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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Cypriot and Turkish Media Review, 17-04-21

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. 76/17 21.04.17

[A] TURKISH CYPRIOT / TURKISH PRESS

  • [01] Turkey issued new Navtex
  • [02] Akinci: "Achieving progress seems extremely difficult if the talks continue in this manner"
  • [03] Akinci alleges that the Greek Cypriot side should change mentality on the Cyprus problem
  • [04] Ertugruloglu met with the Minister of Education and Higher Education of Qatar
  • [05] UBP approved 384 new party members
  • [06] Atun announced that the investors for "guesthouses" in the occupied Karpasia will be financed
  • [07] A Turkish assassin came yesterday to the occupied area of Cyprus and murdered a woman; The second murder of a woman in two days
  • [08] Turkey to engage in a new foreign policy bid by May
  • [09] Erdogan to hold meeting with Trump May 16-17 in US; He slammed Obama and Merkel over PKK, referendum response
  • [10] Erdogan and Bozdag commented on Turkey's YSK decision on the referendum results
  • [11] PACE to discuss degrading Turkey's status to monitoring
  • [12] HDP Deputy arrested by court in Turkey's Mus province over terrorist charges
  • [13] Police detained 38 people at protests over referendum result
  • [14] Italy asked Turkey to release detained Italian journalist

  • [A] TURKISH CYPRIOT / TURKISH PRESS

    [01] Turkey issued new Navtex

    According to illegal Bayrak television (online, 21.04.17), Ankara announced yesterday that it is sending its research and seismographic research vessel, the 'Barbaros' to Cyprus in response to unilateral steps taken by the Greek Cypriot side for hydrocarbon exploration off the coast of the island.

    The Government of the Republic of Cyprus stated that the Navtex issued by Ankara is invalid as it is a violation of international law for Turkey to conduct seismic research in the area.

    'Barbaros' is set to carry out research in the occupied area between Famagusta and the Karpasia peninsula as of today.

    Accompanied by a support vessel ? Norwegian flagged M/V Bravo ? it will be in the area until June 30, according to the Turkish NAVTEX.

    Barbaros' presence in the area is considered to be more of a political move rather than a technical one as the Turkish side oppose the Greek Cypriot side's unilateral hydrocarbon exploration activities.

    On the same issue, under the title "Tension in the Mediterranean", Turkish Cypriot daily Demokrat Bakis newspaper (21.02.17) reports that the authorization for seismic research off the coast of the "TRNC" was given to the TPAO (Turkish Petroleum Corporation).

    [02] Akinci: "Achieving progress seems extremely difficult if the talks continue in this manner"

    According to illegal Bayrak television (21.04.17) Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Ak?nc? and President Nicos Anastasiades met yesterday within the framework of negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus Problem.

    The Navtex issued by Turkey as well as the issue of the prevention of school children from different countries who had arrived at Larnaca airport to attend the 23rd of April celebrations in the "TRNC" were among the issues on the agenda of the meeting which lasted for two and half hours.

    The issue of the four freedoms to be granted to all Turkish nationals after the solution as well as the issue of active participation in decision making in the federal administration were also discussed.

    (?)

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Ak?nc? said that the Greek Cypriot leader had conveyed to him his concerns regarding the issuing of a Navtex by Turkey, stating that this was against the spirit of good will in the talks and did not contribute to the positive atmosphere.

    Stating that he in response had explained to Anastasiades that Turkey's latest Navtex was in response to the Greek Cypriot side's "stubbornness and persistence" to go ahead with unilateral hydrocarbon exploration activities off the coast of the island, Ak?nc? reminded that this was the first issue he had brought up 4 days before the talks had begun on the 15th of May 2015.

    "This was the first issue I had brought up during our meeting at Ledra Palace. The issue of hydrocarbon exploration was one issue that we had to keep away from while conducting negotiations. We had said we would either set up a committee or postpone the matter completely giving the negotiations a chance. Unfortunately this is not what we are seeing. The Turkish Cypriot side will be taking joint steps with Turkey to defend its rights in an environment when new activities will begin in July", Akinci stated.

    Ak?nc? explained further that the prevention of a group of foreign school children, to take part in the 23rd of April celebrations in the "TRNC", had also come up at the meeting.

    Akinci alleged that this issue had truly damaged confidence and trust. Stating that an earlier group from Lithuania which had arrived via "south Cyprus", as he called the Republic of Cyprus had successfully crossed over to the "TRNC" without experiencing any problems because of their EU membership, Ak?nc? claimed that barring of the Serbian and Russian group by Greek Cypriot officials from entering the island had been unfair on the kids.

    On the issue of the four freedoms to be granted to all Turkish nationals after the solution, as well as the issue of active participation in decision making in the federal administration, Ak?nc? alleged that both issues could be settled if there is the necessary good will and desire. "It is out of the question to sneak in 80 million Turkish nationals into the EU through the backdoor or to pave the way for a full scale invasion of the EU. Our proposals and positions have the approval of the UN and the EU but we have yet to convince our Greek Cypriot counterparts. We are also meeting resistance on the issue of active participation in decision making which we are finding difficult to understand" he claimed.

    Reminding that there are three more meetings scheduled over the course of the next two months, Akinci said that achieving progress seemed extremely difficult if the talks continued in this manner. "I do not want to sound pessimistic but as everyone can see things will become extremely difficult as of July. That's why the next 3 meetings are extremely important. We have not given the UN a mediating role. It would be extremely useful if the UN, through a form of shuttle diplomacy, could come up with effective advice in drawing up a general picture of the situation, at least on the 4 main chapters. If we fail to draw a comprehensive picture we are going to end up, as we did tonight, spending hours discussing the same issue without reaching any results" he added.

    [03] Akinci alleges that the Greek Cypriot side should change mentality on the Cyprus problem

    Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (21.04.17) reports that Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci has alleged that the Greek Cypriot side should change its mentality and see the Turkish Cypriots as an equal community and as partners and not as a minority.

    In statements yesterday during a meeting with a delegation of a war veterans' association from Turkey, Akinci argued that the negotiations on the Cyprus problem have been conducted since 1968, nothing remained without being discussed and the discussions cannot continue for another 50 years.

    Moreover, Akinci reiterated the view that if a will exists, a solution framework could be drawn within the next couple of months.

    Noting that in an environment of peace both the peoples of Greece and Turkey as well as the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots will be able to build a better future, Akinci added:

    "Neither could they be annihilated from this island, nor could anyone annihilate us. Let us live in equality, freedom, security. Let no one dominate over the other. When a federation is discussed, reference is not made to minority-majority. Reference is made to two equal entities. [?] Either we will reach an agreement and the TRNC will be turned into a part of the federal state, or, if we cannot establish it, the TRNC will continue its way. We will continue our way by taking our place among the other countries as a country friend and sister with Turkey. [?]"

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Ertugruloglu met with the Minister of Education and Higher Education of Qatar

    Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (21.04.17) reports that self-styled minister of foreign affairs Tahsin Ertugruloglu claimed that no success has been obtained at the Cyprus talks, which have been continuing for 50 years now, because Cyprus settlement is not possible to be with the current system.

    Speaking during a meeting yesterday with the Minister of Education and Higher Education of Qatar Dr Mohammed bin Abdul Wahid Al-Hammadi, Ertugruloglu alleged: "The solution seems to be difficult when the Cyprus talks are continuing between a state and a community. Because the Greek Cypriots, who are being accepted (recognized) as a state, have the advantage of being a state member of the UN and the EU. They considered as a minority. Why should they want a solution?"

    Meanwhile, Ertugruloglu also briefed Hammadi for the higher education in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus and invited him to visit the occupied area of Cyprus in order to see the "universities" and the "real situation" in the island. Alleging that more than 22,000 students from the OIC member countries study in the illegal universities in the occupied area of Cyprus and that they want to increase this number as well as the students from Qatar, Ertugruloglu claimed that they have difficulties on the issues of higher education, tourism and trade due to the reportedly embargo imposed on the direct flights.

    Hammadi, for his part, said that they may have some kind of cooperation on education through the "representation office" of the breakaway regime in Doha.

    (DPs)

    [05] UBP approved 384 new party members

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (21.04.17), the National Unity Party (UBP), at its executive meeting on April 19, 2017, approved the applications of 384 new members. The number of the UBP members including the new one has reached to 10,096.

    The paper publishes all the names of the new UBP party members.

    (DPs)

    [06] Atun announced that the investors for "guesthouses" in the occupied Karpasia will be financed

    According to Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (21.04.17), self-styled minister of economy and energy Sunat Atun announced that a recovery package for the ecotourism businessmen, who were provided with loans within the framework of "ecotourism 2006-2008" and who were in the phase of bankruptcy due to the difficulties of payment, was announced.

    Atun explained that a fund of 3 million TL will be provided for the development of "guesthouses" at the occupied peninsula of Karpasia and this fund will be financed according to a the "financial protocol" signed between Turkey and the "TRNC". Atun added that the proposal prepared by his "ministry" was already passed by the "council of ministries" the day before yesterday.

    According to the "decision", Atun announced that within the framework of supporting and granting co-finance, up to 250 thousands TL, to the investments which will be beneficiary for the projects for "guesthouses" in the occupied peninsula of Karpasia, every investors will be granted the 50%, up to 250 thousands TL, by accepting to complete the credit project. The money will be provided by the "TRNC Development Bank" as a 9 years term loan.

    (DPs)

    [07] A Turkish assassin came yesterday to the occupied area of Cyprus and murdered a woman; The second murder of a woman in two days

    Under the title "He stubbed her and tried to burn her", Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (21.04.17) reports that after the murder of a woman that took place the day before yesterday in occupied Famagusta, another woman was assassinated yesterday in the occupied part of Nicosia. A person named Suat Asir, who came yesterday from Turkey, repeatedly stabbed and killed a woman named Gamze Pehlivan (37) in the campus of the illegal "International Cyprus University" ("UKU"), in occupied Mia Milia area. Afterwards, Asir tried to burn Pahlivan's body, but people who were in the area interfered and prevented him from doing so. Asir achieved to escape from the area by threatening the driver of a car with a knife.

    Under the title "He was arrested while eating kebab", Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis newspaper (21.04.17) reports that after the murder, Asir came to the occupied part of Nicosia and ate. The victim was the murderer's wife.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (21.04.17) refers to the issue under the title "Is this country unprotected?" and notes that two women were killed in two days. According to the paper, the society is angry after these two murders.

    Under the title "Uncontrolled increase of population must stop", Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Bakis newspaper (21.04.17) publishes a mini-survey among inhabitants of the occupied area of Cyprus. The participants in the survey expressed the view that the increase of incidents such as murders, rapes and stubbing derive from the fact that the "officials" do not control the "entrances" and the "exits" in the occupied area of Cyprus.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] Turkey to engage in a new foreign policy bid by May

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (21.04.17) reports that Turkey will launch a foreign policy move through presidential visits to critical countries in May, in an attempt to reshape the country's relationships with the international community after months of domestic political tension fractured Turkey's bonds with its traditional allies.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's itinerary in May includes a visit to Washington D.C. for his first in-person meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump after the latter's election and to Sochi for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Erdogan will also visit Beijing, Brussels and New Delhi.

    Turkey is going on the foreign drive in a bid to repair relationships with a number of key countries, such as the United States, Germany and the Netherlands, which have soured in recent months, while Ankara also wishes to discuss developments in Syria and the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

    Erdogan will seek to establish "a new framework" for the Turkish-American relationship in Washington in the wake of his contested win in the April 16 referendum, while also planning to meet with the European Union's two top institutional leaders, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, in Brussels to discuss Ankara-Brussels ties in detail.

    Erdogan's first stop on his tour will be India on April 30, when he will be accompanied by Ministers responsible for Economy and Trade. Erdogan will participate in Turkey-India Business Forum and will hold political talks with Indian leaders, particularly President Pranab Mukherjee. The agenda during the meeting is expected to be dominated by an improvement of bilateral economic and trade ties.

    Erdogan's second visit will be to Sochi on May 3 where he will meet President Vladimir Putin, although the two leaders recently met in Moscow in March. Erdogan, who will discuss developments in Syria with Putin, will deliver the message that "the conflict in Syria can be resolved if Russia adopts a constructive position and a political transition process can begin."

    The Erdogan-Putin meeting will be important also for bilateral economic and energy ties. Despite the fact that the two countries launched a normalization process in ties, Russia continues to impose serious restrictions on the import of Turkish agricultural products. Turkey recently deployed a high-level delegation to Russia to resolve the trade dispute that has affected $450 million in agricultural trade from Turkey. The two leaders are also expected to discuss the potential that Moscow will ease visa conditions for Turkish business leaders.

    The meeting between Trump and Erdogan, deemed as historic by Ankara with regards to Turkish-American ties, is expected to take place in the second half of May. The oral invitation to Erdogan was extended by Trump in a phone conversation on April 18, in which Trump reportedly told Erdogan: "Let's meet face to face. Turkey is very important for us; we want to work with you."

    Following consultations through diplomatic channels, the two sides agreed to hold a meeting in the second half of May. The issues to be discussed at the White House include the extradition of Fethullah Gulen and restrictions on his followers in the U.S., developments in Syria, Turkey's sensitivities over the prospective role for the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), in the upcoming Raqqa operation, as well as the countries' bilateral economic relationship.

    Turkey has already begun working on the dossiers ahead of the visit, while the main theme in Washington will be to create a new framework for bilateral ties.

    A NATO summit in Brussels on May 25 will also provide a good opportunity for Erdogan to hold bilateral meetings with some key European leaders. Furthermore, talks are underway to arrange bilateral or trilateral meetings between Erdogan and European Commission head Juncker and European Council President Tusk.

    Erdogan's message to Europe is expected to center on unopened accession chapters, visa liberalization, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Gulenist movement's activities in Europe, according to presidential sources.

    Turkish sources noted that Ankara had reacted positively to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's call for dialogue following the referendum, while stressing that further contacts with Europe would follow in this process.

    Erdogan will also visit China in May to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 14 and 15 along with Putin and other regional leaders. Erdogan will hold talks with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as well as other participants, and is expected to sign a cooperation agreement on the revival of the ancient Silk Road through new railways and roads.

    [09] Erdogan to hold meeting with Trump May 16-17 in US; He slammed Obama and Merkel over PKK, referendum response

    Turkish daily Sabah (20.04.17) reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Thursday that he will meet with the U.S. President Donald Trump on May 16-17 in the U.S.

    Speaking to ANews channel, Erdogan said that the meeting will lay the foundation of a strong cooperation between Turkey and the U.S.

    He added that he believes that Trump will do what Obama failed to do and extradite the leader of the Gulenist Terror Group (FETO), Fetullah Gulen to Turkey.

    Syria cooperation and the extradition of Fetullah Gulen are expected to be the top bilateral issues.

    "I believe Trump will do what President Obama failed to do in this regard," Erdogan said.

    Erdogan added that he expected the U.S. to take the necessary administrative decision to prevent Gulen from operating a terrorist organization in Pennsylvania.

    "This terrorist leader is residing in a country, which is our strategic ally, and it is upsetting not only me but also the Turkish nation "I think they will at least call him to account," he said.

    Meanwhile, according to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (21.04.17) Erdogan has slammed the 44th U.S. President Barack Obama and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the former's alleged failure to abide by a mutual agreement about the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the latter's hesitance over congratulating him for the "Yes" side's narrow triumph in the April 16 referendum.

    The Obama administration deceived Turkey over cooperation against the PKK, Erdogan said late on April 19, while voicing his expectation of stronger ties with the new U.S. administration under Donald Trump.

    "With President Obama we had a mutual agreement about the PKK. But Obama deceived us. I don't believe the Trump administration will do the same," Erdogan told Al Jazeera in an interview broadcast on April 19, three days after the referendum in which voters approved changes to the country's constitution that would usher in an executive presidential system.

    When reminded about the fact that German Chancellor Merkel had not called him yet on the referendum result, Erdogan said he saw the issue as a sign of "guilty conscience."

    "We may evaluate this as guilty conscience right now. You should ask her about that if you get the opportunity," he added.

    [10] Erdogan and Bozdag commented on Turkey's YSK decision on the referendum results

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (20.04.17) reported that Turkey's Justice Minister said on Thursday that the country's Constitutional Court had no right to investigate Sunday's referendum result.

    "The Constitutional Court has no right and authority to review the referendum according to the Constitution and the Conventions that Turkey is party to," Bekir Bozdag told A Haber TV network.

    Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has said it intended to employ all legal ways to challenge the result.

    However, Bozdag said the law was clear: "Our Constitution explicitly rules that the decisions of the Supreme Election Board (YSK) are final and no authority can be resorted to against these decisions," he said.

    "Even if such an application is made, the Constitutional Court has no choice but to reject it," the Minister added.

    The CHP has led criticism of the April 16 referendum result, particularly the YSK's decision to include ballot papers unverified by local electoral boards in the count.

    It had submitted petitions to cancel the election result, however, the election board announced on Wednesday it rejected appeals made by the CHP, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the Patriotic Party (Vatan Partisi).

    The CHP said it would not recognize the result and would explore every avenue to overturn it, including applying to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights, after the YSK rejected all appeals on Wednesday.

    Also, commenting on the issue, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the Turkey's Supreme Election Board's (YSK) refusal to annul the April 16 referendum was the final decision on the matter. "This issue is over," Erdogan said.

    He also noted that the issue was not within the authority of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

    Erdogan mocked CHP suggestions that it would now ask Turkey's Constitutional Court or the European Court of Human Rights to cancel the referendum.

    Addressing the CHP, he said: "You will not get anything out of this. The Supreme Election Board made its decisions. This is the will of the people."

    (?)

    [11] PACE to discuss degrading Turkey's status to monitoring

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (21.04.17) reports that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is scheduled to meet next week to discuss whether to degrade Turkey's status and reopen a monitoring process against the country in response to the authoritarian slide in the country.

    Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has been lobbying PACE, which he once chaired in 2010, not to relegate Turkey.

    The picture is gloomy for Turkey since a report drafted by the co-Rapporteurs of the monitoring committee recommended that the Assembly decide "to re-open the monitoring procedure in respect of Turkey until its concerns are addressed in a satisfactory manner."

    If the assembly degrades Turkey's status, it could provide legal ground for the European Union Council to open a debate on the moribund membership talks with Turkey.

    On April 24, PACE's bureau will decide whether the Assembly will debate "The functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey" over a report drafted by co-rapporteurs Ingebjorg Godskesen from the European Conservatives Group and Marianne Mikko from the Socialist Group.

    The Christian Democrats in the Assembly, however, have reportedly launched a campaign to postpone debate on Turkey until after the German elections in September.

    The draft report leveled severe criticism at the actions undertaken during the state of emergency in Turkey and expressed deep concern about the scale and extent of the purges in the public administration, the judiciary and many other public institutions. The draft report underlined a "serious deterioration of the functioning of democratic institutions in the country."

    "Measures have gone far beyond what is necessary and proportionate. The authorities have been ruling through decree-laws going far beyond what emergency situations require and overstepping the parliament's legislative competence. The Assembly is also concerned that most of the decree-laws have so far not been approved (as required by the Constitution), or their implementation monitored by the Parliament, which the Assembly considers to be a serious democratic deficiency," read the document.

    The draft report recalled concerns in an earlier Assembly Resolution concluded in June 2016, prior to the July 15 failed coup, that "the developments pertaining to freedom of the media and of expression, erosion of the rule of law and the alleged human rights violations in relation to the anti-terrorism security operations in southeastern Turkey constituted a threat to the functioning of democratic institutions and the country's commitments to its obligations towards the Council of Europe."

    The Assembly "regrets that none of the issues identified have been addressed. The assembly has, on the contrary, noted that the harmful developments observed in June 2016 accelerated and worsened after the failed coup," said the report.

    The draft report said the lifting of immunity for 154 lawmakers in Turkish Parliament had seriously undermined the democratic functioning and position of the Parliament.

    Meanwhile, Talip Kucukcan, the chairman of the Turkish delegation to PACE, told the Hurriyet Daily News that they were continuing to work to relate the "extraordinary circumstances" that Turkey has been facing since the June 7 elections in 2015 but that there was a negative atmosphere in the Assembly.

    Kucukcan said that Ankara wants to maintain dialogue with PACE and has proposed that Ankara and the Assembly jointly draw a road map to address problematic issues regarding Turkey and set a timetable for their resolution. Ankara invited the PACE Presidency to Ankara in order to discuss the criticisms and convey Turkey's opinion in first hand, but the European body has not replied yet, he said.

    "We are telling the PACE members what is going on in Turkey. After June 7, Turkey encountered various problems including the July 15 coup attempt and we had to take a number of measures. We are talking about a country which has faced existential threats. The state of emergency is legitimate and its practices are in line with CoE norms. We are in favor of continuing relationship with the Assembly. But there are a number of PACE Deputies who try to act on their own terms and they affect some positions. There is a window for optimism, but you can see the language in which debates on Turkey are conducted in the West," he stated.

    "We proposed determining problematic issues one by one and setting a schedule for their solution if necessary. Unfortunately, our partners do not approve of this," he added.

    Turkey was under PACE monitoring procedures from 1996 to 2004, after which the monitoring ended amid government reforms in the early 2000s.

    The assembly initiated action to discuss Turkey's status in January, but a decree law issued by the Turkish government to restore fundamental rights under the state of emergency convinced PACE to hold off on the debate until after the monitoring Commission's report is finalized.

    [12] HDP Deputy arrested by court in Turkey's Mus province over terrorist charges

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (21.04.17) reports that a Deputy from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) was arrested on charges of "being a member of a terrorist organizations" on April 19 in the eastern Anatolian province of Mus, Dogan News Agency has reported.

    Burcu Celik Ozkan, a HDP Deputy for the province, was detained by police during a routine traffic stop on April 19.

    Following a medical examination, she was arrested on charges of being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and transferred to the E-type closed prison in Mus.

    According to the indictment, she was charged due to a speech in Mus before the June 7, 2015, elections that allegedly targeted village guards.

    "You will get out of this country. We know well how to turn a Kalashnikov on your after your targeted us," she said, according to the indictment.

    A total of 13 lawmakers from the HDP, including its co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdas, face hundreds of years in jail for alleged links to the PKK.

    With the latest arrest order of Ozkan, the number of jailed HDP Deputies has risen to 14.

    On April 11, A Turkish court sentenced Yuksekdag to one year in jail on accusations of "making propaganda for a terrorist organization," state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

    The 22nd Istanbul Court of Serious Crimes passed the sentence after ruling out any reduction in sentencing for good behavior on the part of Yuksekdag, who was arrested by Turkish authorities in November 2016.

    [13] Police detained 38 people at protests over referendum result

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (19.04.17) reported that a total of 38 people were detained in Istanbul over protesting the Supreme Election Board's (YSK) last-minute decision to accept unstamped ballots as valid in the April 16 constitutional referendum.

    Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) provincial manager Mesut Gecgel is among those detained in an operation carried out by anti-terror police on April 19, daily Birgun reported.

    According to a statement released from the party, Gecgel is accused of "provoking the public" by saying the "yes" vote was illegitimate.

    Gecgel said on his Twitter account that he was being detained for protesting against the "yes" result. .

    The YSK decision to accept unstamped ballot papers "unless it can be proved that they were brought from outside the voting room" sparked a major debate on the results of the referendum, in which the "yes" campaign emerged as the winner with 51.4 percent of the votes.

    The detainees are now reportedly being questioned at the police headquarters in central Istanbul.

    Meanwhile, protests against the results of the constitutional referendum continued on April 18 in Turkey, as protesters declared that controversial amendments had been rejected, while accusing the YSK of meddling with the results.

    Protests were centered in four districts of Istanbul, Kad?koy, Besiktas, Bak?rkoy and Avc?lar, all of which voted heavily for "no."

    Crowds also took to the streets in the northwestern provinces of Tekirdag and Canakkale and the southern province of Mersin, which all ended without any disturbances.

    [14] Italy asked Turkey to release detained Italian journalist

    Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (20.04.17) reported that the Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano has called his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to request the release of Italian journalist Gabriele Del Grande, who is currently under custody in Hatay on the Syrian border.

    The phone call from Alfano came after journalist and documentary-maker Del Grande announced that he would begin a hunger strike on the grounds that his freedom and rights have been restricted since April 11.

    Diplomatic sources say the two Foreign Ministers discussed the situation of the arrested journalist, with Alfano demanding his release.

    The Foreign Ministry in Rome said in a statement on April 19 that Del Grande had managed to speak to his relatives by telephone on April 18 but "this is obviously not enough."

    European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, an Italian politician, also called for Del Grande's immediate release. "I call for the immediate release of DelGrande and all journalists unjustly detained in Turkey. No democracy without freedom of expression," Tajani tweeted.

    TURKISH AFFAIRS SECTION

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