According to illegal Bayrak television (14.06.19-http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=cbms-progressing-akinci-says-but-presses-gas-issue), Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci in a statement yesterday after meeting separately with Prime Minister Ersin Tatar and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, gave an overview of the progress of a series of CBMs agreed by the two leaders during an informal meeting in February.
Akıncı said that the CBM to link the two sides’ mobile telephony networks through an outside hub was expected to be implemented by the end of June.
Telsim Vodafone and Kuzey Kıbrıs Türkcell which have signed an agreement with a Swiss hub are continuing discussions regarding prices, which Akıncı said must be appropriate if the measure is to have a positive effect.
Once consultations are completed, Akıncı said, a test run will first take place before mobile phones can work normally on both sides.
Regarding the interconnectivity of the two electricity grids, Akıncı referred to an example whereby the Greek Cypriot side was recently in need of 15MW of power which was transferred from the north.
Akıncı added that efforts toward the clearance of landmines are continuing.
The CBM whereby a host of religious icons and other artefacts stored in occupied Keryneia Castle would be swapped with visual and audio recordings of Turkish Cypriot artists stored by the Greek Cypriot state broadcaster CyBC is also moving along, Akıncı said, noting that the recordings were currently being digitized abroad, a process which would take time.
During the meeting with Spehar, Akıncı said that he also discussed whether new CBMs can be brought about. He added, however, that the biggest CBM, in his opinion, would be a bicommunal committee on natural gas.
“I took the opportunity to inform Spehar once again regarding the importance of a CBM for natural gas, for the creation of a committee,” Akıncı said, noting that he has also suggested this to Anastasiades who he alleged did not respond positively.
“If today there are tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, a basic reason is that the Greek Cypriot side does not want to discuss the matter with us,” Akıncı alleged.
According to illegal Bayrak television (14.06.19-www.brtk.net/?english_posts=turkish-fm-says-turkey-to-resume-hydrocarbon-activities) Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated Ankara’s determination to protect Turkey’s and the “TRNC’s rights” in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cavusoglu claimed that the Greek Cypriot side had panicked after Turkey had sent its drillship to the region.
Speaking at the Anadolu Agency’s Editorial Desk, he claimed that any agreement that excluded
Turkey was null and void, adding that Turkey will continue to carry out exploration and drilling activities in an area which falls within its continental shelf.
He also alleged that everyone understood Turkey’s justified stance after the briefing given by the Turkish Foreign Ministry to the related parties, including the European Union.
Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kıbrıs (14.06.19) reports that Turkey’s Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin reiterated yesterday that Turkey will continue protecting the Turkish Cypriots’ rights.
Speaking yesterday in a press conference after a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Turkey, Kalin alleged the following: “The developments in the Eastern Meditteranean where on the agenda of the Council of Ministers. While Turkey is protecting its security in the region, it does not consider separate the security of the other countries in the Mediterranean. We reject all efforts exerted by the Greek Cypriot sector to extort the rights of the Turkish Cypriots. Nobody should doubt that Turkey will continue protecting the Turkish Cypriots’ rights”
Under the title “Behold this is what should happen”, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs (14.06.19)reports that the first “official” exchange of criminals between the breakaway regime and the Republic of Cyprus took place yesterday at the Ledra Palace barricade, with the mediation of the United Nations. Muhammet Salman of Pakistani origin, who is a suspect for the murder of 53 year-old Turkish Cypriot Hasan Isik Yilmaz, was handed over by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus, while four persons from Georgia, who are believed to be involved in a murder in the government controlled area of the island, were handed over to the authorities of the Republic by the regime.
In statements on the issue, Hakki Onen, co-chairman of the Technical Committee on Crime and Criminal Matters, said that the exchange was important and that it had become possible following meetings held with the UN. He noted that in this manner, the suspects would be brought before justice and added that the committee would do anything possible for advancing this cooperation.
Referring to the issue, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said the “presidency” had been informed on the developments both by the “attorney general’s office” and Onen. Speaking after his meeting with UN Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, Akinci expressed his satisfaction with the development and thanked all those who contributed to its realization. “Neither the one side nor the other should be a safe area for criminals to take refuge”, he added.
Moreover, self-styled foreign minister Kudret Ozersay stated that the exchange of criminals was possible as a result of unofficial meetings he had held with his “interlocutor” Andreas Mavroyiannis. He argued that only exchange of information had been held until today through the above-mentioned technical committee and that problems were created by the fact that no exchange of suspects and criminals could take place. He noted that this result was achieved after some contacts held by his “ministry” since the previous “government’s” period and the dialogue he had established with the Greek Cypriot side. “This situation should not be exploited politically. This is a cooperation which came up as a result of a kind of an unofficial agreement”, he argued.
Furthermore, Tufan Erhurman, chairman of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), commented on his social media account on the developments, noting that this practice should constitute an example for the future.
Moreover, Ahmet Yonluer, vice chairman of the settlers’ Revival Party (YDP), congratulated Ozersay and all those who contributed to the development and wished for the continuation of these efforts for paving the way of the exchange of criminals.
Finally, according to illegal Bayrak (14.06.19, http://www.brtk.net/tatarsuclularin-karsilikli-iadesine-baslanmasi-memnuniyet-vericidir/) self-styled prime minister, Ersin Tatar expressed his satisfaction with the beginning of the exchange of criminals. In a written statement he alleged: “No one can ignore the existing realities in Cyprus. We have been saying since a long time that we are positive to steps which will increase cooperation between the two peoples, having the existing realities as a starting point. In this sense, we welcome with satisfaction the step taken on the issue of the return of criminals”.
Under this title, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Haberci (14.06.19)reports that former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has said that the solution of two states in Cyprus was a “daydream”. In statements to columnist Ercin Sahmaran, Talat noted that this was not a new idea and that late Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas and Turkey had supported it until the 2000’s, but later Denktas had been forced to receive the document prepared by the UN [Translator’s note: the Annan Plan].
“Therefore, this is not something which could happen with a unilateral allegation”, he said, adding that the Turkish side is the one which is outside the international law. He alleged:
“Anastasiades said it, but he said it to avoid trouble. Afterwards he denied it. Two states might be asked in Cyprus. However, this will bring us no gain. The Greek Cypriots’ propaganda network is very strong. […] They could make propaganda saying ‘they want division, they do not want federation’. It is good that now there is a president who supports the federal solution. The bad thing is that Turkey, after the experience of all these years, gives an opportunity to the government here by saying that other alternatives exist. I do not believe that Mevlut Cavusoglu has been convinced by Anastasiades’ statements. There is a chaotic environment. Efforts may be exerted to make use of it. It is nothing but daydreaming. […]”
Turkish daily Sabah (14.06.19-https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2019/06/14/top-french-diplomat-rejects-media-claims-on-deployment-in-cyprus) reports that the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that France does not foresee deployment in Cyprus, rejecting allegations voiced by Greek Cypriot media earlier this week.
Attending a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Le Drian rejected allegations voiced by the Greek Cypriot media that France will establish a permanent base on the island of Cyprus, saying: "We certainly do not foresee French deployment in Cyprus. The Greek press is mistaken."
Meanwhile, responding to a question about France's links with the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), Cavusoglu said during the press meeting that Turkey does not approve of France's close cooperation with the terrorists. "It imposes a danger for the future of Syria and for its territorial integrity. It is also a sensitive issue for our border security and the security of our country and nation," Cavusoglu added.
Meanwhile, Turkish daily Yeni Safak (13.06.19 -https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/turkey-rejects-ultimatums-says-will-not-back-down-on-russian-s-400s-3483147) reported that Cavusoglu has also stated during a press conference with his French counterpart that it is not possible to say that a full ceasefire is established in Syria's Idlib, after Turkey's observation point was shelled from Syrian government forces.
He also said that Turkey will do what is necessary if attacks continue and that it expects Russia to put pressure on the Syrian government as a guarantor country.
Cavusoglu dismissed letters aimed at deterring Turkey from moving forward with its purchase of the powerful Russian S-400 missile defense systems. "S-400s are coming and will be deployed. A response to these letters is being formulated. No one can give Turkey an ultimatum”, he added.
Cavusoglu was responding to a question about a letter in which U.S. acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan warned Turkey that it would be pulled out of the F-35 fighter jet programme unless Ankara changed course from its plans to install the S-400s.
Turkish daily Yeni Safah (14.06.10-https://www.yenisafak.com/dunya/hava-ussu-gecitkale-3494774) under the title: “Air base in Lefkonoiko”, reports that efforts for the establishment of an air and naval base by Turkey in the island for its security in the Eastern Mediterranean, continue. According to the paper, while it is planned for occupied Lefkonoiko to open as an air base, the works for locating the place for the establishment of a naval base are about to the completed.
The paper adds that Turkey, providing as an excuse the war in Syria, has increased its military presence in all countries, while at the same time is planning its actions in order to protect its sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, as a retaliation against the attempts by “Greek and the Greek Cypriot administration to create a fait accompli in the region”. Accordingly, Turkey’s Naval Forces (TNF) have submitted a proposal to the so-called foreign ministry for the establishment of a naval base in the “TRNC” and the “ministry” is working on it. “The proposal gives point to the need for safeguarding the sovereign rights of the TRNC, protecting Turkey’s and the TRNC’s rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and undertaking measures for preventing the occupation of the naval energy fields”.
According to the paper, the Turkish Naval Forces proposes the “establishment of sovereign bases” in the “TRNC” similar with the British bases in the “Greek Cypriot administration”, as the Republic of Cyprus is referred to, stressing the need for these naval bases to be located in an appropriate place, with the aim to strengthen Turkey and the “TRNC” at the Cyprus negotiation talks. “Especially after the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey has started working on this proposal. Ankara has sent a military delegation to the island. While it has shown its existence in the region by sending the Turkish fleet which protects the Fatih drilling ship and the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, it is planning at the same time to establish facilities providing port easiness and also to increase the logistic potential and capabilities of the fleet”.
The paper adds further: “Among the issues being discussed during the military delegation’s visit to the island was the issue of the establishment of air bases. It is obvious that the airfield at Gecitkale airport, [Translators note: occupied Lefkonoiko] is unserviceable and that efforts are exerted forGecitkale airfield to become serviceable in order to be able to meet the needs of the Turkish troops in the area aiming to provide security in the region. Even though Gecitkale was used in the past as an airfield for the landing of Turkish Stars and other military planes, now it is closed”.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (13.06.19-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-us-defense-ministers-exchange-phone-call-over-f-35s-144162) reports that Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had a phone call with US Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, following the latter’s letter announcing Washington’s decision to cease Turkish participation in the F-35 aircraft project.
“During the call, Minister Akar emphasized the improper wording [is] not in line with the spirit of the alliance, in the letter Mr. Shanahan sent to him. Furthermore, starting with F-35, mutual views and requests within the context of bilateral security issues as well as defense industry cooperation issues were discussed,” read a statement by the Defense Ministry after the phone call.
“The two Ministers agreed to continue their dialogue and have a face-to-face meeting during the next NATO Ministerial in Brussels,” added the statement. The NATO meeting will take place on June 26 and 27.
Turkish daily Sabah (13.06.19-https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2019/06/13/presidential-spox-kalin-and-bolton-discuss-us-s-400-letter-to-turkey-in-phone-call) reported that Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton discussed in a phone call on Thursday the letter sent by U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar about the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
Kalın said that the letter was contradictory to the courtesy of bilateral ties and the fact that it was leaked to the press as soon as it was sent showed a clear lack of "governmental seriousness."
"This sort of letters have a certain confidentiality to it, they don't get leaked to the public or to the press to pressure the recipient," he said.
Kalın stated further that Ankara was in the process of reviewing the letter and a response was being prepared. "Our negotiations will certainly continue. It is against the spirit of alliance to try to unjustly remove Turkey from the F-35 program," he added.
"The F-35s that rightfully belong to Turkey will absolutely arrive in Turkey," Kalin also said.
Kalin went on to add that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would meet with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump if necessary and that he hoped Washington would turn back from its wrongful attitude without damaging the bilateral ties between the two countries.
The letter is the latest in a series of moves by the U.S. to try to remove Turkey from the F-35 program amid a standoff with its NATO ally over the purchase of Russian S-400 systems.
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase Russia's system.
Meanwhile, Ankara Anatolia news agency (13.06.19-https://www.aa.com.tr/en/politics/pkk-s-state-on-turkish-syrian-border-out-of-question/1503641) reported that Turkish Presidential Spokesman on Thursday said that the possibility of formation of a PKK state on Turkish- Syrian border is out of question.
"Thanks to the skillful leadership of our President, a PKK state, which was tried to be established on Turkish-Syrian border, is out of question now," Kalin said after a Cabinet meeting in capital Ankara.
Kalin said that the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria is carrying out attacks to provoke Turkey and take lands. "Our related units are authorized to stop these attacks and contacts were established especially with Russia [in this regard]. The talks are going on," he added.
Ankara Anatolia news agency (13.06.19-https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/uss-threats-of-sanctions-on-turkey-kind-of-vandalism-/1503579) reported that a Turkish lawmaker from the opposition Saadet (Felicity) Party reacted to the U.S.’s threats of imposing sanctions on Ankara for purchasing S-400 air missile defense systems from Russia.
"The U.S. adopted the policy of 'you are either with me, or you are my enemy'," Cihangir Islam told reporters in the Parliament.
"Threatening the Turkish Nation with some devastating sanctions for purchasing S-400 defense systems is a kind of violence and vandalism," Islam said.
He also called on Turkish Defense and Foreign Ministers to brief the lawmakers about S-400 issue and Turkey-U.S. relations in a closed session.
Also, Ankara Anatolia news agency (13.06.19-https://www.aa.com.tr/en/politics/turkey-opposition-good-party-backs-erdogan-over-s-400/1503608) reported that a senior official of Turkey's opposition Good (IYI) Party backed the government on the purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
Voicing his support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey’s decision to buy the S-400, Yavuz Agiralioglu, the group deputy chairman, recalled that the U.S. supplied arms and ammunition to the PKK terrorist group and its Syrian offshoot of YPG.
"If you provide arms and ammunition support to the enemy of your ally, Turkey then takes all kinds of measures to ensure its own security," Agiralioglu told the lawmakers in the Parliament.
(…)"Despite our contest with [the ruling] Justice and Development (AK) Party in the domestic politics, we are assuming the finger shaken at Mr. Erdogan as a finger shaken at Turkey," he said.
Agiralioglu stressed that they would take a "national stance" on the S-400 case.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (13.06.19-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/govt-in-talks-with-parties-over-new-military-system-144165) reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the new paid military system bill will not lead to any weaknesses and vulnerabilities within the Turkish military, in a bid to relieve concerns regarding the new system amid recent debates in Parliament.
“The claims that there will exist vulnerabilities in Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] with the new system, have no basis. Is the Turkish Army — one of the strongest armies in the world — so imprudent that it will not take a security weakness into account?” Erdogan said in his speech at his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) group meeting.
“With the new military service, no setbacks will occur neither on our country’s borders nor in Turkish Cyprus. Such an occurrence is out of question,” he said.
Erdogan also stressed that it is not possible for such vulnerabilities to emerge because a meticulous preparation process took place for the bill, along with monthly National Security Council (MGK) meetings.
“With the new military service law, about half of the conscripted soldiers will be discharged and the remaining will continue to perform their duties. If there exist distresses about the conscripted soldiers, it is our duty as politicians and rulers of this country to provide solutions,” he underlined.
Erdogan also conveyed that about half of the Turkish military’s personnel consists of commissioned, noncommissioned and reserved officers, specialized and contracted privates and regular personnel in private cadres. “In critical missions, all our troops, especially those tasked in the fight against terror, are composed of regulars. Conscripted soldiers are generally tasked in ground missions and garrisons. With the new military law, about half of the conscripted soldiers will be discharged. The remaining will continue performing their duties,” he added.
“In order to be included amongst the regulars, one needs to perform his military duty for six months and for a salary, an additional six months of service is required, Erdogan said.
Meanwhile, Erdogan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli held a closed-door meeting at the presidential complex on June 13 discussing among other issues the new military system. The meeting lasted around 40 minutes.
More discussions on the bill commenced in the General Assembly on June 11.
Lawmakers from political parties including the AKP, the MHP and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) kicked off debates on the bill, voicing their concerns and suggestions.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar will visit the parliamentary groups of the CHP, the MHP and İYİ (Good) Party over the conscription law.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION