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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-01-04

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.3/08 04.01.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Turkish officials reiterate the position regarding the existence of two states in Cyprus during Talats visit to Ankara
  • [02] Avci interviewed by the Turkish Daily News
  • [03] Turkish Minister expresses his appreciation for the stance of Syria on the Cyprus problem
  • [04] Akinci says that the stance of the government on the issue of the Greek Cypriot-owned Dome Hotel is wrong
  • [05] The Turkish occupation army will plant 100 thousand trees in 2008
  • [06] Erdogan´s chief foreign policy advisor rules out bargain with US over PKK
  • [07] Turkish deputies in queue to enter the Turkish-American Friendship Group
  • [08] Claudia Roth argues with Bodrum hotelier on New Year´s eve
  • [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

  • [09] Columnist assesses Talats visit in Ankara and claims that Oman and Qatar are about to allow the TRNC to open a representation office in their soil
  • [10] From the Turkish Press of 3 January 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Turkish officials reiterate the position regarding the existence of two states in Cyprus during Talats visit to Ankara

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.01.08) reports that the Turkish President Abdullah Gul has announced that during his forthcoming meeting with the UN Secretary General in New York he will demand from Mr Ban Ki-moon to launch a new initiative on the Cyprus problem.

    In statements yesterday at the Presidential Palace in Ankara after his meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, Mr Gul said that they evaluated the stage at which the Cyprus problem is at the moment and held broad consultations taking into consideration the developments, which the year 2008 could bring.

    He argued that they take the UN principles and parameters as basis for the solution of the Cyprus problem and announced that he will demand from Mr Ban Ki-moon for the UN to be more active on the issue and to launch a new initiative for a comprehensive solution.

    Mr Gul reiterated that a viable solution in Cyprus depends on the realities of the Island, the existence of two separate people, two democracies and two states. He argued that in case a solution is found in Cyprus the cooperation of Turkey, Greece and Cyprus will be possible in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Mr Gul added: Turkey has always been supporting peace and tranquillity. I believe that the world public opinion will begin to act taking into consideration the realities of the Island. Mr Gul expressed also his belief that the so-called isolation applied on the TRNC will be lifted step by step and added that some progress has been made on this issue.

    He alleged that the TRNC made a step towards the solution and kept its promise. I remind the responsibility of the other sides to keep their promises now, he added.

    In his statements Mr Talat said that their meetings in Ankara were very useful and expressed his satisfaction. Mr Talat noted that after the Presidential elections in the Republic of Cyprus some initiatives will take place and these will determine the fate of the Cyprus problem. He said that Turkey and the TRNC should be prepared for every possibility.

    We observed that the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey are in complete agreement, in complete harmony, he added and alleged that the Turkish Cypriot side, with the support of Turkey, has undertaken serious initiatives for the solution of the Cyprus problem and made important steps.

    Mr Talat claimed: The Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey continued their efforts for a solution. In all platforms it has not changed its position that a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem should be found and this should be within the UN parameters, a new partnership to be established based on the bi-zonal political equality and it preserves this position today.

    Mr Talat said that the support of Turkey, both in the political and in the economic field will continue and added: As a people who live under isolation we seriously need this. The economic development in the world of globalization is now taking place with cooperation in the framework of which relations of mutual dependency will be formed. We do not have this. As Turkish Cypriots, on the one hand, we are part of the world, and, on the other, we are not. Because we have been isolated and cannot establish relations with the world, like a medieval country which is self-sufficient.

    Asked whether there is something concrete or an expectation at the moment for a comprehensive plan regarding the Cyprus problem, Mr Talat replied the following: Now it is of course an expectation. But this expectation is not ours. In any case you know that in the report which the Esteemed UN Secretary General submitted to the Security Council it is expressed that 2008 will be a year of interaction. Besides this, there is the general expectation in the international field. There will be elections in the Greek Cypriot side, some initiatives will be undertaken whatever the result of these elections is and these initiatives will determine the fate of the Cyprus problem. This could be turned into a comprehensive solution plan. In case it is not successful, it could open the way for new searches of solution. Therefore, as TRNC and Turkey we must be ready for every possibility. We are holding consultations for this.

    Kibris reports also that Mr Gul gave a lunch in Mr Talats honour at the presidential palace. In statements during the lunch he said that Turkey is determined and capable of carrying out its responsibilities as motherland and guarantor power so that peace and stability comes to the island and the Turkish Cypriots are secure and live in peace. Mr Talat said that there are signs that the international interest and support will increase in the near future for the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    The ambassadors of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Ethiopia to Ankara as well as members of other diplomatic missions were among the gusts at the lunch.

    Noting that the solution of the Cyprus problem will be based on the equality of the two sides, Mr Gul alleged: It is not possible for the Turkish Cypriots to abandon the right of administrating themselves, the equal status and the equal partnership which they gained as a result of a long and difficult struggle. It is a dream in vain to expect that the Turkish Cypriots will accept to live in the form of a protected minority. At the same time it is also a dream in vain to expect that motherland Turkey could remain a spectator to such a situation. ...The strengthening of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus with all its institutions and organizations and the raising of the prosperity level of the Turkish Cypriots is our common and unchangeable target.

    Mr Gul said that the developments in the economic field in the TRNC are pleasing and added that in spite of the obstacles, it develops its foreign relations and makes progress on the issue of being unified with the world. He argued that the representation offices of the TRNC which opened recently in various countries will contribute to making the voice of the Turkish Cypriots heard and to explaining their just cause. He reiterated that they expect the international community to made concrete steps on the issue of the lifting of the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.

    Furthermore, Kibris reports that Mr Talat met also with the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Before the meeting Mr Talat said that they evaluated the Cyprus problem with Mr Ali Babacan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief negotiator with the EU. He noted that they have always carried out evaluations with Turkey because we lead the Cyprus problem together.

    We preserve our position towards finding a comprehensive solution to this problem, based on the two founding states, just and permanent, he added.

    In his statements before the meeting, Mr Erdogan said that they would have the opportunity to discuss with Mr Talat the steps they will make in the fields of politics, culture, economy and trade.

    Kibris reports that Mr Talat met also with Koksal Toptan, Speaker of the Assembly, who said: Everybody will understand that Cyprus is right, that the isolations should be lifted. Everybody is in the situation of accepting that there are two separate democracies, two separate peoples, two separate republics, two separate states in Cyprus. Both Cyprus and Turkey are ready to discuss with those who accept this.

    Mr Talat reiterated his position for a new partnership based on the bi-zonality and political equality.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (04.01.08) refers to the visit of Mr Talat to Ankara and points out that he was received by State Minister Cemil Cicek and not by Mr Gul at the airport. Under the title The last description of the solution and the subtitle Yes to a new partnership state, the paper notes that during the meeting with Mr Toptan, Mr Talat described as follows the solution he wants in Cyprus:

    Not the continuation of the current situation, not a new partnership, a new partnership state. This is the equal status of the two states which will participate in the partnership state. The paper points out the following: From the words of Talat, who was careful not to use the word federation, it is not understood whether he wants a separate state or really a partnership state.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (04.01.08) refers to the visit of Mr Talat to Ankara under the title Message for unity in Ankara.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Vatan newspaper (04.01.08) notes that During the visit of President Talat in Ankara the officials of the Republic of Turkey have once more stressed the name of the solution in Cyprus: Two separate states.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen newspaper (04.01.08) under the title Important messages in Ankara refers to Mr Talats statement regarding the new partnership state based on bi-zonality and political equality.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Star Kibris newspaper (04.01.08) refers to the issue under the title The first red carpet for Talat and notes that there was an embargo against Mr Talat during President Sezers period.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Sozcu newspaper (04.01.08) refers to the visit of Mr Talat to Kemal Ataturks mausoleum under the title We are proud of being at your presence, noting that this was the first place which Mr Talat visited in Ankara.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Gunes newspaper (04.01.08) refers to Mr Guls statements under the title We are on TRNCs side.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Volkan newspaper (04.01.08) covers the issue under the title Two peoples, two states.

    Turkish Cypriot daily Bakis newspaper (04.01.08) refers to the statement of Mr Talat that the initiatives after the elections in the Republic of Cyprus will determine the fate of the Cyprus problem and wonders: Has the end come?!

    Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (04.01.08) refers to the issue under the title Two-state solution.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] Avci interviewed by the Turkish Daily News

    Turkish Daily News newspaper (03.01.07) reports the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    Since Avci was appointed as foreign minister and deputy prime minister 14 months ago, northern Cyprus has forged stronger relation with the world, especially with countries in the Middle East. In 2004 the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) referred to northern Cyprus as the Turkish Cypriot state in one of its resolutions. Since then, northern Cyprus has been participating in OIC meetings and hosted a visit by OIC officials in February 2007

    The European Union's approach to Cyprus by maintaining the isolation of northern Cyprus and by closely following the Greek Cypriot line is blocking the way to a solution of the Cyprus problem, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of northern Cyprus said.

    The EU has not kept the promises it made in 2004 after the majority of Greek Cypriots turned down the United Nations-sponsored peace plan. The isolation of northern Cyprus continues. The EU allows itself to be pressured by Greek Cypriots. Because of this, the EU is losing its credibility in the eyes of Turkish Cypriots. In fact, with this behavior, the EU is blocking the way to a solution, Professor Dr. Turgay Avci told the Turkish Daily News.

    Lifting the embargo the only way:

    As long as the EU persists in its current stance, there will be no solution to the Cyprus issue, Avci said. Greek Cypriots will not come to a just and equal solution as long as the EU continues its current approach. As long as the EU gives Greek Cypriots all its support, Greek Cypriots will demand to define Turks as a minority, which we will never accept. This is why the EU is the one blocking a solution, Avci said.

    The only way for the EU to show support for a solution on the island is to lift the embargo on northern Cyprus and allow direct flights between northern Cyprus and EU member states. This will enable the northern Cypriot economy to grow freely, Avci said. These are the things the EU should do if it sincerely wants a solution in Cyprus. Only the EU's change in policy will push Greek Cypriots to a solution.

    Lack of knowledge alarming':

    Accepting Greek Cyprus as a member of the EU despite the Greek rejection of the Annan plan in April 2004 was a major mistake by the EU, said Avci. The Annan Plan was supported by the United States, the EU and the U.N. as well as the rest of the world. The EU told Turkish Cypriots that if we voted yes, the isolation of northern Cyprus would be lifted. Whilst we voted yes, Greek Cypriots rejected the plan. However, it is now us who are being pressured and the Greek Cypriots prized for their behavior, Avci said. When you give one side everything and the other nothing, why should the one who has everything sit down and start sharing? he asked.

    In Avci's view, the EU approach shows a fundamental and alarming lack of knowledge by many EU politicians. Most EU parliamentarians who vote on issues relating to Cyprus are not familiar with the realities of Cyprus. Most of them only visit Greek Cyprus and think it is enough to comprehend the issues at stake. But this is not the case. As long as EU lawmakers close their eyes to the reality of both sides of the island, they will fail to comprehend the problem. With an approach like this, there can be no equality, and consequently, no solution, he said.

    The EU approach to land ownership:

    Avci also argued that the attitude of EU authorities toward land ownership on the island is discriminatory. To date, only some 30 million of the 258 million euros promised by the EU as financial aid to northern Cyprus has materialized. Avci said the main reason for this is the insistence of EU authorities on land ownership issues in northern Cyprus. The reason why much of the promised investments have not materialized is because EU authorities are always questioning what land the investment will take place on, saying they will have to ask the Greek Cypriot owners if they allow the investment. However, the same authorities are not interested if Greek Cyprus makes an investment on land that belongs to Turkish Cypriots such as the land of Larnaca Airport, Avci said. If EU authorities were sincerely concerned about land ownership on the island, they would also ask Turkish Cypriots for their permission when using Larnaca Airport because the real owners of the land of the airport are Turkish Cypriots, Avci said. As long as EU authorities maintain this disparity in approach to issues of land ownership, they are not accepting Turkish Cypriots as equals. If EU authorities will not accept us as equals, Greek Cypriots will never do that either. And as long as we are not accepted as equals there will be no solution, Avci added.

    Foreign relations take a leap:

    Since Avci was appointed as foreign minister and deputy prime minister 14 months ago, northern Cyprus has forged stronger relations with the world, especially with countries in the Middle East. In 2004 the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) referred to northern Cyprus as the Turkish Cypriot state in one of its resolutions. Since then, northern Cyprus has been participating in OIC meetings and hosted a visit by OIC officials in February 2007.

    The arrival of OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin 0hsanoglu and his team, representing 57 member states of the OIC, to northern Cyprus through Ercan Airport in February was an important opening for us, Avci said.

    In May, Avci also participated in the 34th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad, Pakistan. At the conference, the OIC decided to strengthen bilateral relations between the OIC and northern Cyprus. The OIC has also decided to support northern Cyprus by organizing a tourism forum here in early 2008.

    The most recent evidence of the closer ties between the OIC and northern Cyprus is the visit of president of the OIC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Saleh Bin Abdullah Kamel, who flew directly from Dubai to northern Cyprus on his private jet in November.

    Avci noted that the Greek Cypriot administration has actively protested to the OIC secretariat and various Arab countries about their deepening cooperation with northern Cyprus. Greek Cyprus is trying to prevent northern Cyprus from having relations with the outside world and convince the OIC and Arab countries not to have relations with us, Avci said.

    Relations with Syria:

    An important recent development was the opening of a ferry route from Famagusta to Latakia in Syria in late October. The sea route was revived after a hiatus of 30 years. The [ferry] link is very important to northern Cyprus because it is not just a ferry but it is also a bridge between northern Cyprus and the Middle East, Avci said.

    Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou Marcoullis voiced her opposition to the ferry run during her visit to Damascus in early November. Greek Cypriots have protested against this boat connection on all possible levels. But the [ferry] link has not broken down, and I believe it never will, Avci said.

    Italian support:

    Northern Cyprus has also made major strides in Europe. In September, the deputy leader of the Italian Transnational Radical Party, Marco Perduca, and party deputy, Maurizio Turco, took up northern Cypriot nationality and provoked a discussion of the Cyprus issue among Italian politicians. By becoming citizens of the Turkish Republic of northern Cyprus, Perduca and Turco wanted to support the northern Cypriot state and to protest the EU's failure to keep the promises it made to Turkish Cypriots after the Greek Cyprus rejection of the EU-backed Annan Plan.

    Both Perduca and Turco visited northern Cyprus last summer. They were surprised to see a place full of development, technology, universities and infrastructure because they had thought that northern Cyprus is underdeveloped and full of military troops, Avci said. During their visit Perduca and Turco gained an understanding of the reality of the Cyprus issue: The isolation and the unfair treatment of Turkish Cypriots. On my trip to Italy in September, I gave them northern Cyprus citizenship and held a press conference inside the Italian parliament, Avci said. In Italy, Avci met Emma Bonino, the Italian minister for international trade and European affairs, and Famiano Crucianelli, the undersecretary of foreign affairs. Avci also gave a live interview on Italian state-run TV channel RAI. This cooperation culminated in the opening of a representative office of northern Cyprus in Rome late December. I thank Italian authorities for accepting us and giving us the opportunity to talk. I call on other EU countries to do the same because a solution can be found only if both parties accept it, Avci said.

    Network of representative offices to grow:

    In 2008, northern Cyprus will open new representative offices abroad. In 2007, the northern Cypriot government opened representative offices in Rome and Doha, Qatar and received permission from the governments of Kuwait and Oman to open offices in Kuwait City and Muscat. We expect to have representative offices in all countries in the future. This is feasible because we already have representative offices in Washington, New York, Brussels, London, Rome, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. No country should hesitate in this regard as we already have offices in the EU, the United States and OIC countries, Avci said. Northern Cyprus is also making efforts to have its passport accepted at all international borders. We can now travel with our passports to the United Kingdom and the United States, to France, to Azerbaijan, to Kyrgyzstan and to a number of Middle Eastern countries. Why not to other countries also? Avci said. The countries that would open the door to us would not be the first.

    [03] Turkish Minister expresses his appreciation for the stance of Syria on the Cyprus problem

    Under the title Thanks to Syria for the ferryboat, Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.01.08) reports that the Turkish Minister of Transports, Binali Yildirim met yesterday in Ankara with his Syrian counterpart, Yarub Suleyman Bedr. Mr Yildirim said: A very loud voice against the unjust embargo towards the TRNC came from Syria. We appreciate this. He reminded that Turkey has the longest land border with Syria and added that developing its relations with this country will be normal.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] Akinci says that the stance of the government on the issue of the Greek Cypriot-owned Dome Hotel is wrong

    Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (04.01.08) reports that Mustafa Akinci, MP with the Communal Democracy Party (TDP), has criticized the stance of the government on the issue of the Dome Hotel. In statements yesterday at the assembly, Mr Akinci said that the decision for the Dome Hotel is wrong. He noted that only in four out of thirty years the hotel suffered losses.

    He noted that for a period of ten years the hotel was 62 % full and added that this is a great success in comparison with the other hotels in the occupied areas. He argued that it is not wrong for the Evkaf religious foundation to possess a business and administrate it in a successful manner. Mr Akinci said also that the operation of the hotel with the method of partnership will be the first step of its privatization.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] The Turkish occupation army will plant 100 thousand trees in 2008

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (04.01.08) reports that the Turkish occupation army has announced that it will plant 100 thousand trees in the occupied areas of Cyprus during 2008. In a written statement issued yesterday, the occupation army said that it planted 78 thousand trees in 2007.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] Erdogan´s chief foreign policy advisor rules out bargain with US over PKK

    Turkish daily Today´s Zaman newspaper (04.01.08) reports the following:

    Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkish chief foreign policy advisor to the Prime Minister, has dismissed charges that the United States had agreed to cooperate with Turkey in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in return for certain assurances from Ankara in a give-and-take bargain.

    There has been neither any demand -- secret or open -- from the United States nor assurances from Turkey, Davutoglu told CNN Turk late on Wednesday. According to Davutoglu, the architect of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government's foreign policy, a country is bound to lose if it engages in bargaining with other countries to secure help with its terrorism problem. There can be no bargaining over the issue of terrorism, he said.

    The United States, which has long turned a blind eye to Turkish calls for action against the PKK in Iraq, eventually agreed to provide real-time intelligence about the PKK and gave the Turkish military airspace clearance for air strikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq. The cooperation followed a meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President George W. Bush on Nov. 5 during which Bush called the PKK an enemy of Turkey, of the United States and of Iraq.

