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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 07-09-27

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.187/07 27.09.07

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] More on Avcis contacts in Italy He went to the USA via London to participate in a conference of the Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference
  • [02] Exclusive statements to Hurriyet by the two Italian politicians who received the TRNC citizenship
  • [03] Smuggled meat operation in occupied Cyprus
  • [04] More on Tahsin Ertugruloglus contacts in Ankara
  • [05] EU Sources say two more chapters may be opened during Portugal's term
  • [06] UEFA Executive Committee met in Istanbul. Reference to Cyprus by Platini
  • [07] The Syrian army lowered the Turkish and TRNC flags from the ship that docked at Latakia port from occupied Famagusta
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [08] Columnist in Afrika comments on developments
  • [09] Syria and Israel are also south of Turkey, not just northern Iraq
  • [10] Columnist in Todays Zaman on the current situation in Turkish-US relation
  • [11] From the Turkish Press of 26 September 2007

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] More on Avcis contacts in Italy He went to the USA via London to participate in a conference of the Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (26.09.07) reported the following from London:

    Turgay Avci, Foreign Minister of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), stated on Wednesday that they expected a more active stance from the guarantor country Britain regarding the Cyprus issue, adding that they would intensify their talks in this country in order to achieve this goal.

    Holding a press conference in British capital of London, Avci said he would start initiatives aiming to launch lobby activities that would enable more intense diplomatic contacts in Britain.

    Pointing to the recently improving political relations between TRNC, Syria and Italy as well, Avci said Turkish Cypriot and Syrian businessmen, universities and chambers of commerce had fruitful contacts thanks to the intense relations between these two countries during the last 4-5 months.

    Stating that Greek Cypriot party gave a diplomatic note to Syria following such developments, Avci noted that they expected Syria to act in a determined way on this issue.

    Underscoring that Greek Cypriots were also getting prepared to give a diplomatic note to Italy as two (one present, one former) Italian MPs became citizens of TRNC, Avci said the actual problem stemmed from the necessity for an unanimity to take decisions within EU.

    Avci also stressed that the Greek Cypriot party's unilateral admission to EU was the biggest mistake.

    Stating that the two Italian MPs who became citizens of TRNC would make TRNC's voice heard within EU, Avci said he informed Italian officials on all the basic problems in Cyprus, specifically the Direct Trade Regulation, during his recent visit to Italy.

    Avci also indicated that they could not expect anybody to come and deal with the problems of Turkish Cypriots, unless, as Turkish Cypriots, they paid visits to foreign countries and talked about their problems.

    Avci and his accompanying delegation will proceed to New York, USA tomorrow where they will hold talks within the scope of the UN session.

    On the same issue, illegal BAYRAK television (26.09.07) broadcast the following:

    Deputy Prime Minister Foreign Minister Turgay Avci has left Italy at the end of his contacts in Rome.

    Before leaving Italy, the Foreign Minister met with Italian deputy-Foreign Minister Famiano Crucianelli in Rome.

    During the meeting, Mr Avci briefed Mr Crucianelli about the latest developments on the Cyprus issue.

    He also complained that after joining the European Union, the Greek Cypriot Side adopted a more intransigent attitude which he said, is dragging the Cyprus issue to a dead-end.

    Mr Avci is now flying to the United States for the meeting of the OIC Foreign Ministers.

    Yesterday, the Foreign Minister held a press conference at the Italian Parliament where he presented certificates of TRNC citizenship to Italian Transnational Radical Party (TRP) MP Maurizio Turco and a member of the TRP Marco Perduca.

    Speaking at the press conference, Mr Avci said that it is high time the international community removes the unjust international isolation imposed on the Turkish Cypriot people.

    He called on the Italian government to support the Turkish Cypriot Sides efforts to that end.

    The Foreign Minister said that the Greek Cypriot Administration which rejected the Annan Plan during the 2004 referendum was not prepared to share political power with the Turkish Cypriot people.

    Touching upon the EU financial assistance regulation, Avci complained that many changes had been introduced to the regulation before it was implemented, changes that aimed to divert the regulations true purpose.

    As for the stalled EU Direct Trade Regulation, Mr. Avci explained how the implementation of the regulation which aimed to allow direct trade between North Cyprus and EU countries as well as to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot people was being prevented within the EU by the Greek Cypriot Administration.

    Mr. Avci also called on the current EU Term President Portugal to put into affect the regulation without further delay and to allow Turkish Cypriots to trade with EU member countries through their own ports.

    Also speaking at the press conference, Italian Transnational Radical Party MP Maurizio Turco said that despite Greek Cypriot claims, there was no occupation in Cyprus.

    During our recent visit to the TRNC, we witnessed a democratic state with democratic institutions. The EU must keep its promises to the Turkish Cypriot people he added.

    In addition Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (27.09.07) reports that Mr Avci said that he will pursue initiatives on the issue of opening an office of the Turkish Cypriot representation in North London during the period he will be in London and added he will launch initiatives on the issue of lobby activities to enable the possibilities of even more intensive contacts in the UK.

    [02] Exclusive statements to Hurriyet by the two Italian politicians who received the TRNC citizenship

    Under the title We will provoke, Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (27.09.07) publishes exclusive statements of the two Italian politicians of the Radical Party, Maurizio Turco and Marco Perduca, who received the other day in Rome the TRNC citizenship from the so-called Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Turgay Avci.

    According to the paper, the two men gave the following messages:

    We, the Italians, were considering the Greek Cypriots to be right when we listened all these years to their stories for occupation of the island by the Turkish army. Only when we visited the TRNC, were we able to see with what kind of intrigues the Greek Cypriots were misleading the world. The so-called Turkish occupation army did not exist; the democracy in the TRNC was even more mature than in some of the EU members. As a party, eventually, we decided to convey to the world the Greek Cypriots lies.

    Subtitle: We will hold our congress in the TRNC

    We will take action to throw off the Greek Cypriots masks. We shall keep the Cyprus problem, which the Greek Cypriots have worked in order to be forgotten, on the world agenda all the time, with provocations. On this issue, our leader Emma Bonino has rolled her sleeves. Next year, we will hold for the first time out of Italy our regular congress; we will hold it in the TRNC.

    Subtitle: Others will follow us

    Instead of suspending the Greek Cypriots membership, the EU after the referendum has forgotten its promises to the TRNC community. We will bring these issues onto the agenda. There are also French, Spanish, Portuguese parliamentarians who will follow us. Today we are two persons but tomorrow we can be tens, hundreds.

    The report on the two Italian politicians statements is supported with a photo of them holding TRNC passports.

    (ML)

    [03] Smuggled meat operation in occupied Cyprus

    Under the title Smuggled meat operation Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (27.09.07) reports in its first page that Husnu Celebi and Niyazi Celebi, managers of the Celepi Chicken and Meat Firm along with five workers of their firm were arrested yesterday afternoon during an operation of the so-called police for bringing smuggled meat from south Cyprus to north Cyprus.

    The paper writes that 1257 kg of meat, worth 15 thousand pounds were confiscated by the police.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (27.09.07) reports on the same issue and writes that meat and animal smuggling has been taking place in north and south Cyprus for years now. Even before the partial lifting of the restriction of movement the smuggling was taking place but for some reason it was not stopped. Now the police arrested seven persons.

    The paper also writes that during a police operation at the occupied Epicho village two managers and five workers of a firm were arrested.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (27.09.07) reports on the issue also in its first page and writes that 1257 kg of meat of cattle animals were smuggled to the occupied areas from the south through illegal roads. The suspects were caught while transferring 1257 kg of beef from 20 animals in refrigerator vehicles. The Union of Veterinarian Physicians issued a warning that the smuggled meat may carry diseases.

    (CS)

    [04] More on Tahsin Ertugruloglus contacts in Ankara

    Under the title For Holidays Again?, Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (27.09.07) reports in its first page that the National Unity Party (UBP), which was expected today to answer if it would participate or not in the meetings of a committee at the assembly which aims to prepare constitutional amendments and contemporary laws, flew yesterday to Ankara headlong in a panic.

    The paper writes that the visit of UBPs chairman Tahsin Ertugruloglu and UBPs General Secretary Nazim Cavusoglu to Ankara, at this time when the decision of the party is expected, whether it will participate or not in the meetings of the assembly committee, was described as a coincidence by Mr Ertugruloglu.

    However, Yeni Duzen reports that the issue of the participation of the party in the committee was the reason of conflict in the party since the former UBP chairman Dervis Eroglu and other MPs of the party were against the participation of UBP in the committee.

    Despite the fact that not a clear statement was made on the issue by Ertugruloglu, it was learned that he will ask for the support of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

    Speaking at the illegal Tympou airport, Mr Ertugruloglu stated that he asked for an appointment from Cemil Cicek, State Minister Responcible for Cyprus Affairs, some time ago and that the appointment was given for yesterday at 16.00. As he stated, this is a meeting which was planned from before and added that there is no special meaning regarding the meeting. As he said, it is one of the usual meetings that are taking place and added that they have contacts at home and abroad all the time.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (27.09.07) reports that the meeting between Nazim Cavusoglu and Tahsin Ertugruloglu with Cemil Cicek was held yesterday at 16.00 in the afternoon and the same evening the two UBP officials returned to occupied Cyprus.

    (CS)

    [05] EU Sources say two more chapters may be opened during Portugal's term

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (26.09.07) reports the following from Brussels:

    EU rotating president Portugal is expected to send on Thursday an invitation letter to Turkey, requesting the submission of Turkey's position paper on Trans-European Networks chapter, the 21st chapter heading in Turkey's negotiation process with EU, it was reported on Wednesday.

    As member countries of EU's Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) have agreed on the matter previously, they will approve to send the invitation letter without any discussions at the committee's meeting to be held on Thursday, diplomatic sources said.

    On the other hand, members of the EU Enlargement Study Group are still trying to reach a consensus regarding the consumer and health chapter on which Turkey has submitted its position paper last July, it was reported.

    Noting that this chapter could be opened to negotiation next week, EU diplomatic sources stated that two chapters (together with Trans-European Networks chapter) would most probably be opened to negotiation during Portugal's EU rotating presidency, moreover, another chapter heading might be added during this period as well.

    Meanwhile, the EU sources said that the progress report to be revealed by the European Commission on November 6th would for the first time emphasize issues such as the potential contribution of Turkey in EU's becoming a global actor, the country's role in EU's stability and its importance in supply of energy to EU.

    [06] UEFA Executive Committee met in Istanbul. Reference to Cyprus by Platini

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (27.09.07) reports the following:

    The UEFA Executive Committee convened yesterday afternoon at 0stanbul s Ciragan Palace Kempinski under the presidency of UEFA President Michel Platini. FIFA representative in Europe Franz Beckenbauer attended the meeting in 0stanbul along with Turkish Soccer Federation (TFF) President Haluk Ulusoy and Secretary-General Lutfi Aribogan. The TFF issued a written statement after the meeting, which was closed to the press, saying Platini remarked at the beginning of proceedings that they were very happy to be meeting in 0stanbul. Platini reportedly praised the hospitality of UEFA Vice President Senes Erzik and Ulusoy and thanked them in Turkish, saying, Senes, Haluk: Cok tesekkur ederim . The two-day summit, hosted by the TFF, will end at noon today. The decisions made at the meeting, which will also be attended by UEFA Honorary President Lennart Johansson and UEFA Secretary-General David Taylor, will be announced at a press conference later.

    On Tuesday night, Platini praised Turkey for its achievements in soccer. Noting that Turkish soccer has made constant progress, Platini said: Their accomplishment in 2002 was huge; they made it to the semifinals. Turkish soccer is getting better every day. I receive information on a regular basis on the development of Turkish soccer from my friends, Senes Erzik and Haluk Ulusoy. Asked about which Turkish team he had affinity with, Platini responded: I have sympathy for Juventus and Nantes. I have no interest in Turkish teams because I did not play soccer here. After all, I am the UEFA president. I am neutral on this matter. Meanwhile the Turkish Soccer Federation (TFF) hosted the UEFA delegation at a dinner. Speaking at the occasion, Platini said: I thank former President Lennar Johansson for choosing 0stanbul as the venue of this meeting.& Vice President Senes Erzik and Treasurer Marios Lefkaritis work hard to take soccer to the Turkish side of Cyprus (the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC)) and I thank them for their efforts. Our mission is to make contributions to the peaceful cohabitation of people.

    [07] The Syrian army lowered the Turkish and TRNC flags from the ship that docked at Latakia port from occupied Famagusta

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (25.09.07) publishes in its inside pages the comments of its journalist Alihan Pehlivan who was among the persons who participated in the trip between the occupied Famagusta port and the Syrian port of Latakia.

    Referring to the trip Alihan Pehlivan stated that returning to the ship after wondering around the town of Latakia they had a short conversation with a young boy and realised that no journalists with a camera or even a photo camera came to welcome them upon their arrival in Latakia. This was not a big opening for Syria as it was for us, writes the journalist and adds that they returned to the ship feeling confused.

    Alihan Pehlivan goes on and writes the following: Returning to the ship the first thing to notice was that the Turkish and TRNC flags we hoisted on the ship were lowered down by the Syrian army. The flags were not in their place! We thanked those who welcomed us and got into the ship. We took our passports and looked inside them. We were happy that Syria sealed our passports and waving our hand we departed from Latakia.

    (CS)


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [08] Columnist in Afrika comments on developments

    Under the title TRNC passport and stamp, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (26.09.07) publishes the following commentary by Serhat Incirli, in the column Londra Mektubu (London Letter):

    The custom barriers between European Union (EU) states, to say it in other words, the borders, have been lifted... Well, going from UK to France there is no passport control? Or coming from France to the UK? Of course there is!

    Why? If you pass under the English Channel especially, the check points are full of common strict officers! And the reason is the immigrants! The French police, implementing an agreement, carries out controls inside your car before embarking on the train or the ship on the British territory.

    And when you are returning from France to the UK the control is being carried out on the French territory from English soldiers and policemen, and of course customs officers. These pieces of territory in a sense are sovereign or dominant parts of land.

    They let you get on the train or the ship only by controlling your passport. However, the situation with the airplane trips is very different. Particularly, at crowded airports like Heathrow and Gatwick, the control is done randomly. The customs or the immigration officers are checking thoroughly the passports that they took at random. The rest are allowed to get through after taking a look of the passports.

    Passports are not stamped anymore!

    Because, for example, when you are going on a package holiday if everyones passport is stamped, one by one, half of the tourists who go to Spain or Greece would pass the half of their time at the airport.

    Stamp the passports of every tourist who comes from Majorca and Ibiza and see what happens! To the travellers who came yesterday you are giving an-one-month duration stamp and it does not end!

    When I first came to England, 14 years ago, I was holder of two passports.

    Of the TRNC and the Turkish Republic!

    I had taken the visa on a different piece of paper. For the first time I tried to travel with the passport of the Turkish Republic to go to the Netherlands; the Dutch Embassy in London gave me an appointment after two months.

    I gave up. From that day on I have not seen my Turkish passport. Most probably it has expired. Then, I took the Passport of the Republic of Cyprus. It was too hard but I got it.

    Because I was born in Pentageia. On my first application they told me Your registry record is in Lefke (occupied Lefka), and it is under occupation and they did not give it to me. I tried everything, I took an oath, I took my birth certificates and after that my passport.

    The passport is the most important document for the citizenship of a state. There can be no such situation as Cenk (probably meaning Cenk Mutluyakali of Yeni Duzen newspaper) said, You are not obliged to recognise the state the passport of which you are carrying.

    If you are not a citizen of a state, they do not give you the passport of that state.

    Yes, Turkey may have given its passport but that was not a clear-cut settlement. The Republic of Cyprus gives its passport to the Turkish Cypriots not merely for making trips.

    Those passports are documents of the citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus. The person who carries this passport may exploit the existing situation, get involved in monkey businesses, but in the end the issue called international law or inter-state law accepts the passport among the citizenship rights of the individuals.

    In other words passport is the proof of the persons citizenship. Also, among many states with bilateral agreements the issue of double citizenship can be arranged as well.

    They give the Passport of the Republic of Cyprus to no one who is not citizen of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Well what is the TRNC passport?

    The TRNC passport has definitely no acceptance as a citizenship document. However, Syria or Britain, or even the USA could accept the document, that we call TRNC Passport, as a travel document.

    They could accept!

    But they are not forced to accept it.

    Also Italy could accept it, as well as France!

    In fact while you are entering into Italy or France at certain border entries they might not even ask for your passport.

    In short, turning the acceptance of the TRNC Passport in Syria as entry identity or travelling document into national victory is really a communal complex.

    Community scientists, sociologists, psychologists and even psychiatrists must consider this seriously.

    Certain people are trying to prove here is the TRNC!!

    No!

    There exists no country or state called the TRNC.

    As regards the Compensation Commission issues the official authority accepted is not the TRNC. It is Turkey. The Compensation Commission is accepted not as the TRNCs but the Republic of Turkeys institution...

    As there is no TRNC, it is meaningless to deceive ourselves!

    All those who shout the slogan Our state will live and will be made to live are people who were cheated with such manipulated news and who are not annoyed because they are cheated with such manipulations! In order to establish a separate state on the island of Cyprus, on ethnic basis, it is needed material and moral approval of the Greek Cypriots (no legal approval existed but you manage).

    Because, half of the legal state on the island of Cyprus is under the control of another state.

    It is claimed that a pseudo-state is established under the control of this other state. But Sir, we have executive, legislative and juridical organs. It could be!

    But the land you are settled on is not as the case in 1453, it has never been the land of the invader or the conqueror, in short of the Ottomans.

    There are those which will be exchanged through the Compensation Commission?

    How many years are needed for this?

    Has anyone calculated this?

    What do I want to explain?

    Actually the truth!

    Let us be brief and try to clarify the issue.

    In the Cyprus problem the Turkish Cypriots cease to be a side. On the one side there is the legal state and on the other there is the occupier. In order for us to become a side again we have to have our position in the Republic of Cyprus structure!

    Either we become citizens of the Republic of Cyprus living under occupation, or we will not participate in the decision making. Maybe we can wait that the EU will come and save us! Or we hope that one day Turkey will become an EU member and the situation will become better! And a last note: Please give up the stories that the income levels increased, that everybody is happy! Because this is not the subject matter! The issue is that ploys are organised and will be organised in our backs, but we will never be on the level of decision making! We will be finished and annihilated, thats all!

    The Turkish Cypriots have a single citizenship right and that is the citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus. If we are holding its passport we have to support our state! Only thus shall our existence be proofed. The rest is submission to Turkey!

    Syria has stamped the TRNC passport! Dear friends, if the late Syrian President Hafiz Esad ascends from his grave and you, as you did to the Italians, gave him one of your passports, what would happen?

    (EA / MHY)

    [09] Syria and Israel are also south of Turkey, not just northern Iraq

    Under the above title Turkish Daily News (27.09.07) publishes the following commentary by Cengiz Candar:

    South of Turkey there is not only northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan). There is also Syria. And Israel is south of Syria. This geopolitical fault line is one of the priorities in Turkey's security; perhaps it is more of a priority than northern Iraq, because it is ahead of northern Iraq from the point of international security in any way.

    An incident directly involving Turkey, yet presumably skipped on purpose, took place two weeks ago to prove the importance of Syria and Israel. That incident, it seems, disappeared behind a curtain of secrecy. Sometimes in international relations it is good to preserve mystery. The irony is that often when an action has been taken but not admitted to, everyone seems to know about it anyway. That certainly seems to be the case with Israel's military strike against a target in northern Syria.

    The Israelis aren't talking about it or acknowledging anything. The Syrians are describing an episode in which they fired on Israeli aircraft, the aircraft dropped something, and fled Syrian airspace. The President of the United States won't comment on the event of course, by not denying it, he leaves the impression that something significant absolutely took place. And, it appears, something did. The sketchy reports that have emerged, again all citing anonymous sources in Israel or in the intelligence community here, are that Israel took out a facility in northern Syria in which North Korea was helping Syria develop a nuclear capability. The absence of leaks coming out of Israel lends credence to the reports.

    What does this mean? If there are no leaks from official Israeli channels in other words, if Israeli officials are not revealing anything about an extremely important development is this pointing out the accuracy of the news?

    This seems to be the case here because Dennis Ross' article from which you read the quotations above also includes the following anecdote:

    Ross says an Israeli prime minister once insisted on a one-on-one meeting with him because, to ensure nothing would leak out. The Israeli prime minister whose name Ross didn't reveal, was so sure that a secret meeting would be leaked by the Israelis and he certainly had no doubt about any possible leakage on the U.S. side.

    Ross was the U.S. top negotiator for the Middle East Peace during the George Bush and Bill Clinton presidencies and has over a decade of experience in negotiations. He writes about them in his brick-thick book titled The Missing Peace: The inside story of the fight for Middle East peace. Israeli warplanes organized a counter-operation on a nuclear facility in northern Syria, right under our nose. This Syrian nuclear plant was said to be built with the support of North Korea.

    Subtitle: Twisting the truth: Could all these sum up to disinformation, that is a conscious perversion of the truth? Could be, but there is slight chance of this as the silence among Arab countries is notable and an issue, since they are usually quick to send condemnation statements about unjustified Israeli assaults against Arab countries. Arab countries probably know of the Syria-North Korea link, next to the Syria-Iran connection, so they probably already know of Syrian activities.

    The Israeli warplanes left fuel tanks on Turkish land and more importantly, the claim that Israeli planes used Turkish air space were not echoed enough in Turkey. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallim visited Ankara in a hurry following the incident, but that was not highlighted either. So, Ankara learned or knew what was going on. Now, how and on which side Turkey will be is important, because the last incident signals that Syria as well as Iran will cause trouble in Turkish foreign policy choices.

    Turkey is the neighbor Syria is having the best relations with. But how will a NATO member country, Turkey, stand Syria conducting nuclear activities next door and a nuclear Iran? What if these two countries become a target of the West, which Turkey is a part of?

    Obviously, the government has not made up its mind. The Turkish military is busy sending messages to the U.S., emphasizing only northern Iraq and the PKK. But, Syria in the south is the most likely to cause a greater security headache and international issue for Turkey than northern Iraq. The reason is simple: Israel believes Syria is arming quickly and Syrian President Bashar Asad sees a limited war in favor of his country. So, Israel is determined to hit Syria to deter it and change the balance of arms in its direction. The latest incident was an indicator. Developments may end Turkey's mediating role between Israel and Syria, and force Turkey to take sides. Turkey needs a sound foreign policy to know what to do and how to do it.

    [10] Columnist in Todays Zaman on the current situation in Turkish-US relation

    Under the title: "The Illusion of Turkish-American Partnership" Today's Zaman newspaper (26.09.07) publishes the following commentary by Suat Kiniklioglu:

    After three days in Washington, one leaves with a distinct sense of alienation from the capital of the United States. Every contact we meet cautiously whispers that this time the infamous Armenian resolution might pass. Interestingly, they also acknowledge that they know that it is not in the interest of the US to do so. Regardless of the gloom and doom, some analysts believe that there is still some common sense among the democrats that recognizes the potential risks of passing such a resolution at this time. "Why kill the cash cow now when we are entering an election campaign?" noted another. Of course it is clear that once the resolution passes there would be no more need to financially support exorbitant election campaigns. The present situation is actually ideal as it allows representatives to garner the benefits of the current environment, which on the one hand suggests inevitability and on the other leans on the sober reality of impossibility. Let the Armenians pay for one more year.

    Needless to say, the security threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the unwillingness of the US to assert proper influence over President Massoud Barzani was at the center of our meetings. We humble Turks have difficulty grasping how the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) can manage to get away with stalling action on the PKK when President Bush and Secretary of State Rice repeatedly ordered the military command to deal with the PKK issue. Turkey's friends in Washington were equally aghast when Undersecretary Burns listed the areas in which the US was expecting Turkey's help at an Atlantic Council event. Unfortunately, no one among the audience could hear what Washington was offering in exchange. Turkish ears were particularly curious to hear what was going to be said about the PKK menace in northern Iraq. Far from expecting any new items on the agenda, Ankara would have been happy to hear what its NATO ally was going to do about the PKK, which really is a responsibility rather than a favor. In fact, the overall message of Burns' speech was that all was fine on the Turkish-American front. Luckily Burns avoided reading his wish list to Prime Minister Erdogan in Ankara.

    We Turks need to come to terms with the fact that this administration is not going to lift a finger on the PKK. The only hope is that the violence remains at a sustainable level until a new administration takes its place in the White House. Fixing the Turkish-American relationship will take years, if it happens at all. The US appears to have made a very calculated choice when it comes to Turks and Kurds in Iraq. That choice is clearly in favor of Mr. Barzani and the Kurds. That a strategic ally is alienated and is being lost in the process appears to be a secondary concern. It is too early to tell what this will mean in the mid to long term, but this relationship is neither strategic nor visionary any more. We need to get used to it and reorganize ourselves, instead of reminiscing about the old days or deceiving ourselves about a nonexistent partnership.

    A last word is appropriate on the Iraqi Kurds. Iraqi Kurds, especially those who burn with Barzani's nationalism, seem to believe in the illusion that the US will provide them with an eternal security umbrella. Similar to the Romanians, they are inexperienced in dealing with our friends in Washington. Regardless of what they base their calculations on, there is no doubt that Turks, Kurds, Iranians and Syrians, not to mention the Shiites and Sunnis of Iraq, will be facing each other when everyone else is gone. Wise leadership would take this into account. Ultimately an honest discussion on how to mend the Turkish-American relationship would require the US to make significant policy changes. This is not going to happen before 2009, if at all. We should acknowledge that instead of pretending that all is fine.

    [11] From the Turkish Press of 26 September 2007

    Following is a summary of reports and articles from the Turkish Press of 26 September 2007 on issues of the current Turkish political agenda:

    Draft Constitution: A report entitled "A civil petition" in Hurriyet says that eight non-governmental organizations, including trade unions and businessmen's organizations issued a joint declaration expressing concerns about attempts to divide the public into opposing camps and emphasizing that Turkey's secular and democratic regime cannot be changed.

    In an article entitled "Parrot liberalism," Hurriyet columnist Ertugrul Ozkok responds to accusations that his calls for writing the new constitution after reaching a broad-based consensus are actually intended to provoke the military into staging a coup. Ozkok says that even some intellectuals who describe themselves as liberals terrorize others who criticize the government's approach to constitutional amendments. He asks: "Could those people and political parties who attempt to subdue even such an innocent debate by terrorizing the skeptics and accusing them of trying to prepare the ground for a military takeover promise us a civil and democratic Constitution?" Ozkok describes the joint declaration issued by eight NGOs and the Nationalist Action Party's proposal to establish a platform for reconciliation as encouraging voices which could dispel the clouds of terrorism created by what he describes as "parrot liberalism."

    In an article entitled "Boldness Stemming from 46.7 percent," Hurriyet columnist Tufan Turenc argues that the AKP's landslide victory in the last general election has set the stage for tension rather than ensuring stability mainly because of the AKP's efforts to write a new constitution based on an anti-democratic mentality. He cautions: "If the AKP attains its objective, the new constitution will cause a serious trouble for the regime. Divide between pro-secular and pro-Islamic people could escalate dangerously. The ruling party is the architect of this policy which will cause great harm to the country."

    In an article entitled "An Ideology-free Constitution," Milliyet columnist Taha Akyol comments that the idea of having a Constitution which is not inspired by any ideology is supported by more and more people and describes it as a new phase of Turkey's modernization. He says: "We cannot smoothly complete this constitutional and transitional period if we disregard the main dynamics of change, fuel fears, asserting that we are the real citizens, and divide society into opposing camps. We need some prudence and calmness."

    In an editorial entitled "New constitution debate is creating more confusion," The New Anatolian columnist Ilnur Cevik sees efforts to deny the AKP the chance to draw up a new constitution at all costs and prevent Turkey from modernizing.

    In an article entitled "If TUSIAD can do this", Yeni Safak columnist Fehmi Koru slams TUSIAD [Turkish Industrialists and Businessmens Association] Chairman Dogan Yalcinkaya for raising "loud" objections to the ruling AKP's efforts to prepare a new constitution. Koru argues that Yalcinkaya's opposition to the draft constitution does not necessarily represent the TUSIAD's attitude. In trying to document this claim, he calls attention to two TUSIAD reports dated 1992 and 1997, entitled "For a New Constitution" and "Democratization Perspectives" respectively, asserting that both reports maintain that "the order instituted by the 1980 coup is blocking Turkey's path and suffocating the people."

    In a commentary entitled "There can be no such thing as compulsory religious education", Professor Suat Yildirim of Marmara University accuses the critics of the draft constitution of conducting a "psychological campaign" aimed at misleading the ruling AKP into believing that religious education is really compulsory at schools in Turkey and that the AKP should rectify this situation. Yildirim claims that according to Article 24 of the Constitution, it is the "religious culture and morality" class rather than "religious education" which is compulsory. Noting that "even" the architects of the 1980 coup were able to see the need for such a class, he warns the Erdogan government strongly against turning it into an elective course.

    In an article entitled "Why we need a new definition of secularism", Zaman columnist Tamer Korkmaz argues that Turkey needs to define secularism in its constitution in a way that would prevent the exploitation of both religion and secularism for political purposes. He claims that the universal principles underlying the libertarian basis of secularism do not apply in Turkey, where secularism is used as a means of conducting a "secret power struggle" and as justification for restricting freedom of speech and "usurping the right to education of female university students who wear headscarves."

    Under the banner headline, "There is nothing like YOK in the rest of the world," Milli Gazete carries a front-page report which claims that the Higher Education Council, (YOK), should be removed entirely from the draft civilian constitution because this body does not have an equivalent in any of the world's developed countries.

    In an article entitled "The need to avoid the tension trap", Milli Gazete columnist Mehmet Sevket Eygi accuses "the White Turks" represented by the YOK and the TUSIAD of being worried about the AKP's bid to replace the 1982 Constitution simply because they realize that a new constitution will make it impossible for them to continue to command "sixty percent of the national income." Eygi warns the Government against entering into public disputes with these groups and advises it to recruit the services of political advisors "smart enough to outwit the devil himself" in determining a strategy vis--vis the efforts to block the new constitution.

    Fundamentalist threat: In an article entitled "How could people become fearful of their own religion?" Hurriyet columnist Bekir Coskun draws attention to fears shared by pro-secular people in Turkey and notes that many Turkish newspapers and television stations have sent their crews to Malaysia in order to show how Islamist groups have transformed that country and whether or not Turkey could eventually experience a similar situation. He asks: "Is this actually what Islam is about? Did that holy book advise you to do such things? Did good people who sincerely pray desire such an outcome?" Coskun tacitly criticizes the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, for using Islam as a shield for remaining in power.

    In an article entitled "Malaysia and Alessia," Milliyet columnist Guneri Civaoglu points out that newspapers and television stations supportive of the government have declined to send their reporters to Malaysia despite an escalating debate about whether or not Turkey will follow Malaysia's example. Noting that the matter should be discussed in detail, Civaoglu says: "Debating issues is a useful method. Everybody should listen to conflicting views and analyze all aspects of those allegations in order to contribute to deepening of democracy and freedoms."

    In an article entitled "An outcry about fundamentalism," Milliyet columnist Hasan Cemal accuses the secular Turkish press of causing tension and fueling fears by highlighting Islamic regimes in Malaysia and some other countries without proposing any solution to dispel those fears. He cautions that this campaign could open to door to some undemocratic methods such as a military coup.

    A report entitled "Moral Codes of Turkish people" in Milliyet highlights an opinion poll conducted by Odak, a polling company, by interviewing 1,674 people in 26 cities. According to the outcome of the survey, 47 percent of the respondents, particularly those living in rural areas said that religion is the main moral value guiding the public. Religion was followed with laws with 21 percent, traditions with 11 percent, universal values with 10 percent, and by ideologies and political views with eight percent.

    In an article entitled "Turkey will never become another Iran, Algeria, or Malaysia," Sabah columnist Yavuz Donat says that Turkey will never face a situation similar to those witnessed in Iran, Algeria, or Malaysia because it is built on a very solid foundation. He adds that the government should not turn a deaf ear to the public's anxieties.

    General Basbug's speech: In an article entitled "Self-criticism on PKK from land Forces Commander," Turkish Daily News columnist Mehmet Ali Birand analyzes a recent speech delivered by Chief of the Land Forces Gen. Ilker Basbug who, he notes, underlined the lack of coordination between the security and intelligence agencies and political institutions.

    Under the headline, "Basbug comes under fire," Vakit carries a front-page report which asserts that Land Forces Commander General Ilker Basbug has come under criticism for his recent remarks objecting to secularism being regarded as a matter of controversy. The report quotes a number of "academics, NGO representatives, and jurists" as saying that secularism is a foreign concept and that it should be defined clearly for this reason.

    In an article entitled "Should the Military's priorities not be in line with those of the nation?", Vakit columnist Selahaddin Cakirgil lambastes General Ilker Basbug for devoting the first lesson of the academic year at the Military Academy to the subject of secularism and "pretending to criticize the United States for its failure to cooperate" with Turkey in the fight against the PKK but "not uttering a word about the fuel tanks jettisoned by Israeli aircraft over Turkey."

    In an article entitled "No, General", Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak asserts in response to General Basbug's remarks about secularism that "secular Turkey is no more secular than Democratic East Germany was democratic." He argues that secularism is a product of the Christian theology and that the current regime in Turkey has a "Byzantine" rather than secular character because "the state governs the religious hierarchy" in this country. "For there to be true secularism ... the Presidency of Religious Affairs should be given an autonomous status in the constitution, religious foundations should be transferred to this body and be able to freely engage in activities on behalf of their own community independent of the state, and the brotherhood of international religious communities should be recognized in an ecumenical sense."

    ES/


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