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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review, 17-02-07

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] Akinci's interview to Cumhuriyet
  • [02] Eide exchanged views with Cavusoglu on developments in the Cyprus talks
  • [03] Akinci inspected the crossing point in Deryneia
  • [04] Akinci will inform the "assembly" on the progress of the Cyprus negotiations
  • [05] Erhurman alleges that President Anastasiades "has not come to the point that it is needed on the political equality"
  • [06] Saner to attend the OIC's Ministerial Conference in Jeddah
  • [07] The Council of the Turkish Cypriot Unions called on the Turkish Cypriots who live abroad to apply for the "TRNC citizenship"
  • [08] Erdin Nami: The Turkish Cypriot side is not economically ready for the solution
  • [09] Tatar said that the fall of Turkish lira will decrease shopping of the Turkish Cypriots to the free areas and this will be good
  • [10] The stone quarries on occupied Pentadaktylos Mountains cover an area of 2,6 million square meters
  • [11] The foundations of a new "university" in the occupied part of Nicosia will be laid
  • [12] In the occupied area of Cyprus the unemployment rate in 2015 dropped only 0,9%
  • [13] Turkey to host UN's Guterres and the Cyprus envoy this week
  • [14] MEPs evaluates the timing of the EU-Turkey summit on migration with the Cyprus talks
  • [15] Turkey condemns law approving new Israeli settlements in Palestinian land
  • [16] Turkey transfers stakes worth billions in major public companies to wealth fund


    [01] Akinci's interview to Cumhuriyet

    Turkish daily Cumhuriyet newspaper (06.02.17) published the following interview with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci under the title "Last Chance for Cyprus" by paper's journalist Demet Yalcin:

    "Akinci answered daily newspaper Cumhuriyet's questions about the ongoing crucial negotiation process. There are about 10 outstanding issues in the negotiations being held under the chapters of power sharing, the EU, economy, property ownership, arrangements around land, and security guarantees. Akinci answered all our questions that are still on our minds regarding the current state of the negotiations.

    Q: Greek Cypriot side appears reluctant. What is the reason for this?

    To make a realistic assessment, since 1963 they ascended to the position of being the sole beneficiary of the republic in which we became partners in 1960. We are now in the 54th year. They are the only side recognized at the UN. They joined the EU in 2004 on their own. They went through a crisis during recent years but their economic situation was in a much better situation than ours. They are being represented at the Council of Europe, they are being represented at the European Parliament. A settlement will require them to share all this. They will need to share with us, this time within a federal framework, a state of which we were a partner many years ago, and one that they took ownership of.

    Q: Could you elaborate on this please?

    They will come to terms with the fact that a Turkish Cypriot will become the president of the federal state within the framework of rotating presidency. They will share the government, the assembly, and resources. Therefore, they have reservations about these issues.

    Q: Is the Turkish side not feeling nervous?

    We settled in north of Cyprus 43 years ago. There are areas that we find difficult to share. One of these is territory. There is a separate chapter on territory in the negotiations ongoing since the time of late Rauf Denktas. Even though it is known that this will be debated, difficulties are being experienced regarding this issue.

    Q: What sort of difficulties?

    Greek Cypriots have reservations about sharing the state with us as part of a settlement on the basis of political equality and within a federal framework which will include the constituent (founding) states of both communities. They will also share with us the central federal administration on the basis of political equality. They will come to terms with this and for our part; we will come to an agreement on the issue of territory, around 29%, within the framework of a long-standing understanding. There is a prevalent view that Greek Cypriots' demands have increased during the recent period. I am not in a position to say, ''they 100% want a settlement; everything is OK'' because there are 8-10 issues over which we need to reach an agreement.

    Q: What are the negotiation chapters?

    The negotiations are continuing under six main chapters. They are: 1) Power sharing, 2) Economy, 3) The EU, 4) Property ownership, 5) Arrangements around territory, 6) Security guarantees. Under these six chapters there are 8-10 important issues over which no agreement has been reached. If an agreement is reached on these, there will be a referendum and people will cast their vote to show whether they are prepared to come to terms with this agreement or not.

    Q: Are Greek Cypriots enthusiastic about this referendum?

    We can attribute the fact that Greek Cypriots are now more enthusiastic than they were in the past to the economic crisis they experienced. They joined the EU on their own and switched to euro but of course, being in the EU alone does not solve problems. If people do not do their homework, they may still have problems regardless of where they are. This is what happened with Greek Cypriots. More and more people are realizing that it will not help them to remain forever enemies with an important country like Turkey. Business people are forming joint platforms with Turkish Cypriots, Greeks, and with people from Turkey. They began to see more clearly the new opportunities that being on friendly terms with Turkey can bring.

    Q: How about natural gas?

    Natural gas reserves will either turn eastern Mediterranean region into an area of cooperation or be a source of tension. Therefore, yes; I agree with your observation that Greek Cypriots are not as enthusiastic as Turkish Cypriots about a settlement however, I can say that they, too, appear more enthusiastic than they previously were about a settlement.

    Discourse of 'Zero Soldier, Zero Guarantee' Unacceptable

    Q: Turkey's guarantorship is one of the major issues over which there is no agreement. Greek Cypriots will perhaps object to the presences of Turkish soldiers. As far as you are concerned, Turkey's guarantor role is a major sine qua non. Can Cyprus become vulnerable in security terms?

    The issue of security and guarantees does not only concern the two communities. There are five sides involved: two communities and three guarantor countries. That was the reason the Cyprus Conference in Geneva had five attendants. If no agreement is reached, the international agreements will remain in place. No one can change these agreements unilaterally. These agreements will not disappear when Greek Cypriot side says, ''I do not like this.'' In Geneva, an important matter, which we underlined all along, was stressed. What was said was ''we want both sides to feel safe.'' One side's safety should not be viewed as a threat by the other side. What is being looked at is a way to achieve this.

    Reasonable Number of Soldiers

    Q: Are constructive proposals being put forward?

    In Mont Pelerin, the five sides met at a deputy level. We will meet again in March at a political level and examine the work prepared by the deputies. Greece and Greek Cypriot side should absolutely leave aside their discourse of 'zero soldiers, zero guarantee'.' If we were to say, 'the 1960 guarantee system or alliance agreement are the agreements that cannot be changed even in the slightest sense despite the intervening 57 years. We will not even consider adapting them to the current circumstances', this would not form a starting point. Similarly, Greek Cypriot's discourse of 'forget guarantees forget soldiers' will not form any starting point at all. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias is proposing a 'friendship pact' but an empty friendship pact does not have any meaning. A new alliance, in which Greece, Turkey, and a united federal Cyprus will become partners, can be created. Within such a framework, there will be a reasonable number of soldiers in Cyprus.

    Q: What is the number of soldiers?

    It has been said for many years that there are 40,000 soldiers following the 1974 Operation but we are aware that this figure dropped over time. If an agreement is reached, neither Turkey nor we want so many soldiers to remain. Under the alliance agreement reached in 1960, there were 650 Turkish soldiers and 950 Greek soldiers. Through agreement, these figures can be different or even higher. Our counterparts need to understand that, in terms of guarantees, Turkish Cypriots do not see their safety in other place than with Turkey. We are told, 'you will be in the EU, this is enough of a guarantee'. Yet, the EU does not have such a mechanism.

    Q: Could you give details about the scale of the guarantees?

    The guarantor agreement was not about the security of people or the communities, it was about status. Turkey, Greece, and the United Kingdom guaranteed the system which was established. These countries were given the right to intervene to re-establish the status quo if the system was to be interrupted. How can we adapt this to the new circumstances so that it becomes acceptable to one side and the other side does not view it as a threat? This will be talked about and discussed.

    Q: Do you have a plan B as far as soldiers are concerned?

    I believe there will be an environment in which an agreement can be reached on this plan A. The plan A is a reasonable one.

    Q: What is the plan A?

    First of all, there is an alliance agreement; it can be called friendship pact or something else however, we believe that the presence of the Turkish soldiers is important here. Turkey wants this, too. What is important is the content not the name. As far as we are and Turkey is concerned, the presence of the soldiers here is also a psychological fact. This needs to be understood well. Apart from this, the issue of guarantees can be adapted to the present circumstances. There was a positive atmosphere in the work done at a technical level.

    Not Much Time Left

    Q: The UN has a crucial role here.

    UN Secretary-General's special adviser Espen Barth Eide will have contact with the guarantors and decide the date of the conference accordingly. During this period, the UN will naturally need a shuttle diplomacy. Important thing is that all the sides have the intention and the will. The Cyprus issue is being negotiated almost 50 years and everyone had enough, the communities got tired, the world got tired, too; so did the UN, Turkey, and Greece. I do not want to see another five, let alone another 50 years added to the current 50 years. If we can, let us reach an agreement. What I am saying is we are making the final effort of our generation. Anastasiades and I are from the same generation. We are really making the final effort of our generation. If this does not work out, it is highly likely that we are also coming to the end of the attempt at a federal settlement. For this to happen, there is not much time left apart from the few months ahead of us. If you want to know why; new tensions can emerge around natural gas explorations. Greek Cypriots will be holding presidential elections in 2018 and the preparations for the election will start in May. Therefore, the months of February, March, and April will be seriously decisive.

    Q: What is the Plan A?

    A security guarantee system in which Turkish and Greek Cypriots will feel safe, a system that will be adapted to the circumstances of 2017. We see this under Turkey's guarantee and with Turkey's involvement. We cannot replace Turkey with another guarantee. In Turkish Cypriots' security perception, there is nothing else other than Turkey. The EU does not even have such a mechanism. That is why we do not accept the Greek Cypriot stance. We cannot accept the discourse of zero soldier and zero guarantee.

    Figure Around 25% Will Not Happen

    Q: If there is no settlement, will Northern Cyprus (translator's note: the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus) be governed under the current system or will there be a different governance style?

    Since I believe that a settlement will be better for everyone involved, I am putting my heart and soul into this. Right messages need to reach the Turkish public. From time to time, distorted messages are being relayed. One such message is about the map and territory. The allegation that 'we started with 29% and will end up with 25%' was spread. The figure is 29 plus, it will not be like 25%. The lowest limit Greek Cypriots can put forward in their proposal is 28.2%. Even they cannot propose anything lower than that. Even though this is the case, it is being alleged that we will make do with 25% and it is claimed that 'Cyprus is being sold'. Such a thing is out of the question.

    Here Is New System

    Rotating Presidency, Two Assemblies

    Q: Can you tell us a bit about the previous agreements?

    We are holding the Cyprus negotiations within two main frameworks; this needs to be known. This is not a framework I drew as the current president (translator's note: Turkish Cypriot leader). The first framework is the 1977-79 Summit Agreements; the summit agreements between Denktas and Makarios, and between Denktas and Kyprianou. A bi-zonal and bi-communal federation; Turkey supported this since then. From time to time, this is referred to as a confederation or two separate states; the settlement framework Honourable Denktas agreed and signed is a federation. Honourable Eroglu, my predecessor, made another framework agreement on 11 February 2014 with the approval of the government of Turkey. In that agreement, too, this bi-zonal and bi-communal federal settlement was confirmed once again.

    There Will 20 Turkish, 20 Greek Cypriot Senators

    Q: How will the system work?

    Under this framework, which was approved by all the political parties in the 'TRNC Republican Assembly' (translator's note: the assembly of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus), namely the UBP [National Unity Party], the DP [Democratic Party], the CTP [Republican Turkish Party], and the TDP [Social Democracy Party], the two politically equal constituent (founding) states will come under a federal roof. A structure will be built in which both Turkish Cypriot constituent (founding) state and Greek Cypriot constituent (founding) state will each have its own government, assembly, police force, judiciary and everything else. In the Federal Republic, there will be two assemblies. The representation in the lower assembly will be according to the population ratio whereas in the upper assembly, the representation will be based on full numerical equality. There will be 36 Greek Cypriot and 12 Turkish Cypriot lawmakers in the lower assembly. In the upper assembly, there will be 20 Turkish Cypriot and 20 Greek Cypriot senators. Any decision taken by the lower assembly will have to pass through the senate for it to be implemented. Decisions by the lower assembly will have no validity if they are not approved by the senate where we will have numerical equality. In this system, there will be a rotating presidency even though Greek Cypriots do not seem to accept this officially yet. A Greek Cypriot will serve as president for two years while a Turkish Cypriot will serve for one year. In addition to these, there will be full equality in the judiciary. There will be eight federal judges, four Turkish Cypriots and four Greek Cypriots, and they will serve as president in rotation. There will be full equality in the federal judiciary.

    Chance of Making Agreements with Third Countries

    Q: What are the powers of the constituent (founding) state?

    The powers of the federal state are confined to areas such as foreign policy, federal budget, and defence policy. All other powers, notably in the areas of health, education, culture, and trade will be held by each individual constituent state. Constituent states will have wider powers. They will be able to sign cooperation agreements in certain areas. In areas such as education, culture, sports, trade, finance, economy, and tourism, they will have powers to sign agreements not only with Turkey, please note this, but with other third countries and international organizations. This is very important. For instance, so far, we have not been able to sign any agreement with UNESCO; when that day comes, we will be able to do that. Besides, when a Greek Cypriot becomes president a Turkish Cypriot will serve as foreign minister. Given that a Greek Cypriot will be the foreign minister when a Turkish Cypriot becomes president, the EU minister will definitely be a Turkish Cypriot.

    Both Presidents to Decide Together

    Q: Will a presidential system be introduced?

    In the 1960 Republic, there were seven Greek Cypriot ministers and three Turkish Cypriot ministers. Under the Annan Plan, which the Turkish Cypriot people had approved, there was supposed to be four Greek Cypriot and two Turkish Cypriot ministers. Under the current agreement we reached, there will be seven Greek Cypriot and four Turkish Cypriot ministers. We are in a better position compared to the two previous formulas. Some argue that in the 1960 Republic, there was a vice president. There was no rotating presidency at the time. However, the vice president had a veto power in three areas. Exactly in the same way it was in 1960, both presidents will now take joint decisions in the areas of foreign policy, security, and defense. There will be two presidents and they will serve as president in rotation. The system will be a presidential system. My view is that a settlement within this framework is in line with our and Turkey's real interests. A settlement is not merely a romantic wish. This is a down-to-earth stance that sees the gains a settlement will provide."

    [02] Eide exchanged views with Cavusoglu on developments in the Cyprus talks

    According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 07.02.17) , the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, who is currently in Ankara, met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu this morning.

    "A very good exchange with Foreign Minister Cavusoglu on developments in the Cyprus talks and the next steps in the conference on Cyprus" Eide wrote on his official twitter account after the meeting.

    The UN Envoy will be received by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim at 5pm today.

    He is expected to continue his contacts in Ankara tomorrow.

    The two Cyprus leaders had demanded from the UN to consult with the guarantor powers and make preparations for a second Cyprus Summit in Geneva in early March.

    [03] Akinci inspected the crossing point in Deryneia

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (07.02.17) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci inspected yesterday on the spot the works for the opening of the crossing point in the occupied part of Deryneia. In a statement issued by his "office" it is said that Akinci had been briefed on the progress of the works and that today he would inspect on the spot the works for the opening of the crossing point in Apliki area.


    [04] Akinci will inform the "assembly" on the progress of the Cyprus negotiations

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (07.02.17) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will meet tomorrow morning with the "speaker of the assembly" Sibel Siber and later with the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot Parties which are represented in the "assembly".

    Akinci will also inform the "assembly" on the latest developments of the Cyprus problem.


    [05] Erhurman alleges that President Anastasiades "has not come to the point that it is needed on the political equality"

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (07.02.17) reports that Tufan Erhurman, chairman of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), has argued that political equality is one of the UN parameters for the solution of the Cyprus problem and alleged that until now President Anastasiades "has not come to the point that is needed on the political equality issue".

    Addressing a meeting of his party at occupied Trikomo village, Erhurman claimed: "The rotating presidency has been accepted even though orally. However, this is not enough. The political equality of the Turkish Cypriots with the Greek Cypriots should take place in all units of the federal state either numerically or by giving the opportunity of effective participation, if the number is not equal".

    Erhurman further alleged that President Anastasiades keeps the rotating presidency as a "trump card" in his hand and that this is a "big mistake". According to Erhurman, some politicians in the government-controlled area of Cyprus, who "sincerely want a solution", do not approve this stance of President Anastasiades.

    Furthermore, Erhurman claimed that it should not be possible for the text of the agreement which will be approved by the Turkish Cypriots to become invalid by decisions of international courts and added that the Turkish Cypriots want an agreement which will be ensured that it is legally final.

    Referring to the territory issue, Erhurman recalled that the percentage of 29,2% had been decided at the Mont Pelerin and not in Geneva and wondered why the representatives of the "government" went to Geneva with such large delegations, since they disagree with this development. Arguing that the maps submitted in Geneva are the "starting positions", Erhurman noted that with her speech at the "assembly" when the minutes of a closed-door session [held in the 1980's] were recently revealed, the "speaker" of the "assembly" Sibel Siber verified what Turkish Cypriot leader Akinci had been saying on the territory.

    Erhurman said that some circles allege that the negotiating process for the solution of the Cyprus problem has collapsed and they seem to be in a "festive mood", but because they know that the process has not collapsed, they continue exerting every effort to harm it.


    [06] Saner to attend the OIC's Ministerial Conference in Jeddah

    According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 07.02.17), self-styled minister of labour and social security Hamza Ersan Saner will attend the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) Ministerial Conference on 'Strengthening Marriage and Family Institution' which will be held between the 8th and 9th of February in Jeddah.

    Saner will return to the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus on Friday, the 10th of February.

    [07] The Council of the Turkish Cypriot Unions called on the Turkish Cypriots who live abroad to apply for the "TRNC citizenship"

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (07.02.17) reports that the Council of the Turkish Cypriot Unions called on the Turkish Cypriots who live in the UK to apply for the "TRNC citizenship".

    According to a statement issued by the Council, only 220,000 Turkish Cypriots will have the citizenship of the new stated that will emerge after a solution and from them only 22,000 Turkish Cypriots who live abroad will have the right to apply for it.

    Claiming that there are currently 300,000 Turkish Cypriots who live in the UK, the Council says that another reason for applying for the "TRNC citizenship" is that the Turkish Cypriots will no longer be EU citizens after the Brexit.

    It is also mentioned that the Council met in November with the self-styled minister of foreign affairs Tahsin Ertugruloglu who made the preparations for ease the application for the "TRNC documents".


    [08] Erdin Nami: The Turkish Cypriot side is not economically ready for the solution

    Turkish Cypriot daily Diyalog newspaper (07.02.17) reports that Erdil Nami, former chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce claimed that the Turkish Cypriot side is not ready from the economic point of view for the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    He also alleged that in order for the "country" to become member of the European Union and be harmonized with the European laws, the economic protocols that the breakaway regime signed with Turkey must be applied.


    [09] Tatar said that the fall of Turkish lira will decrease shopping of the Turkish Cypriots to the free areas and this will be good

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Bakis newspaper (07.02.17) reports that the "deputy" with the National Unity Party and former so-called minister of economy Ersin Tatar commented on the decrease of the value of the Turkish Lira and said that it will be for the benefit of the "TRNC".

    According to his claims, this will lead to the decrease of the shopping that Turkish Cypriots make to the south (meaning the Republic of Cyprus) and this will be beneficial for the "TRNC".


    [10] The stone quarries on occupied Pentadaktylos Mountains cover an area of 2,6 million square meters

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (07.02.17) reports that Mehmet Yakup, secretary for the environment of the Equal Rights and Justice Trade Union (HAK-SEN), has said that the stone quarries on the occupied Pentadaktylos Mountains cover an area that exceeds 2,6 million square meters and described it as "one of the biggest environmental tragedies created by the state". "The environment is on the top of the problems which urgently wait for a solution in the country", he noted.


    [11] The foundations of a new "university" in the occupied part of Nicosia will be laid

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (07.02.17) reports that the foundations of a new "university" in the occupied part of Nicosia named the "Cosmopolitan University of Nicosia" will be laid soon.

    Businessman Ertan Birinci, chairman of the "administrative committee" of the "university" said that they have been intensively working for a long time, they have overcome some obstacles and soon they will lay the foundations of the "university". He noted that they will try to be ready for offering education in this campus as of the next academic year.


    [12] In the occupied area of Cyprus the unemployment rate in 2015 dropped only 0,9%

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (07.02.17) reports that according to the results of a household labour survey carried out by the "state planning organization" ("DPO") on October 2015, the total number of employed persons in the "TRNC" (translator's note: the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus) in 2015 was estimated as 112 thousand 811 persons. The number of unemployed was 9 thousands 043 persons, and the rate of unemployment 7,4%.

    According to the results for October 2014, there were 103 thousand 149 employed persons in 2014 and 9 thousand 320 unemployed persons, and the unemployment rate is estimated at 8,3%.

    The unemployment rate was 8,9% for women and 6,5% for men. The highest unemployment rate was registered in the occupied town of Morphou with 10,9% and the lowest at the occupied part of Lefkosia with 5,1%.


    [13] Turkey to host UN's Guterres and the Cyprus envoy this week

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (online, 07.02.17) reports that Turkey will host the United Nations' new Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and his special envoy on Cyprus this week to discuss ongoing efforts to resolve the decades-old divide on the eastern Mediterranean island and review the refugee problem stemming from Syria's civil war.

    According to Turkish officials, Guterres is expected to hold talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Feb. 10 in Ankara. A former High Commissioner for Refugees, Guterres began his job as U.N. chief on Jan. 1. Special envoy for Cyprus Espen Barth Eide is expected to be in Ankara this week as well, officials said, although it is not clear whether or not Eide will accompany Guterres in Ankara.

    The top issue to be discussed in Ankara is expected to be the ongoing U.N.-led talks aimed at resolving the Cyprus problem on the basis of a bi-zonal and bi-communal formula. Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom met with Turkish and Greek Cypriots in mid-January, with expectations that a five-way conference will be organized in early March upon the request of the two negotiating parties.

    Guterres and Eide will listen to the Turkish perspective with regard to the ongoing talks on the eve of the upcoming conference.

    Guterres will also discuss refugee problems stemming from Syria with Turkey, which is home to around 3 million Syrians and Iraqis on its soil. Officials will discuss developments in Syria and preparations for a fresh round of political talks between the Syrian government and the opposition before a Geneva meeting slated for Feb. 20.

    [14] MEPs evaluates the timing of the EU-Turkey summit on migration with the Cyprus talks

    Under the title "MEPs call for constructive talks at planned but undated Turkey summit", Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (online, 07.02.17) reports that despite the European Parliament holding a vote calling for an end to accession negotiations with Turkey, some MEPs told Daily Sabah that more constructive approaches to strengthen ties with their 'key ally' Turkey is needed.

    Amid rumours that the EU is waiting for the results of the accelerated Cyprus reunification talks and the upcoming referendum in Turkey regarding the constitutional amendment package in the country's bid to switch to a presidential system, EU leaders have praised Turkey for fulfilling its responsibilities regarding the migrant deal while Ankara argues that the bloc has only kept a tiny portion of its promises.

    MEP Bogovic: Referendum shows democracy functioning in Turkey

    Responding to questions regarding the significance of the timing of the summit expected in spring which correlates with the timing of the possible outcome of the Cyprus reunification talks, Slovenian Member of Parliament Franc Bogovic of the European People's Party (EPP) said he assumes the timing is "no coincidence". Looking on the bright side, Bogovic said in case of reunification "There would then be a Turkish speaking, Muslim minority inside the EU and this could be a huge opportunity to mend the soured relationship between these two important partners: Turkey and the EU". Bogovic said he also believes that President Tusk wants to wait for the outcome of the referendum in Turkey, as suggested by the Turkish Parliament. () When asked if he thinks Ankara would end the migrant deal and provide safe passage to refugees if the deal collapses, Bogovic said "The negative effects on Europe would be immense - especially along the Balkan route and for my country of Slovenia". () Stressing that the deal with Turkey is right and pleasant at first sight, "but the EU needs to have a plan B and maybe even a plan C. Unfortunately we cannot rely solely on Turkey's good will on this important issue".

    MP Kyuchyuk: Time to begin a new chapter in EU-Turkey relations

    Ilhan Kyuchyuk, a Bulgarian-Turkish member of parliament for the Group of the Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), said the main talks to be held during the Turkey-EU summit will focus on the implementation of the migrant deal, adding that it is not healthy to integrate the Cyprus talks with the summit issue. He said the migrant deal should play a constructive role between the two "strategic partners" and warned that both sides should refrain from causing it to collapse. () The Bulgarian Member of Parliament also emphasized that he has recently hosted an event dedicated to energy perspectives in Cyprus. "I believe that despite hydrocarbon discoveries are not being part of official negotiations, the relationship between Cyprus and energy cannot be understated and is deserved to be properly analysed in order to understand its potential in terms of diplomatic relations in the region, economic gains, and of course unification and stability. In this regard, the general opinion that was expressed during the event was that the reunification of the island will, on the one hand, contribute to regional development and strengthen cooperation in the energy sector on the other," said Kyuchyuk.

    MEP Zdechovsky: EU must do all it can to preserve deal with Turkey

    Czech Member of the European Parliament Tomas Zdechovsky stressed that in the case of a negative outcome at the planned EU-Turkey summit, the agreement known as the "Migrant Deal" may collapse. Defining the possible incident as a "threat", Zdechovsky said he is convinced that no one in Europe wants a repeat of the massive waves of migrants seen prior to the deal. () Zdechovsky also added that he does not think the ongoing Cyprus negotiations have anything to do with the EU's failure to announce a date for the anticipated summit. On the other hand, responding to questions regarding the flow of gas through the eastern Mediterranean into Europe via the TANAP Pipeline - a likely scenario if peace is achieved in the Cyprus talks -Zdechovsky said, "There is no doubt that decreasing [Europe's] oil dependency on Russia and Iran would be beneficial for both Turkey and the EU. The details are, however, a matter of further negotiations among all concerned states".

    [15] Turkey condemns law approving new Israeli settlements in Palestinian land

    According to Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (online, 06.02.17), Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the adoption of a law enabling the construction of 4,000 units of settlements on private Palestinian land.

    In a statement released on Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry said: "The policy Israel persistently pursues despite the UN Security Council Resolution dated 23 December 2016, number 2334, which put on record that illegal settlement activity at the occupied Palestinian territories are destroying the basis for the two-state solution, is unacceptable".

    Turkey has previously condemned the construction of settlements and has urged Israel to comply with international law.

    [16] Turkey transfers stakes worth billions in major public companies to wealth fund

    According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (online, 07.02.17), a new sovereign wealth fund formed by Turkish authorities will be audited and adhere to international standards, Finance Minister Naci Agbal has said in response to criticisms that the new fund will be devoid of any oversight.

    The fund will be audited in three stages, Agbal said. "There will be an independent audit. Three audit officials, who will be appointed by the prime minister, will also be on duty, in addition to an audit mechanism by the parliament. Annual audit reports and another audit report prepared for the prime minister will be sent to parliament every year. The Planning and Budget Commission will audit all companies in the fund on an annual basis", Agbal said in a televised interview with CNN Turk on Feb. 7.

    There will also be no change in the management and operational activities of Turkish companies whose stakes have been transferred to the fund, the Minister added. "The wealth fund will not be able to decide on the management of these assets on its own. We have just transferred the stakes of these companies from the privatization authority to the Turkish Wealth Fund," Agbal said.

    Turkey has transferred stakes worth billions of dollars in Ziraat Bank, Halkbank, the Borsa Istanbul stock exchange, Turkish Airlines and state-owned pipeline operator BOTAS, among others, to the new sovereign wealth fund, in a bid to help finance giant infrastructure projects.

    Agbal explained that Halkbank and Turkish Airlines had been in the privatization portfolio and added: "The privatization processes of these assets will again be decided by the government".

    Meanwhile, HDN reports that Selin Sayek Boke, the Republican People's Party's (CHP) spokesperson and vice chair responsible for economic policy, said on Twitter on Feb. 5 that the move would drive the Turkish economy toward a steep cliff through the creation of a "parallel" treasury.

    Turgay Bozoglu, the economy adviser to CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said the fund's audit-free structure would create big risks for the economy.

    Bozoglu also likened the move to the establishment of the Duyun-u Umumiye (Council of Ottoman Revenues and Debts Administration) in 1874, adding that Turkey's fiscal discipline would deteriorate severely.

    Columnist Murat Yetkin, under the title "Turkey's Wealth Fund: What's next?), writes that the move shows how important it is for the government to woo foreign investors, who have recently been more reluctant due to political uncertainty. This is particularly true due to the ongoing state of emergency declared after the foiled military coup attempt of July 2016, as well as the shadow cast over the investment environment by the situation of the courts. The Turkish Lira has depreciated against the U.S. dollar and the euro, while the government has revised down its growth estimate and the Central Bank has revised up its inflation estimate for 2017 just a month after the original estimates.

    The establishment of the wealth fund in Turkey and the way it is to be funded raise serious questions about what might be the next steps to pumping in fresh resources to keep the economy going. TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION

    (DPs / AM)

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