Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis (19.02.19) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has said that achieving a federal solution is difficult in Cyprus, but federation is the most feasible solution. In the second part of his interview on the occasion of the 10th anniversary from the paper’s circulation, Akinci was called to comment on the various proposals after the Crans Montana Conference and the tension created within the Turkish Cypriot community on these issues. He noted that during the process until the Crans Montana the 11 February 2014 document and the high Level Agreements 1977-79 existed and that, as always, some parties had not supported the 11 February document while some others supported it with hesitation.
He alleged that when no solution was reached at the Crans Montana in spite of what he called the Turkish Cypriot side’s flexibility, and the Greek Cypriot side’s “unwillingness” for taking steps for the solution, a discussion started within the Turkish Cypriot side as to whether the UN parameters are sufficient for finding a solution and as to whether other solution formulas could be discussed. “The messages given by Mr Anastasiades caused this”, he alleged and claimed:
“It is understood that the esteemed Greek Cypriot leader gave different messages in different environments. He met with Mr Cavusoglu at the Crans Montana. He told him some things. He met with him in New York. He told him something different. Of course, the essential thing is what he says to the UN. […] We held meetings on 16 April and on 26 October. On 16 April I asked: Is there an issue of two states, what is your approach on this? Do you have a clear stance on this? Do you reject sharing political equality from now on? Do you look for other parameters? […] He gave a concrete answer to my question as to whether the two state solution is on his agenda. He said no. […] Let us come to 26 October. In the meantime, Greek Cypriot leader’s reference to loose federation came. On 26 October, we asked him about this as well. The reply he gave was: ‘I did not refer to loose federation, I spoke about decentralization’. Decentralization means the accumulation of powers in the founding states and not in the center. We do not oppose this. The Turkish Cypriot side has ever since supported the view that the founding states should be more powerful and worked in this direction. The Greek Cypriot negotiating team has always wanted more powers to be given to the center. If they want to change this now, we have no objection, but there is no concrete proposal. […] What we understand from Mrs Lute’s visits, what is very clearly coming out, is that the Greek Cypriot side said to the UNSG’s representative that it is committed to the bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. […] It refers to federation, but expresses the view for a decentralized federation, leaving the content empty again. There is not concrete proposal. […]”
Asked whether the Turkish Foreign Ministry was among those who refer to “different things” [outside the UN parameters], Akinci replied that some things were established by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and that some of these conclusions were common conclusions of the Turkish side. He alleged:
“The Greek Cypriot side cannot do what is necessary on the issue of political equality. That is, it accepts that there are two politically equal sides in the solution but on the rotating presidency issue, for example, first they rejected it at the Crans Montana and then when the UN officials told them that ‘this cannot happen, the principle is there, it has been accepted, what are you doing’, they warmed up again the issue of the single list, which we had discussed in Cyprus and agreed that cannot happen, and they put it on the agenda. I want this to be understood very well, because during the Talat - Christofias period we had accepted the weighted vote principle. However, the demand called single list cannot be accepted, the president and the vice president to go and ask for votes from the two sides with a common list. […] However, there is the issue of two presidents being elected separately by the two sides. There is the principle that the communities will influence to a reasonable extent the election of the other president in a limited percentage which will not be distorting the will. […] By saying that ‘ok I accept the rotating presidency but I accept it in this way’, it started rejecting the validity of the one positive vote principle in the council of ministers which we had agreed and reaffirmed at the Mont Pelerine. […]”
Reiterating the allegation that this stance of the Greek Cypriot side caused the discussions of different solution models, such as the two states and the confederation, within the Turkish Cypriot community, Akinci argued that two founding states are included in the document of 11 February 2014, which provides for a single sovereignty, a single international identity and a single citizenship.
“It should not be considered that the two sides will administrate a common state”, he claimed adding: “There is no such a thing. The two founding states will have the authority in many fields. The two founding states will even have the right to sign international agreements in certain fields. In many fields such as health, education, communications, the founding states will be 100% authorized in their own areas. And the federal state in the center will be jointly administrated on the condition of effective participation in the decisions. […] It is difficult to be achieved, but federation is the most possible solution. […]”
According to illegal Bayrak television (19.02.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=national-existence-council-visits-ubp), the “national existence council” visited the headquarters of the National Unity Party (UBP) yesterday, where the UBP leader and the council members exchanged views on the course of the Cyprus issue.
Speaking there, the “president of the national existence council” Vedat Çelik criticized the federation thesis and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci’s stance, stating that many other solution models other than a federation could be found. He however claimed that the Turkish Cypriot side did not believe in this.
The UBP leader Ersin Tatar, for his part, said that “it was important for the state to take root and grow stronger” adding that the UBP, as in the past, continued to uphold the national cause.
Noting that the Cyprus issue was passing through a critical stage again, Tatar said it was difficult to understand how a federal settlement had come to the agenda again following the collapse of the talks in Crans-Montana.
Claiming that a different danger was awaiting the Turkish Cypriots each time they sat at the negotiating table, he reminded that a map was presented to the other side during the previous negotiations and added that alarm bells had started to ring again for the Turkish Cypriots.
Claiming that the Greek Cypriot side did not possess the intention to share anything with Turkish Cypriots, Tatar asked: “How much longer can you discuss a federal settlement under such circumstances?”
Noting that “their first priority should be to set up a prosperous future for the youth by further strengthening the state, increasing the welfare of the people and developing grand projects with Turkey like the water project and the project of bringing electricity underwater via cable”, he referred to the reportedly danger of Cyprus becoming like Crete if the “TRNC” was not protected and defended.
Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Afrika (19.02.19) under the title: “Elcil to Tatar: Lets discuss in front of the public”, reports that the general secretary of the Turkish Cypriot teacher’s trade union (KTOS), Sener Elcil, issuing a written statement yesterday, called on the chairman of the main opposition National Unity Party (UBP) Ersin Tatar to discuss publicly the irregularities by his party in the past and how they were covered up, but also his recent threats and the lawsuit against him (Elcil) regarding his statements against Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“I am calling on Mr. Tatar who is utilizing for political purposes our response to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s recent statement, to come in front of the public for a public discussion”, Elcil said, adding also the following: “The only aim of Tatar by insulting us and buttering up the AKP government, is to achieve to get the power. Tatar’s threats with a lawsuit against us and his support to those who are involved with the lynching events against Afrika newspaper on January 22, are deriving from his weakness to have a political say”. Elcil said that he calls on Tatar to discuss in front of the public their difference, in order as he said, for the Turkish Cypriot “people” to realize who he really is.
On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi (19.02.19) reports that Tatar, replying to Elcil’s call in a written statement, accused Elcil of insulting the Turkish Cypriot “people” and Turkey with his statements and claimed: “I would never keep silent against those who are constantly attacking Turkey, my state and my people”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi (19.02.19) reports that the “minister of labor and social insurance” Zeki Celer will participate in the “Old Age Council” that will take place on February 20 in Turkey.
Celer will make a speech in the council under the title: “Friendly policy towards old people in the world”.
According to the paper, the opening speech of the council will be made by the Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan.
Ministers of labor of many countries, among them the Minister of Labor and Social Insurance of Bangladesh Nuruzzam Ahmet and the Minister of Labor of Bulgaria Sultanka Petrova will also participate in the council.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi (19.02.19) reports that twelve Turkish Cypriot export firms under the umbrella of the “Turkish Cypriot chamber of industry” (“KTSO”) attended the Dubai Gulfood 2019 Fair.
Issuing a written statement on the issue, the “KTSO” said that the Turkish Cypriot exporters are attending the fair under the umbrella of the “chamber” for the thirteenth time. The statement adds that the aim of the Turkish Cypriot exporters is to increase the exports of their food products.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (19.02.19) reports that Cemal Ozyigit, “minister of national education and culture”, attended the “EU Scholarship event for the academic year 2019/20”. In the event, Mr Kjartan Bjornsson, Head of Unit, Structural Reform Support Service, European Commission, James Martin, Director of the British Council were also present.
Addressing the event, Ozyigit said that the programme “EU scholarship programme for Turkish Cypriot community” has been continuing since 2007 and 176 students benefited with scholarships for the 2018/19 academic year.
Writing in Turkish online newspaper T24 (19.02.19, https://t24.com.tr/yazarlar/metin-munir/etkin-katilim-ama-nasil,21729), Turkish Cypriot columnist Metin Munir reports that no partnership or company in the world could function, if one of the partners has as broad powers as the ones which the Turkish Cypriots call “effective participation” in the decision making process in case a federal solution is reached in Cyprus. Under the title “Effective participation, but how?”, Munir writes, inter alia, the following:
“[…] Until some months ago, when the Turkish Cypriot political leaders opened their mouths they were saying: ‘The Greek Cypriots do not want to share the wealth and the administration with us. This is why there is no solution’. What they meant by the wealth was the natural gas which was found and which is expected to be found in the island’s open sea. When Anastasiades stated that one fifth of this ‘wealth’ would be given to the Turks, the expression, which our politicians had learned by rote, shortened. Now they only say ‘There is no agreement because the Greek Cypriots do not want to share the administration with us’. What is the meaning of this ‘sharing’? It is one of the issues agreed in the negotiations, which are continuing since Noah’s time, the ‘effective’ participation of the Turks in the island’s administration after the solution. This is a principle accepted by the UN as well. However, how will this ‘effective participation’ be? There is no agreement on this issue.
We, or more correctly those who represent us in the negotiations, say that the ‘effective participation’ is for the Turks to have the right of veto in all the institutions of the state, including the Council of Ministers. These institutions will not be able to take any decision which the Turks do not approve.
Before coming to the counter proposal of the Greek Cypriots, it could be useful for me to underline the following: There is no institution in the world, either on a company or a state basis, in which any of the partners have such broad power. The reason for this is clear: It is not possible for such a partnership to function.
As to the response of the Greek Cypriots to the Turkish position, [this is the following]: ‘If you have the power of veto in all institutions, you will be administrating the state. […] The state cannot be administered in this manner. […] You should have a veto right only on the issues which concern the Turks’.
The reply of all our politicians, and mainly Mustafa Akinci, to this is: ‘Absolutely not’. Until today, I have not met someone in our side who says ‘perhaps we could meet in the middle.’ And I do not expect to meet [such a person], because there is no such word as ‘reconciliation’ in our vocabulary. Fear and lack of confidence determine our mental situation and our stance towards the Greek Cypriots. Our politicians still live in the 1960’s, in a Cold War atmosphere peculiar to us. They do not even realize that a war happened in 1974, that we have won this war and that the Greek Cypriots are the weak side, not the Turks. […]
I had written this before: The greatest reason for the fact that the negotiations could reach nowhere is our excessive demands from the Greek Cypriots rather than the fact that they do not want to share this and that with us.
Anastasiades wanted to carry the intercommunal negotiations to another level by proposing that the bi-communal federation, the establishment of which is planned, to be as loose as possible, decentralized. Actually, we should be the ones asking for a loose federation. Because loose federation means to be carried into the Republic of Cyprus with all its institutions, that is the EU, by leaving the TRNC’s name behind. The people have already moved there, guys. There is almost no Turkish Cypriot who has not taken an EU passport”.
According to Turkish daily Yeni Akit (19.02.19, https://www.yeniakit.com.tr/haber/chp-petrol-arama-calismalarina-karsi-cikti-618423.html), Ali Mahir Basarir, Deputy with main opposition party Republican People’s Party (CHP), asked the suspension of the oil exploration work, because the daily cost of the vessel, which carries out the exploration work in the Mediterranean is around to 50 thousand dollar, while the saving measures are implemented on the citizens.
While speaking in the Turkish Parliament, Basarir said that oil and natural gas exploration activities will carry out in six locations in the Mediterranean and added: “When all the costs are being calculated in case the other wells cannot have results as it has been understood from the wells of Erdemli and Alanya, then approximately 2 billion dollars will be buried in the deep water of the Mediterranean”.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (18.02.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-defies-us-persistence-on-scrapping-russian-s-400-deal-141322), Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has turned down a call by the U.S. to scrap a deal to buy the Russian S-400 missile defence systems, saying Washington should not conflate the issue of Ankara’s procurement of defence systems with the two NATO allies’ cooperation in Syria.
Turkey had to seek alternative air defence systems and has reached an agreement for the procurement of the Russian S-400 systems at a time when the country needed the equipment amid increasing risks on its border but could not find support from its allies, the President said on Feb. 18 at a rally in the south-western province of Burdur. “We asked Western allies for the delivery of air defence systems, but the existing systems were withdrawn let alone giving a new one,” Erdoğan said, referring to the U.S.’s Patriot systems deployed in southern Turkey to protect its borders from threats it says it feels exposed to across the Syrian border.
Erdoğan did not directly point to the U.S., but insinuated that “Turkey’s ally” was trying to convince it to change its mind on the issue of the Russian missile defence systems. “Having the S-400 from Russia is an outcome of this pursuit. Now you tell us to give up purchasing the S-400 [systems],” he stated.
“You don’t provide us joint production and financial support,” Erdoğan said, referring to Turkey’s ongoing talks with the U.S. to purchase the American Patriot air defence systems which Washington conditioned for Ankara to abandon the S-400 systems. “It’s unacceptable to criticize Turkey with this argument,” he said.
Slamming the U.S.’s arms support to the YPG in Syria, he said: “You deliver 22,000-23,000 trucks of arms to terrorists, but don’t give me when asked even when I say I’d pay for them. You give them free of charge. What kind of an alliance is this, what kind of a NATO alliance? If our demands are not met, we will take steps.”
Erdoğan also urged the U.S. not to link the issue of the procurement of the Russian missile defence system with a deal on the Syrian city of Manbij. “We will never accept to associate this issue with the steps we agreed to take in Syria. We expect the administration of Manbij to be left to its locals. We expect [the U.S.] to end support to the terrorists in the east of Euphrates,” he said, referring to the YPG’s presence in the region.
He reiterated Turkey’s plans to launch a military offensive in the east of Euphrates. “Those who come from thousands of kilometers away for [military] operations for their own security see themselves as the rightful owners. I have a 911-kilometer border; I’m under threat at all times. Will I not interfere?” he said.
Erdoğan’s stern warnings came at a time when Washington mounts pressure on Ankara to give up the deal with Russia on the S-400 systems in return for the Patriot missile systems to meet the country’s defence requirements.
The U.S. has conveyed its proposals for the Patriots, but the plan does not propose a joint production or assistance in credit loans at the moment.
On the same issue, Turkish daily Sabah (19.02.19, https://www.dailysabah.com/war-on-terror/2019/02/19/turkey-to-deal-major-blow-to-ypg-terrorists-east-of-euphrates-soon), under the title “Turkey to deal major blow to YPG terrorists east of Euphrates soon”, reports that Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey will not let a terror corridor be formed near its Syrian borders, underlining that to prevent any such formation, a military intervention east of the Euphrates is around the corner. He made it clear on Monday that Turkey will completely root out the People's Protection Units (YPG) – the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate – east of the Euphrates River. (…)
Reiterating that the Manbij road map was agreed on with the U.S., the President said they expect the province to be cleared of terrorist elements as soon as possible. "We know that millions of Syrians will return to their hometowns safely when Manbij and the east of the Euphrates are liberated from terrorists," Erdoğan said.
Under the title “AK Party’s Istanbul mayor candidate resigns as Parliament Speaker”, Turkish daily Sabah (19.02.19, https://www.dailysabah.com/elections/2019/02/18/ak-partys-istanbul-mayor-candidate-resigns-as-parliament-speaker) reports that the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Istanbul mayoral candidate Binali Yıldırım resigned Monday as Parliament speaker after officially filing his nomination papers.
Parliament bylaw now requires parties to elect their candidates for the post and notify the Presidency Council within five days of the convention of the general assembly. Parliament will then elect a new Speaker a day after the nomination deadline. Accordingly, the new Parliament Speaker will be elected Sunday, Feb. 24.
Yıldırım on Tuesday officially yielded his post to The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Chairman Celal Adan, the oldest among the deputies, who will hold the post until Election Day.
"Over the last seven months, I tried hard to work in harmony with all groups with the principle of less controversy and more consensus, which was based on reconciliation. I have peace of mind as I leave the office today," Yıldırım told reporters at the parliament during the handover ceremony. He added that the Turkish parliament will continue to step up under the new presidential government system, adopted in an April 2017 referendum.
Media reports claimed AK Party Group Deputy Chairman Naci Bostancı may be the party's frontrunner for the post. MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli earlier announced that his party would not present a candidate, but instead back the AK Party candidate. (…)
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (19.02.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/nearly-312-000-syrians-return-home-after-turkish-ops-141327), Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that nearly 312,000 Syrians have returned home after Turkey’s counter-terror operations in northern Syria. “311, 968 Syrians have returned home after the Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield operations which provided an atmosphere of tranquillity and peace,” Soylu has said.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northern Syria have cleared a region including Al-Bab, Afrin, and Azaz from the YPG, which is the Syrian arm of the outlawed PKK, and ISIL militants, , making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence there to return home. (…)
Soylu also said that Turkey hosts over 3.6 million Syrians granted international protection status. (…)
The Interior Minister also updated the figures for the irregular migrants held in nationwide operations this year. Some 6,523 irregular migrants were held across Turkey in the first five weeks of 2019, he added. (…)
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION