Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (26.04.18) reports that Kudret Ozersay, self-styled foreign minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has said that from now on the Turkish side will take steps similar to the ones taken by the “Greek Cypriot side”, as he described the Republic of Cyprus, on the natural gas and oil issue. Addressing yesterday a conference on the “Security in Eastern Mediterranean, Energy Strategies and Global Power Relations” held in the occupied part of Nicosia, Ozersay referred to the importance of Cyprus’ geographic position and alleged that it is not possible to “read the new situation as regards the natural gas and oil using the old paradigms”, adding that when one of the sides took steps on these issues in the past, the other side was only protesting.
Claiming that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side reserved their rights, took no active steps and underlined that nothing should be done on the energy issues until the solution of the Cyprus problem, Ozersay argued that this approach changed after 2011 and from now on they are determined to head towards a paradigm having as basis steps similar to the ones taken by the Greek Cypriot side.
He also claimed that the Turkish Cypriot side, together with Turkey, is determined to become a decisive actor and element in the foreign policy. He added: “The period ahead of us will be such a period. This is our foreign policy understanding”.
Meanwhile, addressing the same conference, Fikri Ataoglu, self-styled minister of tourism, alleged that the drillings of the “Greek Cypriot side” in Eastern Mediterranean are creating tension and added that this tension is worrying. Claiming that the Turkish Cypriots have equal rights both in the explorations and the sale of the natural resources, Ataoglu accused the Greek Cypriots of trying not to give the Turkish Cypriots their share. He argued that these issues influence negatively the economy and tourism in the entire island and added that they will try to reduce the negative influence by establishing a team for taking various measures. Moreover, Ataoglu called on the “Greek Cypriot side” to stop acting unilaterally and work together with the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (26.04.18) reports that Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke on the Turkey’s experience as regards the EU the disappointment it experienced in the past as regards the Cyprus problem and claimed that “the EU led the Cyprus problem into a deadlock having the Greek Cyprio side becoming member of the Union”, as he called the Republic of Cyprus.
He made these statements speaking in the 6th Turkey-Spain Intergovernmental Summit, which took place in Madrid.
He went on and claimed that Europe could have become a place that no-one would like to live if Turkey did not safeguarded the stability in the area. “Turkey is ensuring Europe's security by stopping the flow of foreign fighters, countering illegal migration, and fighting terrorist groups in Syria. […] So far 5,800 foreign fighters have been sent back from our borders, we did not let them in," he argues.
Under the title “Varosha colony”, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (26.04.18) reports that commanders of the Turkish occupation army, the so-called security forces and some divisions have private summer villas in the occupied fenced off city of Varosha, which is known as “close, forbidden and empty”. The paper notes that officers’ clubs, hotels for hosting civilian relatives of the army officers, cafes, sports halls, laundries and canteens exist in the occupied fenced off city. “Closed Varosha reminds of a colony for privileged persons”, writes the paper wondering: “Who said that Varosha is a close and ghost city?”
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Dizen newspaper (26.04.18) also refers to the issue and reports it has asked retired army commanders and politicians why Varosha is a “forbidden military area” and whether it is necessary for Varosha to be “a forbidden area” for security reasons.
Retired colonel Mustafa Kemal Tumkan argued that Varosha’s security dimension should be reassessed by the UN and the “parliament” and that the army’s powers could be decreased by “law”. He said that the situation in the fenced off occupied city is not in the hands of the Turkish occupation army and the “TRNC assembly” only and that this is a necessity required by the cease fire agreement signed in 1974. He claimed that the Turkish side could ask the UNFICYP whether the security conditions provided for in 1974-75 are valid in the current situation.
Retired colonel Mehmet Volkan Celebioglu expressed the view that Varosha will not have big importance from the military point of view and that strategically it is not a very important area. “The fact that it has not been opened for so long is saddening. […] Varosha’s control should be in our hands and I think that it would be useful to open it and the community to be benefited”, he claimed.
Former chairman of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) and former “prime minister” of the breakaway regime, Ferdi Sabit Soyer said that the ban which exists today for Varosha is based on “laws” but it is not ethical and legal, adding that the Cyprus negotiations should resume the soonest and the issue should be discussed “in a milder manner” within this framework. Soyer argued that first the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots and the UN should carry out a joint feasibility study for Varosha and depending on this study to bring onto the agenda “any kind of alternatives” for the city.
Finally, Serdar Atai, chairman of the within the walls association of occupied Famagusta, said that Varosha has been kept without any people for years and that this is the biggest loss for the inhabitants of Famagusta. He recalled that they have been saying that “as long as Varosha is kept hostage, the future of the Turkish Cypriots is kept hostage” and asked for the opening of Varosha the soonest, adding that a pilot project could be prepared in which Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots will be sharing something, work together and build a future together.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (26.04.18) reports that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signed and approved totally 34 agreements, protocols and memorandums of understanding contacted between Turkey and several other countries and international organizations. All these agreements were published in Turkey’s Official Gazette. Among the agreements there is also a “memorandum signed between Turkey and the TRNC for a joint active exercise by a special board squadron/special forces team”).
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (26.04.18) reports that according to figures provided by the “ministry of labour and social insurance” of the occupation regime, during the period between September 2016-September 2017 totally 66,061 persons were “registered” at the “reserve fund department”.
According to the annual report of the so-called ministry, totally 24,983 persons were “registered” to the “reserve fund” for the first time. The 38,494 out of the 66,061 “registrations” were made by “foreign citizens” while the 29,567 “registrations” were made by “TRNC citizens”.
Meanwhile, according to the same figures, during the above mentioned period, around 9,400 people “applied” to the “employment exchange department” to get a job. Among these people, 3,942 people were employed in different jobs while the number of the unregistered unemployed persons remains unknown, writes the paper.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (28.04.18) reports on statements by Huang Yuxiang, chairman of the administration board of Super Travels Group, one of the five biggest travel agencies in Singapore, who in exclusive statements to the paper, stated that “north Cyprus” is a new market for Singapore.
Supporting that the Singaporeans can travel visa-free to 169 different destinations, Yuxiang added that tourists from Singapore can travel very easily to both “north Cyprus” and “south Cyprus”, as he called the free areas of the Republic of Cyprus.
Alleging further that they consider “north Cyprus” as an appropriate market for the citizens of Singapore, not only for its character but also for its culture, Yuxiang claimed the following: “Since north Cyprus is a new destination and a development country, it is considered as a great chance for making investments. If it would not be this year, next year we are planning to bring around 3 thousand tourists to north Cyprus”.
Yuxiang added further that since there are no direct flights from Singapore to the “TRNC”, the tourists could be traveling from Doha or Dubai to “north Cyprus” via Istanbul.
Yuxiang called also the “TRNC” to attend travel fairs which are taking place in Singapore, in order as he said for the Singaporeans to have the chance to learn more about Cyprus.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (25.04.18, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-pm-accuses-european-countries-apart-from-spain-of-supporting-feto-130856), Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on April 25 criticized the EU for “failing keep its promises” given to Turkey over the refugee crisis. “We made an agreement with the EU to prevent the passage of refugees. There are 3.5 million refugees in our country. We provide shelter for them, vaccinations, healthcare, so we requested a little contribution from the EU as well as new steps in accession negotiations with Turkey,” Yildirim said in a speech at the Nueva Economic Forum in Madrid.
He added that Turkey demanded visa exemptions and an update of the Customs Union and “shake hands on this”. “The daily migrant total has fallen below 50 but we have not received the answer we expected. Unfortunately, we are still disappointed,” Yıldırım said.
Yıldırım argued that Ankara is still committed to the goal of becoming a member of the EU and good relations with Russia are “not an alternative to Europe”. “We are NATO members. We are from a country that has been waiting for EU membership for more than 60 years. Everyone who applied after us has already been granted membership. There is an ideological approach toward Turkey,” he added.
Describing Turkey-Russia relations as “essential for the security of Europe,” Yıldırım said the EU “cannot exclude Russia”.
The Prime Minister also blasted “some EU states” for their “support for terrorist organizations”, specifically citing the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, referred to by the authorities as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
Yıldırım warned that “upsetting a great ally like Turkey is not a wise move in terms of the future of the EU”. “Opening up space for radical movements is the biggest future threat to Europe. Unfortunately they are providing unbelievable space for the separatist terror organization FETÖ and this saddens Turkey,” Yildirim said.
“Spain is the best country in the EU for understanding Turkey. Turkey also understands Spain. Why? Because both Turkey and Spain have suffered a lot from terrorism over the years. We know what terrorism means for a country. Separatist terrorist organizations are like microbes that constantly consume the energy of a country,” Yildirim added.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (26.04.18, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/harmonization-law-for-elections-passed-in-parliament-130883), the Turkish Parliament has approved a legislative package for the harmonization of the current election and political party laws based on the new electoral terms stipulated by the constitutional amendment.
The legislation stipulating the regulation for presidential and parliamentary elections was approved on April 24 in a late night session in the Grand National Assembly in Parliament.
The package makes changes in laws on basic electoral regulations, lawmaker elections, political parties and presidential elections.
The Supreme Board of Elections (YSK) is expected to announce the election schedule a day after the package will be announced in the official gazette.
According to the regulation, the presidential candidate can be nominated by a political party, which has either received at least 5% of the votes in the last election or has a group in Parliament and 100,000 signatures from the electorate.
The nominees that will apply for candidacy outside of the Parliament will pay 131,000 Turkish liras and those who can collect 100,000 signatures will be reimbursed following the election. If a candidate cannot collect enough signatures, their payment will be transferred to the Treasury.
Voters can only sign for one candidate. Their signatures will be given to the local election committee and registered digitally.
A presidential candidate cannot run for lawmaker in Parliament at the same time.
The President can only be elected for two terms but if the Parliament decides elections will be held in the second term, the President can be a candidate another time.
Presidential elections will be held simultaneously with the parliamentary law. A candidate that has received more than 50% of the votes in the first round will be the President.
If none of the candidates can reach this percentage, then a second round of elections will be held two weeks later between the two candidates that have received the most votes.
Meanwhile, Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.04.18, https://aa.com.tr/en/todays-headlines/turkish-president-signs-election-harmonization-bill/1128116), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday signed a harmonization law to bring Turkey’s election system in line with constitutional reforms approved last year in a referendum, according to the presidency.
Under the law, Turkish citizens living abroad can cast their votes until three days before election day in Turkey, scheduled for June 24.
The Parliament last Friday passed a bill calling for early presidential and parliamentary elections, cementing Turkey’s move to a presidential system.
The law also ends the appointment system for overseas voters, allowing them to cast ballots on any date following the Supreme Board of Elections’ announcement of voting dates for overseas voters.
It also allows a person to be elected to not more than two terms as President, a presidential runoff if no candidate gets more than half of the votes cast, along with other election-related changes in line with the constitutional reforms.
According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (25.04.18, https://aa.com.tr/en/todays-headlines/turkey-electoral-board-11-parties-to-run-in-june-polls/1128107), Turkey's electoral body on Wednesday announced that 11 political parties will compete in the June 24 polls.
The Supreme Board of Election on Sunday had said 11 parties, including the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), will run in the parliamentary and presidential elections.
The other parties set to compete are the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Felicity (Saadet) Party, Grand Unity Party (BBP), Independent Turkey Party (BTP), Democrat Party (DP), Patriotic (Vatan) Party, Free Cause (Huda-Par) Party, and newly formed Good (IYI) Party.
Parliament last Friday passed a bill calling for early elections on June 24, cementing Turkey’s move to a presidential system.
In an April 2017 referendum, Turkish voters approved the switching from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.
Under the changes, the number of lawmakers in parliament rises to 600 from 550, presidential and parliamentary elections are held every five years, and presidents can retain ties to their political party. The prime minister post is also abolished.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (25.04.18, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-parties-in-intense-talks-for-electoral-alliance-130900), ahead of a tight electoral schedule for the upcoming snap elections to be held on June 24, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and opposition parties continued to engage in a whirlwind of talks on April 25 over possible electoral alliances.
The leaders of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Felicity Party (SP) and the İYİ (Good) Party have been keeping multiple dialogue channels open in a bid to form alliances and determine candidates to run against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the June 24 elections.
The appearance of the leader of the traditional religious conservative party SP, Temel Karamollaoğlu, alongside former President Abdullah Gul at an award ceremony in tribute to former National Outlook (Milli Görüş) movement leader Necmettin Erbakan late on April 24 fuelled speculation about Gül’s possible candidacy. The two also met on April 25.
The SP emerged out of the Milli Görüş, where prominent founding members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had been actively involved before forming the ruling party. Being one of the founding leaders of the AKP, Gul’s last years in office marked important disagreements with Erdogan. He has remained out of politics since he left office in 2014.
According to daily Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi, the SP wants to present Gul as a joint candidate of the opposition against Erdogan “because Gul has conditioned his candidacy as a joint-candidate.”
But nominating a joint candidate has not received positive response from opposition parties, with İYİ Party leader Meral Aksener reiterating her stance on April 25 that she will be the presidential candidate for her party, which is in favour of every party presenting its own candidates in the first round of the vote.
“I reiterate my presidential candidacy from the İYİ Party, through 100,000 signatures, as I had announced on April 1 when we had held our first extraordinary congress,” Aksener said following her meeting with CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu on April 25.
The two leaders met at the CHP headquarters in Ankara for a 45-minute meeting during which Aksener said she again expressed her gratitude for the CHP’s support for the İYİ Party’s participation in the elections.
While avoiding answering questions concerning the candidacy, Kilicdaroglu underlined the CHP’s stance for “unity” among opposition parties for the elections.
Gul’s name had reportedly been suggested within the CHP but drew staunch opposition from many in the party’s based. CHP deputy Muharrem İnce also blasted the idea, suggesting that Gul is “an accomplice and brother of Erdoğan,” in a social media post on April 25. İnce said the former president “cannot and should not be CHP’s choice of option,” to run against Erdogan.
CHP Deputy Group Chair Ozgur Ozel later joined the discussion over the CHP’s stance on Gul, saying “the CHP has never had Abdullah Gul’s name on the table. It doesn’t have it now and it won’t have it in the future”. “Enough. We are fed up with all the speculations,” Özel added.
Meanwhile, representatives of the ruling AKP and the Grand Union Party (BBP) also met in Ankara on April 25. Speaking after the meeting, AKP spokesperson Mahir Unal said BBP leader Mustafa Destici and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet later this week.
“A final decision will be made afterwards,” Unal said regarding alliance principles with the BBP, adding that the AKP is not considering talks with the Free Cause Party (HÜDA-Par) or the Democrat Party (DP).
The BBP has endorsed Erdogan’s candidacy and announced that it will support the “People’s Alliance” of the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
According to the legislative package that allows pre-election alliances, parties can both enter an alliance with their own lists or present lawmaker candidates within an existing alliance.
According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (26.04.18, https://aa.com.tr/en/politics/turkey-newspaper-staffers-get-jail-for-terror-charges/1128180), an Istanbul court on Wednesday sentenced 14 journalists from Cumhuriyet daily to various prison terms over terrorism-related charges.
Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, CEO Akin Atalay, and Orhan Erinc, plus journalists Ahmet Sik, Aydin Engin, and Hikmet Cetinkaya, got prison terms of six to eight years on charges of acting on behalf of a terrorist group without being members.
Atalay, however, was released in light of his time already served.
Eight journalists -- Bulent Utku, Kadri Gursel, Guray Tekin Oz, Haci Musa Kart, Hakan Karasinir, Mustafa Kemal Gungor, Onder Celik, and Yusuf Emre Iper -- were given up to four years in prison on the same charges.
At the first hearing in the case in July 2016, the suspects were indicted for sponsoring the PKK, Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), and leftist DHKP/C terrorist groups.
The court also sentenced Twitter user Ahmet Kemal Aydogdu, who used to handle @JeansBiri, to 10 years in prison. Aydogdu was detained in October 2016 on charges of spreading disinformation through the Internet.
Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (25.04.18, https://www.dailysabah.com/energy/2018/04/26/trans-anatolian-natural-gas-pipeline-to-open-in-early-june-erdogan-says) with the above title reports that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced yesterday that the official opening of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP), which will deliver Azeri gas to Turkey, will take place in early June. Speaking during a joint press conference with Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev in Ankara, Erdogan said the two countries will launch new projects in the upcoming period. "We will open TANAP, the biggest project at the moment, in the near future. Hopefully, it will take place in early June. TANAP, an important part of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), will contribute to the energy security of the whole of Europe," Erdogan said.
He also said that Azerbaijan is becoming the biggest investor in Turkey. "Moving our economic and commercial relations forward is a priority. We took an important step today," he added.
Meanwhile, TANAP General Manager Saltuk Duzyol said last week that the project was 93.5% complete while work on the rest of the pipeline continues at full speed. TANAP's first release point will be western Anatolian city Eskisehir's Compressor and Metering Station. (…)
The project cost was first estimated at $11.7 billion, but with some successful procurement, project management and financial management, it has been brought down to $7.99 billion, Duzyol said. Project partners received $3.75 billion in loans from international finance corporations and the European Union provided a grant of $10.2 million. (…)
Currently, TANAP has four partners. The SGC holds a 58% stake in TANAP, while Turkey's Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) and BP own 30% and 12%, respectively. Seven percent of SGC's stake has been recently transferred to the Turkish subsidiary of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR).
The project has one entrance on the Turkey-Georgia border, Düzyol said. "TANAP is designed to carry gas extracted from Azeri fields, located in the east of the country. But given that some adjustments were made in the agreement with the host government, natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean and Iraq might also be integrated to this pipeline in the coming years," he said.
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