According to illegal Bayrak television (06.02.18-http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=nami-hands-back-duty-to-akinci), the Turkish Cypriot Negotiator Ozdil Nami officially “handed in his resignation” to Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı following his “appointment as the new minister of economy and energy”.
Speaking during the meeting, Nami praised Akıncı for his leadership, stating that they had gone through important phases in the Cyprus problem.
“I’ve learned much from your experience. Thank you very much for everything. You can be assured that I shall continue to support your work in any way you see fit”, he added.
Akıncı for his part said that he had been working closely and intensively with Mr. Nami for the past year.
Praising Nami for his skills and hard work and for contributing so much to the Turkish Cypriot side’s cause in the negotiations, Akıncı said “his work contributed to taking the talks to new levels.”
Akıncı said that Mr. Nami’s “appointment as a minister” did not come as a surprise as he had been informed and consulted before the “appointment” had been made.
Akinci also said that he was not thinking of “appointing a new negotiator at the moment”, as he does not want the negotiations to drag on in the same way for another 50 years.
From now on, Akıncı said, the Turkish Cypriot side would like a result-oriented procedure and not an open-ended one. “Negotiations can only be possible if a strategic framework emerges once the Greek Cypriot side experiences a change or transformation of mentality, if it can truly accept or embrace the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots and succeed in getting the Greek Cypriot community to accept this. We shall seek a way to benefit from Mr. Nami should that happen” he added.
Akıncı reminded that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had not appointed a Special Advisor to replace Espen Barth Eide following the collapse of the talks at Crans Montana.
“This shows us that there is no such urgency” he said.
Stating that it had been a great pleasure working with Mr. Nami, Akıncı alleged that they were not the cause of the failure to reach a lasting settlement on the island.
Under the title “Kanbay: We will be your biggest supporters!”, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (06.02.18) reports that self-styled prime minister Tufan Erhurman met yesterday with the Turkish “ambassador” to the occupied part of Nicosia Derya Kanbay. Kanbay conveyed to Erhurman a congratulatory message from Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
Reiterating that Turkey as always will be next to the “TRNC” and will be their biggest supporter, Kanbay wished them success in their new “government work”.
Erhurman, for his part, thanked Kanbay and Yildirim. Stressing that the relations with Turkey are vital, Erhurman noted that they will continue to work in cooperation.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (06.02.18) reports that the case of the six persons that were arrested over the attack against Afrika newspaper and the so-called parliament is brought into “court” hastily. According to the paper, the six persons “who were arrested and were put under custody” for a month on January 30, were yesterday appeared in front of a “court” and declared that they “plead guilty on the accusations against them”.
The paper notes that it was thought the case was to be brought in front of a “criminal court”; however both the lawyers of the suspects and the “attorney general’s office” agreed that it will appear to a lower “court”. The case continues today.
Reporting on the same issue, Afrika (06.02.18) writes that there is special treatment towards the six persons who attacked the paper and adds that the “suspects” “plead guilty on the accusations against them” after bargaining with the “attorney general’s office”.
Reminding the visit paid to the suspects and to the “director of prison by officials” of the so-called Turkish embassy to the breakaway regime, Afrika notes that Ankara is playing a huge role regarding the pressure exerted to the “court” on the case.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (06.02.18) reports that an important increase was observed in the crossings through the barricades between the occupied and the government-controlled area of Cyprus in 2017.
According to data published by the “ministry of tourism and environment”, the total crossings from the government-controlled area to the occupied area reached 4,400,202 in the above-mentioned period, while the crossings with opposite direction were 4,401,131. The relevant numbers for 2016 were 3,989,218 and 3,989,853 respectively. Turkish Cypriots crossed over 1,815155 times to the government-controlled area in 2017, while Greek Cypriots 1,097,725 times.
The number of tourists, who crossed over from the government-controlled area to the occupied area of the island, increased by 23% and reached 1,494,389. Most of the foreign tourists who crossed over from the government-controlled area to the occupied area of Cyprus came from Britain. The data showed that 397,767 persons have come to Cyprus from Britain through Larnaka International Airport and crossed over to the occupied area of the island. Only 46,328 of these persons were Turkish Cypriots.
Moreover, the occupied area of Cyprus was visited by 113,948 persons from Israel, 101,950 from Germany, 101,554 from Greece, 97,699 from Russia, 68,117 from Romania, 66,631 from Bulgaria, 37,309 from Poland and 37,281 from France.
The number of Israelis who visited the occupied area of Cyprus increased by 197,4% in 2017, as only 34,619 Israeli citizens had visited the occupied area in 2017. In 2017 the number of the tourists from Britain increased by 16,6% comparing to 2016, the tourists from Germany by 41,2%, the tourists from Greece by 12,9% and from Russia by 36,2%.
Illegal Bayrak television (06.02.18,http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=new-marina-in-gazimagusa) broadcast the following:
“The minister of tourism and environment Fikri Ataoglu issued a written statement regarding plans to construct a new marina in Gazimagusa (occupied Famagusta).
Ataoglu said the new marina will have positive outcomes for the ‘TRNC’ (breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus) in the international platform.
Stating that there was a significant rise in the number of yachts in the Mediterranean reaching a million, he said new investment areas in France, Spain and Italy which currently hold 75% of the marina capacity in the region was limited.
He said that rise in pollution, overcrowding and prices in the Western Mediterranean made ‘North Cyprus’ and other regional countries attractive.
Stating that it was very important and a must to create new well-built marinas to meet rising demand and to operate them on a build-operate-transfer model, Ataoglu said Famagusta will open a door to the world with the new marina.
Noting that many exclusive yachts could be coming to dock at the new Famagusta marina, he said thanks to the new marina these exclusive yachts could be also visiting during the winter or off season months.
Stating that the project was designed as a social cultural complex by giving particular importance to the needs of the people of Famagusta and the country, he said instead of the yacht accommodation areas, a customs office as well as social spaces such as cafes, restaurants and a car park will be included in the project.”
Ankara Anatolia news agency(05.02.18-http://aa.com.tr/en/todays-headlines/erdogan-pope-talk-joint-efforts-against-islamophobia/1054845) reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a face to face meeting on Monday with Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.
During the meeting, the two leaders discussed Jerusalem, the ongoing refugee crisis, and developments in the Mideast, primarily Syria, as well as terrorism and interfaith relations.
Speaking during the meeting, Erdogan pointed to the harm that would result from the recent U.S. decision on Jerusalem, stressing that it should never be put into practice.
Erdogan and the Pope asserted the protection of the status of Jerusalem -- sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews -- as laid out by UN Resolutions and international law.
Pope Francis was one of the most prominent international leaders to criticize the U.S. decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and Erdogan thanked the Pope for his messages on the issue.
Similarly, the Pope expressed admiration for Erdogan’s efforts on Jerusalem as well as his welcoming stance and help for refugees.
Erdogan also spoke to the Pontiff about Turkey's counter-terrorism efforts and operations in Syria.
Joint efforts against xenophobia and Islamophobia were discussed during the meeting, with the leaders stressing that equating Islam with terror is wrong. They instead stressed that all actors must avoid any provocative remarks promoting this false equivalency.
Erdogan also told the Pope that Turkey values people from all religions -- including Catholics -- living in harmony and peace and for that reason the Turkish government has restored 14 churches and a synagogue.
Erdogan and Pope Francis agreed that joint steps are needed to mobilize the international community to forge regional peace and stability, and not be silent towards ongoing humanitarian crises. The two leaders also agreed to maintain relations in the future.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (05.02.18-//www.hurriyetdailynews.com/netherlands-withdraws-its-ambassador-from-turkey-after-negotiations-with-ankara-fail-126841) reported that the Netherlands and Turkey have suspended negotiations for the normalization of bilateral relations, with the former officially announcing the withdrawal of its Ambassador to Turkey, who has already been absent for more than 10 months since tension erupted between the two countries last year.
The Dutch government also announced that it will not allow the Turkish Ambassador to return to his office at the Hague.
The move came after the failure of talks between the two sides, with the Netherlands reportedly refusing Turkey’s demand that it issue an apology to Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya for not allowing her to enter the Turkish Consulate and extraditing her after a police intervention last year.
That incident occurred as relations between Turkey and the Netherlands soured ahead of the April 2017 referendum on shifting to an executive presidential system in Turkey, with the Dutch authorities also canceling the flight permit of a plane carrying Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on March 11, 2017.
“We wanted the Dutch authorities to take a step to compensate for their attitude against our Minister, which failed to comply with diplomatic conventions,” a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity, referring to talks between the two sides.
The Dutch government argues that Kaya did not have a diplomatic immunity and is not subject to diplomatic conventions.
A Dutch Foreign Ministry statement announced the decision to withdraw its Ambassador to Turkey on Feb. 5.
On the same issue, Turkısh daily Hurriyet Daily News (06.02.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-netherlands-ties-not-suspended-deputy-pm-126848) reports that Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister and government Spokesman, Bekir Bozdag stated on February 5 that diplomatic relations between Ankara and Amsterdam have not been suspended.
“The Netherlands did not had an Ambassador in Ankara for the past year. They have announced they will officially withdraw a non-existent Ambassador,” Bekir Bozdağ told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.
“This is not a new event for us. It is a declaration that is known. However, diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Turkey have not been suspended,” he said, adding that relations remain at the charge d’affaires level.
Moreover, Ankara Anatolia news agency (05.02.18- http://aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkey-ready-to-discuss-ties-with) reported that Turkey's Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Ankara will hold talks with Amsterdam if it takes concrete steps towards normalization of relations.
"At this stage, if the Netherlands shows willingness towards taking concrete steps towards normalization, Turkey is ready to discuss the relations between the two countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
(...)"Our expectations, towards ensuring normalization of relations between Turkey-Netherlands after the crisis in March 2017 are known," Aksoy added.
He said that the Dutch authorities had been informed about Turkey's reservations over the return of Dutch Envoy Cornelis Van Rij, who left Turkey nearly a year ago.
"As a matter of fact, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ankara has not come to our country since that date," he added.
Turkısh daily Hurriyet Daily News (05.02.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/no-us-support-for-ypg-units-that-have-gone-to-afrin-pentagon-126844) reported that the U.S. is not supporting the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants who leave the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to head to Afrin to fight against the Turkish military, Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon has told daily Hürriyet.
“Our relationship with the SDF is the counter-ISIS [ISIL] fight,” he said, using an acronym for the Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S. ally on the ground dominated by the YPG.
“We cooperate with those units that are working to defeat ISIS. The units that have moved out or moved to Afrin are not U.S.-supported units,” he said.
Pahon also expressed U.S. hopes that only a “small amount of fighters” from the YPG have been moving from other parts of Syria to the Afrin region to counter Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch,” which began on Jan. 20.
Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group for its links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“Some of those people are from Afrin. Your home is attacked and you go back and defend it… And again, we have asked Turkey to limit the scope and time of this operation so we can maintain the pressure on ISIS,” Pahon said.
(...)Responding to a question on Turkey’s declared intention to expand the cross-border offensive to Manbij, a town controlled by SDF and U.S. forces, Pahon said: “We sure hope that the Turks won’t pass Afrin to Manbij. We are really concerned about this. It has a potential to derail this ISIS fight. It is a huge distraction from all of the work we have put in so far. We really want people to remain focused on the defeat of ISIS. We understand Turkey has these very serious concerns about the terrorism and terrorist groups near and on their borders. We are fully aware of that. We are working with Turkey as much as we possibly can but this operation has a big potential to distract from or to cause us to lose some of the gains we had against ISIS.”
When asked about the possibility of a clash between Turkish and U.S. troops, the spokesperson said: “Turkey is a key NATO ally. We are in discussions with Turkey. We have a [military] relationship since the mid-1950s. We have not had a clash with the Turkish forces and we hope to keep it that way. We intend that it will stay that way. We are talking to our Turkish counterparts at all levels of the government and we are walking through this.”
“The communication is ongoing. We are working on it. Diplomacy is always key in any kind of complex battlefield especially if the battlefield is as complex as Syria,” he also said.
Pahon also echoed U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General Joseph Votel by saying they have no plans to leave Manbij.
“The Turks have been very very helpful in helping to de-escalate the situations. If there is any kind of clash or gunfire, it has been helpful to be able to communicate with the Turkish military,” he said about recent tensions between the SDF and other opposition forces backed by Turkey.
On a question about the relationship between the YPG and PKK, Pahon said: “The United States sees the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization. We understand, acknowledge Turkey’s concerns about the threat the PKK poses to Turkey. We are assisting Turkey in their operations against the PKK, their efforts to dismantle the PKK as an organization. The elements that we work with have been vetted. There has been a review before there was any kind of coalition training and support. There are a lot of aspects to this. We are working our best to reassure Turkey that we are there to help. On the SDF side of it we are thoroughly vetting our partners and keep the focus on ISIS.”
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (05.02.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-constitutional-court-rejects-release-demand-journalists-of-alpay-and-altan-126807) reported that the Constitutional Court on February 2 rejected the release demand of two Turkish journalists, Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan, despite earlier ruling that the rights of imprisoned journalists had been violated, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Feb. 4.
Following the ruling on Jan. 11, the two journalists, who have both been in prison for more than a year, demanded via their lawyers to be released. However, overruling its earlier decision that necessitated the release of Altay and Alpan, the Constitutional Court has rejected the demand, stating that such a request can only be approved when there is a serious threat to the right to life or to material and moral integrity.
Altan’s lawyer, Ergin Cinmen, described the court’s refusal to release the journalists as “unlawful.”
The two journalists, who have both been in prison for more than a year, were jailed in the aftermath of Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt.
Both Altan and Alpay have been accused of “links to terrorist groups” and “attempting to overthrow the government,” charges that both have denied.
Around 145 journalists are currently in jail in Turkey, according to the Turkish Journalists’ Association.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION