Recent News

Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review-30.03-02.04.19

 

No.61/19                                                                                             

 Contents

A. Turkish Cypriot Press

1. How the Turkish Cypriot press covered the municipal elections in Turkey

2. Akıncı: “Cyprus problem efforts not exhausted”

3. Turkish Ambassador argues that alternative solutions should be discussed regarding the Cyprus issue

4. Tatar: “The per capita income should reach 25 thousand dollars”

5. Haberci newspaper is the 20th daily in the occupied area of Cyprus

6. Stolen bell from Agios Panteleymonas Monastery found

B. Turkish Press

1. AK Party leads polls declaring victory in more than half of municipalities, but loses Istanbul and Ankara

2. Erdoğan: “Nation chose us for 15 consecutive elections”

3. Kilicdaroglu: “People sided with democracy”

4. Bahceli: “Shady plans for Turkey foiled”

5. Celik to ask YSK to resolve vote dispute in Istanbul and Ankara

6. Supreme Election Board: “Undisputed election results to be declared, appeal process continues”

7. Council of Europe delegation finds Turkey’s elections neither free nor fair; Ankara rejects CoE’s concerns

8. Conference discusses alternative solutions for Cyprus issue

9. Cavusoglu to meet Pompeo on Thursday

 

A. Turkish Cypriot Press

1. How the Turkish Cypriot press covered the municipal elections in Turkey

The majority of the Turkish Cypriot press today and yesterday (01-02.04.19) covered on its front page the results of the municipal elections held in Turkey on Sunday, 31 March, 2019.

Under the title “Ankara and Istanbul changed hands, the vote percentage of the government did not change”, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs Postası (01.04.19) reports that the ruling “Republican Alliance” (Cumhur İttifakı) received 51,74% of the votes and the opposition’s National Alliance (Millet İttifakı) 37,64% during the municipal elections.

Turkish Cypriot newspaper Star Kıbrıs (01.04.19) reports that “the capital changed hands”. Under the title “Like a joke”, the paper refers to the statements made by the two main candidates in Istanbul both arguing that they won.

Turkish Cypriot newspaper Diyalog (01.04.19) refers to the results under the title “3 out of the 4 big cities belong to the CHP”.

Under the title “Blow in Istanbul’, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Afrika (02.04.19) reports that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is looking for a way not to lose the municipality of Istanbul by saying that Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition’s candidate, was “ahead”, but did not win. According to the paper, the votes of the Kurds played a significant role in the success of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis (02.04.19) reports that the results in Istanbul municipality were clarified after the chairman of the Supreme Election Council (YSK) verified the statements made by CHP’s candidate Imamoglu. According to the paper, “the AKP experienced a shock because of the result in Istanbul”. The results were questioned, hundreds of objections were filed and the official final results are expected within 4-5 days, notes Havadis. 

Under the title “AKP objects”, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Star Kıbrıs (02.04.19) refers to statements made by the candidates of the ruling AKP in Istanbul and Ankara, who said that they would file an objection against the results.

Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs (02.04.19) reports that the newly elected mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu had studied for two years in the illegal “American University of Keryneia” and played football as goalkeeper in the Turkish Cypriot team Türk Ocağı Limasol (TOL) during the period 1988-1990.

Under the title “The ballot box may take the AKP away”, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Bakış (02.04.19) reports that Yucel Vural, international relations professor in illegal “Eastern Mediterranean University” expressed the view that the results of the municipal elections “strengthened the perspective” of changing through elections the AKP’s structure of power which continues for the last 17 years in Turkey. In statements to the paper, Vural described as “an important development from the point of view of Turkey’s politics” the victory of the CHP-led opposition in big municipalities such as Istanbul and Ankara.

Writing in Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis (01.04.19), columnist Basaran Duzgun reports that Turkey passed to a system established by Turkish President Erdogan, who described this system as a “Turkish style presidential system”. “He strengthened this with the results of the local elections held yesterday”, notes the columnist arguing that no one should see the loss of the municipality in some big cities by the AKP-MHP coalition and dream that the system will change. “Even though they lost the municipality in some big cities, AKP’s and MHP’s votes are enough to elect Erdogan President again in a possible election”, notes Duzgun expressing the view that if Erdogan does not commit a serious mistake and does not fail in economy, he will be the leader who will govern Turkey for many more years.

The columnist writes the following regarding the current situation in Turkey:

“[…] Turkey is quickly heading towards a conservative and at the same extent rightist structure. The CHP-Good Party alliance has almost speeded up this turn into conservatism. The CHP did not win with social democrat candidates, […] but on the contrary with the conservative candidates or those of nationalist origin. That is, the CHP is sliding to the right for the sake of winning elections.

However, the AKP and the MHP entered into the elections with candidacies comprised of their own traditional cadres and, to a great extent, led these candidates to victory. 

The success of the CHP-Good Party in Ankara for example, is because of supporting a candidate with a past in the MHP and having a conservative structure. […] The same is valid for Istanbul. […] The CHP competed with the AKP in Istanbul with a model similar to the AKP’s campaign. And this is the most evident example of turning into conservatism.

For some time now, the AKP’s ‘cadres’, who are concerned with the TRNC, have been trying to carry the same conservative structure to the TRNC as well. The results of the local elections held yesterday point to the fact that they will continue from the place they were left. Those who dragged the CHP into the conservative field, think that they will do the same to the Turkish Cypriots. However, they are deceived. Even though the current CHP administration deviates, the Turkish Cypriots will never deviate from the ideology and the way of living of those who had established the CHP. […]”

(I/Ts.)             

2. Akıncı: “Cyprus problem efforts not exhausted”

According to illegal Bayrak television (30.03.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=akinci-cyprus-problem-efforts-not-exhausted), Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has said that it was too early to ‘throw in the towel’ on the Cyprus problem, adding that it was not an easy choice to declare failure on the Cyprus problem once again. “That is why I don’t believe we are at that point yet,” Akıncı noted.

Speaking on a joint broadcast televised on Kanal T, Kıbrıs TV and Kanal SİM, Akinci said that he was going to speak with the UN Secretary General’s Special Temporary Adviser Jane Holl Lute on April 1. He added that there was a possibility the UN envoy would be visiting the island in the near future.

Stating that it was too early to say that everything was over on the Cyprus problem, Akıncı reminded that talks had begun between Turkey and Greece in Antalya recently and would continue in Athens on April 12. “We don’t know if there will be unofficial developments after that or what kind of a role Lute will take on”, said Akıncı.

Akinci criticized the Greek Cypriot press claiming that it was attempting to create the image that there was no hope regarding new talks on the Cyprus problem. “The Greek Cypriot press usually thinks it knows everything better than anyone else and usually announces everything before everyone else. Lately, Greek Cypriot media have been reporting that the process is dead while the process has yet to be completed,” argued Akıncı. However, he said it would be wrong to say that things were looking bright. “Nevertheless the UN envoy has yet to complete her work,” he added.

Akıncı also pointed out that any future talks on the Cyprus problem would not start from scratch and that any new round of talks would require common understanding and ground on the convergences reached so far. “There are serious differences on this issue. We support the June 30 Guterres Framework,” he said.

Akıncı claimed that Turkish Cypriots would not accept a unitary state, nor had Greek Cypriots come to terms with the idea of two separate states. “Some are arguing we should table a two-state solution. But if we do we shall be going outside the framework of UN parameters. You would be easing various circles on the Greek Cypriot side but you can’t achieve a two-state solution,” he added. Akinci further said that the only solution model that seemed possible or feasible was a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Such a model, he said could only work through effective participation in decision making.

Reminding that there was also a guarantor aspect to the Cyprus problem as well as the fact that one of the two sides on the island was an EU member, Akinci argued: “You can’t solve the Cyprus Problem with one side alone. We can’t tango either. What we need is a group dance like ‘halay’ or ‘sirtaki’”.

3. Turkish Ambassador argues that alternative solutions should be discussed regarding the Cyprus issue

According to illegal Bayrak television (02.04.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=conference-on-cyprus-issue-underway), the first session of a conference entitled “the Cyprus issue: The past, present and future vision of Cyprus” which is being organized by the “Near East University” in the occupied area of Cyprus got underway yesterday. Alternative models for a solution in Cyprus are being discussed during the three-day conference.

Addressing the opening session, the Deputy Director General for Maritime and Aviation Affairs at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Çağatay Erciyes drew attention to the fact that all negotiations processes between the two sides since 1968 to date had failed to reach a settlement on the island.

Claiming that the Greek Cypriot side insistently abstained from reconciliation despite Turkey’s and the Turkish Cypriot side’s constructive attitude, Erciyes argued: “Since the expectations of both sides from a solution are different the current outcome was inevitable. The sides were actually not negotiating the same thing.”

Alleging that the last negotiations process demonstrated the Greek Cypriots’ reluctance to share political equality with the Turkish Cypriots, the senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official said the Greek Cypriot side still refused to recognise the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots on the island. “We have been working for a federal solution for half a century but we have yet to reach a result. We should consider revising our targets under these circumstances. Within this framework, we are open to all new ideas as long as the political equality and the security needs of the Turkish Cypriots are safeguarded and addressed”, he added.

Pointing out to the need of a healthy dialogue for reaching a comprehensive solution at the negotiations, Erciyes underlined that progress could not be achieved at the negotiations without a solid common understanding.

Noting that the Greek Cypriot side was too focused on the security and guarantees issue and in the false assumption that all problems on the table will be resolved if Turkey’s role as a guarantor ends, he stressed that Turkey’s guarantee on the island was more vital than ever.

Referring to the unilateral activities of the Greek Cypriot side on the hydrocarbon issue, Erciyes said the Turkish Cypriots should be equally involved in the decision-making mechanisms regarding any steps taken on the issue.

4. Tatar: “The per capita income should reach 25 thousand dollars”

Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes (01.04.19) reports that Ersin Tatar, chairman of the main opposition National Unity Party (UBP) in the occupied area of Cyprus, delivering a speech during the general congress of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO), stated, inter alia, that among their goals and priorities is the “development of the TRNC’s economy”. “The goal of the Turkish Cypriots, as Turkey’s officials stated before, is to double the per capita income, so, it is necessary to be increased by 25 thousand dollars”, Tatar said.

Referring to the Cyprus problem, Tatar claimed that it has become clear and obvious that the Greek Cypriot side will never accept the political equality of the Turkish Cypriots and for this reason as he argued, steps should be taken towards confederation, or a two separate state solution within the EU. “These lands will continue existing in the long run. Taking into consideration this reality, we should make our plans and act in full consultation and cooperation with Turkey. We should all means try to reach our goal for the per capita income to reach 25 thousand dollars. The government, the prime ministry, the state department organization and the ministry of finance should work towards this direction”, Tatar argued.   

(AK)

5. Haberci newspaper is the 20th daily in the occupied area of Cyprus

Under the title “Bulut Akacan’s newspaper was issued”, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yeni Düzen (02.04.19) reports that businessman Bulut Akacan, who has recently tried to enter into the active political life in the occupied area of Cyprus and his name came onto the agenda with some “police” incidents, issued a daily newspaper named Haberci, on 1 April, 2019.

The paper promises to give houses and cars to its readers with coupons, writes Yeni Düzen, adding that names such as Hasan Ercakica (spokesman of former Turkish Cypriot leader Talat), Harun Denizkan, Ozdemir Tokel, Sabahattin Ismail, Levent Ozadam and Dilek Kirici are among the journalists of the newly issued newspaper. The chairman of Haberci’s media group is Bilbay Eminoglu and its editor-in-chief Cuneyt Oruc.

Translator’s note: Bulut Akacan was a candidate with the National Unity Party (UBP) during the last “parliamentary elections” in the occupied area of Cyprus. With Haberci, the number of daily newspapers in the occupied area of Cyprus increased to 20.

(I/Ts.)       

6. Stolen bell from Agios Panteleymonas Monastery found

Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (02.04.19) reports that the bell which was stolen from the Agios Panteleymonas monastery in occupied Myrtou on November 3, 2018 was found and the so-called police arrested three persons who are related with the incident.

According to the paper, as a result of the “investigations” carried out by the “police” in occupied Morfou, the stolen bell was found in a pen in occupied Avlona village. The three suspects will appear in “court” today, the paper adds.

(AK)

 B. Turkish Press

1. AK Party leads polls declaring victory in more than half of municipalities, but loses Istanbul and Ankara

According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (02.04.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/secim/31-mart-2019-yerel-secimleri/secim-sonuclari), the voter turnout in Turkey’s local elections held on March 31 was 84.67%, 48.339.313 voters from the total voters of 57.093.410. The valid votes were 46.430.757 and the number of ballot boxes 194.678.

AK Party candidates garnered the support of 44.31% of voters as main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) received 30.11% of the votes with 10 metropolitan municipalities and 10 city municipalities.

People’s Alliance of AK Party and the Nationalist Movement Party claimed 51.62% while the Nation Alliance of CHP and İyi Party gets 37.56% of overall votes.

Turkish daily Sabah (02.04.19, https://www.dailysabah.com/elections/2019/04/02/ak-party-leads-polls-declaring-victory-in-more-than-half-of-municipalities) reports that Sunday's local elections were marked by the victory of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), as it prevailed in more than half of the country's municipalities. According to unofficial results, the AK Party has won in over 575 out of 1,046 total municipalities in the country. Out of the total 30 metropolitan municipalities, 51 municipalities and 960 district municipalities in Turkey, the AK Party came out on top in 15 metropolitan municipalities and led the polls in 24 other provinces and 536 districts. In 2014, the AK Party won the local elections in 18 metropolitan municipalities, 30 provinces and 559 districts.

While the AK Party took the municipalities of Zonguldak and Giresun from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), they also experienced a revival in eastern and southeastern provinces, clinching Bitlis, Şırnak and Ağrı from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). In the districts of metropolitan cities, the AK Party has come out from the elections as the most successful party. The party led the polls in 25 out of the 39 districts of Istanbul. In Ankara, it took the lead in 19 out of 25 districts. (…)

In the capital Ankara, CHP candidate Mansur Yavaş led the race with 50.90% against 47.1% for AK Party's Mehmet Özhaseki. Yavaş, who lost the hotly contested race against then-AK Party candidate Melih Gökçek in 2014, said justice had been served.

In Turkey's third-largest city İzmir, CHP candidate Tunç Soyer won the election with 58.06% of the vote against AK Party's Nihat Zeybekci's 38.67%.

Adana, Mersin, Antalya and Hatay are among the metropolitan municipalities that the CHP declared victories in. (…)

Meanwhile, the hotly contested municipal elections in Istanbul will have to wait for the official announcement of the results by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) as both the government and the opposition have claimed victory, although initial results by the election watchdog show the latter’s candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, was ahead of the government’s mayoral candidate, Binali Yıldırım, by around 25,000 votes.

According to state-run Anadolu Agency as of late afternoon April 1, the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) nominee, İmamoğlu, received 48.79% of the votes, while the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Yıldırım garnered 48.52%, with 100% of all citywide ballot boxes having been opened and all ballots counted.

The gap between the two contenders was around 25,000 votes in line with the initial results announced by YSK President Sadi Güven earlier in the day. He told reporters that İmamoğlu had won 4,159,650 votes and Yıldırım gathered 4,131,761 votes, according to the official numbers by the YSK.

“So far a total of 31,102 ballot box results [in Istanbul] have been registered to the system, 84 ballot box results have not been concluded because of objections,” he said.

 “Mayoral status will be handed to winning candidates unless no objection to poll results,” told Güven on April 2.

At a press conference after Güven’s statement, İmamoğlu thanked the YSK for sharing the watchdog’s vote-counting with the public. He said it was a step taken in the right direction for democracy. (…)

 Following statements by the YSK head and İmamoğlu, Yıldırım told reporters that his rival was 25,000 votes ahead of him. “But there is an important detail here. The number of canceled votes is 319,500. This is important as this figure is 10 times more than the gap between us,” he said.

“Let me tell you what will happen next. Whoever is given the mandate by the YSK will take over as mayor,” Yıldırım said, explaining that all the decisions with regard to the elections will be taken by the YSK. (…)

2. Erdoğan: “Nation chose us for 15 consecutive elections”

According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (01.04.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/nation-chose-us-for-15-consecutive-elections-erdogan-142319), the Turkish nation has made the ruling AKP winner of 15 consecutive elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said early on April 1. 

Erdoğan said 56% of municipalities in Turkey will be run by AK Party, in an address to the nation from the balcony of his party headquarters in Ankara after local elections. "I would like to thank all my citizens, especially our Kurdish brothers, for showing sensitivity toward the issue of survival," he said.    

Turkey's ruling party is leading the race with 16 metropolitan municipalities and 24 cities claimed by AK Party candidates, according to unofficial results.    

Erdoğan described the reason for not being able to achieve the desired results in some cities as an inadequacy to explain themselves to the nation. "As of tomorrow morning, we will start finding and making up for our shortcomings," he added.    

Erdoğan said the party and Turkey will experience a change in the coming days.  "There will be no elections for four and a half years. What will we do? We will focus on national and international issues, and hopefully raise our country above the level of our contemporaries," he added.    

Turkey's priority is to strengthen the economy, maintain development and raise employment, he said.  Erdoğan also said that Turkey's aim is to help Syrian refugees return to their country while making Manbij and East of Euphrates a safe place.

Meanwhile, HDN (01.04.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/world-leaders-hail-erdogan-on-local-vote-win-142349), under the title “World leaders hail Erdoğan on local vote win”, reports that leaders across the world have congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for his party’s win in local elections.

The leaders called Erdoğan after unofficial results showed the Justice and Development Party (AKP) won nearly 45% of the vote in local elections, according to Turkish presidential sources.

Leaders congratulating Erdogan include Russia's Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Chairman Milorad Dodik, former Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bakir Izetbegovic, Guinean President Alpha Conde, and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

In a phone call, Putin congratulated Erdoğan on April 1.

Additionally, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted yesterday: “I am delighted to congratulate a friend of Pakistan Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on another important victory in the Turkish local elections.” (…)

 

3. Kilicdaroglu: “People sided with democracy”

According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (01.04.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/people-sided-with-democracy-chp-head-142320), Turkey's main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said late on March 31 that people sided with democracy during the local elections.      

“We have experienced every kind of injustice, but people sided with democracy. This is very important for us,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in his speech after the polls.      

Describing the election as a "success”, he said: “This is an election done democratically and humanely, and success gained by this election will be welcomed not only by us but all over the world, as democracy is improving in Turkey.    

"We say: 'Turkey won'. After this election, everybody won. We are ready to fulfil all our duties in overcoming Turkey's economic crisis," he added.      

4. Bahceli: “Shady plans for Turkey foiled”

According to Turkish daily Yeni Safak (01.04.19, https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/shady-plans-for-turkey-foiled-mhp-opposition-head-3477874), the head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) claimed in the early hours of Monday that external forces seeking to implement shady conspiracies over Turkey failed in the March 31 local elections.

Speaking at his party’s headquarters in Ankara, Devlet Bahceli delivered remarks on the preliminary results of the election. "The Turkish nation put tremendous support behind the country's unity and survival," Bahceli said.

"Elections are now past and Turkey has replenished its hope. It is of crucial importance to focus on worsening social and economic issues along with international challenges," he said.

Bahceli underlined that the "economic hitmen, currency gangs, terrorist groups and intentions" lost hope before the will of the nation and got the answer "they deserved".

 

5. Celik to ask YSK to resolve vote dispute in Istanbul and Ankara

According to Turkey’s state news agency Ankara Anatolia (02.04.19, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/politics/turkey-s-ak-party-to-ask-ysk-to-resolve-vote-dispute/1440000), Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party said early Tuesday it plans to ask the Supreme Election Council (YSK) to resolve a dispute over invalid votes in mayoral elections for Istanbul and Ankara.

Party spokesman Omer Celik said at a press conference that their appeal process is a natural one to remove irregularities in the election results. "The [appeal] process is legitimate. Everyone should respect it," Celik said at the party’s headquarters.

He argued there are discrepancies between reports from polling centres and vote counts for the capital Ankara and Istanbul, adding the AK Party will safeguard every vote it received as it will meticulously follow this process. "We will respect the results regardless of the outcome, as it is our people's choice," Celik added.

Votes were still being counted in the race for Istanbul’s metropolitan municipality, Binali Yildirim, the AK Party’s mayoral candidate there, said earlier Monday.

Yildirim told reporters that invalid votes cast Sunday greatly outnumber the vote gap between the candidates, adding his rival -- the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu -- currently seems to have 25,000 more votes.

"There are 31,136 ballot boxes [in Istanbul]. If one vote is filled in incorrectly in each ballot box, this equals 31,136 votes, which is more than the difference.

"There are 319,500 invalid votes. The vote gap is 25,000. So the invalid votes outnumber the gap tenfold," he said, adding there were also irregularities, mistakes and wrong entries.

Yildirim also said the votes for the two candidates were not expected to be "so close to each other".

The AK Party said it will pursue the legal process with the documents it has, but Celik didn't provide a specific date for their appeal. (…)

The CHP’s Imamoglu, with 48.79% of the votes, has a narrow lead over Yildirim, with 48.51%.

Mansur Yavas, the CHP’s mayoral candidate in Ankara, is leading with 50.91% of votes, according to unofficial results, with the AK Party’s Mehmet Ozhaseki trailing at 47.1%.

After Sunday's local elections, both Imamoglu and Yavas declared themselves Mayor on their Twitter profiles.

 

6. Supreme Election Board: “Undisputed election results to be declared, appeal process continues”

According to Turkish daily Sabah (02.04.19, https://www.dailysabah.com/elections/2019/04/02/undisputed-election-results-to-be-declared-appeal-process-continues-turkeys-ysk), the appeal process continues for places in which complaints of voting irregularities were made during Turkey's March 31 local elections, but for races that did not receive objections, the winner will be announced, the Supreme Election Board (YSK) said Tuesday.

YSK Chairman Sadi Güven told reporters on Tuesday that the election had been completed and provisional results shared with the political parties. "In places where there were no objections, the election mandate will be announced," Güven added.

Güven confirmed that the appeal process began on Monday, and reiterated that objections must be submitted to the district or provincial election boards by Tuesday at 3 p.m.

District election boards have a two-day decision-making period, while provincial election boards have one day. After that time period, the boards may come to the YSK within three days, Güven said. "The process will work like this," he said.

On Sunday, millions of Turkish voters cast their votes in the local elections to choose Turkey's mayors, city council members, mukhtars (neighbourhood officials), and members of elder councils for the next five years.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has said it will object to invalid votes and irregularities in the capital Ankara and Istanbul, where main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP)'s candidates appear to hold a narrow margin over AK Party candidates.

In Ankara, CHP candidate Mansur Yavaş is leading the race with 50.9% of votes, according to unofficial results, with the AK Party's Mehmet Özhaseki trailing at 47.1%.

In Istanbul, the victory has come down to about 24,000 votes, as Nation Alliance candidate CHP's Ekrem Imamoğlu appears to lead the race for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) against People's Alliance candidate the AK Party's Binali Yıldırım.

(…)

According to the unofficial results, the main opposition CHP won mayoral races in Turkey's three largest cities — Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir — as well as in central Anatolian provinces of Bilecik, Bolu and Kırşehir, all previously held by the AK Party. The CHP also claimed victory over AK Party's People's Alliance partner the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in southern provinces of Adana and Mersin.

 

7. Council of Europe delegation finds Turkey’s elections neither free nor fair; Ankara rejects CoE’s concerns

According to Turkish news portal Turkish Minute (02.04.19, https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/04/01/council-of-europe-delegation-finds-turkeys-elections-neither-free-nor-fair/), “I am afraid, we from the Congress of the Council of Europe are not fully convinced that Turkey currently has the free and fair electoral environment which is necessary for genuinely democratic elections in line with European values and principles,” said Andrew Dawson, head of an observation mission from the Council of Europe (CoE) at a press conference on Monday, referring to Sunday’s local elections in Turkey.

Although Dawson mentioned the efficiency, security and transparency of voting procedures in polling stations they observed in Ankara, İstanbul, İzmir, Antalya, Adana, Erzurum and Diyarbakır, he criticized the general political environment as “under democratic”.

To be fully compatible with the principles of the Council of Europe, Dawson asserted that “it needs a political environment where there is genuine freedom of expression, where all citizens can express their opinions without fear”. He also stressed Turkey’s suppression of journalists in the country.

According to Dawson, to be assessed as democratic Turkey’s election atmosphere must provide an environment “where journalists can carry out their reporting and commentary without running the risk of being fired for making regime-critical reports or perhaps ending up in prison just for expressing their legal and legitimate views.” (…)

Dawson also referred to Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws and mass detentions on terrorism charges. “We also note that Turkey’s definition of terrorism is not consistent with Council of Europe standards, notably the case law of the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.

Meanwhile, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (02.04.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-rejects-council-of-europe-concerns-on-local-elections-142355) reports that Ankara on April 1 rejected concerns of the Council of Europe's election observation mission regarding the local elections in Turkey.

"[...] the doubt that it [the mission] voiced over free and fair electoral environment [in Turkey] is baseless," Hami Aksoy, spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said in a statement. (…)

Noting high turnout rate of 84% in the country, Aksoy said Turkish authorities provided every kind of cooperation and convenience to the observation mission across the country.

Turkey will “continue its constructive approach to electoral observation activities within the framework of confidence that it has in the maturity of its democracy and importance it attaches to cooperation with international human rights mechanisms,” Aksoy said. (…)

22 observers from 20 countries operated in the cities of the country including Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir to observe the election procedures in polling stations.

 

8. Conference discusses alternative solutions for Cyprus issue

According to Turkey’s state news agency Ankara Anatolia (01.04.19,    https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/conference-discusses-alternative-solutions-for-cyprus/1439852), the “Near East University” (“YDU”) in the occupied part of Nicosia has been hosting the 2nd International Conference on the Cyprus issue. Alternative solutions for the future of the Cyprus island are being discussed and revisiting the issue in view of important local and regional developments.

Speaking in the opening ceremony of the conference “The Cyprus issue: The Past, Present, and Future of Cyprus,” Huseyin Gokcekus, a civil engineering professor at the “host university”, said over fifty distinguished and worldwide prominent academicians along with diplomats, politicians and admirals are attending the conference and presenting their papers.

Gokcekus, also chairing the conference, said the main aim and the significance of the second gathering is to re-visit the subject in view of "important" local and regional developments, discuss alternative solutions for the future of the Cyprus issue, as well as the impact of the discovery of hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean region since 2001.

"After fifty years of failed negotiations, we believe the time has come to start thinking about alternative options for the future of the TRNC [editor’s note: the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus]," Gokcekus stressed.

Also speaking at the conference, Irfan Gunsel, the chairman of the board of trustees at “YDU”, argued that  the Eastern Mediterranean will soon become the new energy frontier after recent natural gas discoveries [in the region], adding that developments in this field could have far reaching geopolitical implications for the Mediterranean and beyond.

"The discovery of the eastern Mediterranean gas resources comes at a time when the world demand for energy is growing rapidly, and many are questioning the reliability of supplies from the Persian Gulf and Russia. In response, Western governments are encouraging the diversification of supply to ensure energy security," Gunsel said.

He added that as a result, energy has already had an impact on traditional patterns of cooperation in the region. (…)

Moreover, AA (29.03.19, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/new-ideas-needed-to-solve-cyprus-dispute/1435107) reported that diplomatic sources, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency that the Greek Cypriot authorities would not accept a new partnership model based on political equality for both sides.

The same sources claimed that the Greek Cypriot side’s intolerance of equal rights for Greeks and Turks caused the failure of the last two negotiation processes. They also argued that Turkey and the Turkish nationals in Cyprus do not oppose any model for political equality but the two sides must agree on a joint vision and basis before any new talks about the island's fate. Restarted negotiations without mutual efforts are likely doomed to failure, the sources added. (…)

Haluk Kabaalioglu, a senior Turkish academic, said the idea of a bi-zonal and communal federation on Cyprus was actually raised long ago. "Cyprus should be a confederation or a two-state solution, as EU institutions would have no guarantee of assurances in a bi-zonal and communal federation due to their supranational powers,” he argued and added: “Turkish Cypriots’ approval is needed for any confederation model. If the parties’ mutual trust is ensured or Turkey becomes a full member of the EU, then there could be a transformation from confederation to federation”.

 

9. Cavusoglu to meet Pompeo on Thursday

According to Turkish daily Yeni Safak (01.04.19, https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/turkey-will-continue-supporting-venezuela-says-fm-3477905), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that he would meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton during his visit on Thursday.

At a joint press conference with his Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Arreaza in Ankara, Cavusoglu said on Monday that Turkey will continue its support of Venezuela as the problems in the country could affect all of Latin America, and even the Caribbean. "We recognize Mr Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela," Çavuşoğlu added.

On the outcome of Sunday’s local elections in Turkey, Cavusoglu said: “Turkish people voted for the country's survival and stability”. The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party “won the election by a landslide,” he added.

……………………….

TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION

(DPs/ΕΗ)