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Ozersay turns screw as report reveals ‘ministry’ broke law

Kudret Ozersay

Former Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator for the Cyprus problem Kudret Ozersay claimed victory and indignation on Thursday night as a report he had requested from the north’s ‘auditor-general’ showed evidence of lawbreaking inside one of the north’s ‘ministries’.

The ‘ministry’ in question was the ‘tourism ministry’, headed by ‘deputy prime minister’ Fikri Ataoglu.

An investigation showed that the north’s ‘antiquities department’, affiliated with Ataoglu’s ministry, had carried out a series of works without opening a tender.

This runs contrary to the north’s law regarding public procurement and could be an indication of corruption and backhand dealings within Ataoglu’s ministry.

Reacting to the report, Ozersay asked the ‘ministry’ “what will you do to eliminate this illegality?”

He also turned his attention to ‘prime minister’ Unal Ustel, saying “we are also asking Ustel: it has been determined that a ministry in your cabinet is doing unlawful, illegal work. What do you think?

What will you do to correct this lawlessness, this illegality? Will you do what is necessary or would you prefer it if we took this matter to court?” he asked.

He added, “we are not content with making statements, we are taking productive steps against corruption and unlawfulness, and we will continue to do so.”

It is not immediately clear what action Ustel could take, should it be concluded that Ataoglu himself acted unlawfully.

The pair belong to different parties, and an attempt to remove Ataoglu from cabinet could result in the party he leads, the DP, withdrawing from the north’s coalition.

Such an eventuality would leave the coalition with a ‘parliamentary’ majority of just one ‘MP’, and would leave Ustel’s UBP reliant on the votes of Erhan Arikli’s YDP to pass legislation, while at the same time, Arikli faces a leadership challenge within his own party.

Ozersay had been former Turkish Cypriot leader Dervish Eroglu’s chief negotiator for the Cyprus problem in 2014, before resigning his post to run against Eroglu in the following year’s Turkish Cypriot leadership elections, pledging to clean up the north’s political corruption.

After finishing in fourth place, he formed a political party, the HP, to run in the north’s 2018 ‘parliamentary’ elections, and finished in third, effectively making himself kingmaker.

The HP then formed a four-party coalition alongside the CTP, the TDP, and the DP, then led by Serdar Denktash, with Ataoglu becoming ‘tourism minister’ for the first time.

In 2019 the four-party coalition collapsed, with Ozersay then entering into a coalition with the UBP. After this, his personal popularity collapsed, and he left the ‘government’ in 2020 when then ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar announced the opening of Varosha without first consulting Ozersay.

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