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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 03-09-09

Cyprus Press and Information Office: Turkish Cypriot Press Review Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>

TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.170/03 09.09.03

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] The leader of the Solution and EU Party analyses his partyīs positions.
  • [02] Judiciary, and government clash over secularism in Turkey.
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [03] Turkish mainland newspaper writes that settlers from Turkey control occupied Cyprus.
  • [04] Judicial system is still sick.

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] The leader of the Solution and EU Party analyses his partyīs positions

    Turkish Cypriot daily HALKIN SESI (07.09.03) publishes an ^”exclusive^‘ interview with the Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and leader of the newly-established Solution and EU Party (SEUP) Ali Erel by correspondent Aytug Turkkan.

    The correspondent first asks Erel why the SEUP was set up, to which Erel responds: "Mass meetings attracting as many as 80,000 people have been organized in the past year. The Turkish Cypriots felt themselves a part of a solution for the first time. A comprehensive plan, the Annan plan, was put before them for the first time, which they viewed as something that could work. The people put forward their demands aimed at determining their future. The right to hold a public referendum had to come from the parliament. The failure of the parliament to grant this right reminded the Turkish Cypriots that the arithmetic in the parliament should change." Erel also says that the mass meetings the people from various sectors held resulted in "a great loss of blood" for the ruling National Unity Party (NUP) and its junior partner, the Democratic Party (DP). He adds: "The public opinion polls show that the combined votes of the NUP and the DP have fallen to below 30 percent or 25 percent. This means that some 30 percent of the votes that the people traditionally gave to the NUP and the DP are looking for a new address. We have set up the SEUP in order to provide this new address for the voters so that they may vote for those who they know could represent them in the parliament."

    Asked to explain the SEUP's policy line, Erel says the SEUP is a liberal democratic party set up on the basis of the EU norms, and that it believes in the free market economy, supports human rights and the rule of law, and aspires to uphold democracy. Erel adds: "The SEUP sees the elections merely as a means. Our aim after the elections is to achieve a political solution and membership in the EU. Naturally, all these will not be easy, because we are talking about integrating with the world the Turkish Cypriot community, which has had a closed economy in the past 40 years. We do not have a political background. Our founders have no desire to occupy the same seat for 15 to 20 years." Erel further says the "leadership era" would close in December, and stresses that the practice of occupying the same seat for long periods would be changed.

    The correspondent asks Erel why he did not join the Peace and Democracy Movement (PDM) or the Republican Turkish Party (RTP) instead of setting up the SEUP since he shared the same views with the PDM and the RTP. Erel says: "We have those who traditionally voted for the NUP and the DP and who have now left these parties. Having participated in the mass meetings, they want to see represented in the parliament those who support a solution and EU membership as much as we do. The opinion polls show that these people have found the right address. Our party will respond to the undecided. There is naturally the need for close cooperation both before and after the elections."

    Erel is asked about his reaction to the criticism that, following the establishment of the SEUP, the "leftist" votes that demanded peace and EU membership were split. He says a third party in the "EU spectrum" would have a positive, rather than a negative, effect on the votes in favor of peace and the EU. "No distinction should be made between votes of the Left and of the Right," Erel says.

    The correspondent asks Erel what the post-election objectives of the SEUP are. He responds: "As stressed in the protocol that we have signed with the PDM and the RTP, `Presidentī Rauf Denktas will be removed from his position as interlocutor as the first step, and a committee will be set up under the chairmanship of the major party in the parliament. International contacts and contacts with the Greek Cypriot side will be initiated." Erel says the process of filling in the blank pages in the Annan plan would begin, and emphasizes that this task would not take long. He adds: "The point that is very clear as far as the `Greek Cypriot sectorī and we are concerned is that it is not possible to change the primary factors and the balances in the plan. If you want anything new, you have to give something in exchange. Proceeding from this principle, corrections could be made on certain details that both sides would accept. Changing the basic balances is out of the question. Among these [basic balances] are the political equality of the Turkish Cypriot community and the concept of two founding states. Other balances that cannot be changed are: Separate flags, separate parliaments, separate anthems, other organs relating to self-rule, preservation of the balance between Turkey and Greece, and an equal number of Turkish and Greek troops to be stationed on the island. A process of negotiations will be necessary to arrive at certain mutually acceptable terms."

    Replying to a question about a possible intervention in the December ^”elections^‘, Erel says he is sure some will want to interfere to change the fate of the ^”elections^‘. He adds: "`Presidentī Denktas heads the list of those who want to block the EU process. He is not alone, though. His desire is to change the result of our ^”elections^‘, which carry great importance at this stage. We know that the international community will seriously observe the `electionsī. Another change relates to the fact that Turkey's current stand does not support political integration. It supports a solution in Cyprus. This, in turn, leads us to hope that the Turkish Government will not intervene in the `electionsī, but will instead take steps to obstruct any intervention."

    The correspondent asks Erel whether the economic gap between the free areas of Cyprus and the occupied part could harm the Turkish Cypriots. Erel says the economic issue is the last thing about which the Turkish Cypriots should worry. He stresses that the system the EU follows aims at strengthening the economies of the members it admits. Erel notes that the Annan plan stipulates a three-year transition period between the Greek Cypriot side and the Turkish Cypriot side. He concludes: "I do not think this is necessary, though. We are a small population. There will be an increase in tourism after a solution based on the Annan plan. We shall not have to do too much. As a businessman and as the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, I stress that the issue we should feel least concerned about is the economy. You will see that in a very short time, our level of income will double and we shall reach the level of competing with the Greek Cypriot economy."

    [02] Judiciary and government clash over secularism in Turkey

    Turkish Daily News (09.09.03) reports that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday blamed a top judge after the latter said proponents of "limitless religious freedom" were united with supporters of an Islamic state, a conflict highlighting clashes between the governing party which has roots in political Islam and the secular establishment.

    "It is for sure that those who want limitless freedom of conscience and of religion and those who crave for an Islamic state are united to achieve the same goal," Court of Appeals' top judge Eraslan Ozkaya told a ceremony marking the opening of the new judicial year at Court of Appeals headquarters.

    "This is an ugly and negative approach. Defending freedom of religion and conscience is never the desire to establish a religious state," Prime Minister Erdogan told reporters in response to the top judiciary official.

    The Justice and Development (JDP) denies it has an Islamic agenda and pursues European Union membership as a top priority, saying it has changed and broken from its Islamic roots.

    But the establishment still views the governing party with suspicion, accusing it of hiding its real intentions.

    "There is no one with such concerns in Turkey. Therefore it is pointless to bring these issues onto Turkey's agenda over and over again," Erdogan said.

    Ozkaya warned in his lengthy address that there were attempts to weaken the secularist principles of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, and a confusion of concepts initiated by certain circles that was aimed at weakening Turkish secular order.

    According to Ozkaya, these circles try to weaken Kemalist principles by projecting these principles as obstacles to reforms on the way to EU membership.

    President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several Cabinet members were attending the ceremony.

    Subtitle: Praise for democratization reforms

    Ozkaya in his speech praised the reforms carried out by the current and previous government to fulfill the criteria of the European Union on the way to membership but said there was still a lot to do to achieve the democratization standards that the Turkish people deserved.

    "Unfortunately, despite amendments to certain laws and continuation of good intentioned efforts, we are still far away from achieving what our nation wants and deserves," Eraslan Ozkaya, chief judge of the Court of Appeals, told a ceremony marking the opening of the new judicial year.

    EU leaders have agreed to meet in December 2004 to review Turkey's membership progress with a view to open accession talks without delay.

    Though praising the reforms undertaken by the current and previous governments, the EU has complained that they are not effectively implemented.

    Two basic elements are compulsory to make sure that the supremacy of law will be established, Ozkaya said: "Enactment of laws that recognize human rights and freedoms, in line with universal standards and capable of meeting society's needs and effective and timely implementation."

    Ozkaya said there should be no delay in carrying out structural reforms and added that reforms should be guided by the wishes and desires of the people, not by imposition at the hands of foreign powers.

    The top judge argued that Turkey was ready to start accession talks with the EU, even more ready than 10 candidates whose accession into the Union was approved in April.

    "The EU should avoid offending Turkey by imposing double standards and adding new conditions to start accession talks. The EU, which is a group of democratic countries that have achieved an advanced level of culture and civilization, must show that it is not stuck in past cultural and belief values and that it rejects prejudices," he said.

    Subtitle: Constitution should be replaced

    As part of his reform calls, Ozkaya said the Constitution should be replaced by a new one that is compatible with values of the modern age.

    "The 1982 Constitution has been subject to many positive changes, its preamble and more than 30 articles have been amended. But changes that have been made at different times have proved to be insufficient and they have even turned out to be in contradiction with other articles of the Constitution because the reasons behind their enactment were different. For this reason, the Turkish Republic's Constitution problem is still going on. Taking into consideration that changes could bring only limited improvements to the Constitution, which was prepared on the basis of a reactive philosophy and authoritarian state understanding, the 1982 Constitution, which is the basis for many problems in Turkey, should be changed totally, and a new constitution that will embrace not only today's but also tomorrow's needs and meet society's needs should be adopted," Ozkaya said.

    If a new constitution is not possible, then the lawmakers should change constitutional articles that are not compatible with contemporary standards all together, instead of amendments at different times that also contradict each other, Ozkaya went on.

    Subtitle: ^”State Security Courts should be abolished'

    In addition to constitutional changes, Ozkaya also called for changes in laws to complement changes to the constitution.

    In particular, he called for changes to laws regulating the foundation and functioning of the State Security Courts (SSC) and total abolishment of the controversial courts.

    "The SSC should be abolished and their duties should be transferred to criminal courts," he said.

    Subtitle: Independence of judiciary

    The Court of Appeals head also complained of political pressure on the judiciary and called for abolishment of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which he said has issued decisions that were not credible and objective all of the time.

    "A judiciary in which politics have gotten involved will lose its prestige and credibility," Ozkaya said.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [03] Turkish mainland newspaper writes that settlers from Turkey control occupied Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily YENI DUZEN newspaper (09.09.03) publishes an article of Ersin Ongel, journalist in Turkish mainland Ozgur Gundem newspaper. Under the title ^”Northern Cyprus is under the control of the population from Turkey^‘, Mr Ongel refers to the appeal of Alpay Durduran, general secretary of the Patriotic Unity Movement (PUM), to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) demanding, inter alia, a population census in the occupied areas in order for the number of the settlers to be defined. Mr Ongel writes, inter alia, the following:

    ^”^ŇAccording to estimations of 2002, the population of northern Cyprus is 213.419. (According to the official population census of 1999 this number was 208 thousands.) According to the demographic distribution, 101.034 of the population are female and 112.457 male. However, this official number is not accepted by the northern Cypriots. It is noted that this number is continuously kept high. The real population is estimated at around 160 thousands. The fact that 70 thousands are northern Cypriot Turks and the other 90 thousands are settlers from Turkey is noteworthy. According to these estimations, the population from Turkey is the majority in northern Cyprus. However, the population of Turkish Cypriots in 1974 was 120 thousands. Approximately the half of this population has emigrated. The Turkish Cypriots, who after 1974 expected their population to be 180 thousands with an annual increase of 1.3 %, have become minority before the population from Turkey, because of the fact that the two thirds of them have emigrated. ^Ň^‘

    [04] Judicial system is still sick

    Under the above title Turkish Daily News (09.09.03) publishes the following commentaries by Ilnur Cevik:

    ^”Every year the judicial system opens in the first week of September with similar complaints by the leading judges of Turkey. They complain about corruption in the judiciary, about the massive workload in the courts and the sluggish pace of the system. We as citizens who have had to deal with the courts in some form or another have had the opportunity to see the problems on the spot and the urgent need to introduce deep rooted reforms without any delay.

    The system is clearly falling apart and superficial measures in the form of amendments and changing the wording of a few articles in the basic laws will no longer be sufficient to sort out the mess. Deep-rooted changes are needed in the form of a massive overhaul of the basic laws starting from the Constitution.

    As the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals pointed out in his address on Monday to mark the opening of the judicial year, the Constitution has to be rewritten. The ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) wanted to do this and mentioned it in its government program but it met tough resistance. The recent changes in our laws that amount to sweeping reforms that will make Turkey a more democratic country have also brought to the agenda the need to write a new Constitution.

    Our current Constitution was drafted by the military administration of the 1980 coup era and has become redundant, outdated and does not fit a democracy. The opposition has put up a fierce resistance claiming the JDP has a hidden Islamic agenda and would try to exploit the demands for change in the Constitution to fulfill its own aims. We feel both the government and the opposition in Parliament have to put aside these meaningless debates and rise to the occasion for change and reformation.

    Besides all this the government has to face the challenge of wiping out corruption in the judicial system as well as in other parts of the state apparatus. People need to see that justice prevails instead of seeing the corrupt system allow the mighty and influential winning the court cases.

    This means while we fight corruption we also erase the need to be corrupt. It is no secret that those who are the key elements of our judicial system are underpaid and over worked. The courts and other judicial offices are short of funds. Last year we heard of incidents where people could not be sent to court because the jail house vehicles had run out of fuel and there were no funds to buy any.

    Our greatest asset now is the fact that we have an excellent Justice Minister who has been working miracles with the European Union reform legislation. We are aware that judicial reforms and taking practical steps to correct some of the growing problems are on his agenda. If there is anyone that can face the challenge of reforming the judicial system it is Minister Cemil Cicek who is also the government spokesman. But still he needs massive moral and material support from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. If Turkey can solve this massive problem it will also open the way for the implementation of the reforms that also means all the obstacles for our EU membership will be eliminated.^‘

    /SK


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