According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 01.02.18, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=tc-side-says-geneva-map-drawn-back), Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s spokesman Baris Burcu has said that the Turkish Cypriot side has withdrawn the map it presented as part of talks on territory at the Conference on Cyprus.
In a statement to the TAK News Agency, Burcu said that the map which had been prepared and presented to the UN had been returned upon the request of Akinci.
Following the failure of the Conference on Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot leadership had announced that it had withdrawn all proposals it had put on the table during the conference.
In response, Akinci had informed the UN that it had withdrawn the Turkish Cypriot’s map locked up in the safe of the UN Headquarters in Geneva and had requested it to be returned.
According to Burcu, the map had been personally delivered to Akinci last December by Sergiy Illarianov, Head of the Office of the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General. “Mr Illarianov picked up the map from Geneva and delivered it personally to president Mustafa Akinci in December in the presence of the negotiating team. As a result there are currently no proposals on territorial adjustments on the table”, he added.
He also reminded that the negotiations are based on the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (01.02.18) reports that the self-styled foreign ministry of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus has accused the UN Security Council of behaving in a biased manner and alleged that the UN should sign with eh Turkish Cypriot side a so-called Status of Forces Agreement.
In a written statement regarding the extension of UN Peace Keeping Force’s (UNFICYP) term of office by the UNSC, the self-styled ministry alleges that the mandate of UNFICYP should be reexamined and describes as “unacceptable” the fact that no consultations had been conducted with the Turkish Cypriot side, while the approval of the “Greek Cypriot side”, as it calls the Republic of Cyprus, had been taken for this.
The “ministry” alleges also that the existing approach in the negotiations has been turned into the “only reason” for the “isolation” implemented on the Turkish Cypriots and that no result in the efforts for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem will be reached as long as this “biased and controversial stance” of the UNSC does not end and the political equality of the two “sides” on the island is not accepted.
The statement claims also the following: “We want to reiterate that, beyond the UNFICYP’s general function, what should be actually reexamined is that it should have a mandate. In this direction, signing a separate Status of Forces Agreement, which will be regulating the UN’s relations with the Turkish Cypriot side, is absolutely necessary and the consensus of the Turkish Cypriot side on all issues which concern both sides on the island should be searched”.
According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 31.01.18, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=ozersay-speaks-on-brt), the leader of the Peoples’ Party (HP) Kudret Ozersay, commenting on the second round of elections in “south Cyprus” this Sunday, expressed his view that the outcome of the elections will not change the Greek Cypriot side’s stance at the negotiating table. He further argued: “I’ve sat at the table with all political parties. There is a state policy based on certain principles and the outcome will not have an effect on this. The important thing on the Cyprus Issue is not launching an initiative but looking to see if both sides want the same thing. If both sides don’t want the same thing then the United Nations will not take on a new initiative”.
Speaking on “BRT” on Wednesday, Ozersay said that the new “coalition government’s” priority will be to pass the “state budget” as soon as possible, underlining the need to putting relations with Turkey back on track and establishing direct relations.
Stating that a “coalition” with the National Unity Party (UBP) was never on his party’s agenda, the HP party leader said that they stood by their earlier decision not to enter a coalition with the UBP.
Pointing out that the number of coalition partners had nothing to do with how much action to work that coalition will accomplish, Ozersay said: “The harmony between the partners has nothing to do with numbers. What is important is good will and keeping your word. If there is harmony, good intentions or will then you can accomplish what you set out to do”. He added that he believed that such a harmony could be achieved in the four way coalition, contributing to social peace.
The leader of the Peoples’ Party also pointed out that much work was needed to be done in terms of determining where corruption lies within the “state structure”. “We shall be looking into all of that once the government is formed. We shall be investigating all allegations of corruption, fraud and other irregularities. But the government program will not only consist of this. We shall be finalizing and passing the state budget as soon as possible”, he added.
Touching upon relations between Turkey and the “TRNC”, Ozersay expressed his view that relations between the two “countries” were currently not very healthy. He said that dialogue with Turkey should not be established via the media but through direct contact and relations, adding “Putting relations back on track should be our main responsibility”.
According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 01.02.18, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=new-government-protocol-signed), “the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), the Peoples’ Party (HP), the Social Democratic Party (TDP) and the Democratic Party (DP) signed today the protocol for the new coalition government at a ceremony at the assembly. The leaders of the four parties had finalized work on the protocol at a meeting they held yesterday”.
“The leader of the CTP Tufan Erhurman will be presenting his cabinet to Turkish Cypriot leader Mutafa Akinci tomorrow. Once approved by the president, a vote of confidence will be held in parliament next week for the new government.”
Speaking at “the signing ceremony held at the TRNC legislative assembly”, Erhurman said that “the four parties had a common understanding on the principles on which they will be governing the country with”. He said that “the goal will be to introduce sweeping public reforms” and that the “coalition government will be on the basis of creating a more democratic, free, egalitarian and inclusive country on the basis of the rule of law”.
Erhurman admitted that “the four-party coalition will face challenges in solving the country’s outstanding problems”.He however expressed his belief that it will be possible to overcome these problems as the working relationship established by the 4 parties was proof of this.
“Everything is possible through cooperation and good will. I believe this…I’ve seen this” he said.
The CTP leader also expressed the view that “the new government” will be beneficial for the parties involved by the Turkish Cypriot society as a whole, particularly in light of the recent developments that have taken place in the “country”.
He said that “the public was concerned about the division that emerged in the Turkish Cypriot society and added that the four-party coalition will work towards ending that division”.
Under the front-page title: “Take care of our children”, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (01.02.18) reports that the six persons who were taken under custody and jailed yesterday for the incidents against Afrika newspaper, received “high level” visitors in prison yesterday.
According to the paper, the “undersecretary” of the so-called Turkish embassy in the occupied area of Cyprus, accompanied by Erhan Arikli, chairman of the Turkish settlers' Revival Party (YDP) and Bertan Zaroglu, “deputy” with the same party in occupied Lefkosia visited yesterday the “director” of the “central prisons”, they drank coffee and tea with him, asking him “to take care of the arrested persons”.
The paper recalls further the strong reactions expressed from the circles of the National Unity Party (UBP) and the Revival Party (YDP) concerning the “court decision”, pointing out that some persons who have contacts with officials in Ankara are exerting efforts to dispose the “court decision” and the “punishment”. The paper further adds that Hasan Ercakica, which was “spokesman” of former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat took action yesterday during his televised program at the illegal BRT, against the “court decision”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (01.02.18) reports on the same issue and writes that the “high level officials” from the so-called Turkish embassy in the occupied area of Cyprus who visited yesterday the six suspects in prison, were Ergun Demirci and Hakan Pekri.
In a commentary in Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (01.02.18) under the title: “Why has Ankara cut the financial aid?” columnist Levent Ozadam, commenting on the allegations being discussed recently at the backstage and also published during the last days in social media, saying that Turkey has decided to suspend and freeze the financial aid to the “TRNC” due to the Afrin operation, he wonders whether this is true or not.
According to the columnist, it has been said that Turkey will not provide “financial aid to the TRNC” until the operation in Afrin is over. “Even though there is no official statement on this issue, if this is true, it will be nice since everybody will learn the truth”, the columnist argues.
“[…] this time I would like to ask the following: Why has Ankara cut its financial aid to us. Or, how Afrin operation is related with us? Has Turkey became so poor from its expenditure in Afrin and this forced it to decide to save money? Could it be such easy for Turkey to lop money off and its financial assistance for the TRNC projects for such a reason?”, the columnist wondered.
Ozadam went on wondering whether the recent incidents in the “TRNC” are related with this decision and whether “Turkey’s embassy in Lefkosia” is involved in all of this.
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (01.02.18) reports that the Grand National Assembly of Turkey approved various agreements signed between Turkey and the breakaway regime.
Among them is the “Agreement for cooperation in energy”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (01.02.18) reports that the honorary chairman of the “Travel agents union”, Necati Ozkan will participate at the meeting of the United Federation of Travel Agents' Associations that will take place in Tel Aviv between 5-7 of February.
According to a statement issued by Ozkan, he alleged that this is the first time the breakaway regime is participating in such an important meeting and is doing so despite the obstacles that the Greek Cypriot side tried to put against the “TRNC” participation.
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (01.02.18) reports that Turgut Deniz was elected as the new chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce. Mehmet Ezic was elected as deputy chairman.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (31.01.18, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/107-174-state-workers-dismissed-since-failed-2016-coup-turkish-deputy-pm-bozdag-126595), Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Jan. 31 that since the failed 2016 coup, more than 107,000 state personnel have been dismissed over alleged ties to FETO.
“The number of personnel dismissed through statutory decrees is 110,778 and the number of people reinstated is 3,604,” leading to a net total of 107,174 people who have been dismissed, Bozdag told Turkish Parliament’s Interior Commission, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
Columnist Sedat Ergin, writing in Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (online, 01.02.18, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/sedat-ergin/why-is-russia-helping-turkey-in-syria-126602), under the title “Why is Russia helping Turkey in Syria?” outnumbers his observations regarding the rapprochement process between TUrkey and Russia after the “Operation Olive Branch,” launched by Turkey on Jan. 20 in the Syrian town of Afrin held by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), in the following commentary:
“(…)So why did Russia open the air space to Turkey for the Afrin operation? What does Russia aim to achieve by helping Turkey in this?
I have come up with the following observations while seeking answers to these questions.
1) It suits Russia’s interests
Russia’s move is in line with the direction that Turkey-Russia relations have recently taken. Russia has considerable economic, political and regional interests in Turkey. By siding with Turkey in Afrin, Russia has actually done what is necessary to protect its interests. On the one hand there are Russia’s interests in Turkey and on the other hand there are its relations with the Syrian Kurds. Obviously the former outweighs the latter. (…)
2) It shows that Russia is a playmaker
Russia has been an active party in the war in Syria since 2015, supporting Bashar al-Assad with its military power against opposition groups. The steps that Russia has taken towards Turkey will help to bolster its main strategy of strengthening the Syrian regime. Once again, Russia has asserted itself as the main playmaker in Syria. It has shown that all roads lead to Moscow and has prepared the ground for its political strategy of achieving a permanent Russian presence in the Middle East. This, in return, will help Russian President Vladimir Putin achieve his aim of making Russia a powerful global player again.
3) Russia wants Turkey on its side
Russia is also taking into account the possible benefits of maintaining close relations with Turkey because it is a key player in the region. At a time when Syria’s fate is being decided, Russia has taken initiatives - such as the recent peace conference in Sochi - to bring about solutions of its own choosing while maintaining close dialogue and cooperation with Turkey. All of this will give Moscow the upper hand at the table.
4) Turkey is drifting away from the United States
One cannot assume that Russia’s move is not a part of its policy against the U.S. The deepening of disagreements between Ankara and Washington, which has led to serious fissures within NATO, does not upset Russia at all. By facilitating the launch of the Afrin offensive, which Russia knows the U.S. would be uneasy with Russia has caused Turkey and the U.S. to drift further away from each other. From Moscow’s point of view, Turkey’s drifting away from the West will bring it within the orbit of Russia.
5) It curbs the U.S.’s Kurdish plan
At the same time, Moscow is trying to curb the U.S.’s plans to establish a permanent American presence in northern Syria and to create an area under its influence that could eventually lead to the emergence of a state. In doing so, Russia is showing the Kurds that cooperating with the U.S. in Syria comes at a price. If the Kurds do not get enough support from the U.S. in the face of the Turkish military operation in Afrin, problems could arise between Washington and the Syrian Kurds. This would also help Russia achieve its geopolitical goals.
6) Russia is trying to mediate between Ankara and Damascus
As a result of Turkey’s operation against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Turkey has made indirect contact with the al-Assad regime in Damascus. The fact that both sides have troops on the ground necessitates keeping communication channels open, at least to prevent any mishap. We can imagine that out of this necessity, Russia wants to help Turkey and Syria mend ties. Russia might try to strengthen the Syrian regime by helping Turkey and Syria normalize their relations through dialogue.
7) It eases the hand of the al-Assad regime in Idlib
The Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) engagement with the PYD in Afrin has another indirect consequence. The regime in Damascus will find it much easier to act in its plans for Idlib, which is currently held by opposition groups. At a time when the international community’s attention has turned to Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, al-Assad will feel less international pressure as he makes gains around Idlib.
On the same issue, columnist Murat Yetkin, writing also in Hurriyet Daily News (01.02.18,http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/murat-yetkin/how-long-can-turkey-rely-on-russia-in-syria-126604), under the title “How long can Turkey rely on Russia in Syria?”, reports that the Turkish and Russian Presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin, reportedly expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the Sochi conference on Jan. 29-30 for bringing together government and opposition groups. During a telephone conversation on Jan. 31 they seemingly agreed that the decision to set up a committee to draft a constitution for transition in Syria represented the success achieved in Sochi.
Yetkin stresses the following point regarding the rapprochement between Russia and Turkey:
“1- Turkey and the U.S. are still NATO allies and Turkey and Russia are adversaries in NATO, a fact brought home when Russian and American planes got dangerously close to each other over the Black Sea on Jan. 31.
2- The PKK is a terrorist organization according to U.S. records and the YPG is shown as a part of it. It was the CIA that helped the arrest of the PKK’s founder Abdullah Öcalan in 1999. Between 1982 and 1998 it was Syria that hosted Öcalan and the PKK cadres and afterwards expelled Öcalan, who was flown to Russia for a while.
3- The PKK is not considered a terrorist organization by Russia. The YPG’s political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), has an office in Moscow. There are contact people in Washington DC but no formal office.
4- The Muslim Brotherhood is designated as a terrorist organization by both Syrian and Russian governments, but not yet by the U.S. government, despite the fact that President Donald Trump has vowed to finish it after ISIL and Al-Qaeda.
If the PKK/YPG is attempting to change sides, an entirely different picture can be drawn in the region. Neither Iran, nor Israel, nor Saudi Arabia can stay indifferent to this picture. The situation can change at a blink of an eye in this part of the world.”
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (online, 31.01.18, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/fight-against-terrorism-foremost-problem-followed-by-feto-turks-say-126581), the Turkish people regard terrorism as the foremost and the fight against the Fethullah Gülen Terror Organization (FETÖ) as the second most significant problems facing the country, according to an annual survey by Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.
“Terrorism, seen as the most important problem in 2016 with 35%, has kept its top position in the country’s agenda in 2017, though it has dropped to 29%”, read a statement accompanying “The Survey on Social and Political Trends in Turkey”, which was released on Jan. 31.
The FETÖ, widely believed to have masterminded the July 2016 coup, was identified as a problem by only 1.3% in 2015. However, it shot up to the country’s second most serious problem with 25.2% in 2016 following the coup attempt.
The new survey showed that the FETÖ continues to be viewed as the second most serious problem in Turkey in 2017, with 18.1%.
When respondents were asked what they regarded as Turkey’s most significant problem, those answering “unemployment” went from 10.5% to 17% this year, while those answering “the high cost of living” went from 9.8% to 13.1%.
When asked “what is the most serious problem of the Turkish economy at the moment,” 16.9% replied unemployment, while 14.1% stated depreciation of the Turkish lira.
The increase in the price of food products, inflation and high interest rates were identified as the other most critical issues of the economy.
Still, the number of those who find the government’s economic policies to be successful rose strikingly. While the rate of those founding the government’s economic policies “successful” or “very successful” was 38.7% last year, this figure went up to 47.7% this year. The number of respondents who welcomed economic policies increased significantly among the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) voters.
The respondents who voted for other parties mostly described the economic policies as “unsuccessful”.
According to results of the survey conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,000 respondents in 26 cities, the percentage of those who find the government’s foreign policy successful went up to 45.9% from 35.2%.
The percentage of those who think the government’s foreign policy is “definitely successful” and “successful” stood at 75.2% among AKP voters, 27.5% among Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voters, 19.9% among main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) voters, and 11.1% among Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) voters.
Although 71.4% of respondents supported European Union membership in 2014, this rate decreased to 65.1% in 2015 and 45.7% in 2016.
This three-year downward trend was broken this year as support for EU membership rose to 57.8%. While 43.6% of the Turkish population supports continuing talks with the EU, 59.2% support Turkey’s continued membership in NATO.
“It is possible to say the Turkish people have not yet made up their minds on whether Turkey can ensure its security internationally without being a NATO member,” read the statement by the university.
“Indeed, 39.8%” of respondents think that Turkey can provide for its security without being a NATO member, while 37.7% think it cannot.”
In 2016, Israel ranked first among the countries posing the biggest threat to Turkey with 73.3%. This year, the United States is seen as the biggest threat with 64.3%, with Israel falling to second spot with 61.4%.
Azerbaijan was again reported as the most important friend/ally at 67.8%. “Turkish Cyprus” (the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus) and Russia followed.
According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (01.02.18, http://aa.com.tr/en/economy/turkeys-population-hits-new-high-over-80-million/1050315), Turkey's population has shot through 80 million to reach its highest level ever, the country's statistical authority said on Thursday.
At the end of 2017, the country's population was 80.8 million, with an annual growth rate of 1.24%, said the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
Official data showed that the population residing in Turkey rose nearly one million, up from the previous year's figure of 79.8 million.
Turkey’s male population was 40.5 million (50.2% of the total), while its female population was 40.3 million (49.8%), according to the state’s address-based population registration system.
The institute said 92.5% of Turkey’s population lives in cities and district centres -- up 0.2% points -- versus 7.5% in towns and villages.
Last year, Istanbul was Turkey's most populous city with 15 million people, fully 18.6% of the total population. The country's top tourist draw was followed by the capital Ankara with nearly 5.5 million people and the Aegean province of Izmir with around 4.3 million.
Bursa, a prominent industrial centre, was the fourth-biggest city by population with over 2.9 million, and the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya came in fifth with more than 2.3 million people.
Turkey’s least populous city was Bayburt, in northeastern Turkey, with some 80,400 inhabitants, followed by the eastern city of Tunceli (82,500) and the northeastern city of Ardahan (97,100).
TurkStat also stated that the country's working age population (age 15-64) rose 1.2% last year to 67.9% (nearly 55 million people) of the total population, while the population of under-15s was 23.6%, and the proportion of population age 65 and over was 8.5%.
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