AND OTHER MEDIA
1. Erdogan argues that by removing the bridge from the Ledra Street area, Talat cornered the Greek Cypriots.
2. Talat meets with Greek Cypriots who formed a group for supporting the opening of the crossing point in the Ledra Street area.
3. Ercakica says that the UN has begun a new consultation process for the opening of the crossing point in the Ledra Street area.
4. Olli Rehn says that the first concrete step of the EU must be the creation of conditions for direct trade between the Turkish Cypriots and the Union.
5. Reactions for the opening of the crossing point in the Ledra Street area; Akinci: Removing the landmines and demolishing the dangerous buildings is natural.
6. The foundation stone for the new building of the headquarters of illegal TAK news agency was laid yesterday.
7. The number of the “registered foreign workers” increased by 700 % in comparison to 2002.
8. Turkish businessmen entered into Greece having a stamp of the “TRNC” in their passports.
9. The football “national” team of the “TRNC” will visit an African country this month.
B.COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
1. Metin Munir argues that Mr Talat wants to get rid of the Turkish army’s tutelage.
1. Erdogan argues that by removing the bridge from the Ledra Street area, Talat cornered the Greek Cypriots
Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (12.01.07) reports that the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has argued that by removing the bridge from the Ledra Street area, the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat cornered the “Greek Cypriot administration”.
In statements to Turkish NTV television, Mr Erdogan said:
“With the step he made, Mr Talat cornered the Greek Cypriot administration and this gave us one more trump card in the negotiations. Let us not hit ourselves from inside. …If there is something to which we should oppose, this is the Greek Cypriot sector”.
Noting that he does not agree with the criticism on the issue, Mr Erdogan said that Turkey has nothing to gain or lose and added: “But, this has been so much exaggerated as if something is being lost”.
2. Talat meets with Greek Cypriots who formed a group for supporting the opening of the crossing point in the Ledra Street area
Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (12.01.07) reports that the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat met yesterday at his office with a group of Greek Cypriots who formed an initiative under the name “Citizens for Opening of Ledra”, which supports the opening of the crossing point in the Ledra Street area.
The head of the delegation was Mrs Valentina Sofocleous and its members Panayiotis Panayiotou and Michalis Demosthenous. No statement was made regarding the meeting, but it was noted that the first step of the initiative will be a demonstration tomorrow in front of the barricade at Ledra Street to demand the opening of the crossing point.
The march will begin from Eleftheria Square towards the Ledra Street barricade.
3. Ercakica says that the UN has began a new consultation process for the opening of the crossing point in the Ledra Street area
Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (12.01.07) reports that Mr Hasan Ercakica, spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat, announced yesterday that officials of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) began the day before yesterday a new consultation process on the necessary measures for the opening of the crossing point in the Ledra Street area.
In a written statement, Mr Ercakica argued that no Greek Cypriot proposals were submitted to the Turkish Cypriot side either in December 2005 or during the process which began the day before yesterday, as it is alleged by the Greek Cypriots.
Mr Ercakica claimed that what is expected from the Greek Cypriot side now is to demolish its wall and the crossings to start just like in the other crossing points. Mr Brian Kelly, Spokesman of the UNFICYP, confirmed that a process has started on this issue.
4. Olli Rehn says that the first concrete step of the EU must be the creation of conditions for direct trade between the Turkish Cypriots and the Union
Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (12.01.07) reports that Mr Olli Rehn, European Commissioner responsible for the Enlargement, has said that the first concrete step which must be made for the Turkish Cypriot community is the creation of conditions for direct trade between the Turkish Cypriots and the European Union.
Mr Rehn who participated yesterday in a program of Turkish NTV television was asked what kind of repercussions would the starting of direct flights to the occupied areas of Cyprus have, as the British Prime Minister Blair has suggested. Rehn said: “I think that the most important thing at this point is directing our energy towards reaching a comprehensive solution. And we must reach this solution with Cyprus and under the auspices of the United Nations.
Meanwhile, in parallel to this, in the short term we must put an end to the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community. And the first step, the first concrete step which must be made in this direction must be the creation of conditions for direct trade between the Turkish Cypriot community and the rest of the European Union”.
Mr Rehn noted that relating Turkey’s opening its ports to Cyprus with the lifting of the “isolation” of the Turkish Cypriots is wrong and added that Turkey must fully implement the Ankara Protocol.
5. Reactions for the opening of the crossing point in the Ledra Street area; Aknici: Removing the landmines and demolishing the dangerous buildings is natural
Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (12.01.07) reports that Mustafa Akinci, leader of the Peace and Democracy Movement (BDH), has said that the Turkish Cypriots should sit at two tables and talk with the Greek Cypriots on the one hand and with Turkey on the other.
Addressing yesterday the “assembly”, Mr Akinci noted that removing the landmines and demolishing the dangerous buildings is natural for the opening of the crossing point in the Ledra Street area. He stressed that the picture which exists at the moment is that while there is a demand by the Greek Cypriot side for dialogue, the Turkish side does not go to the table.
Mr Akinci argued that undertaking an initiative and achieving a meeting, does not mean that the answer will be positive to everything which is demanded. He noted that the reasonable demands could be realized and the gate could be opened through the UN.
If this cannot take place due to unreasonable views, then those who are responsible will be exposed to the world, he added. Mr Akinci said also that the issue of “article” 10 of the “constitution” must be discussed between the Turkish officials and the Turkish Cypriots and asked for the reshaping of the relations between the two sides.
Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRISLI newspaper (12.01.07) reports that the developments regarding the crossing point in the Ledra Street area was the main issue on the agenda of the “assembly” yesterday.
Addressing the “body”, Ozkan Murat, self-styled Minister of Internal Affairs, said that the Mayor of Nicosia Eleni Mavrou has stated that she could repair the street in 24 hours if there is political will.
Mr Murat noted that they could not refrain from discussing “article” 10 of the “constitution” for democratization and added that they could also not ignore the reality that the external security of the Turkish Cypriots is related with the Turkish army. He said that “article” 10 and the internal security should be discussed and that some changes are on their agenda.
Meanwhile, illegal Bayrak television (12.01.07) broadcast the following on the issue:
“The main opposition National Unity Party has claimed that an artificial crisis was deliberately created on the issue of the Lokmaci footbridge of which President Mehmet Ali Talat was responsible for.
Speaking during the party’s routine weekly press conference at the Republic’s Assembly, the UBP leader Tahsin Ertugruloglu said that an artificial crisis had been created to change the agenda.
Accusing the President of being responsible for the crisis, the UBP leader said President Talat had ordered the removal of the footbridge to unveil the Greek Cypriot Side’s negative stance on the issue but expressed the view that in reality it was not possible to speak about ‘good will’ in international relations.
He claimed that the crisis had created a situation as if a struggle has been going on between the TRNC and Turkey over sovereignty and identity”.
6. The foundation stone for the new building of the headquarters of illegal TAK news agency was laid yesterday
Turkish Cypriot daily YENI DUZEN newspaper (12.01.07) reports that the foundation stone for the new building which will be the headquarters of illegal TAK news agency was laid yesterday in the occupied part of Nicosia. The foundation stone was laid by Ferdi Sabit Soyer, self-styled Prime Minister, and Turkekul Kurttekin, so-callled Turkish ambassador to occupied Nicosia.
Mr Kurttekin said that the completion of the new building of TAK will be a new example for the cooperation between Turkey and the “TRNC”. The building, which will be constructed with the aid of Turkey, will have two storeys and it will be covering an area of about three thousand square meters. It is estimated to cost two million New Turkish Liras.
7. The number of the “registered foreign workers” increased by 700 % in comparison to 2002
Turkish Cypriot daily YENI DUZEN newspaper (12.01.07) reports that the self-styled Ministry of Labour and Social Security registered 36.000 foreign workers in 2006. The number of the foreign workers who pay contribution to the social insurances increased to 26.500 in the same period.
The paper notes that in 2006 the “ministry” exerted great efforts to register the workers who had not been registered. As of December 2006 the number of the active insured workers reached 64.874.
In 2002 the number of the foreign workers who had been employed after having secured a work permit was 3.754. This number increased by 700 % in 2006, reports the paper.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily VATAN newspaper (12.01.07) reports that the Turkish Minister of Labour and Social Security, Murat Basesgioglu has arrived in the occupied areas of Cyprus in order to participate in the ceremony of the signing of a “protocol” regarding the “Professional Education and Employment Project”, which aims at educating workers and technicians for the constructions sector of the “TRNC”.
The “protocol” will be signed today between Mr Basesgioglu and the self-styled Minster of Labour and Social Security, Sonay Adem.
8. Turkish businessmen entered into Greece having a stamp of the “TRNC” in their passports
Turkish Cypriot daily VATAN newspaper (12.01.07) reports that, while the issue of the bridge in Ledra Street area has been turned into a crisis between Ankara and the Turkish Cypriots, Turkey “has silently scored a goal against Greece on the issue of the TRNC”. Two Turks entered into Greece from the Rhodes Island Border Gate having in their passports a stamp of the “TRNC”.
The paper notes that the Greek Minister responsible for the Aegean, Mrs Antonia Pavlides knew about this and gave permission to the two Turks to enter the country.
The incident occurred on 8 December, when a delegation of about 100 Turkish businessmen who were accompanying the Turkish Minister of State Kursat Tuzmen visited Rhodes within the framework of increasing the cooperation between the Greek islands and the Turkish coasts. Mrs Pavlides gave her permission upon the insistence of Mr Tuzmen, notes VATAN.
9. The football “national” team of the “TRNC” will visit an African country this month
Turkish Cypriot daily GUNES newspaper (12.01.07) reports that the football “national” team of the “TRNC” has received an official invitation to visit an African country and the “Football Federation” of the breakaway regime is preparing for the trip. The country which invited the “TRNC” is a member of FIFA, notes the paper adding that the trip will take place this month. The paper does not name the country.
B.COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
1. Metin Munir argues that Mr Talat wants to get rid of the Turkish army’s tutelage
Turkish daily MILLIYET newspaper (09.01.07) published the following commentary by Metin Munir under the title: "This is how the Lokmaci crisis erupted":
“Mehmet Ali Talat wants to rid Cyprus of the [Turkish] army's tutelage. The military tells him: "Not so easy."
This is the essence of the "overpass crisis" that has erupted in Cyprus when you strip away the details and the noise around it.
Before going into details let me also note the loser in the crisis: the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
For years, Turkey expended much effort and money to persuade the world to accept the TRNC as an independent state. The statement issued by the General Staff last Saturday handed a major trump card to circles who have argued the exact opposite. The statement created the impression that the TRNC is a military zone rather than an independent state. It also portrayed TRNC President Talat as a "leader who does not have the power to have a five-meter-long overpass dismantled."
Democratic Party leader Serdar Denktas says: "We lost substantial ground. Turkish Cypriots do not have the authority to have even an overpass dismantled. This has become obvious."
Journalist Hasan Kahvecioglu says: "This symbolized the sinking of the Turkish Cypriots to the bottom."
A wall divides into two the part of Nicosia within the walls. One of the streets that this wall divides into two is Ledra Street, or Uzun Yol [Long Street] in Turkish. This narrow and not-so-long street was the main shopping area of the city before the start of intercommunal fighting. It was very similar to what Istiklal Boulevard [in Istanbul] was in the past.
Last year, the dismantling of the wall in this zone, which is known as the Lokmaci Barricade on the Turkish Cypriot side, and the opening of a crossing gate between the two sides was discussed. However, Turkish troops patrol the streets that run parallel to the wall. If the wall was torn down, civilians would cross the path of the soldiers on patrol.
To prevent that, a steel overpass was built. The civilians would cross via the overpass, and the soldiers would pass underneath it. This would solve the problem of civilians and soldiers crossing paths.
Subtitle: Greek Cypriots objected
The Greek Cypriot side did not like the overpass idea. They wanted Ledra Street to be opened with a broader vision for the area. They wanted the demilitarization of Nicosia and the removal of any flags and other symbols that made the area around the wall look like an international border. They wanted buildings that had not been used since 1974 to be repaired to make sure that they would not collapse on pedestrians. They argued that the erection of the overpass enhanced rather than reduced the military character of the wall. They insisted that the wall would not come down if the overpass was not dismantled and the other conditions were not met.
The Turkish Cypriot side argued that Greek Cypriot President Papadopoulos was being disingenuous and that he would not allow the opening of a gate even if the overpass is dismantled.
In truth, Papadopoulos' demands have a reasonable aspect. According to UN statistics, the segment of the Turkish-Greek Cypriot border that is most prone to incidents is the area within the walls of Nicosia. By "incident" they mean acts such as insults hurled across the wall, throwing of stones, and pointing of loaded guns. [The UN believes that] the removal of soldiers and barricades from the area will eliminate tensions.
The UN reports that there have been 12 million crossings between the two sides since the opening of border gates in April 2003. Virtually no public order incidents have occurred in connection with these crossings. This suggests that the tendency for physical conflict between the two communities is virtually nonexistent. One can safely conclude from this that the demilitarization of the border zone in Nicosia will not lead to any confrontation.
The status of the Lokmaci gate remained in abeyance until Talat decided to put the issue back on the agenda.
This did not cause any problems until the issue was discussed at the highest levels at a meeting chaired by Talat in Nicosia on 28 December. The prime minister and foreign minister of the KKTC, the Turkish ambassador in the KKTC, the commander of the [Turkish] army corps in Cyprus, and the commander of the Peace Forces in Cyprus attended the meeting. According to information I obtained from official sources, the Turkish side said at the meeting that "it sees no military drawbacks" to the dismantling of the overpass.
Subtitle: Talat's letter
A few days later, Talat wrote a letter to the new UN Secretary-General declaring that the overpass will be dismantled. The UN spokesman in Nicosia acknowledged the receipt of the said letter. The public was informed about the issue that same day. That created glamour in Ankara. Apparently, Turkish officials in Nicosia had not informed or persuaded Ankara adequately.
One source in Nicosia said: "Prompted by the wind blowing from Ankara, the military and the Turkish embassy expressed strong opposition [to the dismantling of the overpass]. The situation got ugly."