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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 04-09-20

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.180/04 18-19-20.09.04

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Erdogan says EU is not indispensable - Adultery fault line with EU
  • [02] Erdogan to visit Brussels
  • [03] Talat: "The politics beat the law, this happens always, but we could not yet beat the law"
  • [04] Reactions are growing in the occupied areas over the decision to lease Greek Cypriot properties to foreigners for 125 years
  • [05] The governor of the Turkish Rotary Club on the acceptance of two clubs from occupied Cyprus by the International Rotary Club. Efforts for the indirect recognition of the occupation regime continue unabated.
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [06] Commentary in mainland VATAN newspaper analyses the dispositions of the three major groups of the Islamic ruling party on the new Penal Cole

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Erdogan says EU is not indispensable - Adultery fault line with EU

    Under the above title, Turkish Daily News (18.09.04) reports that the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has been insistent on reintroducing adultery as a crime under pressure from his grassroots, but he risks jeopardizing Turkey's EU bid.

    Cracks appeared between the European Union and candidate Turkey in the wake of a delay in parliamentary approval of a new Turkish Penal Code which attracted an EU warning yesterday that Ankara's bid to join the bloc could be derailed due to the Turkish government's efforts to criminalize adultery.

    "We learned with concern about the delay that took place in the Turkish national assembly for the adoption of this code, and we understand this delay is due to attempts ... to reintroduce adultery as a criminal offense," European Commission spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori told a briefing in Brussels.

    "Such provisions would certainly cast doubts on the direction of Turkey's reform efforts and would risk complicating Turkey's European prospects," he said.

    Prime Minister Erdogan sounded defiant in the face of the EU warning. "The European Union is not indispensable for us," he said, attacking European Commission spokesman Flori for interfering in Turkey's domestic affairs.

    Erdogan told party members that Turkey had done all it needed to do to meet the political criteria for starting EU entry talks, adding, "Let nobody try to pressure Turkey by using the EU [as an excuse]."

    Subtitle: New Penal Code centerpiece of reforms

    Filori said the new penal code was vital if Ankara was to meet the criteria agreed upon in Copenhagen in 1992 and added that making adultery a criminal offense would send the wrong signal over Turkey's European credentials.

    "The new penal code in Turkey is of utmost importance in Turkey's political reform process," he said.

    "It addresses several issues directly linked to the political criteria of Copenhagen and therefore plays an important role in our final assessment for the 6th of October."

    Diplomats and analysts expect the Commission to give a positive assessment to Ankara's entry bid, but starting talks with the mainly Muslim, if officially secular, nation of 70 million is controversial in many EU member states.

    The EU's executive commission is due to present a report on Oct. 6 on whether Ankara has met a series of political and economic criteria that the bloc insists on before it will start accession talks with Turkey. EU leaders are expected to decide on whether to open the bloc's door to Turkey based on the commission report during a summit meeting in December.

    Speaking after his spokesman, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenther Verheugen said delaying adoption of the new Turkish Penal Code was worrying but that there was no reason to delay the Oct. 6 report.

    "I can only say it would be much better to have the new penal code adopted because this is the centerpiece of the question of whether Turkey meets the conditions of being a state of law," he said.

    Verheugen, on his last fact-finding trip to Turkey earlier this month, ahead of the report's release, said it would be a "historical joke" if Turkey had to make a choice between EU membership and making adultery a crime.

    Subtitle: Erdogan risks derailing EU quest

    Erdogan is reported to have been insistent on reintroducing adultery as a crime under pressure from his grassroots, but he risks jeopardizing Turkey's EU bid.

    Columnist Murat Yetkin of liberal daily Radikal said Erdogan was trying not to upset the JDP's mostly pious and conservative voters, but the proposal to jail cheating spouses had outraged women's rights groups and Turkish liberals and alarmed the EU.

    Earlier in the week his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (JDP) had appeared to shelve the adultery amendment plans, only to try to revive them after Erdogan's return from an overseas trip.

    The JDP during Thursday's parliamentary debates emerged with a fresh proposal named "sexual infidelity" and sought the support of the main opposition Republican People's Party, which refused to back it. Finally, the government decided the put the entire amendment package on ice.

    Leaders of the Justice and Development Party discussed the problem behind closed doors on Friday, but it seemed inevitable that Parliament would not now approve the reform package before the Commission's report on Turkey due to be released on Oct. 6.

    [02] Erdogan to visit Brussels

    Turkish Daily News (20/09/04) publishes the following report: "Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to travel to Strasbourg this week in an effort to convince members of the European Parliament and the top EU enlargement official over Turkey's aspirations to join the European Union after a delay in the approval of a new Turkish Penal Code caused by the adultery row.

    But top EU official for enlargement Guenther Verheugen, in comments published yesterday, warned that his Commission would not say "yes" to the start of Turkish membership talks with the Union unless Ankara reversed a delay in reforming the Turkish penal code before the release of a key Commission report on October 6.

    Erdogan is due to meet the European Commission Commissioner for Enlargement Gunther Verheugen there and address the European Parliament on Thursday. EU officials have warned that a ban on adultery, and the delay of the parliamentary approval of the new penal code could harm Turkey's EU bid, attracting Erdogan's angry response who had accused the EU of meddling in Turkey's internal affairs and said the Union was not "indispensable."

    Turkish newspapers reported that Erdogan would soften his tone in Strasbourg and give the message that "Turkey can prevent the clash of civilizations."

    "Reforming the penal code is a condition that cannot be dispensed with for starting membership talks with Turkey," Verheugen told German Daily Bild am Sonntag.

    "It is only through reform that we can prove Turkey is a state of law that respects human rights. The Commission will say quite clearly that the membership talks will not take place unless the centerpiece of the reforms is realized," he was quoted as telling by the Anatolia news agency to the daily.

    The Turkish Parliament debated the new penal code last week but Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party in a last minute move withdrew the new code after failing to secure the main opposition party's backing over its proposal to include a provision making adultery a crime.

    Deliberations ground to a halt at the weekend amid the swirling controversy. Lawmakers are scheduled to convene on Oct. 1, making it impossible to approve the fresh code before the October 6 release of a key commission report based on which European leaders are due to decide in December whether to launch accession talks with Turkey.

    "Prime Minister Erdogan will explain to Verheugen the adultery controversy and try to improve Turkish-EU relations," Milliyet newspaper said. "The prime minister will try to ease the tense climate on Thursday when he appears before the European parliament," Hurriyet daily reported.

    But worries within the block still prevail. "The approval of the Turkish Penal Code was postponed. When will it be passed and will there be a crucial alteration to its context. Ankara's response will be important for our evaluations," said Verheugen after meeting the Turkish ambassador to the EU, Oguz Demiralp, in Brussels at the weekend. The Commission's report will be issued as scheduled, he added.

    The main opposition Republican People's Party leader Deniz Baykal warned that Turkey could face major problems if there would be fait accompli to alterations in the penal code. "It is understood that the prime minister is squeezed between the Islamic sects and European Union," he added."

    [03] Talat: "The politics beat the law, this happens always, but we could not yet beat the law"

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (19.09.04) reports that Mehmet Ali Talat, so-called Prime Minister of the occupation regime has said that the effort of the Turkish side on the Cyprus problem was to overcome the law and achieve a victory of politics over the law.

    Addressing a meeting of the Turkish Cypriot Jaycees Association in occupied Kerynia, Mr Talat argued that the accession treaty of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU prevents a lot of things from happening and that at this stage things are not going well for the Turkish Cypriots. He noted that some serious opportunities and dangers exist for the Turkish Cypriots and added:

    "The accession agreement to the EU that the Greek Cypriot side signed on 16 April 2003 prevents a lot of things. As I said, if you do not do some things in time, they have no importance or their influence is little. This is what we are living today. Legitimacy is contradicting with the political preferences. The politics beats the law. This has been always like this, but we have not yet been able to beat the law. Not that some steps are not made towards this direction, but I could not yet say that we have some results. .".

    Mr Talat argued that in case Turkey gets a date for launching its accession negotiations with the EU in December, it might be forced to solve the Cyprus problem more quickly. He also expressed the opinion that the Cyprus problem will remain an obstacle in Turkey's way and that this obstacle will be getting bigger every day.

    Mr Talat said that the world gave no promises to the Turkish side before the 24 April referenda in Cyprus regarding lifting the 'isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and the recognition of the illegal "TRNC" in case the Turkish Cypriot side approved the Annan Plan and the Greek Cypriot rejected it. Mr Talat noted on this issue: ".There is something I want you to know. No such promise was given. Before the referendum nobody promised that 'we shall recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or we shall do this or that'. They said only this: 'If you act in line with the world you will gain, if you act against the world you will lose'. .".

    [04] Reactions are growing in the occupied areas over the decision to lease Greek Cypriot properties to foreigners for 125 years

    Turkish Cypriot daily HALKIN SESI newspaper (20.09.04), in the front page under the banner headline "The investments are in danger of stopping", reports that the reactions against to the new "law", under which foreigners will not have the right to own property in the occupied areas of Cyprus, but only use it for a period of 125 years, are growing. According to the newspaper, the so-called coalition government of RTP-DP with the aim to control the sale of land and other immovable property prepared this "bill", which causes the reactions of the civil organizations.

    The Chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Industry, Mr Salih Tunar, criticized this new "law" by saying that this "law" is not in harmonization with the EU law.

    Turkish Cypriot weekly CYPRUS TODAY newspaper (18-24.09.04) reports that the real estate industry joined forces to express anxiety over the attempt to put the brakes on a business they say now brings in $500 million a year.

    Builders' and estate agents' representatives said they were already receiving cancellations of contracts and demands for the return of down payments. They slammed the government's decision for creating a negative trend and branded it "unacceptable".

    The so-called Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat, in an interview to CYPRUS TODAY, said: "We have simply many complaints about the growing number of properties being sold to foreigners. It is true that because of exaggerated propaganda many foreigners have been buying in Cyprus. This has created a lot of anxiety among our people. People started accusing us of selling out the whole country."

    Mr Talat continued: "We have made some investigations and found out that this practice is very normal, particularly among the British. We have even adopted the same period of time, 125 years, for the leasehold as in the UK to make foreign buyers feel more confident about the whole matter."

    Mr Talat denied that the move was connected to the prospect of solving the Cyprus problem on the basis of the Annan plan.

    Mr Talat also dismissed fears that the proposal would put foreigners off buying land or houses in the occupied areas of Cyprus.

    He added: "I think the law is well thought through. It is not finalized yet - it has just been sent to Parliament for approval and this will be a long process. The most rapid approval process takes more than a month, at least. Firstly, the law is published in the 'Gazette' as a draft and all people interested are able to comment on it or complain. Then the special committee works on it and also listens to all involved in the business. So I am sure that the 'law' will change a lot during this process and the final version will differ from what we see at the moment."

    Meanwhile, estate agents' and contractors' representatives voiced their opposition to the proposal. "Cancellations started right after the news about the new "Bill'", said Real Estate Agents' Union secretary Aykut Mazhar.

    "Even people who signed a contract and made a down-payment have started to cancel the deals and to ask for their money back."

    He added: "This new regulation will not only have a negative impact on our economic gains but a political one as well. The gains of the Turkish Cypriots under the Annan plan would not materialize if this draft is ratified by the Parliament. The Annan plan offers first degree protection to individuals' property sold to a foreigner reverts to the state at no cost at all and it deprives foreign nationals of the guarantee provided under the plan. The (property) sector which gained momentum with this plan will be destroyed as a result of it."

    The Head of the Construction Engineers' Union Sevket Abohorlu agreed. "We held a broad based meeting (in our association) and, in line with a unanimous decision, are asking for withdrawal of this draft," he said. The Head of the Construction Material Sellers' Union Eray Fellahoglu said the new "law" would have a negative impact on sectors beyond that of construction.

    [05] The governor of the Turkish Rotary Club on the acceptance of two clubs from occupied Cyprus by the International Rotary Club. Efforts for the indirect recognition of the occupation regime continue unabated

    Turkish Cypriot daily CUMHURIYET newspaper (18.09.04) reports that Mr Erhan Ciftcioglu, the governor of the Turkish Rotary Club, made comments as regards the acceptance of two Rotary Clubs from the occupied areas by the International Rotary Club (IRC).

    The Kyrenia Rotary Club and the Nicosia Sarayonu Rotary club received a certificate that made them members of the international Rotary club a few days ago.

    Referring to this issue, Mr Ciftcioglu stated that in this way "the biggest civil society organization in the world recognized the 'TRNC'". He stated that for fifteen years now the International Rotary club did not register the two clubs from occupied Cyprus to become its members for political reasons. He also said that the two clubs from occupied Cyprus became members of the IRC following intensive efforts.

    Mr Ciftcioglu stated that 166 countries have been accepted by the IRC by now and added that with the acceptance of the pseudostate this number was increased to 167.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [06] Commentary in mainland VATAN newspaper analyses the dispositions of the three major groups of the Islamic ruling party on the new Penal Cole

    Istanbul Vatan newspaper (18/09/04) publishes the following commentary by Bilal Cetin under the title: "The TCK bill has fault lines in JDP" "The bill to amend the TCK [Turkish Penal Code], which was introduced as one of the most important democratization reform bills, has created very serious splits in the ruling party. This bill and the ensuing debate have served as a virtual litmus test in terms of exposing different dispositions that existed in the JDP's [Justice and Development Party] base and parliamentary group but that were not visible until now. Serious cracks have developed in the constituency as well as the leadership of the ruling party. Old disagreements and resentment have rekindled.

    On the surface the critical topic of debate was "adultery." However judging from what is being discussed in government anterooms, the issue of whether adultery should be considered a crime is only one aspect of the dispute. It is only the portion of the dispute that has come to light. The invisible aspect of the dispute is the resurgence of classical National View attitudes. It is the rebellion that has begun as a result of the accumulation of the unmet demands of the religious orders and communities that supported the party. Religious orders and communities are whipping up the JDP deputies who are, in turn, giving signs of rebelling against the administration of the party. This is the summary of the adultery controversy that has been going on for the last few weeks.

    The "nationalist-conservative wing" of the JDP raised its head when the government's policies on Cyprus, the Southeast, and the Kurds began to be debated. At that time the government's policies were sharply criticized in the person of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in a statement issued by ten parliamentary deputies. The JDP administration took note of this foray by the party's nationalist-conservative wing, said to be comprised of around 30 deputies, but it chose not to take any disciplinary action in the hope that the wound would heal over time and that the crack could be repaired before it grew bigger.

    This time, however, the rebellion of the hard-line National View wing in the dispute over the TCK bill will apparently not be so easy overcome. On the contrary, this development seems to be a harbinger of a settling of scores or division that may leave deep scars in the government and the party's top administration over the medium term.

    Subtitle: Erdogan committed himself

    The debates that turned into a crisis following the withdrawal of the TCK amendment bill at the last minute have thus far taken place on the plane of the adultery issue.

    Most interestingly, Prime Minister Erdogan, who was supposed to say the last word, had the first word and said: "We are a conservative party. We are sensitive about family values. For this reason we will include adultery within the scope of crime and introduce prison sentences for it."

    When Erdogan committed himself this way the National View wing believed that its demands would be met. However, this group was stunned when Deputy Prime Minister Gul and Minister of Justice Cemil Cicek disclosed after meeting with Republican People's Party General Chairman Deniz Baykal that "adultery will not be included within the scope of crime" and that "the bill will be approved with bipartisan agreement." The National View wing felt badly betrayed.

    Subtitle: Effect of Religious Orders

    As of that moment there was increased agitation within the JDP's parliamentary group and the religious orders and communities with close ties to the JDP. For example there was speculation in the anterooms that some leading figures from the Fethullah Gulen community came to Ankara two days ago to meet with certain JDP deputies and to convey to them their sine qua non demands outside the issue "adultery."

    Subtitle: Critical Article 220

    In the meantime press organs with close ties to the JDP have unrelentingly criticized the amendment bill arguing that it contains provisions that makes them pine for the existing law on the issue of basic rights and freedoms. Some of the provisions that drew such criticism, such as penalties related to attire and propaganda activities by clerics, were softened through negotiations. However the provisions of Article 220 of the bill continue to be a major source of criticism.

    Article 220 describes the offense of "forming an organization with the purpose of committing a crime" and the penalties to be prescribed for it. Paragraph 7 of the said article says: "Persons who knowingly and willingly help an organization shall be punished as members of the organization even if they are not part of the hierarchical structure of the organization." Paragraph 8 states: "Persons who wage propaganda for the organization or its goals shall be punished with prison terms of one to three years. In the event this offense is committed through the press or broadcast media the penalty shall be increased by half." Some objectors within the JDP and intellectuals with close ties to the JDP find these two paragraphs "unacceptable."

    There are concerns that these provisions may lead to incriminations against many politicians and writers on charges of waging propaganda for separatism or a Sharia system.

    The difficulty that Prime Minister Erdogan faces in the midst of this intense debate and confusion is that he has not been able to turn the corner on the issue of adultery because he committed himself to it from the outset. He is in a difficult position regardless of whether he steps back or not.

    If he steps back he will have to face the rancor of his constituency and the National View wing to the effect that "he retreated when the going got tough just as he did on the headscarf and imam-hatip issues."

    If he does not step back and includes prison sentences for adultery in the bill, the Prime Minister and his senior aides must surely be expecting the following criticism from once again the National View wing:

    "By doing this we face indignation from domestic public opinion and women's organizations and even put at risk the EU process, which we see as our most important project. Then why did we step back on the resolution of the headscarf and imam-hatip issues which are our most fundamental demands and pledges? Why this resistance and sensitivity on adultery which is an ethical issue?"

    It is also obvious that the JDP's liberal wing which is sincerely committed to the EU ideal will also not remain silent.

    Yes, at this point there will be trouble no matter which way Erdogan moves. The fault lines among different dispositions are now clearly exposed in the JDP which is essentially a coalition of three groups, namely the National View wing, the nationalist-conservatives, and the liberals.

    By ordering the bill to be returned to the parliamentary commission two days ago Erdogan has prevented these fault lines from turning into an earthquake and has gained some time."

    EG/


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