Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu gave a speech at the opening ceremony of the World Association of Press Councils (WAPC) Executive Council Meeting.
The full text of Minister Ertuğruloğlu’s speech at the World Association of Press Councils (WAPC) Executive Council Meeting is as follows:
I would like to welcome the esteemed members of the executive council of the World Association of Press Councils (WAPC) in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). It is a distinct pleasure for us to host this year’s Executive Council Meeting, which is to be held under the theme “WAPC as advocate of press freedom”.
On this important occasion, I thank you all for visiting the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and extend to you the heartfelt greetings of the Turkish Cypriot people and the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
I would like to take this opportunity and thank the World Association of Press Councils for its openness towards the Turkish Cypriot people, against a background of decades long all-encompassing unjust isolations imposed upon the Turkish Cypriot people in all fields of life. In this respect, we appreciate the fact that the World Association of Press Councils has been one of the first international bodies to accept a Turkish Cypriot non-governmental organization as a member.
I would like to thank the Turkish Cypriot Press Council as well, for actively representing Turkish Cypriot press within the World Association of Press Councils giving Northern Cyprus the privilege to host a WAPC event for the third time since its membership in 1999.
I would like to just say a few words about the Cyprus question and the current situation.
As known, at present, negotiations are ongoing between the two leaders in Cyprus. Most recently the two leaders held a tripartite meeting with the UN Secretary-General at the margins of the General Assembly in New York, on 25 September 2016. However, due to the Greek Cypriot leader’s intransigence, the tripartite meeting did not deliver the expected, namely a time-table, a road-map, including a 5-party meeting, which is essential for the settlement of the Cyprus question by the end of 2016. Nevertheless it is an accepted fact that if a settlement is not reached by the end of 2016, after almost 50 years of negotiations, the present process between the two sides on the island will come to an end. As the Turkish Cypriot side we are ready for both scenarios.
In the wake of the bitter experiences of the past, in the form of the undemocratic and violent usurpation of the partnership Republic of Cyprus and the all-encompassing isolation, the Turkish Cypriot people, have been working towards strengthening their democracy and their state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which was proclaimed on 15 November 1983.
As it has been stated in the recent freedom house report, elections in Northern Cyprus have long been judged free and fair. Turkish Cypriots are free to organize political parties, and elections are competitive. The parliament is elected on a five yearly basis. In the recent elections, four out of five parties, which ran for the elections, won seats in the parliament.
As unalienable elements of an intact democracy, fundamental freedoms, including freedom of press and freedom of thought and expression are of paramount importance. Therefore, I am particularly proud to say that we have a flourishing press and that freedom of press and freedom of thought and expression are under the guarantee of our constitution.
Besides the state owned Bayrak Radio and Television Cooperation (BRTK), currently, there are 14 private TV channels and many radio channels, some of which are affiliated with political parties in northern Cyprus. There are also 15 daily newspapers and many weekly and monthly periodicals. Additionally, there are various local and foreign news agencies.
I deem it particularly important to mention that the Turkish Cypriot people have free access to social media and can freely articulate themselves via this medium.
It is particularly alarming that in the 21st century, at a time of seemingly unlimited access to information, more and more areas of the world are becoming inaccessible to the press. Therefore, we appreciate the fact that the theme of the Executive Council Meeting is set to elaborate on the role of the WAPC as an advocate of press freedom. It makes us particularly proud that the Turkish Cypriot people can contribute to the enhancement of the freedom of press in the world through its participation in an esteemed association like WAPC.
Needless to say, education is of paramount importance when it comes to bringing up new generations, championing democracy and respecting and protecting the fundamental freedoms. With 15 universities and 25,000 international students from 131 countries, we hope to humbly be contributing also in this respect to the worldwide quest for democracy and fundamental freedoms.
Before I conclude, allow me to thank, once again, the President, the Vice President and the Secretary-General as well as the members of the Turkish Cypriot Press Council for their efforts in organising this event.
TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs