|Monday, 24 February 2020|
Turkish Press Review, 04-08-03
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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>
Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning
 ERDOGAN TO VISIT EU MEMBER STATES AFTER THE PROGRESS REPORT IS RELEASED IN OCTOBERPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to visit European Union member states after the European Commission releases Ankara’s progress report in October. First, Erdogan is expected to visit Germany and then France where he would address the Organization of the Economic Cooperation and Development. In related news, the EU would decide at its December summit whether or not to begin its accession talks with Ankara. /Turkiye/
 YAS DECISIONS TO BE ANNOUNCED TOMMORROWThe Supreme Military Council (YAS) yesterday convened under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss promotions and dismissals in the military. Also present at the three-day meeting were Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug, Land Foreces Commander Gen. Aytac Yalman, Air Forces Commander Halil Ibrahim Firtina, and Sea Forces Commander Adm. Ozden Ornek. The decisions of the Council would be announced tomorrow. /Turkiye/
 TURKISH HOSTAGE SHOT DEAD IN IRAQAccording to a video posted on the Internet, masked gunmen killed a Turkish hostage with three gunshots to the head in Iraq. Turkey yesterday identified the victim as Murat Yuce, a cleaner working for the Bilintur catering company. In the video, Yuce reads a statement saying, “I have a word of advice for any Turk who wants to come to Iraq to work. You don't have to be holding a gun to be aiding the occupationist United States. Turkish companies should withdraw from Iraq,” and then is shot in the head by a masked militant. Diplomatic sources said that Yuce had been kidnapped by the Tawhid wa al-Jihad affiliated with the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al- Zarqawi linked to Al-Qaeda. Bilintur, which provides laundry service for a Jordanian company in Iraq, issued a statement saying it had heard of Yuce’s killing and he was one of two employees missing in Iraq for three or four days. “Our grief is huge,” the statement said. Two Turkish drivers are still missing in Iraq and the same militant group threatens to decapitate the drivers unless their company stops doing business in Iraq. In related news, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul stated that the diplomatic works about Turkish hostages in Iraq was continuing. “I can’t give you a definite number of the Turkish hostages in Iraq,” said Gul. “I hope we’ll be able to save other Turkish hostages there. That’s what we’re currently striving for.” /All Papers/
 TURKISH TRUCKERS ANNOUNCE THEY WILL STOP BRING SUPPLIES TO US FORCES IN IRAQThe Turkish truckers association yesterday said that it would stop delivering goods to US forces in Iraq, in a direct response to videotaped killing of a Turkish hostage. “As of today, those trucks won't be crossing into Iraq,” said Cahit Soysal, head of the International Transporters' Association (UND) in Istanbul. Soysal said that Turkish truckers hoped that kidnappers would release the two other recently captured Turkish as a result of the organization's decision. He also added that 200-300 Turkish trucks bring supplies to US forces in Iraq every day. Meanwhile, the Turkish trucking company for which the two captives worked said it was unilaterally halting business in Iraq, adding that it was now waiting anxiously for its employees to be freed. The Turkish trucking companies are important to the fragile Iraqi economy as the Turkish supply route is regarded as more secure by the US military. /All Papers/
 EC TO CONSULT WITH THE EU CAPITALS ON ITS TURKEY PROGRESS REPORTIt was reported that the European Commission was planning to consult with the European Union capitals on its Turkey progress report before it is officially issued. The Commission will exchange views with the EU capitals on the report which is critical for Turkey’s EU membership bid. The EC will not end the report procedure before ensuring the approvals of the EU member states. Such an implementation is expected to bring about new political results for Turkey, as all member countries will offer their views on the recent reforms in the country. It was reported that the progress report has been completed as a framework but will be modified in the following weeks in line with the developments to be observed in Turkey. /Star/
 TOBB HEAD MEETS WITH IMF’S BREKK, DISCUSSES ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTSInternational Monetary Fund Turkey Representative Odd Per Brekk yesterday paid a farewell visit to Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TOBB) Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu. During their meeting, they discussed recent economic developments. Speaking afterwards, Hisarciklioglu cautioned that the current accounts deficit was too high, adding that necessary measures should be taken as soon as possible. He also urged the government to continue its reforms in order to reach this year’s targets, adding that it had the stance to do this. Hisarciklioglu added that a new economic program should be supported by the IMF. For his part, Brekk touted IMF’s positive relations with TOBB. /Aksam/
 BABACAN: “FINAL DECISION ON A NEW STANDBY WITH THE IMF WILL BE MADE IN SEPTEMBER”Speaking at a meeting of the Afyon Chamber of Industry and Trade yesterday, State Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan said that a final decision on a new standby with the International Monetary Fund could be made in September and then the details of the program could be announced. Babacan stated that the new program would protect the economy against internal and external shocks. Babacan also stressed that current accounts deficit posed no threat for the economy. “We’re watching the current accounts deficit carefully,” he said, adding that certain measures would be taken if necessary. “Interest rates are still too high and we hope to reduce them in the future.” Babacan further stated that private investment should be boosted in order to reduce unemployment. In related news, IMF Turkey Desk Chief Riza Moghadam yesterday arrived in Ankara to discuss recent economic developments and framework of the new standby with Babacan. /Milliyet/
 FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...
 FOR IRAQBY AHMET TAN (AKSAM)
Columnist Ahmet Tan comments on three Turkish truck drivers who were killed in Iraq. A summary of his column is as follows:
“Three Turkish truck drivers were killed in Iraq yesterday. One of them was executed cruelly, the other was shot in his car and the last one died in the hospital where he was treated. They all went to Iraq for a modest living only. 35-year-old driver Ismail Karaboga from Sanliurfa was shot in Iraq almost 20 days ago but he was saved in an injured situation. He wasn’t as ill fated as other drivers. Following the first medical attention, he was sent to Sanliurfa and he underwent an operation. When he could recover a little, he addressed bureaucrats, saying, ‘Either ensure our lives’ safety, or close the borders for trucks.’ These words didn’t reach Ankara. If Ankara could have heard him, maybe his colleagues wouldn’t have died.
Families of truck drivers who died yesterday are waiting for the victims’ corpses. Meanwhile, families of truck drivers who work in Iraq and those who are preparing for working in Iraq expect determined and serious steps from Ankara. Turkish trucks’ passage to Iraq without ensuring certain guarantees should be prevented. This guaranty is firstly the protection of truck drivers’ lives. Truck drivers who live in southeastern Anatolia go to Iraq to work for very low salaries and without a security due to the unemployment in the region. A state’s most important duty is to protect its citizens’ life safety. In addition, certain firms which work with Iraq have to fulfill certain commitments and poor truck drivers shouldn’t be left to the cruel arms of free competition. Truck drivers should have a life insurance, their families should be paid compensation, the future of their wives and children should be taken under guarantee and if necessary, special guards should accompany these drivers. Mr. Karaboga listed these measures. I’m sure our officials have or should have more radical measures to add to them.”
 THE FIRST TURKISH VICTIM IN IRAQBY SAMI KOHEN (MILLIYET)
Columnist Sami Kohen comments on the killing of a Turkish construction worker in Iraq. A summary of his column is as follows:
“One of the terrible pictures about the killings of hostages belonged to a Turkish citizen… Murat Yuce was the first Turk killed by the ‘Tawhid and al- Jihad group’ of al-Zarqawi, linked to the al-Quaeda. According to the group, Yuce was guilty of working for a Turkish firm, which works with an American base in Iraq… Of course it is evident in which conditions the execution is carried on. The group in question (and other militant groups) uses the method of shooting the hostages in the head or beheading them to prove their power and to threaten foreign firms. As a matter of fact, the number of hostages kidnapped is 70. A part of them are Muslims.
Operations of militants of al-Zarqawi are only one element of the chaos in Iraq. The new Iraqi government is unable to solve the security problem. With handful militants the Tawhid and al-Jihad group can plan and carry on its strategy. It forces foreign firms or countries to accept its own provisions (Philippines decided to withdraw its troops from Iraq and the firm, which Yuce was working for ceased from working in Iraq). We have to admit that the militants are successful in this respect. Even if the world doesn’t approve it and is anxious about the terrible pictures, the groups are hoping to gain the support of their people. It is obvious that this gives harm to the country.
There are also other groups in Iraq, with different goals. Various segments of Iraq are also targeted by these groups. Hundreds of Iraqis are victims of these attacks. The bombing of a church should also be evaluated from this aspect. Now the Christian population is also influenced by the conflicts between Sunnites, Shiites and Kurds. Unfortunately, the society in Iraq is drifting towards conflict and extremism. It will be impossible to reach stability in the region for a long time if this continues.”
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