GCC Press Review 30 Mar 2021

Front Page Headlines


We are headed to three SMSs and open schools

The final decisions on the lifting of measures are being sealed tomorrow at Cabinet. Next Friday, April 2, gymnasiums resume operations according to the suggestion of the ministers of health and education which is however subject to the Cabinet’s approval.

  • A milestone day for halloumi/hellim – Registration of halloumi (as a PDO).
  • Cheesemakers: Reactions over the (halloumi) specifications
  • Hotels in free Famagusta area: While they were expecting tourist arrivals, cancellations have started


Plan for the next phase of relaxations

The scientific committee has prepared an 11-step plan to be implemented within a 15-day timeframe. Decisions on church services before the Holy Week.

  • Cypriot patent, rubber stamped by the Commission – Finally, a milestone day for the protection of halloumi.
  • A “two-state” agenda in Geneva by Ersin Tatar: This will be the only issue (to be discussed) In Geneva, he says
  • Political civil war for Os Damai


The DISY government is demolishing the welfare state bit by bit

Proposals by AKEL for support for low-income families.

  • Work on the Cyprus problem continues, Lute returns
  • They are adding insult to injury for undermining the Republic of Cyprus, impressive hypocrisy

Cyprus Mail

It’s now official: halloumi is ours

But specifications of PDO could make coveted victory a double edged sword.

  • Ministers agree to lower secondary schools reopening on Friday, rapid tests mandatory


The great return (to schools) and the big question

Gymnasiums open on Friday. After more than three months, about 23,000 high school students return to classes, they will be off again for 15 days for Easter and the question is: was the school year lost for them or did distance education fill the gaps?

  • Developments on three fronts: UN, EU, US – On the way to the Geneva five-party summit. Ursula-Michel in Turkey, Lute in Cyprus and interventions by the US.
  • Only AKEL did not condemn the Os Damai group for their reference to a “government of the south”
  • Indecent assault: The politician is facing a five-year prison sentence

Main News

‘Government in the south’ comment stirs reactions

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Governance & Power Sharing, Negotiations Process


The government took a stand on Monday over the reference by Os Damai (Enough) group on the Republic of Cyprus as “the government in the south” while AKEL found itself under fire for not condemning the group, the dailies report on Tuesday.

The dailies cite a written statement by Government Spokesman Kyriakos Koushos, who, after several parties condemned this reference, he said it was disappointing that  groups adopt phrases which undermine the status of the Republic of Cyprus. Though he did not name the group, it was obvious he was referring to Os Damai.

“We express our great disappointment over the fact that during a critical period, in view of the five-plus-one conference, organised citizens’ groups use terminology about the Republic of Cyprus equivalent to those who undermine the status of our state,” Koushos said.

It is extremely saddening that while we condemn Turkey and those undermining the Republic of Cyprus in European and international fora for its violations against the Republic of Cyprus and the legal government, there are groups, even in the minority, on the domestic front which espouse these unacceptable behaviours, he added. Koushos urged everyone, particularly organised groups and political parties, to rise to the occasion and not permit such phenomena, either actively or through their tolerance.

Cyprus Mail reports that Os Damai was criticised by at least three political parties who admonished the group for referring to the ‘government in the south’. The umbrella group found themselves in hot water over a post on social media calling for the opening of the checkpoints and the removal of the barbed wire the government installed along the buffer zone in Astromeritis.

“The government in the south immediately used the pandemic to put Cyprus on the path of final partition,” it said.

The Solidarity Movement, ruling DISY, DIKO, the Greens and EDEK chastised the group over their choice of words.

But the issue was turned into a war of words between ruling DISY and main opposition AKEL that was accused of siding with Os Damai, especially after not condemning the group’s statement.

DISY MEP Loucas Fourlas called on AKEL, which, he said, had in the past sided with Os Damai, to condemn this position. DISY MP Michalis Sofocleous said this was an orchestrated strategy by Os Damai, which members of AKEL’s Central Committee not only adopt but also reinforce with statements such as the “regime of the south.”

The Solidarity Movement, referring to Os Damai’s demand for the removal of the razor wire the government installed along the buffer zone in Astromeritis, said it will not be surprised if relations between jihadis from Turkey and Os Damai are discovered.

AKEL initially referred critics to the actual group that had used the phrase. “As far as AKEL is concerned, it is well known to all that it always refers to the government of the Republic of Cyprus and has never used another term,” it said in a written statement on Monday. The party also spoke of “impressive hypocrisy” of all those who will not deign to carry the flag of the Republic of Cyprus or who flirt with a two-state solution behind the backs of the people, to accuse others of lack of patriotism.

AKEL spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said in another statement that he did not know what was sadder: DISY covering up for Anastasiades when he was flirting with the two-state solution or that the party’s unsolicited modernisers and Europeanists were resorting to cheap patriotism to attract votes. He added that DISY kept silent during Anastasiades’ catastrophic course toward partition and that AKEL feels no obligation to answer to DISY since the people know that the leftist party has been consistently defending the Republic of Cyprus and the reunification solution based on a bizonal bicommunal federation (BBF).

Alithia and Politis cite Os Damai’s representative Panayiotis Achniotis telling Politis radio that they used a geographic term used in international bibliography since the Republic of Cyprus de facto controls areas in the south. Os Damai have no power of recognising or unrecognising any state, he said. Achniotis also said that their position was deliberately distorted so that attention is drawn away from the real meaning of their positions concerning the government’s partitionist policies.

Cyprus Mail reports that Os Damai said that some politicians had rushed to accuse the group by distorting what they said. The group pointed out they had said “government in the south” and not “of the south.”

“Those who turned the people of this island into “Cypriots of the north and the south” (according to Antonio Guterres), those who fight day and night to turn the Green Line into a border between two states, those who put the country in an endless regime of exclusion and entanglement, it is time to confront the truths told by our movement instead of trying to hide them,” the group said.

Haravgi reported that those who, with their mistakes and omissions have led the Republic a step before partition and its dissolution, and who declare they will go to Geneva to fight against the BBF solution, are now selling patriotism using a slogan by Os Damai as an excuse.

Phileleftheros reports that the “government in the south” phrase has caused a political civil war with AKEL and DISY opening a new front of confrontation.

Alithia points out that AKEL was the only party that did not condemn the reference.

Government disappointed that some groups, albeit a minority, use the same terminology used by Turkey and others to undermine the RoC’s status, especially ahead of the 5+1 summit.
>> Urges everyone, especially organised groups and parties, rise to the occasion & not allow such unacceptable behaviour either actively or through their tolerance.

DISY, Solidarity Movement, DIKO, Greens, EDEK
Condemn Os Damai’s statement on “government in the south”.

>> Calls on AKEL, whose members seem to adopt and encourage such behaviour, to condemn Os Damai’s choice of words.

Solidarity Movement
Will not be surprised if relations between Turkish jihadis & Os Damai are discovered.

Calls on critics discuss their grievances with Os Damai themselves & not AKEL that, it is well known to all it always refers to the government of the RoC and has never used another term.
>> Accuses critics of hypocrisy since many are quick to cast accusations of lack of patriotism while they will not even carry the flag of the RoC & secretly flirt with a two-state solution.
>> DISY was covering up for Anastasiades when he was flirting with the two-state solution & now the party resorts to cheap patriotism to attract votes.
>> Does not feel the need to defend itself since the people know that it has been consistently defending the RoC & BBF solution.

EU registers Halloumi PDO

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
EU Matters, CBMs, Economy


President Nicos Anastasiades welcomed the registration of halloumi by the EU as a protected designation of origin (PDO), amidst reactions by cheesemakers and milk producers who fear this would actually create many problems to the sector.

Anastasiades announced the EU decision in a tweet on Monday evening.

“A milestone day for Halloumi/Hellim and our country,” he said. “Significant prospects for increasing exports of our national product, to the benefit of all Cypriot producers, Greek and Turkish,” he added.

Anastasiades posted the message in Greek, Turkish and English.

Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis will give more information on the PDO decision in a press conference on Tuesday morning. Kadis said, also in a tweet, that the competent EU committee unanimously approved the legal document making halloumi a PDO product, thus “providing it with a shield of protection”.

The dailies, however, report that cheesemakers and cow farmers express concerns that the halloumi PDO will in fact harm sales and hamper production.

Cyprus Mail reports that cheesemakers are concerned since a major issue is the stipulation that most of the milk used in production – at least 51 per cent – must be from goats and/or sheep milk. There are concerns about being able to produce enough quantities. Meanwhile, there will be surplus cow’s milk on the market. There are also concerns about competition from TC halloumi producers, who are expected to be selling their products for less, and fears over plunging sales of other, popular products, such as halloumi burgers and light halloumi, which now, will not be able to carry the traditional cheese’s name since they will not meet the product specifications.

Phileleftheros reports that head of the cheesemakers association, Giorgos Petrou said the PDO would lead to a drop in exports, saying of the 39,000 tonnes they now produce, they will be able to produce only 13,500 tonnes. He also said this would lead to a shrinkage of the industry and a rise in unemployment. Head of the cow farmers association, Nicos Papakyriacou said politicians are celebrating for the name of a product that will no longer be possible to be produced in Cyprus. He also said that, with the government’s tolerance, the opportunity is given to the Turkish market to sell halloumi through the Green Line.

Both Cyprus Mail and Phileleftheros report that Kadis said in response that, on the contrary, the PDO is in their best interest, because, without it, there was danger of halloumi becoming a generic product and produced anywhere in the world.

Politis reports that the registration concerns the whole island, meaning that all producers throughout the island will be subject to a common control mechanism that will ensure full compliance with the specifications set for the product. The health and quality inspections will be carried out by Bureau Veritas, an internationally accredited organisation which will coordinate and inform the Republic of Cyprus and the Commission with reports, while if any issues arise, the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce will also be informed. It is expected that in the first phase, until the regulation enters into force with all the specifications, a transitional period of around six months will be given, so that the producers can be properly prepared. TC producers will have a transitional period of one year to fully comply with the specifications during which they will receive financial support to upgrade their infrastructure but will not be able to receive certification.

The daily also reports that according to the regulation, it is possible to set up a bicommunal working group for the purpose of coordination and resolution of possible issues that may arise, but this has not been decided at least for the time being and is not set as a condition.

Politis also reports that strong reactions and concerns are also expressed by TC producers, while there is growing uncertainty due to the lack of adequate number of animals that can secure the quantities in relation to the prescribed standards and quotas. The TC leader and the ‘government’ are under strong criticism from parties and organised bodies to manage the issue properly as it is an extremely important parameter in the TC economy that leaves no room for mishandling, the daily reported.

Halloumi PDO registration is a milestone day for Cyprus since it comes with significant prospects for increasing exports to the benefit of all Cypriot producers, Greek & Turkish.

Developments expected on Cyprob

Alithia, Cyprus Mail. Haravgi, Phileleftheros, Politis
Negotiations Process, EU Matters, Regional/International Relations


The dailies report that President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Turkey on April 6 for a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Developments are expected on the Cyprus problem with the arrival of UNSG special envoy Jane Holl Lute but also moves by the EU and US.

Haravgi reports that Lute is expected to return to the island end of next week almost a month after her previous visit during which she briefed the two leaders mainly on procedural matters of the five-party summit set to take place in Geneva between April 27 and 29. Lute met with the Turkish foreign minister last week, while the Cyprus problem is expected to be discussed during the meeting in Turkey of Michel and von der Leyen with Erdogan.

Alithia reports that developments are expected ahead of April’s summit on three fronts: the EU, UN and the US.

In Cyprus, developments are expected through Lute’s arrival in April, at European level through the meeting of von der Leyen and Michel with Erdogan and in the US, through targeted interventions to Turkey and elsewhere to ensure that a change to the agreed solution base will not be accepted. It is expected that with ongoing developments, in about two weeks will be there a clearer picture of Turkey’s final stance in the five-party and the progress of negotiations for the Cyprus issue, Alithia reported.

Citing a diplomatic source, the daily reports that the top EU officials are going to Ankara armed with the European Council decisions and the obligations, based on the joint statement of the 27, to raise to Erdogan the issue of the Cyprus problem and ensure the EU’s participation at the five-party summit and the ensuing talks. They also ought to point out the concessions Turkey ought to do as regards Cyprus within the framework of the EU-Turkey relations and the Turkish demand for a change to the solution framework and a two-state solution, the daily reported. Citing information, Alithia also reports that the US has already made diplomatic moves to both Turkey and other stakeholders stressing the need for sticking to the agreed solution basis which is the BBF.

Politis reports that Michel and von der Leyen are expected to discuss with Erdogan the possible positive EU agenda for Turkey and the country’s internal affairs.

The daily also reports that concerns have been raised in the north after the statement by a member of the ruling party that a two-state solution is possible and that the ‘TRNC’ will continue to exist, but if the TCs have to choose, they should go for annexation instead of becoming a patchwork province for the GCs with the federation solution.

Former TC leader Mustafa Akinci pointed out that the annexation of the occupied territories to Turkey is the goal of the population transfer policy that has been pursued for years. We may not have reached that point but it is still a reality, he said, adding that there is urgent need to mobilise for a federal solution.

Kudret Ozersay said that the TCs do not want to be ruled by anyone, neither by Turkey nor by the GCs, Politis reports.

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