TCC Press Review 31 Aug 2021

Front Page Headlines


The knot remains tied

The new minimum wage which thousands of workers are eagerly waiting for has been left in limbo due to the stalemate on who is going to deposit the social insurance premiums of employees. All eyes are turned to the Council of Ministers. No result has emerged from the committee that has been set under the chairmanship of the Prime Ministry Undersecretary.

  • Oil leak from Syria moving towards Karpaz (Karpas).
  • Government reverses its decision, tests free from the vaccinated.


Free for the vaccinated, non-vaccinated to be charged

The public’s reaction to the decision to charge everyone for PCR and rapid tests prompted the government to reverse its decision. Prime Minister Ersan Saner adopted a new set of decisions at the cabinet meeting held yesterday.

  • Cyprus on the verge of an environmental catastropheThe petrol spilt into the sea from the Baniyas power plant in Syria reached the coasts of Cyprus, threatening the Karpaz (Karpas) peninsula.


UBP split into two

The National Unity Party (UBP) party assembly approved with 45 to 42 votes the amendments to its bylaws that will allow voting during the congress to take place in two different locations, Nicosia and Famagusta. The final decision will be given at the general assembly to approve the amendments however the date is not yet announced.

  • SafePass extended to September – The Turkish Cypriots’ application to the SafePass system extended until the end of September.
  • Saner submitted to pressure – Prime Minister Ersan Saner backed down from his decision to charge people for the PCR and antigen tests. He announced those vaccinated will get tested for free.
  • The goal is October 1 – 3,500 livestock breeders and 150 hellim (halloumi) producers are preparing intensely to start exports.
  • Syria’s dirt on our shores – A massive oil slick is heading towards the Karpaz (Karpasia) coasts.


Disaster at our doorstep

The oil that leaked from the Baniyas power plant in Syria is expected to reach the shores of the Karpaz (Karpas) by morning. The 15,000 tons of fuel oil that leaked from the power plant five days ago is expected to reach the shoreline from Apostolos Andreas Monastery to Paralimni in the south. The Mayor of Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpaso) called on the public not to bathe in the sea. The Greek Cypriot side warned fishers. The situation which emerged yesterday raised the alarm on both sides, Turkey and Greece as well as the EU. It is being said that an environmental disaster unseen before that would leave the area polluted for years may be experienced if measures are not taken in time.


The danger in the seas

The oil spilt from Syria is to reach Karpaz (Karpasia). A significant amount of petrol from the fuel tank of a power plant in the Baniyas district of Syria spilt into the sea last week. The petrol spill from the tank that was filled with 15,000 tons of fuel, was first spread to a 2.5 km2 area but five days later, it spread to 1,000 km2.

  • The suspect is arrestedGökhan Takımcılar who had fled to the south after stabbing a police officer came back to the north to attend the funeral of his baby. He was arrested when he was trying to cross back to the south.

Main News

North on alert as Syrian oil spill heads towards Cyprus’s eastern coast

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Energy, CBMs


Efforts are underway to prevent a large oil spill off the coast of northern Syria which is threatening the eastern coast of Cyprus to reach the shoreline. Officials on both sides of the divide have been monitoring the situation closely.

The Turkish Cypriot dailies based on international news agency coverage, report the spill seems to cover almost 386 square miles, although more work is needed to figure out exactly how big the oil slick is.

An act of sabotage at the Baniyas Thermal Station led to large quantities of fuel being poured into the sea, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA. The tank was filled with 15,000 tons of fuel.

A company that tracks oil spills told the Cyprus Mail on Monday that the oil slick’s size suggests it could easily cover the shores of Karpaz (Karpas), İskele (Trikomo) Famagusta and Protaras.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on Sunday said he had asked for assistance from Ankara on the oil spill. Speaking during a web TV programme, Tatar said the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were monitoring the flow of the slick in the Mediterranean.

A crisis desk was also set up at the office of Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersan Saner, monitoring the developments. He said that response teams from Turkey were on their way and everything that needed to be done will be done to minimize the impact of the slick.

Turkish Public Works and Communication Minister Resmiye Canaltay said that specialized vessels had departed from Turkey and were en route to the area. She said that a difficult effort waited for them in the morning as the spill was expected to reach the eastern shores of the island.

Canaltay also said that assistance would be sought from the UN, EU and Greek Cypriot side if the need emerged. She said that this was an all hands on deck situation and that all institutions and units in the north were on high alert.

Environment Minister Fikri Ataoğlu in a separate statement reassured the public that necessary measures were being taken in coordination with Turkey. He said that were monitoring the situation closely and were doing all they could to prevent the slick from reaching the island’s shores.

Also commenting on the issue, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said that Turkey was taking all measures to prevent the slick from spreading to the Karpaz (Karpas) coast  “We are taking the necessary measures by mobilizing every means available that we have without giving any chance to the spill to turn into an environmental disaster,” Fuat Oktay told the Anadolu News Agency.

The relevant ministries “rapidly” discussed the situation during the day, said Oktay, adding Turkey’s Transport and Infrastructure Ministry and the Environment and Urbanization Ministry had sent vessels to the area. He added that were in close contact with Turkish Cypriot officials. “The aim is to control the slick in the open sea before it reaches the shore”, he said.

The Mayor of Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpas) Suphi Çoşkun called on the public not to enter the sea and for fishermen not to fish in the area. 

In the meantime, People’s Party (HP) leader Kudret Özersay pointed to the environmental threat in a social media post on Monday. “We are faced with an environmental catastrophe…The countries with coasts on the Mediterranean, as well as the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sides, must collaborate against this threat without any delay,” Özersay wrote in his post.

Republican Turkish Party (CTP) MP Fikri Toros also called on the Turkish Cypriot authorities to act immediately and to coordinate their efforts together with the Greek Cypriot side.

Hundreds of concerned citizens on social media also urged the authorities to take urgent action, to put aside politics and to coordinate their efforts with Greek Cypriot officials to prevent the oil from reaching Cyprus’s shores.

Reports from the area in the early hours of the morning said that there was no sign of any oil but that the slick was believed to be 35km off the coast of the Karpaz (Karpas) peninsula.

Tatar: “TCs will not give up on their state or sovereignty”

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Negotiations Process, External Security


Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar on Monday said the Turkish Cypriots would not give up on their state or their sovereignty,” in his message to mark the 99th anniversary of Turkey’s Victory Day.

Speaking during the official ceremony on Monday morning, Tatar said the Turkish Cypriot community without making any concessions from its freedom, has been living on the island since 1571. “The Turkish Cypriots, contrary to the Greek Cypriot side’s claims, are not ‘visitors’ but hosts on the island and have as many rights as the Greek Cypriots,” Tatar stressed, adding that the Turkish Cypriots will never give up on their state, sovereignty or from Turkey’s guarantees.

“There are two separate states and two sovereign peoples in Cyprus,” he reiterated, adding that it is only possible to reach a lasting, fair and sustainable agreement by accepting these realities. Reiterating his position against the federal settlement, Tatar argued that the Greek Cypriot side wants the Turkish Cypriots to accept minority status in a Greek Cypriot controlled state; revoke Turkey’s guarantees and force the Turkish troops to withdraw from the island. He said, “This is unacceptable.”

 Tatar argued that the Turkish Cypriot side’s proposal based on the sovereign equality of the two states, which was tabled for the first time during the informal five-plus-one meeting in Geneva, is the only feasible solution model possible and is in the best interest of the entire island. He noted Ankara is fully supportive of the Turkish Cypriot side’s position.

“I urge the Greek Cypriot leadership to stop chasing unrealistic goals and to stop increasing tension on the island,” Tatar concluded.

>> TCs will not give up their state, sovereignty or abandon Turkey’s guarantees.
>> There are two states & two sovereign peoples in Cyprus. A solution is only possible through accepting these realities.
>> Two-state solution is the only feasible solution to Cyprob & is supported by Ankara.
>> GC side should stop chasing unrealistic goals or heightening tensions on the island.

Greece continues to use threatening rhetoric against Turkey

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
External Security, Regional/ International Relations


Athens is continuing to use the language of threats against Turkey, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said, calling on Turkey’s neighbour Greece to leave behind their provocative acts and words.

“Greece should see that it cannot get anywhere with expansionist attitudes, approaches and provocative behaviours and these policies are far from reason and understanding, and mean nothing but chasing a vain hope,” Akar said, accompanied by top army generals inspected the measures taken along the Greek border in Edirne on Sunday.

Also touching on the developments in the Cyprus issue, Akar said Ankara will continue its efforts to find an agreement on the island despite the Greek and Greek Cypriot side’s provocations. “Greece even claims the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) stationed in the TRNC and used for peaceful and humane objectives, as a threat,” Akar said, adding that Ankara’s determination to find a settlement remains intact.

“Our solution is based on two states that are sovereign, equal and independent,” Akar said, stressing that there is no turning back from their position. The defence chief reiterated that Turkey favours solving problems in the Aegean Sea through good neighbourly relations and dialogue in line with international law.

Akar also noted that Ankara is constantly faced with provocations, unlawful aggressive actions and discourse from the Greek side, adding that Athens attempts to limit Ankara’s movements by claiming both sea areas and airspace.

“It is not possible to get anywhere this way and that they should see this very clearly,” he said, adding that Turkey will protect its rights. “They make demands as if they are the sole owners of the Aegean and engage in efforts to militarize all islands. They make constant accusatory statements and provocations against Turkey,” he noted.

Akar underlined that Greece has militarized 16 islands out of 23 that are under ‘demilitarized status’ in accordance with international agreements. He added this is something Ankara will not accept.

Akar (Turkey)
>> Ankara will continue its efforts to find a solution in Cyprus despite the Greek & GC provocations.
>> Ankara supports a two-state solution in Cyprus.
>> Turkey favours solving problems in the Aegean Sea through good neighbourly relations & dialogue in line with international law.
>> Turkey determined to protect its rights & interests in the Aegean.

Nea Salamina visits Maraş (Varosha)

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Internal Security, Property, Territory


The Greek Cypriot football team Nea Salamina Famagusta on Monday visited Famagusta as well as the fenced-off town of Maraş (Varosha). It is reported that some of the team’s players were not allowed to cross to the north due to them being from red coded countries.

It emerged that the team’s Brazilian players were not allowed to cross at the Akyar (2.5 miles/ Strovilia) checkpoint initially however following “several phone calls,” the players were allowed to cross to the north after they proved that they had been on the island for longer than the minimum period of 15 days.

TC fugitive caught in a military zone

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Internal Security


Turkish Cypriot fugitive Gökhan Takımcılar was caught red-handed on Monday while trying to cross back to the south through a military zone in Kırklar (Tymbou). It emerged that he had crossed into the north on Sunday night through the same area to attend the funeral for his two-month-old baby.

Takımcılar had fled to South Cyprus after injuring a police officer on August 15 during when the police questioned him for a stolen car case in Gaziköy (Afania).

The police also found the stolen car within the vicinity and found 13gr of cannabis and methamphetamine in the car.

TC government reverses decision on PCR tests, says testing for vaccinated to remain free

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Internal Security


The government in the north on Monday under strong pressure from the public backed down from its earlier decision to charge everyone for PCR and rapid tests, announcing that only non-vaccinated persons will have to pay for their tests.

Speaking to the media following a cabinet meeting on Monday, Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersan Saner said they had agreed to revise the decision despite the problems in public finances. “We cannot continue our lives by being tested constantly,” Saner said, adding that the decision was revised to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Saner had been the target of harsh criticisms from all circles including the organisations in the health sector, chambers of industry, commerce and public sector trade unions.

Also on Monday, Health Minister Ünal Üstel expressed disappointment over the refusal of some people in the north from getting vaccinated. “I find it difficult to understand all this resistance within society and why people are refusing to get vaccinated when there are so many countries in the world that have no access to Covid-19 vaccines,” he said.

The Turkish Cypriot health minister said that the vaccination rate in the north remained at 55 per cent and that 75 per cent of those in the hospital receiving treatment for Covid-19 were not vaccinated.

He added that all signs indicated that the pandemic would not be ending in the near future and that the only way to proceed was to get vaccinated and continue to adhere to measures such as social distancing and wearing masks.

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot dailies reported on Monday that the European Union has started to accept Turkish COVID-19 certificates. The EU Commission adopted equivalence decisions for the COVID-19 certificates issued by the authorities of Turkey, North Macedonia, and Ukraine.

With the decision, Turkey joins the bloc’s COVID-19 pass system ensuring free travel to and within the bloc. People holding a COVID-19 certificate issued by Turkey will be allowed to travel into the bloc with the same conditions as EU citizens.

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