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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review, 12-04-02

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH CYPRIOT AND TURKISH MEDIA REVIEW No. 64/12 31.3-2.4.12

[A] TURKISH CYPRIOT / TURKISH PRESS

  • [01] Ozersay alleges that those who want the continuation of the Cyprus negotiations support the status quo
  • [02] Haberdar: the preparations for the opening of the occupied closed city of Varosha are completed; the decision will be taken after 19 April
  • [03] "Behold the B Plan"; Turkey encourages Turkish businessmen to invest in occupied Vokolida if the negotiations come to an end
  • [04] Eroglu: "We know where we have come from; I honestly do not know where the Greek Cypriots came from"
  • [05] Groundbreaking ceremony for the water transfer project to the occupied area from Turkey; Statements by Eroglu and Turkish officials
  • [06] Atalay discussed helping investors with tourist problems in occupied Trikomo and Vokolida
  • [07] A Turkish Cypriot claims millions of Euros as compensation for the land on which the Larnaka International Airport is built
  • [08] Davutoglu discussed the Cyprus problem with Clinton
  • [09] Information about the economy of the breakaway regime
  • [10] "Reading signals from Europe"
  • [11] Friends of Syria meeting took place in Istanbul; Clashes occurred by Assad's supporters
  • [12] Turkey and China to flesh out 'strategic partnership' during Erdogan's forthcoming visit
  • [13] Non-Muslims not allowed to buy property in Imbros; One step closer to Europe?
  • [14] Turkey's overall exports up by 8.1% in March

  • [A] TURKISH CYPRIOT / TURKISH PRESS

    [01] Ozersay alleges that those who want the continuation of the Cyprus negotiations support the status quo

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (02.04.12) reports that Kudret Ozersay, Turkish Cypriot leader's special representative, has alleged that those who want the continuation of unproductive Cyprus negotiations are supporters of the status quo in Cyprus, which is allegedly against the Turkish Cypriots. In statements to illegal Bayrak, Ozersay argued yesterday that this status quo "nourish the uncertainty" in Cyprus and "pushes the Turkish Cypriots to annihilation" in this uncertainty.

    Asked to comment on the criticism against the Turkish side's unwillingness to continue the negotiations "in case of a failure in the talks", Ozersay expressed the view that if you say that the process has to continue even if it fails, "you support the status quo and the status quo is against the Turkish Cypriots?" "If this [issue] will not be solved, if it has failed, its failure should be established", he added.

    According to Ozersay, the unproductive negotiations are a means for preserving the status quo, which is allegedly against the Turkish Cypriots, annihilates them and harms them. To support his view he said that when they demand the lifting of the so-called isolations, they are told that "we have done some things, but we cannot do many things in these conditions, we have not kept the promise we gave in 2004, but actually, when the Cyprus problem is solved all these problems will be settled, besides the negotiations continue, do not push us too much".

    Ozersay added, inter alia, the following: "?You demand a status. I am not talking about the status of recognizing the TRNC. I am referring for example to the participation of a simple NGO in an activity or in a professional international NGO. Even when the demand of participating in an activity or in an organization is made, the NGO is given the following reply: 'The negotiations for a comprehensive solution in Cyprus continue. We support them. We could accept you as observer, but you will not have the right to vote or speak. Come and listen here and when a comprehensive solution is found you will also join us'?"

    Ozersay alleged also that the Greek Cypriot side is using the negotiations as well. As example he gave the issue of the explorations for oil and natural gas in Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone. He argued that when the Turkish side proposes an agreement on co-exploitation of the island's natural resources, the Greek Cypriot reply is that the negotiations continue and this issue is a part of the comprehensive solution. He also alleged that the continuation of the negotiations is used by the Greek Cypriot side to continue to allegedly unilaterally represent the Republic of Cyprus internationally.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Haberdar: the preparations for the opening of the occupied closed city of Varosha are completed; the decision will be taken after 19 April

    Under the title: "The Varosha issue is serious", Turkish Cypriot daily Haberdar newspaper (02.04.12) reports that it has acquired some details on the plan of the Turkish side regarding the opening of the occupied closed city of Varosha under Turkish administration. Rasih Resat, editor-in-chief of the paper, writes that this time the issue of the opening of Varosha under Turkish control is very serious this time and all the preparations have been completed.

    Citing information from reliable sources, he says the decision of the Turkish side on this issue will be taken after the announcement of UN Secretary-General's report for Cyprus on 19 April and not after 1 July, as it had been written in the press. "If Ban's decision is not in the direction of inviting a multilateral conference, this will be perceived as indirect declaration that the negotiations failed and the Varosha Project will be launched", writes Resat.

    Resat reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu visited the area secretly during the first days of March accompanied by a delegation and high ranking military officials in order to examine the situation.

    Referring to the "details" of the "Varosha Plan", Resat writes that the properties will be returned to their owners, Greek Cypriot or foreigners, through the "Property Compensation Commission" and the area will gain again a socioeconomic life under the control of the "TRNC", breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] "Behold the B Plan"; Turkey encourages Turkish businessmen to invest in occupied Vokolida if the negotiations come to an end

    Under the above title, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (31.02.12) reports that after the news that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon may not call an international conference and the Cyprus negotiations may come to an end; and due to the news that the occupied closed city of Varosha may be opened soon, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Turkey "took a very important decision".

    According to this, the businessmen who will make investments in the occupied area of Cyprus will be given a 10-year term loan by the Development Bank and the interest will be paid by the Republic of Turkey. In addition, the investments will be allowed to wait for four years until they start paying back the loan. The decision aims to transform the occupied area "one of the most important touristic centres of the world", writes the paper and adds that this will help towards the economy of the breakaway regime.

    Kibris further writes that the aim is that investments will be made in occupied Vokolida, in order for the area to be transformed like the Saint Tropez of the French Riviera.

    [04] Eroglu: "We know where we have come from; I honestly do not know where the Greek Cypriots came from"

    Under the title: "The Turkish people is in favour of the TRNC living forever", Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (02.04.12) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu has alleged that the Turkish Cypriots are more "pure" than the Greek Cypriots because "we know where we have come from, but I honestly do not know where they came from".

    Addressing a meeting of Turkish KAMU-SEN trade union in Antalya, Eroglu referred to the Turkish Cypriot trade unions and argued that they have moved away from their actual duties because of the conditions created by the Cyprus problem. He alleged that the Turkish Cypriot trade unions, instead of protecting the rights of the workers, are dealing with the Cyprus problem.

    Eroglu argued that the main issue in the Cyprus problem is the lack of the culture of reconciliation. He said the Cyprus problem has lasted for a long period of time and alleged that the Turkish Cypriots are not responsible for this because it is the Greek Cypriots who allegedly are the "intransigent side".

    Eroglu said that the "TRNC", breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus, could not exist without its "motherland" Turkey and at the same time Turkey could not exist without the "TRNC".

    Eroglu alleged that the Cyprus problem would have been solved if "South Cyprus", as he described the Republic of Cyprus, was not a member of the European Union (EU). He accused the Greek Cypriot side of wanting only to take at the negotiating table and of asking more than it would have taken with the Annan Plan.

    He added: "If you give Christofias what he wants, there will be no land for us to live in Cyprus. Christofias says: 'You should send back everybody who came from Turkey and land will remain for the rest'. You say that you know the international law. When a nation gives citizenship to a person, this citizenship is under the protection of the constitution. Furthermore, we have given citizenship to Turks. You have given to people from Russia and other countries".

    Arguing that the letter he had sent to the UN Secretary-General "shocked some circles", Eroglu reiterated that President Christofias rejects the proposal for holding an international conference without a solution to the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem. He alleged that the Greek Cypriots want the Turkish Cypriots to become a minority in the Republic of Cyprus and claimed: "We will become a minority in the Republic of Cyprus and in time [we] will be called 'Cyprus people'. They will create the climate that there are no Turks. 'There is a Cyprus nation', they will say. There are Turkish people in Cyprus since 1571. We are more pure than the Greeks, because we know where we came from. I honestly do not know where they came from".

    Meanwhile, in his address, Ismail Koncuk, chairman of Turkish KAMU-SEN trade union, said that some countries propose the termination of the so-called independence and the existence of the "TRNC". "The Turkish people is in favour of the TRNC to live forever as an independent, separate state?Our guide is Rauf Denktas, who has devoted his life to Cyprus", he said.

    Furthermore, Gunes (02.04.12) reports also that Eroglu met with Antalya's Governor, Ahmet Altiparmak. In his statements, he said that they discuss very often the issue of the lifting of the so-called embargoes with European Union officials. Eroglu said that the Turkish side will discuss the strategy which it will follow after the UN Secretary-General announces his decision as regards the continuation or not of the Cyprus talks.

    In addition, in statements during a meeting with Mustafa Akaydin, Mayor of Antalya, Eroglu said that we have come to the final stage of the Cyprus talks and added that the information published yesterday in a Turkish Cypriot newspaper that agreement was reached and the Cyprus problem was solved is not true. "I guess that this is a joke for 1 April", he added.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Groundbreaking ceremony for the water transfer project to the occupied area from Turkey; Statements by Eroglu and Turkish officials

    According to illegal Bayrak television (31.03.12), the groundbreaking ceremony for the Gecitkoy dam [occupied Panagra village], which is part of the project that aims to transfer potable and irrigation water from "motherland" Turkey to the "TRNC", took place on Friday afternoon.

    Gecitkoy [Panagra] dam is where 26.5 million cubic meters of water will be stored.

    Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in Charge of Cyprus Affairs Besir Atalay and the Turkish Minister for Forest and Water Affairs Veysel Eroglu were among the high level officials who attended the ceremony at the site of the Gecitkoy [Panagra] Dam.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said that the Gecitkoy dam which was made after 1974 will be expanded so that the dam's capacity will be increased in order to store 26 million cubic meters of water.

    So-called prime minister Irsen Kucuk for his part noted that the "project of the century" as he described it, had made the 50 year old dream of the "TRNC" come true.

    Besir Atalay for his part said that the project further strengthened the already existing ties between "motherland" Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot "people".

    Veysel Eroglu noted that this project was a first of its kind around the word and was able to be realized due to modern technologies.

    He said that the "water of life" as he described it, will flow to the "TRNC" very soon adding that this is a project that connects the heart of the "motherland" as he called Turkey to "northern Cyprus." He explained that the total cost of the water pipeline project would be nearly 1.1 billion Turkish Liras, would transfer 75 million cubic meters of water per year, and would be nearly 80 kilometres long.

    The first leg of the water transfer project was launched at Turkey's Alakopru dam in March last year. Water from the Alakopru dam, which has the capacity to store 130.5 million cubic meters of water, will be transferred to the "TRNC" via underwater pipes.

    The "project of the century" consists of 4 legs and the third leg of the project will be launched within the next couple of months. All phases of the project will be finalized by March 2014.

    Also, according to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (31.03.12), in statements during the ceremony, Dervis Eroglu said further that the water pipeline project from Turkey to "northern Cyprus" is crucially important for the future of the Turkish Cypriots. "I made a promise that the water project would be completed on March 7, 2014," Eroglu said while responding to reporters' questions.

    "If an agreement is reached and [Greek Cyprus] wants water, we may consider providing it to them," he added, responding to a question on what would happen if "Greek Cyprus", as the Republic of Cyprus is called, also experienced problems concerning water.

    Eroglu said also that "northern Cyprus" was currently working on an electricity transfer project from Turkey to the island.

    Meanwhile, according to Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan (01.04.12), speaking to illegal BRT, Besir Atalay referred, inter alia, to the ongoing Cyprus negotiation talks and recalled that both Turkey and the "TRNC" are expecting for a positive result to come up from the talks.

    Referring to the July 1st, date that the Republic of Cyprus will overtake the EU term presidency, Atalay said: "The Greek Cypriots should not unilaterally take over the EU term presidency on July 1st. This will be very bad. We want the process carried out under the UN auspices to be successful. But nobody can wait that a community will be living into uncertainty forever".

    Atalay stated further that the Cyprus problem is always among the matters of discussion during Erdogan's meetings with the UN Secretary General.

    He added that a multilateral conference should take place on the Cyprus problem with the participation of Turkey, Greece, the UK and the two sides in Cyprus.

    Referring to the economic program that Turkey is implementing in the occupied area of Cyprus, he said that the first year out of the three year's period economic program has been completed in a constructive way, since the occupation regime's economy goes well as he said. Atalay added further that as soon as the three year's economic program will be completed, Turkey will implement a new program.

    (AK)

    [06] Atalay discussed helping investors with tourist problems in occupied Trikomo and Vokolida

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (02.04.12) reports that the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister who is also in Charge of Cyprus Affairs Besir Atalay met with tourism investors and tourism business administrators and exchanged views with them regarding the problems faced in their field.

    According to the paper, the main issue on the agenda of the meeting were the problems of the unfinished projects and tourist installations in the occupied Trikomo and Vokolida area and using the 300 hundred million dollar credit of the Turkish Development Bank to the investors.

    In order for these problems to be overcome, the Turkish Government issued a decree in January which envisages credit to be given for the unfinished constructions to be completed.

    [07] A Turkish Cypriot claims millions of Euros as compensation for the land on which the Larnaka International Airport is built

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (02.04.12) reports that a Turkish Cypriot named Huseyin Helvacioglu, who is allegedly the owner of a land of 96 donums [Tranlator's note: a land measure of around 1000 square meters] on which the Larnaka International Airport's terminal and landing strips are built, has accused the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and Hermes Airport company of "doing an illegal business".

    In exclusive statements to Kibris, Helvacioglu reacted to the 600-million euro agreement of leasing the above-mentioned area to a company from China. "They have built Larnaka Airport without acquiring our permission. Now they are trying to earn money by leasing our property to others", he said, adding that he would not permit this.

    Helvacioglu said he would not permit the implementation of the agreement signed with the Chinese company. He noted: "I will not allow this. The land belongs to me and my brother and I want back this land".

    Helvacioglu described as "illegal" the agreement signed by the Cyprus Government and Hermes Airports with the Chinese investors and noted that he wants a compensation of 200 million euro.

    Helvacioglu said he has two title deeds in his possession, the one of which is for 82 donums of land and the other for 14 donums. He noted that he acquired these title deeds from the Department of Land and Survey of the Republic of Cyprus and that he filed a lawsuit at Larnaka District Court on this issue in 2005. He said that the case has not been concluded yet and that he demanded a compensation of 100 million Cyprus pounds.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] Davutoglu discussed the Cyprus problem with Clinton

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (01.04.12) reported that the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met on Sunday in Istanbul, ahead of a conference meeting of the Friends of Syria.

    The meeting was held closed to the news media. As diplomatic sources said, Davutoglu and Clinton underlined that the Syrian regime must halt at once its deadly attacks on the opposition groups in the country.

    Sources said the two diplomats also discussed latest developments in Afghanistan, the ongoing Cyprus settlement talks, the Caucasus and the political situation in Iraq.

    Syrian opposition groups and as many as 70 countries seeking an international agreement to end the bloodshed in Syria were set to meet on Sunday at the Friends of Syria conference in Istanbul.

    [09] Information about the economy of the breakaway regime

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (02.04.12) publishes information obtained by the self-styled central bank of the breakaway regime.

    According to the information, the exports of the breakaway regime are increased: In the fourth quarter of the year 2010 the exports of the breakaway regime were 16.2 million US Dollars while the exports in the same period of the year 2011 are increased by 20,37%, up to 19,5 million US Dollars.

    In addition, the deposits in the illegal banks were also increased. As from December 2011, the deposits were increased to 284 million 800 thousands Turkish Lira, compared to the same period of the previous year.

    The rate of growth of the economy of the breakaway regime was 3.59% for the year 2010, and it increased by 4.27% for the year 2011. For the year 2012 is expected to be 4%.

    As regards the inflation, in the years 2009 and 2010, it remained the same as in the year 2008. However, from the beginning of 2011 it begun to increase and reached 14.7%.

    [10] "Reading signals from Europe"

    Turkish daily Today's Zaman (01.04.12) publishes a commentary by Merkar Esayan on the recent European Parliament's report on Turkey: "Last Friday, an important development took place. H?l?ne Flautre, chair of the Joint EU-Turkey Parliamentary Committee, reacted strongly to the statements in a report on Turkey adopted at the European Parliament on Thursday, questioning the legitimacy and validity of the Ergenekon investigation.

    The aforementioned report said: 'Investigations into coup plan allegations, including Ergenekon and Balyoz cases, should reflect the strength of the Turkish democratic institutions and judiciary, their proper, independent, impartial and transparent operations and their unconditional and firm commitment to fundamental rights. There are growing concerns on allegations that inconsistent evidence has been employed against the defendants in these cases. The EU Commission is called upon to follow these cases and annex its findings in the 2012 Progress Report.'

    Flautre's response was as follows: 'Attempts to raise suspicions over the Ergenekon case as a whole refers to a lack of seriousness because the European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR] ruled in December on the legitimacy and validity of some arrests. We should not raise suspicions in the cases associated with Ergenekon and attempt to argue that the accusations are groundless or baseless.'

    You should already know that something interesting happened during the drafting of the report; in a motion requesting an amendment, the report included a reference and emphasis upon the significant role of the Turkish Army in the preservation of the secular integrity of the country. How did a matter that has not been and should not be included or discussed in the progress report make it to the final text? What did this change in atmosphere mean, considering that European countries, which are known for their attention to the control of civilian authority over military authority, have praised the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) efforts in the previous reports towards this end?

    A number of arguments and theses have been discussed, including the growing impact of the racist and discriminative circles in Europe, the tense relations with Turkey, the stalled European Union accession process, the declaration by Turkey that it would not recognize the term presidency to be held by Greek Cyprus starting from July, irresponsible remarks by Egemen Bag1s that Turkish Cyprus may be annexed to Turkey and the influential efforts by the Ergenekon lobby in Europe.

    Flautre said on this matter: 'It would have been awkward for us to ask for the protection of secularism by the army given that we have praised the reforms for so many years towards the establishment of civilian control over the army in Turkey.'

    Subsequent to the amendment to the report, the relevant text reads: 'The ongoing efforts and initiatives for the improvement of civilian control over the military in December 2010 to secure civilian control over military expenditure are welcomed. The courts are called upon to maintain effective control over military expenditure. It is also recommended that the armed forces and gendarmerie are subordinate to the civilian judiciary and that the gendarmerie is subjected to ombudsman control. Because of the importance of Turkey's membership in NATO, it is essential to secure the preservation of the operational capacity of the armed forces.' In other words, a radical change in perspective was experienced. Or let us just say that the European Parliament has returned to its regular position.

    I am not sure if I need to underline that this is particularly important for Turkey and that it involves serious signs and alarms. I think there is still need to recall this.

    As you know, when it came to power, the AK Party paid particular attention to the EU reforms; and thanks to its dynamism, Turkey has made huge progress; and the commitment to the EU process justified its actions in dealing with its custodial regime and Ergenekon forces. Regardless of whether Turkey will become a full member, the EU's rich experience was very powerful and valuable for Turkish politicians when dealing with the pro-establishment figures.

    However, as it has become intertwined with state affairs, the AK Party ignored the EU efforts and reforms; and in the end, the reform process stalled. We are all aware of the double standards of the EU; but did we not introduce these reforms for our own sake?

    Because the AK Party delayed the reforms, failed to address the issues pertinent to freedom of expression and the growing number of human rights violations, those who want to detach the civilian administration in Turkey from the West or undermine the external support for this administration have found strong arguments.

    This change of climate and atmosphere at the European Parliament is not good. I hope the AK Party will learn a lesson from this."

    [11] Friends of Syria meeting took place in Istanbul; Clashes occurred by Assad's supporters

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (01.04.12) reported that the second of the Friends of Syria conference meeting begun on Sunday in Istanbul to seek an international agreement on how to end the crisis in Syria.

    The conference is participated by representatives from 82 countries and Foreign Ministers from 41 countries including the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Russia and China, which vetoed a Security Council resolution calling Damascus to end violence, have said they would not participate in Sunday's conference.

    Issuing a final communiqu?, the Arab and Western nations which participated to the meeting, urged peace envoy Kofi Annan on Sunday to set a timeline for next steps, including a return to the U.N. Security Council, if President Bashar al-Assad fails to halt bloodshed in Syria.

    The "Friends of Syria" said that Assad did not have an open-ended opportunity to meet his commitments to Annan, who is mediating on behalf of the United Nations and Arab League. "The regime will be judged by its deeds rather than its promises," the group of 83 nations said.

    Assad has accepted, but not yet implemented, Annan's six-point peace plan, which calls for the military to cease fire, withdraw from towns and cities, and allow humanitarian access.

    In statements at a news conference after the meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said: "We will not let the Syrian regime misuse another opportunity, which is the last chance for the situation in Syria."

    The "Friends of Syria" recognized the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) as a legitimate representative of all Syrians, and "noted" it as the main opposition interlocutor with the international community, wording that stopped short of full recognition of a group hampered by chronic disunity.

    The group made no mention of supporting or arming the rebel Free Syrian Army, as advocated by some Gulf Arab states, but said it would "continue to work on additional appropriate measures with a view to the protection of the Syrian people".

    Western powers have been wary of military intervention in Syria, but Davutoglu sounded an alarm bell, comparing the situation there to the plight of Bosnia in the 1990s.

    "In the case of Bosnia, the international community was too slow ... therefore we lost many people," he said. "In the case of Syria, the international community should not be late as in the case of Bosnia. We have to act without delay."

    The Turkish Minister said: "We have to have one unified position to defend the civilians and we have to have one action plan and initiative to have aid and stop violence in Syria."

    The "Friends of Syria" underscored a commitment to Syria's sovereignty, independence, political unity and territorial integrity, criticizing the government's "widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms".

    They urged Syrians, especially those serving in the military, security agencies and government, "not to be a part of the atrocities committed by the regime".

    The group called for international action to deny arms supplies to the Syrian government, and demanded humanitarian access, including daily two-hour pauses in fighting to allow aid to be delivered.

    Meanwhile, Ankara Anatolia news agency reported that the police used tear gas and batons to disperse a group of about 40 supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who tried to approach the congress hall in Istanbul where the representatives of more than 70 nations gathered to discuss Syria.

    Tensions escalated when another group, consisting of opponents of Assad, confronted the pro-Assad group. Police formed a barrier between the two groups and eventually sent the anti-Assad group away.

    Many Assad supporters held portraits of the Syrian leader. One man waved Chinese and Russian flags in a show of sympathy for the two UN Security Council member nations, which have blocked efforts at the UN to issue a resolution that calls for the departure of Assad.

    [12] Turkey and China to flesh out 'strategic partnership' during Erdogan's forthcoming visit

    Istanbul Sunday's Zaman Online in English (01.04.12) publishes a commentary by Abdullah Bozkurt who evaluates Turkey's ties with China, ahead of Erdogan's forthcoming visit to China:

    "Fast-emerging power China, on the easternmost section of the historic Silk Road trade route, would like to flesh out political ties at the strategic level with another rising power, Turkey, on the westernmost section of the same route.

    At least that was the unified message given by Chinese officials in Beijing on the eve of popular Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's first official visit to China. Erdogan visited China in 2003 as the leader of his party, since at the time he was not formally the Prime Minister. 'We are enthusiastic to develop our partnership with Turkey, not only at the bilateral level but also on a host of regional and global issues,' Jian Lu, counsellor at the Foreign Ministry, told a group of Turkish reporters this week. 'It is a must for us to see deeper cooperation with Turkey on regional and international issues, and we are ready for that,' Lu, whose portfolio covers West Asian and North African affairs, strongly emphasized. According to him, Turkey and China as rich members of the G-20 club, can work together, for example, in getting a bigger voice in international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    'We are both emerging economies, and we need to have more power in shaping the financial structures at the global level,' he added.

    The term "strategic" is not a new term in Sino-Turkish relations. During Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit in October 2010, both Wen and Turkish counterpart Erdogan agreed that their relationship should be upgraded to "strategic partnership." This was the first strategic cooperation agreement China signed in any country within the Western Asia and North Africa region. It showed that the Chinese leadership has been pondering the long-term vision in ties with Turkey. Erdogan's visit will be an occasion to flesh out the strategic concept, the Chinese predict.

    In recent years, there has been a sustained effort on the part of China to resolve issues that are deemed sensitive for Turkey. That includes a burgeoning trade deficit heavily favoring China in trade volume and the status of Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang province. The two countries have taken different approaches with respect to the Syrian crisis; however, no one expects there will be a spillover effect onto bilateral ties. On the controversial Iranian nuclear program, both countries advocate negotiations and dialogue to resolve the conflict. These overtures did not go unreciprocated from the Turkish side, either, as seen by strong messages concerning the "one-China" policy by Turkish officials.

    Chinese officials made clear that they acknowledge the trade deficit as a one of the major problems hampering the development of relations with Turkey. 'We recognize that it is a problem, and we do want to change it to reflect a balanced figure,' Wentao Liang, director general of the Asian Affairs Department at the Ministry of Commerce, has said.

    'We have developed a set of measures to stimulate exports from Turkey,' he said, though he admitted that challenges remain because of the high labour costs in the Turkish market. 'Lack of knowledge and mutual understanding are the major constraints in promoting Turkish products in the Chinese market. But we are encouraging our companies to import more from Turkey,' Liang noted. Chinese officials believe that a number of activities planned for Turkey Culture Year in China in 2013 will help promote Turkish culture here, hoping that it will in turn trigger interest into Turkish products. China has already been celebrating 2012 as China Culture Year in Turkey.

    China is Turkey's largest trade partner in the Far East and its third biggest trade partner after Germany and Russia. According to the Turkish Statistics Institute (Turkstat), the trade volume in 2011 was $24.5 billion, up from $19.3 billion a year earlier. While Chinese exports to Turkey were $22 billion in 2011, its imports from Turkey were only $2.5 billion. Turkey has been working on an action plan to provide incentives to industries that manufacture similar goods to replace Chinese imports. It remains to be seen how effective that policy will prove to be.

    The latest available data for 2012, which covered January, indicated that there is a slight improvement in the balance. Turkey imported $1.6 billion worth of Chinese goods in January this year, which is the same figure for the same month last year. Turkish exports to China increased, however, to $200 million from $164 million in the same period, posting a 22 % increase. Considering that the two countries are hoping to reach $50 billion in 2015 and $100 billion in 2020 in the area of bilateral trade volume, both sides seems to be aware of the urgency in balancing trade.

    (...)

    Chinese officials regret that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Turkey is still a little below the 100,000 mark, saying that Turkey must be continuously be promoted as vacation destination in China. According to Turkey's tourism ministry statistics, 97,000 Chinese tourists came to Turkey in 2011, a 25 % increase over a year earlier. Considering that some 70 million Chinese spend their vacation abroad, the slice Turkey is getting seems to be negligible. Thailand alone receives about 2 million Chinese tourists a year. 'Part of the reason is lack of knowledge,' Liang explained, adding that Chinese do not know much about Turkey. 'The promotional activities that will be done next year as part of Turkey culture year here may help raise awareness of Turkey,' he noted. Turkish Airlines (THY) direct flights from a number of Chinese cities has contributed to the number of tourists visiting Turkey. 'Still cost-wise, Turkey sometimes seems to be an expensive destination for the Chinese,' he warned, urging price slashes on airline fares.

    Overall, on business cooperation in many fields, the Chinese are hopeful that that the visit of Erdogan on April 7 will set the orientation for the future direction of trade relations. It is expected that some bilateral agreements will be signed between the two countries during the visit. 'Since the Turkish delegation will be our guest, we will await their initiatives to tell us where and how to move the trade ties. Then we will make it easier for Turks to accomplish these stated goals,' he explained".

    [13] Non-Muslims not allowed to buy property in Imbros; One step closer to Europe?

    According to Turkish daily Today's Zaman (01.04.12) the Taraf daily claimed on Sunday that Turkey's Greek Orthodox citizens living on the island of Gokceada (Imbros) in the north Aegean cannot buy property on the island.

    The issue emerged when lawyer Erhan Gokce complained in court about officials who put up difficulties before non-Muslims on the island who want to obtain property. He first petitioned Gokceada's Land Registry and Cadastre Department, demanding to know why Muslims can easily buy property on Gokceada while members of the Greek Orthodox community cannot. The Land Registry office has admitted to preventing non-Muslims from buying property, citing a National Security Council (MGK) decision, but refused to give further details. The office said details constituted state secrets and giving out the information might harm national security, foreign relations and national defense. Gokce took the issue to an administrative court in Bursa earlier this year. The court ruled that Gokce has the right to be informed by the bureau about the dubious property sale procedures on the island. However, the Gokceada Land Registry and Cadastre Department appealed the ruling at the Council of State. The office argued in its appeal that both Gokceada and Bozcaada are located in a strategic area in terms of national security.

    [14] Turkey's overall exports up by 8.1% in March

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (01.04.12) reported that according to figures of a union of exporters in Turkey, Turkey's overall exports were up in March 2012 by 8.1% to reach 12.6 billion USD over the same period a year earlier.

    Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) said exports were up 10.5% in the first quarter of 2012 to 34.7 billion USD.

    TIM said exports over the past 12 months increased 15.9% to reach 138.3 billion USD.

    TIM said automotive sector claimed the biggest share in exports in March with 1.9 billion USD and it was followed by chemicals with 1.6 billion USD and ready-wear sector 1.49 billion USD.

    Exports to Libya grew by 658% after a sharp drop due to the Libyan unrest as exports to the European Union countries decreased 3.5%.

    Exports to African countries were up 59% and exports to the Middle East increased 22%. TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION http://www.moi.gov.cy/pio

    /EI


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