According to illegal Bayrak television (31.01.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=akinci-and-erhurman-hold-weekly-meeting-2), Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, speaking to the press following his routine weekly meeting, which lasted over an hour, with self-styled prime minister Tufan Erhurman on foreign and domestic issues, as well as the upcoming visit to the island by the UN Secretary General’s Special Temporary Envoy Jane Holl Lute, said that he had found the opportunity to discuss a number of issues during his meeting with Erhürman today.
“One of the issues we discussed was the resettlement of Maronites to their villages in the TRNC. I was informed by the prime minister that the government is continuing to carry out its work to make the return of the Maronites possible. My undersecretary and the prime minister’s undersecretary will continue to work in close consultation on the matter”, he added.
Touching upon his meeting with the UN special envoy on Sunday, Akinci reminded that Lute’s contacts were aimed at assessing whether or not there was sufficient common understanding and grounds to restart a new negotiations process. “In the meantime, ahead of Ms Lute’s visit, the UN Security Council adopted the resolution extending the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus for another 6 months. As you know these resolutions and reports are drafted following consultations and contacts with the sides concerned”, he said.
Pointing out that in no point in time during his “term in office”, did the Turkish Cypriot side advocate a complete end to UNFICYP’s mandate on the island, Akıncı stated that this did not mean that the mandate should not be revised.
“UN Peacekeepers were first sent to Cyprus in March 1964. That means 55 years. UNFICYP should not become a symbol of the status quo on the island nor should the mandate serve to further encourage the Greek Cypriot side’s reluctance to work towards a settlement” he claimed, reminding that half of UNFICYP’s financing was provided by Greece and the “Greek Cypriot Administration” [Republic of Cyprus].
Criticizing the fact that the Turkish Cypriot side’s consent was not taken whilst the decision to extend UNFICYP’s mandate was taken, Akıncı said that this must change in the future.
As regards the possibility of restarting a new negotiations process, Akıncı said the Turkish Cypriot side was not closed to the idea of discussing the notion of a loose federation where the constituent states have more powers as long as the process was to be result-oriented, subject to timetables and safeguarded the political equality of the two sides. “Even if the word timetables is not used in all the latest UN reports and resolutions, the wording used, ‘foreseeable horizons’, implies it” he added.
Stating that the latest resolution also emphasized the importance of Confidence Building Measures (CBM), he argued that everyone was well aware of the Turkish Cypriot side’s positive stance on this issue.
Pointing the finger of blame at the Greek Cypriot side, Akıncı claimed: “What the report should question is why the existing CBMs already agreed upon such as island-wide mobile phone operability, interconnectivity of electricity grids, education and mine clearing have not yet been implemented”. Akıncı concluded by saying that as developments unfold on the Cyprus problem, “he will continue to discuss and meet with the government and parliament before taking decisions on the basis of collective thinking”.
According to illegal Bayrak television (31.01.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=trnc-mfa-issues-statement-on-unficyp), the “foreign ministry” of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus alleged that the reference in the resolution adopted by the UN Security Council extending the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus for the creation of a mechanism to be established between the two sides for direct communication and collaboration was a clear indicator that a new era has commenced in Cyprus.
In its statement evaluating the latest UN Security Council resolution, the “foreign ministry” noted that the Turkish Cypriot side has relayed its detailed views and positions on the issues in the report to UN Security Council member states as well as to relevant centres.
“As it is known, frequent meetings had been held both on the island and abroad regarding collaboration between the two sides. As a result of these meetings, the UN Security Council in its resolution clearly asked for a mechanism to be established between the two sides for direct communication and for collaboration. This is to say the least is the clearest indication that the Cyprus issue has entered a new phase. It is our view that it is an important development to create a direct communication and collaboration mechanism in order to improve the trust between the two communities and to create interdependency between the two sides that will eventually assist in finding a solution based on a joint vision” the statement claimed.
The “ministry” also claimed that this new development was also important for regional stability and security and argued: “It is our expectation that following the call made by the decision, the international community will encourage the two sides to implement direct communication and collaboration mechanisms without delay. Acknowledging the fact that establishing a relationship based on collaboration between the two sides will help in bringing peace and stability to the island and the region, the Turkish Cypriot side is ready to take the necessary steps towards establishing such mechanisms”.
It also urged the Greek Cypriot side, which has refrained from establishing a relationship based on collaboration and refrained from directly communicating with the Turkish Cypriot side, to abandon its attitude adopted to this day and to comply with the call made by the UN Security Council.
“As the Turkish Cypriot side, we will launch our initiatives to establish such mechanisms with the UN. We also welcome the call in the decision, and in compliance with the UNSG’s reports dated 15 October 2018, and 11 January 2019, made to the two sides to reach a joint agreement on a starting point” the statement read.
The “ministry” however pointed out that it was disappointing to see that the UN did not seek the approval of the Turkish Cypriot side before adopting the resolution extending UNFICYP’s mandate. “Despite having included in earlier drafts the UN Security Council resolution 2436 as well as the 21 September 2018 dated framework decision seeking the approval of all sides of a conflict and asking for a basic principle of impartiality, it is unfortunate to see this phrase being omitted in the final report. This contradictory step which is in violation of the UN Security Council’s own decision is also a binding one. In this respect we wish to reiterate that omitting the reference from the report does not change the fact that in all peacekeeping missions including UNFICYP, consensus and consent must be sought from all parties of the conflict” it said. The “ministry” noted that it expects the omitted point to be replaced in the next report.
“Additionally in the decision, there is a call made to UNFICYP, which has become the symbol of the status quo and therefore part of the problem, to support the political process. In this regard and in view of the current situation following the failed process of Crans Montana, it is obvious that UNFICYP’s mandate must be revised. It is our expectation to see the UN Security Council to take a step towards revising UNFICYP’s mandate in its next report” the statement concluded.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Düzen(31.01.19) reports that former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has stated that the interest of the Turkish Cypriots passed through sticking to the UN parameters and defending a federal solution in Cyprus. Issuing a statement through social media, Talat argued yesterday that the statements made by the Turkish Foreign Minister after his illegal visit to the occupied area of Cyprus had exceeded the importance of the visit and its repercussions internationally.
According to Talat, the statements made after the visit showed that the issues had not been sufficiently discussed during the visit. He said that if they had been sufficiently discussed there would be no need for “references through implications”. He argued:
“The principles which we call UN parameters, the bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution based on the political equality of the communities and their effective participation in the decision making processes is the most important protecting port, a shield for the Turkish Cypriots. In a federal solution two founding states and their administrative boundaries will exist and these states will have equal status. Within the federal framework the Turkish Cypriots will have administrations, courts, government, parliament, police and institutions which will be internationally recognized. International sports and cultural activities will stop being a dream and the seaports and airports will stop being banned. Even more guarantees which we could secure derive from the very definition of federation. For this reason, the interest of the Turkish Cypriots passes through sticking to the UN parameters and defending federation. […]”
Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes (31.01.19) reports that Ergun Olgun and Osman Ertug, Turkish Cypriot former negotiators, issued a joint written statement yesterday saying that the two state solution in Cyprus is a priority for them.
“The two state solution in Cyprus is a priority among the alternative solution models. In this sense and as it was said, the choice for a ‘velvet divorce’ was decided and agreed during the special meeting that the Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades held with Mr Cavusoglu. Even though the Greek Cypriot leader did not openly say this to the Greek Cypriot public opinion and uses several channels of diplomacy to do so, we considered that it is necessary for the Greek Cypriot leader’s honesty to be tested”, Olgun and Ertug claimed.
The two former negotiators claimed further that the existence of a “two state solution” in Cyprus is reality. They also called on Turkey to take action with them and bring to the “agenda” the recognition of the “TRNC”.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Halkın Sesi(31.01.19) reports that Selma Eylem, chairwoman of Turkish Cypriot secondary school teachers’ trade union (KTOEOS), criticized the statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during and after his illegal visit to the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, noting that the Turkish Minister “crossed the line”. In a written statement, Eylem said that efforts were exerted for by-passing Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci and doing away with federation, which is the only achievable solution to the Cyprus problem.
She also noted that the new theological schools which Turkey wanted to open in the occupied area of Cyprus were an effort to convert the Turkish Cypriot community and a part of “a monist [and] oppressive political project, which will eliminate the rights and freedoms” in the occupied area of the island. According to Eylem, the teachers who supported secular education in Turkey were fired and a system of oppression and fear was created.
Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes (31.01.19) under the title: “Elcil is a black sheep”, reports that the leader of the main opposition National Unity Party (UBP) Ersin Tatar, in statements yesterday during a visit in occupied Pergamos village, condemned strongly the general secretary of the Turkish Cypriot teachers’ trade union (KTOS) Sener Elcil, describing him as a “black sheep”.
According to Tatar, Elcil’s positions that Turkey is an occupying force in Cyprus, that an ethnic cleansing should be done, that the place names in the “TRNC” should change and the like, are positions which not even the Greek Cypriots express. “And to go beyond, these statements are contrary to the historical realities in Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriots invited Turkey to Cyprus to salvage and rescue them. Turkey came to Cyprus to prevent Enosis with Greece and to provide with us security and freedom. We are Turks and we feel honor for our Turkish origin and for the toponyms in Turkish”, Tatar alleged.
He further wondered why the other Turkish Cypriot political parties and especially the “four-party coalition government parties” do not react against Elcil, his statements and his positions.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Tatar called Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to relaunch the negotiation talks on the basis of a two-states model. Claiming that the Turkish Cypriot “people” had realized that it is not possible to reach a solution within the framework of the federation model in Cyprus, Tatar alleged that “the two state solution is already a reality”. “After all, we live in two separate states now. It would be right for these to cooperate”. Tatar further alleged.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Haberal Kibrisli (31.01.19) reports that the Turkish settlers’ Revival Party (YDP), announced in a written statement that it would submit a “petition for redress” today in the so-called police, against the general secretary of the Turkish Cypriot teachers’ trade union, Sener Elcil, adding, that at the same time it will open a “lawsuit “ against him.
The YDP alleged further that the allegations included in a written statement issued by Elcil are contrary to the “articles 48 and 68 of chapter 154 of the constitution”.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Düzen(31.01.19) reports that foreign workers are the majority in the private sector in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus. According to data obtained by the so-called ministries of labor and tourism for the year 2018, 94,526 persons are “registered” as employees in the private sector in the occupied area of Cyprus. The data show that 44,512 of these persons are “TRNC citizens”, 34,574 persons are citizens of Turkey and 15,440 persons are citizens of other countries.
According to these data, only 4,161 persons are “TRNC citizens” out of the 18,585 employees in the tourism sector. The number of foreigners employed in the tourism sector reportedly increased four times more than the number of local employees within the period 2014-2018.
It is reported that 8,402 persons were employed in casinos in the occupied area of Cyprus in 2018. More than half of these employees (4,358) are citizens of Turkey. Moreover, there are also 2,356 foreigners working in casinos, of which the number of “TRNC citizens” employed is only 1,688.
The situation was the same in the remaining tourist areas in 2018. More than half of the 10,183 persons employed there come from Turkey and the remainder were foreigners and “TRNC citizens”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis (31.01.19) reports that the so-called minister of education Cemal Ozyigit held a meeting with the chairman of the "higher education planning evaluation, accreditation and coordination council" (YODAK) and the “rectors” of the 19 “universities” that operate in the occupied area of Cyprus.
Speaking to the press prior to the meeting, Ozyigit stated that there are 19 “universities” that operate in the breakaway regime with 102,944 students. From them, 12,508 are of “TRNC citizenship”, 54,874 of Turkish citizenship and 35,318 from third countries. He also stated that 5,117 academicians work in the “universities” adding that the number of foreign students who want to study at the illegal universities increase year by year.
Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris (31.01.19) reports that the breakaway regime is launching a big tourism advertising campaign in the UK starting from Kent.
According to the paper, posters promoting “TRNC tourism” will be placed on 100 red buses and 25 advisements will be displayed in metro stations.
Speaking to the paper, the “tourism and promotion” coordinator of the so-called tourism ministry in England”, Kadir Doruhan, stated that the campaign, which is expected to have possible results, will go on until mid-February. He also said that the campaign is part of the “2019 Tourism advertising and promotion campaign” aims for early reservations to be made by tourists. He also said that they participated along with 5 tour operators in a big tourism fair in Manchester where a lot of travel packages were sold. He also said that they will participate in the Destination fair in London adding that the “tourism ministry” exerts many efforts to promote the “TRNC tourism” to many countries abroad.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry (31.01.19, http://www.mfa.gov.tr/no_20_-besinci-med7-zirvesinde-kabul-edilen-ortak-bildiri-hk_en.en.mfa) issued a press release regarding the Joint Declaration Adopted at the Fifth MED7 Summit, alleging the following:
“The statements in the joint declaration adopted at the Fifth Summit of the Southern European Union Countries (Med7), held in Southern Cyprus on 29 January 2019 with the participation of France, Italy, Spain, Malta, Portugal, Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration [Republic of Cyprus], provide yet another example of the unfair and unconstructive attitude maintained by certain EU members, in the name of the so-called ‘Union solidarity’.
The commendation in the declaration of the so-called efforts by the Greek Cypriots regarding the settlement process in Cyprus and the expression of support for their unilateral hydrocarbon activities in the Eastern Mediterranean clearly display the continuation of the Greek Cypriot Administration’s abuse of its EU membership.
It should not be forgotten that the main reason for the failure of the Cyprus Conference in 2017 was the Greek Cypriot side’s intransigent mentality, considering themselves as the sole owner of the island and the Turkish Cypriots as a minority. The fact that in the joint declaration there is no mention of the legitimate rights of the Turkish Cypriots on the natural resources of the island proves the persistence of this distorted mentality.
Turkey remains committed to taking the necessary steps to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry (31.01.19, http://www.mfa.gov.tr/no_19_-kibris-ta-konuslu-bm-baris-gucu-nun-gorev-suresinin-uzatilmasi-hk_en.en.mfa) issued the following press release regarding the United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 2453 (2019) on the extension of the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus:
“The most recent UN Security Council resolution on the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a period of six months was adopted on 30 January 2019.
Both in his report on his Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus dated 15 October 2018 and his latest report on the UN operations in Cyprus dated 11 January 2019, submitted to the UN Security Council, UN Secretary-General had emphasized the need for new ideas, without referring to a specific settlement model. Despite this fact, in this most recent resolution, the UN Security Council has adopted a position which goes beyond the UN Secretary-General’s views. Moreover, the UN Security Council has voiced prejudgments regarding the result of the ongoing contacts by the UN Official assigned on a temporary basis by the UN Secretary-General and the possible future shape of the settlement process.
In this respect, this resolution does not make a realistic contribution to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue. Furthermore, it is not compatible with the above-mentioned reports of the UN Secretary-General.
On the other hand, the fact that the UNFICYP’s mandate has been extended without the consent of the authorities of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus [the breakaway regime in the occupied part of Cyprus], in contrast to the established practice of the UN, is another important deficiency of the resolution.
The Conference on Cyprus had closed without an outcome in Crans Montana in July 2017 due to the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriots who consider themselves as the sole owners of the Island and the Turkish Cypriots as a minority. We maintain our view that if a new negotiation process will be launched, it should be result-oriented and all the parameters of the process should be determined beforehand, and in this regard, without excluding the option of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal settlement based on political equality, all alternative models should be on the table.
We believe that any process in the upcoming period can only be successful if it is based on the current realities on the island and the political equality of both sides.”
According to Turkish daily Sabah (31.01.19, https://www.dailysabah.com/war-on-terror/2019/01/30/national-security-council-calls-for-end-to-foreign-aid-to-terror-groups-targeting-turkey), the National Security Council (MGK) of Turkey released a statement late Wednesday reiterating its call for an end to foreign aid to terror groups targeting Turkey.
In a statement after a five-hour meeting in the capital Ankara, MGK said that Turkey will watch closely the developments in Cyprus, the Western Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea, taking action to protect its rights arising from international agreements.
The MGK also said that Turkey will maintain its stance on preserving the current status in Syria's Idlib and on implementating the Manbij roadmap and deals east of Euphrates River. (…) The council palced emphasis on securing country's southern borders as part of counter-terrorism efforts (…) and it stressed measures against terrorist organizations that are disturbing the country's peace.
The Council said it is "unacceptable" that some countries are refraining from extraditing terror group members.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (31.01.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/russia-not-against-safe-zone-in-northern-syria-turkish-fm-140896), Russia does not categorically reject the idea of establishing a safe zone in northern Syria, but the details of the U.S.-proposed zone are yet to be clarified, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.
“Russians have no opposition against the safe zone. We have seen this at the meeting in Moscow,” he said in an interview with Hürriyet Daily News on Jan. 30, referring to the meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Jan. 23. He recalled that following the U.S. proposal for the secure zone, Russians particularly stressed that Turkey’s worries should cease.
“What does the U.S. mean with a safe zone? What will Russia’s role here be? These are uncertain,” he said, adding that questions regarding the safe zone will be discussed in a high-level joint working group meeting on Feb. 5.
“What are we doing? We are trying to coordinate the U.S. withdrawal not only with the Americans, but also with Russians, Iranians and others. Now Iraq has stepped in. Because the developments there will directly affect Iraq,” said Çavuşoğlu.
“We are holding meetings with every actor in the field. However, the opinions and policies remain uncertain. We are still in the process of deliberation,” he added. When asked if Turkey will be the one to set up the safe zone, the minister said it has not been clarified yet and discussions are ongoing.
Recalling the non-papers exchanged between Ankara and the U.S., the Minister noted that the general perspectives of the two NATO allies regarding the U.S. pull-out from Syria are overlapping. Çavuşoğlu reiterated that the main topic that Turkey and the U.S. have dissented on is the YPG.
According to the Minister, there are two drawbacks about the regime’s entrance to the east of the Euphrates and Manbij after the U.S. withdrawal.
Ankara objects the possibility the Syrian regime could fill a vacuum in the area left after the U.S. pulls out its soldiers from the east of the Euphrates, because such a scenario would pose threat to the national security of Turkey, the Minister said and added: “Because the YPG could cooperate with anyone, including the regime”.
Establishing a security zone in this area is crucial for Ankara because the presence of the regime in this region would not eliminate Turkey’s security concerns, he said, adding: “Because the regime and the YPG can unite against Turkey. Thus, this safe zone is important for us.”
“The U.S. says ‘the regime should not enter here.’ We do not have different views on this,” he said. Washington is also objecting to the regime’s intervention in the area where the U.S. soldiers will withdraw from on concerns regarding the regime’s alliance with Iran, Çavuşoğlu stated. “Americans say that ‘the regime means Iranians.’ They told us frankly,” said the Minister.
Regarding Syria’s north-eastern Manbij town, Çavuşoğlu said there were delays in setting the course of the Manbij road map with the U.S., but now the implementations accelerated.
“The U.S. has acknowledged the seriousness of this and we speeded up the process. Our soldiers and intelligence in the field are discussing the lists of names who will be assigned in [Manbij’s local] security units and local administrations,” he added. (…)
The major question mark over Idlib is where will Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) militants go when they leave Idlib, said the minister.
“Russians have a joint operation offer. They say we should remove them from there,” said Çavuşoğlu, noting that the countries of origin of the foreign fighters in the HTS are not willing to take their citizens back.
When asked if the HTS was strengthened after the Idlib Memorandum, the Minister said that in order to be more powerful, the organization needs to recruit more fighters but is unable to because there is no transition from the borders and they no longer gather human recruitment from the countries of origin.
“Secondly, [HTS] needs more armament. Our intelligence knows how much arms they have,” he added. Çavuşoğlu also said some Western countries in the anti-ISIL coalition were provoking members of the HTS to violate the Idlib memorandum, giving them money in return.
The Minister said this was done for two reasons. “First, for the termination of the Idlib memorandum. Second, there are countries that are making great efforts to prevent the establishment of a constitutional committee just because we are doing it,” he added.
Çavuşoğlu stressed that before there were many smaller groups, “initially moderate groups” who had to or were forced to enter HTS. “There are many people leaving the HTS, after we came to the field”, he added.
According to Turkish news portal Turkish Minute (30.01.19, https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/01/30/1076-soldiers-purged-from-turkish-military-over-gulen-links-since-end-of-state-of-emergency/), a total of 1,076 military members have been dismissed due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the end of a state of emergency declared after a 2016 coup attempt, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
According to Defence Ministry sources who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, 624 members of the land forces, 107 from the naval forces and 345 air forces members have been relieved of duty. (…)
Defence Minister Hulusi Akar on Wednesday said that “[the Ministry] and the Turkish Armed Forces are decisively continuing their battle” with the movement. “The fight is being carried out with attention and precision in line with the criteria determined by all force commanders, headquarters, unions and institutions as a whole and is continuing as new information and documents are published.”
Akar said the purge was making the Turkish military stronger and more effective.
During the state of emergency, which ended in July 2018, over 5,000 military members including high-ranking generals were purged from the army under government decrees.
Under the title “New law a milestone for Turkish cinema”, Turkish daily Sabah (31.01.19, https://www.dailysabah.com/cinema/2019/01/31/new-law-a-milestone-for-turkish-cinema) reports that a new law has been passed that will realize the establishment of a board to support the country's cinema sector and limit the advertising period shown before a motion picture to a maximum of 10 minutes. The Supporting, Evaluation and Classification of Cinema Films law was published in the Official Gazette Wednesday with the signature of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to the law, supporting boards of specialization fields will be established in order to evaluate the applications in project development, first feature-length fiction film production, feature film production, co-production, script and dialogue writing, animation film production, short film production, documentary film production, post-production, distribution-publicity and domestic film screening support types and to determine the projects that will be supported. (…)
Cinema films that are produced at home or imported will be evaluated and classified before they are offered to commercial circulation and screening. The films that are not approved at the end of this evaluation and classification will not be offered to spectators. (…)
On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with the representatives of the cinema sector at the Beştepe Presidential Complex in the capital Ankara. In this meeting, where the new cinema resolution was discussed, President Erdoğan also talked about the development of Turkish TV series. The president reported that serious developments have been made not only in economy, infrastructure investments, health, transportation and tourism but also in cinema and TV in the last 16 years.
Explaining that the exportation of Turkish TV series reached a volume of $350 million, President Erdoğan said, "Our country is following the U.S. in this field and came in second place. It is sure that the architects of this pride are our cinema laborers, including actors, producers, scenarists and directors. I want to thank all of you for your efforts, devotion and works that make us proud. While wishing you success in your works, I also want to hear your requests. No matter how many hospitals or schools a nation has, they will not be successful if they do not sustain their culture and art. We need to reach a serious level in culture and arts. In this context, we want to realize this aim with you. This is why I attach great importance to this amendment."
"The Gulf countries love Turkish TV series very much. Whenever I visit one of these countries, I see that their people always talk about our series. They always follow them. This is important progress," he lastly added. (…)
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION