Turkish daily Sabah (20.03.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/energy/2018/03/20/turkey-determined-to-protect-own-turkish-cypriot-rights-in-east-med-president-erdogan-says) reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Turkey's determination to continue protecting the Turkish Cypriot’s rights and its own rights on the natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Speaking on Tuesday during an inauguration ceremony to launch natural gas services for 101 districts at the Presidential Palace complex in Ankara, Erdogan said that Turkey's recent stance regarding offshore drilling activities off Cyprus "had hopefully been instructive for some who saw an opportunity to start unilateral moves in the region while Turkey is engaged in anti-terrorism operations elsewhere."
“All steps in the waters surrounding Cyprus should be taken through the participation of both Turkish and Greek parties, including investments and the share of discovered resources”, Erdogan said.
"Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots should form a joint committee for drilling activities and both sides should get their fair share of the island's natural resources based on their populations," Erdogan said. He further reiterated Turkey's resolution to protect its and “Turkish Cyprus's rights” in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in terms of hydrocarbons.
Erdogan also announced that Turkey's first drilling vessel, which has the most cutting-edge technology in its field of operation with a width of 36 meters and a weight of 51 gross tons, will soon depart to start drilling operations in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Erdogan stated further that Turkey aims to reduce its energy dependency, adding that the construction of the Akkuyu nuclearp plant, the country's first, will begin this year.
"President [Vladimir] Putin and I will jointly participate in the ground-breaking ceremony," Erdogan said, explaining that they also spoke about it during a phone call to congratulate Putin's on his re-election in Russia on Monday.
Erdogan and Putin are expected to meet in Turkey in the first week of April. The two leaders will chair the seventh meeting of the Turkish-Russian High-Level Cooperation Council.
Later, the two Presidents will reportedly lay the foundation for the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, which will cost an estimated $20 billion.
The first unit of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, which will have four reactors, will be launched in 2023, while the other units will be commissioned one by one in the following years. Accordingly, the plant will reach full capacity in 2026.
With four reactors, each with an installed capacity of 200 megawatts, the plant will generate an average of 35 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually when it reaches 4,800 megawatts.
Another nuclear power plant project is currently underway in Turkey's Black Sea province of Sinop, and the project is run by a French-Japanese consortium. The Sinop nuclear power plant will have a 4,480-megawatt capacity.
Turkey's energy imports amount to roughly $55 billion annually and its energy demand is among the fastest-growing in Europe. Ankara aims for at least 10% of its power generation to come from nuclear energy in less than a decade to cut dependency on natural gas.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (21.03.18) reports that the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu has alleged that the “TRNC” and the Turkish Cypriot “people” have rights on the hydrocarbon reserves around the island and that these rights should be guaranteed. Speaking yesterday in Ankara during a joint press conference with self-styled foreign minister Kudret Ozersay, Cavusoglu said that they have conveyed their message on this issue to all countries and international organizations concerned with Cyprus, the EU and the UN. “We once more want to strongly emphasize that we will not allow this kind of unilateral activities of the Greek Cypriot side”, he threatened and asked for what he described as “unilateral explorations and drillings” for hydrocarbons to stop.
In his statements, Ozersay argued that the Turkish Cypriots feel lucky because they have a guarantor and a strategic partner like Turkey and alleged that if what he called as “unilateral activities” of the Greek Cypriot side on the hydrocarbons issue continue, the “TRNC” in consultations with Turkey will pass into the stage of drillings through the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), which had been “licensed” by the breakaway regime on this issue. “This will not be in the very far future. We will not hesitate at all to protect our rights together with Turkey”, he claimed.
Cavusoglu said that during their meetings with Ozersay and the Turkish Cypriot delegation, they discussed issues regarding the strengthening of the relations between the “two countries”, the efforts of increasing “TRNC’s” visibility and activities internationally and the increase of the number of its “representation offices” abroad. He noted that they also discussed what they will do regarding the “Greek Cypriots’ unilateral activities” on the hydrocarbons’ issue and the parameters on which the negotiating process in Cyprus will be conducted from now on.
The Turkish Minister alleged that in Geneva and in Crans Montana the Greek Cypriot side showed that it does not want to reach a result with the existing parameters and added that after the elections in Cyprus, the Cyprus problem will come onto the agenda of the UN and the EU, but “first of all we must decide what we will do”. He claimed: “Therefore, during the forthcoming days, as Turkey and TRNC we will evaluate what we could do, that is, what we want, through which method we will go to a solution. We will have a road map”.
Cavusoglu went on and said that the stance of the Greek Cypriot side and Greece is important in the negotiating process and added that they will continue their contacts especially with Greece on this issue. He reiterated the view that the political equality is very important and alleged that the protection of the rights of the “TRNC” and the Turkish Cypriot “people” has always been a criterion for Turkey. He also reiterated that the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots continues and that the side which does not want a solution was rewarded while the side which is in favor of the solution was punished. “I want to stress once more that we will not allow these in the forthcoming period”, he added.
Referring to the issue of guarantees, Cavusoglu alleged that as a guarantor country Turkey is obliged to protect “TRNC’s” and Turkish Cypriot “people’s” rights and that the “zero guarantees zero troops” position of the Greek Cypriot side “goes beyond being a dream in vain”. He claimed that in Crans Montana they had advised the Greek Cypriots to wake up from this dream, but it seems that they have not. “Therefore, instead of running behind such dreams in vain, we advise them to realize the realities in the island better”, he concluded.
In his statements, Ozersay alleged that the Greek Cypriot side should show that it is ready to share the wealth of Cyprus with the Turkish Cypriots and claimed that there is still a possibility for finding a diplomatic solution. He argued: “There is a window of opportunity in consultation with Turkey. Stressing that this window of opportunity is open, however, our determination to protect our rights in practice and not in words will continue. […] We preserve the view that a common way could be found, if they sat and started discussing the natural gas issue with us”.
Referring to the opening of the crossing points in Deryneia and Apliki areas, Ozersay alleged that the Greek Cypriot side has not done its bit in the case of Apliki and that the Turkish Cypriot side supports that even if these crossing points cannot open on the same day and at the same time, they should open in a very close period of time and without being unrelated to each other.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (21.03.18) reports that self-styled foreign minister Kudret Ozersay has said that he discussed with Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu yesterday in Ankara the “model of financing” the so-called “Immovable Property Commission” (“IPC”). In statements after his return to the occupied area of Cyprus last night, Ozersay argued that the “TRNC’ should be consulting with Turkey, which is its “strategic partner”.
Referring to the tension observed in Cyprus’ open sea, Ozersay claimed that “all things happening recently show that we are facing a situation in which a common denominator is absent”. He argued that this is one reason for which the Turkish Cypriot side has not appointed a negotiator for the Cyprus talks.
Referring to the natural gas, Ozersay said that they fully agree with Turkey and alleged that what the Turkish Cypriot side wants is not a share or a percentage, but common decisions and steps need to be taken. He said that they will not sit and wait for these common decisions and steps and added: “The message which I want to give is the following: While we are saying that the way for diplomacy is open, the clock is ticking on the natural gas issue”.
Ozersay also said that the “IPC” issue was raised by the Turkish Cypriot side in Ankara. “We discussed a new model of financing for the IPC”, he noted and alleged that the time has come for raising internationally the issue of the “unfair situation” which exists in Cyprus regarding the property.
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (21.03.18) reports that the “ambassador” of Turkey to the breakaway regime Derya Kanbay, claimed that the Turkish Cypriot “people” has always been the side of pro- solution and pro-normalization of the situation in Cyprus and accused the Greek Cypriot side of being the one which always creates problems in the solution efforts and the one that exerted pressure to the Turkish Cypriots.
Kanbay was speaking during a meeting with various Turkish Cypriot associations and businessmen who raised the amount of one million Turkish Lira supporting the Turkish military operation in Arfin.
The “ambassador”, claimed that it is the Greek Cypriot side which should inspire trust and added that “he cannot do anything about a mentality which cannot even connect the mobile telephone’s system in the island”.
Referring to the hydrocarbon issue, he said that the stance of the Greek Cypriots saying that the Turkish Cypriots will get their share after the solution of the Cyprus problem “is against the political and social equality”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Halκin Sesi newspaper (21.03.18) reports that the leader of the Revival Party (YDP) (Tr. Note: The party of the settlers) Erhan Arikli stated that policies must be developed as regards the issue of the increase of the “TRNC population” and “citizenships” must be granted to persons that are waiting for them.
Speaking at the so-called assembly during the discussion of the “ministry of interior’s budget” Arikli said that motivation and privileges must be given to Turkish Cypriots who live abroad in order to return to Cyprus. In case this will not work, then motivations in order births to be increased in the breakaway regime must be given. “If this also will not work and the increase of population is not possible then make the persons who live here and are able to contribute to this country TRNC citizens”, he alleged. He also asked for the annulment of the “TRNC citizenship” to those who were granted the “TRNC citizenship” but not even live in the breakaway regime.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (21.03.18) reports that speaking at the so-called assembly the “prime minister” Turfan Erhurman commented on the ıncıdent occurred a few days ago when the so-called police detained three persons who were reading and distributing a book regarding Selahattin Demirtas (an imprisoned Turkish politician, who is co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP) during the Newroz celebrations.
Erhurman denied that the three persons arrested were later set free after his intervention and claimed that they were set free due to the will of the “police general directorship”. He also said that no-one should distort the truth.
Erhurman further said that he does not consider the distribution of the book to be a crime since is sold in various stores in the occupied area of Cyprus; the same applies for its reading, as he said.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily news (20.03.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-vows-to-investigate-reports-of-afrin-looting-129054) reported that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu vowed on March 20 that Turkey would “not allow looting in Afrin.”
“We are sensitive to looting and inhumane treatment. We will not allow it in Afrin. The whole world knows that our security forces have not done any such thing anyway. But we do not expect the Free Syrian Army would do such a thing either. We also know them. If there is any complaint or demand there, we will examine it carefully,” Cavusoglu said in a press conference with so-called foreign minister Kudret Ozersay.
Meanwhile, Turkish Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on March 19 that Turkey would investigate all claims of looting by FSA fighters.“There might be some groups here and they may be involved in that kind of action. We take that very seriously and necessary measures will be taken to address that issue,” Kalın said in an interview with Al Jazeera English.
“We have not bombarded the city. Our soldiers and FSA fighters have been very careful in avoiding civilian casualties. They have been very careful in not attacking any of the houses or historical sites,” he added.
“We want to assure everyone in Afrin, as well as those who had to flee to Turkey, Aleppo, or other places, that Afrin is a safe place for them to return to,” Kalın said.
He also stressed that Turkey coordinated “Operation Olive Branch” with Russia, Iran and the United States and has been “very transparent” from the start.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily news (20.03.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-accuses-un-human-rights-envoy-of-collaborating-with-terrorist-organizations-129043) reported that Turkey has issued a strongly worded response to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein after he penned a report calling on Ankara to immediately lift the state of emergency, accusing him of relegating “the U.N. body under his administration into a position of collaborating with terrorist organizations.”
“This person, who is the head of an international body bearing an unquestionable global importance, has unfortunately relegated the said U.N. body under his administration into a position of a collaborator of terrorist organizations. We condemn this situation. We are also saddened because of the damage inflicted on this universal organization,” read a written statement issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on March 20.
The report published by the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner’s Office on March 19 recommended that Turkey promptly ends its state of emergency, restore the normal functioning of its institutions, revise and repeal all legislation that is not compliant with Turkey’s international human rights obligations, including its state of emergency decrees. It also stressed the need to ensure independent, individualized reviews and compensation for victims of arbitrary detentions and dismissals.
“The said text has no meaning, as it completely ignores the severe and multiple terrorist threats faced by Turkey, particularly the effects on the protection of human rights of the [July 2016] coup attempt that targeted the survival of our country and the democratic life of our nation,” read the Turkish statement in response.
“As it has become obvious from his previous statements, the High Commissioner … has lost his objectivity and impartiality on issues concerning Turkey and he has developed prejudices against our country. The last text that he published contains unfounded allegations matching up perfectly with the propaganda efforts of terrorist organizations. This is an unacceptable situation,” it read.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry accused the High Commissioner of not accepting invitations to visit Turkey and of not submitting any request to visit Turkey to prepare his latest text. “He has prepared it in cooperation with terror-affiliated circles. His claim of having no access to Turkey is baseless,” the statement added. .
“This text constitutes a danger for the whole human rights system due to the non-objective assessments it contains. Turkey maintains its determination to protect human rights, to promote standards to the most advanced levels, and to cooperate with international organizations including the U.N. in these matters,” it read.
The U.N. report - which covered the period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2017 - warns that the state of emergency has facilitated the deterioration of human rights and the erosion of the rule of law in Turkey, and may “have long-lasting implications on the institutional and socio-economic fabric of Turkey.”
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (20.03.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/euro-court-says-rights-of-journalists-alpay-and-altan-violated-129022) reported that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on March 20 ruled that the right to liberty and the right freedom of expression of Turkish journalists Sahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan have been violated.
The decision stated that “the investigating authorities had been unable to demonstrate any factual basis” that indicate that both journalists “had committed the offenses with which they were charged.”
It also said that both journalists’ freedom of expression rights, protected under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, were severely violated and arresting individuals for expressing their opinions is a “severe measure.”
The Court also held that Turkey was to pay both Alpay and Altan 21,500 euros each for non-pecuniary damage.
According to Veysel Ok, who filed the ECHR application on behalf of Alpay together with lawyer Ferat Çagıl and who was part of a team of lawyers that made the application for Altan, the ruling “came very late.”
“The court has taken more than a year to issue the ruling despite knowing that a conviction was imminent for Altan and that the lower courts ignored the Turkish Constitutional Court ruling,” said Ok, who is also the co-founder of Istanbul-based Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).
“Regardless, it proves a second time that both Altan and Alpay’s detention was unlawful,” Ok said, adding that Altan should be released immediately.
The Constitutional Court had ruled in January that Alpay and fellow jailed journalist Altan should be released on the grounds that their rights had been violated.
The ECHR criticized that both were kept in pre-trial detention even after the Constitutional Court’s judgment.
The Euro court said that although that it will be “watching the Constitutional Court more closely,” it still accepted individual applications to Turkey’s top court as an effective remedy. It also said the Constitutional Court had too high a caseload and the Altan and Alpay applications were “complex,” ruling that it was understandable for the court to have taken long to decide on the cases.
Alpay was released on March 17 following a second ruling by Turkey’s top court, while Altan was handed a life sentence on Feb. 16 over charges of links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), who is blamed for the 2016 failed coup, together with his brother Ahmet Altan, who is also a writer, and veteran journalist Nazlı Ilıcak.
They were given life sentences for "having links to terrorist groups” and “attempting to overthrow the government,” charges they have denied.
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