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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 06-10-03

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.190/06 03.10.06

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Press Conference by Erdogan after meeting with President Bush.
  • [02] Statements by Erdogan at Georgetown University in Washington.
  • [03] Developments in the internal politics of the Turkish Cypriots.
  • [04] Turkish Deputy Prime Minister reacts against President Sezers statements.
  • [05] The Turkish chief of General Staff addresses the opening ceremony of the new academic year of the war academies.
  • [06] Erdogan: There is no fundamentalism threat.
  • [07] The opposition in Turkey on the political developments in occupied Cyprus.
  • [08] Talat stated that he has no information that Turkey is ready for discussion on the EU Cyprus proposal.
  • [09] Turkeys Week in Europe.
  • [10] The Culture Minister of Bavaria and the Director of the Cultural Department of Nuremberg will visit the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus.
  • [B] COMMENTRIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [11] Columnist sees effort by President Sezer and the military to undermine AKP.
  • [12] Columnist in The New Anatolian assessed General Buyukanit´s speech.
  • [13] Columnist assesses Erdogans visit to the US.

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Press Conference by Erdogan after meeting with President Bush

    Turkish Istanbul NTV television (02.10.06) broadcast the following statement by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his press conference in Washington on 2 October, after his meeting with President Bush:

    I had a very fruitful and useful meeting with President Bush a short while ago. We had an opportunity to discuss the many issues on our agenda. We found an opportunity to discuss what we can do to achieve concrete progress in our cooperation against terrorism, particularly against the negative outcome of the terrorist organization's [PKK] activities in our country. We discussed the EU, Cyprus, Iraq, Iran, the Middle East as well as bilateral and regional issues. I found an opportunity to be informed on views and approach of the United States on these issues at the highest level. Meanwhile, I shared my views again with the esteemed President.

    We welcomed the fact that our approaches greatly complied with each other. We decided to increase our close cooperation on matters that concern our countries. Within that framework, we focused attention particularly on our cooperation against terrorism. We discussed the joint steps that can be taken against the terrorist organization. I conveyed my views on the Cyprus problem and the solution to be found to it. In addition, I informed him on our talks on Turkey's accession to the EU.

    The visit created an opportunity for us to discuss our regional problems in detail, problems that have weight in our common agenda. Regarding Iraq, I explained our views, expectations, and concerns to President Bush once again. We found an opportunity to assess the recent developments in the Middle East, including Lebanon and the problem between Israel and Palestine. I explained the steps Turkey has taken thus far and the steps it might take in the future.

    We believe that the Israeli-Palestinian problem is one of the main factors that have worsened regional and global tensions. A durable and just solution must be quickly found to the problem for peace in the Middle East and the world. I wish to stress that I clearly shared my views on the matter with President Bush.

    I wish to clearly say that the timing of our visit and our agenda has been very useful. It is common knowledge that global dynamics are quickly changing. Unfortunately, they are gradually becoming more complicated. In view of that, our strong relations are very important not only because of our mutual interests but also because of global peace and security. Turkey is a country that significantly contributes to regional and global peace and stability. It is a country that has assumed an effective role for that purpose. It made us happy to see again that the United States is aware of that. I am confident that our strategic partnership will serve our people and humanity particularly during this difficult era.

    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice disclosed the Turkey-US shared vision document they agreed on in Washington on 5 July. We found an opportunity during in our talks to reconfirm our mutual desire and determination to strengthen our strategic partnership. I am confident that our visit will help our countries to better understand each other. I believe that the public opinion in the two countries having an opportunity to better understand the Turkey-US relations is important.

    [02] Statements by Erdogan at Georgetown University in Washington

    Illegal Bayrak television (02.10.06) broadcast the following regarding Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogans speech at Georgetown University:

    Yesterday, Mr Erdogan delivered a speech at the Georgetown University under the title: Turkeys Vision for Global Peace and Justice.

    Responding to a question on whether Turkey will take any steps on the Cyprus issue within the context of its EU membership process, Mr Erdogan reminded that the `people´ of the `Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus´ has said `YES` to the Annan Plan while the Greek Cypriot Side rejected it.

    Reminding that as a guarantor power, his country had encouraged the Turkish Cypriot `people´ to say YES to the UN Blue Print, Mr Erdogan said that `South Cyprus´ had become a EU member despite having rejected the peace plan, and, at the expense of North Cyprus having been left out.

    This is nothing but injustice that has got to be stopped, he said.

    Referring to the report issued by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan right after the referenda in the two sides, that had called for the lifting of the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people; the Turkish Prime Minister complained that the report is still waiting to be approved by the UN Security Council.

    In his speech at Georgetown University, Mr Erdogan complained that the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot `people´ is still in force in spite of the fact that it, together with Turkey, had done all they could to promote a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    He ruled out any unilateral steps by Turkey to open up its sea and airports to Greek Cypriot traffic unless the Turkish Cypriot `Peoples´ unjust international `isolation´ is ended.

    Nevertheless, the Turkish Prime Minister reaffirmed Turkeys positive and constructive approach regarding the Cyprus issue.

    Mr Erdogans visit to the United States will, next, take him to London where he will meet with his British counterpart Tony Blair.

    [03] Developments in the internal politics of the Turkish Cypriots

    Illegal Bayrak television (02.10.06) broadcast the following regarding the developments on the government crisis in the occupied areas of Cyprus:

    The new legislative year began today. The session was inaugurated with a speech by the Speaker of the Assembly Fatma Ekenoglu and watched over by `President´ Mehmet Ali Talat, the `President of the High Court Chief Justice´ Metin Hakki, the `prosecutor general´ Akin Sait, the `president of the State Auditor´ Soner Vehbi, and former `parliamentarians´.

    Also addressing the ceremony, `Prime Minister´ Ferdi Sabit Soyer touched upon the Cyprus issue, reminding that the issue is being raised as an obstacle for Turkey as it moves towards EU membership.

    The `Prime Minister´ pointed to the formation of a new coalition `government´, and said the struggle would continue to make the Turkish Cypriot `People´ part of the ongoing solution process, in a way to reflect the 24th of April will and the needs of todays world.

    He said it would be the new `governments´ basic objective to change the present situation, in which the so-called government of Cyprus the title of which was usurped back in 1963, is now threatening to veto the EU membership of Turkey.

    The `Deputy Prime Minister´ Turgay Avci, said, in his speech, that he is confident the new `government´ will comfortably secure the vote of confidence in `parliament´.

    As the opening session got under way, the main opposition National Unity Party and the Democrat Party held a protest rally in front of the Assembly to protest the new Republican Turkish Party-Freedom and Reform Party coalition.

    Members of the two parties, representatives of various non-governmental organizations and supporters first gathered at Kugulu Park for the action, under the title Democracy - free of Intervention and Stain.

    The protestors later proceeded to in front of the `Parliament´ to stage their protest rally.

    Addressing the supporters here, the leader of the main opposition National Unity Party Huseyin Ozgurgun said the struggle is just beginning.

    He said the struggle would continue until securing a date for early general elections, and that every possible means would be resorted in order to achieve that goal.

    Also speaking here, the leader of the Democrat Party Serdar Denktas called todays protest rally the start of a civil rebellion.

    Accusing the Republican Turkish Party of staging a civilian coup, the DP leader said, quote: if they opted for a civilian coup, then, this is a civilian rebellion unquote.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily AFRIKA newspaper (03.10.06) under the title Division or surrender, writes that Mustafa Akinci, who held intense contacts abroad recently, stated that the whole world believes that the Cyprus problem is going either to division or to surrender. Akinci was speaking yesterday at the self-styled assembly.

    [04] Turkish Deputy Prime Minister reacts against President Sezers statements

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (02.10.06) reported the following from Ankara:

    "I do not agree with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on allegations that fundamentalist activities are on the rise in Turkey," said Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin on Sunday.

    In a speech delivered on the occasion of the beginning of the fifth legislative year on Sunday, President Sezer referred to fundamentalism as a major threat to the Turkish government and society.

    "If there are individuals or institutions working to establish a government based on religion, we can fight against them with our government, administration and security forces," stressed Sahin.

    Sahin pointed out that he "is not saying that there is no threat of fundamentalism in Turkey. But there must be a definition of what fundamentalism is all about and what constitutes fundamentalism."

    Turkish Speaker of Parliament Bulent Arinc on the other hand expressed that President Sezers speech at the parliament was very important. "I refuse to evaluate Mr Sezers speech as this would be disrespect to him," stressed Arinc.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said: "President Sezers speech was well prepared. The speech was full of prominent messages."

    [05] The Turkish chief of General Staff addresses the opening ceremony of the new academic year of the war academies

    Under the title Buyukkanit: Can you say there's no fundamentalism threat? Turkish The New Anatolian newspaper (03.10.06) reports the following:

    Delivering a long-waited speech, the chief of General Staff yesterday completed a chain of criticism against the government over fundamentalism from top military commanders.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony of the new academic year for the Turkish War Academies, Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukkanit made a list of threats against secularism, and asked, "Can you say they don't exist in Turkey? If you can't then there really is a fundamentalist threat in Turkey and every measure will be taken against it."

    General Buyukkanit said force commanders, at the opening ceremonies of the War Academies for each branch of the military, expressed their concerns over fundamentalism, which he completely agrees with.

    "Aren't there people in Turkey saying that secularism should be redefined? Aren't those people occupying the highest seats of the state? Isn't the ideology of Ataturk, founder of the republic, under attack?" asked Gen. Buyukkanit, arguing that a "yes" answer to those questions indicates the republic is under threat from fundamentalism.

    Subtitle: Force commanders started wave of criticism

    The speeches of the force commanders last week were considered as signals of the beginning of a rocky period between the military and the government.

    Land Forces Commander Gen. Ilker Basbug said in his speech last week that attacks on Turkish republic reforms compelled him to deliver a speech full of warnings, while Gen. Faruk Comer, the Air Forces commander, underlined in his speech last Thursday that fundamentalism and separatism would end in disastrous results for the country, adding that if the roof is demolished, everybody will be trapped under it.

    Naval Forces Commander Gen. Sener Karahanoglu on Friday showed the door to those he accuses of trying to defame the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).

    Subtitle: President also draws attention to fundamentalism threat

    Speaking at a ceremony for the start of the legislative year in Parliament on Sunday, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said the secularism principle of the Constitution should be interpreted in line with Constitutional Court rulings.

    Sezer said that under several rulings of the top court, the principle of secularism states that religion can't dominate state affairs and religion can't be allowed to influence social life, extending to individuals' moral lives.

    Arguing that the religious life and the practices of individuals can be restricted, Sezer said restrictions could be imposed to ensure public order, safety and interests, and to prevent the exploitation of religion.

    Subtitle: 'TSK will fight until last terrorist gone'

    Also touching on a recent cease-fire declaration by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Gen. Buyukkanit said the issue was brought up by some people and civil groups in Turkey as if there are two fighting states.

    Gen. Buyukkanit also said similar calls have been made by some members of the European Commission and some European states. "And last week the person who has the title of Iraqi president said that they had convinced the terrorist organization to call a cease-fire," said the chief of general staff.

    Implicitly referring to a recent remark of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey wouldn't launch operations against the terrorist organization if the PKK lays down its arms, Gen. Buyukkanit said the TSK is determined to continue combat terrorism until there are no more terrorists.

    "The only option for the PKK is to unconditionally lay its arms and surrender to the mercy of Turkish justice," asserted the commander, adding that the possibility of a cease-fire process was removed by the PKK killing 33 soldiers in 1993.

    Subtitle: 'There's external support for terror organization'

    Focusing on the international aspect of terrorism, Gen. Buyukkanit said that despite the PKK being listed a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, there are still some countries which support the PKK.

