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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review, 11-09-19
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH CYPRIOT AND TURKISH MEDIA REVIEW No. 178/11 17-19.09.11 C O N T E N T S
[A] TURKISH CYPRIOT / TURKISH PRESS
[A] TURKISH CYPRIOT / TURKISH PRESSStatements by Dervis Eroglu after his meeting with President Christofias within the framework of the Cyprus talks on Friday, statements by Eroglu prior to his departure for New York, the contacts of Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay during his illegal visit to the occupied area of Cyprus, more threats by Davutoglu and Bagis on the issue of the explorations for oil and natural gas by the Republic of Cyprus, and other internal matters are the main topics covered by the Turkish Cypriot press over the weekend. The papers refer also to a conflict between Huseyin Ozgurgun and Kudret Ozersay as regards the "authorities' which each of them has and the forthcoming illegal visit of Egemen Bagis to the occupied area of the island.
Shots fired against a Turkish C-130 cargo plane carrying humanitarian aid in Libya, news regarding Cyprus' gas and oil drilling activities in the Mediterranean and reactions by Ahmet Davutoglu, Gul's visit in Germany, Erdogan's visit to the USA, where he is set to meet U.S. President Barack Obama and address the UN General Assembly and other internal issues are the main subjects of today's Turkish press.
 Statements by Eroglu after Friday's meeting with Christofias; Economy, the issue of discussionAccording to illegal BRT (18.09.11), Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu and the leader of the "Greek Cypriot Administration", as it called President Demetris Christofias came together three times last week within the framework of the intensified negotiations process. On Monday and Wednesday the leaders discussed the chapter on `Citizenship, Immigration, Asylums and Aliens` and on Friday they discussed the issue of Economy.
Making a statement on his return last Friday, Eroglu said that they had reached some convergences on the Economic issue but there was still a long way to go, therefore they will be meeting with economic experts in the coming days.
The next meeting between Eroglu and President Christofias is scheduled for the 27th of September and the EU chapter is on the agenda.
Due to the leaders holding meetings in New York next week, a one week break has been given to the talks.
On Saturday, Eroglu left the "TRNC" for New York.
He will be holding a series of side-line contacts within the framework of the UN General Assembly in New York.
 Eroglu warns that the Republic of Cyprus' oil drilling will have a negative impact to Cyprus reunification talks; He will discuss the issue with BanAnkara Anatolia news agency (17.09.11) reported that the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu once more warned the Greek Cypriots on Saturday regarding their oil and natural gas exploration initiatives.
Speaking to reporters before his departure for Turkey--where he will fly to New York for the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Eroglu asked the "Greek Cypriot administration" to review its stance for the sake of the future of the ongoing Cyprus negotiations. "I have proposed Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias to delay oil explorations, and these explorations should be postponed just for the sake of negotiations".
Eroglu said that the Turkish Cypriots had pledged to go on with negotiations till the end of October without causing any problems, and then to go to New York to confirm agreed issues and to seek opportunities for a compromise. "When I told Christofias that we will have to take some measures (if explorations are not delayed), he told me that there was no need to sit at the negotiation table, and this stance will have a negative effect on negotiations," he said.
Eroglu said it was time for an agreement, and he thought that the parties should focus on a possible agreement instead of causing tension or new conflicts.
He also said that the "TRNC" would continue to monitor developments regarding Greek Cypriot initiatives to explore oil and natural resources.
Also, Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.09.11) reported from Istanbul that the Turkish Cypriot leader said on Sunday that unilateral initiatives of the Greek Cypriot administration to explore oil and natural gas in Mediterranean would have a negative effect on the ongoing Cyprus negotiations.
Speaking to reporters before he flew to New York from Istanbul for United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Eroglu said that the Greek Cypriot initiatives had caused enough tension, adding that these initiatives will affect the Cyprus talks negatively.
Eroglu said he had asked Christofias to delay these initiatives.
Eroglu said he would meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York as well as heads of state and government of some countries. Eroglu said he would discuss this issue with Ban.
 Eroglu spoke with Fule over the phone; Eroglu asked the suspension of the oil exploration works by the Republic of Cyprus for the sake of the Cyprus talksAnkara Anatolia news agency (17.09.11) reported that the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu had on Saturday a phone conversation with the European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule.
Eroglu expressed his sensitivities about Greek Cypriot administration's oil and natural gas exploration initiatives to the European Union (EU).
Illegal Bayrak TV channel reported that during the phone talk, Eroglu requested that the "Greek Cypriot administration" should put off its initiatives to explore oil and natural gas for the sake of the ongoing Cyprus negotiations and as a requirement of promises made to United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Eroglu drew attention to the timing of the Greek Cypriot initiatives, and told Fule that the EU should take action to prevent a possible problem.
Eroglu said that the Turkish Cypriots would not give up their rights, and would not refrain from taking necessary steps.
According to reports, Fule is carrying telephone diplomacy with all concerned parties.
 Atalay stated that Cyprus' EU Presidency would cause a real crisis between Turkey and the EUAnkara Anatolia news agency (18.09.11) reported that Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister for Cyprus affairs Besir Atalay told Turkish Cypriot Bayrak Radio and TV on Saturday that a real crisis would occur between Turkey and the European Union (EU) if the Greek Cypriots undertook the rotating presidency of the Union in 2012.
Atalay said that if Cyprus negotiations failed and EU handed over its rotating presidency to the "Greek Cypriot administration" in 2012, the real crisis would emerge between the Union and Turkey, "because we will freeze our relations with the EU", he added.
Atalay said Turkey hoped a fair settlement satisfying both parties would be reached in Cyprus, and the two nations would live in peace and order, therefore Turkey was supporting Dervis Eroglu, the "president of the TRNC" to succeed in the ongoing negotiations.
He also said that the Greek Cypriot initiatives to explore oil and natural gas in the Mediterranean had messed up things, and defined it a political maneuver as it made use of the current atmosphere of Turkish-Israeli relations. "Turkey will never let a tension," Atalay said.
He said that Turkey would always stand by the Turkish Cypriots whether an agreement was made with the Greek Cypriots or not.
Deputy Prime Minister Atalay later left "TRNC" for Ankara. He was on a four-day illegal visit to the "TRNC".
 Atalay visited occupied Morfou; He urged the Turkish Cypriots to continue investingAnkara Anatolia news agency (17.09.11) reported from the occupied area of Cyprus that Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister for Cyprus affairs Besir Atalay visited on Saturday the occupied city of Morfou and recommended that the Turkish Cypriots should not have any concerns about their future.
Atalay said that the people of "TRNC" should not have any concerns about their future even if the Cyprus negotiations do not yield a positive result. "Do not give up investing on your soil, and do not have concerns about your future," Atalay said adding that Turkey would always stand by the Turkish Cypriots.
He also expressed the hope that the negotiations would result in a fair and lasting settlement.
 Atalay stated from occupied Vokolida that Turkey supports tourism investments in the occupied area of CyprusAnkara Anatolia news agency (16.09.11) reported that the Turkish Deputy Premier Besir Atalay said on Friday that they supported tourism investments in the "TRNC".
Speaking during a meeting with representatives of the Turkish Cypriot tourism sector and investors in Bafra [occupied Vokolida] region, Atalay said that, despite Greek Cypriot attempts, the number of tourists visiting the "TRNC" in 2011 was on the rise.
"The people of the TRNC and tourism sector should not have any concerns. The future of tourism in the TRNC is excellent," Atalay also claimed.
Later on Friday, Atalay met delegations of "chambers of trade and industry" at the "Turkish Embassy" in the occupied part of Lefkosia.
 Davutoglu claims that the Greek Cypriot behaviour "sabotages negotiations and leads to a two state solution"Ankara Anatolia news agency (17.09.11) reports from Konya that the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking at a press conference in the central province of Konya on Saturday, commented on Cyprus' initiative regarding oil and natural gas explorations in the Mediterranean. Davutoglu said he thought this unilateral initiative of the "Greek Cypriot administration" [as he called the Republic of Cyprus] when intensified talks were going on in Cyprus, and a new peace plan, was being shaped up, was just a provocation.
He claimed that the Greek Cypriot side wanted to sabotage the negotiations, and added that if a new formation would be established in Cyprus including two founding states, all natural resources would belong to both of the founding states. "Therefore let's find a solution and then the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots benefit from natural resources altogether," he said.
Moreover, Turkish daily Today's Zaman (18.09.11, online) reported that Davutoglu, in an interview with CNN Turk on Sunday, repeated his claims that "Greek Cyprus aims to sabotage the peace talks aimed at reunifying the long-divided island by going ahead with oil drilling." He said he had expressed the same concern to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Advisor on Cyprus Alexander Downer, on the phone and that he will also discuss this issue with Ban during his visit to New York to attend UN meetings next week.
Davutoglu also said: "If the Greek Cypriots say they want to do whatever they want in the region, then this situation is rapidly going toward two states," and vowed that Turkey would sign the "continental shelf agreement" with the breakaway regime in the event Cyprus shrugs off Turkey's call to stop oil drilling.
 Turkish and "TRNC's" delegations discussed steps to be taken against the Republic of Cyprus's exploration activities; Atun says Turkey's TPAO to begin exploration works off shore CyprusAccording to illegal BRT (18.09.11), the steps that will be taken against the Republic of Cyprus' petrol and natural gas exploration efforts were once against put to the table by officials from the "TRNC" and Turkey. A delegation led by the Turkish Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources Sefa Sadik Aytekin held a meeting with the "TRNC" delegation led by the "minister for economy and energy" Sunat Atun.
Holding a press conference after the meeting, Atun said that they have agreed on issuing a license to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation so that they can begin exploration efforts off the coast of Cyprus.
Aytekin for his part said that exploration efforts around Cyprus should only take place once a comprehensive solution is found to the Cyprus problem.
 Ozgurgun warned that if the Republic of Cyprus continues its drilling efforts, Turkey and the occupation regime will sign the "continental shelf delimitation agreement"Illegal BRT (18.09.11) reported that "foreign minister" Huseyin Ozgurgun stated in a press conference yesterday that if "south Cyprus" goes ahead with its drilling efforts, then Turkey and the "TRNC" will sign the "continental shelf delimitation agreement".
Ozgurgun drew attention to the fact that all the necessary steps that will be taken, should the Greek Cypriot side commence drilling, have been determined. "As long as the Greek Cypriot side continues to unilaterally take illegal steps in the region and rise tensions, the TRNC and motherland Turkey in full cooperation, will take the necessary steps needed", Ozgurgun alleged.
 Eroglu supports his special representative Ozersay over Ozgurgun's criticismTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (18.09.11) reported that Dervis Eroglu, criticized Huseyin Ozgurgun, the self-styled minister of foreign affairs of the occupation regime on his statements against Kudret Ozersay, Eroglu's special representative.
Ozgurgun, picturing Ozersay, said a few days ago that statements made by unauthorized persons should not be taken into consideration.
Eroglu, who was speaking to reporters before he headed for Turkey - where he would fly to New York for the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, expressed his support towards his special representative and stated: "It should be known that Kudret Ozersay is not an ordinary person". He added that Ozersay is a friend who participates at the negotiations and said: "According to me, he is an authorized person".
Commenting on the crisis occurred between the "foreign ministry" and the "presidency", Cenk Mutluyakali, chief editor of Yeni Duzen newspaper (19.09.11) wonders about the quarrel between the two parties and writes: "Why are they fighting for? In any case no one is authorized [?] We all know that Ankara makes the decisions".
 Bagis reiterates Turkey's threats to the Republic of Cyprus and says that Ankara has many action plans on any subjectTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (18.09.11) reported that Egemen Bagis, the Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator of Turkey in accession talks with the European Union, issued a warning to the Republic of Cyprus regarding the exploration of natural gas and oil in Eastern Mediterranean, and said: "Do not make a mistake. We are not threatening anyone. We are doing what is necessary".
Bagis, who made exclusive statements to Kibris, evaluated the latest developments in the region and said that Turkey, like any other country, looks after and maintains its interests in the "TRNC", as he called the occupied area. "If the international law is always remembered and not when it suits some people, the rightfulness of Turkey is in any case evident by itself", he claimed and added that the Greek Cypriot side evaluates the international law, in accordance to its own aspirations.
He went on and said that Turkey knows the geography of the Mediterranean very well and it is very much interested at developments in the region. He said that they want to warn "sincerely" that approaches and initiatives which lack equity, justice and law face the danger of been drown in the Mediterranean.
"I think that by now everyone knows that Turkey has a plan A, B, C, D or E on any subject", he stated.
Commenting on the Israel- Turkey ties, Bagis also said that the Greek Cypriot side is "Israel's Trojan Horse".
 Bagis will visit the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus on 26 SeptemberRasih Resat, editor-in-chief in Turkish Cypriot daily Haberdar (17.09.11), wrote in his column that Turkey's European Union (EU) Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis will visit the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus on 26 September. Resat also wrote that the previous visit of Bagis in the occupied area was during Erdogan's visit on 20 July for the celebrations of the Turkish invasion in Cyprus.
 Bagis discussed Cyprus developments with Fule in UkraineAnkara Anatolia news agency (17.09.11) reported that Turkey's EU Minister Egemen Bagis met with the European Commissioner Stefan Fule in Yalta, Ukraine on the sidelines of the Yalta European Strategy Meeting.
Speaking after the meeting, which was behind closed doors, Bagis said: "We discussed Turkey's EU negotiation process and visa procedures".
Bagis said he reiterated Turkey's call to the EU that the Union should lift the unjust and illogical visa practice imposed on Turkish citizens.
Minister Bagis said that they also debated recent developments on the Cyprus issue, and thus, he had the opportunity to once more share Turkey's stance on a comprehensive settlement based on political equality.
"We also had the opportunity to assess developments in the Middle East and the interest (Turkish) Prime Minister Erdogan received in the region," he said. Bagis also said that he had seen that the EU was impressed with this interest, adding that he would meet Fule in Strasbourg again next week.
 "There is no legal basis"Under the above title, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (18.09.11) reported that the United Cyprus Party (BKP) commented on the breakaway regime's decision to sign a "continental shelf delimitation agreement" with Turkey and give Turkish Petroleum Company (TPAO) permission for oil explorations. Abdullah Korkmazhan, BKP's organizing secretary said that Turkey is preparing to claim rights on Cyprus shores and start exploration activities for oil and natural gas based on this "agreement" which has no basis on international law. He also said that such initiatives will raise tensions and could be the cause for unwanted events.
 "Amnesty" to illegal workers hours before Atalay's departure from the occupied area of CyprusUnder the title: "Amnesty to illegal [workers] is coming", Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (18.09.11) reported that hours before the departure of the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister responsible for Cyprus Besir Atalay from the occupied area of the island, the self-styled council of ministers convened extraordinarily on Saturday, prepared a "decree in the power of law" on the issue of "granting amnesty" to illegal workers and submitted this "draft-law" to the "assembly".
In statements to illegal TAK news agency after the meeting of the "council", Mehmet Cavusoglu, so-called minister of interior and local administration, said that by this "law" they aim to give "amnesty" to people, who work in the occupied area of Cyprus and became illegal in some way, and place this problem under control.
 Statements by Cakici in LondonTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris (17.09.11), under the title: "Cakici: The foreign powers will cause a clash between us and take advantage of the oil", reports that the leader of the Social Democracy Party (TDP) Mehmet Cakici, who is currently in London, delivered a speech on the latest developments in Cyprus and on the policies of the ruling National United Party (UBP) of the breakaway regime.
Evaluating the latest developments in Cyprus, Cakici claimed that there is a delay policy by the foreign powers on the Cyprus settlement. He added that the reason of freezing the negotiation process is the findings of oil and the natural gas in Cyprus. Cakici also referred to the agreements of the 1960 Republic of Cyprus, saying that the 1/3 of the natural sources belong to the Turkish Cypriots.
Cakici criticized Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, who had supported for years the non-solution in the Cyprus problem, and now he sits in the negotiation table in order to find a solution.
 Talat said that almost everyone in the occupied area had some involvement with the Greek Cypriot propertiesTurkish Cypriot weekend newspaper Cyprus Today (17.09.11), under the title: "Talat: The pushy south could dynamite the Cyprus talks", published, inter alia, the following interview of former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat:
"The issuing of more European arrest warrants by the Greek Cypriots over properties in the TRNC [Tr. Note: the breakaway regime] could lead to the closure of the north-south border and could sink the peace talks, former president Mehmet Ali Talat has warned.
Mr Talat believes the warrants are a cynical attempt to hinder the construction industry and prevent more development on former Greek Cypriot land in the north.
In an interview with Cyprus Today, (?) Talat said such actions were an attempt to 'scare' potential investors and said there was a slight possibility more legal threats would be issued.
Speaking about the case of convicted British developer Gary Robb, who was extradited from the UK to south Cyprus on fraud charges under a European arrest warrant ? the first case of its kind ? Mr Talat said: 'The Greek Cypriot side requested the extradition of Gary Robb from the UK to south Cyprus based on the European arrest warrant assuming that his trail in the Greek Cypriot courts would not get any major reaction ? both in the north and in the world ? as he has already a bad reputation.
'A person who is seen as a potential criminal has been arrested and put on trial by south Cyprus.'
Mainly British buyers are said to have lost millions of pounds after investing in villas to be built by Robb's Aga Developments that have never been completed.
But Mr Talat said if claims are true that there are arrest warrants against 11 other people, including Lapta hotelier John Aziz Kent, the south would have committed 'a bit of a faux pas'.
He said: 'What is the reason of issuing arrest warrants against these people? The Greek Cypriot government should not expect to and will not get any results from such a step. And if they push it too much, this might damage relations between the two communities and dynamite the Cyprus talks. It might even lead to the closing down of the gates between both sides.'
Mr Talat said almost everyone in the TRNC had some involvement with former Greek Cypriot properties in the north.
For this reason it was extremely difficult to employ anyone to work in the "immovable property commission" as only those with no involvement in the former Greek Cypriot properties were eligible to do so.(?)"
 Serdar Denktas argues that early "elections" are inevitableUnder the title: "Early elections are inevitable", Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris (19.09.11) reports that Serdar Denktas, leader of the Democratic Party (DP), has said that he expects early "elections" in the occupied area of Cyprus in the first half of 2012.
In statements at a ceremony in which a group of young people became members of the DP yesterday, Denktas argued that early "elections" are inevitable because of the problems experienced in the occupied area of Cyprus.
Referring to earlier statements made on the issue by Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, Denktas said: "Even the president started speaking about early elections and that means that there will be elections. When? Perhaps in the first half of next year".
 A strategic research centre is established in the occupied area of CyprusTurkish Cypriot daily Kibris (19.09.11) reports that a Mediterranean Strategic Research Centre (ASAM KIBRIS) has been established in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus. The aim of the Centre will be to contribute in the scientific cooperation and development of the relations between the countries of the Mediterranean through research, education and other scientific activities on issues related with the "TRNC", breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus. The centre aims also at contributing in the development of scientific cooperation with areas such as Turkey, the Middle East, the Balkans, Eurasia, the EU and other regions. The members of its administrative council are: Mehmet Aldemir (president), Gokhan Gule (general secretary), Ekrem Yesilada (musicologist, researcher and writer), Atalay Sayil (researcher, writer and journalist) and Mustafa Dogrusoz (researcher, journalist and writer).
 The Agios Panteleymon Monastery in occupied Myrtou is about to collapseTurkish Cypriot daily Havadis (18.09.11) reported that the Agios Panteleymon monastery in occupied Myrtou village faces the danger of collapsing. Under the title: "The church of Agios Panteleymon abandoned to its destiny", the paper wrote that the church and the monastery of Agios Panteleymon are waiting for months to be repaired.
The chairperson of the "Association of Developing, Beautifying and Maintaining Myrtou Area" (CAMSEV) Adiguzel Akdeniz said that the monastery and the church should be repaired the soonest and be turned into a cultural centre that will serve the needs of the people in the area. According to Akdeniz, the monastery and the church will collapse within the next three years, if these are not repaired.
 Gul to visit Germany; the Cyprus problem, bilateral relations and the developments in the Middle East among the matters of discussionAnkara Anatolia news agency (18.09.11) reported that Turkey's President Abdullah Gul told reporters before his departure for Germany on Sunday that Turkish and German Finance Ministers would sign the updated version of the agreement on the sidelines of his visit to Germany on the prevention of double taxation. "I think the agreement will boost economic relations," Gul said.
Gul is the first Turkish President to visit Germany in nine years.
President Gul underlined the importance of his visit as it was taking place on the 50th anniversary of the signature of Turkish-German labour recruitment agreement, and said he would attach importance to cooperation in science, technology, R&D, energy, environment, education and culture during his visit.
Gul said he would exchange views with German executives on bilateral relations, recent developments in Cyprus and the Middle East, and other regional and international topics concerning the two countries.
President Gul said he would express Turkey's view on European Union (EU) membership, and 2.8 million Turks living in Germany contributed to further improvement of relations and friendship.
Gul said he believed that the Turkish community in Germany would diversify and enhance its contribution, adding that he was sure that this visit would make concrete contributions on Turkey's close cooperation with Germany.
Germany is Turkey's biggest trade partner. 4,500 German companies are operating in Turkey, and bilateral trade volume reached 29 billion USD in 2010 and this figure was around 19 billion USD in the first half of 2011, which indicated a 38% year-on-year rise.
German President Christian Wulff paid a visit to Turkey on October 18 and 22, 2010.
Besides Turkey-Germany relations, Turkey's European Union membership process and recent global and regional developments will be high in the agenda of President Gul's meeting with his German counterpart.
President Gul is set to meet German Parliament Speaker Norbert Lammert, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, the Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit and Prime Minister of the state of Baden-Wurttemberg Winfried Kretschmann.
Gul and Wulff will also co-chair the Turkish-German Business Forum.
During the President's visit, the Turkish and German Finance Ministers will sign an agreement to prevent double-taxation.
President Gul is also set to address a group of politicians, academicians and students at the Humboldt University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the German capital.
He will visit the Institute of Islamic Theology at the University of Osnabruck, in President Wulff's birthplace.
President Gul will also proceed to Stuttgart to meet the Prime Minister of the state of Baden-Wurttemberg Kretschmann.
Gul is expected to return to Turkey on September 21.
 "Turkey plays balancing act in projecting power in east Mediterranean"Turkish daily Sunday's Zaman Online in English (18.09.11) published a report by Abdullah Bozkurt who writes the following:
"While Turkey is actively pursuing a carrot-and-stick approach in a balancing act to protect its own interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish analysts are warning that Ankara should proceed diligently and cautiously in dealing with a simmering conflict in the region over drilling rights for potentially rich hydrocarbon resources in order to avoid perception problems ranging from bullying power to strong-arming its neighbors.
For some time Turkey has been at odds with the Greek Cypriots over natural gas exploration plans and threatened to respond if the Greek Cypriot administration goes ahead with drilling as announced. Israel, which signed an agreement, last November demarcating its maritime borders with the Greek Cypriots, infuriated Ankara, which called the deal "null and void." The deal invited the wrath of the Turkish Government, whose outspoken Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a visit to Tunisia on Thursday vowed to send Turkish frigates and assault boats to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Experts argue that Turkey should take other steps before escalating the crisis into an armed confrontation and instead should further focus on solidifying an international coalition against a unilateral declaration of drilling rights in the region. One such example could be Turkey's partnering with regional heavyweight Egypt on joint energy projects. Although the Greek Cypriot administration signed an agreement with Egypt in 2003 to delineate sea boundaries in order to pave the way for oil and gas exploration, the deal remained only on paper. During Erdogan's visit to Egypt this week the tables were turned when both Governments signed an accord establishing a High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council.
Among the agreements signed were two energy-related memorandums of understanding with Egypt. Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz said Turkey may carry out gas exploration in the Mediterranean with Egypt. 'Turkey and Egypt may work together in oil and gas,' he said, adding that the issue had been discussed with Egyptian counterparts.
Professor Mehmet Seyfettin Erol of the Ankara-based Gazi University says Turkey should concentrate its policy on convincing international partners to be on its side in this issue. 'The circumstances are right for Turkey as both the US and the EU do not want to add new woes to a region still experiencing revolts and uprisings during the so-called Arab Spring. There may be different arguments from the perspective of international law, but in the end it all boils down to who has more leverage and power. Turkey should seek more partners against the Israel-Greek Cypriot coalition on this issue,' he told Sunday's Zaman.
On Thursday, Turkey announced a tit-for-tat policy to prevent drilling in the region without first settling the account with the Turkish Cypriots, whose rights and jurisdiction have been overlooked on the divided island. Turkey said it will sign an agreement on the delineation of the continental shelf with the TRNC if Greek Cyprus moves ahead with its plans to drill for natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, a development set to escalate tensions in the region.
The decision emerged after talks between Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials in Turkey, according to a statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry, released on Thursday. A Turkish Cypriot delegation visited Turkey at the invitation of the Turkish Government, according to the statement.
A Turkish delegation headed by the deputy undersecretary of the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry visited the TRNC on Friday at the invitation of TRNC authorities. The delegation included officials from the General Directorate of Petroleum Affairs, the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) and the Foreign Ministry. Sources said the TRNC government might identify some areas claimed by Greek Cyprus as part of its continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Birol Ertan, a political scientist who specializes in Cyprus, said the red lines for Turkey are very clear when it comes to protecting rights in both the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. 'By signing exclusive economic zone agreements with Israel, the Greek Cypriots want to render Turkish policies in the region ineffective,' he said, stressing that the real aim of the Jewish state is to corner Turkey because of tension created by the flotilla incident last year during which Israeli commandos killed one Turkish-American and eight Turkish civilians on an aid ship bound for Gaza. 'Israel is pursuing a policy of 'an enemy of my enemy is my friend' by signing secret deals with the Greek Cypriots,' Ertan told Sunday's Zaman.
Turkey objects to any Greek Cypriot search for oil and gas inside the island's 51,000-square-kilometer (17,000 square mile) exclusive economic zone off its southern coast, saying it is in violation of the rights of the Turkish Cypriots who run their own state in the north of the island. Meanwhile, Turkey is considering its own plans to start oil and gas exploration off the coast of Turkish Cyprus. Greek Cyprus launched an initial licensing round in 2007 and is set to offer a second round of licensing for offshore oil and gas exploration later this year. In response, the Turkish Government in July 2008 issued a decree authorizing the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to explore for oil beyond Turkish territorial waters in the Mediterranean.
Cyprus was split into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north in 1974, when Turkey intervened in response to a coup by supporters of a union with Greece. Greek Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, but only the internationally recognized south enjoys membership benefits. Only Turkey recognizes Turkish Cyprus, where it maintains a military presence of 35,000 troops.
Erol argues that Israel is pursuing a containment policy against Turkey by bolstering its ties with Turkey's neighbors and is getting involved in disputes that Turkey has been party to. 'Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visits to Greece, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Greek Cyprus might be regarded within that context,' he stated. Erol cautioned that the Jewish state would very much like to portray Turkey as a bullying power in the Eastern Mediterranean. 'This would scare many Arabs and other Mediterranean countries and help eliminate the goodwill Turkey has earned in recent years on Arab streets and capitals,' he noted.
Israel, which has been at odds with Turkey since the Gaza onslaught in December 2008/January 2009 during which more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians, was looking to get back at Turkey, experts here in Ankara believe. The relationship between old allies deteriorated rapidly when Israel refused to offer an apology for the killing of nine Turks in the flotilla, prompting Ankara to expel senior Israeli diplomats including the Ambassador. Defense contracts were frozen and military ties were suspended.
Ridvan Karluk, dean at the faculty of economics and international relations at Anadolu University, believes Turkey should be concerned about possible provocations from the Israeli Government in the hot waters of the Mediterranean Sea. 'The Egyptian deal signed this week was important, and Turkey should expand this coalition further. It must act very carefully and with common sense, mindful of the fact that a civilian Turkish aid ship was violently raided by Israeli commandos last year,' he told Sunday's Zaman.
Karluk pointed out that the Mediterranean Sea belongs to many nations and that any issues should be dealt with under a multilateral approach. 'This would strengthen Turkey's hand in the region. Being right on the point of international law is not enough, as we saw in the UN's Palmer report sanctioning the illegal Gaza blockade by Israel. You have to have allies in the UN to make your case,' he added.
Turkey is also lobbying Brussels to put a stop to exploration attempts by its member Greek Cyprus. The EU, which implicitly sided with the Greek Cypriots on the issue within the context of the EU's integrated maritime policy, was warned by Turkey that it also has a stake in what seems to be high-roller poker game. Turkey's permanent representative to the European Union has suggested that member states should urge Greek Cyprus to "see reason" in order to stop the dispute over gas exploration from getting worse. 'We are not the ones who started exploration in disputed waters ... the EU can tell the Greek Cypriots they have to be reasonable,' Ambassador Selim Kuneralp said in an interview with online news portal EUobserver.com.
While making its case heard on international platforms, Turkey knows that whoever controls the conditions on the ground may have a better position at the table. That is why Erdogan announced that Turkish frigates and assault boats might be sent to the Eastern Mediterranean at any time to ensure freedom of navigation. 'Israel will not be able to move in the Eastern Mediterranean as it wishes. It will see our determination in this regard,' he said at a joint press conference with Tunisian interim Prime Minister Beji Caid el Sebsi on Thursday. Turkey will ensure freedom of navigation for all ships, not just those headed to Gaza, Erdogan added.
Erdogan's statement reflects a looming danger in the region as the date was set for initial exploration by US energy company Noble Energy early next month, raising the stakes further. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned the Greek Cypriot Government last week against drilling for hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean, saying that Ankara will show the "appropriate reaction" if Greek Cyprus moves forward with exploration plans. 'We will show the appropriate reaction if any further step is taken,' Davutoglu told reporters, stressing that the Greek Cypriot administration does not have the right to embark on oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean unless the Cyprus issue is resolved and a government representing the entire island is formed.
Israel rejected statements issued by Turkey, saying it can defend the gas fields in the region. Israeli Energy Minister Uzi Landau has said, 'Israel can support and secure the rigs that we are going to have in the Mediterranean,' following the Turkish announcement to boost naval patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey may partner with Lebanon on the gas exploration controversy since Lebanon has accused Israel of breaking international law by exploring for gas without an agreement on the maritime border between the two countries, which are formally at war.
It was the worst timing for Turkey to have soured ties with Syria, another Mediterranean country in the eastern rim and a former ally. When Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad defied Turkish demands to end a bloody crackdown on protesters, Ankara crossed him out, labeling him as an unreliable partner.
In a speech in Cairo this week setting out Turkey's vision for the Middle East, Erdogan said neither he nor the Syrian people believe al-Assad anymore because he has failed to carry out reforms. 'As civilian deaths increase in Syria, we are seeing that reforms are not materializing and that they do not speak honestly. It is not possible to believe this,' Erdogan said. Nevertheless it is not expected that Syria will forge an alliance with the Greek Cypriots out of fear that it may be seen as partnering with Israel amid uprisings against the regime. It appears the waters in the Eastern Mediterranean will get hotter in the coming days and that attempts to project power either by military assets or political clout by countries in the region are already under way."
 Bagis says that the rate of Turks against the EU membership reached 35%-40%Turkish daily Today's Zaman newspaper (18.09.11) reported that Turkey's European Union Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis, said on Saturday during the eighth Yalta European Strategy forum in Ukraine that the rate of Turks who oppose Turkey's EU membership has reached 35%-40%.
Nothing that this rate is raising concerns and that Europe should solve its problems, Bagis said: "The EU is today extending more support to Turkey's membership; however, there are still some unsolved problems." The Minister focused on the Turkish people's unease about the EU accession process, which has come to a deadlock, saying: "If Turkish citizens have to wait to get a visa from EU member states, they naturally feel less European. "
Pointing to Turkey's growing economy, Bagis said: "The world is changing so rapidly that the EU might seek ways to admit Turkey as a member in a short time."
"A Europe without Turkey, which is the most rapidly growing economy in Europe and its sixth biggest economy with the youngest and most dynamic population and the strongest army, does not have a chance in security policies," he added. Expressing his hope about this issue, he noted: "I believe that the days when Europe will see Turkey's potential are very close."
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