Under the above title, Turkish Cypriot daily Nacak (21.12.18) reports on statements by Alper Coskun, General Director for International Security Affairs at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, who in statements yesterday after the 78th Joint Parliamentary Committee meeting between Turkey and the EU, referred inter alia, to the Cyprus problem, claiming that Turkey will continue defending the Turkish Cypriots’ rights.
“We were carrying out negotiation talks so far with goodwill. We do not want the continuation of the negotiation talks for the sake of holding talks and from scratch. We want a solution. Turkey will continue protecting the Turkish Cypriots’ rights. In order to yield an outcome, common will of both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots is necessary. You were used to ignoring Turkish Cypriots’ rights, but we will decisively continue protecting them, as we did until so far”, Coskun argued.
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi (21.12.18) under the title: “Agreement between Denktas and Greek Cypriots on a plot of land”, reports that Serdar Denktas and his family (daughter and son) has reached an agreement with three Greek Cypriots that are Maria Fragala, Androula Kutovridou and Vasiliki Pasa, on a plot of land, belonging to them in occupied Neapoli village.
Invoking reliable resources, the paper writes that Denktas’ family found the three Greek Cypriot onwer’s of the property in the free areas of the Republic and through the “immovable property commission”, came to an agreement with them and compensated the family with a huge amount of money, with the provision that the above mentioned plot of land would become “Turkish Cypriot property” and to be transferred to the ownership of Denktas’ family.
The paper recalls that in the past, Denktas’ family had “reserved” the plot of land in order to allocate it to a company belonging to the son and daughter of Serdar Denktas, with the aim to build an eight floor hostel. However, the construction works for the building of the hostel were suspended due to the reactions, protests and resistance of the inhabitants in the occupied village of Neapoli.
The issue was brought yesterday to the “agenda” of the so-called assembly for discussion, by the chairman of the opposition National Unity Party (UBP) Ersin Tatar, who accused Serdar Denktas of not “being a real man”.
On the same issue, Turkish daily Haberator (21.12.18) under the title: “Ozersay is Serdar Denktas’ guardian angel!”, reports that the chairman of the People’s Party (HP) and so-called foreign minister Kudret Ozerday, commenting yesterday during the “assembly” the quarrel between Tatar and Serdar Denktas, accused Tatar of populism. Stating that even though his party reacted strongly in the case related with the “allocation of plot of land” belonging to a “military zone area”, to Denktas’ family in the past in order to build a “university campus”, he considers now the recent accusations against Denktas as unfair and groundless. Ozersay claimed further that the issues become a subject of manipulation by the press. He also alleged that the “council of ministers did not approve any decision envisaging the allocation of another plot of land to Denktas’ family”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (21.12.18) reports that the discussion for the budget of the breakaway regime, which has started on December 11, was completed yesterday and the economic protocol between Turkey and the “TRNC” was one of the main discussion themes.
The breakaway regime budget is 7 billion, 500 thousand Turkish Lira.
Speaking at the session, the leader of the National Unity Party (UBP) Ersin Tatar accused the “government” of failing to pass the class on the “citizenship issue”: “We do not say that you should grant the citizenship to everyone that enters the country; however you should grand it to those who deserve it”, he said.
Referring to the economic protocol between Turkey and the breakaway regime, he said that the “government” is wasting time and in case the protocol is not signed, then the “TRNC” budget will only be 2 billion Turkish Lira. “Reforms are not made, sources are not coming, the future is not clear. The citizens ask us until when this government will go on”, Tatar stated.
He also referred to the increased number of Greek Cypriots visiting the “TRNC” after the devaluation of the Turkish Lira and said that the “ministry of economy” must evaluate this development and make research to encourage the Greek Cypriots’ shopping.
Referring to the budget discussion, Turkish Cypriot Hakikat (21.12.18) reports that Erhan Arikli, the leader of Revival Party (the settlers’ party) stated that “Turkey needs a government which will be engaged and which will sign the protocol”. He also stated that as it is shown by the 2019 budget, Turkey’s economic assistance to the breakaway regime is reduced. He added that these developments open the way to various speculations.
Under the tıtle ‘His TRNC citizenship was revoked and he was extradited to Turkey”, Turkish Cypriot daily Nacak (21.12.18) reports that the operations against FETO (Gulen Movement) are continuing in the occupied area of Cyprus.
The paper reports that Colonel Huseyin Atik, who used to serve in the occupied area of Cyprus, obtained the “TRNC citizenship” with a decision of the council of ministers on September 22, 2016, after he was retired and settled down in the occupied area of Cyprus.
Retired Colonel Atik was arrested as a suspect for being a member of the Fetullah Terrorist organization (FETO), and upon demand of Turkey’s Security General Directorate, his “TRNC citizenship was revoked and he was extradited to Turkey with a decision of the council of ministers”, the paper reports.
According to Turkish daily Sabah (20.12.18, https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2018/12/20/turkey-iran-have-many-joint-steps-to-take-for-regional-security-end-clashes-erdogan-says), Turkey will continue to stand by Iran in the face of 'unjust' U.S. sanctions which jeopardize regional stability and security, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Thursday in a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.
"There are so many steps that Turkey and Iran can take together to end the clashes in our region and ensure a peaceful environment," Erdoğan said at a news conference with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in Ankara.
Erdoğan said Turkey did not allow any entities seeking to harm the security of the country and the region, adding that it would not allow them in the future. Ankara and Tehran have a strong will to increase cooperation in this regard, he stressed.
President Erdogan also said Turkey does not approve of the U.S. sanctions on Iran since they lead to destabilization in the region. "We will continue to be in solidarity with brotherly Iran at a time when pressures on Iran mount which we find unjust," Erdoğan added.
Erdoğan said Turkey aims to increase bilateral trade with Iran to $30 billion from the current $11 billion. (…)
Speaking after Erdoğan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran and Ankara agree on protecting Syria's territorial integrity. He also said the next trilateral meeting on Syria between Ankara, Tehran and Moscow would be held in Russia.
Speaking later in the day at the Turkey-Iran Business Forum, Erdoğan reiterated Turkey's continuing economic relations with Iran despite U.S. sanctions and added: "We must stop the U.S. sanction decision on Iran from impeding us to reach our targets".
Erdoğan said Turkey is ready to do its part to reach the desired level of bilateral ties with Iran. "Nobody should think that we will end our economic and commercial relations with Iran because of sanctions. I believe we will turn sanctions against Iran into an opportunity in our relations," he added.
Rouhani, for his part, said: "This embargo can be both a threat and damage. It can both decrease our trade volume and limit our relations. However, we can make a good plan and transform these threats into opportunities". He also said the economic potentials between the countries are "more than ever".
The Iranian President invited Turkish businessmen to invest in his country in the field of energy. "We are ready to allocate all necessary substances, ports, regions and facilities to the investors, if Turkish investors want to invest in any area in Iran to build a refinery and to operate in the field of petrochemicals," Rouhani said.
Columnist Serkan Demirtas, writing in Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (21.12.18, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/serkan-demirtas/trump-asked-erdogan-if-turkey-could-clear-the-rest-of-syria-of-isil-139901), with the above title, wonders why Trump took the decision to remove the U.S. troops from Syria despite Pentagon’s concerns and what measures the USA will take to prevent the chaos in the region after this, in the following commentary:
“United States President Donald Trump did it again. His unpredictability has just become a norm when shaping U.S. foreign policy. Although he denies it was not a surprise move, Trump’s sudden decision for a complete pull-out of all U.S. troops from Syria, despite the Pentagon’s continuous statements that the job has not been done yet, had an astonishing impact on the international community as well as regional actors.
When this column was being penned late afternoon on Dec. 20, Ankara was still tight-lipped on Trump’s decision. Ankara has taken this decision with caution as it first wants to see to what extent Trump’s order will be delivered by the Pentagon.
Senior Turkish officials have earlier told the Hürriyet newspaper that Ankara was well aware of Trump’s intention to remove all troops from Syria but he could not persuade the Pentagon to do so.
This, in fact, has been voiced by Trump a number of times throughout 2018 although senior Pentagon officials, as well as James Jeffrey, who is the special Syria representative of the State Department, were introducing an updated Syria policy that stipulates an indefinite presence of the U.S. troops in the war-torn country.
However, for Trump, the only reason to prolong the stay of U.S. troops in Syria was the fight against ISIL and the fact that the jihadist group was largely defeated left no room for the extension of the military mandate.
As Reuters reported, citing a U.S. official, Trump’s latest phone conversation with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Dec. 14 pushed him to give the final order for the withdrawal from Syria.
According to the same Turkish officials, Trump asked the following question to Erdoğan on the phone: Can Turkey clear the east of Euphrates of the rest of ISIL in the event that they withdraw from Syria?
The reason why Trump raised this question was Erdoğan’s continued criticisms on the U.S. partnership with the YPG on the fight against ISIL. Erdoğan once again reiterated Turkey’s belief that the YPG was not genuinely in the fight against the jihadist groups but was using this assumption as a pretext for its political ambitions in the east of Euphrates. Therefore, Erdoğan reaffirmed that Turkey could fight against ISIL as it did in mid-2016 and neutralized around 4,000 jihadists as part of the Euphrates Shield Operation.
It was well-reported that Trump had pushed the button after his conversation with Erdoğan. But Ankara was notified of the decision a few days after, on Dec. 17. But senior Turkish officials still had suspicions about the move. “Saudis, Israelis, Europeans and, of course, Kurds are against the U.S. withdrawal. Pentagon and other parts of the establishment are not happy with the move,” the senior officials said, expressing their scepticism over the course of the developments.
It may well be suggested that the Turkish government will follow a wait-and-see process before recalibrating Turkey’s position in regards to Syria and re-assessing a military operation into the east of the Euphrates against the YPG.
There are some pending issues as well. For example, will the U.S. collect the weapons provided to the YPG? What measures will the U.S. take for preventing a chaos in the region after the withdrawal?
All these require more military and political talks between Turkey and the U.S. Turkey will continue to cautiously follow the situation in Syria.”
According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (21.12.18, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/politics/top-turkish-diplomat-to-visit-malta-for-official-talks/1343868), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will pay an official visit to Malta on Friday and Saturday, said a Foreign Ministry statement on Thursday.
Cavusoglu and his Maltese counterpart, Carmelo Abela will discuss bilateral relations, regional and international issues, as well as the EU accession process of Turkey, common challenges and cooperation opportunities in the Mediterranean.
According to the statement, Cavusoglu will be received by Maltese President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and meet Helena Dalli, Malta's European Affairs and Equality Minister. "Minister Cavusoglu will also be accompanied by a group of Turkish businesspeople, who are interested in different business sectors of Malta, where they will have the opportunity to hold talks with their Maltese counterparts," it added.
According to Turkish daily Yeni Safak (21.12.18, https://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/turkey-eu-sign-400m-protocol-to-educate-syrians-3469749), Turkey's National Education Ministry and the EU delegation signed on Thursday a $400-million protocol on the education of Syrians in the country. The protocol is part of the Project of Supporting Integration of Syrian Children to Turkish Education System (PICTES 2).
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Turkish Deputy Minister of Education Reha Denemec said there are 655,000 Syrian children enrolled in the Turkish education system. He said 91% of Syrian children of primary school age are getting formal education. "This is a good number, however, the numbers fall in preschool and high school," he added. He further explained that enrolment falls to 25% in high school because children have to contribute to the family income. (…)
EU Ambassador to Turkey Christian Berger said more than 600,000 Syrian children receive good quality education in Turkey and the EU will continue its support. (…)
According to Turkish news portal Turkish Minute (20.12.18, https://www.turkishminute.com/2018/12/20/former-turkish-ambassador-convicted-of-terrorist-organization-membership-due-to-gulen-links/), a court has reversed its verdict of release pending appeal of purged Ambassador Gürcan Balık, who was convicted of terrorist organization membership a few hours earlier and transferred from pre-trial detention to house arrest, upon the objection of a prosecutor.
The Habertürk daily reported on the objection of the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday. Balık, a purged ambassador and advisor to former President Abdullah Gül and former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, will be sent back to Sincan Prison.
Balık on Thursday was convicted of membership in an armed terrorist organization and sentenced to six years, three months in prison due to his links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of plotting a failed coup on July 15, 2016.
In his defence, Balık said there was no evidence of his membership in a terrorist organization and asked for his release and acquittal, adding: “I have served my country and nation for 20 years. There is not a single charge against me based on my career.” (…)
Balık was dismissed amid Erdoğan’s accusations of a “parallel state” within the state, targeting the Gülen movement. After July 15, Balık was arrested and had since been in pre-trial detention in Ankara.
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