    "Some countries are allowing the PKK to continue its activities, collect money and engage in activities against Turkey. Added to which those countries either don't try the terrorists they catch or allow them to escape while under surveillance by some 30 security officers," said Gen. Buyukkanit.

    The chief of General Staff also said, not naming names, that Denmark acted on behalf of Danish-based pro-PKK TV channel Roj TV instead of supporting its ally.

    "Unfortunately a country, considering the separatist, violent and terrorist propaganda broadcast of a TV channel as freedom of speech, took the side of the terrorist organization instead of its ally," added Gen. Buyukkanit.

    Subtitle: 'There's campaign of attrition against TSK'

    Gen. Buyukkanit said attempts to question the basic attributes and values of the republic are on the rise. The chief of staff also said there is a campaign of attrition against the TSK.

    Recalling that he previously touched on this issue, Gen. Buyukkanit said the TSK is always open to criticism and the military can make benefit from such criticism if it's based on science, logic and fact.

    "However there have been attacks on the republic for some time. Unfortunately those attacks are considered a precondition to being seen as a trustworthy person," said Gen. Buyukkanit, claiming that the TSK is one of the most trusted institutions of the republic.

    Arguing that some people want to show the TSK as an obstacle on the way of democratization, Gen. Buyukkanit said thus the military has become a target of those people.

    Commenting on a recent report on the role of the TSK in Turkey, Gen. Buyukanit said nine out of 22 chapters were written by the Police Academy. He then said at a time when state institutions state should be in cooperation, such a report will do the country no good.

    Subtitle: 'What disturbed Kretschmer?'

    The chief of General Staff said the TSK previously announced that it fully supports Turkey's European Union membership. "However the TSK has right to defend itself against criticism levelled against it using EU membership," said Gen. Buyukkanit.

    Gen. Buyukkanit also said the military isn't involved with politics and the military fulfils the duties assigned to it by laws.

    Referring to a speech of European Commission Representative in Turkey Hansjoerg Kretschmer, in which he said the TSK makes remarks on religious education, cultural rights and universities and that those remarks have a great influence on Turkish society, Gen. Buyukkanit asked what disturbed Kretschmer.

    "Is he disturbed because the TSK's remarks influence the public? Has the TSK ever expressed any anti-democratic sentiments?" said Gen. Buyukkanit.

    Subtitle: 'Republic needs strong guardians'

    Addressing cadets of the Turkish war academies, Gen. Buyukkanit said Turkey is located in a difficult region and said for the continuation of the republic the country needs strong guardians.

    "Those strong guardians are not only the military and the police but all institutions of the republic. The war academies don't only train commanders but also strong guardians of the republic," said the chief of General Staff.

    [06] Erdogan: There is no fundamentalism threat

    Turkish daily The New Anatolian newspaper (03.10.06) reports that the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied that there is a fundamentalism threat while also giving assurances that the government is watchful against extremist activities.

    President Ahmet Necdet Sezer argued that a fundamentalist threat has been a serious concern since the very beginning of the republic and that it's on the rise. "Those who can't sufficiently understand the fundamentalist threat in Turkey should assess developments over the last 20 years altogether. The fundamentalist threat hasn't changed its goal to change the basic characteristics of the state," said Sezer in a ceremony for the start of the legislative year in Parliament on Sunday.

    However, Erdogan dismissed such an approach, saying that fundamentalism is more or less a concern for every religion, but that there is no religious fundamentalism threat in Turkey today.

    Contrary to Sezer, who said that the army is the defender of the regime, Erdogan said that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is a body under the government, during a speech at Georgetown University earlier in the day.

    Erdogan said that the army should observe the boundaries drawn by the Constitution, adding that Turkey has a civilian power.

    "Turkey entered a new path with the Copenhagen criteria and has taken the necessary steps in this regard," he added.

    Also calling the notion of secularism a "security belt protecting the country and the public against extremism as well as enabling different people to live together," Erdogan said that the government is working to establish a true understanding of the notion.

