According to illegal Bayrak television (17.03.18-http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=akinci-received-mitchell), the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell who was in Cyprus for contacts, met on Friday with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı.
Prior, the American official met also with President Nicos Anastasiades.
The issue of natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean was discussed at both meetings.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting which lasted more than an hour, Mitchell said that he held positive meetings with both leaders.
Mitchell said further that his country supported the resumption of the Cyprus negotiations process and that they would have more contacts on this issue in the coming days.
Also speaking to the press, Akıncı said that he had held a comprehensive meeting with the US Assistant Secretary of State during which the US official, heard with due attention the positions of the Turkish Cypriot side.
Akıncı claimed that it was unfair that only the Greek Cypriot side possesses the joint state and acts like the sole owner of the island and of its natural wealth.
The current situation, he alleged, threatens peace at sea, but it is possible for bridges of cooperation to be built between the islands’ two communities and also Turkey and Greece.
Instead of causing tensions, he said, it would be beneficial to create cooperation opportunities.
“It is a shame because the Greek Cypriot side sees even the seas as its own, its own area of sovereignty, and they do not even want to discuss this issue with the Turkish Cypriots,” Akıncı alleged, claiming that this behaviour is wrong and, only causes tensions. “That is why it is very important for the Greek Cypriot side to change its mentality”.
Akıncı also alleged that the most practical and cheapest way to transfer Cyprus’ and Israel’s natural gas to Europe, is through Turkey, as the pipeline through “southern Cyprus” to Crete, Greece and Italy is much more expensive, time consuming and passes through deep waters.
He also argued that water from Turkey could serve the needs of the entire island and that the electric cable from Turkey could unify Cyprus with the Middle East and Turkey with Europe.
All this however, he said, requires peace, a solution and cooperation.
Also touching upon accusations directed recently at him, Akıncı said that he is being blamed recently by the Greek Cypriot side for being unwilling to meet with the Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades at an informal dinner, but added that unless there is a change in the stance of the Greek Cypriots, his side does not wish to enter a process doomed to end before it even begins.
Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (18.03.18) reported that the so-called foreign ministry reacted against the visit of the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell to the island and the meetings scheduled as well as statements made within the framework of this visit claiming that “once again, clearly shown why the Cyprus negotiations have not produced a result”.
“As long as the international community supports the unilateral steps of the Greek Cypriot leadership to the total disregard of the will of the Turkish Cypriots, the Greek Cypriot side will stray even further from a solution”, the statement of the so-called foreign ministry claimed.
According to the statement issued by the so-called ministry, “over the past years, the fact that the Greek Cypriots have; firstly, been afforded the right to unilaterally represent the whole of the island, then been granted EU membership on a silver platter without a settlement, and finally now been allowed to continue to conduct natural resource activities without the consent of the Turkish Cypriots, serves for nothing but for a lack of solution. […]
It is also unacceptable that the U.S. official has refrained from holding meetings in the north reciprocal to the many meetings that were held in the Greek Cypriot side. The preference to conduct his meetings in such an unbalanced manner during his first visit to the island following his appointment has caused concern regarding his ability to approach the Cyprus issue in a fair and impartial way. We have conveyed our concern regarding this issue to the U.S. Embassy officials and we shall declare at every platform that we consider this approach as both trust-shattering and devoid of sincerity”, the “ministry’s statement claimed.
According to illegal Bayrak television (17.03.18-http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=akinci-inspects-work-at-derinya-crossing-point), Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci inspected the works at the occupied Derinya which are taking place for the new crossing point.
Earlier this month, Akinci visited also the Apliki crossing point.
Speaking during the visit, Akinci “promised to fulfil his responsibilities for the opening of the Aplıc/Apliki and Derinya crossing points which have been affected by delays”.
He argued that “there were no budgetary or financing problems for the opening of the crossing points”.
Akıncı also expressed the view that there would be no objections from either side for the two crossing points to open a few weeks apart, he, however, added that it would be undesirable to see the Greek Cypriot side not taking any steps to complete the 3km stretch of road necessary for the opening of the Aplıki crossing point.
Turkish Cypriot daily Demokrat Bakis newspaper (19.03.18) reports that the chairman of the Democratic Party (DP) Serdar Denktas stated that the “TRNC” has completed the works for the road construction of the Derynia and Apliki crossing points and its ready for their opening accordingly to the related agreements signed.
Denktas also accused the Greek Cypriot side of dragging its feet in any efforts made for the application of Confidence Building Measures, including the opening of the barickates. Denktas called on the Greek Cypriot side to complete the works in the two crossing points so that it will be able for them to be opened at the same time.
Turkish daily Sabah (18.03.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/energy/2018/03/19/any-project-excluding-turkey-in-east-med-not-economically-feasible-energy-minister-says) reported that Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak, speaking at a district congress of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on Saturday, elaborated on the recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, which the Mnistry closely and cautiously follows.
Referring to the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean “which has been escalated due to the unilateral moves of the Greek Cypriot administration”, as he called the Republic of Cyprus, Albayrak cited that these unilateral actions have been vehemently criticized by Turkish authorities and alleged that Turkey will continue to sustain its position based on the international laws in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Albayrak further claimed that any project that plans to exclude Turkey in the transfer of gas to the target markets is not economically viable.
As far as the course of recent events is concerned, Albayrak claimed that Turkey will continue to exercise its “legally obtained position” regarding the all processes evolving in the region. Because, according to the international maritime law, national territories have a continental shelf up to 200 miles while the islands have territorial waters extending up to 14 miles.
This protection of legal rights, Minister Albayrak said, is the political dimension of the matter as it is related to Turkey's sovereignty. “Another dimension concerns the economic feasibility of the projects in the Eastern Mediterranean”, Albayrak said, alleging also the following: "Energy companies from the US and Italy come here and conduct exploration activities. But it is hard to consider these projects seriously. Shares of these firms are traded on the stock market. They should weigh an investment project in all its aspects whether it is lucrative and will yield returns," Albayrak said. "Any project that Turkey is not a part of is not economically feasible because Turkey is vital to the transfer of gas to the target markets. Without the country, which markets are you going to sell the gas and through which pipelines?", he wondered.
Albayrak called upon international companies and invited them to carry out projects on a win-win basis without succumbing to political ambitions.
(…)He referred also to Qatar and expressed his sorrow and astonishment over the participation of the country in projects which are unrealistic not only politically but also economically.
Turkish daily Sabah (17.03.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2018/03/17/fm-cavusoglu-pompeos-appointment-will-not-alter-manbij-deal) reported that Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu said that Mike Pompeo's appointment as the new U.S. Secretary of State will not alter the U.S- Turkish deal envisaging the withdrawal of PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists from Syria's Manbij province to east of the Euphrates river.
"Because the process started with the U.S President Donald Trump's order. Trump's instructions demand the fulfilment of the promises made to Turkey. Thus, the common understanding between Turkey and the U.S will not be affected as long as Trump maintains this stance," he added.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Thursday that no agreement has been reached yet between the U.S. and Turkey on Manbij. Clarifying the issue of whether there is an agreement, Cavusoglu said that talks are ongoing while underlining that there is a common understanding. "We cannot talk about an agreement yet, but there is a common understanding. We would like to see concrete results," he said. '"We insist on the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij," he added.
Commenting on France's criticism targeting Turkey's Operation Olive Branch, Cavusoglu stated that France simply writes statements about what it refuses to directly say to Turkey. "In fact, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been informing his French counterpart," Cavusoglu said.
"Will you be the one to decide whether our security concerns are legitimate or not? Who are you?" Cavusoglu asked referring to the French government.
Touching on the ties between Turkey and the European Union, Cavusoglu said that in the upcoming summit in Bulgaria's Varna, they would take positive steps and added that the technical issues have been discussed.
“In relation to the recent tensions in the eastern Mediterranean stemming from the unilateral steps of Greek Cyprus to explore gas reserves, Çavusoglu said that the EU has been showing solidarity to its member countries. He called for an agreement or establishing a company regarding the issue”.
Answering a question about the latest developments regarding the Greek soldiers detained for crossing the Turkish border and the extradition of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) members to Turkey, Cavusoglu claimed the following: "There was an illegal transition. An investigation is being conducted. The court will make a decision later."
He underlined that while Turkey expects the extradition of FETÖ suspects, they reply, "We have an independent judiciary, and we will wait for it to decide." He then stressed that generally Western countries present similar stances on the issue.
According to illegal Bayrak television (19.03.18-http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=martyrs-honoured-with-ceremonies-4) the 18th of March “martyrs commemoration day” which also “celebrates the victory at Canakkale” was marked with ceremonies throughout the “TRNC” and alongside Turkey.
This year the Turkish nation celebrates the 103rd anniversary of the “victory in Canakkale”.
Within the framework of the “celebration”, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı, the so-called Turkish ambassador to the occupied part of Lefkosia Derya Kanbay and the “Commander of the Turkish Cypriot peace forces major general” Yılmaz Yıldırım then signed the special book.
Akıncı wrote in the special book that “The Turkish Cypriots could live freely as a community on this island today as a result of great sacrifices of the martyrs”.
“You had sacrificed your lives at a young age so that we could live in peace and harmony without being subjected to the tyranny of others”, Akıncı wrote, adding: “The biggest responsibility is to continue further developing the democracy and economy in the TRNC and to remove youngsters concern for the future. We as a side which always desired the two peoples on the island to live in peace, equality freedom and security demand from the Greek Cypriot administration to give up the negative attitude and behaviour which cause disappointment. If this understanding which is not constructive undergoes a serious change then a new hope will rise for a solution. We will continue our way by maintaining the progress and development of the Turkish Cypriot people and without completely closing the door for possible developments. We once again remember the martyrs who sacrificed their lives so that we could reach these days with respect” Akıncı alleged.
Under the above title, Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (19.03.18) reports that self-styled interior minister Aysegul Baybars has said that they have started examining the decisions taken by the former “government” regarding the so-called “citizenships by exception”. In an interview with Havadis, Baybars noted that two thousand “citizenships” are being examined and that the public will be informed as soon as the work is completed.
“We will re-establish the trust towards the state”, she claimed arguing: “While people, who have been working legally here for almost twenty years, made all their investments here and raised their children here, were not granted citizenship in spite of the fact that they fulfill the conditions mentioned in the law, there are citizenships granted without meeting any condition of the law, only because of securing benefits”.
Replying to a question, she said that people who have been granted “citizenship” according to the “law” do not need to worry, adding that “it is out of the question for our government to annul citizenships granted according to the law”.
Asked whether their examination and investigation will concern only the latest UBP-DP “government” period, Baybars noted that in the self-styled government’s “coalition protocol” it is clearly said that they will examine not only the “citizenship” issue but also “any kind of corruption, irregularity” regardless of when these have taken place.
Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (19.03.18) reports that self-styled deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Kudret Ozersay said that they stand by Turkey regarding the entering of Turkish Armed Forces to Afrin, adding that Turkey was always standing on their side and today they are standing next to Turkey.
Speaking to Dogan News agency (DHA), Ozersay said that Turkey has shown once again that it is the most important actor in the region, which has to be taken into consideration.
Claiming that Turkey held a just military operation in Afrin in order to protect its territorial integrity and its security, Ozersay expressed his satisfaction for the result of this operation.
Moreover, Huseyin Ozgurgun, leader of the National Unity Party (UBP), greeted also the siege of Afrin by Turkish military forces.
Under the title “Boo!”, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (19.03.18), on its front page, reports: “The police, which was watching those who were throwing stones against Afrika newspaper and did not make any arrestment, detained those who were reading a book regarding Selahattin Demirtas (an imprisoned Turkish politician, who is co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP) during Newroz celebrations.It has been proved once more that the north part of Cyprus is under Turkey’s occupation and the parliament and the government here is its puppet”.
The paper also reports that “as like every year, thousands of people gathered in the occupied park in Trikomo to celebrate Newroz. However, this year tension was created due to fact that the celebrations were held under the shadow of the police. The police was examining all the bags of the participants at the entrance of the park and detained six persons”.
According to the paper, the police interfered when a group of students from the “European University of Lefka” (LAU) were chanting slogans in Kurdish.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (19.03.18) reports that eight persons were arrested.
The paper also reports that Tufan Erhurman, self-styled prime minister, called at his office the “chief of police”, Suleyman Manavoglu and discussed the issue. After the meeting, Erhurman said that “three persons will be taken to court due to violent resistance to the police, the two, who were distributing books, were released without charges and the rests were released after being charged”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.03.18) reports that the Turkish Cypriots who live abroad, especially those living in the UK, see positively the project undertaken by the so-called government to encourage them to return to Cyprus.
The paper writes that Turkish Cypriot businessmen who live in the UK and make an annual profit of 5 billion TL are open to make investments especially in the field of tourism in the breakaway regime.
Kibris further reports that it is estimated that around 300,000 Turkish Cypriots live currently in the UK and they are members both of the Conservative and the Labour Party. There are 34 Turkish Cypriots who are members of municipality councils in various areas of London.
Writing in his column in Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (19.03.18), Basaran Duzgunreportsthat Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is in the wrong path. Duzgun recalls that both Havadis and himself had supported Akinci during the “election” in 2015, because he was saying that “an agreement which will protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots should be reached”. Noting, however, that the negotiations failed, Duzgun argues:
“[…] The Greek Cypriot side’s negative stance has a big share of [responsibility] in the failure. This is an undeniable reality. However, there is a bitter reality from our point of view as well. And this is the fact that the negotiations were interrupted and were substituted by the gas crisis. The ‘people from Limassol’ (Akinci and Anastasiades), who in the near past were meeting drinking zivania [Translator’s note: A traditional Cypriot alcoholic drink] and saying beautiful things to each other, now are making very hurtful statements and accuse each other.
Diplomacy disappeared. The possibility of war is being debated in our seas in which warships are running wild now. This situation harms the Turkish Cypriots who want a solution. Because, the non-solution is against the Turkish Cypriots.
With a simple statement: We have not elected Mustafa Akinci in order to explain to us how intransigent the Greek Cypriot side is. We also have not elected him in order to be closed in the palace and not meet anyone and save the day by going to a few openings every now and then and say to us that we need to continue our way ‘by improving this order of things. We especially do not want to see him as the leader who turns away from a simple social dinner, the organization of which is attempted for the recommencement of the negotiations. Mustafa Akinci is in the wrong path. Our duty is to warn him”.
According to Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (19.03.18), “TRNC” [the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus] was represented at the Moscow International Travel and Tourism Exhibition (MITT 2018).
According to a press release by the “ministry of tourism”, “officials from the ministry and representatives of the tourism sector held meetings with international tourism agents by promoting cultural, eco, health and other alternatives of tourism”.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (18.03.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-free-syrian-army-take-complete-control-of-afrin-erdogan-128903) reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on March 18 that the Turkish army and Free Syrian Army (FSA) units have taken “entire control” of Afrin city center in Syria’s north-western Afrin district as part of the ongoing “Operation Olive Branch”.
“The units entered Afrin at 8:30 a.m. on March 18, and the Syrian city was under control on the 58th day of the operation, with Turkish and FSA flags raised”, Erdoğan said, speaking at the commemoration ceremony of the Gallipoli Campaign during World War One in the north-western Canakkale province.
“Turkey will immediately take the necessary steps to make sure the residents of the city are able to return to their homes as soon as possible”, he said.
“The terror corridor has been broken on four fronts,” Erdogan said, referring to attempts by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to establish a corridor along the border with Turkey.
The operation has taken the “utmost care to protect civilians” because the army does not aim to make an “intervention, but achieve peace” and “eradicate terrorist groups,” Erdogan said, noting that Turkey would take all necessary steps to rebuild Afrin’s infrastructure while clearing any signs of “terrorists” from the city. “We will take all necessary steps to bring the people of the region living in our country or other places back to their homes as soon as possible,” he said.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s Afrin district on Jan. 20 to clear the region of the YPG, a group Ankara sees as a terror organization for its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Erdogan said that a total of 3,603 militants have been “neutralized” since the beginning of the operation.
Turkish authorities often use the term “neutralized” to refer to injured, killed, captured and surrendered militants.
Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.03.18-https://aa.com.tr/en/politics/turkey-bahceli-reelected-as-opposition-mhp-leader/1092554) reported that Devlet Bahceli has been re-elected chairman of Turkey's opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Sunday.
In a vote held during the party's 12th ordinary congress in Ankara, Bahceli was re-elected opposition party leader. He was alone in the running.
Bahceli received a total of 1,167 valid votes.
He has been leading the party since July 1997.
In a telegram, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated Bahceli on his re-election as the opposition party leader, a statement from the Presidency said.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also congratulated Bahceli in a phone call, according to Prime Ministry sources.
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