#

Questions

Why does Turkey want to become an EU member?

Turkey’s accession to the EU is our strategic choice and would be the natural outcome of comprehensive, centuries-long relations with European countries. We share a common destiny. We cherish and defend the same values and norms the EU is built on, such as democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.

Turkey is a part of the European family. Since the foundation of the Republic, Turkey has taken part in almost all European institutions, in most of them as a founding member. Turkey has made considerable contributions to the formation of the current European architecture through the constructive role it has played within international organizations such as the Council of Europe, OECD, NATO and OSCE.

We cooperate extensively with the EU in almost every policy field including foreign policy issues. Our contribution to the EU’s security and defence policy is significant. The EU is our main economic partner. Since 1996, Turkey has been part of a Custom Union with the EU.

Turkey’s EU membership will be a natural result of the transformation process in all fields of life in our country. The ongoing reforms, especially in the areas of democracy, human rights and rule of law, constitute a significant aspect of our efforts towards EU accession and show our willingness to contribute to the global role of the EU.  

What will be the benefits of accession for Turkey and the EU?

The EU’s enlargement policy has proved to be the most successful integration project on our continent. The European Union, comprising 28 members with a population of almost 500 million people has evolved into a multi-dimensional powerful international structure in our continent in terms of political, economic, social and cultural co-operation and development.

The EU has a large “acquis communautaire” which aims at raising standards in a wide spectrum of issues, ranging from food safety to foreign and defence policies. In this context, the ongoing reform process which aims at adopting the acquis will provide our citizens with the highest norms and standards in every field of their daily lives.

On the other hand, the accession of a democratic and modern Turkey with its unique geo-strategic position would bring major benefits to the EU as well. Thanks to our dynamic economy and young population, the enlarged Union with Turkey on board can respond better to the challenges of globalisation. With our pro-active and multidimensional foreign policy and strong ties with the countries of the region Turkey can contribute to the credibility and effectiveness of the EU’s foreign policy. Turkey’s location can also help to expand and diversify supply routes for oil and natural gas to European markets. Turkey could contribute to the Union’s perception of cultural diversity and the dialogue among cultures because we share the same universal values.

Furthermore, as a factor of stability in its region, Turkey’s membership to the EU would also contribute to regional and global peace and stability as well as the dissemination of universal values to a wider geography.

What is the current state of play regarding the accession negotiations?

Turkey’s accession negotiations started in 2005. Since then 15 chapters have been opened and one provisionally closed (Science and Research). Unfortunately, after the start of our accession negotiations, certain member states have changed their policies in contradiction with their own previous decisions and commitments. Politically motivated blockages and the exploitation of our accession talks in domestic politics by some European leaders have slowed down the pace of our negotiation process.

The Turkey-EU Summit held in Brussels on 29 November 2015 has been a turning point in creating a new momentum in Turkey’s accession process. Turkey was represented at the Summit by a delegation headed by H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, the Prime Minister. The 28 members of the EU as well as the Presidents of the EU Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission also attended the Summit.

The Final Declaration of the Summit emphasized, among others, the importance of holding twice a year Turkey-EU Summits, of exchanging views on foreign and defence policy matters and holding comprehensive and regular political dialogue meetings of Ministers/High Representative /Commissioners in order to enhance cooperation. The decision to open Chapter 17 on Economic and Monetary Policy and the commitment of the European Commission to finalize in the first quarter of the year 2016 the preparations for opening of other chapters (15, 23, 24, 26 and 31) were also mentioned.

As decided in the Summit, the Chapter 17 on Economic and Monetary Policy was opened at the Intergovernmental Conference held in Brussels on 14 December 2015.

State of Play in the Accession Negotiations Process of Turkey as of 1 April 2016

Chapters

Chapters Opened

Chapters Closed

1 – Free Movement of Goods

2 – Freedom of Movement of Workers

3 – Right of Est. & Freedom to Provide Services

4 – Free Movement of Capital

19 December 2008

5 – Public Procurement

6 – Company Law

17 June 2008

7 – Intellectual Property Rights

17 June 2008

8 – Competition Policy

9 – Financial Services

10 – Information Society And Media

19 December 2008

11 – Agriculture And Rural Development

12 – Food Safety, Vet. & Phytosanoitary Policy

30 June 2010

13 – Fisheries

14 – Transport Policy

15 – Energy

16 – Taxation

30 June 2009

17 – Economic And Monetary Policy

14 December 2015

18 – Statistics

26 June 2007

19 – Social Policy And Employment

20 – Enterprise And Industrial Policy

29 March 2007

21 – Trans-European Networks

19 December 2007

22 – Regional Pol. & Coord. of Structural Instr.

23 – Judiciary And Fundamental Rights

24 – Justice, Freedom And Security

25 – Science And Research

12 June 2006

12 June 2006

26 – Education And Culture

27 – Environment

21 December 2009

28 – Consumer And Health Protection

19 December 2007

29 – Customs Union

30 – External Relations

31 – Foreign, Security And Defence Policy

32 – Financial Control

26 June 2007

33 – Financial And Budgetary Provisions

34 – Institutions

35 – Other Issues

When can Turkey become an EU member?

Turkey can become an EU member when the accession negotiations are completed i.e. all chapters are successfully closed. The decision must be taken by unanimity of all EU member states. The next step would be the signature of the Accession Treaty and its successful ratification by the European Parliament and all member states.

Has Turkey lost interest in the EU? Do Turkish people still want to join the EU?

Turkey has a 50-year long history with the EU. Membership in the EU continues to be our strategic goal. We maintain this goal despite the current stalemate in our accession process. This is a testament to our determination.

Desiring to share a prosperous future with other European nations on the basis of common values, Turkish people retain their strong support for EU accession. The support of public opinion is the real driving force behind our reform efforts. However, there has been a significant decline in the faith of our citizens in the possibility of Turkey’s accession. This is due to the subjective political hurdles we face in our accession process as well as the negative attitude and statements of certain European statesmen.

Despite the opposition of some member states, most of the EU countries support Turkey’s accession to the EU. The Enlargement Strategy Document published by the European Commission in October 2011 stresses that “Turkey is a key country for the security and prosperity of the European Union. Turkey’s contribution to the EU in a number of crucial areas will only be fully effective with an active and credible accession process”.

Turkish people are aware of the benefits of the pre-accession process. The EU contributes financially through a variety of projects which aim at supporting political reforms, strengthening the rule of law and human rights, improving infrastructure and protection of environment, as well as increasing the quality of education by training and scholarships. The accession process helps carrying forward reforms which serve the welfare of our citizens and the prosperity of our country.

The Final Declaration of Turkey-EU Summit of 29 November 2015 underlines that the visa liberalisation road map would be accomplished in October/November 2016. Traveling to European countries without a visa obligation will no doubt have a positive impact on Turkish citizens’ perception about the EU and increase Turkish people’s support for membership.

How does the Customs Union with the EU affect our economy? What are the obstacles in the functioning of the Customs Union?

Turkey has integrated its economy with European market and aligned its domestic market with international trade rules and regulations with the help of the Customs Union Decision that entered into force in 1996.

The Customs Union with the EU has significantly contributed to the increase in our trade volume, provided an opportunity for our producers to reach to the developed market and consumers with high-level income.

However, since Turkey has not been part of decision-making mechanisms in external trade relations of the EU, some problems appear in the functioning of the Customs Union Agreement. Turkey needs to sign Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with the third countries that the EU has concluded FTAs with. The problem occasionally encountered is that those countries or regional organizations which have signed FTA with the EU are not willing to start the same process with Turkey.

Turkey has reached an understanding with the EU on the revision of the Customs Union Decision according to the needs of the world economy. It is expected that official negotiations on the revision of the Customs Union will start at the end of 2016.

What are impacts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and EU on Turkey?

Considering the weight of both the US and EU in world trade, a possible agreement on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could make a significant impact on global trade relations and redefine international trade rules and regulations.

It is predicted that with the implementation of the TTIP the national income of EU member states will increase approximately 120 billion Euro annually.

TTIP when in force will inevitably have a negative impact on Turkey’s external trade. In order to overcome possible difficulties, alternatives such as signing an FTA with the USA in parallel with TTIP or the inclusion of Turkey in some legal way in the TTIP Agreement are being considered.

Through what ways will Turkey use the financial support of the EU for Syrians under temporary protection?

Within the framework of the commitments made in the Turkey-EU Action Plan on Migration, the EU has decided to allocate 3 billion Euro fund for Syrians under temporary protection. In this regard, the European Commission established a Refugee Facility for Turkey Mechanism whereby the said fund will be transferred to relevant projects designed to meet the needs of the Syrians.

There is currently a joint “Need Assessment” work being carried out in Turkey which will be completed in the first quarter of 2016. The funds will then be transferred to Turkey on the basis of the needs assessment report in order to meet the needs of the Syrians in Turkey in the fields of education, health, humanitarian aid, etc.

What is the Foreign Ministry doing so that Turkish citizens can travel visa free to the European Union?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey has all along been actively raising the issue with the European Union Commission as well as European Union member states both on multilateral and bilateral platforms.

As a negotiating candidate country having Customs Union with the European Union since January 1996 as well as some acquired rights derived from the Additional Protocol between the Community and Turkey, Turkish citizens should have enjoyed visa-free travel to the EU long along.

Turkey has also taken steps to meet EU conditions for visa free travel of the Turkish citizens to EU countries, such as 1) biometric passports; 2) visa labels with ICAO standarts; 3) progress on readmission agreement talks; 4) airport transit visa practise.

Biometric passports were in circulation since June, 1, 2010.

Visa Liberalization Dialogue with the EU was launched on 16th December 2013. The Readmission Agreement, which was signed on the same day, entered into force as of 1 October 2014.

Our efforts towards the realization of visa liberalisation continue.

Is there any legal procedure which the Turkish citizens may follow against the visa requirements of the EU members?

Turkish citizens facing unfair visa practise may start legal procedures against the competent authorities of the State concerned through an attorney.

What is the essence of Turkish-American relations in Turkey’s foreign policy?

Our relations with the U.S. constitute one of the main pillars of Turkish Foreign Policy.

Getting its strength from their robust alliance and friendship ties, Turkish-American relations have been progressing on mutual respect and common interests at both bilateral and international platforms such as UN, NATO and G-20. Based on shared values like democracy, human rights and the rule of law, our relations have reached the level of “Model Partnership”.

Covering critically important issues, such as combating terrorism, energy supply security, nuclear non-proliferation and global economic developments in a broad and tough geography, ranging from the Balkans to the Caucasus and South Asia, from Europe to the Middle East and Africa, Turkish-American partnership generates concrete outcomes through their comparative advantages.

As two democracies in different parts of the world, Turkey and the U.S. may sometimes have differing approaches to some issues, which should be considered healthy and natural in such a comprehensive and multi-faceted relationship. Nevertheless, the two countries are capable and experienced enough to find solutions respecting their sensitivities.

The current developments and constantly evolving threats that we face in our immediate vicinity highlights more than ever the importance of closer consultations and cooperation between the two countries.

Increasing the efforts to bring the economic, commercial and investment relations on par with our political, military and security cooperation with the US. is another priority for Turkey.

What are the main principles of Turkey’s Balkan policy? Did the Trilateral Processes make tangible contributions to the stability of the Balkans?

Turkey, being a Balkan country herself, attaches utmost importance to peace, stability and prosperity in the Balkans.

We have historic, cultural and human bonds with the Balkans. The region is our physical gate to the West, and vice versa.

Our policy is guided by the principles of “regional ownership and “inclusiveness”. The four major tenets of the Turkish Balkan policy are;

-high level political dialogue,

-security for all,

-utmost economic integration, and,

-preservation of the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious social fabric.

Despite the remarkably positive developments in the last two decades, Balkans still remain the fragile part of Europe. The region is key for permanent peace and sustainable stability in Europe. Turkey supports the EU and NATO integration processes of all Balkan countries.

The Trilateral Consultation Mechanisms between Turkey-Bosnia Herzegovina and Serbia on the one side, and Turkey-Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia on the other, have made substantial contributions to regional stability.

Turkey-Bosnia Herzegovina-Serbia Trilateral Consultation Mechanism, established in 2009 by Turkey’s initiative, sets a prominent dimension of the relations between the three countries. Foreign Ministers have held 10 meetings since its onset, the most recent one being organized in New York on 29 September 2015, in the margins of the 70th UN General Assembly.

Turkey-Bosnia Herzegovina-Serbia Trilateral Consultation Mechanism was upgraded to the level of Heads of State and Government, by the Summit held in İstanbul on 24 April 2010, which was hosted by H.E. Mr Abdullah Gül, Former President of the Republic of Turkey. The Declaration issued at the end of the Summit announced its institutionalization.

The Second Summit of the Process took place in Karadjordjevo, Serbia on 26 April 2011. Appointment of an Ambassador by Bosnia Herzegovina to Belgrade, adoption of a condemnation and apology for the Srebrenitsa “massacre” in the Serbian National Assembly, as well as the joint visit paid by former Presidents Mr. Abdullah Gül and Mr. Boris Tadiç to Srebrenitsa in 2009, have set the major products generated by the positive climate that the Summits and Ministerial meetings have created.

The Third Summit was organized in Ankara on 14-15 May 2013. The thema was “Building Future Together”, where the leaders (H.E. Mr. Abdullah Gül, Former President of the Republic of Turkey, H.E. Mr. Nebojşa Radmanoviç, the-then President of the Bosnia Herzegovina Presidential Council, along with the Members H.E. Mr. Zeljko Komşiç and H.E. Mr. Bakir Izetbegoviç, and H.E. Mr. Tomislav Nikoliç, President of the Republic of Serbia) underlined that the Trilateral Summits Process has reached a more comprehensive and advanced stage since the first Summit in İstanbul in 2010. Within this context, parties confirmed that the Process obtained a new phase to produce joint projects on the basis of a positive agenda, than the initial backdrop where the basic goals had been set to solve crisis and make the parties meet.

The Ankara Declaration adopted at the end of the Summit emphasized the main goal to create a Balkan region where peace, prosperity and stability prevail; welcomed the affirmative developments in the last decade with regard to the integration processes of the Balkan countries with the European structures; committed mutual encouragement and support to the EU-integration process of Turkey, Bosnia Herzegovina and Serbia, as well as experience-sharing in this regard, and, as agreed in the previous Trilateral Summits, referred to the significance the Trilateral Consultation Mechanism had as an institutional framework in developing cooperation in the fields of economy, culture, education, scientific innovation, energy, infrastructure, sports and tourism.

In line with the goals set in the Ankara Declaration, the Trilateral Trade Committee was formed in 2013, as the economic pillar of the Trilateral Consultation Mechanism. The Committee convened twice in 2015, in Ankara on 17-18 August, and in Belgrade on 19 October, respectively.

“The Medium-Term Programme and Action Plan for 2016-2018” was signed during the Trilateral Trade Committee Meeting held in Belgrade on 19 October 2015. Subsequently, “Turkey-Bosnia Herzegovina-Serbia Trilateral Business Forum” convened in Sarajevo on 20 October, 2015.

The Medium-Term Action Plan envisaged the establishment of the “Joint Trade Office of Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina” in İstanbul. Turkish Exporters Assembly has assumed to cover all expenses of the Joint Trade Office, which will be opened in the period ahead.

Ministers of the Trilateral Trade Committee also agreed on holding a “Business-Investment Forum” in İstanbul, and a “Tourism Forum” in Belgrade.

In parallel with the Turkey-Bosnia Herzegovina-Serbia Trilateral Consultation Mechanism, Trilateral Consultation Mechanism between Turkey-Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia was established with a view to supporting peace and stability of Bosnia Herzegovina, and contributing to the relations between the Bosniaks and Croats who co-inhabit in the Federation.

Within this framework, Delegations led by the Foreign Ministers of the three countries met four times in the year 2010. Restoration of the Mostar Municipality building and the Mostar Music School; a regular stopover of one night in Mostar by tourist groups organized by Turkish or Croatian operators; the revitalization of the 5C Corridor and the Mostar Airport to road and air traffic, set the primary projects that were discussed in these Ministerials in 2010.

The fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Turkey-Bosnia Herzegovina-Croatia Trilateral Consultation Mechanism was held in New York on 29 September 2015, within the margins of the Opening Meetings of the 70th UN General Assembly, where Ministers Sinirlioğlu, Crnadak and Pusiç reiterated their joint resolve to reinvigorate the Trilateral Consultation Mechanism.

What is the role of the “South East European Cooperation Process” in the Balkans?

The South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) is the sole regional cooperation platform that reflects the common will of the Balkan states. SEECP is accepted as a regional counterpart by the EU and other international/multilateral actors/platforms. Turkey contributes effectively in the work of the SEECP. Participant states are Turkey, Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

Since its onset in 1996, the SEECP aims to strengthen political cooperation and cooperation in the field of security between the participant states, encourage economic cooperation, and broaden the dimensions of collaboration in democratic institutions, in the field of justice and home affairs, fight against illegal activities, as well as humanitarian dimension.

The SEECP is a flexible consultation mechanism, thus, does not have a permanent secretariat. The “executive branch” of the SEECP is the Chairmanships-in-Office (CiO). Turkey has so far assumed the CiO twice, in 1998-1999, and, 2009-2010. Bulgaria is the current CiO of the SEECP, which will be handed over to Croatia in June 2016.

The SEECP as a forum for dialogue and consultation, is seen as a significant tool in the European and Euro-Atlantic integration processes of the participant states.

Regional Cooperation Council, operating under the SEECP umbrella since 2008, is located in Sarajevo, and undertakes a significant role in implementation.

The SEECP, standing out as the mere collaboration platform that encompasses entire Balkans, has helped maintain high-level dialogue between the member states since its inception. As of 2016, when we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the SEECP, it is believed that the “Process” should become a more functional platform with increased ability to bring into life tangible cooperation projects, under an institutional architecture in line with the contemporary needs.

“SEECP Joint Declaration Against Terrorism” was adopted in the Informal Meeting of SEECP Foreign Ministers”, held in Tirana on 24 February 2015, where Turkey was represented by H.E. Mr. Akif Çağatay Kılıç, Minister of Youth and Sports.

The “Regional Cooperation Platform for Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism leading to Terrorism and Foreign Terrorist Fighters in South East Europe” (SEE CVE-FTF Platform), that would operate within the RCC, was introduced by this declaration. The First Meeting of “Contact Points” of the SEE CVE-FTF was held in Sarajevo on 27 January 2016.

”Joint Statement on Migration Challenges” was adopted in the most recent Informal Meeting of SEECP Foreign Ministers”, held in Sofia on 2 February, 2016. H.E. Mr. Naci Koru, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs represented Turkey in this meeting.

The SEECP has a parliamentary dimension, too. The Meeting of Speakers of SEECP Parliaments, organized in Athens in 1997, reassured the joint will on the establishment of a regular consultation mechanism among the national assemblies of the participant states and the formation of an “Inter-Parliamentary Consultation Assembly”.

In 2007, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to institutionalize the steps towards improving parliamentary cooperation between the participant states. Within this framework, the “Regional Secretariat for Parliamentary Cooperation in South Eastern Europe” (RSPC SEE) was established in Sofia.

The 8th Conference of Speakers of SEECP Parliaments, held in Antalya in 2010, concluded with the agreement on the formation of a “Parliamentary Assembly”, as the ultimate goal of the endeavours towards institutionalizing the inter-parliamentary collaboration. To this end, a Working Group was set up in 2011.

The outcome of the 10th Conference of the Speakers of the SEECP Parliaments, held in Ohrid on 26-28 May 2013, confirmed the will to establish the “SEECP Parliamentary Assembly”.

Within this framework, the Inauguration Session of the SEECP Parliamentary Assembly (SEECP PA) was held in Bucharest on 9-11 May 2014. H.E. Mr. Cemil Çiçek, Former Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly participated in the Inaugural Session.

Turkey proposed the formation of a “Permanent Secretariat”, in order to strengthen the institutional capacity of the SEECP PA. On the basis of the agreement between the participant states on her proposal, Turkey nominated İstanbul to host the Permanent Secretariat. Turkey committed to cover all expenses of the Permanent Secretariat for the first five years, in case it was established in İstanbul. On the other hand, Bulgaria proposed that the Sofia-based RSPC SEE be transformed into the “Permanent Secretariat of the SEECP Parliamentary Conference“.

Throughout the year 2015, Turkey and Bulgaria ran their own campaigns for the candidacies of İstanbul and Sofia, respectively. İstanbul obtained the support of 8 countries, while support for Sofia remained at 3. However, the issue could not be concluded during the Tirana Summit held on 22-26 May 2015, due to the controversy among the participant delegations over the rules of procedure on voting; whether majority or unanimity is required for this decision

What is the state of our bilateral relations with Bulgaria where a considerable number of ethnic Turks live?

Bilateral relations with our neighbor, friend and ally Bulgaria have been improving.

The High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) which was held in Ankara on 20 March 2012 and co-chaired by the two Prime Ministers represents a turning point in bilateral relations. High level visits between Turkey and Bulgaria are exchanged frequently. Most recently, H.E. Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, paid a working visit to Bulgaria on 15 December 2015 and had comprehensive talks with his counterpart on our bilateral relations.

Before him, on 14 October 2015, H.E Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria, paid a one-day visit to Turkey to meet with H.E Ahmet Davutoğlu, in the margins of the 8th Summit Meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development which took place in İstanbul.

One of the main pillars of our bilateral relations is the Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin living in Bulgaria. The population of the Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin in Bulgaria, according to the official figures (2011 census) is 588,318 which amounts to 8.8% of the overall population of Bulgaria. Nevertheless, responding to the census questions on ethnicity, religion and mother tongue is not obligatory in Bulgaria.

We welcome the adoption of the “Declaration on condemning the forced assimilation policy against the Muslims of Bulgaria” by the National Assembly of Bulgaria on 11 January 2012.

With the decision of the City Court of Sofia to register the results of the II. National Conference of the Bulgarian Muslims which was held on 24 January 2016, it has been determined that the Muslims in Bulgaria are represented by the elected Grand Mufti Mustafa Aliş Hacı.

On the other hand, Bulgarian National Assembly’s adoption of the resolution on 24 April 2015, titled “The recognition of the mass extermination of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire between 1915-1922” which was submitted by a racist party, has been an unfortunate development for our bilateral relations.

The bilateral trade volume between Turkey and Bulgaria amounted to 4 billion Dollars in 2015 (Exports: 1.7 billion Dollars / Imports: 2.3 billion Dollars). Turkey is among the five top trading partners of Bulgaria. Turkey’s share in Bulgarian foreign trade is around 8%. The total value of Turkish investments in Bulgaria is 2 billion Dollars. In addition to two banks with Turkish capital, around 1,500 Turkish companies are active in Bulgaria, employing more than 10,000 people. Moreover, the total value of ongoing and completed projects undertaken by the Turkish contracting sector in Bulgaria has reached 1.2 billion Dollars.

In addition to the developments in our bilateral relations, there exist some issues which need to be resolved as well.

The problems such as raising the vested cultural and educational rights of the Turkish minority to the standards of the European Union, of which Bulgaria is a member; the verbal attacks and acts of vandalism by ultra-nationalist circles directed at Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin and the sacred sites; the restitution of the social security rights of the Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin who had to immigrate to Turkey due to the forced assimilation campaign of the time; bringing the perpetrators of the assimilation campaign to justice, and the difficulties encountered during the restitution process of the waqf (Muslim foundations) properties belonging to the Office of the Grand Mufti which were confiscated during the communist regime, have been among the outstanding issues in the relations between the two countries.

What are the problems encountered by the ethnic Turkish population in Greece?

The Turkish Muslim population living in Greece (with the exception of the Turkish population in Western Thrace) and the Greek Orthodox population living in Turkey (with the exception of those in Istanbul, Gökçeada and Bozcaada) were subject to a population exchange, in line with the relevant agreements to which Turkey and Greece are parties.

Today, about 150 thousand ethnic Turks live in Western Thrace, the north-eastern region of Greece. This population constitutes the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace whose status was established by the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923 and whose rights were guaranteed by several bilateral and multilateral agreements. However, the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace faces breach of its minority rights. Some of the main problems encountered by the Turkish Minority are the following:

-Denial of ethnic identity: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in its 3 judgements that the ban on the Turkish Muslim Minority NGO’s bearing the adjectives “Turkish/Minority” in their titles is discriminatory and in contradiction with the freedom of association. [Article 11 of the ECHR]. In one case, Greece was also found in violation of the right to a fair trial [Article 6 of the ECHR]. However, Greece does not implement these rulings. Due to the non-implementation of the ECtHR rulings, the issue is still on the agenda of the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe, which supervises the execution of judgements of the ECtHR.

