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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 06-10-23

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.204/06 21-23.10.06

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Milliyet: TRNCs concrete suicide
  • [02] Turkish Cypriot leader: I am not afraid of saying no
  • [03] Ramadan Bayram messages by Talat and Soyer
  • [04] Statements by Ercakica on the direct trade regulation
  • [05] Turgay Avci: New bureaus and departments will be set up in EU member countries, OIC and international organizations
  • [06] Rasit Pertev back from Helsinki
  • [07] Statements by Peter Millet to the illegal BRT
  • [08] Turkish judge at the ECHR says the decision on the Compensation Commision next month
  • [09] Deniz Baykal comments on the Finnish proposal and other issues
  • [10] Paper alleges Gambari to send a letter to both sides within the week
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [11] Analysts in the U.S. argue that the Turkish military are taking over decision making on key policies

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Milliyet: TRNCs concrete suicide

    Under the above title Turkish MILLIYET newspaper (23.10.06) reports the following:

    The rejection of the Annan Plan has seriously affected life in the TRNC. The plan paved the way for the building explosion because of the provision which gave priority to the developer regarding the property ownership if the value of buildings built on the plot is higher than the value of the plot developed. Especially in the Kyrenia Coast, which is the tourism centre in Cyprus, the way was paved for construction by uprooting the olive trees and digging the hills away. In order for production building materials to be secured Pentadaktylos, which is the islands symbol, is being demolished by digging holes on it.

    The green island Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is being surrendered to concrete. The Annan plan was the reason for the construction boom because of the provision which gave priority to the developer regarding the property ownership if the value of problem buildings built on the plot exceeds the value of the plot developed.

    Especially in the Kyrenia coast which is the tourism centre in occupied Cyprus, the way was paved for speedy construction without any plans by uprooting the olive trees and digging the hills away. In order for production building materials to be secured, Pentadaktylos, which is the islands symbol, is being demolished by digging holes on it. All the roads are full with trucks that carry building materials and the islands Kyrenia Coast has been transformed into a construction site. The TRNC officials confessed that they have not the power to stop this fast development and according to Environmental Organizations and Professional Chambers the TRNC is committing suicide.

    The rejection of the Annan Plan has seriously affected life in the TRNC. The Plans biggest damage, however, came from the thousands of tourists attracted from the island every year, which results in destroying the natural beauty and the virgin beaches. Thousands of constructions are continuing along the islands hundred-kilometers-long shores. In regions where there is no road, electricity or water, luxury villas rise one after another. The constructions are made especially by British and Israeli Firms, and the greatest part of the buyers is made up of British. The Cypriots say that the land being sold to the firms is the land given to those who came from Turkey after 1974 and settled in Cyprus.

    Subtitle: The builders lobby is influencing the government

    The Economy and Tourism Minister of the government, of the government which was toppled the previous month in the TRNC, Dervis Deniz, stated that after the referendum held on the Annan Plan, all of a sudden the island became the focus of interest because of its natural beauty and low prices. There was a foreign rush which paved the way for building plot speculations. Deniz noted that many ugly constructions come about on the hills which extended from the Kyrenia Coast up to the mountains which damaged both tourism and the environment. We are about to lose Kyrenia. The number of the tourists who came to the hotels compared to last year has been reduced by 20%. Although there are people in villas built, there are 3-4 persons but they spend the money spent by one tourist. TRNC does not earn anything from these constructions. The workers, the building materials are coming from abroad and the money go out of the country.

    Subtitle: The electricity consuption has increased

    Deniz, who stated that the construction companies which make money from renting economy they become very effective. A lot of buildings are being built in areas where there are no infrastructures. The electricity consumption reached in 2007 the level envisaged for 2015. The real estate taxes have been doubled. The environment is being damaged. The most beautiful olive groves have vanished. The underground sources have been polluted. I do not say not to make any constructions, but everything must be made according to a plan. There are thousands of villas and in front of everyone there is a swimming pool. How will these pools be filled with water while Cyprus is facing a water shortage?

    Subtitle: The people will foot the infrastructure bill

    Ertan Oztek, the chairman of the Chamber of City Planners, stated: Cyprus is loosing both its natural beauty and its market. He went on like this: From the infrastructure point of view heavy burdens are coming and these will be paid by the Cyprus people. Water problem has already started, electricity will not be sufficient. The developing of the country was left to the hands of the developers and contractors. Unpresentented thins are happening in Cyprus. Illegal floors and illegal buildings exit now. In order to be benefited from the advantages brought by the Annan Plan, more floors are added. Their aim is to increase the value of the construction more than the value of the plot.

    Subtitle: The picture is a disgrace

    As regards the chairman of the Architects chamber Ekrem Bodamyalizade, he stated that the chamber, used to examine 1500 files, now it examines 10 thousand and noted that illegal buildings are not included in this. Bodamyalizade stated: They are starting the building illegally, they apply later or they do not apply at all. A disgracing picture appears. I am without hope because the country has not a general plan.

    Subtitle: They changed the bed of the underground water

    The chairman of the Foundation of Environmental Protection Oral Andiz pointed out that in order to get construction material the Pentadaktylos mountain range has been destroyed by carving. Soon the number of the fingers (of the mountain top) will not be five. There are 19 official stone quarries; by dynamiting they changed the bed of the underground water. In the past the villages could not be seen because of the trees, now they cannot be seen because of the constructions.

    The sand lilly will disappear.

    Christina Hessenberg, a British volunteer environmentalist who settled in the island 20 years ago, says that the constructions and the cement storage facilities are putting the endemic plants in danger. Hessenberg stated the following: In order to open plots for construction, thousands of olive trees and carob trees are cut. The cement storage facilities are killing the Cyprus tulip and the sand lily which only grow here.

    (CS)

    [02] Turkish Cypriot leader: I am not afraid of saying no

    Turkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (23.10.06) publishes an extensive interview given by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat to the papers Editor in Chief Basaran Duzgun. Following are extracts from the interview.

    Question: Bargaining continues. They say that there is nothing in writing. Despite this everything is being discussed. Will Varosha be given? Will isolations be removed? Could you make a summery of what is going on?

    Talat: The Finnish Presidency has produced the known ideas as a way out with a view to avoiding an accident between Turkey and the EU in its accession process as a result of difficulties emanating from Turkeys signing and implementing of the additional protocol which is aimed at extending the Ankara agreement.

    In fact these ideas were inspired from the proposals submitted by Tassos Papadopulos to the EU in 2004. They (the Greek Cypriots) submitted this proposal in order to preclude the direct trade regulations between the Turkish Cypriots and the EU. At that time the EU did not show much interest in this proposal, because it was not happy with the proposal. As the time passed the Greek Cypriots settled in all the institutions of the EU and as a result the EU started saying that 'what could we do, after all they too are our members'. At that moment the Finnish presidency came in and took this proposal thinking that it could be a way out. So, as a result they took up Varosha and instead of handing it to the Greek Cypriots they suggest giving it to the UN and in return they give to the Greek Cypriots the opening of the Turkish air and sea ports, that is, they produce ideas that gave everything to the Greek Cypriots.

    These ideas were conveyed first to Turkey by the Finnish Foreign Minister by telephone and we learned about them immediately. We thought the Finnish presidency will inform us as well and we have waited for ten days but there was no news. In the mean time contacts with Turkey continued. After that I have made statements and as a result the Finnish Ambassador came here and we have explained the situation to him and told him that they have to discuss these things with us. They have corrected their mistake by telling us that: Of course we were going to do it. As of that day these ideas are being discussed. These are still ideas and are yet to be put in written form. What was conveyed to me orally is that Varosha should be handed over to the UN. The Famagusta port will open to our use for direct trade purposes under the EU administration. The direct trade regulations will be passed and Turkey will open its ports and airports to the Greek Cypriots.

    If we elaborate, Varosha being hand over to the UN for two years and the passing of the direct trade and opening of the Famagusta port under the EU administration for two years.

    Question: Why two years?

    Talat: We too have asked this question and they have told us that they hope that in two years time a solution will be found in Cyprus.

    Question: Well, what does it mean Varosha will be handed over to the UN?

    Talat: As far as I am concerned, there is no return of these. Varosha will go to the Greek Cypriot side. Varosha will be given to the UN and the Turkish Army will withdraw. There will be some feasibility studies; there will be general cleaning of trees and weeds etc. Buildings which are in danger of collapse will be reinforced or will be pulled down. There will be such preparations.

    Talat then expressed his resentment and opposition about the handing over the Famagusta port which is already operating. He said that he had discussed these issues in Brussels and they have justified him and told him that: Continue to talk and negotiate.

    Question: Could this process turn into a strategic struggle process where one of the sides will say no?

    Talat: It could be. I do not hesitate to say no. I have no problem to say no. If this was presented as a proposal and no counter proposal were demanded, I was going to reject it. But, they said that you can make proposals. We will evaluate and debate them. When they say this why should I refuse it? Since this is a package of ideas I did not want to reject it. But, as I said, I do not hesitate to say no. Once the technical side is taken up then it will be understood better. From our point of view, it should be a package that we could accept. It should be an acceptable package.

    When asked about the Turkish Cypriot red lines, Talat repeated his known views about the 24 April referendum and the Turkish Cypriots so-called desire for reunification.

    When asked to comment on the UN and EU promises given to the Turkish Cypriots about the removal of the so-called isolations and the non-realization of these promises described as A bad cheque, without cover. That is a cheque was given to the Turkish Cypriots which is yet to be turned into cash, Talat said: I am after turning this bad cheque into cash. As you know the cheques have six months limit. We have to resist, we have to struggle, and we have to work hard. We are working .This is first.

    Second, it happens in bargaining. You will bargain on an issue, and on any bargaining there should be a balance between what was taken and what was given. We are after a comprehensive solution. This is our basic target. They say that the Greek side as well is after such a solution. If one side will give something which is an element of the comprehensive solution then it should get also another element of the comprehensive settlement so that there will be a balance. The whole world knows that we will cede territory. We will give some regions, Varosha is one of them. And in return we will take our portion in the state. We have been asked to give Varosha and in return nothing is being given to us. The removal of isolations will be realized against the operation under the EU of a port. Why? With the fear that the level of the TRNC might be upgraded. That is, they will realize this without giving anything to us from the Cyprus state and in return taking from us an element that we are holding in our hands which is part of the comprehensive settlement. This is unfair. I have explained this to them and told them that Varosha is part of the comprehensive settlement. We could give it when the negotiations for a comprehensive settlement start. That is another issue. We have said that since we are not after a comprehensive settlement then do not bring about the Varosha issue. Instead in its place, include direct flights from Tymbou which is the greatest isolation. Then there could be a balance.

    Now, if Varosha is an element of a comprehensive settlement, do they give us another element of a comprehensive settlement? For example, do they give us the two seats at the European parliament? Let them give us these two and with popular vote we will choose. The EU Commissioner was not going to be a Greek Cypriot. There was going to be a rotation or a foreign representation. I am not proposing these, I am only mentioning them.

    Question: Esteemed President, at the end of the day what are your expectations from this process?

    Talat: At the end of the day there will be a good exercise. Since the Greek Cypriots will not accept bargaining on the basis of justice they will reject it. And once more we will prove that we are the constructive side.

    When asked whether the Gambari process collapsed, Talat answered no.

    (MHY)

    [03] Ramadan Bayram messages by Talat and Soyer

    Illegal Bayrak television (23.10.06) broadcast that the three-day Ramadan Bayram starts today at the end of a month of fasting by Muslims.

    Mr Mehmet Ali Talat, self-styled President of the Ankaras regime, and the selfstyled Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer have issued messages to the Turkish Cypriots and to the Moslem world.

    Mr Mehmet Ali Talat will receive the well-wishers at the self styled Presidential Palace on the first day of the festival and the Commander of the Turkish Occupation Forces in Cyprus Lieutenant General Hayri Kivrikoglu at the Turkish Forces Regiments Social Activity Centre in occupied Lefkosia.

