New protocol to benefit TCs
TURKEY could provide “positive discrimination” in favour of Turkish Cypriots, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Cyprus affairs Recep Akdağ said on Thursday.
He made the comments during a meeting at the Çankaya palace in Ankara with TRNC Finance Minister Serdar Denktaş, as part of negotiations for a new threeyear “economic cooperation protocol” to be signed between the two countries, which will start in 2019.
“We do not distinguish between people in Cyprus and people in our country,” Mr Akdağ said.
“We could even provide positive discrimination for Turkish Cypriots, who have been victimised in the past.”
Mr Akdağ, who had been in the TRNC just a day before, said that the “whole world” and the “Greek Cypriot administration in particular” needed to note the importance of the TRNC to Turkey.
“It is a separate state yet our position remains the same when it comes to protecting [Turkish Cypriots’] rights and laws, just as we do for some 81 million [Turkish] people,” he added.
Mr Akdağ said Turkey was working on policies to raise average annual earnings in North Cyprus to the equivalent of $25,000 and would continue to make major investments in the country’s infrastructure.
“Water, irrigation and roads . . . And now we have a hospital project,” he said. “We are planning to build city hospitals like we have in Turkey. We will continue to stand by our Turkish Cypriot brothers and sisters.”
Mr Denktaş said: “Turkey, as always, will be standing next to us in a series of issues ranging from health to education, financial issues to economic development [and] opening us up to the world via Turkey. We are confident about this.”
During his visit to the TRNC on Wednesday, Mr Akdağ was received by Prime Minister Tufan Erhürman.
Meanwhile three other ministers, Public Works and Transport Minister Tolga Atakan, Agriculture and Natural Resources Minister Erkut Şahali and Labour and Social Security Minister Zeki Çeler, also held a series of contacts this week in Ankara.
On Thursday Mr Atakan met his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Arslan, who pledged continuing support for TRNC infrastructural projects including roads and the “e-state”.
While Mr Şahali met Mr Akdağ and Turkish agriculture counterpart Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba, the Turkish deputy prime minister also received Mr Çeler at Çankaya. Mr Akdağ said research was currently taking place into economic links between the countries and Mr Çeler stressed the importance of maintaining both economic and political cooperation.
Recep Akdağ and Serdar Denktaş