TRNC News 1st March 2016
Kalyoncu to go to Ankara
Prime Minister Ömer Kalyoncu is going to Ankara tonight upon the invitation of the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to sign the agreement on the water management issue. Foreign Minister Emine Çolak, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Food Erkut Şahali, Minister of Public Works, Environment and Culture Kutlu Evren and some other bureaucrats will accompany Prime Minister Kalyoncu during his contacts in Ankara.
Prime Minister Kalyoncu will meet tomorrow with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the agreement is expected to be signed tomorrow afternoon.
“We want reunification in 2016”
Foreign Minister Emine Çolak’s interview with Germany’s Bild Zeitung online newspaper was published by the newspaper under the title “We want reunification in 2016”. The original full text is as the following:
“After a failed referendum in 2004, there is once again new hope for reunification: the heads of government of both sides, Nikos Anastasiades (69) and Mustafa Akinci (68) are not only almost the same age but they were also both born in the southern city of Limassol. They are pushing the reunification process forward and are winning over doubters on both sides of the border.
BILD spoke to Emine Colak (57), the Foreign Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (which is only recognized by Turkey), about this historic opportunity.
BILD: In the past, there was talk of a “window” of opportunity for the reunification of Cyprus. How wide open is this window right now?
Emine Colak: Remarkably wide. This is because currently all involved parties – this means alongside Cyprus also the guarantor powers Greece, Turkey, Great Britain and the EU – share the same interests. What makes this moment special is that the political leaders in power on both sides share a vision and have the necessary political will. Both zones could remain semi-autonomous also in a federal republic. Despite this, the negotiations are not easy. But we are cautiously optimistic.
BILD: Are you to brave enough to say that reunification could happen this year?
Colak: Yes, we want to achieve reunification in 2016. And the chances of this happening are good. There have been delays in the negotiation process, in part caused by the parliamentary elections on the Greek side scheduled for May this year. But they also provide us with an opportunity: if the party of the Greek Cypriot Leader Anastasiades is strengthened by voters then our window of opportunity could become even wider.
BILD: Why has your head of government warned that this might be the “last chance” to reunify to island?
Colak: Our president is worried that future generations of politicians might see things differently. We will never again have a situation where both leaders are born not only on the same side of the island but also very close to each other. But it’s also got to do with the disappointment of 2004 (ed. note: the rejection by the Greek side of the Kofi Annan Plan to reunify the island). There is a natural limit to how often one can give one’s all before choosing a different direction.
BILD: What is the main bone of contention in the negotiation process?
Colak: The issue of property restitution.
BILD: Cyprus has been divided since 1974. You were born in 1958, what are your personal memories of the time before the division?
Colak: Nothing good. When I was five years old, I was forced to flee to England with my family. We became refugees and our neighbours were killed during an attack by Greek-Cypriots. It was traumatic but also an incentive for reconciliation. You see, both sides made mistakes. We can neither ignore the past, nor disown it – but we must look ahead to the future.
BILD: The bigger political picture is significantly less peaceful now than it was in 2004. Does this make the negotiation process more difficult?
Colak: I would rather say that it makes us all more aware of the importance of finding common ground, agreement and solutions that provide more security for all sides. In terms of the position held by the Turkish president and the AKP-government, here we have no complaints. There was support for the reunification process in 2004 and we are seeing this support again now.
BILD: The European Union is in the midst of a deep crisis. In London preparations are being made for a Brexit-referendum. Are your compatriots still attracted by the promise of full-EU membership?
Colak: To be honest, we have also seen a dip in the EU’s popularity. In 2004, this factor still played an important role. Added to this are natural fears, of jumping directly into the cold water. Unlike other countries, we will not have gone through an EU preparation period lasting several years. It will be more of a parachute jump into the EU.
BILD: What makes you optimistic? Where do you see common ground?
Colak: In addition to our Greek and Turkish identities, both sides also identify with being Cypriot. This is something that we all feel when we sit together at a table. This is not some artificial construct, it is a completely natural feeling. When facing all problems we feel that the island belongs to us all, this is where we belong.
BILD: One of the problems between your two sides is the accusation that the Turkish side has allowed Greek churches to fall into neglect. Is there any progress in this area?
Colak: Yes, and on both sides. We are creating opportunities for Christians in the South to visit and pray in churches, some of which have been transformed into mosques. In 20 such cases, this was the first Mass to be held in over 50 years. Muslims in the North are also being given the opportunity to visit mosques in the South. Sadly, a recently renovated mosque in Denia was set on fire. Both sides condemned this act in very strong terms. We also have a very promising channel of inter-religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims, organized by the Swedish Embassy.
BILD: We are having this talk in the seat of the TRNC representation, which is only several hundred meters away from the Brandenburg Gate. And yet no one is expecting a loud firework-fuelled reunification party for Cyprus. In what way is German reunification and the fall of the Berlin Wall an inspiration for you?
Colak: It is an inspiration, on two accounts. First, in Germany too it seemed that the problems were unsolvable, that they were frozen for eternity. Until a window of opportunity opened and brave politicians seized the moment. Secondly, we can see that even the most complicated issues can eventually be resolved. There is a lot that we can learn from Germany – also from the mistakes that were made. The German government has, which I am very grateful for, sent experts to Cyprus with first-hand experience of the reunification process. Of course, disappointments are part of the process. We know that not everything will be perfect. Cyprus will not turn into a fairy tale country overnight.”
Taçoy: “Greek Cypriot side intends to trap Turkish Cypriots and Turkey”
Democrat Party National Forces (DP-UG) General Secretary Hasan Taçoy stated that Greek Cypriots are not willing for a permanent and viable agreement adding that Greek Cypriot side intends to trap the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey.
Taçoy expressed that Greek Cypriot Leader Nikos Anastasiades considers what he will accept for a federal solution as “a pain compromise”. Taçoy also said that the statements of Anastasiades made during an activity were not directed towards the elections and they cannot be tolerated.
Adding that Greek Cypriot Leader’s collocutor is not Turkey but the TRNC President, Taçoy said that intransigent side is not Turkey and the TRNC but the Greek Cypriot side.
Furthermore, Taçoy stressed that the reason of continuation of the Cyprus problem since 1963 is the Enosis dream of the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo.
Eroğlu: “Turkey’s full and effective guarantee cannot be compromised”
Responding to the questions of Milliyet newspaper regarding the Cyprus negotiations and the TRNC, the 3rd President Derviş Eroğlu emphasized that “full and effective guarantee of Turkey and its intervention right when required cannot be compromised.”
Eroğlu stressed that, every mistake to be made is important but taking a step back from the full and effective guarantee of Turkey will be a suicide for the Turkish Cypriot people.
Eroğlu replied to the question regarding the statements of the Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades as follows:
“According to me Anastasiades’ comments are not well intentioned. His statements do not reflect the realities in Cyprus and are not towards a future full of security, welfare and peace. Anastasiades gets his own way about hydrocarbon resources, he is developing new relations, improving these relations and making agreements, but there is no one to show any reaction. He does not accept the rotating presidency. He wants to get what he wants related to the property and the territory issues by taking benefit of our side’s not being able to establish a good team. He tries to disrupt the bi-zonality but there is no one to stop him. I think Anastasiades is very successful in protecting the rights of his own people without thinking of us. “
Beşparmak Think Tank Group: “The requirements of the bi-zonality are ignored”
Stating that negotiating the issues of security and guarantees in the Cyprus talks is a mistake, Beşparmak Think Tank Group accused the Greek side for trying to alienate the property issue from the bi-zonality principle.
It was expressed, “Greek Cypriots consider this as their individual right and they are trying to solve this by the court. This attitude ignores the requirements of the bi-zonality and the socio-economic texture formed in both sides after 1974. This is unacceptable.”
Beşparmak Think Tank Group stated that they expressed their views on the property, bi-zonality, security, guarantees, governance, power sharing, economy, EU harmonization and citizenship issues to President Mustafa Akıncı. Expressing their views on the security and guarantees, Beşparmak Think Tank Group said, “In this current condition, negotiating the issues of security and guarantees in the Cyprus talks is a mistake. Moreover, it is a mistake to try to equalize the rights of an assailant who persistently tries to disrupt the 1960 regulations in Cyprus through violence with the rights of those who were attacked many times.”
Tourism Ministry and tourism professionals attended tourism fair in Denmark
TRNC Tourism Ministry and a group of tourism professionals attended “Ferie for Alle 2016” tourism fair in Herning, Denmark within the framework of the overseas tourism promotion and marketing activities.
The Ministry officials and the tourism professionals had meetings with the tour operators from Danish and Scandinavian countries within the framework of tourism promotion and marketing activities towards the tourist market especially in Denmark and generally in Scandinavia, at the fair which was held between the dates of 26-28 February.
TCCC: TRNC is 16 percent cheaper
Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (TCCC) announced the results of the Comparative Price Levels study made in order to determine the price differences between the TRNC and South Cyprus on the basis of the prices recorded by the end of February.
In the statement made by the TCCC it is said: “According to the prices recorded by the end of February, it is observed that the TRNC is 16 percent cheaper in the average value of the basket of goods bought by the people for daily needs.”
Greek Cypriots buy medicines from the TRNC
Patients in South Cyprus suffering from rare diseases are buying their medicines from the TRNC.
According to Cyprus Mail Newspaper, speaking during a press conference to mark “Rare Diseases Day”, representatives of patient groups explained how several of the vital drugs prescribed to patients are either not available or, even they are, so costly that people often travel to the TRNC where drugs are cheaper to buy them.
This applies for instance to patients suffering from Myasthenia Gravis, a disease characterised by muscle weakness, said the representative for a patients’ support group, Anna Zanettou.
She said that in late 2014, one drug that sufferers depended on was removed from state hospital pharmacies. The reason given was that the drug was ‘off label’ which means the drug was not listed as being specifically for Myasthenia Gravis patients.
Zanettou, however, insists the real reason was the cost as the drug had previously been available for treating the disease at state pharmacies for years.
Last month alone, three patients died, she said, adding that some sufferers have been forced to borrow money from loan sharks to get their hands on enough cash to purchase the necessary drugs.
The price of the drug is €333 in the South Cyprus where it is €180 in the TRNC.
Rare diseases found in Cyprus include congenital heart defects, genetic neurological diseases, myopathies, metabolic syndromes, skeletal malformations, and rare diseases in the thalassaemia sector. At least 60,000 people in South Cyprus suffer from some type of rare disease.
Zanettou described how one patient’s doctors had requested a drug from the pharmaceutical services.
“They have not received an answer yet. Our patient has passed away and the doctor still hasn’t got a response.”
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Pictures shown are courtesy of the TRNC Public Information Office Facebook page.