TCC Press Review 28 Mar 2019

Front Page Headlines

Yenidüzen

Polemic over population

Figures given by Interior Minister Ayşegül Baybars and President Akıncı on population created confusion.

  • “Practice of granting citizenship in exchange for investment should be ended” – Journalist Esra Aygın reports her observations from Strasbourg.

Kıbrıs Postası

Our only hope is to have another motorcyclist in charge of finance

Leading names in the motorcycle sector complain about heavy taxes on importing motorcycles into the country and hope Serdar Denktaş, who is an avid motorcyclist, will change the current system.

  • A serious population census is needed – Akıncı questioned the population figures and asked for a credible census to be done without delay.
  • Greek Cypriot side must stop protecting murder suspects – FM Özersay urged the GC side to return Muhammad Salman, who is now staying at a refugee camp in Larnaca.

Kıbrıs

The country filled with illegal aliens

Police found 12 people in Kyrenia and seven in Famagusta residing in the country without any registration or permits. Police to increase checks on illegal aliens.

  • Özgöçmen’s murder suspect at refugee camp – Özersay called on the Greek Cypriot side to return the murder suspect and urged them to stop protecting criminals.
  • 37m USD in debt – Cyprus Turkish Electricity Authority (KIBTEK) has a debt of 37m USD and 180m TL in receivables. Trade Union at KIBTEK (EL-SEN) refutes the claims the company is going bankrupt.

Havadis

A difference in plane tickets

Havadis compares the price of plane tickets from the south and north of Cyprus to London. Larnaca to Gatwick flights are cheaper by 638TL compared to flying from Ercan (Tymbou) Airport.

  • Are there more than 400,000 illegals? – Akıncı questions the population figures given to him by authorities and notes Denktaş had claimed 800,000 people are living in the north, leaving the Interior Minister’s figure short of 400,000.

Diyalog

Another case of profiteering

Following similar incidents in Taşkent (Vouno), Paşaköy (Assia) and Bellapais, a total of eight million Turkish Liras belonging to depositors in Mallıdağ (Melounta) Cooperative, which wasn’t audited for eight years, vanishes into thin air.

Afrika

Population issue a real mess… absolute mockery

Mustafa Akıncı, who said “I don’t desire to enter into a polemic on population”, made a new evaluation following figures given by Interior Minister Ayşegül Baybars.

  • He’s not handing them over himself but wants others handed over – TC MFA which forgot to handover suspects in the Elmas Güzelyurtlu murder case and other cases warns GC side not to protect murder suspects.
  • Şener Elcil asked: “What do you think is the TRNC’s population” – General Secretary of TC Teachers’ Union (KTÖS) questions whether or not population figures add up.
  • Six cemeteries to be fixed – Bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage to rehabilitate six cemeteries with European Union funding.

Main News

Özersay to GCs: Stop protecting murder suspects


Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Kıbrıs Postası, Afrika, Diyalog, Havadis, Afrika
Internal Security

OVERVIEW

Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay on Wednesday urged the Greek Cypriot side to stop protecting murder suspects and to hand over Pakistani national Muhammad Salman wanted for the murder of Turkish Cypriot Hasan Işık Özgöçmen.

A foreign ministry statement on Wednesday claimed that Salman was currently staying at the Menoya Refugee Camp in Larnaca together with other asylum seekers.

Muhammad Salman, since his whereabouts are now known, must be returned to the Turkish Cypriot authorities without delay, Özersay said.

Özersay, through a post on social media, reminded that Hasan Işık Özgöçmen, who was one the most successful sculptors and painters in the country, was murdered in September 2018. The murder suspect had fled to the south only to be arrested later by police in Limassol.

He also said that Turkish Cypriot officials had shared intelligence with Greek Cypriot authorities regarding those responsible for the murder of foreign exchange office owner Gökhan Naim but pointed out that the Greek Cypriot officials were refraining from sharing any information regarding the suspects.

“The political reasons given by the Greek Cypriot leadership can never be legitimate excuses to provide shelter and protect criminals or to allow the most serious of crimes to go unpunished. Collaboration on crime and criminal matters will be the first step towards building trust between the two sides,” he said.

Afrika newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Şener Levent accused Özersay of hypocrisy, arguing that he was demanding from the Greek Cypriot side the return of wanted criminals but that the Turkish Cypriot side itself was not handing over criminals wanted in the south.

KEY ACTORS
Özersay
>>
GC side must stop protecting murder suspects & hand over Muhammad Salman without delay.
>> Political reasons not legitimate excuses to protect criminals.
>> Collaboration is the first step towards building trust between the two communities.


Population debate heats up in North

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Kıbrıs Postası, Afrika, Diyalog, Havadis, Afrika
Migration & Citizenship

OVERVIEW

President Mustafa Akıncı, who recently called for a census in the north, was quoted on Wednesday saying it was time to find out how many people actually live there following new and apparently confusing statistics from the Interior Minister Ayşegül Baybars. In a press conference on Wednesday, Akıncı urged the government to hold a population census which would be credible and provide reliable data for the country.

He said that the quality of life was just as important as knowing the population.

Akıncı added it was important to know the exact population in terms of improving the public’s quality of life and in order to be able to provide better education and health services.

The president said that the population of the north had been discussed during previous rounds of Cyprus negotiations when he had been given a figure of 220,000, which was recorded as the official number for the purposes of a federal solution.

He said 190,000 of the 220,000 were citizens living in Cyprus and the remaining 30,000 were living abroad. Now, the Turkish Cypriot leader said, Interior Minister Aysegul Baybars announced, only some three years later, that the population of the north was in fact 350,000, a figure which Akinci questioned.

“The holders of TRNC identity cards… the number of citizens was 220,000. It had been conveyed to us that 190,000 of these were in the country and 30,000 abroad, three to three-and-a-half years ago. Today the interior minister says there are 350,000. Yesterday at the assembly it was said there were 252,000 in the country. The number of 350,000 was given as a total. If this number is correct, there are around 100,000 TRNC citizens who live abroad,” said Akinci.

“Has this number, which was 30,000 three-and-a-half years ago, really reached 100,000 now? If the number which was 220,000 became 350,000, how did this difference come about? Which was the correct one, the 220,000 or the 350,000? With the addition of the persons who are in the country with a permit, it is said that the number is 374,000. The finance minister said 800,000. That is a difference of more than 400,000. Do more than 400,000 persons live without a permit here?”

Akinci then referred to the recent crimes committed in the country, suggesting the perpetrators had been third-country nationals. He said: “Even when you go to any coffee shop, people from third countries, not from Turkey, serve there now. Do not perceive this as racism, but this community should know who, how and why many people live here.”

Akıncı also touched on the importance of preparing and enacting a modern citizenship law.

He said it was up to the state to decide on who could and could not be granted citizenship, but in any case, obtaining citizenship must not be an easy process.

Baybars said on Tuesday that according to ‘official’ data, the number of ‘TRNC citizens’ was 252,497m and that if the 121,802 having a ‘valid residents permit’ was added, the total population reached 374,299.

Main opposition National Unity Party leader (UBP) Ersin Tatar criticized both Akıncı and the government on the ongoing debate on the country’s population.

He said it was wrong for the state’s highest officials to be engaged in such polemics.

Speaking on Kanal T on Wednesday, Tatar said that the state authorities did possess the information that could determine the country’s population.

“Mr Denktaş claimed the country’s population was 800,000. The president slammed the government for handing out too many citizenships. But we had a census in this country observed by the UN. We know the number of births and deaths as well as how many people enter and exit the country. We can easily calculate the population,” Tatar said.

The General Secretary of the Cyprus Turkish Primary School Teachers Union Şener Elcil also questioned the latest figures provided by Baybars.

In a statement on Wednesday, Elcil argued that the figure given by Baybars did not add up, and to prove his point, provided his own metrics, such as, on the number of loaves of bread produced daily, the number of registered mobile phone numbers, military personnel and the total number of students enrolled in universities.

Elcil asked the public to decide what they think the real figure is.

KEY ACTORS
Akıncı
>>
Authorities must hold a credible population census.
>> Quality of life is equally important as knowing the population figure.
>> Modern citizenship law required. Citizenship should not be granted easily.

Tatar (UBP)
>> Wrong for top officials to debate population.
>> Info is available to determine population.

Elcil (KTÖS)
>> Baybars’ figures don’t add up.


Bicommunal technical committees in action

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Kıbrıs Postası, Afrika, Diyalog, Havadis, Afrika
CBMs

OVERVIEW

The ‘Imagine Project’, which is being carried out under the auspices of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Education, launched the first of its study visit initiatives ‘Learning from Nicosia’ on Wednesday.

The island-wide study visits initiative aims at bringing together Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot students and teachers from all over Cyprus to provide them with opportunities to collaborate and study together cultural heritage and the physical environment of Cyprus.

In a statement issued by the bicommunal technical committee, the ‘Learning from Nicosia’ study visit took place across the buffer zone in the walled city of Nicosia. Students found the opportunity to explore elements of the multicultural character of the city. The study visits programme will continue until the end of the academic year in different cities on the island.

President Akıncı’s Special Adviser for Political Affairs and History and General Coordinator for Technical Committees Meltem Onurkan Samani in a statement on Wednesday said that 52 Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot students, teachers and school principals attended the pilot implementation of the new confidence-building measure. Samani said that 25 students, four teachers and the school principal from the Atleks Sanverler secondary school participated in the event.

Samani said the education technical committee was established in 2015 with the aim of preparing a report for the two leaders on the education systems on both sides and to present them with a set of recommendations to improve the systems.

She added that as part of the Imagine project, bicommunal and monocommunal peace education activities against racism and discrimination are being organized for students and teachers from both sides. More than 3,000 students have participated in these activities and a similar program is currently being implemented with teachers, Samani concluded.

The Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot heads of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Education, Samani and Dr Michalinos Zembylas, participated in Wednesday’s activities, along with a representative of the UN good offices mission in Cyprus. 
Meanwhile, six cemeteries across the island have been selected by the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage for rehabilitation through European Union funding and assistance from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The technical committee said in a press statement on Wednesday that the project to rehabilitate the six cemeteries was in response to the requests made by the two communities.

The cemeteries to be included in the rehabilitation project are in the following villages: Geçitkale (Lefkoniko), Köfünye (Kofinou), Akova (Gypsou), Vuda (Kalo Chorio), Alsancak (Karavas), Mandirga (Mandria).

Turkish Cypriot head of the bicommunal technical committee, Ali Tuncay, underlined the project will deal with a humanitarian issue which will contribute positively to improving the environment of trust and cooperation between the two communities.


TC journalists observe EP sessions in Strasbourg

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası
EU Matters, Migration & Citizenship

OVERVIEW

The European Parliament approved on Wednesday a detailed road map regarding finance-related crimes in the Republic of Cyprus (RoC). The roadmap, among other issues, provides recommendations such as abandoning the programme which grants citizenship or residency permits in exchange for investments in Cyprus.

Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou who abstained during the vote, told Yenidüzen that the Republic of Cyprus must show great sensitivity and seriousness on this issue. He said the RoC must take measures so as to minimize the problems that emerge from the Golden Visa Programme.

“It’s extremely difficult as a Cypriot MEP to be in this situation because there are also many states with different interests here. That is why we abstained. We, however, gave the message that the government in Cyprus must stop the Golden Visa Scheme which is regularly implemented without sufficient due diligence,” he said.

In an interview with Yenidüzen reporter Esra Aygın, Hadjigeorgiou said that he personally didn’t oppose the idea of granting citizenship to certain people but these individuals needed to have a bond to the country. “In other words, he or she needs to live in Cyprus at least for several months of the year,” he said.

In response to a question on not granting RoC citizenship to children of mixed marriages, Hadjigeorgiou said there are mixed emotions and much fear within the Greek Cypriot community regarding children born to mixed marriages where one of the parents is a Turkish national. The majority believe this issue should be addressed as and when a settlement is reached, Hadjigeorgiou said, but added that he did not agree with the idea of depriving children who had a Cypriot parent from RoC citizenship. He said that AKEL had granted citizenship to children of mixed marriages when it was in office. In response to a question on Niyazi Kızılyürek’s candidacy, the AKEL MEP said that this was a positive step which would give out a positive message to the Turkish Cypriot community and the world.

Press Attaché at the EP’s Cyprus Office Alexandra Attalides, in an interview with Aygın, said that Turkish Cypriots were showing a higher interest in EP elections this time.

She said that preparations were underway for all Turkish Cypriots to vote freely in the EP elections.

“There will be 50 ballot boxes set up in 10 buildings close to crossing points,” she said.

Attalides said that it was important for Turkish Cypriots to vote as this was the tradition of the European Parliament.

Important decisions that affect our daily lives are taken by the EP, said Attalides, adding that it was important for them that Turkish Cypriots too felt like EU citizens.

Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, briefed the Turkish Cypriot journalists, who are in Strasbourg to follow the work of the European Parliament (EP) regarding the state of play in Europe, upcoming EP elections and on his priorities in humanitarian aid and crisis management.

Stylianides underlined that the European Union (EU) has always been the driving force behind humanitarian aid in the world and explained in detail the work done through his office. In view of the upcoming EP elections, Stylianides expressed his concerns on the increase of extreme right-wing politics and pointed to the National People’s Front (ELAM) in Cyprus as an example.

Stylianides, in addition to praising Turkey on humanitarian aid, noted that Turkey is working very hard on the Syrian refugee issue. Stylianides also emphasized Turkey’s future is in the EU and underlined the continuation of the EU accession process for Turkey.

KEY ACTORS
Hadjigeorgiou (AKEL)
>>
RoC must show sensitivity on granting citizenship in exchange for investment.>> Individuals granted RoC citizenship should have a bond to Cyprus.
>>
Majority of GCs believe the issue of citizenship for children of mixed marriages should be addressed after a solution.
>> Kızılyürek’s candidacy a positive step. Will give TC community a positive message.

Stylianides (Cypriot EU Commissioner)
>> Concerned about increase of extreme right politics such as ELAM in Cyprus.
>> Praised Turkey’s actions on humanitarian aid & Syrian refugee crisis.
>> Turkey’s future is in the EU. Accession process continues.