GCC Press Review 26 Feb 2021

Front Page Headlines


Half a step forward and a lot of risk

Balance of terror between return to normality and the constant rise in cases in Limassol. From March 1, the pupils of the first and second lyceum grades return to their classrooms while music and dance schools resume operations. The opening of the food and beverage industry on March 16 if and when. The vaccination coverage of the population plays an important role in the further lifting of measures. March is important as more than 160,000 doses are expected. New outbreak starring Limassol again. The health ministry announced 199 new cases, 100 from rapid tests, 62 of which in Limassol.

  • Informal 5+1 summit: tactical moves and parallel ‘monologues’
  • Parliament blocks the €500 fines for reservists


The health ministry is taking things ‘veeery’ slow 

Closed gymnasiums, private tutoring for one pupil at a time, restaurants (set to open) later, SMS and curfew remain. The owners of food and beverage businesses are protesting today outside the Presidential Palace and parliament.

  • The Geneva five-party summit is now official – The bar of expectations is set low.
  • It is starting to smell like elections in Turkey
  • School buses are also transporting coronavirus


Bribes to the tune of millions were hidden abroad

The real estate for the ‘golden’ passports were sold at much higher prices.

  • Cyprus problem: The five-party summit will take place during the Passion (of the Christ)  Week – Recently presented ideas should be abandoned.
  • Small easing of measures, again without any logic

Cyprus Mail

Public asked to be patient

Health minister ultra cautious in lifting measures as things ‘could get worse’.

  • Authorities taking action over e-bay sale of floor tile from ancient site of Salamis
  • (Photo caption) A photo taken on Thursday shows a lone cat crossing the buffer zone in Nicosia where crossings have come to a standstill due to the pandemic. It was announced on Thursday the UN will try again to help reach a settlement during new talks set for April 27-29 in Geneva.


TCs are blocking the EU

While they reiterate that the five-party summit will not be a continuation of Crans-Montana. Ertugruloglu: We do not accept a representative of the European Union at the table where the 5+1 meeting will be held. Cyprus and Greece welcomed the announcement of the informal meeting. UN on the Cyprus problem: We are not in the business of giving ultimatums.

  • Concerns: 70 coronavirus cases in four Limassol schools
  • Supreme Court: Another Syrian suspected terrorist was released

Main News

Anastasiades welcomes announcement of informal summit date

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process


President Nicos Anastasiades welcomed the announcement by UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres that the informal conference on Cyprus would take place between April 27 and 29 in Geneva, the dailies report.

The UN announcement followed statements by the Turkish side that things would not resume from where they left off in Crans-Montana and its rejection of the EU proposal to participate in the process as an observer.

According to the dailies, Anastasiades welcomed the official UN announcement, aiming to find common ground that will lead to substantive negotiations for the solution to the Cyprus problem. The president reiterated his strong determination to participate in the informal conference “with full political will, so that conditions will be generated for the resumption of talks to achieve a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem for the benefit of both communities.”

He added that the solution must be based on the High-Level Agreements, the resolutions and decisions of the UN Security Council, and the values and principles of the European Union, which can lead to the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus into a functional and viable bizonal, bicommunal federation within the parameters that were reaffirmed at the joint meeting of November 25, 2019, in Berlin.  

The announcement about the date and place of the summit was made by the UNSG spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric. He said that following consultations conducted on behalf of the Secretary-General by senior UN official Jane Holl Lute over the past several months, the Secretary-General intends to convene an informal five-plus-one meeting on the Cyprus issue in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27 to 29 April 2021. “The purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon.”

The dailies report that in response to a question on whether these were “crunch talks” and whether the UN would give up if there was no successful outcome this time, Dujarric replied: “We are not in the business of doing ultimatums, (that) we will give up if something doesn’t happen. If you look at the ebb and flow of our efforts on Cyprus, there have been ebbs, and there have been flows. Ms Jane Holl Lute has been consulting with the parties. We think this is an opportune time. It’s an informal meeting and we very much hope there will be a positive outcome.”

The dailies also report on statements by TC ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu who said that determining whether there is a common purpose or not may need more than one meeting but  spreading the meetings over a long period would not be ideal. He made clear that the five plus one summit should not and will not be a continuation of the process that collapsed in 2017 in Crans-Montana. He also said the Turkish side did not accept the participation of an EU official nor discussion on any confidence-building measures.   

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated that for 50 years there have been negotiations for a federal solution which failed because the Greek side did not want it.

Athens welcomed the UN announcement with the Greek Foreign Ministry stating that Greece, in its capacity as a guarantor power, will participate in the informal meeting in Geneva. It said it was willing to constructively contribute to the effort to achieve the goals of the informal summit: finding common ground that could lead to substantive negotiations for a solution of the Cyprus problem.

Alithia, citing a British diplomatic source, reports that the UK’s position on a BBF solution has not changed and that the parameter of political equality is not in itself the one that will determine the success of efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem. Without confirming whether Britain has submitted a comprehensive proposal on the Cyprus issue, the British diplomatic source said that “when we get to the negotiating table we do not always see the parties following to the extreme the positions they express publicly,” the daily reported.

Phileleftheros reports that, having learned past lessons and following unrealistic expectations raised in the past by the international organisation’s envoys, the UN is now lowering the bar of expectations with a carefully worded announcement. It also reports that Turkey and the TCs have received the announcement on the informal summit by setting terms and conditions.

Alithia reports, in its main item, that the TCs are blocking the EU’s participation while it notes that the summit will take place during the Holy Week of Easter. It reported that Ertugruloglu’s statements were provocative.

Politis writes that though the goal of the summit is to seek common ground for the talks, there is great divergence in both sides’ starting points and rhetoric, with each stating their own demands.

Expresses strong determination to participate with full political will to create conditions for talks’ resumption for a functional, viable Cyprob solution to benefit both communities.
>> Solution must be based on High-Level Agreements, UNSC resolutions & decisions, EU  values and principles all of which can lead to the evolution of the RoC into a functional and viable BBF within the parameters that were reaffirmed at Berlin trilateral.

Dujarric (UN)
The aim of the 5+1 meeting is to determine whether common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprob within a foreseeable horizon.
>> The UN is not in the business of giving ultimatums: there have been ups and downs in the Cyprob efforts, but now is an opportune time for informal talks. Hopes for positive outcome.

The 5+1 will not pick up from where things left off in Crans-Montana.
>> It may take more than one meeting to agree on the way forward but this process must not drag on for too long.
>> TCs are not in favour of EU participation in the process.
>> No discussion on CBMs at the 5+1 summit.

Cavusoglu (Turkey)
Talks for federal solution failed because of GCs’ reluctance.

Greek MFA
Greece will participate with willingness to constructively contribute in effort to find common ground that could lead to substantive negotiations for the Cyprob solution.

GC parties react to informal summit announcement

Alithia, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process


The dailies report on the parties’ reactions to the UN announcement on the five-party summit.
Alithia also reports that there were tensions and strong disagreements at the House plenary session on Thursday after DIKO proposed discussion on the Cyprus problem ahead of the five-party summit in connection with Turkey’s aggressive stance and insistence on imposing a two-state solution.

AKEL, DIKO, EDEK, the Solidarity Movement and the Greens agreed but DISY parliamentary spokesman Nikos Tornaritis said that such issues need to be discussed at the National Council, raising questions on the timing of this suggestion. The parties agreed, on the suggestion of House President Adamos Adamou, to discuss the matter on Thursday at the next meeting of the party leaders or their representatives, Alithia reported.

The parties also issued statements on the five-party summit.

Haravgi, citing statements by opposition parties, reports that everyone is concerned by the possible outcome of the summit, each for their own reasons.

Main opposition AKEL insists that the crucial issue at the moment is the protection of the basis of the solution, the convergences and the Guterres Framework as reopening discussion on any of the convergences will open the floodgates for new and dangerous ideas and new endless discussions. The party’s spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said that it was important for the GC side to convince everyone that it remains true to the BBF solution with political equality as defined in the UN Security Council resolutions. The only way to achieve this is to resume negotiations from where they left off in Crans-Montana on the basis of the Guterres Framework and the convergences that have been achieved, he said.

DIKO accused ruling DISY leader of damaging the GC side’s negotiating position with its recommendations for new concessions such as the one on “political equality” especially after his meeting with the British High Commissioner. DIKO called on DISY to clarify what it meant by TC political equality and whether it accepts the Turkish interpretation of the term or if it means numerical equality. DISY replied that its leader supports the agreed solution framework that provides for a BBF solution with political equality and which has nothing to do with numerical equality.

EDEK chairman Marinos Sizopoulos reiterated that the GC side would wade into uncharted waters and warned of great dangers for the Republic of Cyprus due to Turkey’s provocations, the UN’s tolerance of this behaviour and the UK’s suspicious behind-the-scenes role.

The Greens said that the scene being shaped leads discussion to a dilemma between TC leader Ersin Tatar’s position of a “confederation through community sovereignty” and Anastasiades’ “confederation through loose federation”. “Basically, we are just a step away from partition,” the party said.

Stefanou (AKEL)
The GC side needs to convince everyone that it remains true to the BBF solution with political equality as defined in the UNSC resolutions & for the talks to resume from where they left off in Crans-Montana based on the GF and the convergences.
>> Warns against reopening discussion on any of the convergences since this would pave the way for dangerous ideas & new endless discussions.

Accuses DISY leader of damaging the GC side’s negotiating position with his recommendations for new concessions especially on political equality.
>> Wants clarifications from DISY on whether political equality means it accepts the Turkish interpretation of the term or if it means numerical equality.

Supports a BBF with political equality as per the agreed solution framework which has nothing to do with numerical equality.

Sizopoulos (EDEK)
Warns that if GCs go to the five-party they would wade into uncharted waters.
>> Warns of great dangers for the RoC due to Turkey’s provocations, the UN’s tolerance of this behaviour & the UK’s suspicious behind-the-scenes role.

Things are headed to final partition of the island since both leaders’ positions point to confederation.

RoC alerts Interpol after online ad for sale of Salamis floor tile

Cyprus Mail, Phileleftheros
Internal Security


Cyprus Mail reports that Cypriot authorities have filed a report over an online advertisement on eBay for the sale of a piece of the marble floor from the ancient city of Salamis.

According to the daily, the seller, who lives in Russia, was selling the tile for US$85 under the headline Ά piece of tile 2500 thousand years old Antiques’. The seller said that this was a piece of the floor from the ancient city of Salamis and posted a photo showing which floor the piece was taken from.

Antiquities curator at the antiquities department Dr Despo Pilides told the Cyprus Mail they were aware and had already taken action. She also said they daily monitor such sites and alert police when they spot something suspicious.  Police then alert Interpol to stop the sale until investigations are carried out while Cypriot authorities request the repatriation of the antiquities.

Phileleftheros, citing Kibris Postasi, reports that TC ‘tourism minister’ Fikri Ataoglu ordered a probe into the case in the north. The TC daily also reported that it seems the floor tile is no longer available for sale, Phileleftheros reports.

MPs disagree with fines to reservists over no-shows

External Security


According to the daily, members of the House defence committee expressed their disagreement with a bill proposal by the defence ministry providing out-of-court fines to the tune of €500 to reservists who do not show up for exercises.

The bill provides for fining reservists with €500 in cases they fail to present for exercises. The ministry said that this would help avoid the time-consuming procedure currently followed whereby reservists failing to present for duty are referred to the military court for trial.

Following an intense discussion, the MPs called on the ministry to withdraw the bill and resubmit it with changes. They argued that fining people deprives them of the right to provide justification for their failure to present, since some may have serious reasons for not making it.

AKEL MP Costas Costa stressed that the difficult economic conditions prevailing due to the pandemic do not allow the imposition of such severe penalties on people who may have difficulty finding the resources to pay them.

The MPs said that ways should be found to speed up procedures for issuing penalties through trial, the daily reports.

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