GCC Press Review 7 Dec 2021

Front Page Headlines


A local government reform game and from postponement to postponement

New meeting on December 20 for the parties to submit their final amendments. Though parties were supposed to submit their amendments to the bill under discussion during yesterday’s meeting, DISY, DIKO and the Greens said they were not ready yet.

  • Occupied areas: ‘pre-election’ games with the fuel issue
  • Double murder: The Syrian may have had an accomplice
  • 706 new cases: The EU to decide on obligatory vaccination
  • Makarios Avenue: It reopens today after the facelift


Higgledy-piggledy on the municipalities

From the 30 municipalities, we have reached 17, then we went to 20 and now we are going to five. Backstage and suspicion for fronts ahead of the presidential elections.

  • We are headed to a social rendezvous for Anastasiades-Tatar – Reception for Stewart’s arrival.
  • The third (options paper) draft brings measures against Turkey
  • Trilateral in Israel, in the shadow of the pandemic 


Back to the drawing board on efforts for the local government reform!

Nicos Nouris’ latest positions overturn the effort for consensus in parliament. The interior minister did not rule out new bills for five metropolitan municipalities. Stern warning by AKEL.

  • The new UN Secretary-General special representative has arrived in Cyprus

Cyprus Mail

Police look for murder motive

Reports that man shot two Russian women for mocking him.

  • ‘No racial, nationalist motives’ behind mosque fire


New scenarios for five municipalities

The local government reform has been pushed back to January 13. DISY, DIKO and the Greens have asked for a postponement of the discussion to submit amendments. (Head of House interior committee, AKEL MP) Damianou: “I will not allow for the committee to be turned into a political clown”.

  • An orgy of propaganda over the mosque and threats by Erdogan
  • Ancient Salamis is being preserved and continues to survive
  • Defence Minister: New page in the National Guard, co-training in special ops
  • The 32-year-old Syrian does not admit to premeditated murder in the murder case of the two Russian women – The perpetrator said the crime took place in a fit of rage.

Main News

New UNSG special representative arrives, to meet with two leaders  

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


A reception expected to take place next week on the occasion of the arrival of the new UN Secretary-General (UNSG) special representative, Colin Stewart, is an opportunity for the two leaders to get together again, the dailies report.

Stewart, who is also the new head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), said upon his arrival he was honoured to be here.

“I am keenly aware of the importance of UNFICYP’s mandate for the lives of all Cypriots and I look forward to working with all of you and our partners in Cyprus,” he said.

He added that he looks forward to continuing the work of the UN in Cyprus and hopes to forge strong working relationships with all stakeholders “and learn from them so that, together, we can hopefully bring a lasting peace to the island”.

He also paid tribute to his predecessor, Elizabeth Spehar “for her stalwart leadership of UNFICYP and the Good Offices mission.

Stewart will meet President Nicos Anastasiades and TC leader Ersin Tatar as well as other senior officials, civil society representatives, and diplomats across the island over the coming weeks, the dailies report.

They also cite information by the Cyprus News Agency that a reception is to be held, though it has not yet been finalised and this will depend on whether the two leaders are willing to attend as well as on the Covid-19 situation.
If it takes place, it will be on December 14 at 7 pm, and a total of 30-40 persons will be invited. Apart from the leaders, the members of their negotiating teams will be invited, and the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
According to Phileleftheros, this could mean a social meeting between the two leaders, who last met in September in New York at the working dinner held by the UNSG. Since then, there has been no further contact between the two, something that the new UNSG special representative, seeks to change, the paper reported.

Politis reports that Stewart arrives, with the hope of productive cooperation, amidst a standstill on the Cyprus problem. The absence of any mobility causes awkwardness to the GC side that has been waiting for about three months for some movement in the UN headquarters, mainly in relation to the appointment of the UNSG’s special advisor for the Cyprus issue. Diplomatic sources told the paper that they have been waiting for a long time for a green light or even a reaction from the Secretary-General regarding the appointment of his envoy which could give the feeling of some mobility to the Cyprus problem. The only thing that is happening on this front is that Nicosia’s contribution has been requested as usual for the report being prepared for January ahead of the discussion on the renewal of the UNFICYP’s presence in Cyprus, the daily reports.

Third draft of options paper sent to EU FMs

EU Matters, Regional/International Relations


According to the daily, the third, improved draft of the options paper with measures the EU could take against Turkey over its illegal activities in Famagusta has been sent to the bloc’s foreign ministers ahead of next week’s Foreign Affairs Council (FAC).

Citing information, the paper reports that the document includes a series of suggestions such as legal measures against people involved in activities in the fenced area of Varosha but also measures concerning the financing of Turkey by the European Investment Bank.

Despite the fact that there has been a significant improvement in the options document, however, the issue will be kept open until next week, when the FAC will convene and in the meantime, a marathon of behind-the-scenes consultations between the member states is expected in an effort to achieve a substantial result at the meeting of December 13, the daily reported.

Last week, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides had a telephone conversation with EU High Representative Josep Borrell, with whom they discussed the whole issue, after the presentation of the first draft, which Nicosia considered unacceptable. The second draft followed, which was improved but still had significant omissions, leading to a third draft, deemed much better than the first, the paper reported.

During President Anastasiades’ and the foreign minister’s official visit to Madrid on Thursday, the Cypriot side will strive for a more positive attitude by Spain. The new German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, will be present at next Monday’s FAC when it will be seen if there is a change of attitude from Berlin regarding the Euro-Turkish issues, the daily reports.

‘No nationalist motives behind fire at mosque’

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Human Rights


The attack last week on a mosque in Larnaca that was politically exploited by the TC leader and Turkey was not led by nationalist motives since the perpetrator was a homeless Syrian man who was refused shelter by the hodja, the dailies report.

The dailies cite a statement by member of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage Sotos Ktoris, who said that the fire at the Buyuk Cami that had been set on Wednesday night and caused some damage to the door, had nothing to do with racial or nationalist motives.

Ktoris said it was an unfortunate incident in which “a homeless Syrian migrant attempted to set fire to the mosque after the hodja refused to let him sleep there at night.” He said the damage was minimal. “We ought to set things in their correct dimension to avoid an unnecessary and damaging fight relating to the two sides’ religious monuments,” he said on his Facebook page. “As Cypriots, we respect all religious monuments and places of worship. It is a matter of culture, and the monuments are part of the common cultural heritage of the country,” he added.

Police on Monday said they arrested a 27-year-old man in connection with the case.

Citing information, Phileleftheros reports that the Syrian arrived in Cyprus from Greece in 2016 based on a resettlement agreement between the two countries and has since been treated twice at the psychiatric hospital. After the incident, he was taken to the hospital again for a psychiatric assessment.

The dailies report that the incident was exploited politically by Turkey.

Cyprus Mail reports that the issue appeared to be blown out of proportion in the north, fanned by certain circles, with Turkish President Erdogan threatening that this attack will not remain unanswered. TC leader Ersin Tatar said GCs continued to vandalise mosques, referring to the intercommunal strife in the 1960s and 1974 Turkish invasion.

Phileleftheros reports that Turkey politicised an act by a homeless Syrian led by purely personal motives, with Erdogan threatening that whoever takes part in such actions will pay a heavy price.

Alithia reports on an ‘orgy of propaganda’ over the incident by Turkey and the TC leader.

Cyprob & energy among Cyprus, Greece, Israel trilateral agenda

Alithia, Cyprus Mail, Haravgi, Phileleftheros
Regional/International Relations


President Nicos Anastasiades is in Jerusalem for the 9th trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece and Israel, the dailies report.

The three leaders will discuss among other things, the Cyprus problem and developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, cooperation in the fields of energy, security and defence and the management of the pandemic.

At the same time, in the context of the bilateral Cyprus-Israel meeting, a Memorandum of Scientific Cooperation is expected to be signed. It is also expected that Turkey’s attempt to approach Israel will be discussed.

This morning, Anastasiades will have a meeting at the Presidential Palace with the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog. This will be the first trilateral since Herzog became president. The meeting will be followed by extended talks of the delegations of the two countries headed by the two presidents. Anastasiades will later meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The trilateral is to start at 1pm.

Phileleftheros also cites statements by Israeli Ambassador to Greece Yossi Amrani, who, referring to Turkey’s efforts to re-engage with countries in the region, said that they are welcome, but stressed that they must be followed by specific changes in Ankara’s policy, especially those concerning patronage, support for certain Islamic elements and their political/terrorist activities in areas controlled by Israel.

He also noted that the relationship between Greece, Cyprus and Israel is very strong and added that his country was not playing a zero-sum game and that it can be friends with Turkey and have close cooperation with Greece without anyone underestimating this close cooperation. 

Preservation works at Salamina site completed



The daily reports that the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage has completed preservation works at the Salamina archaeological site.

According to the paper, this exquisite part of the cultural heritage of the country, ancient Salamis, still lives and tells its story, even though it still does not breathe an air of freedom. It adds that this monument of endurance to the sufferings and destructions of thousands of years, is no longer a victim of abandonment, as it is maintained and continues to survive. The Technical Committee of Cultural Heritage is making sure of that, the daily reported.

GC co-chair of the committee, Takis Hadjidemetriou, said the GC and TC conservators of the mosaics deserve special praise and honour for meeting, with their professional competence, the requirements of such important monuments.

Another committee member, Sotos Ktoris told the daily that, in the area of the town of Constantia, that succeeded ancient Salamis, they preserved the basilicas (churches) of Ayios Epifanios and Kampanopetra, monuments that testify the position of Constantia as the most important Cypriot town during the proto-Byzantine period.

The committee has also included the monastery of Apostle Barnabas among the more than 50 projects slated for restoration. The works in the old basilica have been completed and the next step, based on information, concerns finding a solution to the problems caused by humidity to the roof and the floor of the church, Alithia reports.

It added that the EU is the main sponsor of the Technical Committee, through an annual budget. However, some projects are also co-financed by local communities, while financial assistance is also provided by the government of the Republic. Support is also provided by the United Nations.

More than seventy monuments have already been preserved with decisions being taken jointly by the five GC and the five TC members of the committee, the daily reported.

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