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Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review-22-24.06.2019

 No. 116/19                                                                                          22-24.06.2019



Α. Turkish Cypriot Press

1. Occupied fenced-off Famagusta to open under Turkish administration, reiterates Tatar

2. Özersay says no decision taken yet to open Varosha

3. Turkey reportedly wants moves in Cyprus in parallel to the hydrocarbon resources

4. Denktas: “We should continue our social and trade ties with the Greek Cypriot side as two equal partners”

5. Messages from Turkish Cypriot politicians on Christofias’ passing

6. Reference to Imamoglu’s victory by the Turkish Cypriot press

7. Yavuz drilling vessel passed from the Dardanelle Straits

8. “Visa requirement”  introduced for Syrian nationals by the breakaway regime

9. Saner and Candan  to attend PACE meetings

10. Five “municipalities” from the occupied area of Cyprus attended Cittaslow movement’s general assembly in Italy

B. Turkish Press

1. İmamoğlu claims victory in Istanbul's do-over election

2. Erdogan and Yildirm congratulated Imamoglu on  his victory; Aksener said “national will” the winner of the elections

3. In Istanbul polls, the victor is democracy, CHP leader says

4. MHP: Now it’s time to return to country’s real agenda

5. “Istanbul polls launch a new, different era for Turkish politics”

6. Turkish President  says will continue active diplomacy, focus on crucial matters for Turkey ahead of G-20

7. Turkish Foreign Ministry on the recent presidential decree in Greece concerning Muftis

8. Interest of South Aegean hoteliers association for the occupied fenced off town of Varosha


Α. Turkish Cypriot Press

1. Occupied fenced-off Famagusta to open under Turkish administration, reiterates Tatar

Under the title “Tatar insists on Varosha”, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis (24.06.19) reports that in spite of the statement made by self-styled foreign minister Kudret Ozersay that the “government” had decided to hold an inventory study in the occupied fenced-off city of Famagusta and not the opening of the city, self-styled prime minister Ersin Tatar reiterated yesterday that fenced-off Varosha would open under Turkish administration and that investments would be held there. In an interview with illegal TAK news agency, Tatar argued that he had never referred to turning occupied fenced-off Varosha into Las Vegas and alleged:

This is a project and it has been discussed with Turkey as well. Varosha is within TRNC’s territory. […] It was considered that it could be kept as an element of bargaining, if any development happened in the negotiations held for 50 years. At the stage we have come, no agreement is seen in the horizon. The Greek Cypriot side unilaterally made agreements of billions of dollars for the natural gas and oil reserves which are around Cyprus, contrary to international law, the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus and everything. […] If the Greek Cypriots ignore the Turkish Cypriots in this way, we say that we will change [our] policy. […]”  

Noting that they would first carry out an inventory study in occupied Varosha, Tatar alleged that EVKAF religious foundation had “thousands of donums” [Translator’s note: A land measure of 1000 square meters] of land in occupied Varosha since the Ottoman period. “These have been stolen from us, people claim rights because they had built on these”, he alleged, adding that some cases should be clarified at the European courts.

He also argued: “Our plan is to open Varosha under Turkish administration. The timetable for this will be set within the forthcoming months or years. First an inventory study will be held. […] That is this place will open under Turkish administration and investments will be made”.    

Referring to the dinner between Ozersay and President Anastasiades, Tatar said that this was materialized upon an invitation by a common friend and added that in the past Akinci had also held such meetings.

Tatar also said that the view that the “two state solution” should be put on the table had been included in the “government program” for the first time. “We have shared this with Turkey, we support our view”, he noted and claimed that “if an agreement based on federation is not reached, work should be done on the two-state-solution as well and if there is no outcome again, the issue should close”.


2. Özersay says no decision taken yet to open Varosha

Illegal Bayrak (22.06.10 reports that  “deputy prime minister and foreign minister” Kudret Özersay has said that the “government” has not taken a decision to open the fenced-off city of Maraş but was only going to conduct a scientific inventory of properties.

Speaking to Turkish TV A Haber, Özersay clarified reports in the  breakaway regime and Turkish media that the “government was planning to open the closed city of Varosha”.

“The only decision taken at this time is to make an inventory of properties within the closed city. This move is aimed at shaping the policy that we will implement. We just want to look at the figures that will emerge.  A decision will only be taken once the inventory is prepared,” he said.

Özersay, however, pointed out that the ultimate goal will be to take a decision in a manner which will preserve the rights of former residents and the Vakıflar Administration.


“No doubt the Greek Cypriots will try to create the perception that the rights of the former owners of the property will be ignored or usurped. It is important we are not pulled into such games. There will be a smearing campaign. It’s important not to be misled,” he added.

Ozersay also said  that the fenced-off city had become a symbol of the status quo and that they did not want to become the victim of the status quo anymore.

On the issue of hydrocarbons, Özersay welcomed the latest developments.

He said that “the Greek Cypriot side had been warned that the Turkish Cypriot side would conduct its own drilling activities if it continued its unilateral activities off the coast of Cyprus”.

“Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side are displaying a joint and determined stance because both have legitimate rights and interests. It is the Greek Cypriot side and the international actors who are acting in a conflicting manner. To state that Turkish Cypriots are one of the partners of these resources and to allow Greek Cypriots to carry on drilling on their own is contradictory,” he said.

Özersay added that the only thing the international actors needed to do if they were disturbed by the recent developments was to help establish a dialogue between the two sides for the joint exploitation of these resources.

“We have held talks for the last 50 years. Are natural gas and resources the only thing we cannot discuss? The Greek Cypriots claim that the issue of hydrocarbons is a matter of sovereignty and thus refuse to discuss this issue with us. Then I would like to ask them whether or not the same applies to Turkish Cypriots. How is it that you will exploit this resource which belongs to both of us and decide how much of the revenues we will receive?” Özersay said.

Regarding arrest warrants issued for the crew of the Fatih and officials of Turkish Petroleum, he  said the Turkish Cypriot side will continue to approach the issue through diplomacy and peaceful means.

3. Turkey reportedly wants moves in Cyprus in parallel to the hydrocarbon resources

Turkish Cypriot newspaper Afrika (23.06.19) refers to a gaffe by the “government” on the issue of the occupied fenced-off city of Varosha and reports that according to information, what it calls “the existing confusion” on the issue derives from the stance of officials from Turkey. Citing relatable sources, Afrika notes that Turkey wants to make other moves in Cyprus in parallel to its actions on the natural gas issue in the Eastern Mediterranean and thus put the Varosha issue on the table. 

“However, because it did not clarify how this will happen, the opening was misunderstood by the TRNC officials and was perceived as that Varosha will open under Turkish administration”, argues the paper, adding that “after seeing the reactions, the Turkish officials felt the need to correct the situation and warn the TRNC officials”. 

“And Kudret Ozersay was forced to correct the situation by making a new statement after this warning by Ankara”, the paper reports.


4. Denktas: “We should continue our social and trade ties with the Greek Cypriot side as two equal partners”

Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (24.06.19) reports that the chairman of the Democratic Party (DP) Serdar Denktas, in statements during the party’s congress in occupied Morfou, stated inter, alia: “Our ties with the Greek Cypriot side should be normalized. We should continue our social and trade ties as two equal partners”.

Referring to the debate started because of the fact that the so-called deputy prime minister and “foreign minister” Kudret Ozersay had held a meeting with President Anastasiades without briefing Turkish Cypriot leader Mustaf Akinci,  Denktas expressed the view that this constitutes “disrespect to the elected president of the TRNC who was elected with the people’s will and at the same time disrespect for the Turkish Cypriot people”. Denktas accused also Ozersay for discussing these days about the opening of the fenced off city of Varosha (Maras) and about a two state solution under the umbrella of the EU.

Stating that a report was submitted on 18 July 2017 to Mevlut Cavusoglu, to “the president” and to the “assembly” on the issue of the opening of the fenced off city of Varosha for residence under the control of the “Turkish side”, Denktas described the “undertaken step as right”, but indeed, as wrong the fact that the “president” was not informed.


5. Messages from Turkish Cypriot politicians on Christofias’ passing

Illegal Bayrak (22.06.19 reports that various Turkish Cypriot politcians expressed their condolences over the passing of the former President of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı expressed his condolences to Christofias’s family, AKEL and the Greek Cypriot community with a message posted on social media.

“It is with great sorrow that I learned of the passing away of the former leader of the Greek Cypriot Administration who had served for long years as AKEL’s General Secretary. I share the sorrow of his beloved wife and family, AKEL and the Greek Cypriot community.»

“Deputy prime minister and foreign minister” Kudret Özersay also expressed his condolences to Christofias’s family and the Greek Cypriot community through social media.

“I found the opportunity to get to know him, not only through the long hours and days of negotiations we conducted in the buffer zone but at other events and places abroad. He was a great individual whom I had passionate discussions with and joked with during our meetings. He had a unique sense of humour. Today I learned of his passing. I would like to express my deepest condolences to his family and the Greek Cypriot community,” Özersay said.

Also issuing a message, the “deputy speaker of parliament” Zorlu Töre said that Christofias was an important figure who had left his mark on Greek Cypriot politics.

He said that Christofias among many other things will be remembered by the Turkish Cypriot for siding with the former Greek Cypriot leader Τassos Papapdopoulos to vote against the 2004 Annan Plan. “History has shown us that Christofias and AKEL, despite their leftist background, were Pan-Hellenist and supportive of ENOSIS (Union with Greece). I would like to express my condolences to his family and the Greek Cypriot community,” he said.

Former Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu also issued a message of condolences on Saturday. “It is with great sadness that I have learned the passing away of Mr Christofias with whom I had carried out negotiations between 2010-2013. Despite our different views, we had a cordial dialogue and relationship with Mr Christofias and his wife. We visited each other’s homes. I would like to express my deepest sympathies to his family and the Greek Cypriot community,” Eroğlu said.

The Republican Turkish Party and the Social Democratic Party also issued messages expressing their condolences to Christofias’s family and the AKEL party.

6. Reference to Imamoglu’s victory by the Turkish Cypriot press

The Turkish Cypriot press today (24.06.19) refers on its front pages to the victory of Ekrem Imamoglu, candidate with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), in the re-run of Istanbul mayoral elections held yesterday. 

Under the title “Ekrem Imamoglu is re-elected by increasing the difference”, Kıbrıs reports that Imamoglu increased the difference between himself and Binali Yildirim, candidate with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), from 13,729 votes in the previous elections to 806,767 votes yesterday.

Under the title “He collapsed”, Afrika refers to a “second blow” to Turkish President Erdogan in Istanbul and notes that “Turkey’s face smiled after years”. The paper argues that “the tyrant is overturned” and that “the end of the road was seen for Recep Tayyip Erdogan […]”.   

Yeni Düzen publishes the news under the title “Imamoglu won with difference the elections in Istanbul, Erdogan’s rule is questioned”.

Havadis refers to “A new period in Istanbul” and Diyalog to a “Democracy won”. Vatan paraphrases Imamoglu’s election slogan [Translator’s note: “Everything will become very beautiful”] in its title by saying “Everything became very beautiful”.


7. Yavuz drilling vessel passed from the Dardanelle Straits

Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis (22.06.19) reports that Turkey’s second drilling vessel, Yavuz, in the framework of the “license given by the TRNC to the Turkish Petrol Anonym Partnership”, has sailed to the Mediterranean on June 20 and has passed already from the Dardanelles Straits to Cypriot shores for drilling purposes at the Karpaz-1 well.

Yavuz ship will begin hydrocarbon explorations off the coast of the Cyprus island in early July.    


8. “Visa requirement”  introduced for Syrian nationals by the breakaway regime

Illegal Bayrak (22.06.10 reports that the breakaway regime has decided to include Syria in the list of countries which require visas for entering the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

The move follows the recent rise in the number of Syrian citizens arriving in the TRNC with the intention of crossing over to the South.

The decision was announced with a written statement on Friday.

According to the statement, the temporary holding area at Ercan Airport is no longer able to cope with the influx of Syrian refugees and migrants, leading to unsanitary conditions.

The statement said that the TRNC was among the countries which felt the effects of Syrian migrants trying to escape their war-torn country.

It added that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees was working in close consultation and collaboration with the TRNC Foreign Ministry.

9. Saner and Candan  to attend PACE meetings

Illegal Bayrak (22.06.19 reports that the National Unity Party’s (UBP) “deputy” Hamza Ersan Saner and the Republican Turkish Party’s (CTP) “deputy”  Armağan Candan will be attending the general assembly and committee meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg which will start on June 24.

According to a press release from the so-called parliament, Saner and Candan will be attending and observing the meetings of PACE. The two will return to the island on Friday, June 28.

10. Five “municipalities” from the occupied area of Cyprus attended Cittaslow movement’s general assembly in Italy

Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan (24.06.19) reports that five “municipalities” in the occupied area of Cyprus attended the general assembly of the Cittaslow movement, which took place in Orvieto city in Italy.

According to the paper, Cittaslow movement celebrated this year its 20th anniversary. During the event, the “municipality” of occupied Acanthus was presented with its membership certification. The other four “munipilaties” which are members of the movement are: occupied Agios Sergios, Lefka, Galateia and Lefkonoiko.

Meanwhile, in November 8-10 a coordination meeting of the Citasslow movement will take place in the occupied area of Cyprus.



B. Turkish Press

1. İmamoğlu claims victory in Istanbul's do-over election

Turkish daily Yeni Safak (23.06.19 reports that Turkey's opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu has claimed victory in Istanbul's do-over election.

Leading at 54% with over 99 percent of ballot boxes opened, İmamoğlu held a victory speech in Istanbul.

Over 10.5 million people were eligible to cast their ballots. Voting started at 8.00 a.m local time (0500GMT) in 31,342 ballot boxes across 39 districts of Istanbul.

Ankara Anatolia news agency (23.06.19 reports that Imamoglu  thanked Istanbulites for “protecting democratic tradition”, as unofficial results of Istanbul’s local election rerun showed a comfortable win for him.

Speaking to media in Istanbul, Imamoglu said: “You protected the dignity of Turkey’s democracy in front of the whole world.”

"You protected our more than a century-old democratic tradition, thanks to fellow citizens of Istanbul,” he said. Imamoglu said the outcome of the election is not a “victory” but a “new beginning” for the city.

Imamoglu and Binali Yildirim of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party vied to run the metropolitan municipality of Turkey's most populous city after a previous vote on March 31 was annulled by the country's top election council last month.

2. Erdogan and Yildirm congratulated Imamoglu on  his victory; Aksener said “national will” the winner of the elections

Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (23.06.19 reports that  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on June 23 hailed a high turnout in the do-over local election in Istanbul, congratulating the elected mayor.

“I congratulate Ekrem İmamoğlu, who won the election according to the unofficial results,” the president said in a tweet yesterday. The Turkish President also said the election alliance of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the  the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) would proceed.    “Istanbul voters will make the most accurate decision for the city,” Erdoğan told reporters earlier in the day, after casting his vote in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district on the Anatolian side.

Meanwhile, Binali Yildirim of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party congratulated his rival as preliminary results showed the CHP candidate’s massive lead in the do-over election.

“My rival İmamoğlu is currently leading,” Yıldırım said after the preliminary unofficial result was issued by the Supreme Election Council (YSK). “We will try to support him in every work he will do on behalf of Istanbul’s residents,” he added.

The winner of this election is the “national will,” and everybody should read the message given by the voters, Meral Akşener, leader of İYİ (Good) Party, said.

3. In Istanbul polls, the victor is democracy, CHP leader says

Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (23.06.19 reports that main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said the victory of his party’s candidate is democracy.

“Everyone who believes in democracy is proud of Turkey today. The whole world, who believe in democracy, is proud of Turkey. People who believe in democracy, those who advocate democracy to the end, everyone, but everyone, is proud of you,” he said in a speech from the balcony of his CHP’s headquarters in Ankara after his candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu grabbed victory.

“I don’t want anyone to feel sad. Do not forget, today the victor is democracy,” he stated. “The victor is the Republic of Turkey. The victors are [modern Turkey’s founder] Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] and his friends,” he added.

Kılıçdaroğlu noted the CHP had confidence in the people’s will, trusted the people and that that had overcome all the obstacles.


“Everything started with our ‘justice march.’ The whole world heard us. They wanted to prevent this. We overcame all obstacles, all together and finally in the Istanbul elections. We have written a saga of democracy,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that the nation sided with democracy, “standing up to repression.”

İmamoğlu will make Istanbul a significant city for the whole world, he said, adding that there are no more obstacles in front of them. “We will embrace all citizens, respect everyone and every opinion,” he said. “The CHP is now the party of 82 million. It will work to solve the problems of 82 million. The CHP will not marginalize anyone, will respect their religion, ethnicity or social identity.”

4. MHP: Now it’s time to return to country’s real agenda

Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (23.06.19 reports that he results of the Istanbul municipal elections should not lead to calls for early elections, the head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has said, advising that Turkey should close the period of elections and return to its real agenda.

“Turkey should now return to its real agenda and end the election process. In this regard, talking about early elections will be one of the biggest evils to do to this country,” MHP chairman Devlet Bahçeli said in a statement on his Twitter account late Sunday.

Bahçeli did not congratulate Ekrem İmamoğlu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for his victory but stressed that the elections results should be respected.

“The vote is the honor of democracy and everybody must respect [the results]. Discussions over Istanbul polls have now been resolved through elections and the process has ended. The high turnout is also satisfactory,” he stressed.

Recalling that the MHP did its share in supporting the People’s Alliance’s candidate, Binali Yıldırım, Bahçeli hinted the continuation of the alliance with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).


5. “Istanbul polls launch a new, different era for Turkish politics”

Under the above title, Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (23.06.19 publishes the following article by Serkan Demirtas:

“The result of the re-run elections in Istanbul was almost certain on the night of May 6, when the Supreme Election Council (YSK) canceled the March 31 election results, and therefore the victory of the oppositional candidate, Ekrem İmamoğlu, upon the appeals of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Some key reasons can be cited here: First and most important, the YSK’s justification to the annulment of İmamoğlu’s win was far from convincing to the Turkish public opinion. It was a big blow on the sense of justice and conscience and created an even bigger sympathy for İmamoğlu as the sufferer of this controversial judicial decision.

The growing vote difference between İmamoğlu and the AKP’s Binali Yıldırım has proven that even those who had cast their votes for the latter in the March polls have changed their side on Sunday. That’s how İmamoğlu increased his votes by more than half a million in less than six weeks.

The second point worth mentioning is the deepening clumsiness on the AKP side when it comes to generating new policies and strategies to change people’s perspectives. The latest Kurdish move, for example, has been observed to be very destructive.

A letter signed by terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan days before the polls that called on the Kurdish voters to stay neutral simply did not work. To the contrary, it further caused defection of some nationalist votes while consolidating Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members to stand with İmamoğlu. Accompanied by deteriorated economic conditions, the AKP’s narrative has nearly zeroed its efficiency in controlling and shaping public opinion.

Erdoğan has to take İmamoğlu more seriously.

It’s for sure that both camps, the People’s Alliance of the AKP and MHP and the Nation’s Alliance of the CHP and the İYİ (Good) Party will elaborate the results of Istanbul polls from their perspectives and future achievements.

President and AKP chairman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will sure have to think over the main reasons for this defeat in Istanbul, twice in less than three months. Istanbul, with its more than 10 million voters, represents one-fifth of the entire Turkey, and any growing political trend in this city would resonate in the rest of the country.

Plus, Erdoğan will have to take the CHP’s Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu much more seriously. İmamoğlu’s victory in Istanbul in the 2019 polls resembles in many ways Erdoğan’s rise as a young and dynamic politician in 1994 as the elected mayor of Istanbul. In the last six months, İmamoğlu has proven to be a soft-spoken, yet a strong, young, wise, dynamic and calm social democrat, all the while open to reaching out to all different political and social groups.

İmamoğlu’s first statement Sunday night was important in this regard. He issued an open call to President Erdoğan that he was ready to cooperate for the resolution of the urgent problems of Istanbul. The Nation Alliance has taken the results of this partnership and will likely continue it for the next presidential and parliamentary elections in 2023, if not before.

Another serious problem for Erdoğan would happen in the event that dissidents like Abdullah Gül, Ali Babacan and Ahmet Davutoğlu decide to form a political party and attract a number of parliamentarians from the AKP. This result in Istanbul is believed to further encourage Gül and Babacan to accelerate their works to institutionalize their movement.

Considering that the Turkish economy would face a new set of sanctions from the United States on the deployment of the S-400s, all these alternative political movements will find a much better opportunity to be heard in the public eye.

In light of all these, Erdoğan needs to be rather radical in his measures to avoid further weakening. A reshuffle in the government and at the AKP organizations as well as the re-calibration of foreign policy and economy seem to be inevitable to this end.

This process has helped Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the CHP, and Meral Akşener of the İYİ (Good) Party to strengthen their seats. This model of the alliance helped the opposition more than the AKP-MHP duo as other opposition parties like the HDP and the Felicity (Saadet) Party could also join.

As a result of Sunday’s polls, İmamoğlu has been elected as Istanbul mayor by garnering around 55 percent of votes, one of the highest opposition records in recent elections. As the owner of the saying “Those who win Istanbul, win Turkey,” Erdoğan has been subject to one of the most painful defeats of his long political career.

This signal is a new, but a much more different era for Turkish politics. The rise of İmamoğlu as a new generation politician was registered once again on Sunday, with prospects that he will certainly build his reputation as Istanbul mayor.

Although it’s too early to make a presumption on what may come next, arguing that nothing will be same would not be an exaggeration.”

6. Turkish President  says will continue active diplomacy, focus on crucial matters for Turkey ahead of G-20

Turkish daily Sabah (23.06.19 reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sunday evening that the government will continue to be active in diplomacy and focus on important matters for Turkey, now that local elections have concluded.

"We will continue to meticulously focus on all important matters, domestic and international, for Turkey, especially the G-20 summit at the end of this month, the upcoming China visit and later the Southern Europe and the Balkans Summit," he said.

Erdoğan has a busy agenda due to diplomatic meetings on the economy and Turkey's purchase of the Russian made surface-to-air missile (SAM) system in the aftermath of the Istanbul mayoral elections. The president will attend the G-20 Leaders' Summit on June 28-29 in Osaka, Japan, where he will meet U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss the S-400 and bilateral investment opportunities. Erdoğan is expected to reiterate once more Turkey's commitment to the S-400 deal.

During the G-20 Summit, the president will also meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss economic ties and the S-400 deal; the S-400s are scheduled to be delivered in July.

Following the G-20 Osaka Summit, President Erdoğan will pay an official visit to China on July 2 to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping. The main focus of the meetings in China will be commercial relations. Turkey aims to have more balanced trade ties with China given the $20 billion trade deficit with the Asian country.

In the aftermath of the Japan and China visits, the president is expected to visit India to meet Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In addition to bilateral economic ties, Erdoğan is also expected to discuss India's decision to buy the S-400 missile system. New strains have emerged between the U.S. and India because of an Indian plan to buy the S-400 SAM from Russia, which can trigger U.S. sanctions under its Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), prohibiting any engagement with Russia's defense sector.

Apart from overseas visits, President Erdoğan will also host foreign heads of states in Ankara before he pays an official visit to Iraq in the autumn or toward the end of the year.

7. Turkish Foreign Ministry on the recent presidential decree in Greece concerning Muftis

The Turkish Foreign Ministry’s spokesman  Hami Aksoy made the following statement (21.06.19  responding to a question regarding the recent presidential decree in Greece concerning Muftis:

“The Turkish Minority Consultation Board of Western Thrace has demonstrated a strong reaction to the said Presidential Decree through its statement on 21 June 2019. Our Ministry fully shares the views expressed in that statement.

Firstly, Greece violates the Lausanne Peace Treaty, by failing to recognize the Muftis elected by the Turkish Minority. This time, instead of correcting its wrongful practices, Greece has aggravated its violations by putting the office of the Mufti and the work of the Minority Muftis under the control of a newly established government department.

The said decree, which contains regulations regarding the administrative status, structure and the jurisdiction capacity of Muftis is the clear violation of the 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty which guarantees the Minority’s right to establish and administer its own religious and charity institutions.

The decree, whose first draft was tabled in August 2018 and met with the Minority’s rightful strong reaction, disregards the rights of the Turkish Minority in Greece guaranteed by the Lausanne Peace Treaty also on the basis of reciprocity. The decree, which is clearly aiming at destroying the institutional autonomy of the Muftis by transforming them into an ordinary government department, is not acceptable to the Turkish Minority in Greece.

Greece neither made a comprehensive and candid communication with the representatives of the Minority nor took their views. Instead it entrusted certain circles responsible for religious affairs in the state system to prepare this decree who are known to be the source of the problems and their oppression practices to the Turkish Minority. This demonstrates once again that the Greek mentality towards the Minority is far from good intentions.

What Greece has to do is to recognize the elected Muftis and turn away from its mistake of imposing illegally appointed Muftis.

We also expect Greece to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights regarding non-governmental organizations, which were forbidden by Greek authorities due to bearing the word “Turk” in their names; to ensure that the Minority have full control over its waqfs and waqf properties; to re-naturalize the members of the Minority who have been deprived of citizenship due to the repealed Article 19 of the Greek Citizenship Law; and, to meet the demands on opening Minority kindergartens and Minority schools at other levels.

This development further worsens the negative record of Greece violating the religious freedom and rights of the Turkish Minority and the very fact that it takes place in an EU country is an additional source of concern.

We invite international and regional organizations as well as the EU institutions to monitor the situation of human rights in Greece to carry out impartial investigations about Greece's legal actions that contradict the European values and universal human rights.

Turkey will continue to advocate the rightful interests and demands of the Turkish Minority in Greece, and reiterates that any improvement in the rights of the Minority will have a positive impact on our bilateral relations.”

8. Interest of South Aegean hoteliers association for the occupied fenced off town of Varosha

Under the title “Interest of South Aegean hoteliers association for Varosha”, Turkish daily Hurriyet (24.06.19,, reports that the call of Ersin Tatar,  “prime minister” of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, to the Turkish tourism companies aiming to bring tourism in the fenced off town of Varosha, which has been known as the “ghost city” since 1974, has found a respond. The Turkish Association of Guney Egeli (South Aegean) tourism said that they are ready to put into service the accommodation facilities in the area after the agreements.

According to the paper, Bulent Bulbuloglu, chairman of the Association of South Aegean Tourist Hoteliers, said they desire to do business regarding the hotels which have been idle in the fenced off town of Varosha. He further said: “Cyprus hosts more British tourists. The tourist cities of Mugla work also mostly with British guests. We will not have difficulties in the region of Maras (Tr. Note: the occupied fenced off town of Varosha), because we know very well the classic meaning of British tourists in terms of eating, drinking and entertainment. As the hoteliers of South Aegean, we desire to do business and to do the accommodation facilities in the area of Maras. If Cyprus cannot operate this ghost town, we are ready to take it. We are in talks with the Ministry of Tourism and our tourism colleagues. We are ready to take action according to the decision of the ‘TRNC government’ for the Maras area”.