Summer heatwaves go on in Türkiye, so does the busy political agenda.
Two significant events of the last week were the negative stance adopted by United Nations officials towards the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and President Erdoğan’s visit to Hungary. Thirdly, decisions of the Cabinet meeting also held an important place.
UN provocation against the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) had devised the Pile (Pyla)-Yiğitler (Arsos) Road Project to facilitate access to the village of Pile along the Green Line. However, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force stationed on the island attempted to obstruct the Project. Subsequently, tensions arose between the UN Peacekeeping Force and citizens of the TRNC in the area where the project was intended to take place. Eventually, TRNC security forces removed the UN vehicles from the area with bulldozers.
The first statement regarding the issue came from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the TRNC, Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu. Ertuğruloğlu emphasized that the “Project was developed with humanitarian intentions without any ulterior motives, aiming to improve the lives of the Turkish Cypriot people who have been left at the mercy of the Greek Cypriots and British bases.” Ertuğruloğlu said, “The United Nations should not try to prevent us. We will build this road. This is it. We will not step back from our determination.”
Following the tension in Pile, the United States, the United Nations and Greece together blamed the TRNC. US Senator Bob Menendez claimed that Turkish Cypriots had attacked UN peacekeepers in Pile and demanded an “immediate cease” to road work, which he claimed was “unauthorized”. The Greek press supported Menendez’s statements against the TRNC.
The TRNC President Ersin Tatar made remarks on the tension in Pile-Yiğitler Road Project. President Tatar said “the UN officials were unfair to the Turks regarding the road construction in Pile-Yiğitler village”. Stating that the main purpose is to put the people living in the village in difficulty and force them to migrate, President Tatar emphasized that they will not tolerate this.
President Ersin Tatar criticised the double standart, stating “The Turks who live in Pile, which is located in the Green Line region, are experiencing serious problems, Greeks pass through here easily. But when Turks want to pass, the UN officials cause problems. UN officials are acting unjust.”
President Tatar explained the reason behind the tension as follows: “In fact, the main reason for the opposition to this road is that they want our citizens living here to continue to have problems and so leave their lands. We will not allow this. We definitely do not want our citizens living here to leave their lands. We will do everything to solve their problems. We will ensure that they can easily reach other parts of the TRNC.”
Meanwhile, in parallel with the developments in Cyprus, the US Navy’s destroyer USS Ramage made an official visit to Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus’s Limassol, while the flagship of the US 6th Fleet, USS Mount Whitney, visited İstanbul’s Sarayburnu.
Erdoğan’s visit to Hungary: “Our strategic partner”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Budapest and had talks with his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orbán.
The meeting took place at the Carmelite Monastery, where Prime Minister Orbán’s office is located, covered the issues of Türkiye-Hungary relations, Türkiye’s EU membership process and regional global developments. Among the discussed topics were the delivery of Russian gas from Türkiye to Hungary.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto highlighted that security and energy matters were among the significant issues during the talks between the two countries.
President Erdoğan shared on his social media account, “Today, we were in Budapest on the occasion of the establishment anniversary of our strategic partner and NATO ally Hungary, and the World Athletics Championships events. During our visit, we met with the President and Prime Minister of Hungary, as well as other invited state and government leaders.”
Erdoğan mentioned the “deep and robust friendship” with Hungary and highlighted the comprehensive relations the two countries have:
“In every aspect of our relations, we are achieving significant progress. Our bilateral trade volume reached an all-time high of $3.5 billion in 2022. With joint efforts, we believe we will soon reach the goal of $6 billion in trade volume. I hope that our visit, where we review our bilateral relations comprehensively and discuss the steps to further advance our relationship, will bring about positive outcomes.”
President Erdoğan congratulated Hungary for hosting the 19th World Athletics Championships and expressed his wish for success.
As part of Hungary’s establishment anniversary celebrations, Prime Minister Orbán hosted President Erdoğan, leaders from the Balkans and Central Asia, and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Erdoğan’s remarks on foreign policy and economy
On August 21, President Erdoğan announced the decisions taken in the cabinet meeting of ministers.
Erdoğan emphasized the “determination to make Türkiye’s dreams come true in every area” in the “Century of Türkiye”, addressing mostly Türkiye’s foreign policy:
“Since the previous cabinet meeting, we have continued without any break our efforts to make Türkiye’s dreams come true in every area including in foreign policy, security, education and trade. Never do we deviate from our Century of Türkiye vision despite many hardships occurring at a global scale and affecting our country as well.
We convened the 14th Ambassadors’ Conference at a time when we mark the 100th anniversary of our Republic and the 500th anniversary of our Foreign Ministry. We made a tour d’horizon with our ambassadors regarding current regional and global issues during the conference. We once again told our diplomats how we envision the world in the Century of Türkiye, what the priorities of the Turkish foreign policy will be in the period ahead, and what we expect of them in this process. We stressed our determination to fully realize our vision of a strong Türkiye both at the table and on the ground. We have already been making moves and preparations to that end in an intensive manner since 2002.
We work to protect our interests and contribute to peace in the world without raising tensions or engaging in adventurism. Türkiye doesn’t have designs on other countries’ territory, sovereignty or underground and ground resources. We are a nation that doesn’t have any stain of colonialism in its thousands of years of history. We don’t infringe others’ rights and, likewise, we cannot let others violate our nation’s and our brothers’ rights, either.
The number of our missions abroad, which stood at 163 when we came to power, has now increased to 260. While we had embassies in 93 countries when we took over the government, today we are represented at an ambassadorial level in 146 countries. We fly our flag proudly, particularly in regions such as Africa, Latin America and Asia where we formerly had a very limited presence.”
President Erdoğan also addressed United Nations Peacekeeping Force soldiers’ intervention in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC):
“The physical intervention last Friday by soldiers of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in the sovereign territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is never acceptable to us. It is neither legal nor humane to prevent Turkish Cypriots living in the Pile village from reaching their own homeland. The Peacekeeping Force overshadowed its impartiality and further harmed its already flawed reputation with both its physical intervention to the villagers and its unfortunate statements afterward.
These moves, incompatible with the international law, have further raised tensions in the region unfortunately. We by no means think that this intervention, which occurred at a time when we have been working to mutually improve our relations and settle the troubles with our neighbors, is well intentioned. What is expected of the UN Peacekeeping Force is to contribute to the fulfilling of the humanitarian needs of all sides on the Island as its name indicates rather than engage in moves that disrupt stability. It must be known that we as a guarantor state will not submit to faits accomplis or unlawfulness on the Island, particularly in the buffer zone.”
Another issue in Erdoğan’s speech was the heavy economic problems Türkiye is facing:
“Today, of course, Türkiye has problems in the economy. Since 2018, the traps have reached the level of threatening to destroy our economy. Ahead of the May 2023 elections, one of the most important symbols of Turkish political history, the same scenarios about our economy were put into action. We witnessed many plots like creating panic in the society with fake news. When the national will chose the Century of Türkiye in the elections, their ambitions were frustrated, but the economic burden shook many balances. We have the determination, potential and program to overcome these problems. No one should doubt that the recent positive economic indicators will be permanent. The codes of mandatory imposition have now been decoded. No one will be able to prevent the development based on growth through investment, employment, exports and production.
International investors are closely following the positive developments in Turkish economy. They also have started to understand that the dark picture sought to be drawn through smear campaigns against Türkiye in the lead up to the elections was unsubstantiated. This is also evidenced by the fact that the CDS value, followed as a risk indicator in the financial markets, dropped by almost half compared to May.
The pressure on inflation from various reasons such as the increased taxes for earthquake recovery, wage hikes for civil servants, minimum wage of workers and retirees will gradually diminish over time.
In the upcoming months, we will progressively introduce additional measures to reduce income inequality among wage earners.
From laborers to civil servants, small business owners to retirees, I expect all my fellow citizens to exercise a bit more patience, place trust in us, and support the steps we have taken and will take.”
President Erdoğan also stated that the agreements signed last month with Gulf countries worth more than 50 billion dollars is a confirmation to confidence in Türkiye.