TCC Press Review 20 May 2019

Front Page Headlines

Yenidüzen

It’s either ok or we’re done

Representation crisis between UBP (National Unity Party) and HP (Peoples’ Party). Tough bargaining between two parties for ministries and other public institutions resulted in the cancellation of yesterday’s meeting between the technical delegations.

  • Is Hala Sultan a new political struggle? – Esra Aygın writes about the power struggle between Nicosia and Ankara over who is going to control newly constructed grand Hala Sultan mosque in Haspolat (Mia Millia).
  • European difference in international calls – Upper limit for call charges introduced to mobile phone operators in EU member countries.

Kıbrıs Postası

Talks at an impasse over distribution: Bargaining continues.

Coalition talks between UBP and HP have been temporarily suspended following the cancellation of yesterday’s meeting between technical delegations. It’s been learnt that disagreements have emerged over the distribution of ministries and public offices during bargaining talks held on Friday.

  • Erdoğan: “Someone believes that Eastern Mediterranean issue belongs to Cypriots, we know that’s not the case.”
  • (Buket) Özatay giving copyright struggle in South Cyprus (over use of her photographs)

Kıbrıs

Five workers out of 100 are illegal

Workers are forced to work as slaves, young people face unemployment and unfair competition conditions in the various sectors emerge due to the unsolvable problem of the illegal workforce in the country.

  • UBP-HP fail to even settle ‘basic principles’ – No agreement reached on the weekend. Sunday’s planned meeting of the technical delegations was cancelled after parties failed to complete papers exchanged on basic principles and working rules.

Havadis

(Immoveable Property) Commission struggling to keep going

Only a month left until the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) starts hearings on three pilot cases for the 65 cases filed at the court by Greek Cypriots who have either not received anything in return for their property or whose applications were turned down.

  • Tough bargaining – UBP and HP delegations are evaluating proposals exchanged regarding the distribution of ministries and public offices. Both sides are examining the proposals thoroughly.

Diyalog

I’m not giving it to you

(UBP leader Ersin) Tatar sent a message to (HP leader Kudret) Özersay on the Youth and Sports Department during the draw for UBP’s lottery. Tatar openly expressed his discontent over the coalition talks and said he was not going to give Özersay the Youth and Sports Department. “It doesn’t matter if we form a government or not,” said Tatar, once again giving the message his party was ready for early elections.

  • Naval base to become operational in six months – Greek Cypriot press makes public nine-point military agreement signed between France and South Cyprus.
  • 1974 was a turning point – Erdoğan said that ASELSAN (Turkish weapons manufacturer) wouldn’t have been founded had the US not silenced the radios it had given during the Turkish military operation.

Afrika

Protocol courtesy for attackers

Nicosia’s Mayor (Mehmet) Harmancı was denied entry at the iftar (fast-breaking) dinner held at Hala Sultan mosque (Mia Millia) but those who stoned our newspaper were able to get in!

  • Bargaining for seats continues – HP leader Kudret Özersay said it wasn’t clear yet if they will form a coalition government with UBP. Özersay said that the basic principles and working guidelines for a new government were just as important as the ministries and offices they would be holding.
  • Another murder in the South – A man was found dead at a bus terminal in the South. He had multiple stab wounds in his hand and back. Police believe he was killed with a broken bottle.

Main News

Are UBP-HP coalition talks at an impasse?

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
Governance & Power Sharing

OVERVIEW

A planned meeting between the delegations of the National Unity Party (UBP) and Peoples’ Party (HP) for Sunday was cancelled. The cancellation of the meeting raised questions as to whether or not rumours that the talks are at an impasse over the distribution of ministries and public officers are true.

The two party leaders last met on Friday and gave positive messages regarding the talks. Havadis approached the issue with a softer tone, reporting that the meeting had been cancelled because the two parties were still examining the proposals they had exchanged on Friday.

UBP leader Ersin Tatar’s statements during a lottery draw carried out by his party on Sunday seemed to verify the rumours after he openly stated that UBP had no intention of giving the Department of Youth and Sports to Kudret Özersay’s HP. Tatar also gave the message that his party was ready to hold early elections rather than yield to HP’s demands. It has been reported that HP is demanding nine of the 22 government offices as well as equal representation in the remaining 11.

Özersay said that agreeing on the basic principles and working guidelines of the new government was just as important as the government offices and ministries they will be holding.

Kıbrıs Postası reported outright that the talks have been suspended over the disagreements.

The six dailies also gave room to different claims as to which ministries the two parties were after.


Is Hala Sultan the ground for a new political battle?

Yenidüzen
Human Rights, Regional/International Relations

OVERVIEW

The newly completed grandiose Hala Sultan mosque built in Haspolat (Mia Millia) is a symbol of the power struggle between the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, Yenidüzen reported on Monday.

According to journalist Esra Aygın, who writes regularly for Yenidüzen, the mosque was widely publicised and promoted by Ankara as a grand symbol of Islam in Cyprus even before its construction began. Its groundbreaking ceremony was attended by senior officials and businessmen from Turkey making assertive statements on its symbolic and religious importance. It was featured in international media from the Guardian to Agence France Presse as it was being built.

Aygın says that almost two years on after its construction was completed, the monumental Hala Sultan mosque remains sealed. Despite numerous reports in the media announcing a lavish opening ceremony to be attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the ceremony has never taken place.

She says that the underlying reason is a bitter dispute between the Turkish Cypriot administration and Ankara over its management and the 45 million TL (about 6.7 million euros) Turkish-funded mosque is becoming yet another symbol of the dispute between moderate Turkish Cypriots and the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is increasing its religious hegemony in the northern part of Cyprus.

“The mosque cannot be opened because there is a dispute over who will have control over it,” said a source close to the issue. “Ankara demands to directly control it. We refuse and say it has to operate under Turkish Cypriot control. This mosque is in Cyprus and has to operate under the Turkish Cypriot Religious Affairs Department as all the other mosques in Cyprus,” said the source.

This has been a source of a silent war between Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot ruling coalition since early 2018 according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The four-party coalition collapsed two weeks ago amid a huge financial impasse and corruption allegations. It had not received any funding from Ankara during its 15-month rule. The unprecedented stoppage had widely been viewed as blackmail from Ankara to put political pressure on the coalition. The coalition’s resistance against increased Islamic policies in the north was a constant cause of tension, the source said:

“There are some things that you cannot touch. If you do, you get burnt.”

The only prayers held at the mosque was on March 14 this year attended by Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay, former Turkish state minister responsible for Cyprus affairs Besir Atalay and the Turkish ambassador Ali Murat Başçeri. A statement by the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs said that the date of the formal opening would be decided on and announced later.

In a move that could be seen as a message to the next Turkish Cypriot coalition, Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay visited northern Cyprus on Friday to attend an iftar – the evening meal during the fasting month of Ramadan – in the yard of the Hala Sultan mosque. Significantly, Oktay did not meet with any Turkish Cypriot officials.


Erdoğan says ASELSAN was created as a result of 1974 operation

Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog
External Security

OVERVIEW

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey’s leading arms manufacturer ASELSAN owed its presence to the 1974 Turkish military operation.

In an address in Istanbul on Sunday, Erdoğan said that ASELSAN would not have been founded had the US not silenced radios it had sold to Turkey during the 1974 military operation in Cyprus.

He said that in the 45 years that followed, Turkey had made enormous strides in terms of lowering its dependency on foreign arms purchases and had been producing and selling its own designs to other countries.


IPC struggling to keep going

Havadis
Property

OVERVIEW

Havadis newspaper reported on Monday that the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) was struggling to keep going. It said that there was only a month left for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to start hearings into three pilot cases filed by Greek Cypriots who were either unable to get anything in return for their properties in the North or had their applications turned down.

The paper reports that so far there are 65 such cases filed at the ECHR. Fifteen of these cases were settled through friendly means but the Greek Cypriot property owners had not been paid the compensation awarded to them. The remaining 50 are cases regarding properties in Varosha or which the IPC has not responded to. The paper says that should the plaintiffs win these court cases, Turkey will be forced to pay large sums in compensation.

Turkish officials are currently meeting to discuss whether the issues can be solved through friendly settlements before 18 June, the paper adds.

Havadis points out that if no solution is found before the 18 June deadline, the cases will be handed over to the ECHR’s bodies. If the ECHR rules that domestic remedies have been exhausted in North Cyprus, the IPC’s mandate will end.