-Problems in the field of education: The minority’s right to education in mother tongue is safeguarded by the Lausanne Peace Treaty. However, the minority faces several problems in the field of education. Some new practices in particular towards the minority constitute a step backwards.

Firstly, although kindergartens are part of the compulsory education as of 2011-2012 school year for the minority, the minority is not allowed to open bilingual kindergartens contrary to the Lausanne Peace Treaty provisions.

Secondly, the number of minority secondary-high schools in particular is inadequate. Each year approximately 1000 students graduate from the minority elementary schools. Yet, there are only 2 minority high schools in the region, one in Komotini (where the Turkish minority constitutes half of the population), the other in Xanthi (the Turkish minority constitutes 45 % of the population). Greek authorities have not yet responded to the Minority’s application to set up new minority schools. Furthermore, under a new legislation that took effect in 2011, minority schools have either been closed down or merged with others.

Thirdly, the quality of education needs to be upgraded at the minority schools. There is currently a lack of a graduate programme for training teachers for the minority schools in line with the needs and demands of the minority.

Number of teachers to be assigned by Turkey and Greece to work in each other’s minority schools was mutually agreed as 35 (Exchange of Notes of 1952 and 1955 between Turkey and Greece). Yet, this number was unilaterally reduced by Greece to 16 as of 1990-91 school year. Turkey-educated teachers have not been allowed to work at minority elementary schools since 2002-2003 school year either.

- Restrictions in the field of freedom of religion: The elected Muftis of Komotini and Xanthi are not recognized by the Greek Government in contravention of the Lausanne Peace Treaty. Also for the cases taken to the Court by the elected Muftis, there exist 5 decisions by the ECtHR against Greece, which clearly demonstrates that Greece has been found in violation of freedom of thought, conscience and religion [Article 9 of the ECHR] and that “in democratic societies, the state does not have the right to interfere with communities’ religious leadership.” In one case, Greece was also found in violation of the right to a fair trial [Article 6 of the ECHR].

Against the will of the Turkish minority, the so-called “Law on 240 Imams” was also put into effect in 2013 as a new instrument to interfere with the religious freedom of the minority. This legislation gives the commission, composed of Orthodox public employees, to have a say on the appointment of imams, religious instructors.

- Problems regarding minority foundations: Greece has been interfering with the administration of the Muslim charitable foundations in violation of the relevant international agreements. Election of the executive boards of the Muslim foundations by the Minority is not possible since 1967. This practice has led to the mismanagement of these foundations, with their properties expropriated. The foundations have also been subject to excessive taxes.

On 13 February 2008, a new Law on Muslim foundations was adopted by the Greek Parliament. The Turkish minority had not been consulted during the legislative work. Therefore, their needs and expectations were not reflected in this act. The legislation only on paper provides the Minority with the opportunity to elect the board members of their foundations. However, the legislation gives excessive powers to the Regional Governor of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace region and the appointed muftis, not the elected muftis. Therefore, the current legislation in effect does not give full power to the members of the minority to run their foundations. What the minority expects is, however, to have full power and supervision over their foundations.

- Citizenship rights: Article 19 of the Greek citizenship law which was in effect between 1955-1998, reads as follows: "A person of non-Greek ethnic origin leaving Greece without the intention of returning may be declared as having lost Greek nationality". Approximately 60 thousand minority members were stripped of their Greek citizenship due to the implementation of this article. The members of the Turkish Minority lost their citizenship while studying or working abroad (in an EU or non-EU country) and even while doing their compulsory military service in the Greek army.

The repeal of the said Article in 1998 has, however, not paved the way for the members of the minority to reacquire the Greek and accordingly the EU nationality.

-Political representation: 3% national threshold which applies also for the election of independent candidates, curbs the ability of the Minority to send independent representatives to the Parliament.

The Turkish minority's political party, namely “Friendship, Equality and Peace” (FEP) had achieved a strong showing in the European Parliament elections in 2014. FEP, which received 43 % and 26 % of the votes in Rhodope and Xanthi, respectively came out as the first party in these two prefectures. FEP received the biggest number of votes in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Region, and thus came out as the third party in this region, which contains the prefectures of Rhodope, Xanthi, Evros, Kavala and Drama.

- Problems regarding the freedom of expression and media: Heavy fines imposed on the Minority press and radio stations are another method of intimidation that the minority is currently facing.

The Turkish Community living in Rhodes and Kos: Greece does not recognize the minority rights of the Turkish community living in the islands of Rhodes and Kos under the pretext that those islands were under the Italian rule when the Lausanne Peace Treaty was signed. The Turkish community in the islands face difficulties in taking classes in mother tongue and religion, administrating its foundations and performing religious duties.

The negotiations for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus resumed on May 15, 2015. What is the current state of the negotiations?

There is an ongoing negotiation process between the two sides on the Island since September 2008, under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General’s Good Offices Mission. The parameters of a settlement, such as bi-zonality, bi-communality and political equality of the two co-founder peoples to form a new partnership with two Constituent States of equal status, have been established throughout decades long UN negotiations. These provided necessary material for a swift achievement of the settlement on which a new state of affairs shall be created in Cyprus. These points were also present in the Leaders’ Joint Statement of 11 February 2014 which provided a framework for the ongoing negotiations.

Following the completion of the elections in the Turkish Cypriot side and the election of Mr Mustafa Akıncı as the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the negotiations resumed on May 15, 2015.

As pointed out in November 2015 by the UNSG’s Special Advisor Espen Barth Eide, previous meetings between the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot leaders have created a solid basis for the intensification of talks, a phase in which the leaders will take an even more direct role in the negotiations.

Taking advantage of the positive climate on the Island, the current period requires the two sides and all relevant parties to continue to invest considerable amount of energies and to place sincere efforts to the process.

The Turkish Cypriot side has been contributing to the process with a sincere, constructive and dynamic approach, taking numerous initiatives in order to intensify and accelerate the negotiations and reach an agreement.

Turkey fully supports the ongoing UN negotiations and appreciates the efforts for a comprehensive settlement on the Island. The Cyprus issue must be settled as soon as possible with a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement that guarantees the legitimate rights of the Turkish Cypriots.

Looking from a broader perspective, a settlement in Cyprus will certainly have a positive impact in the wider region by contributing to eliminate the prevailing instabilities.

What are the outstanding issues in the Aegean Sea? What is being done for their solution?

There are a number of interrelated issues in the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece which directly affect Turkey’s fundamental rights and interests. These issues can be summed up as follows: breadth of territorial waters, delimitation of the continental shelf, delimitation of maritime boundaries, legal status of certain geographical features in the Aegean, breadth of national airspace, problems stemming from the abuse of FIR (Flight Information Region) responsibility and the militarization of the Eastern Aegean islands in violation of their demilitarized status under several international treaties.

On the issue of the breadth of the territorial sea in the Aegean our position is quite clear. In the Aegean, where special circumstances prevail, it is of vital importance for Turkey that the existing high seas areas be preserved. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that parties refrain from unilaterally extending their territorial waters. The extension of the currently 6-nautical mile territorial waters in the Aegean Sea to 12 nautical miles would decrease the ratio of the high seas from almost 50% to 19% and would significantly restrict Turkey’s access to the Aegean. In this respect, the declaration of the Turkish Parliament made on 8 June 1995 was in reaction to the decision of the Greek Parliament adopted on 1 June 1995 to empower the Greek Government for the unilateral extension of Greek territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. The Greek side have been intentionally portraying this as “casus belli”, a concept forbidden by the UN system, with the aim of playing down the significance of its own parliamentary decision.

Having said that, we are striving towards finding comprehensive and lasting solutions to all Aegean issues with Greece, based on the rights and interests of both countries.

Within the framework of exploratory contacts, which is ongoing since 2002, the two countries address all Aegean issues in a comprehensive manner. This process is aimed at finding ways of resolving all Aegean issues.

Additionally, 29 Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) have been agreed upon since 2000 between Turkey and Greece with a view to increasing the climate of trust in the Aegean.

Turkey aims for a just and peaceful resolution to the Aegean issues. In this respect, we are willing to make the most out of the existing channels of dialogue with Greece. Up until today, Turkey has exerted sincere efforts to resolve all these problems in their entirety by peaceful means.

What is the current stage in the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia?

Turkey’s search for normalizing its relations with Armenia is part of its broader vision which foresees cooperative and mutually beneficial relations between all the countries of the South Caucasus region.

Besides some other steps that Turkey has taken in recent years, the signing of Protocols (Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and Development of Relations) in Zurich in October 2009 has been a culmination of Turkey’s sincerity to normalize its relations with Armenia. Turkey maintains its willingness to normalize its relations with Armenia. Hence, the Protocols are still on the agenda of the Turkish Parliament.

(Click for the English texts of the Protocols)

Regarding the Protocols, Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia has declared its decision on conformity with the Armenian Constitution on 12th January 2010. However, it has been noticed that there were preconditions and constraining provisions within the detailed decision of the Court. The detailed decision has impeded the reason for negotiations and the main goal that had been aimed by the Protocols. Consequently, we have communicated our counterparts, including Armenia, that such an approach is unacceptable for us. Meanwhile, on 22nd April 2010 President of Armenia Mr. Sargsyan has declared his decision to suspend the Protocols for an unlimited period. Lastly, President Sargsyan recalled the protocols from the Parliament in February 2015 and under the pretext of the “centenary of 1915 events”, Armenia exploited every opportunity throughout 2015. We hope that Armenia will reconsider its position as soon as possible and engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue with Turkey.

What happened in 1915?

To understand what exactly happened between Turks and Armenians in 1915 one has to examine what happened before 1915.

Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society reflective of the Empires of the time.

Turks and Armenians have lived in peace in Anatolia for over eight centuries. Up to 19th century Armenians were called “loyal nation” (Millet-i sadıka) because of their success in integrating to the Ottoman community. As privileged subjects of the Ottoman Empire, Armenian community were to rise to prominence as ministers, ambassadors, mayors, industrialists and businessmen. They were not discriminated in any way because of their ethnic and religious roots.

In the Ottoman time:

- Twenty-nine Armenians achieved the highest governmental rank of civilian generals (pasha);

- There were twenty-two Armenian governmental ministers. Among the posts held were the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Trade, Public Works, Post and Telegraph Services;

- Gabriel Noradunkyan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1912-1913, was Armenian;

- Numerous Armenians headed governmental departments concerned with a variety of functions, including agriculture, census, and economic development;

- In the post-1876 Ottoman Chamber of Deputies (Meclis-i Mebusan), there were thirty-three elected Armenian representatives;

- Seven Armenian Ambassadors and eleven Consul-Generals and Consuls served in the Ottoman diplomatic service;

- Eleven university professors of Armenian origin brought their valuable contributions to the Ottoman academic life.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the “Entente Powers” of those days began to regard the Armenians as an important tool which could be manipulated against the Ottomans. They promised the Armenians a state of their own in Eastern Anatolia where paradoxically they constituted only a minority.

With the Berlin Conference which was held after the 1877-1878 Ottoman-Russian War, Armenians gained great political acquisitions. With Article 61 which was accepted in the Conference (The Sublime Porte undertakes to carry out, without further delay, the amelioration and reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by the Armenians, and to guarantee their security against the Circassians and Kurds. It will periodically make known the steps taken to this effect to the Powers, who will superintend their application), “The Armenian Issue” was brought to the agenda in the international arena.

It was with the creation of two radical revolutionary Armenian committees, the Hinchag Committee formed in Geneva, Switzerland in 1887, and the Dashnag Committee, established in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1890, that Armenian national aspirations began to assume the more classical form which the Ottomans had come to know and worry in the previous half-century.

After that with these Committees provocations and foreign subsidized rebellions were started in different cities of the Ottoman Empire. The first big Armenian rebellion was started in Van in 1896. After government’s quashing the rebellion Armenian organizations continued their activities and they made many rebellions in different cities.

The start of World War I and the entry of the Ottoman State into the war against the Allied Powers were seen as a great opportunity by these revolutionary groups. They revolted against the Ottoman Government, collaborated with the invading Russian Armies and other foreign forces, launching attacks on the Ottoman army and Muslim civilians from behind the front and engaging in acts of sabotage. In March 1915, the Russian forces began to move toward Van. After the failure of Sarıkamış Operation, on April 11, 1915, the Armenians of Van initiated a general revolt which is the second rebellion of Armenians in Van, massacring all the Turks in the vicinity to enable the city’s quick and easy conquest by the Russians. As a result, Ottoman Government enacted the Relocation Law on May 27, 1915. The Armenians who were living around strategic military locations were to be relocated to other areas far from the war zone.

When we analyze the 1915 Events in the historical context, the Ottoman Government which was facing enormous internal and external threats such as terrorist attacks, rebellions and cooperation with enemies resorted to a defensive measure and increased precautions. Accordingly, these precautions were not pre-planned and they have no political purpose based on a certain ideology. On the contrary, they are implemented because of military and security related needs.

Military historians say that Ottoman Government was forced to enact the Relocation Law of May 27, 1915 because of the military necessities and the threat of separatist movements.

The other point to be noted was that Armenians were not foreseen to be deported, but were relocated to the places outside the Ottoman war zones. Armenians living in Eastern Anatolia were transferred to places within other Ottoman regions, reserving their right to return back to their homes after the end of the war.

The transfer started after necessary preparations. Meanwhile, Armenians living in areas outside the military operations were not part of the resettlement process. Thus, the Armenians living in Istanbul, Kütahya and Aydın were not affected by this law. The decision made by the Ottoman Government was not an extension of any ideology.

In this law, every measure was foreseen to be taken to ensure the security of the Armenians subjected to relocation. The Ottoman Government instructed the local authorities to take the necessary security measures for the orderly relocation of the Armenians. Moreover, officials or civilians who disobeyed the instructions of the Government and committed offences against Armenian convoys were tried by the Military Courts (“Divan-i Harbi Örfi, 1915-1916). The Courts decided to take 1763 people into custody and passed death sentences for 67 individuals. The documents relating to the case are available in the Ottoman archives. Despite these measures, war conditions, local gangs, robbery, local feelings of hatred and vengeance have prompted attacks towards the convoys during the transfer process. The Government tried to prevent them. As a matter of fact, there were very limited attacks on the Armenian convoys in the regions where the state authority was relatively high. Insufficiency of food and other means in war days, heavy climatic conditions and outbreaks of epidemic diseases like typhus had also led to the increase of loss of human lives. In fact, the said time period was an era in which all Anatolian peoples shared the same fate. It should be noted that 3 million people, mostly civilian Muslims, died in Anatolia during World War I. Those who perished in the hands of Armenian bands reached 524, 000, between the years 1914 through 1922.

How did a state, willing to annihilate Armenians and targeting to massacre, try officials or civilians who committed offences against Armenian convoys? And why did this state adopt a special law to take the necessary security measures for the orderly relocation of the Armenians? The circles claiming the 1915 events as “genocide” cannot respond to these questions. Also, the answers for these questions prove that there was no intent on the part of Ottomans to destroy the Armenians.

In the Ottoman period, Armenians was fully integrated to the Ottoman society and bureaucracy. Even, it is well known fact that the Committee of Union and Progress who adopted the Relocation Law, cooperated with the Armenian groups during and after the advent to power. Many Armenians were elected as Parliamentarians in the general elections of 1908, 1912 and 1914 from the list of the Committee of Union and Progress. Among these Bedros Hallaçyan served as Minister of Trade and Public Works two times as well as a member of the Central Committee of the Committee of Union and Progress.

After World War I, the Armenian allegations were investigated between 1919 and 1922, as part of the legal process against the Ottoman officials. Subsequently, 144 Ottoman high officials were arrested and deported for trial by Great Britain to the island of Malta.

The information that led to these arrests was mainly provided by local Armenians and the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul. So while the deportees were under detention in Malta, the British occupation forces in Istanbul, which had absolute power and authority in the Ottoman capital, looked frantically everywhere to find evidence in order to incriminate the deportees. However, no evidence, demonstrating that the Ottoman Government, the members of the Committee of Union and Progress and the Ottoman officials deported to Malta either sanctioned or encouraged the killings of the Armenians, was found.

Moreover, no evidence could be found to this effect in the American and French archives. After two years and four months of detention in Malta, all the deportees were set free without trial.

Within the framework of the efforts to equate the events of 1915 with the Holocaust, various Armenian groups recently claim that the ruling the Committee of Union and Progress during the period of World War I, with a Social Darwinist ideology, tried to apply a repressive “Turkification” policy and aimed to annihilate Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

In this framework, one of the concepts is formed as a racism targeting to collective identity instead of a racism rejecting in terms of biology. Numerous historians who are experts of the Committee of Union and Progress disclosed that this argument was thoroughly baseless, since the Committee of Union and Progress did not have a monolithic ideology. The Holocaust was a horrific outcome of centuries-long racist ideology penetrated into the European society. In the Ottoman Empire, such a racist ideology against the Armenian subjects of the Empire never existed. There was, in no way, Turkish-Armenian discrimination in terms of administration.

On the other hand, Ottoman Empire sent Notes to the Governments of Spain, The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden on February 1919 and asked them to assign two legal experts and form an enquiry commission to investigate the claims of Armenian massacres. Unfortunately, this initiative has remained inconclusive due to the British intervention.

What is the total number of the Armenian deportees?

The ones who support the Armenian allegations overestimate the number of the Armenian losses during the relocation, above the historical facts.

According to the latest Ottoman census figures, which was taken in 1914, total number of the Armenian population within the Ottoman territory was 1.295.000, during the time of the census. It is estimated that the total number of the Armenians, whom were relocated within the context of a military necessity on a temporary basis were around 702,900.

Did all Armenian deportees die?

The allegation towards all the Armenian deportees were massacred and annihilated is far from truth as well as historical facts and objectivity.

It is a fact that some Armenians lost their lives during the relocation. However, the radical factions of the Armenian diaspora began to argue that the death toll of the Armenian deportees were 600.000 just after the WWI. Later on, this number has been increased up to first 800.000 and then to 1.5 -2. millions.

It is not possible to determine the exact number of Armenians who lost their lives during WWI. In fact, this is not the case solely for the Armenians, but all the citizens of the Empire whom lost their lives during WWI. Due to the reason that the Ottoman Administration did not keep the records of the deaths during the wars, it is not possible to estimate the definite death toll during the war.

In this regard, the best possible guess is to try to estimate the total number of citizens of Armenian origin of the Empire. Accordingly, some statistical estimations can be made from this.

Set aside the inflated and fabricated statistical figures, which have been produced in order to make contribution to the radical Armenian propaganda, the statistical figures of the reliable sources with regard to the total number of Armenians within the Ottoman territory differ between 1.056.000 and 1.555.000. This is in parallelism with the figures of the latest Ottoman census, which is around 1.295.000.

Talat Pasha, in his speech delivered during the last congress of the Committee of Union and Progress which was in Nov. 1st, 1918, argued that the total number of the Armenian deaths were around 300.000.

Boghos Nubar Pasha, whom was one of the prominent figures of the Armenian independence movement, in his speech at the Paris Peace Conference (1918), stated that 280.000 Armenians had stayed after the WWI and 700.000 Armenians had fled to the other countries.

This number overlaps with the estimate towards 300.000 Armenians had lost their lives during WWI.

What is the proposal of Turkey towards the settlement of the debate with regard to the Events of 1915?

There is a conflict of memories between the Turkish and Armenian nations with regard to the events of 1915. Turkey does not have any intentions towards imposing her own memory records over the others. However, no one has the right to impose its own memory records on Turkey either.

Republic of Turkey, has supported the idea of the events of 1915 should be evaluated by historians.

Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, HE. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sent a letter to the President of Armenia then H.E. Mr. Kocharian in April 10th, 2005 and proposed to establish a commission of historians and scholars of the relevant fields in order to conduct a scientific research and announce its results. The commission that was envisaged to be established, had been proposed to conduct its research not only in the Turkish and Armenian archives, but also within the relevant archives of the third countries. Additionally, the Turkish Grand National Assembly, in its declaration dated 13th April 2005 with regard to the Armenian allegations, has indicated its full support to this historical proposal of our Prime Minister. However, it has not been possible to attain an official reply to the letter of our Prime Minister.

The sub-commission on the historical dimension, foreseen in the Protocols signed in October 2009 between Turkey and Armenia, aims at overcoming the differences in memories between Turkish and Armenian peoples on the events of 1915. This would allow both people to rekindle the friendship and reach a just memory.

Turkey believes that this sub-commission on historical dimension would play a crucial role in reaching a just memory with regard to the events of 1915.

Turkey believes that a peaceful common future between Turks and Armenians can only be built on a solid basis through dialog. April 23rd message delivered in 2014 by President Erdoğan and April 20th message delivered in 2015 by Prime Minister Davutoğlu on the events of 1915 are mirrors of our understanding. These messages were followed by other important steps forward representing our conscientious stance and humane perspective.

With this understanding, the Turkish Government was represented at the liturgy held by the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul on 24 April 2015, for the commemoration of losses in 1915. Our President sent a message addressed to all the Ottoman Armenians during the ceremony. This is a historic breakthrough. Furthermore, the due recognition and restoration of the Armenian cultural heritage and honouring of Armenian personalities who made valuable contributions to Ottoman/Turkish culture will continue with resolve.

What is the situation of the archives of the Ottoman period and is it open to the researchers?

The Ottoman archive system, which is even today given as an example in the fields of scientific historical research and archive researches, has been conducted on the basis of systematic record taking since the establishment of the Ottoman State. Ottoman Administration has always acted with sensitivity and delicateness about recording all the administrative decisions as well as archiving them within the state apparatus.

Within this context, all the archives that have been inherited from the Ottoman Era, are today in İstanbul, held under the auspices of the “Directorate General of the State Archives” which is functioning under the Prime Ministry. The archives are open to all researchers.

It should be underlined that allegations towards the Ottoman archives such as it is “not open or research permissions are granted on a selective basis” are fabricated. One can get a glimpse about the correctness of these allegations by noting that even the ones who support Armenian allegations do have free access to these archives and conduct their researches.

Ones who would like to conduct a study within the Directorate General of the State Archives, which has a developed catalogue and archive record system, can learn the application procedure as well as obtaining application documents from the following web site: www.devletarsivleri.gov.tr.

What is the situation of the archives in Armenia as well as the Armenian archives in other countries?

State Archives of Armenia, which is of significance for conducting a thorough research in terms of the allegations and ongoing debate with regard to the events of 1915, is following selective method in granting permission to the researchers. As far as it is noted from the press, all parts of the Armenian State Archives is not open on the grounds that “the classification has not been concluded yet”.

On the other hand, the Armenian archives in the third countries such as “the Dashnak Archives in the US” and “Archives in Jerusalem”, which are thought to include significant correspondence, information and documents, are open only to Armenian researchers on a limited basis.

It is not possible for a scholar, regardless of his / her nationality, who argues that the events of 1915 cannot be described as “genocide” to conduct a research in the aforementioned archives.

What is genocide?

Genocide is a very narrow legal term and an international crime which is clearly defined in the 1948 United Nations (UN) Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the 1948 Genocide Convention). Turkey is a party to this Convention.

According to the 1948 Genocide Convention, genocide means any of the prescribed acts in the said Convention, committed with a specific intent (dolus specialis), to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

Under the 1948 Genocide Convention, in order to incriminate a person with the crime of genocide, a competent court must ascertain that the crime has been committed as defined in this Convention. According to the 1948 Genocide Convention, a competent tribunal can be either a national court of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or an international penal tribunal of which the Contracting Parties accepted the jurisdiction have the authority to call an act as “genocide”.

Likewise, in the case of Holocaust which is the most widely known example of genocide around the world, crimes perpetrated against Jews and Romans had been concluded by the judgement of the Nuremberg Trials which had been specifically constituted for the alleged crime.

Similarly, according to the court decisions which is in charge of judging such criminals Srebrenica and Ruanda Trials enacted as genocide.

Accordingly, without the existence of a competent tribunal’s decision, the claim of genocide cannot be put forward or defended on legal grounds. In this regard, “genocide allegations” which do not rely on competent tribunal decisions cannot go beyond baseless claims lacking legal validity.

In this context, in its judgement of 3 February 2015 in the Croatia v. Serbia case, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) revealed the criteria regarding the application of the 1948 Genocide Convention:

The 1948 Genocide Convention cannot be retroactively applied to the events took place before the date of its entry into force.

With reference to the ICJ’s judgment of 2007 on Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia case,

→If a State is to be responsible because it has breached its obligation not to commit genocide, it must be shown that genocide as defined in the Genocide Convention has been committed. It is for the party alleging a fact to demonstrate its existence.

