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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 04-03-04

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 <>



  • [01] Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader after the 8th meeting for a solution to the Cyprus problem. He accuses the Greek Cypriot side for being in a rush.
  • [02] Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader after he left the 9th day of talks to fly to Ankara.
  • [03] Erdoganīs adviser accuses the Greek Cypriot side of applying delaying tactics.
  • [04] Turkish scenarios of the occupied areas acceding the EU together with Turkey disclosed by diplomatic circles.
  • [05] Mr Thomas Weston held contacts in Ankara.
  • [06] The United States and the UN are reportedly preparing the fourth version of the Annan plan.
  • [07] Erdogan vaguely promises gestures but refuses to reply whether Turkey will withdraw troops.
  • [08] HURRIYET and "Internet haber" website publish statements by Foreign Secretary Straw to CNN-TURK.
  • [09] The US ambassador to Nicosia Mr Klosson presented the way in which his country will issue visa to the Turkish Cypriots.
  • [10] A delegation of the pseudoparliament to participate in the Parliamentary Union of the Islamic Conference Organisation in Senegal.
  • [11] The works of the Committees will be completed by the 22nd of March.
  • [12] National Unity Party decided to boycott specific sessions of the pseudoparliament.

  • [13] Columnist in MILLIYET supports that the US are pressing Turkey on the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki.


    [01] Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader after the 8th meeting for a solution to the Cyprus problem. He accuses the Greek Cypriot side for being in a rush

    Istanbul NTV television (03.03.04) broadcast live the press conference by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas after returning to occupied Nicosia from the buffer zone where the eighth meeting under UN auspices for a solution to the Cyprus problem was held.

    Following are Mr Denktasī statement and his replies to questions: "We did everything in our power. We submitted alternatives, but the Greek Cypriots were not receptive toward the proposals we made, and even rejected them because they are focused merely on strengthening the central government. When we asked them if they rejected the proposals and why they are not submitting their own alternatives to us, an argument ensued. Tomorrow, we will submit to them in writing the alternatives we suggested. We will ask them to consider them.

    The Greek Cypriots continue to reject the document we submitted at the beginning, the document that incorporates all the changes. They refrain from discussing it. They also fail to submit counterproposals. In other words, they fail to open the path to negotiations.

    They raised the territorial issue. As I mentioned yesterday, they had submitted a literary document without anything concrete. According to the Annan plan, our people who live in the territories to be conceded to the Greek Cypriots were given a grace period of three years during which those territories were to remain under the administration of the Turkish Cypriot component state. The Greek Cypriots want to transfer these territories to the administration of the United Nations on the day of the agreement. They shape this administration as though it is an autonomous government. In other words, they are trying to accord to the United Nations an authority that is unthinkable. Naturally, we, in our turn, rejected this.

    The Greek Cypriots are continuously saying: The negotiation of the plan is being delayed, and because of this the timing stipulated in the plan is no longer valid. Therefore, there should a shorter interim period. This affair must be concluded rapidly by 1 May with Cyprus' accession to the EU.

    They seem to be in a rush. What we are telling them is logical and reasonable. We say: Everyone is to be blamed for the delay in this plan's reaching the negotiating table. In The Hague, you, the Greek Cypriots, asked Turkey to immediately guarantee the outcome of the referendum, and Turkey was unable to supply this guarantee from a legal viewpoint. You said you would not hold a referendum without this guarantee. Moreover, you said you would not hold a referendum unless all the laws of the central government are completed. My subsequent proposal to give us an opportunity to introduce the changes and then conduct a referendum was rejected, but I was the one accused. If there is blame, everyone has a part in it.

    The interim periods envisaged in this plan were short even at the onset. They must be preserved, and even further prolonged. As it happens, this does not really affect the 1 May dateline, because if we reach an agreement with the Cyprus Government that will accede to the EU or that will receive the seal of accession on 1 May, the institutions that will join the EU are totally separate institutions. Therefore, the EU must accept the new institution through a new protocol. This protocol will also include all the derogations we will introduce. These derogations must be included in the EU Primary Law and acquis if they are to have any meaning. Otherwise, we would be acquiring rights on paper, and they can be multiplied by zero when the time comes. Consequently, what we want is to further extend this interim period. The Turkish Cypriots need a long interim period in order to adapt themselves economically. Experts are working on these economic issues. It transpires that the difficulties are great, and the necessary measures must be adopted. It is a question of time to determine where our people will be rehabilitated, how they will be rehabilitated, what the rehabilitation program consists of, and whether there are sufficient funds to this end. These matters cannot be determined by proceeding blindly.

    We are talking about our houses that were destroyed in the period between 1963 and 1974 as well as the special status of those people. The rehabilitation in the north of the people who were forced to live in tents during that period, who were forced to flee their villages, and who lost all their belongings should be handled in a special way. No one can expect these people to pay any money or compensation. They should be left alone where they are now. You [Greek Cypriots] are the ones who drove them away from their houses and villages, and who made them suffer for 11 years. The people who came to the north in 1974 on the basis of an agreement also have human rights. They were not brought here to have a picnic. They came here to flee great oppression. They opted for freedom. They left all their belongings in the south. Given that the Greek Cypriots here went to the south voluntarily, if there is any property issue to be settled with them, this can be settled by means of compensation and barter. It is no good to make peace through a complicated formula that will create strife among people for years to come, and to let people quarrel with one another again. These issues must be discussed again.

    I want you to understand that our attitude is truly in favor of reaching a conciliation. We are trying to submit alternatives to the Greek Cypriots on every issue, but we have not yet received any alternatives from them -- other than rejections. Thank you.

    Question: You said that the interim period should be extended. Do you mean that Cyprus' EU accession should be suspended for a while?

    Answer: If we reach an agreement, there is no need to suspend it. If we fail to reach an agreement, only the south will be joining the EU, and the EU will not have any authority in the north, but we need time for the issue of rehabilitation and for the economic issues. Both the EU and the Greek Cypriot side should accept this. They should not immediately pressure and ruin us by insisting that Cyprus is now united therefore the decisions of the central administration prevail. These are our natural rights. I repeat: If the Annan plan had been discussed in time and if they had not rigidly insisted on submitting it to a referendum on a specific date with or without its shortcomings, and if we were given a reasonable timeframe to discuss it, the time could have been sufficient. Even then we were cutting it short, but now, if we attempt to complete all the rehabilitation work in three days, three months, or 10 months, we would be deceiving ourselves and make our people wretched. One must act with wisdom and logic, and proceed with mercy. This is where matters stand today.

    Question: Are you planning to complain about the Greek Cypriots' attitude impeding the negotiation process to the UN Secretary-General or Prendergast?

    Answer: Everything is occurring in front of their eyes. We cannot attain anything by complaining about one another. We can attain something by encouraging one another to negotiate. We have a short time before us. Let us march on this road with goodwill, as much as we can. We will all see the outcome. The people, too, hear and see the results every day.

    Question: As far as I can understand, you are in favor of continuing the negotiations. Will you ...

    Answer: As you know, our negotiation process will end in three weeks. After that, Turkey and Greece will become involved. We will continue to proceed with goodwill in these three weeks.

    Question: What is on your Ankara agenda?

    Answer: I received an invitation in Ankara. I see that this has now been turned into big show. My duty is not to quarrel with governments or to criticize them. My duty is to explain the current point in the Cyprus issue to the Turkish public and to those who invited me. After this is done, I will hold a meeting with the honorable prime minister. I will also brief him about the situation concerning the negotiations.

    Question: Will you participate in tomorrow's talks?

    Answer: I will return at night.

    Question: Does that mean you will participate in the talks tomorrow? Answer: Tomorrow, we will begin early, at 0930, so that I can continue until 1100. From there, I will proceed directly to Turkey.

    Question: The Greek Cypriot press is reporting on possible compromise formulas. One of them, for example, mentions the possibility of ceding more territory to the Greek Cypriot side in exchange for straightening the border line. Can you comment on this?

    Answer: These are press reports. We have not yet engaged in a dialogue with regard to the territorial issue. As you can see, we are not about to do that yet. It would be strange to think of where to put the building before envisaging the building itself.

    Question: Last night, you said that the prime minister and deputy prime minister discussed this matter with experts. Were these talks conducted in Turkey yesterday, or did they meet with experts here?

    Answer: They discussed matters pertaining to the rehabilitation of the refugees. They met with experts here. I hope that they will give you the necessary information, because this is a subject that concerns everyone. They received clearer information on how the Annan plan will be implemented in terms of the refugees and how everyone will find themselves in a very difficult situation. It is their duty to convey this information to you.

    Question: Is it possible that this negotiation process will fail to bring about any changes in the Annan plan?

    Answer: Maybe this is the Greek Cypriots' tactic -- not reaching an agreement with us, relying on the fact that Turkey and Greece will also fail to reach an agreement, and allowing Annan to present his own views. Maybe they want to see what we will do then. However, we will see. Let us be patient and see what happens."

    [02] Statements by the Turkish Cypriot leader after he left the 9th day of talks to fly to Ankara

    Illegal Bayrak television (04.03.04) broadcast live the statements made by the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktas, before leaving for Ankara:

    "Today we had a short meeting but Mr Talat and Mr Serdar are there and they continue the talks from the technical point of view. Today we did not do a lot. We have exchanged views on the documents that we have reciprocally exchanged. We will continue the talks tomorrow. This is the situation. Beyond this there is nothing new. Do you have any questions?"

    Asked about the documents he had mentioned earlier, whether they are new documents, Denktas said that these are documents that include the summery of issues that they have discussed during the talks.

    When asked to comment on press reports that "Denktas is going to Ankara because he wants to withdraw from the talks", he replied: "I have announced the reasons why I am going to Ankara and from whom I received the invitation. The interest in Cyprus from Anatolia is great and it is increasing every day. I am getting hundreds of support messages. There is great interest, excitement. We too feel the need to explaining what we want to do. You do know my views as regards the Annan Plan. What we want to do is to make the Annan plan acceptable. We are trying to include in the Annan plan the indispensable conditions that Turkey told us to include in the Plan. People in Turkey as well are working in order to include these conditions. Therefore we will brief them on this situation.

    Our only message to the Turkish nation is that we are doing all we could and will continue, so that Cyprus would not turn into Crete. We want peace; we want Cyprus to be a bridge of peace between Greece and Turkey. However, we are face to face with a cruel, inhuman time limit. If this time limit is not extended, a lot of important points will be overlooked. So, we should not hurry up. We will inform our brethrens in Turkey.

    [03] Erdoganīs adviser accuses the Greek Cypriot side of applying delaying tactics

    Istanbul NTV television (03.03.04) broadcast that Turkey asked the United States to step up its pressure on the Greek Cypriot side, which is inclined to postpone the solution of the Cyprus problem until after 1 May. Thomas Weston, US special coordinator for Cyprus who arrived in Ankara after his contacts in Nicosia and Athens, met with Ambassador Ahmed Davutoglu, Prime Minister Erdogan's chief foreign policy adviser.

    During the meeting, Davutoglu gave two important messages. Noting that in the negotiations the Greek Cypriot side is inclined to postpone the solution until after 1 May, Davutoglu said: This is causing an impasse. The timetable is getting tighter. The process must be accelerated.

    Weston, in turn, pointed out that he is closely following the process, adding: We will do whatever is necessary.

    The second message conveyed to Weston stressed that until 22 March, when the quadripartite talks are to begin, as many points of disagreement as possible should be resolved. Such a development will also positively affect the referendum process, it was said.

    Meanwhile, it was learned that Erdogan is planning to go to Athens after the Greek elections and before 1 May.

    Moreover, TRT 2 Television (03.03.04) broadcast the following: "Ambassador Ahmet Davutoglu, Prime Minister Erdogan's chief foreign policy adviser, held a meeting with Thomas Weston, US special coordinator for Cyprus, today.

    We have received important details about what went on behind the scenes during this meeting. Accordingly, Ankara conveyed its displeasure to the US diplomat for having said: The side that says no in a referendum will have to pay a price.

    Ankara said that making such remarks while the negotiation process is going on may make it more difficult to reach a settlement. Ankara asked Weston to be more constructive.

    Thomas Weston replied that the United States tries to act constructively and positively, and stressed that he said what he said in order to urge the sides to act because time is running short.

    The Turkish side reiterated to Weston that despite the Greek Cypriots' delaying tactics, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side will do all they can to ensure that a solution is found by 1 May, and that a united Cyprus joins the EU."

    [04] Turkish scenarios of the occupied areas acceding the EU together with Turkey disclosed by diplomatic circles

    Istanbul NTV television (03.03.04) broadcast the following report:

    "The Greek Cypriot side's reluctant stand at the negotiating table and its inclination to extend the process till after 1 May were discussed in the talks held in Ankara by `TRNCī Prime Minister Talat and `Foreign Ministerī Serdar Denktas. Ankara and Nicosia agree that if the talks go beyond 1 May, the process will end completely.

    Diplomatic circles are saying that the Turkish side will try to remain at the negotiating table, but that if the process fails, the Greek Cypriots will join the EU on 1 May, and the `TRNCī will join the EU together with Turkey.

    During their talks in Ankara, Talat, Serdar Denktas, and Turkish officials discussed the positions posited by the two sides in the Cyprus talks so far. According to the Turkish side, the Greek Cypriot Administration has not yet shown the will necessary for reaching a settlement by 1 May. Even though `TRNC Presidentī Rauf Denktas submitted a document comprising the Turkish side's demands for changes in the Annan plan on the first day of the talks, the Greek Cypriots are voicing their objections to these demands piece by piece. This is being viewed as a delaying tactic.

    Talat and Denktas pointed out in Ankara that they are receiving signals that the Greek Cypriots are trying to postpone the settlement till after 1 May, the date the Greek Cypriots officially become EU members.

    Nicosia and Ankara agree that the Turkish Cypriots should remain loyal to the announced timetable and remain at the negotiating table till the last moment.

    Diplomatic sources are saying that the side that will abandon the talks will pay a price. They add: If a settlement is not reached by 1 May, there will not be a new process, and this business will come to an end. At least, there will not be a new process with the current UN Secretary-General. Annan would never assume responsibility again. In that case, the Greek Cypriot sector will join the EU on 1 May, and the `TRNCī will join the EU together with Turkey."

    [05] Mr Thomas Weston held contacts in Ankara

    Istanbul NTV television (04.03.04) reported that Mr Thomas Weston, US special coordinator for Cyprus at the US State Department, who is holding contacts in Turkey after having concluded his contacts in Cyprus and Greece, has said that he is encouraged about reaching a solution by 1 May. He also noted that he believes that the Turkish side wants a just and lasting solution in Cyprus.

    Weston met with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and officials from the Foreign Ministry in Ankara. The point reached at the ongoing negotiations in Cyprus was discussed at the meeting. Turkey's position as well as the points which it will not renounce were once again explained to Weston. Drawing attention to the importance of reaching a solution on the island by 1 May, Gul stressed that the Greek Cypriot side should also exert sincere efforts. Gul said: A solution cannot be reached through the goodwill of one of the sides. People who will coexist should show understanding.

    Weston said that he held a positive meeting with Mr Denktas and that they joked with one another. He refrained from making remarks that were critical of the Greek Cypriot side. Weston made a short assessment at the end of the talks. He said: As always, we determined that we share many common views. The talks were held in a very positive atmosphere. At the end of all these meetings I held on the island, in Athens, and especially in Ankara, I am encouraged that a solution will be reached by 1 May.

    Meanwhile, it is reported that at the meetings the view that an agreement should be reached, to a great extent, at the talks being held between the leaders on the island was expressed. The quadripartite talks to be held with the participation of Turkey and Greece are expected to be held either in New York or Geneva. Ankara prefers to hold these talks among officials who have a political responsibility, in other words, at the prime ministerial or foreign ministerial level.

    [06] The United States and the UN are reportedly preparing the fourth version of the Annan plan

    Istanbul NTV television (04.03.04) broadcast the following report:

    "A conciliation has yet to be reached at the negotiations being held between the two leaders in Cyprus. It is reported that, however, the United Nations and the United States are in the process of preparing the fourth version of the Annan Plan. The fourth version, which is being prepared taking into consideration the proposals submitted by the sides concerned, aims at changes that will cause the people to vote in favour of the plan in the referendum to be held.

    The fourth plan, which aims at finding a middle way in the light of the proposals submitted by the sides, will entail the following changes: The border will be straightened in line with the requests of the Turkish Cypriot side. In exchange for that adjustment, however, more territory will be given to the Greek Cypriot administration. Within this framework, the percentage of the territory to be left to the Turkish Cypriot side will be less than 28 percent. As requested by the Greek Cypriot side, the percentage of the Greek Cypriots who will return to the Turkish Cypriot side will be more than the 21 percent envisaged by the Annan plan. In exchange for that, as requested by the Turkish Cypriot side, the Greek Cypriots will be able to vote only in their own state.

    According to the current plan, 6,000 Turkish and 6,000 Greek troops are envisaged to remain on the island in the aftermath of a solution. Provided this number is decreased, the time allocated for the withdrawal of the troops will be increased. The rejection of the proposals over which a middle way was not found is part of this formula. Within this framework, the Turkish Cypriot proposal on a differentiation between Turks and Greeks on the issue of sovereignty is being rejected. The requests to immediately transfer to the United Nations the territories to be given to the Greek Cypriots and to lift the waiting period involved in the return of the refugees are also being rejected."

    [07] Erdogan vaguely promises gestures but refuses to reply whether Turkey will withdraw troops

    According to Turkish mainland daily HURRIYET newspaper (04/03/04), the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr Recep, Tayyip Erdogan, spoke to journalists accredited to Brussels. He referred to the ongoing Cyprus negotiations and said that in order to have a straight line border between the constituent states in Cyprus "the north Cyprus will make territorial sacrifices".

    When asked whether Turkey will be engaged in a gesture before 1 May by withdrawing part of its troops from Cyprus, Erdogan replied: "Turkey is ready for these gestures. It has already done and has more". Erdogan further added that in case the EU fails to give a date for Turkey for starting negotiations then this will create disillusion in Turkey and in the world "We will have difficulty to explain this to the Turkish people and to the world", Erdogan declared.

    In the meantime, reports HURRIYET, Prime Minister Erdogan will visit Greece prior to 1 May, at the end of March.

    [08] HURRIYET and "Internet haber" website publish statements by Foreign Secretary Straw to CNN-TURK

    Under the title "The Greek Cypriots will represent only the south", Turkish daily HURRIYET newspaper (04.03.04) publishes statements by the British Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr Jack Straw to Mehmet Ali Birand of CNN-TURK television on the "Headline" (Manšet) proramme.

    Asked whether or not Cyprus would become a full member of the EU and whether or not the "Greek Cypriot side will represent the whole island or only its southern part", Mr Straw answered the following: "Of course if the part that joins the EU is only the Greek Cypriot side, then they (the Greek Cypriots) will represent only the Greek Cypriot side, because at the moment the island is divided".

    Furthermore, according to "Internet haber" website, Mr Birand asked Mr Straw the following: "If the Turks say yes and the Greek Cypriots say no at the referendum, then will the Greek Cypriots become a full member of the EU? Will they become a member representing the whole island? That is, will they entirely become a member? I am not asking what your decision will be. I am asking what will logically happen". Mr Straw answered the following: "Of course, if the part of Cyprus that joins the EU is only the Greek Cypriot side, then they (the Greek Cypriots) will represent only the Greek Cypriot side, because at the moment the island is de facto divided".

    (NB: The programme was broadcast with superimposed translation into Turkish.)

    [09] The US ambassador to Nicosia Mr Klosson presented the way in which his country will issue visa to the Turkish Cypriots

    Turkish Cypriot daily YENI DUZEN newspaper (04.03.04) reports that the Turkish Cypriots could now apply to the office of the US embassy in the occupied part of Nicosia and take a visa to travel to the United States. The paper notes that yesterday Mr Michael Klosson, the US ambassador to Nicosia, informed the Turkish Cypriot press regarding a new practice for granting visa to people who want to travel to the United States.

    According to the paper, every year two thousand persons from occupied Cyprus take visa to travel to the US. The two thirds of them are students.

    Responding to questions, Mr Klosson said that persons, who apply for visa with the illegal passport given to them by the occupation regime, could get visa on a separate piece of paper and this visa will be valid for six months. The reason for this is the fact that the so-called "TRNC" is "state" recognized by no one, noted the American ambassador, adding that those who apply with the passport of the Republic of Cyprus could get a visa valid for ten years.

    Officials of the American embassy said that the Turkish Cypriots have already started applying for visa with passports of the Republic of Cyprus.

    [10] A delegation of the pseudoparliament to participate in the Parliamentary Union of the Islamic Conference Organisation in Senegal

    Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (04.03.04) reports that a delegation of the so-called Parliament of the occupation regime will participate in the Parliamentary Union of the Islamic Conference Organisation, which is going to take place in Senegal.

    The delegation, which will depart from the pseudostate tonight at 18:00 hours consists of the "Speaker" of the pseudoparliament Fatma Ekenoglu, who will be heading the group, Gulboy Beydagli "deputy" of the Republican Turkish Party, Turkay Tokel "deputy" of the National Unity Party, and Halil Sadrazam, "deputy" of the Peace and Democracy Movement.

    [11] The works of the Committees will be completed by the 22nd of March

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (04.03.04) reports that Mr Ergun Olgun, so-called Presidential Undersecretary and leader of the Technical Committees of the Turkish Cypriots stated that the works of the Committees will be completed by the 22nd of March.

    Mr Olgun made these statements at a press conference yesterday where he informed the press about the work that the Committees carried out during the last two weeks. He said that the aim of the committees was to make the essential foundation laws on international agreements, economic and financial issues for the new state to be founded if an agreement is reached on the basis of the Annan Plan.

    In addition, as Illegal Bayrak television broadcast (03.04.03) Mr Olgun stated, the Committees will be holding a press conference once a week to inform the community of the work being carried out by them.

    [12] National Unity Party decided to boycott specifics sessions of the pseudoparliament

    Turkish Cypriot daily BIRLIK newspaper (04.03.04) reports that the National Unity Party (NUP) of Dervis Eroglu, has decided to boycott certain sessions of the pseudoparliament and to withdraw from the Committees in protest over the "government's" stance on the Cyprus issue.

    The Party's decision was announced yesterday by the leader of the NUP Dervis Eroglu at a press conference attended by "parliamentarians" from the party. Mr Eroglu said that the Turkish Cypriots were going through a difficult period and that "the difficulties being faced could only be overcome by struggling against the attempts to annihilate Turkish Cypriots", as he claimed.

    He also alleged that the games being played "to hand over Cyprus to the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo" have entered their final phase, and that the Turkish side had made a wrong move by going to New York.

    In addition, as illegal BAYRAK television broadcast (03.03.04) Mr Eroglu claimed that it would be a big mistake to put to a referendum a document which will be finalised by the UN Secretary-General "in spite of an earlier decision by the Turkish National Security Council that only an agreement reached by the two sides on the island would be put to a referendum".


    [13] Columnist in MILLIYET supports that the US are pressing Turkey on the re-opening of the Theological School of Halki

    MILLIYET newspaper (01.03.04) publishes the following commentary by Yasemin Congar under the title: "For our rights":

    "Let us not fool ourselves. Let us not keep assuming that all that is necessary has been done in the sphere of political reforms, the initial steps of which were taken during the term of the previous government and which were continued with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's words, "The Copenhagen Criteria will be the Ankara Criteria," under JDP [Justice and Development Party] leadership.

    Even though Turkey recorded a lot of progress over the past few years on the issue of improving democratic rights and liberties in a manner conforming to the Copenhagen Criteria, this is not enough.

    We are letting ourselves get more obsessed with the thought that EU membership will be secured if we solve the Cyprus problem. However, the warning in the statement by Greek Foreign Minister and candidate for chairman of PASOK [Panhellenic Socialist Movement] George Papandreou is more realistic.

    Papandreou does not refrain from supporting Turkey's full membership to the EU prior to the elections in his country. He does not refrain from calling this "an irreversible process not only for Athens, but for the EU as well." However, nor does he hesitate to say, "Turkey has to become a completely democratic country to be able to join the EU." He is speaking the truth. He is describing our homework.

    Subtitle: Traces of Torture

    It can be seen that the letter sent by US Secretary of State Colin Powell to his counterpart, Abdullah Gul, was effective. In the letter the US Secretary of State mentioned the name of the Hacettepe University student, Birtan Altinbas, who was killed while under custody in Ankara 13 years ago, and warned against further stalling the torture case, which could be closed in February 2006. When the letter gained media coverage, Justice Minister Cemil Cicek admitted that he had found out from newspapers that some of the 10 police officers who are being tried on charges of torturing Altinbas to death could not be reached, and stated that he would take the issue to the Reform Watch Group immediately.

    The fact that the warning had an effect was positive, but it was not good that Washington had to issue a warning for the pending trial to pick up. Thanks to this, news concerning Altinbas, which have been covered by MILLIYET for a long time, drew Ankara's attention after Washington. Let us not forget that it had taken a long time to try to punish the 10 police officers who had tortured 16 high school students in Manisa in 1996, and the United States and the EU had felt the need to raise the issue at the most senior level during that process as well. In the end, the police officers guilty of torture were sentenced to prison sentences ranging from 60 to 130 months. The Manisa trial was given as an example of a case that was concluded in accordance with the JDP government's "zero tolerance for torture." In his letter Powell also recalled that the trial's outcome had been a positive contribution to Turkey's image.

    News about Powell's letter was announced by CNN Turk from Ankara for the first time last Wednesday [25 Feb], and it coincided with the publication of the US State Department's annual human rights report. The timing gives the impression that Powell felt the need to issue a friendly warning to Ankara before the Department revealed the critical report.

    However, this impression is wrong. Powell wrote the letter within the scope of Turkey's perspective of EU membership and without considering his Department's report.

    A diplomatic source who has first-hand knowledge about the process of the letter explained that the letter had been conveyed to Ankara two weeks ago, and particularly emphasized that they had acted completely independent of the timing and content of the Department's human rights report. The same source said: "The Altinbas case is a striking example rather than a specially chosen topic. Crushing such examples one by one is the real issue. Powell's letter is directly linked to Turkey's attempts to join the EU and implement the Copenhagen Criteria. It is unlikely that accession talks with the EU will commence as long as shortcomings in bringing these criteria to life continue to exist."

    However, the United States once again recorded through its Human Rights Report that not punishing torture and people who resort to torture is one of the biggest violations in Turkey. We found out from the report that traditional methods such as hanging, bastinado, and applying electric shocks to sexual organs have been replaced by torture methods that "do not leave any scars."

    Danish neurologist Inge Genefke, the Representative of the International Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, who spoke at the Human Rights Group in the US Congress last Monday, repeated the criticism she had previously voiced in other places, and said Turkey should be defined as "A country that uses torture as state policy," despite the important reforms in the laws. Genefke said, "Signals that the State is adopting serious measures against torture will be received if five-six serious cases are launched and concluded against hundreds of police officers who are guilty of torture."

    Subtitle: Religious and Ethnic Rights

    Torture is the most painful topic in both Powell's letter and the US State Department Report, but it is not the only one.

    One of the most interesting aspects of this year's report is that an official US document that lists violations of rights has mentioned the name of the Turkish President perhaps for the first time in history. The report, which criticizes the implementation of the headscarf ban in the "public" sphere, starting with universities, used the sentence, "President Sezer did not invite the headscarved wives of ministers and deputies to the traditional Republic Day reception," in the part on violations.

    It is important that prejudiced practices concerning the Alevis and Prime Minister Erdogan's words, "Alevism is not a religion," were also included in the report within the scope of the violation of religious freedom.

    However, problems encountered by members of minority religions in Turkey, and particularly the fact that the Halki Island Seminary is still closed, will remain on Washington's agenda. President Bush is planning on meeting with the Director for Religious Affairs and the religious leaders of the Greek, Armenian, and Jewish communities in Turkey while participating in the NATO Summit in Istanbul at the end of June. The United States is pressing for a development on the issue of Halki before that meeting takes place.

    The fact that in his letter Powell particularly emphasized the shortcomings in implementing Kurdish broadcasts, and that the report maintains that our citizens of Kurdish origin are among the people most harmed by numerous violations of rights, including torture, necessitate another column.

    I am concluding my column with the note that Washington views the "Kurdish issue" as the sphere in which the JDP government is least successful with regard to political reforms. This note gains special importance at a time when a state that has Kurdish as one of its official languages is being established in our south."


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