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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review, 15-01-07

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. 03/15 06-07.01.15

[A] TURKISH CYPRIOT / TURKISH PRESS

  • [01] Turkey issues a new NAVTEX for oil and natural gas explorations in Cyprus' EEZ
  • [02] Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa Vessel to resume exploration activities
  • [03] Eroglu: TPAO will continue its seismic explorations
  • [04] Erk: The two leaders must return to the negotiation table
  • [05] Ozersay launched his election campaign
  • [06] US backtracks on arms deal with Turkey, denies transfer of warships
  • [07] An opinion poll puts Eroglu in clear lead by 46%
  • [08] Banner used during the demonstration of the "animal breeders and producers union" calls on Erdogan to come and save the protesters
  • [09] Consumer price index rate in the occupied area of Cyprus was 6.49% in 2014
  • [10] Erdogan: EU needs to reassess its policy towards Turkey
  • [11] Davutoglu will attend WEF summit in Davos
  • [12] Corruption commission votes against the referral of ex-ministers for trial; Opposition condemns the decision
  • [13] Turkish court rules against scrapping election threshold
  • [14] A Dutch journalist released after being detained at home in Turkey
  • [15] Columnist comments on the arrest of the Dutch journalist

  • [A] TURKISH CYPRIOT / TURKISH PRESS

    [01] Turkey issues a new NAVTEX for oil and natural gas explorations in Cyprus' EEZ

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (07.01.15) reports that Turkey issued yesterday around noon a new NAVTEX on behalf of the "TRNC", breakaway regime in the occupied area of Cyprus, according to which the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa vessel will hold seismic explorations for oil and natural gas in the Republic of Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) during the period between 6 January and 15 April, 2015. Barbaros will be accompanied by M/V Bravo Supporter and M/W Kofso vessels. According to the announcement, the explorations will be carried out in the area south of Limassol "in a broad corridor".

    Referring to the issue, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (07.01.15) reports that "Barbaros continues its way" and Turkey escalates tension in the area. The paper recalls that it had been said that Turkey would have withdrawn the Barbaros vessel by the end of the year (2014) and notes that "Turkey failed to meet the expectations" and "Barbaros will continue its activities in the area".

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa Vessel to resume exploration activities

    According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 06.01.15), the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa seismic research vessel is to continue its exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, the so-called foreign ministry of "TRNC" (editor's note: the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus) has announced.

    The seismic research vessel which had been anchored at the occupied port of Famagusta awaiting further instructions from the Turkish Petroleum Consortium departed on Tuesday.

    A written statement issued by the "TRNC foreign ministry" stated that the Turkish Petroleum Consortium will be issuing a new NAVTEX or marine advisory in response to the Greek Cypriot side's decision to extend its own unilateral drilling activities off the coast of Cyprus.

    "Despite all our efforts of goodwill we see that the Greek Cypriot administration (editor's note: the Government of the Republic of Cyprus) is insistent on continuing its unilateral activities on hydrocarbon exploration and drilling. Within this framework, the Greek Cypriot administration has extended its drilling activities to new blocks until the 29th of March. More importantly the Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades in his January 5th dated statement has continued to insist on preconditions for returning to the negotiating table, stating that the Turkish Cypriots could only be involved in the management and exploitation of the island's natural resources once a settlement is reached on the island", the statement read.

    It said that in light of all these developments it is out of the question for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side to remain silent over the Greek Cypriot administration's attempts to ignore the legitimate rights and interest of the Turkish Cypriot "people".

    "As a result, the license issued to the Turkish Petroleum Consortium will be extended" the statement said, adding that Turkey will be announcing the decision on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot side later on Tuesday.

    "Within this framework, the Turkish Cypriot side in collaboration and cooperation with Turkey will continue its own exploration activities as part of efforts to protect the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people. However, the Turkish Cypriot side continues to believe that cooperation between the two sides for the exploration and management of any hydrocarbons is the best path to pursue. In line with this view, the Turkish Cypriot side declares that its 2011-2012 proposals on this issue still stand valid. We would like to use this opportunity once again to urge the Greek Cypriot leadership to abandon its unilateral actions, to return to the negotiating table and to help create a favourable atmosphere in line with the Joint Declaration towards achieving a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus" the statement concludes.

    [03] Eroglu: TPAO will continue its seismic explorations

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (07.01.15) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu has said that the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) will continue its seismic explorations in the areas for which it had been authorized by the self-styled government of the breakaway regime in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus. In statements to illegal TAK news agency, Eroglu noted that "government officials" and "motherland Turkey" have made the necessary evaluations and Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa seismic explorations vessel will the soonest start its work in a new area.

    Asked to comment on President Anastasiades' recent statements on the issue, Eroglu alleged that with these statements President Anastasiades once more disrupts the "multi-sided efforts" exerted under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide for the resumption of the negotiations. Eroglu claimed that the Turkish Cypriot side has submitted through Eide a proposal for the unconditional resumption of the negotiations after 31 December 2014, when both sides would interrupt their work. Eroglu argued that the Turkish side made no statement on the issue until 5 January 2015, because they had promised this to Eide.

    Referring to the statement issued by President Anastasiades after the meeting held the day before yesterday with the political party leaders, Eroglu described this statement as "mocking Eide and the third parties" and added: "He has again put as precondition for us to accept the unilateral activities they are holding under the title of the so-called 'Republic of Cyprus' and the Greek Cypriot sovereignty in order to return to the table. While sovereignty lays in the substance of the Cyprus problem, Mr Anastasiades is trying to camouflage his intention to run away from the negotiations, in which we were about to pass to the give and take, and therefore to avoid the solution, by putting forward this precondition which he knows that neither we as Turkish Cypriot side nor motherland Turkey will ever accept [?]".

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Erk: The two leaders must return to the negotiation table

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (06.01.15) reported that Kutlay Erk, the general secretary of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) called on for the re-launching of the Cyprus talks and stated that the two leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have not the luxury to abandon the negotiation table.

    Erk who was speaking on a television program of Sim TV, stated that the solution is much delayed in Cyprus and that a settlement must be found for the sake of all Cypriots.

    He said that the conditions put by President Nicos Anastasides to return to the negotiation table cannot be met since this would mean that Turkey officially recognizes the Republic of Cyprus. "This is not possible", Erk stated. He also called on the Greek Cypriot parties to put pressure to the President in order to return to the negotiation table.

    He said that the solution of the Cyprus problem and of all the issues related to it, is the main concern of CTP; however he said that the Turkish Cypriots also face other problems, the most important of which is unemployment and the economic crisis. He said that neither of each problems will be solved if Eroglu is elected again and expressed the belief that CTP's "candidate" Sibel Sibel will win the "presidential elections". He also claimed that Turkey has no influence to the "presidential elections".

    Erk said that the new NAVTEX will increase the tension in Cyprus, adding Erk stated that the international community will decrease the tension of an armed conflict or of a military intervention, which as he said is not likely.

    [05] Ozersay launched his election campaign

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi newspaper (07.01.15) reports that the independent "presidential candidate" Kudret Ozersay held a press conference in the occupied Lefkosia officially launching his campaign.

    Ozersay explained the reason of his "candidacy" and said that he aimed to reinstate "the self confidence that the Turkish Cypriots have lost over the years". He said that the "president" had many duties and authorities deemed by the "constitution" and added that by not using these authorities it is equal with not fulfilling the duty.

    He said that even if there was even a 1% chance for a solution to be found to Cyprus problem he thought it was worth trying and showing the highest amount of effort towards that goal.? He added that he wanted this duty to be carried out by a "president" who knows what he is doing.

    Ozersay also added that he believed in the principles of a solution and that a solution should be a bizonal bicommunal federal solution based on equality with ?a new federal state.

    Touching upon the natural resources issue ? Ozersay said that a solution could be found through 'part by part' solutions similar to the European steel and coal union that led to the EU itself. He also said that there is certain cooperation between the two sides such as culture, missing persons, heritage and religious affairs.

    ?He said that if he was to be elected he is determined to regulate the relations between Turkey and the breakaway regime and vowed that the relations should be defined by an "international agreement" to avoid problems that occur between the two "countries". He added that the "constitution's temporary Article 10" could also be lifted through an international defence agreement with Turkey underlying the fact that the situation in 1974 is not entirely the case today.

    Ozersay during his press conference said that the faced-out town of Varosha was also on his agenda and he is planning for the city to be first taken out of its status as a military zone and open it for residency and investment under Turkish Cypriot administration. He said that the Greek Cypriots wouldn't be troubled with this due to the opportunity for them to be able to return to their properties.

    [06] US backtracks on arms deal with Turkey, denies transfer of warships

    Turkish daily Sabah (online, 06.01.15) reported that the U.S. has shelved the handover of two leftover frigates to Turkey as the U.S. Congress excluded Turkey from a bill seeking permission to transfer vessels to foreign countries citing Turkey's sour relations with Israel and the latest gas row with Cyprus. The move is interpreted by foreign policy experts as an action that will lead Turkey to think twice before getting into new arms purchases.

    Signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama, the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2013 authorizes the transfer of the frigates Curts and McClusky to Mexico on a grant basis. The act also authorizes the sale of the frigates Taylor, Gary, Carr and Elrod to Taiwan, Defense News reported.

    In the 2012 version of the Naval Transfer Act, Turkey was to receive two Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates, the USS Halyburton and the USS Thach, which are being decommissioned by the U.S. navy. However, some members of Congress objected to the transfer of the naval frigates to Turkey, mainly citing the county's strained relations with Israel and Cyprus in the Mediterranean.

    The decision from Congress came after Turkey made various trade agreements with Russia and started looking for alterative sellers when purchasing heavy military products. Turkey is negotiating a tender for a long-range air defence missile system with the U.S. and France after eliminating China from its possible suppliers.

    The offer to transfer the vessels was not a result of a Turkish demand, but the U.S. denying the planned transfer could make Turkey look for alternatives in its planned expansion of military craft.

    "I believe we should hold off on sending powerful warships to Turkey and encourage the government in Ankara to take a less belligerent approach to their neighbours," Congressman Eliot Engel reportedly said during the debate, an approach that Ankara strongly opposes. On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed some Western powers for what he called their defamation campaign against Turkey and said: "We are not a country that you can point a finger at and scold."

    Members of Congress particularly emphasized Turkey's tension with Cyprus over energy sources off the divided island and its pressure against natural gas exploration by U.S. companies in the region. "Turkey has recently threatened legitimate Cypriot and Israeli efforts to cooperation on energy exploration," another congressman, Brad Sherman, was quoted as saying.

    [07] An opinion poll puts Eroglu in clear lead by 46%

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris Postasi Daily News (online, 07.01.15), the "Girne American University's" (GAU) "Kyrenia Research Institute" ("GAE") announced the results of its annual 'Expectations Research' with an additional part regarding the upcoming "presidential elections" declaring 46% public support to current Turkish Cypriot leader and "candidate" Dervis Eroglu giving him the lead of 16% over CTP (Republican Turkish Party) "candidate" Siber Siber, who has 30%.

    The "GAE" published its annual expectations survey ?results with a press conference today at the Turkish Cypriot Chamber Of Commerce.

    Addressing the press conference, Dr Vehbi, said that this survey was extra special regarding the presidential race, however emphasised that this survey was not commissioned by any candidate and it was totally scientific and had no political objective.

    According to the poll, the people trusted the media more than they did last year and trustworthiness of the media has risen from 5.3% to 7.8% compared with the previous year.

    According to the survey, 15.5% of the people are not going to vote in the "presidential elections". He also added a result suggesting that 40% of the people said no to a "presidential system", alongside the undecided of around 30%.

    According to the poll, the public support for Eroglu was 46%, followed by Sibel Siber at 30%, Mustafa Akinci at 17% and Kudret Ozersay at 7%.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis (07.01.15) reports that according to the survey, the non-solution of the Cyprus problem is one of the most important problems in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus.

    [08] Banner used during the demonstration of the "animal breeders and producers union" calls on Erdogan to come and save the protesters

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (07.01.15) reports about the demonstrations conducted in the last few days in the breakaway regime by the "animal breeders and producers union".

    According to statements by the "union's" chairman Mustafa Naimogullari, the "union" is protesting against the big cuts in the "2015 budget" for agriculture, which as a result will affect negatively the producers and their development, since smaller compensation will be given to the producers and no solution would be found in the various problems they face.

    The "union's" members gathered with their tractors in front of the "assembly" the previous days and in front of the "ministry of finance" and stated that they will continue their protest in the coming days as well until their demands are met.

    The paper writes that a banner used by the protesters drew the attention of the journalists since the phase "Our President (Tayyip Erdogan) come and save us" was written on it. Commenting on the issue, Yeni Duzen's general publishing director and columnist Cenk Mutluyakali, criticized the protesters and wondered how Erdogan could save the producers. "It is as if Erdogan would say 'we sent them water, we sent them electricity, we sent them population, let's sent them milk as well", Mutluyakali wrote noting that what the producers need is no money but motivation.

    The paper also publishes statements by Kutlay Erk, the general secretary of the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) who noted that the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu is behind the protestrrs' actions. Erk also stated that the "union's" members are motivated by the fact that there is an "election period ahead", therefore they can take whatever they ask for from the "government'.

    In addition, Kibris Postasi (07.01.15) writes that the protesters were not happy about the banner, indicating that it was not the protest which made the headlines but the banner, which drew attention away from the real issue.

    [09] Consumer price index rate in the occupied area of Cyprus was 6.49% in 2014

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (07.01.15) reports that the consumer price index rate for 2014 was 6.49% in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus. According to the so-called state planning organization ("DPO"), the index was reduced by 0.44% during last month and increased by 1.60% during the second half of 2014. The index's total increase in 2013 was 10.22% and the increase for the first six months reached 4.89%.

    (I/Ts.)

    [10] Erdogan: EU needs to reassess its policy towards Turkey

    According to Turkish daily Sabah (online, 06.01.15), Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his address to envoys yesterday at the seventh Ambassadors Conference in Ankara, called on the Turkish envoys to be aware of the black propaganda purported against Turkey by some foreign media outlets. "You should stay strong against the yellow journalism in those countries. You are the representatives of the Turkish nation, you are the mission chiefs. You should never, ever make concessions," said the President. He further said that the EU, which Turkey has been trying to join for decades, must revise its policies towards Turkey. "They have stalled us for a long time, they have caused us to lose time. It is a pitiful situation that the EU tries to give Turkey a lesson while it needs to realize the dangers and threat [against itself]," said the President. Turkey has been sitting at the negotiation table with the EU longer than any other candidate. The country handed its application to Brussels in 1987 and the accession talks began in 2005. However, negotiations hit a stalemate in 2007 due to Ankara's position on the Cyprus issue and opposition from "Southern Cyprus" (editor's note: the Republic of Cyprus), France and Germany.

    On the Syrian civil war, which started in 2011 and displaced millions of Syrians, the Turkish president highlighted that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) threat in the region stems from the Bashar Assad regime and the discriminative policies by the then-Iraqi government. Referring to the anti-ISIS coalition, led by the U.S. to eliminate the ISIS threat in the region, Erdogan said that it is not possible to end ISIS only through air operations and that boots on the ground is a must.

    [11] Davutoglu will attend WEF summit in Davos

    According to Turkish daily Sabah (online, 06.01.15), Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that he will be attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit in Davos, Switzerland to represent Turkey. His attendance comes six years after the incident when then Prime Minister and current President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, abandoned a panel with Israel's then President Shimon Peres in protest of the invasion of the Gaza Strip.

    Davutoglu will also visit Germany from January 11-12 and then travel to the U.K. during the week of January 18. He is expected to continue his visits after leaving Davos, traveling to Brussels in the last week of January.

    Through the planned diplomatic visits in January, Davutoglu aims to intensify efforts to eliminate smear campaigns and wide range of propaganda against Turkey.

    Additionally, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday at the Seventh Annual Ambassadors' Conference in Ankara that "Turkey is experiencing some unfair practices and incorrect approaches due to the bias coming from our European friends towards Turkey's membership. While such short-sighted approaches occur, we are trying and taking steps to regain the enthusiasm about the EU accession process from the public."

    Meanwhile, according to the Prime Ministry, Davutoglu will attend the WEF summit in Davos as a keynote speaker at a special session on January 24. He will attend Davos as the current G20 president. The summit aims to address four key issues including growth and stability, society and security, innovation and industry and crisis and cooperation in the world.

    [12] Corruption commission votes against the referral of ex-ministers for trial; Opposition condemns the decision

    According to Turkish daily Today's Zaman (online, 05.01.15), Turkey's Parliamentary Commission established to look into claims of corruption against four former Cabinet Ministers has voted against referring them to a top court for trial amidst allegations against the government placing heavy pressure on ruling party members of the commission.

    Nine ruling party members of the 14-member parliamentary Corruption Investigation Commission voted, as expected, against referring the four former Ministers to the Constitutional Court in a session of the commission on Monday.

    The remaining five opposition members of the commission voted in favour of a referral to the Constitutional Court, which is called the Supreme State Council when it tries top state officials.

    Members of the commission expressed their opinion in an open ballot voting separately for each of the former Ministers whether they should appear before the top court.

    The four former Ministers -- Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, Interior Minister Muammer Guler, EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis and Environment and Urban Planning Minister Bayraktar -- left their posts under claims of corruption a week after a graft probe went public on Dec. 17, 2013.

    On the same issue, the leaders of the opposition on Tuesday blasted nine members of the parliamentary Corruption Investigation Commission who voted against sending four former Ministers to the top court to face trial, with main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu calling them "sell-outs."

    Talking in his weekly address to the party caucus on Tuesday, Kilicdaroglu said, "These Deputies [members of the corruption commission] are Deputies who have taken it upon themselves to be the protectors of thieves."

    "What kind of a conscience do you have? How can you rent out your consciences? How can you sell them? Is it this easy to be the protectors of thieves? You have sold your conscience, sold your morals, sold your beliefs, sold your faith," Kilicdaroglu said, strongly criticizing the commission members from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

    MHP leader Devlet Bahceli also criticized the government in his weekly address to the party committee on Tuesday, saying, "As Prime Minister [Ahmet] Davutoglu is busy ripping off arms like actors in horror films; those ministers with piles of evidence [of corruption and bribery] against them have been protected and the national conscience has been desecrated."

    Speaking directly to the four ex-ministers charged with corruption and bribery, Bahceli said the Ministers who were saved from being sent to the Supreme State Council will eventually be forced to face the consequences. "Turkey will no longer carry the weight of AK Party's systematic blows to justice and morality," he said. "No one can wave their finger at Parliament, which is the reflection of the national will," he added.

    Stating that the AK Party Deputies in the investigation commission were taken into "persuasion rooms", the opposition leader said, "A government that is illegitimate from head to toe cannot, must not, run the country."

    [13] Turkish court rules against scrapping election threshold

    According to Ankara Anatolia news agency (06.01.15), Turkey's Constitutional Court has rejected on Tuesday appeals to scrap a controversial election threshold, which stipulates that political parties need to secure 10% nationally to gain representation in parliament.

    The court said in a 14-2 majority decision that it had rejected the individual submissions due to a "lack of jurisdiction," meaning it did not consider having the authority to hear the cases. The head of the Court, Hasim Kilic, did not participate in the vote. The top court's decision comes ahead of the general elections in June.

    Under the current system, political parties in Turkey must have at least 10% of votes nationwide to gain parliamentary representation ? the highest such threshold in Europe.

    The International Crisis Group's Turkey director, Hugh Pope, had recently told The Anadolu Agency that lowering the threshold would encourage more people to choose candidates they actually wanted to vote for, ending the common feeling people have that their votes may be "wasted".

    "It will allow the HDP (Peoples' Democratic Party, a pro-Kurdish group) to enter party politics normally and build itself up as an institution," he added.

    The HDP is the closest party to the 10% limit, as it places independent candidates to circumvent the threshold in the east and southeast of Turkey; these independent Deputies later founded a group in parliament.

    In 2007 the European Court of Human Rights had ruled that Turkey's election threshold did not violate the right to free elections and was not a violation of human rights, but it did add that it was "desirable" to lower it.

    [14] A Dutch journalist released after being detained at home in Turkey

    According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (online, 06.01.15), Frederike Geerdink, a Diyarbak?r-based Dutch journalist, has been released after being detained by police in the south-eastern province of Diyarbak?r on Jan. 6.

    Geerdink had earlier stated on her Twitter account that eight police officers were searching her house and would take her to the local police station. "Terrorism police just searched my house, team of 8 guys," Geerdink tweeted on Jan. 6. "They take me to the station now. Charge: propaganda for terrorist organization," she added.

    The Justice Ministry said in a written statement on Jan. 6 that there had been three different complaints to the Ankara police accusing the journalist of making PKK propaganda through her Twitter account, after which the Diyarbak?r Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation.

    Geerdink could not be found at her address on three separate occasions, but was detained on Jan. 6 in order to give her testimony regarding a court ruling, the statement also said. She was released on the prosecutor's orders after giving her testimony, it added.

    Geerdink's announcement of her detention came hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had declared at a meeting of ambassadors in Ankara that "there is no freer press, in Europe or elsewhere in the world, than in Turkey".

    Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders was also attending the 7th Ambassadors' Conference in Ankara when he heard about the detention of Geerdink.

    Koenders said he was "shocked" by the detention of the journalist on the official Twitter account of Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that he would discuss the situation with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

    "Shocked by arrest of @fgeerdink. Will personally discuss this here in Ankara with my Turkish colleague Cavusoglu," he wrote. Koenders also warned Turkey over press freedom four days before arriving in Turkey, reports said.

    [15] Columnist comments on the arrest of the Dutch journalist

    Columnist Serkan Demirtas, writing in Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (online, 07.01.15), under the title "How the Dutch FM learned about the arrest of the Dutch journalist", comments on the arrest of the Dutch journalist in the following commentary:

    "I was at a lunch with the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, Bert Koenders, along with two colleagues, at the residence of the Dutch Ambassador to Turkey, Ron Keller, when news broke about the detention of Dutch journalist Frederike Geerdink in Diyarbak?r.

    Ahmed Dadou, the spokesperson of Minister Koenders, rushed into the dining room in a very anxious way to inform the Minister, the Ambassador, and the guests about the detention of Geerdink. 'Terrorism police just searched my house, team of 8 guys. They take me to the station now. Charge: 'propaganda for terrorist organization',' read the tweet Geerdink posted at 1.33 p.m., leaving all of us in the room shocked.

    (?)

    The astonishment could easily be read on Minister Koenders' face, as he got the news precisely as the roundtable discussion was focused on the state of freedom of expression in Turkey and the importance of a free media for the democratic development of countries. "FM #Koenders: shocked by arrest of @fgeerdink. Will personally discuss this here in Ankara with my Turkish colleague Cavusoglu," tweeted the Dutch Foreign Ministry in an immediate reaction on Dec. 6.

    The lunch with Minister Koenders was an informal one and held in a brainstorming format. But it should not go unnoticed that the detention of Geerdink is a development that speaks for itself in regards to the state of free media in Turkey, as it took place on the very same day the Dutch Foreign Minister was in the Turkish capital to address the Turkish Ambassadors gathered for their annual conference.

    Koenders was invited by the Turkish Foreign Ministry as the guest of honour, along with other top international figures like the Foreign Ministers from Argentina and Nigeria, as well as Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO. They were all in Ankara to address the Turkish Ambassadors, who were gathered for a conference titled 'New Turkey: Continuity and Change in Foreign Policy'.

    There's no doubt that Koenders raised the arrest of the Dutch journalist in his bilateral talks with both Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and EU Minister Volkan Bozkir late on the afternoon of Dec. 6, in the way that any Foreign Minister would do. After the talks, he was scheduled to deliver his statement to the Turkish Ambassadors at around 9.00 p.m., after the Hurriyet Daily News went to print.

    (?)

    In his long speech to the Turkish Ambassadors, given at the same time Geerdink was being arrested, Erdogan claimed that Turkey harbours the freest media in the world. Erdogan also tasked Turkish Ambassadors with the duty of standing against a growing smear campaign against Turkey carried out by the Western media and of nixing anti-Turkish propaganda.

    A Turkish Ambassador recently told me how their job had become more stressful and difficult, as they found themselves in a defensive position, just like in the 1990s. It also coincides with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's planned visit to various European capitals, including Berlin, London and Brussels, in January, where he is expected to seek ways to repair Turkey's broken image. It's also known that EU Minister Bozkir is working on a new freedom of expression package, which would be announced by PM Davutoglu during his visit to Brussels in late January or early February.

    It's getting increasingly difficult every day for Turkish diplomats to explain the developments in Turkey to their counterparts in the West. It's also getting more difficult for Turkey's friends in Europe to insist on a continued engagement with Turkey, given the circumstances. Last but not least, it's getting much more difficult for national and international journalists based in Turkey to do their job in a free, objective and brave way." TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION

    http://www.moi.gov.cy/pio


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