Tag Archives: erdogan

Orthodox cleric criticises Hagia Sophia Islamisation

Transformation of the Istanbul Hagia Sophia historic monument from a museum to a mosque would be “unacceptable”, a senior official in the Russian Orthodox Church said on July 4.

President Tayyip Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a sixth century building, the Christian Byzantine emblematic consturciton, which became one of most visited world monuments.

“We can’t go back to the Middle Ages now,” Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, said on state television, reported the Interfax news agency.

“We live in a multipolar world, we live in a multi-confessional world and we need to respect the feelings of believers.”

Hilarion said the Russian Orthodox Church did not understand the reason for Hagia Sophia’s transformation and that they believed domestic politics was behind the move.

“We believe that in the current conditions this act is an unacceptable violation of religious freedom,” the cleric concluded.

A Turkish court earlier this week heard a case aimed at transfering the building back into a mosque and will announce its verdict mid-July.

The court case, brought by an NGO, disputes the legality of a decision in 1934, in the early days of the modern secular Turkish state under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, to convert Hagia Sophia – known in Turkish as Ayasofya – from a mosque into a museum.

However the revolutionary proposal of NGO, backed by President Erdogan, has been criticised by other religious and political leaders.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide and based in Istanbul, said converting it into a mosque would disappoint Christians and would “fracture” East and West.

Erdogan has assessed the foreign criticism over the proposal as an attack on Turkey’s sovereignty.

Russian meida reported that the first symbolic Muslim service could take place mid-July.

Socialist MEPs block Resolution on Turkey

The European Peopole’s Party (EPP) has issued a statement following the Left Groups S&D and GUE block of the Resolution from European Parliament as tensions continue to increase between the European Unions and Turkey.

On the initiative of the EPP Group, the European Parliament will debate the continued and repeated aggression of Turkey against Greece and Cyprus next week. In light of the situation, Chairman of the EPP Group, Manfred Weber MEP, called for an urgent debate with High Representative Josep Borrell.

“Turkey is unilaterally escalating conflicts with Europe and the situation is getting worse. Turkish security forces attack the Greek border on a regular basis and the drilling attempts in the waters of Cyprus are intensifying continuously. The EU cannot leave these aggressions unanswered.”

Greece has seen repeated attempts by groups of people trying to cross the border illegally, with the help of the Turkish security forces. The Head of the Greek Delegation of the EPP Group, Vangelis Meimarakis MEP, stated: “President Erdogan is provoking another refugee crisis for his own benefit on the back of desperate people. Turkey’s actions undermine the refugee agreement and are a threat to stability in Europe. The European Parliament should send a clear signal to Turkey that it has gone too far and that it must stop challenging the EU.”

Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus have also been escalating recently. “We expect the European Union to show solidarity in practice and to vigorously defend Cyprus and Greece against Turkish aggression. If the current measures do not stop Turkey’s illegal activities, it is clear we need to further increase the pressure”, said the Head of the Cypriot Delegation of the EPP Group, Lefteris Christoforou MEP.

The EPP Group called for a strong statement from the European Parliament, a debate and a Resolution, to denounce Turkey’s actions. However, during the discussions with the other political Groups, the Socialists (S&D) and the Communists (GUE) blocked a Resolution on the matter.

“In light of the facts on the ground, it is incomprehensible that the Left wing parties reject a strong and clear signal from the European Parliament”, the MEPs noted.

Image: illustration, European Parliament hearing, Brussels

Turkey neo-Sultan «Sword-law»

Costas MAVRIDES OPINION In modern neo-Ottoman Turkey, there is a hysteria for new conquests, while disrespecting of international law and fundamental ethics. On a daily basis, actions and statements of Turkish officials (from Erdogan and his ministers) are made with complete contempt for International and EU Law, while different voices are silenced or persecuted.

Such a different voice is one by Burak Bekdil, a well known journalist who was fired from Turkey’s leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing at “Gatestone” about what is taking place in Turkey! In his latest article at Gatestone (“Turkey: Erdoğan Wishes “Many More Happy Conquests”), Bekdil focused on the hypocrisy and arrogance of modern Turkey on the occasion of the celebrations of the fall of Constantinople, during which President Erdogan referred to, not only to the past conquests, but to the “many more happy conquests” in the future. The question posed by the now persecuted journalist is straight forward: What are these non-Turkish countries and territories that Erdogan expects to conquer? As the journalist stressed, the prevailing distortion and arrogance in today’s Turkish politics is based on the Ottoman “Law of the Sword”: the conqueror can rule a conquered country or territory according to his desires.

The “spirit of conquest” is dominant in the modern Turkish political scene and infects daily life within and outside of Turkey e.g. attacks and destruction of churches and cemeteries, forced disappearances, torture, murders, imprisonment, persecution. Such crimes are ‘washed away’ by the Turkish state apparatus, given that courts in Turkey are Erdogan’s tool so that such criminals are easily acquitted, and many turn into … national heroes! Under the same hypocrisy and arrogance, other ethnic groups and non-Muslims are purged, and churches turned into mosques. The depredation of property, a criminal act by all means, if committed on behalf of conquest, is hailed as a heroic achievement. In fact, in Turkish educational system, there is a special celebration for the conquests!

Conquests and arrogance are at the core of Turkey’s current ‘spread’ (e.g. sending jihadists and weapons to Libya, before the eye of the EU and NATO, despising UN Security Council arms embargo). Incidentally, it was recently announced that ethnic cleansing of Kurdish and other populations in the Turkish-occupied Afrin region of Syria, had been completed. Such crimes of conquest, ethnic cleansing and colonization continue unpunished in Cyprus, while new illegal actions are in process in the Cyprus EEZ, the Aegean, and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Before this neo-Ottoman “Law of the Sword”, the prevailing political perception in EU, is that dialogue should prevail, while the neo Sultan of Turkey is advancing. History repeats itself but very few learn from it.

Costas Mavrides, Member of European Parliament

Chair of the Political Committee of the Mediterranean

Image: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Borrell visits Cyprus

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell paid visit to Nicosia to meet the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides as well as the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades and the Defence Minister Savvas Angelides, “after having heard the strong message delivered by the President of the Republic [of Cyprus, Nicos] Anastasiades at the last European Council and also having heard you many times at the Foreign Affairs Council, to discuss recent events and the deteriorating situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly because of exploration and drilling operations performed by Turkey in contested areas [by Turkey]. I want to come and see for myself, to listen to Cyprus’ concerns and to work on a way out of this complex situation”.

“To start, let me underline that the European Union is firmly supportive of the Republic of Cyprus and its sovereignty and sovereign rights. My message is a message of strong solidarity. Cyprus’ concerns, your concerns, are the European Union’s concerns. You have difficult relations with Turkey in general, these relations are currently facing important and difficult challenges.

“On the Turkish drillings, the European Union is continuously demonstrating its unwavering support to and solidarity with Cyprus as expressed in various European Council conclusions and statements, and most recently in the Foreign Affairs Council in May and also shown in concrete measures taken.

“This being the situation, and expressing our solidarity and concerns, we need to try to do our best, and I know you are also very much interested in improving the relations with Turkey through an open dialogue, in order to try to avoid an escalation that could be very damaging for all of us.

“For that, the delimitation of exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf must be discussed in good faith, fully respecting international law and the principle of good relations between neighbours. Because at the end of the day, we should try to be good neighbours and that is why the European Union was invented, to foster good neighbours’ relations and to find solutions through dialogue and negotiations.

“In this respect, we welcome the invitation by the Government of Cyprus to Turkey to negotiate in good faith the maritime delimitation between their relevant coasts. We will also be engaging on that, because regional stability is a priority for the European Union. I hope that the next Foreign Affairs Council, with your contribution, will help to clarify the options and the way forward in order to solve these problems and improve our relations with Turkey”.

Erdogan requests aid for migrants

We had tonight a meeting with President Erdoğan. A few days after my visit in Ankara, it was important to have this occasion to exchange our views on different topics related to the relationship between Turkey and the European Union. And of course, the first topic we discussed is the implementation of the deal between the European Union and Turkey on migration. We had the occasion to share our different opinions about the implementation of this deal a few years after this agreement” said the EU Council president Charles Michel.

“It is also very important to share with you that we will debrief the member states. We consulted a lot the member states the last days. It was, of course, necessary in order to inform them, in order to listen to the member states and to their concern regarding the different topics we have to discuss with Turkey. We will debrief the member states and it will also be the occasion later with the member states, after this process, this High-Level Political and technical process, between Turkey and the European Union through Josep Borrell and his counterpart in Turkey. It will also be the occasion to have, again, a political dialogue at the level of president Erdoğan in the next days and in the next weeks in order to continue this process of information and consultation of the different member states” Michel continued.

We also had the opportunity to explain the difference for the European Union between the means which are paid and disbursed, because the procedures are accomplished and the projects carried out, and the means which are committed, ie reserved in the case of the six billion euro envelope that was mobilized in connection with this agreement. This is a first point. Second point: we also had the opportunity to discuss security issues in the region, especially in Syria, and to highlight our mobilization in support of any political solution to bring more stability, but above all to highlight the the great humanitarian concern we have in Idlib, as well as on the border between Turkey and Syria. And the possible mobilization of the European Union to try to provide support in this area” Michel underlined.

However President Erdogan did not participate int he final press-conference, and some commentators assessed the meeting did not pass as foreseen, ending by abrupt departure of Turkish delegation.

The experts pointed at the talks failure, indicating that the positions of the parties are too far away to reach any rapprochement, especially responding to President Erdogan’s request to open Greek borders to let the migrants to pass further to the other European countries. In 2016, the EU struck a a financial arrangement with Turkey that prevented displaced Syrians from entering the EU via Greece in exchange for six billion euro aid. The agreement, although criticised by many, for time being has helped to stop Europe’s biggest refugee influx since World War II. It is unclear if Erdogan has accepted the explanations of the EU side on delays of transfers of six billion migrant funds to Turkey. In line with his previous strategy Erdogan continued to request visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish citizens.

Idlib: ceasefire from midnight

Presidents of Russian and Turkey signed a new memorandum on Idlib after five hours talks in Moscow.
Vladimir Putin and Tayyp Recep Erdogan signed a document, agreeing on ceasefire from Midnight, safety corridors, resumption of patrols.

– ceasefire today at midnight.
– A safety corridor along the M-4 highway in Syria.
– resumption of joint Russian-Turkish patrols, including along the new route

Putin also voiced hope that the deal would end civilian suffering and help contain a humanitarian crisis.

Idlib: Putin meets Erdogan “confidentially”

President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Recep Erdogan on March 4 that a face-to-face meeting was necessary amid the escalation in Idlib, Syria.

We always have something to talk about, but now the situation in the Idlib zone has escalated so much that this requires our face-to-face conversation,” the Russian leader said opening the Russian-Turkish talks.
According to Russia’s President, the situation in Idlib must be discussed in a key that it does not ruin Russian-Turkish relations.

We must definitely discuss everything, the entire situation we have today, so that similar things […] never happen again and so that […] it does not destroy the Russian-Turkish relations, which we — and I know that you too — treat carefully and prize highly,” Putin underlined.
Putin reiterated his condolences over the death of Turkish troops in Syria to Erdogan, underlining that the Syrian Army had been unaware of the Turkish forces’ location.

“I would like to reiterate my deepest condolences over the death of your troops in Syria,” Putin said to Erdogan. The Russian president added that “the loss of human life is always a tragedy.”

“Unfortunately, as I told you before in a phone call, no one, including the Syrian troops, was aware of their location,Putin said. He added that Syrian troops had likewise sustained losses recently.

Putin thanked Erdogan for finding the opportinity to travel to Moscow to hold the meeting. He noted that the conversation would begin “confidentially“, as the Turkish leader had asked, and later, if necessary, the two countries’ delegations would join it.

Idlib: Greece veto of NATO statement

The Permanent Mission of Greece to NATO vetoed a statement that the Alliance was preparing to issue in support of President Erdogan, following the recent killing of 33 Turkish troops in ongoing operation in Idlib, Greek newspaper Vima reported, refering to their own sources. (Image: social media)

The Foreign minister of Greece, Nikos Dendias, issued direct instructions to representatives to use a veto if the text of the joint statement does not include a Greek proposal to refer to compliance with the March 2016 EU-Turkey declaration on refugees and migrants.

President Erdogan vowed to allow refugees to travel to Europe from Turkey, and as a result thousands of migrants stuck on the Turkey-Greece border have clashed with Greek police, protecting exterior EU borders.

Greek police fired tear gas at people who have amassed at a border crossing in the western Turkish province of Edirne, some of whom responded by hurling stones at the officers.

The clashes occurred after Ankara announced it would no longer prevent refugees from crossing into Europe following the death of 33 Turkish troops in northern Syria in battle for Idlib.

Idlib: NATO calls to stop offensive

The North Atlantic Council had a meeting upon Turkey request to hold consultations under article 4 of NATO’s founding Washington Treaty on the situation in Syria.

“Under article 4 of the Treaty, any Ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened. I spoke to the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last night about the situation in Syria” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg after the meeting of the North Atlantic Council at Turkey’s request for Article 4 consultations on the situation in Syria.

https://twitter.com/jensstoltenberg/status/1233353765476061184?s=21

“And he requested these consultations. Today Turkey briefed on the serious security situation in Syria. Allies offer their deepest condolences for the death of Turkish soldiers in last night’s bombing in Idlib. And expressed their full solidarity with Turkey.Allies condemn the continued indiscriminate air strikes by the Syrian regime and Russia in Idlib province. I call on them to stop their offensive. To respect international law. And to back UN efforts for a peaceful solution.

This dangerous situation must be deescalated and we urge an immediate return to the 2018 ceasefire. To avoid further worsening of the horrendous humanitarian situation in the region. And to allow urgent humanitarian access for those trapped in Idlib.

https://twitter.com/anadoluagency/status/1233363151032397825?s=21

Today’s meeting is a clear sign of solidarity with Turkey. Turkey is a valued NATO Ally and Turkey is the NATO Ally most affected by the terrible conflict in Syria, which has suffered the most terrorist attacks, and which hosts millions of refugees.NATO continues to support Turkey with a range of measures. Including by augmenting its air defences. This helps Turkey against the threat of missile attacks from Syria.

I thank Turkey for briefing Allies regularly on the situation in Syria.

Allies will continue to follow developments on the South-eastern border of NATO and to consult very closely”.

“…We also stated very clearly that we call on Russia and the Assad regime to stop the attacks, to stop the indiscriminate air attacks and also to engage and support UN-led efforts to find a lasting peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. And we also call on Russia and Syria to fully respect international law. Because we have seen bombing of civilian targets, we have seen increased humanitarian suffering and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes. NATO Allies provide support for Turkey today. We augment their air defences, we have AWACS planes helping to patrol the skies, and we also have port visits and provide support in other ways. But Allies are constantly looking into what more they can do to provide further support for Turkey”.

https://twitter.com/russianembassy/status/1233406197845417984?s=21

Presidents Putin-Erdogan talks might take place on 5-6 March, Russian TASS news agency reports.

https://twitter.com/rt_com/status/1233436705434136576?s=21

MAVRIDES: Erdogan supports jihadists in Idlib

During February Plenary the Members of European Parliament discussed the crisis in Idlib, reacting upon aggravated hostilités between Syrian Army and groups of Islamist fighers, backed by Turkey. The ongoing shelling caused a new ordeal for civilians in de-escalation zone in Idlib, agreed between Ankara and Moscow (2018) to protect refugees and prevent the flow of refugees north to Turkey.

Over 140,000 Syrians have been displaced in just three days under the offensive in the north-west of the country.

Accroding to Astana agreement Turkey was supposed to separate the armed opposition, ready for dialogue within the framework of the Syrian political process, from the militants of Khayyat Tahrir al-Sham (or Hetech, active Salafist jihadist militant group, organised as a result of fusion of six smaller ones). At the same time, the terrorists had to leave Idlib, and the pro-Turkish moderate opposition – to stay, but to withdraw all heavy weapons from the province. In fact, by the beginning of 2019, the Khayyat Tahrir Al-Sham Islamist group had established full control over the territory of Idlib. Provided by weapons and resources from Turkish territory, the fighters started to undertake raids outside the demilitarized zone, to bombard the nearest cities (for example, Aleppo), and to threaten the Russian military base Khmeimim.

Syria’s government, backed by Russia, has launched an offensive on Idlib province and southern and western Aleppo, the last stronghold jihadist armed groups.

Reacting upon the situation in Idlib, the chair of the Delegation to Mediterranean MEP Costas MAVRIDES underlined the necessity to continue eliminating terrorism in Syria, representing threat to Europe.

…Our priority is the elimination of terrorism of co-called Islamic State, and associated jihadist groups, but in has been for some years, and recently in Idlib, that number one supporter of jihadists is Turkey, and personally President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan” MAVRIDES said.

This week through the southern province of Hatay to the north-west of Syria additional military equipment and army special forces are being transferred.

Another convoy with special forces from various military units of Turkey proceeded to Idlib on February 13 during night hours. Electronic warfare complexes (EW) and armored medical vehicles were also deployed to the area of Turkish “observation posts”.

At present Turkish generals are following the order of the President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the country, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to strengthen their “observation posts” in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which have long gone beyond monitoring the situation on the ground.

The “observation” posts of the Turkish Armed Forces in the neighboring Arab Republic have become full-fledged strongholds for Islamic militants supported by Ankara, as well as points from which the positions of the Syrian army are constantly fired upon.

« Older Entries