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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review, 14-12-15

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 <>



  • [01] Cavusoglu and Venizelos discussed the Cyprus problem
  • [02] Cavusoglu's interview to Milliyet
  • [03] Ertug criticizes the Greek Cypriot side
  • [04] Eroglu sent a congratulatory message to Donald Tusk
  • [05] Eroglu: The forthcoming period will be very crucial
  • [06] Siber sends a letter to the EU Commission on the issue of halloumi-hellim cheese
  • [07] Fifty thousand residences in the occupied area of Cyprus are empty or used as a second home
  • [08] A congress on drawing a roadmap for the future of the occupied city of Keryneia
  • [09] CTP attended the Council meeting of the Socialist International in Geneva
  • [10] Another "DP deputy" resigned from the party and will join UBP
  • [11] Newly established National Justice Party on the Cyprus problem
  • [12] LSD is spreading among cattle in occupied Famagusta
  • [13] Turkish police detain Zaman chief editor in crackdown; Davutoglu vows to hit back at 'parallel state'
  • [14] Local media condemns police raid on media, detention of journalists; opposition parties describe raids against media as "civilian coup"
  • [15] US, EU condemn detention of journalists in Turkey
  • [16] Latvia is hopeful that some chapters in Turkey's EU negotiation process will be opened
  • [17] Lithuania fully supports Turkey's EU bid
  • [18] Turkey to open imam-hatip schools abroad


    [01] Cavusoglu and Venizelos discussed the Cyprus problem

    According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (12.12.14), Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Greek Deputy Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos have met in Greece to discuss steps to de-escalate tensions over the divided island of Cyprus.

    The pair met in Thessaloniki on Friday as part of the 31st Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).

    Venizelos called for the withdrawal of the Turkish research ship Barbaros out of the Greek part of the island and claimed its presence constituted a violation of Cyprus' sovereign rights, the news agency reported. "Continuing negotiations, reaching a sustainable solution and eliminating unnecessary debates are what really matter in Cyprus," said Cavusoglu for his part.

    On the same issue, Turkish daily Today's Zaman (online, 12.12.14) reported that Cavusoglu suggested that he and Venizelos pay a visit to "Greek Cyprus" (editor's note: the government controlled area of the Republic of Cyprus) and "northern Cyprus" (editor's note: the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus) together, according to a Hurriyet daily report citing unnamed diplomatic sources. Hurriyet added that the Ministers agreed to ease the recent tension caused by the suspension of the peace talks.

    Meanwhile, according to illegal Bayrak television (online, 13.12.14), Cavusoglu has called the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades in New York where he underwent heart surgery, to wish him well, the Anatolian News Agency has reported. The two men did not discuss anything else, the report said.

    [02] Cavusoglu's interview to Milliyet

    Turkish daily Milliyet newspaper (14.12.13) reports on statements by Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu upon his return from Greece.

    Speaking to the paper's journalist Abdullah Karakus on board the airplane to Ankara, Davutoglu replied to questions on the Cyprus problem.

    Following is an abstract of the interview:

    Subtitle: The Cyprus problem should be connected to a timetable

    Q: "Have you made any openings about Cyprus during your recent visit to Greece? You had a long meeting with your Greek counterpart, will there be new developments?

    R: "Before coming to Greece, I said to our President: 'Tomorrow we will meet with Venizelos' and he said: 'Wonderful, your meetings are very frequent'. We have met in Ankara, in New York and in several international meetings and all our meetings were constructive. We've notice that Greece is more proactive. It was behaving timidly especially because of the Cyprus problem, which is a sensitive issue. It kept silence. However, after the suspension of the talks and the drilling issue, Greece started to be more proactive. We are satisfied with this, it is what we wanted. Because, it is not enough only one of the guarantor countries to be incentive. With the one or the other way, Greece should be active on this issue. This would encourage both sides in the island. The negotiations should be amongst them. And finally, like it happened during the Annan plan, we should sit all together and finish this job. And a timetable is necessary urgently for this job.

    Subtitle: Solution is possible in the short run

    Q: Will there be any developments in the short run?

    R: "I believe that it is possible in the short run. As long as there will be a timetable. The two leaders, the two sides should proceed forward and progress. Provided that they would reach to a certain point, at the end, we can all meet and solve this issue with the UN. Called it as you like, peace plan, or solution plan, or friendship or an island plan? The efforts should be carried out in a comprehensive way and this should be solved. There is further the interest and support of several countries like the US. We do not feel uncomfortable by this. Everyone's support towards this issue is important. The EU undertook the task of consultancy. The EU is not possible to be a side of the direct negotiations. And this is due to the fact that the Greek Cypriot side is a member of the EU while the TRNC is not. There is an issue of equality here. For this reason, the EU has always the duty of consulting, of providing contribution and encourage".

    Q: "How the gas dispute in the Mediterranean will be solved? There is an alternative gas approach by Israel and the Greek Cypriot side.

    R: "It is clear that the Turkish Cypriot people have rights towards the reservoirs in the region of Cyprus, this is already something which the Greek Cypriot side has not denied. Still, there is not any formation which would safeguard their rights. We are opposed to the unilateral drilling works. This should be regulated in in a way. It is necessary to work in order to safeguard the rights of the Turkish side. We proposed the joint committee. And also, the establishment of a private firm. Establish a partnership company and this would operate.

    There are rights which could be ensured under the umbrella of an international organization. On the one hand negotiations will take place and on the other hand, unilateral drillings into which the Turkish side is not involved will also take place. We oppose to this. And if there are reservoirs and these would be market to Europe, then, the best way for these to be marketed is via Turkey. If they want to market to Europe the petrol to be explored from the east Mediterranean, the region and Israel's territorial waters, then this petrol could be marketed through Turkey. We are ready for this and we will do all necessary.

    Q: "What have you discussed on phone with the Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades?

    R: "He was satisfied a lot from my phone call. He said a lot of positive things for the solution and the restart of this job. We had a long discussion. We joked each other. I told him: 'Get well first and we will prepare the ground. Let's resume the negotiations. And let's finish the negotiations the soonest possible". He sent his regards to our President and our Prime Minister and we joked each other. We have a personal friendship". (?)


    [03] Ertug criticizes the Greek Cypriot side

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (13.12.14), Osman Ertug, the Turkish Cypriot negotiator, claimed that the Greek Cypriot side is trying to spread to the world the "fallacy" that it is the only sovereign authority on the island even as it attempts to cover up its withdrawal from the negotiations.

    Ertug recalled that the Greek Cypriot side has cooperated [with the Turkish Cypriot side] in the Committee on Missing Persons and the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage but that it has refused similar cooperation with regard to the newly discovered hydrocarbon resources. Claiming that the intentions and sincerity of the Greek Cypriot side need to be questioned, Ertug said that the international community must take note of this and persuade the Greek Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table without delay and without any preconditions.

    Ertug said: "Those who level various accusations against the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey have to answer the following simple question: Who has run from the negotiating table? Which side has left the table by rejecting the targeted division of authority just when the talks had reached the potentially critical and decisive 'give and take' stage?"

    In a statement issued yesterday, Ertug said that Nikos Christodoulides, the spokesperson of the Greek Cypriot administration (translator's note: as he calls the Cyprus Government), has issued numerous statements that aspire to treat Turkey as a negotiating partner and that urge Turkey to respect the sovereignty rights of the Republic of Cyprus while ignoring the Turkish Cypriot side, which is their real negotiating counterpart.

    Ertug alleged: "The Greek Cypriot side has not shown the slightest respect for the equal sovereignty and political equality rights of the Turkish Cypriots, who are one of the two equal sources of sovereignty [in Cyprus]. We cannot accept its conduct as sole sovereign authority with regard to the natural resources that we own jointly."

    Ertug continued: "The Greek Cypriot side refuses to accept the Turkish Cypriot side as its negotiating counterpart and has argued that Turkey must demonstrate its good will for an agreement in practice. We would like to remind them that they are the ones who need to prove themselves in essence and in practice on the island. It is clear that the Greek Cypriot side rejected all the UN plans for a comprehensive solution thus far and that it opposes basic UN parameters even today. This truth can be seen in UN records."

    Noting that the Turkish Cypriot side remains at the negotiating table, Ertug said: "With the Joint Declaration of 11 February 2014, the Greek Cypriot side accepted the principle that neither side can claim authority or legitimacy over the other and committed itself to a division of powers on the basis of equality. It is now rejecting this division of powers and has run from the negotiating table citing various excuses."

    Ertug's statement concludes: "This plain truth cannot be covered up with verbiage or a succession of statements. Our peoples are waiting for us to produce results, not to generate polemics or excuses."

    [04] Eroglu sent a congratulatory message to Donald Tusk

    According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 13.12.14), Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu has sent a message to Donald Tusk, congratulating his election as the new President of the European Council.

    In his congratulatory message, Eroglu said that he hopes the European Council's decision to lift the "isolation" of the Turkish Cypriots will be implemented during Mr Tusk's term in office.

    Eroglu also claimed in his message that the Cyprus problem remained unresolved, primarily because the Greek Cypriot side had rejected all past and present solution plans proposed by the UN and had more recently abandoned the negotiating table by citing various excuses.

    He alleged that the Greek Cypriot side's decision to suspend the talks just as the two sides had agreed to move onto the next phase of give-and-take had raised questions regarding the Greek Cypriots' sincerity towards solving the Cyprus problem.

    Stressing that the issue of hydrocarbons in the region could only be solved through a spirit of understanding and cooperation as well as establishing a healthy dialogue, Eroglu expressed the view that the issue could act as a catalyst rather than an obstacle in the way of reaching a settlement.

    Eroglu further alleged that the Turkish Cypriot side had given the Turkish Petroleum Consortium the permission to conduct its own exploration activities off the coast of Cyprus following the Greek Cypriot side's hydrocarbon exploration. "Our proposals to conduct joint exploration, exploitation and distribution made in 2011 and 2012 still stands" said Eroglu, adding however that these proposals too had been rejected by the Greek Cypriots.

    "It is my greatest hope and expectation that you use your influence to encourage the Greek Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table without setting any preconditions", he said.

    [05] Eroglu: The forthcoming period will be very crucial

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (14.12.14) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu has said that the forthcoming period will be very crucial for the Cyprus problem. Eroglu, who visited occupied Famagusta on Saturday within the framework of his "election" campaign, alleged that the Greek Cypriots abandoned the negotiating table, because of an "invalid reason". He went on and claimed:

    "They abandoned the table showing as pretext the seismic explorations of Barbaros explorations vessel. Our vessel will continue these explorations, because in the past we had said to the Greek Cypriot leadership that if the Greek Cypriots took a step regarding the hydrocarbon resources, we would also have a step to take. Postpone this step, we said, but they did not listen to us?"

    Furthermore, Eroglu alleged that the Greek Cypriot leaders are lying to their people when they say that all refugees will return to their homes, the Turkish occupation army will be withdrawn, Turkey's guarantees will end and the Turkish settlers will return back to Turkey. He claimed: "The Greek Cypriots, who are members of the EU and the UN, do not want to share with us. The Greek Cypriot leaders have always deceived their people. They have left the table because there would have been in a give and take at this stage. [?] He [Translator's note: President Anastasiades] has undergone a surgery. [?] However this year is coming to an end and there will be no negotiations. The negotiations might start in February?"

    Eroglu argued that the Turkish Cypriot side is ready to find a solution through mutual give and take and reiterated the allegation that President Anastasiades should unconditionally return to the table.

    Arguing that the big countries of the world have interests on the island, Eroglu said that "for this reason the next five years are more important from the point of view of shaping our future".

    Eroglu alleged that a leader who will be protecting the "people's" and "motherland's" rights should represent the Turkish Cypriots at the table and added: "There is no need for me to say what will happen to us in case those who say let us give no matter what it costs, sit at the negotiating table [?] We are in favour of an agreement, but we are not going to say 'yes' to the Greek Cypriot impositions".


    [06] Siber sends a letter to the EU Commission on the issue of halloumi-hellim cheese

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (15.12.14) reports that Sibel Siber, self-styled speaker of the "assembly" of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has sent a letter to the EU Commission on behalf of all political parties represented in the "body" expressing their concern for the continuation of the "efforts of the Greek Cypriots" to "unilaterally secure benefits" from halloumi-hellim cheese's registration as a product with protected designation of origin.

    Siber argued that the Greek Cypriot leadership avoids cooperation on the issue of sharing the island's natural resources and exhibits negative stance on the issue of registering halloumi in a manner that will add value to "both peoples" on the island.

    The letter said that the Turkish Cypriots are not represented in the European Parliament in spite of the promises allegedly given to them in 2004 and the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriot side. It also claimed that the developments on the halloumni issue deal a blow to the Turkish Cypriot economy. According to Siber's letter, these initiatives, which allegedly ignore the existence of the Turkish Cypriots on the island, are contrary to a bi-communal, bi-zonal solution based on the political equality of two founding states.

    Siber pointed out that the exports of halloumi constitute 24% of the Turkish Cypriot economy and 16.5% of the population in the occupied area of Cyprus earn their living from the production of halloumi and its subsidiary sectors.

    Siber called on the Commission to conclude the issue of this registration in a manner which will secure benefit to both "peoples" living on the island according to the decision taken by the EU General Affairs and Foreign Relations' Council in 2004 providing for the lifting of the so-called isolations of the Turkish Cypriots and securing their economic development.

    Siber has sent a similar letter to the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Epsen Barth Eide asking for his support on this issue.


    [07] Fifty thousand residences in the occupied area of Cyprus are empty or used as a second home

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (15.12.14) reports that 50 thousand out of 136 thousand residences in the occupied area of Cyrus are either empty or used as a second home. According to the "National Physical Plan" prepared in the occupied area of Cyprus every four years and is currently waiting for the approval of the "council of ministers", 20% of the empty residences are used as a second home and 16% are totally empty. The majority of the empty houses are in occupied Keryneia and Trikomo areas. It is estimated that around 15 thousand buildings are half completed.

    According to the paper, the increase in both the buildings and the population is low, but not balanced, as the population and the buildings are mainly concentrated in three big cities and especially in Nicosia and Keryneia.

    The total area of occupied Cyprus is 3.242 square kilometers, including the fenced off city of Varosha. Only an area of 150 square kilometers is built, that is, 4.7% of the total occupied area of the island. According to the paper, 65% of the built area is located in the three big occupied cities, Nicosia, Famagusta and Keryneia. Nicosia's and Keryneia's share reaches 45% (Keryneia alone constitutes 22% of this built area).

    Density in every kilometer square in occupied Keryneia was 182 in 2006 and increased to 251 in 2011. The same numbers for occupied Famagusta were 217-248 and for occupied Nicosia 232-244.

    According to the data, the population in the occupied area of Cyprus increased with a speed of 1.40 % in the period 1978-1996, 3.8% in the period 1996-2006 and 2.18% in the period 2006-2011. The increase of the population in occupied Nicosia and Keryneia is higher than the average in the entire occupied area of Cyprus.

    The data shows that 69% of the population lives in the cities and 31% in the rural areas. The great part of the population of the districts lives in the city centers. For example, 85% of occupied Nicosia's population is urban population. In occupied Morfou urban population is 65%.


    [08] A congress on drawing a roadmap for the future of the occupied city of Keryneia

    According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 12.12.14), a 2 day congress which aims to draw a roadmap for the future of the occupied city of Keryneia and to seek ways of improving the city's administration is being held in the occupied town of Keryneia.

    Speaking during the opening session, the self-styled mayor of occupied Keryneia Nidai Gungor said that he had vowed to run occupied Keryneia in a transparent, democratic and participatory manner. He said that the congress aimed at preparing the infrastructure for this, adding that the congress will help determine the city's problems and will shed light on which areas improvements are needed.

    The self-styled minister of public works and communications Hasan Tacoy said that occupied Keryneia with its developing surroundings, growing population and contribution to the country's economy is an important city, adding that it is important in protecting and maintaining the city's historical wealth and culture while ensuring healthy development.

    Self-styled interior minister Teberruken Ulucay said that they had launched work on preparing an Urban Development Plan for the occupied town of Keryneia which is one of the fastest growing urban settlements on the island.

    The so-called speaker of the assembly Sibel Siber, on her part, said that occupied Keryneia is one of the island's most beautiful cities and that the congress is part of efforts to preserve this and to create an even more beautiful city.

    Delivering the last speech, Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said that occupied Keryneia has undergone an immense transformation both in size and population since 1974. He said that he constantly reminds the "Greek Cypriot administration" at the negotiating table that Keryneia is not the city it was 40 years ago when it had a population of only 4,000.

    [09] CTP attended the Council meeting of the Socialist International in Geneva

    According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 13.12.14), a delegation from the Republican Turkish Party-United Forces (CTP-BG) is attending the Council meetings of the Socialist International in Geneva. The delegation is also holding meetings on the side-lines of the council.

    According to a press release by the CTP-BG press bureau, the party's Secretary General Kutlay Erk and the party's Assembly and Foreign Relations Committee member Muhittin Tolga Ozsaglam are representing the CTP.

    The two are also holding bi-lateral meetings on the Cyprus issue.

    The statement also reminded that the CTP-BG was attending the Socialist International meetings as a full member.

    [10] Another "DP deputy" resigned from the party and will join UBP

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (15.12.14) reports that Mentes Gunduz "deputy" with the Democratic Party (DP) resigned from the party and will join the National Unity Party (UBP) after the "budget voting" of the breakaway regime.

    The paper writes that this is the fourth "DP deputy" who resigned from the party after Ahmet Kasif, Ergun Serdaroglu and Hamit Bakirci also left DP and joined UBP a few weeks ago.

    The paper writes that the decision of the three "deputies" to join UBP was taken by the party's central committee with 5 votes in favor, 3 against and 2 votes abstentions and adds that the issue created a lot of arguments within the party.

    [11] Newly established National Justice Party on the Cyprus problem

    Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (15.12.14) reports that the newly established National Justice Party (UAP) gave a press conference about the party's principles and its position on the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking during the conference, the party's leader Fatma Solmaz, stated that the party is against a federal solution for the settlement of the Cyprus problem, alleging that such a solution would make the Turkish Cypriots to be pulled away from Turkey. She also said that the "TRNC' should not become member of the European Union before Turkey.

    She further said that the population in the breakaway regime must reach 500,000, therefore the "TRNC citizenship" should be granted to those staying in the occupied area of Cyprus for only five years with the condition that they have not a criminal record.

    On the religious courses, she said that these must become obligatory and also stated that those who rape young persons must be executed.

    Reporting on the same issue, Yeni Duzen (15.12.14) reports that Solmaz was in the past a candidate for the "parliament elections" with the Social Democracy Party (TDP).

    [12] LSD is spreading among cattle in occupied Famagusta

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (13.12.14), the contagious Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD), which was observed in occupied villages of Ayios Andronikos and Ayia Trias, was also diagnosed in cattle in a barn in occupied village of Yialoussa on the 12th of December. There is growing concern that the disease is spreading.

    As of 12 December, a calf in occupied Ayia Trias, a cow in occupied Ayios Andronikos, and a heifer and a bullock in occupied Yialousa were diagnosed with LSD. They were immediately destroyed by veterinary units and buried by the so-called municipality. So far, the number of animals destroyed has reached 27.

    Officials of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus said that more animals in the LSD-infected barns are bound to be contaminated, and these may be destroyed before showing any symptoms of the disease.

    Meanwhile, "veterinary, health, and municipal teams" continue to disinfect the barns in the area meticulously.

    [13] Turkish police detain Zaman chief editor in crackdown; Davutoglu vows to hit back at 'parallel state'

    According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (14.12.14), Police detained the editor-in-chief of Turkey's Zaman daily on Sunday, bringing the total number of people in custody to 27 in an ongoing crackdown on local media figures and police officials in 13 provinces across Turkey.

    All the people detained have been alleged to be linked with the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen and his so called Gulen movement.

    Police took Ekrem Dumanli into custody from Zaman's office in Istanbul. Dumanli, who is a staunch critic of the government, dismissed all allegations against him and claimed his innocence in a speech at the daily's building before he was taken away by the police. "We have no fear as we have no fault," the Zaman editor said in a speech, which was televised live.

    His lawyer, Hasan Gunaydin, read out the charges against the editor, which included allegations of deprivation of liberty, forgery in official documents, forming a crime organization by force, menace and compulsion.

    Hundreds of people surrounded the Zaman building when Dumanli was being taken away. They strongly condemned the police operation and termed it an attempt to muzzle the free press in the country.

    Former ruling AK Party Deputies, Idris Bal, Hakan Sukur and former Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin were among the daily's supporters in the crowd. Zaman daily is alleged to be close to the so-called Gulen movement.

    Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Hadi Salihoglu said it ordered the detention of 31 people on charges of forgery, fabricating evidence and forming an alleged crime syndicate to overtake the sovereignty of the state. Earlier, it was reported that the prosecutor's office had given the order for 32 detentions, but Salihoglu revised down the figure to 31.

    Hidayet Karaca, chairman of the Samanyolu Media Group, is another senior media figure who was detained earlier in the day. Producer Salih Aslan and Director Engin Koc of a Samanyolu TV series were also taken into custody in Eskisehir province and sent to Istanbul, police said.

    Makbule Cam Alemdag, scriptwriter of another TV series, that used to broadcast on Tek Turkiye or One Turkey, was also detained in Van province.

    Turgay Balaban, a lawyer for Aslan and Koc, said the two were detained over allegations of framing other people through their TV show as part of an alleged Gulen movement operation in 2010 against a "radical" group. The leader of the group, Mehmet Dogan, served 17 months in jail and was said to be a foe of Gulen, Turkish media reports said.

    According to the prosecutor's office in Istanbul, former chief of Istanbul's anti-terrorism police department, Tufan Erguder, former Istanbul Deputy Chief of Police, Mutlu Ekizoglu, and Erhan Ercikti, former public security chief of Istanbul police department, are also among the detainees.

    Meanwhile, A.A. (14.12.14) also reports that Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu pledged on Sunday to retaliate against anyone who attempts to undermine the Turkish state and government.

    He made his remarks after Sunday's Istanbul-based police crackdown on senior Turkish media figures and police officials in 13 cities across the country, which has seen a total of 27 people taken into custody since early morning.

    "Those who infiltrated state institutions and wire-tapped the President and Prime Minister must know that their actions have consequences," he told a provincial congress of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in southeastern Adiyaman province.

    "Once they declared war on the country's elected ruling party through hidden hands controlling the bureaucracy in disguise of 'service to people,' everything changed," Davutoglu said.

    The Premier also said that this parallel state even made an attempt to organize an operation against the government by infiltrating Turkey's national intelligence agency, MIT.

    [14] Local media condemns police raid on media, detention of journalists; opposition parties describe raids against media as "civilian coup"

    Turkish daily Today's Zaman (online, 14.12.14) reported that speaking with a single voice, many press organizations in Turkey condemned the police raids on the Zaman daily and Samanyolu TV and the detention of at least 23 people, including journalists, on Sunday.

    Criticizing the authoritarian one-man regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development (AK Party) government, the Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) said in a written statement on Sunday that those who do not obey the political power are gradually being depicted as criminals to be repressed. Using the police to raid TV stations and newspaper buildings cannot be seen in democratic states of law but is an instrument of tyrants to intimidate and silence journalists, the GYV stated. According to the GYV, attacking TV stations, newspapers and even program scriptwriters and producers is the biggest menace to Turkish society.

    The Platform for Independent Journalism (P24) condemned the operations by releasing a statement titled "No to police state" on its website. The P24 statement noted that targeting journalists who shared the corruption and graft scandals of the government with the people is unacceptable.

    In a joint press statement on the operations on Sunday, the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) and the Turkish Journalists Union (TGS) strongly condemned the detentions of journalists and called it an intervention into people's freedom to obtain information. "Freedom of the press and speech cannot be punished," the statement noted.

    Reacting to the detention of at least 23 people during Sunday's nationwide operation, the joint statement said that freedom of the press and speech are under greater pressure today in Turkey. According to the statement, more than 200 journalists have been imprisoned in Turkey, violating their right to a fair trial and even without knowing the main reason for their imprisonment. Classifying Turkey as being among those countries without press freedom, the statement added that there is no punishment for exercising freedom of the press and freedom of speech in democratic countries.

    On the same issue, Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (online, 14.12.14), under the title "Turkish main opposition leader blasts police media operation as a 'coup'", reports that main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) head Kemal Kilicdaroglu has described the Dec. 14 police operation, in which the police raided a newspaper and detained a number of broadcasters, as a "coup".

    "The current process is not something faced in healthy democracies. This is a coup process," Kilicdaroglu said. "Detentions of journalists and raids on television stations in the early morning are not something we can accept under any circumstances."

    Oktay Vural, the deputy leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said the operation targeted the public's right to be informed on the corruption issue, labelling those ordered the operation "cowards."

    Hasip Kaplan, a Deputy from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), said this was an act to "silence the opposition."

    Istanbul Deputy and former professional footballer Hakan Sukur went to the Istanbul office of daily Zaman in the Yenibosna neighbourhood to express support for the newspaper against the operation.

    Sukur, who was elected as an AKP Istanbul Deputy in the June 2011 elections, firmly positioned himself on the side of the Gulen movement late last year, resigning from the party on the eve of massive graft investigations targeting leading Ministers and pro-government businessmen.

    [15] US, EU condemn detention of journalists in Turkey

    According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (online, 15.12.14), the United States expressed concern on Dec. 14 over the detentions in Turkey of more than two dozen media figures.

    U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was "closely following" reports of the raids and arrests.

    "Media freedom, due process and judicial independence are key elements in every healthy democracy and are enshrined in the Turkish constitution," she added. "As Turkey's friend and ally, we urge the Turkish authorities to ensure their actions do not violate these core values and Turkey's own democratic foundations."

    The EU said that Turkish raids on media outlets go against European values. Turkish police raids on media outlets are incompatible with media freedom and run counter to European values, the European Union said in an unusually strongly worded statement on Dec. 15.

    "The police raids and arrests of a number of journalists and media representatives in Turkey today are incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in the joint statement. "This operation goes against the European values and standards Turkey aspires to be part of", they said.

    The paper also reports that Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has urged the Turkish government to stop its crackdown on press freedom and act in compliance with the rule of law and human rights following a massive operation against journalists on Dec. 14.

    "I am following with deep concern the events unfolding in Turkey. The arrest [Dec. 14] of journalists and media workers is a serious setback for media freedom in the country. Irrespective of the reasons which may have motivated them, such measures are disproportionate and unnecessary in a democracy," Muiznieks said in a written statement issued Dec. 15.

    "They are as worrying as the waves of arrests of journalists in 2011 which were condemned by my predecessor in his report on media freedom in Turkey. Indeed, media freedom has been a long-standing problem in Turkey and such measures carry a high risk of cancelling out the progress Turkey has painstakingly achieved in recent years," he said.

    "They send a new chilling message to journalists and dissenting voices in Turkey, who have been under intense pressure, including facing violence and reprisals. They are also likely to polarize Turkish society further and to increase public mistrust in the state's ability to uphold human rights," Muznieks said.

    [16] Latvia is hopeful that some chapters in Turkey's EU negotiation process will be opened

    According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (12.12.14), Latvia is hopeful that during its presidency of the EU, some chapters in Turkey's EU negotiation process will be opened.

    Speaking to Anatolia Agency, Latvia's Ambassador to Turkey Atis Sjanits said that Riga expected that Turkey would move forward in its EU membership bid by opening "at least some chapters in the negotiation process". "Latvia is among the countries that support Turkish integration in the European Union," Sjanits added.

    "We need to have a consensus with the other European countries to open some chapters," said the Latvian Ambassador.

    Latvia will take over the rotating EU presidency after Italy in January 2015.

    The Ambassador also praised Turkey's developments in the last decade. "Turkey is fiscally healthy and has political stability and easily fulfils the Maastricht criteria with the exception of inflation. This is a big difference from what we saw a decade ago", he said.

    He also mentioned that Latvia and Turkey will be celebrating their 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2015.

    "I bring that up because the relations between our countries have never been as intense as during the last two years," he said. "During my time in Ankara, we have had three official presidential visits. Recently, we were the first European country to host newly elected Turkish President Erdogan".

    Sjanits also talked about providing "visa-free travel" within the EU for Turkish citizens. "Overall situation is that it can be completed in two or three years," said the envoy. "I must also mention that there is no threat of illegal immigration by Turkish citizens."

    [17] Lithuania fully supports Turkey's EU bid

    According to Turkish daily Sabah (online, 15.12.14), Turkey and Lithuania have always enjoyed good relations and now we are looking forward to extending our cooperation in different areas.

    Despite the geographical distance between Turkey and Lithuania, the relationship between the two countries has historical roots and both countries have enjoyed problem-free affairs for centuries. The growing momentum in bilateral relations has strengthened after Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite visited Turkey last week.

    Lithuanian Ambassador to Ankara Kestutis Kudzmanas, in an interview to the paper, talked about the future of the bilateral relations, areas to cooperate and Turkey's EU bid.

    Commenting on the visit of Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite to Turkey, the Lithuanian Ambassador said: "There are several areas that our countries continue to cooperate in harmony. Firstly we have been a member of NATO since 2004 and Turkey actively contributed to the protection of the air spaces of Baltic countries by providing its four F-16 jets for NATO's Baltic Air Police Mission in 2006. Moreover, Lithuania's EU membership has brought the two countries much closer in terms of common objectives and mutual cooperation.(?)"

    Asked to comment on Turkey's EU membership bid, the Lithuanian Ambassador said: "Lithuania is one of the countries that joined the EU club quite lately. We became a member of the EU in 2004 and it was not only beneficial for new member states but also benefitted EU countries. (?) Turkey's EU membership process is an area in which Lithuania can be helpful. We are always ready to share our experiences with Turkey. (?)

    After almost years of stagnation Turkey opened a new chapter of negotiations during the Lithuanian EU presidency and hopefully our neighbouring country Latvia can have such success during their presidency.

    [18] Turkey to open imam-hatip schools abroad

    According to Turkish daily Sabah (online, 15.12.14), the imam-hatip - literally imam and preacher - schools of Turkey, which focus on a curriculum with theological lessons, will be opened abroad for Turkish expatriates in other countries.

    The Ministry of National Education plans to establish schools in countries with a large Turkish population and has started talks with Turkish communities to determine their religious educational needs. The ministry also plans to convert buildings owned by the state in France's Strasbourg, Austria's Vienna and New Jersey in the United States to imam-hatip schools and will cooperate with the Diyanet Foundation of Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (DIB), top state-run authority on religious affairs.

    Along with the opening of imam-hatip schools abroad, the ministry plans to increase the number of international imam-hatip schools operating in Turkey. Currently, three schools operate in the cities of Istanbul, Kayseri and Konya where nearly 1,000 students from 72 countries attend. Those international schools were established to train religious officials such as imams for Muslim countries lacking resources. The ministry also provides training for staff of religious schools in Russia, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Somalia and delivers educational materials to those countries.

    The imam-hatip schools, which offer a mixed curriculum of Islamic theology and non-religious subjects, have long been targeted by the country's secular elite, which have been at odds with conservatives. Especially during the Feb.28 coup process in late 1990s, imam-hatip students were forced to drop out of schools after imam-hatip middle schools were closed and denied admission to universities by a deliberate decrease in high school grades.

    The number of imam-hatip high schools rose to 1,008 from 876 last year. Total number of imam-hatip students currently stands over 714,000. TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION

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