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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 07-12-21

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.247/07 21.12.07

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Soyer says that 12 chapters for harmonization with the EU are now on the agenda of their government; Avci alleges that the solution in Cyprus will be found between two states and two peoples
  • [02] The TRNC was represented in a medical conference which took place last week in the city of Exeter in Britain
  • [03] Turkish Cypriot businessman says that the occupied areas of Cyprus should be declared as a free trade zone
  • [04] Tickets have not been issued for two weeks now for the sea journey between the occupied port of Famagusta and Latakia
  • [05] Personal archives of Ecevit are opened to journalists
  • [06] Demirtas names his trial as the dark stain in the history of Turkish justice
  • [07] Kurdish Parties and NGO's protest the Cross-Border operation
  • [08] Iraqi Kurds pledge to defend civilians
  • [09] Turkish Air Force commander on claims that civilian targets were hit in Northern Iraq
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [10] Turkish Cypriot columnist argues that Mr Talat is worried about the foreign policy applied by the government
  • [11] Columnist in Yeni Safak argues that between Turkey and Barzani the U.S. opted for Turkey
  • [12] From the Turkish Press of 20 December 2007

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Soyer says that 12 chapters for harmonization with the EU are now on the agenda of their government; Avci alleges that the solution in Cyprus will be found between two states and two peoples

    Under the title They will not be able to prevent us from taking our place in the EU, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (21.12.07) reports that the self-styled prime minister, Ferdi Sabit Soyer and the so-called minister of foreign affairs Turgay Avci, who have completed their contacts in Brussels and Rome respectively and returned to the island yesterday, sent a message to the Greek Cypriot administration and to the countries which succumb to their threats. According to the paper, the message is that they will not be able to prevent the Turkish Cypriots from taking their place in the EU.

    In statements made together with Mr Avci at the illegal Tymbou airport, Mr Soyer stated that neither the Greek Cypriot dominant leadership nor some EU officials who succumb to the threats will be able to prevent the process of the Turkish Cypriot people taking its place in the EU.

    Mr Soyer argued that their government will never abandon its EU vision and it will continue in an unstoppable and effective manner its efforts to be represented in the EU as an equal people. Mr Soyer alleged that the Greek Cypriot leadership exerted every effort in order to sabotage the meeting he would hold with Mr Olli Rehn for the sake of voting in favour of the EU decisions on the issue of Kosovo.

    Mr Soyer noted that during their visit in Brussels the EU officials underlined the work on the three existing regulations and the harmonization program they submitted to the Turkish Cypriots last week so that harmonization is achieved in the laws and the administrative structure with the EU norms and regulations. He said that in this framework the EU officials conveyed to them their wish to start the harmonization work regarding 12 chapters.

    Mr Soyer said that they informed the EU officials that as government they will participate with great will in the works for these 12 chapters and that this issue is now on the agenda of the government. He noted that the journalists will be able to acquire more detailed information on this issue by the EU Coordination Centre within the next few days.

    Mr Soyer argued that the only negative development during their meetings in Brussels was the fact that the EU did not reply to the Greek Cypriot threats on the issue of Kosovo, but the officials from the office of Mr Rehn told the Turkish Cypriot delegation that they were sorry for this development and that they will try to plan a meeting again within the next few days.

    On his part, Mr Avci said that no obstacle will be able to make them abandon their EU target. He added that they attach great importance to their openings to the Islamic Conference Organization, the Arab countries and the EU member countries and noted that they will continue their efforts on this issue. He alleged that whatever the fanatic views of the Greek Cypriots may be, the Turkish Cypriots will continue their unification with the world in every field and develop their bilateral relations.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (21.12.07) refers to Mr Avcis statements under the title We have been opened abroad after many years and reports that Mr Avci strongly criticized the former Turkish Cypriot administrations. He alleged that the initiatives and efforts they are exerting now is the best policy of being opened to the world during the past 30 years.

    He noted: Since the first day we came to power I have been saying the following: Our understanding is not let us sit in Nicosia, sink into our political chairs and talk with the outside world when it comes to us. We have set off for the Turkish Cypriot people.

    Referring to the opening of the TRNC representation office in Rome, he said:

    The opening of a representation office in Rome will secure a great contribution to us. Italy is a very important country of the EU. Because Italy is a country with which many mutual approaches, cooperation and organizations could be made on the issues of tourism, trade, culture, education and art. I have seen these in all the visits I held. We have seen this in all the units with which we met and exchanged views. The Rome representation office is important from this point of view. The Italian citizens, the Italian non-governmental organizations, the MPs are very sensitive on the issue of the injustice which the Turkish Cypriots suffer and the isolation applied against us.

    Referring to the postponement of the meeting between the self-styled prime minister Soyer and the Commissioner responsible for the Enlargement of the EU, Olli Rehn, Mr Avci argued that this confirmed the double standards used by the EU.

    He argued: This move is considered as a continuation of the initiatives for not creating equal opportunities for the Turkish Cypriots and this is the biggest mistake of the EU. The solution will be found between two states, two peoples. No solution can be reached by excluding, ignoring the Turkish Cypriots with the pressure of the Greek Cypriot side. I am saying it again and again: no one can abolish the reality of two equal peoples in Cyprus.

    Mr Avci referred also to the developments in the internal politics in the occupied areas. He argued that nobody pays attention to what Serdar Denktas says anymore, because the leader of the Democratic Party has said that he would carry out a poll and he would resign if the result was in this direction. They said that they would resign on 20 December, but they did not do it, in spite of the fact that the result of the poll was in the direction of their resignation, argued Mr Avci.

    Referring to Mr Rasit Pertev and Mr Ahmet Yonluer, Mr Avci wished them luck in their future political life. He noted that his Freedom and Reform Party (ORP) will not be unified with any other party.

    He said: Serdar Denktas opened the debates regarding Ankara and said I went to Ankara and saw that the ORP openly receives the support of Ankara. That is, receiving Ankaras support gives us strength and pride. The Turkish Cypriot people came to these days with the support of Ankara for 40 years.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] The TRNC was represented in a medical conference which took place last week in the city of Exeter in Britain

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (21.12.07) reports that the TRNC was represented in a medical conference which took place last week in the city of Exeter in Britain by the Peninsula Medical School. The breakaway regime was represented by Dr. Umut Altunc, doctor at the occupied Famagusta Medical Centre and columnist in Kibris. Dr. Altunc said that the breakaway regime participated in the conference under the name of TRNC.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Turkish Cypriot businessman says that the occupied areas of Cyprus should be declared as a free trade zone

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (21.12.07) reports also that Ali Polatkan, businessman and owner of Polatkan Tourizm, has stated that in researches they have carried out it was established that a spark is needed for the economy of the breakaway regime to be put in order and this is the declaring of the occupied areas as a free trade zone.

    In statements yesterday, he said that there are four million tourists today only in Antalya and noted that the tourists after they visit the occupied areas of Cyprus they go to Dubai for shopping. He argued that in case the opportunities given to those tourists in Dubai are provided also in the occupied areas, they could come to the occupied part of Cyprus even if they had to swim.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Tickets have not been issued for two weeks now for the sea journey between the occupied port of Famagusta and Latakia

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (21.12.07) reports that tickets have not been issued for two weeks now for the sea journey between the occupied port of Famagusta and the Syrian port of Latakia. The paper wonders whether the trips have stopped and calls on the government to issue a statement on this matter.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Personal archives of Ecevit are opened to journalists

    Under the banner headline That night with handwriting, Turkish daily Hurriyet newspaper (21.12.07) reveals the notes that the Prime Minister during 1974 Mr Ecevit took during the so-called Cyprus Peace Operation on the 19th of July until the 20th. The paper under the subtitle Three hours before the operation writes: The time is 02:00 am. Three hours before the deployment of the troops to the island, that is before the beginning of the operation. Ecevit is meeting the mediator between Turkey and Greece and who is reluctant to the peace operation to Cyprus, the US Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs Joseph Sisco and the US Ambassador William Macomber.

    The paper continuous: Sisco transferred to Ecevit the message of the US Secretary of State Kissinger, We are open to all the alternatives in order to solve the problem. But [Sisco] by seeing Ecevit determined he said: If you continue your way you know the difficulties that you will encounter. The 80% of the island are Greek Cypriots. The USA is not a bad ally. Nor in the past was it a bad ally; and in the future it will not be.

    In its inside pages the paper adds, inter alia, the following under the title You made me go on a milk truck: Sisco starts the conversation and says: You may have heard some words before. We understand your worries. We know the history of Cyprus. On certain occasions we agreed with Turkey. He continues by explaining the atmosphere existing in Greece: They are aware about the seriousness of the situation. They are ready to negotiate, bargain and start a dialogue. In parallel they are preparing to fight as this is a situation that interests the army as well. America is opposing to direct or indirect ENOSIS.

    The paper writes also an incident which happened the night of the operation: The UK Prime Minister of that time Harold Wilson called Ecevit and said: You made me run from my house to Downing Street (the Prime Ministry). I could not even find a vehicle; I came to the Prime Ministry on a dairy truck.

    The paper also reports that a 7-man group from Abant Izzet Baykal University from the Department of Political Science will edit Ecevits book and prepare it for publication.

    Prof. Dr. Alemdar Yalcin is the contact between the group and Rahsan Ecevit. The proceeds of the book, reports the paper, taking into consideration Rahshan Ecevits sensitivities, will be shared between the Mehmetcik [Turkish army] Foundation and the Gulhane Military Medical Academy for buying especially up-to-date and modern operating room equipment.

    (EA / MHY)

    [06] Demirtas names his trial as the dark stain in the history of Turkish justice

    The New Anatolian newspaper (20.12.07) reports the following:

    Arrested leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) Nurettin Demirtas said the trial against him will be remembered as a dark stain in the history of Turkish justice.

    Demirtas who was detained upon his return to Turkey Monday night at the Esenboga Airport in Ankara, was arrested on Tuesday and will be tried by a military court on charges of forging documents to avoid military service.During his first testimony at the military court, he denied all the charges against him adding that he did need to defend himself as he did nothing wrong. "I am a political party leader. I stayed 12-13 years in prison between 1993 and 2006. Due to lack of knowledge on military and civilian procedures, I accepted some people's offer to help. I followed the procedures according to their directions. Some of these people might have bad intentions," he said.He noted that he is not a suspect but a victim in this incident. If convicted, he faces up to ten years in prison.

    Demirtas who was returning from a trip to Europe underwent medical check-up early on Tuesday and then sent to the military court for his arrest. The prosecutor reportedly said that Demirtas avoided conscription by forging a health report saying he had serious respiratory problems.

    But Demirtas has repeatedly denied allegations and links to the PKK terror organization adding that his medical report is genuine.

    Former leader of the party, Ahmet Turk who is the parliamentary chief of the DTP, said injustice in Turkey reached a peak with the arrest of Demirtas. Although his party has 20 seats in Parliament, Demirtas is not a legislator and has no immunity accordingly. Turkish men are required to serve in the army for up to 15 months after the age of 20 unless they have health problems that prevent them from fulfilling military duty.

    Demirtas also faces criminal charges for his speech on World Peace Day on Sept.1, where he accused the military of employing chemical weapons in an operation to oust PKK terrorists from Uludere, Sirnak, in southeastern Turkey.

    [07] Kurdish Parties and NGO's protest the Cross-Border operation

    Turkish Daily News newspaper (20.12.07) reports the following:

    A group of nongovernmental organizations and political parties criticized the military Wednesday for crossing the border to strike at terrorist targets and said operations do not solve the problem but only deepens it.

    The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), Party of Labor (EMEP), Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP), Socialist Democracy Party (SDP) and some NGOs objected to the military's operation in northern Iraq at a joint press conference.

    Reading out a statement on behalf of the group, SDP leader Filiz Kocali argued that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) garnered Kurdish votes in the July general elections after pledging to speed up democratic reforms and sending the message that it would not allow a cross-border offensive. She said the government failed to keep its pre-election promises.

    "The AKP has been pursing insincere policies regarding a solution to the Kurdish problem since the very beginning," she added. "Those who see cross-border operations as a solution to the Kurdish problem are challenging the chance of peoples' living together."

    The DTP's Diyarbakir deputy Akin Birdal, speaking to journalists after the conference, underlined that the Kurdish problem must be resolved through democratic and peaceful means. "The solution of the problem lies in Turkey and the Turkish Parliament," he added.

    Birdal urged everyone to make use of the positive opportunity attained in the aftermath of the July 22 elections. Asked if a general amnesty for members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) would bring benefits, Birdal claimed that the first step of societal peace was "general political amnesty."

    The government calls on terrorists to lay down arms and surrender under Article 221 of the Penal Code. In the face of opposition criticism, the AKP said it was not considering declaring a general amnesty but instead treating the PKK members by enhancing the existing repentance law.

    "This article (221) is a penitence law. This is not a law of returning to societal life, nor a peaceful law. Therefore, I don't believe that this law will provide an answer," said Birdal.

    [08] Iraqi Kurds pledge to defend civilians

    The New Anatolian newspaper (20.12.07) reports the following:

    Iraqi Kurds angered by American support to Turkey's limited cross border incursions into their territory to hit KK hideouts are saying their forces will defend civilians if they were caught up in any fighting between Turkish troops and Kurdish militants in the northern Iraq.

    On Tuesday, Turkey sent special troops across the border into the rugged mountains of northern Iraq, disclosing it inflicted heavy losses on the PKK militants in the small-scale incursion and in air strikes two days earlier.Turkish authorities said they detected a group of PKK militants trying to infiltrate into Turkish territory from northern Iraq late Monday night and responded immediately by engaging in hot pursuit.

    In a sign of increasing tension, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that more than 1,800 people fled their homes in parts of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdistan last weekend.

    Iraqi officials have complained that Turkey's actions are a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, although they also have said they recognize the threat posed by the PKK.

    "We are not part of the military dispute between Turkey and the PKK," said Jabar Yawar, a spokesman for Kurdistan's Peshmerga militia.

    Yawar said that "if there are any violations by Turkish troops against any secure civilian villages, the Peshmerga will do their job to defend their citizens."Tuesday's raid was the first confirmed Turkish ground operation targeting rebel bases inside Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003, though about 1,200 Turkish military monitors have operated in northern Iraq since 1996 with permission from local authorities.

    However, the incursion was not a large-scale push that some feared could destabilize a relatively calm part of Iraq and which is adjacent to the nation's main northern oil fields around Kirkuk.

    The militants have been waging a terrorist campaign in southeastern Turkey for more than two decades and use strongholds in northern Iraq for cross-border attacks. Turkey has said it can no longer tolerate the attacks on its troops, and in October Turkey's Parliament authorized the country's military to strike back at the PKK inside Iraq.

    In November, the Turkish military reportedly massed 100,000 troops along the border, and there were fears that a major Turkish offensive could cause civilian casualties and lead to conflict with the Peshmerga.The Turkish military issued a statement saying ground forces based close to the border crossed into northern Iraq after spotting a group of militants trying to infiltrate into Turkey overnight. "A heavy blow was inflicted on the group with the land forces stationed in the area," it said.

    The incursion came after Turkey launched air strikes by as many as 50 Turkish fighter jets Sunday against the PKK positions in northern Iraq.

    The military said it was not able to give the number of PKK militants who may have been killed during the air strikes, but maintained that "many facilities harboring the PKK were hit."

    U.S. military commanders in Iraq didn't know Turkey was sending warplanes to bomb in northern Iraq on Sunday until the planes had already crossed the border, said American defense and diplomatic officials, who were angered about being left in the dark. However, experts said the fact that the U.S. did nothing to stop the three hour long air operation showed some kind of tacit U.S. approval.

    Americans have been providing Turkey with intelligence to go after the PKK in northern Iraq, and a "coordination center" has been set up in Ankara so Turks, Iraqis and Americans can share information, U.S. officials in Washington have said. The latest ground incursion is small compared with Turkish offensives across the border during the 1990s, when Ankara launched a series of major air and ground attacks against rebel bases. In the most extensive campaign opened in March 1995 more than 35,000 Turkish troops pushed up to 35 miles into Iraqi territory.

    Meanwhile, France said on Wednesday that Turkey and Iraq must continue a dialogue they have engaged on the problem of the PKK.

    France noted that the European Union Presidency "has expressed worry about the military action recently undertaken by Turkey in Iraqi territory and has called it to show restraint," the French Foreign Minister indicated Wednesday."We understand the legitimate concern of the Turkish authorities in protecting their citizens," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani said in a press briefing Wednesday.

    "We are equally attached to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq. We consider that it is primordial that the dialogue engaged between the Turkish and Iraqi authorities is pursued," the French official said. She further stated that France "sides with Turkey in its fight against the PKK", which Andreani point out is "an organization that has been placed on the European list of terrorist entities."

    [09] Turkish Air Force commander on claims that civilian targets were hit in Northern Iraq

    Turkish daily Sabah newspaper (18.12.07) reports the following:

    The claims that were made after the air operation the Turkish military forces carried out two days ago were similar to those that were made after the 24 operations the military units launched in the past. It was said again that the military planes "attacked civilian targets and some people were killed."

    How has the Air Force, which carried out a successful operation, responded to the allegations?

    Air Force Commander Gen Aydogan Babaoglu responded to a question I put to him during our telephone conversation yesterday as follows: "The Air Force achieved its objective. Our chief of the General Staff has already made the necessary disclosure. I will only say this: What is important is the fact that the operation achieved its objective. The target was achieved through good planning."

    General Babaoglu declined to answer my questions on the number of military aircraft used in the operation, the number of sorties carried out, and the type of bombs that were dropped on the targets. He only said, "We used various types of munitions and systems."

    However, he noted: "It was a very sensitive operation. The Air Force is proud of the work our colleagues carried out. I am proud of my colleagues. I thank all my colleagues who contributed to the operation, from the planning stages to the execution of the military action. I called to thank them."

    Not a single bomb was dropped on the civilian population

    General Babaoglu then recalled the claims that "civilian targets and people were hit." Stressing that there was no deviation from the plan that was drawn up even for once, he asserted: "Not even a single bomb was dropped on a target outside the plan. What is said about civilian targets being hit are intentional reports. I have said that in the light of the information we have received from our intelligence units. Everything was in accordance with the plan. I wish to say that a civilian target was definitely not hit."

    General Babaoglu reiterated what he said when we had our second conversation during the day: "Not a single civilian target was hit."

    I recalled a conviction that existed like a city legend for many years: "Qandil Mountain cannot be hit because the bases where the military planes take off are far away from it." He briefly responded by saying: "The Qandil Mountain is not a problem."

    He then said that he wished to correct a report in the press yesterday. He asserted: "Everyone seems to be wrongly informed. Our F-4 planes also participated in the operation. As far as we are concerned, there is no difference between our pilots and military planes. All of them successfully fulfilled their duties in accordance with the plan that was drawn up for the operation."

    General Babaoglu, ended our conversation at that point.

    It must be quickly noted that the information given by the military forces is always right and sincere. However, that does not apply to the high-ranking officials of the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq. They claimed until recently that "no one lived in the area [Qandil Mountain] and described it as a restricted region (no man's land). But, they said yesterday that "civilian people live there."


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [10] Turkish Cypriot columnist argues that Mr Talat is worried about the foreign policy applied by the government

    Hasan Hasturer, columnist in Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (21.12.07) writes that as it is said at the political backstage, the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat is worried about the contacts abroad and the initiatives by the government and especially by the self-styled minister of foreign affairs, Turgay Avci.

    When someone sees the statements, especially recently, the Prime Minister Soyer is not worried about the initiatives of Turgay Avci, reports Mr Hasturer and suggests a meeting between the three men for an evaluation of the policy of the Turkish Cypriot side on the Cyprus problem. Mr Hasturer writes, inter alia, the following:

    In spite of the fact that Talat is not obliged to say that we do not want the recognition of the TRNC, he does it. Is this situation valid for the government? I think not. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Avci, completely on his own initiative, forced and secured the opening of a ferry line with Syria. A project of Mr Avci is the granting of the TRNC citizenship to two Italian MPs. And recently a representation of the TRNC in Rome was opened.

    Except the Embassy of the TRNC in Ankara, the representations in all the other centres, including London, are registered in that country as a formation having trade purposes. However, those countries know that it is a representation. In any case, the inscriptions on the doors write that it is a representation.

    The Prime Minister Soyer held contacts in Brussels and made statements. Soyer, who said If the EU recognizes the TRNC and makes it its member, we will have no objection, said, in a sense, something which Talat does not say. The CTP-ORP Coalition Government, even if it is concerned about the statements made by the Presidency, does not show any reaction. But, this situation is not valid for Talat. .

    (I/Ts.)

    [11] Columnist in Yeni Safak argues that between Turkey and Barzani the U.S. opted for Turkey

    Istanbul Yeni Safak newspaper (20.12.07) publishes the following by Abdulkadir Selv under the title No respite for the PKK:

    The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) destruction of the PKK camps on Qandil Mountain, and the cross-border operation with 700 commandoes that it conducted afterwards, have dealt a serious blow to the terrorists. Whenever a PKK presence is identified within the borders of Iraq, operations will be conducted immediately.

    Following the successful cross-border operation on 17 December, serious cracks in the regional alliances are opening up. The government obtained a one-year authorization from the TBMM [Turkish Grand National Assembly] for cross-border operations. This period was reflected exactly in the government directive issued to the TSK.

    In other words, until 17 October 2008, an operation can be conducted, and will be conducted, whenever a PKK presence is detected within the borders of Iraq. The cross-border operations are planned along two axes.

    1- Planned operations. The "Eagle Strike" operation conducted against Qandil on 17 December with 50 aircraft was a planned operation.

    2- As for the operation conducted by our special units entering by land on 19 December, this was an "operation of opportunity."

    An effective operation was carried out against the terrorist group that was detected.

    Following the operations, various units in Ankara are on alert. "Situation analyses" are being conducted in light of intelligence gathered from the region.

    When it emerged that Iraqi Regional Kurdish Government President Mas'ud Barzani was not going to meet with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, contact was immediately taken up with his close circle.

    It was determined that Barzani was very tense. In addition to not meeting with Rice, Barzani had also made comments calling for the United States to reassess the moral dimension of the relationship. Barzani was telling those close to him regarding the United States that "it is getting into three-way and four-way relationships. It is an immoral state."

    Did Barzani, who a year ago had been hosted at the White House, and who went from Iraq, which he had departed on the pretext of "dental treatment," to Austria, and had expected to be invited to the United States, then have to return from Austria empty-handed when the appointment that he waited three weeks for did not materialize?

    Following the 5 November meeting between [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and [US President George W.] Bush, the process is proceeding quite differently in terms of the regional balances.

    It has emerged that Erdogan's expectation that in the choice between Turkey and Barzani, Bush would choose Turkey was correct. The only country that was advised of the operation beforehand is the United States. Because since the day when the United States first invaded Iraq, the ability to carry out military operations on Iraqi territory has been granted only to Turkey.

    Well, was Barzani unaware of all these things? After all, Barzani gave implicit support for this operation against the PKK by cutting off its logistic resources.

    As for his stance of defying the United States, this is a show directed completely at the Kurdish public. Yet another point is that it is being evaluated as a step taken in order to forestall more extensive operations.

    It is being said that Barzani, in his behavior toward the United States, is vacillating between the line of "you cannot do anything in this region without us" and wooing it by saying "do not abandon us."

    [12] From the Turkish Press of 20 December 2007

    Following are summaries of reports and commentaries from the Turkish press of 20 December 2007 on issues of current Turkish political agenda:

    Military intervention in Northern Iraq: The Democratic Society Party, (DTP), other parties and certain nongovernmental organizations criticize the military for the cross-border operation, according to a report in the Turkish Daily News.

    Writing in Milliyet Sami Kohen denies the assessments that the real aim of the Turkish raid in northern Iraq was to establish a military presence in the area, or to eliminate the regional Kurdish administration, or to take control of the oil in Kirkuk. In his article, Sami Kohen insists that the operation was simply a part of the struggle against terror, and urges Turkish officials "to constantly explain to the world that the raid had a limited objective and scope." According to Kohen, "the Turkish Government strategy seems to aim at hitting the PKK militarily on the one hand and rendering it ineffective politically on the other." He calls on the government to take the belated political, economic, and social measures to help end terrorism.

    In a commentary in Vatan, Gungor Mengi praises the Turkish operation in that it refrained from hurting civilians and from damaging civilian property. The columnist compares this to the US troops in Iraq who were "like a bull in a china shop... and who caused the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians." Mengi calls on the Turkish Government to complement this military victory with economic and other measures in the southeast.

    In a four-line commentary on the issue entitled "The Summary of the Summary" in Milliyet, Dogan Heper writes: "The government's tactic against the PKK is successful and praiseworthy. The United States is on the way to regaining its prestige and friendship in Turkey. The Turkish army has shown what it is capable of, and that it is the most powerful player in the region. Barzani who until recently spoke insolently about Diyarbakir is now dazed and confused."

    In an article in Hurriyet, Cengiz Candar points out that the foreign press found the Turkish military operation useless and the Turkish media's praise of the operation uncalled for. The columnist wonders if the Justice and Development Party, (AKP), government is taking the right political steps at a time when the DTP leader is arrested, the Semdinli suspects are released and treated like heroes, and the AKP and other parties announce they will not visit the DTP on the occasion of the Bayram holiday. All this, Candar argues, help create tension and do not seem to be in line with a plan to solve the Kurdish problem.

    In an article entitled "Being right and powerful", Yeni Safak columnist Yasin Dogan describes the recent air strike against PKK camps in northern Iraq as a legitimate act and says: "The cross-border operation was a rightful move made by a powerful country with legitimate reasons. It would be wrong to assert that it was not appropriate." He emphasizes that description of the air strike as an unjustifiable and hostile act by the local government in Iraq was an allegation which could not be taken seriously because Turkey is taking the utmost care in order to avoid being accused of using excessive force.

    A report entitled "Pressure on PKK will not ease off", Yeni Safak says that new military operations may be conducted in northern Iraq by 17 October 2008 when mandate given by the Turkish Parliament to the government for conducting cross-border operations will expire. The report also highlights reports about Mas'ud Barzani's reactions to the air strike and policy toward the United States.

    In an article entitled "Could somebody be watching us while we watch Qandil?" Vakit columnist Ihsan Karahasanoglu writes about recent reports that a group of US officers have established a center for analyzing intelligence at the headquarters of the Turkish General Staff. He asks: "It may be true that the center used for displaying images shows every tiny detail about Qandil. But, are we sure that it does not communicate detailed information about the headquarters of the General Staff to the Pentagon? "Karahasanoglu also cautions that information which the United States may gather today may be used for blackmailing during a possible US military operation against Iran in the future.

    In an article entitled "Details", Milli Gazete columnist Hasan Unal says that allegations that the recent military operation was conducted by using intelligence provided by the United States are unfounded. He says: "It was proven once again that Turkey has sufficient intelligence in order to fight against the PKK across its borders. Although technical intelligence provided by the United States was useful to a certain extent, the capability of the Turkish Armed Forces to gather technical intelligence cannot be underestimated." Unal also notes that Turkey did not obtain prior permission from the United States for conducting the operation, but only informed it beforehand. Pointing out that the Turkish public is against the establishment of what he calls a puppet state in northern Iraq, he concludes by saying: "The United States should understand that they cannot maintain friendly ties with us if they establish a puppet state in this part of the region."

    Turkish U.S. relations: In an article in Sabah, Meliha Okur argues that Secretary of State Rice managed to bring together the Turkomans, Kurds, and Arabs in Kirkuk for the first time in 18 months. The three groups signed an accord, Okur states, under which they will be represented equally in the Kirkuk parliament, thus solving a major problem. The reason, according to the columnist, is that the United States does not want another problem in the Middle East. Okur opines that "whatever anybody says, the United States will not give up on Turkey."

    Writing in Sabah also, Soli Ozel maintains that a new era began in Turkish-US relations with the 5 November Erdogan-Bush meeting. In a 650-word commentary, Ozel argues that recent developments show that the United States is not insistent on the independence of the Kurds in north Iraq. The day Secretary of State Rice visited north Iraq, he writes, the Kirkuk referendum was postponed by another six months. On Turkish-US relations, the columnist argues that "Strategically, Turkey will be on the same axis with the United States and Israel on the one hand, and the conservative Arab states on the other." He predicts that "in return for the solution of the Kirkuk problem, Turkey will establish proper relations with the Iraqi Kurds. The United States, Turkey, and the Regional administration of Kurdistan will not let the PKK survive." In conclusion, the columnist cautions the Turkish Government to solve the Kurdish problem at home "within the framework of human rights, citizenship rights, democracy, and the state of law." If it misses this opportunity, Ozel warns, Turkey may endanger its own future.

    In an article entitled "Where do we stand in Turkish-US relations?", Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay says that it remains to be seen whether the recent air strike will pave the way for expelling Kurdish insurgents from northern Iraq although it seems to have delivered a severe below to the PKK's facilities in northern Iraq. Emphasizing that the political consequences of the military operation, including enhanced cooperation between Turkey and the United States were far more important than its military outcome, Alpay points out that military measures would not be sufficient to liquidate the PKK. He comments: "If the PKK is to be finished off, the Kurdish question must be resolved because the PKK is one of its by-products." Alpay concludes by saying that the Kurdish question cannot be resolved unless Kurds are allowed to express their demands through democratic channels freely and their culture is respected.

    Pianist Fazil Say statements: An online survey in Hurriyet shows that 45 percent of the readers think Fazil Say was right in saying "'Turkey is becoming so conservative that I may leave." Nevertheless, 75 percent believe that it would not be right for him to leave.

    In an editorial in the Turkish Daily News, Yusuf Kanli writes: "The attacks on Say by the pen slingers in the Islamist media indeed demonstrate how serious the threat the pianist was complaining of indeed is. The attacks on Say reflect how serious a growing religious intolerance problem we have in this country. Those attacks are no different than the attacks on non-Muslims as they represent the same repressive and oppressive mindset which this country should find a way to overcome."

    In Milliyet Dogan Heper writes that he agrees with Say's criticism, but rebukes him for opting to leave the country. In his commentary on the issue, the columnist maintains that creationism threatens the country, but stresses that the people should resist and fight it back.

    In an article entitled "Not the Islamists, Democracy won," Today's Zaman columnist Huseyin Gulerce writes about pianist Fazil Say's complaints about the Islamist climate in Turkey and says: "An elite clique in Turkey, also called the 'white Turks,' think that the changing and democratizing Turkey has ceased to be under their control. And because they see themselves as the real owners of the country, they are suffering from a 'defeatist syndrome.'" Gulerce says that Say and others who shares his views are not right in their fears, because democracy, rather than Islamists has won."

    Attack on Priest in Izmir: "For the religious officials of the minorities who have been living on this land since Istanbul's conquest, Turkey has become a land of fear," Can Dundar writes in his article in Milliyet. Listing the attacks on priests during the past two years, the columnist affirms that most of the aggressors are uneducated and poor youths between the ages of 16 and 20. Relating a recent conversation he had with the Greek Cypriot Patriarch, Dundar says they both agree that these youths are guided by unseen hands, or by the deep state.

    EG/


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