Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Düzen(20.03.19) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has alleged that what was actually saddening, regarding the fact that he did not attend yesterday the friendly football match between the teams of Greek Cypriot Nea Salamina and Turkish Cypriot Mağusa Türk Gücü (MTG) in Pyla village, was the stance of the UN Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus.
During a press conference held at the same time of the match, Akinci claimed that this was an issue of political equality for the Turkish Cypriots and added that he did not want even to think where they would be dragged in case they did not behave with determination and stability on an issue in which they are allegedly right like the political equality.
Akinci explained that he decided not to attend the friendly match because it took place in a stadium in the government-controlled area of the island and not in the buffer zone. He argued that when the bi-communal activity came onto the agenda, it was said that it would take place in a stadium in the buffer zone under UN control, but afterwards the UN stated that it could not provide security and the match was held in Pyla, in an area which is outside the UN’s control.
“What is actually saddening is the stance of the UN”, argued Akinci claiming that this development was not acceptable and that the UN did not help in a situation in which it should have been helpful.
Akinci said that in January representatives from the Peace and Sport Organization, which organized the activity, had told him that they wanted to hold a bi-communal activity in Pyla and asked him to participate. He noted that he replied that he would participate, if there was commitment to the principle of equality.
According to Akinci, on Friday evening, a person from President Anastasiades’ office called Baris Burcu, Akinci’s spokesperson, and asked him how Akinci would go to the area. When Burcu replied that Akinci would go in the same way he goes to every meeting in the buffer zone, he was informed that the match would take place in the government-controlled area of the island. He noted that this fact did not change in spite of the Turkish Cypriot side’s efforts.
Akinci argued that he was never against participating in a bi-communal activity in the government-controlled area of Cyprus, but he supported that the one leg of this activity should be held in the occupied area of the island. He recalled that the two leaders had participated in such cultural activities in the past in Limassol and in occupied Famagusta and added that this could be done in sports as well. An arrangement could be made for the one match to take place in Nea Salamina’s stadium and for the other match to be held in MTG’s stadium, he argued.
Arguing that the UN’s stance should be questioned, Akinci alleged: “That is, if they say ‘I cannot provide adequate security for an organization in the buffer zone, they make questionable their own existence here. I think that this is a very saddening situation”.
Asked how a press conference held at the same time with a bi-communal activity served peace, Akinci replied that the essential thing was that the Turkish Cypriot young people had equal rights with the Greek Cypriot young people, but the Greek Cypriots did not accept to visit stadiums or schools in the occupied area of Cyprus. “Let those who forced me to hold this press conference here think to what extent they serve peace. I exerted an effort to be there”, he claimed.
According to illegal Bayrak television (20.03.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=mfa-issues-statement-on-pile-match), the “foreign ministry” of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus has claimed that citing the United Nation’s security concerns as an excuse to change the venue of yesterday’s bi-communal football match between Mağusa Türk Gücü and Nea Salamina to a location outside the boundaries of the mixed village of Pila was unacceptable.
The “foreign ministry” issued a statement clarifying the status of the mixed village as well as developments concerning yesterday’s match. Pointing out that Pila was a mixed village with a special status, it reminded that residents of each of the two communities residing in the village elected their own representatives.
It also pointed out that “Turkish Cypriot police had jurisdiction over crimes concerning Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriot police had jurisdiction over crimes concerning Greek Cypriots”.
“The UN is only present at the village as observers and therefore does not interfere with the local affairs of the village. May it be reminded that recently a joint operation was conducted by Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot police regarding illegal gambling activities within the village. Unlike other areas within the buffer zone, the UN has no jurisdiction or control over the village of Pila. The UN is only present as liaisons,” the statement read.
In light of the facts, it said that changing the venue of the bicommunal event to a football field in “South Cyprus territory” [editor’s note: the government controlled area of the Republic of Cyprus] on grounds that the UN could not provide sufficient security is totally unacceptable.
“Unfortunately there has been an increase observed in the UN Peacekeeping Forces partial stance regarding issues in the buffer zone. This partial stance not only is in contradiction with UNFICYP’s mission but also casts a shadow on the spirit of such events aimed at bringing the two peoples closer together,” the statement argued.
The statement concluded by claiming that the latest developments once again demonstrated how the Turkish Cypriot side is justified in insisting on a review of UNFICYP’s mandate in Cyprus in light of the current realities.
The majority of the Turkish Cypriot newspapers today (20.03.19) give extensive coverage to the friendly football match between the teams of Greek Cypriot Nea Salamina and Turkish Cypriot Mağusa Türk Gücü (MTG) in Pyla village.
Kıbrıs reports that “The game and friendship was good, but the Turkish Cypriots were bitter”. The paper notes that MTG was left alone in the activity due to the fact that Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci did not participate, showing as pretext the fact that the match took place in the government-controlled area of Cyprus, and the lack of interest by other Turkish Cypriot politicians. “When the game started with a shot by Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades and famous football player Didier Drogba, the eyes looked for Akinci”, writes the paper.
Columnist Ali Baturay, the paper’s editor-in-chief, refers to the issue under the title “If going to a match is such a problem, how will we make a solution?” Noting that only the self-styled speaker of the “assembly” Teberrken Ulucay and the “deputy” with the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), Saim Akansoy attended the activity from the Turkish Cypriot side, Baturay says that Akinci’s “sensitivity” not to attend the match because it would be held in the government-controlled area of Cyprus was “very needless”. He writes the following:
“[…] Mr president, who could not show the courage of going to such a meaningful activity and made up pretexts, saddened and caused disappointment to the people who trusted him and believed in him. People who do not want a solution applauded Akinci, not those who want a solution, believe in a solution. […] They ascribe to him that ‘he did not go to the match because he thought of the presidential elections’. Some said that ‘he did not go because he received instructions from the deep and known places’. […] They might applaud you now, but they will never vote for you and support you. […]”
Afrika refers to the issue under the title “Let this longing end” and reports that the Turkish Cypriot community was saddened by the fact that Akinci did not attend the match showing as pretext political equality. According to the paper, Akinci was strongly criticized on social media.
Yeni Düzenrefers to the issue under the title “Stadium of peace”. The paper’s editor-in-chief, Cenk Mutluyakali reports that “when titles are drawn aside, children can play football for peace” and notes that there was no competition for sovereignty in the field and the status images did not get bigger. Referring to the fact that Akinci did not attend the match because of the location of the stadium, Mutluyakali writes:
“[…] It [the stadium] remained three spans in the south, five spans in the north? What a trouble! Very well, this place was discussed from the beginning, it is said. ‘The place is the same, there is no change’. This is what all the football authorities say! Are they deceiving us? Besides, it seems that the other stadium is too destroyed for such an organization. Why is the United Nations keeping quiet? Is the peace keeping force a tourist on the island? Leave everything aside. Wear your cotton, put on your t-shirt and go. […] Go without flags and titles. Make the difference! ‘Let us then play once in Larnaca, in Nea Salamina’s own stadium, and once in Famagusta’, he says! Nea Salamina’s own stadium is in Famagusta. If an account will be kept, the matter gets very complicated on the issue of who is ‘at home’ and who is ‘playing away’. […]”
Kıbrıs Postası refers to the issue on its front page covering Akinci’s statement under the title “I would not go even if it was Maradona, Pele, Zidane, Ronaldo, Messi and Platini”.
Star Kıbrıs in its main editorial argues that Akinci’s decision not to attend the match was correct and wondered what the Turkish Cypriots would have gained if he went to the activity. The paper claims that they would gain nothing and the “rule of equality”, which they mention everywhere they go, would have been bypassed.
Under the title “Sports won, politics lost”, Halkın Sesi reports that Oguzhan Hasipoglu, “deputy’ with the National Unity Party (UBP), has criticized the fact that Akinci did not attend the friendly match. In a written statement issued yesterday, he argued that because of this the match was turned into a “show of the Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades”. Hasipoglu alleged that Akinci was right to accuse the UN, which “cannot provide security even in the buffer zone” and to question their presence on the island.
According to illegal Bayrak television (20.03.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=donmez-says-gcs-unilateral-attempts-wrong), Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez has claimed that the Greek Cypriot side’s attempts to acquire all of the island’s natural resources for its own economy were wrong.
Speaking at the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency, Dönmez announced that drilling for a second well had started off the coast of Adana. He said that their aim was to conduct drilling at four locations with two ships in the next 12 months.
Reminding that the “Greek Cypriot administration” (editor’s note: referring to the Republic of Cyprus) and other neighbouring countries were conducting their own drilling off the coast of Cyprus, Dönmez said that they aimed to discover their own reserves in the region.
Claiming that it was wrong of the Greek Cypriot side to try to acquire all of the island’s resources for its own economy, the Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister said that the Greek Cypriot side should be focusing on a win-win model for both sides.
“We have the Turkish Cypriot community living in Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriots have their own rights and interests which must be protected. We would be very pleased if the leaders of the two communities sat down and reached an agreement. The TRNC (editor’s note: the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus) has issued its own exploration licenses and hopefully we shall be making our own discoveries. I hope the other side sees this and focuses on a model that will benefit everyone,” he added.
According to illegal Bayrak television (20.03.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=mfa-urges-gc-side-to-abandon-armament-campaign), the “foreign ministry” of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus has warned the Greek Cypriot side to stop its increasing arming campaign which has reportedly surpassed defence purposes.
In a written statement issued on Tuesday, the “ministry” described the Greek Cypriot side’s actions as threatening, insincere and provocative, taken at a time when efforts were underway to reinstate trust between the two communities.
The statement pointed out that the “Greek Cypriot administration” (editor’s note: referring to the Republic of Cyprus) in addition to purchasing armoured vehicles and heavy guns from Serbia will also be purchasing two naval boats from France. Two tanks were also purchased from Germany, the statement added.
It was also reminded that a station will be set up at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base in Mari to be at the disposal of the French navy in line with a defence agreement signed between “South Cyprus” (editor’s note: referring to the Republic of Cyprus) and France.
“As it can be understood from these details it is evident that the steps taken go beyond the sole purpose of defence. More importantly, the Greek Cypriot administration is launching initiatives to lift the arms embargo imposed on it by the US,” the statement read.
The statement reminded that self-styled foreign minister Kudret Özersay had raised the issue during his recent contacts in Washington D.C. It also said that Özersay had raised the concern that the lifting of the embargoes will also serve to increase “South Cyprus’s” armament campaign and that this could raise tensions between the two sides.
“Such actions not only upset the delicate balance by threatening the peace and stability on the island and the region but will also render efforts to build cooperation meaningless”, the statement added.
Columnist Ercin Sahmaran, in a commentary in Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris (20.03.19), publishes an interview given to the paper by so-called minister of interior Aysegul Baybars, on the “new citizenship law” and the discussion which took place in the occupied area of Cyprus recently on the “population census”.
Baybars in her interview described as wrong the “discussion” which is taking place in the “TRNC” on the “country’s population”, pointing out that the most important problem they face in the last forty years is that they failed to create a reliable system.
Explaining that by the end of every month they submit to the “president” the exact number of the “people who were granted the TRNC’s citizenship”, Baybars refuted claims about the recent figures published in the press on the “citizenships”.
“It is not right that 400-500 citizenships are granted per month. We make statements on this so as to be transparent. However, it is not right to give the names. In 2018, a total of 2,173 obtained citizenship. 1,594 out of them obtained citizenship as husbands, wives and children and the rest with work permit. The government has granted 3,200 citizenships overall. As a country, we have failed to do what is necessary all these years on the issue of collecting data and data acquisition. We have to understand from where the figure of 220 thousand which was given in the past, came out. You know, between the figure of 220 thousand and 350 thousand, the difference is 130 thousand citizenships. So the allegation that 130 thousand citizenship were granted is not right. I want to clarify this situation and I say that I do not know from where the figure of 220 thousand which was given before came out and for what reason. In my opinion, this figure is absolutely not right. So, the discussions over the figure of 220 thousand is at the end of the day wrong. The fact that the students were not counted in the past in this figure should be taken into consideration also. […]. The annual increase of the population in our country is 2%. Even if we sum up the citizenships which were granted in the last 3 years, we cannot reach to the figure given over 130 thousand new citizenships. The data given to us over 350 thousand includes the TRNC citizens living abroad and in the internal and the people which are in alive. The concept of population is something different. […]. For the moment, the issue of population census is not in the agenda. If we manage to hold records, I consider that it will not be necessary to carry out a population census”, Baybars said.
She went on adding that the “new citizenship law” has been prepared five months ago and argued that they will “submit it to the assembly” as soon as the other “government partners return it”.
According to illegal Bayrak television (19.03.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=tdp-holds-43rd-anniversary-reception), the Social Democratic Party (TDP) held a reception last night to celebrate its 43rd anniversary of establishment, attended by Turkish Cyrpiot leader Mustafa Akinci, representatives from the Greek Cypriot AKEL and Greens parties, party members and sympathisers.
Delivering a speech at the event, the leader of the TDP and “minister of national education and culture” Cemal Özyiğit said that his party will continue to work for a more humane and democratic life in the “TRNC”.
Touching upon the Cyprus problem, Özyiğit said that the TDP needed to continue its 43-year-old mission for a bicommunal, bizonal federation on the basis of political equality.
“Starting from the late Denktaş to Mr Talat, Mr Eroğlu and now Mr Akıncı have been negotiating a federal settlement with their counterparts. Why? Because a federation is the most reasonable solution model which addresses the common history and the differences of the two communities as well as fits with international law,” he added.
According to illegal BRT (19.03.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=pm-erhurman-receives-fijet), self-styled prime minister Tufan Erhurman met with a delegation from the World Federation of Travel Journalists and Writers (FIJET).
Speaking on behalf of the Federation its leader and former Tunisia Tourism Minister Tijani Haddad informed Erhurman regarding their workings and their aims for the future.
Erhürman, for his part, said he was very honoured to be able to host the federation in the “TRNC”. He also said that he was not happy that Cyprus was only known due to the Cyprus problem and added that as the Turkish Cypriot side they were working hard for this issue to be buried in history once and for all.
Explaining that as the “government” it was their responsibility to allow the people in the “ΤRNC” to grow both socially and economically, Erhurman said the tourism sector therefore carried great importance for the “government”.
Claiming that the “TRNC’s” tourism potential and opportunities needed to be promoted around the world and Turkey, Erhurman drew attention to the cultural, historical, health and special tourism opportunities in the country, adding that there were more than ten months of sunshine in Cyprus and this alone is a potential.
Turkish Cypriot daily Diyalog (20.03.19) reports that so-called minister of finance, Serdar Denktas, speaking yesterday during the “assembly”, announced that a technical committee from Turkey will visit the “TRNC” tomorrow and will hold “talks” with the occupation regime’s technical committee until Friday, on the “economic protocol”.
Denktas said that as soon as the “economic protocol is signed” Turkey will start sending money to the “TRNC” and cash shortage will be resolved.
Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan (20.03.19) reports that the “Slow Food Komi Kepir association” will host the 5th International Mediterranean Gastronomy Festival on May 2019. The Festival is to be organized in the occupied Komi Kepir village, under the leadership of the “Slow food Komi Kepir association” and the “association of supporting slow life.
According to the paper, a preparatory meeting took place on March 9 in Turkey’s province of Izmir where Slow Food leaders from seven different countries gathered together to discuss the details of the Festival. The occupation regime was “represented” by the Gulay Komili.
In statements on the issue, Komili said that they continue preparations for hosting the “Gastronomy festival” in Komi Kepir, alleging that the festival is expected to attract interest not only in the “TRNC” but also from abroad. He further said that Slow food participants from 7 different countries of the Mediteranean will be attending the festival.
[Translator’s note: “Slow Food is an international global, grassroots organization, founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat. More information can be found in the address www.slowfood.com].
According to Turkish daily Sabah (20.03.19, https://www.dailysabah.com/war-on-terror/2019/03/20/erdogan-says-rejects-associating-christianity-with-terrorism-nz-attacker-daesh-the-same), Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan penned an opinion piece to Washington Post in which he rejected efforts to associate Christianity with terrorism and reiterated that the Christchurch terrorist Brenton Tarrant and Daesh are "cut from the same cloth." (…)
Repeating his famous criticism of the West, he said "Unfortunately, Islamophobia and xenophobia, among other practices incompatible with liberal values, were met with silence in Europe and other parts of the Western world." (…)
Meanwhile, Turksih daily Hurriyet Daily News (19.03.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-erdogan-says-removing-death-penalty-was-wrong-142019), under the title “Turkey’s Erdoğan says removing death penalty was ‘wrong’”, reports that Erdoğan has once again brought up the issue of restoring the death penalty, vowing to approve such legislation if Parliament passes it.
“We have done wrong by removing the death penalty. It offends me to feed those in prison, those who martyred 251 of our citizens, police officers and soldiers on the night of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, even though they are serving life sentences,” Erdoğan said on March 19 at a rally for the upcoming local elections in the northern province of Zonguldak.
“I have been saying this all the time, if parliament passes such legislation, I will approve it,” he added. (…)
According to Turkish state Ankara Anatolia news agency (20.03.19, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/greece-rules-out-turkeys-exclusion-in-east-med-energy/1423716), Greece's Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos, in an exclusive interview to Anadolu Agency ahead of visit to Turkey on Thursday, March 21, ruled out the exclusion of Turkey in energy-related issues in the Eastern Mediterranean area. He asserted that Turkey could not be excluded in the disputed region nor could anyone say anything to this effect. "How can one exclude Turkey from an area in which it has a coastal line of many kilometers?" Katrougalos said.
The Greek Minister said his country supports the rights of the Greek Cypriots in its own Exclusive Economic Zone, an area in which Turkey has consistently contested the unilateral drilling conducted by the Greek Cypriot side, and vehemently declared the rights of the Turkish Cypriots to the resources in the area. However, while defending the Greek Cypriots rights, he added that "of course that doesn’t signify a monopoly over the whole Eastern Mediterranean area."
Katrougalos also explained they are testing the waters to see if it is possible to resume the failed negotiations between all parties in Cyprus, which dated back from 2017, with the aim of reuniting the divided island.
"We want the negotiations to begin. But they should be negotiations that have a chance of reaching an agreement, and not just for the sake of negotiating. We are committed to this because we want a solution for the Cyprus issue," he stressed.
Greek, Israeli and Cypriot leaders are meeting on Wednesday, March 20 in Jerusalem, with the anticipated participation of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for their trilateral summit focusing on a pipeline project that plans to transfer natural gas to Europe through Greece. (…)
Commenting on the latest vote taken on the European Parliament's Turkey report regarding the suspension of European Union (EU) accession talks, Katrougalos said that Greece supports Turkey in its membership bid.
"... We want to keep alive the European perspective of Turkey. We consider it is not only in the interest of the Turkish people but also for Europe and for Greece.” (…)
Under the title “Turkey heads to tense local polls”, columnist Serkan Demirtas, writing in Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (20.03.19), reports in his following commentary that AKP is using all means in order to win the municipal elections:
As predicted, political strain ahead of the March 31 local elections is in an unprecedentedly constant escalation with harsh quarrels and astounding accusations between the opposition and ruling party’s alliances. For many reasons, one can cite the upcoming elections as the tensest polls in the near history of Turkey, even though voters will merely choose the country’s local leaders. (…)
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, in an interview with the private broadcaster NTV late March 18, said: “Wherever I am going [as part of the election campaign] I warn about provocations. Any kind of provocations can be staged on March 21.”
Turkey will mark Nevruz on March 21, a day which symbolizes the start of spring for a number of peoples in Eurasia – from Azeris to Iranians, from Kurds to Kazakhs. Kılıçdaroğlu did not detail the kind of provocation he is concerned about, but has implied that it may target the March 21 celebrations.
These warnings are not just given by the main opposition leader. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy leader Semih Yalçın issued a circular letter to all the branches of his party warning them about any provocative move against the nationalist party on the eve of local elections.
Yalçın’s letter argued that the Nation Alliance, composed of the CHP and İYİ (Good) Party, is in covert cooperation with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which stands as the political leg of the PKK in the eyes of the MHP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The last few months have shown that one of the most important pillars of the AKP-MHP alliance’s pre-election rhetoric was based on accusing the Nation Alliance of engaging in a bargain with the HDP in various constituencies, including metropoles like Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Adana, Antalya and so on.
This strong rhetoric is aiming to distance patriotic and nationalist voters of the CHP and İYİ Party from the alliance and persuade them into not voting for an HDP-supported candidate.
What followed this campaign was the launch of an investigation against Sezai Temelli, co-leader of the HDP, on charges of terror propaganda.
As this column suggested last week, controversy over municipal elections for Ankara is seemingly deepening following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement late March 18 which urged that the Nation Alliance’s candidate, Mansur Yavaş, will unlikely serve as the mayor even if he wins due to an ongoing court case against him.
CHP sources, however, stress that pressure on Yavaş helps him to further consolidate his electorate and to draw away from his main competitor, Mehmet Özhaseki. They suggest all these accusations and aggressive rhetoric against Yavaş stem from the fact that he is winning big in Turkey’s second largest city.
In Istanbul, Binali Yıldırım of the People’s Alliance seems confident although the gap between him and opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu is narrowing. Erdoğan is expected to spend the last days of his election campaign in Istanbul and its districts as well as Ankara to make victories secure in both cities. (…)»
Meanwhile, Turkish news portal T24 (20.03.19, https://t24.com.tr/foto-haber/konsensus-tan-secim-anketi-mansur-yavas-ankara-yi-kazaniyor,7464/9) reports that according to the results of a poll conducted by the Konsesus research company between 12 and 18 of March interviewing 1,500 persons, the candidate of CHP (Republican People’s Party ) Mansur Yavas will win in the local elections of 31st of March the position of mayor in Ankara with a difference of 2.6% from his opponent.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (19.03.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/investigation-launched-into-hdp-co-chair-sezai-temelli-on-terror-charges-142010), a Turkish prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation against Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Sezai Temelli over remarks he made at a meeting in the eastern province of Tunceli, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on March 19.
The Tunceli Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched the investigation over Temelli’s remarks in a Jan. 31 speech he made at an HDP event to present mayoral candidates for the upcoming local elections in Tunceli, organized by the provincial organization of the party.
Temelli is facing charges of “making terrorist propaganda,” the agency said. Since Temelli is a member of the Turkish Parliament, the Tunceli prosecutors ruled the decision of non-jurisdiction and referred the case to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for his immunity to be lifted.
The HDP co-chair is also facing another probe launched by prosecutors of the eastern province of Van on grounds that the content of his statements during another speech on Dec. 19, 2018 at a HDP meeting constituted “a crime”. (…)
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION