Under the above title, Deutsche Welle in Turkish (25.10.19, https://www.dw.com/tr/ak%C4%B1nc%C4%B1-bu-makama-kimin-gelece%C4%9Fine-sadece-k%C4%B1br%C4%B1s-t%C3%BCrk-halk%C4%B1-karar-verir/a-50975356) publishes an exclusive interview with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci. Asked to comment on the reactions against his statements regarding the Turkish invasion to Syria, Akinci said that these were excessive adding that this was not the first time he had made such statements. “I did not raise the issue of whether the 1974 operation should have been held or not", he noted adding that he had made an establishment deriving from real life, because he had participated in the war in 1974. “The message I wanted to give was that that the real medicine is dialogue, diplomacy”, he said arguing that dialogue and diplomacy “gave positive results afterwards”.
Asked to comment on President Erdogan’s reference to him arguing that “he does not know his limits” and that “he sits at his office because of Turkey”, Akinci said: “[…] Only one decides how one comes to this office and how one goes. And this is the Turkish Cypriot people. […] If what Mr Erdogan wanted to say was that this place stands on its feet with the support and contribution of Turkey, yes this is correct. No Turkish Cypriot rejects this. However, the approach that ignores the struggle given by the Turkish Cypriots for years is not correct. Yes, the Turkish Cypriots have come to this point with Turkey’s support and aid. However the Turkish Cypriot people could stand on their feet mainly with the strength of their own resistance. This should be known. Beyond this, Turkish Cypriot presidents are persons who know what they say and for which purpose they say it. Therefore, it is definitely not possible for us to accept the ascriptions as regards this issue”.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Akinci recalled that the UNSG was trying to help and claimed: “I hope that the Greek Cypriot side will behave more realistically now, accept the reality that the Turkish Cypriots have at least the same rights on these lands and they have rights on the resources in the sea and to be possible for us to establish a peaceful equation during the forthcoming period. Efforts are exerted in this direction. The UNSG wants this, If we the Cypriots, our closest countries, Turkey and Greece, do not realize this, these conflicts of interests of the big powers will always influence us negatively”.
Asked whether Turkey’s policy in the Eastern Mediterranean will contribute to finding a solution in Cyprus or to the increase of tension, Akinci replied that “the policy in the Eastern Mediterranean is a policy which all of us approve of and defend”, because “it is not possible for the energy equation in the Eastern Mediterranean to exclude Turkey and the TRNC”. He recalled that the Turkish side had submitted a proposal in 2011 and that he brought up this proposal again on 13 July 2019 in a more extended version. He argued: “[…] We say let us make energy stop being a field of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean and turn it into a field of cooperation. Because there are three ways which could be followed on these issues: Either you will wait for the Cyprus problem to end successfully, [and] both sides will have a moratorium. Or if we cannot do this we will cooperate. […] We will establish a committee and in this committee we will decide how these resources will be shared. We will plan together the procedures to be followed. If none of these can happen, each will do it separately. That is, this is what is happening now. Our preference is not the current situation. Our preference is finding a diplomatic way out by evaluating their reasonable alternative, if they have any. […]”
Akinci further alleged that the Turkish proposal on the hydrocarbons started to find positive ground and argued that some European countries said that the Greek Cypriots should take this proposal into serious consideration. Asked whether Germany was among these countries, Akinci alleged: “We know that Germany suggested mediating. We know that Switzerland also took steps in this direction. When I sent these proposals to the UNSG and the Chairman of the EU Commission Junker, they responded to me in writing and there was no element which was describing negatively this proposal and was rejecting it. Perhaps because of their position, they did not offer support openly to the Turkish Cypriot proposal, but between the lines, we saw an implication that this was a positive proposal”.
Asked whether a solution to the Cyprus problem was possible during the term in office of the newly elected Chairperson of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Akinci argued that the EU Commission or the EU were not the ones to solve the Cyprus problem and alleged that the EU’s biggest mistake was the accession of a divided island. He argued that the new Chairperson of the Commission should “establish a healthy dialogue with the Turkish Cypriot community and its representatives, because we see the EU as our target”.
When the journalist said that “you said nothing about Varosha which is closed for 45 years” and asked whether the occupation regime’s recent moves on the issue were related to “the Greek Cypriot activities in the Eastern Mediterranean”, Akinci replied that the decision on the occupied fenced-off city of Varosha had been taken by the “government”. According to their statements “Varosha was brought onto the agenda only for carrying out an inventory study”. “It is true that we have inventory studies, but they will be updated and I raise no objections, in spite of the fact that I had not been informed beforehand”, he said adding that the steps to be taken should be within international law and should not be in conflict with the UN. “Otherwise, Turkey will have a bigger headache than us especially at the ECHR”, he added.
Asked whether he would be a candidate in the forthcoming “presidential elections”, Akinci recalled that UNSG’s envoy, Jane Holl Lute would be visiting the island in November to prepare the tripartite meeting in a European city at the end of the month. According to Akinci, holding an unofficial five party meeting was also possible, depending on the results of the tripartite meeting. He noted that he was focusing his effort on these and that the situation as regards the “presidential elections” would be shaped in the New Year.
Turkish Cypriot daily Haberci (25.10.19) reports that the so-called prime minister and leader of the National Unity Party Ersin Tatar said that the statements of the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci as regards Turkey’s operation to Syria were “unfortunate and wrong”.
Speaking to a group of the paper’s journalists, Tatar claimed that with his statements Akinci confirmed similar statements that he made before and added that this does not represent or express the Turkish Cypriot “people”.
Referring to their relations with Turkey, he stated that they are extremely important and that Turkey is a “non-negotiable condition for the TRNC”. He also claimed that the military equipment of the Greek Cypriot side is increased and this is “scary”. Tatar further claimed that the military equipment is not defending but “war oriented”.
He also said that Turkey will never abandon Cyprus and that Cyprus (as he called the occupied area of Cyprus) will never abandon Turkey as well. He also claimed that a federal solution is no longer possible and expressed his support towards a “two-state solution within the EU”, noting that Turkey’s guarantees are a red line for the Turkish Cypriots. He also said that because of its position the “TRNC” is very important for Turkey’s rights in Eastern Mediterranean.
Referring to the forthcoming “presidential elections”, he stated that he sees no problem for both him and his “government partner and foreign minister” Kudret Ozersay to be “candidates”. He also said that he does not take into consideration reports that Mustafa Akinci may receive 50% plus in the “elections”.
On the opening of the fenced-off Varosha city, Tatar claimed that keeping the city closed is against human rights. He also said that the “immovable property commission” will decide for the properties in Varosha and asked for EVKAF rights not to be overlooked.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (25.10.19) reports that the former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat stated that there was a shortage of dialogue after Crans Montana and added: “The dialogue with Turkey was over; the meaningful dialogue with the EU and the UN came to an end”. He also said that at this point the UN receive different messages from Turkey and different messages from the “TRNC”: “For the time being there are no negotiations, no talks; there is nothing”, he stated.
Talat made these statements speaking at a program of illegal Bayrak where he evaluated the latest developments of the Cyprus problem and talked about the approach of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) as regards the solution of the Cyprus problem.
Referring to the forthcoming “presidential elections”, Talat stated: “CTP must want a president that is able to solve the Cyprus problem. And this should be a person able to create a dialogue with both sides. We see that today we do not have such a president”, he said.
He went on adding that some circles want a “president” who can talk with Turkey. “But I want a president that can achieve a solution”, Talat said adding that there are a lot of persons who can talk with Turkey and Facebook is full of them. “Make a president out of them then; there are a lot of candidates”, he stated.
Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Nacak (25.10.19) reports that the general secretary of the National Unity Party (UBP) Ersan Saner said that they are against Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci entering a new negotiation process ahead of the upcoming “presidential elections” in 2020, claiming that Akinci does not represent anymore the views of the majority of the Turkish Cypriot community.
According to a press release by UBP, Saner, who was participating in a programme at “Bayrak”, said: “We suggested to our president that he should not engage in any negotiation process, while we are entering the presidential election process. We believe that Akinci no longer reflects the opinion of the majority of the community”.
Stressing that as the Turkish Cypriot “people”, it is time to lock this process, which has been going on for 60 years with no results, than to deal with a tripartite or five-party meeting, adding that it is more important to identify, as Turkish Cypriot “people” where the Cyprus problem is going.
Referring to the UBP’s candidate for the “presidential elections”, Saner said that “they will nominate someone, who loves and believes for sure in the TRNC”, adding that a “candidate from the UBP would receive more support”. He further said that the UBP is currently carrying out opinion polls and according to the results they would decide on their candidacy.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Düzen (24.10.19) under the front-page title: “Special status to Turkish citizens”, reports that the so-called “residence permits and visas regulation” which was set into force as of two days ago, is accompanied by a circular which provides to the Turkish citizens living in the occupied area of Cyprus a “special status”.
According to the paper, in spite of the fact that the so-called ministry of interior has stated that no amendments were made on the “regulation concerning the entry permit, residence permit and exit permit of the foreign citizens”, the leader of the Revival Settler’s Party (YDP) Erhan Arikli, has stated that some “facilitative amendments were made for the Turkish citizens”.
Expressing satisfaction over the amendments made on the “regulation” with the added circular, Arikli underlined that it was necessary for these amendments to be done especially for the “Turkish students who study in the TRNC and for the issue of the labor permit”.
Following are some of the “amendments on the regulation” which provide a “special status to the Turkish citizens under the circular”:
- Turkish citizens above 60 years old who live in the “country” would not be forced to submit a “health report” every year, but only once when they apply for obtaining “residence permit”,
-in case that a married couple buy a residence, a “residence permit” would be provided automatically to both and not only to the owner of the residence,
-amendment of the article which was envisaging that a person who works in the occupied area with a residence permit and receives the minimum wage would be able to bring only three individuals from his family. This article has totally changed and envisages that a person who works in the TRNC could bring the whole of his family to the country”.
According to Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Afrika (25.10.19), the leader of the Nationalist Democracy Party (MDP) Buray Buskuvutcu was found guilty on two counts of running a protection racket in 2014 to the owner of two nightclubs with threats of violence. He was fined 7 thousand TL. It was also decided by “Nicosia’s district court” that Buskuvutcu would also sign a bail of 50 thousand TL for three years.
According to Turkish daily newspaper Yeni Safaki (25.10.19, https://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/us-should-hand-ypg-pkk-ringleader-over-to-turkey-president-erdogan-3503679), Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking live on Turkey's state-run broadcaster TRT, said on Thursday that “YPG/PKK terrorist ringleader Ferhat Abdi Sahin, codenamed Mazloum Kobani [Syrian Kurdish commander Mazloum Kobani], is wanted by Interpol and the U.S. should hand him over to Ankara”, adding: "With the U.S., we have an extradition agreement. The U.S. should hand this man to us".
Noting that he instructed his Justice Minister to take the necessary steps for Kobani's extradition, Erdogan said the country has been harassed by terrorists in northern Syria for eight years.
Erdogan noted that some NATO countries armed the YPG/PKK terror group and that Germany, France and the U.S. met the leaders of the terrorist organization. "Russia urged Turkey to enter Syria's Ayn al-Arab [Kobani], whereas the U.S. requested the opposite," he said, adding: "We will decide depending on the developments."
He went on to say that Turkey was awaiting the end of a 150-hour pause in its anti-terror operation in northern Syria -- hammered out with Russia -- before joint patrols with Moscow would commence.
Critical of the U.S. administration's failure to clear Manbij district in northwestern Syria of YPG/PKK terrorists within 90 days, he said no steps had been taken over the last year and a half. "To whom does Manbij belong? These terrorists?" Erdogan said, adding that up to 90% of the city’s population were Arabs forced to flee amid oppression by the terror group.
He said a Turkish delegation would visit the U.S. on Nov. 13 to discuss recent developments in northern Syria, now-lifted U.S. sanctions on Turkey and bilateral ties.
Reiterating that Turkey had no issues with Kurdish people, Erdogan said: "Kurds are our brothers. We do not have problems with them. We fight only terrorists."
Erdogan said Operation Peace Spring was named so due to the existence of large numbers of springs to the east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.
He reiterated that the international community had been informed about Turkey's anti-terror operation east of the Euphrates. (…)
He stressed that Turkey could still hit terrorists beyond the safe zone, underlining that the country was acting on an anti-Daesh strategy in Syria.
Asked whether Turkey would strike YPG/PKK elements in northern Syria if they did not withdraw, he responded that the Turkish military would act accordingly if diplomatic efforts did not bear any fruit.
He also said the YPG/PKK terror group's heavy weaponry should be handed over to NATO-member Turkey. Hailing the country's growing defence industry, Erdogan said Turkey's nationally built armed drones provided much "relief" in the anti-terror operation.
He urged the "civilized world" to back Turkey and its operation. "Turkey needs international support for the settling of refugees," Erdogan said, adding Ankara planned to build hospitals and schools in a northern Syria safe zone -- one of the operation's primary aims -- as well as ensure the voluntary return of refugees to the area.
He slammed the Arab League's stance on Operation Peace Spring, adding the bloc had not helped Turkey in sheltering millions of Arabs. "The Arab League was unable to resolve any issue in the Muslim world," he said.
Touching on inflation and investment in Turkey, Erdogan said inflation will drop significantly in the country once interest rates reach single digits, and as a result, investments in Turkey will increase.
Following a drop in interest rates, sales in the automotive sector have started to increase again, he said, adding home sales have also begun to increase, and "I believe they will increase more.”
According to Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet Daily News (24.10.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-rejects-ep-decision-over-turkish-operation-into-syria-147906), Turkey on Oct. 24 rejected a resolution by the European Parliament against the Turkish operation into northern Syria. “We completely reject the attitude of the European Parliament (EP) today on Operation Peace Spring,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.
“We are not surprised by this decision by the host of terrorists,” said the statement, noting that the EP adopted a decision “inconsistent” with the facts and insisted on a “biased and lacking in common sense attitude” towards Turkey despite all explanations made by Ankara.
All the allegations in the EP decision were previously denied by Turkey or necessary explanations were made, said the Ministry.
The legitimacy of this operation was approved by the deals made with the United States and Russia, read the statement. “The decision shows that the EP cannot properly follow important developments in the regional and global arena, cannot evaluate its causes and consequences objectively and integrally, and cannot develop sound and relevant strategies,” claimed the statement.
Adopting a resolution on Oct. 24, the European lawmakers “strongly condemned the unilateral Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria, urging Turkey to withdraw all of its forces from Syrian territory.”
In a resolution, the EP called on the council to introduce “a set of targeted sanctions and visa bans on Turkish officials responsible for human rights abuses, as well as to consider adopting targeted economic measures against Turkey.”
The resolution “firmly reject[s] Turkish plans to establish “a so-called safe zone” along the border in northeast Syria and expressed concern that the U.S.-Turkish agreement on a temporary ceasefire might legitimize the Turkish occupation of this ‘safe zone.’”
On the same issue, HDN (24.10.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-slams-eu-for-policy-against-turkey-147913), under the title “Erdoğan slams EU for policy against Turkey”, reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 24 slammed the European Union’s policy against Turkey, reiterating that Turkey can open its own borders “when the time comes.”
“The end of the European Union will come because of its hypocrisy. When we say ‘we will open the borders,’ they panic. Do not panic. When the time comes, the gates will open. I dare you to host hundreds of thousands [of refugees],” he said, during a speech at a ceremony for district governors in Ankara.
“You call us when 100 people cross to Greece via sea. There are 4 million [Syrian refugees] here, and you stay silent,” Erdoğan said, addressing European countries. (…)
Meanwhile, Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu (24.10.19, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/turkish-parties-slam-ep-lawmakers-decision-on-syria-op/1625533) reports that in a joint statement, the Turkish parliament on Thursday condemned the European Parliament's (EP) decision over the country’s anti-terror operation in northern Syria.
"We, as the political parties appear in the general assembly of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, on behalf of our grand Turkish Nation, completely revoke the EP's decision today on our country's ongoing operation against terror groups in northern Syria," said the joint statement.
The statement was penned by deputy chairs of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the opposition Good (IYI) Party.
The statement noted that Turkey "has displayed the maximum sensitivity not to harm civilians and civil infrastructure" during the operation.
According to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu (25.10.19, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/turkey-denunciates-le-points-editor-in-chief-reporter/1626055), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denunciated on Friday the editor-in-chief and also a reporter of France's Le Point magazine over an insulting magazine cover.
Erdogant's lawyer Huseyin Aydin filed a criminal complaint over the magazine's Oct. 24 issue which described Erdogan as "the eradicator" and accused him of "ethnic cleansing".
Turkish presidential aide Ibrahim Kalin on Thursday slammed the magazine saying: "It is clear why they [the French] attack our President. They are in panic as their game was spoiled and their pawn in Syria, PKK, suffered a heavy blow."
He recalled France's troubled history of colonizing much of North Africa, their massacre of thousands, and involvement in slave trade. (…)
According to Turkish news portal Turkish Minute (24.10.19, https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/10/24/turkish-opposition-deputy-criticizes-his-partys-stance-over-syria-kurds/), Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a Deputy from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has reportedly slammed his party’s policies towards Syria and the Kurdish political movement in Turkey, the Diken news website reported on Thursday.
At a CHP closed-door group meeting on Wednesday, Tanrıkulu reportedly criticized the CHP’s decision to support the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary motion to allow cross-border military operations in Syria and Iraq.
He also called on his party to be more vocal in standing up against the government crackdown on the Kurdish political movement in Turkey, particularly with regard to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as the AKP-led Interior Ministry has ousted several elected HDP mayors over alleged terrorism links.
While the CHP has supported the parliamentary motion granting the government the authority to carry out military incursions into Iraq and Syria as well as the military operation launched against Kurdish militia units in Syria on Oct. 9, it has expressed disapproval of the replacement of HDP mayors with government-appointed trustees.
According to Turkish daily newspaper Sabah (24.10.19, https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2019/10/24/german-foreign-minister-to-visit-turkey-amid-operation-in-syria), German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is to travel to Turkey on Saturday to discuss Ankara's anti-terror operation in northern Syria.
Addressing lawmakers at the German parliament during a debate on the Middle East, Maas criticized Turkey's anti-terror operation against the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorist group in northern Syria, but underlined the importance of dialogue between Ankara and Berlin.
"It's always better to talk to each other instead of talking about each other, therefore I will be traveling to Ankara on Saturday," he said, adding that he will meet with his Turkish counterpart and other officials and share Germany's expectations on Syria.
The Social Democrat politician expressed concerns over the protection of civilian population in northeastern Syria, stability in the region and future of U.N.-led talks for a political solution to end Syria's devastating eight-year civil war.
Referring to an initiative from Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer for an U.N.-backed security zone in northern Syria backed up with troops from the European Union, he expressed continuing reserve.
"What is key in the end is what we can agree with our international partners in this situation," he said. "On this will depend which plans we pursue, and which not."
Kramp-Karrenbauer's plans have met with widespread skepticism in Germany and found little resonance among Germany's allies. Kramp-Karrenbauer planned to introduce a draft for an internationally controlled safe zone along Syria's border with Turkey at the NATO meeting this week, despite Turkey's existing plan to create a safe zone there after the withdrawal of PKK-linked terrorists.
According to Turkish news portal Turkish Minute (24.10.19, https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/10/24/pollster-new-parties-to-determine-result-of-turkeys-2023-presidential-election/), Özer Sencar, the owner of the Ankara-based Metropoll polling company, has said new parties that will be established by two former Justice and Development Party (AKP) heavyweights will determine the result of a presidential election to be held in 2023, according to Turkish media reports.
Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and former deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, who recently parted ways with the AKP, have made public that they are planning to establish new parties that will be rivals to their former party, the AKP.
“Even if the new parties get only 5% of the nationwide vote, they will determine the result of the presidential election,” said Sencar.
Turkey, which switched to an executive style presidency from a parliamentary system in 2018, holds presidential elections every five years. (…)
According to Metropoll’s latest survey, the AKP-Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance commands 42% of the vote, while the share of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the İYİ (Good) Party and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) stands at 39% without taking undecided voters into consideration. When the undecided voters are included, the AKP-MHP vote is 51%, while the vote of the three other parties is 47%.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION