Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Yeni Duzen (22.12.19, 23.12.19) publishes, in two parts, the first interview of Tufan Erhurman, leader of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), as a “candidate” of the upcoming “presidential elections” in April 2020 to the paper’s journalist Odul Asik Ulker.
Erhurman said that the “presidency in the constitution” is not just a symbolic institution, it is their only political window to the outside world, adding: “The presidency is a very advantageous position for us, because it is accepted as a leader of the community under the UN umbrella. Therefore, the only authority that has the opportunity to make contacts with the outside world to the extent we desire is the presidential office”.
Asked to comment on the role of the “president”, Erhurman said that the most important one is his mission at the Cyprus talks as the Turkish Cypriot leader.
Replying to the question what would be the first step on the Cyprus issue in case he is “elected”, Erhurman said: “At this moment, the first thing we need to do is to safeguard a five-lateral meeting as soon as possible. For this, it is necessary to establish some kind of contacts both with the UN, South Cyprus [Republic of Cyprus], Turkey, Britain and Greece. The first thing that needs to be done for a comprehensive Cyprus settlement is to roll up the sleeves for convening this five-lateral meeting. It is important for the five-lateral meeting to convene on the right ground and that a process emerges that will lead us from the meeting towards a solution. For us, the issue is not to negotiate, but to negotiate in a systematic way of talks in order to lead us to a solution the soonest possible. For this reason, it is necessary to have a continuous relationship with all interested parties on the right ground for the five-lateral meeting and to have results.”
Erhurman also criticized the unilateral steps taken by the “coalition government”, stressing that they should abide by international law and the UN Resolutions. He also criticized the “government” for not briefing them regarding the deployment of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at the “Gecitkale airport” [occupied airport of Lefkonoiko] and they had to find out about it from the press.
Commenting on the relations with Turkey, Erhurman said that there should be good relations with Turkey on the “right ground” and explained: “The right ground for me is that the Turkish Cypriot people should stand on their own feet regarding their economy and their democracy. The right ground is to be self-governed. Good relations with Turkey should be established on this ground”.
According to illegal Bayrak channel (23.12.19, https://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=akar-makes-statement”, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated: “Our naval forces will protect our rights and interests in the Blue Homeland and the rights and interests of our brothers in Cyprus”.
Speaking at a ceremony, Akar said Turkey was obliged to closely follow latest defence and security technologies for the security, peace and prosperity of the nation. “You can see how vital our work is in this area by taking a look at the latest developments in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus”, claimed Akar.
Claiming that Turkey has always supported and stood by those who have been oppressed or victimised, Turkish Defence Minister Akar said that just like in Syria they will continue to support the people in Libya until peace, prosperity and security is restored.
Touching upon the memorandum of understanding signed between Turkey and Libya, Akar argued that the agreement was a strategic step taken by Turkey to protect its rights and interests in the area. He said that with this step Turkey has shown that it will not allow any fait accompli to take place in the area.
Under the title “IPC calls on government for tax to pay Greek Cypriots compensation”, Turkish Cypriot weekly English newspaper Cyprus Today (21.12.19) reports:
“The immovable property commission (IPC) owes 750 million TL in compensation to Greek Cypriot applicants, the head of the body has said as he called on the government to introduce a ‘capital gains tax’ to help fund the payments.
Speaking to Cyprus Today, Ayfer Erkmen said there are 203 individual applicants, who have been waiting to receive compensation since 2014 due to a ‘resource shortage’.
Evaluationg the status of the IPC as 2019 draws to an end, Mr Erkmen said the IPC has received 6,629 applications to date. Of these, 195 have been withdrawn for various reasons while 1,203 have been concluded. Of the concluded case files, 203 people have not been compensated in nearly six years, Mr Erkmen said, while the remaining 5,232 applications have not been assessed yet.
Stating that 95% of applicants to the IPC seek monetary compensation, Mr Erkmen said: ‘The government needs to take action to help fund these compensation pay-outs by introducing a capital gains tax because when compensation is paid for a property, that property appreciates by up to 200 per cent. We make a decision regarding compensation, exchange and restitution. In case restitution is not possible, we have the authority to offer compensation’. (…)
Mr Erkmen also revealed that there are 280 applicants relating to the fenced-off town of Varosha, a military area that has been closed to civilian life since 1974. (…) The 280 property applications regarding Maras [Varosha] are still ‘pending for evaluation’ due to lack of movement on the issue, Mr Erkmen explained. “[Only] 1974 owners can return to Maras [Varosha]’, he said. ‘We will go through the applications considering the deeds’.”
Turkish Cypriot daily Kıbrıs Postası (23.12.19) reports that the so-called minister of tourism Unal Ustel stated that the “embargoes” have been erased with digital marketing.
In a written statement, Ustel said that during these digital times everything is changed and renewed and added that the “TRNC” must take advantage of the opportunities opening towards it due to the new developments as regards promoting the tourism of the breakaway regime. He also added that the digital campaign for promoting “TRNC tourism” abroad in papers of the likes of Daily Mail, Independent, Sky News, The Telegraph, Evening Standard and Accuweather and others were very successful since more than 190,000 persons watched these advertisements that were posted online.
Turkish Cypriot weekly English newspaper Cyprus Today (21.12.19) reports that self-styled prime minister Ersin Tatar revealed to the paper that “a fresh legal bid in the UK courts to unable direct flights between Britain and the TRNC [breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus] could be launched after Brexit”. He explained that “new political and legal action is being planned on the issue ten years after the new defunct Cyprus Turkish Airlines and its UK operator, CTA Holidays Ltd, list a court of appeal case”.
However, Tatar declined to reveal any details about possible new court action on the direct flights issue, but he said: “The most important change will be Brexit and the UK being able to make unilateral decisions”.
Under the title “Turkey’s first-generation submarine Piri Reis hits the seas”, Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet Daily News (22.12.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-first-generation-submarine-piri-reis-hits-the-seas-150156) reports that Turkey’s first Type 214 class submarine TCG Piri Reis hit the seas on Dec. 22 with a ceremony held in the northwestern province of Kocaeli’s Gölcük district.
“Today, we gathered here for the docking of Piri Reis. As of 2020, a submarine will go into service each year. By 2027, all six of our submarines will be at our seas for service”, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during a speech at the ceremony. “Our aim is to promptly actualize our national submarine project.”
TCG Piri Reis, the first vessel of Turkey’s New Type Submarine Project, is planned to start operating in 2020. The project, carried out by the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries, will add a total of six vessels to the Turkish Navy’s inventory.
The Type 214 class vessels are regarded as a first for the Turkish Navy due to its air-independent propulsion characteristics brought by their fuel cell technology. The vessels also can deploy heavyweight torpedoes and anti-ship missiles and lay mines against targets, both at sea and on the ground.
Apart from Piri Reis, five more vessels of the project are expected to hit the seas by 2027, providing an upper hand to Turkish naval forces.
As Piri Reis was deployed to the sea, the project’s second submarine Hızırreis’ outfitting and two vessels’ hull production phases are ongoing.
“With the policies our country follows, we seek establishment of rights, which have been delayed. The works we carry out in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria and Libya are in this context,” Erdoğan said.
“We have no intention to seize anybody’s rights. We do not have the luxury to pursue this silenced and shy policy. If we give up on the process we started with Turkish Cyprus [breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus] and Libya, they will not let a seashore to even cast a fishing line,” the President claimed. He also accused Greece of attempting to extort Turkey’s rights at the seas, saying Israel “too” has the same intentions.
“We will not comply with an order in which Turkey will gain 1% from fishing,” he said, adding that Turkey has the longest seaboard in the Mediterranean.
Erdoğan also claimed that the maritime jurisdiction agreement Turkey and Libya hammered last month “complies with international law”. “We also took some steps regarding this some 10 years ago,” he said. He also conveyed that the said agreement was discussed and agreed with Libya’s toppled leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The maritime zone overlap allows for such an agreement to be signed, Erdoğan said, adding: “We have every right to carry out all kinds of cooperation and joint works. Turkey will not back out of the steps it took both in Libya and Syria”. “We will evaluate every opportunity in land, sea and air. If needed, we will increase military support in Libya,” he added.
According to Turkey’s state news agency (21.12.19, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/turkey-to-act-if-libya-greenlights-troop-deployment/1680178), Turkey is ready to take necessary steps if the UN-recognized government of Libya makes a request, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Saturday, referring to the deployment of Turkish soldiers in Libya. “If our Libyan brothers make such a request, Turkey is ready to do what is necessary,” Oktay said, speaking at a trade and cooperation meeting held in Istanbul.
Oktay claimed that Turkey is facing "pressure and intimidation attempts" at many fronts, including from the EU, due to hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Ankara would continue to protect the rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean where tension has risen following the discovery of hydrocarbon reserves worth billions of dollars, he noted, adding: “The whole world should know that no power can intimidate us from pursuing our righteous cause”.
"Despite all sanction threats, we have inflicted heavy blows to terror in the region with the operations Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch and Peace Spring," Oktay claimed.
"The plans made and scenarios written in the region without inclusion of Turkey are being broken one-by-one by Turkey's straight stance for the truth," Oktay said.
According to Turkish daily newspaper Sabah (22.12.19, https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2019/12/22/turkey-cannot-handle-new-migrant-wave-from-syria-erdogan-says), Turkey cannot handle a fresh migrant wave from Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Sunday. He added that European nations will feel the impact of the influx if violence in Syria's Idlib region continued.
Speaking at an awards ceremony in Istanbul, Erdoğan said more than 80,000 people were currently on the move from Idlib toward Turkey due to Russian and regime bombardments in the region. If the flow increased, "Turkey will not carry this migration burden alone", he added.
"The negative effects of this pressure on us will be an issue felt by all European countries, especially Greece," he warned. He said Europe would inevitably see conditions like the 2015 migrant crisis unless it helped stop violence in the region.
Erdoğan added Turkey was doing everything possible with Russia to stop bombardments in Idlib. He said a Turkish delegation will travel to Moscow on Monday to hold talks on Syria and Turkey will determine its steps after the talks.
According to Turkish daily newspaper Yeni Safak (22.12.19, https://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/turkey-to-stand-by-libyan-government-until-peace-established-defmin-3508007), Turkey will stand by the internationally recognised government of Libya until peace, stability and security is established in the country, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Sunday, after the two countries signed a military cooperation accord last month.
Akar was speaking at an event in the northern province of Kocaeli.
According to Turkey’s state news agency (21.12.19, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/turkey/turkish-parliament-ratifies-motion-on-turkey-libya-deal/1680334), the Turkish parliament on Saturday ratified a motion on the approval of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on security and military cooperation with Libya.
On Nov. 27, Ankara and Tripoli signed two separate MoUs; one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The maritime pact asserted Turkey's rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the “Greek Cypriot administration” [Republic of Cyprus], clarifying that the “TRNC” [the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus] also has rights to the resources in the area. It went into effect on Dec. 8.
The Parliament in a vote also ratified a motion on approval of the Social Security Agreement between Turkey and Moldova.
According to Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet Daily News (22.12.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ambassador-says-us-needs-turkey-more-than-vice-versa-150131), Turkey's envoy to the United States says Washington needs Ankara more, stressing on Turkey's "crucial" role in the Middle East region. Serdar Kılıç told Anadolu Agency that U.S. lawmakers think Turkey needs the U.S. and is supposed to do whatever the U.S. wants it to do.
"But that is not true. Turkey does not need the U.S.," said Kılıç, and stressed that the NATO allies have a "mutual relationship". He said Turkey is the country the U.S. is going to need the most should it want to carry out operations in the Middle East.
"Therefore, Turkey needs the U.S. as much as the U.S. needs Turkey; even the U.S. needs Turkey more," he added.
His remarks came amid recent congressional efforts against Turkey, including sanctions and recognizing Armenia genocide in 1915, which cleared the House of Representatives and Senate floors in recent weeks.
Kılıç said lawmakers behind the moves are benefitting from the bills and harming Turkish-American relations. He warned that the sanctions threat is an "extremely wrong approach".
The Ambassador said sanctions and the Armenia resolutions are on shaky ground and brought up for political ambitions. "We should see that these steps are harming Turkish-U.S. relations", he added.
According to Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet Daily News (22.12.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-not-obliged-to-us-or-any-other-150161), Turkish Parliament Speaker on Dec. 22 said his country was not obliged to the U.S. or any other country due to the global politics evolving from a two-polar to a multi-polar one that offers many alternatives.
Mustafa Şentop commented on a variety of issues on Turkey’s foreign agenda such as the sanction move by the U.S., ratification of Turkey-Libya military cooperation deal and rising xenophobia and racism in Europe.
Şentop told Anadolu Agency that the U.S. administration used sanctions as a threat element, especially since the election of President Donald Trump, but he did not believe that sanctions would have any significant effect on Turkey. He underlined that sanctions and embargoes would not harm Turkey given that the country had alternatives and diversity especially in the defence industry.
He went on to argue that Turkey had already faced an unofficial sanction with the U.S. attempts to remove Turkish administration from the F-35 fighter jet program, adding Washington said it would not hand over the planes. “Isn’t this a sanction, embargo? Did we not see a similar case regarding drones and Patriot missiles?” he asked and noted that the previous negative attitude of the U.S. on Turkey led to Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.
“As for the F-35s, Turkey evaluates alternatives, and is not confined to any other country including the U.S.,” he asserted.
The Parliament Speaker underlined that Turkey was not in a two-polar world order of the 20th century, the country always had alternatives in today’s multi-polar political environment across the world. He said he thought the sanction and embargo plans would not adversely affect Turkey’s economy and defence industry, but would harm the bilateral relations.
Referring to the Turkish-Libyan military pact and its ratification by the Parliament, Şentop said: “In fact, this [agreement] is like the continuation of the previous agreement Turkey reached with Libya regarding the exclusive economic zone.”
Şentop said the agreement was founded on a legitimate basis as it was signed with the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), which fights Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by mercenaries and “some” Arab countries. (…)
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