    As the military launched air strikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq in mid-December, the government also announced plans to broaden the scope of an existing amnesty law to encourage members of the PKK to quit the terrorist group and to expand freedoms for Kurds in the new Turkish constitution, still in the preparation process. Amnesty and reform plans have sparked media speculation that Erdogan pledged to Bush at the Nov. 5 meeting to take those steps at the request of the United States.

    Davutoglu, however, rejected the charges and said that US cooperation against the PKK was not solely a product of the White House meeting. He explained that Turkish-US relations were finally being based on a healthy foundation, for the first time since the end of the Cold War. In the past, the United States was positioned as the decision-maker in the Turkey-US relationship and Turkey as its ally that blindly supported decisions made in Washington, he went on to say. Over the past five years, on the other hand, Ankara has come up with sound proposals to aid the solution of the Iraq crisis and other deep-seated disputes in the Middle East, boosting its credibility in the region as well as US confidence in Turkey's ability to influence developments in that region.

    Today, he said, Turkey's support for US policies is no longer seen as taken for granted and Ankara is consulted on key policies concerning its region.

    Davutoglu also said Turkey's relations with the United States cannot be confined to one single issue, namely the Kurdish issue, saying this would be a narrow-scale approach to the two countries' ties. He suggested that Iraqi Kurds, accused by Ankara of supporting the PKK, had dreamt of an independent state assuming erroneously that the US was on their side. Today, it is seen that this is not the case. The US administration is not in favor of the disintegration of Iraq, he said, adding that in his view Iraq is drifting away from disintegration and the security situation in the country is also improving.

    Turkey's policy toward northern Iraq is based on the premise of security for all, he said and warned Iraqi Kurds against attempts to seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk at the expense of the wishes of the city's non-Kurdish residents. Playing with Kirkuk is like playing with an atomic bomb. Turmoil there could engulf the whole of Iraq, he said.

    As chief policy advisor to the prime minister, Davutoglu has promoted an active Middle East foreign policy and has worked to improve ties with regional countries, ignored throughout much of the history of the Turkish Republic. He was a key actor in efforts to convince Iraqi Sunnis to end their boycott of the political normalization process and to take part in the Iraqi elections in 2005. He is also leading ongoing closed-door efforts to mediate between Israel and Syria.

    [07] Turkish deputies in queue to enter the Turkish-American Friendship Group

    Turkish daily Today´s Zaman newspaper (04.01.08) reports the following:

    Most deputies from the Turkish Parliament have applied to become members of the Turkish-American Friendship Group.

    The fact that the US has now declared the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) a "joint enemy" of the two nations has increased interest and warmth from the deputies towards their US counterparts.

    Tension in Turkish-American relations, which escalated following the US occupation of Iraq, has begun to lessen in recent months. One of the signals of the "spring thaw" in relations between Turkey and the US is the sheer number of applications from Turkish deputies to join the parliamentary friendship group working with both the US Congress and the Turkish Parliament. This in light of the fact that the growing anti-American stance in Turkey had become so pronounced in recent times that it was a main topic on the agenda of meetings between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and officials in Ankara during Rice's recent visit to Turkey. Rice at the time asked the Turkish government to try and take precautions against this growing trend.

    Following the Nov. 5 meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President George W. Bush at the White House, however, the tense relations between Turkey and the US began to soften. In the preceding legislative period, there were some members of the Turkish-American Friendship Group who resigned, while mass resignations by Turkish deputies from the Turkey-Israel Friendship Group brought that group to a halt. But the announcement by President Bush in November that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was in fact the "joint enemy" of both the US and Turkey appeared to spark a softening of the hardened stance in Turkey. This stance was further softened after the US shared intelligence that helped Turkish military forces eliminate PKK camps in northern Iraq, an event which seems to have had an overwhelmingly positive effect on the Turkish people when it comes to its view of the US.

    The American-Turkish Friendship Group, whose renewed formation comes in the run-up to President Abdullah Gul's trip to the US to meet with Bush, has so far attracted 373 applications for membership out of a total of 548 deputies in Parliament. In fact, the interest in membership has been so overwhelming that even Parliament leadership has reportedly been quite surprised.

    In the meantime, elections to choose a president for the Turkish side of the friendship group were attended by 190 deputies two days ago in Ankara. Whether or not the AK Party's Mevlut Cavusoglu, a candidate to lead the Turkish side of the transatlantic friendship group, will in fact take the helm of this group has been left for the next meeting. The goal right now is to select the leaders of this group before Gul's upcoming US visit.

    Friendship groups with 98 nations being formed

    The current Parliament, a product of the July 22 general elections, has resolved to form friendship groups of the type formed with the US Congress with 98 nations around the world. This marks the first such effort by Parliament, which so far has shied away from forming such groups with nations that have either no parliamentary system or have other political problems that concern Turkey. Among nations that currently do enjoy friendship groups with the Turkish Parliament are Tanzania, Ghana and even small Djibouti.

    The most problematic friendship group that existed during the preceding 22nd legislative period was the Turkey-Israel Friendship Group. Every single Turkish deputy member of this group resigned at once in protest over Israel's stance toward Palestine. There was also a spate of resignations by Turkish deputies from the Turkey-America Friendship Group, though not on the level that occurred with the Israel group.

    [08] Claudia Roth argues with Bodrum hotelier on New Year´s eve

    According to Turkish daily Milliyet (02.01.08) the co-chairman of the German Green Party, Claudia Roth, had an argument with Mr Murat Seremetli, a hotelier from Bodrum, who said to Roth Why did you come here? You should have celebrated the New Year in Diyarbakir with your friends in the southeast. Mr Seremetli said these to Roth while she was having dinner with her Turkish friends in Bodrum, western Turkey, in a restaurant.

    The paper further writes that Claudia Roth has a villa in Bodrum while Mehmet Seremetli who was former chairman of the Bodrum Hoteliers and Tourism Operators Association, lived in Germany for 30 years. He is married to a German. Roth said to Mr Seremetli: I came here to enjoy and not to engage in politics. I bought a house here and when I find the chance I come here near my friends and I relax. This question of yours has neither meaning nor is it important and she left the restaurant. In his turn Seremetli defended his action and said that he was not rude. He concluded by saying that he was forced to leave the restaurant after the incident, notes the paper.

    (MHY / EA)


    [B] Commentaries, Editorials and Analysis

    [09] Columnist assesses Talats visit in Ankara and claims that Oman and Qatar are about to allow the TRNC to open a representation office in their soil

    Under the title Gul: Greece is included in the solution in Cyprus, Turkish daily Radikal newspaper (04.01.08) publishes the following commentary by Murat Yetkin:

    Ankara being aware of the fact that, it is clear that 2008 will be a difficult year for Cyprus and the EU issues, has opened a new page in Cyprus policy. The major elements of this page are: partnership solution with two states and Greece to be part of the solution. Yesterday, we have become witness of the opening of this new page at the Cankaya Mansion before President Abdullah Gul pays a visit to the U.S. President George Bush and the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

    The lunch given by President Abdullah Gul on the occasion of the visit of the TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat was important from several points of view.

    For example, Talat was given full official visit Protocol --that is Protocol A. Protocol A means: 21 gun shots, the welcoming by the presidential palace guard and hosting at Camli Kosk within the Cankaya Mansion.

    Before this, only Rauf Denktas - and this once - was welcomed in this way. And again, within this framework the Chief of the General Staff, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit was planned to visit today Talat at the Camli Kosk. Ankara has shown with this symbolism that it was giving full support to Talats political will. (Yesterday Buyukanit was extremely joyful. When the reporters asked him on details on the cross-border operation, Buyukanit tried to change the subject by speaking about football and his young grandchild).

    Second, and maybe this is more important than the first, it is the first time that foreign ambassadors attended a ceremony given in honour of the Turkish Cypriot President. These ambassadors come from countries: members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Middle East, the Caucasus and Asia. Ambassadors from eight countries: Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Libya and Ethiopia and representatives from four countries: Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Albania were present in the ceremony. Following its acceptance in the OIC under the status of observer, the TRNC has opened representation offices in 14 countries with Oman and Qatar to follow.

    Subtitle: Greece is included in the solution

    Third is the political aspect. Both Gul and Talat in their speeches have particularly stressed on a solution based on two communities, two democracies and two states. This shows that Ankara and Nicosia have adopted a common arrangement as regards the policy of Cyprus. Talats announcements on two founding states and Guls inevitable political equality and Greece also to be a part of the procedure are part of this process.

    This situation means also a change in the policy of separately taking up the Cyprus and the Aegean issues during the last 15-20 years. Gul by openly saying The vision of the solution of the Cyprus problem to include Greece made an indirect call to Athens.

    At this point let me explain the background of the timing of the visit, of the lunch and of the plan. The decision of Gul to invite Talat for an official visit during the second half of December was taken during the days which the attacks against PKK targets Iraq had started and the full attention of the Turkish Armed Forces was towards this direction. During the same days, I also recalled that the General Staff issued an announcement regarding the violations in the Aegean. Also, Bushs invitation to Gul and related to it Guls meeting with the UN Secretary General has become final during the same days.

    The idea to announce Turkeys newest stance prior to the U.S. visit and the elections in the Greek Cypriot Republic which are going to be held in March (Tr. Note: February) belongs to President Gul. In the same way, Talats welcome under Protocol A and the presence of foreign ambassadors to this invitation came again from Gul.

    Of course the presence of the guests does not mean the recognition of the TRNC. Besides, it could also be said that the democratic countries of the West were not present among the countries which attended. But friends are those who come during difficult times and the solidarity is valuable in difficult times. Italy gave permission and a TRNC representation office was opened in Italy, but Italy is unable to recognise the TRNC because it is an EU member country. This should be considered an important start as the TRNC is finding international support.

    One should not forget that in 1920 the government of the Grand National Assembly was first recognised by Afghanistan.

    (ML/MHY)

    [10] From the Turkish Press of 3 January 2008

    Following are summaries of reports and commentaries from the Turkish press of 03/01/08 on issues of the current political agenda:

    a) Gul's Visit to the US: The Turkish-American rapprochement initiated by the Erdogan-Bush meeting on 5 November will continue in 2008 with the Gul-Bush meeting in Washington on 8 January, says a Sabah report, adding that Deputy Chief of the General Staff Ergin Saygun will also pay a visit to the Pentagon on 24 January for the High-Level Defense Group meeting.

    A Vatan report on the Bush-Gul meeting writes that after the meeting, Bush will host a luncheon for Gul as a sign of the importance Bush attaches to the visit.

    In Aksam an editorial by Serdar Turgut under the title: "Gul's US Visit" argues that the purpose of Gul's visit is hard to understand, wondering why Bush himself did not choose to visit Turkey since he will already embark on a Middle East tour soon after meeting Gul. The columnist doubts there is anything new to discuss on the PKK issue, speculating that Gul may have wanted to visit Washington to simply give the message that he has as much a say on foreign policy as Erdogan.

    In Vatan columnist Gungor Mengi believes it is wrong for Gul to visit Washington, especially for "a short meeting and a quick lunch," as Erdogan already got what Turkey wanted from the United States and there is currently no urgent problem between the two countries needing immediate solution. In his column, Mengi believes it would have been more meaningful if the visit was organized after Bush's Middle East tour, for in that case Gul would have learned the latest developments in the region.

    Referans columnist Cengiz Candar says in his column under the title: "Which Washington Is Gul Visiting?" that it seems Turkey wants to go beyond repairing ties with the United States and is trying even to consolidate 2008 as "the American year." Noting that Gul is now visiting a United States that has, with Rice's efforts, returned to its former normal self after the demise of most of neo-conservatives, Candar says the strengthening of Rice's position does not, however, translate into the strengthening of the American foreign policy; though she is a "realist" she does not seem to have any "B plan" for either Pakistan or the Middle East problems and, therefore, she is bound to go down in history as an "unsuccessful and weak" secretary of state. For all these reasons, Candar adds, it would be salutary both for Gul, Turkey, and Turkish-US relations if the success of Gul's visit to Washington were not mortgaged to the current administration.

    In a column in The New Anatolian under the title: "President Should Not Be Treated Like a PM in US," Ilnur Cevik also expresses "misgivings" about Gul's visit, saying: "This columnist organized two such visits of Suleyman Demirel to the United State in close collaboration with the U.S. embassy and the White House in the 1990s and thus knows the intricacies of such visits. A presidential visit has a deep meaning and should be a serious state affair. Gul should not be going there like a foreign minister or a prime minister. Such state visits have ceremonial qualities and are not working visits. The president should be able to address the congress or should be treated to an official function like a famous state dinner. But none of these are happening. So Gul could have visited the U.S. when such conditions are met."

    b) New Year Celebrations: In his commentary in Hurriyet Yilmaz Ozdil comments on the harassment of foreign women tourists by Turkish men during New Year celebrations in Istanbul. Commenting on this "shameful" incident that ended with the payment of a small fine by the men involved and criticizing Turkish courts that put the blame on women and pass light sentences on rapists, Yilmaz Ozdil states in his column under the title: "Kill the Harlot" that women with uncovered heads are now regarded as potential prostitutes in Turkey. "The psychology of cover yourself up and feel safe" is spreading fast, the columnist adds and criticizes the police for failing to come to the help of foreign women who took shelter in nearby shops and taxis.

    Columnist Oktay Eksi in his editorial in Hurriyet under the title: "What Sort of an Education Is This?" writes that what happened in Istanbul on New Year´s Eve was a scandal. After also noting that five nude portraits were knifed in an art exhibition [in Mersin], a Turk acted rudely against German Greens deputy leader Claudia Roth who was passing her New Year vacation in Turkey, and the wife of a Russian diplomat was also harassed lately, Eksi bemoans the lack of social upbringing in Turkey and seconds the Russian diplomat's advice that Turkey should educate its young men.

    In his column for Hurriyet under the title: "Two Different Turkeys" Mehmet Y. Yilmaz believes that what happened in Istanbul was the result of the mentality that does not consider women to be equal to men. He also points out that pro-Erbakan forces are now organizing "Brotherhood Nights" supposedly to mark the anniversary of the conquest of Mecca but actually as an alternative to the New Year celebrations.

    Under the column "Girl Playing Virgin Mary" in Hurriyet, Ertugrul Ozkok says that while in the Gulf countries 1st January is a holiday, the Saudis go there to see the Santa Claus, and a Moslem girl plays the role of Virgin Mary in a sketch, in Turkey some clerics have been issuing prohibitions against New Year celebrations. Ozkok also refers to Vakit newspaper's claim that the New Year is a Christian tradition, adding that what surprised him most was Zaman columnist Ekrem Dumanli's detached approach to New Year celebrations. Ozkok wonders if Turkey is losing its "modern Islam" role to the Gulf countries.

    c) Activities of Fethullah Gulen and other Movements: Cumhuriyet newspaper reports that the Medya Group of Fethullah Gulen is going to establish a television channel in South Africa called "Light-Isik". The report notes that the Gulen congregation has also a television station in Kenya and that it runs 40 Turkish schools in South Africa. The paper adds that some 50,000 students are studying in Gulen's 100 schools around the world.

    Vatan columnist Rusen Cakir dwells on the reasons why Al-Qa'ida considers Turkey its enemy. He argues that Al-Qa'ida is targeting Turkey because Turkey is the most modern and secular Islamic country. Yet, he adds, the Turkish society is not aware of this danger because for it the PKK is the only terror organization and because it has conflicting views on Al-Qa'ida. He also wonders which organization will take the place of the PKK once it is eliminated. He believes Hizbullah is most likely to take PKK's place, and as such Hizbullah will be one of the most talked subjects in 2008. Cakir also says in 2007 the most talked subject in Turkey was the Fethullah Gulen congregation and it will remain one of the main subjects of discussion because this congregation has now infiltrated the economy and state bureaucracy and has become the third most powerful force in Turkey after the government and the army.

    Under the headline, "Azeri lodge to be set up by Turkish brothers," Yeni Safak publishes a front-page report which asserts that the Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Turkey has announced that it has laid the groundwork for the establishment of a Masonic grand lodge in Azerbaijan. According to the report, freemasonry was banned in Azerbaijan during the time of the Soviet rule and the leadership of Haydar Aliyev.

    According to an article in Vakit entitled "Imams take steps to establish Media watch centre", the Union of Religious Affairs Officials, Diyanet-Sen, is preparing to establish a media watch centre to protect the rights of Muslim clerics in Turkey against mainstream media outlets that "treat imams with scorn" and continuously place them in the crosshairs of public hostility. The report details the disclosures of several Diyanet-Sen officials to Vakit about the "pressures" on imams in this country.

    In an article entitled "The biggest danger facing Turkey", Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanli warns that the recent arson attacks on cars in cities appear to be part of a "secret and insidious" plan by certain "deep" forces to undermine stability in Turkey and neutralize the results of the recent military operations against the PKK as well as the "diplomatic success" signified by the securing of international support for the latest strikes against the terrorist group.

    In Vatan Salih Evcilerli, the Grand Master of the Free and Accepted Masonic Lodge says more young Turks are now joining the Masonic movement, and that in order to accommodate the growing membership they are going to open a new lodge on the Anatolian side of Istanbul. According to the Vatan report, Mr Evcilerli made this statement to the Masonic movement's "Tesviye Magazine" on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Masonic movement to be marked in 2009.

    d) Rewriting the History of the Middle East: The Research Center for Islamic History, Art, and Culture, (IRCICA) which comprises 22 Arab countries and Turkey, has started rewriting a peaceful version of the Middle East history. The organization will review history textbooks published by these countries to harmonize historic information. The Arabs and Turks will rewrite the 400-year Ottoman history together. The project is first being applied to Turkey and Syria. A report to this effect in Star adds that for the last six months Turkish and Syrian experts have been perusing history books in a room in Yildiz Palace in Istanbul to identify and eliminate from the textbooks hostile sentences found against each other. One hostile sentence found in Syrian textbooks was the description of eastern Anatolia as the "Armenian Highlands" and the Ottoman Empire as a warring and stagnant state. The report says the IRCICA is also working with the Europeans to change hostile images in textbooks.

    e) Arms smuggling:

    In an article entitled "Turkeygate", Vakit columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak comments on the "international scandal" unveiled by recent news reports about a "$40 billion arms smuggling" scheme and the "shady" and "deep" network of relationships centered around the late CIA operative Dale Stoffel and Turkish businessman Ahmet Ersavci. He highlights sections in a recent article by Yeni Safak columnist Ibrahim Karagul describing Turkey as one of the centers of the illegal "traffic" that has been taking place within this network and questions why neither the Turkish government nor "the dissident wing of the US administration" has initiated a probe into this issue.

    EG/


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