Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu on Saturday submitted a four-item proposal to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to resolve the spat with Greek Cyprus over drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.
The proposal starts with a bid for both sides to simultaneously suspend oil and gas exploration, a move that seemed to show Turkey's reluctance to start drilling work in the Mediterranean.
In the first item of the new proposal submitted to Ban, Eroğlu made an offer to the Greek side to "suspend the oil and natural gas exploration simultaneously until a comprehensive solution is found to the Cyprus problem."
If this is not going to happen, Eroğlu offered to "set up an ad-hoc committee shaped by representatives of both peoples" on the divided island.
"We shall give some authority to the committee, such as [authority over] explorations, agreements and licenses dependent on written approval of both sides, and we will negotiate the ratio of sharing the riches that will be found," Eroğlu said.
Thirdly, the Turkish Cypriot leader proposed, "We shall use the income to finance the comprehensive talks," adding that "the adoption of the plan shall not harm the positions of either side."
Eroğlu said Ban was pleased with the proposal, in which he repeated Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's earlier call for the two sides to simultaneously renounce the energy explorations. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey supported the new proposal that was presented to the UN chief.
"If the two parties renounce natural gas exploration, we will accept it," Erdoğan told Ban late Thursday on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly in New York, asking the UN chief to intervene with the Greek Cypriot government in Nicosia and urge them to stop their offshore explorations.
Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Hüseyin Özgürgün said Sunday that required coordinates had been set and drilling for oil would soon begin in northern Cyprus. If the Greek Cypriot administration sees Turkish Cypriots as a minority on the island and carries out exploration work unilaterally, Turkish Cypriots can begin exploration in the north of the island, Özgürgün said.
Richard Stone, a leader of Jewish communities in the United States, meanwhile told the daily newspaper Kathimerini on Sunday that Turkey's actions to prevent the gas and oil drilling efforts of Greek Cyprus and Israel in the East Mediterranean is "a reason for war." He said Washington is closely monitoring the recent developments on the issue.
Ankara Prepares to Penalize Syria
Turkey's sanctions against Syria, which will likely be announced in early October, will be as comprehensive as possible and will be shaped so as not to hurt the country's people, Turkish officials have suggested.
The measures they highlighted focused on those dealing with bilateral economic, military, political and banking ties. The expected sanctions will come following an arms embargo against defiant President Bashar al-Assad's administration that aims at weakening his dictatorial rule.
"This process [of ousting al-Assad] might be extended a little bit more but sooner or later in Syria, if the people make a different decision, that decision is going to be catered to. As in Egypt, as in Tunisia, as in Libya: People want to be free," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an interview with CNN International in New York over the weekend.
"If you're going to act against fundamental rights and liberties, and the law, you will lose your position in my heart as my brother and my friend," Erdoğan said, referring to al-Assad. "I was very patient. Patience, patience, patience. And then I cracked."
Turkey's first sanction was the seizure of a ship carrying weapons to Syria. "Turkey has detained a ship flying the Syrian flag and carrying weapons," Erdoğan said Saturday in New York.
In Brussels, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç hinted that more than one arms shipment had been seized by Turkey upon notification from the Turkish intelligence organization, the Anatolia news agency reported.
"Turkey has expressed its accord in implementing some of the economic and military sanctions imposed by the United States by considering that they would be useful," Arınç said.
The sanctions Arınç mentioned will be likely be announced later this week, following Erdoğan's return to Turkey and his visit to Syrian refugees in Hatay, on the Syrian border.
According to the information the Hürriyet Daily News gathered from diplomatic sources, all ministries and relevant institutions have concluded their own works on what sanctions could be imposed on Syria. Following an analysis at the Foreign Ministry, these sanctions will be sent to Erdoğan's office for final approval.
The main principle in drafting the sanctions is to not target the Syrian people, but the regime, and thus measures such as cutting the sale of electricity to Syria or reducing the amount of water let through to the country on the Euphrates River is out of the question.
Instead, the sanctions will likely hit the Syrian state banking system, whose activities have been suspended by the United States and the European Union. Plans to jointly form a Turkish-Syrian bank have already been shelved, along with plans to increase relations between the two countries' central banks.
As part of the economic sanctions, state-to-state relations will be lowered and private companies will be discouraged from investing in Syria. The Turkish Petroleum Corporation, or TPAO's, plans to launch joint oil and gas exploration in Syria with the Syrian state oil company would also be suspended.
Addressing another major international project, carrying Egyptian natural gas to Turkey through Jordan and Syria, sources said the government's sanctions would not affect international plans unless the Syrian government wants to stop them.
On the political front, the Turkish government will likely avoid high-level meetings with the Syrian leadership but will keep its ambassador in Damascus and its consulates there open. "For us, the Syrian administration is no longer a legitimate one. A totalitarian government that kills its own people has no respectable place in today's world," one source told the Daily News.
In terms of military ties, the annual military exercises performed on the Turkish-Syrian border to increase cooperation on border security will be suspended. However, worsening political and military ties would also affect ongoing cooperation against terrorism.
MHP Accuses Erdogan of Working More for Security of Other Countries, Not Turkey
Opposition Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, leader Devlet Bahçeli has accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of working for the security of other countries while his country has been suffering from terrorist attacks.
Speaking during a party meeting in the Aegean province of Denizli on Sunday, the MHP leader criticized the prime minister for failing to stop terrorist attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in the country while trying to take an active role in ensuring security in other countries such as Syria and Libya.
"Prime Minister Erdoğan is acting irresponsibly and carelessly on the global platform while our country is experiencing severe internal bleeding," Bahçeli said. "The prime minister has assigned and dedicated himself to the security of other geographies. He is vying for the title of 'the man who saves the world' thanks to foreign support for him."
Bahçeli was referring to the Erdoğan government's support for the recent uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and its active role in helping restructure these countries following their recent revolutions. Erdoğan is also highly critical of the ongoing government crackdown on anti-government protestors in Syria.
Arguing that Turkey's domestic problems have reached a point where they cannot be reversed, Bahçeli said terrorist attacks by the PKK have already passed the limits of patience. He also said "the bloody face of terrorism" has begun showing up in cities and streets, adding that last week's attacks in Ankara and Siirt show how remorseless the terrorist organization is.
An explosion caused by a car bomb ripped through a street in the Turkish capital of Ankara in a neighborhood housing government buildings, killing three people and injuring 34 others, early on Tuesday. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or TAK, claimed responsibility for the Ankara attack. Later on in the day, the PKK attacked a police academy in Siirt, killing four women who were driving by. Six soldiers were killed by the PKK in a most recent attack on a gendarmerie outpost in the Pervari district of Siirt on Saturday and 11 soldiers were also injured in the attack.
U.S., Turkey Agree on Delivery Schedule of Predators
Turkey is expecting the delivery of Predators in June 2012, the Turkish defense minister said a day after the country's prime minister announced that Turkey has agreed with the United States on a deal involving the transfer of U.S.-engineered, unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, that could prove crucial in combating terrorism.
"We have agreed in principle [on the delivery of Predators]. Negotiations will continue," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was quoted as saying by the Cihan news agency on Saturday in New York. Erdoğan , who is in New Yorkwhere the Turkish leader was visiting on the occasion of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. Erdoğan also noted that Turkey had offered to either purchase or lease the drones and that the two countries were still settling the details regarding the delivery of the Predators.
Following up on the agreement, Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz told reporters on Saturday that the drones to be received from the U.S. would be delivered to the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, in June of next year, the Anatolia news agency reported.
"These [Predators] are UAVs with better qualities and features than the Herons," Yılmaz said, adding that the Turkish-made Anka would also be ready for the TSK around the same time as an alternative to Israeli-made Herons.
Turkey was disappointed by Israel's failure to return six Herons it had sent to the country for maintenance, as it relies heavily on spy aircraft for surveillance missions that gather data on the activities of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, across the country's borders in the Southeast.
Yılmaz did not give any details on the number of Predators the U.S. would deliver to Turkey, but acknowledged that Ankara requested enough UAVs to be sufficient for the TSK's needs. The minister added that the U.S. and Turkey have been strategic partners and are cooperating in combating terrorism, which necessitated that both "support each other with no conditions or prejudice."
Meanwhile, the domestically made Anka, named after the legendary flying creature of Persian mythology, was brought out of the hangar for the first time in July 2010 and is expected to provide Turkey with a crucial advantage in its fight against the PKK. The Anka is capable of disrupting the electronic ware of enemy aircraft and has made Turkey the third country in the world, after the U.S. and Israel, to engineer UAVs.
Six Soldiers Die in Southeastern Turkey
Six soldiers died and 11 others were wounded in a clash between security forces and PKK terrorists in the southeastern province of Siirt.
Siirt Governor's Office stated on Sunday that a group of PKK terrorists attacked Belenoluk Gendarmery Command in Pervari town of Siirt. When security forces responded to the attack, a clash erupted, and six soldiers died and 11 others were injured in the clash.
Security forces also killed three terrorists during the operations launched in the region after the clash.
Turkish Prime Minister Says Turkey-Israel Relations are Broken
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey-Israel relations have been broken because of the tension escalated -- by Israel itself.
In a televised interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Erdoğan said:
"Turkey-Israel relations have been broken because of the tension escalated by Israel itself which began with Israeli raid on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. In the attack nine Turkish people were killed, and one of them was an American citizen. And the American citizen's rights were not defended by the United States. Since to this date, no serious attitudes have been adopted against Israel for the loss of lives there.
"In fact, democracy, rights and freedoms should be defended at any case. We gave our warnings to Israel. Actually, this is the reason for war. This is something you cannot do in the international waters. But as a great state, we have been very forgiving. That is why we were very patient. We demanded them to apologize, pay compensation and eliminate the embargo on Gaza once and for all. If these demands are not met, the relations between Turkey and Israel will never become normal again. We have got nothing against the people of Israel, but against the attitude of the government of Israel," he said.
Replying to a question about Syria, Erdoğan said:
"We act on several principles. Those principles determine our relations. We can be friends. But you lose your position when you violate democracy, rights and freedoms. This is what happened with Syria. We lost our patience. No administration can stand in the way of the might and will of the people. In the end, the Syrian people will make the final decision like the people in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya."
When asked question about Turkey's foreign policy, Erdoğan said:
"Our world is fed up with wars. We do not want a world in which trillions of dollars are spent on defense industry. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez and I are still co-chairing the initiative of Alliance of Civilizations. Everything the Western world does what is not necessary and right. We work to adopt the science of the West, we work to adopt whatever has been developed in the West and whatever is beautiful in the West. But let's not forget that there are really beautiful things in the East as well. Do not leave the eastern part of the world aside."
Turkey is a Role Model in Region, Erdogan Says
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey is a role model in its region and has become a country whose friendship and cooperation is asked for in the whole world.
Attending a brunch meeting of the Investment Support and Promotion Agency in New York on Saturday, Erdoğan said that a country needed some qualities to draw investment and make commercial relations with another country, listing the qualities as a democratic milieu, stable economy, strong political state, dynamic real sector, big domestic market and export potential.
Stressing the importance of stability and confidence, Erdoğan said that Turkey had these qualities.
Turkey gives confidence to investors in the world with its economy, public financing and banking sector, Erdoğan said, adding that Turkish economy grew nine percent in 2010, 11.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011, and 8.8 percent in the second quarter of 2011. He said that Turkey became one of the fastest growing two economies together with China in the first half of the year.
Noting that Turkey became an attraction center for investors, Erdoğan said that private sector investments, which were only 43 billion Turkish Lira, or TL, in 2002, rose to 164 billion TL in 2010.
Erdogan noted that Turkey created 1.5 million new employment opportunities in June 2011 when compared to June 2010. He added that Turkey's success was not related with conjuncture, noting that it was related with economy management, real sector and the potential of the country.
He said that Turkey's export increased from $36 billion in 2002 to $130 billion in 2010, adding that Turkey had free trade agreements with 20 countries, and opened to Middle East, Africa and South Africa countries to make export.
Erdogan said that trade volume between Turkey and the United States was $16 billion in 2010.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Says Turkey Appreciated in IMF Meetings
Turkey's deputy prime minister said on Sunday that Turkey had been appreciated during annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, or IMF.
Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said he had seen that Turkey was being appreciated in every meeting he attended.
"In the past, they used to ask about Turkey, now they are asking us about the world, Europe and G-20 agenda, thanks to Turkey's increasing influence and activity. I have heard a sentence a lot in my meetings, which is 'Europe and the region are dark, however Turkey is a bright spot,'" Babacan said in a Washington press conference.
Nonetheless, Babacan said everyone had to be prepared for possible negative developments, and therefore Turkey was working on scenarios and alternative strategies.
"We will focus on structural reforms after we present our medium-term program to Parliament in coming weeks," Babacan said.
Structural reforms would include rehabilitation of investment atmosphere, employment, banking and financial systems. Turkey had also prepared a legal package to make Istanbul one of the top 10 finance centers in the world by 2023 and developed a strategy plan to fight unregistered economy.
The government was also working on some investments that could help cut down current account deficit, and on a new mechanism that would encourage production of some goods in Turkey, Babacan said.
"Loss of value in currencies of developing countries is not something peculiar to only Turkey. It is a trend in all developing countries, and a situation caused by the new world conjuncture," he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Babacan said Turkey's rating was upgraded despite such a negative atmosphere in Europe and the world, which he defined as pleasing, saying Turkey deserved a higher rating; Turkey's exports to the United States were up 55 percent year-on-year in the first seven moths of 2011.
"This is the first time in nine years that I have seen such a high-level political will in the United States, aiming to make business with Turkey," Babacan said.
Turkish Cypriot President Denies Postponement of Tripartite Cyprus Summit
President Dervis Eroglu of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, or TRNC, denied the postponement of a tripartite Cyprus meeting that will be held in New York in October.
Eroglu told reporters on Sunday that the tripartite summit would not be postponed due to oil exploration crisis in the Mediterranean.
Recently, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Eroglu signed an agreement on the delineation of the continental shelf between two countries in the East Mediterranean following a Greek Cypriot move to start offshore drilling for natural gas and oil in the southeast of the Eastern Mediterranean island.
The TRNC Council of Ministers gave authority to Turkish Petroleum Corp., TPAO, to explore oil.
Noting that there were large reserves, especially natural gas, around the Cyprus island, Eroglu said the TRNC earlier asked the Greek Cypriot administration to delay oil exploration as Cyprus talks were under way, but the Greek Cypriots did not respond, and began oil exploration.
Regarding the tripartite summit, Eroglu said that it would be a one-day summit, adding that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sincerely supported an agreement.
Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders have launched an intensified round in their settlement talks which began on July 25. Talks are planned to continue until Oct. 21. The Cypriot leaders will have a tripartite meeting with the Ban in New York at the end of October.
Main Opposition Says No to 'Israel Shield'
The Turkish government is doing nothing but ensuring Israel's safety by allowing the establishment of a NATO radar base in Turkey, Republican and People's Party, or CHP, leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Therefore, Kılıçdaroğlu has begun a petition with his party to say, "No to the Israeli shield," the Anatolia news agency reported Sunday.
The CHP is the lawyer of the people, Kılıçdaroğlu said in reference to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's previous comments that the CHP was acting as the "lawyer of Israel."
Commenting on Israel's attack on the Mavi Marmara aid ship last year that killed nine Turkish activists, Erdoğan said Israel made a big mistake by not apologizing as it had lost Turkey's friendship.
Speaking on Sunday before departing from New York, Erdoğan also said Turkey had 40,000 Jewish citizens and added that Turkey would never make these citizens pay the cost of the Israeli administration's mistake.
Erdoğan also said Turkey did not have any problem with the Israeli people.
Meanwhile, the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian Parliament, Mohammad Kowsari, said Turkey's decision to deploy NATO's radar shield was a "big strategic mistake" and added that this would have serious consequences for the Turkish government, the daily Hürriyet reported Sunday.
Information from the radar base will be shared among all NATO members, and it is likely that it could be shared with Israel as well, according to sources.
Turkey to Unveil Turkish-Made Warships
Turkey's first major domestically made warship, the TCG Heybeliada, will be formally delivered to the Turkish Navy on Tuesday. A second ship of the same "corvette" class – small, maneuverable and lightly armed – will be put to sea at an Istanbul ceremony expected to be attended by President Abdullah Gül.
The Turkish Navy's moves come amid rising tensions with Israel in the eastern Mediterranean.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and other dignitaries will also attend the ceremony at the Turkish Navy's Pendik shipyard in Istanbul.
The TCG Heybeliada and the TCG Büyükada, which will be put to sea from the Pendik shipyard, are the first two ships in Turkey's MİLGEM program, from the Turkish words "Milli Gemi," translating to "National Ship." The program calls for the design, development, outfitting, integration and construction of 12 patrol and anti-submarine warships, four of them optional, produced with the eventual objective of exporting the vessels to allied and friendly countries.
The corvettes are capable of performing a variety of tasks: reconnaissance and surveillance, target detection, recognition and identification, early warning, base and coastal defense, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, anti-air warfare, amphibious operations and patrolling.
The MİLGEM program aims to reduce Turkey's dependence on foreign ship-makers for ship design, construction and systems integration, and for the construction and integration of naval and private shipyards.
MİLGEM's first prototype ship, the TCG Heybeliada, has been built by the Istanbul Naval Shipyard of the Turkish Naval Forces Command, while the procurement of supplementary design and construction services, systems and materials has been provided by the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry, or SSM. The MİLGEM program kicked off in 2004.
The TCG Heybeliada's construction began in September 2008. This first national warship is scheduled for delivery to the Turkish Navy on Tuesday, while the second ship of this class, the TCG Büyükada, is also scheduled to be put to sea.
More than 50 domestic companies have contributed to the TCG Heybeliada, more than 65 percent of which was locally produced. A mono-hull vessel, the Heybeliada has a length of 99 meters and a displacement of 2,300 tons. One MİLGEM corvette can carry a 10-ton helicopter. Its anti-submarine and surface-warfare capabilities are enhanced with the integration of a 76-mm main gun and a harpoon-guided missile system.
MİLGEM corvettes will be sold to any interested allied and friendly countries. After the completion of the MİLGEM program, the next project will be the design, development and construction of a national frigate, a larger ship. This program will be open to cooperation with interested foreign companies.