Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs Postası (20.02.19, http://www.kibrispostasi.com/c36-TURKIYE/n277198-tc-disisleri-bakani-cavusoglu-fatih-gemimizi-kibrisin-guneyi) reports that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that the Turkish Fatih vessel would come to the southern sea of Cyprus. In statements during a visit to the city of Bodrum, Cavusoglu argued the following on the Cyprus problem and the natural gas explorations:
“We could not ensure success in 2017 during the negotiating process regarding Cyprus. Now we said ‘let us not begin negotiations again without deciding what we will be negotiating’. On the issue of natural gas reserves around Cyprus, they have unfortunately started drilling in spite of the fact that we had insistently said ‘do not do it unilaterally, guarantee the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people’. We also have the Faith vessel. We are taking it to the south of Cyprus. We will start drillings in that area. Our Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha vessel is conducting seismic explorations for this. While we are protecting Turkey’s rights in the Aegean, we have an agreement with Greece on the issue of not increasing tension”.
According to illegal Bayrak television (20.02.19, http://www.brtk.net/akinci-verimli-bir-diayalog-oldu/), Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci briefed yesterday the political parties represented in the “parliament” on the Cyprus issue, during a five-hour meeting.
Speaking to the media after the briefing, Akinci said that he had a “fruitful and productive meeting with members of parliament” yesterday, adding that he had taken note of recommendations, suggestions and criticisms.
Akinci said that he had found the opportunity to brief the “members of the parliament” regarding the developments in the Cyprus problem as well as the meetings he held with the UN Secretary General’s Temporary Special Envoy Jane Holl Lute and his upcoming meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades.
Pointing out that there had been no need to meet with the “parliament” since the Crans Montana period, Akinci underlined that Lute’s efforts on drafting the terms of reference to find a common ground between the two sides to restart talks was still underway. “Once her efforts are completed with the common basis or not, I will be calling for another meeting with parliament”, said Akıncı, adding that he would have convened a meeting earlier had the need arose.
In response to a question on “alternative ideas”, Akinci responded by stating that “it is unfair to claim that Akıncı is rejecting other options” and emphasized that he is only talking about the Cyprus problem within the UN and international framework. Akıncı added: “I am not rejecting anything at all. These are the international realities before us. Regarding Mr Anastasiades, we will see what he thinks on the 26th of February. His last proposal is on ‘decentralization’. I am working towards finding a way out in order to have lasting peace on the island. I am working to establish a solution which all sides can benefit from. I am working on creating a region without conflicts and a region in which Cyprus can be allies with Turkey…There has been enough bloodshed on this land. No one wins in conflicts. I am trying to achieve peace on the island and my efforts are geared in this direction”.
According to illegal Bayrak television (20.02.19, http://www.brtk.net/ulucay-kibris-konusunda-mecliste-ciddi-bir-konsensus-var/), Teberruken Ulucay, self-styled speaker of the parliament of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus, said that there was a serious consensus on the Cyprus issue at the “parliament”.
In statements to the press following the briefing of the “parliament” by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, Ulucay said that Akinci briefed them on the upcoming meeting with President Anastasiades, the meetings he had with the UN Secretary General’s envoy on Cyprus Jane Holl Lute, adding that there was a positive meeting for the roadmap that will follow in the short-term future.
Noting that the road map was discussed in the meeting, Ulucay added that the meeting was beneficial.
Replying to the question whether there were different opinions on the Cyprus issue, he stressed that there was a serious consensus on the Cyprus issue in the “parliament”. He also said that all political parties do not accept a negotiation process which will be open-ended and want a result-oriented process, with a timetable and apolitical equality, adding that this is also reflected in the UN reports. Claiming that the Turkish Cypriot “people” has suffered many difficulties for many years now, Ulucay added that the Turkish Cypriot “people” has also gained a lot of achievements and expressed also the belief that they will be more successful from the process that will follow.
Turkish Cypriot newspaper Bayrak (20.02.19, http://www.brtk.net/ozersay-kibris-konusunda-siyasi-partilerin-goruslerinde-degislik-yok/) broadcast that Kudret Ozersay, self-styled foreign minister of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus and leader of the People’s Party (HP), has said that there was no change in the views of the political parties regarding the Cyprus problem. In a statement on his social media account, Ozersay referred to the closed door session of the “assembly”, during which Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci briefed the “deputies” on the developments in the Cyprus problem yesterday, and denied statements which argued that a consensus existed among the political parties on the issue. He argued the following:
“I am not going to refer to the speeches delivered yesterday in the assembly because it was a closed door session. However, because after the meeting yesterday reference was made in the press to the existence of a consensus, I must say the following in order to not cause a misunderstanding:
Four political parties in the assembly and the great majority of the 50 deputies think that the Greek Cypriot administration is not ready to share the administration and wealth with us, it does not digest our political equality and therefore a federal partnership is not very realistic. Two political parties and a group of deputies see federation as the only realistic way of solution and argue that the negotiations should continue on this basis. Each of these two axes does not find the other’s position as realistic.
On the other hand, a reference to a consensus could be made among all parties at least in the direction that the Greek Cypriot leader is trying to secure the continuation of the status quo by playing with time. In any case, these issues could also be seen from the statements made by these six parties publicly.
In brief, I think that nothing changed in the views of the political parties during the session of the assembly yesterday, from the point of view of the basis of the solution and of the debate of ‘what kind of a solution’”.
According to illegal Bayrak television (20.02.19, http://www.brtk.net/?english_posts=tatar-says-no-consensus-with-akinci), the leader of the main opposition National Unity Party (UBP) Ersin Tatar said that his party’s position on the Cyprus problem was clear and that a strong consensus did not exist between the UBP and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı on the Cyprus problem.
In a written statement issued today, Tatar said that the remarks made by the “speaker of the republic’s assembly” Teberrüken Uluçay following yesterday’s extraordinary session of parliament had created the false perception that there was in fact a strong consensus between all “parties and deputies in the parliament”.
“The president informed the parliament on the latest developments and we shared our own views. It’s not possible to disclose exactly what was discussed because the session was held behind closed doors but the statements made by the speaker following the session have led to a misperception that there is consensus among all the parties and deputies. We would like to stress once again that the UBP supports the continuation of Turkey’s unilateral right to intervention and does not agree with president Akıncı who proposed to the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades to sign the Guterres Framework, which aims to bring an end to this, as a strategic framework agreement”, Tatar added.
Tatar also pointed out that it was out of the question for his party to accept the maps brought to the negotiating table which proposed significant territorial concessions. “The UBP supports a settlement that recognizes effective participation in decision making, separate elections, the right to be elected, bi-zonality, the settlement of property and territory issues on the basis of current realities, maintaining the Turkish-Greek balance on the island. The settlement to be reached must become primary EU law as well”, Tatar said.
The UBP leader also argued that the federation thesis of the two sides were very different and that the possibility of achieving a federal settlement had ended with the collapse of talks in Crans Montana. “The UBP supports the idea of bringing other alternative options to the table such as confederation, velvet divorce or a two state solution under EU membership. Mr Akıncı is refraining from bringing these options to the table which is why the UBP does not and cannot approve of the policy he is adopting at the negotiating table”, Tatar concluded.
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis (online in Turkish-20.02.19- https://www.havadiskibris.com/ya-tehlike-ya-isbirligi) publishes the third part of the interview given to the paper by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, who besides the Cyprus problem, referred also to energy issues.
Akinci said to the paper that the natural gas issue could be an issue to the benefit of both sides if it would be solved in a logical manner. Otherwise, he argued, either we will cooperate on the natural gas, or we will meet face to face with threats. “Personally, I consider that it would be right for a logical way to be found in order for this issue to be solved (…)”, Akinci said.
Recalling that the hydrocarbon issue first came to the agenda of discussion in his first meeting with President Anastasiades in 2015, Akinci argued that they had launched negotiations after Anastasiades stated that they will not conduct drillings. He went on to add that the things were overturned in 2016 and although he had proposed to President Anastasiades for the natural gas issue to be a part of the negotiation talks, Anastasiades rejected his proposal, stating “No, I will conduct drillings in my own sovereign field”.
Akinci went on warning that very soon it will come to the agenda that two different drilling ships will be conducting drillings in the same territorial waters. Asked to reply to the question whether he considers that “a hot conflict might arise”, Akinci stated that nobody can know what the developments on this situation would be. He added that we may confront negative outcomes even with the slightest possibility of a sparkle, as he said.
Asked to reply to the question whether there are hopes for a possible cooperation between Turkey and the Israeli administration on the natural gas issue, Akinci said that it is not a matter of hopes. He added that the natural gas issue is an issue of interests between all the involved parts and explained that if Turkey and Israel reached to a point of finding common interest, then a possible formula that would be to the benefit of both sides may come out.
Stating that taking into consideration the different conjuncture policies in the region, the necessity for the solution of the Cyprus problem becomes more visible, Akinci said that if a solution is reached, nobody will be loser in Cyprus. He added that the Greek Cypriots will have a lot of things to gain from Turkey. “Only the economic benefits that they will have with the opening of their airspace and the ports, will be very important and also the revenues from trade will be very big as well. It is for this reason that a new paradigm is needed. Discussing all these in the context of federation, we need to turn to approaches that will be to the benefit of all sides and to develop friendly ties, so that the ties between Turkey and the Greek Cypriots, our ties with the Greek Cypriots and also our ties with Greece, to be not antagonistic”, Akinci further alleged.
Stating that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had opened a window towards this direction, Akinci said that the development of ties between Turkey and Greece, the establishment of a fruitful and sincere dialogue between them and the reduction of tensions between the two countries would be very beneficial. Akinci further added that it would be good if the two countries come to an approach on the Cyprus problem. “I always support this. The Cyprus problem is a problem which goes beyond Cyprus. It is not a problem which can be solved only by the two communities. I have no doubt that the solution to be found is here and that the two communities have the will to reach a viable solution. (…)But, Turkey and Greece should be our assistants on this path. So, it is for this reason that Turkey’s ties with Greece, Turkey’s ties with the EU, the energy policies in the Eastern Mediterranean, the path that the natural gas pipelines will follow, are very important factors. If all these factors are used positively by all the involved sides and if all sides act with common concern, I think that this would be very helpful”, Akinci further said.
According to illegal Bayrak television (20.02.19, http://www.brtk.net/akinci-abd-kongre-heyetini-kabul/), Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci met yesterday at his office with a delegation of members of the U.S. Congress and the House of Representatives. During the meeting, they exchanged views on the latest stage reached at the Cyprus problem and on the confidence building measures.
Roger Wicker, the head of the US Congress delegation, and the Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, Bob Casey, Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall, Mike Lee, Chris Van Hollen, Lloyd Doggett, Rober Aderholt, Gwen Moore and Lee Zeldin were briefed on the Turkish Cypriot’s side thoughts and views.
Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (19.02.19-https://www.kibrisgazetesi.com/kibris/turist-sayisinda-gecen-yillara-oranla-ciddi-bir-patlama-var/61398) reported that so-called minister of tourism and environment, Fikri Atatoglu claimed that there is a serious explosion on the number of tourists in the “TRNC” comparing with the previous years. “Our revenues in 2017 from one million overnight stays in the TRNC exceeded 865 million dollars. Our goals for this year is for these revenues to be increased more, comparing with the previous year”, Ataoglu alleged.
Ataoglu made the above statements to Ankara Anatolia news agency’ correspondent. He added that their prediction is that the flight ticket prices will be reduced after the AnadoluJet Aviation Company will be “deployed” in the occupied area of Cyprus.
Stating that while they are continuing their activities for the promotion of the “TRNC” not only in the international platform but also in several cities in Turkey, their expectations for 2019 is that a remarkable increase will be seen not only on the number of tourists but also on the number of overnight stays in the “TRNC”.
Ataoglu announced further that they had launched initiatives for the “organization in the TRNC of Indian weddings”. Pointing out to the importance of such events to take place in the occupied area of Cyprus, Ataoglu said that “such events would be an important contribution to the tourism sector”.
According to Turkish daily Yeni Safak (20.02.19, https://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/erdogan-says-turkey-no-longer-able-to-face-new-refugee-flow-3474944), Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that the country would not be able to shoulder a new potential migration wave on its own. Speaking in Istanbul at the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Budapest Process on Migration, Erdogan said building higher walls with barbed wire was no way to prevent irregular migration. (…)
Touching on allegations of the Armenian genocide, Erdoğan said Turkey would leave the issue to historians, regardless of the propaganda spread in the West. He claimed that Turkey had never committed genocide in its history. (…)
Referring to a decision by the U.S. to cut all aid to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, Erdoğan said cutting off aid to Palestinian refugees and trying to discipline them through poverty is inhuman. He said it is extremely wrong to use these people, who were driven from their homeland 70 years ago, as a political tool.
Referring to the UN data, he said: "I am saying this as the President of a country that hosts the highest number of refugees in the world”. He noted that migration is a humanitarian and political issue along with its security dimension, and at the core of this issue, there is a lack of justice and empathy.
Erdoğan said Turkey has not turned its back on innocent people who came knocking at its door and has neither left them to the mercy of a regime that is conducting state terror against its own citizens nor to terrorist organizations such as Daesh and the PKK. (…) Erdoğan claimed that Turkey has become a shelter for refugees, regardless of their ethnicity, language or religion.
Speaking on the problem of refugees, he highlighted that keeping Syrian refugees within Turkey's borders cannot be considered the only way to solve the problem of migration. He noted that the safe zone formula he proposed at the start of the Syria crisis is the most practical method for the return of refugees, adding if Turkey cannot repatriate millions of Syrians to their homes this way, sooner or later, they will knock on European doors.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (19.02.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-judiciary-is-not-impartial-chp-leader-141345), an Istanbul appeals court’s decision to uphold an earlier ruling to jail opposition daily Cumhuriyet journalists and executives is testimony to the problems of Turkey’s judiciary, main opposition Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said.
“In a new threat against our intellectuals, the precious writers of daily Cumhuriyet will be jailed again,” Kılıçdaroğlu told his party group meeting in parliament on Feb. 19. “Musa Kart is a world-renowned caricaturist. What will you achieve by putting intellectuals behind bars?” said Kılıçdaroğlu.
The court upheld the earlier decision to hand down five years of imprisonment to daily Cumhuriyet’s journalists on charges of “aiding terrorist organizations.”
The party leader also stressed that such decisions were “damaging Turkey’s reputation”. “How can we say that this ruling is in accordance with rights and remedies?” Kılıçdaroğlu added.
“Journalists, especially a lot of people that are still waiting for indictments, despite being in jail for months, say that ‘democracy is bleeding’ in Turkey,” the CHP’s leader said, noting that a similar, unfair practice was seen in CHP party assembly member Eren Erdem’s case.
“The greatest harm to the justice system is its members,” he stated.
A court last year sentenced 14 staff of Cumhuriyet to jail on charges of terrorism and supporting FETÖ leader, who is widely believed to have masterminded the coup attempt in July 2016. All the accused denied the charges against them.
Cumhuriyet said on Feb. 19 that an appeals court had ruled the original trial was lawful and approved the convictions against its employees. Journalists Hakan Kara and Güray Öz, cartoonist Musa Kart, lawyer Mustafa Kemal Güngör, board member Önder Çelik, and accountant Emre İper will return to prison to complete their sentences, Cumhuriyet said. Under Turkish law, sentences under five years cannot be appealed further.
Editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, prominent journalists Ahmet Şık, Hikmet Çetinkaya, Orhan Erinç, Akın Atalay and Aydın Engin, all jailed for more than five years, will have to return to prison pending their appeal to a higher court, the paper added. Journalist Kadri Gürsel and lawyer Bülent Utku will not go back to prison due to time already served.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (20.02.19, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/serkan-demirtas/surveys-show-race-for-ankara-istanbul-neck-and-neck-141347), political parties submitted their lists of mayoral candidates to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) late yesterday. As the lists will be finalized by March 3, the parties will still have time to make changes in the lists. This is particularly important given that the March 31 municipal polls will mark a first in the history of Turkish elections, as the political parties are running in alliances.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), dubbed the People’s Alliance, are in a race with the Nation Alliance, made by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the İYİ (Good) Party.
In addition, minor parties are also in efforts to join these two big alliances. The Great Union Party (BBP) will move with the People’s Alliance while the Felicity Party is taking the side of the Nation Alliance.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will lend indirect support to the Nation Alliance by not presenting candidates in major constituencies, like Istanbul, İzmir and Adana.
As of yesterday, before the candidates’ list was submitted, the AKP-MHP partnership was planning to run joint candidates in 44 provinces (out of 81), 30 of them being greater municipalities including all major cities in Turkey. The Nation Alliance is believed to present joint candidates in around 50 provinces, 23 of them greater municipalities.
These figures may change in line with ongoing negotiations between the political parties before they submit their final candidates’ lists on March 3.
It’s obvious that every vote will count in these local elections as all eyes will be on Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir. The opposition Nation Alliance is eyeing giving a blow to the government by winning Istanbul and/or Ankara. The CHP-İYİ Party Alliance is pretty sure that it will not lose İzmir to the People’s Alliance, although it will have to defend its stronghold against a prominent figure from the AKP.
Istanbul, representing one-fifth of the country’s total population, has a special weight in Turkish politics. “To win Turkey, a victory in Istanbul is a must” is a frequently voiced motto by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. That’s why he chose the AKP’s second strongest man, Binali Yıldırım, to run for Istanbul.
Yıldırım had to accept the proposal although he was not pleased to quit his position as Parliament Speaker. His unhappiness could be read well on his face when he handed his office over to an interim speaker on Feb. 19. Immediately after the ceremony, he took the fast-speed train to go to Istanbul to intensify his election campaign. He was accompanied by dozens of cameramen and reporters, with a part of his train journey being broadcast live. He was again met by TV cameras for live coverage on his arrival in Istanbul, obviously pointing out at his advantage in using media outlets over his rival, Ekrem İmamoğlu.
Some public opinion surveys suggest that there was a decline in the votes for Yıldırım in the recent weeks because of his loose election campaign and continued debate over the fact that he was not very much willing to resign from his post. We will, therefore, witness a much more active campaign by Yıldırım until the elections to secure a good win.
Two contenders for Ankara, Mansur Yavaş of the Nation Alliance and Mehmet Özhaseki of the People’s Alliance, seem to be in a neck-and-neck race as indicated by independent surveys. Erdoğan instructed all senior AKP ministers and Ankara lawmakers to give solid support to the party’s efforts in Ankara, particularly to influence MHP voters to vote for Özhaseki. It’s no coincidence that Erdoğan himself is keen on visiting each and every district of Ankara as part of the campaign process.
With six weeks to go to the polls and candidates now totally registered, two major alliances are expected to gear up and win as many constituencies as they can in the upcoming elections.
According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (19.02.19, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/economy/turkish-treasury-holds-auctions-to-borrow-186b/1397340), the Turkish Treasury has borrowed 9.85 billion Turkish liras ($1.86 billion) from domestic markets, according to an official statement Tuesday.
The Treasury and Finance Ministry said the first auction was held for two-year fixed coupon bonds (semi-annually, reopen, seventh issuance), which amounted to 5.28 billion Turkish liras ($998 million).
The government bonds will be settled on Wednesday and mature on Aug. 12, 2020, while the total tender for the bonds was 6.8 billion Turkish liras ($1.28 billion) with a 77.7% accepted/tendered rate.
The interest rate of the 539-day bonds was accepted at an 8.79% term rate, as the annual simple and compound interest rates were 17.57 and 18.34 percent, respectively.
In a second auction on Tuesday, the Treasury borrowed 4.57 billion Turkish liras ($863 million) by issuing five-year CPI-indexed government bonds (semiannually, reopen, second issuance) to be settled on Wednesday and mature on Jan. 10, 2024.
The total tender for the bonds was 5.55 billion Turkish liras ($1.05 billion), with an 82.2% accepted/tendered rate.
The ministry said the term rate of 1,785-day bonds was accepted at 1.93 percent, while the annual simple and compound interest rates were 3.86 and 3.89 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Treasury also borrowed 2.56 billion Turkish liras ($483.7 million) from domestic markets by issuing six-month floating rate bonds on Monday.
According to the ministry's borrowing strategy, the Treasury projected to hold nine bond-auctions and a direct sale of lease certificate in the February-April period to borrow some $6.6 billion from domestic markets.
TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION