Front Page Headlines
Give and take
An important step was taken yesterday regarding the issue of exchange of criminals. Murder suspects were exchanged on Thursday with the facilitation of the United Nations. Pakistani national Muhammed Salman wanted for the murder of Hasan Işık Özgöçmen was exchanged with four suspects of Georgian nationality. Yenidüzen followed the exchange moment by moment.
- Akıncı: “It is important that rates for mobile phone link will be reasonable” – Akıncı said that North Cyprus Turkcell and Telsim Vodafone in the north and CYTA in the south signed agreements with Swiss-hub Comfone.
A system change in the country can be discussed
Speaking on a programme on BRT TV (Bayrak), Leader of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) Tufan Erhürman said that either a parliamentary system with reduced numbers of political parties or a semi-presidential system could be considered for the country. Erhürman added various models of the presidential system can also be debated.
- Özgöçmen’s murder suspect handed over to Turkish Cypriot police – Months of waiting is over. The Turkish Cypriot side and Greek Cypriot side exchanged murder suspects at the Ledra Palace crossing. TC chair of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Crime and Criminal Matters, Hakkı Celal Önen said the process was carried out by the police forces of the two sides and UN officials.
Police to take extraordinary measures
Police are to carry out operations, which we are not accustomed to, over the next three months to curb an increase in crime. Police respond to the public’s call to implement measures but the inadequate numbers in the police force is a reason for concern among police officers on duty.
- The process to lift Özgürgün’s political immunity commences – TRNC Attorney General’s office has sent the third corruption file on National Unity Party (UBP) MP Hüseyin Özgürgün to parliament.
- This is how it should be – For years the two sides had been under criticism for not exchanging criminals due to political concerns. In a first such move, an official exchange of criminals was carried out via the UN on Thursday.
Not too late to do right
Mustafa Akıncı repeated his proposal of meeting with the Greek Cypriot side to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean at Thursday’s press conference, during which he touched on both domestic issues and the developments on the Cyprus problem.
- Families of the missing persons suffer deep pain – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) have summarized their needs in a report, which was produced as a result of interviews with the families of the missing persons in Cyprus.
This is what the public was expecting
Following the recent spike in crime, the police force which has decided to increase street patrols is starting from Kyrenia.
- A first was experienced – Talks between (Kudret) Özersay and (Andreas) Mavroyannis produced positive results. Muhammed Salman wanted for the murder of (Hasan Işık) Özgöçmen who had fled to the South was handed back to the TRNC.
Exchange took place from North to South and from South to North
A historical step was taken in the process to exchange criminals. Pakistani suspect wanted for the murder of artist Özgöçmen was handed over by the Greek Cypriot side at the Ledra Palace crossing through the UN. Georgian nationals wanted in the South for murder were handed over to the Greek Cypriot side.
Akıncı welcomes latest developments on CBMsYenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
President Mustafa Akıncı welcomed on Thursday the latest developments in confidence-building between the two communities.
Akıncı gave an overview of the progress of a series of CBMs agreed by the two leaders during an informal meeting in February.
Speaking after meeting separately with Prime Minister Ersin Tatar and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, Akıncı said that the CBM to link the two sides’ mobile phone networks through an outside hub was expected to be implemented by the end of June.
Telsim Vodafone and North Cyprus Turkcell which have signed an agreement with a Swiss hub are continuing discussions regarding prices, which Akıncı said must be appropriate if the measure is to have a positive effect.
Once consultations are completed, Akıncı said that a test run will first take place before mobile phones can work normally on both sides.
Regarding the interconnectivity of the two electricity grids, Akıncı referred to an example whereby the Greek Cypriot side was recently in need of 15MW of power which was transferred from the TRNC.
Akıncı added that efforts toward the clearance of landmines are continuing.
The CBM whereby a host of religious icons and other artefacts stored in Kyrenia Castle would be swapped with visual and audio recordings of Turkish Cypriot artists stored by the state broadcaster CyBC is also moving along, Akıncı said, noting that the recordings were currently being digitised abroad, a process which would take time.
During the meeting with Spehar, Akıncı said that he also discussed whether new CBMs can be brought about. He added however that the biggest CBM, in his opinion, would be a bicommunal committee on natural gas.
“I took the opportunity to inform Spehar once again regarding the importance of a CBM for natural gas, for the creation of a committee,” Akıncı said, noting that he has also suggested this to Anastasiades whom he said, did not respond positively.
“If today there are tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, a basic
reason is that the Greek Cypriot side does not want to discuss the matter with
us,” Akıncı said.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the UN SRSG Spehar said she held a “substantive discussion” with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı.
Ahead of the UN Security Council meeting on Cyprus next month and the upcoming Secretary-General’s report, Spehar and Akıncı discussed the UN’s expectations on the progress that could be made, especially as regards confidence-building measures (CBMs), she said.
Spehar noted that the goal was a return to negotiations, which could be brought about through additional CBMs.
She said she informed Akıncı on her recent meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and gave assurances that she “will continue to work with the two sides.”
>> Rates to apply for mobile phone link must be appropriate for the measure to be effective.
>> Progress being achieved on other agreed CBMs such as electricity connectivity, landmines and exchange of historical artefacts & recordings.
>> Biggest CBM would be a bicommunal committee on natural gas.
>> Reason for tensions in EastMed refusal of GC side to discuss the issue with TC side.
>> Goal is to return to negotiations. Additional CBMs could help achieve this.
Murder suspects exchanged at Ledra PalaceYenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Afrika
President Mustafa Akıncı said it was unacceptable for either side on the island to become a haven for criminals in his comments to the media on Thursday following the exchange of murder suspects between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot police.
Suspects wanted in connection with two murders on both sides of the island were exchanged on Thursday at the Ledra Palace crossing point with the help of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
The Pakistani national wanted for the murder of Hasan Işık Özgöçmen was exchanged with four people wanted for the murder of Greek Cypriot Ernest Leonides who had been arrested in the TRNC in 2018.
The exchange was facilitated by UNFICYP.
Akıncı said that although the two sides did not recognize each other politically neither side should become a haven where criminals can seek refuge after committing crimes on the other side.
“What is important is to get potential criminals to stop thinking that they can commit a crime and avoid justice by escaping to the other side,” he said.
Akıncı also said that neither side should harbour any criminals irrelevant of their ethnicity or identity.
Akıncı added he had been informed about the developments from the Attorney General’s office and by Hakkı Celal Önen, the Turkish Cypriot Chair of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Crime and Criminal Matters.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay announced the exchange via social media, explaining that the swap had taken place as a result of dialogue carried out with the Greek Cypriot side through the UN. Özersay added as a practical measure, this was a development that made collaboration possible through dialogue.
“It is important for us that any crime must not go unpunished no matter which side of the island it is committed on”, Özersay added.
In a separate statement to BRT TV (Bayrak), Özersay said the exchange of criminals was the result of his unofficial meetings with Greek Cypriot negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis. He noted that any exchange of information (on crimes and criminals) to this day was carried out through the technical committee and that exchange of criminals had previously not been possible.
“This is the result of an initiative undertaken by the foreign ministry since the term of the previous government”, Özersay concluded.
Republican Turkish Party (CTP) leader Tufan Erhürman welcomed the exchange of suspects between the two sides and expressed hope that the exchange today will set an example for the future.
“The absence of a solution must not be allowed to exploited by criminals”, Erhürman said.
Hakkı Celal Önen, Co-chair of the Bicommunal Technical Committee on Crime and Criminal matters told Kıbrıs Postası that the exchange of criminals was the result of semi-official talks and a process carried out between the police forces of the two communities in collaboration with UN officials. Önen added there had been other exchanges of criminals in the past as well. Responding to a question on Gökhan Naim’s murder, Önen said there has not been any information relayed [by the Greek Cypriot officials] yet. Önen also spoke to the members of the media at Ledra Palace on Thursday and said the suspects as a result of the exchange through the UN, will now face justice for their crimes.
Hasan Işık Özgöçmen’s suspected murderer Pakistani national Muhammad Salman was arrested in Limassol after escaping from the north. Following serving jail time in the south for illegally entering the Greek Cypriot controlled areas, Salman had been residing at a camp designated for asylum seekers. The four Georgian murder suspects handed over to Greek Cypriot police had escaped to the north in February 2018 and had started to live in Tatlısu (Akanthou). The four suspects were arrested by the Turkish Cypriot police in August last year. The suspects were in possession of four guns, and eight bullets at the time of their arrest.
>> Unacceptable for either side of the island to become a safe haven for criminals.
>> Neither side can be a safe-zone for criminals nor should any side harbour criminals no matter their ethnicity or identity.
>> The main goal is to get potential criminals to stop thinking that they can commit a crime and avoid justice by escaping to the other side.
>> Exchange was a practical measure that showed collaboration is possible through dialogue.
>> The exchange of criminals was the result of his unofficial meetings with GC negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis.
>> The exchange of criminals will set an example for the future.
>> The absence of a solution must not be allowed to be exploited by criminals.
Önen (Bicommunal Committee for Criminal Matters)
>> Exchange of criminals is the result of semi-official talks and a process carried out between TC &GC police forces together with UN officials.
>> The suspects will now face trial for their crimes.
Erdoğan says Turkey to proceed with plans to drillYenidüzen
Energy, Regional/International Relations
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey has two drillships, two exploration vessels and a navy to protect them and will move forward with its plans to drill in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Never in our history have we had so many ships,” Erdogan told MPs of his Justice and Development party in Ankara on Wednesday night.
He said Turkey now has at its disposal two drillships and two exploration vessels which will move forward as planned, “ensuring the security of the area with the support of our navy”.
“We will not tolerate any action which overlooks the rights and interests of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
He added that all options continue to be on the table.
Responding to the multiple arrest warrants issued against the crew of the Turkish drillship Fatih which is operating in South Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Erdogan repeated that as a guarantor power Turkey will defend the rights of Turkish Cypriots by drilling for gas off the TRNC. “Nobody can tell us ‘why did you do this like this’ or ‘why did you do this’. To whoever asks ‘what business do you have here?’ we respond ‘Really? We are a guarantor power, and as such we will protect our rights until the end, wherever these may be, across our entire EEZ’.”
>> Turkey to proceed with its drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean.
>> Actions overlooking Turkey and TCs rights & interests will not be tolerated.
>> All options continue to be on the table.
>> No one can question Turkey’s actions as it will protect its interests as a guarantor power to the very end.
CMP: “Families of the missing persons still suffer deep pain”Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs Postası, Havadis, Afrika
Family members of missing persons in Cyprus had experienced significant psychological and financial difficulties as a result of their missing relatives, a report conducted by the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) revealed.
The public report titled ‘joint Family Needs Assessment in Cyprus’ conducted by the CMP and ICRS between October 2018 and April 2019.
The three members of the committee, Gülden Plümer Küçük, Leonidas Pantelides and Paul Henri Arni shared the results of the study at a press conference on Thursday.
It was based on the input of 170 relatives of missing persons from both communities, a representative sample of the sum of 934 families who have yet to receive a conclusive answer regarding the fate of their missing relatives.
According to the report, 91 per cent of the participants are still seeking answers over what happened to their loved ones and request that their remains are found and returned for burial.
But for 40 per cent of the relatives, the uncertainty over the fate of missing persons has meant they believe that their family members could still be alive and living somewhere else.
Sixty per cent requested that authorities make public appeals for information regarding open cases of missing persons so as not to lose vital details, while 57 per cent expressed the need for greater acknowledgement by political leaders over the constant struggle to find the location of missing persons.
Specifically, 53 per cent said they suffer from psychological difficulties as a result of living between hope and despair, while 29 per cent spoke of constant financial and administrative problems.
The families requested that more attention is given to the well-being of the elderly and female relatives of missing persons.
To tackle the issues, the report suggested the need for measures which will offer relief to all 748 families of Greek Cypriot missing persons and 186 families of Turkish Cypriot missing persons.
A public communication campaign to highlight the humanitarian tragedy of the relatives is also necessary, the report said.
The report also acknowledged the need to make available a mechanism of broad psychological support on a personal and group level for relatives of missing persons.
The financial and administrative challenges of the families should also be recorded, the report said, but noted that it is also necessary to raise awareness among family members regarding their rights and eligibility for access to relevant services and government benefits.
The Turkish Cypriot member to the CMP Gülden Plümer Küçük said that for the families who have not yet received the remains of their loved ones, the wounds and their grief are as fresh as the memory when they first disappeared.
She said that the report did not come too late and that the CMP has now the methodology and expertise to carry out such a task and become the bridge between the relatives and the public.
The Greek Cypriot member of the Committee Leonidas Pantelides said that the study confirms the conception that the mandate of the CMP is fundamentally correct, thus to provide definitive answers to the families of the missing and does not include investigation of the circumstances surrounding their death nor does it attribute responsibility.
He pointed out that the burden is to overcome time and he assured that the CMP understands the pain of the families and will intensify its efforts to meet the challenges ahead.
The 3rd member of the CMP, Paul-Henri Arni said that the CMP has handed over two confidential reports to the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities urging them to address the needs in the Family Needs Assessment.
He said that they call them to clarify the fate of remaining missing persons and take all measures to relieve the families who are still in suffering and added that to this end, operational support and funding to the CMP is needed.
He also said that the authorities should address the psychological and financial needs of the families as well. According to Arni, after 13 years of efforts, the CMP wanted to help the families who are still without news, to voice their needs.
>> Wounds and grief of families of missing persons still fresh.
>> CMP has now the methodology & expertise to deal with the issue and becoming a bridge between relatives & public.
>> Study confirms conception that CMP mandate is fundamentally correct and thus provides definitive answers to the families of the missing.
>> Reports handed over to TC & GC communities urging them to address needs of the families of the missign.
>> Authorities must clarify the fate of remaining missing persons and take all measures to relieve the families.
>> Authorities should address the psychological and financial needs of the families as well.
>> After 13 years of efforts, the CMP wants to help families who are still without news, to voice their needs.