Prime Minister Erdogan said that Mr Rauf Denktas should review his advisers and noted that there were mainly Turkish advisers around Denktas. Noting that Denktas had the same team of advisers for years, Erdogan said: ''They don't bring forth any different point of view.''
Mr Erdogan said that the Turkish Republic would explain to Rauf Denktas and the leaders of political parties in the occupied areas its views and possible formulas.
Erdogan noted that it was not the Annan plan which would solely determine Turkey's European Union (EU) accession and said that the process of forming a ^”government^‘ in Cyprus should be seen.
^”If an agreement was not reached between the `TRNCī and Greek Cypriot side, the Greek Cypriot side could not join EU under the title of Cyprus and the `TRNC would preserve its existence, Erdogan alleged and added:
''They want to include them as Cyprus. When `TRNCī doesn't accept it, how can the EU include the Greek Cypriot side as whole Cyprus? `TRNCī exists there. Moreover, this contradicts with conditions put by EU itself. Furthermore, the Greek Cypriot side will join the EU as a country which can't settle these problems.''
Prime Minister Erdogan replied negatively to the question if ''he saw May 1 as an end.''
Asked if it was possible to delay May 1, Erdogan said: ''Not delay, but a new date can be set on May 1. But, we wish that this issue will be solved till May 1. And, thus a very important problem before Turkey and the EU will be removed.''
Erdogan stated that Turkey approached United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan with good will and continuously said that it should be negotiated, but in Northern Cyprus two different views existed on the plan.
Erdogan noted that a consensus of opinion should be reached on the proposed views and said: ''Otherwise, problems would continue.''
Asked if Mr Rauf Denktas would be asked to withdraw from the negotiations if he insisted on rejecting the Annan plan, Erdogan said: ''This expression is not pleasant and smart.''
Replying to another question, Erdogan said that the Turkish Republic had always taken steps to solve the issue and got results and spoke about the recent rapprochement with Greece.
Moreover, Ankara Anatolia (18.12.03) reported statements made by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday in Tashkent.
Erdogan told reporters: ''My thought about the Annan plan is clear since the beginning. We have not defended any view that rejects completely the Annan plan. We said Annan Plan 'can be discussed' and we said 'the sides should come together to discuss Annan Plan. Today, we have said the same thing. Something positive for the Turkish Cypriots can be negative for the Greek Cypriots and vice versa. I think that a decision must be given by discussing the issues on which agreement is reached and not, and a step must be taken accordingly. I told this to Mr Denktas as well. I told it to Prime Minister, even Serdar Denktas. Of course, what we had listened during election campaigns were completely on opposite direction. Because the atmosphere during election campaigns were as if the elections were being held as a referendum for the plan. For me, this has weakened the campaign. Because the people in Northern Cyprus should not be put into such a narrow frame. It should have been more different and comprehensive. An election targeting issues of Cyprus having priority should have been held. Positive and negative views on Annan Plan should have been put forward as well. For me, it is wrong to say 'Annan Plan does no good to Cyprus at all'. It is also wrong to say 'I accept it completely'. But Northern Cypriots made a very good preference. 'Neither this nor that' they said. They said you will put heads together and solve the issue.''
Noting that he followed the statements of Rauf Denktas, Erdogan said he did not know what would emerge from the searches Denktas was making with political party leaders to form a ^”government^‘.
Underlining that the Turkish Foreign Ministry was also continuing its efforts for a solution to the issue, Erdogan said they will see how they can help ^”TRNC^‘ after they complete their evaluations.
Erdogan said that they would also continue to exert efforts in Turkey's EU full membership process, adding: ''If you put Cyprus in front of us by creating a de facto situation, this will be an ugly stance.''
When he was asked if he would make any suggestions in case the party leaders could not agree on a formula to form a ^”government^‘ Erdogan told reporters: ''Of course we will try to help them on the issue, but we do not have any authority to determine their democratic rights and authorities. We can only help and present alternatives.''
When a reporter recalled that one of the sensitive issues of the Annan Plan was property, Erdogan said: '' The Annan Plan in fact does not bring an optimum balance. We must find that balance firstly. 'They said they were in agreement on sovereignty issue' during our talks with Annan earlier. Then, it was revealed that it was just the opposite. Then it was said, 'translation mistake'. What is ideal here is that: The property must be separated clearly. Coming from Southern Cyprus to the Northern Cyprus and settling there and vice versa can revive bad things again. That is, there is no meaning in provoking things after 29 years.''
Erdogan said the Turkish occupation armyīs leaving the island is also among the topics of discussion.
With regard to the election process, Erdogan noted that they can go towards a solution as 60 days period to form a ^”government^‘ is about to end, adding that Ankara will provide the necessary assistance. Erdogan said Ankara would find ways of solution when required and certainly a decision would be given. When a reporter said that ''some people said the last word would be uttered by Ankara,'' Erdogan said: ''Why were the elections held then?''
Istanbul NTV television (20.12.03) broadcast that during his contacts in Uzbekistan, reporters frequently asked Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan about the developments in Cyprus. Replying to a question, the prime minister said that when he returns to Turkey, he will first meet with President Sezer and then with Mr Rauf Denktas in connection with the Cyprus developments.
Following a dinner hosted in his honor by Uzbekistan President Karimov, Erdogan replied to issues on the agenda. Once again, Cyprus was the main topic. Asked to comment on the UN Security Council [UNSC] statement urging the resumption of the Cyprus negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan, Erdogan replied: ^”Actually, that is what we want, too.^‘
A reporter asked him to comment on Denktas' reproach to him for having said that he should reconsider his advisers. Erdogan pointed out that he does not want to engage in polemics with Denktas through the media. I will discuss these matters with him when I return, he said.
Finally NTV television (20.12.03) broadcast that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has concluded his contacts in Uzbekistan and has returned to Turkey. Erdogan, who did not reply to questions relating to the Cyprus issue at Esenboga Airport, said that he conveyed the necessary messages while he was in Uzbekistan and did not go into any details.
On his return from Uzbekistan, Erdogan was questioned on whether he would persuade Mr Denktas to replace his advisers at the meeting he would be holding with him. Noting that he conveyed the necessary messages while in Uzbekistan, Erdogan continued: ^”Let the topic not slide into other areas like a shooting star.^‘
Following are Mr Denktasī replies to questions:
Quesiton: How do you assess esteemed Premier Erdogan's statement that your advisers should be replaced?
Answer: I just saw that statement. He has also said that on the television last night. I did not hear that. I would have liked it if he had directly discussed this matter with me. It is not my habit to reply to prime ministers through the media. I would probably find an opportunity to meet him. They are my own advisers. So far I have not complained about my adviser. I am really distressed over the fact that he disclosed these issues through the media, instead of discussing them among ourselves.
Question: And how would you assess the Prime Minister's statement that Turkey is approaching the Annan plan with goodwill?
Answer: We did not approach it with ill will. We are sincere in our evaluation. We do not believe that we can change the Annan plan to our liking through negotiations. We will contact the Prime Minister's advisers as well as the Foreign Minister. Either they will convince us, or we will convince them [on the treatment of the Annan plan]. I am saying that we do not believe it could be amended in a way that it would save us, for its philosophy is wrong.
Therefore, the Prime Minister's idea of finding a solution on the basis of realities cannot be fitted into the philosophy of the Annan plan, unless all aspects of the Annan plan, including its philosophy, are exposed to discussion. But, the UN Secretary-General is saying that you cannot step outside the framework of the plan, you can only change those points on which you agree with the Greek Cypriots. But that does not seem possible, for the Greek Cypriots approach the problem by taking the existence of the 1960 Republic as the starting point, they even want this point to be emphasized further, they also want to expand the rights and authority of the central government. And most importantly, they do not want to base the [political] equality on the existence of the two national elements, as was the case in 1960. That is, they do not want to base it on the existence of the Turkish and Greek peoples, but on the so-called constituent state, which, however, constitutes nothing and is not a state in actual fact. In short, they want to base it on the constituent states, which are administrative institutions lacking sovereignty. Moreover, they are going to settle as many Greek Cypriots as possible inside our Turkish constituent state. We are being dragged away from the national partnership founded in the 1960 agreement into a constituent state partnership, which would eventually lead to the collapse of our existence as a national people. Also the map [in the Annan plan] is dreadful from top to bottom.
I know the difficulties of and pressures on the Turkish government. But to sit at the table just for the sake of discussing the Annan plan without at first regulating the above-mentioned issues between the two sides through proximity talks, and to continue these talks until May, would only give cause to the Greek Cypriot Government, which the EU recognizes as the legal government, to rejoice and declare us intransigent by arguing in May that no agreement was possible to reach because the Turks wanted to step outside the Annan plan.
I understand that the esteemed Prime Minister has the intention to replace the interlocutor and his advisers. We are already examining this issue among ourselves here. As the `Presidentī, I have the right to appoint the interlocutor. This has always been the case. Let them tell me which interlocutor would be to the liking of the Turkish Government, and I will appoint him. Let us see how far the new interlocutor will take us.
We wholeheartedly endorse Prime Minister's proposal that the Cyprus problem should be solved on the basis of realities, for these realities form the essence of the Cyprus problem. The problem could only be resolved within this framework. If they can manage to fit this framework into the Annan plan through the proximity talks, then it is not important at all who the interlocutor is. We would then have a solid foundation to work from. But to start negotiating the Annan plan without doing this is tantamount to solving the Cyprus problem within the Greek Cypriots' philosophical framework and losing Cyprus eventually. I myself cannot agree to this.
It is our right that through the proximity talks we demand the recognition of the Cyprus realities ^÷ Namely, that there exist two peoples enjoying equal partnership, that there exist two states, that the common roof [the central government] to be formed by the authorities vested in it by these two states should be functional only in relation to the outside world, that the map to be worked out should require the least population displacement, that the property issue should be settled through a global exchange and compensation in line with the Cyprus realities, that the Greek Cypriot Administration should pay the unrelinquishable compensations due to the Turkish Cypriots since 1963 and 1974, and that the Greek Cypriot Administration, which was cruel enough to bury our people in mass graves, should reveal the perpetrators of the 1963 and 1974 crimes.
At a time when these murderers still roam freely among the Greek Cypriots, when the Greek Cypriot side, under the name of the legal Cyprus Government, goes about telling the world that the Cyprus problem began in 1974 as a result of invasion and pillories us as a minority, and when the Annan plan tries to lure us into this philosophy as if these [Greek Cypriot claims] are true, I prefer to maintain my conviction that we can achieve nothing as long as these issues are not settled first.
I am also sad that I had to reply through the media to the statement issued by the esteemed Prime Minister through the media.
Question: Did you get any signal from the parties on the formation of a new ^”government^‘?
Answer: I already met them on Tuesday [16 December]. I am giving them an opportunity to hold contact among themselves. We will meet again on Tuesday [23 December].
Question: About the proximity talks ^Ň?
Answer: I am saying that through the proximity talks it should first be established what we should be negotiating with the Greek Cypriots. We want to know where we are being dragged to now given that the Greek Cypriot side still considers us as a minority, Turkey as an occupation force, and itself as the legal government of Cyprus; and given that these Greek Cypriot positions constitute the philosophy of the Annan plan. We have to talk and discuss these matters. But you cannot discuss these things with the Greek Cypriots. However, a framework [for actual negotiations] could emerge by discussing these issues through proximity talks, through the shuttle [of intermediaries] between us. In that way certain issues could be resolved first, leading to actual negotiations.
Mumtaz Soysal, one of Denktas' advisers, in a statement to NTV said that he did not view these remarks as directed against him. Soysal added: ^”He must probably have meant other advisers. Denktas will make the decision. I, however, see no reason to end my services as an adviser which I perform on a voluntary basis.^‘
Sahin maintained that it would not be right for persons who do not want Turkey to join the EU to hold influential positions in Cyprus.
When the reporters asked him who he is alluding to, Sahin said: ^”The wise ones will know.^‘
Baykal said that the criticism leveled by the Turkish Prime Minister and the members of the government against the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas, via the media harmed the cause. ^”Every once in a while our government is striking a blow against the ^—TRNC^“, and listing its complaints. Where is the logic in this? What is the government doing? In which country in the world is such a practice acceptable? What is the benefit in or the consideration behind this? I am trying to find out^‘ stressed the chairman of RPP.
Baykal remarked that even if Turkey applies pressure on occupied Cyprus and uses its influence, there are no assurances that the EU will start the accession talks in December. He noted that, even if it is difficult, a national consensus ^”government^‘ must be established after the ^”elections^‘.
Moreover, as Turkish Cypriot daily HALIKIN SESI newspaper reports (22.12.03) Mr Mehmet Agar, the chairman of the True Path Party (TPP) also criticized the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his statements against the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas.
^”The Turkish Prime Minister cannot talk with Rauf Denktas through the mediation of the press. He should talks by phone or face to face^‘, said Mr Agar who called on Mr Erdogan to change his attitude toward this issue. Commenting on Mr Erdoganīs statements that Mr Denktas must change his advisors, Mr Agar called on the Turkish Prime Minister to change his own advisors. ^”This will be more beneficial^‘, he stressed.
Mr Agar also said that various criticisms of Mr Erdogan towards the Turkish Cypriot leader, which were made before the so-called elections of the pseudostate, strengthen the opposition in occupied Cyprus and weaken Denktas^“ position and accused the Turkish Prime Minister that he only changed his attitude recently at the anniversary of the pseudostate^“s establishment.
Sermet Atacanli, the presidential chief political adviser, held a news conference today and assessed issues on the country's agenda. Noting the ^”elections^‘ were held in transparency and tranquillity in a way befitting the democratic maturity of the people, Atacanli added that President Sezer did not have any wishes or expectations with regards to the work being conducted to establish a ^”government^‘. In reply to a question on Sezer's views regarding the Annan plan, Atacanli said: ^”The main lines of the solution to be found to the Cyprus problem are evident^‘. There is a concrete plan and the approaches of the sides to this plan are evident. Pointing out that it is natural to expect a close cooperation and contacts between Ankara and the pseudostate in the event there is some movement with regards to the negotiations directed toward a solution, Atacanli conveyed the message that Sezer intends to organize a summit meeting within this framework.
The existing tension between Ankara and Nicosia, which has escalated after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's suggestion that Rauf Denktas should replace his advisers before the start of negotiations on the Cyprus question, has actually stemmed from a sharp breach over UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan aimed at settling the dispute.
Denktas refuses to resume the talks within the framework of the plan. Ankara cautioned him yesterday that he should regard the plan as a reference document. A high-level official said: "Annan's plan is our main reference and Denktas has no other option open to him."
The comments made by Mr Denktas after his meeting with Thomas Weston, the US State Department's Special Cyprus Coordinator, late on Thursday have caused anger in Ankara. Denktas quoted Weston as describing Annan's plan as a perfect document, adding that he responded by saying that accepting the plan would be tantamount to committing a political suicide from his viewpoint. Denktas' remarks about Annan's plan have attracted criticism from Ankara. The prevailing opinion among Prime Minister's advisers and Foreign Ministry officials is that the Turkish Cypriot leader would be sooner or later brought into line with Ankara.
Subtitle: Expectation that he will remain as chief negotiator
A high-level official commenting on the assessments made in Ankara noted: "Ankara's efforts aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus question are also designed to ensure that Denktas is brought into line with us. That will happen sooner or later. Annan's plan is our main reference and there is no other option open to Denktas.
The official noted that describing the plan as a "suicide" at the current phase would be a great mistake, and he interestingly referred to Denktas' role as the chief negotiator. He said: "We have got a crucial negotiation process ahead. We want to achieve a successful result during that process together with the `TRNCī and expect to see messages and initiatives contributing to a possible solution. Our stance in favour of Denktas' continued involvement as the chief negotiator emanates from that expectation."
The official said that the `TRNCī was expected to make maximum contribution to the peace process, adding that Ankara did definitely not want to exchange polemic remarks with Denktas.
The official pointed out that Prime Minister's advisers and Foreign Minister officials shared the view that the plan could be refined and transformed into an acceptable document if they worked on it. He said: "We must all be constructive."
TRT 2 correspondent Koray Serpen reported the following on the developments behind the scenes during the talks:
^”Weston briefed the officials in Ankara on his talks in Cyprus. He held a meeting with Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal that lasted more than an hour. Ziyal left the Ministry a little while ago. Thomas Weston is now meeting with other Foreign Ministry officials, including Cyprus Desk Director Ertugrul Apakan. We have learned that Weston's message was that the United States is willing to extend every kind of support for the solution of the Cyprus problem. The Turkish officials told Weston that Ankara and the `TRNCī want a solution in Cyprus. The conclusion of this meeting was that the sides should wait for the establishment of a new government in the `TRNCī. The message from the United States was that an intensive process of negotiations must resume once this government is established.
Meanwhile, a statement was issued by the UN Security Council [UNSC] Presidency in connection with Cyprus today saying that the `TRNC electionsī showed that a large number of the Turkish Cypriots want the island to join the EU as a united country in May 2004. We have learned that Ankara was very disturbed by this statement. Ugur Ziyal conveyed this to Thomas Weston.^‘
Moreover, Ankara Anatolia (19.12.03) reported from Ankara that the U.S. State Department's Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston met on Friday with Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal and officials of the Cyprus Desk.
Weston made a brief statement after 2,5 hour meeting and said the talks were productive and sincere as it would suit to two allies and friendly countries.
Recalling that he completed his regional tour with his meetings in Ankara, Weston said he is confused about what will happen in Northern Cyprus in the coming period. Weston said many people share this view.
Weston said he had the feeling that a new Cyprus would enter the EU on May 2004 and that obtaining a just and permanent solution would be possible.
Ankara Anatolia also reports that in statements on SKY Turk television, Weston said he thought the Annan plan was the only realistic plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem, stressing that the sides should focus on the Annan plan if they want to enter European Union as a whole before this date. He said talks and negotiations could continue, the sides could express their objections, and then the sides could resort to a referendum.
Reiterating the view of the United States that negotiations should start by taking the Annan plan as a basis, Weston stressed the importance of the contribution of the sides in the island to the solution.
Weston also said that it was possible to reach a solution before May 2004 by taking the Annan plan as reference, noting that there was the necessary time for this.
When Weston was reminded his statements that he was confused about what would happen in North Cyprus in the coming period, he said he meant the situation after the ^”elections^‘. Weston said nobody expected the ^”elections^‘ to result with distribution of equal number of seats, stressing that a new ^”election^‘ would take place if a ^”government^‘ could not be set up, and this was what he meant by saying confusion.
Replying to a question on what kind of steps would be taken for a solution of the problem, Weston said it should first of all start with the Annan plan. Both sides have problems on this issue and this is natural, he said.
Pointing out that his talks in the Foreign Ministry were productive, Mr Weston said Turkey and the United States have similar views on the solution to the Cyprus question soon and its methods.
When asked whether or not Mr Rauf Denktas should continue his mission as negotiator after the formation of ^”government^‘ in Northern Cyprus, Weston stressed that this was a decision that should be taken by the Turkish side.
The poll, which the JDP commissioned to the Denge research firm with which it has been working for a long time, was conducted throughout the country with one respondent for every 2,500 citizen. The respondents were asked: Should concessions be made on the Cyprus issue in order to accede to the EU? While 81.1 percent replied in the negative, 17.2 responded in the affirmative.
Another issue the poll dealt with was the local elections. The question asked was: If municipal elections are held in your province tomorrow, which party would receive your vote? The distribution of the votes was as follows: JDP received 38.9 percent of the votes; RPP [Republican People's Party] 16.5; YP [Young Party] 6; TPP [True Path Party] 5.4; NAP [Nationalist Action Party] 4.8; DEHAP [Democratic People's Party] 5.3; MP [Motherland Party] 1.6.
Sahin charged that the JDP would win the local elections in all major cities throughout the country in the 28 March elections with 47 percent of the votes.
The poll showed that 15.9 percent of the respondents believe that the JDP government has been most successful in reducing the rate of inflation. This number was followed by 15 percent in the economic field. The work conducted in the field of education was found to be successful by only 6.2 percent of the respondents. The percentage of the population that found the government to be unsuccessful in all these fields was 23.2. The poll asked: In which field has the government been least successful? The government's Iraq policy was the first on the list with 12.7 percent and unemployment came second with 6 percent. The JDP's foreign policy was found to be successful by 4.4 percent of the respondents. Those who believe that the government has been successful in all these issues amounted to 17 percent and those who believe it to be unsuccessful to 8.1
According to the poll, 29.3 percent of the respondents found Abdullah Gul to be the mot successful minister. The minister believed to be the least successful is Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan with 18.7 percent.
The paper writes that in statements he made upon his return from his Japan visit, Mr Gul warned the Turkish Cypriot political parties not to use the method of transferring ^”MP^“s^‘ in their effort to form a ^”government^‘.
^”This is the only thing they should not resort to, this is the only thing they should not do. This is a dangerous issue. Many times in the past such things took place in Turkey^“s politics and they both polluted Turkey^“s politics and had great cost for the country. Resorting to such a method is very risky. We definitely must prevent this^‘, he said.
Mr Gul noted that they would meet with all the Turkish Cypriot political party leaders and added: ^”The most appropriate thing is undoubtedly the most wide unity coalition government established by all parties in such a period. If they cannot do this, they must exert efforts to reach as most wide unity government as possible. ^ŇWe all have to realize that we are living a very critical period. All the institutions, the government and the opposition both in Turkey and in Cyprus must definitely not deal with the Cyprus issue with an irresponsible manner and trading on patriotism, because both Turkey and the TRNC will pay a big price for this. ^Ň^‘.
Mr Talat said they would not allow any behaviour with ulterior motives, which will delay the solution. Mr Talat noted that they insisted on a ^”solution government and not a delusion government^‘.
Mr Talat argued that the Turkish Cypriots have shown their will for the resumption of the talks as soon as possible and reaching a solution until May 2004. ^”This is the dept of RTP-UF^‘, he said and added: ^”With this goal, achieving harmony and cooperation, taking into consideration Turkey^“s EU accession course, will to a great extend increase our chances to succeed. If there is a disruption in the solution process, which is not due to us, those who prevent the solution and not the Turkish Cypriots will have to assess this and bear the possible consequences. Thus, there will be progress in the course of the Turkish Cypriots towards becoming united with the world, even if we do not reach a solution for reasons, which are not due to us. And the Turkish Cypriots will proceed on their way of getting rid of the isolation. This will cause pressure on the Greek Cypriot side and increase the international interest on the issue of finding a solution. The result will be reaching a solution and achieving a Cyprus which will join the EU, with not only the Greek Cypriots as members, but the Turkish Cypriots as well^Ň^‘.
This formula will be on the basis of the ^”national government^‘, notes KIBRISLI adding that the Turkish Cypriot leader will be the chairman of this ^”commission^‘, but he will not have the right to vote. The decisions at the commission will be taken with the majority of the participants in the ^”coalition government^‘. Afterwards these decisions will be submitted to Ankara for its approval. The negotiations will be conducted with Turkey^“s approval, noted the paper, invoking some information according to which the Republican Turkish Party seems to support this idea whereas the Peace and Democracy Movement could oppose to it.
Speaking to HURRIYET correspondent the USA officials stressed that every passing day of non-solution does not serve the interests of Turkey which wants to be an EU member, but, it will be beneficial to the Greek Cypriots who will be full member of the EU by 1May 2004.
Washington, which received a positive signal from Ankara as regards the resumption of talks after the so-called elections in the occupied area ,thinks that the Turkish Cypriot community has made its choice at the ballot box by siding with the forces in favor of the solution at a very vital cross roads , and that it is not possible to reach anywhere with Denktas.
The USA source said: ^”Denktas does not want solution .Is there anybody who does not know this? Of course this is a serious issue.^‘
The USA officials, who want a ^”government^‘ as soon as possible under the leadership of the Republican Turkish Party-United Forces , which received most votes and favours a solution in Cyprus, said that ^”they have been given positive signals that after the elections talks will resume , so prior to Prime Minister Erdogan^“s visit to the USA the talks should resume^‘.
In case, HURRIYET quotes the same USA officials to have said, the negotiations do not start prior to Erdogan^“s visit, then Ankara^“s expectations from the Washington trip should not be very high. Another source said: ^”In that case the trip could turn into a fiasco^‘.