Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (14.03.18) reports that Tufan Erhurman, self-styled prime minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, replied to allegations published yesterday regarding the content of the discussion he and self-styled foreign minister Kudret Ozesay had conducted in Ankara with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their recent visit. Turkish Dogan News Agency (DHA) reported that Erdogan “suggested” to Erhurman and Ozersay to increase the population in the occupied area of Cyprus in order to come to the same economic level with the Greek Cypriots.
Replying to journalist Cenk Mutluyakali’s questions, Erhurman said that their target regarding the population is the return of the Turkish Cypriots living abroad to settle and invest in the island. He noted that they shared this view with Erdogan and claimed that during their meeting with the Turkish President “there was no discussion which could mean limitation of our rights and freedoms”.
Asked to comment on the information that Erdogan gave them an instruction to equalize the population living in the occupied area of the island with the one in the government-controlled area, Erhurman replied: “Mr Erdogan has many times in the past shared his sensitivity regarding the population balance in Cyprus, including during his meetings with journalists. And his views for Turkey are known. […] There was no demand such as ‘equalize the population’, which could be tantamount to instruction”.
Noting that Erdogan has expressed his “known sensitivities in the direction of balancing the population in the island”, Erhurman said that after this the Turkish Cypriot delegation expressed the view that many Turkish Cypriots live abroad and could return to the occupied area of Cyprus to invest.
Describing as “sincere” their meeting with Erdogan, Erhurman argued that the issue of “citizenship” was not raised during this meeting and that their main topic of discussion was the serious situation which Turkey is facing now and the developments in Afrin. Asked what else they discussed except for the Turkish operation in Afrin, Erhurman replied:
“The Cyprus problem and the hydrocarbon issue were also discussed during our meeting. Of course, we had the opportunity to share with Mr Erdogan our projects for social and economic development. We shared with Mr Erdogan our projects regarding our citizens who came to the island from Turkey. We have serious views especially regarding the prosperity of poor areas. The meeting was sincere and useful. […]”
Asked to comment on the fact that disappointment exists in Turkey towards “some circles” in the occupied area of Cyprus, Erhurman said that the expression “disappointment” is his interpretation and that it should be understood that some views expressed in the occupied area of Cyprus or some debates which were conveyed to Ankara, during a period in which Turkey carries out military operations in Afrin, caused disappointment in Turkey.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (14.03.18) reports that at the second day of the “budget debate”, the “parliament” approved the amount of 33,487,300 TL for the “presidency budget”.
Speaking at the “budget debate”, Huseyin Angolemli, “deputy” with the Social Democracy Party (TDP) argued that the talks at Crans-Montana opened the way for the Turkish Cypriots, claiming that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci was recognized internationally with his constructive stance as the leader who supports peace. He further claimed: “It was seen that the Turkish Cypriot side was pro-solution and sincere in the personality of Akinci”.
Oguzhan Hasipoglu, “deputy” with the National Unity Party (UBP), argued that the “coalition government” has no common vision on the foreign policy and for this reason the importance of the “president”, who is entitled to the negotiations, is increased. He further argued that the “government” has no clear policy neither to the Cyprus problem nor to the foreign policy, adding that on their “government programme” there was not any single statement regarding these issues.
Asim Akansoy, “deputy” with the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), said: “We have not the luxury to withdraw from the negotiations, which are important for the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots”. He underlined the importance of the negotiations to continue to be carried out under the UN umbrella.
According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (13.03.18), at least 52 suspects have been arrested in counter-terror operations across Turkey over alleged links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup, security sources said Tuesday.
In an operation based in the Aegean Izmir region, counter-terrorist police armed with warrants arrested 22 FETO suspects in the Tekirdag, Eskisehir, Balikesir, and Kocaeli provinces, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
In a southeastern Adiyaman-based operation, police apprehended 15 FETO suspects -- all former police officers – in simultaneous operations in seven provinces, while another five suspects were arrested in the central province of Konya.
In a central Kirsehir-based operation conducted across five provinces, as well as the “TRNC”, police arrested nine on-duty soldiers.
Another FETO suspect -- a former lieutenant colonel -- was arrested in the southern Mugla province.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (14.03.18) reports that a three thousand year old Phoenician temple was discovered southern of the occupied Ayios Theodoros village in Karpasia. The discovery was made yesterday during excavations of the “department of antiquities”.
The temple is built with large stones. Various objects like small perfume bottles and small water jugs were found inside the temples.
Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (14.03.18) reports that the Nationalist Democracy Party (MDP) decided to change its logo.
According to the paper, the party chose “Grey wolf” as it logo noting in its statement that following the injustice the party faced during last “elections” they chose this logo in order to feel strengthen.
(TR. Note: The Grey wolf is a Turkish ultranationalist organization. Its informal name is inspired by the ancient legend of Asena, a she-wolf, a myth associated with Turkic ethnic origins in the Central Asian steppes.]
According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (14.03.18), Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Wednesday said that he hoped Rex Tillerson’s exit as Secretary of State would improve relations between the U.S. and Turkey.
Speaking to the media in Ankara before leaving for Baku, Yildirim said: “Whoever comes in, Turkey’s stance is clear. It is not so important to us what the new Secretary thinks about Turkey. I hope healthier relations [with the U.S.] could be developed after that”. The relations between the U.S. and Turkey do not depend on individuals, he added.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (13.03.18, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/chp-head-slams-turkish-govts-legal-package-as-election-fraud-law-128704), main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has slammed a controversial legislative package approved by the Parliament in the early hours of March 13, dubbing the package an “election fraud law”.
“They [the ruling Justice and Development Party and the Nationalist Movement Party] hid the package from the nation. Why? Because the law explains line by line how election fraud can be conducted,” Kilicdaroglu said on March 13 in an address to his party group in Parliament, criticizing the government for initiating parliamentary sessions on the law in a late night assembly on March 12.
The CHP says the package – which allows for the merging of electoral districts, the moving of ballot boxes to other districts, the use of ballot papers without official stamps, and the presence of security forces in polling stations - will lead to election irregularities.
The legislation is “against the constitutional principle of equality and justice in representation and paves the way for unjust representation and seizes the national will”, Kilicdaroglu said, adding that “the 10% election threshold effectively continues with an even harsher threshold.”
“[With the law] a party that has received 100,000 votes might not gain a single seat at Parliament, while a party with 20,000 votes in an alliance with a party with 90,000 votes will have a majority of seats,” he said.
The CHP leader also voiced his party’s concern about election security, saying the “proposal has characteristics that will abolish election safety and is preparing for an ‘election with a stick’.”
Political parties’ ability to monitor ballot boxes during voting is also reduced according to the change, with ballot box heads due to be appointed from among state officials.
“What’s more, a Governor will be able to locate ballot boxes wherever they want. They will have the authority to say, for example, that these 50 villages will have to vote in this place”, Kilicdaroglu said.
According to Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (14.03.18, https://www.dailysabah.com/eu-affairs/2018/03/14/ankaras-normalization-process-with-berlin-vienna-working-well-eu-official-says), the normalization process between Ankara and some European Union member states seems to be working, a high-level EU official said.
"Turkey reaching out to Germany and Austria is working well. The relationship efforts are paying off" the high-level official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media. Ankara has been trying to mend marred ties with some EU member states after relations hit rock bottom last year when there were elections in Germany and Austria and a referendum in Turkey. The elections in the Netherlands also greatly dented ties.
While Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel several times in Turkey and Germany to discuss the normalization process, he also met Austrian Foreign Minister Katrin Kneissl and visited Austria. All sides have already expressed their willingness to turn a new page in relations and start a new era.
Explaining that Ankara and Brussels have problems in different areas, the official asserted that the two are working quite well on foreign policy, security and the joint fight against terrorism. As Ankara gradually moves forward with the normalization process, the upcoming EU leaders' summit in Varna, Bulgaria on March 26 is expected to further galvanize ties.
However, the official remained cautious about the outcomes of the upcoming summit: "Varna will not solve everything but it is indeed an important step."
Relations between Turkey and Greece have strained to a great extent in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. The two countries came head to head earlier this month when Turkish warships blocked an Italian oil rig from reaching a natural gas exploration zone off Cyprus, which was followed by a Foreign Ministry statement accusing the Republic of Cyprus of jeopardizing regional security and stability.
Turkey opposes the drilling before a permanent solution is found for the divided island, which it says disregards the rights of Turkish Cypriots. In light of the events in the Mediterranean, the official said that natural resources in the area "should benefit all sides." The official also said that all issues "should be handled peacefully and in a friendly manner."
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (13.03.18, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-lira-continues-fall-against-dollar-euro-amid-risks-128688), the Turkish Lira continued to decline against both the U.S. dollar and the euro on March 13 amid a series of negative developments.
The lira fell 0.7% against the dollar to its lowest since mid-December, dropped to over 3.86 in the early afternoon of March 13. It also fell to record lows of 4.76 against the euro.
The plunging trend resumed last week after Moody’s downgraded Turkey’s sovereign rating to Ba2 from Ba1, citing a continued loss of institutional strength and the increased risk of an external shock given its wide current account deficit.
The rating outlook was also changed to stable from negative on March 7.
On March 8, the lira fell as much as 0.4% to 3.81 per U.S. dollar after the downgrade.
Moody’s rating move came one day after the Turkish Central Bank kept interest rates steady, saying it would keep policy tight until price pressures eased, signalling its intention to rein in inflation.
Year-on-year inflation has cooled from the 14-year peak of 12.98% it reached in November 2017. But at 10.26% in February it remains one the main imbalances in Turkey’s economy, well above the Bank’s target of 5%.
Turkey remains one of the most vulnerable emerging markets to U.S. Federal Reserve rate rises. The lira has been the worst performing emerging currency since the beginning of the March 12 week, following the release of higher-than-estimated current account deficit data.
Turkey’s current account deficit widened by $4.4 billion year-on-year to reach nearly $7.1 billion in January, the Central Bank stated on March 12.The gap was higher than estimates, which were set at around $6.9 billion.
According to some analysts, the decline in the lira accelerated after the Parliament passed a controversial law revamping electoral regulations on March 13.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION