1. Burcu replies to the Government Spokesman
2. Akinci argued that an “intermediate formula” should be found on the natural resources issue
3. Erkmen: Immovable property commission paid nearly 270 million sterling pound as compensation to Greek Cypriots
4. Celik commented on the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean
5. The new “government” is planning to complete the construction of Gary Robb’s unfinished houses in occupied Amaranta Valley
6. The Revival Party started an aid selecting campaign for the families of the persons who were “convicted” for the January 22 events
7. Erdogan promises to honor little girl with the Turkish flag if she is martyred; He continued his threats against the USA
8. Yildirim: “No one should make a mistake in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas”
9. Bozdag: “The Operation Olive Branch will continue as planned”
10. “An early election on the Turkish horizon?”
Illegal Bayrak (26,02.18, http://www.brtk.net/burcu-rum-hukumet-sozcusu-hristodulidisi-yanitladi/) broadcasts that Baris Burcu, Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci’s spokesman, replied today to the statement made by the Government Spokesman, Nikos Christodoulides saying that the Turkish Cypriot side wants to sacrifice its rights over the wealth in Eastern Mediterranean. In a written statement, Burcu alleged that it is a wrong strategy to insistently try to keep the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey outside the “energy policies balance” and that this does not serve peace. “The Greek Cypriot side insistently turns a blind eye to this plain reality in spite of out warnings”, he claimed and alleged that Akinci has always been exerting efforts for finding a solution and protecting the legitimate rights of both communities. “He also tried to establish the possible developments which will endanger the solution process and take measures”, he further alleged adding:
“In the very first meeting held with Mr Anastasiades in the evening of 11 May 2015, our president explained to Mr Anastasiades that the natural gas explorations in the Mediterranean should not cause any tension and asked for the unilateral research and drilling activities not to continue. He has warned that in case they continued the tension which would be created would have negatively influence the efforts for a solution and when the negotiations officially started on 15 May 2015, he secured a common understanding regarding this issue first”.
Burcu claimed also that Akinci protects the common interests of the entire Cyprus on the energy resources and at the same time the interests of the area and argued that this is the “most appropriate understanding” which will bring stability to the country and the area.
“[…] It is understood that the Greek Cypriot side is still not ready to share power and the natural resources with the Turkish Cypriots. In case this is overcome with a mentality change, new opportunities for all sides might be created”, he alleged.
Under the title “Lessons should be derived from experiences”, Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (25.02.18) reported that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci argued that what it should be done is the change of the Greek Cypriots’ mentality and a just permanent solution to be materialized, adding that if they cannot do this, then an intermediate formula on the natural resources issue should be produced and cooperation possibilities should be created.
Akinci argued that a joint committee for the natural resources should be formed and together should be benefit from this wealthiness.
Evaluating to “BRT” his thoughts for the efforts of the resumption of the Cyprus talks and the drilling activities on the Economic Exclusive Zone in “South Cyprus”, Akinci claimed that the “Greek Cypriot administration’s” unilateral natural gas drilling efforts will create tension, adding that lessons should be taken from these developments. He argued that this (tension) will happen if the right of the two communities on this wealth (natural gas) is not accepted, if it is not happened what is necessary to be done and if these issues are not be utilized towards the cooperation between Turkey and Greece and especially between the two communities.
Akinci further said that at this moment there is not any planned meeting with Cyprus President Anastasiades, but they should meet in order to see what is the intention of the Greek Cypriot side in the coming period, whether its understanding will continue to be the same as it has been until now or it will exhibit a stance that will produce solutions or looking for reconciliation. He stressed that after this, it is the time to show a political will and determination for a solution on the Cyprus problem.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (25.02.18) reported that Ayfer Said Erkmen, chairman of the so-called Immovable Property Commission established by Turkey in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, alleged that the commission works effectively and that since 2006 it has concluded 1,086 cases from a total of 6,409 applications filed by Greek Cypriot refugees regarding their occupied properties. The commission has reportedly settled amicable 1,059 applications and 27 through a “hearing process”. The paper notes that paying compensation was decided in 867 out of the 1,059 applications, return of property in three cases, return after the solution in one case, compensation and return in six cases, compensation and exchange in two cases and “solution within the scope of law no 13/2008” was reached in five cases. Twenty three out of the 27 applications settled in “court” were solved through compensation, three were rejected and in one case partly return of property was decided.
In 898 applications for which compensation was decided, the amount of 269 million 874 thousand 251 sterling pound was paid or will be paid, that is, 1,43 billion Turkish liras (TL) with the current exchange rate.
Erkmen said that 175 applications were withdrawn mainly because of the measures taken by the government of the Republic of Cyprus. He alleged: “A few months ago the Greek Cypriot administration passed a decision in the Council of Ministers. This decision consists of two articles. In the one it was secured that a Greek Cypriot can mortgage his property in the north for taking a loan from any bank in the south. After all, the Greek Cypriots who come to us all come for the money. They have financial difficulties. […]” He noted that the second decision is that the Greek Cypriots can sell their occupied property to another Greek Cypriot.
Erkmen also said that the “government” of the breakaway regime, which is financed by Turkey, separates a budget of 75 million TL every year for the “Commission”. Noting that this money corresponds to 12-13 million sterling pounds annually, Erkmen complained that the amount of money allocated for the ‘Commission’s” budget is very low. Referring to the views saying that the “commission” has not lost functionality and collapsed, Erkmen alleged that these are not true and the “commission” never stopped being effective. “Payments and the commission’s effectiveness should be examined separately”, he claimed.
Erkmen noted that he expects the new “government” to implement a “local improvement tax” the soonest in order to create a fund for paying compensations to Greek Cypriots. He alleged that when the international obstacle is lifted the value of the Greek Cypriot property is doubled or tripled and that if the value of a plot of land which belongs to a Turkish Cypriot is 200 thousand TL, the worth of a Greek Cypriot plot of land next to it is only 50 thousands TL. When the Greek Cypriot owner is paid compensation, the international obstacle is lifted and therefore the value increases and the holder of the property benefits. “The more we pay the Greeks, the more the Greeks’ rights and law decreases in the north”, he alleged.
Referring to the occupied Morfou area, Erkmen said that 365 persons from this area applied to the “commission” for 48 thousand donums of land [Translator’s note: A land measure of about 1,000 square meters] and that they solved 51 of these applications.
Erkmen noted also that they received 275 applications for the occupied closed city of Varosha and added that not even one of these applications was solved. He recalled that the UN Security Council’s Resolutions No 789 and 541 provide for the return of the city to its legal owners and argued that Varosha “is an issue by itself”. Erkmen said that after the Crans Montana Cyprus Conference 15 hotel owners from occupied Varosha have withdrawn their application to the “commission” and other 16 hotel applications remained.
The Turkish Ministry of EU Affairs (23.02.18) published in its website https://www.ab.gov.tr/51160_en.html, statements by Minister for EU Affairs Omer Celik, who inter alia, referred to the motion approved by the Dutch Parliament which recognises the 1915 Armenian events as “genocide” and stated the following: “We condemn this parliamentary decision; it is null and void for us.”
Celik claimed that this motion would not advance dialogue or solutions regarding the matter and claimed that the motion would not provide an opportunity for the normalisation of Turkish-Armenian relations.
In response to a question on whether the Greek Cypriot side would launch an initiative in the EU following tensions regarding the exploration for oil in the Mediterranean, Minister Celik said:
“We certainly are discussing these matters. It is clear that the Greek Cypriot side is wrong, as is the unilateral stance taken by the EU. The approval of the Greek Cypriot side and the Turkish Cypriot side, which both own the common resource, is necessary for there to be explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean. The EU made a mistake by allowing the Southern Cypriot Greek Administration, which had not resolved its border issues or disputes with the Turkish Cypriots, to become an EU member. As you may well know, the areas that it has declared as its exclusive economic zone are in conflict with Turkey’s continental shelf”.
The English Turkish Cypriot “Cyprus Today” newspaper (24.02.18) reports that the “new coalition government” in the breakaway regime vowed “to finish off the job” on a “legal measure” aimed at putting an end to the decade long ordeal of buyers on Gary Robb’s unfinished houses in occupied Amaranta Valley.
“Speaker of Parliament Teberruken Ulucay told Cyprus Today they would take the final steps on an amendment to citizenship laws which would give ministers power to sell off drug convict Robb’s TRNC assets. The measure has been in place since March 31 last year, but could not be enforced without adoption of a new regulation”, the paper writes. “[…] The new government will take all essential steps for the conclusion of this legal measure in a bid to end the problems of the home buyers”, said Ulucay, adding that the issue would be now taken up by the new “interior minister” Aysegul Baybas Kair.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (26.02.18) reports that the women’s branch of the Revival Party (YDP) [TR. Note: the party of the settlers in the breakaway regime] started an aid selecting campaign for the families of the persons who were “convicted” for the January 22 events against Afrika newspaper.
The leader of the women’s branch of YDP Nurcan Ciftci stated that aid will be offered to the families of the “convicted” who are in need.
According to the Turkish minutes news portal (25.0.18-https://www.turkishminute.com/2018/02/25/erdogan-promises-to-honor-little-girl-with-turkish-flag-if-she-is-martyred/) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday promised to honor a young girl with the Turkish flag if she were to be martyred, during a speech in Kahramanmaras province.
According to a report by the Ahval news website, among the party members’ cheers of “Chief! Take us to Afrin,” President Erdogan invited a little girl dressed as a soldier to the podium. “If she is martyred, we will honor her with the flag, God willing,” Erdogan said.
With 90% of Turks supporting a Turkish military operation in the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region of Syria, Erdogan has been using a gradually more nationalistic tone in his rallies.
Turkey will have three elections in a row in the upcoming year and a half. Pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi argued that support for Erdoğan’s governing party had increased to nearly 50% since the Afrin operation was launched.
Also, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (26.02.18) report that President Erdogan on Feb. 25 accused the U.S. of “betraying” Turkey for its support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), saying Ankara never “betrayed its allies.”
Referring to the U.S. forces’ collaboration with the YPG militia in Syria, during a speech in the southeastern province of Gaziantep Erdoğan said: “Those coming from 11,000 kilometers away, those paying their [YPG] salaries, if you are our ally, do what an alliance requires, and if you are not, tell us so. We have taken steps with our allies and have not betrayed them. And we will not have respect for those who have betrayed us.”
The Turkish President made the comments while addressing a huge crowd in the province ahead of the sixth ordinary provincial congress of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Gaziantep.
Erdogan also accused the U.S. of “standing behind” the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely accused of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016. “Do we have another state other than the Republic of Turkey? Where is the parallel state [referring to the FETÖ]? In Pennsylvania [where FETÖ leader Fethullah Gülen is based]. Who stands behind him [Gülen]? You there [in the U.S.] are hiding the one who undertook the coup from your strategical partner. If you are not giving him to us, I cannot explain this to my nation. So, what you should do is give this FETÖ coup plotter back to this country,” he said.
Erdogan said also that there would be no stepping back in the fight against FETÖ and those found guilty would continue to pay a “heavy” price for what they did, including being given aggravated life imprisonment sentences.
Turkish authorities previously said that all procedures had been completed on the part of Turkey regarding Gülen’s extradition and Ankara was waiting for the U.S. to launch the relevant process.
Erdogan also touched upon some countries’ ongoing support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his speech, saying “how it is possible that this man is being looked after.”
“Assad is a murderer. Isn’t he the one that has killed nearly one million of his citizens? Isn’t he the one who, besides chemical weapons, killed his own citizens with conventional weapons? We have never stood by oppressors. We have never oppressed,” he claimed.
Erdoğan added that Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s Afrin district was undertaken to protect locals from oppression. “We have gone to Afrin for this reason, and we’ll continue to stand against the oppressors,” he said.
He said the number of militants so far “neutralized” in the operation currently reached 2,021 but vowed it will keep on increasing. “Until no terrorist is left there; we hopefully will expel all of the terrorists there and will hand those lands to their owners,” he said.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (26.02.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/350-000-syrians-will-return-to-afrin-after-operation-ends-turkish-pm-127882) reports that Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, speaking at the Gölcük Naval Shipyard Command in the north-western Kocaeli province commented on the tension in the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas and warned against any tension in both the Aegean and Mediterranean regions. “Naval forces have the power to eliminate every kind of danger to their country under all conditions and circumstances,” he said.
“No one should make a mistake [about that],” Yıldırım added.
Referring to Turkey’s operation in Afrin, he claimed that 350,000 people who have taken refuge in Turkey will return to their homes in Syria’s Afrin region after the end of the operation.
He further claimed that with the ongoing “Operation Olive Branch,” Turkey has not only protected its own territorial integrity but has also made important contributions to eliminate instability in the region.
He guaranteed Syrian refugees would return to their homes after the region has been cleared of Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants.
“Around 350,000 Afrin people, whom we have been hosting in Turkey, will return to their soil and will continue to live their lives in peace there,” he said.
Yıldırım said further that Turkey has not only provided security for people in the region and along borders, as well as territorial integrity, but it has also contributed to the annihilation of instability in the region.
“With the Euphrates Shield operation, which was carried out last year, an area more than 2,000 square kilometers was cleared from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organizations. Today, Syrians who have previously been forced to leave their homes are able to return to their own land. As of today, 140,000 people have settled in this region. However, the number of children who have continued school there is only 160,000,” Yıldırım said.
Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.02.18- http://aa.com.tr/en/politics/un-cease-fire-in-syria-not-to-affect-turkeys-afrin-op/1073455) reported that Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday that the UN Security Council's cease-fire decision on Syria would have no effect with Turkey's ongoing military operation in Afrin.
"When we look at the UN Security Council Resolution, we see that the fight against terror organizations is outside its scope. Therefore, it will not affect Turkey's ongoing operation," Bozdag told reporters in central Yozgat province.
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin, north-western Syria.
According to Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
In a commentary under the above title, columnist Murat Yetkin, writes in Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (26.02.18- http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/murat-yetkin/an-early-election-on-the-turkish-horizon-127879) the following:
“There have been a number of developments in Turkish politics, which have led political commentators to expect the possibility of a snap election in 2018.
President Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said all three elections would be on time in 2019—the municipal elections towards the end of March and the presidential and parliamentary elections in early November. Despite this however, there have still been speculations.
The following is a summary of developments that have caused commentators to suspect a snap election.
• Election alliance: The election alliance between Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and Devlet Bahceli’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is now official. The two parties have submitted a joint draft to the Turkish Parliament for changes in the election law, of which opposition parties have criticized for creating an extra advantage in the calculation of seats that can be won.
Taking the example of the MHP, smaller parties on the Islamist/nationalist front, like the Greater Unity Party (BBP), want to join the alliance in hopes of obtaining a few seats on the AK Parti list, which would be impossible for them to obtain otherwise. The acceleration of inter-party traffic makes observers believe Erdocan might want to take advantage of the opportunity as leverage.
• Afrin operation: Turkey’s military operation in Syria—with the indirect support of Russia—against the U.S.-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it has launched as it sees it as the extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with whom it has been at war for decades, has fostered the rising tide of nationalism in the country. The operation nowadays is the most popular issue in speeches by Erdoğan, who knows well that it could be difficult to prolong the enthusiasm at the same level for a long time. The social democratic main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, said he threw his support behind Turkey’s anti-terror operation. But both Erdoğan and other AK Parti officials have been trying to show the CHP falling in line with the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which strongly opposes the operation. That is the antagonism factor trying to be generated.
• Populist economy: After many years, the government has decided to give financial and material incentives to farmers who want to breed livestock and import beef at the same time to curb rising prices in the market, provide tax incentives to industrials who would employ extra workers (even temporary ones), give long-term job guarantees to contracted workers in sub-contracting companies and public agencies (involving nearly one million people) and launch huge construction and engineering projects, which could keep the economy going and produce new (regardless of being temporary) jobs despite the burden the recent ones have put on the Treasury. Such populist moves in the past have always been associated with nearing snap elections, being another justification for speculations for an early election.
All these might be relevant factors for any country, not only Turkey, to go to early elections.
But the dominant factor for Erdogan is likely to be whether or not the alliance he has formed would lose key municipalities, AK Parti itself would lose its majority in Parliament and he would secure 50% plus one vote to get re-elected. Otherwise, the elections will go ahead as scheduled”.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION
(AK / AM)