Turkish Vice President, Fuat Oktay has alleged that the sanctions approved recently by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU member states “showing as an excuse” Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean were null and void for Turkey, broadcasts Turkish Cypriot illegal Bayrak (15.11.19). Addressing the ceremony prior to the military parade in the occupied part of Nicosia within the framework of the celebrations on the occasion of the 36th anniversary of the “unilateral declaration of independence” (“UDI”), Oktay said that “our Fatih drilling vessel, after completing its duty in our continental shelf, yesterday started its new activity in the southern part of Karpasia Cape”.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci also addressed the ceremony, reading out the same address he made yesterday when he had marked the beginning of the celebrations.
“Nations which do not defend their history, faith and culture have no future”, argued Oktay, claiming that Turkey has always been supporting “solutions based on common reason and common understanding” in the Cyprus problem. The Turkish Vice President argued also that “the bonds between Turkey and the TRNC are so deep rooted that will not be mortgaged for the special agenda or calculations of any person or group”. He added: “The future of these deep rooted bonds is entrusted to the young people. The young people should support the environment, the culture of brotherhood. They should be pioneers for the further development of the TRNC”.
Noting that the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the recent Turkish invasion in Syria “were materialized with the same spirit”, Oktay claimed that these operations were “the most obvious proofs that steps which will meet security concerns could be taken by protecting human sensitivities”. Oktay alleged that the “TRNC”, as he described the breakaway regime, which had been declared nine years after the Turkish invasion, was the “warranty of the indispensable rights of the Turkish Cypriots over the island”.
Referring to the negotiations for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, Oktay reiterated the position that they have been going on for 50 years and alleged that Turkey had exerted every effort with all its sincerity but no result could be reached because of what he called “the intransigence stance of the Greek Cypriot side”. He alleged:
“In this process the Turkish Cypriots have always been searching for a solution and an agreement and supported the solution plans in order to re-establish the partnership spoiled by the Greek Cypriots. Turkey has always been by the side of the TRNC, from the beginning until the end, struggling within the framework of the international law for a future vision. […] As a guarantee of peace and security in the area, we will continue doing whatever is our bit for northern Cyprus on the basis of our conventional responsibilities […]”.
Reiterating Turkey’s determination to “fulfil its historic duty” in the “legitimate struggle” of the Turkish Cypriots, Oktay argued that they would not allow for the Turkish Cypriots to be obstructed from coming to the prosperity level they deserved and for the existing status quo in Cyprus to continue. “I call on the international community, which turns a blind eye to the realities on the island, to respect the intentions of the Turkish Cypriots as regards their will, history and future and exhibit a stance in favour of justice”, he alleged.
Referring to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, Oktay reiterated the allegation that Turkey has been arguing from the very beginning that the hydrocarbon resources in the area should be used as an opportunity for peace and stability in the island. He also claimed the following:
“The Greek Cypriot side which lives with the illusion of being the sole owner of the island, thinks that it could put the Turkish side into a difficult situation by abusing its EU membership. We will not give the slightest concession from our legitimate rights on the hydrocarbon resources. […] Our Yavuz drilling vessel is active in our continental shelf. And our Fatih drilling vessel, after completing its duty in our continental shelf, yesterday started its new activity in the area south of the Cape of Karpasia. Our Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa seismic explorations vessel continues its activities in the national areas for which the TRNC gave license to the Turkish Petroleum Company. In the national security policy document which we have updated last month we stressed once more our decisiveness on the issue of the activities carried out in the Eastern Mediterranean. The draft of sanctions approved on Monday by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU member states showing as an excuse Turkey’s drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean are null and void for us. […]”
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Düzen (15.11.19) reports that the leader of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) Tufan Erhurman, issued some questions to “prime minister” Ersin Tatar who made statements about Varosha in an interview he gave on Turkish FOX TV.
Tatar stated that the issue of the opening of the fenced-off Varosha city will come into the agenda in the end of 2020 and that the return of the city’s inhabitants will be supported by the UN.
Posting in social media, Erhurman said: “The prime minister stated that they will open Varosha by the end of 2020. Is there any kind of plan? How will the property issue be solved? Is there any discussion with the UN, with the assembly or the president? An issue as important as Varosha shouldn’t be handled more seriously?”
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Düzen (15.11.19) reports that asked by the Turkish FOX TV why he asked the so-called police he is wanted by Interpol, Tatar stated that this was meant as a “joke”.
He also said that the opposition always take advantage of the rumors that he is wanted by Interpol and added the following as regards the time that he was working in Polly Peck firm:
«Years ago I worked in a firm in England during the Asil Nadir era and they tried to involve me as well with the issues involving Nadir. Opposition is always trying to use this against me and say that one day I will have to answer about these cases. This is a joke; […] I am not wanted by Interpol”, he stated.
Meanwhile, Turkish daily Kıbrıs Postası (15.11.19) reports that speaking to the paper’s journalist Gokhan Altiner Tatar stated that he will travel to Strasburg on November 27 and after that he will travel to London.
Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Kibris (15.11.19) reports that within the framework of the celebrations to mark the 36th anniversary of the breakaway regime’s unilateral declaration of independence (UDI), the Turkish TCG Gelibolu (F-493) frigate and the TCG Anafartalar (S-356) submarine will anchor tomorrow, Saturday, to the occupied port of Kyrenia, while the TCG Bora (P-338) assault boat will anchor to the occupied port of Famagusta.
According to Turkish Cypriot online newspaper Cyprus Mirror (14.11.19, https://tinyurl.com/ssbftx7), “Turkish drill vessel Fatih which returned to Mersin port for maintenance after finalizing its activities off the coasts of Pafos headed towards Famagusta as part of its scheduled drill activities”.
In relation with the new destination of Turkish drill ship, the online ship tracking system provided evidence on Thursday that the Turkish vessel was heading towards occupied Famagusta port.
Related with Fatih vessel new destination, Ankara has not issued any official declaration yet. Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez stated earlier that “Fatih vessel will launch new drill activities in the continental shelf of TRNC [editor’s note: the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus] without providing information about the destination”.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot online newspaper Voice of the Island (15.11.19, https://tinyurl.com/ulqpbw5) reports that Fatih, which anchored 13 nautical miles off the coast of occupied Galinoporni in Karpasia, is expected to carry out drilling in a new location in the area. “Fatih will continue its activities up until the 23rd of February 2020 and will be accompanied by the platform support vessels Siem Korkut, Siem Altan and Siem Sancar ships”.
Under the title “Why does not the Turkish [Aerobatics team] Solo come?”, columnist Gokhan Altiner, writing in Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Kibris Postasi (15.11.19), argues in his today’s commentary that Turkish Air Forces Aerobatics Team Solo’s performance above the skies of occupied Kyrenia has been cancelled in order not to put in danger the airspace over occupied area of Cyprus, because the Turkish Air Forces are on alert due to the tension in Syria.
Reciting reliable sources, Altiner writes: “In other words, the Turkish F-16 did not come, because the TRNC airspace is not a secure environment. As you know, the TRNC’s airspace is being protected by the Turkish Air Forces in consequence of Turkey being a guarantor country, however, TRNC cannot protect itself, because it has no air defence system”. On the other hand, he argues that Turkey does not have a sufficient air defence system, meaning a missile system, to protect its airspace, adding that although Turkey received the S-400 missile system, it has not been yet operational.
According to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu (15.11.19, https://tinyurl.com/t7tvju5), Turkey's President said Thursday his nation will never allow anyone to usurp the Turkish Cypriots’ rights on hydrocarbon resources.
The statement was part of Erdogan’s message delivered to mark the 36th anniversary of the breakaway regime’s unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) to be celebrated Friday.
"My Turkish Cypriot brothers crowned their state, which they established with great struggles and sacrifices, with their achievements in democracy and economy,” he said, claiming: "However, their efforts to reach a just, lasting and sustainable political solution on the island have not been answered on the south of Cyprus”.
Claiming the Greek Cypriot side is not willing to share the island with the Turkish Cypriot “people” on the basis of political equality, Erdogan said the reportedly isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, who have shown every possible convenience for the political solution, has been persistently maintained. "On this day of pride, we once again share the enthusiasm and joy of independence of the Turkish Cypriots, which we see as an integral part of the Turkish nation," Erdogan stated.
"I respectfully honour our martyrs and hero veterans, and wish the TRNC and Turkish Cypriot people a peaceful, safe and prosperous future from my Lord," Erdogan said. (…) “No one, especially the European Union, has the right to turn the Turkish Cypriots into captives of the Greek Cypriot games,” Erdogan claimed, adding: “The Turkish efforts for a just and sustainable political solution on Cyprus was not reciprocated by the southern side”
According to Turkish daily newspaper Sabah (14.11.19, https://tinyurl.com/qq72w7z), Turkish-U.S. ties are seeing a positive momentum despite the efforts of outside actors to harm them, thanks to the constructive approaches of the two countries' leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Thursday.
Responding to questions by journalists on his return from the U.S., Erdoğan said that although there are some circles that aim to damage the ties between the two countries, his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump is making a sincere effort to come up with solutions to the existing disagreements.
"I can say that Mr Trump is sincerely trying to come up with solutions to the problems between the two countries that are respectful to the both sides and national interests. However, I can also say that some circles that are against Trump are trying hard to harm our relations," the President added. He highlighted that the key to overcoming the differences in opinions is to have a healthy dialogue based on information and facts.
During his visit to the NATO ally country, Erdogan had a bilateral meeting with Trump, as well as side meetings with different delegations and U.S. Senators. Regarding the content of their meetings in the U.S., Erdoğan said that the major topics were the developments in Syria, the withdrawal of the PKK's Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG), the fight against Daesh, the establishment of the Syrian safe zone, the S-400 missile purchase, the NATO alliance and the presence of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in the U.S.
Explaining that the booklets regarding the crimes of the FETÖ and PKK terrorists have been provided to U.S. Senators during the meeting, Erdoğan said that a video also has been shown to both the Senators and Trump. (…)
Erdoğan said that the biggest issue for Turkey when it comes to Syria is to enable the Syrian refugees to return to their homes. He added that the major point is to provide security in an area with the depth of 20 miles (32km). "Mr Trump mentioned it to us as 444 km in width. Right now, we have taken the 120 km-long area between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn," he said, adding that Trump welcomed the idea of a safe zone.
"He told me that he has mentioned the issue to the European countries as well," Erdoğan said, adding that he himself will also bring the issue to the table during the NATO leaders meeting on Dec. 3-4. "We will see how the NATO countries will react to the safe zone issue," he expressed. (…) Erdoğan also explained his vision for the safe zone, saying that there will be houses, health centres, schools and civic centres for the public.
Erdogan added that, if necessary, Turkey would offer both the U.S. and Russia use of the oil revenues in Syria for the construction of the safe zone.
Regarding the purchase of the S-400 missiles from Russia, Erdoğan said that despite having a strong army already, there is still room for improvement that necessitates the purchase of such defence systems. "We have the second-biggest army in NATO and have strong ties with the U.S. Still, we need to diversify our defence sources for our national interests," he said, adding that he informed the U.S. that Turkey is still willing to buy the Patriots as well.
"Yet", he added, "It is not acceptable for us to remove the S-400 missiles completely while purchasing Patriots since it is a demand that is violating our sovereignty."
He further pointed out that when other NATO member countries, such as Greece, made similar purchases, no one, including the U.S., expressed any concerns. Currently, Greece has S-300 missiles purchased from Russia. Still, Erdoğan expressed that Turkey has a constructive attitude toward the process and offered to have a joint work at the level of defense ministers over coming up with a solution to the problem.
"They claim that S-400 missiles are not compatible with the F-35. Well, you already do not sell us the F-35 [so we don't have it]," said Erdoğan, questioning the absurdity in the U.S.' approach to the issue. "I have reminded Mr. Trump that we are not the consumers of the F-35 program, but partners in it," Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey has already paid $1.4 billion of the $2.4 billion price of the F-35 jets. Still, according to Erdoğan, the U.S.', especially Trump's, attitude on the issue was much more positive and solution-focused than the previous meetings.
The President reiterated that no matter what, it is not an option for Turkey to deactivate the S-400 missiles. Touching upon the importance of the bilateral ties with Russia, which is quite strategic for Turkey, Erdoğan said that there are lots of layers to the relations that should be considered when mentioning the purchase of S-400 missiles. He gave the examples of the matters of the natural gas, Turk Stream and tourism, saying that these cannot be overturned by cancelling S-400 purchase.
"Russia is currently our number one partner in tourism. Last year, 6.5 million tourists came from Russia. Maybe, this number will increase this year. We have the trade volume that is approaching to $30 billion. Last year it was $25 billion," Erdoğan continued his examples. He also recalled that NATO expressed approval over the S-400 purchase.
The President highlighted that both Russia and the U.S. are close allies of Turkey and the country is determined to keep the ties in this way.
According to Turkish daily newspaper Sabah (14.11.19, https://tinyurl.com/uldotje), the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) renewed its call to the EU for the modernization of the customs union agreement with the bloc during a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. "For years, together with Business Europe [European Business Confederation], we have been advocating for the start of the customs union to update negotiations as soon as possible," TÜSİAD Chairman Simone Kaslowski told Anadolu Agency (AA) in a statement Thursday. (…)
According to data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), Turkey's exports to the 28-country bloc in total $62 billion while its imports were recorded at $50 billion. In 2018, Turkey's sales of goods and products to the EU were calculated at $84 billion and its purchase of European goods came at $81 billion.
The TÜSİAD delegation held meetings with the members of European Parliament (EP), senior EU Commission officials, academics, and representatives from think tanks at TÜSİAD Brussels Office and discussed Turkey-EU relations and new developments in the world.
Kaslowski noted that the EP's new Turkey Rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor also participated in the event, adding they had meetings with different people who would affect relations efficiently in the coming period.
Recalling that they also evaluated policies on various issues such as digital transformation, cybersecurity, sustainable economy, climate change, plastic usage and industry, Kaslowski said he was scheduled to attend another high-level meeting held by the European Business Confederation (BusinessEurope) in the EP.
The TÜSİAD chairman pointed out that they coincided with a period in which Turkey was on the agenda in Brussels and that the Europeans were quite curious about the Operation Peace Spring. "The operation in Syria is an issue that everyone is curious about (in Brussels). I do not think they are very familiar with the issue as they are new MEPs," he continued. "As a matter of fact, the statements and discourses made are not consistent with our observations in Turkey. In that respect, there is an environment and opportunity to share the differences there, our findings, our observations with them very clearly. So, our overseas visits are essential. We attach great importance to this dialogue to provide a more objective perspective, especially during such periods".
He also pointed to the importance of trade relations between Turkey and the EU. "The EU is our most important trading partner. At least 50% of our trade is with European countries," he added.
According to Turkish daily newspaper Sabah (14.11.19, https://tinyurl.com/qoxbkar), as part of its rejuvenation process, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) brought together the party's Deputies in a meeting and urged them to form a closer relationship with the voter base.
The AK Party Deputies met on Wednesday under the presidency of acting Chairman Numan Kurtulmuş under the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. During the meeting, Hürriyet daily reported that the Deputies were urged to go to their respective provinces more, rather than staying in the capital Ankara. They were also encouraged to hold sincere, warm meetings with people and have informal sessions rather than formal ones to strengthen the emotional connection. According to the new strategy of the party, the Deputies were also urged to ask the opinions of their voters without discrimination. Reaching out to the youth was also prioritized.
Reminding that there are also party members who have been in the movement for years but had drifted recently, the Deputies were encouraged to convince them to come back to the party circles. These people's political knowledge is also a valuable asset for the party, Kurtulmuş said to the Deputies.
It was also said that personal desires should be left behind and the main concern needs to be to work for the party's overall interests. The Deputies were urged to not see politics as a way to gain wealth. The parliamentarians were urged to follow Erdogan’s politics closely and ease his burden if possible. (…)
According to Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet (15.11.19, https://tinyurl.com/shc7y4h), the operations against the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) are continuing. This Friday morning, four more HDP Mayors have been detained. Co-mayor of Savur district Gülistan Öncü, co-mayor of Mazıdağı district Nalan Özaydın, co-mayor of Derik district Mülkiye Esmez and co-mayor of Urfa’s Suruç district Hatice Çevik were taken into custody following house raids this morning. While the detained co-mayors were taken to provincial police departments on allegations of terrorism, police forces have laid siege to the municipalities.
Meanwhile, according to Turkish news portal Ahval (15.11.19, http://ahval.co/en-64995), police detained over 50 Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members on Thursday in advance of the pro-Kurdish party’s congress, Mezopotamya news agency reported. The 52 members from the southeastern city of Gaziantep, including co-chairs of the party in the city, were detained on Friday morning, Mezopotamya said.
A total of 20 HDP Mayors have been dismissed over terror charges and replaced with a government appointee since the local elections in March.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION