“Only the Turkish Cypriot community is the one, which behaves eagerly, develops proposals and worries about the time that passes” in the Cyprus problem, alleged today in his message for the New Year Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, according to illegal Turkish Cypriot Bayrak (31.12.18, http://www.brtk.net/cumhurbaskani-akinci-yeni-yil-mesaji-yayimladi/). Akinci claimed that the main reason for this was the fact that the Turkish Cypriot community was the biggest victim of the status quo. He argued also the following:
“[…] Almost everybody agrees that the solution will be achieved within the UN framework and through negotiations. No one alleges anything outside this. It is not possible to both be within the UN framework and exclude the UN parameters which have been developed within the years. If today we are able today to stick heart and soul to the political equality, the effective participation in the decisions, this is because they have become registered UN parameters. Since the solution could be achieved through negotiations, the answer to the question of what we will be negotiating is still open.
Is there anyone of us who will say yes to the unitary state structure which will make the Turkish Cypriots a minority? Even asking this is absurd. The second question is the following: Is there a Greek Cypriot side or a third party which accepts two sovereign states, or a confederation which will be established by them, or the existence of two states in the EU? Even though options providing for the TRNC achieving the status of a recognized state sound pleasant, is it realistic to expect such a development in the visible future? These are unfortunately expectations which are not possible to be realized in an environment in which we cannot even go as a president of the republic to Azerbaijan, to Kazakhstan and we cannot even play friendly matches with teams from Turkey. When you put these onto the table as a new policy, a bigger isolation is expecting you. […]
I am not willing to pass into the pages of history representing you […] as the one who is responsible for the impasse in Cyprus. Therefore, it is undoubted that I will continue my efforts in the direction of leading this process to a result if possible, by remaining committed to the UN parameters and the past agreements. If the Greek Cypriot side continues its insistence on not sharing the power and the natural resources, it will also undertake the responsibility of the permanent division in Cyprus.
The actual problem is how the decisions within the framework of the powers which will remain to the central government will be taken. They want for the decisions to be taken with simple majority, that is by the Greek Cypriot majority and to bypass the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots and their effective participation in the decisions. Undoubtedly, it is not possible to approve this. It is out of the question to reach a solution by getting rid of the political equality, which is a sine qua non for the federal solution, in spite of the existing agreements on this issue and the UN parameters.
The opening of the Deryneia and Apliki gates in 2018 is a positive development. The will which we have exhibited from the very beginning as Turkish Cypriot side on this issue was there. Even though some circles from within us did not believe this and alleged that the gates would not open because of the lack of will, it was seen that those who were implementing delaying tactics were some circles in the other community. […]”
Referring to the issue of decentralization, Akinci reiterated that he was open to discuss this, if the Greek Cypriot side was ready to define its content and was not suggesting this for delaying tactics. He argued that the Greek Cypriot side was the one that insisted on a more powerful central government and noted that “if they realized now that this is wrong and they want more powers in the founding states, there is no reason for us to reject this”. “
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (30.12.18) under the front-page title: “Increase on the interest of foreigners for the TRNC”, reports on statistic data provided by the “Turkish Cypriot building contractors union” for the years 2015-2017, regarding sale in real estate, in the occupied areas of Cyprus.
According to the data, during the above mentioned period, “4,734 real estate properties were sold to Turkish citizens and investors and also to foreigners, while at the same time, the number of title deeds for properties which were “transferred to foreigners has reached 3,341”.
The data said further that “504 real estate properties were sold to foreigners in occupied Lefkosia, 678 in occupied Famagusta, 789 in occupied Keryneia and 370 in occupied Trikomo. Also, during the same period, 97 real estate properties in occupied Lefkosia were sold to foreign citizens and Turkish citizens with sales contract, 645 in occupied Famagusta, 2,566 in occupied Keryneia and 946 in occupied Trikomo”.
Also, same data said that citizens from more than 38 countries, such as Turkey, the UK, Iran, Russia, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Australia, Azerbaijan, Switzerland, Ukraine, Belarus, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Iraq “had bought properties” in the occupied areas of Cyprus, during the above mentioned period.
According to the paper, “occupied Keryneia is among the first choices of both Turkish citizens and foreigners for primary investments”.
According to the data, during the years 2015-2017, the “title deeds of totally 18,391 residences, 473 working places and 11, 276 “plots of land” in the occupied area of Cyprus were transferred to foreigners. Moreover, during the same period, 5,831 sales contracts were signed for immovable properties. 3,423 out of them are located in occupied Keryneia, 256 in occupied Lefkosia, 999 in occupied Famagusta, 1,033 in occupied Trikomo and 120 in occupied Morfou. The majority of the sales properties were sold to Turkish citizens and the others to citizens from other countries such as Russia, the UK, Ukraine and Iran”.
The paper reports further that “from the 18,391 transferring of residences which took place between the years 2015-2017, 1,816 were transferred to Turkish citizens. Also, 147 were transferred to Russians”.
Regarding the British citizens, the data said that the “majority of them prefer occupied Famagusta and Keryneia for buying properties. The data said further that from the 18,391 transferring of residences, 958 were transferred to British citizens (160 in occupied Famagusta, 758 in occupied Keryneia and 40 in occupied Trikomo. Also, during the same period, 14 plots of land and 1 working place were sold to British citizens”.)
Regarding the Iranian citizens, the data said that “120 title deeds of real estate properties were transferred to Iranians (2 in occupied Lefkosia, 83 in occupied Famagusta and 35 in occupied Trikomo). Moreover, 50 sales of contracts were signed for sale properties in occupied Famagusta, 43 for occupied Keryneia and 85 for occupied Trikomo”.
Interest to buy properties in the occupied area of Cyprus was also expressed by Ukrainians. During the above mentioned period, 7”0 residence title deeds were transferred to Ukraine citizens. Ukrainian had also bought 258 residences and one plot of land with sale contract”. The statistical data shown that the Ukrainians had bought 18 residences in occupied Famagusta, 97 in occupied Keryneia, 1 plot of land in occupied Keryneia and 143 residences in occupied Trikomo).
Also, 33 title deeds for properties in the occupied area of Cyprus were transferred to citizens from Kazakhstan and totally 6 residences in occupied Morfou, 49 in occupied Keryneia and 85 in occupied Trikomo were sold to citizens from Kazahstan with sales contract, the paper reports.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Afrika (30.12.18) reported that Tufan Erhurman, self-styled prime minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has said that he opposed “inviting tenders” for “leasing” the Dome Hotel in occupied Keryneia. In statements to illegal Bayrak, Erhurman expressed the view that the “agreement” with the trade union which has been “leasing” the hotel until recently by the EVKAF religious foundation should be renewed and an independent auditor should be appointed. “I will suggest this to EVKAF’s administrative council”, he said.
Referring to other issues, Erhurman noted that the so-called economic protocol with Turkey for the period 2019-21 would be signed soon and added that he had held a telephone conversation with President Erdogan, who told him that a part of the money which the regime expected from Turkey had been sent already. Erhurman said that the budget deficit would not be covered with this money, but some building contractors will be paid and the internal market would be relieved.
Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (31.12.18) reports that the leader of the main opposition National Unity Party (UBP) Ersin Tatar alleged that the so-called government should proceed immediately to the opening of “tenders” for the management of Dome hotel in occupied Keryneia.
Replying to so-called prime minister Tufan Erhurman’s statements regarding the “management” of Dome Hotel, Tatar stated that his party will “file a lawsuit” on the issue and will further send the issue for “discussion” in the so-called assembly.
On the same issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newpaper (184.108.40.206) reports that the leader of the Revival Party (YDP) Erhan Arikli, has demanded from the “government” to open “tenders” for the “management” of Dome hotel, claiming that the public opinion waits from the “prime minister” to do so.
Under the title “A close brush with death”, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (31.12.18) reports that 21 Syrian refugees, who were found inside two TIR trucks on a cargo ship “Via Famagusta” arriving from Mersin port yesterday morning in the occupied port of Famagusta, were arrested. It is also reported that the 21 Syrian immigrants were sent back to Turkey with the same ship.
Speaking behind the bars inside the police wagon, the Syrian immigrants said that they did not want to return to Turkey, because they would send them back to Syria from Turkey. They further said: “We were going to go to South Cyprus. We paid to a Syrian person named Khalid Mahmoud in Mersin five thousand dollars per person. There are no jobs in Turkey, the salaries are low. We do not have our homes in Syria, there is war. If they put us on the ship again, we will jump from it.”
Turkish private channel NTV (31.12.18, https://www.ntv.com.tr/turkiye/cumhurbaskani-erdogandan-yeni-yil-mesaji,jqkgQHzocEmaC-olKRQcHw) broadcast that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his New Year message, said: “We hope that 2019 will be in peace, tranquillity, health, security and prosperity for our country, our nation, our brothers in the region and for all humanity”.
Noting that Turkey is “not responsible for the incidents in the region and will not be a victim of them”, Erdogan argued that the developments in the region are the source of many problems including separatist terror. He further argued: “Basically, Turkey, from the beginning of the Syrian crisis, has taken a humanitarian and moral stance and has always been by the side of the victims and the oppressed. We side with stability, justice, tolerance and peace across the world, together with our region. Through this understanding, we defend the rights of Jerusalem, Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, Tripoli, Sarajevo, and Crimea. (…) We continue to contribute to the stability of Iraq. We demonstrate our determination to protect our rights in Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean both in the political sphere and in the field. More importantly, we are setting an example to the world, with our humanitarian stance.”
Under the title “We are hopeful from Fatih, the drillings will accelerate”, Turkish daily Star (31.12.18, https://www.star.com.tr/ekonomi/fatihten-umutluyuz-sondajlar-hizlanacak-haber-1422242/) reports that Turkey is accelerating its drilling activities in the Mediterranean. While the Fatih vessel continues its activities in the field of Alanya-1, the second vessel will be in the Mediterranean in February. Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said that the two vessels will be able to do four drillings a year, adding: “If there is any, we will definitely find it”.
In a meeting with the economics directors of the newspapers, Turkish Minister said: “Turkey, after the arrival of the second drilling vessel after Fatih will accelerate the national gas and oil exploration activities in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. After the surveys of the seismic vessels Barbaros and Oruc Reis, the Fatih vessel, which started drilling in the region Alanya-1, is expected to complete its activities within 2.5 months. The new vessel will be in the Mediterranean in February. So, both vessels will be able to do four drillings in a year. In addition, when the shallow water drilling, which is carried out offshore of Mersin in Mediterranean, (…) will be completed, will be moved to Adana, Karatas region.”
Donmez also said that the second drilling vessel was bought and set out to come to Turkey, adding that it will start its duties in the Mediterranean in February. He added: “Our second vessel is on the way. (…) it was in operation in Malaysia. Our vessel is currently sailing. We hope, it will be in the Mediterranean, in the middle of February.”
Turkish daily Sabah (30.12.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/war-on-terror/2018/12/31/turkey-russia-emphasize-joint-fight-against-terrorism) reported that a Turkish delegation led by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held talks about Syria with their Russian counterparts in Moscow on Saturday, where the officials highlighted the significance of joint moves against terrorism threats.
"We reviewed the steps we took with the Sochi process and what steps we will take from now on regarding Syria," Cavusoglu said after the 1.5-hour meeting with the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministers, adding that Turkey and Russia share the common goal of clearing all terror organizations from Syria.
Cavusoglu said further that Turkey will continue close cooperation with Russia and Iran on Syria and regional issues.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Chief Hakan Fidan accompanied Cavusoglu in the Russian capital.
Headlining of the meeting, were the search for solutions to humanitarian issues, including the repatriation of refugees, the situation on the ground after the U.S.' withdrawal and the launch of the political process.
"First, we discussed solutions to humanitarian issues; the creation of conditions for the return of refugees," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, adding that "Special attention was paid to the new situation developing in connection with the U.S. military withdrawal from Syria."
"And an understanding was reached on how the military representatives of Russia and Turkey will continue to coordinate their steps on the ground amid the new conditions, with a view to the final eradication of the terrorist threat on Syrian soil," he said.
“Both Turkey and Russia once again stressed unconditional respect for Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity”, Lavrov added.
"Secondly, concrete measures were outlined to intensify our joint work aimed at creating conditions that will allow more refugees to return to their homes," he said. "The third theme was the political process."
"It was launched by the guarantor countries of the Astana platform and received additional impetus thanks to the Congress of the National Dialogue in Sochi," he said, stressing that Russia, Turkey and Iran "have done everything they promised to do to form a constitutional committee," which is expected to start its work early next year in Geneva.
Ahead of the meeting, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said that Turkish and Russian Foreign and Defense Ministers will evaluate the implementation of the agreement reached in Istanbul and Idlib and discuss the U.S.' withdrawal from Syria.
"We will have the opportunity to discuss once again the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone and in the demilitarization zone," Shoygu added.
Meanwhile, Putin, in a New Year letter to Erdogan, said yesterday that Turkey and his country will continue to strengthen security in Asia.
Putin also noted that the efforts of both countries contribute to the anti-terror fight and political process in Syria.
Turkish daily Sabah (31.12.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2018/12/30/fm-cavusoglu-us-counterpart-pompeo-hold-phone-call-ahead-of-turkish-op-against-ypg-in-syria) reports that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke to his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo on the phone on Sunday, according to diplomatic sources, ahead of an imminent Turkish offensive against terrorists in northern Syria.
No additional details were immediately available.
Turkey is preparing for a third offensive in northern Syria to clear out the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) — which has been supported by the U.S. despite Ankara's objections — and in eastern Syria to sweep out remnants of Daesh.
Turkey has reiterated that it will not allow a "terrorist corridor" to be established on its southern border by the YPG and has called on the U.S. to stand by promises made to its NATO ally to help it rid the region of terror threats.
Meanwhile, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (31.12.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-sends-howitzers-to-syria-border-140114) reports that Turkey sent military reinforcements to its southern Gaziantep province near the Syrian border on Saturday, according to Anadolu Agency.
A military convoy carrying howitzers first arrived in Hatay province then in Gaziantep as part of Turkey's recent military reinforcements ahead of a possible counter-terrorism operation in northern Syria.
Turkey has been reinforcing its military presence on the border with Syria since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signaled that Ankara will soon launch a cross-border operation against the YPG/PKK in northern Syria.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (31.12.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/erdogan-merkel-discuss-syria-and-migrants-over-phone-140134) reports that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel discussed developments in Syria and irregular migrants going to Europe in a phone conversation on Dec. 30, according to statement from the Presidency.
The statement said also that Erdogan and Merkel discussed Turkish-German relations and the fight against terrorism.
The two leaders agreed to keep in close contact in the wake of an October summit on Syria as well as the aftermath of the surprise U.S. decision to withdraw its forces from the country.
German Government's Deputy Spokeswoman Martina Fietz also said in a written statement that recent developments in Syria were the main issue of the telephone discussion.
Fietz said further that Merkel praised Turkey's role in accepting over 3 million Syrian refugees.
Ankara Anatolia news agency (29.12.18-https://www.aa.com.tr/en/politics/turkey-erdogan-taps-yildirim-for-istanbul-mayoral-race/1351883) reported that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan named on Saturday Binali Yildirim, the current Parliament Speaker and former Prime Minister, as the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s candidate to run for Istanbul Mayor in the March 2019 local elections.
Over 15 million people -- nearly one-fifth of Turkey’s population -- lives in greater Istanbul. Local elections across Turkey are set for March 31.
Accepting the candidacy, Yildirim vowed that if elected Mayor, "I will work hard to serve Istanbul".
Yildirim thanked Erdogan for his trust and confidence as well as his AK Party colleagues for their support.
After Yildirim's remarks, Erdogan wished him all success in the race.
The Turkish Parliament elected Yildirim its new speaker this July.
Yildirim, 63, Turkey's last Prime Minister, first won a seat in Parliament as a Deputy for Istanbul in the fall 2002 elections, which swept the AK Party into power, and served as minister of transport and communications through 2007.
In the 2007 general elections, he was elected an AK Party Deputy from the eastern Erzincan province and continued to serve as Transport and Communications Minister.
After being elected a Deputy from the Aegean province of Izmir in the 2011 general elections, Yildirim became Minister of Transportation, Maritime, and Communications.
In 2014 he ran for Mayor of Izmir but came in second, with 36% of the vote.
In November 2015, then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reappointed him to his longtime Cabinet post.
During Yildirim’s tenure as Transport Minister, Turkey built high-speed rail lines between the capital Ankara and the central Anatolian cities of Eskisehir and Konya.
In May 2016, the ruling AK Party elected him Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey as well as the party chairman.
After campaigning to shift Turkey to a presidential system of government in an April 2017 referendum, Yildirim bowed out as Prime Minister before being elected Parliament Speaker.
Yildirim speaks French and English.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION