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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 07-12-19

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.245/07 19.12.07

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] The breakaway regime opens a representation office in Rome
  • [02] Ercakica comments on the recent resolution of the UN Security Council for UNFICYP
  • [03] Nami comments on the contacts of the Turkish Cypriots in Brussels
  • [04] Soyer is reportedly disappointed about his contacts in Brussels and attacks the Greek Cypriots once again
  • [05] Murat and Ercakica reply on the issue of the citizenship
  • [06] TDP accuses the breakaway regime of trying to prevent trade between the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots
  • [07] Izcan says that the Turkish Cypriots have become a minority in their own country
  • [08] Yonluer calls on Pertev to join his party
  • [09] Two more negotiation chapters to be opened for Turkey
  • [10] MIT to be restructured
  • [11] Turkey to pay 149 billion NTL in debt next year
  • [12] The Prime Ministers of Turkey and FYROM held a press conference
  • [13] Statement posted on Turkish General Staff website on the anniversary of the conquest of Rhodes. As in Cyprus the island was populated with Turks immediately
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [14] Turkish Daily News journalist traveled with foreigners wishing to settle in the EU member Cyprus using the Latakia occupied Famagusta ferryboat
  • [15] A counter-strategy in the EU is urgent
  • [16] From the Turkish Press of 18 December 2007

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] The breakaway regime opens a representation office in Rome

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.12.07) reports that a representation office of the TRNC was opened last night in Rome. The paper notes that many guests participated in the opening ceremony. The self-styled minister of foreign affairs, Turgay Avci and the Italian MP and TRNC citizen, Maurizyo Turko cut the ribbon during the opening ceremony.

    The Turkish Ambassador to Rome, Ugur Ziyal, senator De Angelis, former deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the Rome district, Santarelli, the TRNC honorary representative, Prof. Augusto Sinagra, the representative of Marco Alemeno, former chairman of the National Alliance Party, Bruno Lagana, the co-chairman of the Turkish-Italian Friendship Union, Karmelo Massina and other officials participated in the opening ceremony.

    In statements during the ceremony, Mr Avci stated that the opening of the office will be an important step for developing the relations with Italy and the Italian people. Mr Avci noted that thanks to the office, their activities in Italy in the fields of trade, culture, tourism and education could be developed. He made a call to the Italian government on the issue of the lifting of the isolations of the Turkish Cypriots.

    In his short statement, Mr Turko pointed out that the TRNC made an important step and stressed that they will continue to support the Turkish Cypriot people and they will continue their struggle in order to win.

    Meanwhile, Mr Avci wrote the following in the memory book of the representation office after the opening ceremony:

    I feel honoured and proud of opening the TRNC Representation in Rome. The accomplishment of opening a representation in Italy for our state, which has been established with the sacrifices and the pains of the Turkish Cypriot people, is a very important step forward. This step symbolizes the struggle of the Turkish Cypriot people to be unified with the international community and take the place it deserves. I fully believe that the Turkish Cypriot people will succeed in this honourable struggle. This day which is special for all of us, I thank everybody who gave his support and worked for the opening of the TRNC Representation in Rome.

    Furthermore, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (19.12.07) refers to the issue under the front-page banner title we have opened a representation in Rome.

    Finally, Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (19.12.07) refers to the issue under the front-page title A TRNC representation has been opened in Rome.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Ercakica comments on the recent resolution of the UN Security Council for UNFICYP

    Under the title Russia is a real militant, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.12.07) reports that Hasan Ercakica, spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat, commented yesterday during his weekly briefing on the issue of the UN Security Council resolution which extended the term of office of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

    Mr Ercakica said that they acted from the beginning knowing that the part of the UN Secretary - Generals report regarding the isolations of the Turkish Cypriots would not be included in the resolution of the Security Council and added: However, the fact that the expressions regarding the isolations are not included in the resolution does not abolish their importance or validity.

    Referring to the relations between Russia and the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Ercakica argued that everybody noticed that the Greek Cypriots use their accession to the EU in a negative manner and alleged that it is the duty of the EU member countries to put an end to the use of the accession of the Greek Cypriots to the EU in a manner that is not in conformity with the targets of the Union. He claimed that Russia, which is concerned about the developments in the Balkans, is using Cyprus as its voice in the EU.

    Replying to a question he said that recently the relations of the presidency with the Russian Embassy to Nicosia have been weakened and added that this is due to the Russian Embassy.

    Referring to the opening of a representation office of the breakaway regime in Rome, Mr Ercakica said: Our relations are not diplomatic relations in the full meaning of the word. From this point of view, some obstacles may occur deriving from the laws and various difficulties there. The works are going on. They are about to be concluded. I hope they will end in January.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Nami comments on the contacts of the Turkish Cypriots in Brussels

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.12.07) reports that Ozdil Nami, special representative of the Turkish Cypriot leader Talat, has stated that Portuguese officials said the fact that the Direct Trade Regulation did not come onto their agenda should not be misunderstood.

    According to Mr Nami, the EU is determined on the issue of implementing the above-mentioned regulation. Mr Nami who visited Brussels with the self-styled prime minister, Ferdi Sabit Soyer, met yesterday afternoon at the Portuguese Permanent Representation with high ranking officials of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    In statements to Kibris, Nami said that his meeting was positive and that the main issue of their agenda was the Direct Trade Regulation. He noted that the Portuguese officials expressed regret because the regulation did not come onto the agenda of the EU during the term presidency of their country, due to their heavy schedule because of other issues concerning the future of the Union.

    Mr Nami said that the Portuguese officials told them that the Union continues to attach importance to keeping all the promises given to the Turkish Cypriots and especially the Direct Trade Regulation. As a sign of this, he added, is the fact that there is a reference to the Direct Trade Regulation in the report which Portugal has prepared for its term presidency and it is clearly noted that the issue is transferred to the Slovenian term presidency. Mr Nami referred to the stance of the Republic of Cyprus on the issue of the Direct Trade Regulation and claimed that the Greek Cypriot arguments are not considered to be just by the Europeans.

    He added the following: If they were [considered as such], pressure would be exerted by the member countries on the Commission for the withdrawal of the Direct Trade Regulation. On the contrary, in the report which the Portuguese term presidency is preparing at the moment, reference is made to this issue and this is a diplomatic answer to the Greek Cypriot side.

    Mr Nami said that they have also discussed issues regarding the broadening of the Financial Aid Regulation and the Green Line Regulation and found out that Portugal is ready to give every kind of support so that progress is made on these issues.

    Referring to the postponement of the meeting between Mr Soyer and Olli Rehn, Commissioner responsible for the Enlargement of the EU, Mr Nami said that they were told that the reason for the postponement was new situations came up on the issue of Kosovo and added that they believe in this. He noted, though, that they asked for the meeting to take place in a future date and this request has been accepted.

    Mr Nami stated also that last week they met with the Slovenian Permanent Representative in Brussels and discussed with him the issue of the Direct Trade Regulation. The Slovenian diplomat said that his country will exert every effort that it can on this matter, said Nami. He noted that during their contacts in Brussels they met also with officials from the Commission and the European Parliament (EP) and discussed the issue of the representation of the Turkish Cypriots at the EP.

    He noted that they said that they were expecting concrete steps on this issue. We are continuing our efforts and contacts with all the EU organs. In all the sides there is a reluctance for making a concrete step before the elections in the Greek Cypriot side, he argued and added that it seems that after the elections the openings of the EU will be intensified and that the Europeans will support the process towards reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem at the UN.

    Mr Nami further said that they held important discussions with officials of the Commission on technical issues and in parallel with the broadening of the regulations they agreed on many technical issues and on the providing of the necessary technical aid so that occupied north Cyprus is developed according to the norms and the laws of the EU.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Soyer is reportedly disappointed about his contacts in Brussels and attacks the Greek Cypriots once again

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.12.07) reports that the self-styled prime minister, Ferdi Sabit Soyer, evaluating his contacts in Brussels, wondered for how long the EU will tolerate the threats of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots will be kept hostage and asked for a clarification by the EU on the issue of the Direct Trade Regulation.

    In statements after his meetings yesterday, Mr Soyer wondered whether the EU supports the understanding of the Greek Cypriots who carried out a coup in 1963, seized the Republic of Cyprus, changed its bi-communal character and turned it into a structure with Greek character.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (19.12.07) refers to Mr Soyers statements under the title Rehns shock to Soyer in Brussels and reports that Mr Soyer was disappointed. Ferdi Sabit Soyer, who could not find what he hoped in his contacts in Brussels, stated that his meeting with Olli Rehn was prevented by the Greek Cypriots, writes the paper adding that according to Mr Soyer the EU has violated its own values by submitting to the threat of the Greek Cypriots.

    He alleged that the Republic of Cyprus threatened to veto the opening of the two chapters in Turkeys accession negotiations process. Yeni Duzen reports that Mr Soyer met with high ranking official at the European Parliament and with members of the EP. He held separate meetings with Jan Wiersma, chairman of the Socialist Group in the EP and the British MEP, member of the Socialist Group, Michael Cashman.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Murat and Ercakica reply on the issue of the citizenship

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (19.12.07) reports that the self-styled minister of internal affairs Ozkan Murat denounced the information published in the paper regarding a bargaining between Ankara and the TRNC officials on the issue of granting the citizenship of the breakaway regime to Turkish settlers.

    Mr Murat said: All the citizenships given until today were shared with the public opinion in the direction of the principle of transparency. The public opinion will also be informed for all the actions taken from now on.

    Hasan Ercakica, spokesman of the Turkish Cypriot leader, was asked yesterday to comment on the issue. The paper writes that he denounced the information and said that the news published in the press that Turkey threatens the TRNC in order to grant its citizenship to Turkish settlers is a perfect example of fiction.

    He said that the aid of Turkey is not dependent on conditions or any other things. He noted that 50 thousand persons have completed today the ten years of stay in the occupied areas and stated that with the new law acquiring work and residence permit will become easier for those who lived in the occupied areas for a long time.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] TDP accuses the breakaway regime of trying to prevent trade between the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.12.07) reports that Ozgun Kutlamis, chairman of the economy committee of the Communal Democracy Party (TDP), has noted that the restrictions as a result of the wrong practices applied by the government of the breakaway regime at the crossing points lead the Turkish Cypriot workers in the free areas of the island to the point of rebellion.

    In a written statement issued yesterday Mr Kutlamis criticized the government on the issue of the incident that took place last week at occupied Pergamos village crossing point. He said that the government tries to prevent the trade with the south by taking police measures and torturing the citizens instead of applying wise economic policies.

    He pointed out that the Republican Turkish Party, which before coming to power was supporting the opening of crossing points between the occupied and the free areas, has now come to the point of saying close the gates.

    (I/Ts.)

    [07] Izcan says that the Turkish Cypriots have become a minority in their own country

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (19.12.07) reports that Izzet Izcan, general secretary of the United Cyprus Party (BKP), visited yesterday the occupied Mia Milia village and said that population is brought to the occupied areas of the island under the pretext of bringing working force. He noted that the Turkish Cypriots have become minority in their own country and added: By saying Turk comes Turk goes, they are trying to annihilate our community, our identity and our culture.

    (I/Ts.)

    [08] Yonluer calls on Pertev to join his party

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (19.12.07) reports that the founding chairman of the newly established Politics for the People (HIS) party, Ahmet Yonluer called on Rasit Pertev, former advisor of the Turkish Cypriot leader, to join HIS. We are a party of Mevlana, he said and added that Serdar Denktas and the Democratic Party under his leadership could not join them.

    (I/Ts.)

    [09] Two more negotiation chapters to be opened for Turkey

    Turkish daily Today´s Zaman newspaper (19.12.07) reports the following:

    Turkey is set for a minor progression in its slow-moving bid to become a member of the European Union today, when Turkish and EU officials are expected to meet in Brussels to formally kick off talks on two more negotiation chapters.

    The move comes after the EU, under pressure from France, agreed last week to create a "reflection group," which Paris says will study the issue of borders of Europe. The two chapters, namely trans-European networks, and consumer and health protection, have been ready to be opened for several weeks, but their formal opening was delayed as French President Nicolas Sarkozy blocked it, pressing for the creation of the reflection group as a condition for any progress in talks with Ankara.

    A summit of EU leaders convening last Friday agreed to set up the group but refused to include the issue of enlargement or Europe's borders in its mandate. But Sarkozy, an outspoken opponent of Turkish membership, claimed the mandate includes the issue of future borders for Europe. The French leader says Turkey does not belong to Europe and hopes the study group will reach the same conclusion. The EU named former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, who has expressed criticism of Turkish accession in the past. A spokesman said Gonzales has modified his position and now says the EU should honor any commitment it has made to Turkey.

    The summit also agreed to a Sarkozy demand not to mention the words "accession" or "membership" in regard to Turkey's EU bid in its final statement. Turkey's supporters in the bloc, including Britain, Sweden and Italy, have reportedly assured Ankara that it would have no formal implication on the accession process. The Turkish government also put on a brave face after the setback, saying it would remain undeterred in its reform efforts.

    Turkey began accession talks with the EU in October 2005, but progress has been very slow; Ankara has begun work in only four chapters, out of a total of 35, and provisionally completed one of them to date. The EU also decided last year to block eight chapters connected with the bloc's customs union, due to Ankara's refusal to allow Greek Cypriot ships and planes to enter its ports and airports. In addition, Sarkozy says he will block talks on chapters that directly relate to Turkey's accession.

    [10] MIT to be restructured

    Turkish daily Today´s Zaman (19.12.07) reports the following:

    The National Intelligence Organization (MIT) has entered a period of comprehensive restructuring.

    In a bid to rid itself of an antiquated structure dating from the Cold War era, MIT will place greater importance on external intelligence rather than internal intelligence and will employ people who can speak English, Georgian, Armenian, Arabic, Persian, Bulgarian, Russian, Greek and other dialects of Turkish. The current rate of female employees within the organization, 18 percent, will be increased to 50 percent.

    MIT Undersecretary Emre Taner had signaled a change in the structure of the organization in a written statement issued on January 6, 2007, for the organization's 80th anniversary. Supported also by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, MIT is now ready to take steps toward its brand new composition after a year of preparations and planning.

    The plans include measures that will change the organizational scheme of MIT and its work culture. The first step has been the replacement of all the old equipment used by the organization with hi-tech equivalents. The changes designed to make M0T more powerful, dynamic, active, efficient and flexible had become inevitable, particularly in recent years given Turkey's ever-increasing strategic importance.

    [11] Turkey to pay 149 billion NTL in debt next year

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.12.07) reports the following from Ankara:

    Turkey is expected to repay a total of 149.7 billion YTL (one dollar equals 1.19 YTL) in foreign and domestic debt in 2008, according to a strategy report by the Turkish Treasury.

    The treasury estimates to repay 130.8 billion YTL in domestic debt and 18.9 billion YTL in foreign debt in 2008.

    The treasury is planning to borrow mostly in local currency to maintain the downward trend in the level of foreign debt in its debt stocks and it will quit issuing bonds in foreign currency.

    The treasury is also planning to keep a strong foreign currency reserve for 2008.

    [12] The Prime Ministers of Turkey and FYROM held a press conference

    Ankara Anatolia news agency (18.12.07) reported the following from Ankara:

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday all countries that have recognized Macedonia's independence must respect Macedonia's decision to use its name." Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Gruevski held a joint press conference following their meeting at the Prime Ministry.

    "Macedonia has declared its independence. As a name, they have chosen 'Macedonia'. As a nation, they have adopted the name 'Macedonia'," he told a joint press conference with his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski in Ankara. Erdogan said their tete-a-tete meeting and the meeting among delegations were very fruitful and they have talked on bilateral relations in detail. "Macedonia has an EU process. We have informed our Macedonian friends that we want to share our experiences," he said.

    Erdogan said Turkey supports Macedonia's membership in NATO and Bulgaria's, Albania's and Macedonia's membership in NATO will contribute to regional stability. "We discussed issues that closely relate to our countries, such as Kosovo," Erdogan told.

    Erdogan said Prime Minister Gruevski's current visit is important from an economic point of view as the Macedonian delegation had prominent names from the Macedonian economy. Asked about what he thinks on a NATO member state's insistence on Macedonia to change its name prior to joining the alliance, Erdogan said, "it is very ugly to ask Macedonia to change its name prior to joining NATO. It is a wrong approach."

    Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, in turn, said that Macedonia would always open its doors to Turkish investors as long as they wanted to invest in this country and expressed his opinion regarding the investment opportunities in Macedonia and tried to introduce his country during the talks he held in Turkey. Gruevski said Turkey has always been the first country to help Macedonia when it was in panic and need and that there was a good cooperation between Turkey and Macedonia in various areas such as defense, security and health.

    Moreover, Gruevski said Turkey was the 10th biggest trade partner of Macedonia, adding that cooperation would be expanded in order to improve the trade volume between the two countries. He said the Macedonian government would support the Turkish entrepreneurs who would like to invest in Macedonia.

    Gruevski also said important tenders would be held in Macedonia next year and they expected Turkish firms to participate in them.

    [13] Statement posted on Turkish General Staff website on the anniversary of the conquest of Rhodes. As in Cyprus the island was populated with Turks immediately

    The Ankara office of the Chief of the General staff (17.12.07) posted the following statement on its website on the anniversary of the conquest of Rhodes:

    The island of Rhodes lies at the transit point between the Eastern Mediterranean basin and the Aegean Sea and extends to the Bosphorus. Throughout its history it has been ruled by the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Knights of St John. During the time of the Knights of St John Rhodes became the strongest outpost in Christendom. It was used as a base for the Crusades into Anatolia and Egypt.

    After conquering Istanbul the Ottomans turned their attention to Rhodes, which they considered important for the security of the Empire and the defense of Anatolia. At first Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror conducted raids but failed to seize the island. Sultan Beyazit II was forced to stay on friendly terms with Rhodes because his brother Cem had taken refuge with the Papacy. No serious attempt to take the island was undertaken. With the capture of Egypt on the trade route to India by Yavuz Sultan Selim in 1517 the security of the Mediterranean Sea became vitally important. However, Yavuz died before he could tackle the Mediterranean Sea.

    Sultan Suleyman the Lawmaker saw that it would be impossible to govern Egypt and Syria in peace until Rhodes was no longer an obstacle. After conquering Baghdad he turned to Rhodes.

    The Second Vizir Mustafa Pasha was given command of the expedition while command of the fleet, comprising 300 warships and 400 transport ships, was given to Kaptan Pasha [Admiral] Kurdoglu Muslihiddin. The fleet set forth from Istanbul on 4 June 1522 reaching Rhodes 20 days later. Meanwhile, Suleyman the Lawmaker set out from Istanbul on 16 June with both his personal guard and provincial soldiers.

    First off, in order to counter any assistance from Europe defense ships were deployed to the appropriate places in Rhodes Harbor, and soldiers were landed at Okuzburnu [Ox Point]. Earthworks were dug all around the city of Rhodes and big cannons were deployed.

    Suleyman the Lawmaker landed on Rhodes on 28 June. His offer of surrender was rejected by the knights and so the Ottoman army began its assault on 1 August. Right up until the conquest the bastions of Rhodes were scene to terrible fights as a result of the underground tunnels that were opened up by both sides. The damage caused by the powerful Ottoman cannons was rapidly repaired by the enemy. The Ottoman army's relentless attacks continued until 10 December ruining the fortress. On 18 December as a result of a general charge the knights were forced to withdraw.

    Finally on 20 December 1522 the fortress and city of Rhodes were conquered after being besieged by the Ottoman army and navy for four months and 23 days. Thus ended the 213-year reign of the Knights of St John. The Fortress of Rhodes, all the Dodecanese Islands plus the Fort of Bodrum were left to the Ottoman State. Among the terms of surrender the knights had to take their weapons less their possessions and cannons and depart Rhodes within 10 days. The fortifications in the city were secured by 4,000 Janissaries while the main body of the army was kept 2 kilometers outside of the city until the knights had left the island.

    After being conquered Sultan Suleyman the Lawmaker decreed that the island be populated with Turks immediately. The island became a canton princedom as part of the Mediterranean Islands province.

    With Rhodes being taken from the Knights of St John the security of the Eastern Mediterranean was assured and the Ottoman State became the most important power in the Eastern Mediterranean. Rhodes' strategic location prepared the grounds for the application of new strategies in the Ottoman concept of maritime domination. This conquest showed the prowess of Turkish artillery. The taking of this island, which was the most important fortress for the crusading armies in the Eastern Mediterranean and was considered impossible to conquer, came as a great shock and disappointment in Europe.

    Following the conquest the island of Rhodes experienced its most tranquil period lasting 306 years (1522-1828). The London Protocol of 1828 saw Rhodes and the Dodecanese handed over to Russian and Franco-British patronage. In 1912 Rhodes was occupied by Italy during the Battle for Tripoli.

    The Lausanne Treaty saw the Dodecanese left to the Italians. The British put an end to Italian rule on Rhodes in October 1943 but the island was then immediately taken over by the Germans with an airborne operation. On 9 May 1945 the British took the island from the Germans on behalf of the Allies and effectively gave them to the Greeks. The Turkish population of the island numbering 2-2,500 was not included in the population exchange agreement between Turkey and Greece in 1923 because "it was considered Italian soil."

    The Island of Rhodes and the Dodecanese after 390 years of Ottoman rule (1522-1912) were officially handed over to Greece on 1 April 1947 following the Paris Treaty of 10 February 1947.

    Conclusion:

    In flagrant contravention of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty and the 1947 Paris Treaty, Greece continues to militarize Rhodes and the Dodecanese, which are of vital importance to Turkey's security. In fact, by doing this Greece is acting in accordance with the requirements of its "Megali Ideal" policy, the foundations of which were lain in 1850 and which it believes it has been carrying out successfully with all kinds of ploys to date. While doing this, Greece is cunningly trying to convince world opinion of an imaginary "threat from the Turks who have expansionist designs for the islands." Needless to say, attempts are being made to whittle away the Turkish presence here in order to ensure the success of this policy. This is an accelerating factor. Consequently, as a result of the pressure and threats being applied by the Greeks on Rhodes, the Turks are being forced to abandon the places where they were born by selling their broad tracts of land and other properties for next to nothing or just leaving them. This has led to the rapid diminution of the Turkish presence on the islands. Furthermore, many valuable landmarks from the Ottoman period such as the "Fethi Pasha Clock Tower" the "Turkish Library" and the "Turkish Martyrs Cemetery" are dependent on the Foundations Administration on Rhodes for care. These landmarks are deliberately being allowed to fall into disrepair or are being demolished on various pretexts.


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [14] Turkish Daily News journalist traveled with foreigners wishing to settle in the EU member Cyprus using the Latakia occupied Famagusta ferryboat

    Under the title: Ghostly ferryboat and the zombie passengers Turkish Daily News (19.12.07) reports, inter alia, the following:

    The morning is gray with heavy rain in northern Syria's coastal city of Latakia. The empty roads converging between the white stucco buildings to the Mediterranean port are all but abandoned. Little in the appearance of ferryboat Su, Water in Turkish, distinguishes it from the half dozen similar craft anchored in the harbor surrounded by cargo cranes. But it is more than the storm off the sea that rocks the Su. For this nondescript ferry is also at the eye of political squall spun off from the larger turbulence of 34 years of Cyprus politics. And the Su's controversial role is unlikely to be calmed any time soon, as a trip aboard the ferry reveals it is part of something else: One artery in the network of refugee trails between war-torn Iraq, troubled Syria and the promise of a new life in the European Union.

    As a Turkish Daily News reporter found when she joined the passengers on the voyage earlier this month, the Su is essentially a heavily subsidized ghost ship carrying a fraction of its capacity on each journey. Of those who do pay the $150 fare for the four-hour passage (or six if the weather is stormy as it was in early December), most if not all aboard the Su are seeking to travel beyond disembarkation in northern Cyprus onto Greek Cyprus in the south, a member of the EU with all that membership implies for the refugees seeking a new life amid the allure of asylum. Passengers of the ferry evaporate on the island, read a November headline in the local Cypriot newspaper, Star Cyprus. That story detailed that among the passengers on one recent journey, 108 Iraqi and Palestinians, travelled to Famagusta by the ferry. Only one of the 108 passengers, who came to Cyprus on that day left the island and returned to Syria. The rest, even if they checked in the hotel that the travel agency Tabaa in Latakia arranged for them, disappeared and neither the hotel personnel nor the agency had a clue about where they were. Some 15 of them were caught while trying to enter Greek Cyprus, presumably to seek shelter in an EU country.

    On the TDN's voyage aboard the Su, the ship with a capacity of 500 left Latakia harbor with a record manifest. The 140 passengers comprised the largest number on any trip since the service began, officers aboard the ship said. The stories of the Arabic-speaking passengers, however, were largely of the quest for a new life. At least two-thirds were Iraqi or Palestinian refugees who said they had forsaken hopes of a better life in Syria and were now moving on to try their chances further west.

    At harbor side earlier this month in Syria, a group of passengers gathered in the pale, white-painted waiting room of the ferry. Even if the passenger list was modest, the waiting room was more so; there were only two brand new benches for people to sit. Most found a space on the shiny ceramic-covered floor or atop their baggage. It was clear that the room was recently restored but the facelift failed to cover what appeared to be years of water stains on the until-recently leaky ceiling.

    Two Iraqi families were near the door of a room, inside which the passport checkpoints were situated, waiting for the passport police to let them in. The women of the families were standing and chatting. Exhaustion and anxiety were clear on their faces. All that broke the sullen atmosphere of waiting in huge and barren room was the resounding voice of the children playing and singing rhymes in Arabic. "We moved to Syria a year ago," said 43-year-old Faathe Darwish, who had sought shelter in Syria with her husband and four children. "My husband and my son Mahmout were afraid of American soldiers, they could not take it anymore and we escaped." Faathe's husband, Houssam Darvish, about 50 years old, has remained unemployed since the family came to Syria. The family lived on the money that Fathe's brother, who escaped to Europe years ago, was sending them each month.Su was due to leave at 9:00 a.m. but it was already an hour late and passengers were still waiting to go past passport control, which is strict; therefore slow. At 11:00 a.m. some of the passengers were still waiting in queue to be let into the passport checkpoints. After passport control, there was another hall, where the personnel of the tourism agency, Tabaa, were waiting to check the tickets. "It was supposed to leave at 9:00 a.m.," said a senior passenger. The guy sitting on a chair did not answer but smiled shyly. The rain was still heavy outside which blurred the huge, white Su that rocked on the waves stirred by the storm. Once cleared by Syrian officials, the passengers raced across the slippery dock, ducking inside the ferry as quickly as possible to escape the downpour. The crew awaited just inside the ferry's entryway, checking tickets and directing them toward the plentiful choice of seats. One of the officers, Mustafa Cetin, the only one among the crew to speak Arabic, warned the passengers not to step in water that had accumulated before the gangplank. Cetin said that with 100 or so aboard and another 50 in the waiting area, this would be a record cargo. Another officer, however, seemed not impressed. "Half of the passengers are children," he said. Conversation among the officers quickly shifted to the topic of the storm. Among the last of straggling passengers was one who was obviously among the few regulars. He greeted the officers by name.

    Not eager to speak to a reporter, the man carried huge black plastic bags onto the ferry, raindrops bouncing off his face. He brusquely explained that he was a retail trader, buying goods from Syria where prices are cheaper and selling them in Cyprus. "What are you going to be selling this time?" asked Cetin. The last checks were complete and Su was ready to sail. "Have a nice trip. Tell us if you need anything", said the captain, as the ship began to vibrate with the starting of the engines.

    Just as the gray sky began to darken, the port of Famagusta appeared out the windows. After more than four hours, many of the passengers had collapsed into sleep, but the smell of vomit persisted. "We arrived. Congratulations," the captain announced over the loudspeaker. But there was no outbreak of joy, no emotion, scarcely any reaction. Even the children, boisterous and singing hours before, remained mute. Slowly, they shuffled down the gangplank where signs read, Kuzey Kibris Turk Cumhuriyetine hos geldiniz, Welcome to the Turkish Republic of northern Cyprus.

    Beyond the passport checks, outside the Famagusta terminal, a bus awaited to take them all to the hotel arranged as part of the ticketing, the Acapulco. No one expects them to stay there for long. And no one expects them to return to Latakia.

    [15] A counter-strategy in the EU is urgent

    Under the above title Turkish Daily News (18.12.07) publishes the following commentary by Cengiz Aktar:

    We have witnessed another end-of-the-year summit at the European Union. Some uninformed commentators claimed the incidents of last week were just trivial and Turkey proceeds on its way as planned. Since they do not understand the strategy of the French and since they are not aware of the perils of the situation, they messaged everything is OK and saw no harm in tying the opening this week of two chapters normally without benchmarks to the benchmark of pleasing French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    Turkey's friends in the EU continued with the tactic of leaving things to time. They were sweet talkers as usual, unaware how these failing EU works harm Turkey, Europe and the country's relations with the West in general. In this languid atmosphere they are not in a hurry to develop a counter-strategy against that of France. Unless such strategy is shaped, unilateral concessions will continue. If nothing is done by this time next year when France's presidential term ends, even the word Turkey may not make it to the presidency conclusions!

    No one devised to say, since there is the Sarkozy benchmark let's open four chapters including the two curbed by France. Likewise, no one mentioned why the efforts to lift trade restrictions over the Turkish Republic of northern Cyprus, so as to clear eight chapters suspended in late 2006, ended up in a fiasco during the German presidency in early 2007.

    Although some have been trying to save face through various wording gimmicks in the final document, Sarkozy is gradually eroding Turkey's accession process. To pretend as though nothing has happened since Sarkozy was elected president in May and to set the play on his changing sooner or later translates into doing nothing and just waiting. What a deadly negligence!

    Negotiations are about come to an end

    Institutionally speaking the situation in 2008 is very critical. Slovenia, which holds the EU presidency for the first half of the year, is sincere and has good intentions toward Turkey but lacks experience in EU maneuverings. As all other small member states, it has limited staff to conduct/chair endless EU meetings. So, naturally, they will request assistance either from the next or the previous term's president. But since this country cannot be Portugal, another country, France, will assist Slovenia.

    Namely France will actually be the boss in 2008. Statements Sarkozy made following the EU summit Friday is a sign of his tougher attitude toward Turkey in the next term. Although the terms of reference announced for the wise men committee or the Reflection Group he masterminded in order to draw final borders of the EU do not include assessments about the union's borders, Sarkozy kept claiming so before the press.

    Technically the situation is not bright either. The number of chapters to be opened is almost next to zero. So far only four of 33 chapters that have been de facto negotiated have been opened for negotiations. Two more chapters will be opened this week, makes a total of six chapters overall. Twenty-five of the remaining 27 chapters will have benchmarks. Eight of them were suspended in last year's summit and turned into benchmarks for the approval of the Customs Union's Additional Protocol. That is to say, the opening of these chapters depends on an unworkable demand. Four of them are blocked by France and the remaining thirteen have entrance benchmarks that are almost impossible to meet.

    There are three types of difficulties in meeting the opening benchmarks. There are some that Turkey can simply not do; a Turkey that somehow cannot know whether or not it would be a full member. Example: Opening public tenders market to EU companies. This is impossible for now. The second type of difficulty originates from inadequate democracy in Turkey and human rights violations. To achieve these requires rock solid political resolve and will take years to complete. The third type of difficulty originates in the EU. These are the delaying tactics primarily of Greek Cyprus. All in all there remain only two chapters to be opened: Energy and Information Society-Media. And who knows the energy chapter might be prevented this time by Ankara before Paris!

    To make it short, we are only two chapters away from entirely clogged membership negotiations. In other words we have exhausted the brinkmanship although talks continue. Therefore both Turkey and Turkey's friends in the EU need to make some strategic decisions in 2008.

    7 versus 20 countries

    There are seven countries that think and act like Sarkozy's France. Though it is not manifest, Germany sides with France. If the Christian Democrat Union wins the 2009 elections, Turkey will have to struggle with the Franco-German duo. In front there are 20 countries well intentioned but tuning low. A comprehensive joint strategy, in fact a new asymmetry needs to be developed by these, to corner Sarkozy. The keystone to this strategy is to call for 2023 as the year of accession.

    2008 seems to be filled with all sorts of dangers. If the present negative trend continues things might get worse. A swift change in foreign investors' outlooks that until now have bet on Turkey sooner or later becoming a full member to EU, would seriously harm Turkey. In a longer run, asymmetry in the Customs Union will jeopardize economic ties. In the final analysis, Turkey's EU bid is such a vital process that it can be abandoned neither to Sarkozy, nor to Greek Cypriots nor to euro skeptic Turks.

    [16] From the Turkish Press of 18 December 2007

    Following are summaries and excerpts from the Turkish press of 18 December 2007 on issues of the current political agenda:

    Air attacks and Military Incursion in N. Iraq: All the newspapers discuss the outcome of the air operation against PKK targets in northern Iraq in their reports and columns, as follows:

    Fikret Bila focuses on the messages the air attack on PKK targets in northern Iraq conveyed to the terrorists, foreign countries, and the Turkish public opinion. Stressing in his column in Istanbul Milliyet that the operation will have psychological, military, and political effects, he argues that it showed the PKK and the Barzani administration that the threats they made to Turkey relying on the United States in the past were useless, the effort they made to force Turkey to agree to hold talks with the PKK failed, and the propaganda in northern Iraq that Turkey prepares to occupy the area failed to achieve its objective.

    In a column in the same newspaper, Guneri Civaoglu describes the night operation carried out by the Turkish air force units as successful and expresses the conviction that the military action was carefully planned. He notes: The operation broke the backbone of the PKK. The organization's hospital, power plant, rocket launchers, arms and ammunition depots, internet, radio, and wireless communication installations, and food and clothing stocks were destroyed. What is more important is that the morale of the organization weakened. Stressing that the attack removed the PKK conviction that it is untouchable, Civaoglu asserts: But, this is not the end of the organization. Nor is the operation the military forces carried out the last one.

    Focusing on the air operation against the PKK in northern Iraq, Sami Kohen believes that arguing on whether or not Turkey was late to hit the PKK targets is unnecessary. In a column in Istanbul Milliyet, he stresses that attention should be focused on what has been gained through the operation and what should be expected in the future and notes that the action has proved that the TSK (Turkish military forces) are capable of taking action no matter what the conditions might be. Quoting experts as saying that the PKK terrorists must have realized that they will not be able to remain in northern Iraq, he asserts: However, although operations are very important in the struggle against terror, they are not enough to completely obstruct terrorist activities. Political, diplomatic, economic, and social resources must be mobilized in the long-term struggle. Kohen believes that the support the United States has given to Ankara is a very important development and concludes by saying that the success that has been achieved conveyed the message that Turkey's target is terrorism and that it does not cherish any ambition against the neighboring country and its people.

    According to Yalcin Dogan, Pentagon's statement that "other measures are needed in addition to the military action" against the PKK was aimed at the Turkish General Staff. Describing the statement as a very important warning, Dogan asserts in any column in Istanbul Hurriyet that Pentagon conveyed the message that the military forces should not obstruct the measures that the government might take to solve the Kurdish problem. Focusing on the military action, he notes: The administration in northern Iraq is upset with President Bush, Ankara, and Baghdad. It is upset with Ankara because of the operation and with Bush and Baghdad because of the decision they made to abandon it. Dogan concludes: The time has come now to make it easy for the PKK militants to come down from the mountains and to obstruct those who plan to join the PKK on the heights.

    Commenting on the air operation in his column in Hurriyet, Cuneyt Ulsever argues that statistics must be disclosed on the outcome of the action. Otherwise, he warns, the supporters of the PKK in the world will find an opportunity to strengthen their allegations that civilian people and villages have suffered. Stressing that the Western media organs have already started to propagate against the military action, he notes: The question that is asked is this: How many PKK camps have been hit and what is the extent of damage that was caused in them?

    In an article entitled "Has Turkey become a 'Regional power'?", Yeni Safak columnist Akif Emre predicts that Sunday's air strike against PKK camps in northern Iraq will not resolve the Kurdish question and criticizes some columnists who attacked the United States in the past for taking a pro-American stance after the operation and asserting that Turkey has become a global power. Noting that both the PKK and Turkish-US relations have reached a new phase after the air strike, Emre comments: "The first reality that we should face is that Turkey handles its relations with Kurds living in Turkey and northern Iraq through the United States. Somebody could say that this situation creates weakness which cannot be compared with logistical and strategic support which may be given by the United States." He concludes by saying that Turkey effectively closed the historical, cultural, and strategic window to the region by agreeing to establish its relations to all groups in the country through the United States over the long term.

    In an article entitled "Qandil operation, Mersin, Dirty Traffic", Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul says that the air strike was primarily intended to destroy the PKK's logistical resources rather than its leaders or militants. He also writes about the interception of tractor-trailers carrying 19 armored vehicles destined for northern Iraq at Habur border crossing point and says that Mersin port has been used for shipment of weapons to northern Iraq and some other countries in the past five years.

    In an article entitled "Could information provided by the United States be regarded as a source of pride?", Vakit columnist Ihsan Karahasanoglu draws attention to a statement made by Chief of the General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit who said that they now have comprehensive information about PKK camps in Iraq and interprets his remarks as a confirmation of the fact that Turkey and the United States are sharing intelligence. He asks: "To what extent would it be appropriate to take pride in such an advantage which is actually controlled by foreign powers? They have used intelligence for attacking PKK camps. What would they do if the United States who refused to share such information with them until recently does the same thing in the future?"

    Under the banner headline "Turkey Reaped the Fruits of Diplomacy in Qandil Operation," Zaman carries a front-page report which quotes foreign policy analysts as saying that mild reactions observed in the world in the wake of the air strike targeting PKK camps should be ascribed to Turkey's successful diplomatic campaign.

    In an article entitled "A 'Different' operation," Zaman columnist Ihsan Dagi says that Sunday's air attack has shown that Turkey is a powerful country not because it was capable of sending fighters to hit terrorist shelters in a neighboring company, but it could enlist support from the international community for carrying out the attack. Pointing out that the operation has relieved the Turkish public, Dagi comments: "It is now time to start another operation to besiege the PKK in the political field. The PKK should be prevented from receiving political and social support as a result of various steps ranging from a rehabilitation law and a drive for achieving economic development in the region. Delivering a blow to the PKK's armed wing and its growing isolation in the world would also increase the possibility of the Democratic Society Party's role as a political organization independent of the PKK."

    In an article entitled "Everything has changed after the operation," Bugun columnist Nuh Gonultas praises the Turkish Armed Forces for carrying out a very successful military operation in northern Iraq which, he notes, has permanently changed the situation in the region. He comments: "Turkey has demonstrated its capability to conduct operations and military might to the whole world. I should also add that northern Iraq has been placed under Turkey's protection no matter how loudly Barzani may complain."

    b) Turkey-Greece relations

    Erdal Safak criticizes the statement the General Staff posted on its website in connection with the militarization of the Aegean islands. In a column in Istanbul Sabah, he says that the harsh tone of the statement conflicts with General Buyukanit's style and believes that the information on the Ottoman heritage on Rhodes might be out of date. Recalling the visit of Prime Minister Karamanli to Turkey in January, he asserts: In short, the harsh message the General Staff conveyed to our neighbor without any reason does not seem to be normal.

    Under the banner headline "Greeks are looking for trouble" Milli Gazete carries a front-page report which highlights a statement issued by the Turkish General Staff which accused Greece of arming Rhodes and other Greek islands on the Aegean Sea in violation of international treaties.

    EG/


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