Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (16.04.18) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has said that the Cyprus negotiating process could not come to a positive point in the Crans Montana Conference and added that after nearly ten months he will meet with President Anastasiades tonight [at the residence of Elisabeth Spehar, UN Special Representative in Cyprus]. In statements yesterday during a reception for artists and writers within the framework of the World Art Day, Akinci said the following regarding his meeting with President Anastasiades:
“I do not want to either give you great expectations or to draw a pessimistic picture for the future. If there is political will, a way out could be found of course. We see what is happening in our close geography, where there is no way out. We have experienced lakes of blood on this island, we have seen pain, [and] both communities took their share from this. We have shared pain, we have shared tears and we have shared losses of lives. We want the future generations to live in peace and share the blessings of this island from now on and not the pain and tears. […]”
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (16.04.18) reports that the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) issued a written statement on the meeting to take place tonight between President Anastasiades and the Turkish Cypriot leader noting that it expects the meeting to be held without the prejudices of the past in the direction of establishing a Federal Cyprus, which will be protecting the interests of both communities. Expressing the hope that constructive approaches are shaped during the meeting, the CTP argued that “it is the leaders’ historic responsibility to find a solution with an initiative focused on the result without wasting any more time”.
Describing the dinner as “very important from the point of view of the future of the negotiations”, the CTP stresses that the progress achieved during the negotiations held in the period 2015-17 should not be wasted and expresses the view that it is possible to find an agreement accepted by all sides with the discussion of the remaining differences in the form of a package.
“In our view, constructive approach means progress with an approach during which the last stage reached in Crans Montana is taken into consideration, with the understanding of a package suggested by the UNSG called as ‘the Guterres Framework’, with a form which will not be open-ended and will result in a referendum”, argues CTP.
Furthermore, the Left Movement also issued a written statement expressing the view that the negotiations should resume from the point they have been left on the basis of the “Guterres Framework”. The Movement says that the leaders should stop putting pre-conditions for the resumption of the negotiations and referring to Akinci it recalls that “finding an early federal solution is of vital importance for the Turkish Cypriots”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (16.04.18) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and President Anastasiades will meet for the first time tonight since 7 July 2017 when the UNSG had declared the end of the Cyprus Conference in Crans Montana. Noting that the leaders will meet at a dinner in the residence of Elisabeth Spehar, UN Special Representative in Cyprus, the paper recalls earlier statements made by Akinci in various occasions saying that the dinner would be a meeting in which the sides will evaluate the situation, listen to each other and explain their views. Furthermore, the paper points out that Akinci has said that the meeting does not mean that the negotiations will resume and that even in case the process starts, it will not continue from the point it had left in Crans Montana.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (16.04.18) refers to the issue under the title “A longing of 9,5 months ends! The leaders are meeting tonight!” Columnist Gokhan Altiner argues in his column today that the negotiations will resume because both sides need the negotiations to begin. He notes: “The Cyprus problem is discussed for many years and every time it remains unsolved. That is, I do not know whether this situation has created a habit but the sides have not the tradition of stopping the negotiations. I know this”.
Other titles are the following:
Havadis: Meeting with problems
Halkin Sesi: Crucial meeting
Vatan: The leaders’ dinner is tonight
Star Kibris: Historic crossroads
Gunes: Pre-conditions by the Greek Cypriots
Volkan: Meeting of “listening and explaining”
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (16.04.18) reports that Hakan Cavusoglu, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, who paid a one day visit to the occupied area of Cyprus yesterday, met with self-styled prime minister Tufan Erhurman.
Commenting on the Cyprus issue, Cavusoglu claimed: “The negative outcome of the Cyprus Conference in Crans Montana showed that Greek Cypriots’ mentality is the same. As long as this mentality does not change then a solution does not seem possible”. He further argued that unfortunately the Greek Cypriot side continues to consider itself as the rightful owner of the island, adding that they (Greek Cypriots) do not want a political share on the bases of any equality or to share the natural richness, in which the “TRNC” has also a part in.
Cavusoglu also claimed: “Especially during these days when drilling efforts are to take place, the situation is unacceptable. This wealth belongs to both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. No side can claim unilateral ownership of this. We will continue to pursue our positions at this point”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (16.04.18) reports that the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Cavusoglu, paid an illegal one-day visit to the breakaway regime and attended the inauguration ceremony for the “Alternative route: Vakif city Nicosia project”.
In the ceremony also participated the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, the “prime minister” Tufan Erhurman, the “chairman of vakif foundation”, Ismael Benter and the general director of the religious institution (vakif) of Turkey Adnan Erdem.
Speaking during the ceremony, Cavusoglu claimed that the existence of Ottoman monuments in Cyprus and the preservation of the culture inheritance is the most important document for the muslin identity of the island during the “just fight of the Turks of Cyprus”. He also claimed that during the negotiations taking place in Cyprus, the existence of the vakif with all the documents and their related papers are the strongest arguments. He also stated that “a large majority of the vakif monuments and works were available in the breakaway regime adding that this was proof that Turkish ancestral grounds were deeply rooted in the country”.
He also claimed that while the property of vakif was the 14% of the island 150 years ago, this was limited to 0.6% in our days. He also said that according to the vakif archives, there are totally 202 mosques in Cyprus, 15 Dervish convents, 8 theological schools attached to mosques (medrese) and many other monuments. He also said that they have prepared a renovation plan of the Selimiye Mosque (of the Ayia Sofia temple) in the occupied area of Lefkosia and the works will start soon.
Akinci stated that he is very happy to hear for the renovation project of Selimiye Mosque adding that UNESCO put efforts for its renovation as well before 1974, but after then the plans did not continue. He also stated that the monuments remaining from the Ottoman period “are the deeds of the existence of the Turkish Cypriots on the island who exist in this soil for centuries”.
Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (15.04.18) reported that the so-called foreign ministry issued a statement regarding the developments in Syria saying that “the shores and the territorial waters of the TRNC do not face any problem or danger due to the developments in the area”.
According to the paper, the so-called foreign ministry stated that it follows closely the developments in co-operation with the Turkish navy and also expresses the wish the attacks against Syria to end soon without further tension. The “ministry” criticized in its statement any attacks against citizens and especially attacks in which chemical weapons are used.
Turkish Cypriot weekly Cyprus Today newspaper (14.04.18) reported that Tufan Erhurman, self-styled prime minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus, gave a briefing on Friday on a new “social and economic development protocol” following a five hour meeting with Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdag in the occupied area of Cyprus.
The paper reported:
“Preparations for the Republic of Turkey/TRNC protocol required ‘political willpower and consensus’, Erhurman said, adding that Mr Akdag would visit monthly to record agreed subjects as concrete clauses to be realised in stages on time.
Factors included local government reform, a new and even bigger industrial area and new hospitals, while technical discussions included water and electricity supply.
A three-year period envisaged to supply water for farming, already the subject of a long study and agriculture minister Erkut Sahali’s visit to Ankara this week, required more discussion, amid hopes to supply the Mesaoria soon.
Feasibility studies for electricity supply form Turkey, an interconnector system, a legal framework and cheaper prices for consumers were needed, said Erhurman.
Discussion included air travel and hopes to increase Turkish Airline flights, the fall in the Turkish lira and the need to restart four road projects following the withdrawal of the contractor.
Youth and sport services were discussed, especially for poorer areas where young persons were at risk.
Erhurman also discussed the importance of investment and development in the Iskele-Karpaz area (occupied Trikomo – Karpassia area), public transport and drug rehabilitation centres.
Turkish Cypriot daily Demokrat Bakis newspaper (14.04.18) reported that a cooperation protocol was signed between “TRNC kickboxing federation” and Turkey’s Kickboxing Federation.
According to the agreement, the two “federations” will jointly work on training issues and there will be cooperation between Turkey and the breakaway regime.
According to the “protocol”, “the TRNC teams will participate in international tournaments that will be held in Turkey, the referees and the trainers will hold seminars for exchanging information and experience”. It was also stressed that initiative will be taken in order international organizations to be held in the “TRNC”.
The protocol was signed by Salim Kayaci, Wako president of Turkey’s Kickboxing Federation and Niyazi Dermirel, “president of TRNC kickboxing federation”.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (14.04.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-welcomes-us-led-strikes-targeting-assad-regime-in-syria-130299) reports that Turkey on April 14 welcomed the U.S.-led strikes targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as an “appropriate response” in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack that left dozens dead.
“We welcome this operation which has eased humanity’s conscience in the face of the attack in Douma, largely suspected to have been carried out by the regime,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Ankara said the attacks, with weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, that indiscriminately target civilians, “constitute crimes against humanity” and they should not go unpunished.
“The Syrian regime, which has been tyrannizing its own people for more than seven years, be it with conventional or chemical weapons, has a proven track record of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” the Ministry said.
“The conscience of the international community is in no doubt about that,” it added.
Addressing crowds in Istanbul’s Fatih district, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced support for the joint operation into Syria. “We find the operation appropriate,” Erdoğan said, welcoming the strikes.
“With the joint operation by the U.S., U.K. and France on April 14, the Syrian regime received the message that its massacres wouldn’t be left unanswered,” Erdoğan told his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters in an Istanbul meeting, adding that the innocent Syrian people should have been defended long ago.
Speaking at the sixth regular congress held by the AKP in Istanbul, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also expressed views about the strikes, saying “it is a positive step.”
“It is a late response to the regime and vile murderers, who caused the atrocity in the region”, Yildirim added.
“The Syrian regime has been doing the same thing for seven years. The West suddenly remembered the suffering of people when chemical weapon was used," Yildirim said.
On the same issue, Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said in a statement on April 14.: “The use of chemical weapons is a violation of international law and a crime against humanity”.
“It would have been unthinkable for the international community to not retaliate against the Syrian regime, which appears to have carried out a chemical attack in Douma on April 7. The perpetrators of that heinous assault must be held accountable for their actions. We urge the international community to unite and prevent future chemical attacks,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mahir Ünal, a longtime-ruling AKP Deputy and spokesman, said taht Turkey was informed about the operation prior to the strikes on April 14, speaking to private broadcaster CNN Türk.
“It is a serious warning against chemical attacks,” Ünal said.
Also, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said that “Turkish and U.S. chiefs of staff were in contact upon the order placed by [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] and Mr. [Donald] Trump”.
“Incirlik base was not used [in the strikes],” Bozdağ added, referring to the U.S. military air base in Turkey’s southern province of Adana.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdogan spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the phone to discuss the latest developments in Syria on April 14, Doğan News Agency reported.
“Erdoğan highlighted the importance of not escalating tensions in Syria even further [to Theresa May],” the report read.
Moevoer, Erdogan, on April 14 spoke over the phone separately with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported, citing presidential sources.
Erdoğan discussed the U.S.-led airstrikes against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria as well as bilateral and regional issues with the French and Russian leaders, said the sources on the condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
Erdogan highlighted the importance of working together with France and Russia to resolve Syrian crisis and importance of not escalating tensions in Syria, the sources added.
Macron shared information with Erdogan about the latest U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria.
Erdogan underlined that Assad regime’s attacks with both chemical and conventional weapons should end. He stressed that the political solution is necessary to bring peace in the country.
In their phone conversation, Erdogan and Putin confirmed resolution to continue joint effort to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and agreed to stay in close contact on bilateral and regional issues.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (14.04.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-main-opposition-party-disapproves-of-us-led-strikes-on-syria-chp-head-130302) reported that Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has said it disapproved military strikes carried out by United States-led Western powers on Syria without having solid evidence that a chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb was carried out by the Syrian regime.
Kilicdaroglu urged the Turkish government to follow a cautious policy in the Middle East. “We are against the use of chemical weapons. But there are suspicions on the use of these weapons. An expert team from the U.N. should inspect, and they can perfectly figure out which agent was used and by which country it was produced,” Kilicdaroglu said, addressing local businessmen in the Hatay province on the Syrian border on April 14.
“What is necessary should be done, I have no objection. But without doing all these inspections, I never find an act of war right that would push the region into a more critical process,” he said.
Accusing the United States and Russia of engaging in a show of force amid a struggle for the control of Syrian natural gas and oil reserves, Kılıcdaroglu underlined the need for the withdrawal of “imperialistic forces” from the region.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (15.04.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/nato-chief-calls-for-more-support-to-turkey-ahead-of-his-visit-130335) reported that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on all allies to provide more support to Turkey, ahead of his official visit to the country scheduled for April 16 with the purpose of preparing the upcoming NATO summit in Brussels in July.
“Turkey is important for NATO but NATO is also important for Turkey. The alliance is based on the core principle of one for all and all for one. There’s a lot of NATO presence in Turkey but I call on the allies to provide even more support,” Stoltenberg told state-run Anadolu Agency in an interview at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
“I really look forward to my visit to Ankara because Turkey is a highly valued and key ally for many reasons, not just for its strategic location. This makes it important to sit down with Turkish leaders and discuss the preparations for the important summit where we will address issues, like how we continue to adapt NATO to a more demanding security environment,” he said.
Stoltenberg further noted that NATO supports Turkey in many ways.
“We have assurance measures, we have deployed missile batteries, which are augmenting Turkey’s missile air defenses. We have Italy and Spain deploying Patriot batteries and also SAMP-T batteries and we conduct surveillance flights with our AWACS planes over Turkey,” Stoltenberg said, adding they have also increased their naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean.
“There are other NATO activities, including infrastructure, exercises, and we have our land command in İzmir,” he added.
Stoltenberg also said that allies provide political support because “Turkey is the NATO ally that has suffered the most from the terrorist attacks.”
Stoltenberg recalled taht NATO immediately condemned the coup attempt that targeted Turkey’s democratic institutions.
He also praised Turkey’s participation in NATO’s shared security and collective security.“We are grateful for Turkish contributions to different NATO missions and operations, not the least, for instance, in Afghanistan and Kosovo,” he said.
“The fact that Turkey provides infrastructure and air bases close to the border with Iraq and Syria has been key in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant [ISIL],” he added.
According to Stoltenberg, Turkey has played a significant role in the efforts of NATO allies and the global coalition against ISIL.
Stoltenberg told the Anadolu angency that they were now working on establishing a mission in Iraq to train Iraqi soldiers and to build military academies and schools to help Iraqis stabilize their own country and fight terrorism. “That is important for allies, including Turkey. Turkey has been very supportive of the idea. Of course, Turkey is now part of the planning and decision-making process. I have discussed this before with Turkish authorities. It is too early to say what kind of role Turkey will play, but I hope Turkey can contribute to the training activities,” he said.
Regarding tensions between two NATO allies, Turkey and Greece in the Aegean Sea, Stoltenberg stressed that he expected differences on some issues to be solved in the spirit of good relations.
“I welcome that the PMs of both countries have recently held a phone conversation and that they have agreed to resolve these differences through dialogue,” he said, adding it is not an issue for NATO and this is something that has to be addressed between Turkey and Greece.
During the interview, Stoltenberg also commented on the EU’s effort to step up its defense.
“I have welcomed increased EU efforts on defense because it can strengthen NATO and the European pillar at NATO. But at the same time, I have underlined clearly that this has to be done in a transparent way,” he said.
“European leaders have clearly stated that this is not about creating an alternative to NATO. It is important that this is done in a way, which does not create new barriers towards non-EU allies, such as Turkey,” he said.
Turkish daily Sabah (15.04.18-https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2018/04/16/russian-ambassador-to-ankara-aleksey-yerhov-turkey-russia-bilateral-relations-based-on-win-win-principle) reported that the Russian Ambassador Aleksey Yerhov said that the joint launch of construction work on the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant is a shared success story of partnership.
İn an interview to daily Sabah, referring to Russian-Turkish relations, Yershov said that the ties of the two countries have overcome a difficult period in recent years and the multidimensional relations have strengthened with the joint launch of construction work on the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which was recently held in Ankara in with participation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking about bilateral relations and regional issues, Yerhov said that President Putin's recent visit is evident of the success between the two countries while adding that the Turkey-Russia win-win partnership can be a model for others to follow.
Regarding the trilateral summit on Syria that took place in Ankara with the participation of the Russian, Turkish and Iranian presidents, Ambassador Yerhov said that these three countries have all the changes to revive Syria in spite of all the odds, troubles and conspiracies.
Commenting on the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and what has followed, Ambassador Yerhov said there is a large, worldwide defamation campaign around the incident whose nature is still largely unknown. Explaining that some countries, like Turkey, do not play these humiliating games of sanctions and expulsions, he said Turkey's stance on the matter is something to be valued.
Asked by the paper to evaluated Russian-Turkish relations following Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent visit to Ankara, Yerhov stated the following: “The visit has become an evident success – and not because of many treaties having been signed or many deals having been concluded. On the contrary – we do not need any more huge packages of intergovernmental agreements. We have already most of them signed, come into force and working for the benefit of our two countries and peoples.
The joint launch of construction works at the Akkuyu NPP was, of course, a major common triumph, a classic 'win-win' model for the others to follow. But few people know how much intense work was behind this historic event. And we all owe very much to the leaders who have largely contributed to this success. (...) This is a very important, strategic project for our bilateral relations. This is the first Turkish nuclear station, which gives Turkey a member ticket for the nuclear family. This is not only about the factory. The project comprises many other dimensions such as, for example, education programs for Turkish students so that they will be able to work at nuclear power stations. This is a very specific field of science, of industry. We have already had the first group of students – graduates from the Moscow Physical Institute. They were present at the ceremony with President Putin and President Erdoğan. It was a very touching picture. We are glad to be able to share our competence and our technology with Turkey so that in Turkey you will be acquiring a solid source of energy which will cover up to 10 percent of Turkey's needs in electricity. This is quite much. The aim is, as the document states, to give the first electricity, to launch the first reactor for the one hundred anniversary of the republic in 2023. And we are working hard to make it possible”.
Asked to reply to daily sabah’s question: “After Turkey's decision to procurement of the S-400 air missile defense system, the leaders of our countries also pledged to extend cooperation in the defense industry. Could you provide more details about it?”, Yershov said: “No. I would not. Even if I knew I would not. You know, some things do not like public attention. Some things need to be held somewhere on the tables or in the safes of those who are in charge. Our relations with Turkey have reached a very advanced stage. So we are talking, we are discussing, we are having deals in spheres which even some years ago could be unthinkable. The latest example is the S-400. So the current level of relations between our countries, as I've already told you, enables us to discuss all the issues we want to discuss and all the issues which can be of our mutual interest. So, let's wait and see. In the course of the events, we will learn quite a lot of things”.
Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (15.04.18-http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-brings-back-80-feto-suspects-from-abroad-130338) reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on April 15 that Turkey has so far brought back 80 Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) suspects from abroad and will continue to pursue them no matter where they are.
Speaking at the Sixth Ordinary Congress of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul, Erdogan said that the FETÖ suspects would be brought back to Turkey no matter where they have escaped to and vowed to bring back United States-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, as well.
“Those FETÖ members have been fleeing to different countries across the world, but we will continue to pursue them. We have already brought 80 FETÖ members back to Turkey from abroad,” Erdogan said.
At the end of March, the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT) brought six FETÖ suspects from Kosovo back to Turkey in an intelligence agency operation.
Earlier this month, MİT also brought three members of FETÖ from the Central African country Gabon to the Turkish capital Ankara and Erdoğan vowed on April 7 that Turkey would “continue to pursue suspects” abroad.
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