TRNC News Today 26th October 2015

“Support the negotiation process”

Foreign Minister Emine Çolak called on everyone to support the negotiation process and said that they have not forgotten the disappointment experienced in the past in respect of a solution however they have been working to reach a solution in Cyprus.

Emine Colak

The opening of the “Turkish Foreign Policy Certificate Program” organized by the Near East University Lifelong Training Center was held with the participation of Foreign Minister Emine Çolak. The first lecture of the certificate program was also given by Minister Çolak.

In her speech, Çolak said that everyone is a student especially on the issue of foreign relations due to the fact that the agenda of foreign relations is changing continuously. Çolak also stressed the importance of the certificate program and wished success.

Furthermore, indicating the importance of the Island of Cyprus and Turkey’s geographic and physical importance, Çolak explained the balances in the field of power, strategy and trade in the region.

Presidential Press and Public Relations Office begins to use Periscope

The Presidential Press and Public Relations Office announced that President Akıncı and the Presidential Office began to use Periscope application as well as the other digital media applications in order to transfer information.

Periscope

According to the statement made by the Presidency, all important developments regarding President Akıncı and the TRNC Presidency can be followed through the live broadcast @KKTCB account.

Benli: “We were represented in the European Council at the level we deserved”

President of Cyprus Turkish Municipalities Union (KTBB) and Mayor of Gönyeli Ahmet Y. Benli stated that their struggle achieved a result, they were represented in the European Council at the level they deserved, and this representation became permanent.

Benli - Council of Europe

President of KTBB and Mayor of Gönyeli Ahmet Y. Benli and Güzelyurt Mayor Mahmut Özçınar participated in the 29th Session of the Council of Europe Local and Regional Committee which was held in Strasbourg between the dates of 19-22 October.

Stating that the 29th General Assembly’s agenda was the “Response of Local Administrations to Human Rights Violations – Migration and Discrimination” Benli said that representation in the international arena is extremely important.

Benli noted that they transferred the knowledge and the experience that they gained there to the country. Indicating that raising the number of Turkish delegates from 12 to 18 is a chance for the Cyprus Turkish Municipalities, Benli emphasized that from now on there will be Turkish translations in all meetings and also all documents will be translated into Turkish.

“5th International Republic Classic Car Rally”

The “5th International Republic Classic Car Rally” will be held between the dates 7-8 November 2015 within the framework of the anniversary of the establishment of the TRNC.

5th Int. Classic Car Rally

The Rally, which will start with the slalom races on Saturday 7th November at Lefkoşa Bus Terminal, will continue on Sunday 8th November with the main race.

The teams will start the race in front of the Foreign Ministry on Sunday 8th November.

The owner of the greatest Classic Car Museum in Turkey and Chairman of Keskinoğlu Enterprises Board of Directors Fevzi Keskinoğlu and his wife Sıdıka Keskinoğlu will be the guests of honor at this year’s event.

“Clumsy Anastasiades focusing on re-election”

(Sunday Mail, 25.10.2015)

 By Loucas Charalambous

“TWO MONTHS ago I argued that President Anastasiades would not dare take the decisions necessary to reach a settlement. This is what I wrote:

“In reality, because of his lack of courage, Anastasiades is pushing things back to 2018, following the example set by Christofias. I fear the results will be the same. With his delaying tactics, Christofias managed to see Mehmet Ali Talat voted out of office in 2010. Is there not a risk of the same thing happening to Akinci if Anastasiades carries on in this way?”

Two months later, this evaluation appears to have been correct. The president does not have a settlement as his priority. I am not claiming that he does not want a settlement – he just does not dare. His mind is on the next presidential elections.

Clumsy Anastasiades

It is no coincidence that he keeps buttering up the public servants. He reached the point of forcing his health minister, Philippos Patsalis, to resign because he refused to give in to the irrational demands of the government doctors and nurses with regard to the national health system. He even managed to receive public praise from PASYDY boss Glafcos Hadjipetrou, something that certainly does not honor him.

It is also no coincidence he has now decided to send a bill to the legislature for pay rises to be given to some 700 high-earning public employees who were promoted. When they were promoted it was agreed that the corresponding pay rise would have to wait until January 2017, but his bill would bring this forward by a year.

Anastasiades is a compulsive tactician but a clumsy one. It is a clumsiness he demonstrated by taking this provocative decision at a time there are 70,000 unemployed in the private sector, while those with jobs have seen the wages being cut by as much as 60 per cent in some cases. Nor was it a coincidence that the finance minister of the presidential palace (we have two finance ministers) announced the end to the extraordinary contribution by public servants at a time when the bankrupt state is going after unemployed house-owners to collect immovable property tax on their house.

And it is no accident that while people are still suffering the effects of the recession, and thousands are still relying on soup kitchens and handouts of food to survive, Anastasiades and his council of ministers sit and discuss how many square metres the office space of the spoilt, princes of the civil service should cover. The issue has caused tragicomic rows. The area of the office space for top civil servants has become a topic of public debate and includes who is entitled to a personal toilet and who will have to piss in the communal loos.

These are the important issues occupying the president of bankrupt Cyprus, which is why he has no time left to solve the Cyprus problem and insists that referendums in March would be too soon.

And what should we say about his decision to set up ‘sub-ministries’. Each one will require an ‘under-secretary’, a permanent secretary, limo, personnel etc. His concern is to sort out jobs for as many as possible as he looks for more supporters. But again his decision has the opposite result.

He does not understand that the president of a state that is bankrupted and is in an assistance programme cannot keep increasing rather than reducing state spending. These actions also add substance to the view that he is not interested in a settlement. He cannot, on the one hand, claim he is working intensively for a solution of the Cyprus problem as soon as possible while, on the other, setting up unnecessary sub-ministries for which there would be no need in the event of a settlement and would have to be scrapped.

And it is no accident that Anastasiades has also embraced the rhetoric of the rejectionist camp. He is even giving Giorgos Lillikas a helping hand in ‘deconstructing’ the image of Mustafa Akinci because he supports permanent derogations from the European acquis on the issue of populations, when it is  Anastasiades that should have been demanding this so that Turkey would be prevented from flooding the south with Turkish citizens and turning Greek Cypriots into a minority .

Conclusion? While everything is going wrong, Anastasiades is grooming himself for the next presidential elections.  And he does not realize that all these ridiculous tactical manoeuvres are more likely to destroy than help him. In 2018, with the Cyprus problem unsolved, not even half the DISY voters would vote for him.”

“Our View: Initial Cyprus-talks’ momentum is being lost”

(Sunday Mail, 25.10.2015)

“THE UNPRECEDENTED, positive climate that had been created in the summer by the rapport between Mustafa Akinci and Nicos Anastasiades and their common message about the need for a settlement seems like a very long time ago. This spirit of co-operation, which created high expectations and gave the impression that a Cyprus settlement was achievable, does not appear to exist now while the so-called momentum, everyone was talking about is not leading anywhere.

Even the UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor Espen Barth Eide sounded more cautious this week after meeting Anastasiades, downplaying the urgency he had originally shown and stating that finding a good solution was more important than a hasty solution. There was not a specific timetable for an agreement, he pointed out thus agreeing with President  Anastasiades who a few days earlier had said there was no way that an agreement would be put to referendums by March. Despite Barth Eide’s assurances that there was no timetable, this had been the unofficial time-frame to which the UN was working and its public denouncement was another indication that momentum has been lost.

Momentum being lost

The Greek Cypriot opposition parties and a big section of the media must be given much of the credit for this, because they have been constantly chipping away at the peace process, with daily , concerted attacks on both leaders, especially the ‘bad’  Turk  Akinci and putting a negative spin on everything related to the talks. This cartoonish negativity, repeated every day by the leaders of the hard-line parties and reinforced by the anti-settlement television stations in co-operation with some newspapers has poisoned the climate. The optimism of the summer has been replaced by the old, familiar hostility, suspicion and bad faith.

We doubt the partition champions had a strategic plan for achieving their objective. They just did what they have always done, the only thing they know – disparaging any attempt to push the peace process forward by presenting it as unfair and unjust and being against the interests of Greek Cypriots.  Akinci has been presented as Ankara’s puppet and repeatedly likened to Eroglu. It is difficult to know how many people actually buy this crude propaganda, but the fact that it is encountering very little resistance would suggest that it is having an effect.

Pro-settlement AKEL and DISY occasionally take a stand but they cannot be expected to do the work of the government, especially when the president is not only avoiding confrontation, but on most issue is siding with the rejectionists. There have been instances Anastasiades gave the impression he had defected to the rejectionist camp. On the property issue, he presented the agreement positively, but as soon as criticism about the rights of the owner being downgraded was made he started back-pedalling until he eventually aligned himself with his critics. There was a similar knee-jerk reaction after Akinci expressed support for permanent derogations from the EU acquis with regard to guaranteed majorities.

By refusing to counter the criticism of the rejectionists Anastasiades is helping it appear legitimate and justified.

With his timid stance he has given rejectionists the license to poison the climate with their abject negativity that is left unchallenged. If the president really believes that confrontation should be avoided while the talks are still in progress, he is making a colossal error of judgment. By the time a comprehensive agreement has been reached (something looking increasingly unlikely) the propaganda of the rejectionists could have turned Greek Cypriot public opinion completely against a settlement.

His second error of judgment that plays into the hands of the opponents of a settlement is his lack of urgency.

When the talks drag on, rejectionists are given more time to undermine the procedure and spin myths about unfair compromises being struck.  Akinci, who has his own hardliners to deal with, does not help matters by making public statements about what is being discussed and his side’s position on specific matters. This quest for transparency is not very helpful as it leads to public negotiations, providing ammunition to attack the process to the hardliners of both sides.

The failure of both leaders to manage the procedure has contributed to reversal of the positive climate they had created.  As we have argued before, they must work together in order to develop a communication strategy for the talks – they should agree what information would be released, how to present it and how to defend it when the hardliners of the two sides attack it. It is of critical importance for them to appear to be on the same side and defend each other when the need arises. This is the only way to restore the positive climate and rebuild the lost momentum.”

“Greece: Attacks on Boats Risk Migrant Lives”

“Masked Assailants Attack, Disable Boats, Abuse Passengers”  –  (Human Rights Watch, 22.10.2015)

“(Athens) – Armed masked men have been disabling boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers in the Aegean Sea and pushing them back to Turkish waters, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch spoke to nine witnesses who described eight incidents in which masked assailants – often armed – intercepted and disabled the boats carrying asylum seekers and migrants from Turkey toward the Greek islands, most recently on October 7 and 9, 2015. The witnesses said that the assailants deliberately disabled their boats by damaging or removing the engines or their fuel, or puncturing the hulls of inflatable boats. In some cases, the boats were towed to Turkish waters.

“Disabling boats in the Aegean makes an already dangerous journey even more likely to result in death,” said Eva Cosse, Greece specialist at Human Rights Watch. “These criminal actions require an urgent response from the Greek authorities.”

Migrant abuse

Human Rights Watch also found new cases in which Greek border guards summarily returned migrants and asylum seekers to Turkey across the land border at Evros.

On October 9, Human Rights Watch staff witnessed an overloaded inflatable rubber boat adrift in the waters between Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos for more than an hour, until a group of Spanish lifeguard volunteers set off on their own boat to rescue them. Right after the rescue, 17-year-old Ali from Afghanistan told Human Rights Watch that their boat had taken off eight hours earlier for Lesbos from the Turkish shore at Assos, packed with men, women, and children. But 30 minutes into their journey, a speedboat suddenly rammed their rubber dinghy. On board were five men dressed in black, their faces covered with balaclavas, armed with handguns.

Ali, a 17-year-old Afghan asylum seeker stands wrapped in an emergency thermal blanket on the shore of Lesbos island, having being rescued from an overcrowded rubber boat which was attacked by masked, uniformed men and had its engine removed and thrown into the sea.

“At first when they approached, we thought they had come to help us,” Ali told Human Rights Watch. “But by the way they acted, we realized they hadn’t come to help. They were so aggressive. They didn’t come on board our boat, but they took our boat’s engine and then sped away.”

The masked men attacked three other boats in quick succession before speeding off toward the Greek coast, Ali said. The boats were packed with asylum seekers mostly from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. The men wore no insignia on their black clothing. “They spoke a language we didn’t know, but it definitely was not Turkish, as we Afghans can understand a bit of Turkish,” Ali said.

Ali said a Turkish coast guard boat approached and took the three women and six children from the rubber dinghy, promising to return for the men on board. But the Turkish coast guard did not return. Human Rights Watch staff also watched a Hellenic Coast Guard (HCG) boat approach Ali’s rubber boat and circle around before speeding away. People on a second boat with Afghans that arrived in Lesbos the next day confirmed to Human Rights Watch that they were on one of the other three other boats attacked on the previous day.

Three of the incidents described to Human Rights Watch involved more than one witness. The accounts bore many similarities. In two instances, people described seeing the boat with the masked men being lowered from a bigger ship. In three of the cases Human Rights Watch documented, the people interviewed said they had seen the Greek flag on the boat carrying the masked men. In six cases, witnesses said the masked men disabled or removed the engine or its fuel. In two cases, the masked men punctured the boat. In three, they towed the migrants and asylum seekers back toward the Turkish coast. In all the cases, the stricken boats were abandoned without any certainty that the occupants were safe. In four cases, migrants and asylum seekers were beaten or otherwise subjected to violence.”

PIO logoSource: TRNC Public Information Office –

To read more news and information from the TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, please click here

Pictures shown are courtesy of the TRNC Public Information Office Facebook page.