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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review, 13-11-20

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 CYPRIOT AND TURKISH MEDIA REVIEW No. 219/13 19-20.11.13

[A] TURKISH CYPRIOT / TURKISH PRESS

  • [01] Turkish NSC alleges that agreement is reached on transferring electricity and water from Turkey to the occupied and government-controlled area of Cyprus
  • [02] Eroglu: "TRNC is taking root"
  • [03] EU Commission denies information that it favours inclusion of illegal Tymvou airport in the proposal for opening Varosha
  • [04] Cyprus problem on the issues discussed during Davutoglu's meeting with Kerry in Washington
  • [05] British FM visits Turkey to commemorate al-Qaeda attack victims
  • [06] Aslan Menguc is the new chairman of Foreign Press Association's in occupied Cyprus
  • [07] Celebrations of the breakaway regime in Rome
  • [08] Sertoglu: the approval of the provisional arrangement by CFA creates pressure
  • [09] The 3rd World Turkish Cypriot Congress" to take place in occupied Cyprus
  • [10] Davutoglu to visit Iran to attend ECO
  • [11] "Turkish politicians hit below belt in Kurdish debate"
  • [12] Columnist writes about Erdogan's visit to Russia and notes that despite problems Russia and Turkey are best of friends
  • [13] Criticism for AKP's decision to join AECR

  • [A] TURKISH CYPRIOT / TURKISH PRESS

    [01] Turkish NSC alleges that agreement is reached on transferring electricity and water from Turkey to the occupied and government-controlled area of Cyprus

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (19.11.13), in a report submitted to the Turkish National Security Council (NSC) under the title "Developments on the issue of the projects for providing water and transferring electricity from Turkey to the TRNC" it is said that the water and electricity which will be transferred from Turkey to the occupied area of Cyprus is planned to be carried to the government-controlled area of the island "after a certain period of time".

    The paper writes that in the report it is noted that an agreement has been reached between Turkey and Greece on the issue of "investigating the sale of electricity from Turkey" to the occupied and the government-controlled area of Cyprus and that the feasibility study of the project continued.

    It is also said that the intensification of the realization of the project of transferring electricity to the occupied area of Cyprus from Turkey was decided at a meeting held on 3 October 2012 in Ankara between delegations from Turkey and the breakaway regime, during which the issue of providing water to the occupied area of Cyprus was discussed.

    It is noted that the project would be undertaken by Turkey's Electricity Transfer Incorporated Company (TEIAS) on behalf of the so-called Cyprus Electricity Authority (KIB-TEK), that it would include the transfer of 200 megawatts of electricity with cables under the sea from Anamur, Mersin area, to occupied Keryneia, that TEIAS would invite international tenders as regards the building of the undersea cables and that together with Turkish firms, Italian, British and French firms were also expected to participate in the tenders.

    The report said also that Cyprus has a chronic problem in the supply of water and referred to statements allegedly made by late President Archbishop Makarios, who had reportedly said that he would never permit the island to be connected to Turkey. It claimed that 50 years after these statements, the connection of the island with Turkey will be realized with the transfer of water. "Thus it is considered that an idea, which has a past of 40 years and has become a slogan, will arouse", it adds.

    Meanwhile, according to Havadis, the self-styled minister of agriculture, food and energy of the breakaway regime, Onder Sennaroglu has denounced the information regarding the existence of a project for transferring electricity from Turkey to the occupied area of Cyprus with undersea pipelines. Noting that "such a project does not exist", Sennaroglu pointed out that even if such a project is prepared, this would need three years.

    According to Havadis, the report includes, inter alia, the following points:

    "The first appearance of the project is within the scope of developing the economic relations between Turkey and Greece. An agreement has been reached between Turkey and Greece on the issue of investigating the sale of electricity from Turkey to the TRNC and the Greek administration of south Cyprus?

    It seems important from the point of view of the Turkish Cypriots not feeling alone and of showing that Turkey supports them in a strong manner as a result of the realization of these projects.

    The projects will break the expectation which exists in the Greek administration of south Cyprus that the 'Turkish Cypriots will surrender as a result of the implemented isolations and accept the minority status'.

    The above-mentioned projects have the quality of being able to be developed and extended to third countries and mainly to the Greek administration of south Cyprus in the middle and long term?"

    The paper writes that the purchase of energy by the Greek Cypriots from the Turkish Cypriots after the tragedy at Vassiliko as a result of the explosion at Mari naval base, "encouraged the Turkish side" on the issue of transferring energy from Turkey to the government-controlled area of Cyprus. "The view that "the Greek Cypriots will not buy energy from the north" ceased to exist, the paper says.

    Moreover, commenting on the issue in Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (20.11.13), columnist Aysu Basri Akter writes that "we actually understand once more that Cyprus is only a passage" for broader interests and the island's own needs and priorities are not taken into consideration.

    She goes on and writes, inter alia, the following: "?It seems that nationalism is again lying in the main idea of the project called the project of the century... Revenge for Makarios, connecting the island to Turkey and another small detail. Noting that the Greek Cypriot side will not want to stay committed to these projects predicting the target of unification, it is stressed that 'the target for a united Cyprus will end' in the middle term. The saddening aspect of the issue is not only the content of this report or the dependency of the island on Turkey. It is not even the fact that the officials here are so far away. It is the fact that the opposition, the civilian organizations, the trade unions and all other mechanisms in the society are in deep sleep. The media is included in this. If self-criticism is necessary, this report was published on NSC's official website on 12 July."

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Eroglu: "TRNC is taking root"

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris (20.11.13), under the above title, reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, during a meeting with a delegation from Turkey's War Veterans association of Bursa, claimed that as long as the Greek Cypriots continue disagreeing at the negotiation table, "TRNC" will be established.

    Commenting on the Cyprus problem and the negotiation process during the meeting, Eroglu argued: "We have been sitting at the negotiation table for years. The Greek Cypriots have rejected all the agreement texts, which have emerged. While they reject them, the TRNC [Transl. Note: the breakaway regime in the government controlled area of the Republic of Cyprus] is taking root. As long as the Greek Cypriots keep on with their disagreements at the negotiation table, the TRNC will take root."

    Eroglu also said that with each passing day Turkey is getting bigger and the "TRNC" is flourishing.

    Meanwhile, Eroglu also had a meeting with a delegation from Turkey's War Veterans Association of Manisa-Kula, who are in the occupied area for celebrations to mark the anniversary of the breakaway regime's Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI).

    Eroglu briefed them also on the latest developments on the Cyprus problem. He noted that he wishes to reach an agreement, arguing: "If we learn to live in good neighbourly relations, as a matter of fact there is peace in Cyprus at the moment. Are any guns being fired or is there any bloodshed here." Let's create a common roof, something that would be important, he added. He said time will tell whether this is possible or not.

    Referring to the Turkish invasion in Cyprus in 1974, Eroglu said that they try to boost the "TRNC" with new investments, arguing that the Turkish invasion created a "state" for Turkish Cypriots.

    Stressing that their first duty is to keep alive their "state", Eroglu said that their next duty is to be able to safeguard an agreement if there is an agreement. He argued that they have not met with the new Cyprus President at the negotiation table, although eight months have passed since his election. He accused the Greek Cypriot side of playing with time and making up excuses.

    [03] EU Commission denies information that it favours inclusion of illegal Tymvou airport in the proposal for opening Varosha

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.11.13) reported that Peter Stano, spokesman of the EU Commissioner for the Enlargement, has denied information that Stefan Fule and the President of the Commission, Jose Manuel Barosso favour inclusion of the opening of illegal Tymvou airport in the package of proposals as regards the return of occupied closed city of Varosha to its legal owners.

    Replying in writing to the paper's questions, Stano said that the Commission encourages steps which will contribute in the creation of positive climate for facilitating the everyday life of the Cypriots. He noted that the Commission calls on the sides to prepare their peoples by making the necessary compromises and stresses the urgency of finding a solution in Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, Kibris asked also the views of representatives of Turkish Cypriot businessmen, in the fields of trade and industry, on the issue of including the opening of illegal Tymvou airport in the package of proposals as regards Varosha. They argued that many questions exist as regards the proposals of the Greek Cypriots on Varosha.

    The chairman of the chamber of industry, Gunay Cerkez alleged that the Greek Cypriot proposal is insufficient in establishing balance between the two sides and that the timing of the proposal was wrong, as Varosha is a part of the negotiations. He wondered whether the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots will be fully lifted if the illegal Tymvou opens, whether they will be treated as third country citizens when the export goods to the EU and whether the "Direct Trade Regulation" will be implemented.

    The chairman of the chamber of commerce, Ali Cirali said that it would be more beneficial for the Turkish Cypriots if the illegal Tymvou airport was included in the package, as Tymvou is more important than the port of occupied Famagusta, because tourism is the motor engine of their economy.

    The chairman of the building contractors' union, Faik Dagasti said that they are positive to the Greek Cypriot proposals on Varosha, because of these proposals' big business potential. He noted that the opening of Varosha will be something good and that if there is no agreement in Cyprus, the future of both the occupied and the government-controlled area of the island will not be bright.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Cyprus problem on the issues discussed during Davutoglu's meeting with Kerry in Washington

    Illegal Bayrak television (19.11.13) reports about the visit of the Turkish Foreign Minsiter Ahmet Davutoglu to Washington and writes that during his meeting with the US Secretary of State John Kerry, the latter refered to the Cyprus negotiations process.

    Davutoglu met with his US counterpart John Kerry within the framework of his contacts in Washington D.C. A number of issues ranging from Turkish-Israeli relations to Syria and the Cyprus problem were discussed at the meeting, Bayrak broadcast.

    Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting, Kerry said that Turkey played a very large role in the region, particularly on Syria and the Cyprus problem.

    "For months now, we have been talking about Cyprus. And quietly, we have been trying to work ways that our ambassadors, who are front and centre in this ? in these initiatives, are continuing that process. Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators are making important progress, and we urge all parties to make the most of the current window of opportunity and to restart comprehensive talks" he said.

    Reporting on the same issue, Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.11.13) reports that Davutoglu and US Kerry reaffirmed the close relationship between the two allies as they attempt to jointly navigate global challenges.

    "Whether the challenge is Syria, or Iran, Middle East peace process, the future of our NATO alliance, or ensuring economic prosperity, the US and Turkey share strategic goals," said Kerry.

    He added, "I think there are only a few countries ? you can count them on one or two hands ? who work on as many issues together as effectively as we are working on them. And we are both stronger when we tackle these challenges and create opportunities together."

    Asked whether he thought Washington had sent mixed signals to Ankara during the Syrian crisis, Davutoglu replied, "Since there is a sincere dialogue, consultation, and ? mixed or not-mixed signals, but there is no signals. Direct, sincere, friendly, if sometimes needed, very frank also consultation between us, because we are working not only for our nations, but for regional and global peace. And that will continue forever between Turkish presidents, leaders, as well as American, Turkish ministers of foreign affairs forever."

    Both Kerry and Davutoglu stressed their joint commitment to ending the now over two and a half year Syrian conflict. Davutoglu and Kerry praised the Syrian opposition's decision to participate in the upcoming talks.

    [05] British FM visits Turkey to commemorate al-Qaeda attack victims

    Turkish daily Today's Zaman (19.11.13) reports that British Foreign Secretary William Hague is visiting Turkey to commemorate the victims of al-Qaeda's 2003 double bombing of HSBC's Istanbul headquarters and the city's British Consulate General.

    According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Hague arrived in Istanbul on Tuesday and plans to attend a commemoration ceremony to be held on Wednesday, the anniversary of the attacks, at the British Consulate General with his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

    "The visit of Foreign Minister Hague will be a new, high-level sign of the importance of cooperation in this field [counterterrorism] and the two countries' firm stance and solidarity against a common danger, terrorism," the statement said.

    Homegrown Islamist militants tied to al-Qaida carried out two suicide bombings targeting HSBC and the British Consulate General in Istanbul in 2003, killing 58 people and wounding 400.

    While in Turkey, Hague is expected to meet with Davutoglu on Wednesday to discuss cooperation in the fight against terrorism; Turkey-EU relations; developments in the EU, Cyprus and Syria; and recent regional and international issues as well as bilateral relations between Turkey and the United Kingdom. Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and his British counterpart will also attend the foreign ministers' meeting.

    [06] Aslan Menguc is the new chairman of Foreign Press Association's in occupied Cyprus

    Illegal Bayrak television (19.11.13) reports that the Foreign Press Association's new executive board met with the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu. The board expressed its full support to Eroglu on the Cyprus problem and the negotiations process.

    Speaking during the visit, Menguc said that the Foreign Press Association was "north Cyprus's window to the world". Expressing support to Eroglu in the Cyprus negotiations process, Menguc underlined the importance of giving a strong unified image to the outside world.

    [07] Celebrations of the breakaway regime in Rome

    Illegal Bayrak television (19.11.13) reports that the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the breakaway regime was celebrated with a reception in Rome. The reception hosted by the so-called TRNC representative in Rome Novber Ferit Vechi and was attended by Turkey's Ambassador to Rome Hakk? Akil, the Turkish Ambassador to the Vatican Kenan Gursoy, former Italian Senators Paolo Pietro Amato and Marco Perduca as well as the former Italian Ambassador to Ankara Carlo Marsili.

    [08] Sertoglu: the approval of the provisional arrangement by CFA creates pressure

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (20.11.13), the chairman of the so-called Turkish Cypriot Football Association (KTFF/ CTFA) Hasan Sertoglu, speaking to the paper regarding the approval by the Cyprus Football Association's (CFA) General Assembly of the provisional football reunification arrangement signed in Zurich, said that this sort of development has put pressure on them. He argued that this approval should not have been given, because according to article 7 of the provisional agreement, the voting at the General Assemblies should have been done simultaneously.

    [Translator's note: The Parameter n?7 of the provisional arrangement for football in Cyprus is the following: This Arrangement will come into force and will be binding on both the CFA and the CTFA upon approval by their respective General Assemblies.]

    Sertoglu argued that the latest statements by CFA President Costakis Koutsokoumnis don't correspond with his stance in Zurich. He added that he believes that these statements and meetings have not happened with the intention to drive them into the corner because it will be in vain.

    Sertoglu said that he asked from FIFA the official minutes of the meeting and that he will make a public announcement after he will get them.

    [09] The 3rd World Turkish Cypriot Congress" to take place in occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (20.11.13) reports that the 3rd World Turkish Cypriot Congress" is starting tomorrow in occupied Cyprus.

    The congress will take place between 21-23 of November at Acapoulco Hotel in occupied Keryneia. The congress will deal among others with the problems of the Turkish Cypriots living abroad.

    [10] Davutoglu to visit Iran to attend ECO

    Turkish daily Today's Zaman (19.11.13) reports that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will visit Tehran to attend the 21st Meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and to reciprocate his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif's visit to Ankara in early November.

    According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Davutoglu will pay a two-day visit to Tehran to attend the ministers' meeting on Nov. 26 and 27. On the first day of his trip, he will hold talks with leading officials at the meeting. On day two, Davutoglu will meet with Iranian officials. A Turkish official said some details of Davutoglu's Tehran schedule are still unclear, but the foreign minister is expected to be received by top Iranian officials as Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif met with President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Davutoglu on his one-day visit to Turkey on Nov. 1.

    Zarif discussed Turkish-Iranian ties and regional developments in the Middle East with Turkey's highest officials. Zarif's trip to Turkey was the first official visit by an Iranian official since Iranian President Hassan Rohani took office on Aug. 4.

    The Syrian civil war, which has raged on Turkey's doorstep for more than two-and-a-half years, is expected to top the agenda of Davutoglu's visit.

    Syria was also among the topics discussed during Zarif's visit. While Zarif was in Turkey, he and Davutoglu both expressed concern about the growth of sectarian conflict in the Middle East and signaled that they had found some common ground regarding the sectarian clashes in the Syrian civil war. Though Turkey and Iran back different sides in Syria, they share a concern about the re-awakening of sectarianism in the region and agreed to work together against sectarian threats.

    Davutoglu and Zarif are likely to discuss regional developments, bilateral ties and Iran's nuclear program on the Turkish foreign minister's visit.

    [11] "Turkish politicians hit below belt in Kurdish debate"

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (20.11.13) reports the following regarding the reaction created on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's meeting with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani over the weekend:

    "[?] Turkey's Parliament was the site of added drama yesterday as the government and opposition parties vented their fury at each other over Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's weekend visit to Southeast Anatolia.

    In a departure from the norm, Erdogan was not the main source of frustration for opposition leaders yesterday, as Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani and Kurdish singer Sivan Perwer ? both of whom met Erdogan in Diyarbak?r on Nov. 16 ? as well as late Kurdish singer Ahmet Kaya, were also the subject of either bitter criticism or praise from opposition leaders.

    From the point of view of the opposition, the gathering in Diyarbak?r was unsatisfactory and insincere or even amounted to treason.

    For his part, Erdogan stood solidly behind the approach he displayed in Diyarbak?r regarding the Kurdish issue, while particularly using the term "Kurdistan" once more in apparent defiance against criticism by ultranationalists to his approach and language.

    Furthermore, Erdogan recalled that the Ottoman Empire used to call the Black Sea region "Lazistan," while the founding Parliament of the Republic of Turkey used to call the southeastern Anatolian region "Kurdistan." His remarks referring to the provincial administration of the Ottoman Empire are likely to spark yet another wave of criticism, since they could be interpreted as a sign of Erdogan's desire to implement a federal system.

    "A big state cannot be built with fear. Those who are afraid of words, of concepts, of taboos ? cannot build a big state," Erdogan said, addressing his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies.

    The Prime Minister urged those who labelled his jargon in Diyarbak?r as "separatist" to read the minutes of the founding Parliament of 1920.

    "Then, was Mustafa Kemal a separatist, too? Were all the deputies at the time who used the word 'Kurdistan' separatists, too?" he asked, particularly targeting the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). "Was the late Alparslan Turkes, who said 'We have a Kurdish son-in-law,' a separatist, too?" he asked, referring to the founder of the MHP.

    On Nov. 16, thousands gathered to hear Erdogan and Barzani speak, opening a day of ceremonies including a performance by Perwer, who had fled Turkey in the 1970s, and a wedding of 400 couples.

    In Diyarbak?r, while welcoming Perwer, Erdogan also cited Kaya, another iconic Kurdish musician who died 13 years ago in forced exile after being demonized in Turkey for announcing that he would include a Kurdish song in a new album.

    In Ankara, yesterday, Erdogan maintained that those who at the time almost lynched Kaya and those who attacked the present government during the Gezi Park unrest, were actually identical.

    Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu praised Kaya and acknowledged that Perwer was a prominent singer who sang touching songs about sorrows of people, noting that he was always affected by Perwer's song about the Halabja Massacre, in which over 5,000 Kurds were killed with poison gas by Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government in 1988. [?]

    According to him, Erdogan was exploiting Kaya by saying the late singer would side with the government.

    As expected, National Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli was highly critical of the visit in Diyarbak?r, although his remarks were much more strongly worded than usual.

    "The prime minister did what his absent quality requires: He invited Barzani to Diyarbak?r and embraced his counterpart like a 'beloved person' who is in love with his lover," Bahceli said in his well-known style.

    Bahceli also described Perwer and Kaya as "dissolute" friends of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who supported terrorism.

    According to Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, the government was inconsistent with the approach it displayed in Diyarbak?r.

    [12] Columnist writes about Erdogan's visit to Russia and notes that despite problems Russia and Turkey are best of friends

    Under the title "Erdogan-Putin alliance vs. Greenpeace-Gezi activists", Serkan Demirtas writes the following article in Hurrieyt Daily News (20.11.13):

    "Accompanied by a large delegation composed of ministers, high-level bureaucrats and journalists, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pay a two-day visit to St. Petersburg on Nov. 21 and 22 on the occasion of the fourth High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council's annual meeting.

    Despite a number of serious disagreements and clashes of interests over regional policies in the Middle East ? particularly in Syria, in the Caucasus, in the Central Asia and on Cyprus question, Prime Minister Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin managed to be each other's best partner. Last year, the two leaders signed 11 agreements on trade and energy and vowed to increase the trade volume to $100 billion. Russian companies hand in hand with some pro-government Turkish companies have been aggressively chasing lucrative energy bids in Turkey.

    In this regard, economic cooperation will again be on the top of the council meeting's agenda but Erdogan and Putin will also exchange views on critical international issues. Outspoken when it comes to criticizing Western powers and NATO allies on many global issues, Erdogan seems to ignore Russia's share in stonewalling the U.N. Security Council in the Syrian case since March 2011 and its growing military and logistic support to the defiant leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.

    In spite of Erdogan's silence vis-a-vis Putin's stance, Ankara believes that, along with Iranian direct support, Russian military aid to the regime made Assad able to extend the survival of his bloody regime against the opposition groups. In the last nine months, around 30 Russian military vessels carried heavy weaponry to Syria which increased the firepower of the regime, according to Ankara's intelligence. In addition, there are reports that retired Russian military officers are helping the Syrian regime in their fight against the opposition forces.

    No doubt, Ankara and Moscow continue to remain on the other pages of the Syrian problem. Russia's priority is not losing its influence and allies in the Middle East and in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well. That's why the Russian factor in the stalemate of Cyprus question is very significant. It's been nearly 10 years since the former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report criticizing Greek Cypriots for the rejection of a historic referendum in 2004 was shelved in the dusty U.N. archives due to a Russian veto.

    Apart from these realpolitik issues, what make these two leaders resemble each other are their almost despotic moves against their dissidents, civil society and free media. Both leaders appear increasingly undemocratic and intolerant and do not hesitate to brutally crack down on protestors and to use all state means to oppress them.

    In this frame, it would be as much of a surprise for Erdogan to demand from Putin the release of Gizem Akhan, a Greenpeace activist who was arrested by Russian security forces along with 30 other activists in late September, as it would be if Putin were to demand Erdogan to heed the demands of the Gezi protesters and other dissidents. This unholy alliance is merely observing a growing axis of undemocratic norms across the Black Sea."

    [13] Criticism for AKP's decision to join AECR

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News Online (19.11.13) publishes the following article by Barcin Yinanc under the title: "By abandoning conservatives AKP helps anti-Turkey bloc in EU":

    "[?] an important decision made last week by the Erdogan's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) went largely unnoticed in the Turkish public opinion, whereas it needed thorough discussion.

    Actually, I doubt whether the AKP's decision to abandon plans to join the centre-right European Peoples' Party (EPP) and instead become a member of the Alliance of European Conservative and Reformists (AECR) in the European Parliament was thoroughly discussed within the party. It seems they (meaning Prime Minister Erdogan and a few of his advisers) did not even feel the need to consult with the relevant state institutions, including the foreign ministry. Of course, it is a party decision and they don't need a go ahead from state bodies.

    Yet, when you look at the statements coming from the AKP, one thinks this is a decision triggered by emotional reactionism, rather than being based on a well thought arguments. Mevlut Cavusoglu, the vice chairman and the person responsible for the party's foreign relations, attributed the decision first and foremost to the confidence crisis with the EPP. In 2004, the EPP invited the AKP to become an associate member, yet it did not deliver on this promise due to the objections from the German and French Christian Democrats, which left the AKP with "an observer" status, according to Cavusoglu, who spoke at a press conference in Brussels last week. Therefore, the prime motivation is not a clash between the AKP's values and its EU vision with that of the EPP.

    Cavusoglu is also quoted saying the AKP is not sending a wrong signal. Well, he can speak for himself. But those at the receiving end of the signals are not thinking like him. The decision was perceived negatively among European circles, a Turkish observer of European affairs told me. The AECR is known to be anti-federalist, which is literally taken as anti-EU. "This is creating confusion. They are asking why a country willing to become an EU member is joining such a bloc," he said.

    Observers agree this will give additional ammunition to the anti-Turkey bloc in the EU. "This will confirm the suspicions that Turkey is not willing to enter the EU in its current form, but rather into a watered down Europe," an EU diplomat told me.

    It is no coincidence the biggest group within the AECR is made of the British Prime Minister David Cameron's conservatives. "The U.K. is more open to Turkey's EU integration than other EU countries, as an aim of the Tories is to dilute the EU into a looser group of heterogeneous member states," reads an article in Euractive about the AKP's decision.

    As the U.K. is largely seen to be trying to dilute the EU, Turkey will now be seen as joining hands with the Brits.

    In addition, AECR is a marginal party and Turkey needs the support of the mainstream parties if it wants to become a member of the EU. This decision carries the potential of upsetting those within the EPP who have been supportive of the Turkish bid. The EPP's Dutch member Ria Oomen-Ruijeten, Turkey's rapporteur for the European Parliament, is known to be a fervent supporter of the AKP. She even seems to be shocked by the decision. "Is that the right path to the EU membership target? Is the AKP aware of the message it is giving by becoming a member of AECR," she asked in an interview with Hurriyet.

    The tragicomedy is that Cavusoglu, who claimed the AKP is not giving the wrong signals, has been awarded the post of bone for the four vice presidencies in the AECR. The bright career potential of this honourable position seems to have blinded his vision.

    In addition, Today's Zaman (19.11.13) refers to the same issue as follows:

    "Two heavyweights of the European Parliament have criticized the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) leadership for joining the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) as a full member after leaving Europe's largest political family, the Christian Democrats, where it had "observer" status.

    Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the Dutch Christian Democrat and EP's rapporteur on Turkey said she could not believe when she heard the news that the AK Party defected from her party and joined the AECR, expressing her belief that the ruling party in Turkey since 2002 has chosen "isolation in Europe."

    German Liberal and shadow rapporteur of his group on Turkey Alexander Graf Lambsdorff agreed with Oomen-Ruijten, underlining that he also had difficulty understanding why a party like the AK Party, which was so strong in its country, would opt for a party that was basically known for its anti-EU stance. Lambsdorff said the AK Party's membership in the AECR is amongst "very bad company."

    In a TV program broadcast on Samanyolu Haber TV, the two members of the EP said they could not really understand the motive behind the move. The AK Party says it has been badly treated by the EPP Group (Christian Democrats) and that promises of associate membership were not kept.

    Criticizing the AK Party with harsh words, Oomen-Ruijten claimed the decision showed that the party leadership did not understand what the EU was all about. "If you want to connect yourself with an island, then it could have some meaning. But I understand Turkey does not want to be an island but to be the heart of it," she said. The AECR had only one prime minister among 28 member countries who wanted to take his country out of the EU, said Oomen-Ruijten. She was referring to British Prime Minister David Cameron, who promised his people, if re-elected, that he would put the EU membership to referendum in 2017.

    Lambsdorff seemed not to buy the AK Party's argument that it had now become a full member of a political group.

    He said the AK Party has become a part of a very small group that has a dubious attitude to the future of the EU. He said it was "a very bad move" on the AK Party side, stressing that the AK Party "has now become a Eurosceptic party." Lambsdorff, who is also the deputy chairman of the Liberal Group in the EP, said he understood the frustration of the AK Party with the snail-paced accession talks but said that, nevertheless, the switch to the AECR was not a good idea at all." TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION

    http://www.moi.gov.cy/pio

    /X.CHR.


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