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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 08-08-25

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. 161/08 23-24-25.08.08

[A] NEWS ITEMS

  • [01] Turkish Minister has reportedly publicly imposed his will on a self-styled minister in occupied Cyprus
  • [02] The breakaway regime is reportedly preparing a new equivalent property law regarding the Greek Cypriot properties issue
  • [03] Turkish Cypriot official confessed that the stone quarries on occupied Pentathaktylos mountain range cannot be closed down due to legal obstacles
  • [04] A new casino was opened in occupied Keryneia by a Turkish businessman
  • [05] Archeologists and the inhabitants of occupied Galinoporni village demand the old school of the village to be turned into museum
  • [06] Kibrisli brings onto the agenda the issue of Turkey acquiring a sovereign base in Cyprus, while no one says anything on the matter
  • [07] Sanlidag asked from Turkey to register halloumi cheese in Turkey as a Turkish Cypriot product.
  • [08] Serdar Denktas reiterates his partys opposition to single sovereignty and single citizenship
  • [09] The new monthly minimum wage in the occupied areas was increased
  • [10] Turkey to buy S-300 systems for testing
  • [11] Turkish and Russian Foreign Ministers to meet early September
  • [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

  • [12] Foreign policy challenges for Turkey
  • [13] From the Turkish Press of 22, 23 and 24 August 2008

  • [A] NEWS ITEMS

    [01] Turkish Minister has reportedly publicly imposed his will on a self-styled minister in occupied Cyprus

    Under the title You will not see, you will do it, Turkish Cypriot daily Ortam newspaper (25.08.08) reports that the Turkish Minister of Transport, Binali Yildirim, has asked that the land on which the Artemis Hotel is built and belongs to the self-styled municipality of occupied Galatia village to be transferred to the Artemis Hotel. The paper notes that the area has been occupied by the hotel illegally and it was fenced all round.

    During his recent visit to the area, Mr Yildrim asked from the self-styled minister of environment, Mustafa Gokmen to solve the matter. To Mr Gokmens saying we shall see sir, Binali Yildirim got angry and instructed Mr Gokmen in a hard language saying you will not see, you will do it. According to the paper, after this instruction, Mr Gokmen said nothing and turned his eyes to the ground. Those who were present at the incident were astonished and shocked, reports Ortam noting that the municipality of Galatia and the occupied Trikomo district officer are for some reason refraining from taking the issue to the court.

    The TRNC government which is accepting whatever the authorities of Turkey are saying and gives the profile of a collaborator government, remained once more helpless and powerless in front of an illegal practice and attempted to implement the order of the minister from Turkey, writes Ortam.

    (I/Ts.)

    [02] The breakaway regime is reportedly preparing a new equivalent property law regarding the Greek Cypriot properties issue

    Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Volkan newspaper (25.08.08) reports that the breakaway regime is preparing a new equivalent property (ITEM) law regarding the property issue. According to the paper, the self-styled interior minister, Ozkan Murat submitted a draft-law for the amendment of the existing ITEM law to the council ministers on 13 March 2007.

    Yeni Volkan reports that it acquired the text of the proposal which is allegedly serving the property policy of the Greek Cypriots and abandons the Turkish Cypriots to the mercy of the Greek Cypriot Administration, as the paper describes the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

    According to the draft-law, those Turkish Cypriots who have abandoned property in the free areas of the Republic may renounce the rights given to them by the equivalent property law and return to their property in the free areas of the island on the condition of returning the properties they were given in the occupied areas of the island with the points they gained for their property in the free areas. The paper argues that this will be a step for eliminating bi-zonality.

    (I/Ts.)

    [03] Turkish Cypriot official confessed that the stone quarries on occupied Pentathaktylos mountain range cannot be closed down due to legal obstacles

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (25.08.08), under the title Sad confession, reports that Durali Elal, permanent undersecretary of the self-styled ministry of environment and natural resources, has said that due to legal obstacles the stone quarries on occupied Pentathaktylos mountain range cannot be closed down.

    In statements to Kibris, Mr Elal noted that the stone quarries cannot be closed down because of the laws which exist since the year 1945. He added that there are also problems in the contracts with the owners of the stone quarries. He pointed out that there is no article in the agreements which provides for the unilateral annulment of the contract in case of non-compliance with the laws.

    (I/Ts.)

    [04] A new casino was opened in occupied Keryneia by a Turkish businessman

    Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika newspaper (25.08.08) reports that another casino has been opened in the occupied area of Keryneia. Under the title North Cyprus is not satisfied with the roulettes, the paper notes that Murat Selek, Turkish businessman from Antalya who opened the new casino, said: We have merged the beauties of the island with our investments. We have brought a new dimension to the casino business.

    It was announced that the cost of the casino, which was opened in the Dedeman Kyrenia Olive Tree hotel, reached two million dollars. Mr Selek said that tourists from Israel, Russia, Iran, Syria and many European countries are visiting the casino. The time has come for putting the picture of roulette on the flag of the TRNC. The roulette republic is proceeding with firm steps, notes Afrika.

    (I/Ts.)

    [05] Archaeologists and the inhabitants of occupied Galinoporni village demand the old school of the village to be turned into museum

    Turkish Cypriot daily Halkin Sesi newspaper (25.08.08) reports that due to the hundreds of antiquities unearthed in the area of Galinoporni village during the Rescue Excavation Project of the Hill of the King (Kral Tepesi) which is continuing for four years, the archaeologists and the inhabitants of the village brought onto the agenda their demand for the creation of a museum.

    The archaeologists and the villagers want to restore the building of the old school of Galinoporni and turn it into museum. According to the paper, around 1000 antiquities were unearthed until today as a result of the effort of approximately 100 persons from many countries. The project attracted the interest of scientists and students from many countries, notes the paper, adding that the excavation entered into the list of tour operators in Germany and tourists started to visit the village.

    (I/Ts.)

    [06] Kibrisli brings onto the agenda the issue of Turkey acquiring a sovereign base in Cyprus, while no one says anything on the matter

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibrisli newspaper (25.08.08) publishes a mini public opinion poll during which the paper asked some people what they think of Turkey acquiring a sovereign base in Cyprus within the framework of the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    According to the results, the majority of the participants supported Turkeys acquiring a sovereign base on the island in parallel to its guarantee rights.

    The paper alleges that one of the most important problems is the fact that the guarantees will become ineffective in the EU in case of a solution to the Cyprus problem. The paper notes that no political party had the courage to express its opinion on this issue.

    Among the participants in the mini poll were known journalists such as Huseyin Macit Yusuf and Sabahattin Ismail. Mr Yusuf argued that the Greek Cypriots will do everything they can for rendering the guarantees of Turkey ineffective in the EU, whether there is a solution to the Cyprus problem or not. He inter alia, said the following:

    Measures should be taken from now against this. An extremely serious step would be giving Turkey a sovereign base in parallel to the guarantees within the measures to be taken. The fact that the British left their sovereign bases outside the EU should not have been made uselessly.

    On his part, Mr Ismail said that the issue of giving Turkey sovereign bases is absurd and added that such a development is unacceptable. He added: Those who brought onto the agenda this issue are provocateurs. They are planning to put forward the issue of the bases and turn the issue of guarantees into a disputable issue. Let no one play this game. I say no to giving Turkey sovereign bases.

    (I/Ts.)

    [07] Sanlidag asked from Turkey to register halloumi cheese in Turkey as a Turkish Cypriot product

    Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris newspaper (24.08.08), reports that the self-styled minister of Economy and Tourism, Erdogan Sanlidag had a private meeting the day before yesterday with the Turkish Minister of Industry and Trade, Zafer Caglayan with whom they had a beneficial exchange of thoughts on several issues.

    According to information given by the «press office» of the «ministry», Mr. Zafer Caglayan has said that Turkey is ready to offer any kind of help to the «TRNC» so that the «TRNC» can be developed in the fields of economy and industry.

    Erdogan Sanlidag in his statements has said that the increase of the exports of the «TRNC» is one of the most important steps in the country, aiming to the development of their economy, adding that the Turkish Cypriot people are selling their products to Turkey and Arab countries. Referring to halloumi cheese he asked from Turkey to register it in Turkey as a Turkish Cypriot product. Pointing out that many Turkish firms had started to produce halloumi cheese in Turkey, Mr. Erdogan Sanlidag has alleged that they dont want this traditional product to disappear from the market of Cyprus. It is for that reason, he said, that the help of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Turkey, about the issue is necessary. He then expressed the hope that the issue of halloumi will be solved soon.

    Mr. Sanlidag has also said that they want to put forward different projects so that their economy would be developed. One of them, he said is the turning of the country into a Technopark. Mr. Sanlidag finally said that they keep working for more industrial areas to be organized in the breakaway regime.

    The Turkish Minister of Industry and Trade, Mr. Zafer Caglayan reiterated that Turkey will continue to offer support and help to the Turkish Cypriots. Regarding the efforts for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, Mr. Caglayan expressed his hope that soon a lasting and an equality based solution would be achieved. He then said that the more the breakaway regime is getting strong the more powerful it would be in the negotiation process and after the solution.

    (A.K).

    [08] Serdar Denktas reiterates his partys opposition to single sovereignty and single citizenship

    Illegal Bayrak television (22.08.08) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    The opposition Democrat Party has renewed its opposition to the principles of single sovereignty and citizenship to be taken up as part of comprehensive negotiations scheduled to start on the 3rd of September.

    The leader of Democrat Party Serdar Denktas held a press conference today where he evaluated the latest developments on the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking to reporters, the DP leader said that it was unacceptable for the Turkish Cypriot side to sit at the negotiating table without putting forward any preconditions.

    'The Greek Cypriot side has most recently put forward the return of Guzelyurt [occupied Morfou] as a precondition', said Serdar Denktas, adding that they will prevent this from happening at all costs.

    Expressing the view that such issues will be discussed at the negotiations under the title of 'administration and land', the DP leader requested an end to discussions on the issue of returning Guzelyurt.

    He said that the Greek Cypriot Administration put forward preconditions prior to every meeting, which the Turkish Cypriot side indirectly ended up accepting most of the time.

    'However the Turkish Cypriot side always fails to put forward preconditions' he said, adding that the international community should take note of this fact.The DP leader also said that the real problem lay in the substance of a settlement to be reached on the Cyprus Problem through comprehensive negotiations.'If the Turkish Cypriot people will lose everything it has following a settlement, which is if Turkey's effective guarantee will be removed and limited only to the right of intervention, than that agreement will not constitute a settlement' he added.Touching upon the recent incident in the mixed village of Pile where properties of Turkish Cypriots were vandalized, Democrat Party Leader said that such incidents carried the risk of spiralling out of control in the absence of Turkey's effective guarantee and right of intervention.

    [09] The new monthly Minimum Wage in the occupied areas was increased

    Illegal Bayrak television (23.08.08) broadcast the following from occupied Lefkosia:

    The new monthly Minimum Wage has been set at 1,190 new Turkish liras [680 Euros], increasing by a 130 YTL [74 Euros].

    The announcement was made yesterday by the Minister of Labour and Social Security Sonay Adem.

    Mr Adem also said his Ministry will be preparing a draft law on Minimum Wage by September and once it is evaluated by unions and workers and employers representatives, the draft will probably be passed into law by October.

    A previous attempt to set a new minimum wage last month failed and it had been planned to revisit the issue again in December.

    The previous minimum wage was 1,060 new Turkish liras [606 Euros]. The new minimum wage will be reflected to the wages starting from the 1st of September.

    [10] Turkey to buy S-300 systems for testing

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (25.08.08) reports the following:

    NATO member Turkey has quietly decided to buy variants of three different S-300 missile systems from Belarus and Ukraine to test them at the Konya training centre with the Electronic Warfare Training Field (EHTS) system built by local firm Havelsan.

    'These missile systems are intended to be used for testing and training purposes to simulate threats that may come from countries with ex-Soviet systems in their inventories,' a local defence industry source told Today's Zaman. The decision to buy former Soviet-designated SA-12 (300V version) and SA-10 (S-300) missile systems, as well as SA-15 short and medium-range TOR systems, at a cost of around $100 million, was made during an executive committee meeting of the Under secretariat for the Defence Industry (SSM) on July 22, but it was not made public. Sources close to the project said the systems will be tested mainly with F-16s using the EHTS system, which has been moved from Eskisehir to the central Anatolian town of Konya, some 250 kilometres from Ankara, where a regional combat readiness simulation centre is located.

    Tests with these missile systems will, amongst other things, help Turkey detect whether the Greek Cypriot administration, which has Russian S-300s in its inventory, has been using them.

    'The missile systems were not purchased to be launched against perceived enemies and they will not be included in the inventory of the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK]. They will be tested at the Konya range with EHTS systems. Their radars and fire control systems are to be bought separately,' a well-informed local defence industry source said.

    During the tests those systems will be jammed, enabling Turkey to develop counter systems, said the same source.

    Turkey has been holding combined air training exercises, code-named Anatolia Eagle, with Turkish jets and jets from allied and partner countries such as Israel, Pakistan and Jordan at the Konya training centre.

    The centre, opened in 2001, also hosts Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation (ACMI) systems, which feature software developed by the Israel-based firm MLM. ACMI systems are capable of transferring in-flight images from jets to command headquarters.

    In a separate development, Turkey is planning to include about a dozen long-range air and missile defence systems, worth around $4 billion, in its inventory for the first time.

    An international tender was opened last year in March by the SSM for the acquisition of the missiles in which four companies are competing.

    Official Russian procurement agency Rosoboronexport, however, has also renewed an earlier offer for the direct sale of S-400 missiles to Turkey as an alternative to Russian participation in the tender.

    SSM head Murad Bayar told the Anatolia news agency recently that initially two of the missile systems will be installed in Ankara and in Istanbul, the country's two biggest cities.

    US-based firms Lockheed Martin and Raytheon have jointly offered a combination of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC 3) and PAC 2 low-to-high-altitude surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) based on foreign military sales credit in the SSM tender.

    The Chinese HQ-9 (reported export designation FD-2000) air-defence system, as well as Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) Arrow missiles, developed jointly with Boeing, are also competing in the tender.

    However, the main competition has been taking place between Russia and the US, as the latter has already raised concerns with Ankara that the purchase of Russian missiles will create an inter-operability problem with NATO.

    [11] Turkish and Russian Foreign Ministers to meet early September

    Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (25.08.08) reports the following:

    Russian and Turkish diplomats will meet this week in order to lay the groundwork for a planned meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries that will focus on Ankara's proposal for establishing a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform which will gather Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Turkey under the same roof.

    Foreign Minister Ali Babacan initiated a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Friday and the two discussed the proposed platform amidst reports that Turkey will include its estranged neighbour Armenia in regional peace efforts via Russia.

    Babacan conveyed a set of 'concrete proposals' to Lavrov during the conversation, Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin said, without elaborating. Officials from the Turkish and Russian foreign ministries will meet next week to work on the proposals. Babacan and Lavrov will also meet in early September to review progress in the technical talks. Foreign Ministry officials, approached by Today's Zaman yesterday, were not able to provide information on the venue and exact date of the talks. However, sources involved in the issue said Ambassador Unal Cevikoz, the deputy undersecretary responsible for the Caucasus and Central Asia affairs, will lead the Foreign Ministry delegation during talks.


    [B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS

    [12] Foreign policy challenges

    Under the above title, Turkish daily Todays Zaman newspaper (25.08.08) publishes the following commentary by Ihsan Dagi:

    After months of uncertainty about the future of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish politics seem pretty calm now.

    The picture is as follows: The ruling party continues to enjoy substantial popular support, while the opposition parties are still unable to present a viable alternative and the military and the judiciary are adopting a relatively low-profile opposition to the government. Despite this 'stable' domestic political scene, Turkey's foreign affairs are going through challenging times.

    The war in the Caucasus is the number-one challenge. The conflict involves two indispensable partners for Turkey. Georgia is the only land corridor linking Turkey with the Caspian region and Central Asia, the centre of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. Maintaining cooperation with Georgia is therefore crucial for Turkey's strategic width, reaching out the Caspian and Central Asia. Russia, in recent years, has become an important economic partner for Turkey. The early political tension in the aftermath of the cold war was overcome with a strategy of cooperation in the economic and political arenas. But this was based on a non-assertive policy in the Caucasus and Central Asia on the part of both Turkey and Russia. With the invasion of Georgia, it seems that Russia has now moved to an assertive policy in the region, claiming a zone of influence. Instead of confronting Russia bilaterally, the Turkish response has been to propose multilateral diplomacy by suggesting a Caucasian Stability and Cooperation Platform. The idea of the Caucasian Stability and Cooperation Platform sounds timely and functional, but may be unrealistic given the global and regional dynamics. The key is the attitude of Russia, which seems rather unenthusiastic about the idea. Instead, the Russians prefer to manage the situation within the Commonwealth of Independent States if multilateral diplomacy is needed. Moreover, bringing Armenia and Azerbaijan and, of course, Turkey together within such a platform is not easy. If the Turkish government is really serious about this idea, it should begin developing its relations with Armenia without delay. What about the role of Iran? Such a platform cannot be established by excluding Iran, which has always had a great interest in Caucasian affairs.

    Given all these complications and also reluctance from the West, especially the US, the initiative may not result in a concrete organization institutionalizing stability and cooperation in the region but lose yet high level diplomatic contacts. The crisis in the Caucasus has also raised other problems for Turkey in the region and in its relations with the West. It will be difficult for Turkey to engage with both Iran and Syria as these countries move closer to Russia in response to recent developments. If Russia is willing to intensify tensions with the West, Iran and Syria may see this as an opportunity for leverage, putting Turkey in an awkward position. But recent developments in the Caucasus vindicate Turkey's attempts to diversify its energy resources and reduce its dependence on Russian gas. The same is true for Europe, as well. The crisis may, therefore, be an opportunity for Europe to engage with Iran, instead of Russia, as a country linking Caspian and Central Asian energy resources to Europe. The Iraq issue remains a challenge for Turkey, as well. The possible withdrawal of American troops next year may complicate the matter even more if post-occupation Iraq proves incapable of holding itself together. Anyhow, establishing a working relationship with the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq is the key to managing the domestic Kurdish problem and the fight against the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). Yet a self-sufficient Kurdish administration in northern Iraq may prove to be more difficult to deal with in the absence of American troops in Iraq persuading the Kurds to cooperate with the Turkish government.

    Another challenge for Turkish foreign policy is an old one: Cyprus. The upcoming negotiations between presidents Mehmet Ali Talat and Demetris Christofias have raised hopes about the possibility of a final settlement. Such an outcome will certainly accelerate Turkey's EU integration, an objective recently reasserted by the government as a priority. But it will not be easy to sell any settlement in Cyprus to the Turkish public, which is likely to start a new wave of heated debate provoked by Turkish nationalism. Knowing that foreign policy is never merely a matter of an "externally oriented" set of decisions, but a realm greatly influenced by domestic political developments, we can conclude that the stability of Turkish politics depends on establishing a peaceful regional setting.

    [13] From the Turkish Press of 22, 23 and 24 August 2008

    Following are the summaries of reports and commentaries of selected items from the Turkish press of 22, 23 and 24 August:

    a) Caucasus Crisis

    Detailing the provisions of the Montreux Convention in an article in Hurriyet (22.08.08), Oktay Eksi underlines the US displeasure regarding the issue, recalling that the United States attempted to change those provisions prior to its attack on Iraq in 2003. Pointing out that at the time the United States claimed that the Samsun and Trabzon Ports had to be enlarged to allow US ships to dock there, Asik questions: 'Where can one go via Trabzon and Samsun, to Iraq or to Iran and the Caucasian countries?'

    Assessing in an article in Vatan (22.08.08) that Georgia's attack on south Ossetia has strengthened Russia's hold over the region, Onur Kumbaracibasi calls on the prime minister to abandon his fairy tale dream of a Caucasus Unity and to concentrate on initiatives that will guarantee the future of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Interpreting the Russian intervention into Georgia as an attempt to intimidate the United States and NATO, the writer maintains that Saakashvili's naïve belief that he would receive the support of the United States and NATO prompted him to embark on the South Ossetia adventure, adding that now Turkey has to pay the price for this adventure.

    The crisis in the Caucasus threatens the energy supply of Turkey as well as Europe, writes Kamuran Ozbir in his column in Ortadogu (22.08.08). Explaining that this crisis not only endangers Turkey's economic relations with Georgia and Russia, but it also jeopardizes its role as an energy corridor between Central Asia and Europe, Ozbir draws attention to Russia's objection to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the Nabucco gas project -- which will also pass through Georgia -- because they will reduce Western Europe's energy dependence on Russia. Pointing out that Georgia is at the same time Turkey's transit route for its exports to the Asian markets, the writer stresses the importance of this route given the fact that the Armenian border has been closed since 1993 because of the disagreements between Ankara and Yerevan.

    A report entitled "Turkey ensures security in Black Sea, say Turkish Diplomats" quotes a 'diplomatic source' as having told this daily in response to questions about the recent 'standoff' between Turkey and the United States 'over the delivery of humanitarian aid to Georgia' that 'if anyone is going to provide security in the Black Sea region, it will be the littoral states.'

    In an article entitled "What does Kremlin think about Turkey?" in Taraf (23.08.08) columnist Hasan Aksay analyzes Russia's reaction to Turkey's proposal and says that Russia has no intention of letting any country taking all the credit for a successful initiative about the Caucasus due to its conviction that new realities in the region have strengthened its position. Aksay also cites examples of cooperation between Turkey and Russia in different fields which, he notes, show that Russia is a very important partner for Turkey. He concludes by saying: "Russia is one of most important countries for Turkey's stability. Furthering political dialogue between the two countries especially during this period while taking balanced steps in both the Black Sea region and the Caucasus should be one of the most important items on our diplomatic agenda."

    In an article entitled 'From Brezhnev Doctrine to Bush Doctrine', in Vakit (23.08.08) columnist Selahaddin Cakirgil slams the United States for making moves that could result in a 'bloodbath' in the Caucasus or even turn the entire region into a 'nuclear wasteland' in the name of defending Georgia's territorial integrity. He argues that there is not much difference between the 'Brezhnev doctrine,' which entailed a Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia some 40 years ago for the sake of what the Soviet leader called the brotherhood of socialist regimes, and the Bush doctrine, which seeks to protect the 'interests of capitalist imperialism' under the pretext of fulfilling NATO commitments to 'allies on the freedom front.'

    In an article entitled 'The New World Order Wears out Quickly', in Zaman (23.08.08) columnist Ali Bulac argues that the crisis in the Caucasus has demonstrated the fragility of the new global order established in the early 1990s. He claims that the new world order announced by 'father Bush' has proven short-lived because it lacked a realistic and rational basis and was a product of hegemonic and imperialist aspirations.

    Analyzing Turkey's position in the Caucasus crisis in an article in Milliyet, (24.08.08) Kadri Gursel argues that Turkey does not have much room to manoeuvre vis-à-vis Russia because it feels the constricting pressure of the multi-dimensional ties of interest it has woven in Eurasia in the aftermath of the Cold War. On one hand, Turkey has its traditional economic and political relations with the West, and on the other, it has the new and very important ties it has forged with Russia and the other Eurasian forces, the writer points out, stressing that it is impossible for Turkey to renounce one in favour of the other. Viewing the visits Prime Minister Erdogan recently made to Moscow, Tbilisi, and Baku and his proposal of a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform as nothing but a futile game, Gursel calls on the prime minister to take initiatives directed toward the right goal, namely Armenia. Arguing that only through the establishment and development of a dialogue with Armenia can this Platform assume seriousness, Gursel views such a dialogue as a 'realistic approach against the extreme lack of balance created by the Russian attack.' Maintaining that Turkey is the only regional country apart from Russia and Iran that can provide economic and other alternatives to Armenia, the writer calls on Azerbaijan to adopt a realistic approach to the solution of its Karabakh conflict with Armenia. In conclusion, Gursel advises President Gul to go to Armenia for the football match to be held on 6 September despite Baku's opposition.

    Assessing whether the Montreux Convention has been violated in an article in Hurriyet, (24.08.08) Yilmaz Ozdil ridicules all those who continue to question the issue, asking: 'Isn't the discussion on whether the Montreux Convention has been violated after the US, German, Spanish, and Polish mini vessels have sailed to the Black Sea a sign of retardation?' Ozdil goes on to question: If these vessels are bringing health services to Georgia within the framework of NATO, then how come the Germans are arriving all the way from the Baltic Sea while we are doing nothing? Does Turkey not have ships or bandages? The writer concludes by reminding the reader that Goben and Breslau were also mini ships, insinuating that they were the cause for the Ottoman Empire entering the World War I.

    Viewing US attempts to increase its presence in the Black Sea in an article in Hurriyet, (24.08.08) Ferai Tinc argues that the first step in that direction was taken with the joint exercises Turkey, the United States, and Georgia conducted for the first time in the Black Sea in the spring of 2006. Pointing out that following the Russian-Georgian war the vessel McFaul belonging to the 6th Fleet crossed the straits, Tinc says that the ship Dallas will be leaving Crete tomorrow on its way to the Black Sea and that Mount Whitney, the flagship of the 6th Fleet, will also be leaving the Gaeta Base in Italy on its way to the region next week. Lamenting that the Black Sea is becoming one of the critical clash points of an energy struggle, Tinc concludes: 'This is a significant development that closely concerns the straits of Dardanelles and Istanbul. What is more important is that a situation that will force Turkey to face critical choices is developing.'

    Questioning whether Turkey is able to exercise its sovereignty rights over the straits and whether it needs to make adjustments in its foreign policy in the Putin-era of Russia, Taylan Sorgun in Ortadogu (24.08.08) stresses the importance of these two issues in his column. Interpreting the passage of US warships through the straits as the slackening of Turkey's sovereignty rights, Sorgun believes that the argument that the United States is our ally does not hold since Washington's Bush policy has been detrimental to Turkey. Maintaining that privileges and rights granted to an ally should not be unlimited and irresponsible, Sorgun underlines that the sovereignty rights of the Turkish Republic should come before the interests of foreign countries that want a passage to the Black Sea.

    In an article in Sabah (24.08.08), Erdal Safak maintains that Russia is getting ready to make Israel pay a heavy price for its role in the south Ossetian war. Detailing all the weapons Israel has sold to Georgia and the military training it has supplied to that country, Safak argues that Russia intends to punish Israel by increasing its military cooperation with and selling advanced weapons to Syria. These measures will upset the balance of powers in the Middle East, Safak notes, adding that part of the weapons Russia will be selling to Syria will end in the hands of the Hizbullah. Noting that the Russian arms sales to Syria will also affect Turkey's mediation between Israel and Syria, Safak argues that 'this will be tantamount to maybe dealing a deadly blow on the only hope for peace in the Middle East.'

    b) Turkeys Foreign Policy

    Criticizing the foreign policies pursued by the government in an article in Hurriyet, (24.08.08) Tufan Turenc accuses Prime Minister Erdogan and President Gul of dabbling in mediation attempts between Israel and Syria and between Iran and the West and of proposing unfeasible peace models in the Caucasus while Turkey's chronic problems such as the Cyprus and Aegean issues and the north Iraqi developments are still waiting to be solved. Censuring the government's treatment of the 'Darfur butcher' and the Iranian president during their recent visits, Turenc says that the visits of these two officials and the messages they conveyed during their stay in Turkey were not well received by the Western world. The writer concludes by pointing out that the government's half-baked initiatives in foreign policy are not only doomed to yield no fruit, but they can also damage the respectability and prestige of Turkey in the world.

    In Cumhuriyet (22.08.08) columnist Cuneyt Arcayurek sums up the principle guiding Turkey's foreign policy as the urge to be seen as though initiatives are being taken. Arguing in an article that the government's attempts at mediation in the Israeli-Syrian conflict, in the Iranian nuclear crisis, and in the Caucasus war are all futile, Arcayurek declares that Turkey is now getting ready to bow down to the demands of the United States which is asking that we open our borders with Armenia and that we revive our diplomatic ties. Maintaining that Erdogan and Gul are in a relentless competition to become candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, Arcayurek says that the importance of visiting Armenia dawned on Gul after Erdogan announced that he is ready to discuss the Caucasus Platform with that same country.

    In an article entitled "Unaffordable failures add to the Burdens of Foreign Policy", Today's Zaman columnist Yavuz Baydar criticizes Iranian President Ahmadinezhad's visit to Turkey as a 'useless' event that only served to represent Ankara as being 'undecided - or at least unclear - on the issue of the nuclear row.' He also argues that 'it is a shame that a ruthless leader' like Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was allowed to visit Turkey a second time.

    ES/


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