GCC Press Review 29 August 2020

Front Page Headlines


De-escalation, dialogue and… we’ll see

Foreign Ministers support Greece – Cyprus, but leave any sanctions for later. Merkel only mentions Greece, says nothing about Cyprus. The concern that Greece – Turkey conflict could cause serious problems for NATO played an important role to convince some countries to accept possibility of taking sanctions against Turkish interests. EU points to two directions: De-escalation of tensions and beginning of a constructive dialogue between Athens and Ankara, but also preparation of a list of possible sanctions that might be discussed towards the end of September.

  • Now government is alone: Cyprus Papers go to Audit Office


Terror list for Erdogan

European Union determined to touch sensitive issue of loans. Message: De-escalate by September 24th.

  • “Golden passports” under Auditor General’s microscope
  • Briefing for ambassadors on Famagusta


Sanctions from the EU, if and when

List of sanctions if there is no de-escalation. Borrell: “We want to give a serious chance to dialogue”. Decisions by the 27 on September 24th and 25th.

  • “Golden” passports: Hush over Commission’s observations. Investigation by the Auditor

Cyprus Mail

Danger of a clash is real

EU’s Borrell says sanctions being readied, tells Turkey to cease illegal drilling.


The veto brought harsh sanctions – What measure the EU examines against Turkey

Europe asks Erdogan for de-escalation and dialogue with Cyprus and Greece. Turkish Foreign Minister accuses Europe in annoyance that it oversteps its bounds and stresses that “Turkey will continue to decisively protect its interests and those of the Turkish Cypriots”. Christodoulides – Dendias satisfied by result.

  • Zaharova statement: Moscow supports Anastasiades proposal for Famagusta
  • Coronavirus: Another 14 cases in Cyprus yesterday – Russia to issue vaccine soon
  • Investment programme: Audit Office joins dance of investigations

Main News

EU Foreign Ministers agree on list of possible sanctions against Turkey

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


The dailies report that the EU’s 27 Foreign Ministers arrived at an initial agreement on the possibility of sanctions against Turkey if the country continue to antagonise Greece and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Foreign Ministers agreed that Turkey essentially has until September 24th, the day of the next European Council which is going to focus on EU-Turkish relations, to de-escalate.

High Representative Josep Borrell said after the meeting on Friday that the EU is preparing sanctions against Turkey over its behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean. He underlined however that the EU prioritises giving an opportunity to Turkey to de-escalate in order to lead to dialogue.

Borrell said that the measures could include sanctions on individuals and companies and blocking vessels involved in illegal exploration and drillings to the EU’s ports, the Cyprus Mail reports. Other measures could include sectoral sanctions on the Turkish economy, a ban on lending to Turkey by state-owned banks in the EU, the reduction of EU funding to Turkey or a travel ban for Turkish citizens.

Borrell underlined that the EU would first focus on the illegal activities themselves, and the economic and financial infrastructure related to these activities.

The proposals include measures related sectoral activities of the Turkish economy that interact extensively with European economy.

The agreement came at the same time as an unofficial agreement of the 27 that the EU will sanction 20 Belarusian officials regarding the situation in the country.

German chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that all EU countries are obligated to support Greece when it comes to its dispute with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, Politis reports. Merkel also noted that this issue affects the functioning of NATO, which is why the dispute needs to be addressed. She added that she is in communication with Turkish President Erdogan in an effort to mediate, but denied reports that she was going to call him on Friday. Politis also draw attention to the fact that Merkel made no reference to the dispute between Turkey and Cyprus.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry reacted with a statement pointing out that the EU’s unequivocal support to Greece and Cyprus while ignoring the legal rights of the T/Cs increases tensions in the region. Turkish FM spokesperson Hami Aksoy said that the EU has no right to judge Turkey’s actions in the region or to demand Turkey to change course.

Aksoy said that the EU’s turn towards sanctions does not help solve problems and also increases Turkey’s decisiveness, noting that Turkey insists on the need for dialogue. He repeated the position that Greece is not an island nation and hence cannot claim that Kastelorizo can have an EEZ.

The Foreign Ministers of Greece and Cyprus, Nikos Dendias and Nikos Christodoulides, said they were pleased by the result of the meeting. Christodoulides underlined that the decision of the unofficial council follow a principle that Cyprus had underlined, ensuring that the EU doesn’t follow a double standard. Dendias said that after this decision he hopes that Turkey will return to a rational behaviour.

Phileleftheros reports that Germany, Italy and Malta expressed their doubts over the possibility of sanctions, focusing especially on the possible side effects of sanctions on the migration issue.

Haravgi reports, citing German news agency DPA, that Germany is unwilling to impose sanctions at this stage since that would efforts to de-escalate the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Meanwhile Phileleftheros reports that 158 personalities from Greece and Cyprus have signed a letter calling for the two countries to move forward with the delineation of an EEZ between the two countries. These include politicians and former MPs, academics and former diplomats.

In a related development, the dailies report that the military exercise conducted by France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus in the seas south of the island wrapped up on Friday. The exercise started on Wednesday and involved surface vessels and submarines, as well as fighter aircraft.

Josep Borrell (EU HRVP)
>> The EU is preparing sanctions against Turkey over its behaviour in the Eastern Mediterranean, but priority is given to de-escalation and dialogue
>> Possible measures include sanctions on individuals and companies, blocking vessels involved in illegal actions, sectoral sanctions on the Turkish economy, ban on lending from state-owned banks, reduction of EU funding, travel ban to Turkish citizens

Angela Merkel (German chancellor)
>> All EU countries are obligated to support Greece in its dispute with Turkey
>> This dispute also affects NATO and must be addressed >> She is contact with Erdogan in an effort to mediate

Hami Aksoy (Turkish FM spokesperson)
>> The EU’s support to Greece and Cyprus increases tensions in the region
>> The option of sanctions does not help solve problems

Nikos Christodoulides (Cypriot FM)
>> The EU has kept to the principle that there can be no double standards

Nikos Dendias (Greek FM)
>> The hope is that Turkey will revert to rational behaviour

Passports scandal to also be investigated by Audit Office

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Migration & Citizenship, Internal Security, Economy, EU Matters


The office of Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides will investigate the accusations against Cyprus and possible abuse of the government’s citizenship-through-investment schemes, Phileleftheros reports.

The Auditor’s office will initially focus on citizenships given after the rules of the programme were changed in May 2018, which is a period not covered by the investigative committee assigned by the Council of Ministers. In an announcement, the Audi Office points out that It can extend its investigation to other periods if that is judged necessary.

The audit will focus on the processes followed by the Ministries for the Interior and Finance when decisions were taken to approve citizenship applications. The office will also examine the issue that has come up regarding the usage by the President of a private aircraft belonging to an applicant.

The dailies also report that the police continues its investigations in the way in which the documents were leaked, and that the focus now is in the House of Representatives. Police spokespersons have said that about 60 depositions have been taken.

Ambassadors briefed by government on Famagusta

Alithia, Phileleftheros, Politis
Territory, Property, Negotiations Process, Regional/ International Relations, EU Matters


The Cypriot Foreign Ministry briefed the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the Security Council of the UN and the ambassadors of the EU member states on Turkey’s latest moves regarding the fenced-off city of Varosha, in Famagusta.

Phileleftheros reports that Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zaharova told the media on Friday that there are specific SC resolutions governing what can happen in Varosha. Zaharova was asked to present Moscow’s perspective regarding Turkey’s stated plans for Varosha and regarding the proposal submitted by President Anastasiades.

Zaharova said that Russia is bound by UNSC resolutions and that Moscow supports the RoC’s proposal for a bicommunal technical committee on Varosha. She added that Russia believes that a return to negotiations for a comprehensive solution will help the sides also compromise on Varosha.

Maria Zaharova (Russian FM spokesperson)
>> Russia’s position on Varosha is guided by relevant UNSC resolutions
>> The return to negotiations for a comprehensive solution will help the sides reach a compromise on Varosha

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