Turkish Cypriot illegal Bayrak(02.01.20, https://www.brtk.net/akincieast-med-boru-hatti-anlasmasi-politik-kaygilarla-karar-verilmis-bir-konudur/) broadcasts that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has argued that the agreement regarding the construction of the East-Med pipeline, which will be signed today in Athens between Cyprus, Israel and Greece, “is an issue decided with totally political concerns, contrary to the realities of geography and not in harmony with the economic logic”.
In a statement issued today, Akinci said that the route of the pipeline, which is planned to begin from Israel and go to Cyprus, the island of Crete and Greece and Italy, was much longer and costly than other alternatives.
“It is obvious that this project, which is attempted to be kept on the agenda in spite of the opposite views of experts, will not help in the solution of the Cyprus problem, just like the fact that south Cyprus was made member of the EU alone”, he alleged and argued:
“The political climate could change with steps mutually taken, but it is not possible to change geography. And the realities of geography point out that it is impossible to exclude the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey from the energy equation in the Eastern Mediterranean. As I have been stressing for a long time, we should find the way of mutually benefiting from the energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, of using them together in peace and stability. And this is possible by agreeing on the way of logic, on what is reasonable and finally with the solution of the Cyprus problem. It is understood once more that the solution of the Cyprus problem has become a necessity not only for Cyprus but for the region as well”.
Turkish Cypriot illegal Bayrak(02.01.20, https://www.brtk.net/tatar-dogu-akdenizde-kibris-turku-ve-turkiyeyi-yok-sayan-her-hangi-bir-proje-plan-hayalden-oteye-gidemez/) broadcasts that Ersin Tatar, chairman of the National Unity Party (UBP) and self-styled prime minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has alleged that the issue of what he called “sovereignty of the Turkish Cypriot people” could never become an issue of discussion with the Greek Cypriot side and therefore the “TRNC”, which had allegedly been established with the “will of the people”, had the right to defend the Turkish Cypriots’ interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Referring to a statement reportedly made by President Anastasiades that as long as there was no solution in Cyprus questioning the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus was not accepted, Tatar alleged that the Greek Cypriot leader continued his “intransigent stance and continues living in a dream world”.
“We are closely watching the developments regarding the agreement to be signed for materializing the natural gas pipe line in the Eastern Mediterranean between the Greek Cypriot administration [Translator’s note: This is how he described the Republic of Cyprus], Israel and Greece”, he said and claimed that these three countries “think that they could do something by excluding Turkey’s and TRNC’s sovereign existence and by usurping our rights”.
“Instead of being realistic and come to discuss and agree, with someone’s incitement, they are pursuing issues which do not comply with the economic logic”, he alleged and described “provocative and unacceptable” the statements made by President Anastasiades in Greece, during his visit for signing this agreement.
“If the Greek Cypriot leader rejects the proposal of the Turkish Cypriot side on the hydrocarbon resources saying ‘we do not discuss our sovereign rights’, we will never succumb to the usurping stance of the Greek Cypriot side, we will take every step in cooperation with motherland Turkey to protect our rights until the Greek Cypriot side clarifies beforehand its stance on the six chapters which constitute the basis of the talks, and until it comes to a result-oriented and close-ended point, at which all solution alternatives will be at the table. […]”, he argued.
According to Tatar, the European Union was mistaken if it thought that it could achieve anything “by committing new misstates to its mistakes” and that it would become an actor in the area by financing the above-mentioned project. “Any project, plan which ignores the Turks of Cyprus and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean cannot go beyond being a dream”, he argued.
Tatar claimed also that President Anastasiades should not interfere in the issue of who will be elected “president” of the Turkish Cypriot “people” and added that the Turkish Cypriot “people” were watching the developments closely.
Turkish Cypriot illegal Bayrak(02.01.20, https://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=donmez-speaks-on-hydrocarbon-exploration) broadcasts that Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said that Turkey’s drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean were determinedly continuing without any delays.
He noted that work to license the area located between Turkey and Libya would also begin in the coming months within the framework of an agreement signed between the two countries.
“We stated before that we shall do all that is necessary to protect the rights and interests of Turkey and the TRNC in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Donmez reiterated during a visit to an underground natural gas storage facility in Silivri.
Donmez spoke also to the crew of the Yavuz and Fatih drilling ships via video during the visit and received information about the location and activities of the two ships.
The Fatih is currently carrying out drilling activities off the eastern coast of the Cyprus at a well named, “Magosa-1” [“Famagusta 1”] at a depth of 4040 meters.
The Yavuz, currently in its 83rd day, is drilling off the western coast of the Cyprus at a location dubbed “Güzelyurt-1” [‘Morfou 1”] at a depth of 5675 meters. Data from that well is currently being examined and evaluated.
Speaking to reporters, the Turkish Energy Minister said that the morale of the crew on both ships was high.
“We are aware that expectations are high. We shall be reaching the hydrocarbon reserves that we aim to reach through proper scientific studies. If there is any gas we shall find it. We are doing all that is necessary to find hydrocarbons,” he concluded.
Turkish Cypriot Vatan(02.01.20) reports that the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) will convene today extraordinarily having on its agenda the issue of sending Turkish troops to Libya. The session will begin at 14.00 hours and after reading out the motion sent by President Erdogan, each party group will address the meeting for 20 minutes and a voting will take place.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot Kıbrıs Postası(02.01.20) reports that evaluating the issue in statements to journalists at the TGNA, Bulent Turan, deputy chairman of the parliamentary group of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), suggested to those who say “what job do we have in Libya” to see what is happening in the Eastern Mediterranean and wonder why countries which do not have a coastline in the Mediterranean were there. Turan claimed that Turkey was in favour of Libya’s territorial integrity, stability and peace.
Referring to the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turan argued that the countries who were carrying out researches and drillings for natural gas and oil in the area “do not want Turkey’s presence here”. He reiterated that his country would not allow usurpation of its own and “TRNC’s” rights and interest and added that they are “obliged to take measures against the problems which could come up tomorrow in the Eastern Mediterranean”.
Claiming that Turkey’s presence in Libya was tantamount to abandoning or not abandoning its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, he argued that Turkey was not throwing itself into an adventure in Libya, but does what is required by the fact that it is a “big state”. Alleging that Turkey’s aim was not to usurp anyone’s rights but to protect its own rights, Turan claimed: “We will not give the courage to those who are saying to us today ‘do not go to Libya’, to say to us tomorrow ‘get out of Cyprus’”.
Turkish Cypriot Halkın Sesi(02.01.20) reports that Ersin Tatar, chairman of the National Unity Party (UBP) and self-styled prime minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has replied to the statement made by Turkish Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu, who had said that there was a “mafia of illegal gambling” in the occupied area of Cyprus. Tatar argued that if there was such a mafia, he would know it and added that there was no mafia of illegal gambling in the occupied area of Cyprus.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot Vatan (02.01.20) reports that evaluating 2019 during a program of illegal Bayrak, Tatar said that the “presidential elections” would be held by 19 April 2020 the latest and added that holding early “parliamentary elections” was not on the agenda. “There is no issue of changing the constitution and the cabinet”, he said replying to a question.
Referring to the “development plan” of occupied Famagusta-Trikomo-Agios Sergios area, Tatar admitted that there were disagreements between the UBP and its partner in the “government”, the People’s Party (HP). He added, however, that these disagreements were not so big that they could lead to collapse of the “government”.
Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet (02.01.20, http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/libyada-ne-isimiz-vara-cevap-verdi-41410497) reports that Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay, in an interview to Turkey’s state news agency Andolu’s Editors’ Desk on Wednesday, reiterated that no plan in the region which excludes Turkey has any chance of success. He further noted: “I speak to those who ask what we are doing in Libya and in Cyprus. We are there to spoil the games been played against us.”
Claiming that Turkey was gradually surrounded and being confined to land, Oktay argued that when they realized this, they took their measures. He further said: “I appeal to those who ask ‘What are we doing in Libya, what are we doing in Cyprus?’ There are games been played against us in order neither to be able to put our feet in the water nor to throw our fishing rod into the sea. We are here to spoil these games. We spoiled the game in the Eastern Mediterranean. With the agreement with Libya, we have interrupted their game to imprison us in our territorial water. Know that whoever wants to play games against Turkey in the region cannot be successful. If there is a risk, we will take it, we will do what is necessary.”
Noting that Turkey had sent it’s drilling and research vessels to the Eastern Mediterranean after the “Greek Cypriot administration” [Cyprus Republic] had signed agreements with neighbouring countries with the aim of exploiting the region’s natural resources for itself and ignoring the rights and interests of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots in the process, Oktay said: “We foiled these plans by sending the Barbaros Hayrettin, the Fatih and the Yavuz to the region. We are ready to take the risks if there are any”.
On the same issue, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (01.01.20, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-becomes-major-east-west-energy-corridor-vp-150493), under the title “Turkey becomes major East-West energy corridor: VP”, reports that the natural gas pipelines stretching from the reserves in Azerbaijan and Russia to the European markets have turned Turkey into a major energy corridor from East to West, a senior Turkish official has said, days before the inauguration of the TurkStream project with the attendance of the Turkish and Russian Presidents.
“We have made a huge leap forward toward becoming a major energy corridor,” Vice President Fuat Oktay told state-run Anadolu Agency in an interview on Jan. 1.
Oktay cited the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline carrying the natural gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe and the TurkStream project from Russia to the European markets via Turkey as two major and key projects for the energy security of the European continent, adding: “This does not just make an energy corridor but a peace corridor”.
Oktay recalled that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the inauguration of the TurkStream project to be held near Istanbul on Jan. 8. Putin will be Turkey’s first highest ranking foreign guest of 2020 along with other representatives from regional countries. (…)
Recalling that parliament will vote on Jan. 2 on a governmental motion for the deployment of Turkish troops to Libya in defence of the Tripoli-based Government National Accord, Oktay expressed his hopes that it will be voted by a good majority of lawmakers including the opposition parties. “We hope that the opposition could see the fact that this motion has been put forward for Turkey’s national interests,” he said. (…)
Oktay said Haftar forces have further intensified their attacks against Tripoli after Turkey and the GNA signed the agreements, indicating that was why the government decided to speed up the parliamentary process. “[Passing] the motion [from parliament] will also have a strong political message. If they stop their attacks or if they say they will withdraw [their forces], then we may see this as appropriate. But if they continue their attacks, then the motion gives us a one-year mandate. We may deploy our troops whenever we deem necessary,” he stressed.
Another issue that will have repercussions in 2020 will be related with Turkey’s deployment of the S-400 air defence systems from Russia despite sanctions threats from the United States. “We have always told one thing to our interlocutors: Never threaten us,” Oktay stressed, recalling a series of sanctions threats imposed by the U.S. Senate which included the exclusion of Turkey from the F-35 aircraft project.
“What’s the F-35s got to do with the S-400s? Its technology cannot be stolen when it flies over Israel but can be stolen when it flies over Turkey?” Oktay said, in reference to the U.S. concerns that the deployment of the S-400s together with the F-35s would jeopardize the stealth capabilities of the latter. Oktay said Turkey will not step back from the S-400s.
Turkish daily newspaper Sabah (02.01.20, https://www.sabah.com.tr/gundem/2020/01/02/erdogandan-yeni-yilda-mehmetcige-moral-mesaji-dosta-guven-dusmana-korku-veriyorsunuz) reports that Turkish Minister of Defence Hulusi Akar reiterated that Cyprus is a national case for Turkey and they will never take a step back.
During visits to land, sea and air units on New Year’s day, Akar sent the following message: “We want a fair distribution of the richness in the region. Cyprus is our national case. We will not take a step back. We will defend until the end the rights and justices of our country, our nation and our Cypriot brothers. We have protected the rights and interests of our country, our noble nation in all seas and we will continue to protect them.”
Regarding Libya agreement, Akar said: “We want everyone to know that we are ready for all kinds of tasks to be given”.
On the same issue, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (02.01.20, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/defense-minister-and-commanders-visit-soldiers-in-the-new-year-150490) reports that Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler and force commanders met landsmen at zero point of the borderline with Syria, aviators in Diyarbakır province and mariners in Trabzon province. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a phone conversation with Akar during his visits to military posts.
Erdoğan addressed the soldiers and said: “Your stance is fear of the enemy, trust in the friend. (…) Especially the Peace Spring Operation and your stance after signing an agreement with Libya for the Eeastern Mediterranean, I congratulate you and express congratulations on behalf of my nation.”
Addressing the soldiers, Minister Akar said Turkey has prevented plans to establish a “terror corridor” in the south of the country. “By accomplishing this, we will ensure the security of our borders and our people on the one hand and the return of their Syrian brothers to their land and homes in a safe, voluntary and respectful way,” he said.
Akar noted that Turkey complies with the deals it has made, and Ankara expects Russia and the United States to meet their obligation in these agreements.
Turkish officials regularly stay in contact with these countries to convey Turkey’s concerns over its rights and ask to meet Turkey’s expectations, he added.
Elaborating on the issue of Libya, Akar said: “It is not possible to condone the grievances of the Libyans we have lived with for centuries and the attacks on them.”
Recalling the draft motion for sending troops to Libya, the Minister said: “Whatever the task we are given, we have to do it to the end. We want everyone to know that we are ready for all kinds of tasks.”
According to Turkish news portal Turkish Minute (31.12.19, https://www.turkishminute.com/2019/12/31/istanbul-mayor-imamoglu-signs-petition-against-kanal-istanbul-project/), Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has joined thousands of residents of Istanbul, who have been signing petitions against the construction of Kanal İstanbul, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dubbed his “crazy project.”
Kanal Istanbul will be an artificial sea-level waterway bisecting the European side of İstanbul to connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean and is scheduled to be completed by 2023. (…)
On Tuesday İmamoğlu went to the Istanbul Governor’s Office’s Environment and Urbanization Provincial Directorate to sign a petition against construction of Kanal Istanbul and called on all residents of the city to do the same. “I am calling on all residents of this city to fulfil their responsibility. The city’s 16 million residents elected me for this. This nation does not want luxurious houses, ships or palaces. They want jobs, food, education and the ability to make a living”, said İmamoğlu.
Erdoğan has repeatedly said the construction would go ahead despite any opposition.
İmamoğlu said Erdoğan’s government wants to press ahead with the project without consulting civil society organizations, universities or relevant institutions. He said the possibility of the project coming to fruition gives him nightmares.
There is concern that the project will cause a number of serious environmental problems
According to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu (01.01.20, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/energy/coal/turkey-shuts-power-plants-for-not-installing-filters/27934), Turkey shut down five thermal power plants completely and one other partially for failure to comply by the law to install filters, authorities said Wednesday.
Four out of seven plants surveyed were allowed to operate temporarily, Environment Minister Murat Kurum told at a news conference in Ankara, adding: "The power plants shut down will not be allowed to go into operation until they complete the environment protocols".
On Dec. 3, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vetoed a law that would have delayed the installation of filters on thermal power plants.
Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said that the average hourly power output of the thermal power plants is 1883 megawatts. “We have enough reserve capacity to balance it with other plants,” Donmez said.
“Closing these power plants or halting their production for a certain period of time will not pose any problems to our energy supply. With our installed power of over 90,000 MW and diversity of resources, our electricity supply will continue uninterrupted,” he added.
Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet Daily News (01.01.20, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/support-to-join-the-eu-stands-at-60-percent-150488) reports that the majority of the public supports joining the European Union, according to a recent poll conducted by MetroPOLL.
While few believe that Turkey can become a member of the EU, more than half think necessary steps are being taken by Turkey in that direction, the poll said.
Support for EU membership stands at around 60%, according to the opinion poll released on Dec. 30.
The results showed that confidence remains low – around 23% - that Turkey will ever join the 27-country organization.
The poll, commissioned by the Economic Development Foundation (IKV), was conducted in 35 provinces with 4,506 participants.
The region that supports accession the highest is the southeast with 66% while even the lowest support is relatively high at 59% in the northeast of the country. With 64%, women are much more supportive than men, with 57%.
The most enthusiastic age group is the young; ages 18-24, with 66% in support of membership. The breakdown according to education reveals that support for accession increases in parallel with the education levels. The highest support comes from high school graduates, 67%, and college graduates, 66%.
Throughout the years, confidence in the conviction that Turkey will join the EU has gradually faltered. Those who believe Turkey’s accession negotiations will end with membership remains at 23% while this ratio stagnated around 30% in polls conducted in 2015, 2016 and 2017. (…)
Sixty percent of participants believe that Turkey has the necessary human resources as well as administrative and institutional capacity to belong to the EU. Fifty-seven percent are under the impression that Turkey is taking the necessary steps and responsibilities to be a member of EU.
Of those supporting EU membership, 75% expect prosperity and economic development; 57% democratization and development in human rights and 45% wish to benefit from easy travel, settlement, and education in Europe, according to the findings of the poll.
Of those who are against accession to the EU, 59% believe that it will harm Turkish culture and identity, 24% don’t believe the EU has a future, and 20% believe that it will harm international relations. (…)
There seems to be less of a consensus with regards to what the current crucial topic is concerning Turkish-EU relations the most.
Thirty-eight percent say that the most pressing topic is the refugee crisis; 27% accession negotiations; 17% visa freedom; and 13% believe that it is the customs union between Turkey and the EU. Sixty-four percent believe that customs modernization will be beneficial for both sides.
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