    Mr Ferdi Sabit Soyer, self styled Prime Minister, also issued a message, in which he expressed the hope that the Ramadan Bayram will contribute to the efforts aimed at peace within the community and the reunification of the Turkish Cypriots with the rest of the world.

    Referring to the Cyprus problem Soyer, said the set of principles agreed by the two leaders of the island during the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambaris visit to Cyprus and efforts by Finland made it necessary for us to have a determined and constructive approach and to continue the struggle to bring about a solution to the Cyprus problem`.

    In its message, the Republican Turkish Party- United Forces said that the Turkish Cypriot People look to the future with hope despite of the ongoing difficulties both in domestic and foreign affairs caused by the failure of the attempts to solve the Cyprus problem.

    But, it noted that a non-stop struggle has been continuing to prepare a better future for the Turkish Cypriot People.

    In his message, the President of the main opposition National Unity Party- Huseyin Ozgurgun stated that the Turkish Cypriot People is going through a difficult period because of, what he called, undemocratic moves within the Republic, but, he pointed out that religious festivals are the holy periods, during which, anger is replaced by tolerance, respect and love.

    Also issuing a message to celebrate the Ramadan Festival, the President of the Peace and Democracy Movement- Mustafa Akinci expressed the hope that the Turkish Cypriot People will greet future Ramadan Festivals in a happier atmosphere within peace and called on the people not to lose their hope for a solution.

    [04] Statements by Ercakica on the direct trade regulation

    Illegal Bayrak television (22.10.06) broadcast that the selfstyled Presidential Spokesman Hasan Ercakica in a written statement issued yesterday, referred to the news published in the Greek Cypriot press that the Greek Cypriot Administration started work with the aim of putting new measures on the trade of some agricultural products from the TRNC and to punish individuals entering the island through the Turkish Cypriot ports.

    The spokesman said these efforts are aimed at putting the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Commerce under suspicion, which is the only body authorized by the European Commission, to issue `Accompanying Documents` to products produced in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

    `Up to now, it has been seen that the Greek Cypriot people is reluctant to buy foods and vegetables originating from North Cyprus and no Turkish Cypriot products are being displayed on shelves in Greek Cypriot markets` he said, adding that although this at first glance seems like a step taken to inform the consumers, it is in fact a hampering factor in the improvement of trade between North and South Cyprus.

    As for the news in the Greek Cypriot press that the Greek Cypriot Administration intends to punish those entering the island without using the Greek Cypriot ports, Mr Ercakica accused the Greek Cypriot Side of trying to put restrictions to the movement of people who use the Turkish Cypriot ports.

    He added that all these efforts show how hard the Greek Cypriot Side works to maintain the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriot People, adding that all these prove the necessity of moving forward on the Direct Trade Regulation.

    Last week, the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Commerce denied Greek Cypriot press reports that vegetables traded from the North to the South through the Green Line originated from Turkey in the face of similar accusations published in the Greek Cypriot press.

    The Chamber said the aim of the claims was to hinder trade between the two sides at a time when there is an increase in commercial activity between the North and the South.

    The Chamber also reminded that the European Commission in the face of similar accusations and complaints by the Greek Cypriot Side last October - examined the issue and came to the conclusion that this was not the case.

    [05] Turgay Avci: New bureaus and departments will be set up in EU member countries, OIC and international organizations

    Illegal Bayrak television (21.10.06) broadcast the following:

    Deputy Prime Minister-Foreign Minister Turgay Avci has said that a just and comprehensive solution to the Cyprus Problem could only be found on the basis of bi-zonality, bi-communality, and the political and economic equality of the two sides, under the UN umbrella.

    Mr. Avci complained that the Greek Cypriot Administration was still disinclined to return to the negotiating table on equal terms despite the incredible good will shown by the Turkish Cypriot Side towards finding a solution to the Cyprus Problem.

    Speaking to the TAK news agency, Mr. Avci said that it was not possible to find a solution to the Cyprus Problem under the EU umbrella and stressed that a comprehensive settlement could only by reached under the aegis of the United Nations.

    The Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister said that the best method of action the new government will take will be to act in unity.

    Underlining the importance of lobbying activities in voicing the Turkish Cypriot peoples views and just cause, Mr. Avci said that new bureaus and departments will be set up in member countries of the EU, OIC and similar international organizations, enabling the Turkish Cypriot Side to promote better their cause.

    [06] Rasit Pertev back from Helsinki

    Illegal Bayrak television (21.10.06) broadcast the following:

    The Presidential Undersecretary Rasit Pertev has said that it was wrong and unjust for the European Union to use the Turkish Cypriot Side to help prevent a possible train crash between Turkey and the European Union.

    Mr Pertev who was in the Finnish capital Helsinki for a series of contacts with officials from the Finnish Foreign Ministry has returned to the Republic.

    Speaking to the BRT, Mr. Rasit Pertev said that the Turkish Cypriot Side is deeply disturbed by the fact that the lifting of the international isolation on North Cyprus is attempted to be linked to Turkeys EU membership process.

    Evaluating his contacts in the Finnish capital Mr Pertev said that he had found the opportunity to convey in detail the Turkish Cypriot Sides views and concerns on the proposals being drafted by Finland.

    Commenting on the reports in the press that the opening of Ercan Airport is to be included among the provisions of the Finnish proposals, Rasit Pertev said that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was expecting the international community, above all, the European Union to lift all the international isolation imposed on North Cyprus, which includes Ercan Airport.

    [07] Statements by Peter Millet to the illegal BRT

    Illegal Bayrak television (20.10.06) broadcast the following:

    The British High Commissioner in Cyprus Peter Millet has stressed that the United Nations is the only platform for a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Referring to the 8 July Agreement reached between the two leaders of the island as a `very significant and positive step towards a solution`, he said there is a window of opportunity at the moment to start a new process.

    There is a small window of opportunity and it is getting smaller` he said, warning that if this opportunity is lost, it could take months and years before the negotiations process gets restarted.

    In an interview with the BRTs English Service today, the British High Commissioner in Cyprus Peter Millet said that his country has significant interest in Cyprus as a guarantor power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a member of the European Union.

    Reminding that the UN Secretary - Generals Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller has been making efforts over the last nine months to bring the two communities together, he referred to the 8 July Agreement as a `very significant and positive step` towards a solution in Cyprus.

    `There is a window of opportunity at the moment to start a new process to move from `talking about talking` to `talking about substance and real issues` he said, underlining the need to start a process to bring about a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem.

    `There is a small window of opportunity and it is getting smaller and Im afraid if that opportunity is lost, it could last for few more months and years before it gets restarted` he warned.

    Reminding that the UN Secretary - General Kofi Annan is to leave office at the end of the year, he said it is another reason for taking this opportunity while there is a Secretary General who actually understands the Cyprus problem very well.

    `We are now in a process where the differences that I see between the two sides, are very small` he said, adding that political will and political courage and flexibility are needed to move forward.

    Responding to a question on the Finnish proposal on Cyprus, he reminded that the EU had made a commitment to lift the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot People and prepared regulations with this aim, expressed the belief that some visible results of those efforts will be seen in the next few weeks and months.

    Explaining that he is not fully aware of all the details about the Finlands proposal, he said any efforts which enable some small steps to be taken as part of a path towards a comprehensive solution will be welcomed by his country.

    But, he stressed that the most important role is the role being undertaken by the United Nations.

    `Britain has been looking for a process which will lead to a new plan upon which there will be two new referendums` he said, expressing the hope that a process will be started which will enable the two sides to reach an agreed solution.

    Asked whether the EU will be able to prepare a proposal that will satisfy the two sides in Cyprus, he said that is why a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem has to be within the United Nations framework.

    Answering a question on the property issue, Mr Miller said Britain recognizes that the Property issue is something that will have to be a fundamental part of a comprehensive solution and the issue reemphasizes the need for an early process to begin.

    [08] Turkish judge at the ECHR says the decision on the Compensation Commision next month

    Illegal Bayrak television (20.10.06) broadcast the following:

    Riza Turmen- a Turkish judge at the European Court of Human Rights has stated that the European Court of Human Rights will announce its decision next month on whether the property compensation Commission is an effective and valid domestic remedy in solving property cases in the North.

    Evaluating whether the workings of the commission have been effective, Mr Turmen said that so far the commission had been functioning successfully and that conclusion of several cases was proof of this.

    Mr Turmen said that a positive ruling from the ECHR will result in the dismissal of nearly 1,500 cases currently pending at the ECHR and in the process will be relieving Turkey of a heavy burden.

    [09] Deniz Baykal comments on the Finnish proposal and other issues

    Istanbul NTV television (20.10.06) broadcast that the Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Deniz Baykal, commented on current issues during a live NTV broadcast.

    Stating that the stances on terror adopted by the ruling AKP and Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan do not inspire confidence, Deniz Baykal said: "The Prime Minister's intention in terms of terrorism is clear. For, the Prime Minister as well has also voiced the proposal of Diyarbakir Metropolitan Mayor Osman Baydemir that "Turkey should be divided into states."

    Commenting upon the statement by Turkey's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Edip Baser that "mayors who provide support to terrorism should be removed from office," the CHP leader said that the DTP [Democratic Society Party] mayors have been violating the law, and that the law has not been enforced in Turkey for some time. Touching as well upon the European Parliament's removal of the PKK from its terrorist list, Baykal said: "Just ask Turkey about this; does Turkey want this? Do the mothers of the martyrs at Corum want this?"

    Asked about the large number of statements coming out of the military, including from the new General Staff Chief, and how he viewed this, Deniz Baykal said: "In the environment we are now in, the most fundamental issue we must avoid is a controversy between the military and politicians. It is essential to avoid an unnecessary atmosphere of controversy among different institutions. The Armed Forces have sensitivities on certain issues. What are these? The unitary state, the secular state, and national unity. When they are concerned about these three fundamental sensitivities, the Armed Forces make statements. We did not attain our national unity easily. We know what sorts of things are thought regarding Turkey in our surrounding area. Maps have begun to emerge, and things like the Armenian genocide and the Pontus genocide have begun to come up. And the Armed Forces feel a responsibility, and make statements. These things have to be understood."

    On Finland's Cyprus Proposal Deniz Baykal said that Finland's Cyprus proposal has caught Turkey at a difficult point, and has made clear its intention to take away [Turkey's] rights bit by bit. He said: "They are saying 'give up Marash' (fenced city of Famagusta). We had already given Mosul to the United Nations. When we give it up, that will go as well," Baykal said that this point has been reached because the party in power has no confidence in its own strength.

    Claiming that, according to the Finnish plan, sovereignty, as well as the administration of the ports, will be handed over to Southern Cyprus, the CHP leader asked "What are we getting in exchange for giving up both Marash and the port administration?"

    Baykal said in addition that article 301 [of the Turkish Criminal Code] is going to be amended due to pressure from abroad without creating justification in domestic public opinion, and that in this way, acceptance of claims of the Armenian genocide will become obligatory.

    [10] Paper alleges Gambari to send a letter to both sides within the week

    Turkish Cypriot daily CUMHURIYET newspaper (23.10.06) reports that the UN Under-Secretary General Ibrahim Gambari will send this week a letter to both sides calling for a resumption of the negotiations. It is reported that a series of proposals will be included in the letter for the resumption of the talks by the two communities on the core issues of the Cyprus problem.

    (D.Ps.)


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [11] Analysts in the U.S. argue that the Turkish military are taking by over decision making on key policies

    Turkish Daily News newspaper (22.10.06) publishes the following by Umit Enginsoy from Washington:

    With Gen. Yaar Büyükan1t in office as chief of the Turkish general staff for less than two months, the military has resumed its former leading role in Ankara's decision-making process on key security and foreign policy matters, several Turkey specialists in the U.S. capital say.

    The Turkish military's traditionally dominant role on a number of key foreign policy matters had diminished during the four years under Gen. Hilmi Özkök, Büyükan1t's predecessor, as part of a political reform program aimed at harmonization with European Union standards.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan, encouraged by his relatively smooth working relationship with Özkök, had faced little trouble from the military while implementing his EU and Cyprus strategies.

    Although secularism always had remained a key rift between Erdoan's government and the army, Özkök had sought to avoid generating friction between the government and the military.

    But the mounting Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) terrorism and a deterioration in Ankara's relationship with the EU, mainly because of the Cyprus row, began to change the political landscape this year, together with the approaching presidential and general elections in 2007. In recent weeks Büyükan1t has made it clear that he would not follow in the footsteps of his predecessor.

    Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank here, views what many people call an opposition to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government by Büyükan1t and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer as an emergent Turkish Senate.

    In some ways, Büyükan1t and Sezer, representing the military and the high courts, will function as a senate,' which Turkey does not have, said Cagaptay. The main points of contention between the AKP and the Turkish Senate are secularism vs. Islamist radicalism, the war on terrorism and security-related foreign policy.

    Cagaptay describes the AKP-military rift on the PKK as follows: On Oct. 1, the PKK declared a unilateral cease-fire to shield itself from an anticipated Turkish campaign to root out its bases in northern Iraq. On Oct. 2, Erdoan gave at least partial backing to this move, saying he expected that the Turkish military would not fire on the PKK unless fired upon.' Gen. 0lker Babu, commander of the Turkish Land Forces and an ally of Büyükan1t, dismissed Erdoan and the PKK, asserting that the struggle against the PKK would continue until the group was entirely defeated'.

    There also are other examples: In the wake of the Israel-Hezbollah war, when the United Nations, backed by Washington, began to gather a peacekeeping force for Lebanon, the Erdoan government sought to contribute a major contingent of more than 1,000 troops, in line with its policies for more engagement in the Middle East. The military cut the number to a mere 260.

    When in September NATO sought additional forces from member nations, including Turkey, for war-torn Afghanistan, Erdoan and his Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül were willing to discuss a larger Turkish contribution, AKP sources said. But Büyükan1t publicly intervened and ruled out more troops for Afghanistan. End of story.

    Under Büyükan1t, the military is back to business. It is now making it clear that it is the one determining Turkey's security policies, said another Washington analyst. It's not that Büyükan1t is taking an anti-U.S. position on Lebanon and Afghanistan. The message he gives is just that it is the military that makes critical decisions on such matters.

    Zeyno Baran, a Turkey and Eurasia specialist at Washington think tank the Hudson Institute, expects a worsened government-military rift in the runup to the upcoming Turkish elections. Baran says she and many other observers of Turkey expect to see Erdoan as a presidential candidate, although the military does not want him to become the head of state.

    In a related development, Michael Rubin, a hawkish analyst here and a prominent critic of Erdoan, blasted the U.S. State Department's Turkey policies, which he views as pro-AKP.

    Under Erdoan and the AKP, Turkey faces an Islamist challenge, said Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, another think thank here, in an Oct. 18 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

    Why are so many Turks angry at Washington's dismissal of their concerns [on secularism]? ... Over the party's four-year tenure, Mr. Erdoan has spoken of democracy, tolerance and liberalism, but waged a slow and steady assault on the system. He endorsed, for example, the dream of Turkey's secular elite to enter the European Union, but only to embrace reforms diluting the checks and balances of military constitutional enforcement, he wrote.

    In criticism of the State Department, Rubin said: Enter U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Ross Wilson. At an Oct. 4 press conference he said: There is nothing that worries me with regards to Turkey's continuation as a strong, secure, stable and secular democracy.' He dismissed opposition concern about the Islamism of Mr. Erdoan's AKP as political cacophony'.

    He added: Diplomacy should not just accentuate the positive and ignore the negative. When a country faces an Islamist challenge, platitudes do far more harm than good. At the very least, U.S. diplomats should never intercede to preserve the status quo at the expense of liberalism. Nor should they even appear to endorse a political party as an established democracy enters an election season. It is not good relations with Ankara that should be the U.S. goal, but rather the triumph of the democratic and liberal ideas for which Turkey traditionally stands.

    /ES


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