TIME FOR KKTC TO OPEN FURTHER OFFICES IN MIDDLE EAST

Prof. Dr. Ata ATUN

 
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 17 Kasım 2007 Saat : 6:33


 

The historic meeting between Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took place in the Turkish capital of Ankara a few days ago.

In the same week Saudi Arabian King Abdullah came to Ankara to congratulate Abdullah Gül on his presidency. King Abdullah was Gül’s third guest leader, after President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Syrian President Bashar Assad, and this visit is his second within a short period. In addition, he is one of eight foreign statesmen who have been awarded the Turkish National Medal of Honor.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) delegation is headed by the president of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and In-dustry, Sheikh Saleh Bin Abdullah Kamel. Kamel arrived in the KKTC only a day before the king’s arrival in Ankara and was greeted by the foreign minister and other high-ranking officials at Ercan Airport. He managed a direct flight from Saudi Arabia to Ercan in the KKTC, irres-pective of the transportation embargo imposed on the Turkish Cypriots since 1983. Upon his arrival at the airport, Kamel stated that he was pleased to meet with his brothers in the KKTC.

The visit of King Abdullah to Turkey days before the historic meeting and the visit of the president of the Islamic Chamber of Com-merce and Industry to the KKTC wasn’t just a coincidence.

Israeli President Peres and Palestinian President Abbas signed an economic development agreement Tuesday in Turkey, the first time ever in the history of the Middle East, at least for the past 2,000 years. Turkish President Gül also signed the pact, which calls for the devel-opment of two industrial zones in the West Bank, creating 5,000 jobs. The heads of state met with the Ankara Forum, a group of business leaders from all three countries. This was a big step toward peace in the historical soil Terra Sancta, the Holy Land, for the followers of three religions.

Peres and Abbas addressed the Turkish Parliament as well. Both expressed great hopes and fears about the coming meeting in Annapo-lis, which Peres called a “historic opportunity.” The key role of Turkey in the reformation of the Middle East is surfacing slowly but surely.

The time has come to settle the Cyprus issue along with the oth-ers. Turkey has consistently called for steps to end the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriots after they voted for a UN plan to reu-nite the island in 2004, but despite pledges, there has been no signifi-cant progress since then.

The Israeli government and the Israeli people have not care much lately about the embargoes and isolation imposed on the Turkish Cy-priots. Between Israel and the KKTC, there are already social relations, with Israeli tourists and academics visiting without any restrictions.

A direct route for ferryboats between the port of Haifa and Fama-gusta was in place at the beginning of the new millennium and lasted for a few years; however, it was closed due to an insufficient number of passengers. Israeli investors have already purchased hundreds of thousands of square meters of land in KKTC territory and the amount of construction there has begun to rise.

After all of these civil and political developments, Turkey re-quested the opening of a Turkish Cypriot representative office in Tel Aviv when President Gül met with Peres in Ankara. President Peres did not turn down Gül’s request and responded by saying that he would have to discuss the matter with Israel’s Foreign Ministry before replying officially. It is of course the Israeli government who would respond to the request, but for the time being, the chances of an official representation of the KKTC opening in Israel seem to be high.

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