Illegal Bayrak (28.03.19 http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=ozersay-urges-gc-to-stop-protecting-criminals ) reports that so-called deputy PM and foreign minister Kudret Özersay called on the “Greek Cypriot side to stop protecting criminals and to hand over, Muhammad Salman, a Pakistani national who is believed to have killed Hasan Işık Özgöçmen”.
Ozersay claimed that it has been confirmed that Salman was currently staying at the Menoya Refugee Camp in Larnaca.
“Muhammad Salman, since his whereabouts are now known, must be returned to the Turkish Cypriot authorities without delay”, Özersay said.
He added that Hasan Işık Özgöçmen, who was one the most successful sculptors and painters in the occupied area of Cyprus, was murdered in September 2018.
The murder suspect had fled to the “south” only to be arrested later by police in Limassol.
Ozersay also stated that “the Greek Cypriot side must stop protecting murder suspects and meaningful collaboration on the issue of criminals must be carried out between the two sides”.
“If we are sincere about building trust, the least that we can do is to refrain from protecting criminals”, Özersay wrote on his social media account.
Illegal Bayrak (28.03.19 http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=learning-from-nicosia-launched) broadcast that the ‘Imagine Project’, which is be carried out under the auspices of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Education, launched the first of the study visits ‘Learning from Nicosia’ on Wednesday.
The island-wide study visits initiative aims at bringing together Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot students and teachers from all over Cyprus to provide them with opportunities to collaborate and study together cultural heritage and the physical environment of Cyprus.
In a statement issued by the bi-communal technical committee, ‘Learning from Nicosia’ study visit took place in the walled city of Lefkosia.
Students had the opportunity to explore elements of the multicultural character of the city. The study visits programme will continue until the end of the academic year in different cities on the island.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı’s special adviser for political affairs and history and General Coordinator for Technical Committees Meltem Onurkan Samani in a statement yesterday said that 52 Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot students, teachers and school principals attended the pilot implementation of the new confidence building measure carried out by the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education.
Samani noted that 25 students, four teachers and the school principal from the Atleks Sanverler secondary school participated in the event.
She reminded that the technical committee was established in 2015 with the aim of preparing a report for the two leaders on the education systems on both sides and present the leaders with a set of recommendations to improve the systems.
Samani added that as part of the Imagine project, bi-communal and mono-communal peace education activities against racism and discrimination are being organized for students and teachers from both sides at all levels of schools. More than 3000 students have participated in these activities and a similar program is currently being implemented towards teachers, Samani concluded.
The Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot heads of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education, Dr. Meltem Onurkan Samani and Dr Michalinos Zembylas, participated in Wednesday’s activities, along with a representative of the UN good offices mission in Cyprus.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs (27.03.19, https://www.kibrisgazetesi.com/kibris/nufus-aktarimi-ve-vatandaslik-dagitimina-1990da-karar-verildi/63879) reports that Sener Elcil, general secretary of the Turkish Cypriot teachers’ trade union (KTOS), has argued that the target of the statements made by Aysegul Baybars, self-styled minister of interior of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, on the issue of population was to hide the systematic transfer of population from Turkey to the occupied area of the island.
In statements yesterday, Elcil said that the decision for systematically transferring population from Turkey to Cyprus had been taken in 1990 and wondered which the number of population was today. Noting that according to what was said, the number of the Turkish Cypriots in 1974 had been 120,000, Elcil referred to the lack of schools, the number of produced breads, the number of registered cell phones, the number of insured vehicles, the number of army officers and their families, the number of students and the number of “registered” foreign workers and added: “How many is the population? The decision is yours!”
Under the above title, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs Postası (28.03.19, http://www.kibrispostasi.com/c35-KIBRIS_HABERLERI/n280715-bkp-aciklanan-rakamlar-gercek-nufusu-yansitmiyor-amac-yayilm) reports that Izzet Izcan, chairman of the United Cyprus Party (BKP), has said that the statement made by Aysegul Baybars, self-styled minister of interior of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, on the issue of “the active population” living in the occupied area of the island lacks reliability and credibility.
“The reality is hidden from the people”, noted Izcan in a written statement today, adding that the target was for the Turkish Cypriot community to be assimilated and the way to be paved for turning the northern part of Cyprus into a province of Turkey by increasing its population.
Izcan recalled that in 2016 Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci had been told that the number of “citizens” was 220,000 together with the 60,000 persons living abroad and that today it was said that only the number of “citizens” living in the occupied area was 252,000. “It is not possible for the active population of this country to increase by 92,000 persons in three years”, he pointed out arguing that the active GSM cards and the registered vehicles showed that the above-mentioned number did not reflect the realities.
Izcan underlined that population was deliberately increased to materialize the Neo-Ottoman expansionist policies and added: “The aim is to annihilate the existence of the Turkish Cypriots on the island, assimilate those who remained and eliminate the political will of the Turkish Cypriot community by preventing the solution of the Cyprus problem. The expansionist policies of the AKP government in Ankara have been materialized with the collaboration of the political parties which are in the assembly. […]”
Illegal Bayrak (28.03.19- http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=pm-erhurman-in-ankara-2) reports that self-styled prime minister Tufan Erhürman is in the Turkish capital Ankara for a day visit.
Erhürman who embarked on his contacts today met with the Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay. The two discussed the Financial Cooperation Protocol.
In the afternoon, Erhürman will be meeting with the President of the Higher Education Council Prof. Dr. Yekta Saraç.
Erhürman and his accompanying delegation will be returning to the island this evening.
Turkish daily Sabah (28.03.19-https://www.dailysabah.com/business/2019/03/28/turkish-russian-ministers-to-meet-tomorrow-in-antalya) reports that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov are scheduled to meet on Friday in the Turkish resort province of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said that Turkish and Russian Ministers will co-chair the 7th Turkish-Russian Joint Strategic Planning Group Meeting, a subsidiary mechanism of the Turkish-Russian High Level Cooperation Council.
The two sides will discuss bilateral relations as well as current regional and international developments, specifically the cooperation in Syria.
Following the talks, "The 2019-2020 Plan for Consultations between the Foreign Ministries of the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation," will be signed, the statement added. The process of visa liberalization for Russian citizens visiting Turkey is expected to be discussed in the meeting. The initiative has recently been launched, as Cavusoglu announced Monday.
Facilitating visa-free travel for Russian visitors is of particular importance since 2019 has been declared the Turkish tourism year in Russia. The move is expected to add 600,000 Russian tourists to the annual level of nearly 6 million that Turkey normally hosts.
The last meeting of the Turkish-Russian High Level Cooperation Council took place in March 2017, during which, steps to further bilateral trade were taken and a $1 billion investment fund was established.
Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit Russia to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on April 8.
Ankara Anatolia news agency (28.03.19-https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/hagia-sophias-status-to-be-changed-to-mosque-erdogan/1432062) reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday reiterated that Istanbul’s Ayia Sophia museum will be converted back into a mosque.
"Ayia Sophia will no longer be called a museum. Its status will change. We will call it a mosque," Erdogan said during a live televised program.
Slamming criticism of the decision by foreign officials, Erdogan recalled their silence over the attacks on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque.
"Those who remain silent when Masjid Al-Aqsa is attacked, trampled, its windows smashed, cannot tell us what to do about the status of Ayia Sophia," he said.
Ayia Sophia, dubbed "8th Wonder of the World" by historians, is one of the most visited museums in the world in terms of art and architecture history.
It was used as a church for 916 years. In 1453, it was converted into a mosque by Fatih Sultan Mehmet when the Ottomans conquered Istanbul.
Following restoration work during the Ottoman era and the adding of minarets by architect Mimar Sinan, the Ayia Sophia became one of the most important monuments of world architecture.
According to the Turkishminutes portal (28.03.19-https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/03/28/pollsters-to-experience-huge-embarrassment-on-election-night-says-erdogan/), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended a rally for his ruling AK Party in Rize province on Saturday.
Erdogan has said that polling companies will understand on election night that they have been mistaken in their predictions of the results of the March 31 local elections.
Erdogan’s remarks came during an interview on the pro-government A Haber TV station on Wednesday night.
“When we look at what the crowds in city squares say, polling companies will experience a huge embarrassment on election night. There are serious differences among the results of public surveys. The crowds in the squares don’t tell lies,” Erdogan said, noting that a large number of people turn out for the election rallies of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Some public surveys show the AKP losing a significant number of votes and mayoral posts in Turkey’s three biggest cities, İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir, in the elections.
Erdogan said that the real public survey will be carried out on Sunday and that he believes his party will be successful in the elections.
Meanwhile, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (28.03.19-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-says-he-expects-record-turnout-in-local-elections-142222) reports that Erdogan has said that he expects Turkey to obtain a record turnout in the upcoming local election on March 31, urging citizens from all over Turkey to vote for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the polls.
“I believe we will hold the elections on Sunday with one of our history’s highest participation rates,” he said at a rally in the northwestern province of Düzce, while calling on locals of the province to flock to the polls.
“Turkey has overcome the challenges it has faced so far with solidarity, unity and its commitment to the national will. The place where the national will appears is the ballot boxes. Any citizen who omits to vote on [March 31] should know that they leave their fate to the mercy of those who vote,” he said.
“Every vote not cast will play into the hands of those who make nefarious plans against this nation,” he said once again.
Erdogan stressed that citizens should vote even if they feel resentment or want to give a lesson to politicians.
He also criticized candidates who were once members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) but now are running with opposition parties.
He claimed that they changed sides after not being nominated as candidates by the AKP and were now running for municipal posts in the eastern provinces of Adıyaman and Van. “Their ambition is not to serve the city, but their own interests”, he added.
He claimed also that those who want Turkey to stumble want to wear out the government. He added that those circles are trying to realize these goals through the local elections.
Erdogan said that Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Sezai Temelli was “exploiting” Kurds, while also urging Kurdish voters in Ankara to vote for the AKP’s candidate, Mehmet Özhaseki.
According to the Turkishminutes portal (28.03.19-https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/03/28/chp-deputy-faces-investigation-on-accusations-of-insulting-erdogan/?) an investigation has been launched into the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Engin Altay on accusations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in comments he made on a TV program, according to Turkish media reports on Wednesday.
The investigation into the Deputy was launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on allegations that he both insulted and threatened Erdogan with recent remarks on the Karadeniz TV station.
Altay said that the Turkish citizens would seek an accounting from Erdogan and his election partner, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli, “in the cell” on March 31 when Turkey will hold local elections.
Altay said in a statement on Wednesday that the pro-government media outlets distorted his remarks as if he meant a prison cell when in fact he was referring to a voting booth.
Insulting the President can call for a sentence of between one and four years, according to the Turkish Penal Code. Hundreds of people in Turkey, even including high school students, face charges of insulting President Erdogan.
According to Turkishminutes portal (27.03.19-https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/03/27/turkey-to-build-193-new-prisons-due-to-unexpected-rise-in-number-of-inmates/) the Turkish Ministry of Justice said in a statement that Turkey plans to build 193 new prisons in the next five years due to an unexpected surge in the number of inmates, in response to an inquiry from an opposition Deputy in Parliament.
Deputy Chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Muharrem Erkek submitted a question to the Ministry asking how many prisons are under construction in Turkey. In response, the Ministry stated that 126 are currently being built, 23 are in the bidding process and 35 are in the planning phase, the Hürriyet daily reported.
The Ministry also stated that as of December 2018, there were 389 prisons across Turkey with a total capacity of 211,838 people.
Turkey has been jailing people in mass numbers particularly since a failed coup in July 2016 on charges of coup involvement and terrorism without due process.
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