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CrisisWatch Database

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Turkey

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Month saw govt-PKK peace process threatened by most violent street protests in decades, worst army-PKK clashes since March 2013 ceasefire: tensions followed advances by Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL) militants toward Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani (see Syria)(see ; Turkish troops prohibited PKK fighters from crossing border to aid fellow Kurds, fuelling violent clashes between protesters, police and Islamic groups in south-eastern Kurdish majority areas and major cities; at least 35 killed, military intervened to quell violence. PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan 2 October warned govt-PKK peace process would be derailed if IS took Kobani; parliament same day voted to expand authority to intervene militarily in Syria and Iraq, allow foreign troops to operate on Turkish soil; later ruled out any unilateral military involvement. Turkey 29 Oct allowed ten Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters to cross Turkish border into Syria; further contingent of 150 peshmerga troops to reinforce Kurds in Kobani; Syrian regime denounced move as violation of sovereignty.  Several deadly clashes between PKK, army including: two police killed 9 Oct in Kurdish town of Bingöl; army airstrikes 13 Oct hit PKK positions near Hakkari following three days of PKK rocket fire; three PKK militants killed in clash with army near Kars after setting fire to power plant; three soldiers killed 25 Oct in Yüksekova by masked gunmen; body of executed pro-govt Kurdish militiaman found in Bitlis next day. President Erdogan 31 Oct said Kurdish peace talks to continue despite unrest. Turkey 16 Oct failed to win non-permanent UNSC seat, seen by observers as sign of growing international isolation.

Cyprus

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

After Italian-South Korean SAIPEM consortium began drilling for hydrocarbons off Cyprus coast, Turkey deployed warship to shadow activities; Cypriot FM Ionannis Kasoulides 6 Oct warned Turkish action would halt peace talks. Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades 7 Oct announced unity talks suspended indefinitely in response to Turkey sending seismic survey ships to search for gas in disputed waters; Cypriot National Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaides 20 Oct said Turkish ship Barbaros entered Cypriot EEZ; EU 24 Oct urged Turkey to show restraint; tripartite meeting between Cyprus, Greece and Egypt 29 Oct called for end to Turkish gas survey in Cypriot waters. Turkish National Security Council 31 Oct decided to keep Barbaros in disputed waters.

Turkey

  |  1 Oct 2014

Unchanged

Amid criticism of Turkey’s “laissez-faire” attitude toward militant group Islamic State (IS), President Erdogan 22 Sept said IS “terrorist organisation”, but also symptom of bigger governance problems in Baghdad and Damascus; also pushed for no-fly zone in northern Syria. Turkey still not part of U.S.-led anti-IS coalition, though parliament early Oct to consider cross-border operations, use of Turkish soil by foreign militaries; authorities tightened border control to stop jihadi crossings, 29 Sept deployed tanks to border with Syria’s Kobani region. IS 20 Sept released 49 Turkish diplomatic staff abducted from Mosul consulate in June, including 3 Iraqi nationals, possibly in prisoner exchange with Syrian pro-Turkish group Liwa al-Tawhid. Hundreds of PKK fighters continued crossing into Syria and Iraq; PKK military leader Murat Karayılan 22 Sept accused Turkey of collaborating with IS, said govt-PKK settlement process “meaningless”. PKK militants early Sept set fire to over 17 schools in protest at govt closing down illegal all-Kurdish schools in south. 130,000 Syrian Kurdish refugees 19-22 Sept crossed into Turkey; total 1.5mn refugees to date; 3,000 protested in Istanbul 21 Sept in solidarity with Syrian Kurds; clashes reported between security forces, Turkish Kurds sympathetic to refugees on border same day. Scores of police investigators detained 1 Sept over alleged attempt to overthrow govt through corruption charges against Erdogan.

Cyprus

  |  1 Oct 2014

Unchanged

UN special adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide 17 Sept met with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, secured commitment to twice-monthly “structured negotiations”; UNSG Ban 27 Sept met with Eroglu, urged leaders to bridge differences. Turkish President Erdogan 1 Sept visited Turkish Cyprus, prompting protests, Cypriot authorities said visit illegal.

Turkey

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

Former PM Erdoğan sworn in as 1st popularly elected president 28 Aug after winning 10 Aug 1st round of presidential elections with 52% of vote; opposition MHP-CHP coalition candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu claimed 38%; pro-Kurdish HDP candidate Selahattin Demirtaş secured impressive 10%, reflecting sympathizers beyond Kurdish constituency. Former FM Ahmet Davutoğlu declared new PM 22 Aug; 29 Aug announced govt. Erdoğan likely to maintain tight control over Turkey and push for executive presidency model. Govt-PKK peace process moved forward: HDP delegations visited jailed PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan and northern Iraq PKK HQ; Deputy PM Beşir Atalay 19 Aug said govt ready to send delegations to northern Iraq, finish roadmap by end of Sept. Hard-line exiled PKK leader Duran Kalkan called for radical youth to support peace process. Despite progress, 1 Turkish lieutenant killed 19 Aug in army-PKK clash near Van; 1 civilian killed during protests near Diyarbakir same day. As hundreds of PKK fighters joined Syrian PYD affiliate and Iraqi Peshmergas in battle against IS, PKK commander 22 Aug called for EU military support. Govt reportedly toughened border control to prevent European jihadi infiltrations into Syria. Syrian refugees 11 Aug killed Turkish landlord in Gaziantep, prompting unrest and attacks on Syrian businesses and refugees, including in Istanbul.

Cyprus

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

No progress in reunification talks: negotiators met 25 Aug, discussed “methodology”; Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades 28 Aug requested personal involvement of Turkish President Erdoğan. Former Norwegian FM Espen Barth Eide appointed special advisor to UNSG on Cyprus 22 Aug, days after Norwegian Major General Kristin Lund appointed new chief of UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

Cyprus

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Despite UNSG Ban’s 1 July call to intensify efforts toward comprehensive settlement, no tangible progress as island marked 40 years of physical partition: Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu, Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades met 7 and 24 July; Eroğlu 7 July submitted 5-step roadmap for negotiations including referendum in 2014; Republic of Cyprus spokesman Christodoulides 16 July said roadmap unacceptable, contradicts UN framework; Anastasiades 13 July said country opposed to partition. Turkish PM Erdoğan 15 July, President Gül 20 July reiterated Turkey’s commitment to political Cyprus solution. Greek Cypriot group 14 July filed war crimes case against Turkey before ICC.

Turkey

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Govt-PKK peace process inched forward: new bill approved by parliament 10 July and President Gül 15 July gives state negotiators immunity, allows use of third-parties in talks, mentions work underway for militants’ rehabilitation. Jailed PKK leader Öcalan 10 July said legal framework “positive start to establishing a great peace”. Hundreds of PKK fighters reported crossing into Syria mid-July to join armed wing Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in battle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) jihadists around Kobane. 3 Turkish soldiers, 2 YPG killed near Ceylanpinar on Syria border 21 July; Turkish army said militants tried to enter illegally, PKK said they were ambushed. Turkish soldiers 19 July shot dead Syrian Kurdish man crossing intoŞırnak province from Syria. Tensions in southeast from Syrian spillover worsened with anti-refugee protests and attacks on Syrian businesses in Kahramanmaraş and Adana provinces 13-14 July. PM Erdoğan 17 July accused Israel of attempting “systematic genocide” in Gaza, called for ICC trial; FM Davutoğlu 18 July met with Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Abbas, 25 July with Hamas leader Meshaal, 26 July attended Paris multilateral talks. Israel 18 July reduced diplomatic delegation in Turkey amid growing protests. Govt media ban on June kidnapping of 49 Turkish diplomatic staff and family in Mosul by IS continued. Dozens of police officers and chiefs detained late July over alleged spying on PM Erdoğan and entourage, arrests seen as political move ahead of 10 Aug presidential elections.

Cyprus

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

No sign of breakthrough in reunification talks despite several meetings between chief negotiators in June. Turkish Cypriots blamed Greek Cypriots’ unwillingness to compromise while Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades 10 June said negotiations in deadlock unless Turkish Cypriots willing to discuss all core issues, called for more EU involvement. Anastasiades 2 June met Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu; proposed permanent Greek Cypriot president and Turkish Cypriot VP for new federation; refused by Turkish Cypriots who demand rotating presidency. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry 23 June reportedly called Cyprus a “defunct” state.

Turkey

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Govt-PKK peace process inched forward: govt 26 June submitted new bill to parliament proposing legal immunity for key negotiating actors and govt-led rehabilitation program for militants; Deputy PM Beşir Atalay said solution near; jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan said bill “historic development”. Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 15 June visited PKK leadership in northern Iraq; Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) same day urged movement to avoid roadblocks, attacks, kidnappings. 2 killed in violent protests in Lice 7 June, 23 teachers abducted by PKK 9 June, later released. 1 killed 1 June in clash between pro-Kurdish group and Turkish ultra nationalists in Istanbul; PKK supporters 4-7 June attacked city buses with Molotov coktails, no casualties reported. Syrian Kurdish boy shot 3 June by Turkish soldiers. Sunni militant group ISIL 11 June kidnapped 49 consulate staff in Mosul, Iraq; govt banned media reporting on crisis. Govt 30 June opposed independent Kurdish state, called for Iraq unity. 26 activists charged 12 June for May-June 2013 Taksim Square protests. Ahead of August presidential elections, opposition national MHP and secularist CHP 16 June announced joint candidate, conservative diplomat Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu; HDP 26 June announced Selahattin Demirtas; ruling AKP 1 July announced PM Erdoğan’s candidacy.

Turkey

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Over 300 killed, hundreds wounded, in coal mine explosion in town of Soma, Aegean Manisa province 13 May; police used water cannon, tear gas in subsequent protests in several major cities, including Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Police fired live bullets during clashes in Istanbul 22-23 May, 1 civilian shot, 1 died in grenade blast, at least 9 injured including 7 police. Woman, in coma since inhaling tear gas during Dec protests, died 30 May. No visible progress toward govt-PKK settlement, ceasefire continued to hold despite several breaches. Soldiers 19 May reportedly shot dead Syrian Kurdish woman crossing border in Şırnak province. FM Davutoğlu 8 May said compensation talks with Israel over 2010 Mavi Marmara incident progressing; passenger injured in incident died 23 May after 4 years in coma, court 26 May issued arrest warrants for 4 former Israeli military chiefs. European Court of Human Rights 12 May issued ruling against Turkey on 1974 Cyprus invasion (see Cyprus).

Cyprus

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

European Court of Human Rights 12 May ruled Turkey must pay €90mn compensation for human rights violations related to 1974 Cyprus invasion: €60mn to enclaved Greek Cypriots on Karpas peninsula in north, €30mn to relatives of missing persons. Turkish FM Davutoğlu said Turkey did not intend to pay and decision hurts ongoing reunification talks. New phase in talks between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots started 13 May with discussion of property issue; chief Turkish Cypriot negotiator 28 May said no agreement on roadmap for next stage, issue of natural gas discoveries could present obstacles in talks. During highest level American visit to island in over 50 years, U.S. VP Biden 21 May said Republic of Cyprus is only recognised govt, reiterated U.S. commitment to solving Cyprus problem and developing energy partnership.

Turkey

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

No tangible progress towards govt-PKK settlement; jailed PKK leader Öcalan met pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) delegation 26 April, warned against new clashes, urged govt to enact new laws including for militants’ return. BDP-organised protests against military outpost constructions in SE turned violent: 3 protesters wounded in Tunceli province 27 April; PKK same day kidnapped 2 soldiers in Diyarbakır. Parliament 17 April approved controversial law increasing powers and immunity of National Intelligence Agency (MIT); criticised by opposition for turning Turkey into “intelligence state”, law also potentially provides legal grounds for ongoing Öcalan-MIT negotiations. EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle 10 April expressed concern about independence of judiciary and freedom of expression. Turkey 23 April sent army relief and resupply convoy to Turkish exclave Süleyman Şah tomb 30km inside Syria, area controlled by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Cyprus

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot negotiators 15 April completed screening and reviewing phase of reunification talks; coming stage will focus on bridging proposals, next meeting 6 May. Despite no evidence to suggest imminent breakthrough, Turkish Cypriot leader Eroğlu 21 April suggested settlement could be reached in 2014.

Turkey

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Ruling AKP won more than 44% of vote in 30 March local elections. 8 killed in clashes between supporters of rival candidates on polling day in Sanliurfa and Hatay province; mayoral candidate for Islamist Felicity Party shot dead in Siirt province 31 March. 15-year-old in coma since June 2013 clashes between protesters and police, described by PM Erdoğan as “terrorist”, died 11 March prompting more protest; 1 shot dead 12 March in Istanbul in clash between rival political groups, 1 policeman died of heart attack due to tear gas in Tunceli same day. Continued social media leaks of corruption allegations and phone conversations involving Erdoğan govt led to ban on Twitter 20 March, blocking of YouTube. No new progress in govt-PKK peace process; first combat death since March 2013 ceasefire as Turkish soldier killed in 6 March explosion in Uludere, Şırnak province. Amid fighting between Syrian regime and rebels in border area, Turkey 23 March shot down Syrian warplane outside Hatay province, saying it crossed into Turkish airspace. 3 alleged members of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from Syria started firefight in central Niğde province 20 March; 2 soldiers, 1 police, 1 civilian killed. 2 suspected ISIL members and 3 police injured in raid in Istanbul 25 March.

Cyprus

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Little sign of progress since reunification talks restarted 11 Feb despite regular meetings between negotiators: Republic of Cyprus President Anastasiades 16 March said initial indications not encouraging. Extreme right Greek Cypriot group Elam attacked former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in Limassol 26 March; Talat unhurt.

Cyprus

  |  1 Mar 2014

Improved

Reunification talks restarted 11 Feb after 18-month pause; leaders of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities issued Joint Declaration emphasising future reunified Cyprus to be based on political equality for Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, single united Cyprus citizenship, single international legal personality and single sovereignty. Agreement welcomed by EU, U.S.; Turkey supported talks but FM Davutoğlu 9 Feb suggested two-state solution as alternative path if Greek Cypriots reject new settlement deal, saying “talks cannot and will not last forever”. For first time in more than 4 decades, chief negotiators from both Cypriot communities held official talks in Athens and Ankara respectively 27 Feb.

Turkey

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

Month saw several demonstrations in Istanbul and other provinces against new laws criticised for increasing authoritarian turn of PM Erdoğan’s govt; police used tear gas, water cannon. Controversial laws included bills on internet regulation and Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, both approved by President Gül, and a proposal to broaden powers of National Intelligence Organisation. EU officials sent messages critical of legal changes. 24 Feb tapes of phone conversations allegedly between Erdoğan and son about hiding large sums of cash leaked; PM claimed recordings fake, more recordings emerged in following days. Court 28 Feb released last 5 suspects detained in Dec corruption probe targeting PM’s inner circle, including 2 sons of ministers. Month saw deterioration in peace process between govt and Kurdish insurgency PKK. Ceasefire violations continued, particularly in SE Şırnak province; PKK militants 17 Feb fired on road construction machines near border, Turkish military responded, skirmish continued for several days. At Geneva II conference on Syria conflict (see Syria) Syrian FM Muallem accused Erdoğan of backing “terrorists”. Turkish officials continued to intensify high-level contacts with EU; PM Erdoğan 3 Feb visited Germany, FM Davutoğlu 10-11 Feb visited Brussels.

Cyprus

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

Start of reunification negotiations continue to be stalled over wording of joint statement. UN special envoy Downer 15 Jan met with negotiators from both sides for final round of contacts ahead of informal briefing with UNSC 22 Jan. Business groups from both communities, Greece and Turkey 9 Jan called for “comprehensive and permanent solution” on island.

Turkey

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

Tensions over 17 Dec corruption raid targeting PM Erdoğan’s inner circle deepened. Govt reacted by reshuffling thousands of prosecutors and policemen allegedly behind corruption investigation. Govt 7 Jan sent draft legislation to parliament aiming to enhance executive authority over judges, prosecutors, prompting criticism from U.S., EU. Anti-govt protests formed in major cities: thousands 11 Jan protested in Ankara. Investigation widely seen as instigated by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, reflecting internal battle between formerly allied governing AKP and Gülen’s Islamic movement fighting over control of state institutions; Erdoğan called investigation foreign-backed “coup attempt” by “parallel state”. Peace process between govt and Kurdish insurgency PKK remains fragile, with occasional flare-ups of violence continuing in SE, but ceasefire officially continues. Military court 6 Jan dropped investigation into deaths of 34 Kurdish civilians in military air strike in 2011. Protests erupted 15 Jan over building of new military outpost in Sirnak in SE, several protesters injured. All 5 pro-Kurdish BDP deputies on trial for alleged involvement with Kurdish Communities Union released 3-4 Jan. FM Davutoğlu 19 Jan denied allegations that Turkey supported al-Qaeda in Syria; army 28 Jan opened fire on al-Qaeda-linked militants in N Syria destroying several vehicles, reportedly in retaliation for cross-border fire from Syria; police 14 Jan detained 28 suspects in raid against al-Qaeda. Amid EU concerns over judicial independence in Turkey, Erdoğan 21 Jan visited Brussels for first time in 5 years, renewed commitment to Turkey’s EU path.

Cyprus

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

Attempts to restart reunification talks reached impasse over definition of “single sovereignty” in proposed joint statement that would set goals for talks. During visit to Athens Turkish FM Davutoğlu 14 Dec echoed Turkish Cypriot view of future bizonality as sovereignty divided between 2 constituent states; Greek Cypriots insist on single sovereignty as precondition to resume talks. Greek and Turkish FMs reportedly agreed to simultaneous visits by Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator to Athens and Greek Cypriot chief negotiator to Ankara, but process held up by disagreement over content of joint statement from FMs.

Turkey

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

In perceived proxy battle within AKP, more than 50 people detained 17 Dec for alleged involvement in corruption ring, including sons of 3 cabinet ministers, 1 municipal leader, prominent businessmen, more than 24 formally arrested; 4 ministers implicated replaced in 25 Dec 10-minister cabinet reshuffle. Separate probe delayed after govt reassigned hundreds of police, prosecutor says unable to order detentions for questioning. Peace process between govt and Kurdish insurgency PKK remains fragile, with occasional flare-ups of violence in SE: protests 6 Dec against alleged vandalism of PKK militants’ graves in Yüksekova, Hakkari; 2 protesters killed in clashes during police crackdown, 3rd died later. Further clashes at funeral for killed protesters 7 Dec in Şırnak and Yüksekova, several wounded, including police. PKK 8 Dec kidnapped 4 soldiers in retaliation, released 9 Dec. PKK leader Cemil Bayık 2 Dec said peace process heading off course due to governing AKP delaying tactics, signalled PKK would take up arms again if process not accelerated by spring 2014. Continued tensions along Syrian border: 1 Syrian child killed 3 Dec by Turkish soldiers firing warning shots to stop group illegally crossing back to Syria. Committee to Protect Journalists 18 Dec announced Turkey “world’s leading jailer of journalists”, some 40 journalists imprisoned, mainly Kurdish. Turkey and EU 16 Dec signed readmission agreement obliging Turkey to take back illegal immigrants who enter EU via Turkey, in exchange for start of visa exemption talks. 

Cyprus

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

New round of reunification talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, planned to begin by end Oct, delayed as negotiators unable to agree on joint statement. After informal meeting with Turkish Cypriot President Eroğlu 25 Nov, Greek Cypriot President Anastasiades said “still a long way to go” before “substantive dialogue” could start. Following talks with negotiators from both sides early Nov, UN special envoy Downer said efforts “inching ahead”. Republic of Cyprus govt 22 Nov announced it will begin talks with Italian-South Korean venture on licensing 2 offshore blocks for natural gas exploitation.

Turkey

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

Flagging peace process between govt and Kurdish PKK insurgency reinvigorated as PM Erdoğan and Iraqi Kurdistan leader Masoud Barzani 16 Nov gave joint public address in Diyarbakır; Erdoğan used word “Kurdistan”, visited Diyarbakır municipality run by pro-Kurdish BDP. On first visit to Turkey since 1992, Barzani spoke of Turkish-Kurdish “brotherhood”, urged Turkish Kurds to support PKK peace process. Sporadic army-PKK clashes continue: PKK 15 Nov attacked army convoy in Nusaybin; 19 Nov set construction vehicles on fire on Şırnak-Van highway. Continued reports of smuggling along Syrian border: Turkish border control 2 Nov intercepted convoy carrying 1,000kg of chemicals; 7 Nov seized cargo truck loaded with 1,200 weapons. Govt figures show over 600,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey, over 200,000 of these in camps, rest in cities. Thousands 7 Nov participated in BDP-organised protests against construction of wall along Syrian border in Nusaybin. FM Davutoğlu denied Western accusations that Turkey allows jihadi fighters to transit through its territory to Syria. Interior ministry 27 Nov reported around 500 Turkish citizens fighting in Syria alongside al-Qaeda linked rebels. In attempt to mend ties with Shiite regional powers, Davutoğlu 1 Nov hosted Iranian FM Zarif; during 11 Nov trip to Iraq, visited Shiite shrine, met Shiite spiritual leader al-Sistani. Egypt 23 Nov announced expulsion of Turkish ambassador, citing govt’s “provocative” criticism of Cairo. Thousands of Turkish Alevis 3 Nov staged anti-govt demonstration in Istanbul demanding “equal citizenship”. Ending 3-year hiatus in accession negotiations, EU, Turkey 5 Nov opened chapter 22 on regional policy.

Turkey

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Peace process between govt and Kurdish PKK insurgency looking increasingly fragile, though PKK did not end ceasefire after 15 Oct as threatened. PKK 1 Oct said not satisfied with govt’s 30 Sept “democratisation package”; leader Cemil Bayık 19 Oct said “process has come to an end”, requires “deep and meaningful negotiations” with Kurdish movement “or there will be a civil war in Turkey”, demanded direct access for Öcalan to outside world. Parliament 3 Oct voted to extend mandate authorising deployment of troops to Syria citing threat of chemical weapons. Incidents continue on border with Syria: 1 Turkish civilian killed in Ceylanpınar 28 Oct by stray shell from fighting in Ras al-Ayn between Kurdish and Islamist fighters, Turkish army returned fire. Protests against Turkey’s 7 Oct decision to build wall along Syrian border turned violent 20 Oct as police dispersed protesters in Mardin province. Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Directorate said 22 Oct over 600,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey. After EU 16 Oct published relatively positive Progress Report on Turkey’s accession process, new negotiating chapter on regional policy to be opened 5 Nov, first in 3 years.

Cyprus

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Republic of Cyprus President Anastasiades 4 Oct called for “new impetus” ahead of peace talks expected to start in coming weeks, 27 Oct said his govt wants to reunify island, but would not give in to pressure. Turkish FM Davutoğlu 9 Oct said there is “window of opportunity for peace”. Turkish Cypriot FM Özdil Nami 9 Oct expressed hope to reach agreement on peace plan by March 2014.

Turkey

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

Peace talks between govt and Kurdish PKK insurgency continue but hang in balance as both sides have blamed each other for stalling. High-level PKK leader Cemil Bayık 5 Sept announced halting militants’ withdrawals to outside Turkey; jailed PKK head Öcalan 15 Sept voiced need for “new format” in peace talks. Ceasefire remains in place but tensions continue: PKK 11 Sept attacked construction site, abducted 4 in Siirt; 15 Sept set construction vehicles on fire in Elazığ. PM Erdoğan 30 Sept announced “democratisation package” including plans for education in mother languages in private schools, possible lowering of electoral threshold, removing headscarf ban in public sector. Announcement sparked protests of tens of thousands of Kurds in SE; co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Gültan Kışanak 30 Sept said package failed to meet expectations. Amid continued tensions along Syrian border, govt expressed dissatisfaction with U.S.-Russia agreement in addressing Syrian crisis. 2 Turkish jets 16 Sept shot down Syrian helicopter after it strayed into Turkish airspace. Frequent clashes continue between military and Syrian smugglers: live ammunition smuggled into Turkey exploded 3 Sept, killed 5 Syrians, 1 Turk. 1 Turkish civilian killed 29 Sept in clashes between Turkish army and Syrian smugglers in Hatay. 1 protester died in anti-govt demonstrations in Hatay 10 Sept, sparking more protests in Istanbul, Ankara and Hatay.

Cyprus

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

Turkish FM Davutoğlu and Greek FM Venizelos 23 Sept reached breakthrough agreement on visits by representatives of Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders to Athens and Ankara respectively in attempt to find political solution on island. Leaders voiced demand for immediate resumption of intercommunal talks on Cyprus settlement. Israel’s energy envoy Michael Lotem 10 Sept called on Turkey, Cyprus to move together to develop Israel’s share of East Mediterranean’s natural gas riches. 

Turkey

  |  1 Sep 2013

Unchanged

Govt peace process with Kurdish insurgency PKK looks precarious as both sides engage in aggressive rhetoric. PM Erdoğan 16 Aug reiterated no plans to reduce 10% party election threshold to enter parliament or introduce education in mother languages, also said PKK did not fulfil promises and withdrew only 20% of militants to outside Turkey. PKK leader Cemil Bayık 14 and 27 Aug said govt had until 1 Sept to announce plans to take steps, or PKK could stop withdrawals, walk away from talks. Deputy PM Bülent Arınç 26 Aug said PM to announce a “democratisation package” in 2 weeks. Spillover from clashes in Ras al-Ain on Syria’s Turkish border killed 1 Turk 3 Aug, bringing number of Turks killed in Syria-related violence near border to 74 based on unofficial Crisis Group count. Changing its rejection to engage Syria’s PKK-linked Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD), Turkish govt invited PYD leader Saleh Muslim 25 July and 14 Aug to meet national intelligence and foreign ministry officials. Exchange of fire between gendarmerie and 2,500-3,000 alleged oil smugglers at Syrian border wounded 18 soldiers 6 Aug near Hatay. Relations with Israel deteriorated after PM Erdoğan 20 Aug alleged Israel behind July military coup in Egypt. Turkey and Egypt recalled respective ambassadors, cancelled joint naval drill.

Cyprus

  |  1 Sep 2013

Unchanged

Greek Cypriot president Anastasiades 21 Aug said solution to Cyprus problem “remains government’s priority”, reiterated demand for return of Famagusta. UNSG special envoy Downer 1 Aug said UN engaged with both sides ahead of new UN-mediated negotiations expected Oct.

Turkey

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Govt peace process with Kurdish insurgency PKK under threat as PKK and security forces resumed exchange of fire in SE (no fatalities to date). Turkish soldiers 4 July fired on crowd protesting construction of gendarmerie outpost, killing one; clashes between demonstrators and security forces in other SE provinces continued in following days. PM Erdoğan 26 June indicated no plans to start education in mother languages or lower 10% election threshold to enter parliament, 2 major Kurdish grievances. Interior minister 10 July said that withdrawal of militants to outside Turkish borders not complete; leader of PKK’s armed forces Murat Karayılan said govt’s turn to take steps. Senior PKK member Sabri Ok 25 Jul gave govt until 15 Oct to enact reforms, PKK leader Cemil Bayik 31 Jul said govt had until 1 Sept; no major moves expected until early Oct. Clashes on Syria border continued to spill into Turkey; 3 killed in Ceylanpınar from 17 July fighting across border in Ras al-Ayn between People’s Defense Forces (YPG), military wing of Syria’s Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD), and Jabhat al-Nusra front; Turkey returned fire, sent F-16s and drones to border. Amid reports of PYD’s imminent declaration of autonomy in northern Syria, Turkish nationalist opposition parties calling for military intervention. Anti-govt protests that began late May mostly calmed, despite underlying frustrations remaining unaddressed. Number of protest-related casualties rose to 5 as 19-year-old demonstrator, beaten by unknown assailants 2 June, died 10 July. Conditional opening of first EU accession chapter in 3 years followed by anti-EU statements by Erdoğan’s new chief adviser Yiğıt Bulut. Govt condemned ousting of Egypt’s president Morsi; Erdoğan reportedly refused phone call with acting VP ElBaradei.

Cyprus

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Turkish Cypriot president Eroğlu 16 July said peace talks anticipated for Oct “last chance for a solution”. Greek Cypriot president Anastasiades said talks could resume only under conditions that could lead to tangible results, including return of Famagusta. Republic of Cyprus National Council 17 July approved Foreign ministry Sec Gen Andreas Mavroyiannis as Greek Cypriots’ new “interlocutor” in any talks. In 28 July Turkish Cypriot general elections 4 parties entered new parliament, opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP) got highest vote with 38%.

Turkey

  |  1 Jul 2013

Unchanged

Environmental demonstration that began 27 May against govt’s plans to develop Istanbul’s Gezi Park escalated into large-scale anti-govt protests 31 May, spread to over 60 provinces. Police crackdown and clashes left 4 people dead, over 7,000 injured, dozens detained. PM Erdoğan met protesters 12-14 June, announced Gezi Park construction project on hold awaiting court decision, but scattered demonstrations and police interventions continue. Clashes between security forces and locals at Lice district in SE Diyarbakır province left 1 dead, 10 injured 28 June. Erdoğan organised pro-AKP rallies throughout Turkey starting 15 June in Istanbul. Withdrawal of armed PKK militants to outside Turkish borders continued. Process remains fragile; first PKK-army clash since mid-March left 1 Turkish soldier wounded 3 June in Șırnak province. PKK military leader Karayılan 19 June accused govt of sabotaging process by increasing military presence in Kurdish regions including N Iraq. As of 17 June, some 200,000 Syrians taking shelter in Turkish refugee camps, estimated 250,000 in cities. Turkey-EU relations deteriorated over harsh govt crackdown on peaceful protests; EU 25 June agreed to open Chapter 22 on regional policy, first chapter after 3-year hiatus, but postponed inter-governmental conference until after Oct, following Germany’s request.

Cyprus

  |  1 Jul 2013

Unchanged

Turkish Cypriot president Eroğlu 10 June said he expected new UN-mediated negotiations with Greek Cypriots to start by Oct. Greek Cypriot-led Rep of Cyprus govt 26 June signed statement of intent with U.S./Israeli partners for €7-8bn LNG plant to develop Cyprus offshore gas.

Cyprus

  |  1 Jun 2013

Unchanged

Turkish PM Erdoğan 16 May said “there is a real opportunity to reach an agreement on the Cyprus issue”, and that Turkey continues to focus on it. Turkish President Gül and Energy Minister Yıldız 10 May signalled possible cooperation with Cyprus on East Med gas. Republic of Cyprus FM Kasoulides 10 May said new reunification talks cannot start until fall 2013. UNSG special envoy Downer 28 May said UN did not set a date for resumption of talks.


Turkey

  |  1 Jun 2013

Unchanged

Turkey Syrian crisis continues to spill over: 2 May clashes between Syrians trying to enter Turkey and Turkish security forces at Akçakale crossing in Șanlıurfa province left police officer dead, 11 wounded including 4 civilians. 2 car bombs in Reyhanlı town in border Hatay province 11 May killed 52; Ankara said attack linked to Syrian regime using local Turkish leftist group, investigation continues. After 16 May meeting between PM Erdoğan and President Obama, Turkey shifted position to support Syria political negotiations in Geneva II conference. PM Erdoğan 16 May said Turkey has spent $1.5 billion on Syria. Showing Turkey-PKK peace process is gaining momentum, armed PKK militants started withdrawal from Turkey to northern Iraq 8 May; PKK military leader Murat Karayılan said withdrawal of 2,100 militants will be completed by Nov. No fresh violence between PKK-army thanks to current process, but 2 soldiers died 2 May after stepping on an old mine in Iğdır province. Violent clashes between police and thousands of protestors against govt construction in central Istanbul late month left several injured.

Turkey

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

Parliament 9 April approved ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s proposal to establish commission to monitor peace process between govt and Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK); opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) refused to vote. 3 pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies visited PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan 3 and 14 April, said Öcalan believed process entered “promising stage”.  PKK military leader in northern Iraq Karayılan 25 April announced PKK will start withdrawal from Turkey 8 May; no casualties recorded in April. Govt 3 April announced list of “wise people” tasked with explaining peace efforts to public. MHP 20 April staged first big demonstration against govt’s PKK deal in western province Izmir. Much-anticipated 4th judicial reform package approved 11 April, changing definition of terrorism to exclude printing statements and attending unauthorised demonstrations, but thousands of non-violent defendants in Kurdistan Communities Union case fall outside package’s scope. Amid gradual thaw in relations with Tel Aviv, Israeli delegation visited to discuss compensation for relatives of 9 Turks killed on Mavi Marmara in 2010. European Parliament 18 April approved resolution on Turkey’s 2012 EU progress report calling on the Council to open negotiations on chapter 22 (regional policy), lift blocks on chapters 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights), 24 (justice, freedom and security). Govt disaster agency reported number of Syrian refugees in Turkish camps surpassed 191,000, officials estimate around 250,000 more in Turkish cities.

Cyprus

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoğlu 7 April criticised Greek Cypriots for not re-starting reunification talks, Republic of Cyprus govt spokesman said current conditions not good. UNSG special envoy Alexander Downer 24 April said sides must take into account Greek Cypriot economic difficulties, added leaders likely to meet for talks in May. International bailout for Cyprus approved 12 April, involving €10 billion in loans and up to €13.5 billion contribution by Cyprus, rescuing country from bankruptcy and departure from Eurozone. Turkish energy minister 8 April said can cooperate with Greek Cypriots and Israel in joint energy projects “so long as the political atmosphere allows it”.

Cyprus

  |  1 Apr 2013

Unchanged

UN-led reunification talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots on backburner amid Republic of Cyprus financial crisis. New Greek Cypriot govt’s €10 billion bailout deal with EU and IMF 24 March, including downsizing of financial sector and taxes on bank deposits over €100,000, caused public protests.

Turkey

  |  1 Apr 2013

Improved

Jailed leader of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Öcalan’s 21 March call to militants for eventual ceasefire and withdrawal to outside Turkish borders boosted peace prospects between govt and Kurdish insurgency. PM Erdoğan  said Öcalan’s call “positive” but will wait for implementation. PKK 13 March released 8 kidnapped public officials. PKK military leader in northern Iraq Karayılan declared ceasefire starting 23 March, suggested withdrawal could be completed by fall 2013. Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) claimed responsibility for 2 simultaneous attacks on govt buildings in Ankara 19 March. Israel PM Netanyahu 22 March issued formal apology to Turkey and agreed to pay compensation for killing 9 Turks aboard Mavi Marmara vessel in 2010, PM Erdoğan accepted apology but said ties will not normalize until Israel implements conditions.

Cyprus

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

Democratic Rally (DISI) leader Nicos Anastasiades won Republic of Cyprus presidential elections with 57.5% of vote in 24 Feb second round; hopes that this may give boost to reunification talks as he supports a looser federation model favoured by many Turkish Cypriots.

Turkey

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

Car bomb near Cilvegözü Turkish border crossing to Syria 11 Feb killed 14 civilians including 4 Turks: Syrian National Council (SNC) 12 Feb claimed target was SNC delegation. Govt-PKK peace talks continued: second delegation from pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) 24 Feb visited jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan following govt approval, issued statement suggesting future release of PKK-held captives. Civilian died under riot control vehicle 11 Feb in pro-Öcalan demonstrations in Diyarbakır province. 26 Feb Turkish army airstrike near PKK HQ in N Iraq killed 4 militants. Parliament 25 Feb began discussing AKP govt’s “fourth judicial reform package”, to remedy structural problems with judicial system, could lead to release of some Kurdish politicians and activists detained in Kurdistan Communities’ Union case. Suicide bombing by member of Revolutionary People’s Liberation Part-Front (DHKP-C) at U.S. embassy in Ankara 1 Feb killed 1 guard; police 18 Feb detained 167 people connected to group. France 12 Feb announced readiness to lift its veto on one of 5 EU negotiation chapters it has blocked since 2007. German Chancellor Merkel 23 Feb announced support for opening new chapter, called on Turkey to show progress in opening ports to Greek Cypriot vessels.

Cyprus

  |  1 Feb 2013

Unchanged

No movement on reunification talks ahead of 17 Feb presidential elections in Republic of Cyprus. Angry rhetoric towards Turkey continued; Republic of Cyprus FM Erato Kozakou-Marcoulli 15 Jan accused Turkey of “still [opting] for a hard power stance”, said it was “out of the question” for Cyprus to lift its veto on 6 of Turkey’s EU negotiating chapters, including energy. Greek Cypriot govt 28 Jan said transporting Cypriot gas via pipeline to Turkey not possible until solution reached.

Turkey

  |  1 Feb 2013

Resolution Opportunity Unchanged

Optimism over prospect of govt-PKK peace negotiations followed PM Erdoğan’s 19 Dec revelation that National Intelligence Organisation has been holding new round of talks with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Govt permitted pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and pro-Kurdish civil society organisation DTK to visit Öcalan 3 Jan; during meeting he reportedly said “era of armed struggle is over”. PM adviser on Kurdish affairs 4 Jan said goal with Kurds was “final settlement”, 11 Jan said military operations against PKK would continue until it disarmed. Govt 25 Jan passed law allowing defendants to speak Kurdish in court at will. Diyarbakır court 31 Jan acquitted 98 Kurdish mayors on one count of terrorism-related charges in trial with 106 suspects, suspended sentence for 3 years on another count. Crisis Group informally counted at least 22 people, mostly PKK, killed in clashes between govt and militants during month. Little progress on new constitution; AKP official 2 Jan said deadline may be extended from March to June 2013. 3 PKK women assassinated in Paris 10 Jan, including co-founder Sakine Cansız; thousands peacefully attended funerals in Diyarbakır province 17 Jan. French police arrested another PKK member as suspect in killings 21 Jan. Turkish police continued detentions of non-violent Kurdish activists in 1, 9, 11 Jan operations. Following Ankara’s Dec request to NATO to boost defence capabilities against Syria, 6 Patriot anti-missile batteries from U.S., Germany, Netherlands became operational 25 Jan amid protests, some violent. Over 150,000 Syrian refugees now in 13 Turkish camps; estimated 60,000-150,000 outside camps.

Turkey

  |  30 Dec 2012

Unchanged

NATO 3 Dec approved Turkey’s request for defensive Patriot missiles along its border with Syria; deployment expected early 2013. PKK-army fighting killed 4 militants 1 Dec in Elazig province; Turkish authorities said 26 PKK killed, 11 captured in one-month military operation in Osmaniye province in Dec. Stray Syrian shells continue to fall on Turkish border towns, no casualties in Dec; Turkish military more restrained in retaliating to incidents. 11 Dec EU General Affairs council’s enlargement report mentioned “accession” with reference to Turkey first time in 5 years, stressed need for new constitution.

Cyprus

  |  30 Dec 2012

Unchanged

No movement expected in reunification negotiations before Feb 2013 presidential elections in Republic of Cyprus. Main opposition Democratic Rally (DISY)’s president Nikos Anastasiades, warmer towards reunification under a looser federation that Turkish Cypriots also favour, maintains lead in poll with AKEL’s Stavros Malas second and EDEK-backed hardliner Giorgos Lillikas third. 80 UNFICYP peacekeepers 30 Nov confronted Turkish soldiers in buffer zone over construction of fence by Turkish side; Turks later agreed to take it down.

Cyprus

  |  1 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Turkish foreign ministry 3 Nov issued statement on Republic of Cyprus’ 2nd offshore licensing round for exploration of hydrocarbons, warned “adverse consequences” if international companies carried out “activities in the disputed areas over which Turkish Cypriots also have rights”, reiterating PM’s statement that they would be barred from new energy projects in Turkey. UN envoy Downer met separately with leaders of two sides during trip to island 20 Nov, implied progress not expected in reunification talks until Feb 2013 Greek Cypriot presidential elections.

Turkey

  |  1 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Turkey continued to retaliate against stray Syrian shells with cross-border shelling. Stray shells wounded several in Turkey’s Ceylanpınar district during Syrian air assault on border town Ras al-Ain which began 8 Nov. Turkey sent fighter jets to border; thousands of Syrians fled into Turkey. Turkey 21 Nov formally requested NATO to deploy Patriot missiles along its border with Syria for defence purposes; 15 Nov announced recognition of new National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as legitimate representative of Syrian people. PM Erdoğan condemned Israel’s 14-21 Nov strikes against Gaza (see Israel/OPT); visited Cairo 17 Nov for dialogue, talks on Israel-Hamas war. FM Davutoğlu visited Gaza 20 Nov. Turkey 26 Nov confirmed it had engaged in talks with Israel through diplomatic channels to revive bilateral ties prior to Israel-Hamas war. Hundreds of pro-PKK prisoners 17 Nov ended 2-month hunger strike following message from jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Govt met some of strikers’ demands: 5 Nov said Öcalan could restart meetings with lawyers, and parliament 13 Nov started debating amendment to legalise use of Kurdish in courts. Justice Minister 19 Nov said talks with PKK, cut off mid-2011, could restart. Clashes between army and PKK in south east claimed at least 43 lives during month, down from 52 in October, according to Crisis Group’s informal count. Continued Turkish airstrikes and raids in N Iraq targeted alleged PKK camps.

Turkey

  |  1 Nov 2012

Unchanged

PKK attacks on civilian targets in south east intensified; arson strikes on more than 20 schools, several incidents of kidnappings of teachers and students. Oct death toll from violence between PKK and army at least 52 according to Crisis Group’s informal minimum count, down from Sept. Protesters in support of hunger-striking Kurdish prisoners clashed with police in Diyarbakır, Istanbul 30 Oct. Turkish-Syrian relations further deteriorated as Syrian shelling across border escalated to highest level yet. Mortar shell fired by Syrian govt forces killed 5 civilians in border town Akcakale 3 Oct; Turkey responded with at least 12 hours of artillery fire. Exchange of fire continued sporadically throughout Oct as additional shells landed in Turkey. Parliament 4 Oct authorised cross-border raids; PM Erdoğan insisted move was deterrent not mandate for war, but harsh war rhetoric coming from other senior govt figures. Tensions increased as Turkey 10 Oct forced Syrian passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara, on suspicion it was transporting weapons equipment for Syrian govt, claimed it found illegal military equipment. Syria 13 Oct closed airspace to Turkish planes, reciprocated by Ankara 14 Oct. Refugee situation worsened as govt mid-month reported over 100,000 Syrians in 13 camps along border; around 14,000 reportedly waiting on Syrian side of border. Military 27 Oct denied presence of U.S. troops after top U.S. commanders said military personnel sent to help deal with spillover of Syrian crisis, fight against PKK. EC Progress Report 10 Oct criticised Turkey’s relations with Republic of Cyprus, Kurdish issue, press freedom, lack of consultation in legislative process.

Cyprus

  |  1 Nov 2012

Unchanged

Speaking in north Cyprus, Turkey’s EU Minister Bağış 16 Oct said recognition of Greek Cypriots by other states “means nothing”, implied Turkey had no intention of giving Varosha (Maraș) and Morphou (Güzelyurt) back to Greek Cypriots as part of a solution. Several protests in south after Turkish Cypriots 30 Sept arrested Greek Cypriot police who had chased Turkish Cypriot youth into north. President Christofias asked UN to intervene; policemen released 3 Oct.

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CrisisWatch N°135

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