TCC Press Review 21 Mar 2019

Front Page Headlines

Yenidüzen

“This murder was ordered by others”

Mother of Gökhan Naim, Nurten Naim is full of sorrow and anger. Gökhan’s mother calls on police to find the real culprits responsible for her son’s death. “Only then can I rest,” says Nurten Naim.

  • Crossings to North on the rise – A total of 833,000 people have crossed the divide in January and February.
  • Two hundred police under investigation, six police officers expelled! – The number of police officers under investigation for involvement in Fetö (Fethullah Gülen’s organization) growing.

Kıbrıs Postası

Measures in place but in case of crisis, we need Turkey’s help

Serdar Denktaş spoke about the vision of the Finance Ministry in an interview.

  • The match is over but debates go into overtime – Oğuzhan Hasipoğlu said the presidency should not have been involved at all and should have let the two teams alone to play a match.

Kıbrıs

Pushing children to crime must be prevented

Director of Social Services Department Aydan Başkurt said a juvenile rehabilitation centre is now under construction. Until then, children will be sent to the central prison when convicted of a crime.

  • Two sides of the island a haven for murderers and thieves – Absence of agreement between two sides for extradition offers opportunity for criminals, said Hakkı Celal Önen, Turkish Cypriot co-chair of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Crime and Criminal Matters.

Havadis

Centre for meat smuggling is Beyarmudu (Pergamos)

Police seized nine tons of red meat in the past 15 months but it is difficult to gauge the amount of smuggled meat into the north.

  • Taxation on wealth would be a mistake – Economist Kemal Özçakır underlined the income tax law needs to be amended instead of implementing a capital tax.

Diyalog

KIBTEK salaries under review

Deputy Prime Minister Özersay says the rise in fuel prices was reflected in electricity bills as two Kuruş but in salaries as four Kuruş. He said the issue will be put on the table.

  • An assurance was given – US Secretary of State Pompeo who attended the trilateral summit on natural gas expressed support to South Cyprus, Greece and Israel on the issue of hydrocarbons.
  • We too are there –Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez says his country will not stand idle while South Cyprus and other countries carry out unilateral hydrocarbon exploration activities.

Afrika

Piracy affairs

Around 100 police officers in the firing line as Fetö investigation continues.

  • Here is Ercan’s new terminal – President Akıncı visited the construction of Ercan airport’s new terminal on Wednesday.

Main News

The backlash on bicommunal football match continues

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Kıbrıs Postası, Havadis, Diyalog
CBMs

OVERVIEW

The Turkish Cypriot Foreign Ministry said that the United Nations’ excuse to change the venue of the bicommunal football match citing security concerns was unacceptable. In a written statement issued on Wednesday, the TC Foreign Ministry pointed out that the mixed village of Pyla had a special status whereby TC and GC police had jurisdiction over incidents concerning members of their respective communities residing in the village. It stated that the UN, unlike the remaining area of the buffer zone, was not in control of the village nor did it have legal jurisdiction.

The UN’s presence is restricted to observer status. UNFICYP only carries out liaison duties when required, the statement read.

The ministry said that joint police operations carried out against illegal gambling venues in the village by TC and GC police in the past was a good example of this.

The ministry also criticized the United Nations for insisting on relocating the football match to a field in an area of the village controlled by the Greek Cypriot authorities when the security of the spectators should have been provided by the police forces of the two communities. It also claimed that the UN was in contradiction with its own mandate by adopting a biased stance in favour of the Greek Cypriot side.

The statement concluded by reiterating that the Turkish Cypriot side was justified in its call for a review of UNFICYP’s mandate and role on the island.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, President Akıncı’s spokesperson Barış Burcu highlighted the existing practice adopted by leaders when crossing into the buffer zone or crossing over to the other side.

Burcu said that the leaders attend meetings or events in the buffer zone with their official vehicles and should the event be held in the north or in the south, the leaders travel to the venue in unmarked vehicles.

He emphasized the principle of reciprocity and equal treatment must be applied during such bicommunal events.

The spokesperson also criticized National Unity Party (UBP) MP Oğuzhan Hasipoğlu for his remarks concerning the president, saying they were unfortunate and baseless.

The UBP MP in a separate statement on Wednesday accused the president of messing up a simple football match.

He said Akıncı had given the Greek Cypriot side the opportunity to exploit the match for its own political gains and to put Mağusa Türk Gücü in a tight spot.

“The best thing the President should have done was to keep out of this organisation,” Hasipoğlu said.

Burcu pointed out that it was not possible for Hasipoğlu, who himself had served as part of former President Derviş Eroğlu’s negotiating team, not to be aware of the established practices the leaders used when crossing into the buffer zone or to the other side.  

Former UBP leader Hüseyin Özgürgün expressed support for Akıncı in a post on social media, saying he applauded Akıncı’s stance regarding political equality.

Unite Cyprus Now (UCN) on Wednesday said the bicommunal football match could have been an ideal opportunity to give a strong message of peace but it turned into a political crisis with Akıncı’s last-minute decision in a statement issued.

UCN acknowledged the importance of Turkish Cypriots’ political equality but expressed disappointment in Akıncı’s lack of ability to display more flexible leadership against symbols of the status quo.

UCN also criticized the UN for failing to analyse the risks on time and take responsibility to avoid the crisis. UCN emphasized: “Cypriots are well ahead of politics,” adding, “UCN is determined to work even harder to encourage Cypriots to take their destiny into their own hands for a united and peaceful future.”


Akıncı: Our goal is direct flights to Ercan in the future

Kıbrıs, Kıbrıs Postası, Havadis
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

President Mustafa Akıncı said Ercan (Tymbou) Airport will become an international airport following a solution to the Cyprus problem during a visit to the ongoing construction of the new terminal building on Wednesday.

Akıncı added it is difficult to envisage how the Cyprus problem will be shaped but with a solution, Ercan (Tymbou) will become an international airport. It will have the same status as Larnaca (International Airport).

Akıncı said launching direct [international] flights to and from Ercan (Tymbou) Airport was among the Turkish Cypriot side’s goals even though Turkish Cypriots have access to international destinations via Turkey at the moment.

Once completed in 2020, the new terminal will be able to host five to eight million passengers annually with the possibility of a capacity increase up to ten million passengers.

KEY ACTORS
Akinci
>> TC side’s goal is direct flights to and from Ercan (Tymbou) Airport with the solution.


Tatar says federation not possible in Cyprus

Kıbrıs, Kıbrıs Postası, Diyalog, Havadis
Negotiations Process

OVERVIEW

National Unity Party (UBP) leader Ersin Tatar said a federal solution is not possible in Cyprus, noting that this became evident with the collapse of the talks in Crans-Montana. A, UBP press release issued on Wednesday quoted Tatar saying that President Akıncı had admitted upon his return from Crans-Montana that efforts to reach a federal settlement had been exhausted.

He added the time had come to table a two-state solution option.

The UBP leader said the argument that there were no alternatives other than a federal solution was invalid.

Providing Kosovo as an example of negotiated separation, Tatar said the same situation could be applied to Cyprus.

Tatar also accused the UN of being unjust against Turkish Cypriots by dismissing other models.

KEY ACTORS
Tatar (UBP)
>>
Federation not possible in Cyprus.
>> Alternative solution models must be brought to the negotiating table, such as a two-state solution, negotiated separation or confederation should be considered.
>> UN is unfair towards TCs by dismissing alternative solution models.


Dönmez: Turkey will also drill for hydrocarbons

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog
Energy, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Wednesday that Turkey aimed to discover its own natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Speaking to Anadolu news agency, Dönmez reminded that South Cyprus and neighbouring countries were conducting their own exploration activities and that Turkey’s aim was to achieve the same potential with its first drilling attempts.

He also said that Turkey did not approve of the Greek Cypriot side’s attempts to acquire all of the island’s resources for its own economy.

“The Turkish Cypriot community’s rights and interests must be rightfully protected. We would be very pleased if the two leaders sat down and came up with a solution. The TRNC issued its own exploration licenses and so we shall be carrying out exploration within those blocks. I hope the other side will acknowledge the realities and an agreement that will benefit both sides will be reached,” Dönmez said.

The Turkish Energy Minister also announced that they had launched drilling at a second location off the coast of Adana.

KEY ACTORS
Dönmez (Turkey)
>>
Turkey aims to discover its own natural reserves.
>>
Turkey does not approve of GC side’s attempt to acquire all of Cyprus’s reserves for its own economy.
>> TCs rights and interests must be protected.
>> Turkey supports mutually beneficial solution to be reached by two sides.


Buffer zone crossings on the rise

Yeniduzen
CBMs

OVERVIEW

Yenidüzen reported on Thursday that the number of people crossing the divide had gone up by 200,000 compared to the previous year following the opening of two new crossing points in Derinya (Dherynia) and Aplıç (Apliki). The daily says the rise in the number of Greek Cypriots crossing over to the north, mainly as a result of the fall in the value of the Turkish Lira against foreign currency, could be seen from the official figures.

According to official figures obtained by Yenidüzen, the highest number of foreign nationals to cross over to the north came from the UK and Greece. The paper says that 316,179 Greek Cypriots crossed over to the north in the first two months of 2019 and 291,967 Turkish Cypriots crossed over to the south for the same period. The number of Greek Cypriots crossing over went up by 65.4% compared to the same period the previous year.


Two sides of the island haven for criminals

Kıbrıs, Havadis
Internal Security, CBMs

OVERVIEW

Hakkı Celal Önen, Turkish Cypriot chair of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Crime and Criminal Matters, said the absence of an agreement on the extradition of criminals created the ideal environment for murderers and thieves.

Önen added that those who committed crimes in the north fled to the south and those in the south fled to the north.

The murderer of Hasan Işık Özgöçmen is still in police custody in the south and there is strong reason to believe that one of Gökhan Naim’s murderers fled to the south. Önen said suspect Azmad Ali Virk has crossed to the south from Akıncılar (Louroujina) with the money he stole after shooting Naim. Önen pointed to the fact that the growing number of such crime-related incidents posed a serious threat to both sides.

Serious efforts are made for the extradition of criminals while unofficial practices are also in place, he added.

Meanwhile, Havadis reported on Thursday that police have seized nine tons of smuggled red meat from the south over the past 15 months. Beyarmudu (Pergamos) appears to be the preferred point used to smuggle the meat into the north. Police conducted 12 operations in 2018 at Metehan (Ayios Dhometios), Kyrenia, Akdoğan (Lysi) and Beyarmudu (Pergamos). 6,661kg of meat was seized in Beyarmudu (Pergamos) alone, the paper reported.

KEY ACTORS
Önen
>> Lack of extradition agreement is an opportunity for criminals.
>> Unofficial exchange of criminals taking place between two sides.


Religious leaders reaffirm commitment to dialogue

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog
Human Rights

OVERVIEW

Leaders of the five religious communities in Cyprus reaffirmed their commitment on Tuesday for dialogue and cooperation for freedom of religion, human rights and reconciliation on the island.

A statement issued by the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP), which operates under the auspices of the Swedish Embassy, said a ‘fruitful’ meeting had been held on 19 March.

The statement said the religious leaders had observed a one minute silence in memory of all innocent lives lost as a result of indiscriminate terror attacks, in particular, the Muslim faithful who perished because of the shootings at the two Mosques in New Zealand on Friday.

The gathering of the religious leaders started with a joint site visit to the recently collapsed Church of St James facilitated by UNFICYP where they witnessed with deep sadness the current state of the Church.

The religious leaders welcomed all efforts to ensure the soonest possible reinforcement and eventual restoration of the historic Churches of St James and St George without further delay, the statement said.

In front of growing polarization, Islamophobia, Christianophobia, and Anti-Semitism the religious leaders discussed the significant role of religion and faith in conflict resolution, conflict transformation and peace-building.

“In the midst of despair and frustration, the religious leaders agreed to remain focused on positive signs and their joint resolve to build trust, promote understanding and nurture hope. They unanimously agreed to further strengthen their joint efforts and activities for religious freedom, human rights and reconciliation in Cyprus,” the statement concluded.


St. Anne Church and Tanners Mosque restored

Yeni Düzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
CBMs

OVERVIEW

The Bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage marked the completion of the restoration and conservation work at St. Anne Church and Tanners Mosque in Famagusta with a ceremony on Wednesday. The restoration works were financed by the European Union through the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP).

Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot chairs of the bicommunal technical committee Ali Tuncay and Takis Hadjidemetriou gave messages of peace and collaboration in their statements. Among the guests attending the event were SRSG Elizabeth Spehar, Ambassadors from various embassies in the south, members of the Maronite community and the Maronite religious leader Youssef Soueif. Maronites attending the event also held a religious service at the St. Anne Church.