A. Turkish Cypriot Press
B. Turkish Press
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (18.06.18) reports that Kudret Ozersay, self-styled foreign minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has said that an ambulance airplane flew directly yesterday from Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, to illegal Tymbou airport in order to take a Czech citizen who faced a health problem while visiting the occupied area of Cyprus.
In a post on his social media account, Ozersay noted that “an application was submitted to us for an ambulance airplane conducting a direct flight to Tymbou after a Czech citizen faced a discomfort”. He said that the “ministry of foreign affairs” completed the necessary procedure in cooperation with the “civil aviation department” and sent the Czech citizen back to his country with a direct flight again.
Moreover, Ozesay said that they informed the representatives of the Czech Republic in Cyprus on this issue, alleging that “as government” they will always be open for cooperation with the international community especially on health issues, missing persons and similar humanitarian issues as well as on arresting and surrendering persons wanted internationally for committing crimes.
“If there is a state here, and there is one, we should do whatever is needed for this regardless of whether it is recognized or not. Even though some steps are small, a distance is covered and this is important”, he alleged.
Under the title “The target is 20 thousand signatures for direct flights”, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (18.06.18) reports that a campaign of collecting signatures was opened for submitting a motion to the British Parliament on the issue of the beginning of direct chartered flights from Britain to the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus. The motion was submitted by Member of Parliament (MP) Rt. Hon Iain Duncan Smith, who speaking at the second Turkish Cypriot Cultural Festival held yesterday in Enfield, asked support for this motion and described as “meaningless” the obstacles put to the direct flights to and from the illegal airport.
Duncan said that they have launched an initiative at the level of the British Ministry of Transport in the direction of conducting direct flights to the occupied area of Cyprus and added that they will continue these initiatives until they achieve a result. After this signature campaign reaches its target, the issue will be carried to the Parliament, he argued.
Turkish Cypriot daily Volkan newspaper (18.06.18) reports that Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in statements during a televised program in a Youtube channel stated that the existence of the Turkish troops in the “TRNC” is strong and added: “We will do all necessary for our brothers and soul brothers. Because we paid a price there and we have our martyrs. We will never present them with a fait-accompli”, Yildirim argued.
Asked to comment what are their plans within the framework of the international law regarding the Aegean islands which “belong to Turkey and are occupied by Greece”, Yildirim alleged the there is a confusion on this issue. He alleged that in 1911 the Ottoman State deposited the islands to Italy and the latest did not return the islands back to them after the end of the 2nd World War. “Except from these islands, there are also some rocky places which were not written in the agreement. There are thousands and one of them is Kardak[ Inia]. So, there is no change in our stance regarding the islands which is uncertain to which country they belong. We will never accept Greece to utilize these islands and display flags, so we intervene […]”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (16.06.18) reported that Kudret Ozersay, self-styled foreign minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has argued that the project, which is included in the “program” of the self-styled government for the Turkish Cypriots living abroad, is not a “project of population”, but a project of registering the Turkish Cypriots living abroad with their own free will and strengthening their bonds [with the occupied area of Cyprus] as well as of facilitating the return of those who want to come back and live in Cyprus.
In statements the day before yesterday, Ozersay noted that last week they started a survey with Turkish Cypriots living abroad as to what extent the project is realistic and applicable. He added that the project will be shaped according to the picture which will come out after the results of the survey are registered and that they will present it in London in July.
Ozersay said also that the “government” took no decision regarding granting the “right to vote” to the Turkish Cypriots living abroad.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (17.06.18) reported that 78-year-old Greek Cypriot refugee Nikolas Skourides has said that he is determined to settle in occupied Larnaka tis Lapithou village, after the “Immovable Property Commission” established by Turkey in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus decided the return of his land of 349 square meters. In an interview with Yeni Duzen, Skourides expressed the wish to spend the rest of his life at the place he was born.
Skourides said that after visiting his village in 2003, he laid sick due to the fact that he saw that his house had collapsed. He noted that afterwards he started visiting his village to have coffee with the Turkish Cypriots living there and that he became friend with them. He added that during his visits to the village, he saw that there was no activity in the above mentioned plot of land and found out that it had been given to no one. “Because it had not been given to anyone, I would not be disturbing anyone’, he said adding that he decided to apply to the “commission” when his hopes that a solution to the Cyprus problem were decreased.
“I thought that if I took my property back, I would built a house in my village, spent the last part of my life at the place I lived my first years and die at the place I was born”, he said.
Under the title “Girne (Keryneia) Initiative battles to save plot for public recreation”, Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Today (16.06.18) reported that “A Karaoglanoglu (occupied area of Agios Georgios) turf war over state-owned coastal land between the Kaya Palazzo and Merit Park hotels has sparked a Keryneia Initiative drive to save the almost 16-donum plot for public recreation”.
According to the paper the “Keryneia Initiative members” launched a petition against plans for a 500-bed hotel by River Rock Investments and they proposed instead a public project for the contested Karaoglanoglu plot (occupied Agios Georgios).
Meanwhile, fishermen represented by the “hunting, shooting and fishing club”, also fear the loss of their small harbour at the edge of the site which also contains a rock church, St. Fanourios chapel and is the site of pygmy hippo fossils.
Under the title “12.3% of the workers are illegal”, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (18.06.18) reports that “between January and March, inspectors of the labour department carried out inspections in 867 working places and verified that a great number of workers still do not have a “working permission". In total of 926 workers, the 749 were nationals of the Republic of Turkey and the 177 were of third-country nationals. From them, the 114 (12,3%) were working illegally. In the same period last year, the ratio of the illegal workers was 11,4%.
According to data by the activities reports of the “labour department”, the 83.3% (95) of the illegal workers are Turkish nationals, and only the 16.7% are citizens of third-countries. This ratio was 74.2% for Turkish citizens and 25.8% for third-country citizens in March last year.
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (16.06.18) reported that according to the statistics of the “tourism planning department”, there was a significant increase in the crossings between government controlled area of the Republic of Cyprus and non-government controlled area in the first four months of this year compared in the corresponding period of 2017.
In first four months of 2017, there were 2 million 544 thousand 336 reciprocal crossings between “north” and “south”, however in the same period in 2018, this figure was recorded as 2 million 786 thousand 65 crossings.
According to the January-April 2018 report, there were 1 million 393 thousand 340 crossings from “south” to “north” and 1 million 392 thousand 725 crossings from “north” to “south”. The number of the Greek Cypriots who crossed to “north” was 380 thousand 814 in the first four months of 2018 and the number of Turkish Cypriots in the same period was 587 thousand 260.
From 01 January to 30 April 2017, 18 thousand 962 Israeli tourists visited the occupied area of Cyprus through the crossing points. In the same period of 2018, a decrease was recorded for tourists from Israel to 10 thousand 192.
According to the statistics, during the period January-April 2018, the foreigners have visited the occupied area of Cyprus through the crossing points more times than the Greek Cypriots.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (18.06.18) reports that the high disciplinary board of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) has decided to expel their party members Sumer Aygin and Cemal Erdogan.
Despite the fact that both Aygin and Erdogan are CTP party members, Aygin runs as an independent candidate in the “local elections” for the position of the “mayor” in the occupied town of Keryneia and Cemal Erdogan as an independent candidate for the position of the “mayor” in the occupied village of Agios Amvrosios.
Erdogan Sorakin, general secretary of CTP, speaking to the paper, confirmed CTP’s decision for the expulsion of Aygin and Erdogan, adding that the cases of Omer Merakli and Mehmet Demiralp are also being examined, but no decision has been given yet. Merakli runs as independent candidate in occupied Kythrea and Demiralp in occupied Galateia.
Ankara Anaolia news agency (16.06.18-https://www.aa.com.tr/en/politics/turkish-expats-begin-voting-in-northern-cyprus/1176512) reports that the Turkish “citizens” living in the occupied area of Cyprus began casting votes in Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday.
Speaking to the media, an official at the so-called Turkish embassy in the occupied area of Cyprus, Ertugrul Demirci, alleged that there are 106,530 registered Turkish voters.
Germany, Austria, and France were among the first countries in Europe where voting began on June 7.
In Turkey, voters will go to the polls on June 24.
Over 3 million Turks living abroad are eligible to vote for the presidential and general elections.
Six candidates are running for President, while eight political parties are taking part in the parliamentary elections.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has served as President since 2014 -- Turkey's first popularly-elected President. Before that, he served as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2014.
If Erdogan wins the June election, he would be Turkey's first leader under the presidential system.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (16.06.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-slams-osces-election-observation-interim-report-133376) reports that the Turkish government has slammed the interim report of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on the upcoming elections in Turkey.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy on June 15 responded to a question about the OSCE’s interim report, claiming it “includes certain comments, even of political nature,” according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
“An interim report released on June 15, 2018 by the OSCE Election Observation Mission that is currently functioning in our country, has been reviewed carefully. However, it is seen that the interim report includes certain comments, even of political nature, that do not coincide with reality,” he reportedly said.
The interim report cited a number of concerns regarding the democratic process ahead of the elections, including restrictions on freedom of assembly, association and expression, as well as the ongoing arrest of Selahattin Demirtas, the jailed presidential candidate from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
“Our cooperation based on complete transparency with the OSCE mission will continue. It is a universal and fundamental principle that election observation missions work in an unbiased and objective manner,” Aksoy added.
Eight international organizations, including the OSCE, will observe Turkey’s presidential and general elections on June 24.
During Election Day, the observers will mainly monitor voting procedures such as counting, casting and recording votes without interrupting polling boards.
The observers will prepare a report by monitoring campaigning process, election participation and whether international election standards are upheld.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News
(18.06.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/jailed-presidential-candidate-of-hdp-makes-landmark-pre-recorded-election-speech-from-prison-133431) reported that Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed presidential candidate of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), made his campaign speech on the state broadcaster TRT on June 17 from prison, marking a first in Turkey and the world's political history.
Wearing a dark suit, Demirtas appeared for the first time in front of the cameras after nearly 20 months, denouncing what he called the government’s “repressive regime” ahead of the very early presidential election set to be held on June 24.
Demirtas, co-founder and former co-chair of the HDP, appeared on TRT in a pre-recorded speech from prison in the north western province of Edirne, after Turkish authorities barred him from going to the broadcaster’s headquarters in the capital Ankara.
“The only reason why I am here is because the AKP is scared of me,” Demirtas said, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s long time ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In the run up to the election campaign, TRT has been criticized for giving full coverage for Erdogan’s speeches, which tend to happen several times a day, while ignoring other party candidates, in particular Demirtas and İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Aksener.
The 45-year-old, who was chosen by his party to challenge Erdogan in the June 24 elections and is often dubbed as a charismatic leader, is accused of being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies including the U.S.
“What we are passing through is only the trailer of a one-man regime,” Demirtas said.
“The scary part of the movie is yet to start.”
He told the electorate that they would decide with their vote whether or not to be in favour of freedom.
“I have no doubt that you will be on the side of freedom ... We will get hold of our country from the edge of a cliff,” he said.
Demirtas claimed he would be acquitted of all charges as soon as possible, adding that he was not the only victim of “lawlessness.”
“You are victims of this oppression in your daily life,” he said.
If convicted the presidential candidate of the party, which received above 11% of nationwide votes in 2015, risks up to 142 years in jail.
The HDP put up a giant screen in the Kurdish majority city of Diyarbakir where hundreds gathered to watch his speech.
“I was touched by his speech,” a supporter, Berkin Gülen, told Agence France-Presse.
“We miss him. I hope God will open a door for him and he will be free.”
“The opposition has one single candidate who is Selahattin Demirtas He is our hope,” another supporter, Cengiz Akkoş, was quoted as saying.
Several thousand supporters also gathered at Istanbul’s Bakırköy district on the European side of the city to watch the appeal, holding aloft flags and masks of the politician’s face.
Erdogan has in recent days mounted attacks against Demirtas, accusing him of being a “terrorist” responsible for the deaths of dozens by calling protests in Turkey’s southeast during the siege of the Syrian city of Kobane in October 2014 that turned violent.
Until his jailing, Demirtas was seen as the only politician in Turkey to match the rhetorical skills and charisma comparable to Erdogan.
On the same issue, Turkish daily Cumhuriyet (17.06.18) http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/siyaset/1000393/Demirtas__Demokrasi_ittifaki_kurulmali.html reported that Demirtas stated that he considers the Justice and Development Party (AKP) losing the majority of seats in Parliament. He further predicted that elections will go to the second round and that Erdogan will not be elected.
Asked if its party will boycott the second round of the elections if he would not be in the second round, Demirtaas stated that certainly its party will not boycott the elections. He argued that they will continue constantly their election campaign in the same way they do today, in the framework of the efforts for democracy and peace.
Demirtas further expressed the view that the National Alliance composed of the CHP, the nationalist Good Party, the Islamist Felicity Party and the right-wing Democrat Party (DP) should be broadened further. He expressed HDP’s readiness to contribute to the extension of this alliance.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (17.06.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/chp-candidate-ince-pledges-to-end-compulsory-religious-courses-133414) reported that Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has pledged to end compulsory religious courses and continue to offer elective religious courses in public schools.
“If one wants religious courses, they will be able to choose them as an optional lesson,” İnce said on June 17 in an election campaign rally in the eastern province of Tunceli.
“In Turkey there are conservative people who say ‘two hours of religious courses are not enough for my child.’ In that case, the state will provide the [additional religious] courses that they want,” he added.
“Meanwhile, for those who don’t want them there will be no religious courses,” İnce added, speaking in CHP leader Kemal Kılıcdaroglu’s home province, which is the only province in Turkey with an Alevi majority population.
The Alevi community in Turkey has been fighting against the compulsory religious courses for years, arguing that the “Religious Culture and Morals” classes only benefit the country’s Sunni majority. There are also elective courses on the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled in more than one case that the compulsory religious courses must be abolished.
In a commentary in Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (18.06.18- http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/murat-yetkin/can-erdogan-win-in-the-first-round-can-erdogan-win-in-the-first-round-133418) under the above title, columnist Murat Yetkin writes the following:
“Key elections in Turkey are now six days away. The biggest question is whether President Tayyip Erdogan will be re-elected in the first round on June 24. His re-election in the first round is dependent on three main factors.
1- The ability of the opposition alliance formed by the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the İYİ (Good) Party and the Felicity Party (SP) to attract votes from Erdoğan’s alliance of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Greater Unity Party (BBP).
2- The ability of the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to attract Kurdish voters from the AK Parti.
3- The ability of the MHP to take back votes it has lost to the İYİ Party.
Starting from the last point, it seems that there is still potential within the MHP to attract some of the votes it has lost to the İYİ Party, especially in small constituencies, by pointing to potential state jobs and tenders if the MHP’s alliance with the AK Parti continues after the elections. On the other hand, there is a strong bond between İYİ Party supporters and their leader Meral Aksener. There is also a possibility that if the MHP falls below 5% in the election, its leader Devlet Bahceli might not be able to enter Parliament due to the small size of his constituency, Osmaniye, near the Syria border. That could then highlight Aksener as a magnet for right-wing and nationalist MPs in Parliament.
The capacity of the HDP to attract Kurdish votes from the AK Parti is a big question mark. Some people think that some Kurdish voters of the AK Parti (roughly half of all Kurdish votes) could go to the HDP or abstain in reaction against Erdogan’s alliance with the Turkish nationalist MHP, as well as against the big security operations in east and southeast against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). But those analyses may be mistaken on certain aspects: The main motivation of the AK Parti’s Kurdish voters is not Kurdish nationalist feelings but the Islamic faith, the traditional way of life and the income opportunities that they think are more easily found by supporting the AK Parti. It would therefore be a surprise if meaningful shifts take place from the AK Parti to the HDP, especially amid speculation about voting irregularities in eastern and south eastern provinces (which are denied by the government).
Whether the CHP-led alliance can draw votes from the AK Parti-led alliance is another key factor that will determine the results of the election. The fact that the CHP candidate for the presidency, Muharrem İnce, has proven to be more popular than anticipated is the biggest surprise of this election campaign, and may have led to exaggerated forecasts about the election results. The reality is that İnce has managed to consolidate the CHP’s votes which had been demoralized by repeated election defeats. No other CHP candidate would have been able to ignite the crowds as İnce is doing, but consolidating one’s own power base and perhaps extending it a bit is not the same as attracting votes from your main opponent, Erdogan, who has run the country for the last 16 years.
Similarly, the capacity of the SP to attract votes back from the AK Parti (which originally split from the traditionalist Islamic/conservative roots now represented by the SP) could be limited. A number of religious sects and communities have been siding with Erdogan, attracted by the resources and capabilities they are able to reach under AK Parti governments.
Meanwhile, the İYİ Parti could be in the process of making a strategic policy that may cost the anti-Erdogan alliance dear. Instead of targeting the urban, secular and rather educated grassroots of the AK Parti and the MHP, Aksener and her team have been targeting the rather rural and less well-educated grassroots of the CHP. The aim seems to be not to take the government but to replace the CHP as the main opposition party in Parliament (and also it has been easier to work on CHP voters than on AK Parti voters). The strategy had limited success in the beginning, while managing to attract a few percentage points of support from the CHP. But when the CHP named İnce as its presidential candidate the winds started to reverse. İnce has managed to consolidate the CHP’s power base and even attract some votes from the İYİ Party. As a result, because of the time and energy it has spent on its alliance partner the CHP, the İYİ Party has not been able to focus on attracting votes from the AK Parti.
Özer Sencar, the respected head of the pollster Metropoll, said recently that the opposition is likely to fail to draw away the support of conservative voters, who will likely conserve their positioning with Erdoğan in the current circumstances. Sencar may well have a point. Though it should not be taken for granted yet, it should not surprise anyone if Erdoğan manages to win in the first round of the presidential election on June 24”.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION
(AK / AM)