→The threshold in order to prove the specific intent (dolus specialis; ‘to destroy, in whole or in part’ a particular group), which, in order for genocide to be established is very high.

→Deportation or displacement of the members of a group is not necessarily equivalent to destruction of that group, nor is such destruction an automatic consequence of the displacement.

Thus, the decisions taken by non-competent institutions especially parliaments bear the risk of diluting the specific definition of the crime of genocide and, consequently, the exploitation of the concept of genocide. These constitute also a violation of the freedom of expression and of scientific research.

What is the position and policy of Turkey towards genocide as a whole?

Turkey’s position and policy on the issue of “genocide” is apparent. Turkey is one of the signatory states which ratified the 1948 Genocide Convention in her National Parliament and institutionalized genocide as a crime in her national legal system. Turkey contributes to the endeavours on investigation and penalization of the criminals who have perpetuated and/or played a role in these.

Turkey, as a respected member of international community contributes to this issue in all relevant platforms, first and foremost in the UN.

With this understanding, Turkey is one of the co-sponsors of the UN resolution (69/323), in which it proclaimed 9 December as “the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime”, adopted unanimously by General Assembly on 11 September 2015.

Furthermore, Turkey is one of the co-sponsors of the resolution of the UN General Assembly in 2005 designates January 27 which marks the anniversary of the liberation of the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Turkey has also been actively contributing, as an observer country since 2008, to the activities of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an intergovernmental body whose purpose is to encourage Holocaust education, remembrance and research both nationally and internationally.

Is it a crime to describe the events of 1915 as “genocide” in Turkey and are the ones whom argue this exposed to legal investigation?

Turks and Armenians have different narratives and personal memories as to the background of this prolonged controversy concerning the 1915 events. We do not describe the 1915 events as a “genocide” and we do not accept this term while referring to these tragic events. Having said that, the issue of the 1915 events is not a taboo in Turkey. Defending diverging narratives is legal in the context of freedom of expression. Books, debates, newspaper columns giving support to the Armenian view are not uncommon in Turkey. This is a fact clearly stated in the Turkey’s Progress Reports drawn by the European Union in recent years.

However, in a number of European countries, some of which are the EU members, enact laws punishing the denial of “genocide” and implement them to the events of 1915, regardless of international law and historical truth. Such efforts in these countries seeking political gains constitute serious threat to the right to freedom of expression which is rightfully considered to be one of the main foundations of democratic societies.

At this point, the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the Perinçek v. Switzerland case should be recalled (The Grand Chamber’s judgment, 15 October 2015; The Second Section’s judgment, 17 December 2013). This case-law is of historic nature, not only because it endorsed the Turkish perspective as to labelling the events of 1915, but also because it reaffirmed commitment to upholding freedom of expression as the fundamental pillar of democracy.

In this case-law, the ECtHR held that Swiss Government violated Mr Perinçek’s right to freedom of expression because of his conviction for rejecting the legal characterisation of the 1915 events as “genocide”.

The case-law of the ECtHR confirms that the legal characterisation of the events of 1915 is a matter of legitimate debate of public interest. Accordingly, everybody should be allowed to enjoy the right to express himself/herself freely about Ottoman history and characterize the Armenian sufferings in ways other than “genocide”.

As emphasized by the ECtHR, the rejection of the legal characterisation of the events of 1915 was not in itself sufficient to amount to incitement of hatred towards the Armenian people. Challenging the legal characterisation of the events of 1915 as genocide does not have the same effect as denials of the Holocaust. While Holocaust denial is nowadays one of the main vehicles of anti-Semitism in many countries, there is no comparable “anti-Armenianism” in the world today.

On 8 January 2016, the Constitutional Council of France delivered a decision following and based on the ECtHR’s case-law in the Perinçek case. In this decision, it is once again affirmed that the events of 1915 cannot be equated with the crimes of genocide established by a competent court, like the Holocaust.

What is Turkey’s approach to the Syrian conflict?

Turkey stood by the Syrian people who were pursuing their rightful demands by cutting its relations with Assad regime by 2012, as the regime has been the sole responsible actor of the conflict and lost its legitimacy. As the Syrian conflict entered its sixth year, Turkey has been pursuing a humanitarian diplomacy from the beginning of the conflict and opened its doors to those who fled from the clashes and the violence of the regime irrespective of their ethnic, religious and sectarian backgrounds.

From the very beginning, Turkey has been involved in the efforts aiming to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria that threaten our national and regional security and leaded these efforts on the basis of the legitimate expectations of the Syrian people, with a view to bringing the stability and peace in this country. Along with the advantage of strengthening close ties between our peoples, the solution of the Syrian conflict through a genuine and inclusive political transition on the basis of the Geneva Communique, 30 June 2012, will place Turkish-Syrian relations on firm ground and will reinforce our approach of zero problems with neighbors.

Can you explain the aircraft incident that occurred on 24 November 2015? What has been the reaction of the Russian Federation after the incident? How did Turkey respond to that?

A Turkish military reconnaissance jet was shot down by Syrian forces in international airspace on 26 June 2012 causing two pilots on board to lose their lives. Following this incident, we adopted new rules of engagement regarding aircrafts approaching Turkey from Syria. These new rules of engagement were explicitly shared with the international community.

When Russian Federation announced commencement of air operations in Syria in September 2015, our rules of engagement were re-explained to the Russian side and it was emphasized that they should take precautionary measures in order to prevent undesired incidents.

In spite of these warnings, our airspace was violated by Russian aircrafts on 3-4 October 2015, whereby Russian authorities were briefed and warned once more. On October 15, 2015, Russia’s Deputy Air Force and Space Commander visited Turkey to provide explanation concerning these violations as well as the measures to be taken by Russia to prevent similar incidents. During this visit, he was clearly reminded that all responsibility emanating from the incidents, that similar violations might entail, would rest squarely on Russia’s shoulders.

Despite this background, on 24 November, a combat aircraft which did not respond to repeated warnings and violated Turkish airspace was targeted in accordance with the rules of engagement in force. It was established later that this aircraft belonged to Russia. In the aftermath of this incident, Turkey continued its constructive approach to handle the issue through dialog, whereas Russian authorities initiated an intensive propaganda and smear campaign against Turkey, in addition to taking various measures against Turkey and Turkish people.

Despite the negative attitude adopted by Moscow since 24 November, Turkey still preserves the calm and composed attitude it has displayed since the emergence of the problem, and maintains its will to overcome the tension through dialogue.

What is Turkey’s reaction vis-a-vis the Agreement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between the P5+1 and Iran related to Iran’s nuclear programme and the start of the “Implementation Date”?

Turkey has always considered diplomacy as the only option for the solution of the problem related to Iran's nuclear program. Turkey thus welcomes the agreement reached on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on 14th of July 2015 between the P5+1 countries and Iran on its nuclear programme and the fact that the “Implementation Day” for the JCPOA was reached on the 16th of January, 2016.

Turkey expects the uninterrupted and full implementation of the JCPOA in full transparency under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Turkey believes that the full implementation of the JCPOA will contribute to regional stability and security and promote a more conducive atmosphere as a whole, including in the economic field.

How would the lifting of sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program following the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) effect Turkey?

With the start of the implementation of JCPOA, all international and unilateral economic and financial sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme have been lifted. United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015), which endorsed the JCPOA, will from now onwards, together with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), be the sole international legal framework related to Iran's nuclear activities, terminating all previous resolutions on the subject.

On the other hand, sanctions on Iran regarding conventional weapons and its ballistic missile programme shall remain valid for another 5 and 8 years respectively.

Turkey welcomes the guidelines published by the United States and the European Union on the details of sanctions and restrictive measures to be lifted, following the announcement of the Implementation Day.

Turkey anticipates that the lifting of these sanctions will have positive effect on the Turkish economy and it will create an opportunity for solidifying Turkey’s bilateral relations with Iran.

What are the multilateral activities to reinforce our ties with the Turkic Republics, with which we share common language, culture, religion, history and values?

Turkey has excellent bilateral relations with Central Asian Republics. At the multilateral level, the basic organization is the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (Turkic Council), which was established in 2009 by Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Council has officially came into existence with the 10th Summit of Turkic Speaking States in İstanbul on 15-16 September 2010. (R) Ambassador Halil Akıncı was appointed as the first Secretary General of the Turkic Council which has been based in İstanbul. Currently, Ramil Hasanov (Azerbaijan) is serving as the Secretary General of the Council.

The Turkic Cultural Heritage Fund in Baku and the Turkic Academy in Astana have been established within The Turkic Council, which aim to promote multilateral cooperation among the Turkic world. Recently, Kyrgyz Republic has proposed to establish the Turkic Sport and Nomadic Civilization Center in Kyrgyzstan and the founding agreement was signed on 11 September 2015 in V. Summit of the Turkic Council in Astana.

Although, Turkmenistan does not establish institutional relationship with the organization in accordance with its status of neutrality, it participates to the Turkic Council Summit meetings as guest of honor.

Since its formation, the Turkic Council has contributed to reinforcement of mutual trust and political solidarity among Turkic Republics and promoted cooperation on a wide spectrum, from energy to economy, tourism to education. We regard the Turkic Council as an organization which positively contributes to regional stability and peace, and will continue to supports its activities.

Where is Ahıska and who are the Ahıska Turks?

Ahıska is a historical region situated in Georgia with its currently 39.000 inhabitants. The region is called as Meskhet/Samtskhe by Georgians and thus Ahıska Turks are also referred as Meskhetian Turks. Today, the population of Ahıska is mostly comprised of Georgians and Armenians. Constituting the centre of the region, Ahıska City is situated 20 kilometres away from Posof district of Ardahan province of Turkey (Vale/Türkgözü border gate).

The region first became a part of the Ottoman Empire in 16th century followed by Russian occupation after the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829. Ahıska Turks lived in their homeland until the deportation of 1944 during the Second World War.

On 15 November 1944, with a sudden operation initiated by the authorities of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), almost 100.000 Ahıska Turks, mostly children, women and elderly, were forced to leave their homes in Ahıska. They were then forced into freight wagons under inhumane conditions and were deported thousands of kilometres away from their homeland to the Central Asian republics of USSR.

Today, Ahıska Turks are dispersed across nine countries (Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine, USA and Uzbekistan) and it is estimated that there are around 500.000 Ahıska Turks worldwide.

What is the position of Turkey on Ahıska Turks?

Today, the situation of Ahıska Turks, as a kin community, is among the primary concerns of Turkish foreign policy.

Actively supporting the efforts and activities towards the repatriation process of Ahıska Turks to their historical homeland, Turkey is in constant contact with both Georgia and other relevant countries. Turkey also follows the issue closely at international organizations, mainly at the Council of Europe (Georgia has committed itself to repatriate Ahıska Turks when becoming member of Council of Europe in 1999). The repatriation process of Ahıska Turks to their homeland has already started, albeit at a slow pace. We hope that this process will proceed faster and smoother and Ahıska Turks live in harmony together with the Georgian people.

On the other hand, upon the instructions by the President of Turkey, 677 families of Ahıska Turks (2960 people), living in the conflict zones of Ukraine and wishing to come to Turkey were accepted to Turkey as immigrants by the Council of Ministers' Decision No: 29358.

117 families (427 people) out of 677 families of Ahıska Turks, were settled in Üzümlü district of Erzincan province of Turkey as of 25 December 2015.

What has Turkey done so far within the framework of its opening up policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean region?

During the last ten years, in line with its multi-dimensional foreign policy, Turkey pursued a more active policy towards the region with the aim of strengthening its relations. In this regard, in order to define how and in which areas Turkey’s relations with Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) countries can be enhanced, several meetings were held in the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the participation of our Ambassadors in Latin America, stakeholders including private sector representatives and Honorary Consuls of LAC countries in Turkey in September 1998. At the end of these meetings the "Action Plan for Latin America and the Caribbean" which is a road map for political and economic openings to the region, was adopted.

The year 2006 was declared as “the Year of Latin America and the Caribbean” in Turkey and the Action Plan was updated.

Diplomatic Representation: The number of Turkish diplomatic missions in the LAC countries has increased considerably during the last decade and the procedures to open new Embassies are underway. In addition to our Embassies in Brazil, Mexico, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Caracas and Havana, Turkish Embassies in Bogota and Lima became operational in 2010, in Santa Domingo in 2013, in Panama and San Jose in 2014 and lastly, in Guatemala in 2015, increasing the number of Turkish Embassies in the LAC region to thirteen. The Turkish Consulate General in Sao Paulo-Brazil was opened in 2009.

LAC countries have reciprocated by increasing their representations in Turkey. The number of LAC resident Embassies in Turkey has reached 11.

Bilateral Relations and High Level Visits: Mutual high level visits between Turkey and countries of the region have gained momentum especially since 2010. During his Prime Ministry H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid an official visit to Brazil in 2010 and signed the “Strategic Partnership Action Plan” was signed between the two countries. During the visit of the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in 2011 a Joint Declaration entitled “Turkey-Brazil: A Strategic Perspective for a Dynamic Partnership” was adopted.

In 2011, former Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in 2012 former President of Chile Sebastian Pinera, President of Ecuador Rafael Correa and President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos visited Turkey.

Mexico has become our second strategic partner in the region with the signing of the document entitled “Turkey-Mexico: Strategic Cooperation and Partnership Framework for the 21st Century” was signed between the two countries during President Enrique Pena Nieto’s visit to Turkey in 2013.

President Erdoğan paid an official visit to Cuba, Colombia and Mexico in February 2015. This was the first Presidential visit to the region since 1995. President Erdoğan conducted a second visit to Chile, Peru and Ecuador in February 2016.

Economic relations: Latin America and the Caribbean region, with a GDP over 6 billion USD and an overall trade volume that has recently reached 1.72 billion USD, receives a significant amount of FDI since the beginning of 2000s. Our trade volume with the region reached approximately 8 billion USD in 2015 which corresponds to an increase by % 60 in the last 5 years.

Brazil is Turkey’s first trade partner in the region with a trade volume of 2.253 million USD as of 2015. Brazil is followed by Colombia with 1.311 million USD, Mexico with 1.205 million USD, Chile with 471 million USD and Argentina with 353 million USD.

Turkey has an FTA with Chile is the only country in the region with whom we signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). FTA negotiations with Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are underway. Furthermore, Turkey has communicated its will to start FTA negotiations with the Central American Integration System (SICA). Exploratory talks were held with MERCOSUR with the same purpose.

Humanitarian and development aid: The development cooperation which is conducted by Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) constitutes an important aspect of our relations with the countries in the region. TIKA has visited 16 countries in the region in 2014 and received project proposals.

The first Regional Coordination Office of TIKA was opened in Mexico City in 2015. The process regarding the opening of the second office in Bogota has reached the final stage.

In addition to the TIKA projects, Turkey provides voluntary contributions to the CARICOM Development Fund, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and the Central American Integration System (SICA).

Relations with Regional Organizations: Regional organizations provide important platforms to reach out to Latin American countries. Among these, Turkey is an observer to the Pacific Alliance, Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and the Central American Integration System (SICA). The Turkish National Assembly has applied for observer status to PARLATINO, an umbrella regional parliamentary organization. Turkey has applied to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and will apply to the Association of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to establish institutional ties with these bodies and organizations. Turkey has established consultation mechanisms with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR).

Military Cooperation: Turkey has Military Attachés in Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Brazil whereas Chile, Mexico, Peru and Brazil have Military Attachés in Turkey.

Cooperation on Culture and Science: As part of the cooperation between the Ankara University and the Havana University, the Center for Turkish History and Culture was established in 2013 at the Havana University. Furthermore, procedures are engaged with a view to open a Turcology Department at the Central University of Ecuador. The National University of Colombia offers Turkish language, history and culture courses in its Bogota Campus.

The Ankara University Research and Application Center for Latin America has been contributing significantly to the cultural and academic dimensions of our relations since the Center’s foundation in 2009.

Moreover, American Studies Center founded in Bahçeşehir University and the Middle East Technical University started Latin and North America Studies Program at graduate level in 2011.

Scholarships are an important aspect of our relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, 188 Latin American students benefit from these scholarships.

In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2014 between The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and The National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACYT), the Joint Committee on Science and Technology meeting was convened.

What are Turkey’s contributions to Myanmar?

The total amount of humanitarian assistance provided to Myanmar through the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay), the Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) has exceeded 6 million US Dollars so far.

Turkey pledged 1 million US Dollars to ongoing efforts of the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) and the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) following the crisis in Andaman Sea.

Turkey has reached an agreement with Myanmar authorities for contributing to the construction of houses for around 3.000 internally displaced families. The project began on 16 September 2015.

What are Turkey’s contributions to international community’s efforts to fight terrorism?

Turkey has been countering terrorism in different forms and manifestations for decades, from the ethnic separatist PKK terrorism, and the leftist DHKP-C to religiously motivated terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and DAESH, as well as “17 November” “ASALA” terrorist organizations.

The call for international cooperation is not just a rhetoric or an academic interest for Turkey: The terrorist groups targeting our country have been operating across national borders: Running training camps, acquiring financial resources, operating media outlets to disseminate their propaganda and glorify their vicious acts, abroad. Perpetrators of terrorist crimes, their mentors and financiers have been able to escape justice and travel freely. Our own struggle against this menace has thought us the crucial lesson that we cannot succeed in our counter-terrorism efforts in the absence of solid international cooperation.

Accordingly, Turkey has been on the forefront of efforts to increase awareness of the international community on the threat of terrorism. We have worked hard bilaterally and at the various international platforms to create mechanisms for more effective counter-terrorism measures.

Turkey has all along been underlining that:

-Terrorism poses major threat to international peace and security and regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed, all acts of terrorism are unjustified.

-There should be increased cooperation between states on the basis of the “extradite or prosecute” principle, in order to deny any safe haven to terrorists.

-International community should not discriminate between terrorist organizations and must act with equal determination in preventing, suppressing, pursuing and prosecuting all terrorist groups, their members and activities.

-Any attempt to affiliate terrorism with any religion or ethnic group is utterly wrong and would in fact play into the hands of terrorists.

The growing threat of terrorism in the past years revealed even more the importance of international cooperation. What we are being faced today is unprecedented. There is a drastic proliferation of terrorist groups all around the world that possess enhanced capacity to inflict much serious physical damage on us, and ever increasing ability to disseminate their “narratives” and to lure disillusioned young people to commit heinous forms of violence. Hardly a day goes by without an act of terrorism taking place somewhere in the world, indiscriminately affecting innocent people, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As such, terrorism has become a truly global and rapidly evolving threat. The very phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters is a very disturbing illustration of this reality.

To address this growing threat, effective, nimble and coordinated global response has become a must.

The good news is that, international solidarity and collective capabilities against this transnational threat has been enhanced considerably. International community owes this particulary to the United Nations. By virtue of its universal representation and capacity to interlink various aspects in addressing terrorism, the United Nations is playing the central role in garnering a global response to this scourge.

It is very important that we have now a global legal framework, criminalizing terrorist acts and obliging member states to cooperate in suppressing various aspects of terrorism: To this date, eighteen universal instruments against terrorism have been put in force relating to specific terrorist activities.

Moreover, the Security Council has also been active in countering terrorism through resolutions, in particular 1267 (and ensuing resolutions) and 1373, and and by establishing several subsidiary bodies.

At the same time a number of programmes, offices and agencies of the United Nations system have been engaged in specific activities against terrorism, further assisting Member States in building effective counter-terrorism capacities.

One should also highlight the UN Counter Terrorism Strategy, adopted in 2006. Based on four main pillars, the Strategy marks the first time that all Member States of the United Nations have agreed to a common strategic and operational framework, to fight terrorism, committed by whomsoever, wherever and for whatever purposes.

Turkey has been playing an active role in the development of a universal legal framework under the UN system. Accordingly Turkey has become a party to all UN counter-terrorism instruments. We strongly support the Global Strategy and implement UN Security Council Resolutions in a determined manner.

Turkey has also initiated, together with the US, the Global Counter Terrorism Forum, and have been co-chairing this body since 2011. Turkey also co-chairs the Horn of Africa Working Group within the GCTF together with the EU.

Turkey is an active member of the Anti Deash Coalition and is co-leading the FTF working group within this coalition.

Turkey is also a member of the FATF, the global anti-money laundering/countering terrorist financing body. Turkey is constantly reviewing legislation as well as implementation on countering terrorist financing, in order to be fully compliant with the FATF recommendations. Turkey has also co-led, together with the US, in preparing the report on ISIL financing in 2015 within the FATF. Turkey’s Financial Intelligence Unit (MASAK) operates in cooperation and coordination with the law enforcement authorities and prosecutors at the national level. MASAK also cooperates with other FIU’s through EGMONT Group and actively contributes to the efforts of the FATF. Turkey has created the legal framework in line with the FATF recommendations in order to implement effectively UNSC resolutions 1267 and 1373, which calls for criminalizing terrorist financing and freezing terrorist assets.

Over the years, Turkey made bilateral agreements with more than over 70 countries around the world in the field of counterterrorism. These agreements provide the legal basis for bilateral cooperation against illegal entities including terrorist organization and facilitate exchange of information among the relevant agencies.

Moreover, Turkey is also an active contributor to counter terrorism capacity-building programmes of several states around the world. Counterterrorism Department, established in 1986 within the General Directorate of Turkish National Police, contributes significantly to building better international cooperation in the field of counterterrorism by organizing trainings with various countries. International trainings courses covers topics such as counterterrorism basic training, radicalization process leading to terrorism and preventive measures, public awareness and prevention activities, combating terrorist organizations abusing religion, crisis management in terrorist attacks, suicide attacks and preventive strategies, investigation process, combating the financing of terrorism. Turkish National Police is also organizing other training programmes in various aspects of the law enforcement work. Between 1997-2015 Turkish National Police provided training to around 26.000 law enforcement officials from 62 countries.

What are Turkey’s contributions’s to anti-DEASH coalition?

Since its formation, Turkey has been actively participating activities of the anti-DEASH coalition which specified five lines of effort to degrade the capabilities of, and ultimately defeat DEASH. A diverse group of countries from across the globe have embarked on persistent and comprehensive approach. In that regard, members of the anti-DEASH Coalition have made significant progress to degrading DEASH on the battle field, challenged them in the media, cut their funding and recruitment, and stabilize the territories they have left devastated.

It has been fundamental to anti-DEASH Coalition to degrade and defeat DEASH through denying safe haven and building up military capacity. Within this context, Turkey;

• has participated in the Coalition Campaign military planning from day one,

• has declared its national contributions to the Coalition as part of the Campaign Plan as of February 2015,

• has allowed it airspace to be used by Coalition aircraft for both combat and non-combat roles, including intelligence gathering, personnel recovery,

• has opened its facilities to the US and other Coalition partners, allowing over 60 aircraft with over 1200 personnel to be deployed to support operations, for counter-DEASH operations in Syria and Iraq,

• has been hitting DEASH targets since the beginning through air, artillery and other assets,

• has actively been hosting the Train-Equip Program,

• only since January this year, hit 487 DEASH targets eliminating at least 86 DEASH terrorists,

• has developed plans to clear DEASH from our borders, and these efforts will continue.

Turkey has also put in place a broad array of mechanisms to disrupt or stop the flow of foreign fighters. Turkey is continuously enhancing security measures to stop and intercept foreign terrorist fighters at airports and other border crossing points through Risk Analysis Units established specifically for this purpose. Turkey has begun to counter threat of foreign terrorist fighters since 2011 and called for source countries to take necessary legal and administrative measures to prevent departure and travel of FTFs from their countries. In this regard, Turkey, as of February 2016, has included about 37.000 foreigners in the no-entry list since the Syrian crisis erupted. More than 3.000 foreigners were deported since 2011 in the context of measures against foreign fighters.

Within the context of anti-DEASH coalition, Turkey is co-chairing Counter ISIL Coalition Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters (WGFTF) which focuses on supporting and encouraging actions that directly complement and support Coalition efforts to degrade and ultimately defeat DEASH in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, Turkey, in the context of WG’s plan including nine strand of action assumed to lead “promote intensified and accelerated exchange of actionable information on FTF travel, facilitating effective communication channels and points of contacts between Coalition members” and in that respect an international meeting was held in Ankara on 23-24 November 2015. Results of this meeting is shared with the members of the Coalition.

Turkey, in line with the Security Council resolutions 2178(2014) and 2199(2015) has launched a comprehensive strategy and took effective measures to combat DEASH’s finances and disrupt and prevent the terrorist organization from raising, moving and using funds. Turkey co-led a FATF typology project on DEASH with the US. Turkey also takes part in the Working Group on counter financing. At the same time, as an active member of FATF, Turkish Financial Intelligence Unit (MASAK) also cooperates with other FIUs.

Turkey, along with its 911 kilometers land border with Syria and 331 kilometers with Iraq employs effective and robust measures to prevent smuggling activities. Turkey conducts a zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal cross-border activities.

Actually, oil smuggling along Turkey’s south-eastern borders is not a new phenomenon. Turkey has been victimized by this phenomenon for decades, losing millions in tax revenue, and the Government has been actively fighting oil smuggling and the use of smuggled oil in gas stations all around the country through inspections and enhanced legislation, in particular since the beginning of the 2000s. In this context, the Anti-Smuggling Law was adopted in 2003, and a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry was set up in 2005 to investigate oil smuggling, which led to the revision of the Petroleum Market Law in 2006. In 2012, the Action Plan on Countering Oil Smuggling was revised. A Circular Order (2012/19) by Prime Ministry for enhanced measures were introduced. A legislation was passed on April 11, 2013, which increased the penalties for smuggling of oil as well as the sale of smuggled oil in gas stations in the country.

After the beginning of the Syrian crisis, in response to increasing lawlessness at the other side of the borders, Turkish law enforcement and security forces stepped up their efforts to counter all threats to our security including smuggling activities stemming from Syria.

These enhanced measures targeting smuggling networks were introduced in 2012, and preceded the capture of two major oil fields in Syria and Iraq by DEASH in June and July 2014 and months before the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2170 in August 2014 and 2199 in February 2015 respectively.

Turkey, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2199 (2015) regularly provides information to the UN Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee about the incidents of smuggled oil and amount of oil seized in the border area with Syria and Iraq although the link between material seized and DEASH or ANF terrorist groups cannot be established. Due to enhanced and effective border security measures amount of smuggled oil is decreased considerably. This is clear indication of Turkey’s determination to fight any illicit trade activity across our borders.

While in 2014, 79 million liters (21 million gallons) of smuggled oil was intercepted by the Turkish law enforcement and customs authorities all over Turkey, in 2015 this amount decreased to 1,22 million liters (322,289 gallons) due to effective measures taken to prevent oil smuggling. On the other hand, amount of intercepted smuggled oil at Syrian border which was 12,6 million liters in 2014 decreased to 887 thousand liters in 2015. Within the context of counter measures 300 kilometers of illegal pipelines, which are often little more than hoses used for oil smuggling across the Syrian border, were destroyed.

Turkey employs effective and enhanced measures for border security. Within this context;

• Only two border gates are operating at Syrian border area and no vehicle transit is allowed. Goods, not subject to UN sanctions, are unloaded at zero point and delivered to the other side of the border after customs check. • Measures at the Turkish-Syria and Turkish-Iraq borders are enhanced by additional personnel, patrols and equipment.

• Overall land borders of Turkey (with Iran, Bulgaria, Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Syria) are secured by 50.000 military personnel. Within the framework of enhanced security measures at Syrian border, number of the personnel of the existing 12 Border Battalions which was 12.000 in 2104, has been increased to 20.000.

• New units of air defense and reconnaissance have been added to the battalions.

• 90 percent of the operations of unmanned air vehicles are focused in Syrian border area to detect illegal crossing and smuggling activities.

• Turkey has also strengthened physical security measures along its 911 kilometers border with Syria. Within this context, Turkey is in the process of establishment of “Syrian border physical security system” which includes construction of 192 kilometers of wall and 93 kilometers part of the said wall has already been completed. This project is expected to cost 81 million US Dollars. At the same time the number of border patrol stations are increased, 375,6 kilometers length of trenches are dug, 153,3 kilometers barbed wire installed, 19,8 kilometers of movable concrete wall formed, 26,3 kilometers of accordion barrier systems positioned, along 422.630 meters part of Syrian border illumination poles installed at every 50 meters, 79,5 kilometers embankment (3x3 m.) formed, 1,217 kilometers length of border patrol path improved and 7,8 kilometers road constructed.

What is PKK?

PKK is a terrorist organization. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization internationally by numerous countries, including the members of the European Union and others such as United States, Canada and Australia. European Union also designated PKK as a terrorist entity in 2004. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) also refers to PKK as a terrorist entity.

Since its foundation in 1984 more than 40 thousand people lost their lives because of PKK terrorism. PKK's ideology is founded on revolutionary Marxism-Leninism and separatist ethno-nationalism. PKK wants to suppress the diversity of Turkey, prevent participation and integration of Turkey’s citizens of Kurdish origin and intimidate the people in the region. PKK’s primary targets include police, military, economic, and social assets in Turkey. PKK also attacks on civilians and diplomatic and consular facilities. PKK is also involved in extortion, arms smuggling, and drug trafficking.

Turkey's tourism industry, economic infrastructure, educational Institutions, teachers, hospitals, public and private enterprises particularly in southeast Turkey have been the main targets of PKK terrorists. It uses a wide range of method to carry out acts of terror ranging from attacking infrastructure, various facilities, schools and ambulances, kidnapping nurses, customs officials to using cyanide to poison drinking water supplies; and engaging in unconventional tactics, assassination to drive-by shootings, executing uncooperative civilians, ambushes, kidnapping etc.

Until 1998 PKK found a safe haven in Syria. Then its leader Abdullah Öcalan had to flee the country only to be captured several months later. He is now serving life sentence in a prison in Turkey.

Following the power vacuum in the north of Iraq after the Gulf War, PKK established camps in various points around the Qandil Mountain where they receive training and infiltrate to Turkey to carry out attacks.

PKK’s funding is based on variety of sources. In a number of European countries there are ongoing investigations and court cases related to financing of PKK terrorism. In a major European country, the number of court files related to PKK related illegal activities exceeded five thousands.

PKK is also into organized crime, illegal human smuggling and drug trafficking. On 14 October 2009, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) targeted the senior leadership of the PKK, designating Murat Karayılan, the head of the PKK, and high-ranking members Ali Riza Altun and Zübeyir Aydar as significant foreign narcotics traffickers. On 20 April 2011, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the designation of PKK founders Cemil Bayık and Duran Kalkan and other high-ranking members as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNT) pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

PKK subsidiaries and offshoots exploit the democratic rights and freedoms in Europe. In certain countries, there are continuing major investigations against PKK financing and other unlawful acts by PKK affiliated entities and individuals. In some others there are ongoing court cases related to PKK activities. As stated in TESAT reports, in addition to collection of money from private persons and firms there are cases that revenues are also obtained from criminal organizations. PKK also continues its systematic recruitment activities of young persons living in European countries and trains them in various camps . It also forges identity documents.

PKK has also offshoots and affilates in Iran, Syria and Iraq. KCK, headed by imprisoned Öcalan, is the same organization with PKK. “KCK” is “PJAK” in IRAN, “Tawgari Azadi” in Iraq and PYD/YPG in Syria.

PYD/YPG’s affiliation with PKK is clear. PYD/YPG was set up under the control of PKK terrorist organization in 2003. They share the same leadership cadres, organizational structure, strategies and tactics, military structure, propaganda tools, financial resources and training camps.

What is DHKP-C?

DHKP-C is a terrorist organization. The Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) is enlisted as a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and US.

The DHKP-C was originally formed in 1978 as Devrimci Sol, or Dev Sol. It was a splinter faction of the Turkish People's Liberation Party/Front. It was renamed as the DHKP-C in 1994 after factional infighting. It has a Marxist-Leninist ideology. It aims at overthrowing the Turkish state through violence and removing the US and NATO presence in Turkey.

The DHKP/C uses several tactics in the form of armed attacks, such as assassinations, suicide bombings and bomb traps which are still maintained among the terrorist organization’s attempts.

Some recent major terrorist acts of the DHKP-C include:

- August 10, 2015, Attack to US Consulate General: Two suspected DHKP-C members attacked the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul. There were no casualties.

- March 31, 2015, Killing of a Prosecutor: Two DHKP-C members took hostage and then killed Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz at the Istanbul Courthouse.

- On February 1, 2013, US Embassy bombing: a suicide bomber attacked to the US Embassy in Ankara, killing a Turkish security guard, and wounding three others.

The DHKP/C carries out a variety of activities such as propaganda, recruitment and financing through several associations, cultural centers and press organizations established in European countries.

What are Turkey’s contributions in the fight against drug trafficking?

Due to its location Turkey is exposed to extensive flow of licit and illicit goods. This location lies at the crossroads of the heroin production sites in Afghanistan and consumption markets in Europe. Turkey is also intensively exposed to the growing ATS and precursor trade between Europe and the Middle East.

Turkish counter-narcotics policy is based on three pillars. The first pillar focuses on the fight against domestic distribution networks and street dealers. The second pillar deals with the dismantling of the international drug trafficking networks. The third pillar concentrates on investigations related to the financing of terrorism (particularly the PKK) through drug trafficking.

In recent years, the Turkish National Police (TNP) has made nearly 20 percent of the global heroin seizures. Over the past decade, Turkey’s consistent cooperation with European counterparts led to the dismantling of numerous heroin networks along the Balkan route.

On the other hand, we have been observing that the Northern route is gaining gravity in terms of heroin trafficking, which led the Turkish law enforcement agencies to develop operational partnerships with our counterparts along this route. More recently, (2012-2013-2014) Anti-Smuggling & Organized Crime Department (KOM) under the TNP has conducted 11 heroin operations in collaboration with Sweden, USA, UK, Canada, Austria and Macedonia. These operations resulted in the seizure of over 20.400 kilograms of heroin and 56.738 kilograms of opium gum.

In addition to active participation in bilateral and multilateral operations, Turkey also provides distinguished training to the personnel of the national law enforcement agencies of many countries. We have been organizing training programs through the Turkish International Academy against Drugs and Organized Crime (TADOC) for the benefit of the counter-narcotic units of many countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, as well as the countries of the Middle East, Central Asia and the Balkans. TADOC is also a significant contributor to the training projects organized within international organizations and institutions such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), and SELEC. Currently, TADOC, as a leading Academy in the region, is referred to by UNODC as a “Center of Excellence” while its work is presented as “best practices” to the rest of the world. Since its establishment in 2000, TADOC has organized a total of over 500 international training programs with the participation of nearly 9.000 law enforcement personnel from 88 countries.

Methamphetamine has become a new threat after 2009. Over the past two years, the number of meth operations have increased by 55.7 % and the volume of its seizures by 39 %. Turkish authorities work closely with Malaysian, Japanese and Thai authorities against methamphetamine trafficking. In 2012, a joint investigation of Turkish and US agencies led to the seizure of nearly 2,6 kilograms of meth. A Turkish-Italian joint investigation led to the seizure of 2,8 kilograms and a Turkish-UK joint investigation led to the seizure of nearly 709 grams of meth.

Currently, Turkey is affected by the cocaine traffic both as a transit and a target country.

We have also been working closely with Saudi Arabian and Bulgarian law enforcement agencies against captagon trafficking.

Turkey is a target country for ecstasy which is produced in the Netherlands and Belgium. Turkish law enforcement agencies are engaged in close cooperation with the source countries and are keen to increase the level of cooperation.

To increase the efficiency of police cooperation, Turkey has recently expanded its police liaison network to 27 countries across the world. We use this network to conduct international operations.

In 2012, Turkey conducted 14 joint operations with Romania, Macedonia, Germany, USA, Sweden, Italy and the UK. In 2013, 25 joint operations were conducted by the Turkish law enforcement authorities with 15 countries, 10 of these operations being controlled deliveries. In 2014, Turkey conducted a joint operation with France and 4 controlled delivery operations with Germany, UK, Austria and Sweden.

During the last decade, nearly 119 international operations and 91 multinational controlled deliveries have been carried out with 35 countries. Despite these achievements, we sometimes face challenges in international cooperation emanating mainly from differences in national legislations and diversity in institutional priorities of countries.

In other words, Turkey efficiently contributes to all efforts in fighting drug abuse as well as trafficking, through an effectively functioning network of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Turkey is present in major activities of international organizations and readily shares expertise and experience in this area.

PKK/KCK terrorist organization is considered to be an important player in the international drug smuggling network due to its widespread connections in Turkey and Europe. Conducted operations indicate that the narco-terrorist activities of PKK/KCK terrorist organization are not limited to extortion or collection of protection money from smugglers but also include international delivery of drugs. Details of statistics and related analysis may be accessed through “www.kom.pol.tr”.

During the last decade, TNP-KOM has become a principal actor in global and regional counter- narcotic efforts. This accomplishment is mainly due to utmost care in deployment of the KOM staff and their sophisticated training schemes. All new recruits are obliged to participate in long-term training programs in TADOC, which are jointly developed by KOM and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Turkish Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (TUBİM), which operates under KOM, has been established as a national focal point of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), with the aim of monitoring drug use as well as the supply and demand aspect of drugs, in order to collect and report data to EMCDDA.

TUBİM is also responsible for the preparation of The National Strategy/Action Plans and The Annual Turkish Drug Report, which includes all relevant data concerning drugs.

“National Drug Policy and Strategy Document” covering the period 2013-2018 and the “Third National Drug Action Plan” covering the period 2013-2015 have both been prepared by the Turkish Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (TUBİM). The above Action Plan seeks a balanced, effective and coordinated approach at the national level with regard to tackling the demand and supply of drugs.

As proposed by the first Action Plan, Provincial Coordination Boards on Drugs have been established in all provinces of Turkey. Furthermore, local Action Plans were prepared in 78 provinces.

There is an Early Warning System (EWS) controlled by TUBIM to identify and assess new drugs. If the Working Group of the EWS deems necessary, a substance may be brought under legal control in accordance with the Law 2313 on the Control of Drugs. In 2011, 19 new substances were brought under legal control including bonsai, khat, synthetic cannabinoid and cathinone. A total of 274 substances were included in the mentioned Law by the Early Warning System between 2008 and 2015.

Besides monitoring, TUBİM and its local contact points (ILTEMs) also carry out demand reduction activities. Demand reduction experts conduct awareness raising activities to reduce the demand for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. TUBİM and the ILTEMs publish books, magazines and other relevant material to raise the consciousness and awareness of the public (particularly the youth) against drug abuse. They also follow issues related to treatment.

In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that TUBİM has been the organizer of two International Drug Conferences in 2011 and 2013, which brought together national and international experts to discuss contemporary issues on the global drug problem.

How is freedom of speech and media protected in Turkey?

Democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are fundamental pillars of the Republic of Turkey, as it is enshrined in its Constitution.

The protection and promotion of human rights is among our priorities. Within the scope of the comphrehensive reforms implemented in recent years, numerous measures have been taken in order to align our national legislation with international standarts and principles, including the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the European Union (EU) acquis; to build up a domestic legal legislation which safeguards fundamental rights and freedoms and to further strengthen the independence and imparialty of the judiciary.

Also, National Human Rights Institution and the Ombudsman’s Institution have been established as independent mechanisms in 2012.

Freedom of expression and media, along with other human rights and fundamental freedoms are safeguarded by Turkey’s Constitution and other relevant legislation.

According to the Article 25 of the Constitution, everyone has the freedom of thought and opinion. No one shall be compelled to reveal his/her thoughts and opinions for any reason or purpose; nobody shall be blamed or accused because of his/her thoughts and opinions.

According to the Article 26 of the Constitution, everyone has the right to express and disseminate his/her thoughts and opinions by speech, in writing or in pictures or through other media, individually or collectively. This freedom includes the liberty of receiving or imparting information or ideas without interference by official authorities. This provision shall not preclude subjecting transmission by radio, television, cinema, or similar means to a system of licensing.

Turkey is maintaining close and efficient cooperation with international human rights mechanisms on freedom of expression and media. As a consequence of this cooperation, within the frame of the “Action Plan on Prevention of European Convention of Human Rights Violations”, an “Unofficial Working Group” working with the participation of the experts from the Turkish Ministry of Justice, Council of Europe and ECtHR, was constituted in order to improve the standards of Turkey on human rights as well as on the freedom of expression and media and to determine the actions to be taken in these fields.

Especially with the 3rd and 4th Judicial Reform Packages adopted in 2012 and 2013, significant legal arrangements have been introduced to further expand the scope of freedom of expression and media.

What is the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding applications lodged to the European Court of Human Rights against Turkey?

Regarding personal applications lodged against Turkey, a “Cooperation Protocol” was signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice on 14 November 2011. The aforementioned Protocol entered into force on 1 March 2012. Within this framework, the prosecution of applications arising from domestic legal process and execution of judgments regarding these applications are conducted by the Ministry of Justice. On the other hand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the prosecution of applications communicated to the Government before the effective date of the Cooperation Protocol.

Turkey has been very active in the field of mediation recently. What are the reasons for this and what are your priorities in the field of mediation?

In today’s world where globalization continues at a very fast pace, a conflict in one region carries the potential to destabilize other regions and to result in a global fall-out. Therefore, as a country affected by the many conflicts in this highly volatile region and concerned by tensions and developments in neighbouring regions, Turkey is committed to mediation and facilitation efforts.

Our efforts in the field of mediation are part of a larger policy to create a belt of stability, security and welfare in our region and to lay the foundations for the region to realize its true potential. We believe that enhanced regional cooperation and economic interdependence minimize the risk of conflict and acts in itself as a preventive measure. In this regard, the steps we have taken to improve relations with our neighbours are being continued.

As part of this comprehensive approach, as a credible partner, we also lend assistance to various conflicting parties in their efforts to foster dialogue and share our experiences. In this respect, in recent years we have conducted effective mediation attempts to facilitate reconciliation and cooperation among different parties and have supported peace agreements in various theatres such as Iraq, Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and Somalia.

Coordination, cooperation, and sharing experiences in the field of mediation/facilitation are essential in terms of carrying out efficient and successful initiatives. We launched the “mediation for peace” initiative at the UN and established the “Group of Friends of Mediation” together with Finland in September 2010 in order to generate interest, raise awareness and garner support for mediation activities as well as to help lay down guidelines in this field.

The “Group of Friends of Mediation”, which has generated considerable interest today has 51 members, composed of 43 countries and 8 regional or international organizations.

As a direct result of our efforts, on 22 June 2011 the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus the first ever resolution on mediation concerning the strengthening of the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, conflict prevention and resolution. We have maintained this momentum with the UN’s Guidance for Effective Mediation prepared by the Secretary-General in June 2012 and the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly in September 2012 and July 2014.

The Group of Friends of Mediation also meets at the level of Ministers once a year. The Ministerial Meetings are hosted by Turkey and Finland by rotation on the margins of the Annual Sessions of UN General Assembly. At the latest Ministerial Meeting, held in New York on 1 October 2015 on the margins of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly and hosted by Turkey, the Group addressed the Report by the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations as well as the UN Secretary General’s concerning Implementation Report from the perspective of peaceful resolution of conflicts and mediation.

A similar “Group of Friends of Mediation” was formed in March 2014 at the OSCE upon the initiative of Turkey, Finland and the Swiss Presidency.

In line with its leading role in the field of mediation, Turkey also hosts “Istanbul Conferences on Mediation”. The three conferences we held so far in February 2012, April 2013 and June 2014 brought together representatives from various institutions, NGOs and experts.

What is the energy policy of Turkey in general terms?

As a country with growing energy demand of more than %4 per annum over the last decade, Turkey has the highest level of increase in energy demand among OECD countries. Our energy demand is expected to increase further and nearly double in the next decade. Therefore, meeting the increasing energy demand has ranked energy security at the top of the Government’s agenda. To this end, Turkey’s energy policy can be summarized as follows:

- diversification of energy supply routes and resources,

- developing domestic sources,

- enhancing energy efficiency,

- increasing the share of renewables,

- adding nuclear energy to our energy mix,

- enhancing the role as a transit country and become an energy trade hub for the region,

- contributing to the energy security of Europe

Turkey has been increasingly engaging in energy projects including oil and gas pipelines in collaboration with its neighbours and partners. The realisation of major projects such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline as well as the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline which have been transporting oil and gas from the Caspian region were considered as a turning point in establishing the energy corridor between the Caspian region and Turkey.

Offering short, secure and sustainable route for the energy resources of its energy rich neighbourhood, currently Turkey, together with its partners, is in the process of implementing the Southern Gas Corridor, which will constitute an organic link between the Caspian Region and Europe through Turkey.

To this end, Turkey now places a priority to turn the Southern Gas Corridor into a reality. The Southern Gas Corridor envisages the creation of an alternative southern gas transportation route to Europe. The Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which is the backbone of the said Corridor, will further strengthen the energy security of Europe as well as Turkey. We organised the groundbreaking ceremony of TANAP on 17 March 2015. The delivery of gas is expected to start in mid-2018 to Turkey and to Europe in 2020. However, we would like to move the completion date even earlier.

The capacity of TANAP, which will initially transport 16 bcm, is 31 bcm. Moreover, with some additional technical work, the capacity may even exceed 50 bcm. The pipeline could include additional Azeri volumes plus Turkmen gas.

Turkey’s multi-dimensional energy strategy is also based on promoting the use of renewables and nuclear energy while increasing our energy efficiency.

Turkey also has a significant potential of renewable energy. We aim at increasing renewables in our total energy generation and we are planning to obtain at least 30% of electricity production from renewable energy by 2023.

Establishment of nuclear energy power plants in Turkey is also among our priorities. With the construction of nuclear power plants in Akkuyu and Sinop, we plan to meet 10% of our electricity demand from the nuclear energy by 2030.

Turkey considers energy as a further reason for cooperation. In line with this policy, Turkey’s G20 Presidency organised the first ever G20 Energy Ministers’ meeting and G20 Conference on Energy Access in Sub-Saharan Africa in October 2015. Turkey is an active member of the Energy Community, International Energy Agency (IEA), Energy Charter (EC), European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Energy Council (WEC) and World Petroleum Council (WPC).

What is Turkey’s transboundary water policy?

Contrary to the general perception, Turkey is neither a country rich in freshwater resources nor the richest country in the region in this respect. Turkey is situated in a semi-arid region, and has only about one fifth of the water available per capita in water rich regions such as North America and Western Europe. Water rich countries are those which have 10.000 cubic meters of water per capita yearly. This is well above the 1.500 cubic meters per capita in Turkey.

Within this regard, utilization of water has the utmost importance for Turkey. Having said this, it would be important to indicate the underpinning principle of the Turkish transboundary water policy which can be clearly outlined by the expression that Turkey is for the utilization of the transboundary rivers in an equitable, reasonable and optimal manner in the interest of the riparian States.

Turkey’s water resources policy has been developed over the years taking into consideration developments at global and regional levels, the on-going EU accession process as well as future water needs of the country. As for today, the general principles of Turkey’s transboundary water policy can be listed as below:

- Transboundary waters should be regarded as an element of cooperation not a factor of contention and mistrust between the riparian countries.

- Transboundary waters have their own specific characteristics and peculiarities. Each case of transboundary waters reflects its own economic, social, developmental, cultural and historic aspects.

- Since transboundary waters have their own specific characteristics and peculiarities; transboundary water issues should be handled only among the concerning riparian countries without any intervention of any international organization or party which are not directly concerned.

- Each riparian country of a transboundary water system has the sovereign right to make use of the waters in its territory.

- Transboundary waters should be used in an equitable, reasonable and optimum manner by the riparian countries. Riparian countries must also make sure that their uses of transboundary waters do not give “significant harm” to others.

- Equitable use does not mean the equal distribution of waters of a transboundary river among riparian states. Equitable use means efficient and effective utilization of water which applies demand management principles by means of using modern water infrastructure and implementing water-saving irrigation techniques.

- “Sharing the waters” is not applicable, as one cannot “share” a good which constantly changes in quantity and quality in time and space under the variable conditions of the hydrological cycle. Instead, the principle of sharing the benefits at basin level should be pursued.

How does Turkey view the Paris Agreement on climate change?

The 21th Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Paris between 30 November and 12 December 2015, resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement, reflecting for the first time the commitment of all the countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a global scale.

The Paris Agreement, as a long-term target, envisages keeping the increase in global average temperature caused by the increase in greenhouse gas emissions through human activity, to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; while also underlining the importance of pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

During its G20 presidency, Turkey contributed to the process also by providing a constructive political message from the November 2015 G20 Antalya Summit to the Paris Conference.

Turkey announced for the purposes of the Paris Conference, it’s “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” (INDC) on 30 September 2015, which envisages reducing its greenhouse gas emissions up to 21% from business as usual. Turkey has set its INDC through a comprehensive national consultation process. More than 190 countries have already submitted their INDC.

For the success of the Paris Agreement and in line with the UNFCCC’s principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, underlined also by the Paris Agreement, Turkey believes that international efforts in providing access to international finance, technology transfer and capacity building should be strengthened.

The Paris Agreement will be open to signature at New York on 22 April 2016, under the auspices of the Secretary General of the UN, and will remain open for signature until 21 April 2017. The agreement will enter into force once 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions deposit their instruments of ratification.