According to Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper, self-styled deputy prime minister and foreign minister Kudret Ozersay is carrying out an official visit in Turkey today to meet with the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
During the meeting, opportunities for further enhancement of the close cooperation between Turkey and the “TRNC” [the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus] as well as the latest developments on the Cyprus problem will be discussed.
Ozersay is accompanied by the “undersecretary of the foreign ministry” Mustafa Lakadamyali, the “advisory and political affairs director” Gunes Onar, the “director for political affairs” Gizem Alpman and the “1st secretary” Sonat Altug.
As it is known, the “prime minister” Tufan Erhurman and Ozersay carried out an “official visit” to Ankara
earlier this month but had not been able to meet with Cavusoglu because he was in Germany.
According to illegal Bayrak television, Ozersay will meet with Cavusoglu at 12.30 pm and will be holding a joint press conference at 2.30 p.m.
Turkish Cypriot daily Demokrat Bakis newspaper (20.03.18) reports that the Turkish Armed Forces have announced through their official Twitter account that two corvettes and two submarines are patrolling in Eastern Mediterranean within the framework of the Turkish Naval Forces’ “Mediterranean Shield Operation”, which is allegedly carried out for protection of Turkey’s rights and interests in the area.
Turkish Cypriot Star Kibris newspaper (20.03.18) refers to the issue under the title “Intimidation in the Mediterranean” and reports that within the framework of the above-mentioned operation a new maneuver of the Turkish army has started in the Mediterranean. It is noted that with the maneuver the message “be careful what you are doing” is given to the Greek government which supports that Greek Cypriots, as the Republic of Cyprus is described, who are carrying out “unilateral” explorations for natural gas in the open sea of Cyprus.
The paper alleges also that teams of the Greek coastguard approach almost every day the Imia area but they withdraw when they see the Turkish soldiers who keep a watch 24 hours a day in the area and allow no one to approach.
The paper writes that the Turkish Armed Forces published pictures yesterday from the maneuvers.
Under the above title, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (20.03.18) reports that after the Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syria Army (FSA), which is described as “a gathering” of former Islamic State and Al Qaida members, took control of Afrin, looting and plundering started. Houses, grocery stores and markets are being robbed.
Ibrahim Kalin, Spokesman of the Turkish presidency, has argued that members of the FSA are those who are looting and plundering. He said that they will launch interrogations on this issue.
Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (20.03.18) reports that “police officers” visited yesterday its offices and filed three new “lawsuits” against Sener Levent for three articles he had published. These are an article under the title “From the Peace Operation to Olive Branch Operation” published on 21 January, an article under the title “Behold the Real Face of Fascism” published on 23 January and an article under the title “Zorba the Cypriot” published on 1 February.
The paper is accused of trying to harm the relations between Turkey and the “TRNC”, of insulting and humiliating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and of inciting people to violence.
Turkish Cypriot daily Haberal Kibrisli newspaper (20.03.18) reports that during a military ceremony in the occupied area of Cyprus regarding the celebrations on the occasion of the March 18th Martyrs’ Day and the 103rd anniversary of the Canakkale Victory, children recreated a scene of a soldier’s funeral, which caused a reaction by many citizens and students.
Cemal Ozyigit, self-styled minister of education, said that this issue would be investigated, adding, however that these ceremonies had no connection with the “ministry”. He further noted: “The most sacred responsibility of all of us is to nourish our children with love and life and not with pain and death…”
On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (20.03.18) reports that the Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Trade Union (KTOS), in an announcement regarding the same issue, stressed that it was not paedagogically appropriate to use children as theatrical figures during the anniversaries of war, adding that this is a violation of children’s rights in the simplest definition.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (20.03.18) reports that the new chairman of the “Cyprus Turkish Civil Servants Trade Union” (KTAMS) is Guven Bengihan and the general secretary is Devrim Barcin.
Ankara Anatolia news agency (19.03.18) reported that the Turkish Lira weakened to a record low of nearly 4.84 against the euro on March 19 and hit the lowest level since early December against the dollar following investor concerns over the macroeconomic outlook and the prospect of U.S. interest rate hikes.
Against the U.S. currency, the lira weakened as far as 3.94, closing in on a record low of 3.98, which it hit in late November, according to Reuters data.
The main share index fell 0.8%.
(…)The plunging trend in the lira resumed two weeks ago when Moody’s downgraded Turkey’s sovereign rating to Ba2 from Ba1, citing a continued loss of institutional strength and the increased risk of an external shock given its wide current account deficit.
Turkey’s current account deficit widened by $4.4 billion year-on-year to reach nearly $7.1 billion in January, the Central Bank stated on March 12.
On the same issue and under the title: “The exchange rate fever is not reduced”, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (20.03.18) reports that the Turkish Lira value has been weakened to a record low against the foreign currency.
Also, TurkishCypriotdailyYeniDuzennewspaper (20.03.18) reports in its front-page that several economist and financial experts warn about the erosion of the TL against the foreign currency supporting that “there may be amendment in taxes”.
Moreover, so-called minister of economy, Ozdil Nami, speaking to the paper, stated that “the council of ministers will discuss the issue” stressing the need at the same time for the “state” to determine the general expenditure it pays in foreign currency. Nami added that “there is a common understanding inside the government circles concerning the conversion of all expenses in TL to dollar”.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (19.03.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-is-not-in-afrin-as-an-invasion-force-erdogan-128999) reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at a ceremony held for newly appointed judges and prosecutors on March 19 in Ankara, claimed that Turkey’s sole objective in Afrin in northern Syria is to “clear the border of terrorists” and to eliminate potential threats to its national security, stressing that the Turkish army is not in Afrin as an “invasion” force.
“We have now put a comma down and God willing we will make a full stop. We won’t be limited to this [operation]. There will be extensions. They will also be sorted out. Our intention is not invade but to carry out operations to cleanse terrorists and eliminate terrorist threats to our country,” Erdogan said.
His words came one day after Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters took control of Afrin city center on the 58th day of “Operation Olive Branch” against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“We have completed an important stage of ‘Operation Olive Branch’ by taking control of the city center of Afrin. We will continue this process until we have entirely abolished the corridor through Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tel-Abyad, Ras al-Ayn and Qamishli,” Erdogan further said.
Erdogan also stated that northern Iraq is now on Turkey’s radar, directly referencing the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) presence in Iraq’s Sinjar province. The PKK is the parent organization of the YPG and has reportedly working to turn Sinjar province along the Iraqi-Syrian border into a new stronghold. “We have told the central [Iraqi] government that the PKK is establishing a new headquarters in Sinjar. ‘If you can deal with it, you handle it. But if you cannot we will suddenly enter Sinjar one night and clear this region of terrorists. If we are friends, you will make it easy for us. We told all this to previous Iraqi central governments as well. If things are furthered prolonged then another ‘Operation Olive Branch’ will be carried out there,” he said.
Turkish and Iraqi officials have in recent months discussed potential joint actions against the PKK presence in Sinjar at high-level political and military talks.
Turkish daily Sabah (19.03.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2018/03/19/turkey-and-us-have-reached-general-agreement-on-manbij-kalin) reported that Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın stated that Turkey and the US have reached a general agreement on Manbij and the Turkish side is now waiting for its NATO ally to implement the deal.
Speaking to the Al Jazeera English's live broadcast on Monday to discuss the liberation of Afrin by Turkish forces and Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, Kalın said that Turkey and the United States will avoid a possible confrontation in the region if the withdrawal of the U.S.-backed People's Protection Units (YPG) forces in Manbij is actualized.
When asked about the possible effects of the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's departure from the ongoing Manbij talks, Kalın said: "Continuity in state affairs is essential. Officials may change, but key policies are expected to remain the same. We hope that the agreements we have with our American counterparts will continue."
In response to a question on claims that there have been some looting incidents and destruction of some Kurdish symbols in Afrin during the Operation Olive Branch, Kalın said: "There might be some groups here and they may be involved in that kind of action. We take that very seriously and necessary measures will be taken to address that issue."
He added: "We have not bombarded the city. Our soldiers and Free Syrian Army fighters have been very careful in avoiding civilian casualties. They'd been very careful in not attacking any of the houses or historical sites."
"We want to assure everyone in Afrin as well as those, who had to flee to Turkey, Aleppo or other places that Afrin will be a safe place for them to return," Kalin said.
Kalın noted that Turkey coordinated the Operation Olive Branch with Russia, Iran and the U.S. and it has been very "transparent," from the very beginning.
The northern Syrian city of Manbij has been one of the most hotly debated points of discussion between Turkey and the U.S.
Ankara had requested the U.S., beginning with former President Barack Obama, to withdraw the YPG from areas east of the Euphrates and Manbij, and to stop supporting the group militarily. The U.S. had promised to meet Turkey's demands, but has not so far, which has strained relations between the two countries.
The operation in Afrin aimed at stopping the YPG from establishing an autonomous region in northern Syria, connecting the PYD's north western Afrin canton to the Kobani and Jazeera cantons in the northeast – what Ankara calls a "terror corridor" that threatens Syria's territorial integrity and is a threat to Turkey's borders. In addition, it aims to liberate people from YPG oppression in areas under its control, a move that would enable Syrian refugees in Turkey to safely return to their country.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (19.03.18 -http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-slams-eus-top-diplomat-over-afrin-remarks-128988) reported that Turkey’s EU Minister Omer Çelik has slammed top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini’s voicing of concerns about the Turkish army’s ongoing operation into Syria’s Afrin district against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), saying Turkey’s “sole objective is to fight against terrorism and to protect its borders.”
“The EU has been pursuing a wrong policy toward Turkey’s fight against terrorism from the very start. Instead of pledging support, they have only been criticizing,” Celik said in a written message on March 19, reacting against EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Mogherini’s earlier statement in Brussels.
“I am worried about this,” she told reporters on Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch,” saying international efforts in Syria should be “aimed at de-escalating military activities and not escalating them.”
Mogherini urged Turkey, Russia and Iran to guarantee that conflict “de-escalation zones” are established as promised in order to “guarantee that this is what happens on the ground.”
Her comments came a day after the Turkish army, along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, took control of Afrin following a two-month military incursion.
“They tell us to fight only against terror organizations listed on the U.N.’s terror list. Are we going to wait for years so that terror organizations that launch rockets on our soil be listed on the U.N. list?” Celik said.
He said that although the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “changed its name” in Syria, this would not change the fact that the YPG and the PKK are “the same thing in the eyes of Turkey.”
Meanwhile, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (20.03.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-eu-ministry-says-it-fulfilled-obligations-regarding-migrant-deal-128961) reports that Turkey’s EU Affairs Ministry has said on its official Twitter account thatTurkey has fulfilled its obligations regarding a 2016 deal signed between Turkey and the European Union to curb the flow of irregular migrants.
The Ministry said on March 18 that the deal did not only curb the flow of migrants but also saw a decline in the number of migrants dying while trying to reach Europe by providing a safe and legal pathway for them.
“Thanks to the 18 March Statement, the average number of daily irregular crossings has declined from 7,000 [in October 2015] to around 43,” it said.
“Turkey has acted in accordance with the principle of pacta sunt servanda and fulfilled its obligations regarding 18 March Agreement. Unfortunately, the EU has not honoured all its commitments,” it added.
“We are still expecting the EU to activate Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme which would provide legal ways for Syrian migrants to travel,” the Ministry said.
As the deal also promised the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, the Ministry called on the EU to take the necessary steps toward this direction, too. “We expect the EU to take concrete steps on accession negotiations, visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens and updating Customs Union,” it said.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION