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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-05-12

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No. 88/08 10-11-12.05.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Turkish journalist who visited Cyprus on the views of Christofias and Talat
  • [02] Turkish journalists on their contacts in Cyprus
  • [03] Statements by Talat to TAK. Formula ready for the properties
  • [04] Statements by Avci after talks in Ankara
  • [05] The Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference arrived in occupied Cyprus
  • [06] The bed capacity of the hotels in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus is expected to reach 28 thousands- A delegation of the Turkish Tourism Investors Association is visiting occupied Cyprus
  • [07] Turkey and Syria to settle property disputes
  • [08] British criminal Sean Lupton is in the occupied part of Cyprus
  • [09] Joan Ryan watched the last football match of The bet arena London cup
  • [10] On the Cyprus issue in an interview of Dr Kerim by Semih Idiz
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [11] Property is difficult, who is responsible?
  • [12] Turkish journalist who visited Cyprus assesses prospects for a solution
  • [13] From the Turkish Pres of 10 and 11 May 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Turkish journalist who visited Cyprus on the views of Christofias and Talat

    Todays Zaman (12.05.08) reports the following by Abdulahanit Bilici under the title: Cypriot leaders realize challenges ahead despite positive atmosphere:

    Despite the positive atmosphere created vis--vis settlement of the Cyprus issue after a new leader was elected in Greek Cyprus, both Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias have made statements indicating that they are well aware of the major challenges ahead as they prepare to meet next week.

    The two leaders had agreed to resume peace negotiations this summer to end a decades-old stalemate. Thirteen working groups and technical committees from the island's Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides have been preparing the groundwork on topics ranging from governance to environmental protection.

    Hopes of reuniting Cyprus, divided between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities since 1974, have risen since Christofias was elected president in February.

    Talat, speaking with a group of journalists from Turkey, recalled how he told Christofias during their first meeting after his election, Comrade, we will either resolve the Cyprus issue, or we will bring about partition of the island, leading the Greek Cypriot leader's eyes to fill with tears.

    I'm aware of this. Anyhow, that's why I ran as a candidate, Christofias told him in response, Talat explained.

    In addition to the good chemistry between the two leaders, an increase in the number of people traveling between the northern and southern parts of the island also offers a reason for optimism. While 5,000 Turks were going to the south a day and 500 Greeks to the north before the elections, the number of Greeks crossing over to the Turkish side reached almost 5,000 after the elections.

    Ozdil Nami, a senior aide to Talat and chief Turkish Cypriot negotiator at the talks, also sounded hopeful. During the leadership of former Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos, the two sides were not even able to agree upon the names of the committees, Nami said, adding that they have been now able to make considerable progress in committee work although talks officially started only in mid-April.

    The performance of the committees and the increase in the number of Greek Cypriot visitors as well as the increase in support for a resolution in Greek Cypriot polls have considerably raised Talat's optimism.

    Reunification talks stalled in 2004 when Greek Cypriots rejected a UN settlement blueprint drafted by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that was overwhelmingly accepted by the Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cyprus joined the European Union soon after, and Brussels recognizes the Greek Cypriot-controlled government in the south as the island's sole authority.

    The two Cypriot sides agreed in 2006 to look at an incremental approach to negotiations, but that too had stalled because of disputes over its agenda. Talat's last encounter with Christofias' predecessor, Papadopoulos, ended in failure in September 2007. Following September 2007 the Greeks and Turks have remained far apart even on how to recommence negotiations. Turkish Cypriots wanted to work from the principles of the Annan plan, whereas Greek Cypriots referred to the July 8, 2006 agreement which outlines procedures for talks but cites no details.

    Without making any concessions on "political equality" of Turkish Cypriots with Greek Cypriots, Talat said negotiations could be made with Greek Cypriots on the Annan plan.

    For his part, Christofias, speaking with a group of journalists from Turkey, told Today's Zaman that reaching a solution within the year seemed difficult.

    A solution in Cyprus will be reached through a painful and bitter compromise. There can't be a return to pre-1974. The solution will be based upon the political equality of the two sides by establishing a bi-zonal and bi-communal federal state, Christofias said, while also suggesting that no progress has been made in the committees' work.

    The philosophies of the two sides are different. Talat is talking about international arbitration and 'a virgin birth' that will happen with the determination of the two states. We're encountering Turkey, which is a super-regional power, and our sole advantage is the Republic of Cyprus, which has international recognition. We can't abolish it even for one minute. In the latest decision by the National Security Council, two states and two peoples in Cyprus are mentioned. This is a major deterioration, and it can never be accepted. If Mr. Talat is left alone and if he acts freely, then we can reach a solution, he stated.

    Talat, meanwhile, in remarks delivered to the Turkish News Agency-Cyprus (TAK) on Sunday, said full-blown peace talks with the Greek Cypriot side could begin as of June if "one side doesn't break its promise."

    On May 23 they will gather to assess the committees' work, Talat said. When reminded of Christofias' remarks suggesting that full talks could be delayed, Talat replied: The general agreement is that they will begin in June. According to current conditions, there is no situation necessitating a delay. If one side doesn't break its promise, they will begin in June.

    [02] Turkish journalists on their contacts in Cyprus

    Turkish dailies Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and Taraf newspapers (11.05.08) report about a three-hour meeting of their journalists with President Christofias, as follows:

    Pelin Cengiz, in her report in Taraf writes that President Christofias told them that Foreign States were at the base of the Cyprus problem and that solution of the Cyprus problem passes through him and Talat.

    President Christofias asked: If we could not solve the Cyprus problem, who else could solve it, Jesus, Mohammed and God?

    President Christofias stressed that they will never give up, even a minute, the Republic of Cyprus, nor accept the parthenogenesis-virgin birth.

    He admitted that there are problems at the technical committees and working groups.

    Derya Sazak in his commentary in Milliyet under the title Visit to Christofias writes that during the three-hour meeting, President Christofias had explained how the re-unification will be realized.

    Derya Sazak also writes that President Christofias stressed that two states and virgin birth type solutions are unacceptable.

    In his turn Oral Calislar, in his column Point Zero in Cumhuriyet under the title Comrade Christofias. Comrade Talat writes that in the Turkish side the atmosphere is of a much more hopeful sign while in the Greek Cypriot side the atmosphere is of a more cautious nature.

    Mr Calislar, further says that both the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots developed a common sensitivity regarding the political equality and in Turkey the two state stress is in the foreground. He adds that regarding the solution of the Cyprus problem it is possible to say that there are differences between the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey. The Greek Cypriot side is trying to read and evaluate this difference, Calislar concludes.

    (MHY)

    [03] Statements by Talat to TAK. Formula ready for the properties

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (11.05.08) reported the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said Sunday that overall atmosphere prevailing at bi-communal technical and working committees that were making preparations for extensive talks in the island, was positive despite certain differences of opinion.

    Speaking to the Turkish Cypriot news agency, President Mehmet Ali Talat expressed his firm belief in the talks towards solution of the Cyprus issue and said negotiations would begin in June if none of the two parties withdrew. There has never been so much chance for solution, he said but added that the toughest issues during talks would be land and property.

    The toughest issue is property. It is a very complex problem. 30 to 40 years have passed, the properties changed owners many times. Besides both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are very sensitive about this issue. Therefore it is a tough issue, said Talat.

    Talat said they had a formula about property issues but refused to reveal its content until the beginning of talks. He said all issues regarding talks were on the table before the committees and pointed out that they would get together with leader of Greek Cypriot administration Demetris Christofias and assess the committees' work.

    Talat said he believed the positive atmosphere that came along with the election of Christofias as leader of the Greek Cypriot administration and enlivening of social relations, would be reflected on the talks.

    On Mr Talats statements illegal Bayrak television (11.05.08) broadcast the following:

    President Mehmet Ali Talat has said that despite differences in views between the technical committees and working groups established by the two sides, the general working atmosphere was positive and constructive.

    He said that full-fledged negotiations will commence in June as planned unless one of the two sides backs out.

    In an interview to the TAK news Agency, the President said that he was receiving information and reports on progress achieved by the technical committees and working groups on a systematic and daily basis.

    Pointing out that all issues concerning the Cyprus Problem were being discussed, but not negotiated by the technical committees and working groups, the President said that he and the Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias will be evaluating the overall progress achieved by the committees when they meet next week on the 23rd of May.

    Asked to comment on the Greek Cypriot leaders statement that the June negotiations could be postponed, the President said that the initial agreement was that talks would start in June.

    There is no need to postpone the talks under the current circumstances. The talks will go ahead as planned unless one of the two sides backs out.

    Talat also said that with the start of the negotiations in June, the UN Secretary-General will be appointing a new special envoy to Cyprus who will carry out the same duties as the former special envoy Alvara De Soto.

    Reminded about discussions on the basis of the negotiations, President Talat said that the Turkish Cypriot Side had insisted on bringing the Annan Plan back to the negotiating table but that they had failed to persuade the Greek Cypriots into accepting this.

    We have agreed to allow both sides to bring whatever issues they want to the negotiating table, he added.

    Explaining that preparations for full-fledged negotiations were going on at full speed, Talat stressed the issues of property and territorial arrangements were the two hardest topics to negotiate on.

    The property is an extremely complicated issue because it involves everyone, every individual. Ownership of properties has changed many hands over the past 30-40 years he said, adding that Turkish and Greek Cypriots were also extremely sensitive on the issue of property.

    Pointing out that territorial arrangements and adjustments was the other difficult issue on the Cyprus Problem, President Mehmet Ali Talat said determining maps and boundaries of founding states is a concise and thorny issue which requires a great degree of careful planning. We however have not carried out such study because maps can only be discussed if considerable progress has been achieved.

    On the issues of the guarantees, the President said that this was not difficult issue for the Turkish Cypriot Side as the guarantees were part of international agreements.

    He said that the Turkish Cypriots did not support the idea of abandoning the guarantees.

    As for the issues of citizenship and population brought up frequently by the Greek Cypriot leadership, Talat said he didnt think these issues will become problems.

    Pointing out that the continuation of the non-solution on the island will create serious difficulties for Turkey, The President said problems faced in Turkeys membership process will have an adverse affect on the Cyprus negotiations process.

    [04] Statements by Avci after talks in Ankara

    Illegal Bayrak television (10.05.08) broadcast the following:

    Deputy Prime Minister- Foreign Minister Turgay Avci, who returned to the Republic last night after completing his contacts in the Turkish capital Ankara, has stressed that the solution process in Cyprus must be based on an exact time-table.

    Mr. Avci made the statement in a joint press conference he held with the Turkish Foreign Minister and the Chief Negotiator Ali Babacan yesterday, at the end of their meeting.

    Avci stated that the Turkish side is in support of the establishment of a partnership in Cyprus which will be based on the political equality of two constituent states and bi-zonality.

    I once again want to emphasize that the Turkish Cypriot side will in no way accept any kind of solution which eliminates or dilutes Turkeys effective guarantor power, he added.

    Mr Babacan for his part reiterated Turkeys commitment towards contributing to the new solution process in Cyprus and said he expects all parties concerned to support the process with a constructive way of understanding.

    Mr Avci earlier met with the Turkish Minister of State in Charge of Cyprus Affairs Cemil Cicek and the Mayor of Ankara Melih Gokcek as part of his contacts in Ankara.

    At the end of his meeting with Mr Cicek, Mr Avci told reporters: We understood once again that Turkeys sensitivity on Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot People remains high.

    [05] The Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference arrived in occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (11.05.08) reports that the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Professor Dr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu arrived in occupied Cyprus yesterday in order to receive an honorary PHD degree from the Near East University (YDU) and to hold contacts in the TRNC.

    Dr Ihsanoglu was received at the illegal Ercan (occupied Tymvou) airport by the self-styled foreign minister, Turgay Avci, and university officials. Speaking on his arrival, Dr Ihsanoglu stated, inter alia, that he is very pleased for visiting the TRNC and that he follows closely the developments in Cyprus. He also stated that they see positively the spring weather created after the election in south Cyprus (the Republic of Cyprus) and that he hopes the new effort for negotiations will be successful. He also stated that he welcomes the efforts made by the UN for the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    On his part Mr Avci stated that they want equal conditions and a just and comprehensive solution with the Greek Cypriots. However, he said, they will not sit and wait while the process is going on but they will continue their openings, especially with the OIC countries. He went on and stated that the TRNC wants to continue the openings to the OIC countries and that it wants to come closer with the 57 countries which are members of the OIC.

    Dr Ihsanoglu will receive at 10.00 in the morning today his honorary PHD degree from the YDU and he will later today have lunch with the university rector. In addition, he will later today have contacts with the self-styled foreign minister, Turgay Avci and in the afternoon he will meet with the prime minister, Ferdi Soyer.

    (CS)

    [06] The bed capacity of the hotels in the occupied areas is expected to reach 28 thousands. A delegation of the Turkish Tourism Investors Association is visiting occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (11.05.08) writes in its inside pages and under the title 45 new constructions in the tourism industry that a few years, the bed capacity of the hotels in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus is expected to reach 28 thousands, a two-fold increase when the 45 new constructions come in operation.

    According to the paper, twenty seven of the new constructions are being built in the occupied Keryneia region (3.654 beds), fourteen in occupied Trikomo (6.605 beds), two in occupied Lefkosia (520 beds), one in occupied Famagusta (68 beds) and one in occupied Morfou (36 beds).

    According to the Tourism Office of Planning, 120 facilities are now offering accommodation in the illegal regime, with a total capacity of 15.136 beds. As Vatan writes, in the regions of occupied Keryneia and occupied Trikomo there are 11 hotels rated as 5-star, 6 hotels rated as 4-star, 17 hotels rated as 3-star, 16 hotels rated as 2-star and 21 units rated as 1-star hotels. There are also 6 units rated as B class accommodation, 32 tourist bungalows, some hotel apartments, boutique hotels and traditional local houses.

    Vatan further writes that occupied Keryneia hosts 78.3% of the tourist activities, which equals to 94 facilities with a total capacity of 10.674 beds. On the other hand, occupied Trikomo hosts twelve private facilities with 2.304 beds capacity, while occupied Famagusta offers nine hotels with 1.756 beds in total. In occupied Morfou there are three hotels offering a total of 122 beds and in occupied Lefkosia there are two hotels offering a total of 280 beds.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (11.05.08) reports that the self-styled minister of economy and tourism, Erdogan Sanlidag, gave a dinner in honor of a 45-person delegation of the Turkish Tourism Investors Association (TTYD) which is visiting occupied Cyprus. The head of the delegation is Murat Dedemen. Speaking at the dinner the self-styled minister stated, inter alia, that the main aim of his ministry is to introduce the TRNC to the world and by doing so they are determined to bring the world to the TRNC. He went on and stated that this year more tourists will visit the TRNC and added that they will continue systematically they connections and efforts with the British and the German markets.

    (ML/CS)

    [07] Turkey and Syria to settle property disputes

    Turkish daily Sabah newspaper, English edition (12.05.08), publishes the following under the title: Billion dollar exchange between Turkey and Syria:

    The activities to exchange 15 thousand immovables of Syrians in Turkey and 50 thousand immovables of Turks in Syria have started. According to the information, Turks have assets of around $30-50 billion.

    The issue of real estate, immovable and land of billion dollars between Turkey and Syria is about to be solved. The Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian leader Bear Esad met in order to give back Golan hills to Syria. It is stated that Turkish citizens will make a profit of $20-40 billion from this exchange. According to the information, a common activity group was formed in order to solve the issue. Ministry of defense, national real estate directorate, title deed directorate and the ministry of foreign affairs carried out a common activity and the negotiations have started.

    [08] British criminal Sean Lupton is in the occupied part of Cyprus

    Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (12.05.08) publishes a report by its correspondent in occupied Lefkosia Omer Bilge, under the title A chase in Kyrenia for the British who robbed 32 million sterling. Bilge reports that the British police force with the police in the occupied part of Cyprus have spotted the traces of the British Sean Lupton. The police, following his mobile phone conservations, is looking for Sean Lupton in occupied Kyrenia. Lupton is a regular customer of the casinos. The Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat said that Sean Lupton appeared in the occupied part of Cyprus last year with the missing 32 million pound sterling. He added that the police is officially looking for Sean Lupton, his assistant Richard Monroe and his accomplices Mustafa and Huseyin Basar. Sean Lupton, who has been in the island for a year, was spotted at the occupied village of Agios Epiktitos through his mobile conservations. Mr Talat also gave his promise to Lord Ahmed, member of the British House of Lords, who was in the island last week that he would return Lupton when he is arrested.

    On the same issue, under the title The head of a gang is having a good time, Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (12.05.08) reports that the British police had secret information that Lupton is spending excessive amounts of money in occupied Kyrenia. There was a big operation by the police in the occupied part of Cyprus during the weekend in order to arrest Sean Lupton, a suspected member of the gang that stole 53m in Britain's biggest ever cash robbery. When the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office was uneasy for the operation on the point of diplomatic relations, it was decided that the police in the occupied part of Cyprus would be included in the operation. Before the big operation, Lord Ahmet of Pakistani origin, member of the British House of Lords - was sent last week to the occupied part of Cyprus. The operation was materialized after a meeting between the British Kent police and the chiefs of the police of the occupied part of Cyprus in occupied Lefkosia. No statement was issued after the operation. The British press reported that although there are no official diplomatic relations between Britain and the TRNC, Mr Talat promised that he would return Lupton. A taxi driver has said that he was paid to smuggle Lupton in with Turkish Cypriot brothers Hussein and Mustafa Basar, from the south part of Cyprus to the north. There is also the claim that the Basar brothers are investing the 32million pound sterling in luxury cars like Mercedes.

    (DPs)

    [09] Joan Ryan watched the last football match of The bet arena London cup

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (11.05.08) reports that the Koneli football team won the cup at the The bet arena London cup, which took place in the UK, between 9-14 of May. The Koneli football team, which is the champion of the first league in occupied Cyprus, and the occupied Agios Amvrosios football team, which won the cup participated both in The bet arena London cup.

    The paper writes that Joan Ryan, MP of the Labor Party and special representative of the British Prime Minister for Cyprus, Ali Volkan, TRNC prime ministry representative in Britain, Yavuz Yanik, TRNC London representative and various TRNC sport officials watched the final match between the Koneli football team and the Mehmetcik team. The paper writes that Mrs Ryan congratulated the players of the teams which participated in the tournament and the referee.

    (CS)

    [10] On the Cyprus issue in an interview of Dr Kerim by Semih Idiz

    Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (12.05.08), under the title, People are dying and we are talking about sovereignty, publishes an interview of Dr. Srgjan Kerim, President of the United Nations General Assembly, who was one of the important international persons visiting Ankara last week. Replying to the question of the columnist Semih Idiz whether he is hopeful that the Cyprus problem would be solved this time, Dr Kerim said: Turkey and Greece share the same goals. This is also valid for Cyprus. Both of them are NATO members. Turkey is trying to become an EU member. All these ensure a momentum near to solution. The frame and the parameter, which come to light within the UN framework, safeguard the necessary infrastructure for the solution. In addition to that, there is a new atmosphere in the island. The signals that come from both sides are very positive.

    (DPs)


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [11] Property is difficult, who is responsible?

    Under the above title Turkish Cypriot columnist Aytug Turkkan publishes the following commentary in daily Star Kibris newspaper (12.05.08) regarding Turkish Cypriot leader, Mehmet Ali Talats recent statements to illegal TAK news agency:

    President Talat is very reluctant about the property issue. In his interview published today he is putting this forward openly. Look at what the esteemed president says: Property is the most difficult issue, because it concerns everybody, every individual. It is a problem the solution of which is complicated. 30-40 years have passed, how many hands have the properties changed? Furthermore, both the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots are sensitive on the property issue. Therefore, property is a difficult issue.

    Yes, esteemed Talat has put forward correct assessments. The properties have changed many hands in 30-40 years, but especially the construction boom experienced on the Greek Cypriot properties in the North after the referendum on 24 April 2004 made the nature of the problem much wider and led it to an international dimension. Many foreigners bought and even sold properties belonging to Greek Cypriots. The scream for help raised then by the peace forces regarding the sales of Greek Cypriot properties was ignored. The administrators led this important problem to a point at which it will not be possible to be solved!

    The fresh money that flowed into the market dazzled everybody. No one said anything about the plundering of the properties! Many peasants, who came in 1974 from Turkey to the daughter land in order to work in farming and became owners of the Greek Cypriot properties that they were temporarily using by the ITEM law which entered into effect with the signature of the CTP, in 2004 and the period that followed, with the condonation of the authorities, sold for millions of dollars the fields they acquired for free and returned back to their country.

    And now we are saying that the property is the most difficult issue. Is it not a little strange? Is the first prime minister of the new process and the current president Talat as well as the CTP government not the main actors for the fact that such a complicated problem has taken an even more complicated form and there is no way out of it?

    The fact that CTP, which came to power criticizing the mentality of the UBP that usurped the Greek Cypriot properties for many years, added another mistake on that mistake caused this problem. Now, what is the use of bemoaning?

    Even in the period when the Annan Plan was being discussed, the fact that there was not the necessary financial resource for those who would abandon their houses had caused heated debates. While in 2004 reference was made to such a large amount of money, which I do not remember now and I could not even pronounce it, I wonder now, after four years of plundering, how bigger dimensions this amount obtained. Has this been calculated in the Silihtar Bastion? [Translators Note: The area where Mr Talats office is located in the occupied part of Nicosia]

    Yes, this issue is very difficult, but still Talat is gladdening our heart! We have a formula, we will propose it, says the esteemed president. He is not saying what the formula is. He is only saying that it is a formula similar to the Annan Plan.

    Even putting a nail on a building was subject to permit for a specific period in the Annan Plan, but in four years we constructed thousands of buildings.

    Esteemed Talat is right. This property issue is very difficult.

    (I/Ts.)

    [12] Turkish journalist who visited Cyprus assesses prospects for a solution

    Under the title: Is there hope in Cyprus? Todays Zaman (12.05.08) publishes the following:

    The election of Demetris Christofias as the president of Greek Cyprus last February once more raised hopes for settlement of the Cyprus problem. This is because Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat and Mr. Christofias are longtime friends, sharing -- at least in the past -- similar political philosophies. It is also because both Christofias and the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) -- formerly the Communist Party of Cyprus -- he leads have been in favor of reunification of the island, like Mr. Talat and the Republican Turks' Party (CTP) he leads.

    Mr. Christofias' support for settlement of the Cyprus problem has unfortunately so far mostly been words and not deeds. Mr. Christofias and AKEL supported the election of the previous Greek Cypriot president, Tassos Papadopoulos -- as strongly opposed to a settlement as Rauf Denktas, the previous Turkish Cypriot president. Mr. Christofias and AKEL also, in a referendum held in 2004, actively campaigned for a "no" vote on the UN-brokered and European Union-supported Annan plan to reunite the island. If the Annan plan had not been rejected by the Greek part of the island, a united Cyprus would have joined the EU, and the presence of Turkish soldiers on the island, the highest concern for Greek Cypriots, would have ended by now.

    The fact that Mr. Christofias won the Greek Cypriot presidency on a promise to revive efforts to reunite the island, however, his call to Talat to resume negotiations followed by their meeting on March 21 and the actual resumption of talks since then are the reasons for the once more raised hopes for a settlement. Mr. Talat has even declared that 2008 may be the year of the Cyprus problem's solution.

    I was among a group of (pro-solution and Europhile) academics and journalists from Turkey who visited Cyprus last weekend at Talat's invitation. Not only did we get the chance to be briefed on the state of negotiations by Mr. Talat himself and his team of negotiators, but also by Mr. Christofias. We were granted special permission to cross the border to the south by simply presenting our Turkish identity cards, and Christofias very cordially hosted the group at the presidential palace. He made a presentation of his case, which lasted about an hour, and then for another hour or so responded to questions. This occasion is another indication that the attitude in the presidential palace in Nicosia has changed, considering the fact that the former Greek Cypriot president had out of principle avoided meeting journalists from Turkey, and Turkish journalists crossing the border from the north had been unthinkable.

    As we listened to Mr. Christofias' presentation, emphasizing the brotherhood of the two peoples on the island and expressing his conviction that a just solution is not only desirable but possible, the general impression among us that things may indeed be moving in the right direction grew stronger. The question-and-answer session with Christofias, however, changed that impression quite radically. We had been told by the Turkish team of negotiators that the talks in the technical committees and working groups formed by the two sides were moving quite smoothly and that the issues on which they could not reach consensus would be left to the presidents to deal with. Mr. Christofias declared, to the contrary, that the talks were not moving at all, because of the two sides' opposing "philosophies."

    The Greek side was offering a solution based on the reorganization of the existing Republic of Cyprus on the principles of a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation with political equality of the two sides. The Turkish side, on the other hand, was insisting on "virgin birth," i.e., the creation of a new common state. The Greek side was in favor of a deal negotiated between two sides, while the Turkish side wanted international arbitration. The Greek side wanted an end to the treaty that puts the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus under joint guarantee by Turkey, Greece and Britain, while the Turkish side wanted its continuation. The Greek side was strongly opposed to the implementation of the EU's direct trade regulation with Turkish Cyprus because this would be tantamount to recognizing the existing Turkish Cypriot state. The "final opportunity" for a deal on Cyprus should not be and may not be wasted, but the year 2008 surely does not seem to be the year of the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    [13] From the Turkish Pres of 10 May 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press on 10 and 11 May:

    a) Turkish EU relations:

    According to Yalcin Dogan, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and EU Commissioner Olli Rehn are close friends. He argues that they play an interesting role in Turkey's relations with the EU. In a column in Hurriyet newspaper (10.05.08), he claims that Rehn supports the AKP and notes: He does not behave like a Western official. Does his statements on Turkey reflect the EU views? Focusing on the AKP, Dogan argues that the party uses its foreign relations to save itself. However, he warns that it might not always be able to achieve the results it wants.

    A report in Istanbul Hurriyet (10.05.08) says that the Deputy President of the Supreme Court Osman Sirin has protested against Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin's decision to submit the draft text of the judicial reforms to Olli Rehn without consulting the Supreme Court. Quoting Sirin as saying that Sahin's decision was unexpected, the report notes that Sirin urged the Supreme Court to take measures to acquire a copy of the draft for the sake of judicial reforms and procedures in the future. According to the report, Council of State President Sumru Cortoglu also protested against Sahin's decision. She will strongly criticize the government when she addresses the institution before she retires.

    Mustafa Balbay criticizes Barosso and the other EU officials for their views on Turkey's secular structure and Islamic inclination. In a column in Istanbul Cumhuriyet (10.05.08) he singles out Barroso and says: He believes secularism is imposed on the people. He is not aware of the developments in Turkey. As far as he is concerned, nothing can be imposed. Well, why is the EU trying to impose its views on Turkey? Balbay wonders if Barroso has other plans in mind.

    A column by Murat Yetkin in the Istanbul Turkish Daily News (10.05.08) views the support the EU gives to the ruling AKP and warns: Erdogan is aware that an overdose might kill, and a bad lawyer can cost you a case.

    In an article entitled "Baykal Compares AKP to the Damat Ferit Cabinet", in Milli Gazete (10.05.08) columnist Suleyman Arif Emre asserts that as long as the CHP does not announce that it has stopped supporting Turkey's bid to join the EU, it has no right to criticize the AKP for "submitting to the EU" and to compare the AKP to the Damat Ferit government, "which was denounced as an administration that allowed Western intervention in Turkey" while it remained in power over 1919-1920. Emre also claims that Turkey's membership in the EU would be a violation of Articles 6 and 303 of the Constitution and the Turkish Penal Code, which forbid the transfer of national sovereignty on pain of life imprisonment.

    b) Closure case against AKP:

    In an article entitled "The Closure Case and the Cyprus Case" in Yeni Safak (11.05.08) columnist Fehmi Koru points out that the closure case against the AKP seems to have prompted Cypriot President Demetris Christofias to reconsider his optimistic stance on the Cyprus question because of the possibility of the AKP's closure. He says: "He has lost much of his enthusiasm which also excited Turkish Cypriots. As you can see, the closure case also poses a threat to the Cyprus case."

    In an article entitled "Does not the prohibition to influence the judiciary also apply to Cortoglu" in Vakit (11.05.08) columnist Ihsan Karahasanoglu criticizes Sumru Cortoglu, Chief Justice of the Council of State, for tacitly accusing the EU of interfering in the closure case against the AKP. Reminding that Cortoglu attempted to influence a court trying a suspect accusing of murdering three judges of the Council of State by saying that the murders were committed by a fundamentalist seeking revenge for the ban on wearing headscarf in universities, Karahasanoglu says: "Why do you urge others to remain silent about the closure case against the AKP in spite of the fact that you made comments about the case related to Council of State?"

    In an article entitled "Apple juice which looks like wine" in Milli Gazete (11.05.08) columnist Zeki Ceyhan criticizes AKP officials for changing their attitudes and appearance in a bid to prove that they have adapted themselves to Western lifestyle. He says: "Would not a court ruling to ban the AKP turn out to be beneficial if it prompts our friends in the AKP to come to their senses? Another possibility is that it will cause them to take their efforts to copy others to extremes."

    ES/


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