Turkish Cypriot Nacak(03.01.20) reports that Zafer Ates, Deputy Director General for Energy and Multilateral Transport at the Turkish Foreign Affairs, has argued that even though the East-Med pipeline agreement for transferring natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Italy through Cyprus and Greece was signed, this project could not be materialized in the short term because of “the regional financial and technical realities”.
Addressing a panel under the title “How realistic the statements for the East-Med project are” organized by the Ankara University of Social Sciences and Turkey’s Energy Strategies and Policies Research Centre, Ates alleged that “according to the international law”, Turkey’s consent would be required regarding the route and the environmental consequences of “a pipeline which will pass through our marine areas of jurisdiction”.
Ates claimed that Turkey’s “vision” in the Eastern Mediterranean had two legs, which were the protection of both its own rights and interests and of the ones of the “TRNC”. He reiterated the Turkish allegation that the “Greek Cypriot administration”, as he described the government of the Republic of Cyprus, was taking “unilateral steps” in spite of the proposal of the Turkish side providing for the establishment of a joint committee for sharing the natural resources in the area.
He said that as of 30 October 2018 Turkey had completed three drillings in the Eastern Mediterranean at the wells it had named Alanya-1, Finike-1 and Karpaz-1 (occupied Karpasia peninsula) and added that they continued two drillings at the wells they had named Guzelyurt-1 (occupied Morfou) and Magosa-1 (occupied Famagusta). He noted the following:
“In 2020 we provide for carrying out five drillings. Our target is to increase to 26 the areas of our drillings, including the marine areas licensed by the TRNC [Translator’s note: The breakaway regime, which is Turkey’s subordinate administration, in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus]”.
Ates alleged also that when the possibilities regarding the natural gas in the Mediterranean were examined, the existing regional differences should also be taken into consideration. “As if it is the only representative of the island, the Greek Cypriot side continues its unilateral activities, taking especially the support of the EU under the name of solidarity to a member state”, he claimed.
Ates alleged that Egypt, which desired to become a natural gas center in the area, also opposed the East-Med and argued that after the determination of Turkey’s continental shelf with the recent agreement with Libya, it seemed that this pipeline would inevitably pass through the “Turkish continental shelf”.
Ates said that many projects had not been completed in spite of the agreement between governments and added that the signing of the East-Med agreement could be considered as “declaration of political intentions”. He argued also that there was no feasibility study showing whether the project was financially and economically feasible.
According to illegal Bayrak television (03.01.20, https://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=mfa-slams-eastmed-agreement), the so-called TRNC foreign ministry has described the EastMed Pipeline Project agreement signed by the “Greek Cypriot administration” [Republic of Cyprus], Israel and Greece as the latest hostile and provocative attempt to exclude the Turkish Cypriot “people” and Turkey from the energy equation in the region.
In a written statement issued on Friday, the “foreign ministry” claimed that the project was economically illogical and unfeasible, adding that attempts by the Greek Cypriot side which constantly aimed to exclude or isolate the Turkish Cypriot “people” was a reflection of the Greek Cypriot side’s selfish mentality which believed that Turkish Cypriots did not have a say on matters concerning the future of this island and that it can take one-sided decisions without having to consult anyone.
It further claimed that the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades’ latest remarks proved that the Greek Cypriot side was insincere towards reaching a settlement on the island and that it used the negotiations process as a cloak and stage to play its own game.
“The Greek Cypriot leadership needs to understand that the Turkish Cypriot people will never make any concessions from its political equality, sovereignty and rights nor will it bow to those who ignore these,” the statement argued.
It said that the agreement signed by South Cyprus, Israel and Greece for the 2000km EastMed Pipeline Project which will cost €10bn to complete was aimed at nothing more than creating a false impression.
“The project which has been criticized by Greek Cypriot political parties for being nothing more than a fantasy is the newest addition to efforts by the Greek Cypriot leadership to create and raise tensions on the island and the region,” the statement further claimed, adding: “This is the mentality we are talking about when we say that the Greek Cypriot leadership does not desire to share power and wealth with Turkish Cypriots”. It pointed out that the mentality pursued for the sake of gaining points and creating false impressions will only serve to raise tensions in Cyprus and the region.
“We shall continue our efforts for stability and cooperation despite the ongoing provocations,” the statement concluded.
Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Diyalog (03.01.20) reports that self-styled minister of economy and energy Hasan Tacoy announced that “the council of minister convened under the chairmanship of prime minister Ersin Tatar and decided to hold the presidential elections on 12th April 2020 and a possible second round on 19th April 2020”.
Tacoy further explained that “a proposal regarding the election day and constitutional amendments, which had been sent by the supreme court, was approved by the council of ministers and sent to the parliament”. He added that “the aim is to hold a referendum on constitutional amendments on the same day with the presidential elections”.
Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Yeni Duzen (03.01.20), under the title “Friction”, on its front page, reports that the partners within the “coalition government” - the National Unity Party (UBP) and the People’s Party (HP) - could not agree on the “development plan of Famagusta-Trikomo-Agios Sergios” and the tension among them regarding the “development plan” has begun to come to light.
“Despite the fact that the development plan was approved unanimously at the meeting of joint council on December 30, it has not been published yet in the official gazette”, the paper reports.
Hasan Tacoy, in statements at the illegal “BRT”, said that “the development plan will be evaluated by prime minister Ersin Tatar, and the plan will take effect if the requested changes were processed”. Tatar, in statements to the papers, said that he will evaluate the issue and will make statements later.
Meanwhile, Aysegul Babars, self-styled interior minister from HP, in statements to Kanal Sim TV, said that the mentioned plan would be published today [Friday] in the “official gazette” and stressed that “the prime minister does not have the authority not to publish the development plan”. She added that it would be published today.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Yeni Bakis (03.01.20) under the title “Government plays an overtime”, on its front page, reports that the leader of the Revival Party (YDP) Erhan Arikli said that “the coalition government will be dissolved before the presidential elections”, adding that “he predicts that there will be early general elections for parliament along with the presidential elections this year”.
According to Arikli, “the development plan is one of the problems and that there is not consensus among the two parties in the government”. He added that there are serious differences on ideological issues and especially lack of trust between them.
Referring to the “development plan”, Arikli accused the HP, which is supposed to work in the name of transparency, of making an arrangement that will gain millions of sterling. He further argued: “According to the development plan, we are talking about 21 residences, 400 projects. There is a profit of 120 million sterling. To whom was given this profit in advance, this should be clarified”.
Writing in Turkish Cypriot Afrika(03.01.20) columnist Sener Levent reports that according to the propaganda injected to the community on the natural gas issue, the Greek Cypriot side was “usurping the rights of the Turkish Cypriots”. “I have not seen such a thing until now”, he says and notes:
“It has been said many times that our share from the income will be set aside and that we could even use it before the solution. Anastasiades said ‘30%’. He gave a date also: ‘2022’. It is true that this information has not been officially confirmed, but the Turkish side, which did not receive this proposal very favourably, did not put pressure on the other side. The Turkish side wants to administrate energy together. It wants to have a say […] on the international agreements made regarding this [issue]. How should the Greek Cypriot side accept this? Half of its country is under occupation for 45 years. And the occupier takes absolutely no step forward for the solution, which will put an end to this occupation. It loots the lands of the Greek Cypriots which it had conquered by force and it even gives title deeds. After the loot it obtained on land, the occupier wants a share from the natural resources in the sea now. This is called shiftiness.
A man who destroyed Turkey is at the head of Turkey. […] He boasts that after Cyprus, he conquered land in Syria as well. And now he opens a new front in Libya. Are we going to be dragged after this conqueror dictator? But look, we are being dragged. And no one could open their mouth to say anything. Even the poor opposition in Turkey opposed sending troops to Libya. This was something I was not expecting at all. […] Mustafa Akinci, who opposed even weakly the Peace Spring Operation but supported the previous Olive Branch Operation, is now by Tayyip Erdogan’s side in the Libya operation and the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean. That is, there is no one here to exhibit the courage which showed the helpless opposition in Turkey. […]
Akinci has reacted now to the natural gas pipeline line agreement between Israel, Greece and Cyprus. This agreement ‘is contrary to the realities of geography’, he said. ‘It is not in harmony to the economic logic’, he said. It was signed with political concerns, he said. What is really absurd is what you said Mr Akinci. What are the realities you called realities of geography? What else than Turkey keeping the half of the island in its hands for 45 years? You are a pirate state recognized by no one. You have absolutely no legitimacy! And with this situation, you are giving Turkey a licence to carry out explorations for natural gas in Cyprus’ seas. […] Do you have the right to give such a license? Did you say that it is not in harmony with the economic logic? Will you definitely establish this pipeline in the country of the occupier? Besides, does it not scare you to cooperate with such a dictator? […]
Look what you said. You say that this tripartite agreement resembles the accession of south Cyprus to the EU alone. This is absent-mindedness. It is not only south Cyprus accepted to the EU. It is entire Cyprus. If you do not want to get rid of the invader and the occupier and take easily your place in the EU, what should the EU do? Yes, the most correct thing to do is to solve the Cyprus problem. But what are you doing for the solution? What kind of solution can you find by imposing the conditions of occupation on the other side? […]
While there is the possibility of a war because of the gas, in your statements there is nothing aiming at doing away with this danger Mr Mustafa. In any case, you said nothing when the unmanned airplanes landed here. They say that a nautical base is being established. You say nothing about this as well. Is this the way you think that you protect the rights of the community you say you protect? […] What were you expecting? When Israel, Greece and Cyprus were signing this agreement to include the puppet administration of the north? The whole world recognizes the Cyprus government in the south, only Turkey does not recognize it. Whereas, no one in the world recognizes the ghost state in the north, only Turkey recognizes it! It seems that you have not assimilated this reality yet. […]”
According to Turkey’s state news agency (03.01.20, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/east-mediterranean-gas-pipeline-project-can-t-succeed/1690732), the Eastern Mediterranean natural gas pipeline project, which excludes Turkey, cannot succeed, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
“Any project disregarding Turkey, which has the longest coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Turkish Cypriots, who have equal rights over the natural resources of the island of Cyprus, cannot succeed,” spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
Aksoy stressed that the project is “the latest instance of futile steps” aimed at excluding Turkey and the “TRNC” (the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus) in the region.
Bringing this issue once more to the attention of the international community, Aksoy underlined that “such sordid plans will continue to fail in the future, as they did in the past.”
Turkey is the most commercially feasible and secure route for the utilization of the natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean and their transfer to consumer markets in Europe, including Turkey, he claimed. “Refusing to cooperate both with us and Turkish Cypriots in spite of this fact is actually a direct manifestation of some countries’ pursuit of futile political motivations instead of cooperation,” he further argued.
On the same issue, Turkish internet newspaper T24 (02.01.20, https://t24.com.tr/haber/akp-sozcusu-celik-rum-ve-israil-antlasmasina-libya-tezkeresi-ile-tarihi-bir-cevap-verdi,854539) reports that Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s spokesman Omer Celik, in a post at his Twitter account wrote: “Today, Greece, Israel and the Greek Cypriot side signed a gas pipeline agreement. Italian Prime Minister said that he would sign this agreement later. The Supreme Assembly gave a historical answer today to this unlawful siege with the Libya’s motion. We have shown them first with the agreement we made with Libya and today with the Libya’s motion that the Mediterranean is our horizon against those who are trying to build a prison for us in the Mediterranean. Undoubtedly, we are the only country that acts with the law in the Mediterranean equation and does not have invasive goals.”
Under the title “Motion on troop deployment to Libya passes Turkish Parliament”, Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet Daily News (02.01.20, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/motion-on-troop-deployment-to-libya-passes-turkish-parliament-150532) reports that Turkey’s Parliament passed a motion that authorizes the government to send Turkish troops to Libya for a one-year deployment at their emergency session on Jan. 2. The motion passed with 325 votes in favour and 184 votes against the deployment.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supported the motion, which was voted on during an emergency session. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), opposition İYİ (Good) Party, Felicity Party (SP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) objected to it.
Ankara says the deployment is vital for Turkey to safeguard its interests in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, while the opposition parties argue the move would embroil Turkey in another conflict and urge the government to search for a diplomatic solution in Libya instead.
In a written statement, Felicity Party members said the reason for the decision to send troops should not be a choice between the conflicting parties there but should be declared as providing tranquillity and peace at the request of the legitimate government.
Having two MPs at the parliament, one of the Felicity Party lawmakers Cihangir İslam announced that he would not vote for the motion.
Speaking at the debate, MHP lawmaker Erhan Akçay said Turkey can continue its range of motion in the eastern Mediterranean if this motion is practiced with a strong will. Turkey’s achievements in the region will be imperilled, and an anti-Turkey front might be successful in Libya, he noted.
The CHP’s Deputy Chair Ünal Çeviköz questioned why Turkey did not consult with regional countries and criticized that Turkey prefers military power rather than soft power. He objected that Turkey is becoming part of a proxy war in Libya and said the motion violates U.N. resolutions about the North African country banning arms support.
The government said it would decide on the size, timing and scope of the deployment. The “border [limit], current [scope], quantity and time” of the mission is to be appointed by the President, according to the motion.
The reason of the motion is “Turkey’s protection of rights in the Mediterranean with national interests in Libya, prevention of illegitimacy by mass migration threat and formation of a favourable environment for terrorist organizations and armed groups, and aiming humanitarian aid to the Libyan people,” according to the text.
According to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu (02.01.20, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/-turkey-s-libyan-motion-to-thwart-regional-plots-/1690527), a motion ratified by the Turkish Parliament authorizing the government to deploy troops in Libya will spoil regional plans, protect country’s rights and interests, said Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay on Thursday.
“Turkey will continue to thwart the plots in the region and protect its rights and interests. Turkey, which defends Libya’s territorial integrity, aims to support Libya’s legitimate UN-backed government’s call and serve for the regional peace,” Oktay wrote on Twitter.
“I hope those who maintain their aggression in Libya will get the relevant message with the ratification of the motion,” Oktay said, adding that every step of the Turkish government in the Eastern Mediterranean is part of a detailed strategy and plan.
Furthermore, Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu (03.01.20, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/turkey-officials-welcome-libya-troops-motion/1690702) reports that Turkish government officials welcome a motion ratified by the parliament that authorized the country to send troops to Libya.
"Turkey will continue to be strong in the field and at the table," presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter. "The Libya troop’s deployment motion ratified in the Turkish Parliament is an important step taken in order to ensure peace and stability in Libya and to protect the interests of our country in North Africa and the Mediterranean," he claimed.
Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter that the deal between Turkey and Libya is the best guarantee for regional security and stability, adding that some countries try to put "their narrow interests above international peace and security in the Mediterranean" and warned that any agreement excluding Libya's legitimate government will drag the country into further chaos. "Turkey will work toward defending international law, achieving security and preserving peace in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean. We will prevent any effort to exploit the conflict in the region. At the same time, we are also ready to cooperate on establishing stability!" he further argued.
The head of parliament's National Defence Committee, Ismet Yilmaz, stressed that the main aim of the motion is to ensure a ceasefire and stability in Libya.
Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, said his country had a stance against invaders, showing its will both in the field and in diplomacy. "Undoubtedly, we are the only country that acts in line with the rule of law in the Mediterranean equation," he claimed.
Turkey’s special envoy to Libya Emrullah Isler said Turkey, through its security and military cooperation agreement with Libya, will provide its support as much as possible for reforming security in the country.
According to Turkish daily newspaper Sabah (02.01.20, https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2020/01/02/erdogan-discusses-libya-syria-with-us-counterpart-trump-over-the-phone), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the situation in Libya with his U.S. counterpart, President Donald Trump, in a phone call Thursday, the Turkish Presidency said less than an hour after Ankara passed a bill allowing troop deployment to Tripoli. During phone call, the two leaders discussed bilateral relations and regional developments.
Erdoğan and Trump "stressed the importance of diplomacy in resolving regional issues", the Turkish Presidency said.
Regarding the actions targeting U.S. security units in Iraq, Erdoğan stated that Turkey is closely following the developments with concern and sorrow. He also expressed his satisfaction that the actions targeting the U.S. Embassy in Iraq have ended.
According to Turkish news portal Ahval (02.01.20, http://ahval.co/en-69858), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s approval rating dropped by almost five points in the last three months, losing all support he gained after he ordered a military incursion into Syria in October, according to an opinion poll published on Tuesday.
Erdoğan’s approval rating fell to 43.7% last month from 48.4% in October, declining to a similar level before he announced the military offensive, the poll by Ankara-based Research Company Metropoll showed.
The poll showed that Erdoğan’s popularity dropped most among supporters of the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP), which backs his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Parliament. Erdoğan’s approval among MHP loyalists dropped to 52% from 79.2% in November.
The number of Turks who disapproved of Erdoğan’s rule surged by 8.5% points to 44.2%, the figures showed. Fourteen percent did not respond to the survey, or gave no opinion.
Declining support for Erdoğan had contributed to losses for his ruling AKP at local elections earlier this year. The AKP lost control five of six largest cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, as Turks saw living standards plummet in the aftermath of the currency crisis, which sparked a severe economic downturn, and Erdoğan tightened his grip on power.
Meanwhile, Turkish news portal Turkish Minute (02.01.20, https://www.turkishminute.com/2020/01/02/40-percent-of-akp-voters-say-new-political-party-necessary-survey/) reports that an opinion poll indicates that 40% of the supporters of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) see the establishment of new political parties as necessary, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.
The poll, conducted across 30 provinces by the MAK Consulting Company, indicated that the AKP has maintained its place at the top, with 38% of participants saying they would vote for it if an election were to be held today.
However, 40% of those who indicated that they had previously voted for the AKP said the establishment of new political parties is necessary.
The poll was conducted after two former AKP members launched breakaway political movements to challenge the AKP’s 17-year rule.
Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu recently started his Future Party (GP), and former cabinet member Ali Babacan has said he will announce the name of his party in early 2020.
The AKP was followed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) with 24.4%, which is close to its usual support in the last few elections.
The AKP’s ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), as well as its breakaway nationalist rival, the İYİ (Good) Party, both polled at around 11%, above the 10% threshold necessary to win seats in Parliament.
On the other hand, the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) polled below the 10% threshold.
The poll said 53% of voters found Turkey’s executive presidential governance system, adopted in a referendum in April 2017, to be unsuccessful.
Forty-eight percent supported the idea of a new constitutional amendment to return to the parliamentary system.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION