At the session which lasted five hours without any recess, Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat as well took part.
At the end of the session, Talat told the journalists Evaluations were made, however, carrying on evaluations do not end. As long as the Cyprus problem exists evaluations will continue. When asked because of the long session whether this was a sign of charting a new policy, Talat said: You do appreciate that, at any moment and at any stage there could be a need for arrangement. We will continue these evaluations, because the Cyprus problem has several dimensions. We will evaluate the dimensions sometimes together and sometimes separately. When asked when will they inform the public opinion? Talat replied: At this stage we are engaged in evaluation. At this moment there is nothing to inform the public.
The so-called chairman of the Assembly, Mrs Fatma Ekenoglu, in her turn said: Evaluations continue, but there is nothing clear yet. On the Cyprus problem people are pressing us. Court cases as regards property issue continue. Search for a way out is under consideration. Each one has its own unique thinking, I am of the view that, as the process continues we will be able to reach a point.
Noting that property issue is a part of a Cyprus policy, Mrs Ekenoglu, when asked whether legal amendments as regards the Housing, Land and Equivalent Property Law was discussed and said: On this subject there was not much debate. We are looking into the matter.
During the closed-door session Turkish Cypriot Party leaders, Ferdi Sabit Soyer of the Republican Turkish Party (RTP), Serdar Denktas of Democrat Party (DP), Dervis Eroglu of the National Unity Party, (NUP), and Mustafa Akinci of Peace and Democracy Party (PDP), took the floor and expressed their views.
KIBRIS reports that, ten employees of the so-called Assembly, were sworn in on Islam´s Holy Book Kuran before the resumption of the session in order not to disclose anything regarding the session.
Furthermore, local daily AFRIKA newspaper, (23.07.08) reports under banner headlines, Will the title-deeds be rendered null and void? and says that with a view to saving Turkey, on the international forums from the court cases compiled by the Greek Cypriots against Turkey regarding their property in the occupied areas, the Assembly, convened yesterday with the order from Turkey and started looking into ways to save Turkey from these court cases. The Assembly seriously considering to find ways to render null and void the title-deeds given to Turkish Cypriots regarding the property belonging to the Greek Cypriots.
Turkish Cypriot dailies KIBRIS, HALKIN SESI, KIBRISLI and AFRIKA newspapers (24.07.05) report that the so-called Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of the occupation regime, Ferdi Sabit Soyer and Serdar Denktas, respectively have denied that, abolishing of title deeds and the Housing Land Allocation Equivalent Property Law is on the agenda.
The Azeri Undersecretary for Economic and Tourism, Ali Huseyin Shaliyev said yesterday that the delegations visit to the occupied part of Cyprus was a continuation of the agreement in principle reached earlier between the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in the direction of helping ease the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.
He also said that the visits main objective would be to study investment opportunities in the occupied part of Cyprus for possible Azeri entrepreneurs; with priority being given to possible joint ventures with TRNC on textiles, tourism and agriculture.
Commenting on the fact that the first direct flight from Azerbaijan will launch on Wednesday, Mr Shaliyev said: The maiden flight this coming Wednesday will be more of a technical nature. It will be intended to study possible air routes and flight coordinates for the new air-route.
On the other hand, the deputy Rector of the illegal Near East University, Prof. Dr Fahrettin Sadikoglu said that their university will grant scholarships to Azerbaijani students.
Moreover, the Azerbaijani delegation visited yesterday the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Industry where they signed a cooperation protocol.
Speaking in the meeting, the Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Industry Salih Tunar said that a major role in the relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan played TUSIAD (Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association), adding that TUSIAD put efforts so the occupied part of Cyprus to be also included in this relationship.
According to the protocol, Azerbaijan and TRNC will cooperate on issues of channelling people, goods and services between them.
KIBRIS newspaper, in its today´s issue (25.07.05) under banner headlines Direct flights are coming!, reports that following the arrival of Azeri officials and businessmen, now a group of Azeri businessmen will arrive in the occupied area on 27.07.2005 by a direct flight from Baku to illegal Tymbou . The new group will be around hundred people. The paper also reports that Turkish Cypriots convey the message to the Azeri delegations that these visits should continue; they should not be for show only. It further reports that the Azeri delegation which is currently in the occupied area continues its contacts by meeting Turkish Cypriot leaders.
A team of archaeologists have unearthed a limestone grave site with steps leading to interconnecting chambers, to which the Romans added more tombs at a later time making this site very rich discovery.
Many items found include amphorae, gold and bronze jewellery, beads, tear-shaped perfume bottles and vases, oil lamps, a fine terracotta statue of a veiled virtuous woman, and many pottery items including one large bowl still containing the remains of a meal left for the deceased to eat in the afterlife.
Mr Tekel said that excavations of this multi-period historical grave site will continue for many years to come due to the sheer size of the project, thus adding to the already rich historical past of the St. Barnabas Monastery complex.
A press release from the Azeri Prime Ministry said that Gonul's visit reaffirmed the principle of one nation and two states and remarked that the ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan have reached the level of Strategic Partnership.
Azeri Prime Minister Artur Rasizade has noted that, aside from close political, economic and cultural relations, military ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan are at a good level. Turkish military experts provide training to Azeri officers and soldiers and also support the Azeri military financially, commented Rasizade.
Minister Gonul noted that Turkey provided 170 million USD worth of military aid to Azerbaijan. Our military ties will continue to grow in the future, Mr Gonul said. He also added that, unless the Upper Karabagh issue is resolved, Turkey will not have any (diplomatic) relations with Armenia.
Meanwhile, Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has expressed that Turkey and Azerbaijan have good military relations, including in NATO programs. The tripartite security arrangement between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia is highly prominent, said Mr Mammadyarov.
Mr Mammadyarov's meeting with Gonul focused on energy and transportation projects, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline and Baku-Kars railway construction.
While Talat and the RTP-DP government are sleeping, Turkey is acting in order to block the agreement on the oil search in Mediterranean Sea, which was signed between Egypt and the Greek Cypriot administration, writes the paper.
VOLKAN asks the President Talat, Prime Minister Soyer and the RTP-DP government to answer if they have any information regarding these developments and to say what have they done until now in order to protect the economic rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots.
A competent source at the Turkish General Staff said: The information the General Staff disclosed in connection with our second in command's statement is definitely correct. The source noted: The General Staff's relations with our media organs are definitely based on honesty and openness. We must not be expected to officially disclose anything without being completely sure that the information we will provide is correct. In view of that, the reports and comments that would create uncertainty over General Basbug's disclosure are absurd.
Some events witnessed and statements made (or not actually made but expressed tacitly) recently have shown that the Turkish Armed Forces [TAF] was attaching special importance to three issues concerning its avowed principles:
1. Territorial integrity and indivisibility of the country and the nation
2. Growing threat of religious fundamentalism
3. The rights of the Turkish Republic and Turks in Cyprus
Ensuring and safeguarding the indivisible integrity and indivisibility of the country and the nation is a duty entrusted with the TAF by the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA). Particular emphasis is laid on that task due to growing internal and external threats recently posed to that characteristic of Turkey. Territorial integrity of Turkey and the unity and prosperity of the Turkish nation bother many external powers because they have plans about Turkey, which it would never accept as long as it maintains its territorial integrity and unity. Its integrity and unity should, therefore, be undermined to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, there are an adequate number of thoughtless and unprincipled people in this country, who are ready to collaborate for that purpose. They are persistently and tirelessly trying to achieve their goals with their help. The TAF is urging both the government and the public to remain vigilant at all times. Meanwhile, it follows developments with unwavering and invincible determination while taking measures about issues concerning it.
As regards the growing threat posed by religious fundamentalism, it is the most important internal threat causing great concern within the TAF, which stems from the task entrusted with the TAF by laws because the duty of the TAF is not only limited to protecting the country's territory against eternal threats. It has another responsibility which is equally important: to safeguard and protect the regime founded by the Constitution. The biggest risk to our current regime is an internal threat: religious fundamentalism. Furthermore, there are attempts to give a fresh impetus to fundamentalist activities. The identities of people behind that campaign are known. The struggle, however, must continue with great determination and resolve.
The third phenomenon is the rights of the Turkish Republic and Turks in Cyprus. I guess that everybody has enough information about the events that led to the current situation in Cyprus. The matter has become a very sensitive issue after the new president in Cyprus took office because he has been saying since his election that Cyprus belongs to Cypriots. When he speaks about "Cypriots," he refers to both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Apparently, he is not aware that he is betraying not only Turkey, but also Turkish Cypriots by maintaining that approach. An event, which took effect in recent past, clearly reflected his stance. According to his own statement, he has offered Maras (Varosha, occupied Famagusta) to Greek Cypriots in return for lifting the current embargoes. But, he noted, Greek Cypriots turned down the offer. Why did not "Mr. President" need to get approval from the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey before making that proposal? This explains the reason why Turkish President refused to meet him during his visit to Ankara. Meanwhile, the current Turkish Government has taken an interesting stance on the Cyprus question. It was said to be planning to use extension of diplomatic recognition to the Greek Cypriot Government for ensuring that accession talks started on 3 October. Now, it says that they are ready to hold negotiations. Would the problem be fully resolved if negotiations start? Would not the future of the Turkish Republic and Turkish Cypriots be put in jeopardy by extending diplomatic recognition irrevocably in order to start an open-ended negotiating process, which could be interrupted any time? Thus, the Cyprus question is a problem with those aspects as far as the Turkish Armed Forces is concerned.
In fact, what the Turkish nation has said or would say about those matters is more important than other factors.
Despite all the calls being made for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem Turkey's Deputy Chief of Staff Gen Ilker Basbug said at a press briefing that the policy of war was going to be escalated, and this was met by outcry from the NGOs. The NGOs harshly criticized the remarks made by Basbug, who is fine tuning the press and making the NGOs targets as well. They sent the message: "Where does Basbug get the authority to make such statements? We will not tolerate going back to the old days. We will not give concessions over our freedoms." Pointing out that a very bloody and dangerous process had been initiated they called on NGOs and democratic mass organizations to object powerfully.
KESK [Confederation of Smalltime Businessmen and Artisans] Chairman Ismail Hakki Tombul: It has been seen through countless attempts to date that oppressive authoritarian approaches do not solve the problem. Basbug's remarks give clues to a return to the old days. This is an unacceptable approach. The need in Turkey for democratic openings is greater now than ever before. They need to see that practices such as censorship of the labor and civilian organizations, and of the press, are outdated. As a labor organization we are going to be part of a peaceful and democratic struggle, and do what we must. A declaration bearing my signature had already been published. That declaration had been effective in creating broad social awareness. We stated that the problem could not be solved through violence and so we called for the fighting to stop. We think that this call is even more important today. On the one side the guns must fall silent, while on the other the government must take democratic steps. Escalating violence will make a settlement harder to reach, or even impossible. Everybody has a responsibility to fulfill here.
General Secretary of the People's Hearths the lawyer Ender Buyukculha: We followed the remarks in question in the press. If you consider that the structure of the Turkish Republic is determined by its constitution and laws we cannot understand why the Deputy Chief of Staff stood before the cameras to make such an unfortunate statement, or with what authority he did this, or for what purpose. We state once again that under no circumstances will we give concessions over an environment of peace, fraternity and equality in Turkey, or over our basic rights and freedoms. I am telling the public once again that the duty of all of Turkey's institutions and organs, and that includes the Turkish Armed Forces, is not to restrict the rights and freedoms of this country's people but to protect and watch over them. In other words, what we expect of the organs of the state is not a series of declarations threatening to curtail our citizens' rights and freedoms but rather for them to respect and expand on these rights, and to take steps that will bring us to the level of contemporary societies. In this regard that statement was extremely unfortunate. We will not tolerate going backwards when it comes to human rights and democracy in Turkey. What Turkish society wants and longs for is advancement.
Migrants Association [Goc-Der] Chairman Sefika Gurbuz: All of us know that they are going to mount cross-border operations and have done so in the past. I think that such a statement given at a time when the Kurds want peace is very unfortunate. It is clear that nothing will be gained through denial and destruction. There was an era of peace after 1999 and the PKK [Workers Party of Kurdistan] withdrew their armed forces. Not one step was taken. The military and the government follow the same policies. Such an operation is going to strike a blow at peace. Statements that target the NGOs, that target us, are particularly harmful form the point of view of Turkey's democratization during the EU bid. That the General Staff can make such a statement shows that the military is still running the country. The administration is in league with the military. The government, the Republican People's Party [RPP] and the military's statements all back each other up. This country is run by the military not by civilians. They explain this to themselves, anyway. It is not yet clear [how and when or where] the NGOs are going to get together and react to these remarks. Society feels the need for such a reaction, though, because in this country the NGOS expose many things that would otherwise be covered up by the State. You know that the government has warned the media. They are now coming down on the NGOS so that everything can be kept hidden.
Member of the Group for a Democratic Settlement and Peace, Yuksel Genc: What was said at the briefing actually sets individuals and institutions in favor of a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem against one another, and neutralizes them. Not only is the General Staff's statement unfortunate for peace and democracy it also points to a great danger. This is because by sending signals where war policies are made current and where different roles are carved out for the media, plus clear signals of a great escalation in violence, what is happening is that efforts for peace and democracy are being dealt a severe blow. This is going to affect all of us. Gen Basbug's remarks are the clear expressions of a process that has been going on for a long time now. A policy has been pursued of eliminating the armed forces and of putting Mr Ocalan into isolation. At the same time another policy has been pursued whereby the people's organized willpower is being broken down. A part of this policy has been the generation of an image that gives the impression there are many varied and opposing voices within the Kurdish movement, and that they are fighting with one another. This has been accompanied by the start of a process where psychological warfare elements are being used extensively. It is nothing more than a declaration that the state is adopting a position of total war as part of this concept. The democratic forces need to exert themselves more strongly and calmly against such a statement, which only serves to exacerbate a very bloody process. No serious reaction has been forthcoming here.
Member of the Mothers for Peace Initiative, Muesser Gunes: The problem will not be solved by distorting the Kurdish struggle. We have been calling for peace day and night, going hungry and thirsty, since 1999. We have put our demands to the government and Chief of Staff Hilmi Ozkok. We became human shields against war. Basbug' remarks show that a return to the 1990s is on the cards. They pretend not to see the Kurdish problem because it suits them not to. They close their eyes, conduct emotional blackmail at military funerals and make political capital out of them for their dirty war. They are waging a dirty war so as to set Kurdish and Turkish children against one another. Turkey is currently on the brink of an economic, social and political crisis. I call on Ilker Basbug, Hilmi Ozkok and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to come to their senses. They must not conduct politics using Turkish and Kurdish children. Enough, we say. Put an end to the operations. The Kurdish problem can only be solved through peace. Both sides should cease fire. The Kurds have made all the sacrifices they can. The General Staff should see this at last.
Yesterday, just as I was about to finish up my column, an important piece of information arrived by telephone. I couldn't believe it, but then I confirmed it via two other sources. The more I listened, the more my amazement grew. And while there was at first one topic, as the information I received multiplied, the colour of the matter changed.
Let me first convey the first information that I got: 3.5 tons of explosives have been smuggled into Turkey! This is a very significant quantity; it is hard to believe, but the information, unfortunately, is true. And also, unfortunately, the matter is not limited to this.
- These explosives are American-made!
- The forces of [Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party - KDP - leader Mas'ud] Barzani along the Turkish-Iraqi border have been armed to an excessive degree.
- Barzani's peshmergas [irregular fighters] are being trained by "the known experts". A "bloc", in the full tense of the word, has been formed, together with US troops.
- In Turkey, propaganda of "Let us carry out a cross-border operation" is being pumped up very intensely. This is entirely an American plot! Some people are consciously involved, while others are, unknowingly, being used in this game.
- It appears that Turkey is going to be forced to conduct a cross-border operation.
- If we go into Iraq, we will very probably have to fight not the PKK [Workers' Party of Kurdistan] or the peshmergas, but US troops.
- We could also suffer serious casualties in the course of this. Because Northern Iraq has turned into an "arms depot" in the full sense of the word.
- At the moment, the terrorism in Turkey has no connection to Imrali [referring to PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned on Imrali Island] we are confronting terrorism that is completely directed by the United States.
After providing this information, we come to the "whys and the wherefores" of the matter. And the information provided in this regard is as follows:
- The United States believes that it has found a suitable basis on which to put into implementation its project for a "Kurdish Autonomous State", which for years it has not given up on.
- For Barzani to remain in Northern Iraq, even more than for [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan - PUK - leader Jalal] Talabani to be elected as President of Iraq, is a particular preference in order for the project to be implemented in a more sound way.
- The fact that the terrorism is now concentrated in Cukurca derives from the fact that that region has been chosen as a "base", to be handed over to Kurdistan.
- More explicitly, territory is going to be demanded from Turkey for the "Kurdish Autonomous State" that is to be formed out of the Sunni Kurds! An effort is underway for Turkey to be forced into accepting this.
- The artificial terrorist actions, and the equipping of the peshmergas with the most modern weapons... the "alleged PKK actions"... and the Turkish military's being forced to conduct a cross-border operation... All of these things are parts of this US plan.
- The United States is preparing to turn to Turkey and say the following:
1- There is a reciprocal pushing and shoving underway. There are losses of life taking place both on your side and on the Iraqi side. And you are unable to put an end to the PKK terrorism.
2- So come and, as Turkey, assist in the establishment not of an independent [state], but rather a "Kurdish Autonomous State".
3- In this way, attain peace thanks to a new state which will be under your control, and let an end be put to the terrorism of the PKK, and so let peace come to the region.
Some of what I have written above is not at all new to those who have closely followed events.
What is new is the fact that concrete steps have begun to be taken for the things that have been talked about for years to be put into actual implementation.
Even if the United States has not openly declared this project, it has been talking about it behind closed doors. Approximately ten years ago, it had conveyed this project to the Turkish Prime Minister at the time, and had gotten this response: "I, being in a coalition government, cannot take the lead in the establishment of a "Kurdish Autonomous State". If the opposition were to take part as well, then perhaps..."
The same US officials then conveyed these suggestions of theirs to the leader of the main opposition party at the time, and got this response: "I cannot say 'yes' to this. And the government cannot do so either. And I do not see it as possible to convince the military and the public in Turkey regarding such a project."
Efforts are being made today to implement this US project, which was thought to have been "shelved" a decade ago.
And by crafting a very despicable plan, at that...
The United States, which went into Iraq for the sake of "combating international terrorism", is not hesitating to incite "regional terrorism", costing the lives of Turkish people, in order for a "Kurdish Autonomous State" to be established.
Well, can all of these things actually come about? I cannot say.
And in my view, the problem depends less on what the United States is going to do than on what Turkey's stance is going to be in the face of such a situation. In short, Ankara, both at home and abroad, is being watched very closely.