    [07] The opposition in Turkey on the political developments in occupied Cyprus

    Turkish daily KIBRIS newspaper (03.10.06) reports that the deputy General Secretary of the Motherland Party (ANAP) in Turkey Zuheyir Amber stated that the political crisis in the TRNC must not be used and added that concession must not be made for gaining benefit in other issues.

    Zuheyir Amber also said that after the decision taken by the Turkish Council of Ministers, a ship with the flag of the Republic of Cyprus could enter peacefully in a Turkish port. He also wondered whether the fact that the name Cyprus was mentioned in the Official Gazette of Turkey, was not recognition of the Greek Cypriot Section.

    In addition Turkish Cypriot daily VOLKAN newspaper (03.10.06) writes that the deputy General Secretary of the Nationalist Action Party, Oktay Vural, accused AKP that it is continuing to play games for recognising the Greek Cypriots, escaping from the eyes of the Turkish nation. Commenting on the decision published in the Official Gazette of Turkey as regards the Customs Union, Mr Vural stated that this is another step towards the surrender to the Greek Cypriots made by AKP.

    (C/S)

    [08] Talat stated that he has no information that Turkey is ready for discussion on the EU Cyprus proposal

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (03.10.06) writes that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, evaluating information which appeared in the media that Turkey is ready for discussion on the EU Cyprus proposal, stated that they have not received any information on this matter and noted that it is one thing to say that you are discussing something and another to accept it.

    He also noted that Turkey has stated its approach on the issue which is that If the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is lifted, the ports and the airports will be opened for the Greeks Cypriots.

    Mr Talat, who was speaking during a meeting he had yesterday with a delegation of the Power Union Platform of the Famagusta Port, also said that the proposal made by the EU term presidency Finland regarding Cyprus is a proposal inspired from the views presented by President Tassos Papadopoulos in September 2004.

    On his part, the chairman of the Power Union Platform of the Famagusta Port, Mr Akil Agaoglu, stated, inter alia, that the opening of the Famagusta port, which is one of a serious of proposals made by the Finnish presidency, is a political issue and must be solved in the framework a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem.

    On the same issue VATAN writes that Talat stated that the Finnish ambassador to Lefkosia has visited him the previous days because he felt obliged to do so after the rumours about the Finnish proposal on Cyprus. Talat added that isolation is not something to be given as a payment for something else but it must be lifted immediately.

    (C/S)

    [09] Turkeys Week in Europe

    Turkish daily HURRIYET newspaper (03.10.06) reports that Turkeys Week is organized by the TUSIAD for celebrating the first anniversary of Turkeys accession talks with the EU, which were launched on October the 3rd, 2005. The celebrations are to start today in Brussels, while in the coming days, activities will take place in Paris and Berlin.

    Within the framework of Turkeys Week activities, Turkey is to be advertised to Europe; an activity which will take place with the participation of the Turkish State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener, the Minister of Foreign Trade Kursad Tuzmen, and the Minister of Justice Cemil Cicek.

    Present at the opening meeting which will be held in Brussels, will be the Turkish State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener and Omer Sabanci, Chairman of the TUSIAD Administrative Committee. A conference under the title Global difficulties of Europe and Turkey is also to take place in the European Policy Centre in Brussels, where names as those of Joust Lagendijk and Jack Straw are to give lectures, as the paper writes.

    In Paris tomorrow, Omer Sabanci will escort the Turkish Minister of Foreign Trade Kursad Tuzmen and a press conference is scheduled to take place there. The activities will go on with the conference entitled Global difficulties of Europe and Turkey at the Foundation pour lInnovation Politique, where the French Minister of Foreign Trade Christine Lagarde will deliver a speech. Later on the French Minister will give a dinner.

    On Thursday in Berlin, a meeting under the topic Turkeys Integration with Europe and the Turkish-German Relations is to take place with the support of the German Industry Federation (BDI) and the German Marshall Fund Centre. The Turkish Minister of Justice Cemil Cicek will be present in Berlin, and he will give a press conference with the TUSIAD Honorary Chairmen Bulent Eczacibasi and Muharrem Kayhan.

    Turkeys Week celebrations will last until the 5th of October, 2006.

    (M/L)

    [10] The Culture Minister of Bavaria and the Director of the Cultural Department of Nuremberg will visit the occupied territories of the Republic of Cyprus

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (03.10.06) reports that the self-styled TRNC Honorary Cultural Attaché in Germany, Mr Turgay Hilmi, attended a cocktail party, which was given by the well-known German businessman Ernst-Herbert Pfleider.

    Mr Hilmi had a chat with the Culture Minister of Bavaria, Mr Thomas Coppel and the Director of the Cultural Department of Nurnberg Prof. Dr Julia Lehner. It is reported that they will discuss the possibility of bringing again the Youth Orchestra of Bavaria to the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus for concerts. He also invited Mr Coppel and Ms Lehner to visit the occupied areas of Cyprus. The invitation was accepted. Ms Lehner added that she will visit the occupied part of north Cyprus with the Youth Orchestra of Bavaria.


    [B] COMMENTRIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [11] Columnist sees effort by President Sezer and the military to undermine AKP

    The New Anatolian newspaper (02.10.06) publishes the following column by Ilnur Cevik under the title: "Once again a warning: Fundamentalist threat":

    A few days ago it was Land Forces Commander Gen. Ilker Basbug who warned of a serious fundamentalist threat in Turkey ... Now it's the president who has made a similar warning and called on the authorities to take action. Today most probably Chief of Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit will touch on this sensitive subject when he addresses the opening of the academic year at the War Academy.

    So what's going on? Is Turkey really facing a threat from religious fundamentalists who are about to topple the secularist system and set up an Islamic republic?

    We doubt it. It seems the new military leadership and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer have launched a coordinated effort to draw attention to a so-called fundamentalist threat and thus undermine the government of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party as Turkey heads towards elections in 2007 when Parliament will select a new president and the nation will elect its new Parliament .

    Such demands for an effective fight against fundamentalism were common in the 1990s when the military dominated public life in Turkey. They launched an effective campaign to topple the elected government of pro-Islamic Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan and then a witch-hunt against not only his followers, but who ever showed Islamic leanings.

    However, even in those days, no one could produce any kind of evidence of such a threat. But despite that, the witch-hunt resulted in scores of injustices committed against ordinary people. Lives were ruined and people were persecuted.

    Are we returning to those days? Despite those campaigns and persecution the nation was not deterred. The masses with religious sensitivities backed the AK Party and Recep Tayyip Erdogan and despite the tactics of the former military leadership to stall his political rise, the elections showed clearly what the nation was seeking.

    The AK Party came to power to build bridges between the masses with religious sensitivities and the secularist minority elite who run the country.

    However, the AK Party has been unable fulfil that mission and has thus created a kind of cease-fire between the secularists, led by the military, and the people with religious sensitivities. If it had, may be we would not have the president and the military leaders still telling us about a religious fundamentalist threat that they find hard to prove ...

    It is sad that such warnings have come as we observe the holy month of Ramadan. It only serves to hurt the masses with religious sensitivities ... The president has to remember that he is the head of state for the whole nation and not just a minority...

    [12] Columnist in The New Anatolian assessed General Buyukanit´s speech

    Under the title: Buyukkanit decides to take on the EU The New Anatolian newspaper (03.10.06) publishes the following commentary by Ilnur Cevik:

    We are currently in Erbil in northern Iraq but the wonders of technology allowed us to watch live the address of Chief of Staff General Gen. Yasar Buyukkanit at the opening of the war academies As a matter of fact it was hard to miss the address of the general because 10 TV channels aired the speech live in their satellite broadcasts, which was exactly what we predicted in our editorial last week. Of course the fact that President Ahmet Necdet Sezer's address to Parliament, marking the start of the legislative year, did not attract such TV coverage shows clearly the mainstream press is as much to blame for Turkey still being called a military democracy as the attitude of the military itself

    As expected the general spoke about the so-called threat of religious fundamentalism, the fight against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and also criticisms that were levelled against the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) by the EU or those supporting Turkey's EU membership

    It was clear that the TSK's leadership is extremely unhappy with the way the EU criticizes the involvement of the military in the public life of Turkey. It is also clear that this "irritation" is growing stronger by the day and Gen. Buyukkanit has said it has reached unbearable levels and the military will start defending itself. So he is preparing to take on the EU, which will be very interesting to observe

    If this was the Cold War era and the West had to put up with the Turkish military leadership Gen. Buyukkanit would stand a chance of speaking up to the EU and still manage to keep Turkey's EU hopes afloat. But this is a changing world in which military democracies have to either become genuine Western-style democracy or become semi-democracies that can only enjoy some privileged relations with the EU

    Buyukkanit has not named the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) by name but it is clear that he was pointing the finger at them when he said there are those in high places who want to "redefine the secularist system and change the basic rules of the republic " It is clear he has little sympathy for them. It is also clear that he is frustrated that the civilian rulers of Turkey are not defending the military which has come under intense EU criticism.

    To put it in blunt terms if Gen. Buyukkanit says: "The TSK supports the EU leadership" then the military has to rise to the occasion and start getting used to the idea of serving under the civilian leadership as a defence force and not as the "guardian angels of the system." The EU simply says: We have our rules and regulations; if you want to play ball with us, you have to obey these rules with no exceptions. If not, you do not have to become a member.

    So it is pointless for Gen. Buyukkanit to try to pick a fight with the EU's leaders. All he will do is to strengthen their conviction that the military is still seeking power in Turkey and antagonize them and the public in the EU and thus erode Turkey's hopes of joining the EU. This is what Gen. Buyukkanit has to realize.

    Gen. Buyukanit has to realize that this is a changing world. Recent economic problems have shown that foreign finance coming in to Turkey in the form of hot funds is extremely jittery and can move out of Turkey with speed. Today Turkey lives on borrowed money which is in the form of these funds. No one knows what will happen tomorrow. But you don't have to be a genius to say these funds would melt away if Turkey lost its EU perspective. Then you would have economic collapse How would this massive military function in a bankrupt economy?

    So he has to think twice before taking on the EU in any way

    [13] Columnist assesses Erdogans visit to the US

    Under the title Key visit, key messages, Huseyin Bagci in Turkish The New Anatolian newspaper (02.10.06) assesses as follows the visit of Prime Minister Erdogan to the United States:

    Prime Minister Recep Erdogan's probably last visit to Washington as prime minister begins today. It's the last because he's on his way to become president of the country and will probably later meet President George W. Bush as his Turkish counterpart. So far Erdogan hasn't given any hint that he doesn't want to become president. The classical Turkish politician's behaviour is to wait till the last minute to declare whether he will run or not. On the other hand, he's the only prime minister in Turkish history in 56 years who has stayed in power for five years with no early elections. Next year is already for Turkey a ''lost year" in many ways and he will feel more pressure from inside the country rather than from outside, meaning the European Union, etc.

    Turkish-American relations have improved relatively at the governmental level, but there is a deep distrust of the U.S. among the Turkish people and this distrust will continue despite this important visit. The reason for this is that the U.S. won't give Turkey a blank check to operate in northern Iraq in order to finish off Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists. The ''strategic vision paper'' from May on both sides' views of cooperation has so far showed more words than deeds, and the Turkish side expects more concrete steps from the U.S. in this respect. The appointment of ''anti-terror special envoys'' is a small improvement and the assurances of the U.S. that they won't talk to PKK are provided because instead of the U.S., Iraqi Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani will talk to the PKK and also even provide political shelter. The PKK issue remains the most important one, and Erdogan needs concrete results. Up to now Erdogan's government hasn't been successful on the PKK issue, as the last three months showed, and it also won't be possible in the foreseeable future despite the fact that his closest advisers are of Kurdish origin. This means having Kurdish-origin advisers doesn't solve the Kurdish issue. The Kurdish issue is and remains an uprising against the Turkish state, and no ''democratic step'' in this direction will solve the problem despite what many in the opposition say. Turkey's Kurdish issue concerns whether there will be a Kurdish state on Turkish soil or not. The literature on the PKK and Kurdish issue shows that the PKK isn't interested in a democratic development of Turkey but creating a Kurdish state. Erdogan isn't so naive not to understand this. Former U.S. Ambassador Robert Pearson, the ''victim of the Justice and Development (AK) Party government's failure'' in March 2003 to get Parliament to approve U.S. soldiers invading Iraq via Turkish soil, now speaks in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed of the PKK "insurgency." Of course the U.S. government would say that he's a retired diplomat whose views don't represent the U.S. government, like those maps now in circulation showing a divided Turkey. But they are all former U.S. officials and they know exactly what they say or articulate. In other words, the Turkish public is very angry with these former U.S. officials. Over the weekend, the PKK declared a ''cease-fire'' with a press conference on Mt. Kandil, one ''temporary in nature'' like several previous ones. The PKK is trying to give the U.S. the impression that they are a legitimate side in a conflict and Turkey should politically recognize it as genuine.

    Turkey's decision to buy 30 F-16s for $2.9 billion is definitely an economic asset, where the EU-made ''Euro fighter'' is still another alternative for Turkey. So Turkey will buy those planes, and Erdogan will sign further defense agreements and procurement with the U.S. administration.

    The common fight against global terrorism between the two countries will continue, whereas Erdogan's government will further contradict the Turkish military's position concerning radical Islamist movements which endanger, according to military leaders, the republic's basic values. In other words, Erdogan's secular attitude is questioned and indeed the Islamist social network and groups are getting stronger every day. This fact is what will define the political future of Erdogan. There is no doubt, also in the U.S. administration's and European view, that Erdogan is an Islamist prime minister. Beside technological developments, every day Turkey looks more and more like a ''great mosque,'' as some foreign observers put it, where Islamic values are increasingly dominating secular, democratic values. Anyone who sees the recent TV debates on "cemaaats" (religious communities with different colors and ways) can see how Turkey became a "paradise for cemaats" over the last few years. The military's concern about these cemaats will grow as next fall's general elections draw closer. Those elections will also be a clash of cemaats -- which political party they support -- and Turkey is indeed already very colorful. Domestically speaking, the AK Party is seeking further support for the U.S. for the next elections, as with the last ones, and this is another dimension of Erdogan's visit. He was meeting Turkish groups before his official visit and gave a message: Trust and invest in Turkey.

    One must admit that Erdogan is the first prime minister to place such great importance on Turkish communities abroad and try to create a politically and economically strong Turkish lobby. Late President Turgut Ozal was the first one who used this effectively. Now Erdogan wins the trust and respect of these foreign Turks, but it again can't get their full trust because of his ''weakness'' for religious issues. However, The U.S. administration is aware of the Greek and Armenian lobbies' pressure and up to now has successfully fulfilled Ankara's expectation that it won't act as those lobbies would like.

    Now the visit to Washington would further improve relations if the U.S. administration helps to further Turkey's regional and global policy objectives. The Bush administration seems to ''forget'' some decisions of the Turkish government. However, since Gen. Buyukanit is chief of General Staff there is also an expectation that the military will take harder positions towards religious groups and their political activities. There isn't necessarily another Feb. 28, 1997 ("postmodern coup") action, but the government, as I see it, can't stay so soft towards the cemaats as it has been. It should be expected that the meetings between Erdogan and Gen. Buyukanit will be more frequent on two issues: the PKK and religious activities. The tension is growing between the government and some other state institutions. Once again this visit to Washington will have some wider domestic as well as international implications for Turkish politics. One piece of advice for the government: It isn't enough to promise to fight terrorism globally but also inside the country. Never has Turkish politics had so much of a religious character as it does now. Denying it doesn't help things.

    Let's see what the political climate is after this visit. This winter won't be easy for the government or Turkey. The news from the other side of the Atlantic could be positive but not from this side, Europe. This will be the focus of our next analysis next week.


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