Turkish Cypriot illegal Bayrak television (25.02.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=akinci-gives-interview-to-aa) broadcast that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has alleged that the Greek Cypriot side should focus its energy on cooperating with the Turkish Cypriot side rather than trying to claim the island’s natural wealth for itself through what he called “unilateral moves”.
Speaking to Turkey’s state-run Anatolia News Agency ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with President Anastasiades, Akinci reiterated that he expected President Anastasiades to clarify his views regarding the “decentralized federation”. He said that he had conveyed this request during their telephone conversation and that President Anastasiades had told him that he would come prepared to the meeting.
Arguing that President Anastasiades had made no mention of which authorities he believed should reside with the constituent states when they met in October last year, Akinci said that he was ready to listen to what President Anastasiades had to say on the issue and to any other ideas he might have.
He further pointed out that the meeting should not be acknowledged as a resumption of negotiations. He argued:
“The idea of a decentralized federation model where more authorities reside with the constituent states was the Turkish Cypriot side’s position from the beginning. The Greek Cypriot side’s traditional position on the other hand was the opposite that more powers should reside with the central government. So it is not possible for us to reject such an option if the Greek Cypriot side has grown closer to our position”.
Furthermore, Akinci expressed the view that the clarification of his issue would assist the UNSG’s Special Envoy Jane Holl Lute’s efforts to determine common ground for the possible resumption of talks. He pointed out, however, that it was unlikely that any new developments would take place before June, due to the upcoming European Parliament elections, possible general elections in Greece and the local elections in Turkey.
Akinci also argued that it would not be easy for the UN envoy to finalize the Terms of Reference required for the talks to restart.
Touching upon the issue of political equality, Akinci reiterated that the issue was a sine qua non for the Turkish Cypriot side and that it was out of the question for the Turkish Cypriot side to accept any settlement which did not safeguard the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots and which recognized Turkish Cypriots as a minority.
Reiterating the Turkish side’s known allegations, Akinci claimed:
“Any new negotiations process has to be result-oriented and subject to timetables. It is out of the question to accept an open-ended process. This has been included in the UN Secretary General’s report. We are in full harmony with Turkey on this issue”.
Regarding the issue of hydrocarbons, Akinci alleged that the Greek Cypriot side should not try and exclude Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots from its activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“The Greek Cypriot side should focus its energy on cooperating with the Turkish Cypriot side rather than trying to claim the island’s natural wealth for itself through unilateral moves” he alleged, claiming that the Turkish Cypriot side would not remain idle if the Greek Cypriots continued to ignore the Turkish side’s calls.
“Our hope is that the Greek Cypriot side will chose logic and common sense to find a common way to share the island’s wealth with us rather than insisting on acting on its own” he alleged.
Illegal Bayrak (23.02. 19 http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=celik-makes-statement-on-natural-gas) broadcast that Justice and Development Party (AKP) Spokesman Ömer Çelik has said that “Turkey will continue to protect the rights and interests of Turkey and the TRNC to the very end”.
He made these statements regarding Cyprus and the natural gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean during an event he attended in Ankara.
Noting that he had come across some criticisms regarding both issues recently, the AKP spokesman Çelik said: “Turkey had reiterated on several occasions, that it would protect the rights and interests of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.
“We have warned Greece and south Cyprus [Tr. Note: As he referred to the Republic of Cyprus] not to take unilateral steps as we are determined to protect our rights and the TRNC’s rights until the very end” claimed Çelik, referring “to the importance Turkey gives to the Turkish Cypriot people and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.
Illegal Bayrak (25.02.19 http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=hellim-to-be-exported-to-turkey ) broadcast that dairy producer “Koop Süt” and the “Agricultural Credit Cooperatives of Turkey have signed an “agreement to export haloumi cheese to Turkey”.
The first 23 ton shipment of haloumi is expected to arrive in Turkey in March.
The General Director of “Koop Süt” Salih Yücesoylu who evaluated the issue reminded that an agreement already existed between the two “institutions”.
He said that they were happy “to have added haloumi exports to the existing agreement”.
He said that there were also plans to export all sorts of syrups as well as oranges to Turkey in the period ahead.
Yücesoylu also reminded that Koop Süt had been exporting large quantities of haloumi cheese to Middle East countries and that they aimed to carry out their biggest exports to Turkey.
Speaking to Anadolu News Agency, the General Director of the Agricultural Credit Cooperatives of Turkey Fahrettin Poyraz said that “they wanted to further develop agricultural cooperation and relations with the TRNC”.
Pointing out that they were currently selling fertilizer and animal feed to the breakaway regime, Poyraz said that they were planning to add to the list irrigation and greenhouse equipment in the near future.
He said that large quantities of haloumi were being consumed in Turkey and that the leading supplier of this product imported to Turkey should be the “TRNC”.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Güneş (25.02.19) reports that the National Unity Party’s (UBP) “Political Strategies and Vision Workshop” has started and continued yesterday for the second day. During the workshop, UBP’s members expressed their views on the party’s mission, vision and the strategies which should be followed. The views will be gathered in a report and will be submitted to the UBP’s competent organs.
Addressing the meeting, former Turkish Cypriot leader and honorary chairman of the UBP, Dervis Eroglu argued that it was evident that the current “government” could not continue and that the UBP would come to “power”. Referring to the Cyprus problem and the views of the four political parties which participate in the “coalition government”, Eroglu alleged: “If among these four parties, there is a party which believes in the TRNC’s existence and that no agreement could be achieved through negotiations, even this is enough for the collapse of the government. If you say ‘there are no other alternatives’, they will always ask from you to give. This is why you should determine the alternative. Our alternative is known. The UBP has determined its alternative. It said that the alternative is the two separate states under the roof of the EU. This is possible. It said ‘an internationally recognized state’. This is also possible. But only if you want it”.
In his address, UBP’s chairman Ersin Tatar reiterated that they should exert every effort and make every sacrifice for the continuation of the existence of the “TRNC”. He argued that the “coalition government” had been established difficultly and that it faced problems in many fields. He claimed that prosperity and the purchasing power had decreased, producers had come to the point of rebelling and the “economic protocol”, which should have been signed with Turkey six months ago, had not been signed due to ideological reasons.
Under the title “Everyone’s eye is on the palace”, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Afrika (23.02.19) reported that the race for the “presidential election” to be held in the occupied area of Cyprus in 2020 “blazed up” from now. According to the paper, the bargaining for the “election” started early and it is even alleged that the “coalition government” could collapse for this reason.
“Political observers” said that the People’s Party (HP) disagreed with its “coalition partners” the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) and the Social Democracy Party (TDP) and that the differences on the issue of a federal solution in Cyprus might lead the “government to collapse. It is argued that former Turkish Cypriot leader Eroglu had exerted his influence behind the scenes, trying to secure “close contacts” between HP and the National Unity Party (UBP) on this issue.
Meanwhile, asked whether his party had determined its candidate for the “presidential election”, HP’s chairman Kudret Ozersay said that they would start discussing the “election” at the party organs within 10 days and added that this did not mean that they would determine a candidate.
Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Diyalog (23.02.19) reported that commenting on the issue, Serdar Denktas, self-styled minister of finance in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus and chairman of the Democratic Party (DP), denied the allegations that the “government” is at the verge of collapsing and argued that the “coalition partners” were “in harmony”. “We have seen these games many times. No one will stab the other in the back”, he claimed in statements to the paper, adding that their different views on the Cyprus problem had been known from the very beginning.
According to Turkish Cypriot daily (25.02.19), Zorlu Tore, the “vice president” of the parliament of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus, will participate in the commemoration event of 613 people, who were reportedly subjected to genocide by Armenians in Hocali town of Azerbaijan.
Columnist Cenk Diler, writing in Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis (25.02.19), comments on the decisions that were published in the “official gazette”. He wrote that accordingly to the “official gazette”: “On November 11 of 2016, Hamit Manga, who was born in Reyhanli in 7.7.1989, was given an arrest-expulsion order because he committed a crime for the first time, but with the intention of ensuring the family integrity on the grounds that he had three children and was married with Yasemin Manga, a TRNC citizen, it was decided to abolish the decision of expulsion according to paragraph (2) of article 6 of the Law on Foreigners and Immigration. Abdrrahman Kaylak, Omer Acikgoz, Mehmet Cihan, Hatice Horos, Orhan Kurkmaz and Resul Celik were also granted TRNC citizenship, as they fulfilled the condition stipulated in paragraph (1) (c) of article 9 of the Citizenship act No. 25/1993”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi (24.02.19) reports that Mehmet Harmanci, mayor of the occupied part of Nicosia, who was in Bucharest between 18-21 of February as a guest of two municipalities in Bucharest, since Romania has taken over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU for this semester, had separate meetings with Daniel Flora, mayor of the 5th Sector of Bucharest and with Daniel Baluta the Mayor of the 4th Sector of Bucharest.
According to a press release by the municipality of occupied part of Nicosia, Harmanci, during his four-day contacts in Bucharest, agreed with the Mayors he met that an institutional relationship would be initiated and a joint decision was taken to sign a cooperation protocol.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (25.02.19) reports that in the third quarter of 2018, there were 854 thousand 360 registered mobile subscribers, but only the 706 thousand 327 were “active” mobile subscribers in the occupied area of Cyprus.
It was also reported that the mobile network operators “Cyprus Mobile Telecommunications Ltd.” and the “Vodafone Mobile Operations Ltd” have achieved net sales revenue of 84 million 76 thousand TL during the third quarter of 2018. In this period, the amount that the mobile subscribers paid for talking was 22,181,110 TL for internet was 18,102,170 TL and for roaming 9,714,060 TL. There was an increase of approximately 202% compared to the smartphone usage in the first quarter of 2013.
The first five countries that the mobile subscribers have phoned were Turkey, Britain, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkmenistan.
Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (24.02.19 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/safe-zone-in-syria-must-be-controlled-by-turkey-erdogan-141441_ reports that a safe zone in Turkey - Syria's border should be under Turkey's control, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said.
In a televised interview jointly broadcast by CNN Türk and Kanal D, Erdoğan said Turkey is the first country to be affected by the heavy gunfire. “I will take my precaution in the opposite country,” he added.
The Turkish president said peaceful and stabilized environment built in Syria's Afrin, Jarabulus and al-Bab provinces should be sustained in border regions.
“It is important for us that the U.S. decision to withdraw from Syria does not lead to developments against the interests of our countries and Syria's political unity and territorial integrity,” Erdoğan said, adding that a vacuum after the withdrawal to be replaced by terrorist groups is unacceptable.
Erdoğan said the Adana Agreement - signed between Ankara and Damascus in 1998 - allows Turkish forces to conduct operations inside Syria near the Turkish border.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
Last December, Trump made a surprise announcement that the U.S. would be withdrawing all of its troops from Syria and said the ISIL had been defeated in the country.
Touching upon Turkey-Egypt relations, President Erdoğan said he will never meet with such a person referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
"[Mohammed] Morsi took office with 52 percent of votes in elections, but then he was overtaken. Now, Morsi is in jail with his friends," he said. "I have always said that al-Sisi was a coupist for years."
He went on to say that the execution of 42 people under al-Sisi was unacceptable.
Turkish President said he may visit the U.S., or President Donald Trump may pay a visit to Turkey after the March 31 local elections.
Erdoğan added that he has a "positive relationship" with U.S. counterpart Trump.
“The U.S hasn't assigned an ambassador to Ankara for a long time,” Erdoğan said. “Now, they assign a name they place importance as an ambassador to Turkey.”
Talking about Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar's visit to Washington, Erdoğan said Syria and bilateral relationship between the two countries was the focus of the meeting.
President Erdoğan also said the European Parliament's decision to suspend accession negotiations with Turkey did not have "any value" for Ankara.
Under the above title, Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (24.02.19 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/serkan-demirtas/key-foreign-policy-messages-by-turkeys-erdogan-141453) publishes the following article by Serkan Demirtas:
“In a televised interview with the private broadcaster CNN Türk over the weekend, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered important and substantive messages on main foreign and security policy issues, including the state of bilateral relationship with the United States and ongoing processes in Syria.
President Erdoğan had a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump just hours before the White House announced that 200 American troops will stay in the Syrian territories under a peacekeeping mission, in a change of Trump’s complete withdrawal decision.
It’s believed that the American forces along with other coalition partners are to be stationed in the security zone to be set up in northeastern Syria to both address Turkey’s security concerns and to provide protection for the YPG, a group Ankara considers as terrorist because of its links with the PKK.
Without mentioning about the change in the U.S. plans, Erdoğan reiterated a well-known Turkish approach vis a vis the security zone, saying “It will be unacceptable for us if the security zone would be shaped in a way that contradicts with our own strategic understanding. If there will be a security zone on my border, it has to be under our control.”
Talks between Turkey and the U.S. will sure continue as Erdoğan said he received an invitation by Trump for a visit to Washington D.C., something he can realize in the aftermath of the March 31 local elections.
Despite many problems, Erdoğan underlined positive communication with President Trump with a special emphasis on both men’s willingness to boost bilateral trade.
Erdoğan’s messages on the ongoing conflict in Syria were also important. One of the most frequent questions recently being posed is whether Turkey would establish direct or indirect contact with the Assad regime for the continued fight against terror. Citing the 1998-dated Adana Protocol, Erdoğan said Turkey has all the right to fight against terror inside Syria and therefore has no need to approach Damascus.
“We will not pledge a legitimacy that Assad does not deserve,” Erdoğan said in a fashion that could be perfectly interpreted that Beshar al-Assad should take steps to win legitimacy.
Developments in Idlib, a Syrian province under the control of the radical jihadist groups led by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, have vital importance as any action could trigger new refugee influx, Erdoğan characterized. Turkey, Russia and Iran are seriously and sincerely working for the implementation of a ceasefire that must see the complete disarmament and departure of jihadist groups from the region, the president said, repeating Turkey’s intelligence agency’s efforts to this end. He was not very open on whether a joint military strike with Russia could take place in the future.
Still, he expressed his confidence that cooperation between Turkey, Russia and Iran will not be broken over differing stances with regard to how the problem in Idlib needs to be resolved.
Erdoğan disseminated optimism for the creation of a constitutional committee tasked to write Syria’s new charter as parties are now discussing over the last three names to establish the committee. He also announced Turkey’s readiness to lend assistance in writing a constitution, as a country that has vast experience on it.
Erdoğan’s statements on ties with the European Union were striking. Describing the state of current affairs in the European Union as a big crisis, citing Brexit, unending yellow vest protests in France etc. “EU cannot even help Europe,” he said, using his well-known motto of “The World is bigger than five” to the continental politics as he said “Europe is bigger than the EU.”
The EU will never allow Turkey inside because of its religion and big population, Erdoğan said, recalling his earlier suggestion of holding referendum on whether Turkey should continue full membership talks or nor. “We should obviously have Plan B, Plan C,” he stated.
This characterization by Erdoğan does not promise much for a substantial return to the democratization process.
It does not project major structural change on the nature of Turkey-EU ties in the coming period.
On questions over the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia’s general-consulate in Istanbul by a death squad deployed by senior Saudi officials, Erdogan slammed the Riyadh administration for not cooperating in investigating the incident.
Erdogan did also criticize Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to this end for his efforts to silence international community by granting lucrative deals, including oil.
Erdogan sounded that a long-term tension with Saudi Arabia is looming.
A similar tone of his was observed when he spoke about Egypt’s President Sisi who came to power in mid-2013 after a military coup against Mohamed Morsi.
“I will never meet Sisi,” he said, describing a recent judicial decision of the execution of nine dissidents as a crime against humanity.”
Turkish daily Yeni Safak (25.02.19 https://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/turkish-army-ready-for-manbij-euphrates-east-def-min-3475353) reports that Turkey’s Defense Minister said on Sunday that the country’s armed forces were ready to intervene in the areas in northern Syria controlled by terrorist groups.
"Our preparations for Manbij and the east of the Euphrates [River] are complete. We will take the necessary steps when the time comes upon the orders of our president," Hulusi Akar told a rally in Turkey’s southern Hatay province.
Stressing that Ankara had no desire to threaten another country’s territorial integrity, Akar said developments in Syria were a matter of "survival."
He added that Turkey had "devastated" terrorist groups in the region with the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northern Syria against Daesh and the YPG/PKK terror groups, stressing that Turkey would also continue to protect its maritime territory.
"As Turkey, we have always been on the side of peace," Akar said, adding that Ankara would always protect its rights and interests.
Underlining that Turkey would uphold its advocacy for a safe zone to be established in northern Syria in order to prevent anymore suffering on the east of the Euphrates River, he added that Turkey’s fight was against terrorist organizations, not the region’s Kurdish community.
"Let me be very clear in that the Kurds are our brothers [and sisters]... We are one and we can never be seperated," Akar said.
In addition, reporting on the same issue, Turkish daily Milliyet (25.02.19 http://www.milliyet.com.tr/bakan-akar-vakti-saati-geldiginde-siyaset-2832839/ ) reports that Akar also stated that when the time comes, these plans will be implemented with the directive of the President of the Republic of Turkey. “ In the meantime, there are all kinds of activities for the protection of our rights and law. […]. All kinds of measures are taken in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and the Black Sea. No one has the chance of success without Turkey , despite the steps to be taken. In these places, no fait accompli will be allowed”, he stated.
Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (24.02.19 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/akps-candidate-mustafa-sentop-elected-turkish-parliament-speaker-141449) reports that Turkish Grand National Assembly’s new speaker was elected on Feb. 24 to replace resigning Binali Yıldırım, who is now running for Istanbul mayor in the upcoming March 31 local elections.
The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidate Mustafa Şentop got 336 votes out of 600 seats in parliament in the third round of the election, qualifying to be the 29th speaker of the Turkish parliament.
“Today, the trust of our glorious nation has appeared in the form of the votes cast by the honorable assembly. Your assistance will help me in discharging this heavy responsibility,” Şentop said in his address to the general assembly immediately after the voting.
Şentop’s main rival Engin Altay, deputy group chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), received 124 votes.
They were followed by the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) candidate Serpil Kemalbay Pekgözegü with 46 votes and the İYİ (Good) Party’s nominee İmam Hüseyin Filiz with 33 votes. Three votes were declared invalid.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), represented in parliament with 49 MPs, endorsed the AKP’s candidate as part of its “People’s Alliance” with the ruling party.
AKP has 291 seats in parliament whereas MHP holds 49 seats. Main opposition CHP has 142 deputies and is followed by HDP with 65 and İYİ Party with 39 lawmakers. Each of the Felicity (Saadet) Party and the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) have two seats. The Democrat Party (DP) and the Grand Unity Party (BBP) are represented with one seat each. Three independent lawmakers also have seats in parliament.
Sentop, 51, was elected as MP from the northwestern province of Tekirdağ in June 24, 2018 elections. He earned a bachelor degree at the Istanbul University Faculty of Law and obtained Master and Doctorate degrees from Istanbul’s Marmara University.
The first and second round of voting in the election for parliament speaker yielded no clear result, as all four candidates failed to secure the required two-thirds majority to win.
According to the Turkish constitution, at least 401 out of 600 deputies’ votes were needed to be elected parliament speaker. In a third round of voting, a minimum of 301 votes was needed.
Former parliament speaker Yıldırım announced his resignation late Feb. 18 to submit his candidacy for Istanbul mayor. He handed over the office to interim Parliament Speaker Celal Adan of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Feb. 19.
Meanwhile, the head of the parliament planning and budget committee Süreyya Sadi Bilgiç will replace Şentop as deputy speaker of parliament.
AKP’s deputy chair Lütfü Elvan will be the new head of the planning and budget committee replacing Bilgiç.
The general assembly of parliament is set to convene on March 12.
Turkish daily Yeni Safak (24.02.19 https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/turkish-minister-says-us-pkk-links-will-be-revealed-soon-3475347) reports that Turkey will reveal links between the U.S. and PKK/PYD terrorist group in the coming days, the country’s Interior Minister said on Sunday.
Suleyman Soylu said that he will announce to the public what kind of relations the U.S. generals and the PKK/PYD had.
Soylu added that recently captured PKK members shared information about their links to the U.S. as well as some European countries.
The Turkish minister’s remarks came during a meeting with mukhtars in Turkey’s Black Sea province of Trabzon.
Turkish daily portal news side T24 (25.02.19 https://t24.com.tr/haber/anketler-cok-sasirtici-anketorler-bizi-mi-yaniltiyor-diye-tekrar-yaptiriyoruz-yine-ayni-sonuclar-geliyor,809730 ) wrote that the results of various opinion polls regarding the forthcoming municipal election in Turkey are unpleasant for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). According to T24, this was the result of the economic crisis in Turkey.
As T24 posts, president of Eurasian Public Opinion Research Company Özkiraz, who participated a television program, said that the polls are very unpleasant for the AKP and added that the former CHP Deputy Chairman Seyit Torun stated in an interview that CHP conducted some polls and because the results were surprising, it made the polls again. But the results are again the same and are not in favor of AKP.
According to T24, very surprising results are coming from the polls. In Bursa and in Istanbul, the CHP is ahead. “The biggest impact for these results are the economic crisis and the polarization of Tayyip Erdogan 's statements that are so hurtful”, writes T24.
Turkish daily Yeni Safak (25.02.19 https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/turkey-arrest-224-soldiers-arrested-over-suspected-feto-links-3475342) reports that at least 224 on-duty soldiers were arrested across Turkey for their suspected links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in the country, judicial sources said on Sunday.
The arrests came after Turkish prosecutors issued warrants for 295 soldiers, who are accused of communicating with FETO members through pay phones and landline phones, as part of a probe into FETO’s structure in the Turkish Armed Forces.
Turkish police continued operations to arrest remaining 71 suspects, according to the sources.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION