Turkey to host major Cyprus conference

Senior ministers from Turkey and North Cyprus, as well as expert speakers from the UK and elsewhere are to take part in a major conference on the Cyprus issue in Ankara this week.

The event in the Turkish capital, hosted by the Turkish Bar Association (TBB) and called the “Last Word from Cyprus”, will take place this Friday and Saturday.

Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay, Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül will deliver opening speeches, alongside Metin Feyzioğlu, President of the TBB.

The TRNC’s Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Kudret Özersay and Economy and Energy Minister Hasan Taçoy will also speak at the start of the conference.

Prof Necdet Basa, chief advisor to the president of the TBB and a lecturer at Cyprus International University, will make the opening presentation.

Other speakers who are due to take part in the two-day event include former TRNC presidential adviser Ergün Olgun, retired Turkish diplomat Tugay Uluçevik, UK peer Lord Maginnis, former Conservative Party MP Stephen Day, former British Ambassador to Iceland Alper Mehmet, T-VINE founder and editor İpek Özerim, author and military historian Colonel John Hughes-Wilson and Professor Anne Klebes-Pelissier.

The conference will feature a number of panel discussions examining issues such as the reasons for the failure of UN-led talks for a federal solution in Cyprus and the “political options” of the Turkish Cypriot side thereafter; hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation in the eastern Mediterranean and the maritime rights of the TRNC and Turkey; plans to connect North Cyprus to Turkey’s energy grid; and the importance and usage of water supplied to the TRNC by Turkey.

A special session will look at the closed-off town of Maraş, also known as Varosha, following moves by the TRNC government that could lead to its resettlement.

Panellists will discuss the Turkish Cypriot initiative and the legal status of land and property in Maraş owned by the Evkaf religious foundation in a “historical perspective”. The status of such property today under “domestic law” and the “political and legal angles” of resettling Maraş will also be taken up.

Evkaf head İbrahim Benter and North Cyprus MP Oğuzhan Hasipoğlu will be taking part.

A spokesman for the TBB said the conference is “open to everyone” and entry is free of charge. The TBB is located at 8 Özdemir Özok Sokak, off Barış Manço Caddesi in the Balgat area of Ankara.


Top image: Turkish Foreign Minster (left) Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu & Metin Feyzioğlu, head of the Turkish Bar Association. Photo of Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu  at Saadabad Palace, Tehran, in 2015 photo © Tasnim News Agency / Mohammad Hassanzadeh, CC BY 4.0