Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis (15.02.19) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, speaking during the reception for the celebration of Havadis’ 10th year of circulation stated that one of the main conditions of the solution of the Cyprus problem is the safeguard of peace in Cyprus and the younger generation to be protected from the pain the older generations suffered. “But we cannot do this alone. […] the other side must have the same feelings and share the same ideas”, he said.
He also stated that they have not abandoned the policy that they consider to be right for the solution of the Cyprus problem and this is federation.
Under the title “Erhurman: The possibility of solution is difficult”, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi (15.02.19), on its front page, reports that Tufan Erhurman, self-styled prime minister, met yesterday with Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay in Ankara.
During the meeting, which lasted two hours and was closed to the press, the bilateral relations between Turkey and the “TRNC” as well as the “economic protocol” between Turkey and the breakaway regime were discussed.
Erhurman, in an interview to Turkish private channel CNNTurk argued that if the Greek Cypriot leader continues to have the stance and view that he has at this moment, if the political equality is not a fundament parameter then the solution’s possibility is difficult.
On the same issue, according to illegal BRT (15.02.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=erhurman-speaks-to-cnn-turk), Erhürman, at his interview, was asked whether the intense traffic between the “TRNC” and Turkey and between Greece and Turkey was a preliminary preparation for sitting at the negotiating table again, following Crans-Montana. Pointing out that similar to the Annan Plan, Crans-Montana was a turning point for the Cyprus issue, Erhürman claimed that everyone they had talked too had openly stated that the “TRNC” and Turkey did everything they can to achieve a solution in Crans-Montana.
Erhurman alleged that although the Turkish side did everything it could and a solution was very close, a failure was experienced as a result of the Greek Cypriot side’s stance. He also claimed that following Crans-Montana Anastasiades had interestingly brought issues which had not been discussed before, onto the agenda, arguing: “Mr. Anastasiades talked about a loose federation and a decentralized federation. The TRNC together with Turkey asked him to bring his proposals forward however he didn’t. It’s been seen that he tries to create incomprehensibility”.
Claiming that Anastasiades was attempting to waste time, he argued that this was related with the Greek Cypriot side’s acting with the assumption that time was working for their benefit throughout the negotiations history adding that this was in fact true.
“As the TRNC we are making this call with Turkey: If you have a will for a solution then be clear and reveal clearly what you really want then we will be ready to negotiate what you propose under the UN umbrella. Because we are the side that desires a solution as soon as possible”, Erhürman alleged.
Claiming that during his meetings with UN officials following the Crans Montana meeting Anastasiades had said “I am having difficulty in explaining political equality to my people. Since I am having difficulty we need to make a new opening so that the political equality will no longer be a tough issue for me”, Erhurman added that it’s been understood that as a result of this he reached the idea of a decentralized federation.
Claiming that Anastasiades thought that with the implementation of decentralization the Turkish Cypriot side will not be very insistent on political equality, Erhürman argued: “We, as the Turkish Cypriot side, are very clear on this issue. The political equality is described almost in all UN decisions. There is a need for active participation, both peoples should participate in the decision making process. You cannot take decisions within a centralized structure by excluding the Turkish Cypriot people. The will of the Turkish Cypriot side should be reflected on the decisions and that’s a matter of political equality.”
Referring to one of the statements made by Anastasiades regarding the hydrocarbon issue “If we are to make an agreement on the hydrocarbon resources with the Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriot side did not give its consent then would that mean that we cannot carry onwards”, Erhurman evaluated it as an unfortunate statement.
He reminded that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci before their unofficial meeting had called on Anastasiades to clarify what he meant by a loose federation and a decentralized federation.
Responding to a question “whether different opinions between Akıncı and Turkey and between the coalition partners was weakening the hand of the Turkish side at the negotiating table”, Erhürman said: “Although it’s been thought that there are different opinions within the Turkish side the common points are very obvious for us.”
Noting that the Turkish side can sit at the negotiating table with a single voice, he claimed that the main confusion was Anastasiades putting forward different concepts within 15 days.
“The main issue is not the differences of the Turkish Cypriot side but what Anastasiades will bring to the table” Erhürman argued and expressed the need for explaining this to international actors.
Asked what exactly they expect from Turkey regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, Erhurman said they had been acting with Turkey and that Turkey besides the Turkish Cypriots was also protecting its own rights.
“There was never a difference between Turkey and the TRNC throughout the process. Although our rightfulness is seen in the international community, this rightfulness cannot always be accepted. Therefore, we need to take on more diplomatic initiatives” he said.
Stating that the voice of the Turkish Cypriots was being less heard lately in the international community, Erhürman said: “We need to benefit from Turkey’s diplomatic opportunities and find more collocutors in the world and make more openings.”
According to illegal Bayrak television (15.02.19-http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=cyprus-issue-48), Turkey’s Ambassador to Athens Burak Ozugergin said that during the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s visit to Turkey he exchanged views regarding the Cyprus issue with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Evaluating Greek Prime Minister’s visit to Turkey to Ankara Anatolia news agency, Ozugergin said that for close to 50 years the Cyprus issue has not been solved and this was one of the topics discussed between the two men.
“The Turkish side’s view on the Cyprus issue is that it can only be solved when all issues are taken up at once by everyone as a whole” said Ozugergin and added that once all the issues are taken up by everyone it will become evident, what sort of aim is being sought for and whether or not there is a consensus.
Alleging that there was a question mark as to whether or not the Greek Cypriot side wanted to share political power or economic resources on the island, the Turkish Ambassador said that first an agreement must be reached on what the actual problem was. “Otherwise we will not be able to understand why an agreement hasn’t been reached all these years” he added.
Claiming that the Cyprus problem didn’t begin in 1974, but before 1963, Ozugergin alleged that even before there were any Turkish soldiers on the island, he added: “The Cyprus peace operation was not a reason for the Cyprus problem but an outcome that was created.”
Reminding that it as the Greek Cypriot people who rejected the Annan Plan in 2004, Özügergin alleged that if they had approved the Annan Plan, the number of soldiers on the island would be less than the number of personnel working at the Greek Foreign Ministry.
Touching upon the issue of energy resources of the Eastern Mediterranean being moved to the European markets, he alleged that the eastern Mediterranean energy equation, that Turkey is not a part of, is not correct and will not work. “There are some economic and political realities. I don’t think it will be possible to make investment moves in the eastern Mediterranean separate from the realities in the region”, Ozugergin further alleged.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (15.02.19) reports that a decision has not been taken yet as regards the removal of Ahmet Hudaoglu, the chairman of the “Turkish Cypriot electricity authority (KIB-TEK)” from his post; however the issue created a lot of distress.
(TR. Note: News were circulated yesterday that the main reason for the non-signing of the “economic protocol” between Turkey and the breakaway regime was Ankara’s insistence on the privatization of KIB-TEK and the efforts made by the “minister of economy” Ozdil Nami to pause Hudaoglu and the “KIB-TEK board of directors”.)
Citing information, the paper notes that a decision for Hudaoglu’s removal has not been taken yet; however the “government” is determined to take this decision. At the same time EL-SEN the trade union of the “KIB-TEK” workers, will go on a long term strike.
Kibris further reports that decisions on the issue are expected to be taken after the return of “prime minister” Tufan Erhurman from Ankara.
Referring to the same issue, Afrika (15.02.19) writes that Hudaoglu has been removed already from his duties. Kibris Postatsi (15.02.19) reports that the decision for Hudaoglu’s removal has been taken already during a meeting of the ‘council of ministers” last Tuesday.
Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes (15.02.19) reports that Kjartan Björnsson, the Head of the Cyprus Settlement Support Unit of the European Commission Structural Reform Support Service, visited yesterday the headquarters of the National Unity Party (UBP) in the occupied part of Nicosia, where he met with the leader of UBP Ersin Tatar and the general secretary of UBP Hasan Tacoy.
According to a press release by UBP, Tatar briefed the EU official on the UBP’s perspectives of the EU and Cyprus, claiming: “The lives of the Turkish Cypriots are European. The UBP believes that the rightest solution is one based on two separate states under the umbrella of the EU. The continuation of Turkey’s guarantees is also indispensable for Turkish Cypriots”.
Tatar further said that “the UBP is also determined to pass the EU harmonization laws from the parliamentary and to develop its relations with the EU”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli (15.02.19) reports that Serhat Alpinar, the founder and rector of “Keryneia American University” (GAU) will participate in a UN meeting. According to the paper, Akpinar who is member of the World Diplomats Union (WDU) will participate in the meeting as the “WDU north Cyprus Chairman”.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (14.02.19-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/no-syria-territorial-integrity-if-ypg-stays-erdogan-141247) reported that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said at a tripartite summit with the Russian and Iranian Presidents in the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi that Syria’s territorial integrity will not be preserved if the country’s east and Manbij city are not cleared of the YPG, expressing at the same time high hopes for a resolution to the eight-year-long war.
“Hopes to find a solution had never blossomed this much,” Erdogan said during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin and their Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Feb. 14.
Iran, Turkey, Russia will continue efforts to reduce clashes and achieve stability in Syria, the three leaders said, adding that they "agreed to form a committee on a new Syrian constitution as soon as possible."
Erdogan stressed that Turkey continues to do its part on the Idlib deal while calling for the Syrian regime to obey the cease-fire. He also said that Turkey will host a new trilateral summit on Syria in coming months.
“The territorial integrity of Syria will not be able to be provided if the YPG is not cleared from the east of the Euphrates River as well as Manbij and if they are not given back to their real owners,” Erdogan said earlier in a statement ahead of his bilateral meeting with Putin.
Erdogan said that the top issue the leaders would discuss was the United States’ decision to pull out troops from Syria, although no details of the withdrawal have been made clear. “It’s very important that we continue to work together in this new era,” Erdogan stated, describing the U.S. withdrawal as one of the most important challenges ahead.
“It’s also very important that all three countries pursue a joint policy to wipe out all militants from Syrian territories, including those of the YPG and ISIL”, Erdogan stressed.
He also stressed that a U.S. proposal to set up a security zone in northeastern Syria would be considered by Turkey only if it’s to assure the safety of its borders and citizens. “We are continuing to discuss the details with the U.S. We welcome the positive stance of Russia toward this proposal. We wish to move in coordination to this end,” Erdogan added.
Erdogan also mentioned a Turkey-Russia protocol on the establishment of a demilitarized zone in Idlib province of Syria, which is currently run by jihadist groups, mainly Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former al-Nusra affiliate. “Our expectation from Russia is the continuation of the implementation of the Idlib protocol,” Erdogan stressed, adding that Turkey’s efforts to prevent militants from attacking a Russian military base in Hmeymim will continue.
Erdogan, in his remarks at the opening of the summit, underlined the success of the Astana Process by singling it out as the most efficient international setting to deliver peace and stability to Syria. “We will continue to take steps to accelerate the political transition period in Syria,” he added. “Syrian refugees are counting down the days to return home. I am sure we will give them some good news.”
Putin, for his part, stressed the need for a final solution to the Idlib problem, suggesting that an ongoing ceasefire should not pave the way for militants to continue their presence in the enclave. “We, as Russia, Turkey and Iran, should act together to this end,” he said.
Echoing Putin, Rouhani also said that al-Nusra still controlled 90% of Idlib province in the face of a deal between Turkey and Russia that aimed to avoid a humanitarian crisis in the enclave. “It seems that this agreement will lead to a permanent problem in the region,” he said.
Ruhani further underlined the need for the protection of the rights of all Syrians, including Syrian Kurds “who have been living in northern Syria for centuries.” But Rouhani also raised Turkey’s security concerns and stressed that they understand Ankara. “We believe the best way to address Turkey’s security concerns would be through dialogue with the legitimate government of Syria. As you know there is the Adana Protocol between Turkey and Syria,” he said, repeating a proposal made by Putin last month.
“Iran will do its best for dialogue between Turkey and Syria”, Rouhani said. “We want bonds between Turkey and Syria to be strengthened. Both sides should be cautious to not take steps to disrupt ties.”
Turkish daily Vatan (15.02.19-http://www.gazetevatan.com/dunyanin-gozu-turkiye-de--1239785-ekonomi/) reports that the new drillship Deepsea Metro 1, which was bought by the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) in order to speed up its drilling activities in Eastern Mediterranean will be a modern drillship to be added to Turkish research fleet, consisting of Orucreis, Barbasos and Fatih ships.
According to the paper, the DeepSea Metro 1, which was bought for 262,5 million dollars, is on the way to Turkey.
In statements on the issue, retired vice-admiral Atilla Kezek alleged that the new drillship has caused uneasiness to the Greek Cypriot side and Greece. He added further that with the DeepSea Metro 1, Turkey’s fleet will be reinforced and claimed that besides this step, steps should be taken in order to be strengthened politically. “We should declare our Exclusive Economic Zone”, Kezek said.
Meanwhile, according to a report by Gokhan Karatas in Turkish daily Milliyet, the new drillship has already passed the Straits of Gibraltar, it has reached off the coast of Algeria and it is expected to arrive in Yalova, Turkey on February 20. (…)
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (1.02.19-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-condemns-austrias-ban-on-grey-wolves-salute-141230) reported that Turkey on Feb. 14 condemned Austria's move to ban the Turkish nationalist “Grey Wolves” salute.
"We do not accept this and we strongly condemn it," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"It is scandalous that the 'Grey Wolves' salute, which is the symbol of a legal political party in Turkey, is on the same list as the symbol of the PKK, a bloody terrorist organization," the statement said.
The Ministry called on Austria to "correct this mistake," saying it “deeply offends bilateral relations between Turkey and Austria".
The Grey Wolves are connected to Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The Ministry statement followed changes to Austrian law last week banning symbols of "extremist organizations" in the country.
MHP, founded 50 years ago, has been a coalition partner in Turkish governments, and currently has an alliance in elections and parliament with the ruling Justice and Development Party.
Turkish daily Sabah (15.02.19-https://www.dailysabah.com/eu-affairs/2019/02/15/romanian-envoy-enhancing-turkey-eu-ties-priority-during-romanian-term-presidency) reports that Romanian Ambassador to Ankara, Gabriel Sopanda stated that Turkey's relations with the EU will be a priority on the agenda of the Romanian presidency of the European Council. He added that Romania would exert all efforts to boost ties between Ankara and the 28-country bloc. "We will make every effort to promote a pragmatic, constructive and dynamic relationship between the EU and Turkey," Sopanda told Daily Sabah in an interview.
Romania's mandate in the rotating Presidency of the council started on Jan. 1 and will last until June 30. This is the first Presidency for the country, marked by political developments and dossiers with a decisive impact on the future of the Union.
"Taken into consideration the fact that Turkey is a candidate country and a key partner of the EU, maintaining dialogue and cooperation is important in addressing issues of common interest, such as effective migration management, fighting terrorism and energy cooperation," Sopanda further said.
In relation to the efforts to enhance dialogue, Sopanda said that as a neighbor and friend of Turkey, Romania is willing to explore opportunities for positive approaches and contacts in close cooperation with member states and European institutions in order to foster concrete progress.
He added that the priorities during Romania's Presidency would reflect on the need for cohesion and have four main pillars of action - Europe of convergence: Growth, cohesion, competitiveness and connectivity; a safer Europe; Europe as a stronger global actor; and a Europe of common values.
Last month, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said that Romania strongly supports the continuation of Turkey's accession talks, adding that they have been working on a joint summit plan for early March between Turkey and the EU in Bucharest with the planned participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other top officials. However, no exact date has been set yet.
As there have been some positive signals for a joint resolve to boost dialogue, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced earlier this month that Turkey-EU ties would further normalize in the upcoming period under the term presidency of Romania, adding that the Turkey-EU Association Council will meet on March 15.
With an aim of adding new momentum in talks with the EU, Turkey has also been taking steps to implement some reforms as agreed in Reform Action Group (RAG) meetings. Following the implementation of the necessary reforms, Ankara expects to see some progress in issues like visa liberalization.
“Romania will lead the EU during some critical events, including the U.K.'s exit from the bloc, the European Parliamentary elections and negotiations on the next EU multi-annual budget framework”, Sopanda said, adding further that Romania eyes high-level dialogue with Turkey in trade and investments.
In relation to Turkey-Romania bilateral ties, Sopanda said that Turkey is a key strategic partner of Romania, which is reflected in their deep bilateral cooperation as well as by common interest concerning the stabilization of the wider Black Sea region.
The Ambassador stressed that Turkey is also a privileged commercial partner for Romania and this is due to geographical proximity, a tradition of neighborly relations and a shared cultural understanding that facilitate cooperation.
Touching on the economic ties between the countries, Sopanda said that steps can be taken to further enhance the cooperation.
Turkey is Romania's largest trading partner outside the EU. The volume of bilateral trade crossed 5 billion euros ($5.63 billion) at the end of 2017, with a 10 percent increase from the previous year, and the growth trend continued through 2018.
Major Turkish investment projects in Romania, like banking, manufacturing, food processing and construction, are doubled by the strong presence of Turkish small and medium enterprises.
"During the visit of the Romanian Prime Minister in October 2018, an ambitious goal for this cooperation was spelled out by the Turkish side to reach $10 billion in the upcoming period," the Romanian envoy said. "This goal can be reached with the support of Romanian trading companies that can take advantage of the scale of the Turkish market of 80 million people," he added.
Ankara Anatolia news agency (14.02.19-https://www.aa.com.tr/en/todays-headlines/turkish-court-jails-opposition-hdp-lawmaker/1393129) reported that a Turkish court on Thursday sentenced an opposition party lawmaker to over three years in prison, according to judicial sources.
A High Criminal Court in eastern Diyarbakir province found Imam Tascier of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) guilty for terror crimes, said the source speaking anonymously due to restrictions on talking to the media.
Tascier was charged with committing crimes on behalf of terrorist organization and of participating in illegal meetings and marches.
He stood trial for trying to enter the region during the period of curfew in the Sur district to protest the operations of security forces.
Turkey’s government accuses the HDP of being linked to the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION