According to the official, the EU is also examining relations with Turkey across all fronts, including also migration and the situation in Libya and Syria.

Turkey’s behaviour is not on the agenda the meeting of the EU’s Defence Minister, which meet in the context of the informal Berlin FAC, an EU official told the Cyprus News Agency. However, the official did not rule out the possibility of some countries bringing the issue up. Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides will be participating in the meeting.

Meanwhile, President Anastasiades had a telephone conversations with UNSG Antonio Guterres in which he brought up the issue of Famagusta and discussed the possibility of returning to negotiations after the T/C elections, the dailies report citing a statement by the government spokesperson.

Phileleftheros reports that Anastasiades told Guterres that Turkey is attempting to take steps that diverge from the agreed parameters of a solution through the unilateral reopening of Varosha. Anastasiades is reported to have repeated his proposal for the creation of a bicommunal committee which would conduct a study on the resettlement of Varosha. He also said he is ready to return to negotiations from the point where they stopped in 2017.

According to the government spokesperson, Guterres listened to the President carefully and gave assurances he will take necessary steps.

Haravgi reports, citing T/C media, that President Erdogan’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin, told Bloomberg that Varosha and other issues should be discussed by the two sides in Cyprus. He said that the area, which is currently fenced off, should be used to the benefit of everyone on the island. Kalin also said that if gas is found by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean then they believe it should be shared by both sides.

The dailies also report on the results of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s visits to Athens and Ankara and his meeting with Nicos Dendias and Mevlut Cavusoglu.

During statements from Athens, after meeting Dendias and before heading to Turkey to meet Cavusoglu, Maas said that all military action in the Eastern Mediterranean should cease before Greece and Turkey can sit down and negotiate. Maas underlined that Germany and the EU will be on Greece’s side and will continue to display solidarity. He also said that the current situation is dangerous and could escalate unexpectedly.

Dendias said that Turkey continues to provoke despite Greece’s careful behaviour and attempts to create faits accomplis, and added that Greece has no other option than to defend its sovereign rights.

Kathimerini reports that Cavusoglu maintained his country’s rhetoric against Greece after the meeting with Maas. Cavusoglu said that Turkey will not hesitate to respond to statements by Greece, and called on Greece to not put itself in danger by becoming a “bait” used by other countries.

Cavusoglu also said that Turkey is open for dialogue but without preconditions, and pointed out that if Greece is concerned about international law then it should also discuss the issue of the Muslim population of Thrace.

Greek government spokesperson Stelios Petsas also told Greek state broadcaster ERT that Athens is pleased to have its allies on its side, Phileleftheros reports. Petsas pointed out that Germany has plenty of reasons to intervene in issues that would complicate its work as the country holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. He said that Germany is attempting to find a way out of the impasse created by Turkey’s stance.

Phileleftheros also reports on meetings held by outgoing French ambassador Isabelle Dupont with President Anastasiades and T/C leader Mustafa Akinci. After the meeting, Akinci said that France would better not take any sides in the Eastern Mediterranean because this does not help with the effort to reach a solution. During her meeting with Anastasiades, Dupont said that the EU needs to increase its presence in the region and that the Eastern Mediterranean should become an area of cooperation rather than conflict.

Government to respond to Al Jazeera revelations on golden passports

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


The dailies report on new information publicised by TV network Al Jazeera regarding Cyprus’s investment scheme and the sale of “golden passports”. Politis reports that according to new information, about 1,000 rich Russians received citizenship in a mere two years. The list reportedly includes people that should not have been given citizenships given their history, such as three officials of VTB bank (which is the parent company of RCB), whose applications were approved despite the fact that they were on lists of sanctions issued by the EU and the USA.

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris was planned to make statements at noon regarding the accusations against the Republic of Cyprus as well as the criticism levelled against the government by opposition parties. However, Politis reports that he is not expected to specifically refer to names and cases outlined in Al Jazeera’s reports.

Politis also reports that the government was aware of Al Jazeera’s investigation since June 4th, and that the police has been looking into how the documents were leaked. In a letter sent on Tuesday, the House of Representatives assures the government’s commissioner for the protection for private information that the leak did not come from the parliament.

AKEL has announced it intends to discuss the issue in the parliament’s committee for internal affairs, Politis reports. In an announcement, the opposition party accuses the government of shaming the country internationally and accuses the President’s former law firm and his family of taking advantage of the situation.

In a statement DISY insists that the government has taken big steps in reforming the programme and introducing stricter controls, and points out that these changes cannot be wiped out by targeted reports by foreign media that could have other intentions. DISY also points out that Al Jazeera is connected to Turkey.

Politis also reports that multiple parties are bringing the need of new changes to the country’s investment programme back to the agenda, aiming to re-direct incomes from the programme to the real economy. AKEL, Solidarity and the Greens are reported to be preparing to restart the discussion that also took place during the process of approving new rules for the programme at the beginning of August.

DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos said that regardless of Al Jazeera’s motives, the government has clearly failed to protect the reputation of the country and of its investment programme, and he accused the government of not taking the accusations seriously.

Nigerian authorities warn students away from going to the north

Alithia, Phileleftheros, Politis
Internal Security, Migration & Citizenship, Human Rights


The Diaspora Council of Nigeria has called for students to avoid going to study in northern Cyprus after a series of unexplained deaths, the dailies report.

Phileleftheros reports that the head of the Nigerian Diaspora Council, Abike Dabiri – Erewa said in a statement that sending students to universities in northern Cyprus is dangerous since there have been multiple deaths that have not been properly investigated by the authorities.

The announcement came after yet another death of a student in the north in recent weeks. Dabiri also read out the names of a total of 15 Nigerian students that died in the occupied areas and pointed out that it has been difficult to ascertain causes of death due to the fact that the Nigerian government has no diplomatic ties with the north.

Dabiri also said that the problem stems from the fact that many Nigerian parents do not know that north Cyprus is an unrecognised state. She pointed out that the response sent back by the T/C authorities to the families of the deceased is that their child “committed suicide”. In the latest case, the T/C authorities said the student had jumped off a building but his body bore no signs of that being true.

The Diaspora Council intends to coordinate with the Nigerian government to add universities in northern Cyprus to a black list so that degrees from T/C universities are not recognised in the country.

In a related issue, Paphos mayor Phaedonas Phaedonos has said in a statement that human traffickers take advantage of migrants, receiving 300 euros from each before sending them to live in large numbers in small apartments and shops in the centre of the city.

G/C property owners appeal to Council of Europe over Varosha reopening

Alithia, Haravgi, Politis
Territory, Property, Regional/ International Relations, EU Matters, Negotiation Process


G/C property owners that had appealed to the European Court for Human Rights to the past over Varosha have sent a letter to the Council of Europe (which oversees compliance with ECHR decisions) condemning plans by the T/Cs to unilaterally reopen the fenced-off city, the dailies report citing the Cyprus News Agency.

The applicants point out that they would welcome the reopening of the area under the UN’s administration, in line with relevant Security Council resolutions.

The letter was sent on Tuesday through the lawyer representing the “Xenides – Aresti” group of cases, Achilleas Demetriades, ahead of the next meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe starting on September 29th.

The applicants point out through their lawyers that rulings by the ECHR that they should be compensated cover loss of use and not expropriation of their properties.

The applicants ask for a fourth intermediate ruling calling Turkey to pay compensations that have been decided by the ECHR.

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