No. 60/18 27.03.18
Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (27.03.18 https://www.dailysabah.com/eu-affairs/2018/03/26/turkey-hopes-to-have-left-difficult-period-with-the-eu-behind-erdogan-says-after-summit) reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said late Monday that Turkey hopes to have left this "difficult period" in its relations with the European Union behind.
Speaking during a joint press conference after the European Union - Turkey Leaders' Meeting in the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Varna, Erdogan said that he and the EU leaders discussed the steps necessary to improve relations between Turkey and the bloc.
The Turkish President also stressed that it would be a big mistake to leave Turkey out of the EU's enlargement process.
"Regardless of the course of the Cyprus issue, the equal involvement of the Turkish Cypriots in decision-making on natural resources around the island is in accordance with international law," he argued. The Turkish President also called on EU countries to cooperate in establishing stability and welfare in the Balkans. "Let's deepen our cooperation on international issues such as Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Jerusalem, Yemen, the Rohingya and Africa," Erdogan added.
In addition, Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (27.03.18 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-to-intervene-in-sinjar-if-iraq-doesnt-erdogan-129310) also reports that Turkey will launch an operation into Iraq’s northern Sinjar region if Iraqi forces do not fully carry out an operation, Erdogan has vowed, while an Iraqi military spokesperson said their army was deployed in the region controlled by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Speaking to journalists before leaving for the EU summit on March 26, Erdogan said Ankara considers Turkey’s full EU membership as a “strategic goal.”
“We have pursued our journey with the full membership goal while overcoming the barriers and mines installed on our path. Today, membership to the EU continues to be our strategic goal,” he said. He added that he would convey Ankara’s expectation for the revitalization of the accession process to the EU leaders.
“We will state our expectation of the artificial and political obstacles that our country has faced during the negotiation process to be lifted, in addition to regional and security issues,” he said.
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (27.03.18) reports that Ozdil Nami, self-styled minister of economy and energy of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus, has said that their priority on the issue of transferring electricity with undersea cables from Turkey is for the Turkish Cypriots taking cheaper electricity and having renewable energy resources. In a statement to the paper, Nami said that they will take all steps for the benefit of the Turkish Cypriots and added: “The important thing for us is to be able to bring down the cost which the consumer pays. Therefore, the issues of what the cost will be and who will pay should be clearly answered. After these calculations are carried out together with Turkey, steps will be taken, if they are reasonable”.
Asked on how the Cyprus problem is influenced by the hydrocarbons issue, Nami alleged that the stagnancy in the Cyprus problem does not derive from the hydrocarbons, but from President Anastasiades’ stance. He claimed: “This issue could have ended during the Conference for Cyprus. The fact that it has not ended was Anastasiades’ decision. The reason for not having progress today in the Cyprus problem is the fact that Anastasiades did not accept a result focused negotiating process bound on a time table. […] Anastasiades calls on our president and says ‘come to a social dinner’. However, he states that this can only be a social dinner and accepts no precondition. This is an empty approach which will lead us nowhere and it will even take the negotiations backwards. […]”
Nami also alleged that President Anastasiades uses the hydrocarbons’ issue for not negotiating and that the steps taken by the Turkish side on this issue were taken for balancing the steps taken by the Greek Cypriot side first.
Nami expressed also his concern that tension might be created because of the hydrocarbons by saying: “When we look at the examples in the world, we see that things could quickly get out of control when hydrocarbons are the issue. On this point, as Turkish side, we do definitely not want tension. Tension will deal a blow to the economy of both sides of the island. A common way could be found through a dialogue. Within this framework, I have stated that I was ready to meet at any platform he wants with my interlocutor in the Greek Cypriot side. They have not even replied. I said that this could be under the UN roof but they did not even condescend to reply […]”.
Illegal Bayrak television (27.03.18 http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=ipc-president-erkmen-speaks-on-echr-ruling) broadcast that “Immovable property commission president Ayfer Sait Erkmen has stated that the commission continues to serve as an effective domestic remedy for property claims by Greek Cypriots”.
Erkmen was speaking on the European Court of Human Rights latest decision regarding the application of Andriani Ιoannou.
He said that the ECHR’s decision had become final after the Turkish side had not filed an appeal against the court ruling, ordering the “commission” to pay the applicant €7,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and €6,325 in respect of costs and expenses, within three months from the date on which the judgment became final.
Erkmen pointed out the court’s ruling was specific to the case and did not mean the effectiveness of the “commission” can be questioned. “Within the framework of Article 35 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the IPC continues to serve as an effective domestic remedy for Greek Cypriot property claims” he said.
However, Turkish Cypriot daily Detay newspaper, (27.03.18) writes that the data posted on the website of the “Immovable property commission” are not in accordance with the statements of Erkmen.
According to this data, 6,401 applications by Greek Cypriots have been submitted since 2006 and during the next 12 years from that date until today, only 1,079 applications were finalized.
According to this date, the payments that were made refer to applications that the compensation price was not very high. It also shows that 268 million sterling pounds were paid for compensations to Greek Cypriots until today.
Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (27.03.18) reports that a “trial” against the paper and its editor-in-chief Sener Levent will begin on 7 May after the “attorney general’s office” filed a “lawsuit” due to a caricature/collage published by Afrika on 8 December, 2017. The paper is accused of “insulting”, “humiliating” and “affronting” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The “crime” of the paper was that it has published, under the title “with a Greek eye”, a naked man’s statute peeing on Erdogan’s head and having the Greek flag behind him. The paper points out that the “attorney general’s office” has not filed a “lawsuit” against those who had climbed on the “assembly’s” roof and the nine persons who attacked the paper [on 22 January].
Meanwhile, Ali Baturay, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris’ editor-in-chief writes in his column today (27.03.18) that two “police officers” visited him a couple of months ago after a call he had received by a friend. The “police” asked him some things regarding the work of an editor-in-chief and whether an editor-in-chief is responsible for the caricatures published in a paper. Under the title “They say we are witnesses in the case filed against Afrika and we had no idea about it”, Baturay reports that afterwards he understood that the “police” would use this information in the “trial” against Afrika and Sener Levent. He notes also that yesterday Sener Levent called and told him that he and Kibris’ caricaturist Utku Karsu were included in the list of witnesses against Afrika. Baturay writes that the “police” did not tell them that they visited them to include them in the list of witnesses of the “prosecution” in the Afrika case, that is, “they deceived us, they tricked us”. Baturay says that he does not accept to be a witness against Afrika and that if they told him that the purpose of the meeting would be to make him a witness against Afrika, he would not have accepted to meet with the “police”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (27.03.18) reports that the United Cyprus Party (BKP), in a written statement, asked for measures to be taken for the expansion of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the occupied area of Cyprus, after the announcement of the opening of the AKP new office in occupied Lefka.
The chairman of BKP, Izzet Izcan said in the statement that the intensive expansion of the AKP party in the “TRNC” has taken threatening dimensions and constitutes a threat for the Turkish Cypriot community’s identity and existence.
“After the opening of AKP central office, AKP has started opening district offices and also youth offices. It is unacceptable to utilize media organs in order to make propaganda”, said Izcan, pointing out that there is no other country in the world which permits to another country to politically administrate it.
Izcan called on the so-called government and the other political parties which are represented in “parliament” to clarify their stance towards the “political organization of the AKP-MHP coalition in the TRNC”.
On the same issue, the “general secretary” of the “independence road organization” Munur Rahvancioglu, wondered whether it is “legal or not for a political party in Turkey to open representation offices in the TRNC and to establish youth brunches”.
In a written statement, Rahvancioglu accused the so-called ministry of interior “of not showing the necessary sensitivity towards the implementation of the law”. Rahvancioglu called on the “ministry to explain on which laws and regulations the AKP has given approval to establish a representation office in Cyprus and a youth organization”. He further explained that even though the “independence road organization” has sent a letter to the “ministry” on February 9 demanding a briefing by the “ministry” on this issue, they have not received a response yet.
Moreover, in a commentary in Turkish daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (27.03.18), columnist Cenk Mutluyakali argues that it is not the first time that a political party is opening a representation office in another country, supporting that this can happen since Turkey has “voters in the TRNC”.
Providing as an example the National Unity Party (UBP) and the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) which both have “representation offices abroad”, the columnist supports that “it is not bad for a political party to be politically organized in another country providing that it does not have any effects in the internal situation of this country”.
[…] The columnist supports that the main reasons for the reactions expressed against ΑΚΠ opening offices in the “TRNC” are the following:
The columnist goes on and writes that there are of course other realities about their ties with Turkey. “Whatever are the Turkish Cypriots’ reactions against Turkey, they feel love and respect for Turkey. Turkey has contributed a lot here. All new investments in northern Cyprus have Turkey’s signature. […]The Cypriot people have accepted the importance of Turkey’s contribution and existence. And this is the problem, contrary to this “acceptance”, they, however reject Turkey’s subjugator and hegemony approaches. Considering the island’s identity as insignificant cannot be accepted”, the columnist writes.
Turkish daily Sabah (27.03.18 https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2018/03/26/turkey-not-considering-any-moves-against-russia-deputy-pm-bozdag-says) reports that Turkey will not take any actions against Russia, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Monday following the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats across Europe and in the U.S. as part of a coordinated response to the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy on U.K. soil.
"There is currently positive and good relations between Turkey and Russia. In this sense, Turkey is not planning on taking any decisions against Russia," said Bozdag after a cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.
Also on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy condemned the poisoning of the ex-Russian spy, dubbing the use of chemical weapons a "crime against humanity."
"Turkey considers the use of chemical weapons as a crime against humanity and views the attack in the U.K. as such and condemns it," he said in a statement.
"Turkey joined the North Atlantic Council statement on March the 14th. Turkey's views on this attack were also expressed in the OSCE, the Conference on Disarmament and the Council of Europe," he added.
Calling for an investigation into the incident, Aksoy also said the perpetrators should be brought to justice as soon as possible.
On Monday, 15 EU member states expelled dozens of Russian diplomats in an orchestrated reaction, over the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
Turkish daily Sabah (27.03.18 https://www.dailysabah.com/eu-affairs/2018/03/26/austrias-kurz-only-voicing-ideas-of-far-right-with-call-to-end-turkeys-eu-accession-deputy-pm ) reports that Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdag responded to Austrian Chancellor Kurz's call to end EU accession talks with Ankara on Monday, saying he should stop voicing the ideas of the Austrian far-right.
Speaking ahead of President Erdogan's summit meeting with EU leaders in the Bulgarian city of Varna, and after the weekly cabinet meeting in Ankara, Bozdag said he did not deem Kurz's comments significant, adding that Turkey would continue to mind its own business and not waste time on such discussion.
Calling Kurz young and inexperienced in state affairs, Bozdag said he has yet to understand the importance of Turkey, especially for Europe, Austria and their futures.
In an interview with Welt Magazine on Monday, Kurz said the EU should end negotiations with Turkey concerning Ankara's long-running accession talks for membership in the bloc.
Regarding the statements by Austrian Chancellor Kurz that the talks on membership between the EU and Turkey should be ended, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Omer Celik said “We continue our work despite persons like Chancellor Kurz. We are working to produce the positive agendas needed by the world and our region.”
Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (27.03.18) reports that the head of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Volkan Bozkir, who is currently in the USA for a series of contacts at the US Congress, stated in an exclusive interview to the paper that in the Congress there is a climate supporting that “if Turkey buy the S-400 missile system, the US will not sell the F-35”. “They are saying that they will not give us the F-35. They say that the Congress will not approve this. The Senators did not voice exactly this, but this is the message we have received after speaking with their advisers”.
Bozkir further stated that the above approach in the US Congress is not a threat but it’s a “way of using an iron hand in a velvet glove”. Bozkir added that the S-400 is one thing and the F-35 is another. He explained that their cooperation with the USA regarding the implementation of the F-35 project concerns Turkey not only for its own security but also for the security of NATO as well.
Turkish Evrensel online side (23.03.18) published the following article by Meltem Akyol under the title: "Call to Media Organizations: Let Us Own the Truth by Standing Against One Voice":
“The media was monopolized by pro-government groups. The RTUK [Radio and Television Supreme Council] regulation for the internet became a law. The media professional organization, in turn, issued a call to wage a struggle for democracy against the 'one voice'.
The representatives of TGS [Journalists Union of Turkey], TGC [Turkish Journalists' Association], and DISK Basin-Is [Confederation of Progressive Unions of Turkey] have issued the following warning in their assessment of the steps undertaken to create a 'one-voice media: "In the aftermath of this sale, a large number of journalists will join the ranks of unemployed journalists. Arbitrary censorships will continue in layers. It will be much more difficult to reach the truth. We have to stand up for the right to information and independent media.
Agreement has been reached for the sale of Turkey's biggest media group, the Dogan Media Group, to pro-government Demiroren Group. In the announcement it issued on the sale, Dogan Holding said: "We have initiated talks regarding the sale of all of our components, which operate in the print and visual media, to the Demiroren Holding on an operating value of $1.1 billion and a share value of $890 million."
While discussions around the announcement were under way, the law on RTUK supervision over the internet was passed in the TBMM [Turkish Grand National Assembly]. As of now, RTUK can impose a broadcasting ban on video contents as well. A Criminal Court of Peace judge can make a ruling in 24 hours upon a request by RTUK without a hearing. This ruling can be objected according to the rules of the Criminal Court Law.
The media professional organization, which assessed both developments, and representatives of political parties issued a call to "own the truth and stand up against one voice."
TGC President Turgay Olcayto made the following assessment with regard the recent developments: "We are fast moving into a one voice, one party administration." Oltayco continued: "Every kind of effort is under way to stop journalism's breath in Turkey. To this end, the government is taking speedy steps to establish a one-voice media. One of these efforts is the ban and supervision imposed on internet. This will kill the internet; in other words, the social media. Another development, which will make journalism very difficult, is the sale of the Dogan Media Group. With this sale, it looks like many journalists will join the ranks of the army of the unemployed. In particular, those ofmy colleagues who focused on critical journalism will find it very difficult to find another position. The situation of those dailies that are known for critical journalism will become increasingly difficult. In fact, a very valuable colleague called me in the morning and left the following message after not reaching me: "My condolences on our profession." Actually, I extend my condolences to all of us, with the departure of Hurriyet even though Hurriyet was sort of close to the government. It assumed a significant place, however, in the news sector and due to its past. We have continuously written about this issue, but unfortunately our colleagues insisted on not understanding. Nobody made a reaction. Today, we are face to face with the realities. Indeed, we are speedily moving toward a one voice, one party administration."
TGS general organization secretary Mustafa Kuleli, in turn, said the following: "21 March was the last day for our traditional media. This day, which symbolizes the arrival of spring and rebirth, can also be a milestone in a new beginning for all of us. First the bad news: Finally, the media in Turkey gathered around one hand. After the one man regime takes over the Dogan Media Holding companies, a blander, dry, and less boisterous media environment will have been created. The existing work practices of the opposition media will become less productive after Dogan News Agency and its distribution company Yay-Sat is taken over by Demiroren. It could be a large number of media workers will be dismissed and it also could be that some of them will not be able to find work for a long time. This darkest hour of the night, however, can also be seen as the time closest to the rising of the sun. Let no journalist think that they are alone. The Union is always with them both in their good and bad days.
The requisite of a license for all the audio-visual broadcasts over the internet and the RTUK supervision may be discouraging. It should not be forgotten, however, that the internet environment has always found a way to surmount such censorship mechanisms. As long as the internet maintains its non-center based essence, the intention of those such as RTUK, which seek to control the media with a local supervision mechanism, will consist of nothing but an archaic and ridiculous whim."
In his assessment to our daily, DISK Basin-Is Chairman Faruk Eren said the following: "They want that not even one contrarian voice be uttered, that not even one word be said against the irregularities during the elections. The sale of the Dogan Group, in particular, cannot be said to be a profitable transaction. It is a sale, which was cooked up by the government. It is a very tragic thing that the Dogan Group was sold. Actually, the Dogan Group was not really engaged in opposition. We watched the wretchedness of the debates broadcast on televisions. It seems that they could not even tolerate this much. Under these circumstances, there are only a couple of channels from which the public can learn the truth. Only a couple of dailies such as Evrensel, Cumhuriyet, and BirGun, internet sites, and one or two television channels are left to learn the truth. The dailies are under a great deal of pressure. It seems that apart from Cumhuriyet, Evrensel and BirGun'den everything is on trial. Internet was the only channel and there are efforts to have an institution such as RTUK impose an arbitrary supervision on it. It is becoming apparent that in the very near future, arbitrary censorship will increasingly propagate. As a union, we issue the following call to the people: "Stand up to your right to information and the independent media (Cumhuriyet, Evrensel, BirGun). Otherwise, it will be very easy to be deceived."”
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