Under the title “Determination on hydrocarbons reiterated”, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs(23.08.19) reports that Ersin Tatar, self-styled prime minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, met yesterday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. After the half-an-hour-long meeting, a dinner followed with the participation of the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot delegations. Tatar and Erdogan discussed issues regarding the “further development of the cooperation” between Turkey and the breakaway regime, the illegal Turkish activities in the Eastern Mediterranean as regards the hydrocarbons and the recent developments on the Cyprus problem.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis(23.08.19) reports that speaking in a joint press conference with Tatar, Erdogan argued that “Turkey will continue the efforts which it has been carrying out for TRNC’s security and prosperity”. “In the way we defend our own rights, we will continue defending TRNC’s rights”, he claimed and alleged that the emergence of the Cyprus problem and the fact that it existed until today derived from what he called “intransigent stance of the Greek Cypriots”.
Erdogan alleged also that the Greek Cypriots had attempted to take over the island by carrying out bloody attacks [against the Turkish Cypriots] and that they allegedly continued their efforts today by implementing economic and political pressure.
The Turkish President further claimed that the fact that the EU took the side of the Greek Cypriots, who had allegedly kept none of their promises, was a shame for the Union. He argued that this “shame”, which started after the Annan Plan, continued today and alleged:
“The only interlocutor of the Greek Cypriot sector is the TRNC with which they negotiate together for the problem on the island. With the way it interferes in this matter, the EU has come to a position which defends inequality and not equality on the island, injustice and not justice, oppression and not peace. Unfortunately, every step, which the EU and international community take, encourages the Greek Cypriots in the direction of non-solution. The stance of the Greek Cypriot sector, which does not recognize the TRNC, does not change the reality that it is a community and a state with its geography, with its population, with its culture and with its political and economic rights”.
Referring to the hydrocarbon explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Erdogan alleged: “Whatever is said, it does not concern us. We will continue the explorations with the same determination. No project which ignores Turkey and the TRNC can be materialized in the Eastern Mediterranean. Those who wanted to try our determination have taken their lesson until today”.
Arguing that strong unity and solidarity within the Turkish Cypriots was the actually important thing in the ongoing process, Erdogan claimed: “All of us know now the games of the Greek Cypriots. I believe that the Turkish Cypriot administrators and the Turkish Cypriots will not be deceived by these games. I am very happy with seeing the resolute stance of the TRNC government on this issue during the meeting today”.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis(23.08.19) reports that Ersin Tatar, self-styled prime minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has argued that as long as Turkey’s support and cooperation continued, the breakaway regime would become stronger and the “people’s” prosperity would increase. Speaking in a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara yesterday, Tatar said that in parallel to the developing sectors of tourism and higher education, the project of carrying water from Turkey to the occupied area had added value to the “TRNC”.
Underlining the importance of Turkey’s steps for the protection of the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot “people” in the Eastern Mediterranean, Tatar alleged that two “equal peoples” existed in Cyprus and as long as Turkey was behind the Turkish Cypriot “people”, they would protect their rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean until the end.
Tatar argued that they should be careful on the issue of the beginning of a new negotiating process in Cyprus and reiterated the view that the basis for a federal solution “remained behind” at Crans Montana. He claimed that the negotiations should not resume from the point they had left off, but “from a result taking point”.
Alleging that the Turkish Cypriots have always been in favor of peace and agreement in Cyprus, but Turkey’s guarantees were their priority, Tatar claimed that Turkey’s guarantees should continue in an agreement which might be reached in the future. He said that he did not agree with the view that “guarantees were outdated” and added that other formulas within the EU or otherwise were searched for guarantees, but the Turkish Cypriot “people” insisted on the guarantees of Turkey, which they would always trust.
Turkish Cypriot newspapers give extensive coverage today (23.08.19) to the meeting held yesterday in Ankara between Turkish President Erdogan and self-styled prime minister Tatar.
Under the title “A road map was drawn”, Diyalog reports that Tatar and “foreign minister” Ozersay had the opportunity to discuss in detail the Cyprus problem and the economy of the breakaway regime. According to information obtained by the paper, during the meeting they discussed in detail where the money which Turkey would transfer to the breakaway regime would be spent. It is said that 250 million Turkish liras (TL) would be given within the next two weeks.
The paper writes that issues such as the Cyprus problem, the opening of the occupied fenced-off city of Varosha, the drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and the work of the so-called “Immovable Property Commission” were discussed during the meeting.
Kıbrıs Postası covers the issue under the title “Turkish President Erdogan: We will not hesitate to give answers, if some have not taken lessons in the Eastern Mediterranean” and “Tatar: The flow of money begins”. Citing statements by Tatar to its director Rasih Resat, the paper reports that Tatar gave the message that the flow of money from Turkey would begin according to the “protocol” they had signed on 20 July. Tatar said that some issues were solved during their visit and that Erdogan had given instructions for the flow of money to begin. He noted that they agreed also on the immediate commencement of the work on the “protocol” which should be signed for 2020 and reached an understanding on the issue that the “protocol” should be prepared and signed by October when the “budget” of the regime should be ready.
In statements to the paper, “finance minister” Amcaoglu said that the “protocol” included 156 million TL for investments, 47,5 million TL as a support to the real sector of the economy and 546,5 million TL for defence expenses, which had been covered from “TRNC’s” revenues before.
Havadisreports that Erdogan and Tatar gave “hard messages” on the Cyprus problem during their joint press conference.
According to illegal Bayrak television (23.08.19, https://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=fm-ozersay-says-cooperation-is-possible), Kudret Özersay, self-styled deputy prime minister and foreign minister, speaking during a meeting organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association in Ankara, has claimed that the fact that both sides in Cyprus did not recognize each other did not mean the two sides could not cooperate.
Touching upon the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Özersay said that the Turkish Cypriot side did not desire conflict over hydrocarbons.
Underlining the need to cooperate on the issue, Özersay reminded that the two sides had cooperated in the past, as was the case in 2010 when the “TRNC” had sold electricity to the “South” via the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce after an explosion near the main power plant in “South Cyprus” had left the Greek Cypriot side with limited electricity.
He said that the UN Secretary-General in his latest report had called on the two sides to cooperate on civilian and military matters which showed that both the UN and the international community supported this. Özersay added that cooperation between the two sides on the issue of energy could be carried out via international companies.
He said that the issue of natural gas could become a real opportunity if international companies currently carrying out activities on behalf of the Greek Cypriot side pressured the Greek Cypriot leadership to cooperate with Turkish Cypriots.
Özersay warned that Turkey and the “TRNC” will be taking more steps on the issue if the international actors fail to “persuade the Greek Cypriots to cooperate”. “This, of course, will not mean using force but expanding our drilling activities,” Özersay added.
Asked whether there was a chance of an outbreak of conflict, Özersay said that this could have happened if Turkey had not balanced the playing field by launching its own activities. “Such a possibility is currently low,” he added.
Özersay also said that the policies pursued in the Eastern Mediterranean were independent of the Cyprus negotiations process.
Also touching upon the issue of occupied fenced-off Varosha, Özersay reminded that an inventory on immovable and other properties in the fenced-off city was currently being prepared. He reiterated the “government’s” intention to take action once the inventory was completed.
“Our government’s position on the matter is clear. That is the fenced-off city of Varosha needs to become part of everyday life in the area without waiting for a solution. The rights of former residents and the Vakıflar Administration will not be ignored. The goal is to change the military status of the area and to open the fenced-off city piece by piece to civilian settlement. All our steps will be in line with the results of the inventory being conducted,” he argued.
According to illegal Bayrak television (23.08.19, https://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=akinci-speaks-on-cyprus-problem-4), Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, speaking at a festival in the occupied village of Karavas, has said that they will continue to work with all their strength to overcome the deadlock on the Cyprus problem which has been ongoing for years.
Akıncı reminded that the UN Secretary-General’s temporary Special Envoy Jane Holl Lute was expected to visit the island at the beginning of September, adding that he would also be meeting with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the end of September.
He added that a joint meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and the UN Secretary-General was also a possibility. “Our only goal is to free our children and future generations of a life of uncertainty and to lay the country on a solid course for the future. It is also our goal to ensure that the international community accepts and acknowledges that Turkish Cypriots have as much say on this island as Greek Cypriots do,” he added.
Akıncı further said that that Turkish Cypriots desired to live freely in Cyprus and would never accept minority rights, reiterating that Turkish Cypriots also desired political equality.
“The Greek Cypriots have been proposing a concept of decentralisation which is something we have been defending for years. We have no objection to this but effective participation in decision-making processes is extremely important. The Greek Cypriots are opposing this. They don’t want to give Turkish Cypriots a vote or say. This is not possible to accept,” he said.
Akıncı said that it was not possible for Turkish Cypriots to vote in favour of a settlement that did not recognise their political equality or which did not entail their effective participation in decision-making processes.
To be able to live in security was another desire for Turkish Cypriots, Akıncı said, adding that a sense of security was not only important for Turkish Cypriots but Greek Cypriots as well.
Akinci concluded by claiming that the foundations of a settlement passed through a strong “TRNC”.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Diyalog(23.08.19) reports that Turkish Minister of Tourism and Culture, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy toured the occupied fenced-off city of Varosha yesterday after his intensive contacts during his one-day illegal visit to the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus. Ersoy toured Varosha from air and by land accompanied by Unal Ustel, self-styled minister of tourism of the breakaway regime and journalists.
In statements after the tour, Ersoy said that he was very touched. Asked whether he would support the gradual opening of Varosha by the “TRNC”, Ersoy replied that “we will give every kind of support to the works launched by the TRNC and the steps it will take from now on”. Asked what he wished, Ersoy argued that Cyprus’ future was bright especially from the point of view of tourism and added that “tourism is important for peace”.
Ersoy said that the occupied area of Cyprus would be included in Turkey’s tourism promotion campaigns, which they planned to triple in 2020. He added that they would be especially concerned with the problems in transports. He admitted that problems existed in the through flights within the framework of a “security directive” and noted that they would try to solve these problems.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (23.08.19) reports that Turkish Minister for Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, who was in the occupied area of Cyprus for a one-day visit, said that the Selimiye mosque [Trans. Note: Cathedral of Saint Sophia which was turned into a mosque] will be restored within three years and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) will open an office in the occupied area of Cyprus.
During his visit to the childhood home of Turkish Cypriot born politician in Turkey Alparslan Turkes, which was recently turned into a museum, Minister Ersoy, said that the restoration of the Selimiye Mosque in the occupied part of Nicosia would be completed within a period of three years in line with a protocol signed with the Vakıflar General Directorate in Turkey and the Cyprus Vakıflar Administration (EVKAF). He added that at the first stage, five million euro work will be done.
Noting that they have decided to open a TIKA office in the occupied area of Cyprus, which is responsible of the mutual development of the relations with the countries and communities aiming to cooperate, Ersoy said that they expect the studies to be completed soon. He further said that this step is a necessary step for the investment and activities of TIKA in the “TRNC”. He explained that within this step TIKA can undertake many social responsibility projects on behalf of the Ministry.
Responding to a question on other projects, Ersoy said that efforts were underway to step up promotion activities abroad so as to attract more tourists to “North Cyprus”.
Touching upon the issue of flights, Ersoy said they were working on ways to lower ticket prices as well as to increase flights to the “TRNC”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika (23.08.19) reports that Kasim Aktas, a 69 year old man, died on Wednesday after contracting the West Nile virus and being in hospital since July 18. He was the first patient to be diagnosed with the West Nile virus in the occupied area of Cyprus.
Meanwhile, the paper reports that another two patients are being treated in hospital in the occupied part of Nicosia with the West Nile virus, while results are expected for four other patients suspected of having contracted the virus.
According to Turkish news portal Turkish Minute (23.08.19, https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/08/23/17-detained-in-ankara-during-protests-over-removal-of-kurdish-mayors/), police on Thursday detained 17 people who took part in a demonstration in Ankara in protest of a recent decision by the Turkish government to remove three elected Kurdish mayors from office, Turkish media reports said. (…)
Police intervened during the demonstration and detained 17 protestors who had gathered in front of the HDP’s Mamak district office to speak out against the removal of the mayors.
The detentions reportedly took place because the Ankara Governor’s Office has banned all demonstrations, marches and press statement releases in public venues.
Turkish Minute (22.08.19, https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/08/22/izmir-police-detain-27-lawyers-at-protest-over-removal-of-kurdish-mayors/) also reports that the police in İzmir detained 26 lawyers and one journalist during a similar protest earlier on Thursday. The demonstration, held by members of the Jurists for Freedom Association (ÖHD) and the Progressive Lawyers Association after the Interior Ministry ousted three Kurdish mayors in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır, Van, and Mardin, was blockaded and violently dispersed by the police, who said they would not allow it to proceed due to a 10-day protest ban imposed by the İzmir Governor’s Office.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Deputy Erol Katırcıoğlu was forcibly separated from the protesters, while journalists who were at the scene to report on the protest were allegedly insulted and one was detained.
Meanwhile, TM (23.08.19, https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/08/23/governors-office-removes-4-neighborhood-officials-from-posts-in-batman-province/) further reports that the governor’s office of the eastern Turkish province of Batman removed four elected neighbourhood officials, or muhtars, from their posts due to investigations into them and trials they face on terrorism charges shortly after the mayors of three predominantly Kurdish cities were also removed from office, according to a statement from the governor’s office on Thursday. (…)
The muhtars (village’s headmen) who were removed from office are also accused of having links to the PKK.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (22.08.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-neutralizes-635-pkk-terrorists-since-start-of-2019-145967), Turkey has launched 80,570 counterterrorism operations against the outlawed PKK in the first eight months of 2019, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Aug. 22
As a result of these operations, some 635 PKK “terrorists” have been “neutralized,” according to figures provided by the minister. Turkish authorities use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
“We’ve been combating PKK terror for 40 years. We have neutralized 635 PKK terrorists in 80,570 operations since the start of this year,” Soylu told reporters in the capital Ankara. (…)
Columnist Yusuf Kanli, writing in Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (23.08.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/yusuf-kanli/a-settlement-model-for-cyprus-145949), describes the different tendencies regarding the Cyprus settlement in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, all of which consider the EU membership a necessity, in the following commentary:
“In northern Cyprus, there are two official positions regarding a Cyprus settlement. The president [editor’s note: the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci] and the leftist bloc of parties vehemently argue that the best way forward is to continue seeking a federal resolution even if the Greek Cypriot left and right remain reluctant to be their companions on such a road. The two-party coalition government, on the other hand, included for the first time ever a two-state resolution of the Cyprus problem as its target. On both flanks, of course, there are further details that produce further division. Should, for example, there be a European Union roof and a provision that the two states should not have the right to merge with any other country, apart from the other state on the island?
Irrespective of positions, it is a fact that not only supporters of a federal resolution, but those supporting a two-state resolution have been immersed in intense domestic propaganda as well as diplomatic contacts to garner, if not support, a degree of understanding from the international community. Also, it is no secret that apart from the United Nations-sponsored Cyprus talks, there are some other discreet mechanisms under way, including but, of course, not restricted to secret hotel room encounters of Turkish officials – including Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu – building brick-by-brick terms of full partition on the island. It is no secret that not only he officially suggested an obscure “loose federation” but Greek Cypriot Nicos Anastasiades told to the face of both Çavuşoğlu and Akıncı that he could not deliver a settlement based on political equality, effective participation of Turkish Cypriots in governance or the requirement of a yes vote from at least one Turkish Cypriot cabinet member for the government to take a decision on any issue. It was he, as well, who told both Akıncı and Çavuşoğlu that perhaps the best way forward might be to seek a confederation or a two-state resolution.
EU membership is the problematic element for the nationalists, while it is a uniting element not only for the pro-federalists but irrespective of political standing, the Turkish Cypriot youth. That position is particularly understandable when in the absence of EU-membership all resolution ideas will be deficient. Federation will be devoid of a confidence factor – a fundamental requirement of a sustainable deal – or in a two-state resolution the Turkish Cypriot state might walk a similar road that the Hatay Republic walked in 1939 a short while after becoming independent. Besides, only with an EU roof the two sides on the island can build a common future and indeed serve as a catalyst of a far bigger goal: Better relations between Turkey and Greece.
Federation on Cyprus appears impossible particularly because of the Greek Cypriot obsession with not sharing power with Turkish Cypriots, but there are other complications, all of which are indeed of existential importance. What will happen to the 1960 guarantee scheme, for example, or the tens of thousands of mainland Turkish people who made northern Cyprus their new home since 1974? Neither Turkey can abandon its rights and privileges emanating from the Guarantee Treaty (that made Turkey along with Greece and Britain guarantor powers for Cyprus) nor can thousands of people that made Cyprus their new home be kicked off of the island. Property ownership will be yet another problem that might land the two people of the island in a bloodbath again if a wholesome resolution is ignored. Individual rights are, of course, sacrosanct, but there ought to be compensation, exchange and such tools to be employed apart from restoration of former property rights.
On the other hand, in a two-state resolution, EU membership is an important element to win support of the youth apart from filling in the economic as well as the physical and psychological security deficiency that might be produced with Turkey’s troop withdrawal. Naturally, in such a deal, Turkey’s guarantee – if it continued – can be valid only for the northern state. Can Turkey accept such a situation? Worse, in a two state deal, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the island will as well be divided. Can Turkish Cypriots accept to give away hydrocarbon riches in the southern EEZ of Cyprus? Can Turkey recognize Greek Cypriot EEZ?
Far worse, what might be the implications of Cyprus setting a model for independence aspiring communities not only in Europe but in Turkey’s close vicinity as well?
Rather than antagonistic approaches, perhaps it is time to concentrate on all resolution ideas, discuss pros and cons and in full awareness that any settlement will be based on some very painful compromise, perhaps rather than demands and red lines, we ought to make a list of issues that can be compromised for a common better future on Cyprus.”
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION