Turkish Cypriot daily Detay newspaper (08.02.18) reports that diplomatic sources argued that, in spite of the hard statements made by the Turkish side on the Cyprus problem, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is considering replying positively to a possible invitation by President Anastasiades for a meeting and that the possibility of meeting at a dinner is high.
The UN is not expected to mediate for a meeting at this stage, notes the paper adding that the exchange of views is expected to be useful for understanding at which point the sides are standing at the moment.
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (08.02.18) reports that Kudret Ozersay, self-styled foreign minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has alleged that starting negotiations for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem without reaching a consensus on the basis or the parameters will give no results. Replying to questions of illegal TAK news agency on the occasion of assuming his “duties”, Ozersay argued that disagreement exists as regards the issue of “what the negotiations are held for”. “The sides must agree on the issue of the parameters and sit to negotiate on these”, he claimed.
Referring to Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci’s position as regards the need for the Greek Cypriot side’s mentality to change, Ozersay argued that the change of mentality requires time and cannot happen within three days, three months or three years. Therefore, he alleged, a process which will begin without a change of mentality or as long as the sides do not understand the same thing as regards the solution parameters, could reach nowhere and will be turned into a vicious circle.
Asked what will happen in case the mentality does not change and which the alternatives are, Ozersay said that consensus and agreement between the two sides should exist on the issue of the alternative parameters and solution models which are mentioned from time to time. He also claimed that the person or persons who lead the community should help in the change of mentality through their stance and attitude.
Asked whether the practices regarding the religious ceremonies held by Greek Cypriots in their occupied churches and the aid sent to the enclaved Maronies and Greek Cypriots will continue, Ozersay replied that “on this issue we as government will determine a policy which will be reasonable, modern and upgrade the respect of the TRNC, but will not abolish the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people”.
Ozersay further alleged that the regime should take some steps which create respect for it in its relations with other states and have the “TRNC” accepted as interlocutor on issues such as money laundering and the fight against terrorism, in spite of the fact that it is not recognized. He argued that their target is to do whatever it is necessary internally to minimize the criticism which is included against the regime in international repots on human trafficking issues.
Ozersay also said that his “ministry” will cooperate with the “ministries” of “internal affairs” and “finance” for taking steps which will upgrade the “property compensation commission” and other “institutions” to international standards and secure that especially the above-mentioned “commission” functions in a better and healthier manner. Noting that the compensations given by the “commission” are paid by an “item’ in the regime’s “budget” supported by Turkey, Ozersay said that they have some thoughts for supporting their policy on the property issue and for making the payment of compensations more functional. He said that they may impose a tax and make similar financial arrangements in case a property which stops being “disputable” upon a decision taken by the “commission” is sold or change hands with an increased value. He argued that not paying compensations is not the only reason for the stagnancy experienced in the “commission” and claimed that the delay in some procedures in the “committee” derives from lack of good administration.
Replying to a question on the Republic of Cyprus’ explorations for natural gas, Ozersay alleged that this kind of “unilateral measures” might increase tension in the area.
Referring to the regime’s relations with Turkey, he said that he is one of those who believe that these relations should become healthier on the basis of a better dialogue, especially when the recent events in the occupied area of Cyprus are taken into consideration. He said that his “ministry” wants to contribute to this and added that they attach great importance to having healthy relations with Turkey, which “is our strategic partner and most important ally”.
Ozersay said also that the first thing he attended to upon taking over the “ministry” was the need for personnel. He added that he has already spoken with the chairman of the “civil service committee” and vacancies for 20 new employees will be announced soon.
According to illegal Bayrak television (07.02.18- http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=kanbay-visits-deputy-pm-and-fm-ozersay) the so-called Turkish ambassador in the occupied area of Cyprus, Derya Kanbay, in the framework of his “courtesy visits to the members of the new coalition government”, visited yesterday so-called deputy prime minister and “foreign minister” Kudret Ozersay.
Speaking during the visit, Kanbay expressed his support to the new “government” and wished Ozersay success in his new post.
“Turkey will continue to support the Turkish Cypriot people as it has always done”, Kanbay alleged.
Pointing out that the Turkish Foreign Ministry will continue to work closely with the “TRNC foreign ministry”, Kanbay informed Ozersay on the “ongoing joint projects between the respective ministries of the two countries”.
Ozersay for his part highlighted the importance of relations with the Republic of Turkey. Stating that Turkey’s support was extremely important for them, Özersay expressed his happiness from receiving a congratulatory message from his Turkish “counterpart” Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (08.02.18) reports that “prime minister” Tufan Erhurman said that as soon as he obtained the “office”, he asked for a broad report regarding the bet offices, the number of bet offices, the number of employees, their financial income as well as the situation in other countries.
Speaking at the Turkish Cypriot private channel Genc TV, Erhurman further said that an effort to establish a “statistical institution” has already begun, adding: “We don’t even know our population, how many are the cancer patients, how many children are going or not going to schools? The statistical institution is a priority for me”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (08.02.18) under the front-page title: “What is happening with the night protesters wanted?”, reports that reactions and questions came up concerning the night persons who are still wanted by the so-called police for the incidents occurred on January 22 against Afrika newspaper, despite the fact that the “police” has obtained “images proving their identity”.
According to the paper, commenting on this, Turkish Cypriot “citizens” stated that the “police’ excuse” that it was not possible to identify them yet, especially in such a small country, is not convincing. “Who are those persons? Have they probably come to the country for the protest and in order to stir up trouble and after this they return back? Or perhaps they are taking cover from someone’s?”, the “citizens” wondered, pointing out to the need for the so-called police not to forget this case.
The paper adds further that the six persons who were arrested and tried for the attacks against Afrika newspaper and the incidents occurred in the “assembly”, change their stance in “court” every day. Even though the day before yesterday they denied accusations for being involved in the incidents, yesterday they decided to implement the agreement they held with the “attorney general” and confessed to the crimes.
On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (08.02.18) reports that the suspects claimed in the testimony at the “court” that they were stimulated by people working in Afrika, alleging also that Sener Levent was responsible for all this situation. “Nobody can call my country as invader” or “I will do anything for my country”, were some of the expressions used by the suspects at their testimonies in “court”.
Meanwhile, the same paper adds that the “attorney general” in the occupied area of Cyprus has launched another “investigation” against Afrika newspaper for the article entitled “One more occupying operation from Turkey”.
On the same issue, Turkish daily Afrika newspaper (08.02.18) reports that Enve Ozturk, one of the “lawyers of the suspects” claimed that “Afrika” described Turkey’s operation in Afrin as an invasion and submitted to the “court” as an evidence a report published by “Afrika” newspaper in the past, presenting the caricature of Turkish President Erdogan. The “trial” was postponed for February 9.
According to illegal Bayrak television (08.02.18, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=ozyigit-speaks-on-education-objectives), the self-styled minister of education and culture Cemal Ozyigit has said that “his biggest dream for the education system in the country was to raise generations who will claim the future of the country”.
In an interview to TAK news agency”, Ozyigit said that education should not be a scratch pad and added that a “government policy” will be established in this field. Stating that “the state schools will be rearranged to be fully-equipped so that they can compete with private schools”, he said work will also be launched to bring the period of study closer to world standards.
Ozyigit also said that they will pursue a compromising manner and stressed that the vested rights of teachers will not be touched.
Responding to a question whether a new arrangement will be made on the college exams, he said “instead of competitor exams we will try to materialize an assessment and evaluation system which will bring out the ability and promote the success of students”.
Touching upon the higher education system in the “country”, Ozyigit said that “there were 16 universities accepting students in the country, 13 of them became accredited by the Council of Higher Education (YOK) and 3 of them not accredited”.
Stating that “16 more universities also received prior authorization and that this number was too high for the country”, Ozyigit said “their target will be to increase the quality but not the number of the higher education institutions”.
Moreover, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (08.02.18) reports that Ozyigit, in response to the question regarding the compulsory religion lessons, said that there will not be concessions on science, democracy and secularism. He further noted that Hala Sultan Theological college will be subjected to supervision and evaluation. He added that establishing a new theology college is not in the agenda.
Columnist Cenk Mutluyakali, writing in Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (08.02.18), under the title “Let us not stay in the 3rd grade”, praises the initiative of the Cyprus Ministry of Education to place in the school libraries the “Joint Greek and Turkish Cypriot dictionary” by Iakovos Hadjipieris and Orhan Kapatas.
Mutluyakali writes: “I have said that this excellent dictionary of Iakovos Hadjipieris and Orhan Kapatas should be included in the classes, and should be included in the school curriculum. Because this is Cyprus! (…) A common culture.
The presentation of the dictionary was done by the Cyprus Education Ministry and the electronic version of the dictionary will be posted and will be available also on mobile phones and tablets. The Council of Europe supports it.”
Mutluyakali further stressed: “Preparing for peace is like that. We should love Cyprus, embrace it, increase the security between the two communities against racism and fanaticism, we should raise friendship and tolerance instead of increasing hatred and we should be determined to remember our joint culture and to keep alive our identity”.
Finally, Mutluyakali makes a call to the newly “appointed minister of education” Cemal Ozyigit to pay as much attention to culture as to the education.
According to Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (08.02.18), the so-called ministry of tourism and environment represented the “TRNC” (the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus) to the tourist fair “Destinations London”, which was held in London between February 1-4.
Fikri Ataoglu, “minister of tourism and environment” said that for years now Britain is an important country and the most tourists are coming from its market adding that the promoting contribution should be increased and that they aim to expand their destinations by including Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Turkish daily Sabah (07.02.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/eu-affairs/2018/02/07/ankara-submits-eu-visa-liberalization-documents-expects-new-momentum-in-relations) reported that Ankara has completed preparatory work for visa liberalization with the European Union and submitted the documents, expecting new momentum in ties if it is implemented.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has claimed that Turkey has accomplished all necessary work for the fulfillment of the remaining seven criteria out of 72 for visa-free travel to the EU’s Schengen zone and will send a letter detailing Ankara’s steps to European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans.
“The ball is now in the EU’s court,” Cavusoglu said in a televised interview.
Also, EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik claimed yesterday at a press conference that "Turkey has fulfilled all obligations laid out before it. In our opinion, all 72 criteria have been met".
The EU gave Turkey a list of 72 criteria to fulfill for visa-free travel for Turkish nationals after the two sides signed an agreement to stop illegal migrants from crossing to Greece from Turkey.
The 28 EU member states and the European Parliament must also approve the visa scheme. Aside from visa liberalization, the EU pledged to provide financial aid for refugees in Turkey and to accelerate EU membership talks.
Commenting on the issue, Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said that "putting this into practice in 2018 would give Turkish-EU relations new momentum and would change Turkey's perspective on the EU." He added that visa liberation for the Schengen zone is the Turkish people's right.
The EU has said that Turkey has completed 69 of the listed criteria, but needs to change its terrorism laws. Kalın said that Turkey has made the necessary adjustments to its terrorism laws, which would not hamper its fight against terrorism.
Turkey has long been calling for an EU-Turkey summit to discuss strained relations and find common ground.
An EU-Turkey summit will be held on March 26, in the Bulgarian port city of Varna, an EU spokesman said Tuesday, amid efforts to improve strained ties. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will attend the summit. European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, whose country currently holds the EU term Presidency, will meet Erdogan "to discuss EU-Turkey relations as well as regional and international issues," Tusk's spokesman tweeted.
The meeting will be a working dinner, a statement signed by Tusk and Juncker said. This gathering will serve as a way for the EU and Turkey to improve their friendship and is an "opportunity to assess matters of mutual interest and recent developments in Turkey, including in the areas of rule of law and fundamental freedoms," it added.
Aside from the summit, Çelik said that Turkey, as the term President of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), suggested holding a summit between the EU and OIC.
Celik said further that the summit would play a significant role in handling various issues ranging from Palestine to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and the developments in Syria and Iraq.
As Turkey shares a 911-kilometer border with war-torn Syria, the civil war has had various implications for the country. Turkey has followed an open-door policy for Syrians fleeing the civil war and has taken in over 3 million refugees. Celik also called on the EU to step up its efforts to contribute to preparing living conditions for returning refugees in Syria to enable them to return to their homes.
Touching on the EU's statements on Turkey's ongoing fight against terrorism and its Operation Olive Branch, Celik said that they raise concerns that the EU does not have a principled stance on the issue. Referring to the EU's stance, Celik said: "Unfortunately, we did not see the expected approach from the EU."
(…)Celik also said that the EU member states' main concern should be the YPG rocket attacks in Turkey that have killed civilians. Reiterating that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and YPG are inextricably linked to PKK, which is accepted as a terrorist group by the EU and the U.S, Celik said there are no differences between the PKK, the PYD and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is largely composed of YPG elements. He also criticized statements calling for an end to the operation in a short period of time and added that the operation is a just step by Turkey and it will not back out of the operation.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (07.02.18- http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ferhat-encu-loses-seat-in-turkish-parliament-bringing-number-of-revoked-hdp-deputyships-to-seven-126936) reported that Ferhat Encu lost his parliamentary seat as a Deputy of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on February 6 after being convicted of terrorism charges.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Yasar Tuzun announced the removal of Encü by showing lawmakers a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office showing Encü’s conviction.
According to Turkey’s Constitution, any conviction on terrorism charges precludes parliamentary deputyship.
Encü was arrested on Nov. 6, 2016 and was sentenced to four years and seven months on charges including “terror propaganda” on June 9, 2017. His appeal against the conviction was also rejected.
After Tüzün read the letter in Parliament, HDP Deputy Group Chair Filiz Kerestecioğlu said the move meant that seven HDP Deputies have now had their MP status revoked. She then left the assembly with the other HDP Deputies present.
Following Encü’s removal, the HDP now holds 52 seats in the 550-seat parliament. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) holds 316 seats and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has 131 seats.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION