No. 755 11.12.2019
A. Turkish Cypriot Press
B. Turkish Press
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Havadis (11.12.19) reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has alleged that during its explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey would take steps to protect both its own interests and the interests of Libya and the “TRNC”, as he described the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus.
Addressing an event at Bilkent University, Erdogan referred also to the possibility of sending Turkish troops to Libya and said that if Libya asked this, Turkey could “send the adequate personnel”.
Erdogan recalled that he had carried out an hour-and-a half-long meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the recent NATO Summit, adding that they had discussed the developments in the Mediterranean and expressed clearly their views.
Referring to the agreement signed recently between Turkey and Libya, Erdogan pointed out that it had been approved by the Turkish Grand National Assembly and that it had been sent to the UN. “We will continue our way from now on”, he added and alleged the following:
“We had not even one drilling vessel, a seismic explorations vessel. You try to rent from the world and they do not give you. Now, however, we have two drilling vessels, two seismic explorations vessels and we are negotiating for buying a third drilling vessel. We did not buy these in vain. We will carry out all explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean now and we will take steps to protect Libya’s interests on the line recently drawn, Turkey’s interests and the TRNC’s interests. And these are in harmony with the international law of the sea and international law. […]”
Asked whether they could make with other countries which have a coastline in the Mediterranean an agreement similar to the one signed with Libya, Erdogan replied that they could take “every step” with these countries “on the basis of the win-win principle”, but they did not find reasonable and fair the “I want everything” approach.
Asked whether Turkey could send troops to Libya, Erdogan said: “You know, on the issue of sending troops, a security company from Russia named Wagner is in the question. This company has sent people who provide security there. If Libya submits such a demand to us, especially after signing this agreement of military cooperation, we could also, in the same manner, send our personnel there in an adequate number. In any case, after they signed such a security agreement with us, the existence of any obstacle before us is out of the question”.
Illegal Bayrak (11.12.19 https://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=tatar-speaks-to-anadolu-agency) broadcast that so-called prime minister Ersin Tatar said that “Turkey’s signing of second memorandum with Libya after the TRNC on delimitation of the Maritime Jurisdiction Areas in the Eastern Mediterranean brought an important dimension to the issue”.
He evaluated the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Turkey-Libya memorandum, “Turkey-TRNC relations and the upcoming Presidential elections to be held in the TRNC” in an interview with the Anadolu Agency.
Stressing that the incidents in the Eastern Mediterranean had reached to a serious dimension in the recent months, he claimed that “the Greek Cypriots unilateral activities which they carried out with some countries and companies by excluding the Turkish Cypriots was on the agenda for a long time”.
“Tatar reminded that they proposed the Greek Cypriots to establish a joint committee for the exploration of the wealth found in the region however noted that these proposals were always rejected by the Greek Cypriot side”, Bayrak broadcast.
“The Greek Cypriot side never wanted to act with the Turkish Cypriots in fair sharing of the wealth in the Eastern Mediterranean” Tatar claimed and added that “serious proposals and developments had been put forward by Turkey recently in line with the Law of the Sea and international tendencies”.
“It is out of question for the Greek Cypriot administration and Greece to have a say in such a big area of jurisdiction through a claim that small Greek islands Meyisti, Crete and Rhodes are in the exclusive economic zone. The realities put forward by Turkey on the basis of the Law of the Sea and in accordance with the international tendencies have revealed a new map and broken their mould”, he claimed.
Stating that “Turkey and the TRNC had always acted together”, Tatar added: “Turkey’s stance and determination for the sharing of richness in the seas called the blue homeland is significant.”
“When we look at the latest developments and international tendencies, it is Turkey which has the biggest say in the region with its 82 million population and more than 1800 km long coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean” he said.
Expressing his satisfaction over the legal struggle waged with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, Tatar said that “big steps had been taken at this stage adding that the country’s economy will further develop as a result of the important share the TRNC will receive from the richness”.
He claimed that determination in the Eastern Mediterranean will continue and that “the world will see this reality”, he claimed: “What we mainly want is our rights. We don’t have eyes on anyone’s rights.”
Alleging that Greece and the Republic of Cyprus will decide about their positions after the memorandum signed between Turkey and Libya, Tatar said: “Turkey is a powerful country. When we look at the maps and the seas Turkey has real claims and substantial rights. Turkey has the necessary power to get both our and its rights. The will put forward by the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo is not fair. When we look at their population structures and their geographical and km square calculations they fall further behind us. Our actions with Turkey are more right when considered conscientiously, on the bases of international law and by taking the realities in the region into account.”
Reminding that he lived in Turkey for a long time, he said that since he became “prime minister” he had been working towards “bringing Turkey-TRNC relations to a better state and further strengthening the bonds between the Turkish Cypriot people and the Anatolian people”.
“We have a love bond and we are sharing a common fate. After all, we are the grandchildren of the same nation” Tatar said and claimed that “the TRNC became an important country for Turkey’s peace and security in the Eastern Mediterranean”.
Stating that “their biggest duty was to put a signature to important developments in the TRNC”, he noted that as the “coalition government” they launched some important projects and signed important “protocols” during the last 7 months.
Touching upon the upcoming “presidential elections”, Tatar said that the National Unity Party will determine its candidate by the end of this month.
Expressing the need for all candidates to express their real views and opinions in a democratic atmosphere, Tatar said: “The TRNC will focus on the elections during the first three months in 2020 and all political parties and candidates will express their views during the campaign process.”
He also said that if the UBP grassroots and the people demanded his candidacy then he will take it as his duty adding: “I need to pay attention to the voices coming from the party organs.”
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (11.12.19) reports that the leader of the main opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP) Tufan Erhurman, in statements yesterday in the so-called assembly during the discussion on the “TRNC’s 2020 budget”, referred, inter alia, to the Cyprus problem and claimed that the continuation of the current status quo constitutes the non-solution of the Cyprus problem in the island.
Erhurman went on to stress the importance of the resumption of result-oriented and not open-ended negotiation talks. Stating that an important outcome came out after the trilateral Berlin summit, Erhurman supported that the aim should be an urgent solution. He said, however, that there is a serious problem experienced in the country, which is “absence of policy” and because of this, problems cannot be solved.
Erhurman stressed further the need to follow a proactive policy to show political goodwill in order to be able to reach a federal solution.
On the hydrocarbon issue, Erhurman, commenting on the rhetoric saying that “the hydrocarbon issue cannot be solved before the solution of the Cyprus problem”, stressed the need to be subjective on this and stressed the need for the hydrocarbons in the island to be used as a tool which will contribute to peace.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (11.12.19) reports that Cemal Ozyigit, the leader of the Social Democracy Party (TDP) stated that stability in Cyprus can only be achieved through a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Ozyigit, who was speaking at the so-called assembly stated that “culture of peace” has started to be debated in the two communities of Cyprus “even though there is a nationalist education system in the Greek Cypriot side”, as he stated. He also said that the solution process has reached its final phase following the three-party meeting in Berlin and said the five-party meeting will take place following the “presidential elections” in April.
The TDP leader also touched on the economic benefits of the opening of new crossing points.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen (11.12.19) reports that Serdar Denktas, the leader of the Democratic Party (DP) criticized the Berlin meeting for being a downgrade from the Crans Montana’s five-party summit and added: “The talks must be held with the participation of five parties or else it is not possible to achieve progress”. He made these statements speaking at the so-called assembly.
He also said that the current negotiations processes under the UN will not reach the desired solution in Cyprus. “The fact that the Republic of Cyprus is under the occupation of the Greek Cypriot side must be told to the UN and its member states”, he clamed. He also added that the solution procedure must take place with the a great amount of help by Turkey.
Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi (11.12.19) reports that the leader of the Revival Settlers’ Party(YDP) Erhan Arikli, in statements yesterday in the “assembly” during the discussion on the “TRNC’s 2020 budget”, referred, inter alia, to the Cyprus problem and condemned Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, for his statements after the trilateral Berlin summit, that “they have put the derailed train back in track”.
Commenting on Akinci’s statement, Arikli holding a photo showing a historic train, claimed that federation is like the historic train and argued that federation should remain in history.
Claiming that the Greek Cypriot side and President Nicos Anastasiades have not changed their mentality all these years, Arikli pointed out that important developments are taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean and argued that while the Greek Cypriot side together with some other countries are trying to exclude Turkey from the region, Turkey has broken their games and has changed the balance with the memorandum of understanding it has signed with Libya.
“From now on, Turkey and the TRNC will be in the equation. At this stage, the presidential elections are of vital importance”, Arikli stated, stressing the need for a “president that would be in full consultation with Turkey to be elected in the TRNC”.
Providing as examples the Taiwan and Kosovo models, Arikli stressed the need for the recognition of the “TRNC” to take place and argued that more trade representation offices should open.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs(11.12.19) reports that according to a survey carried out by COMAR company in the beginning of December 2019 using the method of face to face interviews with 2,189 persons, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and the chairman of the National Unity Party (UBP) and self-styled prime minister, Ersin Tatar will remain in the second round of the “presidential elections” to be held in April 2020 in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus.
Asked who they would vote for if “elections” were held next week, the participants in the survey replied: Mustafa Akinci 25,4%, Ersin Tatar 18,2%, Tufan Erhurman 10%, Kudret Ozersay 6,7%, Erhan Arikli 4,6% and Serdar Denktas 3,7%. Moreover, 15% said that they would not vote, 11,5% stated that they were undecided and 5% preferred not to answer.
Asked who they would vote for if Akinci and Tatar remained in the second round, the participants in the survey replied: Akinci 37,2%, Tatar 35,4%, ‘I would not go to the ballot box” 18,4% and “I have not decided” 9%.
According to the survey, 38,6% of the supporters of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) stated that [in the first round] they would vote for CTP’s chairman Erhurman and 44% for Akinci.
Moreover, 48,8% of the supporters of the UBP said that they would vote for Tatar and 10,1% for Akinci.
Akinci receives also 16,7% of the votes of the Democratic Party’s (DP) supporters, comparing to 42,9% which DP’s “deputy” and former chairman Serdar Denktas seems to receive from his party’s base.
Kudret Ozersay comes first in the preferences of the voters of his party, the People’s Party (HP), receiving 63,5%. Akinci comes second in the preferences of the voters of the HP receiving 25%.
Furthermore, Akinci receives the support of 86,8% of the voters of Social Democracy Party (TDP).
In the second round, Akinci receives 100% of the votes of the Communal Liberation Party – New Forces (TKP-YG), 79,3% of votes of the CTP, 26,2% from the DP, 40,4% from the HP, 94,7% from the TDP, 15,5% from the UBP and 3,4% from the settlers’ Revival Party (YDP).
In the second round, Tatar receives 72,3% of the UBP’s votes, 66,4% from the YDP, 45,2% from the DP, 36,5% from the HP, 8,7% from the CTP and 2,6% from the TDP.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Afrika(11.12.19) reports that Turkish columnist Cengiz Aktar of ahvalnews.com website has referred to a de facto annexation of Cyprus to Turkey. Under the title “Turkey smells gunpowder”, Aktar writes, inter alia, the following:
“[…] The indicator in Cyprus points to de facto annexation. President Mustafa Akinci, who is the last ‘obstacle’ in front of the possibility of reunification that stopped being on the agenda a long time ago, will most likely not be elected next April and the TRNC will enter entirely under Turkey’s guidance. The government has taken the first step showing that it does not care even about the 1974 status quo and announced that the ghost city of Varosha will open for settlement. It is known that Turkey’s policy of occupation proceeds together with construction. […]”
Referring to Turkey’s illegal activities and threats in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus, the columnist argues that the possibility of a conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean increases. “On the Greek Cypriots-Greece matter, we have passed into a new phase with the sea boundary drawn on the map with Libya in the end of November”, Aktar says and adds: “Turkey says now that it is ready to go even to war with the law and the parameters which it itself has determined, instead of international agreements and arbitration for determining its territorial waters and EEZ. Because, in order to be able to materialize this utter nonsense sea border, it should fight with Greece. It is that simple. […]
Today Turkey can convince no other country or international organization that the Greek islands and Cyprus have no right to continental shelf and EEZ. […] Turkey is one of the few countries which are not part of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. In spite of this, it has an EEZ with Russia since the Soviet Union’s period. And while it says that the Republic of Cyprus cannot have an EEZ, every now and then it refers to the TRNC’s EEZ. […] According to the ‘blue homeland’ doctrine, […] Turkey does not take into consideration even the territorial waters of the countries with a coastline, let alone their EEZ. […]”
According to Turkish private channel A Haber (11.12.19, https://www.ahaber.com.tr/gundem/2019/12/11/disisleri-bakani-cavusoglundan-a-habere-ozel-onemli-aciklamalar), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Turkey will not allow any activities within its continental shelf without its permission.
Commenting on the Libya-Turkey agreement, Cavusoglu, in a televised interview this morning, said: “This agreement is in line with international law and it protects Turkey’s rights under international law. We can conduct seismic and drilling activities with Libya. It is not right for Greece or the EU to decide on this issue, like a court on matters concerning international law and the court of justice. The protection of our national interests comes first. No one can conduct activities without our permission within our continental shelf, if it happens, we will prevent it, of course.”
Cavusoglu further claimed: “The Greek Cypriot side [Republic of Cyprus] should reach an agreement with the TRNC [the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus]. Greece should also cooperate with Turkey. Our political relations with Egypt are bad, however, the relations on tourism and business are continuing. We have problems with the administration, but with the Egyptian people, we don’t have any problems. Just because, we are saying that we are ready today, it does not mean that we are going to make [agreements] with all at the same day. We will try with all the Mediterranean countries when the conditions occur.”
Referring to the continental shelf of the islands in the Aegean sea, Cavusoglu noted: “We have started negotiating these issues in order to overcome them. Unfortunately, the negotiations did not take place during Tsipras’ governance. Leftist governments in Greece are becoming ultra-nationalist. The territorial waters of Greece are clear. Our Parliament’s decision is obvious. We have tried to reduce tension for years, but we could not reach a conclusion. If Greece is ready to make an agreement with us, we are also ready for this agreement. There are meetings on confidence building measures among our military chiefs. We have the political will to continue these. We are in favour of our rights arising from international law. We will not allow Greece to take unilateral steps”.
Turkish daily Sabah (11.12.19 https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/2019/12/10/turkey-to-send-troops-to-libya-if-requested-to-do-so) reports that Turkey is ready to send troops to Libya to assist the country's Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) if there is such a request, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday.
"Regarding sending troops to Libya, if they request assistance, we would respond to that demand," Erdoğan said during an event for World Human Rights Day in Ankara.
Pointing to the legitimacy of the GNA, Erdoğan reiterated that GNA head Fayez Al Sarraj is the internationally recognized leader of Libya, so it is only natural for Turkey to work with him.
"Actually, this was a process that started during the (Moammar) Gadhafi era. When he died, the process ended. Now, we have taken steps with Sarraj. (Khalifa) Haftar does not have international recognition. The one who has international recognition is Sarraj. That's why we sit at the table with him, and we will continue our cooperation with him," Erdoğan said, referring to the history of Turkish-Libyan ties.
On Nov. 27, Turkey and the GNA signed a bilateral memorandum after a meeting between Erdoğan and Sarraj in Istanbul. The deal enables Turkey to secure its rights in the Mediterranean while preventing any fait accompli maneuvers by other regional states.
The memorandum asserts Turkey's rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling attempts by Republic of Cyprus, clarifying that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to resources in the area.
Meanwhile, a member of Libya's High Council of State, Abdurrahman Shater, urged Sarraj to accept Turkey's offer to send troops to Libya "to save the nation and lives of people," Libya's media outlets reported on Tuesday.
Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011 when a NATO-backed uprising led to the ousting and death of former President Gadhafi after more than four decades in power.
Since then, Libya's stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power, one in Tobruk and another in Tripoli, as well as in-fighting by a host of heavily armed militia groups.
The military, pushed by Haftar's army, has allied with a parallel eastern administration based in Benghazi, marking a dangerous escalation in a power struggle that has dragged on since the vacuum following Gadhafi's death emerged. Haftar is not recognized by the international community, as the elected parliament of the country is centered in Tripoli.
According to Erdoğan, as long as it is beneficial for both sides, Turkey is ready to work with other regional countries, as well.
"As long as it is in accordance with the win-win principle, we are ready to take joint steps with all the Eastern Mediterranean countries. The only condition is for both sides to adopt stances that would allow everyone to come out as winners. If they want everything, it won't work," Erdoğan expressed, underlining that all parties are entitled to their fair share.
Reiterating that Turkey did not have ships in the Eastern Mediterranean until recently, Erdoğan said the country has two now, both a drilling and a seismic survey, and efforts to buy a third are ongoing.
"We are taking steps to secure the rights of Turkey and the TRNC, and we will continue to do so. All these steps are compatible with international law," the president underlined.
On Monday night, Erdoğan touched upon the issue, saying that Turkey followed international law in the Libya deal.
"Turkey used its rights originating from international law in the Libya deal; Greece, Israel, Egypt and the Greek Cypriot Administration [The Republic of Cyprus= cannot act without our approval," he said.
According to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, while a country's territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles out to sea, when it comes to the exclusive economic zone where it has the rights to fishing, mining and drilling, the area can be extended for an additional 200 miles.
However, if the maritime distance between the two countries is less than 424 miles, a bilateral deal is needed to determine a mutually agreed-upon dividing line for their respective exclusive economic zones.
Turkey has the longest shoreline in the Eastern Mediterranean, making it a natural candidate for seeking reserves in the region in accordance with international law.
The presence of the Turkish Cypriot government in Northern Cyprus also strengthens Turkey's hand. The country defends the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the region and insists that their consent is needed for any type of drilling activity.
Still, fellow regional actor Greece did not welcome the deal and even regarded it as a violation of its own rights, though international law deems otherwise. Athens even expelled its Libyan envoy Mohamed Younis AB Menfi from the country in response.
Greece's government also released a series of statements Tuesday claiming that the deal is "invalid" and was negotiated in "bad faith."
Demanding "a framework on EU sanctions on Turkey and Libya over their accord," the country said it "has lodged its objections to the United Nations" on the issue.
"The reason why Greece has gone berserk is that its hands are tied over the Turkey-Libya deal. The expulsion of the ambassador is an international scandal," Erdoğan highlighted, responding to Greece's reaction to the deal.
According to Yeni Safak 911.12.19 https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/turkey-will-retaliate-if-us-imposes-sanctions-over-s-400-missiles-3507132) Turkey will retaliate against the U.S. if it takes negative steps against Ankara over the Russian S-400 systems, the country's foreign minister said Wednesday.
In an interview with Turkish broadcaster A Haber, Mevlüt Çavuşoglu also said Turkey was open to alternatives to buying U.S. F-35 jets, including from Russia, after Ankara was suspended from the programme over the S-400 purchase.
"U.S. Congress members should understand that they cannot achieve anything by imposition," Çavuşoğlu said.
Amid already strained bilateral ties, Washington has suspended Ankara from the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter jet program, in which it was a producer and buyer, to penalise it for buying S-400 batteries this year.
Ankara has also rebuffed suggestions from U.S. leaders that it leave the Russian S-400 system unactivated in order to avoid possible U.S. sanctions.
The S-400 is seen as one of the most advanced missile systems in the world, capable of tracking several targets simultaneously.
Turkey and Britain have agreed to speed up work on a project to build fighter jets, Çavuşoğlu added.
The two countries agreed a 100 million pound ($133 million) deal in 2017 to develop Turkish fighter jets, and Turkey's Kale Group said it was setting up a joint venture with Rolls-Royce to work on the project. In March Rolls-Royce said it had scaled back efforts to join the program.
Turkish Hurriyet Daily News (11.12.19 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/top-europe-court-calls-for-immediate-release-of-turkish-philanthropist-149695_) reports that Europe’s top rights court on Dec. 10 urged Turkey to release businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, ruling his rights had been violated by more than two years in detention and rubbishing the charges against him.
Kavala, who funded civil society projects across the country, was detained in 2017 on charges of seeking to overthrow the government.
His supporters have denounced the charges as politically motivated and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called him the agent in Turkey of U.S. financier George Soros.
The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that Turkey was unable to demonstrate that Kavala’s “initial and continued pre-trial detention had been justified by reasonable suspicions based on an objective assessment of the acts attributed to him.”
Turkey must now “take every measure to put an end to the applicant’s detention and to secure his immediate release,” the court concluded.
Kavala, who remains in detention and went on trial in June, had been charged with attempting to overthrow the government and the constitution through involvement in 2013 Gezi Park protests and the 2016 defeated coup attempt.
In a damning verdict, the ECHR said that his detention was “based not only on acts that could not be reasonably considered as behavior criminalized under domestic law” but also on acts whose exercise was guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
“In the absence of facts, information or evidence showing that Mr Kavala had been involved in criminal activity, he could not reasonably be suspected of having attempted to overthrow the government by force or violence,” it said.
The court also found that the violations in the case “pursued an ulterior purpose... namely that of reducing Mr Kavala, and with him all human-rights defenders, to silence.”
Erdoğan in 2018 had described Kavala as the “representative in Turkey” of Soros and accused Kavala of “using his means to support those trying to tear up this country.”
A respected figure in intellectual circles, Kavala is chairman of the Anatolian Culture Foundation, which seeks to bridge ethnic and regional divides through art and culture.
The rulings of the ECHR, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, of which Turkey is a signatory, are binding on all member states of the Council of Europe. However, a string of ECHR rulings unfavorable to Ankara have increased tensions between Turkey and the Council of Europe.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION