Front Page Headlines
Tufan Erhürman: “This will end in court”
The minority government which wants to avoid an (early) election is attempting to secure a majority through the committees. The National Unity Party (UBP)-Democratic Party (DP)-Rebirth Party (YDP) minority government is seeking ways to push the date for early elections originally scheduled to take place in October 2021 to April 2022. The government which does not have a majority of seats at the parliamentary committee will discuss and set the date proposed through the establishment of “Temporary and Special Committee.” The opposition says that this attempt is illegal and a violation of the constitution.
Don’t be a traffic monster
Reckless driving and speeding, not only on the main roads but on side streets or dead-end alleys lead to traffic accidents, endangering the lives of people and animals. The head of the Society for the Prevention of Traffic Accidents (TKÖD) Mehmet Avcı said that people in the country were aggressive drivers and that drivers speeding in neighbourhoods should be detected and subjected to heavy fines.
- We are determining a roadmap on Hellim (Halloumi) –The Agriculture Ministry Undersecretary Emirali Deveci gave information following the registration of hellim (halloumi) by the EU as a protection of designation of origin (PDO) product.
- 40,000 more doses of vaccines arrive – Vaccines expected from Turkey were sent to the TRNC yesterday morning via ambulance plane. Prime Minister Ersan Saner said the vaccines will allow the fight against Covid-19 to gain momentum. He added the aim was to vaccinate 60-70 per cent of the population in the shortest time.
Scolded first, then sent vaccines
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay continued his criticisms of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Quran courses. He accused the court of being ill-willed and then hours later, following his bitter and threatening statements, sent 40,000 doses of vaccines to the TRNC.
- Guterres’ suitcase is ready for Geneva – It is announced that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will attend the five-plus-one informal Cyprus conference.
- Fled by using bedsheets as a rope – Three of the irregular migrants who had been detained at the border, disappeared from the dormitory they were staying at.
Return to old habits
The high demand for luxury and expensive cars before the pandemic has gone down. As revenues have dropped so have choices. Speaking to Diyalog, car dealership owners say that many people who previously took out loans to buy brand new cars are now shopping for second-hand cars. They say people are opting for cheaper cars because of the drop in their ability to pay instalments.
- His Lamborghini was riddled with bullets – A 34-year-old man shot dead in Larnaca was said to be in a witness-protection programme.
- Drugs were also found – Police who raided a villa in Gönyeli (Geunyeli) arrested 28 people holding a house party.
Attacks from wolves and jackals
The wolves are howling following Tayyip Erdoğan’s attacks on our Supreme Court. Leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli joined the chorus of attacks against the Supreme Court. Speaking on the issue, Bahçeli said: “The decision is scandalous and only serves to benefit the Greek Cypriots.”
- 941 positive coronavirus cases and one death in the south, 86 cases in the north.
Early election debates escalate to a new highYenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Governance and Power Sharing
The minority government’s insistence to push early elections to next year continued to be met on Tuesday with fierce resistance from the opposition parties. While the Speaker of the Parliament Önder Sennaroğlu called for an “ad-hoc committee meeting” on Wednesday to discuss the issue, parliament remained divided on when to hold the early election with parties exchanging accusations.
Sennaroğlu, speaking on Bayrak said trying to resolve the matter through the Legal and Political Affairs parliamentary sub-committee will not work as both sides have an equal number of members on the committee.
“I, therefore, have decided to call for an ad-hoc meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss and overcome the issue,” Sennaroğlu said.
Speaking on the same programme, Republican Turkish Party (CTP) leader Tufan Erhürman, refuted Sennaroğlu’s claims that there is an equal number of members sitting on the parliamentary sub-committee, adding that the ad-hoc committee would only mean the violation of the constitution and parliament’s by-laws.
“The current crisis to set a date for an early election can only be solved by the courts,” Erhürman said, even though admitting that this was not what the CTP preferred. People’s Party (HP) leader Kudret Özersay also shared Erhürman’s views that the government’s attempts to impose its own date for an early election was anti-democratic and a violation of the constitution.
He said the government does not have the majority in the relevant parliamentary sub-committee, adding that the government was resorting to all kinds of methods to push the election to a later date. Social Democratic Party (TDP) MP Zeki Çeler on Tuesday said that holding the early elections in 2022 would have negative consequences for the north.
Speaking on SES TV, he argued that such a move would bring everything to a standstill for the next six months due to the election prohibitions that will come into force. Commenting on the opposition’s statements, the National Unity Party’s (UBP) newly elected General Secretary Oğuzhan Hasipoğlu argued the opposite, claiming that similar ad-hoc committees had been established in the past.
Speaking on a programme on Bayrak on Tuesday, Hasipoğlu said that 27 MPs approved the proposed date of April 3, 2022, for an early election.
“The opposition’s efforts to hold the elections at an earlier date is both undemocratic and unjustifiable,” Hasipoğlu said. He reminded that the parliament had also postponed the presidential elections due to the pandemic.
Hasipoğlu argued that the best and most democratic way to overcome the disagreement over the date for an early election would be via the ad-hoc committee. The UBP-Democratic Party (DP) – Rebirth Party (YDP) coalition government with the support of the three MPs who had resigned from the HP insist on holding an early election on April 3, 2022, while the opposition parties CTP, HP and the TDP ask for the elections to be held on August 29, 2021.
The coalition members had initially agreed to hold an early election before October 2021 when forming the minority government.
The north is neither France nor Turkey in terms of secularism, says ÖzersayYenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Reactions in the north against the remarks made by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his threats directed at the Supreme Court following its ruling on Quran courses showed no sign of abating on Tuesday despite more statements coming from Turkish officials.
In a new statement to the Anadolu News Agency on Tuesday, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay, without giving any names, pointed the finger of blame at the Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Union (KTÖS).
“Religious, national and cultural values cannot be left in the hands of a trade union which defines Turkey as a bloodthirsty occupying force in the north,” he said. While KTÖS, condemned Erdoğan’s remarks, it is not connected to the incident in any way.
He said Turkey had gone through similar experiences in the past and that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) regime had overcome these problems. “We suffered a lot in the past from the concept of secularism being used as a tool to prevent people from exercising their freedom of faith,” Oktay stressed, adding that on the contrary, secularism must be the assurance behind people’s freedoms.
“We have told them this is a dead-end road before and warned them not to go down that path. We will not allow it,” Oktay stressed, noting that he received assurances from both Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar and Turkish Prime Minister Ersan Saner that the Quran courses will continue without any interruptions.
The leader of the National Movement Party in Turkey Devlet Bahçeli also slammed the Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday. Addressing party members at a meeting, Bahçeli said the decision was scandalous and served the interests of the Greek Cypriots.
“This ruling has nothing to with religion or faith but about freedoms. How is learning about the Quran a violation of secularism?” he asked, demanding that the supreme court in the north overturns its ruling.
Bahçeli also said that supreme courts were problematic everywhere. In response, People’s Party (HP) leader Kudret Özersay on Tuesday said that the north could not be compared to either France or Turkey when it came to the issue of secularism.
Özersay, speaking on Özgur TV programme said the rules and the implementations on secularism and religion need not be the same all over the world.
He was referring to Erdoğan’s remarks that the north was not France and therefore could not practice the same kind of secularism. “Here in the north, we have a different kind of tolerance. I strongly believe we need to protect such values and these values need to be respected as well,” the HP leader stressed.
Noting that the issue cannot be reduced to the independence of the judiciary, Özersay added that the Turkish Cypriot side must show the entire world that it can take decisions on its own.
“If the Turkish Cypriot side is going to table a two-state solution at the five-plus-one conference in Geneva, it must show the world it can take decisions on its own as well,” he said, adding that Turkish Cypriots have the right of self-governance.
Özersay said that Turkey must respect the north’s independence and its institutions. Former Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı echoed Özersay’s views on Tuesday, arguing that the Turkish Cypriot side in Geneva will not be able to defend its positions based on a two-state model following Erdoğan’s latest remarks.
“How will you argue that there are two states on the island and ask the participants in Geneva to recognize the north’s sovereignty when there are blatant attacks on its primary institutions such as its judiciary?” Akıncı asked during a programme on Genç TV.
He stressed that Ankara’s goal was to end the existence of the Turkish Cypriot community as we know it.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot education unions issued a joint statement on Tuesday, urging everyone to defend all freedoms in the north. Turkish Cypriot Teachers’ Union (KTÖS), Secondary School Teachers’ Union (KTOEÖS) and the Eastern Mediterranean University academic staff union (DAÜ-SEN) condemned Erdoğan for his remarks, describing it as a direct attack on the north’s judicial system.
The trade unions also criticized the Turkish Cypriot authorities for failing to defend the country’s judiciary.
SG Guterres to attend the informal talks on CyprusYenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
Alessandra Vellucci, spokeswoman for the UN Information Service (UNIS) said on Tuesday the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will convene and chair the three-day-long informal meetings on Cyprus in Geneva from April 27 to 29.
“The SG is expected to be in Geneva with both Cypriot parties and the guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece and the UK,” Vellucci said in response to questions from the Turkish Anadolu News Agency reporter in Geneva, adding that Guterres’ travel details will soon be announced.
Noting that there will be strict coronavirus restrictions in place during the three-day meetings, the spokeswoman noted the rules will soon be clarified and announced.
“It is important to implement limitations on the talks due to health reasons. It is necessary to create bubbles and to screen people who can get into the meeting rooms,” Vellucci concluded.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar reiterated his position in favour of a two-state model during meetings he held on Tuesday.
Arguing that “negotiations for a federal settlement is a waste of time,” Tatar said the two-state model which also envisions collaboration between the two sides on various issues ranging from hydrocarbons to tourism, will be a win-win solution for the two sides on the island as well as the countries in the region.
Efforts underway in the north to determine a roadmap for hellim (halloumi) production
Undersecretary at the Turkish Cypriot Agriculture Ministry Emirali Deveci said that committees were set up to determine a roadmap on how to proceed with the production of hellim (halloumi) now that it was registered by the EU as a protection of designation (PDO) product.
Speaking to Kıbrıs, Deveci said they were looking into ways of increasing milk output to be able to produce the traditional Cypriot cheese under PDO criteria.
He added that the PDO process was being followed closely together with the EU Coordination Committee in the north.
Deveci said that the decision, as well as the legal statuettes, were being examined. He also said that serious problems will be experienced if Turkish Cypriot producers fail to raise the daily output of sheep and goats’ milk which is required to produce and export the cheese under the name hellim or halloumi.
Deveci added that they were also examining ways of importing new livestock as well as feed as part of efforts to increase production.
North receives more Covid-19 vaccines from Turkey
Yenidüzen, Kıbrıs, Havadis, Diyalog, Avrupa
A new shipment of 40,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines was delivered to the north in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersan Saner announced.
In a social media post, Saner expressed his gratitude to Turkey for supporting the Turkish Cypriot community in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Saner also urged the public to strictly adhere to social distancing, hygiene and face-mask rules to protect themselves from Covid-19. “We will be successful in the fight against the virus by working together,” Saner concluded. This latest delivery brings the total number of vaccines sent from Turkey to 140,000.
A total of 10,350 doses of Pfizer BioNtech and 9,700 doses of AstraZeneca have also been received from the EU to date via the bicommunal technical committee on health.
World Freedom index reports for 2021 published
The Reporter Sans Frontiere (Reporters without borders/ RSF) published its 2021 reports on World press freedom. The RSF listed the northern part of Cyprus at 76th place, the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) at 26th place and Turkey at 156th place. All three entries have gone one step higher in 2021 compared to their rankings in 2020.
Recalling the developments in 2020, the RSF highlighted the developments in each while focusing on the pressure the journalists were put under.
The RSF reports mentioned the attacks carried out against Şener Levent, editor-in-chief of the Turkish Cypriot daily Avrupa, who was accused of insulting and defaming Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2019 in a cartoon and two articles published in the daily. RSF also mentioned Esra Aygın, a freelance journalist working for the organisation, who was insulted and threatened after she criticised Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines.
An incident involving the online newspaper Özgür Gazete which published photos of Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar meeting secretly with Erdoğan’s campaign team before the elections also made it into the report. Tatar had claimed the photos had been taken by a foreign intelligence agency, implying that Özgür Gazete’s journalists were spies.
Attacks by Turkish officials against journalist Ayşemden Akın for insulting the AKP regime was among the issues mentioned.
The RSF also noted that the fact the crossing points between the two parts of the island were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, the journalists’ movement was hampered and their access to information was limited.