No. 178/18 14.09.18
A. Turkish Cypriot Press
B. Turkish Press
Illegal Bayrak (14.09. 18 http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=akinci-pm-ehurman-hold-weekly-meeting) broadcast that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and “prime minister” Tufan Erhürman held their routine weekly meeting today, where they evaluated the latest developments on the Cyprus problem and also discussed “domestic issues”.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting which lasted around 40 minutes, Erhürman said that they had exchanged views with Akinci about the latter’s upcoming visit to New York on the 25 of September and added that the possibility of starting a new negotiations process will only be determined following Akinci’s contacts in New York.
“There is a possibility that he will meet with the Secretary General of the UN as part of his contacts in New York. It will become clear as to whether or not the UN Secretary General will undertake a new initiative or what that new initiative will be” he said.
Erhurman also said that Akıncı will convene a meeting of all 4 party leaders in the “coalition government” next week ahead of his New York trip.
“The future course of the Cyprus problem will become clearer following Akinci’s contacts in New York” he added.
Also touching upon domestic issues, Erhurman said that the decision taken by the Turkish Central Bank yesterday to raise interest rates had led to a gain in the value of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies.
“This is a positive development from our perspective. Our hope is that the TL will continue to gain more value and at some point the currently actuating exchange rate will stabilize” he said.
Reminding that the fall in the value of the TL has had a negative impact on both electricity and fuel prices, Erhurman said that the “government is working hard to come up with a solution so that the rise in the cost of producing electricity is not reflected on consumers”.
This he however added is not so easy to do with the price of petrol which kept going up as the TL lost value against the dollar. “With petrol unfortunately as long as the TL loses value we have no choice but to raise prices” he said.
Under the title “Sabotage!”, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (14.09.18), on its front page, reports that while the electricity authority employees’ trade union (El-Sen) were on strike and were holding a demonstration, the Turkish energy company in the occupied area of Cyprus AKSA cut off the electricity power.
Kubilay Ozkirac, chairman of El-Sen), speaking to the paper, said that during their strike yesterday, AKSA without giving any justification deactivated two power units and as a result there was a power cut. He added that if there was not the interconnecting electricity system in Cyprus, then they would have remained without electricity power.
The paper reports that it was not the first time, adding that between 2016-2018, they have received electricity 302 times through the interconnecting electricity system in Cyprus.
Meanwhile, the paper reports that El-Sen carried out yesterday a warning strike to protest on the continuing price increases in all products, to the fact that there are no investments in the “Turkish Cypriot electricity authority” (KIB-TEK) and to save the community from the hands of AKSA.
The members of El-Sen held a protest march to the “ministry of economy and energy”, where they placed a black wreath. Speaking to journalists, Ozkirac argued that they were there to stop those who put them in trouble with AKSA. He also criticized the statements by the “minister” regarding the establishment of an “investment committee” without them being part of it.
Speaking on behalf of the “Trade union platform”, Arslan Bicakli, chairman of Turk-Sen, criticized the “government” that it had made price rises in almost all products due to the depreciation of the TL, but no raise on salaries.
The paper also reports that the “Press workers’ union” (Basin-Sen) and the Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ union (KTOS), in a joint statement yesterday, criticized the self-styled minister of interior Aysegul Baybars, who during her latest visit in Ankara, took steps in cooperating with Turkey on combating terrorism, organized crime and legal aid. The two unions claimed that Ankara’s aim is to make the Turkish Cypriots to flee from Cyprus by silencing them, arguing that Ankara invited Baybars over to dictate terms and she gave in.
In the joint statement, Sener Elcil, the general secretary of KTOS and Ali Kismir, the chairman of Basin-Sen, argued that the initiative to supress the Turkish Cyrpiot opposition groups is continuing by organizing the “terror law”, which is based on the policy “whatever happens in Turkey, it will happen to you too”.
Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Bakis newspaper (14.09.18), under the title “We are selling our identity!”, reports that the representatives of political parties reacted to the fact that strategic sectors of the Turkish Cypriot economy, as electricity, water and communication are being offered one by one to the Turkey’s capital market as a present.
Murat Kanatli, general secretary of the New Cyprus Party (YKP), noted: “We have sold the Turkish Cypriot Airlines, the Ercan airport (occupied airport of Tymbou), Zeyko. We are trying to get of the ciris by selling things. But, we are becoming poorer instead. A solution in Cyprus is the one that will save use and safeguard us new possibilities. Efforts outside of this, will not take us anywhere”.
Mehmet Cakici, leader of the Communal Liberation Party – New Forces (TKP-YG), noted: “We know that some of the trade unions civil society organizations are pro-government. (…) The government, as it is, is not different from the UBP (National Unity Party)”.
Izzet Izcan, leader of the New Cyprus Party (BKP) noted: “As much as they want to flatter Ankara, to be successful, they do not have any chance. The economic crisis we are experiencing is based on Ankara. We should protect our future. It is a condition to reach a state of law and peace”.
Abdullah Korkmazhan, spokesman of the Left movement, noted that the system created after 1974 in the occupied part of Cyprus is totally dependent on Turkey.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (14.09.18) reports that Serdar Denktas, the “minister of economy” stated that the breakaway regime cannot impose the sole use of the Turkish lira in property purchases, sales and rents.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree early on September 13 that requires using the lira for buying, selling and renting of real estate and leasing of vehicles.
The decree was published in the Official Gazette of Turkey.
Commenting on this development Denktas stated that they cannot follow this decision because the breakaway regime has “laws” according to which the individuals who want to have a business agreement can use the currency they prefer.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (14.09.18) reports that restriction was set at the military canteen in Ortakoy and as of September 12 , only members that are related to the Turkish army can purchase products from them.
Some Turkish Cypriots were buying groceries from the canteen since no taxes were included in the prices of the products the price of which rose in the occupied area of Cyprus due to the falling of the Turkish lira against foreign currencies. That was ended after some supermarkets complained about “unfair competition” in prices.
According to an announcement posted at the above mentioned canteen, the only persons that are allowed to buy products from the canteen are the following: “Personnel of the Turkish armed forces, personnel of the administration of the security forces, personnel of the Turkish embassy to Cyprus and TMT personnel”.
Commenting on the issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi columnist Serhat Incirli (14.09.18) wonders about the references to TMT members at the above mentioned announcement and asks if there are still TMT members in the occupied area of Cyprus.
“I did not understand the phrase TMT members. Are there any TMT members left in us, I wonder. We are against the members of EOKA in the south. Really, I am interested: Who are these TMT members? […] what are the conditions to become member?”, he writes.
B. Turkish Press
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (13.09.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-central-bank-raises-lending-rate-to-24-percent-136800) reported that Turkey’s Central Bank raised its benchmark rate by 625 basis points on Sept. 13 in a move that boosted the Turkish Lira and may ease investor concerns about monetary policy.
The Central Bank has increased the lending rate to 24%, meaning it has now increased interest rates by 11.25% points since late April.
The Bank said there was still an upside risk to the inflation outlook from what it called a deterioration in pricing behaviour, despite weaker domestic demand conditions.
“Accordingly, the Committee has decided to implement a strong monetary tightening to support price stability,” it said in a statement.
“Inflation expectations, pricing behaviour, lagged impact of recent monetary policy decisions, contribution of fiscal policy to rebalancing process, and other factors affecting inflation will be closely monitored and, if needed, further monetary tightening will be delivered,” it added.
A hike from the previous level of 17.75% was widely expected, but there were varied expectations about the new interest rate.
The decision came despite Erdogan repeating his opposition to high interest rates earlier in the day, saying “high inflation was a result of wrong steps by the Central Bank.”
In a speech in Ankara, Erdogan underlined his sensitivity about the interest rate staying the same, while stressing that the bank “is independent and makes its own decisions.”
Moreover, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily news (14.09.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/interest-rate-hike-ends-debate-on-central-bank-albayrak-136821) reports that Turkey's Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that the Central Bank's decision to sharply raise the interest rate ended the debate on its independence.
"With the latest decision, the debate on the independency of the Central Bank is over, and from now on, there will be no reality and no retributions for this debate. These debates can be considered ill-intentioned. These types of speculations and discussions will not have any echoes in global markets," Albayrak was quoted as saying by Sabah newspaper on Sept. 14.
"The Central Bank took necessary monetary policy step for fighting against the inflation. It also gave the signal that it would take new steps towards tightening when necessary. Now the most important step on the fiscal side is announcing the Medium-Term Program (MTP), which is our 3-year business plan for fighting the inflation, sustainable and healthy growth and decreasing the current account deficit," Albayrak reportedly said.
Albayrak also noted "a strong coordination and harmonization between monetary and fiscal policies" while adding that Turkey "will see rebalancing with a downward trend in inflation, beginning in October."
"Turkey’s main issue is economy; the key agenda item of our economy team is fighting against inflation," Albayrak said, stating that all Ministries will fight against inflation and the budget deficit will be brought below 2%.
"Everyone will see a program that is realistic, that identifies the current problems accurately, and that builds the right action plans. We will introduce realistic macro targets in the MTP. We will share the steps that we will take to reach these targets," Albayrak said.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (14.09.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-russia-germany-france-to-meet-over-idlib-136827) reports that officials from Turkey, Russia, France and Germany will meet in Istanbul on Sept. 14 over Syria in a bid to seek political settlement in the war-torn country as an imminent offensive into the last rebel-held enclave of Idlib looms.
“We aim to prevent clashes in Idlib and declare a ceasefire here,” a Turkish diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous due to restrictions on speaking to the media, has told Hürriyet Daily News, elaborating on the agenda of the Sept. 14 meeting.
“The international community should put in efforts for a ceasefire in Idlib,” the diplomat noted. Turkey will be represented in the four-way meeting by Presidential advisor İbrahim Kalın. French President Emmanuel Macron’s diplomacy adviser Philippe Étienne, Russian Presidential advisor Yuri Ushakov and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Foreign Policy adviser Jan Hecker will be the other participants.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held phone conversations with his German, French and U.S. counterparts on Sept. 12. The Minister discussed the issue of Idlib with his counterparts, the diplomat said. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar also held a phone conversation with his French counterpart Florence Parly on Sept. 13 as well.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said the leaders of Turkey, Russia, Germany and France would meet in Istanbul on Sept. 7, but the initial meeting was held by bureaucrats. A western diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous due to restrictions on speaking to the media, in Ankara told Hürriyet Daily News that holding the four-way leaders’ summit will be decided in the Sept. 14 meeting. Germany and France are careful not to give off an impression that they were taking sides in the Russia-U.S. strife regarding the issue of Syria, the diplomat said and noted that they don’t want the meeting to turn into an “anti-Trump” event.
The meeting is part of international demarche to converge efforts conducted by actors of the Astana process and the Western countries involved in the Syrian crisis.
Turkish Daily Hurriyet Daily News (14.09.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/only-turkey-eu-together-can-face-syria-crisis-envoy-136822) reports that Christian Berger, EU’s Ambassador to Ankara, told Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on Sept 13 that it is clear that only together, Turkey and the European Union can face very difficult crisis situations stemming from Syria. Berger announced the EU readiness to provide additional financial assistance to Turkey in the case of a massive refugee influx from the Idlib province of the war-torn country.
“I think, among things also clear is that only together we can face some of these very difficult crisis situations in the south eastern border, in Syria and over the potential spillover of the refugee influx. All these important risks and challenges, we, both the EU and Turkey, face,” Berger, said, adding that Turkey and the EU have many common points in regard to the ongoing problem in Idlib and in Syria in general and both assess that a potential offensive into the province would lead to a massive humanitarian crisis.. He expressed Brussels’ appreciations over Turkey’s diplomatic efforts for avoiding a disaster on the other side of the Syrian border.
“There is a room for a lot of coordination [between Turkey and the EU] and you may know that in the coming days there will be EU member states meeting with Turkey and Russia to discuss the situation. And this will be another opportunity to send a very strong message about the situation. We will have, in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, a meeting with the EU Foreign Ministers on Syria and I am sure Idlib will be at the top of the agenda. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will also be there, so Turkey will have a very strong voice there,” he said.
One important aspect of the potential Idlib operation is that it could trigger a massive refugee influx to Turkey and Europe. The Ambassador explained the EU has a clear understanding on Turkey’s situation in regards to a new influx, making it clear that the EU is also prepared against a human catastrophe.
“We, of course, must be prepared for that. We already provide assistance and I am sure the EU Commission will be ready to provide additional assistance. Our colleagues from the Brussels’ humanitarian department are already in touch with our partners on the ground and we are monitoring the situation very carefully. So, if there will be a need for assistance, I am sure it will be mobilized” he said.
Regarding the ongoing economic turbulence Turkey has been undergoing, Berger recalled President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker’s statement that the “EU has a very strong interest in seeing a democratic, stable and prosperous Turkey.” “I think this is very clear. You are our neighbor, a very big country on the southeast flank of the EU. So, if Turkey is stable and prosperous this has a very strong effect on the EU. Then obviously when we look at trade figures, Europe is the biggest trade partner for Turkey … There are massive trade exchanges between Turkey and the EU, so we need to protect it and keep it going,” he said.
The EU Envoy also commented on a recent meeting of the Reform Action Group after a three-year break. Recalling again Juncker’s words that the EU “wants Turkey to come back to the European path,” Berger said the meeting of four key Ministers and statements for future reforms were regarded as a positive move. “I think the message of this scene was welcomed and we have to now see how all the measures that have been announced on that paper will be worked upon: The judiciary reform, issues on the human rights action plan and many other things on that reform paper,” he said.
Talks over visa liberalization are ongoing although the EU Council has decided not to work on the Customs Union and accession talks, Berger informed.
“There was a decision taken by member states not to work on it [the Customs Union]. But this was a few months ago and we have to see how it will be developed in the light of political development and reform efforts,” he said.
Berger announced further that the high-level political dialogue between Turkey and the EU is in the pipeline and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Comissioner Johannes Hahn planned to pay a visit to Turkey. EU’s Transportation Commissioner Violeta Bulc will attend the inauguration of Turkey’s new airport in Istanbul as well. “I think it’s good because dialogue will help to address challenges and risks we are both facing and that also helps us to agree on what we can do together to move this relationship forward,” he added.
Turkish daily Sabah (13.09.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/business/2018/09/14/turkeys-cooperation-with-kazakhstan-to-broaden-after-new-set-of-deals) reported that President Erdogan and Kazakh President Nazarbayev expressed their commitment to improve bilateral cooperation in every aspect, particularly in economy, trade and defence.
Erdogan met his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is in Turkey on a state visit, in Ankara yesterday. They held a face to face meeting and also attended an inter-delegation meeting and a High-Level Strategic Council Meeting at the Presidential Complex. The two leaders also held a joint press conference, where both stressed the need for further cooperation and reciprocal investments between Turkey and Kazakhstan. The two leaders signed a cooperation agreement prior to the joint press conference.
In his speech, Erdogan recalled that he met President Nazarbayev on Sept. 3 at the 6th Summit of the Turkish Council in Kyrgyzstan. He added that during the face to face and inter-delegation talks, they had the opportunity to sincerely evaluate all the issues on their agenda.
Erdogan further said that the meetings were productive and five agreement documents were concluded between the two countries.
He further added that during Turkey-Kazakhstan Investment Forum in Ankara Wednesday, more than 20 documents of agreement, worth approximately $2 billion, were signed between the relevant institutions and private sector firms of the two countries. Erdogan pointed out that they will intensify efforts to improve Turkey and Kazakhstan relations in every field.
"We have once again affirmed our commitment to contribute to the projects of the Turkish Council as well as our bilateral cooperation with Kazakhstan," he said. "We had the opportunity to deal with the other topics on our bilateral agenda, including the fields of economy, trade, defence, culture and education”, Erdogan said.
"I believe that we can continue to improve our bilateral tie, which is based on deep-rooted history, and keep growing stronger in the future," he added.
Nazarbayev, on the other hand, noted that they signed deals worth $2 billion during his visit. "I am pleased with this cooperation. Our first goal is to expand the relations between the two countries. We are prepared to take this alliance even farther," he said.
Nazarbayev congratulated Erdogan for adopting the Presidential System and wished Turkey success on behalf of all Kazakh citizens.
Nazarbayev said they will strive for further cooperation between the two countries. "I have discussed some important issues with President Erdogan. We will pay close attention to more cooperation. It will grow steadily. I to see the development of this alliance," he added.
He recalled that the trade volume between the two countries stood at $1.9 billion last year, and said that they were aiming to raise this figure to $5 billion in the near future.
"Our projects on this issue are in progress. We will also develop technological cooperation. We also talked about reciprocal investments between the two countries," he said.
Prior to the joint press conference, Erdoğan and Nazarbayev joined the signing ceremony of the agreements inked between the two countries.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION