According to Turkish Cypriot daily Volkan (11.12.18), the paper reports that Turkish retired Rear Admiral Ilker Guven, commenting to the paper on yesterday’s article of the Turkish daily Aydinlik that Turkey will establish a naval base in the occupied area of Cyprus, said: “A Turkish naval base is being established in the TRNC. Commander of the Turkish naval forces Admiral Adnan Ozbal scouted in person on November 15th. An agreement with the TRNC will be held. In addition, an air base will also be established. In my opinion, it is late; however this decision taken by Turkey and the TRNC together is very rightful as a geopolitical necessity.
Under the title “Turkey is establishing a naval base in Cyprus”, Turkish daily Aydinlik (10.12.18, https://www.aydinlik.com.tr/dogu-akdeniz-de-kritik-hamle-turkiye-kibris-a-deniz-ussu-kuruyor-turkiye-aralik-2018-2) reported that “Turkey decided to establish a modern naval base in Cyprus [in the occupied area of Cyprus] in order to protect its rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and to guarantee the sovereign rights of the TRNC”. It was also reported that while Turkey’s Naval Forces Commander participated in person during the exploration works on the location of the base, the technical works, which estimate the cost of the base, the infrastructure requirements and the physical conditions, were completed and sent to Ankara.
According to the paper, the Turkish Naval Command submitted a proposal to Turkey’s Foreign Minister for the establishment of a sovereign naval base in the occupied area of Cyprus last August. The modern naval base would be built on an area of approximately 280 thousand acres. The base would be able to host all kind of ships as frigates, corvettes, submarines and helicopters. The Commander of the Turkish naval forces Admiral Adnan Ozbal scouted in person the area during his visit in the occupied area of Cyprus on November 15th and the place, which was determined to build the base, was the occupied area of Trikomo.
Moreover, the paper reported that Admiral Ozbal raised this issue during his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and brought it into the agenda. A mutual understanding had been reached on this issue and an agreement between Turkey and the breakaway regime would be signed within 2019.
Illegal Bayrak (11.12.18 http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=ubp-holds-contacts-in-ankara ) broadcast that the leader of the National Unity Party (UBP) Ersin Tatar stated that he was very pleased with the contacts he carried out in Ankara.
According to a statement released by the UBP press bureau, the UBP leader voiced the party’s views regarding the latest developments that have taken place on the Cyprus problem during his visit to Ankara and handed over a detailed letter to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The letter in question noted that the “state” that has been established should continue to exist forever.
“In our opinion, the time has come to tell the UN and the world that alternative plans must also be discussed. With this aim in mind we want to take steps in conjunction with motherland Turkey” it was stated in the letter.
It also noted that the UBP was pleased with the fact that the Turkish Foreign Ministry has presented a confederation solution format to the Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
“For the National Unity Party if a new negotiations process is to take place then the views that are known as the Guterres framework cannot be taken as a basis” it was claimed in the statement.
The letter also noted that if a new process is to begin then it must be clearly stated that a time limit will be enforced, a process where an outcome can be achieved quickly should be followed and that alternative solution processes will also be on the table.
‘If an outcome hasn’t been achieved by the end of the process then the path of the Turkish Cypriot peoples’ status within the international arena must be cleared and a guarantee must be given that the unjust isolations and embargoes imposed against the Turkish Cypriot side will come to an end’ it was stressed in the letter.
It also stated that “the continuation of Turkey’s unilateral right to intervene on the island and for the necessary amount of Turkish soldiers to remain in Cyprus to protect the Turkish Cypriot people was a red line for the National Unity Party”. The document presented to the Turkish Foreign Ministry also stated that “if there is going to be a solution on the island this must entail political equality, active participation in the administration of the island, the continuation of bizonality, the Turkish Cypriot state should always have a simple majority in property and population and the land and property issue should be solved on the basis of the realities on the island. It must also consider the Turkish-Greek balance and the agreement to be reached must become primary law within the European Union.’
In addition, Bayrak also broadcast (11.12.18 -http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=ubp-holds-contacts-in-ankara ) that Tatar within the framework of his visit to Ankara met with the Parliamentary Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Binali Yıldırım and the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
It is believed that the latest developments regarding the Cyprus problem was discussed and views were exchanged on the issue.
The further development of “TRNC-Turkey relations” and further improvement of the “TRNC” were also taken up.
He also visited the Vice Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Numan Kurtulmuş and the Turkish Minister for National Defence Hulusi Akar.
Evaluating his contacts in Ankara to the BRT Ankara journalists, the UBP leader Ersin Tatar said that in the context of the Cyprus problem, petrol and natural gas resources has led to Cyprus gaining further strategic importance and therefore “TRNC and Turkey’s relations” have also become more significant.
“In order for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to come to a better point, certain reforms and economic developments must take place. Within this aspect Turkey’s support must become embedded. We discussed the current joint projects that we have and future projects that we can embark on” said Tatar.
Columnist Mete Tumerkan in Turkish Cypriot newspaper Halkın Sesi (11.12.18)refers to the forthcoming visit of UNSG’s temporary Special Adviser Jane Holl Lute to the islandandreports that “it would not be correct to have too many expectations” from Lute’s contacts and initiatives, because her mandate is limited. Noting that the ability of the UN to undertake initiatives on the Cyprus problem within its good offices mission depended on the sides’ approval, Tumerkan argues that “such an approval is needed for Lute to mediate between the sides, but not all of the sides gave such a mandate to Lute”.
“Lute is a temporary special adviser, who, to begin with, has been assigned with the duty of carrying out an assessment of the situation”, he notes and claims:
“Lute has definitely not a mandate such as preparing a document or a paper, bringing it before the sides and trying to make the sides to agree on the paper she had prepared. Lute’s mandate is not more than working on a paper after meeting with the sides and submitting it to the UNSG as an adviser. […] If the UNSG Antonio Guterres will be taking a step in the direction of this report, then he will meet with all sides concerned and take a step by securing their consent. […] Under conditions in which one of the sides expresses lack of confidence, it is out of the question for the UN to take steps by undertaking an initiative. […] At the current stage Lute is behaving as if all sides have appointed her as mediator or the Special Adviser but there is no such thing. No authority in this direction was given to her. Neither the Turkish Cypriot side, that is, president Mustafa Akinci, nor Ankara gave her such a power. This reality should not be ignored. Any step or any initiative which will be taken without taking into consideration this situation will end before it begins. No one will allow this. This issue is very important.
Another important matter is, before everything else, the issue of a common vision between all the sides in order for the negotiations on the Cyprus problem to resume. The sides should previously agree on the issue of what kind of solution will come up by negotiating what and how and where they aim to reach. The common vision is much more important than the ‘Terms of Reference’ […] A negotiating process which will begin without a common vision will not have a different result that the previous ones. The process will collapse again. It will also end with failure. No one will give a green light for such a process”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (11.12.18) reports that the “Temporary City Planning Decree” for the occupied areas of Famagusta, Trikomo and Agios Sergios was put into action and was published in the “official gazette” of the breakaway regime.
According to a statement of the “ministry of interior” the “decree” will remain on hold until December 31, of 2019, after a permanent “City Planning Decree” is planned.
Commenting on the issue, the so-called minister of interior Aysegul Baybars stated to Kibris (11.12.18) that they tried to publish a balanced “decree” following the written and oral suggestions they received. She also stated that the numbers of the floors that are allowed to be build vary from area to area and added that according to the “decree” there is no building over ten floors in any area.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (11.12.18) reports that Halil Hizal has become the new general secretary of the Social Democratic Party (TDP).
Hizal, in a post at his personal social media account, said that according to the result of the 6th ordinary meeting of TDP, he was appointed as general secretary of the party.
Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.12.18-https://www.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/turkish-vp-us-should-act-within-spirit-of-alliance/1334973) reports that Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay called on the U.S. on Monday to act in accordance with the spirit of its alliance and partnership with Turkey.
"As Turkey, our expectation from the U.S. is for it to act according to the spirit of the alliance in every single area," Oktay said during his budget speech.
"We also want to see an America that respects Turkey's fight against terrorist organizations," he said.
Turkey has long sought the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, the leader of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), from the U.S.
Oktay also called on the U.S. to stop supporting Israel's "lawless and unethical moves on the Palestine and Jerusalem issues" in order to maintain its position as a "reliable ally".
(…) Citing Turkey’s regional politics, Oktay underscored that Turkey would “by no means” tolerate any measures by Greece or “southern Cyprus”, as he called the Republic of Cyprus against Turkey and the “TRNC”.
He added that Ankara would not make "the slightest" compromise regarding its hydrocarbon interests around Cyprus, the Aegean Sea or the Eastern Mediterranean.
Oktay praised the establishment of a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib province under a Turkish-Russian accord reached on Sept. 17 in the Russian city of Sochi which was supported by Iran, saying it had averted a “very large humanitarian crisis” there.
He further stressed that Turkey would now aim to split the “terror corridor” along its southern border east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.
"The dissolution of the terror corridor east of the Euphrates is now on our agenda," he said.
Stressing that Ankara was using all diplomatic means to resolve the issue, Oktay added that Turkey is fully prepared for any operation in the area.
Turkish daily Yeni Safak (10.12.18-https://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/turkish-fleet-sails-sea-as-part-of-12-year-old-mediterranean-shield-op-3468840) reported that the Turkish forces deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean as part of the “Operation Mediterranean Shield” are monitoring developments at sea. The fleet’s duty is to protect Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, a Turkish seismic vessel working in the Eastern Mediterranean which has previously been the target of a Greek frigate trying to interfere with the research vessel.
Despite Greek interference during the early days of Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa’s exploration in October, Greek vessels have not crossed its path since Turkish forces responded to that frigate.
Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, which was bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration operations in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
Turkey has consistently contested the “Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling activity” in the Eastern Mediterranean, while asserting that the Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.
Operation Mediterranean Shield
“Our aim is to protect our seas from all threats and ensure we can move safely in these areas. Recently, the Eastern Mediterranean has hosted a large number of ships, including offshore aircraft ships, as well as aircraft carrier missions from different countries. The navy has been protecting Turkey’s rights and interests in the region through Operation Mediterranean Shield since 2006,” said Western Mission Group Commander Yalcın Ozkutuk.
“The aims of Operation Mediterranean Shield are to: support the protection of our interests in the Eastern Mediterranean; to establish situational awareness in Turkey’s maritime jurisdiction; deter potential illegal activities; and ensure the safety of oil transportation from the Yumurtalık and Ceyhan terminals. As part of Operation Mediterranean Shield, developments in the Eastern Mediterranean are closely followed and research vessels found to be engaging in illegal activities are warned and, when necessary, intervened in. Additionally, Turkey’s seismic research vessels are protected as part of the operation,” he added.
“Normally, research vessels carry out their activities with support vessels. However, due to the occasional interference of Greek warships, Turkish warships are also necessary. We, as the Turkish Naval Forces, provide support and protection and do not allow Greece to violate international law.”
The Kalkan fast attack craft warship that is taking part in the Operation Mediterranean Shield has a loaded displacement of 560 tons and measures 63 meters in length. The warship hosts a total of 47 personnel, including officers, non-commissioned officers, specialist officers and contracted staff.
With its advanced weaponry, the Kalkan is able to remain in battle at sea for days. It houses a secret and strategic War Operations Center on board. All communication and information sharing as well as the ships operation is managed from this centre.
Two frigates and two corvettes
Ships of the fleet, including the Gaziantep and Gokceada frigates and Bozcaada and Bandırma corvettes, take turns in guarding Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa. Their duty is to protect the seismic vessel from attacks and ensure no ship interferes with its work. In order for Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa to obtain sound research results, its path must not be interrupted.
Egypt, UK, Italy hold war games in Mediterranean
Egypt, U.K. and Italy began on Friday a joint military drill in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Egyptian military. Egyptian vessels participated in the exercise as well as two frigates from Italian and British naval forces, the army said in a statement. The exercise aims to protect maritime units while crossing dangerous areas, the statement said. On Sunday, the Egyptian army said it began a joint military drill with France in the Red Sea.
The software, consoles, and artillery fire system are among the domestically-produced equipment fitted in the Operations Center of the Gaziantep frigate. Although the warship was purchased from the U.S. years ago, it has been refitted with many Turkish pieces of equipment. The frigate’s Operations Center monitors national as well as international duties, including NATO commitments.
Gaziantep has a loaded displacement of 41,000 tons and measures 135.5 meters in length. There is close to 180 personnel onboard, including officers, non-commissioned officers, expert cadets and contracted personnel. The warship can be decked with antisubmarine warfare, electronic warfare and marine helicopter equipment.
Exclusive economic zone
Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa’s route is within Turkey’s continental shelf and therefore within Turkey’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Although Turkey has rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources of this region, it is not shut off to other countries who may cruise and/or fly in the area.
However, it must be noted that Turkey has not yet declared the region its own EEZ. Despite the area not officially being Turkey’s EEZ, the country protects its rights and interests there.
Turkey starts shallow water drilling in Med. Sea
Turkey has started preparatory works on Monday for shallow water drilling in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Mersin in southern Turkey, Turkey's Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez confirmed.
Speaking at the launch ceremony in Mersin, on the Mediterranean coast, Donmez said the country would continue its drilling activities for the exploration of natural gas and oil sources in the region as part of Turkey's aim to be energy independent.
He also stated that based on the country's current exploration licenses, Turkish engineers initially plan to open two shallow sea wells.
In the scope of this shallow well project that will run for two months, the first well will be drilled off the North Erdemli location, 119 sea miles from land and at a depth of around 101 meters.
Turkish daily Sabah (11.12.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/2018/12/11/west-hypocritical-on-defending-human-rights-erdogan-says) reports that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking at an event in Istanbul titled, ‘Civilization of Humanity,' marking the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on December 10, alleged that the worst record for human rights belongs to the ones who ‘defend' these rights the most, referring to Western countries.
Erdogan accused Western media, which was promoting the riots in Istanbul during the Gezi Park protests, for overlooking the events in Paris.
Erdogan accused further the Western countries of not taking an objective approach when it comes to defending human rights.
Speaking at an International Human Rights Day event yesterday, Erdogan criticized European countries and its media for ignoring the unrest in France and the refugee issue. "It does not coincide for those defending human rights today to have the worst record," Erdogan said, adding: "Those who acted as the defenders of human rights during Gezi riots are now feigning ignorance. We have not been able to watch France, the Netherlands or Brussels on the news."
Erdogan was referring to the wide media coverage during the riots that hit Istanbul in 2013, when relatively small demonstrations at Gezi Park grew into a nationwide wave of anti-government protests that left eight protesters and a police officer dead. He said that the Western media has failed to provide similar coverage for the "yellow vest" unrest that has pushed France into chaos. More than a thousand people have been arrested during the protests and millions were lost in material damages.
"They did not air the events in [France] because they are not honest. Those who put us through a democracy test did not abstain from putting democracy on hold when they were targeted," Erdogan added, referring to police violence against protesters' in Paris.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (10.12.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-companies-arms-sales-rose-24-percent-last-year-139613) reported that the arms sales of Turkish companies rose by 24% in 2017, according to a report released on Dec. 10 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
“This significant increase reflects Turkey’s ambitions to develop its arms industry to fulfil its growing demand for weapons and become less dependent on foreign suppliers,” said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Program.
The data regarding Turkey include the combined arms sales of the two Turkish companies in the Top 100 lists, namely ASELSAN, which produces electronics, and Turkish Aerospace Industries, which produces aircraft.
According to SIPRI data, ASELSAN’s sales increased by 29% to $1.42 billion in 2017 while sales by Turkish Aerospace Industries stood at $1.22 billion last year, a 19% increase from 2016.
When unveiling his government’s ambitious 100-day action plan in August, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that 48 out of the total 400 projects to be carried out under the plan are regarding the defence industry as his government aimed to zero its dependence on foreign supplies.
“When we took power, our Undersecretariat for Defence Industries was only able to meet 25% of our defence needs. Now this figure increased to 65%. At a time when our country is facing threats and pressure, the field of the defence industry will always remain very important for us. Therefore, no matter what the conditions are, the defence industry will be a field in which we will never make concessions from realizing our projects,” Erdogan said.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (10.12.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/number-of-jailed-journalists-increased-five-fold-in-three-years-chp-mp-139597) reports that the number of journalists jailed in Turkey increased almost five-fold between 2015 and 2018, according to a report released by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Utku Cakırozer.
“At the end of 2015, the number of jailed journalists was 31, while the figure skyrocketed to 145 by December this year”, Cakırozer said.
“Over 400 years of prison sentences given to 74 journalists in the first 11 months of 2018 have been finalized [in courts],” Calorozer added/
Cakırozer’s report also included fines imposed by the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) on TV channels and radios. The report said that in the first 10 months of 2018 Turkey’s top media watchdog issued a fine of 4,653,451 Turkish Liras (approximately $880 million) in total.
Cakırozer released his report on Dec. 10, World Human Rights Day, which marks the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Meanwhile, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (11.12.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/istanbul-prosecutor-seeks-up-to-15-years-in-jail-for-five-sozcu-journalists-139615) reported that an Istanbul prosecutor has sought jail times up to 15 years for five employees of Sözcü, a daily critical of the government, including two well-known columnists, an indictment into FETÖ showed on Dec. 10.
The indictment accuses veteran columnists Emin Colasan and Necati Dogru, along with editor-in-chief Metin Yılmaz, online news coordinator Yucel Arı and online deputy chief editor Mustafa Cetin of “aiding the armed terrorist organization FETÖ without being a part of its hierarchical structure.”
The Prosecutor’s office dropped a separate probe into five other suspects, including Sözcü columnists Ugur Dundar and Saygı Ozturk.
Istanbul’s 37th Heavy Penalty Court admitted the indictment, which seeks jail times from 7.5 to 15 years for the suspects.
The same court is trying four others from Sözcü, including owner Burak Akbay who faces 30 years in jail over terrorism charges. In May, it extended an arrest warrant for Akbay, extending the travel bans on reporter Gökmen Ulu and former managing internet news editor Mediha Olgun. The first hearing of the latest case will be held on Jan. 18, 2019.
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