Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis (18.02.19) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, in an exclusive interview to the paper’s general manager and editorial director Basaran Duzgun and news editor Duygu Alan on the occasion of Havadi’s 10th anniversary, commented on the upcoming meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades on February 26 and the stage at which the Cyprus problem left off.
Asked to say what his expectations from the meeting of February 26th are, Akinci said: “This meeting is not planned as a meeting to resume the negotiation process. Because if there is a common ground or not will emerge only after Lute’s work and only. However, this meeting may be helpful for Ms Lute’s efforts to be clarified. But after this meeting, don’t expect ‘we met, we discussed and we agreed that the negotiations start on this day’. It is not the purpose of this meeting. The meeting of the 26th serves the following purpose: the elimination of the confusion is necessary. What does the esteemed Greek Cypriot leader really propose by referring to decentralization? If what he proposes is ‘let us give more authorities to the constituent/founding states, but in the authorities that will remain in the federal partnership, I will take alone the decisions without Turkish Cypriots to have a word on it’, this will not be even a starting point.”
Asked to comment whether what is meant regarding the decentralized approach is an autonomous region to be given to the Turkish Cypriots inside the Republic of Cyprus and the Greek Cypriots to govern the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriots just to govern themselves in their autonomous region, Akinci replied: “You can also interpret it like this, you can say that minority rights are being proposed, you can also say that they mock our intelligence. Because it is an issue for the stance of the Greek Cypriot leader that he is moving away from what has been agreed and these approaches have been now criticized even within the Greek Cypriot side. Even the newspaper ‘Alithia’, which is known for its support of Anastasiades, has published an important analysis on this issue by saying that this does not work. Look, if we are talking about a federal state, it means sharing of powers, but it also means effective participation, and political equality. The political equality, as it has been defined by the UN, includes the representation of both sides in all bodies and the effective participation in all decision-making, even if it does not mean numerical equality in every federal body. There is an agreement on the Council of Ministers: 7 to 4. Seven Greek Cypriots, four Turkish Cypriots and there will be one positive vote from each side. And of course, there are some decision that should be taken and have not been taken, and this is going to prevent the implementation of a number of international obligations of the Cyprus federal partnership, a deadlock will be created and the mechanisms for the resolution of this deadlock have been established. There may even be cases that will be transferred to the federal judiciary.”
Akinci further rejected the claim that the majority will become a prisoner of the 18% minority, adding: “If you approach the federation, with the minority-majority concept, then it will never be a partnership, a federation. This is what if I often say ‘this mentality should change’. If you establish a federation, there is no size (…) For example, in Belgium, there are 6 million Flemish, 3 million Walloons and the common federal state includes an equal number of ministers. There are many cantons in Switzerland, with a rotating president every year. Although the population rates are different, Bosnia and Herzegovina is chaired equally for 8 months. (…)”
Akinci further argued that if they continue to insist on taking a step back from what has already being agreed, then it means Lute will not be able to find a common ground on the meeting. He reiterated that it is not possible to abandon the political equality and the effective participation in decision-making. He further argued that if Anastasiades’ intention of decentralization should be made up of two wings and no common authority, then this is not a federation but two separate states.
Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (16.02.19) reported that Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, speaking during a visit in Turkey’s Bolu province, referred inter alia, to Turkey’s drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, claiming the following: “In our drilling in the Mediterranean, we have reached 4,200-4,300 meters. Our goal is to reach 5,000-5,500 meters depth. God willing, within the next weeks we will reach resource points, so we will be able to know whether we have natural gas or not”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi (18.02.19) reports that “prime minister” Tufan Erhurman speaking to illegal Bayrak referred to his recent contacts in Ankara and said that they drew the framework of the “economic protocol” between Turkey and the “TRNC” during the meeting he held with the Turkish deputy President Fuat Oktay.
He also said that this week a delegation from Turkey will visit the breakaway regime in order to discuss the “economic protocol” and added that progress as regards this issue is expected to be made. He also said that the delegation will stay in the breakaway regime for three days, adding that these three days will determine when the “protocol” will be signed.
Under the above title, Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris (18.02.19) reports that a crisis has occurred after the administrative council of “KIB-TEK” (“Turkish Cypriot electricity authority)” signed a labor agreement with KIB’TEK’s personnel, with the “government” being unaware of the agreement and notes that this led to the removal of the administrative council’s chairman Ahmet Hundaoglu from his post on the basis that there were disagreements between him and the so-called government.
In addition, Kubilay Ozkirac, the chairman of EL-SEN, the trade Union of the workers of “KIB-TEK” stated that they have decided to suspend the strike measures they had declared, and which were planned to start today, after what he described as “positive statements” by the “prime minister” Tufan Erhurman. Ozkirac said that “labor peace can be maintain in case the promises made towards the workers are kept”.
The paper further reports that Erhan Arikli, the chairman of the Revival Party (the settlers’ party) expressed his support towards the “government” over the issue.
Erhurman in his statements (Kibris Postasi 17.02.19) said that he had no information about the labor agreement and said that he does not approve it, adding that Hudaoglu admitted that he made a mistake over the issue. He also stated that there was not any disagreement within the “government” over Hudaoglu’s removal.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (16.02.19) under the title: “The path that will lead to the solution of the Cyprus problem passes through federation”, publishes an interview by the British High Commissioner to Cyprus, Stephen Lillie who spoke exclusively to Cyprus Today newspaper.
Lillie, in his interview, stated inter alia, that the UK’s stance towards the solution of the Cyprus problem is clear. “We support an agreement based on the well-known UN parameters and an agreement under a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality. This is the only solution model that could be implemented”, Lillie said, adding: “Probably, there are people on both sides of the island who have their own approaches and ideas regarding the solution, however, a bi-communal federation is the only principle for a common basis”, Lillie added.
Asked to reply to a question about the potential impact that Brexit (the UK’s exist from the European Union) may have to the occupation regime’s ties with the UK, Lille said that Brexit should not be considered as an element for overpassing the Cyprus disputes such as the direct trade with “north Cyprus” or the issue of aviation connections. “Brexit is not the solution of the Cyprus problem. The solution of the Cyprus problem is excluded from the Brexit negotiations”, Lillie said.
Asked to comment on the possibility of launching direct trade between London and “north Cyprus” after March 29, that Brexit will take place, the British diplomat reduced expectations for such a thing to happen, stating the following: “the situation in Ercan airport, has nothing to do with Brexit. This is an outcome of the policy we follow about north Cyprus, which is the same with other countries, besides Turkey and of course it is an outcome of the political realities existing in the island. According to Montreal Convention and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Ercan airport is not recognized as an international airport and for this reason direct flights cannot take place. (…)”,Lillie, inter alia, said.
Referring to the Crans-Montana summit, Lillie expressed the view that the reason behind the collapse of the talks there, was the fact that the Cyprus problem is a fabulously difficult issue which envisages a lot of difficult and complicated issues which are necessary to be solved. He added further that he considers that the failure of the talks in Crans Montana has nothing to do with the lack of goodwill by any of the two sides.
On the hydrocarbon issue, Lillie expressed the view that “it is the best way for taking advantage for the reunification of the island”. He added that the hydrocarbons should be utilized in favour of all Cypriots. (…)
Writing in Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Düzen (17.02.19), columnist Cenk Mutluyakali refers to the discussions regarding the federal solution in Cyprus and reports, inter alia, the following:
“They are discussing the ‘federation’, as you know. Their aim is to discuss ‘another formula’ for another ‘forty years’ and [the situation] to remain as it is!
Forget the name [Translator’s note: of the solution] and things like that. Do you know what I want? A country named Cyprus! Not in a pieces! Without barricades! Single! Are you in?
Who will administrate it? It does not matter. He should administrate it fairly, he should protect equality. This is enough. Look, there is not a single Greek Cypriot in the parliament in the north for years! Multiplex lawlessness, injustice exists! […]
Who will administrate it? He should be honorable and love his country. This is enough! He should protect human rights. This is enough! He should produce a solution and offer a life of better quality to all of us. This is enough! He should defend freedoms, democracy and human rights. This is enough!
‘Security’ you said? I know that it will be more secure under all circumstances. Is there a greater lack of security than a life with an ‘unknown future’? Is there a bigger fear than the ‘lack of a homeland? […]
I want to call home my house, land my lands, identity my identity! […] I want normalization, just like every other human being in any other place of the world! I want to live without obeying, without begging, without requesting, without currying favor with someone, without succumbing. I want honorable communities, honorable crowds.
I want no one’s child to go to the army […]
I am unable to pronounce correctly your formulas. I want a country to love in both languages, one single country! I want to call it only Cyprus, without having the ‘Turkish’ in the end, and ‘Greek’ in the corner!”
Writing in his column in Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs (18.02.19) Hasan Hasturer reports that a “status quo” exists within the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), in spite of the image given by the party that it struggles against the status quo, “which influences the Turkish Cypriots negatively”. Under the title “Time for Erhurman to decide”, the columnist notes that after his election to the CTP’s leadership, Tufan Erhurman “drew a line” and wanted to leave the past behind. Hasturer says also the following:
“[…] No one is asked to abandon their beliefs for the party. However, no one can say that those who put forward views, which are not commonly acceptable by the party, harm the CTP. Prime minister Erhurman said that he totally rejected what KTOEOS chairwoman Selam Eylem had said with whom he was in the same environment. Are there not any persons from the CTP’s vitrine who say the same things as Selma Eylem? […] He can say nothing to his friends who deliver similar speeches. Serious problems exist in the CTP. If a solution is not found to these problems, the CTP will experience a big road accident in the first general elections. […]”
Furthermore, columnist Gokhan Altiner in Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs Postası (18.02.19) refers to the opposition within the CTP and argues that this wearied Erhurman. He notes that this opposition is so hard that puts Erhurman in a difficult situation before the community. “We can see that many times prime minister Erhurman is put in a very difficult situation mainly before Turkey on the Cyprus issue and in front of the community”, he argues adding that from Erhurman’s statements it is understood that after removing the chairman of the administrative council of the so-called electricity authority from his post, he will continue removing from their duties all persons who do not listen to him or the “government”.
Finally, columnist Cenk Mutluyakali, editor-in-chief of Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Düzen (17.02.19), which is considered as CTP’s mouthpiece, refers to three recent meetings of the party in occupied Zodia, Assia and Lysi villages for briefing people about the work of the “government”. The columnist notes that during the meetings in Zodia and Assia, the table at which the CTP delegation was sitting had been covered with the flags of Turkey and the breakaway regime, while in Lysi the table was covered with a white tablecloth. “Do not do this”, says Mutluyakali referring to the meetings during which the flags were used. Wondering what the reason for this “insincere subservience” and “nationalist shows” is, the columnist notes: “What I have not understood is the following! No one will vote for a left-wing party saying ‘look they defend the flag’. Defend the freedoms and equality and this is enough! Give value to the labor. And refer to a high standard of living and quality future appropriate for human honor. […]”
Pointing out that the parties in Turkey do not put flags on their tables when they visit villages, Mutluyakali argues: “At least the important majority of those who administrate the country now are spotless. However, the allegations for ‘bribery’ in the recent past were deep! Let them hide behind the flag! […]”
According to Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi (18.02.19), two suspects linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) were captured in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus on Saturday and handed over to Turkish authorities.
According to a press release by Turkey’s Security General Directorate, suspects, identified by their initials Y.Ç. and A.A., had outstanding arrest warrants on charges of membership in FETÖ.
On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika (18.02.19), under the title “There is no law, there is craziness” (playing with word, hukuk=law and guguk= cuckoo), on its front page, reports that decisions are taken for arrest and “extradition” to Turkey only because Ankara has asked this without any accusation against them.
The paper also writes that after signing the “protocol” for “undesirable people” between Turkey and the “TRNC” a week ago, two persons, who had arrest warrants in Turkey, were arrested in the occupied area of Cyprus and sent to Turkey.
Commenting on this issue, legal expert Tacan Reynar said that we have gotten used to the fact that people, who have not been condemned yet, are being declared guilty in the Turkish press and now it is happened also in the “south of Cyprus” [occupied area of Cyprus].
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (18.02.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/russia-open-to-turkish-ops-in-syria-under-adana-agreement-141306) with the above title, reports that Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov gave an interview to Hürriyet Daily News right after the trilateral summit in Sochi.
Peskov said that it went well, adding: “Now, as the three guarantor countries and the countries that initiated the Astana process, the continuation of this dialogue is very positive every time. (…) everyone is in favour of Syria’s territorial integrity and they are ready to do their very best to protect it. However, on the other hand, everyone finds Turkey’s security demands legitimate. This is, earnestly, an understandable right, and the leaders are trying to determine how Turkey can safeguard this right. Of course, now Turkey is saying “I will establish a safe zone, there will be a special arrangement and so on. And we say that there is no need for that, because a deal was signed in 1998 between Turkey and Syria.
According to Adana agreement, Peskov noted: “Turkey can carry out cross-border operations and doing so is deemed legal. Consequently, the legal ground is evident, and there is no need for a new ground.”
Commenting on the question whether Russia’s suggestions and Turkey’s demand for a safe zone meet on a common ground, Peskov replied: “Of course. Why not? Leaders and our military experts are continuously in contact, making consultations. It should be done, it should continue. A political will is evident. When leaders come together, they express their political will and they demand solution.” (…)
On the question: “The YPG is a very delicate matter for Turkey. Turkey got a crucial green light from Russia in Afrin. For you, how should the issue of the YPG be solved?”, Peskov said: “We are against all forms of terrorism, and we recognize the right to combat for every country that is dealing with terrorism. We are also a country that suffers from terrorism. We understand Turkey’s concerns. On the other hand, Kurds have lived on Syrian lands for centuries, and they have the right to continue living. This right should be protected in the future formation of Syria.” (…)
Replying to the question whether he believes the Americans are really pulling out of Syria, Peskov said: “The U.S. has become the most unpredictable country. For example our President is the President, he does what he says, and he makes others do what he says. The U.S. is in a deep crisis, we do understand the hardships they are going through, but we are also impatiently waiting.” (…)
Regarding the purchase of S-400s by Turkey, Peskov said: “Turkey has already decided, and we are acting accordingly. All the contracts are made, commitments are made, credits are supplied, and payments are made. The U.S. is frequently trying to get superior competition rights for itself through legal or extra-legal means. In other words, the economy is behind everything. The U.S. talks about sanction. Why? So that everyone can buy their products. The same pressure is now being put on Turkey. Only a handful of countries can show resilience. Turkey is one of them.” (…)
According to Turkish news portal (17.02.19, https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/02/16/erdogan-says-eu-not-taking-turkey-into-the-bloc-because-it-is-muslim/), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has argued the European Union is not accepting Turkey into the bloc because Turkey is a Muslim country, Turkish media reported. “I am now revealing the reason why they [the EU] is not taking Turkey in. I am saying it openly, there is only one reason: We are Muslim, they won’t take us because we are Muslim,” Erdoğan said in an interview in a joint program on pro-government TV stations ATV and A Haber. (…)
During the interview, Erdoğan also talked about the long queues in front of municipal produce stands established by the Turkish government to sell produce at lower prices in the wake of skyrocketing food prices, and said they are a sign of wealth. Since the beginning of the week Turkish media outlets have covered the sale of fruits and vegetables from these stands and the long queues that form in front of them. (…)
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (17.02.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/over-3-500-detained-in-nationwide-safety-operation-in-turkey-141288), Turkish police, gendarmerie and coast guard units conducted a "safety and peace" operation across Turkey, the Interior Ministry said in a written statement on Feb. 17. Security forces detained at least 3,673 people on Feb. 16, the statement read.
Over 58,500 security personnel and 235 sniffer dogs were involved in the operation at 4,623 locations across the country.
Around 147,600 vehicles and over 18,600 public workplaces were inspected during the operation.
Within the scope of operation, at least 94 missing people, including four children, were found, the statement added.
As a result of the operation, 13 workplaces were closed, over 220 missing vehicles were found and 944 vehicles were banned from traffic, the ministry said.
Shopping malls, entertainment centers, exhibitions, surroundings of public buildings, boulevards and streets, piers and ports, bus stations and terminal entrances were among the key spots inspected by security teams during the operation.
Meanwhile, Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.02.19, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/todays-headlines/turkey-735-pkk-kck-suspects-nabbed-in-anti-terror-ops/1395553) reports that Security forces arrested 735 PKK/KCK terror suspects on Sunday plotting an attack before local elections in Turkey.
The Interior Ministry said that at least 150 counter-terror operations were carried out against PKK/KCK members and their supporters prior to the polls on March 31. (…)
The terror group members were planning to mark the 20th anniversary of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan's arrest. (…)
Turksih portal side Ahvalnews (17.02.19 https://ahvalnews.com/military-service/payment-exemption-military-service-be-made-permanent-says-erdogan) reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said that shortened military service in exchange for paying a certain amount of money would be made permanent and available to all conscripts.
“We are making the paid military exemption permanent, albeit limited to certain numbers. Everyone will be able to serve shortened services in the military regardless of their education level,’’ Erdoğan said while speaking at a rally for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the northwestern province of Balıkesir.
The Turkish president said that the shortened service would entail one month of basic training.
Men over 18 in Turkey are required to fulfil military service of at least six months; however, the option of paying a fee to reduce or waive the required service is introduced temporarily from time to time.
Accordingly, Turkish men can complete their military service in 21 days instead of five-and-a-half or 12 months in exchange for the payment of roughly 15,000 Turkish liras ($2,430) to the government.
A temporary law that contains provisions for paid military service passed through Parliament on July 25, 2018. By September, nearly 500,000 had applied for a reduced service.
Columnist Serkan Demirtas, writing in Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (18.02.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/serkan-demirtas/us-patriot-offer-not-good-enough-for-turkey-141301), reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comprehensive statements on Turkey’s determinacy in purchasing and deploying Russia’s sophisticated S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems have hit the headlines in recent days.
Erdoğan has informed that the systems will be deployed in July 2019, a few months earlier than scheduled, reiterating: “We made the S-400 deal with Russia, so it is out of the question for us to turn back. That’s done.”
On questions about negotiations for the purchase of the U.S.-made Patriot air defence systems, Erdoğan implied that that the offer made by the Americans was not good enough.
A reaction to statements by Erdoğan was delivered by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who said: “We will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries. We cannot ensure the defence of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East,” at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend.
At this point, a quick reminder would be useful: Talks between Turkey and the U.S. over the sale of Patriot air defence systems were resumed after signs of normalization of bilateral ties have been observed following the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson in October 2018. (…)
Turkey seems to have closed the Patriot subject with the Americans while accelerating the S-400 deployment process. This may lead to important consequences in defence ties between the two countries as well as on political bonds.
Turkey’s deployment of S-400s would activate a new set of sanctions against Turkey and would complicate its continued participation to the F-35 project. Accompanied with a number of other problems stemming from Syria and the U.S. support to the YPG, the S-400s sale obviously constitutes yet another major challenge in front of Turkish-American relations in 2019.”
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